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America Wakes Up To Massive Shutdowns; New York City Closes Public Schools. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired March 16, 2020 - 07:00   ET



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN NEW DAY: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is New Day.

Chances are you may be watching us from home and you may be staying there all day. This is a new reality for tens of millions of American families. The country is shutting itself down to save lives. Classes are canceled for more than 32 million students. Across the country, that's 33 states. That includes New York City, the nation's largest school district, which has canceled classes for the next month. New York and Los Angeles are among cities in seven states that are also closing bars and restaurants. And CDC is now recommending that people cancel or postpone any events with more than 50 people for the next eight weeks.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEW DAY: Vice President Mike Pence says that new guidelines on social distancing, still new guidelines beyond the limits on 50 people gatherings will be unveiled today. So this is a moment for facts, not fantasy.

The president clearly does not feel the same way. Scientists, doctors, researchers will tell you that this statement you're about to hear from the president is not true.


DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: It's a very contagious -- it's a very contagious virus. It's credible. But it's something that we have tremendous control over.


BERMAN: We don't have control over it, tremendous or otherwise.

In a few hours, the vice president says he will announce again these new social distancing restrictions. We do not know what they are yet.

Let's begin our coverage with CNN's Brynn Gingras, who is at a school in New York City that will be closed for weeks, Brynn, if not longer.

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. It's undetermined at this point. We're going to have to see how it goes according to the mayor. But Alisyn said that New York City is the largest school district in the entire country.

When the mayor announced the decision to close schools, he said it was a painful one and a decision he never thought he would have to make. There are schools across this country, John, closed for a couple weeks. In this case, in New York, it's a month for now. And in other case, it's for the entire school year. I think a lot of Americans can relate to Bill de Blasio at this point and are making tough decisions they never thought they had to make as they navigate this new reality.


GINGRAS: The reality of a sweeping coronavirus pandemic setting in for many Americans.

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): We are, in essence, home isolating 5.3 million people.

We're guided deeply by what's happening, not just by anxiety, not just by fear.

GINGRAS: New York City's mayor closing all public schools until at least April 20th, impacting 1.1 million children.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D-NEW YORK CITY, NY): There is a real possibility that by closing our schools now, we may not have the opportunity to reopen them in this full school year.

GINGRAS: This move as the city took another drastic step, limiting restaurants and bars to takeout and delivery service, mirroring efforts taken in states like Illinois and Ohio as the CDC discouraged events with more than 50 people for the next eight weeks.

GOV. J.B. PRITZKER (D-IL): I tried earlier this week to appeal to everyone's good judgment to stay home, to avoid bars, not to congregate in crowds. It's unfortunate that many people didn't take that seriously.

GINGRAS: New York has the second largest number of coronavirus cases in the nation. And the governor is asking President Trump to allow the military to step in, fearful the state's medical systems will soon be overwhelmed by an influx of patients.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): We can use the Army Corps of engineers to come in, retrofit dormitories.

What happened in Italy was the healthcare system became overwhelmed. We will be overwhelmed. Every number says it. We were slow on testing. Let's not make the same mistake.

GINGRAS: Chaotic scenes playing out in airports across the country as people arriving from Europe face new advance screening procedures.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's very crowded, which is not ideal considering what this contagion is.

GINGRAS: Voters in four states are still scheduled to head to the polls tomorrow. But others in future contests, like Louisiana and Georgia, already postponing their primary.

Meanwhile, inside the White House, President Trump urging Americans to relax.

TRUMP: It's a very contagious virus. It's credible. But it's something that we have tremendous control over.

GINGRAS: But the nation's top infectious disease expert issuing this warning instead.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: The worst is ahead for us. It is how we respond to that challenge that's going to determine what the ultimate end point is going to be.


GINGRAS: At CNN'S Democratic presidential debate Sunday, Senator Bernie Sanders directly firing back at the president.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: First thing we've got to do whether or not I'm president, is shut this president up right now, because he is undermining the doctors and the scientists who are trying to help the American people.


GINGRAS: And this morning, we so far have seen a couple people walk into the school behind me. That's because the district is offering a grab-and-go food system for the thousands of kids in this school district who need it. We also have learned that there is going to be opportunities for internet to be set up in homes so kids can take advantage of virtual learning. Of course, these are all emergency measures that are being taken not only here in New York but cities across the country. John and Alisyn?

