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Biden Speaks on Coronavirus Response; Sports World Comes to Standstill over Coronavirus Fears; Seattle Public Schools Superintendent, Denise Juneau, Discusses School Closings Amid Coronavirus Spread. Aired 1:30-2p ET
Aired March 12, 2020 - 13:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Those putting themselves on the line as I speak for others. I like to thank those who already making sacrifices to protect us whether that's self-quarantine or cancelling events and closing campus.
Whether or not you are infected or knows someone who is or having contacted with an infected person, this requires a national response. Not just from our elected leaders or our public health officials but from all of us.
We must, all of us must follow the guidelines of health officials and take appropriate protections to protect ourselves and critically to protect others especially those who are most at risk from this disease.
It is going to mean making radical changes from our personal behavior. More frequent and more thorough hand washing, staying home from work if you are ill but also avoid handshakes and hugs. Avoiding large public gathers.
That's why earlier this week, on the recommendation officials, my campaign cancelled election night rallies we planned to hold in Ohio. We are also reimagining a format for large crowd events planned in Chicago and Miami in the coming days.
We'll continue to assess and adjust how we conduct our campaign as we move forward and find new ways to share our message with the public while putting the health and safety of the American people first, above everything else.
Yesterday, we announced a public health advisory committee of expert who'll continue to council my campaign and me, help guide decisions on steps to minimize further risks. Also, we'll lead by science.
The World Health Organization has officially declared COVID-19 a pandemic. Downplaying it, being overly dismissive or spreading misinformation is only going to hurt us and further advance the spread of the disease.
But neither should we panic or fall back on genophobia (ph). Labeling COVID-19 a "foreign virus" does not displace accountability for the misjudgments that have been taken thus far by the Trump administration.
Let me be crystal clear, the coronavirus does not have a political affiliation. It will infect Republicans, Democrats and Independents alike. It will not discriminate national origin, race or zip code.
It will touch people in position of power and the most vulnerable in our society. And it will not stop. Banning all travel from Europe or any part of the world may slow it but, as we've seen, it will not stop it.
Travel restrictions on favoritism or politics or rather than risks will be counterproductive.
This disease could impact every nation and any person on the planet. We need a plan about how we're going to aggressively manage here at home.
You all know the American people have the capacity to meet this moment. We are going to face this with the same spirit that's guiding us through previous crises.
And we'll come together as a nation and we'll look out one another and do our part as citizens. We have to harness the ingenuity of our scientists and the resourcefulness of our people. And we have to help the world to drive a coordinated global strategy, not shut ourselves off from the world.
Protecting the health and safety of the American people is the most important job of any president. Unfortunately, this virus laid bare the severe shortcomings of the current administration.
Public fears are being compounded by a pervasive lack of trust of this president, fueled by adversary relationships with the truth that he continues to have.
Our government's ability to respond effectively has been undermined by hollowing out our agencies and disparagement of science. And our ability to drive a global response has dramatically, dramatically destroyed by the damage that Trump has done to our credibility and our relationships around the world.
We have to get to work immediately to dig ourselves out this hole. That's why today I am releasing a plan to combat to overcome the coronavirus.
The full details if the plan, if you want to see them, go to Joe Biden.com, where I lay out the immediate to deliver, one, decisive public health response to curb the spread of disease and to provide treatment those need who need it, and a decisive economic response that delivers real relief for American workers and families and small businesses that protects the economy as a whole.
I offer this as a road map. Not for what I will do as president 10 months from now but for the leadership that I believe is immediately required at this very moment.
President Trump is welcome to adopt all of it today.
The core principles are simple. Public health professions must be the ones making our public health decisions and communicating with the American people. Public health professions.
It would be a step towards claiming public trust and confidence in the United States government as well towards stopping the fear and chaos that can overtake communities, faster than this pandemic can overtake them.
And it's critical to mount an effective national response that will save lives and protect our frontline health workers and slow the spread of the virus.
First, anyone, anyone who needs a new test based on medical guidance should be tested at no charge. At no charge. The administration's failure of testing is colossal. It is a failure of planning, leadership and execution.
