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Frustration over Coronavirus Testing; Defining Moment in Trump Presidency; Sports Leagues Suspend Play. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired March 13, 2020 - 06:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[06:30:00]

DR. PETER HOTEZ, DEAN, NATIONAL SCHOOL OF TROPICAL MEDICINE, BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: Where it's -- where it's become a serious issues. And the key is this, if sustained transmission goes on for several weeks before it's picked up, you have a terrible problem in terms of a big surge problem with large numbers of individuals who become hospitalized and in intensive care units, as opposed to those where -- cities where you're quickly on top of it, you can rapidly get your arms around it, do the social isolation. So it makes a huge difference.

And the fact that we've allowed this situation to go on for weeks longer than we should have could have very serious consequences in various pockets in the United States. So, for me, that's a top priority. We -- so my point is, we only have about a -- maybe a couple of weeks left to get our act together in terms of doing that testing.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK. And is that possible? I mean how did we get here? Whose fault is this failure of testing?

HOTEZ: Well, you know, that's going to have to be an investigation down the line. Right now, we don't have time for that. What we've got to do is ramp up our testing.

But what I also would like to do this morning is introduce the reality that we're probably going to be seeing a large number of patients in intensive care units, in hospitals, and what do we do about that? On Monday, there's going to be a paper released in "The Journal of Clinical Investigation." It's an initiative led by my colleague, Arturo Costadaval (ph) at Johns Hopkins. And he's spearheading this at Johns Hopkins. There are other groups looking at this. Whereby if we have large numbers of patients who are infected and then recover, we can subsequently collect the serum from those individual and process their antibodies through blood banks in order to give those antibodies to infected patients. I say that because we're not going to -- we're not going to have --

CAMEROTA: OK, so hold on, let me just -- let me just stop you right there. That's a treatment. You're saying that on Monday, Johns Hopkins is going to announce an idea or a plan for a way to curtail some of the big numbers with -- then it sounds like what you're saying is a treatment. HOTEZ: That's right. I think we have to face the reality that we're

moving into the next phase now. You know, I think testing can ramp up, but in the meantime, what we need to do is prepare for having significant numbers of patients in hospitals. We don't have the anti- viral drugs ready. We're developing a vaccine, but that's just now maybe getting into clinical trials. That's going to be a ways off. What could we do right now?

And this idea of harvesting serum from patients who have recovered from the infection, what we call convalescent serum, is not a new idea. This was actually done during the 1918 flu pandemic with some success. We now have more refined methods where we can collect pure preparations of antibodies, regulate it better. But it means we're going to have to put a national system in place with blood banks all across the countries in hospitals. We're going to need some type of federal guidance on this, a federal task force. So what I'm saying this morning, and this -- and this --

CAMEROTA: And who would spearhead that? I mean -- just so that we can get this started.

HOTEZ: Yes, so this is the first time I'm introducing it. I'm basically saying, we need to call an audible now. And Americans are good at this. We need to now look at how we're going to create a system in place, maybe create a federal task force that can -- with, including the Food and Drug Administration, to have blood banks ready to process serum from convalescing patients, prepare those antibodies and then have that as an important treatment.

CAMEROTA: Yes.

HOTEZ: And if we give it early on --

CAMEROTA: Yes.

HOTEZ: There are some studies that suggest that this could be very promising. I know it's a big move --

CAMEROTA: Yes.

HOTEZ: But, you know, the reality is this, we're paying the price for delaying that testing.

CAMEROTA: Yes.

HOTEZ: And now we have to move forward.

CAMEROTA: Well, look, desperate times call for desperate measures. I don't want to give anybody false hope. You're suggesting that this would be kind of a herculean effort --

HOTEZ: Well, I don't want to say it's a -- it's not a -- it's not a desperate -- well, it's not a desperate measure. It's something that's been done in China. They're looking at it now in Italy. We shouldn't consider it a desperate measure. It's dealing with the reality of what happens if we have significant numbers of patients in the hospital or in ICUs.

CAMEROTA: OK, we'll look forward to that press release on Monday.

And Dr. Peter Hotez, thank you for previewing it with us and obviously we will follow-up next week.

Thank you very much.

HOTEZ: Thanks a lot.

CAMEROTA: John.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Juliette Kayyem said, though, the lack of testing was the original sin. And, in some ways, it's impossible to correct that. You can test going forward, but you can never undo the damage that's been done.

CAMEROTA: I think that he would agree with that.

