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Coronavirus Interrupts American Life As We Know It; Mobile Coronavirus Testing Station Opens In New York Virus Hot Spot; Chinese Diplomat Promotes Conspiracy That U.S. Military Is Responsible For Coronavirus; At Least 1,710 Cases Of Coronavirus In U.S., 41 Deaths; Negotiation Race To Agree On Coronavirus Response Package. Aired 12- 12:30p ET

Aired March 13, 2020 - 12:00   ET




JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I am John King. Thank you for sharing your day with us.

America is adjusting to our fast changing new normal. Schools are closed and sporting events are cancelled and fast raising numbers in the rush to count Coronavirus cases.

Plus, the Trump White House tries to address one of its major Coronavirus failings, taking several new steps today designed to accelerate productions and availability of the tests experts say are so crucial to understanding the scope of the threat. Americans dealing with symptoms at home and abroad share their frustrations and faiths.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I didn't meet the criteria because I didn't travel out of the United States to one of the countries and I don't know what virus I have. I am running a fever and I have chest congestion and nobody can test.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I go to worship God and suddenly tell me no, you are getting better.


KING: We begin the hour right there with American lives interrupted. Just about everything we knew encountered on yesterday looks very different today. What's becoming a scary ritual for us to report, coronavirus cases ticking up to just shy of 1700 here in the United States, 41 have died from the virus.

The President said to hold a coronavirus press conference this afternoon 3:00 pm eastern at the White House. Among the important moving parts today several new Trump Administration steps designed to address a major federal failing so far.

The shortage of Coronavirus testing, there is hope for a vote later today in the House to move a giant Coronavirus relief package. House Republicans do have some objections they are waiting from a signal from the President that he supports this deal.

More on those Washington developments a bit later. First, your life, for many of you the new normal is a sudden childcare challenge because thousands of schools across the country are closed. You might be watching from home today because your offices shuttered today is Friday, it is near certain your weekend routine also now on the Coronavirus disruption list.

The fallback and the retreats and the escapes we all rely on are now not available to us. Sports, religion and television all impacted, returning to normal TBD. Just today Golf's biggest event the masters postponed, the Boston Marathon too.

Let's take a closer look some of the impact of this. Number one the cases and the math are changing constantly. 1696 in the United States so far the states you see in red, four of them Washington, California Massachusetts and New York the hardest hit. They have more than a 100 cases in those states alone.

The other states you can see on the heat map here and sadly the deaths in Washington State, California and you move across the country. The case is going up by the hour. The impact of this now, 16 states in the District of Columbia deciding to shut down the schools, try to limit the impact, limit the spread, contain within communities by shutting down schools.

16 states plus the district today we'll watch as that number grows in the days and hours ahead. What does this mean? The NBA started this two days ago saying we need to cancel and suspend the season, following NHL, Major League Baseball, Soccer, March Madness, Disneyland and Disney World all saying we need to shut down at least for now until we get better control of this and just today the Master's Tournament postponed as I noted next month's Boston Marathon as well postponed and joining the Coronavirus disruption list.

What does it mean for the economy? This is obviously first and foremost the public health crisis, but the economic impact, American spent on average $14 billion a month on recreational activities like sports and entertainment. The Mark Sandy of Moody's estimating just in March alone is $7 billion loss to the economy just from that recreation activity.

It does not mean restaurants it doesn't include other things just for the recreational opportunities of $7 billion hit this month as we go forward. Now New York of course if you look at the map is a Coronavirus hot spot the New Rochelle the state's crisis epicenter.

The New York City suburb is in a containment zone and today the Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo opening a mobile testing center there. Cuomo also pleading again this morning for the White House to let the private sector pitch in and do more to break the testing log jam.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): We do have a crisis in testing, we are not up to scale, we'll have thousands of tests available next week if the federal government heeds our plea and lets us actually turn on our capacity and use our state's assets, we could have many, many more.


KING: CNN's Brynn Gingras is on the ground in New Rochelle. Brynn, what was the Governor's biggest message and how are things going there?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes John, I want to be clear of what the Governor was saying. He's saying the State of New York has plenty of tests. That's what these are for example the swabs and then the solution these swabs go in got plenty of these.

The issue is actually running these through the system to find out if there is Coronavirus or not that's what he's begging the federal government to take the reign off and let private labs be able to automate tests because then you got these going through by the dozens up to by the thousands.


