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Coronavirus Pandemic; 38 Dead, 1,274 Confirmed Coronvirus Cases in the U.S.; Trump Restricts Travel from Most of Europe for 30 Days; Vice President Mike Pence on Coronavirus Response. Aired 7:30-8a ET.

Aired March 12, 2020 - 07:30   ET




JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: All right, breaking news. US Stocks have taken a sharp turn downward as the impact of coronavirus spreads worldwide. DOW futures down now 1200 points. So, in an oval office address last night, President Trump announced a ban on foreign travel from 26 countries in Europe.

The United Kingdom is exempt. Also, Americans who are overseas in permanent residence are exempt. California, Oregon, Washington state, making moves to ban public gatherings of more than 250 people. Ohio is expected to join that list today. I anticipate many states will join that list.

A lot of you waking up to the news, at the NBA has suspended its basketball season indefinitely after a player on the Utah Jazz tested positive. The Jazz have been in several cities over the last few weeks, so that is a source of enormous concern. College basketball's March Madness tournament, as of now, will continue as planned, but no fans in the stands.


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Hey John. President Trump taking drastic steps in the face of a growing public health crisis. What is the White House doing to contain the coronavirus outbreak? Joining us now is Vice President Mike Pence. He is the leading federal - he is leading, I should say, the federal government's coronavirus response. Mr. Vice President, we are really grateful to have you here with us this morning.


CAMEROTA: Look, our viewers, and so many Americans, have questions, and so, forgive me if I move us along quickly through--


PENCE: No, please.

CAMEROTA: --because I want us to cover a lot of ground.

PENCE: You bet.

CAMEROTA: Okay, thank you. So, President Trump's speech last night. After he talked about the travel ban from Europe -- or the travel restrictions, I guess I should say, from Europe, and the handling of cargo shipments, two clarifications basically had to be issued within the space of an hour. One from DHS, saying the travel restrictions do not apply to all travel, and then the President himself tweeted that he didn't mean cargo. So, why the confusion?

PENCE: I don't think there was confusion. The President took another historic step, just like he did in January with China, to suspend all travel from Europe, Alisyn, for the next 30 days because we've recognized our health experts tracking global data that the epicenter of the coronavirus has shifted from China and South Korea to Europe.

Two weeks ago, there were roughly 500 coronavirus cases in Italy. There's 12,000 as of today. A thousand in Germany yesterday. A thousand in France. And so the health team came into the oval office and presented that to the President, and he made the decision on the spot, after hearing from all sides, that the best thing we could do was suspend all travel, and Americans coming home--


PENCE: --will be funneled through 13 different airports. They'll be screened, and then we're going to ask every American and legal resident returning to the United States to self-quarantine for 14 days.

CAMEROTA: That's helpful information. But just to be clear--

PENCE: This is a part of our strategy to combine that with what we're doing in communities, where, like Washington state and California and New York, where we have what's called community spread. CDC issued tough, new guidance to those states about mitigation strategies.


And the overall recommendation to Americans to use common sense, practice good hygiene, and keep a special eye on seniors with chronic--


PENCE: --underlying health conditions. It's all part of the president's strategy--

CAMEROTA: Understood.

PENCE: --to protect the American people from the coronavirus.

CAMEROTA: And I do want to get to get to those specific things in a moment, but about those travel restrictions. It's - the clarification is that it's not all travel. It's not, as you say, some people, Americans, coming back from Europe. Here, though, is what Tom Bossert your former Homeland Security Advisor up until 2018, said about these kind of travel restrictions. He tweeted this last night.

There's little value to European travel restrictions. Poor use of time and energy. Earlier, yes. Now travel restrictions/screening are less useful. We have nearly as much disease here in the US as the countries in Europe. We must focus on layered community mitigation measures now. Exclamation point.

CAMEROTA: Is he wrong?