BERMAN: So one investor said the president delivered the most expensive speech in history. And a new report says the president's essentially become a bystander as other officials around the country take action to battle coronavirus. One of the journalists behind that story joins us next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:38:40]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Look, we're in -- we're in great shape. Compared to other places, we are in really good shape.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Seventeen hundred cases this morning. Great shape.

President Trump downplaying the coronavirus outbreak, even as the nation's top infectious disease doctor admits that testing has been a failure and there are questions about how this administration is handling this crisis.

Joining me now, CNN political analyst Maggie Haberman, a White House correspondent at "The New York Times."

And, Maggie, I want to read a little bit from your piece that you put out this morning because I think it's very telling. You write, while he presents himself as the nation's commanding figure, Mr. Trump has essentially become a bystander as school superintendents, sports commissioners, college presidents, governors and business owners across the country take it upon themselves to shut down much of American life without clear guidance from the president.

This is one of the greatest crises that this country has faced in a long, long time and you're calling -- or you say or you note the president's a bystander. That's a remarkable statement on the moment.

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: What was striking, John, about his Oval Office address -- there were many things striking about his Oval Office address the other night. But one of the things that was notable was that he talked about this ban on travel from Europe. He didn't describe it accurately. The speech had a bunch of mistakes. And I understand that people around the president are used to him making mistakes in speeches. This is not an average speech and it had real ramifications.

He didn't talk at all about testing. He didn't talk at all about further guidelines for people beyond, be careful with elderly people and wash your hands a lot.

[06:40:02]

If you're feeling ill, stay home. There are localities, there are states that are looking to the federal government for more guidance.

Andrew Cuomo is one of them. And he has been pretty clear about that. Absent that, they are taking matters into their own hands.

You are seeing sports leagues taking matters into their own hands, postponing seasons because even as the president offered this more serious -- somewhat more serious tone the other night, in his speech he still, yesterday, reverted back to form, talking about a rally that had been plan that hadn't even been announced yet that he claimed had sold out with 100,000 RSVPs, left open the possibility that he might still go. A half an hour later, if that, the governor of Florida urged people not to have large gatherings. The rally was scheduled for Florida.

So you are -- you are seeing a real moment where how the president actually leads, absent Mueller, absent impeachment investigation, is coming into stark relief and it is causing concern for a number of people.

CAMEROTA: His leadership style in particular seems ill-suited for the moment. Making grand proclamations that are fact-free.

HABERMAN: Right.

CAMEROTA: Presenting an overly rosy picture. That -- it's very interesting, I think, that people are -- like corporations aren't liking that. The stock market isn't liking that. As you say, municipalities aren't listening to that. They're basically ignoring him and proceeding to freelance on their own with what they think is best for their community.

HABERMAN: That's right. And, look, I mean because -- part of it, I think, is because you are hearing people like Dr. Fauci say, actually, this is a real problem. The testing in particular, which Fauci highlighted, is the bit problem.

And that is one of the areas that the federal government need to be doing more on. Do they need to do it in -- we expect some kind of an announcement on testing today, on increased capacity. Through what that looks like remains to be seen. How much of this relies on private businesses and private labs These are all open questions.

But Fauci has been pretty clear that there were CDC errors here. The testing is not where it should be. The president is trying to put that on everybody else because he's very used to bending events to his will and spinning things how he wants and if he says it enough times it becomes so. You're not going to wish away an illness.

BERMAN: He's been president for three years, right?

HABERMAN: Right, and two months. Yes.

BERMAN: Three years and two months.

HABERMAN: Right.

BERMAN: This administration had the time to prepare for whatever it wanted to prepare for or thought was important or thought was a priority.

HABERMAN: Right.

BERMAN: Just one last note.

There was an investor quote in "The Financial Times" that called the president's speech, quote, this was the most expensive speech in history.

HABERMAN: Right.

BERMAN: Investors are voting with their feet, and I can't blame them.

One other bit of news inside your story, Maggie, that was fascinating to me is the former Homeland Security adviser, Tom Bossert, who has been watching this and screaming that something needs --

HABERMAN: Almost literally, yes.

BERMAN: Almost literally screaming, has been trying to get in touch, you write, with the president, but he can't get the call through.

HABERMAN: Right. So he had been trying to reach out to the president and, to a lesser extent, the vice president, and according to officials who are familiar with what happened, he was blocked from doing that. So he has taken to -- and he might have done some of this anyway, but he has taken to being very public about it.

