Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

President Trump's Travel Ban on 26 European Countries Takes Effect; House of Representatives Passes Bill to Help Combat Coronavirus Spread; Doctor Answers Questions on How to Deal with Coronavirus; Mayor Noam Bramson of New Rochelle, New York, Interviewed on City's New Drive-Through Testing Facility for Coronavirus; Georgia Governor Brian Kemp Declares Public Health Emergency in Georgia; President Trump States He Expects to be Tested for Coronavirus; Donald Trump Claims to be Unaware of Previous Disbanding of White House Pandemic Office; Democratic Presidential Candidate Joe Biden Holds Virtual Town Hall; Forty-seven Employees, at Life Care Center in Kirkland, Washington, Test Positive for Coronavirus. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired March 14, 2020 - 10:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:00:14]

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to the weekend. Good morning to you on this Saturday, March 14th. I'm Christi Paul.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell. You are in the CNN Newsroom.

As you wake up this morning life looks a little different. The travel ban on 26 European countries now in effect. It's part of the president's push to combat the coronavirus. U.S. citizens are still allowed to fly home, but they will have to undergo enhanced entry screening.

PAUL: And early this morning the House passed a new relief bill, includes paid emergency leave, free coronavirus testing. That bill is moving to the Senate now for approval next week.

BLACKWELL: Right now, an important question is where are all the tests? We know there are more than 2,200 cases of coronavirus here in the U.S., confirmed cases. And at least 49 people have died. The virus is impacting millions of people in every region of this country.

PAUL: And we'll talk about the latest in the international headlines in a minute, but we do want to begin here in the United States.

BLACKWELL: Very late night for some lawmakers in Washington. The House passed the coronavirus response bill just before 1:00 a.m. And this was at the end of a day of intense talks between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the White House as well. And the president tweeted his support for the bill late last night. But still 40 Republicans voted against it.

PAUL: The bill goes to the Senate next week. And CNN White House reporter Sarah Westwood is with us now. So President Trump I know is praising the teamwork between Republicans and Democrats today, but do we have any clarity on why so many Republicans, those 40, voted no?

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Christi and Victor, there were heated negotiations over this bill over a period of two days, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin taking lead on those negotiations for the White House, spoke to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi more than a dozen times yesterday alone as they worked around the clock to get this bill to where most people on both sides of the aisle could support it, a rare display of bipartisanship there.

So you mentioned President Trump was applauding that effort this morning on Twitter, writing "Good teamwork between Republicans and Democrats. People really pulled together, nice to see." I want to walk you through a little bit of what's in this big bill, which, as you mentioned, is going to be taken up by the Senate on Monday. It will provide two weeks of paid sick leave for workers who don't have it, and up to three months of paid family and medical leave for workers who might be furloughed, might not be able to go into work and have to care for a sick loved one.

Crucially, it will also provide free coronavirus testing even to people who don't have health insurance, and it will expand unemployment and food assistant programs, so helping to blunt the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak on Americans who are being affected.

Not everybody got everything that they wanted, though. The White House wanted a payroll tax holiday to be included in the legislation. That did not happen. And Democrats initially wanted these benefits to be permanent. They will actually sunset, though, after the coronavirus outbreak subsides.

BLACKWELL: So Sarah, let me ask you about the president's testing. The president during the news conferences says that he would likely be tested, and then we get a memo from the White House. What's the update?

WESTWOOD: Late last night we did get a memo from the White House physician saying the president is not going to self-isolate, he's not going to be tested for COVID-19 despite his potential exposure to multiple people who have since tested positive to the virus after interacting directly with the president.

In that memo, the physician wrote in part those "interactions would be categorized as low risk for transmissions per CDC guidelines, and as such there is no indication for home quarantine at this time." And then he goes on to say, "Additionally, given the president himself remains without symptoms, testing for COVID-19 is not currently indicated." Yesterday during that press conference we heard President Trump sort of discourage people from going and getting tested unless they know exposure to someone who has had coronavirus or they are showing symptoms. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And we don't want people without symptoms to go and do the test. The test is not insignificant.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WESTWOOD: Despite that doctor's memo from last night, President Trump said he himself is likely to get tested at some point pending his schedule. Take a listen to that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Doctors have said you might have it even if you don't have symptoms. Are you being selfish by not getting tested and potentially exposing --

TRUMP: I didn't say I wasn't going to get tested.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you going to be?

