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INSIDE POLITICS

Schools, Restaurants, Bars Ordered To Close By Governors; Governor Andrew Cuomo To President Trump: Get The Army To Build Us Hospital Beds; New York Governor: Federal Government Response To Coronavirus Lacking; Long Lines, Empty Shelves At Grocery Stores Across United States; Health Experts, Lawmakers Warn There Is Potential For Coronavirus Situation In United States To Resemble That In Italy. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired March 16, 2020 - 12:00   ET

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


[12:00:00]

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JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I am John King. Thank you for sharing your day with us. U.S. and global financial markets plummet because of deepening coronavirus fears. Europe now on a virtual lockdown and a dramatic Sunday rate cut by the Federal Reserve not enough to calm investors.

Plus, Governors and Mayors scrambled to close schools, restaurants and more, forcing social distancing now in an effort to slow the spread. At the Annual White House Easter Egg Roll to the growing coronavirus' cancellation list.

And a White House announcement on new national guidelines is delayed until this afternoon. President Trump asserts the U.S. has "Tremendous control over the virus" but areas hardest hit now worry about hospital capacities and the Surgeon General warns America is at a cross road.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. JEROME ADAMS, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: Look we are at a critical inflection point. We have the same number of cases now that Italy had two weeks ago. We have a choice to make. Do we want to really lean into social distancing and mitigation strategies and flatten the curve? Or do we just want to keep going on with business as usual and end up being in Italy?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: We begin with the hour right there with a now or never moment for the country and a glimpse into the worse possible coronavirus timeline. The morning market panic despite the Fed cutting interest rates down to near zero the Stock Exchange is stopping trading for a moment, spinning past the circuit breaker within a minute of the market opening this morning.

Emergency measures put into place nationwide. Governors are again leading the charge closing schools, bars, mandating restaurants switch to take out only news Center of Disease Control Guidelines advices against all gathering of 50 or more people. Stopping the spread is the objective.

Just last hour the New York's Governor asking where is the President, why hasn't he issued national rules?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): This is a national problem and we need federal leadership? Do you see a whole hodgepodge of efforts being taken across the country? This state is doing this, this state is doing this, this city is doing this. It is chaos. I think it actually feeds the feeling that the country is out of control. There is no clear direction and there is no clear path.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Now we were supposed to get some new national guidelines this morning but the White House delayed its briefing until 3:30 pm this afternoon here in Washington. The President's schedule this morning did include coronavirus discussions with G7 leaders around the world and with Governors here in the United States.

A source telling CNN there are also active discussions in the administration about a possible national curfew. Anxiety is everywhere from questions about getting coronavirus tests to those who need them ASAP to seeing some fighting in grocery stores over scarce items.

The President though says the virus is under his words "Tremendous Control" but the numbers speak for themselves on that point. This is what the coronavirus spread looked like last week and this is what it looks like this morning. The map much more filled in, in terms of the number of cases and sadly the number of deaths.

The number of cases now just updating to 3,853 here in the United States where do we go from here is the big question? Italy under a national lockdown 368 people dying from the virus there just on Sunday.

The U.S. number of infected is now in the ballpark of where Italy was a week ago. This morning the U.S. Surgeon General giving all of us a blunt choice, listen now or face an Italy like reckoning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ADAMS: You've got several different models. Yes, there is a potential for us to become Italy. We are all in this together. We are not going solve this problem from Atlanta at the CDC or from the federal government. This crisis is going to be solved at the community level and we need everyone to do their part and to really get serious about social distancing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Here with me to share their reporting and their insights Molly Ball with "Time" CNN's Phil Mattingly Toluse Olorunnipa with "The Washington Post" and joining us from Atlanta as well CNN's Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Sanjay, I want to start with you. You just heard the Surgeon General who said the Italy is around the corner-tone seems to be increasing out of the administration, what does it mean?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean you know you look at some of the same pattern obviously the numbers out of Italy and then hospital preparedness which is something that we have been talking about for some time and you see a lot of parallels there John.

One of the things I want to make clear is that everyone talks about the fatality rate of this virus very important number. But I think the bigger question that starting to emerge is what's driving those fatality rates?

Obviously the virus is making people sick but what we are seeing more and more in places like Italy is the reason people are dying is because they can't always get the care that they need and that seems to drive up the fatality rates.

[12:05:00]

GUPTA: So the virus is the primary problem but in if hospitals are not prepared, you have preventable death. That's obviously a much bigger problem that's looming. I think when we say we don't want to be Italy, that's what we're trying to avoid, enough ICU beds and enough breathing machines all the things John that we've been talking about for sometimes.

