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Tips On How to Shop Amid Coronavirus Stockpiling; Declining Death Rate and Cases in China Could Be Positive Signal for U.S. Efforts Against Outbreak; President Trump Declares National Emergency Over Coronavirus Pandemic; Interview With Gov. Larry Hogan (R-MD); Trump Declares National Emergency As U.S Deaths From Virus Jump To 48, Cases Top 2,100. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired March 13, 2020 - 18:00   ET

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


[18:00:02]

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: More than 2,100 confirmed cases here in the United States. Millions of Americans now cut off from life as they have known it, fearing they will get sick, and wondering when this nightmare will end.

This hour, I will talk with governors of Maryland and Ohio.

First, let's go to our chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta.

Jim, the president is promising to do more, while insisting that a lag in coronavirus testing over these past few weeks is not his fault.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf.

After coming under bipartisan pressure up on Capitol Hill, the president went ahead and announced that he's declaring a national emergency in the fight against the coronavirus, also announcing that he's going to be using his executive authorities to free up some $50 billion to fight this pandemic, this epidemic here in the United States.

In the meantime, Wolf, there's one big stunning moment in the Rose Garden, when the president was pressed on his interactions with a Brazilian official last weekend at Mar-a-Lago.

This Brazilian official, the press secretary to President Bolsonaro of Brazil, has now tested positive for the coronavirus. And the president, when pressed on this as to why he has not undergone a coronavirus test at this point, did concede that he may well go ahead and take that test.

And here's what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But I can tell you...

QUESTION: ... you don't have symptoms. TRUMP: Well...

QUESTION: Are you being selfish by not getting tested and potentially exposing...

TRUMP: Well, I didn't say I wasn't going to be tested.

QUESTION: Are you going to be?

TRUMP: Mostly like, yes. Most likely. Not for that reason...

QUESTION: When do you think that'll happen?

TRUMP: ... but because I think I will do it anyway.

QUESTION: Will you let us know the results?

TRUMP: Fairly soon. We're working on that. We're working out a schedule.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: Now, one of the other interesting moments that came during this press conference was when the president was asked about his own actions during this coronavirus crisis.

He's been downplaying this disease for several weeks now, saying at one point that it would be a miracle, that it would go away at some point, and that the number of coronavirus cases would eventually get down to zero.

So the president was pressed by another reporter as to whether or not he takes any responsibility on this. Another reporter picked up on that later on in the press conference. And here's what he said in response to that. He said he takes no responsibility. Here's what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Yes, no, I don't take responsibility at all, because we were given a set of circumstances, and we were given rules, regulations, and specifications from a different time.

It wasn't meant for this kind of an event with the kind of numbers that we're talking about. And what we've done is redesigned it very quickly with the help of the people behind me. And we're now in very, very strong shape.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: Now, the other thing the president said, as well as some of the other top officials on his Coronavirus Task Force, what they said during this press conference is that they're going to be taking a variety of actions in the coming days to get these coronavirus tests out there to the American people.

He said that red tape is going to be cut on the bureaucratic level, so labs across the country can more quickly run these coronavirus tests.

And another point during this press conference, it was announced that they're going to be setting up a Web site that's going to be run by Google.

And, Wolf, one thing we should point out, this Web site, apparently, Americans are going to be able to go on to that Web site and decide and determine whether or not they need a coronavirus test. It's going to depend whether or not they're showing symptoms.

The president suggested that that virus -- excuse me -- that that Web site is coming very soon. But one thing we should point out, Google, which is going to be running the Web site, just put out a statement.

We can put this up on screen. They're downplaying expectations that this Web site will be up and running soon. It says: "We're developing a tool to help triage individuals for the coronavirus testing. Verily," which is a part of Google, "is in the early stages of doing this," is what the statement says, "of development and planning to roll out testing in the Bay Area, with the hope of expanding more broadly over time."

So, a suggestion there, Wolf, that that Web site is not going to be ready as soon or quickly as the administration says.

One final thing, another indication that the president is not perhaps grasping the gravity of this coronavirus outbreak, he was shaking hands with some of the executives who were on the scene for this press conference this afternoon in the Rose Garden, except there was one executive, who goes by the name Bruce Greenstein who, when approached for a handshake with the president, offered up his elbow for an elbow bump instead.

