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AT THIS HOUR

Pelosi Speaks to Reporters on Emergency Relief Legislation; Ripple Effect Spreads with New Cases, Travel Bans, Market Fears; White House Struggles to Clear Up Confusion over Virus Testing; Trump Sows Confusion on Travel Restrictions after Speech; NBA Suspends Season over Coronavirus Fears; Columbia University's Dr. Irwin Redlener Answers Questions on Coronavirus; Brazilian Official Tests Positive after Meeting with Trump Last Weekend. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired March 12, 2020 - 11:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[11:00:00]

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): It's some things they might want in this bill that aren't there. There could be another bill shortly down the road. We didn't do everything last week with $8.3 billion, but we did a great deal, and now we're doing more and then we're fully prepared to do more.

So we are -- we're responding to their concerns. We don't want them moving the goalpost and that's it.

Yes, Nancy?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Was it a wise move to block most travelers in Europe for coming to the U.S. for the next month, and if so, was it wise to leave the U.K. off that list?

PELOSI: I had a conversation with the vice president and Dr. Fauci last night when they called to inform me of this. Dr. Fauci said it was a scientific medical decision. I have a great confidence in Dr. Fauci.

It's just strange because they're saying it's because it's easy to travel among these countries, but they're separate from the U.K. You can just get in the tunnel and you'll be in the U.K. Again, it's a decision they made. It has its ramifications. We'll see whether it's worth the trouble.

But, again, I'm here about what we can do to go forward for America's working families, for putting families first without having a criticism of one of the things the president is doing.

I do think, as Chuck and I -- Leader Schumer and I said in our comments last night, testing, testing, testing. That's the only way you're going to learn about how this is spread. I don't want to use that word because not everybody knows what it means.

Yes, sir?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Last question.

PELOSI: We have the flu shot coming so I have to get going.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You said earlier this week that Congress is the last line of defense. Beyond the recess, if it came to it, how prepared --

(CROSSTALK)

PELOSI: I said it was the last line of defense.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: I heard you say that at some point.

(CROSSTALK)

PELOSI: A main line of defense. I don't know if it's the last.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Just how prepared Congress is to work from home potentially if it were to come to that.

PELOSI: We have been briefed by the chief administrative officer, by the chief of police, by the sergeant-in-arms, by the capitol attending physician, by our leader on the House administration committee, Zoe Lofgren, about what preparations have been made for remote work. That's something that we're actually encouraging people to be prepared for.

They may choose to be coming in but be prepared to do that. It isn't a requirement yet, but it is that we want people to be prepared. So we're providing the technology, the training, and all the rest to make sure that everybody is up to par on that.

Our writing of legislation, our exchange of ideas, that won't stop the work of Congress, because by the time we come to the floor, it's the tip of the iceberg. There's so much other work that is going on.

And with all the respect in the world for our staff who do much of that, and our members who participate in that, everybody is not universally excellent at the same place in terms of technology. I want to make sure they're at their personal best when that sets in.

So it's about -- I hope that much of what we're doing is redundant and that we don't have to engage in some of this. But if we do, we want to be prepared. We want to present the spread so if people have to stay home, they have to stay home, but we also don't want people to panic.

That's why we based any decisions about the capitol this or that on what is recommended by the capitol physician and the sergeant-in-arms and the chief of police.

But I think we have to be very prayerful about this. People are sick and some people are dying in our country and, globally.

And it is kind of shocking to see the challenges that we have and the decisions that have to be made about people coming together, whether it's sports or the arts or just political gatherings or whatever it is, we have to think in a different way about that.

Whether it's about personal hygiene or personal contact with other people, we have to be smart about how we do that. Washing our hands for 20 seconds with soap and water. I say that all the time, I knew it as a mom, and now it's an imperative, but it's always been important.

So, again, as I say, what we think about one policy or another, what we really have to do is come together and get the job done.

[11:04:59]

Now, we were very clear in our communications about what we heard. And when members go home, they will hear more from their constituents, from their non-profits, from their local government, from their health care providers and the rest, that what other ideas have emerged as important in all of this.

And that will be a source of knowledge for when we come back. And we could come back any time. Everybody has to stand ready to be here at all times if we have a legislative solution to put forth.