I should note that he denied that he had been blocked from trying to reach them, but he refused to answer questions about what exactly had happened and what that meant.

The -- he has been among the most vocal of former officials, but certainly not the only one, saying the administration needs to be moving fast. He wrote a very sobering op-ed in "The Washington Post" about how the window for action in the U.S. is -- was, I think he said, basically two weeks to ten days at that point.

We are now a few days past that. There are people who are trying to make clear to the president that this is not just a PR problem. And I think one of the issues in the White House -- and there are a number of advisers who are concerned about the pandemic and don't think he should have given that address and are not happy with the response that he's done. But there are others who share the president's mind- set, that this is being manufactured by the media to some extent as a crisis, that it all gets seen through the lens of scoring political points because they have been hunkered down for so long. There is going to be a potential different reality here in a matter of weeks. And we will see.

CAMEROTA: The president has been exposed to the virus.

HABERMAN: Right.

CAMEROTA: We don't know if he's tested positive yet. As far as you know, they haven't -- he hasn't been tested.

HABERMAN: They say he hasn't been tested.

CAMEROTA: They say he hasn't been.

HABERMAN: And I have no reason to think otherwise.

CAMEROTA: Yes. Of course. He met with a Brazilian official who has now tested positive.

HABERMAN: Right.

CAMEROTA: Ivanka, it has just been announced, Trump, last week stood next to an Australian official, and there's Bill Barr as well , our attorney general, who has now tested positive.

HABERMAN: Well, Bill Barr didn't test positive. It was the other official.

BERMAN: The Australian official.

CAMEROTA: No, no, thank you. The Australian official has tested positive. And we don't know if Ivanka has been tested or Bill Barr.

HABERMAN: I just wanted to make clear. Right. Right.

Right, look, so one of the things I think we have seen Ivanka Trump in public since then, I think. I'm not positive. I think we may have seen Bill Barr. If they don't appear to be symptomatic, then what the guidelines would say is you don't need to be tested. But what the guidelines do say is you need to self-quarantine.

BERMAN: Yes.

HABERMAN: Which is why you have seen a number of elected officials, including the president's incoming chief of staff, Mark Meadows, who tested negative, but still self-quarantined because he was exposed to somebody at I believe it was CPAC who had tested positive for the virus and been around a bunch of people.

[06:45:10]

The president is refusing to do that. And part of the reason officials say that the president and the vice president are not doing that is they want to send a message that, you know, this is not necessarily the worst case outcome. That's fine. But then you can't be surprised when the public is confused about what you're trying to say.

CAMEROTA: Maggie Haberman, thank you very much for all of the latest reporting.

HABERMAN: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: The response from the sports world to the coronavirus is also unprecedented. Seasons, entire seasons suspended. March Madness, canceled. We discuss what happens next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: This morning, virtually the entire sports scene in the United States, and increasing the world, at a standstill.

[06:560:04]

Within the past 48 hours, professional basketball, hockey, soccer, tennis, have all suspended their seasons. Major League Baseball has canceled spring training and delayed opening day. March Madness is canceled.

Joining us now, CNN sports anchor Andy Scholes and Christine Brennan, CNN sports analyst and sports columnist for "USA Today."

Andy, I wanted to go to you first for an update on the latest developments, but it's sort of easy to summarize. It's just off. Sports is off.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Everything, John. I mean it just -- it started and it just snowballed from there. And I -- it's hard to really wrap your head around what's going on right now. We're about to have a march without the NCAA tournament. You know, the men have been playing every year in March since 1939, the women since 1982. We're not going to have basketball in the month of March, which is just startling to say.

And it doesn't stop there. You know, Mark Emmert, the president of the NCAA, also canceled all the spring championships. That means we're not going to have a college world series. We're not going to have a college world series for softball either.

And, you know, John, your heart just breaks for all of these college athletes, especially the seniors that worked their whole lives for, you know, the dream of winning a championship. They've been robbed of that.

You know, there's conversations going on right now, should all of those seniors get back a year of eligibility? I certainly think that's something that should be discussed and should be granted if those kids want to come back to school because, again, it's just heartbreaking that they're not going to get the chance to live out their dreams.

BERMAN: And, Christine, you look at this a different way. As tough as this is for everyone involved, for the athletes involved and for the fans involved, you look at this and say, maybe we should be thanking these leagues for doing something, for being proactive, for leading.

