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E.R. Dr. Rob Davidson Discusses Tom Hanks, Wife Testing Positive for Coronavirus & Answers Viewers' Questions; NBA Suspends Games After 2nd Jazz Player Tests Positive for Coronavirus; Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) Self-Quarantines & Discusses Lack of Coronavirus Tests. Aired 2:30-3p ET
Aired March 12, 2020 - 14:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Hollywood hit by coronavirus as well. Oscar- winning actor, Tom Hanks, and his wife, Rita Wilson, have tested positive for coronavirus. Hanks confirming their diagnosis on Instagram, writing they suffered mild body aches, fever and chills.
The company is on location in Australia where Hanks is shooting a movie about the life of Elvis Presley. Wilson is on a tour promoting her new album.
Production on the film has been suspended indefinitely, affecting roughly 400 crew members.
Rob Davidson is an E.R. doctor and executive director of the Committee to Protect Medicare. He is back with me.
Dr. Davidson, welcome back.
DR. ROB DAVIDSON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, COMMITTEE TO PROTECT MEDICARE: Thank you.
BALDWIN: Just starting with Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson. The real question, is the reason they know they're coronavirus positive is because they're in Australia because, had they been here, would they have even been tested?
DAVIDSON: Well, you know, as an average citizen in this country, we're doing about 20,000 a day. In my state of Michigan, a total of 1300, the availability of test 1300 total and only tested around a hundred.
Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, possibly. The health care system in our country is very much the haves and the have notes. And I expect they may have been able to come upon a test. The average citizen in this country is having a really hard time still to this day getting tested.
BALDWIN: Not even just the average citizen. I'm talking about a member of Congress coming up in self-quarantine, no symptoms but around somebody who is. He can't get his hands on a test.
Yet, you have these two Utah Jazz basketball players who tested positive for coronavirus. They clearly have been tested. How are they able to get to test right away?
DAVIDSON: I don't know the capability in each individual state. But, again, I'm troubled. Our Committee to Protect Medicare have been working on this issue before coronavirus and we will after this crisis has settled down a bit. Just the ability for some people in this country to have access to health care and some who plain do not.
BALDWIN: Dr. Davidson, here's some viewer questions. A lot of people have been requesting a bunch of us.
And so question one from them: How can you tell the difference between a cold, which is what apparently Tom Hanks and his wife first assumed it was, and coronavirus?
DAVIDSON: The reality is you can't in the early stages. Even someone who is eventually going to get quite seriously ill with coronavirus, many of the cold viruses are types of coronaviruses. They're ones we've seen before, not a novel coronavirus that's causing this outbreak. So people don't. So you really need to use caution.
At our Web site, committeetoprotect.org/coronavirus, we have helpful tips.
But basically if you've been to a hot spot and certainly countries that have been on the list with the CDC for a while, or if you've been in contact with somebody you know to have that, COVID-19, please, please self-quarantine.
Now, again, no one is tested or few are. It's hard to know if you've been exposed to someone.
To the extent possible, people should try to stay home. If they have to be around other people, practice, you know, social distancing. Greater than six feet. Cough into your elbow.
But at any rate, contact your doctor somehow, through tele-medicine or email or messaging. See if you should be put on the list of people at risk and considered for testing.
BALDWIN: Another question. Why are we, being the United States, so far behind other countries and testing in response to other countries? For example, South Korea testing, I know roughly 11,000 people per day. China has built new hospitals. Why aren't we there?
DAVIDSON: I mean, just like so much of health care in this country, the public health infrastructure and the response to outbreaks and the National Security Council really have been gutted by this administration, by President Trump, Vice President Pence, and really left us hanging.
We had the ability of about five weeks ago to use a WHO, World Health Organization -approved test that's been used in other countries that was available and that was rejected, so we could use a test that was developed here.
That test ended up not being, essentially, not working, giving either false positives or negatives, and going back to the drawing board. That put us behind by about four to five weeks and that's where we find ourselves today.
BALDWIN: Dr. Rob Davidson, thank you. Your expertise is invaluable right now. Good to have you back.
DAVIDSON: Thank you, Brooke.
In terms of the world of -- you've got it.
In terms of the world sports, more and more leagues are cancelling their games, their seasons after a second NBA player tested positive, as I mentioned a second ago.
Plus, more on breaking news. New York is now banning large gatherings of 500 people or more, including a huge impact on Broadway.
BALDWIN: All right. So the NBA went from preparing to play without fans to just not playing, period. The league suspended after two players from the Utah Jazz tested positive for coronavirus. That announcement coming down just before tip-off between Jazz and Oklahoma City.
ESPN reports one of these two players is, the center, Rudy Gobert, and the second player, Donovan Mitchell.
During a media press conference, Gobert was actually seen -- look at him. Wait for it. In a second -- touching all of the reporters' microphones. This was before he tested positive, apparently.
Utah played five teams in the last two weeks. At least one of them, the Raptors, will self-quarantine.
The sudden move leaving everyone stunned.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK CUBAN, OWNER, DALLAS MAVERICKS: This is something out of a movie, and you just don't expect it to happen in real life. But that's the randomness of the world we live in. So it's stunning. But we are where we are and we have to be smart in how we respond.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Rudy Gobert, forgive me. I won't say it.
All start, Lebron James, who said he would not play before an empty arena, tweeted, "Man, we're cancelling sporting events, school, office work, et cetera, et cetera. We need to cancel 2020. Damn, it's been a rough three months. God bless and stay safe."
Jay Williams, former player for the Chicago Bulls, an ESPN host, with me now.
Jay, the NBA cancelling its entire season. What did you think when you first heard they were cancelling? Is it a good idea?
JAY WILLIAMS, ESPN HOST: I thought they were a little late to the game. They didn't have a uniform voice to deliver the news.