But, again, it can't just spring from what we did before, anything like that. It's about what's current and the challenge that we face with this coronavirus.

It's not about spending a lot of time saying how we got here. We have to talk about where we go from here. Then we can make changes for the future in how we could prevent or withstand whatever might be happening in other countries that might spread to our own.

But I do want to salute our health care providers, our first responders, all of the non-profits that are working to inform people about how they should be tested.

In our legislation, we enable millions of masks to go out. That was important to the administration, that we would suspend immunity for liability, was a very big deal, a big concession to the administration on that, because weighing the equities, it would be important to get those masks out, even though it provided that immunity.

So we have tried to say, OK, we have our -- and it's just specifically for the coronavirus crisis.

So, anyway, I thank you for your interest in all of this.

I want you to wash your hands for 20 seconds, not just all the time, just for no reason at all.

And one bit of advice they told me, I was talking to somebody from California and I said my usual saying, that a month ago, I might have said whoever the nominee is of the party we will enthusiastically embrace, and then I changed it to, whoever is the nominee of the party, we will enthusiastically elbow bump.

But somebody said to me, no, when you elbow bump you get close to the person. So forget any physical contact. Greetings now in an Eastern style.

Thank you all very much. And again, we're very excited that the shock is coming. I'm happy that Leader McConnell will part of -- hospitality to him at our lunch later today.

Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: So not a handshake?

PELOSI: (INAUDIBLE)

(LAUGHTER)

PELOSI: We had a big Irish dinner at which I was honored last night and I was very excited about that. And it was wonderful to see him, but I did not impose upon him with a handshake, nor did he on me.

Thank you all.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. Thank you.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, that is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi talking to reporters about the emergency legislation, relief legislation that they are planning to be putting forward she said they will be voting today in the House in response to the coronavirus. Much more to come from Capitol Hill.

Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. Thank you so much for joining me today.

It's come down to this: Restricted, scaled back, canceled, postponed. This is the new reality today. Every hour, life across America seems to be changing because of the coronavirus. And it is not clear when that thing we now have to call the old normal will be back again.

There are now more than 1,200 coronavirus cases across 44 states and D.C. The White House is imposing a ban on most people traveling from Europe into the United States for the next 30 days.

Airlines among the industry is seeing a huge plunge once again. This morning, the Dow tumbling and the trading session even halting briefly for the second time this week.

Schools. They are the next domino to fall. Nationwide, over a million kids, kindergarten through 12th grade, are being told to stay home. That's according to "Education Week." Universities across the country are also moving pretty much all of their classes to online.

In sports, the NBA abruptly suspending the season after a player tested positive for the virus. The NCAA's March Madness tournament will be played in front of empty arenas as of now.

And large events, big gatherings are now banned in at least three states. [11:10:02]

And then there's actor, Tom Hanks, and his wife, Rita Wilson. They have now disclosed they have also tested positive for the virus while in Australia.

Clearly, a lot to get to yet again this morning. So let's start at the White House where the administration is having to do a lot of explaining in the wake of the president's Oval Office address last night.

CNN's John Harwood is there.

John, this speech created a lot of confusion. What is the White House saying about it now this morning?

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, they've been trying, since the president finished talking last night, Kate, to clean up the confusion surrounding that speech.

The president right now is in the Oval Office with the prime minister of Ireland talking about coronavirus. We'll get that tape in a little while.

On the way in, he was asked about the stock market drop, which, of course, as you noted in the trading hall this morning, he said the market is going to be just fine.

We expect this afternoon that the president may sign some sort of emergency declaration. The White House counsel is going through possibilities. I don't know exactly what federal resources that would unlock. But the administration seems to be keenly aware that they are not over this with that speech last night. Certainly, the market reaction showed that.

The president initially said banning all travel to and from Europe. Well, in reality, U.S. citizens, legal permanent residents, are going to be able to go back and forth.

He said in the speech to the nation that cargo and trade would be prohibited by this travel ban. Later, clarified it didn't apply to travel.

Nevertheless, it does affect trade between the United States and Europe because a lot of the cargo going to and from Europe and the United States traveled on passenger planes that are now being canceled.

The president continues to take fire on the absence of testing in the United States and the slow pace of testing. So there's a whole lot for the administration to get its arms around.

