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U.S. Has 2,600-Plus Coronavirus Cases, 57 Dead; WH: Trump Tests Negative For Coronavirus; Spain And France Move Toward Total Lockdown Amid Outbreak; Donald Trump Declares Coronavirus Pandemic National Emergency; At Least 19 States Shut Down All Public Schools Due To Coronavirus. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired March 14, 2020 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Boris Sanchez in New York. We thank you so much for joining us tonight and we start with a stunning reality check on the state of the nation and how quickly life as we know it, is changing.
Today, President Trump revealing that he has been tested for the deadly coronavirus, Covid-19 after coming into contact with multiple positive carriers over the last week. Listen to the president today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I also took the test, last night, yes. And I decided I should, based on the press conference yesterday, people were asking did I take a test.
REPORTER: When will we get the result, Mr. President?
TRUMP: I don't know whatever it takes, a day or two days, whatever - whatever it is. They send it to a lab.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: As for the public, the number of cases is growing by the minute. At last count there were more than 2600 people that have tested positive for coronavirus. 57 deaths nationwide. So far there have been no federally mandated closures but 19 states along with Puerto Rico and DC have shut down schools.
A look overseas could be a glimpse into the near future. Both Spain and France have taken a cue from Italy and virtually shut down this weekend. France has closed all stores that are non-essential as well as restaurants, movie theaters and clubs.
Spain going a step further, banning anyone from leaving their home, unless it's to go to work to buy essential supplies, to go to the hospital or to support an elderly person or a minor. President Trump today surprising reporters at the White House when he walked into the coronavirus task force briefing and again by announcing that last night he was tested to see if he was infected by the virus.
CNN's Kristen Holmes is at the White House for us. Kristen, you and the rest of the press corps had to pass your own health screening to even walk into that briefing room today, that's unusual. What was that like?
KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes Boris, it was really interesting. It actually happened so fast that it took a second to realize what was going on. A press aide as well as a White House physician going by room to room in the White House press area, essentially taking our temperatures, going by with one of those non touching thermometers and making sure that we did not have any sort of fever.
And in fact one reporter got turned away from the briefing because multiple times a White House physician took the temperature and it was too high, was not consistent with a normal temperature. The CDC guidelines saying that it wasn't a fever zone so clearly this is a ramping up here of the precautions set to protect the President.
I mean this is really night and day from what we saw just yesterday. Yesterday we saw President Trump in the Rose garden. He was shaking hands with everyone. He was close to everyone. Clearly, no one there having their temperature taken.
Today we know that it wasn't just members of the press but it was also members of the task force and we're hearing that it's going to be run of business now. It's just going to be what we see on a regular occasion if the President or Vice President is in any sort of proximity and I think this is making many people feel a lot more secure.
We heard President from over and over again, kind of downplaying the virus, downplaying the fact he interacted with people who had later tested positive with coronavirus and now seeing a true escalation in these precautions set up by the White House.
SANCHEZ: Yes and folks at home may not realize that the quarters there for the press are very crammed at the White House. It's almost a surprise that it's taken the White House so long to do this, considering we're in pretty close proximity with the President on a regular basis.
Let's talk about these changes announced today. Travel restrictions from overseas getting tighter. Who exactly is affected?
HOLMES: Well, that's right so we know earlier in the week, there was this announcement of a ban from Europe but it had excluded the U.K. and Ireland. Now that is no longer the case. Take a look at what Vice President Pence said today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: President has made a decision to suspend all travel to the United Kingdom and Ireland affective midnight, Monday night, eastern standard time. Again Americans in the U.K. or Ireland can come home.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: And we also heard from the President and officials that there were discussions about some kind of restrictions on domestic travel. Now we had heard from sources that this was just a preliminary conversation. It would involve areas that are those hot spots, the places that have seen the worst outbreaks in the United States.
But no decisions yet have been made on that one. On Monday Vice President Pence is having a phone call with those state governors and that's likely to be one of the big topics.
SANCHEZ: All right Kristen Holmes, we appreciate the reporting. Thanks so much. Now you may have seen videos on social media. Many people across the country this weekend aren't so much shopping as they are wiping out grocery store shelves. Water, cleaning supplies, paper products, toilet paper, a lot of supermarkets and big buck stores are sold out of those things today.
Health experts say that panic buying especially in this crisis may not be the wisest move. Here's CNN's Brian Todd.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: 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.