And one final thing would should point out, Wolf. It has just come in to us in the last several minutes that, down at Mar-a-Lago last weekend, during a fund-raiser for the Trump campaign, a person has tested positive for the coronavirus.

This is a second person who was down at Mar-a-Lago last weekend when the president was down there who has tested positive for the coronavirus. But the Trump campaign just put out a statement a short while ago saying that this person did not interact with the president, so they don't feel like inside the Trump campaign that the president was put at added risk.

[18:05:00]

But it sounds, though, Wolf, that he's going to undergo that test anyway -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes. And let's wait and get the results, hopefully all negative.

Jim Acosta, thank you very much.

Let's turn to all of the ways Americans are feeling the pain of the coronavirus pandemic right now.

CNN's Nick Watt is joining us from California.

Nick, the outbreak is worsening from coast to coast.

NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely right, Wolf.

And now the National Guard has been mobilized in seven states. Come Monday morning, there will be more than 15 million children across this country who are not in school.

Many, many large employers, including our own, telling any workers who can to now work from home. Wolf, life as we knew it has changed.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WATT (voice-over): In New Rochelle, New York, a drive-through coronavirus testing center just opened.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): There are six lanes. This facility can do about 200 cars per day.

WATT: The instruction, approach with windows rolled up. This is where we are now.

CUOMO: I think this could be a six-, seven-, eight-, nine-month affair, watching the trajectory of the virus.

WATT: Much of the rest of the country now shutting down. More than a dozen states have closed all schools, many more cities and districts doing the same. Los Angeles, the second largest school district in the nation, no confirmed cases, just pulled the plug.

DR. RICHARD VLADOVIC, PRESIDENT, L.A. UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT: We reflected over and over again, we felt it was the right decision at the right time. These are trying times.

WATT: Everywhere, authorities saying there's good reason to keep us apart. Louisiana postponing its primary until the end of June. In Ohio now, no public gatherings of 100 people or more, in Maryland and California, the bar now set at 250.

Disneyland California now shutting down for the first time since 9/11. Tamara Jackman (ph) just arrived for a 10-day trip.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just very frustrating.

WATT: More dominoes falling. Disney World Florida, Universal Studios, the Smithsonian, Seattle's Space Needle, L.A.'s 50th annual Pride Parade already postponed, and it wasn't scheduled until June.

And sports, adding to that growing list of delayed or suspended seasons, the fabled Masters Golf tournament now postponed. The Boston Marathon also postponed until September.

GOV. CHARLIE BAKER (R-MA): The metaphor here writes itself. Today, we're on the first leg of a marathon of our own, as we battle this very serious disease.

WATT: At the Westin inside the Texas Medical Center, they're now sanitizing rooms with a robot.

ARCHIT SANGHVI, VICE PRESIDENT, WESTIN HOUSTON MEDICAL CENTER: We're the first hotel in the country to have adopted this technology.

WATT: An American Airlines pilot has tested positive. And two of four TSA agents at San Jose Airport who also tested positive were patting down passengers.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NIAID DIRECTOR: I certainly wouldn't get on a plane for a pleasure trip.

WATT: And at grocery stores around the country, this the new normal.

RICHIE MARUFFI, ARNOLD BREAD DISTRIBUTOR: My whole route is on the West side of Manhattan.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK.

MARUFFI: And every single supermarket is just completely wiped out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

MARUFFI: And I can't even keep up.

WATT: Bare shelves, long lines, growing anxiety.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WATT: Now, at midnight tonight, that ban on travelers coming in from 26 European countries will kick in.

We heard from the vice president this afternoon that any Americans or permanent residents coming back into the U.S. will be screened and will be asked to go into a voluntary self-quarantine.

Wolf, the president also suggesting this afternoon that that list of banned countries is kind of fluid. He said some countries may come off it, some may be added. The U.K. was brought up. The U.K. is not on the list right now, but they have nearly 600 cases. In fact, they have more cases right now than some countries that are on the list -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Very interesting, indeed.

All right, Nick Watt, thank you very much.

Joining us now, Maryland's Republican Governor Larry Hogan.

Governor, I know you got a lot going on. Appreciate it very much your taking the time to join us.

GOV. LARRY HOGAN (R-MD): Sure.

BLITZER: What will be the impact, first of all, of the president's emergency declaration on Maryland's response to the coronavirus?