GINGRAS: So that's the issue that he's really focusing on at this point and really wanted to make clear. Yes, I am at the end of the drive-thru testing facility, it is actually on an Island here in New Rochelle. So we are no longer allowed on that Island only people who are getting the test.

They are basically just driving up over here up of this bridge behind me we've seen carloads of people families and then we've seen also individuals and basically once they are over that bridge, they are greeted by health personnel and they are wearing full hazmat suits and full protection.

They go through one of six lanes that are setup up there and basically get this swab taken by one of those health professionals. Not even needing to get out of the car they just roll down their window someone takes a swab they put in the solution and this gets sent to the lab and it takes about 24 or 48 hours to come back.

The states says essentially they can do hundreds of these tests a day, prioritize for the people of this community as you mention this is where the cluster is, one of the biggest ones in the entire country. By next week there may be 5,000 is what the goal to have these tests done per day.

The Governor admitted you know this is not going to stop in just a week. This may be a testing facility that'll continue for the next month or so, so that may be expanded for people who want to get a test but for right now people have to have an appointment in order to get on that Island, John.

KING: As you say the next month or so it is the "so" part we just don't know that's why getting more information so important. GINGRAS: Yes.

KING: Brynn Gingras, thank you so much for being on the ground in one of the very important places in the United States with that reporting. As Brynn was just noting tests are the lack there of is a persistent problem in the Trump Administration response.

Today the Federal Government unwinding several restrictions to allow for more testing and appointing new federal testing coordinators. The moves are crucial going forward but they also highlight how at least on testing the United States of America playing catch up?

CNN's Drew Griffin in Atlanta for us. Drew, what are these new changes and help us understand why we hope they can be important?

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is deadly important, John, and that's what all the experts are telling us. If you don't know where this virus is via testing? You don't know where to put your resources? You don't know where it is growing? You don't know what to expect for the future?

It is all about planning and containing and without the knowledge of widespread testing, not only who has the disease but equally important who does not? You are just flat footing in trying to fight this which is why it is just unconscionable. How the federal government has been got so flat footed in this testing department?

There are rules loosening up, they're trying to speed through some processes and getting through red tapes to allow not only quicker test but a quicker laboratory spin around and that's going to help. And you're seeing places like New York, where things are getting better.

But across the country John, right now today doctors, nurses and hospital administrators are telling us between the confusion out of the White House, guidelines out of the CDC and just the lack of capacity, people who are should be getting tested are not getting tested and that's crippling the effort to try to combat this disease.

KING: Drew Griffin, appreciate that reporting from Atlanta. Again, as we noted at the top of the program the President does have a press conference at 3:00 pm today at the White House. We are certain this will be one of the issues that'll come up. I assume he will address it because of these new administration steps if not it will be one of the questions.

And just as we have been on the air, when we came on the air we said the number of cases in the United States was 1696 and that number is now up to 1710 the count increasing. As we continue to try to understand the scope of the public health problem.

And now a slice of the daily disruption because of that major public health pandemic the happiest places on earth among those places missing happy faces. Dan Simon is live for us at Disneyland in California. And Dan, this is a hard one for many families who planned these trips and some of them already in progress to get there in transit to find out Disney shuts down tomorrow. DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, there is the economic impact which is going to be devastating for the local economy but there is the emotional impact as well for people who have had their vacation planned for some time. We do see a lot of people going into the park right now despite what's happening despite the rain it is Disneyland after all but beginning midnight, both parks, Disneyland as well as California Adventure going to close.

But one thing we should point out that for the employees, we are talking about 38,000 of them they will continue to be paid. Why is this happening? Well, of course they want to mitigate the spread of the virus. But you did have Governor of California Gavin Newsom saying that all large gathering anything with more than 250 people should be banned or postponed or cancelled.


SIMON: But we should point out also that Disney was exempt from that but went ahead and shut the park anyway. Disneyworld in Orlando is also going to shut down as suppose Disneyland emperies and again most people we talked to, they seem to understand what's going on but none the less is disappointing. Have a look.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We flew in yesterday from Idaho. We would have known, we wouldn't have flown in. We got our rental car, got our hotel and within an hour, we found out Disneyland was closing on Saturday.

SIMON: I can see you're emotional.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Just very frustrating.


SIMON: And this is just indicative of the free fall we're going to see when it comes to tourism in this country and no more powerful symbol than what you have behind me. Disneyland is shutting down it hasn't happened John since 9/11. I sent it back to you.