Are you nervous, scared about this whole thing?
SERA TANSEVER, SHOPPER: 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: Across the U.S., stockpiling seems to be everywhere a prominent analytics firm says online sales of quote protection items like hand sanitizer, gloves and anti-bacterial sprays shot off 817 percent in January and February because many people can't get them in stores.
AVI KANER, CO-OWNER, MORON WILLIAMS SUPERMARKET: Whenever we do get new ration set 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. Were you trying to buy anything in there that you couldn't get?
MAUREEN MILMOE, STOCKING UP ON GROCERIES: Yes actually. All the toilet paper is gone. A lot of the frozen foods, a lot of the breads.
CHASE HICKS, SHOPPER: It's pretty hectic, I would say. A lot of the frozen vegetables, cleaning supplies. Even to a certain extent meats and diary are hard to come by. TODD: It's exhausting for people on the other side of the grocery
industry. At a Morton Williams 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 experts say let's slow down a bit.
DR. IRWIN REDIENER, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL CENTER FOR DISASTER PREPAREDNESS, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: They don't need a year's worth of toilet tissue. They don't need cartons of you know paper napkins. They - 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 homes.
REDIENER: Figure out what your family likes and maybe cans of tuna fish and maybe peanut butter and jelly, may be whatever it is that you feel like you can plan for a couple weeks of not being able to go outside.
DR. JEFF DUCHIN, HEALTH OFFICER FOR PUBLIC HEALTH, KING CO, 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 at your local grocery store just by itself isn't the healthiest moves. That 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.
REDIENER: 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.
TODD: Public health and consumer experts have a couple of other tips for people who want to stock up during the outbreak. They say if your favorite store's open 24/7, try going after midnight after they've restocked or if it's available in your area, try a food delivery service to maybe reduce some of the overall stress.
Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.
SANCHEZ: All right Brian, thank you for that. We have plenty to discuss and fortunately, we have a star studded panel, tonight with us. Former presidential adviser to four U.S. presidents, David Gergen. A former senior adviser to the National Security Council under President Obama, Samantha Vinograd. Former Chair of President Obama's Global Development Council, Mohamed El-Erian and the Director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo. Now David, I want to start with you. Clearly, there are mixed messages
coming from the White House on a consistent basis during a time of crisis. Earlier today, a reporter asked about reports of a possible travel ban on the U.K. and Ireland. The President said that it was something it was being considered. About 15 minutes later at the same press conference, Mike Pence announced that exact travel ban so why that disparity?
Why didn't the President just announce it himself?
DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER TO NIXON, FORD, REAGAN & CLINTON: Well, I think Boris, what we can welcome is that the White House is making a huge U-turn in his approach to the coronavirus. They're coming out of their complacency, recognizing for the now at last, at long last, that this is - that this is really serious.
A lot of people are going to die and you got to save lives so that is to be celebrated in all sorts of ways but they are doing it in such a way as they expose the kind of continuing flailing around within the White House on almost every subject.
That there's a lot of extra energy that goes into - in confusion and people not knowing - the right hand is not talking to the left hand and so you had this situation today and then just last night, Boris, as you were you know saying, right at the top of the show, the White House physician issued a statement that made it clear that the President was not going to be tested.
And then we learned this morning. He was tested - he was tested about the same time that press release went out. By the way, that doctor, I learned for the first time today, he's not a Med MD. I was surprised by that. He's an osteopath which is interesting, in and of itself.
SANCHEZ: Yes, a lot of questions about that test. That statement from the White House physician coming at about 11:50 PM. The President today saying he got a test last night so you wonder when that test was administered. Samantha, do you - there's talk of a potential domestic travel restriction going into place. Is that something you think might be necessary?
SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL: It might be necessary but what we're seeing is the President really publicly threw spaghetti at a wall with respect to what proposals he may or may not move forward with in the near term.
This foreign travel ban for example initially excluded U.K. and Ireland. Days later they're now being tagged on and the real question is what is substantively driving these proposals when it comes to travel restrictions or other kinds of behaviors.
Boris, the fact is rather than unequivocally leading the response to this crisis, the President is personally undermining it with his comments about proposals that don't exist, mechanisms that don't exist and even just getting back to this testing issue. Why is the president of the United States walking to a briefing room
today after having been tested for coronavirus and exposed himself when he doesn't know if he is or isn't infected? Just so many journalists in close quarters. He is a potentially making himself Patient Zero when it comes to the virus and really undermining basic CDC guidelines that millions of Americans are supposed to follow.