At first, you had Golden State, the first team that had to say they weren't going to allow fans to actually participate in the arena. Mayor of San Francisco not allowing that to happen.
But then vice versa in Washington, D.C. The Washington Wizards decided to go against the advice and say we are going to allow fans.
So, look, the fact it came to a head, the NBA was able to pivot. I give them credit. They're the first league to say, we are going to suspend play. And now I think what you're saying is other leagues and conferences in college basketball and college sports following suit.
BALDWIN: Let's talk about college basketball. You don't have to tell either of us how big of a deal March Madness is. You played Duke. I played Carolina. Not going to hold it against you at the moment.
So far March Madness is going on without fans. Charles Barkley said it should be cancelled. We were texting this morning. This is what Chuck texted me: "Guys sweating and breathing on each other for two hours and sitting on the bench side by side is not safe, period."
What do you think, Jay?
WILLIAMS: Brooke, I wouldn't say cancel. I would say suspend. There's nothing wrong with May Madness. Hopefully, once this virus takes its course, hopefully, we can get it contained.
But this is a big opportunity for the NCAA because. what happens in the NBA is that when players are incentivized, they earn millions of dollars.
But within college basketball in this NCAA tournament, the NCAA is still working with individual states for a name likeness, an image for a lot of these players. Not they're not going to give them that just yet. They'll make them wait for that. Let them earn.
But what you're going to do is say, you can jeopardize your safety, your public health. You can jeopardize that because we want to create or generate revenue off of your participation. So the players -- NCAA needs to be suspended.
Everybody needs to press the pause button for any kind of large gatherings and we need to continue to consolidate as much information as possible and realize what our next steps are as a country. BALDWIN: Maybe May Madness it will be.
Jay Williams, thank you so much.
WILLIAMS: -- free market now.
BALDWIN: There you go. You heard here.
How about this piece of it all? The lack of testing in this country has lawmakers fuming. We'll talk to a member of Congress who is self- quarantined and find out whether he has been able to get his hands on a test.
BALDWIN: Just into CNN, a spokesperson for the Supreme Court says the building will no longer be open to the public, starting at 4:30 this afternoon. It will remain open for official business but won't take the bench until March 23rd.
Across the street, Capitol Hill is emptying out over the coronavirus. Today, officials announce it is now closed to all public tours. Two Senators have closed their own offices directing staff to telecommute. Republican Tom Cotton said he made the call after an aide in another Senator's office tested positive for coronavirus.
And Senator Mitt Romney closed his office after catching a cold.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): Everybody has to consider their own circumstance. I've got a cold. So, you know that was one of the reasons I didn't want people coming in and get a cold. Because if you had a cold and then the coronavirus that might make the response more challenging.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Eight other lawmakers are self-quarantining, not because they are sick but because they did or may have had contact with someone who is coronavirus positive.
My next guest is one of those lawmakers who is sitting in self- quarantine. Virginia Congressman Don Beyer put himself in quarantine after the Health Department said a person he had dinner with had tested positive for coronavirus shortly after their meal.
So, Congressman Beyer, thank you for being with me.
REP. DON BEYER (D-VA): Thank you.
BALDWIN: And how are you doing? How are you feeling?
BEYER: I am doing fine. But we're struggling to keep up with all the different news about the coronavirus. Right now, specifically about the testing capabilities.
Vice President Pence last week promised us a million tests by the end of last week and, as of yesterday morning, the head of CDC said we're only up to 75,000.
The president said something interesting last night that everybody who needs a test gets a test. But the dilemma is we need to test people who have been exposed that don't have symptoms yet. Those are the ones that are carriers in this community spread.
BALDWIN: So what's the story with you, Congressman? I mean I'm hearing you -- you say you feel fine but you're self-quarantining because you had dinner with someone who is sick. Have you been tested?
BEYER: No. We requested it a couple of days ago from the House physician and they said no because I wasn't symptomatic, not enough tests to use on me.
There's basically so few tests in play at the moment that they are only using it for people who are actively symptomatic. It's OK in the short run. Terrible strategy for the long run.
People who are home sick are not out spreading. The people who are contagious but not symptomatic are the disease spreader in our society.
BALDWIN: Talking to a sitting member of Congress, asymptomatic. The House is now working on a major coronavirus virus response bill. The Senate did just announce it will stay in session to work on legislation instead of going into recess next week. The bill would provide free testing, funding for food, funding for paid emergency leave.
How long, how long do you think that the American people will have to wait to see action from Congress?
BEYER: Well, definitely this month. If the House can get it done in the next two days, the Senate next week, definitely within the next 10 or 12 days, end of the month at the latest.
Even more importantly, when people know that we're committed to getting it done, they can rest a little more assured.
Because it's really important for all those people -- you know, the bottom quarter wage earners in our society don't have any health insurance. We don't want them feeling economically insecure so they feel they have to go to work sick to pay their bills and keep food on their table.
BALDWIN: Congressman Don Beyer, I wish you well. Stay healthy. Thank you so much.
BEYER: Thank you, Brooke. BALDWIN: More on the breaking developments. More schools are closing. More flights are being impacted. The state of New York just banned large gatherings of 500 people or more. And just in, Broadway officially cancelled its shows in the city.
I'm Brooke Baldwin. You're watching CNN's special live coverage.
BALDWIN: We continue on. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being here.
Confusion, questions, disruptions, that's the new normal for millions of Americans as the threat of coronavirus spreads around the country. Right now, we know there are more than 1400 confirmed cases, 39 deaths.
But those numbers don't tell the full picture, in part, because the U.S., from all indications, is not testing enough. In some cases, not testing accurately.
Moments ago, the governor of California said the test kits his state received were incomplete.