KING: And that was one of the points to those here in the studio with me that Governor Cuomo was making this morning and it was pretty remarkable. Number one, the Governor of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut banding together saying we're going to do this regionally.

And Governor Cuomo saying quite bluntly we are doing this regionally because we are not getting help he believes not getting enough help nationally enough guidance and direction nationally. To Sanjay's point, he says he wants the President to immediately get the Army Corps of Engineer and any other federal agency possible building these temporary hospitals. And he says this why.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: We know what lies ahead. Look at the numbers from China, South Korea and Italy, you don't have to guess. You just have to project the numbers on a chart, our numbers on the chart, just extend the current trajectory, just go dot, dot and you will see the numbers rise and you will compare those numbers to our hospital capacities and it is still mad at the end of the day. It does not work. The federal government must do this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: An urgent call from the Governor of a very large state. And then there is this at the very same time. This is playing out literally within minutes of each other. I want to show you graphics the Governor was showing at his press conference national problem federal leadership at the same moment the President tweeting everybody is so well unified and working so hard. It is a beautiful thing to see, they love our great country, we'll end up being stronger than ever before.

There is a disconnect here and people watching at home if you are Trump supporter you will say Cuomo is being a Democrat. If you're a Democrat you say Cuomo is right and the President is back on his heels here leading from behind to power term from repeating his administration at a time of national crisis, who has got the circuit breaker here?

MOLLY BALL, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, TIME: I think the problem is nobody knows. And I think that that's what it is contributed to so much of the uncertainty, the uncertainty is just built in it is just the fact we don't know what's going to happen?

But I think the absence of strong national leadership to give a sense that at least we all know what we are supposed to be doing according to someone. And so you do have - you know the President also tweeting yesterday that the states needed to be doing more and the states saying the federal government needs to be doing more.

The states are doing a lot and the federal government's response has been I think it's in arguable much more slow paced and much less consistent in tone. And so you know you do have a very starkly different tone coming from some of the states.

Democratic and Republicans states ordering these very drastic measures with a sense of urgency and the federal government is still going back and forth and not sending consistent signals and giving consistent directives not enforcing any of these mechanisms. So I think people are right to feel that they don't know which end is up and that really increases the sense of worry.

KING: Right, and then may very well be good reasons for it but the Vice President made a point yesterday, of saying we'll be back with you early tomorrow morning with new national guidelines about social distancing. What the federal government is recommending may be in some cases insisting on ordering but another case is making recommendations.

We do have 50 states we do have a republic, that's what makes this incredibly complicated. The federal government does something and the states are supposed to do other things. They delayed that briefing which of course only raises questions what's the problem? Is something hung up? Is there a debate they can't settle or is there something new that they're trying to consider quickly?

They don't give you much guidance about why it is delayed and as that plays out we're in a Monday about 33 states now have closed public schools. 64,000 plus U.S. schools closed. 32.5 million Children now affected by that. That number was 19 states on Friday.

So you have this escalating crisis. And I think to Molly's point is it a question do we need more clarity more consistency what is it from the White House?

TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes, Molly's point is very important in terms of the lack of consistency by this White House. You heard the President yesterday I looked at some of the words he used, "Tremendous," "Phenomenal," "Very happy" "Relaxed."

These were not the kinds of words that other people experts within the administration and out of the administration are using. They're saying this is a critical time where we need to make very major changes.

We didn't hear the President saying anything about major changes that Americans should be making in their individual lives. Instead he said we have this "Tremendously under control" and sort of gave the country the freedom to breathe easy and go about their business as normal and everyone who is looking at this from a public health standpoint says we don't need to be doing businesses like normal.

We need to make major changes if we don't want to continue along the path of Italy. And that lack of consistency is part of the reason why Governors, state officials and local officials are saying we are not getting what we need from the President and from the federal government in terms of what exactly the message should be to the American people and they're taking the rain and that is leading to this disjoints in approach with some states closing certain things down and other states are not doing it.

[12:10:00]

OLORUNNIPA: And no in the country having a sense what exactly needs to be done.

KING: And as we wait for the updated guidelines from the White House. We do know the CDC did put out over the weekend CDC in accordance with its guidance for large events and mass gatherings recommends that for the next eight weeks, for the next eight weeks remember that. Eight weeks, two months from now for organizers whether groups of individuals cancel or postpone in person events that consists of 50 people or more throughout the United States.

So Sanjay, number one, 50 people, why is that important? Number two, what does eight weeks tell you? And let me add a wrinkle to this when you see the Governor of New York, Connecticut and New Jersey banding together to try to have a regional approach.

When you see the Governor of Michigan another big state, important to the economy issuing guidelines today and saying she wishes the Governor of Michigan there had been more federal leadership. Should some of these things have been done two or three weeks ago?