TRUMP: Most likely, yes. Most likely, not for that reason, but because I think I will do it anyway.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will you let us know the results?

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WESTWOOD: Now, the president tweeted this morning, also encouraging people to practice social distancing, but that's not behavior that we've seen the president model in all his public appearances. He's been continuing to shake hands, continuing to interact closely with people.

[10:05:04]

And all of this comes amid questions about whether the administration is going to be able to ramp up its testing capabilities and when. We have not gotten satisfactory answers from the administration officials about just when testing will be available across the country, Victor and Christi.

BLACKWELL: Sarah Westwood for us at the White House, thank you very much, Sarah.

Listen, as we get more numbers and we get more closings and postponements, we're of course going to bring that all to you. Let's start with the numbers -- 2,200 confirmed cases of coronavirus across the U.S. Life is changing for a lot of people.

PAUL: Let's talk about education. At least 21 million students in the United States have been or will be affected by the closures. We've been seeing dozens of universities across the country are closing. They're moving classes online. Several major sporting events have been cancelled. CNN's Natasha Chen has been looking into all of this following the latest on the impact here in the U.S. I don't want to think that this creates more panic, even though it is necessary to some degree as well, and you wonder how to balance those two things.

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Everybody wants to be as careful as possible, which is why these postponements or cancellations are happening, but I think that's also giving an impression this week, perhaps unlike the previous few weeks or perhaps unlike the previous few days, where people are really understanding the extent of the effect of this outbreak. You're talking about the school closures, 21 million at least, 21 million kids who have been or will be affected by closures. And they're at home doing distance learning. They're doing online classes. And sometimes this is a difficulty for their parents or caretakers who have to now figure out supervision now. Some of these parents are themselves working from home. And like you mentioned, colleges, universities, also asking students perhaps not to return to campus for spring quarter.

This is a time that is spring break for many of the kids. Now, there are difficulties, especially for children who rely on their schools for meals or safety. The good news is that the USDA does have a policy allowing schools to still distribute meals to low income communities during unexpected closures the way that they would during summer breaks. But typically, the policy requires that they serve these meals in groups to promote bonding. But of course, that doesn't work in this situation. So far we've seen the USDA has issued waivers for the state of Washington and California to make sure that those meals can be delivered to go for those students.

Of course, a lot of plans have been canceled. Like you mentioned, Delta is talking about the deepest cuts they've made since 9/11. We have sports teams and NCAA cancelled. Of course, Disney parks, other theme parks closing in an unprecedented manner in the 65-year history of Disney domestic parks. They've only closed a handful of times for things like John F. Kennedy's death and 9/11. So just some context for how far reaching this is right now.

BLACKWELL: The severity comes in all those logos you see --

CHEN: Absolutely.

BLACKWELL: -- that have cancelled or postponed. Natasha Chen, thanks so much.

PAUL: Thank you, Natasha.

So we don't have all the answers about the coronavirus, obviously. We're giving you the best medical advice that we can, though. Dr. Darria Long is with us. She's a clinical assistant professor at the University of Tennessee and an emergency room doctor. Hi, Dr. Darria. It's so good to see you. I know you've been working in the E.R. for the past couple of days. First of all, what are you seeing there?

DR. DARRIA LONG, EMERGENCY ROOM PHYSICIAN: Hi, Christi, good morning. And yes, you're right. I just worked in the E.R. the last two days. And what really became clear to me and what I'm seeing amongst all my E.R. colleagues across the nation is one that we really don't have surge capacity for a lot of additional people to be getting ill. And number two, we do not have that testing capacity. Christi, for me to get testing -- and this is the case for most physicians across the nation, to get a patient tested you have to jump through many hoops, make several phone calls just to get patients tested because we don't have enough. We're really rationing those tests. It's really difficult to get someone tested right now.