HOGAN: Well, first of all, we declared a state of emergency more than a week ago, and we were very pleased to see that the president took those actions today.

And I think that many of the things that he laid out are going to be helpful to those of us in the states.

I can tell you that we took similar kinds of steps at the state level, but it really is going to take help from the federal government. And all of the things he talked about are things that I think are going to be helpful.

As chairman of the National Governors Association, we have been in contact constantly, all of the governors across the country, with the leaders of the federal government, Cabinet secretaries, two meetings in the past week or so in the Situation Room and with almost nearly all of the governors in America.

[18:10:01]

And we have been talking about some of the things we needed. And I was very pleased at some of the steps that he took today and am glad that it happened.

BLITZER: I know you're working on specific new emergency legislation to help people in Maryland facing unemployment or other disruption due to this virus.

Specifically, what will the legislation do?

HOGAN: Yes.

Well, so we took unprecedented action yesterday, where we closed all schools throughout Maryland. We activated the National Guard, and we put this social distancing action forward on limiting any kind of gatherings of more than 250 or more, along with seven or eight other major executive actions I took under the state of emergency.

We have been ramping up this response. And it really -- many of these things we've -- the steps we have taken, now other states are starting to do some or some of these things in various places. We're sharing all of those best practices between and among the governors.

But this is such a rapidly escalating crisis, Wolf, that, as you know, as you're covering this, it's changing not on a daily, but on an hourly, almost minute-by-minute basis.

And each of us, as governors, are trying to stay on top of it. And we're working together as best we can with our federal partners.

I also called -- I have called emergency meeting of our Cabinet. And we have a coronavirus emergency response team with some of the smartest health professionals in the world from places like John Hopkins and University of Maryland medical system epidemiologists who are advising us on the decisions. And we have called an emergency meeting with all of our local jurisdictions and counties and cities across the state to try to talk with them about coordinating the response. But we are in a state of emergency.

BLITZER: All right.

HOGAN: We raised our level to the highest level. We have activated our Maryland Emergency Management Agency.

We're moving in the National Guard.

BLITZER: Governor, hold on for a moment.

Our Manu Raju is getting some breaking news up on Capitol Hill.

And I want you, Governor, to respond.

Manu, what are you learning?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, there's a deal now between Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, and the Trump administration, after a major deal to deal with how to deal with the impact of the coronavirus outbreak throughout this country.

This significant deal that has been reached came after days of negotiations between the speaker and for the treasury secretary. They spoke about 13 times today. They spoke eight times last night.

And what this does is, it would ensure that every person who wants to get a test could get a free test. They wouldn't have to pay for that. Also, it outlines a number of other measures, according to the letter that the speaker just sent to her members detailing this measure.

It includes two weeks of paid emergency leave for displaced workers. Also, it would ensure they provide more funding for food stamps and other food assistance programs, particularly for children who's maybe relying on schools to provide assistance.

Now, under this program, they would -- those individual students, particularly low-income students, could have access to food and school lunch programs that all they would not get because schools being closed.

Also would increase funding from the federal government to the states for Medicaid programs to ensure that folks who are eligible for the Medicaid program can ensure the care through that program.

Now, we're still awaiting details of all this. We're learning the top line of this agreement. But it's significant, because just in -- about, oh, an hour or so go, during the president's press conference, he criticized Democrats, contended that they didn't want -- they weren't giving enough to him -- for him in this deal.

He didn't specify exactly what he was concerned about. But we learned, moments after that, Nancy Pelosi was on the phone with the treasury secretary, Steve Mnuchin. Later, just about an hour later, the president was in the Oval Office huddling with Mnuchin over the outlines of this deal.

And now it appears they do, in fact, have a deal. We do expect the president to ultimately announce his support, and the speaker making clear here they're going to vote on this tonight.

So, Wolf, this will pass the House probably by a big bipartisan vote. It's the second emergency measure to deal with the coronavirus outbreak here in the U.S. The question is, what will they do next? The question also is, what will the Senate do?

The Senate is gone until next week. They scrapped their recess, but they will be back next week to provide the final votes, likely give final passage on this measure, and then they will have to deal with other issues that are outstanding as well, as the economic fallout continues from this pandemic -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, a very significant development up on Capitol Hill, some bipartisan cooperation between the White House and Nancy Pelosi.