PENCE: Well, I think our health experts would disagree very strongly with the view that the action that the President took last night with Europe was not called for. The truth is, we learned yesterday, 70 percent of all the new cases for coronavirus in the world happened in Europe, and probably most concerning to the President was, as of yesterday, when we looked at 35 states on the map where we had coronavirus cases, fully 30 of those cases could be traced to contacts in Europe. And so the President took the action.

But to the point of the comment, we're not doing a travel ban as our strategy. The suspending all travel for 30 days from Europe is a part of our strategy. The other part is an aggressive mitigation strategy. I spoke to the governors of New York, Washington state, and California tomorrow -- or yesterday. CDC issued strong guidance to those areas where we have community spread. We've flowed resources. We've flowed support to those areas. And so it's a combination of strategies that the President has employed here.


PENCE: As he says, it's all hands on deck. A whole of government approach. But it's also a whole of America approach. We've literally been meeting with industry leaders in one relevant industry after another to ensure the full resources of America are being brought to bear.

CAMEROTA: Understood. But I do want to ask you about testing.

PENCE: Sure.

CAMEROTA: Because there has been so much confusion about this. Last night, the president said, Testing and testing capabilities are expanding rapidly day by day. We are moving very quickly. But the numbers on the CDC, the official government website, tell a different story.

The numbers suggest the most testing was done March 5th. That was from US Public Health Labs and CDC Labs. The numbers were more than 1,100. Then if you move forward each day, it gets a little bit less until on March 10th, CDC Labs 0 as the numbers listed, and only 8 in Public Health Labs. So, why are the number of tests going down?

PENCE: Well, I don't believe they are, Alisyn. One of the things we're actually working on is a central reporting website where every state in the country and territory can let CDC and the American people know the number of tests.

CAMEROTA: So you're saying these tests, these numbers are wrong?

PENCE: Your viewers should be encouraged that every state laboratory in America can conduct coronavirus tests today. We've also cleared out regulatory barriers to university hospitals and laboratories to be able to conduct tests, and I want to commend the University of Washington for the extraordinary work they're doing, expanding tests to the people impacted in Washington state.


PENCE: We're also --


CAMEROTA: But just to be clear, Mr. Vice President-

PENCE: --we're also working with commercial laboratories. The President brought in companies like Quest and LabCorp last week, and literally by the day, both of those companies had approved new tests that are going to market. Literally by the day, we're continuing to expand. Because it's going to be--



PENCE: --ultimately, it's going to be the commercial laboratories that have the capacity to get tests all over the country.

CAMEROTA: That's fair.


PENCE: And we're making steady progress on it.

CAMEROTA: But if you're saying that the CDC numbers are wrong, how many tests have been conducted in the US?


PENCE: No, I'm not saying they're wrong, Alisyn. I'm saying they may not be complete because we don't necessarily collect today all the information from state laboratories about the tests that are being done.

CAMEROTA: Okay, but then they haven't been updated. That's the same thing virtually.

PENCE: Well, no.


PENCE: As I said, our team is working now to make sure that we have a central reporting location because state labs are doing tests all over the country even as we speak.

CAMEROTA: Okay. That's good to know. How many tests would you say have been done?

PENCE: Well, I would leave that to the experts, but I would say to you, as a benefit to your viewers, anyone who is looking on today who might be concerned that they were exposed to coronavirus or have symptoms should call their doctor. Their doctor, with any question, can all their state laboratory, and be able to find out how they can have a test processed.

CAMEROTA: But this is important, Mr. Vice President.


PENCE: But making it available to the broader public

CAMEROTA: But are you saying that anyone who wants a test--

PENCE: That's going to take a few more days to get out to the broader public. The commercial labs in this country, we're confident, are going to be able to produce and distribute on a wide range across the country in the days ahead.


PENCE: Not the weeks ahead. The days ahead. All across this country.

CAMEROTA: Okay, because that doesn't seem to be the case right now. I mean, in all due respect, there are all sorts of anecdotal stories as well as Op-eds, articles, about people who had symptoms, went to their primary care physician, were told to go to the emergency room, and could not get a test. So that's not happening yet today?