PAUL: And I'm seeing a lot of people online, on Twitter and Facebook, getting a hold of me and saying I have got asthma, I have got diabetes, type one or type two diabetes. One woman has rheumatoid arthritis, and her daughter, who is 25-years-old, is afraid to come see her because she doesn't want to get her sick. Talk to me about the two populations you mentioned when it comes to COVID, because I know you're talking about people who are compromised.

LONG: Yes, Christi, that's exactly right. This is really a tale of two different populations. There's the first population that we call really medically fragile. So those are people who are 70 or 80 or above. It's people who have chronic medical conditions, that includes asthma or poorly controlled diabetes. Because what we're seeing, the death rate of people infected in somebody, for instance, who's 80 or above is 14.8 percent. For that group it is a medical crisis.

[10:10:06]

Contrast that to the majority of us who are otherwise well. For instance, somebody who is 40 or below, the death rate is 0.2 percent. So for the rest of us this is a logistical crisis and a logistical challenge.

PAUL: Before I get to those questions, I do have another, the questions that are coming to us online. I want to ask one more thing. Is it plausible the coronavirus will be similar to the flu in regards to the seasonality? Meaning like the flu we just come to expect that in the spring or in the fall this is what we're going to see and hopefully we'll have a vaccine soon for it?

LONG: Right. There's two questions there. One is will it abate when it gets warm? We hope so. We don't know, so we cannot rely on that when we're making policy decisions. And it is possible that this will start to come around every year with a seasonality to it. Again, we don't know, and yes, we hope there will be a vaccine by this point.

PAUL: OK. Listen, I first want to get to this question here. Should we be -- this is a great question -- should we be wiping down our nonperishable items from the grocery store when we bring them home.

LONG: So what nonperishable items you can still find. We won't even talk about toilet paper right now, Christi. But what they talk about, when you're wiping, I want people to be using an EPA approved disinfectant, but you should not use those on anything that may be touching food or on food, so I would not use it on things like that. But otherwise if you're nervous, especially if you have somebody who is medically fragile in the home and it's not something that's a food service, it's not necessarily a bad idea.

PAUL: So the next question, how do you know you haven't had COVID-19 if you've been sick? Do you carry it afterwards? LONG: So you are initially -- and this is very important -- you're most contagious right when you get the symptoms and then for a few days afterwards. Right now we don't have a test to tell you if you've developed the antibodies for COVID at this point. I think it's safe to assume a lot of people have probably had it and may have gotten better already, but there's not a way to know if you did get it and have recovered.

PAUL: This person asked this is the one I was talking about, how much does asthma affect the risk of complications if you get coronavirus, and what can you do to minimize them? And does it make -- there are a lot of kids who have asthma, and we know that they haven't been in this category to be at high risk.

LONG: Yes. So fortunately, in children under nine we have not seen any fatalities reported yet. But again, a child who has asthma, especially if there's some of those children, I see them in the emergency department. They have to come in a lot because they have poorly controlled asthma. I would group them in the medically fragile group in that you want to keep them isolated and a little bit more careful with them.

PAUL: And lastly, "As a hair stylist in Virginia Beach I'm in contact with many clients and am curious as to what we can do to help diminish my risk?" We've talked about handwashing and the social distancing, but as a hairdresser you can only be so far away from your clients.

LONG: Yes. You're very close to your clients. I would say social distancing as much as possible. If you have any clients who are sick or having symptoms, probably tell them not to come in, may want them to wear a mask. Be very careful, and especially washing your hands can be very important.

And Christi, I do want to say one thing if I can. We're talking about the two populations, the medically fragile and those who are not medically fragile. Right now we have the shortage of tests. If you are in that group that is healthy, you are not feeling especially sick, don't just come into the emergency department, don't just show up at your doctor's office. We probably won't be able to test you. But there is a number you can call, the department of public health or call you doctor's office, 1-866-p-u-b-h-l-t-h. Call first and they'll be able to direct you, because we don't need swarms of people going to the emergency department right now.