This is a case where we don't want to follow the leader, when it comes to appropriate behavior and we really need to question what is driving his policy making at this point.
SANCHEZ: He did allude to trying to follow the CDC guidelines today when he talked about trying not to shake hands. He acknowledged that he didn't do it before he was a politician.
VINGRAD: Which he did yesterday.
SANCHEZ: Right but he's been doing it all this time and he's been having rallies with large crowds in which he suggests that this coronavirus epidemic - pandemic is a hoax perpetrated by Democrats. Let's hold that thought. I want to move on to Mohamed.
Earlier today you tweeted that neither our economy nor social norms and practices are wired for the shock that we're seeing in the economy. You're concerned about economic stops. In your eyes, what else does the federal government need to do to brace for the long term, for a broader economic impact.
MOHAMED EL-ERIAN, FORMER CHAIR, PRESIDENT OBAMA'S GLOBAL DEVELOPMENT COUNCIL: Boris, it needs to do a lot. You have to understand what's going on. We going through a shock that's more familiar to fragile and failed states where a community hit by a big natural disaster than it is to us.
So not only do we have a fundamental sudden stop to every economic activity you can think of but the panic and the concern makes it worse. So you've got to do three things and do them quickly. First, protect the most vulnerable segments of society and of your economy including massive resources to medical.
Two, set out a pathway so that people understand where we are, where are we going and three, communicate repeatedly, transparently and professionally so that people don't make things worse.
We need to move on all three and do that as quickly as possible.
SANCHEZ: Dr. Marrazzo, to you, today Dr. Deborah Birx clarified from the White House podium that a negative test for coronavirus only means that you're negative up to that day, up to that moment. Listen to more of what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: So when you get a negative test, that means you're negative that day. That doesn't mean that you couldn't get the virus spreading over night because it replicates in your nose, in your nasal secretions and you would have a positive test tomorrow.
So if you have a negative test, that doesn't mean that you can discontinue precautions. It doesn't mean you can start taking risks because you were negative.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: Now if we follow that logic doctor, shouldn't the President continue taking test considering how many people he interacts with every day?
DR. JEANNE MARRAZZO, DIRECTOR, DIVISION OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES AT THE UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA AT BIRMINGHAM: It's a great question for us. I thought that comment was a little confusing. I think what the ambassador is alluding to is the fact that the dynamics of the virus infecting your tissues, whether it's your nose, your throat or your lungs are actually not totally predictable.
We know there is a period of about four days where you can have no symptoms but still have the virus detected and then after you develop symptoms and you get better, you can still have the virus detected although in much lower levels.
So this concept of a single test being able to tell you sort of to predict the future is really confusing. Technically she's right but what we should really be telling people is that if you have no symptoms, you shouldn't be tested. That's another thing I think the administration is not role-modeling very properly.
If you have no symptoms, you don't need to be tested. We're not testing contacts. It's actually an inappropriate use of tests that are very dear to us right now, that we need to use to test patients.
SANCHEZ: And Doctor, I'm curious when you hear these reports and you see the video of a journalists getting their temperature taken, is that an effective method for preventing spread of this virus?
MARRAZZO: It's always good to know if you have a fever, even a low grade fever because fever is a very consistent feature of this illness. Almost everybody gets a fever at some point during the disease. It may not be in the first few days and it may actually come on and then get better and then come back again and when that happens those people are often very sick.
The problem with using fever as a determinant of whether somebody is infected and infectious in that early stage is that it's not very sensitive. So if you just use fever as a check to look at people coming into your area, you'd maybe detect only about 50 percent of cases and even then that's probably an over estimate.
So I think it's a good thing. It's sort of an abundance of caution measure but it is not something that would make me sleep better if I just relied on that.
SANCHEZ: Yes. David, you were going to say something.
GERGEN: Oh, I just want to come back on this testing. I think it's such a fascinating subject but you know I think that the real problem here is the lack of testing kits. Americans have been frightened by what they've been hearing here over the last three or four weeks and it's not unnatural that a lot of people would like as a baseline to have a test.
And just to know that it's negative. They can sort of plan their lives out from there but I do think that what we're running into - the problem is not what Americans want. It is the fact that this government hasn't prepared properly. We don't have enough of these kits.