KING: Dan Simon is live for us outside of Disneyland. Dan, appreciate it that is tough to see the sadness in that woman who travels with her family. But this is one of the things we're all going to have to deal with. Up next, tension now brewing between the United States and China as a Chinese diplomat says the United States military is responsible for the Coronavirus.



KING: Some news related to Coronavirus just into CNN, we told you at the top of the program President Trump is planning a 3:00 pm eastern news conference today at the White House. Our White House team reporting the President is likely to make an emergency declaration at that news conference an emergency declaration would free up government agencies to more quickly move money and resources around to combat the Coronavirus crisis.

Again, we're told 3:00 pm news conference today the President is likely to declare make an emergency declaration about the Coronavirus pandemic. As we wait for that, a prominent Chinese official now promoting a conspiracy theory get this, the Chinese official suggesting the United States military could have brought the Coronavirus to China.

And that it did not originate from in the city of Wuhan like it is widely thought. This is the latest part of Chinese campaign propaganda to question the origin of the pandemic which has infected more than 130,000 people now around the world.

CNN's Kylie Atwood joins me now live. Kylie you are learning this is creating some serious tension now between the United States and China.

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and a new development in these tensions just today. The Chinese Ambassador to the U.S. was summoned here to the State Department by a top state official for the region, Assistant Secretary Stilwell.

I have been told by folks in this building that they're furious with the Chinese government that's because just as you said John, they are now claiming that potentially the U.S. military could be to blame for the Wuhan virus which originated as we know in Wuhan China.

We have seen the U.S. pushed back on that disinformation. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo even called it the Wuhan virus just last week to make sure that folks knew where the epicenter of this virus really is.

We also heard President Trump earlier this week call it a foreign virus. They want to make the case that this originated in China and that's the reason that they summon the Chinese Ambassador here to the State Department today.

We are still waiting for more details with regards to what that conversation looks like. But there are growing tensions between the U.S. the Trump Administration and the Chinese government over where this virus originated? John

KING: An important reporting. Kylie Atwood at the State Department I appreciate it. The last thing we need in the middle of the confusion and anxiety here is propaganda that further confuses things. We'll keep on top of that story.

Experts keep telling us there will be more Coronavirus cases. But the lack of testing means not there is just not a big enough database to make very reliable projections about how many more. Let's take a look at the trajectory of what we do know so far.

The arc you see there in pink is trending similar to Italy. That's the United States increasing over 33 percent now every single day. Only Iran and South Korea have seen a faster spread of the Coronavirus.

The Director of the Harvard Global Health Institute Dr. Ashish Jha joins us now from Cambridge. Doctor you've been quite candid the United States is not prepared largely because of the issues with testing, how dramatically do you expect that arc to change when more tests are available and we do have more data about the spread of the virus?

DR. ASHISH JHA, DIRECTOR, HARVARD GLOBAL HEALTH INSTITUTE: Yes John, so I have been very candid that and it pains me to say this because of course I think we have a great federal public health agency and the CDC. But the federal response here has been a dismal, basically we sat on our hands for two months denying the problem of this Coronavirus and don't have an effective test.

So right now, we have about 1700 people who have been identified and no one know what the true number of cases is. The estimates that I believe and other experts believe we probably have somewhere between 5 and 10,000 Americans currently infected. That number is going to double every six days unless we take very substantial measure.

So, Italy ignored this initially and that's why their cases really took off. I have actually really gotten heartened in the last 24, 48 hours because I think we are starting to take this seriously we're shutting down public events and I am hoping that'll really slow the rate of infections down and we will not get into the kinds of numbers we saw in Italy.

KING: Let's go through some of this. First on the testing question, about 13,000 people we know have been tested so far in the United States, you are right. That's a dismal failing number. Little more than 86,000 in Italy South Korea has been the model so far. More than a 10,000 a day 230,000 people tested there.

There were some steps in the Trump Administration today essentially easing regulatory, allowing private sector to accelerate some things appointing a new testing coordinator, are you convinced that the administration while it has been flat footed understands now?

JHA: You know so two weeks ago Vice President Pence told us that we're going to have a million test kits out within a week, every week we hear this out of the administration.


JHA: It has been hard to know whether they are serious. This is not an issue of regulation. It is a lack of leadership. So the person I am paying attention to is Tony Fauci. When Dr. Tony Fauci tells me that there are some real numbers of cases coming, I am going to feel for confident that that's going to happen.

KING: It's a great way to put it and yesterday of course he said it was a failing. The President today is going to have a news conference and our White House team has told he is going to declare make a national emergency declaration. How important is that in your view to taking down some of the various moving government money resources and staffs around?