PAUL: And a very good reminder to call your doctor's office before you go, because the doctor's office needs to be prepared for somebody who thinks they might have it to make sure that it doesn't go around the office. Dr. Darria Long, we so appreciate you. Thank you.

LONG: Thank you, Christi. Have a great day. Stay well.

PAUL: You as well.

LONG: And if you have questions or concerns about the coronavirus, we want to help you get them answered. We want to thank everybody who has tweeted and gotten a hold of us on Facebook and Instagram already. But you can tweet us @VictorBlackwell and @Christi_Paul, use the hash-tag #NewDayWeekend and tell us how it is affecting your lives. You can also ask our medical team, and for that go to CNN.com/CoronavirusQuestions.

BLACKWELL: A lot of valuable answers there that tailored to people's lives, especially that hair stylist, which I didn't think about. You have to be close.

So let's talk about testing and this new opportunity in New York. New Rochelle, a place there where drive-through testing is happening this morning. Next, the mayor of that city joins us to talk about it.

PAUL: Also, the impact of social distancing on the 2020 presidential election. What it means as we head into next Tuesday's primaries.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:18:6]

BLACKWELL: It's one of the more important questions we're asking and trying to get an answer to -- where are all of the coronavirus tests? Yesterday President Trump said 5 million more will be available in the next month.

PAUL: So as we wait for those, there are some cities that are starting to do something unconventional -- roadside testing. Not for your car here. New Rochelle, New York, is one place where drive-through testing is going on as we speak. Noam Bramson is the mayor of New Rochelle is with us this morning. Mr. Mayor, so grateful to have you here.

MAYOR NOAM BRAMSON, NEW ROCHELLE, NEW YORK: Glad to be with you.

PAUL: Thank you. Please help us understand what it's like there right now. Do you have long lines? What are people's attitudes? Have they talked much to you about what their biggest concerns are?

BRAMSON: We're right outside the testing center right now, and we're glad that the state has established it here because it greatly increases the testing capacity, which is so important not only to provide certainty for individuals but also to help manage the crisis overall. So far it's worked quite smoothly. Anyone who wants to be tested needs to either contact their doctor or call a hotline that's been established by the state, a reservation is established, and there are many personnel who are here in order to manage it onsite. So far so good but we know a lot more testing is going to be occurring in the days ahead.

[10:20:16]

BLACKWELL: I have another question, but before we get to that on the drive-through testing, you're about 20 minutes from Greenwich, a little longer from Newark. Is this limited to New Yorkers, or are you seeing people from neighboring states come through as well?

BRAMSON: It's residents of New Rochelle who are being prioritized because there's been a high concentration of the virus in our city, that's why it's established here. But it is also open to people throughout the region based on protocols that have been established by the state. So even though the testing capacity has been increased by this facility, the demand for testing still exceeds supply, and so it is necessary to prioritize.

PAUL: So when people come up or when they make the appointment with their doctor, do they have to be symptomatic? Are there protocols in that regard to qualify for these tests?

BRAMSON: There's a whole checklist that the state has established. So being symptomatic is one of the factors. Whether you've been exposed to someone who has tested positive for the virus, whether you're within the containment area that was established in New Rochelle. So all these things are evaluated on a case by case basis by state health officials, and then on that basis someone is provided with a reservation to have a test at this facility.

BLACKWELL: On the containment area, it was set up to stop the spread in New Rochelle. Has it been successful? Any new cases since the establishment?

BRAMSON: There have been new cases, but that may be a function of better detection of the virus, not necessarily additional spread of the virus. I think it's too soon to know whether these measures have done the trick. And remember, what the containment area really means is a restriction on large gatherings within large institutions. It's not a prohibition on people entering or leaving. It's not a restriction on individuals or on businesses. But it is certainly a commonsense public health measure that we hope will mitigate the spread of the virus within an area that has a large number of positive tests.