CAMEROTA: Brynn, thank you very much.

Joining us now is CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Sanjay, let's just start with the numbers. You know, I even hesitate to put these up because we don't know how accurate they are. So 3,500 cases as of this morning, confirmed cases, 65 deaths. In terms of the 3,500 confirmed cases, how do we know if testing still isn't adequate? Where are we with that?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, it continues to be a problem, Alisyn. As long as we've been talking about this, we still don't know. And the reality is that I think when you talk to most public health officials, they'll say, look, based on what we're seeing, based on the patients that are coming to hospitals and to clinics, things like that, we think the numbers are not just higher but they're exponentially higher, several fold higher here, and that the virus is circulating in communities. Which is why I think the testing is still going to be an important question. I'm glad that the testing is ramping up. We hear about the commercial labs coming online. And I think it's quite likely people will start being able to get tests.

I'm not sure it's going to be that relevant here as it was three, four weeks ago. What's relevant now is all about hospital preparedness, about making sure people can actually get care when they show up. We know what we're seeing around the world. There's precedent for this now. There's been a lot of focus on The testing. That's the metric of success. But that was like two weeks ago, metric of success. Metric of success now is, are we prepared.

BERMAN: Sanjay, overnight, the CDC issued these guidelines restricting gatherings of over 50 people. I listen to you so carefully. I follow you on Twitter. I get the sense that you don't think that that's enough, that that number might be too high, might be too high or at least it's arbitrary. And I've also heard you say we all need to behave as if we have coronavirus. Why?

GUPTA: Well, look, I mean, I think the 50 number is arbitrary. I'm glad that they're putting some definition on this because I think the -- it's just been sort of more general guidance to socially distance yourself. And as I talk to people and hearing from colleagues, you know, that's still kind of a vague thing.

So the fact that they put any kind of number on it, I think, gives an air of seriousness to this that maybe a lot of people were kind of still missing here.

But I think that the idea overall of what we need to do, I think, is becoming increasingly clear. I mean, people say you sort of have these triggers, you know. Okay. Now, we're going to do 50 people gatherings, now we're going to mandate work from home, now we're going to do this.

The point, John, and I think you and I have talked about this and I think it's an important one, is that these measures work if you do them early. They're not necessarily a reflection that things are getting worse. They're a reflection of you don't want things to get worse. So if you can actually put the measures in early, which is some of what they're doing now, we'll hear what happens today with some of the newer recommendations. That's when they're going to work.

And I'll even put a number on it, John, based on some of the modeling. If we get beyond 1 percent of the country as having been diagnosed with the infection, you know, the social distancing measures, they'll still have some effect, but it will be greatly diminished. That's why you have to do these things now.

CAMEROTA: Sanjay, I want to ask you about two frightening developments, emergency room physicians. Two doctors, one on the East Coast, one on the West Coast, are in critical condition this morning. One of them on the East Coast is in his 70s. On West Coast, I believe, is a man in his 40s, a doctor in his 40s.

Now, I think there's a misconception circulating out there and I think it has given us a lot of us solace that it may be false comfort and that is that people in their 40s don't get really sick from this. And that if you're under 60, you don't really have to worry. And so what do these cases tell you?

GUPTA: Well, I mean, the first part of it is just the fact that healthcare workers who become even exposed to this virus, they -- you're going to take those people out of the workforce for a period of time. Obviously, if they get sick, it's really sad what's happening.


And I guarantee you these are not the only two. These are the only two that we're hearing about right now, but there's other people that are getting exposed to this virus and are starting to feel symptoms.

I think also I agree with you, Alisyn. The numbers overall coming out of China still suggest that roughly 80 percent of people will recover from this virus. But there's two things to keep in mind. The fact that you recover doesn't mean that you won't necessarily get sick. And we are hearing now that people who recover may still have longer term impact on their lung function.

And also, you know, I don't know the story with this E.R. doctor in his 40s or her 40s, but if people have pre-existing illness, specifically cardiac disease, lung disease, diabetes and hypertension most commonly, those things also put you at higher risk.