The White House should measure and report each day, each and every day how many tests have been ordered and how many tests have been completed and how many tested positive.
By next week, the number of tests should be in the millions and not thousands. We should make every person in the nursing home available for testing. Every senior center, a vulnerable population, has to have easy access in tests.
We should establish hundreds of mobile testing sites, at least 10 per state and drive-through testing centers to speed testing and protect the health of the workers.
The CDC, private labs and universities and manufactures should be working lock step to get it done and get it done correctly.
No efforts should be spared, none. No excuses should be made. Tests should be available to all who need them. And the government, the government should stop at nothing to make it happen.
We must know the truthfulness of this outbreak so we can map it and trace it and continue.
Nor should we hide the true number of infections in the hopes of protecting political interests or the stock market. The market will respond to strong steady leadership that addresses the root of the problem and not efforts to cover it up.
Secondly, we need to surge our capacity to prevent and treat the coronavirus and prepare our hospitals to deal with this influx of those needing care, as I've been saying for weeks.
This means not just getting out testing kits and processing them quickly but making sure communities have the hospital beds available, the staff and medical supplies, the personal protective equipment necessary to treat the patients.
The president should order FEMA to prepare to capacity with local authorities to establish temporary hospitals with hundreds of beds on short notice.
The Department of Defense should be planning now, should have been planning, to prepare for potential deployment of the resources provided and medical facility capacity and logistical support that only they can do.
A week from now, a month from now, we can even list (ph) a 500-bed hospital, isolate and treat patients in any city in this country.
We can do that. And we are not ready yet and the clock is ticking.
As we take these steps, state, federal and local authorities need to ensure there's accurate up-to-date information available to every American citizen. So everyone, so everyone can make an informed decision about when to get tested, when to self-quarantine, when to seek medical treatment.
And the federal government should provide states and municipalities with clear guidance for when to trigger more aggressive mitigation policies, such as closing schools.
Third, we need to accelerate the development and treatment of a vaccine. Science takes time. It will still be many months before we have a vaccine that can be proven safe for public use sufficient to make a difference. But therapeutics can and should come sooner. This will save lives.
When I put together in the package of (INAUDIBLE) in 2016 to accelerate work at the National Institutions of Health but now it has to be made available with available resources to speed up, speed that process along.
We have to fast-track clinical trials while closely coordinating with the FDA, the Food and Drug Administration, on trial approvals so that science is not hindered by the bureaucracy.
When a vaccine is ready to go, it should be made widely available and free of charge. We should immediately restore the White House National Security Council Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense with a fulltime dedicated coordinator to oversee that response.
Our administration, our last administration, we created that office to better respond to future global threats after the Ebola crisis of 20414. It was designed for exactly this scenario. I don't understand why President Trump eliminated that office two years ago.
Look, here's the bottom line. We have to do what's missing to beat this challenge sooner than later. We'll beat it. I assure you, if we wait, then scramble to catch up, the human and economic toll will grow faster and larger and more dangerous. Congress gave this administration $8 billion last week to fight the
virus. We need to know exactly what that money is going to be used for. How quickly it's going out the door. And exactly how it's being spent.
This brings me to the second half of the challenge in terms of economic dislocation the coronavirus is the cause of in our country. You must do whatever it takes, spend whatever it takes to deliver for our families and ensure the stability of our economy.
Taking immediate bold measures to help Americans who are hurting economically right this minute.
It means we need bigger and broader measures to shore up the economic demand to protect jobs, keep credit flowing to our job creators, and make sure we have an economic fire power we need to weather the storm and get the people and this economy back to full strength as soon as possible.
This crisis will hit everyone, but it will hit folks live paycheck to paycheck the hardest, including working people and seniors. Another tax cut to Google or Goldman won't get the job done. Another tax cut for these folks will not get the job done.
An indiscriminate corporate tax subsidy won't effectively targeted those who really need the help now.
We need to place our focus on those who are struggling just to get by. People are already losing jobs. We need to replace their wages. That includes workers in the real economy who lack unemployment.
Parents are already struggling of childcare costs. We need to give them relief. Children relying on school lunches. We need to provide food for them. Schools need help ensuring children who don't have access to computers can still learn if their school is shutdown.