PENCE: Well, we think that it's important that last week we changed the criteria for testing. I spoke to Governor Jay Inslee. There was some concern that the guidance that doctors had had at the time was if you were only mildly symptomatic, it did not indicate that a test was appropriate. We changed that, and that's when the president said that anyone who wanted a test, could have one on a doctor's orders. There's no barrier to that now.

But make no mistake about it We're making steady progress. We've made changes at the FDA in January at the president's direction. And the American people can be confident. We're going to continue to roll out the tests, and maybe most significant on that score, is that the president brought health insurance companies in last week, and they all agree to waive the copays on testing. We expanded testing to Medicare and Medicaid patients. And we also expanded coverage for treatment, and health insurance companies expanded coverage for treatments.


CAMEROTA: That's very good to know. That is excellent.

PENCE: We don't want anybody to avoid having a test because they're concerned financially.

CAMEROTA: Yes. Understood. But just one last question about the testing, Mr. Vice President.

PENCE: Sure.

CAMEROTA: If you don't know how many tests have been done in the country, how can you know where the clusters of the outbreak are? And isn't that what is most important in terms of, for instance, here in New Rochelle, where there's a containment zone? if you don't know where the clusters are, how can we effectively combat this?

PENCE: Well, we know precisely where the clusters are today with regard to Washington state, portions of California and New York. And yesterday the CDC issued very strong guidance about community activities, social distancing, schools, nursing homes and the like for those areas.

What we've done with the testing so far, we've flowed those resources into areas where we have what's known as community spread. But in terms of making the tests broadly available all across the country, we're working on that. The commercial labs are making that possible.

I want your viewers to know we're making great progress. But in the areas where there have been concerns, where they've been exposed to coronavirus in Washington state, California and New York, we've spun up the testing, we've gotten a lot of people tested.


PENCE: And I don't -- you know, I want people to know I want people to know that the risk to contracting the coronavirus, according to all of our experts, for the average American remains low.


PENCE: Most people that contract it, Alisyn, will have flu-like symptoms and recover. but the most important message to anyone looking on here today on CNN is we do know that the coronavirus represents a unique threat to seniors with serious chronic underlying health conditions.


PENCE: It's the reason why we raised guidelines at nursing homes last week. It's the reason why the president said last night that people should avoid visiting nursing homes unless absolutely necessary. But every American with a senior, with a chronic underlying condition needs to practice good hygiene around them and make sure that we're looking after our most vulnerable.

CAMEROTA: Absolutely. And very quickly, yes or no. Are you still shaking hands?

PENCE: I'm still shaking hands here at the White House. I'm also washing my hands very regularly through the day. It's one of the commonsense practices that Americans can engage in--


CAMEROTA: Understood.

PENCE: --is wash your hands regularly.


PENCE: Clean those often-used surfaces. We're all in this together. And if the American people continue to practice good common-sense practices, we'll focus resources on communities that have been impacted with the new suspension of travel from Europe, the continuing suspension of travel from China. we're going to work our hearts out to keep the number of people --

CAMEROTA: Understood.

PENCE: --exposed and contracting this disease low, and together, I know we'll get through this.

CAMEROTA: Vice President Mike Pence, we appreciate your time and information this morning. Thanks so much for being on New Day.

PENCE: Thanks, Alisyn.

BERMAN: So we'll talk much more about what we just learned from the Vice President including, I think, some actions that I think Americans coming from overseas are going to have to take when they get here. I hadn't heard that. And also, just the new reality that Americans are waking up to this morning. Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us next.



BERMAN: Moments ago, we heard Alisyn interview the Vice President of the United States, Mike Pence. The Vice President denied there was any confusion in the President's address to the nation last night, despite the fact that the administration had to issue several clarifications and corrections to it.

The Vice President made the case that there's plenty of testing, and he also said that this ban on some travel in Europe will make a difference. Joining us now, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who has, I think, a fascinating piece coming up. But first, Sanjay, your first reaction to the vice president.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: There's data to actually justify or not justify some of the decisions. We're in this now. We don't have to make things up in terms of what is likely to work and what is not going to work.