So underlying conditions, regardless of age, is something you have to be mindful of. If there's something in your medical history, either because of illness or because of medicines you're taking that sort of weaken your immune system, you've got to really take this seriously. And for now, what that means is probably staying home and greatly reducing your likelihood of getting exposed to this virus. Ultimately, many of us will be exposed but, hopefully, we can do it slowly over time.

BERMAN: Sanjay, don't go far. We're going to have you come back. We have a lot more questions to ask you over the course of the show.

In the meantime, all of these closures so taxing on families causing a lot of anxiety.

So joining us is Dr. Jodi Gold, Director of the Gold Center for Mind, Health and Wellness. She's a psychiatrist who works with children and adults.

Jodi for a lot of us, it's here. I mean, a lot of us, the kids have been home for a few days and we're just coming to grips now with what it means. How do we need prepare ourselves mentally and emotionally?

DR. JODI GOLD, DIRECTOR, GOLD CENTER FOR MIND, HEALTH AND WELLNESS: Well, first of all, we need not panic. We've got to stop the panic piece. Having said that, it's okay for anxious. Like we're allowed to be anxious at this moment but we do need to sort of manage our anxiety and recognize that we can do this. Basically every day, people ask me how do you build resilience and grit in your kids, in your family. It's like a daily question. Well, here we are today. We can all, as a country, begin to build resilience and grit and empathy. And so I think this is an opportunity for us to do that. I also want to focus on the fact that on all this anxiety. In psychiatry, we have this thing called anticipatory anxiety. Anticipatory anxiety is when you're anxious and worried about something that's going to happen in the future but has not happened yet.

And I really think that's what I'm seeing everywhere. What I want everyone to do is just focus on today. You can be anxious about today. We're not running out of food. We're running out of toilet paper. Our children are going to be educated. We're all going to go back to work eventually. We're going to get through this. We need to remember that worrying what's going to happen in the future isn't helpful.

CAMEROTA: The power of now, as the book says. If you stay rooted in the present, then you can stave off some of that anxiety. But if you are struggling with anxiety, as so many people are, are there tips for people for what they should do, how to manage that a little bit better?

GOLD: Of course there is. So first of all is to remember to stay in the now. Second piece is to try to keep a schedule. You do need to stay home. It's very important to understand that. The other piece of us staying home that I think is causing panic is we're closing schools and we're asking people to stay home, not because so many people are sick at this moment. We're doing it for prevention and for what they call mitigation to decreased risk. So, remember, the kids are out of school, not because their friends and teachers are sick, but because we're trying to take preventative action. So that's the first thing to remember.

Next piece, if you're at home, this is a great time to keep on a schedule. Please don't stay in your pajamas. Eat meals. If it's appropriate to leave your home, do not go to gyms, but you can certainly go for a walk. I was running on the East River yesterday and people were keeping social distancing but they were walking and running. And I want to encourage that if you're not on quarantine.

The other piece is to manage your media diet, right? I want you to be checking in because, obviously, things are changing. But I also want you think about what's good for you.

BERMAN: Well, to that, point, first of all, I don't know why you're looking at me when she says, get out of your pajamas.

CAMEROTA: I just had a vision like that. I had an image.

BERMAN: I change very quickly, very quickly. The silk does not stay on for long.

Do you need to plan for -- and I'm asking this for myself and my family who might, hopefully, is watching right now -- like non- coronavirus virus topics and moments? I mean, my God, you've got to talk about something else. How do you talk about something else? GOLD: Well, this is where -- if you're at home with your kids, I need you to be really mindful of this. So if you're dealing with kids, you need to meet them where they are, okay? Don't let your anxiety be contagious. I mean, today, I'm more worried about anxiety being contagious than the virus because we're taking all of those steps, right? So, yes, please. Turn on the news, figure out what's going on and then shut it down.

CAMEROTA: Right after New Day.

GOLD: Watch New Day and then turn it back on. Check in on it, right? Make sure that your kids are not being exposed to too much social media. The social media concerning, I do not think that Tik Tok and Snapchat are the places to get your information. Also, this is a great time to watch movies.


Like I have been meaning to catch up on these Marvel movies, great time. Great time to have family time.

Please don't be in a situation where everyone in your family is in a different room. This is great family time.

CAMEROTA: We need to watch movies. Doctors' orders. I will be telling my children when I get home. Dr. Gold, thank you. You always made us feel good. We really appreciate you being here.