CHRISTINE BRENNAN, CNN SPORTS ANALYST: Exactly, John, filling the void that seems to be existing from the White House and other national places. It took a while. There were a lot of stumbles in the sports world, a lot of uncertainty. We watched it happen. It really cascaded from Monday, where you've got the NBA player Rudy Gobert touching all the microphones and everyone's laughing, to Wednesday, when, of course, he tests positive. And then the NBA, I think, was the big news. That was that shocker I think for everybody. Even if you don't care about the NBA, even if you don't watch the NBA, to see that the NBA had suspended operations, that was Wednesday night right around 9:30, wow. I think that's the watershed moment. And from that point on, I think it had everyone's attention.

And I do give credit to the sports world. They took action.

Andy was saying it, your heart breaks for especially the seniors playing their -- now their careers are done and maybe they will get that next year to be able to play again eligibility wise. But, if not, they're done. And some of them will not come back. And they didn't get that last hurrah, that last wave to the crowd, the opportunity to leave the court or even all the spring sports, lacrosse, softball, et cetera.

But it was the right thing to do. And as sports goes, so goes the nation. And maybe the sports -- the voice of the sports world has now become the nation's voice.

BERMAN: I know they'll miss playing in those championship games, but they'll be healthy.

BRENNAN: Right.

BERMAN: The people around them will be healthy. Their grandparents will be healthy. Rudy Gobert, who touched all those microphones, only, what, Monday, mocking the notion of coronavirus, is now apologizing for it.

It's reminiscent of some public officials who have proudly still been shaking hands all along and saying they're not going to shake hands. Maybe they'll come to regret it as Rudy Gobert did.

Andy, Kevin Love donating $100,000 --

SCHOLES: Yes.

BERMAN: To people around the Cavaliers. I think it shines a light on what is a large ripple effect from this, which is just thousands, if not tens of thousands of people who are going to lose their livelihoods during this pause.

SCHOLES: Yes, and that's -- and, you know, we all think immediately of, I just mentioned the college athletes, you know, the players that are involved. They're not going to be playing for a while and all these leagues shut down.

And then you've got to think about, you know, the guy selling the popcorn, the guy who comes to be the usher, you know, every night at the arena. As you know, I worked for the Houston Rockets when I was in college as a ball boy. You know -- you know, we didn't make a lot of money, but we enjoyed the job and we -- a lot of us depended on it. And I saw, you know, the ushers at every single game that I went to and I worked. And you know they're depending on that paycheck.

Kevin Love, such a cool gesture by him, donating $100,000 of his own money to help those arena workers. The Cavs then stepping up, saying that they're going to pay all of those workers like the games and events were still going on. Hopefully others follow suit. Mavs owner Mark Cuban has said that he's going to do something similar. It's something that we really hope continues, John, because, of course, all of these people are out of what they were depending on.

BERMAN: What I've got to say, Christine, what's a tough thing for me personally as a sports fan is, you know, every ten minutes I go to my phones for a diversion, looking at a score or a report. If ever I needed a diversion, it's now. And sports is that. But we're going to have to come up with something else.

BRENNAN: Well, sports has always been that escape. That way to escape the real world. And now, of course, sports is the real world and it is that mirror of our society.

As you said so eloquently, though, John, there's such a bigger picture here, keeping people safe and healthy and worrying about those who do have the virus. That's -- that's the concern.

[06:55:00]

And I was texting with some coaches at Northwestern, my alma mater, women's coaches who are devastated. Of course, devastated for their athletes. And they've all said, the bigger picture here is so much more important and they're going to work their way through it, of course.

BERMAN: A lot of old games to go back over. A lot of old box scores you can go read. A lot of baseball cards you can sort. We'll get through this.

Andy Scholes, Christine Brennan, thanks so much for being with us this morning.

BRENNAN: Thank you, John.

BERMAN: Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: John, as you know, everyday life in America is changing by the hour. So we'll bring you all of the latest developments on the coronavirus, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The coronavirus has changed life.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Some states shutting down entire school systems.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The NBA, the National Hockey League, Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer are shuttered, their seasons on hold.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In New Rochelle, New York, the National Guard arriving.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We've been very thankful and grateful that we're here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Many people are having problems getting tested.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, people can't walk in and get tested. That's not the situation.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: It's not going to be months. It's going to be a week or so where you're going to get many, many more tests that are going to be available.

SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): It's very frustrating that we have been so slow in getting the testing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

CAMEROTA: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and all around the world.

[07:00:01]

This is NEW DAY.

The coronavirus is impacting our daily lives in ways we have not seen before. America is basically --