PAUL: Mayor, do you have a gauge how long this drive-thru testing is sustainable in terms of your resources?

BRAMSON: We have not been given a sort of end date for this process. And I think we all acknowledge that this is a situation that is fast evolving, changes not just by the day but by the hour. And so our response needs to be flexible enough to respond to changing facts on the ground. So it's here now. I expect it'll be here for the foreseeable future until and unless there's a greater need elsewhere or this entire crisis is behind us.

BLACKWELL: Mayor Noam Bramson of the city of New Rochelle there in New York where there's now the drive-through testing. Mr. Mayor, thank you so much for your time.

PAUL: Thank you, sir.

BRAMSON: Glad to be with you.

PAUL: Best of luck to you.

Still ahead, fighting coronavirus fears with facts, practical advice from the CDC on how to keep the people you love safe and what to do if you do get sick. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:27:35]

BLACKWELL: Just moments ago, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp declared a public health emergency in Georgia. Governor Kemp said keeping the public safe is a top priority, and for those older than 60 to avoid large public gatherings, and for people to practice social distancing.

PAUL: Georgia saw its largest increase in a 24-hour period. There's now 64 cases in the state, including a death earlier this week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. BRIAN KEMP (R-GA): According to the CDC, social distancing means postponing group congregations and large gatherings like sporting events and social functions. If they had not done so already, Georgians need to incorporate social distancing into their everyday lives.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: Italy, let's go there now, shutting down civilian flights at several of its major airports, including there in Rome. It's the latest measure as doctors and nurses grapple with an influx of patients.

PAUL: Country wide lockdowns are leaving streets and tourist spots deserted. Hospitals are packed, we know, and a dwindling number of resources to treat patients is what they're dealing with -- 250 deaths and 2,500 new cases were reported just yesterday. The latest data from Johns Hopkins University shows in total there are more than 17,660 cases across Italy and more than 1,200 people have died. That's second only to China.

BLACKWELL: We're also seeing scenes like this. This is in Rome. Today people on the balconies. You can hear them there applauding the doctors and nurses that are fighting this virus. And earlier this morning we spoke about the unity among Italians with Tim Parks. He lives in Milan, and he explained how he and others in Italy moved from a feeling of frustration and indignation, he wrote about this in the "New York Times," about the disruption to daily life to unifying behind a common threat.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TIM PARKS, WRITER AND TRANSLATOR: I think it's really interesting to keep an eye on your own psychology through this. At the beginning you realize how attached you are to all the ordinary things you do. I was really furious that they closed my gym. And then you look at the figures. You see that people are dying. You think, no, this makes a lot of sense.

[10:30:05]

But then there's what I could be a dangerous swing that people start to get sort of excited about the drama of it all, and even to ask for more stringent measures so that we can all feel we're at war sort of thing. I really do wonder, I'm sure in the hospitals it feels like war, but I wonder if for the rest of us that's a kind of metaphor we need. We should be just keeping calm, staying quiet. We're not fighting anything. We're just looking out for ourselves and for everybody else.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: Tim Parks there on how the Italians are fighting this common threat.

The White House, back in the U.S., physicians say that no quarantine is needed for President Trump despite his coming into contact with two people who have coronavirus. Navy Commander Sean Conley says that both interactions would be categorized as low risk by the CDC since one was brief and the other happened before the patient showed symptoms. During a news conference on Friday, the president said that he would likely get tested after being pressed by reporters.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Doctors have said you might have it even if you don't have symptoms. Are you being selfish by not getting tested and potentially exposing --

TRUMP: I didn't say I wasn't going to get tested.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you going to be?

TRUMP: Most likely, yes. Most likely, not for that reason, but because I think I will do it anyway.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will you let us know the results?

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: CNN national security analyst Samantha Vinograd joins us now. So he goes from likely and we're working on a schedule, to a middle of the night memo from the physician there at the White House saying that it's not going to happen. You have been critical of the president, you call him a walking biohazard.