Manu, I want you to stand by. We got the Maryland governor. Governor Hogan is still with us.

So, what's your reaction? It sounds, from your perspective, I'm sure, very positive.

HOGAN: Well, no, it sounds terrific, Wolf.

And, actually, I'm getting the breaking news just as you're hearing it. But I think it's -- the fact that we're finding bipartisan agreement to move on this crisis is critically important.

[18:15:00]

It's something I have been talking about for weeks, been talking about with my fellow colleagues, the other governors. And I have been talking about it to everyone who will listen.

In a time of crisis like this, there can't be any Republicans or Democrats. We're all Americans. And we have all got to act with one voice and take the actions that are necessary. We're doing similar kinds of things that were just mentioned in this federal legislation.

For example, on the lunches for these kids, we're providing three meals a day for all of these 800,000 kids that aren't going to be in schools. Some of the unemployment benefit stuff, we're taking those actions here in Maryland.

But I think it's terrific that they have reached agreement in Congress. And it's very encouraging that I think everybody has finally reached the point where they understand the severity of this crisis, and that we're all coming together, both the Congress, the administration, and the leaders of government at every single level, at the federal, state and local level.

It's the way we have got to go after this. Everybody's in this together.

BLITZER: Well, that -- it's very encouraging to hear that these kids -- so many of these kids, they rely on a breakfast meal, a lunch meal at these schools.

You're shutting down the schools in all of Maryland for two weeks.

HOGAN: Right.

BLITZER: How are you going to distribute the food to these kids if they're not going to be in school?

HOGAN: So we have action plans in place just for this type of emergency.

And our superintendent of schools has had -- held multiple meetings and phone conference calls with all of the superintendents at the local level. We're talking about different ways to set it up to distribute them in different places.

But most of the school cafeterias will be providing lunches people -- for kids that want to come into just to get the lunch or the breakfast or the dinner. Or they're going to be able to come and pick up to-go things.

And we're also engaging folks throughout the school system and our local -- our local governments and potentially the National Guard to help in the delivery and service of food to the people that need to get it.

BLITZER: Yes, so important, because so many of these kids really need a good meal or two every single day.

HOGAN: It's critically important.

BLITZER: And they're not necessarily getting it at home.

All right, Governor Hogan, thank...

(CROSSTALK)

HOGAN: Yes.

BLITZER: You want to make one final point?

HOGAN: No, I was just going to say that some of these actions that we're taking -- that we took yesterday, that the president's taking today, they may sound kind of extreme. And they may seem scary to some folks, but these are actions that are absolutely necessary.

We're all just trying to save lives and protect people. And we're all in this together.

BLITZER: Well, we're certainly grateful to you, Governor, for all you're doing. I know this is a tough situation, not only for you, but all the governors out there around the United States. HOGAN: Yes.

BLITZER: Thanks so much for joining us.

HOGAN: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, just ahead, will the new moves announced by President Trump be effective in slowing down the coronavirus in the United States?

I will ask two high-level health officials from the Obama administration. Stand by.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:22:03]

BLITZER: We're following breaking news on the national emergency just declared by President Trump aimed at helping to combat the coronavirus crisis here in the United States.

The House speaker, by the way, Nancy Pelosi, just announced a deal with the Trump administration on a coronavirus relief bill, expected to pass overwhelmingly in the House later tonight.

Let's bring in Sylvia Mathews Burwell, a former Health and Human Services secretary in the Obama administration, and she's now the president of American University here in Washington, D.C. Also with us, Dr. Zeke Emanuel, a former health policy adviser in the Obama administration, as well.

And thanks to both of you for joining us.

Madam Secretary, what do you think of the president's national emergency, freeing up, let's say, about $50 billion to deal with this crisis?

SYLVIA MATHEWS BURWELL, FORMER U.S. HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: I think that the money will be important.

It will be important from a health perspective in supporting the health care system. It will also be important from the economic impacts.

I think the biggest thing, though, that we need to focus on right now is how we at this point mitigate what we know is spread within our communities.

BLITZER: How do we do that? How do we do that?

(CROSSTALK)

MATHEWS BURWELL: The two most important things are get this testing done, and this testing done correctly, and then to do the isolating and separating people, so that it does not spread further.

