Return to Transcripts main page

THE SITUATION ROOM

Coronavirus Fears Escalating; Record Dow Collapse; Interview With San Francisco, California Mayor London Breed; Interview With Gov. Larry Hogan (R-MD); San Francisco Orders Residents To Shelter In Place; Trump Announces Stricter Guidelines To Slow Coronavirus Spread; Debunking Myths About The Coronavirus. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired March 16, 2020 - 18:00   ET

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


[18:00:00]

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: The Dow Jones industrials just closed down nearly 3,000 points, setting a new record for the worst-one day point drop.

President Trump is now acknowledging the nation may be heading into a recession, and that the impact of the virus could be felt at least until July or August, maybe longer. The president also announced strict new guidelines, urging people not to gather in groups of 10 or more and avoid eating out and traveling, this as multiple cities and states are now limiting bars and restaurants to only pickup and takeout service and closing gyms, theaters, other public facilities altogether.

San Francisco just went even further, ordering residents to shelter in place.

I will get reaction from the Maryland governor, Larry Hogan. He's standing by live. And our correspondents, analysts and medical experts, they are also standing by.

First, let's go to our White House Correspondent, Boris Sanchez.

Boris, there was a lot of breaking news from the president today, as he joined the coronavirus task force briefing.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Wolf.

The president putting out these guidelines for all Americans to follow to try to prevent the spread of this outbreak. However, the most newsworthy thing to come from his time the president spent with reporters this afternoon, the marked shift in tone and rhetoric, the president clearly saying that this outbreak, this coronavirus is not under control, flatly stating that it is bad.

And even as he admits that things are not going to be fine until at least mid to late summer, the president said that he would rate his response a 10 out of 10. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: my administration is recommending that all Americans, including the young and healthy, work to engage in schooling from home when possible.

Avoid gathering in groups of more than 10 people. And avoid eating and drinking at bars, restaurants, and public food courts.

It seems to me that if we do a really good job, we'll not only hold the death down to a level that is much lower than the other way had we not done a good job, but people are talking about July, August, something like that.

So it could be right in that period of time where it, I say, wash -- it washes through. Other people don't like that term, but where it washes through.

And I've spoken actually with my son. He says, how bad is this? It's bad. It's bad.

QUESTION: Are you considering instituting a nationwide lockdown, a nationwide quarantine? The NSC knocked that down, but there's still some questions about how it all came to be.

TRUMP: At this point not nationwide, but -- well, there are some -- you know, some places in our nation that are not very affected at all. But we may -- we may look at certain areas, certain -- certain hot spots, as they call them. We'll be looking at that. But at this moment, no, we're not.

QUESTION: But you're not saying it's under control, right?

TRUMP: I'm not referring to it, meaning the...

QUESTION: Coronavirus.

TRUMP: Yeah, if you're talking about the virus?

QUESTION: Yeah.

TRUMP: No, that's not under control for any place in the world. I think I read...

QUESTION: OK. Yesterday, you had said it was, so I just...

TRUMP: I think I read --

QUESTION: -- wanted to clarify.

TRUMP: No, I didn't. I was talking about what we're doing is under control. But I'm not talking about the virus.

QUESTION: And on a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your response to this crisis?

TRUMP: I'd rate it a 10.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: Wolf, the president also saying that, a month ago, no one had seen this coming.

His own statements downplaying this crisis contradict that, as well as the experts who were warning the White House about this outbreak -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Boris Sanchez at the White House, thanks very much.

Let me put up on the screen the guidelines that the White House released today. Here they are. If you feel sick, stay home. If your children are sick, keep them at home. If someone in your household has tested positive, keep the whole household home.

If you're an older person, stay home. Avoid social gatherings in groups of 10 or more people. Avoid eating or drinking in bars, restaurants and food courts.

Those are the guidelines that the White House released today. Even before these new White House guidelines, some state and local governments were announcing very drastic action to shut down public places.

CNN's Erica Hill is joining us from New York City right now.

Erica, widespread closures are taking effect tonight in New York.

ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That they are, starting tonight at 8:00 p.m. in New York and also the tri-state area.

And we should point out, while we just heard from the president, who said he's not considering at this point a nationwide lockdown, the mayor of New York City has said he's not ruling anything out, including possibly a curfew for this city.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HILL (voice-over): And eerily quiet Times Square, the latest reminder that life today is different and will be for some time.

TRUMP: This afternoon, we're announcing new guidelines for every American to follow over the next 15 days. Avoid gathering in groups of more than 10 people. Avoid discretionary travel.

HILL: Guidelines announced on the heels of several states enacting new operating hours and restrictions for restaurants and bars, now shifting to takeout only.

[18:05:04]

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): Many people will get in their car, and they will drive to Connecticut to go to a bar, which is the last thing we want.

HILL: Movie theaters, gyms and casinos will be closed indefinitely.

New Jersey encouraging residents to stay home between 8:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m., as San Francisco asks residents to stay home starting at midnight. The surgeon general warning, decisions made today will determine much of what happens tomorrow.

DR. JEROME ADAMS, SURGEON GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES: 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?

HILL: For millions of families starting the week with children at home, it is far from business as usual.

Parents learning to teach, while also trying to work.

GOV. MIKE DEWINE (R-OH): It would not surprise me at all if schools did not open again this year.

HILL: Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie calling on the president to close all schools nationwide through May 11.

Ohio announcing tomorrow's primary will now be held in June. Life on hold, nearly every industry bracing, concert tours sporting events, day care, businesses large and small in limbo.

Walmart cutting back hours to give stores a chance to restock the shelves, while markets ration some of the most sought-after items, including milk and cleaning products.