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: The headline here, Victor, is that President Trump is a health hazard on multiple levels. I spent a significant amount of time with President Obama, and I can tell you he was always accompanied by a White House doctor and he was regularly screened, monitored, and tested for infection at times when we didn't have a pandemic, and particularly when he was in and around an infection, for two reasons. One, the president's health is obviously paramount to his ability to perform his responsibility, but also because POTUS becoming patient zero is a really bad situation. You don't want to risk the president turning into a point of contagion for all of those that he comes into contact with, including personnel at the White House. It's very close quarters there. So President Trump's failure to get tested is potentially putting everybody that he comes into contact with at risk.

But more broadly, Victor, presidents are supposed to lead by example at all times, and especially during a time of crisis. At this juncture, instead, we have President Trump really flouting CDC guidance regarding testing if you are part of a vulnerable population, if you come into contact with people showing symptoms. And he's also engaging in behavior that the CDC is recommending against, including shaking hands.

BLACKWELL: Let's put it up, because we have the video. Let's put the video -- you finished that point, but I want people to see it.

VINOGRAD: The president is just flouting the behavior that the CDC is directly advising against. And so I really cringe to think what would happen if millions of Americans followed the president's example here and continued to mimic his behavior and to say that they did not need to get tested if they met key criteria. And so for those two reasons, along with the facts that the president is spreading misinformation about the virus, testing, and more, he is a walking, talking, tweeting health hazard at this point.

BLACKWELL: And it's interesting that they talked about social distancing, and the president tweeted in all caps this morning, we've got the tweet. It's just "SOCIAL DISTANCING!" But that video shows a dozen of them standing elbow to elbow on that platform in the Rose Garden yesterday with a man who's been exposed to two people with the coronavirus, reaching out to shake hands and refuses to be tested. Also, Vice President Mike Pence has not been tested either and he's in that photo with the Brazilian official who was first confirmed to have coronavirus.

Let me move on to another thing. There's this exchange between President Trump and NPR White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor in which she asks about the disbanding of the Pandemic Preparation Office, also know as the NSC's Global Health Security and Biodefense Team. Watch the exchange and then we'll talk about it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: When you say me, I didn't do it. We have a group of people. I could --

YAMICHE ALCINDOR, NPR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It's your administration.

TRUMP: I could ask perhaps -- my administration, but I could perhaps ask Tony about that, because I don't know anything about it. You say we did that. I don't know anything about it.

ALCINDOR: You don't know about the reorganization that happened at the National Security --

TRUMP: It's the administration. Perhaps they do that, let people go. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: It's the administration, perhaps they do that, describing his administration as if it belongs to someone else. You were an adviser to the NSC. Do you expect that there's the plausibility that the president could not know that this far into this, and then his willingness to admit it there?

[10:35:12]

VINOGRAD: Back in February he did acknowledge his knowledge about the disbandment of this office. He said that these people were, quote, no longer needed. But broadcasting his managerial malpractice here is really not plausible. In my experience, a reorganization of the National Security Council, and I lived through several, would be briefed to the president in an oral or written fashion, particularly something as significant as the disbandment of an office.

But it's not just that this office was disbanded back in 2018, whether because the president is not a fan of science or because John Bolton was trying to streamline the size of the National Security Council. Since that time, the director of national intelligence in open source, unclassified reporting, has warned about the risk of global pandemics as a major threat to the United States. President Trump and the National Security Council get classified intelligence on those matters and others, and President Trump has failed to staff up appropriately in light of those threats.

BLACKWELL: Samantha, I have to wrap it there. Thank you so much. Samantha Vinograd with us, good to have you.

VINOGRAD: Thanks.

PAUL: We have some breaking news regarding the coronavirus here in the U.S. New York is confirming right now the state's first death related to the virus. New York's governor says the victim is an 82-year-old woman with preexisting emphysema. She died yesterday in the hospital. We'll continue to keep you posted as we get more information.