GOLD: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Thank you so much.

All right, what are the administration's next steps to stop the spread of coronavirus? We'll ask the surgeon general of United States, Dr. Jerome Adams, here, next.


CAMEROTA: Vice President Pence says new guidelines will be announced this morning regarding social distancing to prevent coronavirus from spreading. President Trump though seems to think the situation is under tremendous control.


TRUMP: It's a very contagious -- it's a very contagious virus. It's credible. But it's something that we have a tremendous control over.


CAMEROTA: Okay. Joining us now is the surgeon general of the United States, Dr. Jerome Adams. And Dr. Sanjay Gupta is here as well when he has questions for the surgeon general.


Dr. Adams, thank you so much. We really appreciate your time. We know how busy you are.

And so let's just start there. When President Trump says that you all have tremendous control of the virus, do you agree this morning?

DR. JEROME ADAMS, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: Well, I think that what the president is trying to convey to people and the last time I heard him say that, he was speaking after he had spoken to grocery store owners and manufacturers, was that we're hearing these crazy stories about people fighting over toilet paper, people pulling out knives over hand sanitizer. And he wants America to understand that, look, we have the best people in the world working on this issue and we will get through this. And he's trying to be presidential and say, hey, let's calm things down.

That said, we're also wanting people to understand, we've got to take this seriously. And you mentioned new guidelines on social distancing. You saw the presidential declaration last week. And I really feel like we have turned tide on testing in this week.

CAMEROTA: Okay. So let me -- but just to put a button on this, when the president says you have tremendous control, you're saying he's talking about what he wants to see at grocery stores, not about the spread of the virus?

ADAMS: Well, I think he's trying to tell folks that, hey, we've got good people working on this and we need to be calm and take care of each other and not panic. And that's something you've heard public health professionals consistently say, prepare but don't panic. It doesn't mean we aren't taking this seriously and it doesn't mean we shouldn't all be leaning into this. It means that if we panic -- and I worry about this. And I worry that the reaction to the virus, the discrimination we're seeing, the stigma, people fighting in grocery stores can actually have the potential to harm as many people as the virus itself if we aren't careful.

CAMEROTA: Yes. I think that why it's confusing is because at the same time that the president says we have tremendous control but doesn't explain what he means, we hear Dr. Fauci say the worst is yet ahead for us, which doesn't sound like anything close to containment. I mean, tremendous control has a connotation of this is becoming contained.

ADAMS: Well, I'm glad you mentioned Dr. Fauci, because what I'd really love to talk to the American people about are the steps that they can take to protect themselves. Dr. Fauci and I really have been trying to help people understand that, look, we're at a critical inflection point. We have the same number of cases now that Italy had two weeks ago. And 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 Italy?

We're constantly in the task force meetings looking at the new information that comes out each day and responding. And what you heard from Dr. Fauci and what you've been hearing from me is an urgency in regards to the need for us to social distance and the need for us to really make sure we're leaning into basic public health measures, like handwashing, like staying away from people who are sick, like cleaning surfaces.

CAMEROTA: Do you think we can become Italy?

ADAMS: I think you've got several different models and, yes, there is a potential for us to become Italy. I also feel that when you look at the measures that governors are taking. And I was in Louisiana last week. I visited West Connecticut. We've been in Florida and Georgia. I think the governors are taking this extremely seriously. I know the task force -- you saw the new CDC guidelines on social distancing that came out, the presidential emergency declaration. We're doing the right things now so that in two weeks, we don't become Italy.

But we're all in this together. We're not going to 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.

CAMEROTA: Well, let's talk about that. Because when you hear lawmakers, like Congressman Nunes, say, quote it's a great time to go out to a local restaurant, as he did this weekend, what would you like to say to him about that message?

ADAM: well, I didn't hear that. I've been busy working. But I would say that everyone should refer to the new CDC guidelines that say that large gatherings of 50 or more people should be halted for the next eight weeks. Again, we know basic handwashing, social distancing are the two most important things that you can do to actually halt the spread of coronavirus.

CAMEROTA: So that message to go out to a local restaurant is wrong, you're saying today?

ADAM: Again, I didn't hear it and I don't want to --

CAMEROTA: Which is I'm just saying, is that message wrong to you?