And we can look to the other countries to get an idea. We've seen these containment zones. We've seen the lockdowns in other countries. Social distancing is how they're often described. But how do they work? When do they need to be implemented to work? And does any of it work unless we have the testing?


GUPTA: This lockdown of nearly 60 million people has been touted as the model to follow. The complete bordering off of one province in China. But if you've heard anything, you've probably heard that the same can't happened here.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF ALLERGIES AND INFECTIOUS DISEASE: We have to be realistic. I don't think it would be as draconian as nobody in and nobody out.

GUPTA: But there have been other models of success around the world. Singapore, fewer than 200 cases; Hong Kong, which borders China's mainland, has had just over 120 cases since the outbreak began. So what did they do?

Four main things. Early testing. Thousands of people were tested within days. And then isolating the infected and carefully tracing their contacts. Shutting down mass gatherings. And appropriate quarantines. Public Health officials call these Nonpharmaceutical Interventions or NPIs. Lately, you've heard it described as Social Distancing.

FAUCI: If that means not having any people in the audience where the NBA plays, so be it.

GUPTA: In just the last few days, Austin's South by Southwest canceled. Major music festival Coachella postponed. And Democratic Presidential rallies not happening.

JOSEPH BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We were planning a big rally in Cleveland tonight. But the governor of Ohio asked the presidential campaigns to cancel their indoor public events in Cleveland with large, large crowds of people. And that's what we did due to the coronavirus.

GUPTA: In New Rochelle, New York, the National Guard called into the center of what is likely the country's largest outbreak.

MAYOR NOAM BRAMSON, NEW ROCHELLE, NEW YORK: The containment zone is an area in which large gatherings will be limited. So it does have a significant impact on major institutions, on schools, on houses of worship.

GUPTA: Here is something important to know. All of these aggressive actions work best if they are done early, which means before 1 percent of the population is exposed to the virus. After that, the proverbial horse is out of the barn. And so, that means life in the united states is going to change. At least for awhile right in front of our eyes. And one of the biggest changes will be that schools and universities across the country will be shuttered.

ARTHUR REINGOLD, PROFESSOR IN THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKLEY: The basic idea is if children are not all together, they can't transmit their infections to each other as readily and then take them home to their parents and grandparents and younger siblings.

GUPTA: Yet another example of just how new all of this is, we don't even know how effective those school closures will be because much of the data for them has been based on the flu virus.

JENNIFER NUZZO, CTR. FOR HEALTH SECURITY, JOHNS HOPKINS BLOOMBERG SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: It is not clear to me that we're going to have the same benefits from school closures with this virus given that so few children have been reported among cases.

REINGOLD: And, of course, the other issue is where did the children go if they're not in school? IF you're all together in some alternative day care, or child center, presumably they can transmit their infections just as well there as they can in school.

GUPTA: And ultimately, that's going to be the key. These social mitigation measures are only effective if we're able to do this early, honestly, and consistently.


CAMEROTA: And, Sanjay, things are changing so fast you were mentioning things even in that piece that you just cut together.

GUPTA: They were talking about not having any, you know, fans at the games and now there are no games for the NBA. So it's that quick, and this constant inflection point became personal behaviors and what society is doing every hour, there's new advice.

BERMAN: Sanjay, don't go anywhere. We have more questions for you. There are going to be viewer questions for you. We're going to talk to you about them before the end of the show and of course join Sanjay and Anderson Cooper for a CNN global town hall, coronavirus facts and fears tonight at 10 p.m. And listen to Sanjay's new podcast, Coronavirus: Fact versus Fiction.


Thanks for international viewers for watching. For you "CNN Newsroom" and Max Foster is next, for US viewers so many developments over the last few hours in the coronavirus pandemic that will change your everyday life. "New Day" continues after a quick break.



CAMEROTA: And good morning, everyone. Welcome to your "New Day." It is Thursday, March 12th, 8:00 now in the east.