BLACKWELL: The spread of the virus is forcing the 2020 presidential candidates to adapt to new ways of campaigning. Former Vice President Joe Biden attempting his first virtual town hall. It didn't go so well.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:40:59]

BLACKWELL: We're days away from the next round of Democratic primaries. Florida, Ohio, Illinois, Arizona, voters there will head to the polls on Tuesday. But with the threat of the coronavirus, what will turnout be? As a precaution, Louisiana has postponed its primary from April to June. Former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders are prepared to debate one another tomorrow night without a live audience. Let's talk about that. Here with me, CNN Democratic political commentator Maria Cardona, also Democratic strategist, and former Ted Cruz Communications Director and CNN political commentator Alice Stewart. Ladies, welcome back.

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Good morning, Victor.

MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Good morning, Victor.

BLACKWELL: Alice, let me start with you and the announcement yesterday from the Rose Garden not only of the national emergency but also of this new website that the president said was coming to help organize testing throughout the country. He said it's coming very soon. Let's listen to how the president described it and the timing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Google is helping to develop a website. It's going to be very quickly done, unlike websites of the past. Google has 1,700 engineers working on this right now. They've made tremendous progress.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: So Google then released a statement, it's one of its subsidiaries is actually doing the designing, but says it's in the early stages of development. They plan to roll out testing in the Bay Area only, and then, as they worded it, they hope to roll it out more broadly over time. Why mischaracterize this, especially now?

STEWART: No reason for that, Victor. I don't understand why such an overstatement on this was made, because when you're dealing with a crisis like this, whether on the state or national level, there are three things to keep in mind. You have to be compassionate, you have to be commanding, and you have to be correct. And when you're factually incorrect on some of the important information, it really takes away from some of the other information that is vital for putting out there.

And look, there are other ways that he can tout what is happening online to get information out there. I'll help him out. Go to Coronavirus.gov. That's a great website for people to go online. They can find out about symptoms. They can find out about the CDC framework for mitigation. They can find out about risk factors and ways you can go about your daily lives to prevent coming in contact with people, and specifically things you can do. So the positive things I think out of that news conference I think need to be focused on more, unfortunately, than something like that where he made a --

BLACKWELL: Let's focus on one of them. Maria, to you, the president tweeted out about Democrats and Republicans working together to pass this Coronavirus Response Act, says it's a good thing, the negotiations between Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Moving forward, is this bill enough?

CARDONA: Well, we'll see. I think it's a good start. I think one of the things that Americans look to their leaders in this kind of crisis is for them to be able to help both short term and long term the families who are -- who are finding themselves in crisis. We are in a new reality Victor, where everybody is shutting down, schools are shutting down, work is shutting down, people are going to have to be at home trying to do telework. But then there are those hourly workers who can't do that.

So are they going to not get paid? Are they going to be able to get sick time, paid leave? Those are the kinds of things that are in this bill, those are the kinds of things that I think Americans deserve to have a little bit of peace of mind about, at least in the near future while we face this reality, which hopefully will be temporary. So I think that this is one of the few positive things that Americans can see at least their leaders working together on.

BLACKWELL: Let's talk about the 2020 candidates, because they now have to campaign in an environment where door-knocking is not welcome at some homes because of the close proximity, and the rallies have been postponed.

[10:45:08]

Former Vice President Joe Biden yesterday hosted a virtual town hall. First it was pushed back two hours, and then it was 15 minutes late. People could see the vice president, and then they couldn't see him, or couldn't hear him. Then they put him on a phone. And look at this. He's on the phone talking, then he walks out of the frame. This was supposed to have been Facebook Live but it wasn't actually on Facebook. It was on another platform.

Maria, I know this is a new environment, and his campaign grew quickly. Are they up to Facebook Live, even?

CARDONA: Well, these are the growing pains, not just of a campaign that has gone from, you know, 20 hours ago this was a campaign -- or two weeks ago this was a campaign that a lot of people thought was dead in the water. But so now with the fact that he is now the presumed frontrunner and this new reality that we just talked about, yes, there are a lot of growing pains. And yes, they are going to have to step up their game.

