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Trump Restricts Travel From Most Of Europe For 30 Days; Several States Move To Restrict Large Events Amid Virus Fears. Aired 7-7:30a ET
Aired March 12, 2020 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEW DAY: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is New Day, and it is a new moment in America as the coronavirus pandemic altered our lives. A million kids out of school, the NBA season suspended, cases rising and rising, and the president announcing new actions and then correcting them.
Overnight, in an Oval Office address, President Trump announced a 30- day ban on air travel from 36 European countries to the United States beginning tomorrow night. But the speech was a bit of a mess. He had to correct that it did not apply to Americans and it did not apply to cargo. Called it a foreign virus. And the fact is it's here in America and it is growing. He also did not address testing deficiencies.
We're going to speak live with Vice President Mike Pence a few minutes from now to get clarity on all this.
There are now 1,274 confirmed cases in the United States. This number is rising and rising. 38 Americans have died. Dow futures down more than 1,000 points, this comes as U.S. markets slipped into bear market territory yesterday. Overseas markets way down on fears of a global economic slowdown.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN NEW DAY: The pandemic is affecting many facets of everyday life, as John said. California, Oregon and Washington State all imposing restrictions on large public gatherings of more than 250 people. Ohio is expected to join them today.
More than a million school kids from kindergarten through high school are home from school today for who knows how long? At least 61 colleges and universities in 20 states have canceled in-person classes. The NBA suspending its season after a player tested positive for coronavirus. For now, March Madness games will go on but in empty arenas.
And now, Academy Award winner Tom Hanks revealing that he and his wife, Rita Wilson have tested positive for coronavirus while working in Australia on a movie shoot. A lot to get to.
CNN's Joe Johns begins our coverage. He's live with more at the White House with more on the president's message. Joe? JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alisyn. Well, the president was clearly trying to ramp up his response to the virus. But if he was trying to create calm, he ended up creating a measure of confusion, probably the biggest problem was the way the president framed his restrictions on travel for much of Europe. Let's listen to what he had to say and then I'll tell you what he meant.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: To keep new cases from entering our shores, we will be suspending all travel from Europe to the United States for the next 30 days. The new rules will go into effect Friday at midnight.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JOHNS: It turns out the travel restrictions that the president was talking about weren't nearly as restrictive as he suggested. Those restrictions did not include U.S. citizens.
Also, the president said during that address that they were going to cut off trade and cargo shipments from Europe. He had to go on Twitter later in the evening to clean that up. The president also said that co-payments for treatment of coronavirus would be waived by insurance companies. It turns out the only thing the insurance companies are waiving is, in fact, the testing for coronavirus.
The White House did cancel a number of public events that the president has upcoming. They say they did that out of an abundance of caution.
John, Alisyn, back to you.
CAMEROTA: Joe, thank you very much.
European officials were blindsided by President Trump's new travel restrictions. Several ambassadors tell CNN they had no advance warning that a ban of that magnitude was coming.
CNN's Richard Quest is live in London's Heathrow Airport. What's the reaction, Richard?
RICHARD QUEST, CNN BUSINESS EDITOR AT LARGE: Good morning. The reaction is one of stunned amazement. But the Europeans official reaction is to criticize the way they were told. The European Commission president basically is saying that they were not consulted and they wish they had been consulted and advised before this announcement was made.
So far, they haven't actually criticized the decision. But there's no doubt today, there's vast amounts of confusion over who can travel where and what you're supposed to do.
In terms of the airlines affected, those most affected from the U.S. are United through its alliance with Lufthansa group and Delta, through Air France, KLM and Delta. [07:05:05]
The least affected at the moment, I should say, Alisyn, is probably American Airlines through its reliance with British Airways. The U.K. is exempt from this. It's not Schengen. Ireland also seems to be exempt. It's not Schengen. Heathrow Airport is just quiet this morning.
CAMEROTA: Thank you for attempting to clarify some of his messages from last night. Richard Quest, we really appreciate that.
Let's bring in CNN Political Analyst David Gregory and CNN Senior Political Commentator David Axelrod. Great to have both of you here.