And the Wall Street Journal reported today, something I had not seen elsewhere, is that now it's the ingredients that go into these kits are starting to run low supply so we're - we're running down what we have which is quite concerning.
SANCHEZ: Samantha, I have to ask you about China because the President today said specifically, we shouldn't blame anyone but then he said this virus came out of China. A lot of lawmakers are pressing for the United States to take a more aggressive stand towards China's inability to contain this virus and its inability to allow the international community to help it, contain this virus.
There were a lot of missteps there. Do you wish the United States to take a more aggressive approach toward China because of their mishandling of this?
VINOGRAD: Well, we have to separate the issues here. It is the fact that China has sensitive information about this virus, has spread misinformation about this virus and continues to do so. One of their diplomats just a day or two ago said that this was potentially a biological weapon from the United States.
Well, let's remember, the President and his team has access to highly classified intelligence about what's going on in the world including for example the state of viruses in China. So the fact that the Chinese spread misinformation about this is not a get out of jail free card when it comes to the administration's lack of preparedness.
And it is relatively ironic that this administration is accusing the Chinese government of misinformation about the virus, downplaying the threat and lack of preparedness when we have the President of the United States giving press conferences, talking again about websites that don't exist, testing centers that don't exist and really downplaying the scale of this problem for the American people.
So the Chinese are certainly at fault but President Trump could lead by example here and actually share accurate information while trying to take the Chinese to account on this.
SANCHEZ: Yes. We still have a ton of questions to ask for the panel. David Gergen, Samantha Vinograd, Mohamed El-Erian and Dr. Jean Marrazzo. We appreciate you being with us. Please stand by. We're following breaking news from overseas tonight. France and Spain, both announcing tough new measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus as the World Health Organization calls Europe, the epicenter of the pandemic.
We'll take you live to Madrid, next.
SANCHEZ: And we're following breaking news. Literally just moments ago, a memorandum was put out by Press secretary Stephanie Grisham from the White House. I want to read to you a portion of it now. This coming from the White House physician. He states that last night after an in depth discussion with President Trump regarding Covid-19, the coronavirus, the President elected to proceed with a test of coronavirus.
The White House physician Sean Connolly writing "This evening I received confirmation that the test is negative." The test that was done on President Trump for coronavirus apparently negative. This after the President came into contact with multiple people at his Mar- a-Lago resort last weekend, who ultimately tested positive for the virus.
Also this coming just less than 24 hours after that same White House physician put out a letter detailing why President Trump would not be getting a coronavirus test, kind of baffling stuff. I believe we have Kristin Holmes at the White House now. Is that right?
And Kristen, I mean this is great news. Happy to hear that President Trump is healthy and that he's fine. Still sort of baffling that the White House isn't providing more of an explanation for this, more of a time table, kind of brings to mind questions about the management of all of this and messaging in a crisis.
HOLMES: Well, that's absolutely right and you know, we just talked about this just moments ago, the idea that there's been an escalation, not just in the response by the administration to coronavirus across the board, declaring of a national emergency but also to the precautions have been taken around President Trump.
We've seen him for days. We've asked is he going to get a test. We've seen person after person that he's come into some sort of contact with then tested positive for coronavirus or people that he's very close to being in very close proximity to people who then test positive and the more we ask, the more President Trump continued to say, well, I'm going to keep doing what I'm doing.
I'm going to keep shaking hands. I'm going to keep being in proximity to people. Well, it clearly shows that that has changed. There has been an escalation here in taking extra precaution when it comes to President Trump including this idea of taking the coronavirus test.
Now President Trump again has said that in the past, that he would probably take it but they didn't need to do that. He felt fine. Now of course we know, last night, he did in fact test it, take it, excuse me and I do want to read one line here of this letter that just came out.
It says, "One week after having dinner with the Brazilian delegation at Mar-a-Lago, the President remains symptom free. I have been in daily contact with the CDC and White House coronavirus task force and we're encouraging the implementation of all their best practices for exposure reduction and transmission mitigations."
The reason this is so interesting is because here you have a doctor saying that they're taking all the steps, that they've been taking all the steps for days whereas we heard the President essentially kind of brushing this off, saying it was no big deal.
So really apples and oranges here but clearly one thing that is noticeable, one thing that we noticed today in the briefing, we noticed yesterday with this declaration of an emergency, the White House is really ramping up their efforts here. They are taking it seriously and the tone has definitely shifted.