GUPTA: Yes. No question, John. First of all, the 50 number, look, it is a bit arbitrary and I am sure there are a lots of things that went into that number. But it is the first time we got some more definitive guidance from the federal government typically it has been social distancing and people sort of interpreting what that means on their own. To your last point about the when should this be done, I think it is really important point here John. When you talk about these mechanisms, I think the general inclination is people think things are getting worse therefore we are going to now do you know the mass gatherings and things are getting worse so therefore, we are going to do X.

That's not really the way it works with these public health measures. What you find is that and this is learned over a decades of looking at pandemics and big outbreaks. You have to do these things early.

In fact when the population gets to a certain number of percentage of infected, those same mechanisms those same social distancing mitigation mechanisms just don't work as well if at all. So it is not necessarily a reflection that things are getting worse. They are getting worse.

But this is more of that you have to act early, and I am not sure to be candid when you look at the modeling whether banning mass gatherings of 50 people or more is enough. I think you know we are really going to have to do more.

It is going to be an aggressive sort of the next several weeks. If it is not, then it is going to be a much more prolonged thing you know going forward John. So it's got to be done decisively early and may be more than we've been hearing from the CDC right now.

KING: And I think it's an important point that several weeks. CDC says eight weeks, you say several weeks. I think some tend loss and this is people of thought you know couple of days we're going to get through this. It looks like we are looking at a couple months or more. We'll continue the conversation.

Up next for us here a check on the markets. But first some very rare changes, you see in Washington here because of the Coronovirus the Supreme Court today postponing oral arguments.

The White House cancelling this year's Easter Egg Roll. The last time that was cancelled during World War II and during White House renovations under the Truman Administration. We'll be right back.

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[12:15:00]

KING: Financial markets today seemingly unimpressed by a dramatic Sunday Federal Reserve move to slash interest rates to essentially zero. But take a look there that the DOW right now the market is down more than 1800 points at this moment. That's after the circuit breaker halted trading this morning that for the third time in less than eight weeks.

CNN's Alison Kosik is at the New York Stock Exchange for us. Alison, you are looking to see if there is a floor when it comes to the stock free fall. What are investors saying today? Why wasn't the Fed action enough? ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: It wasn't enough because the reality is that Fed action won't cure the virus. And you talked about the floor. The floor is another way of saying when we are going to see to an end to the sell-off? And the reality is no one really knows.

The stock market is forward looking and investors are trying to pricing something that they've never experienced before a pandemic with a possible recession. They've just never seen that in their investing lifetimes. So trying to price for it is nearly impossible.

So right now there really is no floor although investors tell me you may see confidence coming back to the market if we see the number of coronavirus cases peak and then drop off. Unfortunately John, right now we are seeing the number of cases accelerate. John?

KING: We are seeing it accelerate. We're watching the numbers Alison as we look around the country and around the world for precautions, tell us to go down the floor today to report you had your temperature taken?

KOSIK: Yes, that was certainly a bit of a stunner. Usually I walk through the metal detector and there are New York City Police Officers waiting for me. They call me by name and I have been coming here on and off for 13 years. Today it was people in lab coats with blue masks and blue gloves and they asked me if I was going to the floor, they ushered me in the lobby and they took my temperature.

Thankfully I was normal so I got the clear and I got a little stamp on my hand a little star showing that I can make my way to the floor but I think this is going to be the way it is, the new norm here at the New York Stock Exchange just to get out on to the trading floor, John.

KING: Everywhere you look across America and around the world there is some new wrinkle new normal. Allison Kosik, appreciate your reporting from the Stock Exchange today. You're very likely talking about the new normal seeing this, said your grocery store, long lines, empty shelves people scrambling to stock up on necessities whether that would be food or cleaning products or things like toilet paper.

Major grocery stores are now changing their hours from coast to coast, closing early so they can clean the stores and restock the shelves. The message from President Trump after talking to a number of a suppliers and the retailers, don't buy so much the President says, the supply chain will stay open. The President says "Relax."

CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich at a grocery store in New York. Vanessa, when shoppers come in, what's the big concern that they can't find things?

VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS & POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well the concern John is really twofold. One can they get the food that they're looking for and number two, is it safe? On the first front whether or not there is enough food, yes. They are able to restock but at a slower rate.

[12:20:00] YURKEVICH: Here are some of the products that came in earlier this morning. They're still waiting to get it on the shelves. A lot of the shelves earlier today barring but slowly food is making its way back way on to the shelves.

Here at this grocery store Morton Williams the owner is asking people just buy what you need do not buy in access. Please leave stuff for your neighbors. On the second front, is it safe? That's a big question.

