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CDC Releases New Guidelines for Limited Gatherings Below 50 People Due to Coronavirus; Schools Close Across U.S. in Efforts to Prevent Coronavirus Spread. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired March 16, 2020 - 08:00   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Monday, March 16th. It is 8:00 in the east, and honestly, chances are you're watching us from home this morning, knowing that you'll pretty much be nowhere but there for weeks. This is the new reality of the coronavirus pandemic.

This morning there was a national state of emergency as concerns grow that too many Americans are ignoring warnings and failing to practice social distancing. Overnight the CDC issued a new recommendation to limit gatherings of more than 50 people for the next eight weeks. At least seven states have ordered bars and restaurants to close, limiting them to take-out and delivery only. MGM Resorts just announced it is suspending operations at all of its hotels and casinos in Las Vegas starting at midnight. The nation's largest public school system in New York City is shutting down, 33 states have now closed public schools. This affects at least 32 million students.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: And the number of known infections in the U.S. is rising. More than 3,500 cases with 65 deaths now. President Trump downplaying the severity of the virus, claiming his administration has, quote, "tremendous control" of the pandemic at the very same time that his top infectious disease expert was warning, quote, "the worst is yet ahead." Vice President Pence says new guidelines on social distancing will be released today.

So let's begin our coverage with CNN's Brynn Gingras. She is outside of a school in New York City that will be closed for weeks. We just don't know the future for these students, Brynn.

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Nobody can give answers at this point, Alisyn. We have to wait and see. But as John just said, this is the largest school district in the entire country, and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said closing schools was a painful decision and one he never thought he'd have to make. Schools across the country are closing for two weeks, in some cases like here in New York, a month, in other cases for the entire school year.

And I think a lot of Americans at this point can relate to what Bill de Blasio said, that they're making decisions in their everyday lives they never thought they'd have to make as we all navigate this new normal.


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

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM, (D) CALIFORNIA: 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) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: 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 take-out 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) ILLINOIS: 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) NEW YORK: We can use the army corps of engineers to come in, retrofit dormitories. What happened in Italy was the health care 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 faced new advanced 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.

DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It is a very contagious virus. It's incredible, 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, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS

DISEASES: The worst is yet 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, (D-VT) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The first thing we have got to do, whether or not I'm president, is to 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 just a short time ago we saw a little boy walk into the school with his mother. Of course, it's closed, but it will be open for the next week just to take advantage of this grab and go food service. Remember, just alone in the city, thousands of kids depend on that for a meal.


We've also heard about efforts in this city to put Internet in some homes so that kids can take advantage of virtual learning. Of course, these are emergency measures that districts all across the country are now having to take. Alisyn and John?

CAMEROTA: Brynn, thank you very much.

So just moments ago we talked to the U.S. surgeon general, and here's a little of what Dr. Jerome Adams told us.


DR. JEROME ADAMS, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: 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 in to 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?

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.


BERMAN: So the reason that is so incredibly jarring is that right now, the death toll in Italy is more than 1,800. It has a five percent mortality rate. Extraordinary deadly in that country right now, and if the surgeon general is saying it's still possible that we go there, wake up and take notice.

Joining us now is Dr. Vivek Murthy, he's a former U.S. surgeon general in the Obama administration, and CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Sanjay, I want to start with you. The big development overnight was the CDC issuing these new guidelines suggesting a limit on gatherings of more than 50 people. How far does that go to address your concerns, and what more do you think we need to hear from the vice president at 10:30 when he speaks in terms of restrictions nationwide?

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Great question. First of all, with regard to the 50 people, that is a bit of an arbitrary number. I don't think there's any hard and fast rules around the number of people that can actually gather like this. The point is, I think the fact that a lot of people are hearing specifics around this now, maybe for the first time, because it's been sort of vague thus far, social distance yourself, what does that really mean? People will still plan big parties, going out to crowded restaurants, things like that. That can't happen anymore, and I think people are really understanding that as a result of these guidelines.