And it's negotiating with Nancy Pelosi, who you just heard from, on a potential stimulus bill to help some of those people affected. It's a difficult negotiation, but there's some indication that the gaps between the House and the White House can be bridged -- Kate? BOLDUAN: A lot can happen today and a lot likely will happen today on

that front.

John, great to see you. Thank you so much.

So people in more than two dozen European countries woke up this morning to the news they cannot travel to the United States. Here at home, uncertainty abounds at airports across the country, quite frankly.

CNN's Nick Valencia is at Hartsfield-Jackson airport in Atlanta, normally, one of the busiest airports in the world.

Nick, what are you hearing there today?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kate, things were quite busy early this morning but they've sort of hit a lull here. Wait times to get through, check points are lower than average.

We have, though, seen people take extra precautions, added security measures, including this young man you're about to hear from.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's like our little travel kit.

VALENCIA: That's not an everyday thing that you take.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, it's not. Since she works at CDC, she wants me to be safe, and, like, hand sanitizer and everything.

VALENCIA: Show us what you have in that bag.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a mask, like a construction mask, Clorox wipes, gloves, hand sanitizer.

VALENCIA: Any second thoughts about getting on your flight this morning?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, completely. I'm trying to be calm.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm trying to be calm. I almost canceled because I was so scared.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VALENCIA: Those passengers clearly taking it seriously. Others, though, saying this is all overblown.

Everyone, though, Kate, is unsettled by the news we've been reporting this morning of a passenger taking a flight from JFK to West Palm Beach International and notifying the airline upon arrival that they had tested positive for the coronavirus. Out of an abundance of caution, according to the airport in West Palm Beach, they've shut down the concourse.

(CROSSTALK)

VALENCIA: All right, you see people are wanting to express themselves here. Just got a little shaken there, behind me, Kate.

But getting back to that report, a passenger notifying the airline that they had tested positive for the coronavirus, that airport now closing down a concourse out of an abundance of caution.

The airline, JetBlue, also saying they are cleaning down kiosks. Security cameras showing where passengers are traveling through. Taking things very seriously.

What is clear to us on the ground, Kate, is what we once considered normal this morning sure doesn't seem like it at all -- Kate?.

BOLDUAN: Very new normal.

Nick, thank you so much.

Now to world sports. Absolutely upended by the coronavirus outbreak. The NBA suspending the rest of its season in an unprecedented move.

You can see the stunned reaction there from Dallas Mavericks owner, Mark Cuban, when he learned of the news. Completely shocked after learning of the news, when they heard of a positive coronavirus diagnosis among players.

CNN's Andy Scholes is joining me now.

Andy, this really is unprecedented in terms of the game and the impacts are going to be huge. What is the latest?

[11:15:05]

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Kate, like you said, unprecedented. Never seen anything like this in the world of sports. There will be more high-level discussions today about what's next.

Mark Cuban saying this morning on ESPN he thinks the season will resume sometime this point and they could even end up playing into August if need be.

When the NBA gets back on the court, we really have no idea at this point. We learned a short time ago that the Toronto Raptors and the Wizards are self-quarantining. Both recently played the Jazz. The Raptors meeting up with them this past Monday.

According to ESPN, the Jazz player who tested positive for the coronavirus last night is all-star center, Rudy Gobert. CNN has reached out to Gobert's representative, the Jazz, and the NBA, none of them confirming that report.

The Jazz, though, just moments ago, releasing a statement that a second player has tested positive for the coronavirus.

The Jazz had that game against the Raptors. Before that, though, they were on a four-game road trip playing against the Pistons, Celtics, Knicks and Cavs. According to ESPN, all of those teams being asked to self-quarantine.

Since playing the Jazz, those teams went on to play other teams. Think of that. The majority of the NBA has now come into contact with someone who has had direct contact with those Jazz players. So that really gave the NBA no choice in the situation but to suspend play.

The coronavirus certainly having a widespread impact on the sports world, from the NBA to MLS to Major League Baseball, just two weeks to opening day.

The NHL, meanwhile, they're saying this morning, "Given the uncertainty regarding next steps regarding the coronavirus, clubs are being advised not to conduct morning skates, practices or team meetings today."