Axe, I want to start with you. How does a White House speechwriter get two major points in this script for the president, it was in the teleprompter, so wrong and that it requires clarifications within an hour?
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, I don't have an answer for that. I don't know that there's a precedent for this. Look, there are a couple of obligations when you're giving an Oval Office address in the midst of a crisis. One is to be truthful, to be factual, to be open with the scope of the challenge and then to be clear how you're going to meet that challenge. And the president failed on all fronts last night.
It is inconceivable to me that minutes after an Oval Office address in the midst of a major crisis that you have to engage in a series of skin-backs to correct what the nation just heard. And that doesn't inspire confidence that we have steady a leadership at the helm in the midst of this. And the psychology of this got much worse instead of better because of this speech.
BERMAN: And, David Axelrod, and we'll come to you in a second, David Gregory, I promise, but you actually have an example of where, look, I don't think you had to correct yourself in the Obama administration over an Oval Office address, but after the Gulf oil spill, there was an Oval Office address and you actually regret it.
AXELRO: Yes, I absolutely do. It was one of the big mistakes, communications-wine, that we made one. I was in the White House. We felt it was important to get the president in front of the country to talk about this leak in the Gulf of Mexico. But we really didn't have a solid answer about how we were going to stop it at that juncture. And so the president's speech underwhelmed and it actually made things worse rather than better. But, honestly, that was like the Gettysburg address compared to what we saw last night.
CAMEROTA: David Gregory, I think that the reporting is that Jared Kushner had a hand in this and that Stephen Miller, it certainly seemed that his fingerprints were on it. He was categorizing the virus as a foreign virus. Obviously, viruses don't have a nationality, and also the idea of time to close the borders, no foreigners should be allowed in during this. Tom Bossert, who was a Homeland Security adviser, said, that is not the right answer here. Actually, the virus is here. Closing the borders is not anything that is necessarily going to be effective. So what did you hear in the speech?
DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, and I think it's on that point that this is so important. It's what Axe is talking about, the psychology of the country right now. Whether it's -- even the economy, which is experiencing real shocks because of this, it's not a lack of will on the American public, a demand, it's that the economy is really halting. And, obviously, the markets were not at all assuaged by the president's remarks last night.
As I was watching it in real-time, I thought it was not important to evaluate in terms of political performance and that but overall leadership. And in real-time, to have to deal with the clarification on the policy is stunning to me. Why? Because what Americans want right now, if they're anxious, they see the NBA, sports, schools, real disruptions to their lives, they want to know what's happening, how bad it's going to be and what we do next.
The president has not provided that clarity. He has spent weeks downplaying it. Now, he's had to clarify what the policy actually is. And what I thought what was missing, addressing the issue with testing. We're just not testing enough in this country to really understand what we're up against.
And I don't think the president did as well as he could have done in steeling the American people for what is ahead. Talking about it is not a financial crisis but a temporary moment in time. Yes, he's right, this will not go on forever, but I think the American people have to be prepared for the anxiety and the disruption in all kinds of ways that this represents.
And to justify why draconian measures may be necessary, to flatten out the numbers of cases. That's what you do in a public health emergency.
BERMAN: Look, I think we can all agree, it didn't meet the moment. So let's talk about the moment, David. I think, to an extent -- David Gregory first, we're sort of missing this. I mean, to wake up and see that the NBA season is is suspended, I know basketball is just a game, but it's, I think, symbolic of how our life has changed as of this morning. My kids' school was canceled.
And this isn't about me, but so many people I know now have their kids out of school, a million kids nationwide out of school. This is now changing our lives.
GREGORY: Well, and I thought yesterday was a real turning point in the country, because I interacted with people who said, is this overblown, is this just like a bad flu, why are we going through all these closings everything, what's happening with the economy? And then, yes, sports has a way of really waking people up because not everyone pays attention to what goes on in Washington. But if they're hoops fans, especially in springtime with a great NBA season, people are like, wow, this has really got real for me, and it's that level of disruption. And the more important point than our recreation, of course, is what the strain on the healthcare system in terms of actual preparedness. That's what is so worrisome because people will die from this virus.