But John, to your second point, I think, look, I think it probably needs to go further than that. And I take no joy in saying that, but the reality is, if you look at these social distancing measures, and you look throughout history and you look at the modeling, the times that they've worked is when they are done early, and they are done pretty consistently. If you wait too long, then the impact of those types of measures just goes way down. And what does early mean? Again, that's also a bit arbitrary, but early means before a percent of the country has been infected. Now, a percent of the country, you'll say that's like 3 million people, right? Well, yes, but the reality is we have no idea how many people are infected in this country.

We've really been harping on the testing thing, and for good reason. Because we haven't been testing, we just -- so many of the strategies, so many of the things we should have been doing we haven't been able to do. We haven't been able to plan. And I think this is one of the big ones. So I think we probably need to go further in terms of actually mandating some of these social distancing things at least for a little while, because if we don't, we're going to have to do it a lot longer later on.

CAMEROTA: So Dr. Murthy, now that we are social distancing in earnest and millions and millions of school kids are not going to school today, people are basically told to hunker down in their homes at the moment, do you agree with Dr. Jerome Adams, the surgeon general, that we could become Italy in the next week or so, that we're just two weeks behind them?

DR. VIVEK MURTHY, FORMER U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: Well, if you look at the trajectory of the epidemic here in the United States, what you see is we are following a path very similar to Italy, and the big question now is will we keep to that trend and follow the path that Italy is going down, which is a very disturbing, destructive, and a path that is filled with increasing illness and with a growing number of deaths, or will we go the way of South Korea, were we see cases and deaths start to level off because we've gotten a hold of this virus.

And right now the jury is still out on which path we go. But the good news is that we do have the power to influence this choice, and that power for most of us as everyday citizens lies in the choice we make about how we wash our hands, about how we choose not to interact with large groups of people. I saw the guidelines that came out from the CDC recently stating that people shouldn't get together in crowds of 50 or more. I think it's good the CDC and that the federal government is increasingly leaning into more aggressive measures, but I think we have got to move a lot faster than that. I would not feel safe with people getting together in groups of 20 people. I do not think that that's advisable right now.


I don't think we should be telling people to go out to restaurants or bars. I don't think we should be telling people to go on play dates with groups of friends and catch up with small groups over lunch or dinner. These may seem extreme, but the consequences of not doing so are even more extreme, the health consequences and the economic consequences. So in these moments, acting early matters, every day matters, and that's why many of us are urging everyone in America to take physical distancing seriously, and to ensure that we are taking every step we can to protect ourselves and the people around us from getting the virus.

BERMAN: I hope people are listening to you, Dr. Murthy, because that statement is in contrast to some of the things we have heard from elected leaders. And I'm not going to play the sound from Devin Nunes over the weekend because I don't want to mislead people, but he was among many who suggested it's a great time to go out to the bars. No, it's not. Listen to the former surgeon general of the United States. Don't listen to the ranking member of the Intelligence Committee on that.

Sanjay, each bit of news hits us differently, right. The one piece of news that hit me as someone who is 47-years-old was the news that in France, more than 50 percent of the people who were in the ICUs are younger than 60. Now, what does that mean, because we've been told this primarily impacts people who are older.

GUPTA: Yes. John, I saw that as well. And I've been following along some of these trends in other places around the world besides China, because most of what we are looking at and most of what we are trying to extrapolate from was China, and the China data. And you're right. We're starting to see different patterns in different places around the world. France really jumped out at me, and as you guys were talking about this morning, even here in the United States, you have someone who is in their 40s, an E.R. doctor on the west coast who is in critical condition.

Health care workers may be a little bit different because they are taking care of patients and they may be getting large doses of this coronavirus, and that may be making them more sick, perhaps that's the case. But I do think that we have to start thinking about this as a different disease in different places, meaning that China is a very homogenous population, how it affected China because of how who homogenous it is, you could look at that data one way. But as you start to get in places like the United States, which is a much more diverse population, as well as countries in Europe, is the virus going to behave differently as it circulates around a very heterogeneous as opposed to homogeneous population? Perhaps.