There are 10 games on the NHL schedule for tonight. We'll wait and see if those take place.

The NCAA announcing yesterday March Madness is going to go on but with no fans at those games.

Kate, conference tournaments around the country, they're scheduled to start in the next hour. Those arenas, though, also will have no fans as well. But it's going to be interesting to see if those conference tournaments continue and what's to become of the NCAA tournament in light of what happened in the NBA last night.

BOLDUAN: Yes.

Good to see you, Andy. Stay close.

SCHOLES: All right.

BOLDUAN: Appreciate it, man.

Let's get straight to the experts on all of this. Back with me today -- I'm so glad he is -- Dr. Irwin Redlener. He's the director of the Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University's Earth Institute.

Thank you so much, Doctor, for coming back with me, Doctor.

DR. IRWIN REDLENER, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR DISASTER PREPAREDNESS, EARTH INSTITUTE, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: I have a slew of new questions in just 24 hours.

REDLENER: Sure.

BOLDUAN: I want to get your react to the banning of travel from Europe, which doesn't include places like the U.K. Is there value at this point on that? There is a debate --

REDLENER: The horse is so far out of the barn at this point, this seemed irrational, really --

(CROSSTALK)

REDLENER: -- this announcement last night, and especially the exclusion of the U.K., which has had plenty of cases reported now. It doesn't make any sense to me.

We already have lots of community transmission in the United States --

BOLDUAN: Right.

REDLENER: -- so I don't understand the point of this at all.

The problem is we don't have the tests yet up to speed, to allow us to determine exactly how much community transmission there's been.

BOLDUAN: There has been a recurring alarm being raised when I've spoken to doctors and physicians and experts in this --

REDLENER: Yes.

BOLDUAN: that I want to get your take on.

A real concern now of hospitals being overwhelmed as this outbreak continues and if it doesn't get contained as people are hoping new measures will do. One estimate I heard is that the country is short 100,000 ICU beds.

REDLENER: Yes, yes.

BOLDUAN: Breathing machines are a huge concern.

REDLENER: Yes.

BOLDUAN: How -- I hate to phrase it this way, how ill prepared is the system?

REDLENER: It is extraordinarily ill prepared. We have so much work to do. The planning for dealing with something like this actually, theoretically on paper, happened in the late 2000s when we're thinking about a pandemic being the Asian flu.

BOLDUAN: Really?

REDLENER: We know the modelling --

BOLDUAN: Yes.

REDLENER: -- you know, the formulas say a huge percentage of the population is going to be positive, and a small but important percentage of those people are going to actually need to be in the hospital. We are at least 100,000 beds short in terms of the ICU. We do not have

enough mechanical ventilators, which we're going to need. And we haven't really finalized the plans nationally to adapt by having identified all sites of care and all that.

BOLDUAN: I have so many questions on this. How do we find out if hospitals can ramp up at this moment? When can they get 100,000 ICU hospital beds at this point?

REDLENER: Right, let's just --

BOLDUAN: Is that possible?

REDLENER: No. I don't mean to be so blunt and we certainly don't want to make panic, but the hospital system in the United States is 5,000- plus hospitals in the U.S. They are collectively not ready for the kinds of patient numbers that need intensive care or just hospital care that we might expect.

(CROSSTALK)

[11:20:06]

BOLDUAN: And what does that mean -- what could that mean for people? There aren't beds, there aren't enough breathing machines, this continues, what does that mean?

REDLENER: We've been tiptoeing on this balance between creating panic and complacency.

BOLDUAN: Right.

REDLENER: But for the hospital situation, we really do need to be concerned about this. What this means for people is that -- first of all, there's two kinds of patients we're worried about.

First are the patients that actually have serious illness from the coronavirus, who are going to completely jam up our emergency rooms and overflow the hospital bed situation. We need alternative plans that are in place and ready to go.

And it's not so simple because it's not a question of, let's say, we're going to open a hospital that's going to be closed. Who is staffing it? We're going to have problems with the sick staying home, staff members who are at the hospitals. And we're going to have a lot of problem with staffing and the supplies and the ventilators.

But there's a whole other issue here on this, which is that, as coronavirus dominates what we have to do in the health care system, what happens to people with a heart attack, strokes, car accidents?