So I don't think the political system does a great job of acting proactively, and that's what's necessary here.
CAMEROTA: Axe, what would a different style of leadership look and sound like at this moment of uncertainty?
AXELROD: Well, we had one example yesterday. Angela Merkel spoke to the German people and she was very blunt about the nature of the challenge and said up to 70 percent of the German people could be infected and talked about the steps they were going to have to take.
I just want to reiterate something that David just said. This is going to put -- and Sanjay Gupta has been talking about this quite a bit on air here. Very important, we are going to face a public health facility crisis. The number of cases are going to put an enormous strain on our public health system. And what would have been appropriate last night was for the president to lay all these facts out and say, here is how we are mobilizing to meet this, here is what we need to ask of you and, ultimately, yes, we're going to get through this. And you need to know we're going to get through this.
But people will believe we're going to get through this if they feel like the steps that are being taken are sufficient to the challenge, and that's what didn't happen last night. There was no mention of this strain we're going to feel in our health system because of the nature of this crisis.
And, you know, that's sort of the essence of it. The president is very concerned, as he should be, about the economic system and the effect on the markets. There are a lot of effects on people as well. David mentioned that people -- their kids are home from school. Well, who is going to take care of those kids when they're home from school? What does that mean to you economically? If you're sick and you don't get paid, what does it mean economically?
All of these issues have to be addressed to give people confidence that we have a plan, that we're going to meet this challenge. Nobody got that confidence last night.
GREGORY: And I think what's important to state, as I think we feel it, you know, the problem in our politics right now is that we have this loss of faith in institutions and we're so polarized. But we also have a sense of community-mindedness and looking after one another. And I think that plays out because the government is not responsible for everything and the private sector is responding. But the government has got to step up in all its fashion.
And thank God for people like Dr. Fauci, Tony Fauci, and others who are part of this government-wide response doing everything that can be done right now. But a government has to speak to the psychology of country and have real results for something that's going to move very quickly.
BERMAN: Look, David Gregory, David Axelrod, we thank you both so much for being with us this morning. You guys both have so much experience and I know people are turning to you and asking you, seriously, what should we be doing now and what should we be concerned about and how are we living our lives. Thanks for being with us this morning. We'll talk to you again really soon.
CAMEROTA: My doctor called me, which was not comforting.
CAMEROTA: I mean, they do think that there's a dearth of information right now. We're on the frontlines but there's so much uncertainty.
BERMAN: And it's frustrating. David talked about community with the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., has shut down services for two weeks. So many of the institutions that we look to to lean on in moments of crisis aren't as available now because of this, which only makes it harder.
CAMEROTA: And, look, we understand that the White House doesn't have a lot of the answers either, but I thought it was interesting to hear what Axelrod was saying, in these moments of crisis and uncertainty, it would help to have a plan or to something comforting about what is being asked of all of us and how we're going to get through it and how long we expect to --
BERMAN: Also, there should be a political Hippocratic oath, do no harm. And I'm not sure the president lived by that last night in that address.
CAMEROTA: Well, we look very forward to speaking live with Vice President Mike Pence in just a few minutes and to getting some more answers.
BERMAN: So at least four states this morning are moving to a strict large gathering, really not even that large in some cases, concerts, sports, parades, rallies, meetings, conferences. New York City, we live here. We work here. How will the city respond? What is the mayor most concerned about this morning?
He'll tell us next.
BERMAN: As of this morning, California, Oregon, Washington State have now banned gatherings of more than 250 people because of the coronavirus pandemic, concerts, meetings, sporting events, you name it. What does that mean for America's biggest city, the heart and culture of major events in the United States? I, of course, am talking about New York City.
Joining me now is New York City mayor, Mayor Bill de Blasio. Mr. Mayor, thank you very much for being with us this morning.
First of all, just can you give us an update on number of cases and the situation here in the city?
MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D-NEW YORK CITY, NY): 62 cases right now in the city. Obviously, this is a very, very serious situation, I remind you against the backdrop of 8.6 million people. But it has been growing steadily. And we're going to have to make a lot of changes in our lives. But, John, we cannot overdo. That's the balance we have to strike. I'm a believer that we have to be careful not to destroy people's livelihoods, not to destroy the opportunity for our kids to be in a safe place. They're learning every day in school. And yet, we're going to have to introduce more and more restrictions, which we're certainly going to do in New York City today and tomorrow.
We're going to have to do more restrictions in this --
BERMAN: Okay. What kind of restrictions?
DE BLASIO: We're going to put the details out there. But, clearly, somehow, balancing the need to keep as much normalcy in society as possible while reducing the gatherings that are causing concern, giving people more space.
And this is the trick, John. It's not just about being out there. It's trying to give people some more space in their social interactions.
BERMAN: Broadway shows?
DE BLASIO: This is the kind of thing we're grappling with right now. And today and tomorrow, we'll put out guidance. I don't want to see Broadway go dark if we can avoid it. I want to see if we can strike some kind of balance.
BERMAN: How? I mean, how do you strike a balance? It's a gathering of -- initially, it's gathering of more than 250 people.
DE BLASIO: Right. And what we're trying to figure out, is there a way to reduce the capacity, reduce the number of people. If we cannot strike that balance, of course, we can go to closure. And that's the decision we'll be making right away.
BERMAN: I'm just curious, but would that be with every three seats or --
DE BLASIO: Well, things like that. You've seen, and this is an analogy from Italy, they're being hit harder than almost anywhere. They're moving events outdoors. They're getting people to literally put space between each other. They saw an outdoor mass the other day, where they organized it so people have space. We're going to have to think very differently.
Our society is changing by the hour right now. But that does not mean, I think, we should anticipate a society with no social activity, no work, no school. How are we going to strike that balance? And we're going to try to figure that out quickly and start with some new models that we've never used before.
BERMAN: But theater-lovers -- it sounds like you're telling me theater-lovers need to brace themselves for some kind of change in the next --
DE BLASIO: Absolutely. Absolutely.
DE BLASIO: Same idea. We're not going to shut down a subway system. If you shut down the subway system, then you're shutting down the economy and you're shutting down work and livelihood.
I am worried, John, about people who have no money. I am worried about people who can't afford the rent or medicines or food. We have to strike a balance. What we've been trying to do, we've been telling employers, stagger your work hours if you can, more people telecommuting, open up the subways, less close proximity, we're going to do more of that in a variety of ways.
BERMAN: Schools. Now, schools, I know, is something you care deeply about to have, from even before. You were mayor (ph) in public schools. There have been -- I live in Westchester County. It's different than New York City. My kids' school has closed at least for today and tomorrow. What are you going to base your decision on here in New York City?
DE BLASIO: So with the schools, what we have heard from so many parents is, the minute you take the school away, a lot of parents don't have option, particularly for the younger kids, of where to take them. They literally have none.
BERMAN: Well, that means a lot of things, not just education, but food, daycare, all of it.
DE BLASIO: And the food part is crucial. A lot of kids depend on school for food.
So what we have said working with the State of New York is, if we find a case in a school, we'll do a temporary closure, we'll identify any close contacts, get those people isolated, alert parents who have kids with pre-existing, serious medical conditions. That's where the vulnerability is for kids. Most healthy kid so far, thank God, are doing fine in this situation.
And then we want that school back up and running after a smart -- re- clean, of course, the schools, thorough cleaning. But we do not want to get to that slippery slope, the dominos falling, where school systems start to close. I think that's very dangerous.
BERMAN: Look, New York City has so many wonderful hospitals.
DE BLASIO: Yes. BERMAN: There is a concern. Dr. Sanjay Gupta talks about it all the time, number of ventilators, number of hospital beds. How do you feel about the capacity if the number of cases surges here?