Again, we have got to be humble about this. This is a new virus. We don't know why it's behaving differently in different people in different populations. But John, you're absolutely right, it would be wrong to ignore that data.

CAMEROTA: Dr. Murthy, because you were the surgeon general, is there something that this morning the surgeon general or the CDC or the FDA or the president's task force could be doing that they're not doing?

MURTHY: Well, one thing I do want to give them credit for is the mobilization of the United States Public Health Service Commission Corps. This is a group of officers that include doctors and nurses that the surgeon general oversees that we mobilize during times of emergency, and we are now mobilizing those officers to help support and expand our testing capacity around the country. That's a positive sign.

But one of the things I think we need to do more of is we need to be very transparent with the public about what we have and what we don't have. And I'll give you a clear example of this. Right now, one of the great concerns for many of us is that our hospitals are going to be utterly overwhelmed by the number of cases that they have to handle. Keep in mind that we are experiencing this new virus outbreak in the middle of flu season, when hospitals are already stretched to the limit.

And so what we need to know, what doctors and nurses really need to know and hospital administrators, is when is help on the way? And how many masks do we have? How many ventilators do we have? What is our plan to get more beds in place? Without concrete information on this, people start to doubt whether or not we have the capacity to meet the demand.

Right now, our health care system is falling short in three key places. One is we know we're going to run out of beds if this is even a moderate pandemic. Second, we know that materials wise our hospitals are already running out of masks and gowns and gloves. And third, we're running out of people, because we know that as doctors and nurses get sick, as they have to be quarantined, we are pulling people out of the workforce exactly when they are needed.

So what I believe we need to hear more clearly from the government is what is our capacity for increasing beds? How are we going to pull the military into doing that? How are we going to get more masks and protective equipment from people, whether that involves producing it here in the United States or purchasing it from abroad? That kind of clarity is essential at moments like this.

CAMEROTA: That's really helpful. Dr. Murthy and Dr. Gupta, thank you both very much. We always appreciate coming to you for answers.

So a key figure from the House impeachment hearings has tested positive for coronavirus. We will talk to him about how he's doing -- [08:15:00]

So a key figure from the House impeachment hearings has tested positive for coronavirus. We will talk to him about how he is doing and how this happened and his testing experience, et cetera.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: What does it feel like?

CAMEROTA: Exactly.


CAMEROTA: You may recognize our next guest, Attorney Daniel Goldman. He was a key lawyer for Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee during President Trump's impeachment hearings.

He's in the news because he was revealed that he tested positive for coronavirus. And Daniel Goleman joins us now from his home. Daniel, this is unexpected. How are you feeling today?

DANIEL GOLDMAN, ATTORNEY: I'm feeling much better. Thank you, Alisyn, almost back to 100 percent. John, I think mentioned earlier that you know, what does it feel like? It felt to me very much like the flu would feel. It was a headache, a fever, a bit of a cough.

There's no real mystery to it. It is a virus. It is similar to the flu. But it just, of course, can be quite deadly to vulnerable parts of the population.

BERMAN: But for you, it sounds like it was fairly mild and now I know that your wife is sick. I don't know if she has been tested, but how is she feeling? What do you know?

GOLDMAN: She is on the mend as well. She has had similar symptoms though she still is pretty laid up right now. But she was tested two days ago. We haven't gotten the test back.


GOLDMAN: But doctors told us to just assume that she has it as well, and as also our kids. It's very contagious. So we're just hunkered down together.

You know, I left the House Intelligence Committee a couple of weeks ago, in part to spend time with my family. I'm going to have a lot of time with my family now over the next couple of weeks.

CAMEROTA: Are your kids exhibiting any symptoms?

GOLDMAN: No, no. And what we've been told is that -- I shouldn't say no, a little bit, but what we've been told I think everybody understands that for whatever reason, kids do not seem to be as susceptible to the worst symptoms of coronavirus and they seem to be dealing with it much better than the elderly or the immunocompromised.

BERMAN: But Dan, one of the things that came to people's attention about six days ago, was that you had this odyssey of testing where you were trying to get tested. Briefly, walk us through the process from when you started feeling sick to actually got the result?