People have difficulty paying their rents and mortgage because they have been laid off or had their hours cut back need help to be stay in their apartments or their homes.
Small businesses will be devastated as customers stay home, and eventually cancelled. We need to make sure they have access to interest-free loans. Not loans with interest. Interest-free loans.
It is a national disgrace that millions of our fellow citizens don't have a single day of paid sick leave available to them.
We need both a permanent plan for paid sick leave and an emergency plan for everyone who needs due to the outbreak now.
Beyond these national measures, my plan also calls for the creation of a state and local emergency fund to make sure governors, mayors and local leaders who are battling the coronavirus on the ground as I speak have resources to meet this crisis head on now.
These funds can be used at the discretion of leaders for whatever they need most, from expanding critical health infrastructure, hiring additional health and emergency service personnel, or cushioning the wider economic blow this virus is creating in their community.
We need smart, bold, compassionate leadership that's going to help contain the crisis and reduce the hardship to our people and help our economy rebound.
Let me be very clear. Unfortunately, this will just be a start. We must prepare now to take further decisive action, including relief that'll be large in scale, focused on the broader health and stability of our economy.
Look, we can only help to protect our economy, we do everything in our power to protect the health of our people.
The last point I want to make is this. We'll never fully solve this problem if we are unwilling to look beyond our own borders and engage fully with the rest of the world. Disease starts any places in the planet, can get on a plane to any cities on earth and within a few hours. We have to confront the coronavirus everywhere.
We should be leading a coordinated global response, just as we did to the Ebola crisis, that draws us on the incredible capability of the U.S. Agency of International Development and our State Department to assist vulnerable nations in detecting and treating the coronavirus wherever it has been.
We should be investing and rebuilding and strengthening the Global Health Security Agenda, which we launched during our administration, specifically mobilize the world against the threat of new infection diseases.
Look, it can be hard to see the concrete value of this work when everything seems to be going well in the world. But by cutting our investment of global health, this administration has left us woefully unprepared for the exact crisis that we now face.
No president can promise to prevent future outbreaks. But I can promise you this. When I am president, we'll be better prepared and respond better and recover better.
We'll lead with science and listen to the experts and heed their advice and we'll build American leadership and rebuild it to rally the world to meet our global threats that we're likely to face again.
You know, I always tell you the truth. This is a responsibility of a president. That's what is owed to the American people.
Now, in the difficult days ahead, I know this country will summon the spirit, empathy and decency and unity we need. Because in times of crisis, the American people always, always stand as one and tell the truth. Volunteers raise their hands to help and neighbors looking out for neighbors and businesses take care of workers.
So We'll meet this challenge together. I'm confident. But we have to move and move now.
Thank you all for taking the time to be here. And God bless our troops. Thank you.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: All right, Joe Biden with a speech on how he would deal with coronavirus.
I want to bring in Abby Phillip and Dr. Peter Hotez.
He started saying this virus bears the shortcomings of this administration and he went through them, the hollowing out of agencies, he said, the disparaging of science, the damage to the credibility and relationships around the world.
Sort of the big picture here, the president last night, he kind of whiffed at his chance to convince Americans that he has a plan to deal with the spread of the virus domestically and he set the stage for Joe Biden to walk on in and look presidential.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. It seemed very much that last night, what President Trump thought he needed to do was to rebrand this crisis by calling this something different, saying it is a foreign virus and trying to frame it as "us against them" kind of way. What the American people --
KEILAR: A travel ban.
PHILLIP: Exactly. According to reports, he was looking to do something big and when he's looking to do something big, he tends to veer toward immigration or travel-related restrictions.
But what the American public and the market were looking for was some sense of a plan. What is the plan to get tested and to be more widespread in the country? What is the plan to build hospital capacity in the country? What is the plan for containing the virus that's already here?
What we saw Joe Biden do is something that would have been easy for President Trump to do in his speech, is to lay out, what are your proposals to get it done. Put them on the table.
This was really tee-balled for Joe Biden. It was not hard for him to have done that. And it was made particularly easy because, last night, even while reading from a teleprompter, President Trump gave a speech riddled with falsehoods about what his own proposals were and what the situation would actually be for the American people.