BLITZER: The president said he doesn't think everybody needs to be tested, even if they may had a symptom or two.

DR. EZEKIEL EMANUEL, FORMER WHITE HOUSE SPECIAL ADVISER: Well, everyone doesn't need to be tested, but the idea we shouldn't do much more testing, tens, if not hundreds of thousands of people, is simply wrong.

We do need to understand how the disease is progressing. And for your viewers, just go to the South Korean Web site and see how careful. Every week, they have got the total numbers. They can see that their curve is bending.

We have no capacity to do that because we haven't tested. I would also say, Wolf, I think it's really important we get this testing out of the health care system. We need the drive-through tests so that we're not infecting health care workers while they're trying to do their job by testing.

And I think you can't have ones where you're waiting four hours in line. They have to be 15 minutes through. And so we're going to need hundreds, if not thousands of them everywhere.

BLITZER: I want you to respond, Madam Secretary, to the criticism the president launched.

When he was specifically asked at the news conference in the Rose Garden there of whether he takes any responsibility for the failures in the testing over these past few weeks, he said no, and then he pinned the blame on the Obama administration, the rules he inherited and what you guys did during the swine flu.

MATHEWS BURWELL: So, I think the most important thing right now is no panic and no baiting.

What we need to focus on as a nation right now is, all of us, on what needs to get done and what needs to get down right now. And that is, we need the tests to be available. As Zeke has said, in terms of, we need those tests available quickly, easily, accessible.

That's the only way that we're going to get the information that we need. Right now, we don't have a sense. There's not clarity, a sense of actually the morality rate. We don't actually even know fundamentally the mortality rate.

[18:25:00]

We don't have a clear sense of how many of the cases are being passed asymptomatically. In other words, you may not know that you have it, because you don't have symptoms, but you still could pass it to me. We don't know how much of the passing.

This testing is essential. And that's what we need to be focused on, instead of talking through those kinds of things. The fundamentals, we know, and need to get that done.

And the other thing is, institutions across the country are stepping up and taking the steps we need to take. I think most universities are going online. Many of our businesses are teleworking to try and contribute to the effort to stop the spread.

BLITZER: He says there will be five million tests available within a month or so.

But he says the problem has been the rules that he inherited from the Obama administration, that's the cause of the failure over the past few years.

EMANUEL: Secretary Burwell was nice and kind and didn't call him a liar on this.

BLITZER: I know you're not that nice.

EMANUEL: I'm not -- I'm an Emanuel.

BLITZER: Yes.

EMANUEL: That's not actually -- he's totally wrong.

The rules he inherited, we have to remember the swine flu pandemic, which I was in the White House helping to manage in 2009-2010, was about influenza. It wasn't about a test there. What we were concerned about was really producing the vaccine and making sure that we were converting from the old egg production to modern cellular production and getting it right.

Didn't have to do with a test. The regulation he's talking about never fully went into effect. That was a regulation to say, if a private organization created a test, it would have to be overseen by the FDA. It never went into effect.

That's not what slowed this down. Multiple errors by the CDC slowed this down, to do their own test, instead of getting what was out there. They have distributed -- and then to distribute a faulty test that wasn't ready. And they have not distributed all the reagents.

I talked to a governor of Western state, says, yes, we have plenty of tests here, but it turns out we don't have the reagents to extract the RNA to do the tests, so they're not actually useful.

And I think, as the secretary said, the private sector is stepping up here. You're seeing Quest and LabCorp and Roche and other people going out there and doing the test.

MATHEWS BURWELL: And I also think it's important to reflect, when you have these situations, such as we did in Ebola and Zika, those are also examples where we had to create and move tests quickly. And that's what was done.

BLITZER: What is the one thing you would advise folks watching us right now here into the United States going into a weekend to do?

MATHEWS BURWELL: I think the one thing I would ask is keep up with the news and make sure you're watching what's happening so you know what's happening in your community. I know it's hard in terms of having your children home from school. We

have our 10 and 12-year-old will be home from school. And all of these things are inconveniences. But we do really right now need to listen to the instruction of our governors and our cities and our mayors, who are asking us to stay in with the gatherings.

And then the basics of health care. I know everyone is tired of hearing of us all talk about handwashing, but those basics and the social distancing are really some of the most important things we can do now. And time is of the essence.