DE BLASIO: In our public hospital system alone, we've got about 80 public facilities we've identified immediately between public and private systems. At least 1,200 beds we could make available. We would cancel elective surgeries, instantly open up a whole lot more capacity. I believe our public system has a thousand ventilators to begin.
Can we handle the next few stages? Yes. If this truly becomes something like we've never seen on a vast, vast scale, we all have a problem, but this gets back to the federal government.
Here is what the federal government should be doing right now, and it really -- it's a wartime footing (ph). All the material we need, as we would do in a war, ventilators, surgical masks, even down to hand sanitizer, the federal government should be mobilizing those resources, maximizing production through the private sector, rationing it, if you will, to where it's needed around the country, obviously Washington State in particular, but other places like New York.
Look, the federal government can take charge of this situation. And, John, the most necessary thing, the thing we're still waiting for was not in the speech last night, the testing. We've gotten more ability to test but we have not gotten the automated testing the FDA needs to approve. That would mean we could do thousands of tests and get same- day results. We're still waiting on that.
BERMAN: One of the things the president said, everyone who wants a testing gets a test. Is that true here in New York City?
DE BLASIO: It's not. It's true only in the narrowest sense. But if you prioritize the folks that need tests a day, we are doing hundreds a day, hundreds per day, I should say, that's happening. But it's not fast enough. And we should be testing on a bigger scale but we need the automated capacity that we need FDA approval to do that.
BERMAN: Obviously, New York City is an international city, a lot of travelers coming from around the world. The president just announced a 30-day ban of Europeans coming to the United States from 26 countries.
How will that affect New York City and is that a good policy, in your mind?
DE BLASIO: Look, I accept the notion of travel bans in this environment. So I disagree with President Trump on many things but actually that the travel ban piece of the strategy has been, in many ways, warranted. It does not replace a proactive strategy by the United States of America to address our own issues because we have our own community spread now. And it does not forgive the fact that the basic supplies are not being organized by the federal government and the testing is not widespread. But the travel bans, I think, inherently, makes some sense.
It will hurt every place that depends on tourism, business conferences. It will hurt our economy. It will hurt people's livelihoods. But I don't think it's wrong. I think it's necessary.
BERMAN: The NBA decision to suspend, the right decision? What do you think that other sports should be considering today?
DE BLASIO: Every private organization, and the leagues are obviously private, has to make their own judgment. I think in the end, you're going to see a lot of this.
BERMAN: But do you like it? As mayor of New York City, does it help you?
DE BLASIO: It helps in the level of once these private organizations decide to do something, it gives us some clarity. It helps because we are going to always try and strike a balance. We're not going to rush to close anything and everything because of all the negative unintended consequences of closing down our society. We're seeing that in Italy a big way right now. So when the private entities make their own decision, I think it's a different thing than the government deciding to shut everything down. I'm sympathetic to their decision.
I'm still looking for something sort of full closures everywhere, and that's, again, why we're going to very quickly put out guidance about how to reduce crowds and audiences but still having a certain amount of activity.
BERMAN: You mentioned Italy, just final question. What assurance can you give to the people of New York City that it will not become Italy, Milan?
DE BLASIO: So the best assurance I can give is a couple things. One, that crisis was already deeply developed before they even understood they had it and before they took serious precautions. I had my first press conference on coronavirus for New York City January 24th. Six weeks, five weeks before we had a single case. We've been bracing and we've been preparing.
I also think New Yorkers and many Americans are adapting in a way that, in China and Italy, there was no chance to do. People are really changing their habits.
But here's the number one thing. And the president is right. If you're sick, stay home. If you think you might be sick, stay home. That never happened in Italy. That never happened in a lot of places. We still have a chance to stay ahead of this relative to them.
BERMAN: Mayor Bill de Blasio. I'd shake your hand to thank you but let's not.
DE BLASIO: Let's tap elbows, brother.
BERMAN: Thanks so much for being.
DE BLASIO: All right. Take care.
CAMEROTA: President Trump's travel ban sparking confusion in the U.S. and across Europe, so we will speak live with Vice President Mike Pence about the federal response to the coronavirus, next.