SANCHEZ: All right, Kristen Holmes, thank you for that. I want to go back to Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, now. She's the Director of the Division of Infectious Disease at the University of Alabama, Birmingham.
Doctor, with this negative test obviously again, a great sign for the President but is he in the clear? Is this a firm declaration that he has nothing to worry about?
MARRAZZO: I would not say that so again as Ambassador Birx emphasized today, a negative test today is just that. It's a negative test today. I'm sure he's personally reassured but it's really not reassuring from the standpoint of what might happen to him in the next couple of days.
It really gets into the challenge when you're using a test that is intended to diagnose an illness for something like screening which means just testing somebody who doesn't have any symptoms of the disease, we usually don't do that for this sort of infection for the very reasons that we just discussed.
It really doesn't tell you what's going to happen the next day and as I mentioned before, I really want to have these tests available to test our patients, those people who are already admitted in the hospital, people who have symptoms and are desperately trying to get them diagnosed or their kids or their parents diagnosed.
SANCHEZ: Yes and one more question Dr. Marrazzo. I'm curious here, the President obviously sort of put off getting a test. For folks at home, you were explaining that if you don't have any symptoms, you shouldn't try to go get a test but if you are showing symptoms, what do you do? I mean in the sense that it's difficult for people at home to go, get a test at this point.
There's a shortage of them. If you are showing some symptoms but you're not sure if it's coronavirus or the flu, what should they do specifically if they haven't come into contact with someone who has the virus?
MARRAZZO: Right. So you're touching on something that David Gergen really emphasized previously and that is basically, we are sprinting at full speed in the dark, trying to figure out what to do in the absence of knowledge about who has this infection and how extensive it is.
And the problem with trying to advise individuals about what to do if they're symptomatic is that tests are in such short supply right now, that to tell somebody who's you know, generally having symptoms of a respiratory infection could be transmission - able to transmit the virus infectious.
To tell them to go to an ER or an urgent care center or to get in one of the lines that are forming at some of these outdoor screening centers and sit there for what I've heard now, can be two hours, that's a pretty heavy lift for them and it really is stressing the system.
I'm very hopeful that we'll see a ramp up of testing this week as more tests come online. My advice to people is if they feel really ill and they really are concerned so that - and that means getting - getting fevers - high fevers, having any worsening cough, trouble breathing, the sorts of stuff that would make you go to see your doctor if you thought you had the flu, then you do want to get checked out.
And that generally means calling ahead to tell people that you're concerned that you might have what could either be influenza or could be Covid-19 because you really want them set up to see you in a way that's going to protect them and going to protect the people around them in their environment.
SANCHEZ: Yes, Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, we appreciate the expertise. We'll get back to you again in a short while. We're still following that news from overseas. France and Spain, both announcing tough new measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus as cases in both countries skyrocket.
We'll take you live to Madrid, next.
SANCHEZ: Do not leave your home. That's the order from French and Spanish officials today as both countries try to contain an explosion of coronavirus cases.
France is ordering the shutdown of just about everything including the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, restaurants and all public places.
In Spain, the number of coronavirus cases jumped by 1,500 overnight, bringing the total number of people confirmed with the illness to over 6,000. France and Spain now join Italy as major coronavirus hotspots in
I want to bring in CNN's Madrid Bureau Chief, Al Goodman.
Al, what is it like on the ground there?
AL GOODMAN, CNN MADRID BUREAU CHIEF: Right here where we are, the very latest out of Spain is that the government has just announced that the wife of Spain's Prime Minister has tested positive for the coronavirus. That announcement from the government coming just hours after the Spanish Prime Minister addressed the nation to lay out in detail what this state of emergency is going to mean for the next couple of weeks.
That state of emergency can be extended, and what the government here and in France is trying to do are -- what they're trying to do is stem the rapid increase in the infection rate, because an overwhelming number of people rushing off of the hospitals could collapse the healthcare systems. That's the fear, according to officials here.
So they're trying to slow it down, and to do that, they're trying to keep people apart. Get them out of the bars, and the restaurants which are all closed here in Spain.
The new rules will require that you can go food shopping, that's an essential activity, but you have to go by yourself unless you're elderly and you need some help.
In the stores, you're supposed to keep three feet away from the other people, the same thing in the pharmacies, and you can't drive just for leisure. You have to be doing something like going to work or an activity.