GOLDMAN: I woke up Wednesday morning feeling flu-like symptoms and looked online and understood that the symptoms for coronavirus are very similar to the symptoms for flu.

I went to my doctor, I got tested for flu, it was negative. And then I tried to, as you point out an odyssey to get tested for coronavirus because if it wasn't the flu, but the symptoms were similar, it felt to me like it very well could be coronavirus.

But because I was not in such terrible shape that I would have to be admitted into the hospital. And because I didn't know whether I had any contact with someone who tested positive for coronavirus, I simply couldn't get a test.

I went to the hospital at Cornell -- Weill Cornell -- on Thursday. I was there for six hours trying to get a test. They gave me another viral panel, a chest x-ray, which by the way, came back completely clean.

And then they sent me home, and in fact because I did not have any contact or at least did not know that I had contact with anyone who was known to be positive, the doctors told me that my family could go about their ordinary lives, I needed to self-isolate.

But that is incredibly dangerous. Because if I had not insisted on getting a test and ultimately, on Friday, I drove up to Connecticut in order to get a test, then I would really need to -- then my family would be out and about in the world, walking around and potentially affecting people.

CAMEROTA: Do you know how you got the virus?

GOLDMAN: I don't know. Here's one of my daughters. And I don't know how I got it. We did go to London last Friday, the 6th, returned on Tuesday, the 10th; and my symptoms started right after that.

BERMAN: In London -- it could have been in London, it could have been on the plane. You know who really knows.

GOLDMAN: Yes. It's impossible to know.

BERMAN: I am sorry, it made me smile. I was just getting lost looking at your daughter behind you right there just thinking about how many families are going through what you're going through whether they're sick or not, spending these days together. So what are you guys doing?

GOLDMAN: They're long days, let me tell you, that's my five-year-old. I have a two-year-old and a one-year-old. So it's -- we're trying to make the best of it going, you know, going for walks, running around outside.

You know, I think everybody who is on quarantine for one reason or another, now schools are closed, going to have to kind of grapple with a lot of time together indoors.

And it's a shame because ultimately, the reason we're in this predicament, I think, and we have to take these draconian measures to essentially shut life down is because there are insufficient tests.

If there were enough tests, if it was easier for me to get a test, if it was easier for other people to get a test to know whether they have it or not, that would be the best way to try to stifle the spread of this pandemic.

But because we don't have that, our only solution is to quarantine ourselves. We have no choice because we have it. But certainly everybody now is just going to be sitting at home and doing the same thing.

BERMAN: Daniel Goleman, please give our best to your kids and your wife, who I know is still very much under the weather. We are encouraged to see you doing well this morning -- really encouraged. Thank you very much for being with us.

GOLDMAN: Thanks, John. Thanks, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Thank you.

BERMAN: All right, the former Vice President Joe Biden, he made some news at last night's CNN debate vowing to pick a woman as his running mate if he is the nominee.

We're going to speak with someone who honestly by all accounts might be on the shortest of shortlist, next.



CAMEROTA: Here are the latest facts for you. The number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. rising to more than 3,500. This is across 49 states and Washington, D.C., 65 people have died.

Local governments around the country are implementing new rules to stop community spread.

The C.D.C. is now recommending a limit on gatherings of 50 people or more for the next eight weeks.

At least seven states have ordered bars and restaurants to close. They are limiting their business to just takeout and delivery.

The nation's largest public school system, New York City is shutting down.

Thirty three states have closed public schools and that impacts at least 32.5 million students.

Vice President Pence says new guidelines regarding potential curfews or more closures will be released today. BERMAN: We're waiting to see what he announces there. Joining me now

is Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar. She's a former presidential candidate who has endorsed Joe Biden.

Senator, it's great to have you on this morning. Thanks so much for being with us.

You as a senator ...


BERMAN: ... will soon get to vote on the Relief Bill that passed through the House. What is your sense of this piece of legislation and what more would you like to see in it?

KLOBUCHAR: Yes, I'm going back there today, and we have to get this done.

Now there's some issues with the legislation.