We're going to be really crowding out other people so the entire population, not just those sick from coronavirus, is going to need help. They're going need help. And --

(CROSSTALK) BOLDUAN: In addition to that, driving all of this is this question around testing. Everyone is getting, quite, frankly, understandably, frustrated with an ability to get an answer on this.

The government still can't say how many people have been tested. The explanation from the vice president this morning was, "One of the things we're trying to work on is a central reporting Web site where every state in the country and territory can let the CDC know the number of tests."

I heard that, and I thought, does that make sense? Doesn't a system already exist for states and local governments to report?

REDLENER: That's easy to do. That's not the issue. What they're doing is skirting the real issue, which is that we were inexplicably, incredibly late in getting these tests out. They're still not functioning even though there's been reports they sent out a million or two, whatever they sent out.

I can tell you right now, this morning, I heard from an emergency room doctor in New York City, who said they can't get results back. It's taking two, three, four days to get results back.

This whole thing -- we're going to need an imposed moratorium on what's happening here. But is an unmitigated disaster and the federal government has a lot of responsibility to be accountable for.

I don't get it. Even experts in the field do not understand what happened to allow us to be so far behind other countries.

Some of this data, we've tested five people for every million citizens. Japan, 66.

BOLDUAN: South Korea --

(CROSSTALK)

REDLENER: South Korea, 3,000 people -- 3,000 tests for one million people. We're crazily behind.

The other thing -- I just need to mention this -- is that the messages from the public health officials on the federal level, now being screened and whatever, they are monitored by the vice president's office, is completely unacceptable.

We're not hearing from them. We need a lot more specific direction. No more just, oh, we might recommend this or we couldn't fault somebody for that. I think we need now specific, hard information that's coming from the top.

You know, this number, don't limit crowds to 250, that's a made-up number. There's no evidence to support it. Why isn't it 50 or 300 or whatever?

BOLDUAN: We've laid out some very important problems here, and I'll see if you can come back tomorrow to talk about what the immediate solutions can be and what can be --

(CROSSTALK)

REDLENER: Absolutely.

BOLDUAN: I really appreciate it, Doctor. Thank you for coming in.

REDLENER: And there are things that can be done. So we shouldn't give up.

BOLDUAN: We'll definitely talk about that.

I really appreciate it.

REDLENER: Sure.

BOLDUAN: Thank you.

Coming up for us, New York deploys the National Guard to one of the hardest-hit areas in the country. What is life like in a coronavirus containment zone?

Plus, Wall Street getting hammered today, especially with airline stocks leading the down. We'll have the very latest from the New York Stock Exchange.

[11:23:57]

Stick with us, folks. We'll be back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:28:19]

BOLDUAN: This just into CNN. The press secretary for Brazil's President Bolsonaro has now tested positive for the coronavirus. Important, regardless. But also, because of this. This comes after he met with President Trump last weekend.

Let's get straight to Shasta Darlington who has this breaking news.

Shasta, what are you learning?

SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Kate. According to two sources that we've talked to, the press secretary, Fabio Wajngarten, became ill shortly after returning from the United States where he and the president, Jair Bolsonaro, met with President Donald Trump.

He got tested for the coronavirus and he just got back the results today showing, indeed, that he's positive. That, of course, means he's been isolated. But they're also monitoring the health of those who have had contact with him, and that includes Jair Bolsonaro.

We don't have any information if the president himself is being tested, but we do know that all of those who had contact with the press secretary are being monitored.

And in Brazil, the coronavirus is really just getting a foothold. The first cases were brought in from tourists who had been to Italy and were returning from their vacation, so there are now over 70 confirmed cases here. But it really hasn't exploded on the scale that we've seen in Europe and even the United States. So this would be a big development -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: Absolutely.

Shasta, thank you so much. I appreciate it.

With this news, let's get back over to John Harwood. He's sticking by. He's at the White House for us.

John, what are you hearing? Is there any reaction from the White House? This is just coming in.

[11:29:56]

HARWOOD: Well, President Trump is discussing coronavirus issues in the Oval Office right now. We're waiting to get that tape to see what he addresses.

But we do know, following Shasta's report, that the press secretary to President Bolsonaro --

[11:30:00]