So a big change coming now across this country as it wrestles with coronavirus. Back to you Boris.
SANCHEZ: Yes, an important reminder for our viewers, what's happening in Spain and France and Italy potentially a preview of what may soon be coming to the United States. Al Goodman, thanks for your reporting.
Up next, in a national crisis, Americans turn to their President to lead them through a tumultuous time. President Truman's motto was, the buck stops here. But President Trump's --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, I don't take responsibility at all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[19:40:32] SANCHEZ: President Trump has been giving regular updates to the public
about coronavirus, but -- and this is a major but -- the information that he gives isn't always accurate.
He often downplays the threat and he contradicts statements he or his own advisers have previously made. Case in point.
Two weeks ago, Trump called the response about the gravity of the virus a hoax. It's not.
Yesterday, he said Google was making a national scale website for coronavirus testing. That isn't true.
David Gergen and Mohamed El-Erian are back with me now. Thank you both again for the time.
David, credibility at moments like this is essential to any presidency. I'm curious, in your experience working in so many administrations, when you see the mixed messaging coming from the White House, do you think it's a sign of internal dysfunction, or rather the President freelancing and perhaps as we've reported, from our sources at the White House previously, seeing things with a rosy vision of the actual situation?
GERGEN: Boris, I think it's all of the above. We do have a very, very unusual President. As I say I want to preface all of this by saying, I think the changes he is making, the U-turn he is making on coronavirus are to be commended, and I'm glad he is because I think he's getting more serious about it.
At the same time, the country is frightened and it's angry. There are many people who supports the President no matter what he says or does, but there are a lot of other Americans right now who are who are fearful, and they're angry.
And they want -- they were looking for steady leadership. They're looking for reassuring leadership, and that really comes in a crisis.
You know it Bill Clinton was in real trouble in his presidency, for example, until the Oklahoma City bombing came along. And he went out to Oklahoma City and spoke to the country from his heart, spoke to the people who live there and calmed the country down and turned his presidency around.
And I think what this president needs to do is calm down, slow down, and try to get it right before you go public. You know, and don't have these kind of -- you know, you have to read the fine print to discover what he said was misleading, and that happens time and time again.
Well, unfortunately, on the Google case, we've been talking about tonight and saying they were going to set up, you know, they're going to do a nationwide site -- web website -- and it sounded like it was going to come instantaneously and it turns out -- right now, it's in early stages of development.
They're going to do it on -- you know, they're going to try it out. It's not even Google itself, it's another arm of the company.
And so where we see this time and time again, Boris, and I do think it weakens the President and I think it makes it more difficult for him to lead.
And I think it also -- American leadership internationally has suffered because we don't have an administration that encourages trust and confidence.
SANCHEZ: Mohamed, I want to ask you about this website. The President has boasted about these great private-public relationships, yet, according to sources, Google was shocked about this announcement. It's not going to be a national website. It's a pilot program specifically for the State of California. It's going to be rolled out slowly.
Similarly, airlines have been stunned by what they've been hearing. In your eyes, what's the-disconnect here?
EL-ERIAN: So I think that there are many disconnects. The most important one to understand, Boris, is how crisis management has to be done. This is "a fog of war" situation. You don't have enough information, you have to move quickly. And you have to coordinate at every level -- local, regional, national, and as said, David said, international.
So you have many, many moving pieces, where mistakes will be made, but it's really important to bounce back quickly, and that's absolutely essential.
Any crisis manager will tell you, you need to surround yourself with lots of cognitive diversity, including people who will tell you, you are wrong.
You need to learn as you as you're going, because there's lots of information coming at us, like literally, like drinking from a firehose, and you need to keep your eye on the final destination and build small bridges along the way.
Look, we're going to get through this. We're going to bounce back, but if we mishandle the crisis management, it will be a lot worse.
GERGEN: Yes, Boris, let me add to that thought, if I might just say, I think Mohamed just was absolutely on target.
GERGEN: There is an assumption in this White House that you have to sugarcoat the news all the time, somehow that the American people can't be entrusted with the hard facts with real struggles we face, the real challenges, nowhere more important than in dealing with this coronavirus.
Churchill was the preeminent leader in a crisis. He always told the British people the hard facts, the hard truth and he didn't sugarcoat it. He opened his speech once, it's a very important speech to the country
and he said the first line was, the news from France is very bad and he went from there and that's why people trusted him.