It was a huge missed opportunity. He opened the door wide open for Joe Biden and, later today, for Bernie Sanders to make the case that he's really not up to the task. [13:50:02]
KEILAR: And these speeches, Dr. Peter Hotez, I mean, from a politics point of view, they're pretty -- they're formulaic. You have an organized list of things you're going to do. You acknowledge what the problem is. You throw some compassion in there as well and just acknowledge what people are going through.
But, look, you're the doctor. So you tell us, what did you think about this plan? Are there things that you would like to have seen with this plan?
DR. PETER HOTEZ, DIRECTOR, VACCINE DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM, BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: Yes, pretty much. I mean, he pretty much did the things I was looking to the White House to do.
Remember, last week, we spoke, I said the coming days will be really tough for the American people because finally testing is under getting under way. We're bringing in some commercial labs. The numbers will go up precipitously. We're going to see new sites of infection and, sure enough, that's exactly what happened.
And if you remember, Brianna, I said, and this is going to be a very important test for the president to be able to now no longer say, it's business as usual, we're going to stop saying this is a mild illness, this is the flu. But we're say, look, this is a serious threat to the American people. These are the four problem areas I'm looking at. These are the four or five things I'm going to do. And unfortunately, that wasn't done.
As the other commentator mentioned, that's exactly what the vice president did. He came in and went, bam, bam, bam. These are the issues and this is what we're going to do. And I think it's what everyone has been looking for now, for the last six weeks.
And he even took it a notch further by addressing what everyone is thinking about but no one has really been talking about is, what does it mean for me to be able to support my family, be able to go out and maintain some semblance of normality. He addressed that as well.
What he's done, the vice president, he's assembled a very good kitchen cabinet to advise him and I recognize some of those talking points from the kitchen cabinet.
One of them is my former student from Yale, Rebecca Katz, now part of that team, who's an expert in global security. I could hear Rebecca's voice in that, Dr. Katz's voice.
This is a very a powerful moment. I'm not a political scientist but I think this is a powerful moment in this election, in this election year.
KEILAR: There's a void when it comes to the voices that President Trump is getting, so that he can have sort of an array of advice to transform into policy proposals.
Arlette Saenz was there at this event in Wilmington.
And, I mean, this is a moment for the former vice president to seize on. This is clearly just what he and his team wanted to do which was take a moment and provide what a president normally provides.
ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Brianna, this was a chance for Joe Biden and his team to show how he contrasts from President Trump and the leadership style that Joe Biden would have if he was in the Oval Office.
He came out here with a plan but he also said he's willing to have President Trump draw from that plan as he presented it.
But for Joe Biden, this gave him that chance to contrast himself and put himself up against the president. He laid out steps that should be taken, not just when it comes to the health impact but also the economic impact.
He said the shortcomings of the administration have been laid bare as this coronavirus has unfolded and spread across the country and across the world.
And I think what Biden is trying to show here is that he can step into the Oval Office on day one. He has experience handling public health officials in his former time as a vice president under Barack Obama.
And that he can step into the Oval Office on day one and take this role and be able to consult his advisers and develop plans for how to protect the country and keep the country safe in the middle of a health crisis.
And you heard him call for paid sick leave for American workers.
Also, he said that the administration's approach to testing has been colossal. He wants free testing for anyone who believes they have coronavirus.
This was certainly a chance for Joe Biden to put his ideas forward and try to present himself as that strong steady leader for the country.
KEILAR: He did seize that moment.
Arlette, thank you so much, reporting from Delaware.
More breaking news from the sports world, which is coming to a standstill. In a series of unprecedented moves, the NBA, MLS, the NHL all suspending games effective immediately. The PGA tour players championship will continue with essential personnel only on the course. ATP suspended men's professional tennis tour and NASCAR is going to go on with events without fans.
CNN's Carolyn Manno is joining us now.
This is wild, Carolyn. The idea of all of these events without fans. It's sending shock waves through the sports community and some of these events that obviously aren't going to happen at all. Tell us more.