But I think that all of the campaigns, his campaign, Bernie Sanders' campaigns, everyone who is campaigning for Congress, everyone who needs to speak to voters, they're going to be facing this new reality, so at least everyone is on a level playing field.

BLACKWELL: Maria, I have got to jump in here, because I want to get Alice in on one more thing, and then we have got to wrap quickly, because we may have a guest on the other side. This new ABC News/Ipsos poll shows that 83 percent of Democrats are concerned about the virus, but only 56 of Republicans. Alice, what do you attribute to this disparity?

STEWART: I think a lot of it is Republicans are looking at President Trump and the reassurance he has given people that steps are being taken to combat this serious illness, and they're looking to him for guidance on that.

And, look, here's one thing I think everyone will agree on, and the House bill that passes is evidence of that, coronavirus is nonpartisan. This is a Republican and Democrat issue, an American issue we all need to work together on. So regardless of who takes it more seriously, we can all agree this is united we stand with regard to combatting coronavirus.

BLACKWELL: Alice Stewart, Maria Cardona, we'll end it there. Thank you so much.

STEWART: Thanks, Victor.

CARDONA: Thanks, Victor.

BLACKWELL: We'll be back in just a moment.

PAUL: Forty-seven people, employees, I should say, at the Life Care Center in Kirkland, Washington, have just tested positive for coronavirus. We have the very latest for you on what we're learning this morning. Stay close.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:52:14]

PAUL: Just getting in some breaking news we want to share with you right now out of Washington state -- 47 employees from that Life Care Center of Kirkland have tested positive for coronavirus now.

BLACKWELL: This is the nursing facility at the center of Washington state's coronavirus outbreak. Let's go to Natasha Chen with more. Natasha?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. I was just speaking with officials from King County Public Health in Washington state. And so as you said, 47 health care workers at that center have tested positive. What they've been doing is they've tested all of the residents at this center that, as you know, has been the first real cluster of cases in the United States. And they have been testing all the employees who feel symptoms. And as of right now, King County public health tells me there are 95 health care workers who felt symptoms, and of those 95, 47 have tested positive.

Here's the good news -- about 24 of them have tested negative. One of them has an inconclusive test, five are still pending results. So we're still getting more information here. But just to put this all in context, this is really, the center has been feeling so much tragedy because most of the deaths reported in King County have come from the center, from those elderly residents. And in speaking to at least one family whose father passed away from this center, I know there were some early issues at the beginning about testing. In fact, this family didn't even know for sure if their father had the coronavirus until days after he had already passed.

And so, right now we are still seeing and understanding there are bottlenecks in getting those tests processed. But the public health department, as I just mentioned, just now has talked to us about the fact that they are testing all the residents and all the health care workers who feel symptoms, and these are the results they're giving us so far, that 47 health care workers there testing positive.

PAUL: Natasha Chen, thank you so much. Really appreciate it. We've been telling you this morning to let us know how life has

changed for you since the coronavirus started to spread throughout the country. We thank you for sharing. I want to read to you what one person sent us on Twitter, "I bartend in New Orleans. Conventions and festivals that I depend on have been cancelled. This is the part of the year that pays for the slow times. I don't know what's going to happen to my family."

BLACKWELL: We got this from Lynn. She tweeted "Cancelled trip to Vegas for next week due to coronavirus because who wants to be in Vegas when things are shut down?" And she added the hashtag "#boring."

PAUL: Melissa sent us this picture, writing, and now we're getting a little cutesy here. "The cats are hoarding cat litter. On a serious note, anxiously awaiting the return of my college freshman daughter from her study abroad in Switzerland. Flight on Sunday." Good luck to her getting home.

[10:55:00]

BLACKWELL: Yes. And this tweet we couldn't ignore, "Christi and Victor, shouldn't you be sitting further apart?" Excellent point. I was wondering about that myself.

PAUL: Yes, you were.

BLACKWELL: We'll see how we do.

PAUL: Listen, take care of each other, take care of yourselves, and make good some memories today if you can.

BLACKWELL: Much more ahead in the next hours of CNN's Newsroom coming up after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.