JHA: I think it is incredibly important. Look, the federal government when the federal government falls down on the job we have states and cities that really step up and that's happening actually across the country. I think Governors are doing a great job on leading on this.

You've got Mayors who are doing excellent work. They are - they need that flexibility that comes with a national emergency. So I'm glad the President is declaring it. I think it will make it easier for local and state officials to do their jobs effectively.

KING: And I show our chart as we continue the conversation because this is your goal flattening the curve if you will. We have the arc of cases going up now you say it is going to double. The idea being if we have more testing if we have this isolation of social distancing that you can go from a quick increase of cases like this where all of a sudden, the medical system and healthcare system just gets overwhelmed.

The need for ventilators, the emergency rooms and intensive care units, tests and mitigations so what's the key? What's the key the two or three steps that must happen? We're beginning to see these events cancelling school cancelled the social distancing in the like.

What's the key in your view to get to the flatter curve? So, the virus doesn't go away. The healthcare system has to deal with it. But you are dealing with a smaller number of people over months as opposed to a giant spike all at once.

JHA: Exactly. So, imagine if a thousand people who got really sick showed up in the emergency room today any hospital would get totally overwhelmed by that. But if you could take that same thousand patients stretch it out over a couple of months, you know that's 20 or 30 patients a day, a hospital can handle that. That's the idea.

And the way we do that is with social distancing. I think we have to be very aggressive on this. There should be no public events that have any sizable number of people coming together anywhere in America right now.

People are talking about hot spots and I don't know where the hot spots are because if you're not testing you don't know whether there is virus in your community or not and I suspect there are a lot of hot spots that we're just not aware of.

So we've got to do that, it pains me to say this but we got to close the schools, we've got to close workplaces and we really only have to have essential travels. That I think is going to help a lot. And then you know I hate to bring out something you've probably heard a lot people have to wash their hands, like they really have to be rigorous about hand washing. That's going to make a big difference.

KING: I bring it up as often as you wish. I think it is important that we repeat the basics quite a bit because we get overwhelmed by all these changes around us. It is important to just keep repeating the basics. Dr. Jha I really appreciate your insights today hoping you can come back and join us as we go through this in the days and weeks likely months ahead.

I think it is important to get factual perspective is the best way to help people with this. Very much appreciate it. As we go to break, an international development related to this President Bolsonaro of Brazil tweeting a short time ago that he has tested negative for the Coronavirus that's after one of his top aides had tested positive for the virus.

You might remember President Bolsonaro had just last week met with President Trump and there was a concern about possible spread there. He also posted a video celebrating his negative test. You can see it right there. We'll be right back.



KING: We hear from the President just two and half hours from now a press conference at the White House where sources tells CNN the President is expected to make an emergency declaration. That would give him and federal agencies more options to free up Coronavirus funding.

That also comes just as the White House working furiously with House Democrats this morning on a Coronavirus bailout package. The House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin are the two-point people negotiating this broad deal.

It would provide among other things, free Coronavirus testing family and medical leave option food security and more Medicaid dollars to help states deal with the pandemic. House Republicans have some objection. Their Leader Kevin McCarthy is at the White House right now and it falls on the White House to push those House Republicans to go along.

The latest word to expect a House vote later today Secretary Mnuchin says he speaks for the President. And unlike his boss Mnuchin does have a good working relationship with Speaker Pelosi. The President is being kept out of these negotiations on purpose and his disconnect on quite evident today on Twitter.

The President again pushing for a payroll tax cut, something that's not included in the package as Treasury Secretary is negotiating with the Speaker. Here with me to share the reporting and their insights on this another big developments Paul Kane with "The Washington Post" CNN's Vivian Salama POLITICO's Melanie Zanona and Matt Wiser also with "The Washington Post'.

It is instructive and important that Kevin McCarthy is at the White House right now. House Republicans have been waiting for a clear signal from the President because the bill includes a lot of things they don't like. They want the President to tell them vote for it, right?

PAUL KANE, SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, "THE WASHINGTON POST": This has been the MO for a couple of years now. If the President were fully behind this they would already be in the motion to - they might even be go into a final vote at this point.

They just don't know where he is. They're waiting to hear our colleagues are camped out by a door where Kevin McCarthy will come back from the White House. We hope soon and we'll have some form of papule smoke and we'll know whether it is a deal. But it is in Trump's hands, he needs to be forcefully behind this or else very few Republicans will vote for in the House.