BLITZER: I was surprised to see the president shaking hands with all those people at the Rose Garden up on the stage over there.

EMANUEL: It reminds me of the time where he looked at the eclipse, when you're supposed to have special glasses on because it will burn your retina.

Yes, very bad. And his handlers should have advised them not to do that.

I would agree with Secretary...

BLITZER: It's a bad example to be showing the public, because every -- all the health experts are saying, don't shake hands.

(CROSSTALK)

EMANUEL: Don't do that.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: ... feet away from all people.

EMANUEL: Yes.

Fortunately, one of the executives changed the behavior. But, yes, the key issue here is social distancing. And I want to remind the viewers, social distancing doesn't mean you're quarantined. You can still go out of the House. You just don't go in crowded places.

Don't go to crowded restaurants. Don't go to crowded theaters. Don't go to crowded events. I know that my synagogue has canceled services, like many churches around the country. And wash your hands. You come in from outside. Wash your hands.

You should also keep the house clean and surfaces clean. These are very important things. They may seem not health-related, but they're very, very critical.

But don't feel like you're cooped up, because then you will be psychologically anxious. You can go for a walk in the woods. You can go to the park. Just be careful about the interaction with other people.

BLITZER: It's very important advice right now for folks out there guys.

Guys, thanks very much for coming in.

EMANUEL: Thank you.

BLITZER: Coming up, we're going to get more on all of this.

The Ohio governor, Mike DeWine, there you see him. He's getting his state prepared for the financial fallout, the health fallout. We will discuss.

Also, many Americans are stockpiling for the coming weeks. We're going to take a closer look at what you should be doing and not be doing as far as buying is concerned.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:30:00]

BLITZER: Tonight, President Trump says, he hopes the national emergency he just declared won't be needed for long. But health officials are warning that the worst of the coronavirus outbreak is likely still ahead.

The U.S. death toll by the way is now at least 48, the number of confirmed cases in the United States rising to above 2,100. As the crisis unfolds, the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, says, Democrats have reached the deal with the Trump administration on a relief bill legislation. It's expected to be voted on later tonight.

But the president, so far, hasn't publicly said he's behind it. We're waiting for a reaction, public reaction from the White House.

Joining us now, the Ohio Governor, Mike DeWine. Governor, thanks so much for joining us.

[18:35:01]

I know you got a lot of problems in Ohio right now.

GOV. MIKE DEWINE (R-OH): Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: How many cases -- I know yesterday when we spoke, it was five. Has it gone up since then?

DEWINE: We have 13, and, really, you're seeing our capacity dramatically go up. The Cleveland Clinic today announced that they can do 500 tests a day. A university hospital in Cleveland is getting ready to move forward. University of Cincinnati is moving forward. So you're going to see the capacity in Ohio go up dramatically in the next few days.

And, you know, again, for our Ohio residents, don't be surprised when you see these numbers of confirmed cases go up dramatically, but that's pretty much what we had predicted, it's what we thought. That's why we're taking action that may seem to be quite dramatic and tough. But, you know, everything we're doing is to try to save lives. And we know that doing these things now and not waiting will, in fact, save lives.

BLITZER: I know you have written a letter to the vice president, Mike Pence. And I'm looking at it, requesting critical personal protection equipment, including surgical procedural masks and 95 respirators, gowns, gloves. Tell us what's going on. You don't have enough in Ohio right now?

DEWINE: Well, I think this is a problem nationwide. You know, the goal, of course, is we're doing all of these dramatic things to level off when we get this hit. And so we don't want to be in the situation that Italy is where they had a huge spike and their healthcare system, which is apparently a very good healthcare system, just couldn't handle it.

So we're trying to get prepared for what's happening next, which is the next phase, of course, when you're seeing people really start the worst cases, people going into the hospital.

You know, my health director, Dr. Acton, continues to point out that for most people, they're going to be able to be dealt with at home. They need to stay at home. And they need to be consulting their doctor. But, of course, if it's gets to a bad situation and advances, then, of course, they need to be able to go into the hospital. And that's what we want to make sure that we've taken the action to really not break this or stop it, because we can't do that, but to spread it out over a longer period of time. And we think the actions we've taken are going to make a big difference.

BLITZER: Do you expect the emergency measures the president announced today will make a real difference for Ohioans at the -- who are potentially at risk of this virus?