CAROLYN MANNO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, there's really just a couple more shoes to drop. While Joe Biden was speaking, we learned that the NHL is going to suspend play. A lot of people expected that as a logical next step because they share so many facilities with the NBA.
The other big news at this hour is the cancellation of all the major NCAA men's basketball college tournaments. These are the collegiate tournaments that lead up to March Madness.
Everybody asking what's going on with March Madness. Players on the court at the big-10 tournament in Indianapolis. They were warming up when it was called.
And then in the ACC tournament, we saw a very awkward trophy presentation to Florida State. The number one seed coming into that tournament as the regular season champs and, thus, they were awarded the conference championship trophy.
This is all just very bizarre, Brianna, when you juxtapose it against huge crowds and the cutting of nets that we're used to seeing in this environment with March Madness.
Conference officials really citing the health and safety wellness of the student athletes, the coaches, the administrators, fans and media as a priority.
Right now, the latest statement we have from the NCAA regarding March Madness is that games are still going to be played somehow without fans in attendance.
But things are changing very rapidly. And with every chip that falls, you would think that March Madness is going to be updating us sooner rather than later.
Player safety certainly in the spotlight after the NBA announced decision to suspend it's season.
We saw Jazz center, Rudy Gobert, test positive for the virus. That's really what changed everything. Today, there is a second confirmed case on Utah's roster of the virus.
So professional player and coaches finding themselves, really, in the same position as many Americans. They want to get tested. They want information. They want to know what's going on. And there's no timetables because we don't know how widespread the virus is.
Not only with the Jazz organization but within the league in its entirety. You've got teams who played the Jazz and the teams who even played teams who played the Jazz.
It's an ongoing situation but the sports world is grinding to a halt very quickly. KEILAR: As we've learned, this virus can stay on a surface up to three
days and it's explaining why we see that spread between people who obviously are sharing surfaces.
Carolyn, thank you so much for that great report.
And on top of this, more than 300,000 American students who will be out of school in the coming days.
My next guest, Denise Juneau, is the superintendent for Seattle Public Schools.
Thank you so much for joining us and we're very glad to have you
DENISE JUNEAU, SUPERINTENDENT, SEATTLE PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Thank you for having me.
KEILAR: Of course. We're very glad to have you so you can walk us through this because a lot of school districts are wondering, hey, is this going to be us next.
Washington State has more confirmed cases of coronavirus than any other state, of course, and starting today, Seattle Public Schools are going to be closed for a minimum of two weeks. Your district is the first in the nation to do this. Tell us first how you came to this decision.
JUNEAU: Yes, we are in an unprecedented health crisis and we want to make sure that we were keeping our doors open as long as possible because not only are we educating the city's students, we provide an access point for social services for so many families and students across the city.
So we know the importance of public education to Seattle. We worked with our public health experts throughout this entire process. But it just became a point where we had a confirmed case in a staff member. The heightened anxiety of a lot of our staff members as well as our families. It became the strain was too much so we had to --
JUNEAU: -- we had to call it.
KEILAR: So what do you do for kids on reduced and free lunches?
JUNEAU: That's why it was such a difficult decision to make. I think this is probably the hardest decision any school leader will have to make, closing down for an undetermined amount of time because of the public health crisis.
We know that we are an access point for food service, a lot of social services. We have a plan in place where we will set up, similar to snow days, common spaces about 25 across the city to offer food service to our families.
We also have robust partners all across the city that are already writing to us, asking how they can help. We'll start coordinating services to make sure we get as much food out, as many services, childcare providers that we can provide to the city during this crisis.
KEILAR: Well, look, we certainly -- we've been watching, obviously, what's been happening in Washington State and I don't think it's particularly a surprise that you came to this decision. And obviously, you know what you're doing. So important. There's going to be a lot of people looking at it as maybe the model for what they do.
Denise Juneau, thank you so much --
KEILAR: -- with Seattle Public Schools. We really appreciate you joining us.
JUNEAU: Thank you.
KEILAR: And that is it for me.
"NEWSROOM" with Brooke Baldwin starts right now.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Breanna, thank you so much.
Hi, there. I'm Brooke Baldwin. You're watching CNN's special coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. Thank you for being here.