ADAMS: The right is that large gatherings of 50 or more people should be pulled down over the next eight weeks.

CAMEROTA: I want to ask you about something that has come up on the program, and that is people thinking that we may be beyond testing. Our experts, and I can bring Sanjay Gupta in in a second, but our experts are saying that it's great that we're getting up to speed with testing, but it may be too late. We may be past that. And what they're talking about hospital preparedness.

How do you feel this morning? Do we have enough ventilators? Do we have enough protective gear for the people on the frontlines in the emergency rooms?


ADAMS: Well, Bob Kadlek, the assistant secretary of Preparedness and Response, is working on making sure we have the ability to invoke and to really lean into our pandemic response plans. We've got thousands of ventilators available right now. We have enough surge capacity. But what you've been hearing a lot of people talking about is the need to flatten the curve, not to get that high peak but to really spread out the number of cases we have so that we don't overcome our capacity.

And it's why you saw the American College of Surgeons, the CDC and even I working with the American Hospital Association and others to pull down our elective surgeries and to really do things that will increase our capacity in the event that we do see a further increase in cases so that we don't run out of ventilators, so that we don't run out of hospital beds. It really is both flattening the curve so we don't have as many cases and also making sure we have extra capacity locally and on a state level and on a federal level.

CAMEROTA: Dr. Gupta, I know you've been trying to figure out how many ventilators are in the so-called stockpile and if we have enough. I know you've been focused on that. And so what is your question to our surgeon general?

GUPTA: Yes. Look, I mean, obviously, people are trying to address this, Dr. Adams. We don't have enough ventilators. We don't have enough ICU beds as things stand now. And that's based on mitigation tactics that turned this into a mild to moderate pandemic. I understand what you're saying that we want to focus on flattening the curve and slowing down the number of patients who access the medical system at any given time. But even with that, based on the federal government's own modeling, we're about 100,000 ICU beds short and tens of thousands, even with the stockpile, ventilators short.

And I'm just wondering, you're a clinician, you're a doctor, I'm hearing from my fellow colleagues at hospitals now, right now, Dr. Adams that they're not sure if patients show up to their hospitals who were critically ill with the coronavirus that they have the supplies, that they have enough staff, respiratory therapists to actually run these ventilators or that they have enough space. I mean, I'm hearing that. I'm sure you're hearing that as well from your colleagues. What are you saying to them?

ADAMS: Well, what we're saying to them is exactly what I just shared with Alisyn. Look, this is going to take an all hands on deck response. The situation we have right now is the situation we have right now as we're leaning into increasing supplies, really making sure the stockpile has sufficient capacity. You have a bill in Congress that would increase the amount of PPE, the amount of N-95 masks that we can make available to the regular public. We are talking about this all day, every day at task force meetings to make sure we have the capacity.

But we also need people to lean into not using up capacity unnecessarily, again, not doing unnecessary procedures or elective surgeries, making sure people get their flu shots. Gosh, we're in the midst of a bad flu season and every bed that we have filled with someone who's got the flu who didn't get their flu shot is extra capacity that could be used for coronavirus.

CAMEROTA: Dr. Adams, we know we have to let you go, you have busy morning, but are you saying that what you believe is today we do have enough ventilators for what the need will be over the next few weeks?

ADAMS: Well, I'm saying is you've got several different models and the input that you put into those models determines the output that you get on the backend. And so we want to lean in to making sure we're decreasing the need, that we're decreasing the demand by really talking about mitigation measures and getting serious about them. And I'm glad to see that governors, mayors and other folks are getting serious about mitigation so we can lower the demands, while on a federal level, we're working to increase the supply.

CAMEROTA: Sanjay, you're standing by for the rest of our program. We really appreciate that. Dr. Jerome Adams, thank you very much for your time and for answering --

ADAMS: Thank you. And send people to or their State Department of Health website for updates on how they can stay safe.

CAMEROTA: Okay. Thank you very much. John?

BERMAN: Look, in some case, the states and local government got into business of mitigation before the federal government. That's one of the issues here, whereas the federal government had been with some of these guidelines.

Schools closed for millions of children, in some cases, for weeks, maybe longer, honestly. The nationa's largest public school district is New York City. What will the effect be on children? We're joined by the governor of New York next.