DEWINE: Sure. I think all of these things are important. I think the news that you just gave, it looks like an agreement between the Trump administration and the Democrats in Congress. Look, that's good. Americans have always come together at time of great crisis, and we need to do that. We all need to pull together.

And that's what we're talking about in Ohio and people are helping people and, you know, you put aside any kind of politics and just focusing on keeping people alive and keeping people safe, and doing the proactive things that we all need to do, which is to create that as your last guest said so well, that physical separation. People don't have to stop living but they need to be very, very careful when they go out into a crowded bar or sports bar or something. Just don't do it.

You know, go take a walk. Walk your dog. Keep some distance from other people. Wash your hands. These are things that everybody can do that will really make a difference. Not only to protect them and their family, but what we know is that people become carriers and then you have a total stranger that is infected because of maybe something that you didn't do or some precaution that you didn't take. So we all have got to take care of each other.

BLITZER: Very important, and I know one thing we talked about yesterday was making sure that the kids who won't be in school in Ohio over the next few weeks still get meals because a lot of these kids really rely on the meals they get at school in order to be healthy for all practical purposes. And let's hope that happens as well.

A quick final question --

DEWINE: Well, we got a --

BLITZER: Go head, Governor.

DEWINE: We got a waiver today on that so we're going to be able to deliver the food to kids, we're going to be able to do different things. So we thank the Trump administration for that. They did it very, very quickly and we're very happy about that.

BLITZER: Final question, Governor, before I let you go, it makes me happy to hear the kids are going to get those meals. The State of Louisiana is now postponing its presidential primary. Ohio secretary of state says he's confident voters will be safe going to the polls this coming Tuesday. What's the latest on that? How can you be sure that folks won't be discouraged from even going to the polls?

DEWINE: Wolf, our elections are held over about a 30-day period of time. I voted today, went in in (INAUDIBLE), Ohio, and there was a line but it was not very, very long and people were very respectful. They said, stand back, separate.

So voting is safe, and we invite people to continue to do it in Ohio. They can do it Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and then, of course, on a regular election day for 13 hours. So, plenty of opportunity to vote and it's very important that people do that.

[18:40:00]

We're moving forward with ours.

BLITZER: Let's just hope that no long lines, that people don't have to wait an hour or two just to go vote. All right, let's hope for the best. Governor, I know you've got a lot going on. Thanks so much for joining us.

DEWINE: Thank you, Wolf. I appreciate it.

BLITZER: Just ahead, many grocery shelves throughout the United States, right now, they are bare as the coronavirus spread. Is stockpiling smart? We're going to tell you what you should know before you head back to the store.

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[18:45:03]

BLITZER: As Americans hunker down right now at home during the coronavirus crisis, many are stocking up on anything from food to cleaning supplies. We have some tips on how to get what you need and which items may be hardest to find.

Brian Todd is joining us right now.

Brian, people who haven't been to the store in recent days might be surprised by what they see.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Wolf. We are bull rushing grocery stores tonight. My team and I were at one a short time ago and it was kind of ridiculous. We're buying toilet paper and tuna fish in bulk. We are standing in long and unhealthy lines and generally making ourselves and storekeepers miserable.

Tonight, a bit of perspective from public health experts.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice-over): Shopping in the age of coronavirus.

Sera Tansever wears a mask and gloves when hitting her local grocery store in Washington because she doesn't want to transfer germs to her mother, who has an autoimmune condition.

(on camera): Are you nervous, scared about this whole thing?

SARA TANSEVER, STOCKING UP ON GROCERIES: Yes, I am, I am. I've been following it pretty closely now and it's just I don't want us to be in a situation like Italy.

TODD (voice-over): Across the U.S., stockpiling seems to be everywhere tonight. A prominent analytics firm says online sales of, quote, protection items like hand sanitizer, gloves and antibacterial sprays shot up 817 percent in January and February because many people can't get them in stores.

AVI KANER, CO-OWNER, MORTON WILLIAMS SUPERMARKETS: Whenever we do get new rations in of hand sanitizer and wipes, we actually put them out by the registers and they go within minutes.

TODD: And there are runs on many other items.

(on camera): Were you trying to buy anything in there you couldn't get?

MAUREEN MILMOE, STOCKING UP ON GROCERIES: Yes, actually, all of the toilet paper is gone, a lot of the frozen foods, a lot of the breads.