SANCHEZ: Yes, speaking of sugarcoating from what officials past and present have told me at the White House, they have to sugarcoat the news that they bring to the President otherwise, he lashes out at them.
Mohamed El-Erian and David Gergen, we have to pause there for time, but we'll be back with you in about 15 minutes.
Again, we appreciate your perspective and your time this Saturday night.
On Monday, millions of kids around the country will not be going to school in 19 states for at least two weeks because of the coronavirus pandemic, but now the C.D.C. says two weeks isn't long enough. Details ahead.
SANCHEZ: We are facing a new reality for school kids across the country and their families. At least 19 states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have ordered schools to shut down in a bid to battle the spread of the coronavirus.
Many local districts are making that call as well and that means more than 21 million students have been affected by the pandemic related school closures. That's according to "Education Week."
Many campuses look like ghost towns. One education official calls it a freefall. But the Centers for Disease Control say that keeping kids home for only two to four weeks may not be enough to flatten the curve on transmission, so are longer closures on the horizon?
Fortunately, we have Randi Weingarten to discuss. She's the President of the American Federation of Teachers. Randi, as you just told me off camera a moment ago, we are in uncharted territory here.
You said that you were on a call today with some 41,000 people and that people are panicked. What is their biggest concern?
RANDI WEINGARTEN, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF TEACHERS: Well, it goes from protection of their families to what's really going on.
I mean, I think that the public health folks are correct and your last guests were correct, that when you have a public health emergency, this is not political. This is getting the most accurate information, honest information to people so that they know what is ahead of them.
And without that, when it became political or worse, incompetent, then what happens is, it is creating a lot of stress and strain. So the bottom line is this for us in America, that in the absence of
the tests that China and South Korea had and use routinely, to try to figure out where the virus is, then people are just flying blind.
And so that's why so many of these districts have closed and states have closed districts, not because it's not an anguishing choice, it is, but because we need to try to reduce that kind of transmission.
And since so many kids during the day will stay with their grandparents. That also is a problem because grandparents are the most fragile universe here.
So, you know, the new guidance popped out of C.D.C. late yesterday about eight weeks. But I think that's because of what happened in South Korea and in China.
But at least what's happening right now is if school districts closed down for a week or two, so we can kind of get the child care right, we can get the school lunches right, because we feed so many kids --
SANCHEZ: That's a huge factor in care.
WEINGARTEN: We get the online right. So we try to figure this out, which is what states have been doing, and I want to lift up a state like New Mexico when 90 percent of the kids are poor, and they have been working all weekend on how to do grab and go lunches, how to work with the hospitals, how to create childcare.
Denver has done the same thing in terms of feeding centers. Los Angeles is doing the same thing. I think we have to lean into how we protect kids and families even though it is creating a great dilemma, a horrible dilemma for parents, but that's why Nancy Pelosi's bill is so important about lifting up paid leave and these things.
SANCHEZ: Sure. I have to ask you about teachers, though. I mean, what are they going to do? How are they going to be paid?
Right now in New York City, there's a huge controversy because Mayor Bill de Blasio is not shutting down schools. There are teachers who are threatening with a sick out in protest on Wednesday. What's your impression of that?
WEINGARTEN: Well, look at Mayor de Blasio needs to -- look, I know Bill de Blasio well. I understand the issues that he is weighing, but the epidemiologists have told us we need to close schools.
There were 37 of them who wrote him a letter a couple of days ago. I was on MSNBC with one of the foremost epidemiologists yesterday. We understand the pain. We have to do things like have childcare centers and feeding centers, but you can't put this many people in harm's way, when we don't know who is or isn't carrying the virus and this is the problem.
WEINGARTEN: Say God forbid, and undoubtedly with over a thousand schools, this is going to happen, somebody's going to test positive, and then all of a sudden, all heck is going to break out and you're going to close the schools in a nanosecond, and then we haven't done the planning.
So I understand why teachers are upset, and just like in my office, I have said to everyone who works for me, if you don't feel like come to work, well work from home.
This is a health emergency, and it's unchartered, and we need to actually reduce the panic. Create a little -- a sense of we're all in this together.
SANCHEZ: We certainly do. I could not agree with you more on that. Randi Weingarten, thank you so much for the time. We do appreciate it.
WEINGARTEN: Thank you.
SANCHEZ: And a quick programming note. Actually, we'll be right back. Stay with us.