If you are just trying to social distance the grocery stores obviously not the most ideal place to do that John. Right now, we are seeing long lines we're seeing probably more than 50 people in this store right now. That's the CDC recommendation that you should not be around 50 or more people.

So what the store is doing is they're deep cleaning hourly, they're wiping down the handles of the freezer section. They're wiping down the grocery carts. They're wiping down the pin pads where you enter your pin information when you are buying groceries.

But they're also asking customers if you are not feeling well please stay home, please do not come in these very cramp quarters to get your grocery. This Morton Williams is doing a call ahead and take out service.

So you can order your groceries to your home. But really as you mentioned John a new normal here as Americans are trying to get groceries but also stay safe, John.

KING: I think a great point there Vanessa; think about your neighbor whether it is going out if you are sick or whether it is how much you buy when you're at the grocery store. Vanessa Yurkevich appreciate the reporting there. As we watch this play out across the country.

Up next, we'll answer some of your medical questions about the coronavirus. What should you be doing right now?

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[12:25:00]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY & INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Many times and I'll repeat it. The worst is yet ahead for us. It is how we respond to that challenge that is going to determine what the ultimate end point is going to be.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: That's the government's top Infectious Disease Expert Dr. Anthony Fauci again declaring the worst is yet to come when it comes to the coronavirus. So what could that look like? Here to help answer some your questions Dr. Gavin Macgregor-Skinner he is an Infectious Disease Expert. When you listen to Dr. Fauci, on the one hand you do not want people to under react. You want them to social distance. You want them to listen to their medicals but you were just talking as you sat down some people are over reacting. They're coming to the hospitals when they don't need to.

DR. GAVIN MACGREGOR-SKINNER, INFECTIOUS DISEASE EXPERT: Yes, John, we need to educate. We need to use terms like social distancing. Let's tell everyone in America how to social distance in all the different environments, places they find throughout the day? How do we stay healthy?

Let's teach people how to do this? How do we protect and for ourselves getting infected when someone is ill? I am not seeing those public service announcements anywhere. And as we saw in other diseases we were getting them every ten minute on the radio and the television. Those positive messages those things that people can do aren't out there yet.

KING: But you see people over the weekend, you were saying people who have allergies or just other concerns are freaked out. So they are showing up at hospital?

MACGREGOR-SKINNER: People are very worried and people are very worried and have anxiety because they lack the information of how to stay healthy? They're not getting that proper information. When I talked to people what is social distancing, I get a lots and lots of answer most of them aren't even correct.

So let's correct that. Let's keep it simple. Let's get back and look at right now it is about protecting the national healthcare system. It's about how many beds do we have in hospitals? It's don't go and overwhelm but set up these few at hospitals, these alternative sites, these alternative sites for diagnosis. Let's get the message out let's be better at communicating and we are not doing a very good job at the moment.

KING: Well, one of the words or one of the comparisons being made often frequently in the news right now is Italy. If you look at the trajectory, people say Italy had this many cases three weeks ago United States seems to be on the similar path.

Doctors in Italy had to make tough choices whether to treat certain patients they're treating lower risk patients some higher risk patients don't get treatment. And so from whether it's a Governors or officials here in Washington you hear this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ADAMS: Yes, there is a potential for us to become Italy.

CUOMO: What happened in Italy was the healthcare system became overwhelmed. We will be overwhelmed every number says it.

GOV. MIKE DEWINE (R-OH): The example of course is Italy. A couple of weeks ago they just had a handful of cases and look at what's going on now.

FAUCI: My colleagues in Italy who I know well. I trained many of them who have been in our group here. They're making very tough decisions.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: So help with the context here, bring that home to United States. We did see a horrifying spike in deaths just yesterday in Italy well over 300. And you see this and people say what does that mean here? What can be done here so that the United States does not have a sudden spike like that is flattening the curve people always use the term?

MACGREGOR-SKINNER: It is a good question, John. Before we were comparing ourselves with China, now we're comparing ourselves with Italy. Why aren't we comparing ourselves with Hong Kong or Singapore or other countries that have had the same amount of infection, patients that are sick spreading the virus but they've brought in good social distancing better risk communication?

We know how this virus spreads. It spreads by having close contact with someone who's sick. We have to protect the eyes, noses and mouth and we need to do a better job on that. I am wearing gloves today I've run out of hand sanitizer. I know that when I wake up, I am less likely to touch my face. I've decreased the risk.

That's the message that we should be - we should be actually saying how do these other countries were so successful? How can the U.S. at the neighborhood level, the community level protect ourselves and stop transmission?

KING: So let's go a couple of quick questions from our viewers then.