CHASE HICKS, STOCKING UP ON GROCERIES: It's pretty hectic I would say. Frozen vegetables, cleaning supplies, even to a certain extent meats and dairy are hard to come by.

TODD: It's exhausting people on the other side of the grocery industry. At a Morton William Supermarket in New York, bread distributor Richie Maruffi is racing to restock.

RICHIE MARUFFI, DISTRIBUTOR, ARNOLD BREAD: Every single supermarket is just completely wiped out and I can't even keep up.

TODD: But some public health inspectors say let's slow down a bit.

DR. IRWIN REDLENER, NATIONAL CENTER FOR DISASTER PREPAREDNESS AT COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: They don't need a year's worth of toilet tissue. They don't need cartons of, you know, paper napkins. They don't need to buy, you know, food for six weeks.

TODD: Experts say it's important for consumers to realize this situation is temporary. Focus on simple, non-perishables that can sustain us inside our home.

REDLENER: Figure out what your family likes, and it maybe cans of tuna fish, it maybe peanut butter and jelly, whatever it is that you feel like you can plan for a couple of weeks of not being able to go outside.

DR. JEFF DUCHIN, HEALTH OFFICER FOR PUBLIC HEALTH, KING COUNTY, WASHINGTON: Have medications in your home so you don't have to go out and refill a prescription if you don't need to.

TODD: Health experts point out going out and crowding into your local grocery store just by itself isn't the healthiest move. But standing in those long lines within a few inches of people is not the kind of social distancing that's recommended. And they say however, wherever you shop, do it calmly.

REDLENER: There's no reason to panic. There's no reason to rush out and buy every item on the shelves. What that does is just increases people's sense of doom and gloom here, which will not be necessary.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: Public health and consumer experts have a couple of other tips for people who want to stock up during this outbreak. They say if your favorite store is open 24/7, you might want to try going after midnight after they restocked. Or if it's available in your area, try a food delivery service to maybe reduce some of the overall stress that all of us seem to be feeling right now -- Wolf.

BLITZER: A lot of stress right now all over the country. Brian Todd reporting, thank you.

Just ahead -- as China sees a steep decline in coronavirus deaths and cases, what this could mean for the United States and its efforts to combat the spread.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:53:31]

BLITZER: As schools and businesses shut down across the United States to combat the coronavirus epidemic, a potentially positive sign could be coming from China which is seeing a sharp decline in deaths and new cases.

CNN's David Culver is following this remarkable turnaround. He's joining us live from Shanghai.

What are you seeing over there, David?

DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, remarkable is a great word. And just a few hours ago, President Trump pointed out that China has been through hell. That was the president's numbers words there, and he referenced the latest figures out of China saying numbers now looking very good.

And we are talking about single digits compared with hundreds at times thousands of daily confirmed cases that we saw just a few weeks ago.

Now, outside of the epicenter, for example, where we are in Shanghai, we are seeing these signs of progress. Public parks, for example, they've just reopened ahead of the weekend here in Shanghai. They've been closed for nearly two months.

Tourist sites like the Oriental Pearl just behind me, that's up and running. Folks can go up there and enjoy the view. Restrictions have been lifted at a number of the restaurants. Folks can now actually go with more than three or four people. They actually were limiting it at a time if those restaurants were even open, so things are coming back online there. Starbucks are opening back up.

We've heard as of Friday all 42 apple stores were reopened within China.

Now, within Hubei province, a very different story. You got to remember, that's the epicenter of all of this. It's still under lockdown. You still have people sealed inside their homes. So, life for those folks is still far from normal.

[18:55:02]

But overall, Wolf, you know, for folks that I hear back in the States asking me, are things at least looking a little bit more positive? The answer is yes.

BLITZER: That's very encouraging indeed.

All right. David, thank you very much. David has been doing excellent reporting for us from China.

And to our viewers, stay with us, much more news just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Be sure to tune in Sunday night for the CNN Univision Democratic presidential debate at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, as Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders go head to head for the first time. CNN's Jake Tapper and Dana Bash, along with Univision's Ilia Calderon will moderate this final clash just ahead of Tuesday's contest in four key states. Sunday 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

I'll be back for a special SITUATION ROOM this Sunday, 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. Eastern. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.

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