QUESTION: Were you able to get everything that you needed this morning.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Almost.

HILL: Doctors increasingly concerned about their own supplies, including the nation's stock of lifesaving ventilators. The president recommending states find those supplies on their own, rather than wait for the federal government.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HILL: And as states and cities are preparing for the influx that they anticipate will come their way in hospitals and emergency rooms, I can tell you, here in New York City, the mayor saying earlier, very clearly, no one should be going to an emergency room unless it is an absolute emergency, saying there would be people outside.

They will be making sure that you need to be there, and, if you don't, that you could be turned away -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Erica Hill in New York City for us -- Erica, thank you.

Joining us now, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan.

Governor, thank you so much for joining us. I know you're incredibly busy as well.

GOV. LARRY HOGAN (R-MD): Sure.

BLITZER: Earlier today, you pushed the Trump administration for more clarity on federal guidelines.

Are these new recommendations announced earlier today clear enough?

HOGAN: Well, they're fairly clear, but they're changing every day. And as other governors are doing around the country, we're really taking our own independent actions.

I declared a state of emergency 11 days ago. Today, I took unprecedented action, I think more aggressive than just about anybody in the country. We shut down all bars and restaurants and movie theaters and just about any other kind of other -- anything that wasn't an essential business, like grocery stores and pharmacies and gas stations and banks and things that people absolutely needed.

We're allowing for carry-out and delivery of food. But we called up 2,200 members of the National Guard last -- I was one of the first -- I think the first governor in the country to close the schools. Now most people are following.

But, look, federal, state and local officials are going to have to take drastic actions right now to stop this -- the spread of this disease. And we really can't wait for decisions at the federal level. We can't wait for the guidelines to change tomorrow.

So, we're just taking the actions that we believe are absolutely necessary. And while they may seem extreme to some people who aren't completely up to speed with exactly what's going on here, and they may be scary, they are absolutely necessary to save the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in America.

BLITZER: Yesterday, as you know, Governor, we heard the president say that all of this was under tremendous control -- his words.

But, today, we heard a very different tone from the president.

HOGAN: Yes.

BLITZER: Do these mix guidelines, conflicting guidelines, tone that we're hearing from the president, undermine his message?

HOGAN: Well, I think the message today was much more on message than what we have heard in the past.

Today, he sounded like -- a lot more like what I have been sounding like for two weeks and what a few of my colleagues have been sounding like. And I was much -- I was very pleased with the change in tone, because the messages before about, it really wasn't that big of a deal and everything was OK and nobody should worry, that was the wrong message.

Today, I think he conveyed a much more serious message, maybe not quite serious enough, as some of the governors are. I would prefer to see some actions at the federal level like a couple of us have done in the states.

But I think he definitely has ramped up the messages to let people know that now this is a serious crisis. And we had a call today with -- I'm the chairman of the National Governors Association. We had, I think, 48 governors on the call with the president and the vice president, most of the leaders.

It was a much different tone than some of the discussions in the past. And I think they're taking it very seriously. And the team is working very hard to ramp up and catch up and to provide us with what we need.

[18:10:06]

But we're playing catchup.

BLITZER: The president also said that he would encourage individual governors like yourself -- like yourself, to secure medical supplies on your own, because he says there's -- I guess you guys have that kind of capability.

Is he right?

HOGAN: Well, I think that there's a little bit of mixed -- confusion about exactly what he said.

And I don't want to characterize what happened in a private discussion with the governors. Some of my colleagues, I think, may have misconstrued exactly what he meant.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: How did you understand what he meant when he was talking about ventilators, for example?

HOGAN: Yes.

BLITZER: He said, maybe you should try to get your own ventilators.

(CROSSTALK)

HOGAN: Well, so we are getting -- we are working to get them on our own. And we're also pushing the federal government to get us more of them. So we have to do both. We can't wait.

But we did get a supply of some things in from the federal stockpile last night here in our state. They're trying to get them out. But it's not enough. And so we're trying to do both.

We're trying to do everything we can for our own citizens, and not waiting. We're also desperately calling on the federal government to ramp up their delivery and assistance to us.

So, it really has to be an all-hands-on-deck, with the federal, state and local governments working together. And rather than us just criticizing and complaining about what didn't happen yesterday, or why we haven't gotten things, I want to try to work constructively to just work together to do everything we can to save people in our states and across the country.

BLITZER: You have some truly world-class hospitals in the state of Maryland, including the Johns Hopkins University Medical Center, my alma mater, Johns Hopkins, by the way.

HOGAN: Yes.

BLITZER: How soon -- and I hope it never happens -- could these hospitals be overwhelmed by the number of cases?

HOGAN: So, one of the other things that I did today was, I directed our state Health Department to work with all of our hospitals, including Johns Hopkins and all the rest of our hospitals, to immediately ramp up.

We have 8,000 hospital beds in the state. We're trying to add another 6,000 hospital beds capacity as quickly as possible. I have directed them -- directed them to open as many of the closed hospitals as possible to add 6,000 beds.

We have waived licensing requirements to allow for doctors and nurses from other states to be able to immediately practice here, to allow people with expired licenses here to be able to activate.

We're going to have a huge shortage. And part of this has to do with how quickly we can bend the curve with the social distancing, so that we don't overwhelm the system.

But that's a massive problem that everybody's talking about that is the next wave you will be talking about tomorrow and the next day on CNN --

BLITZER: Yes.

HOGAN: -- is this surge and the overwhelming of our health care system.

So that's why we called up the National Guard. We have activated 5,000 volunteers who have certain licenses, 700 of which are already active. We called up three units of our National Guard who have health care capabilities.

And we're trying to open up 6,000 new hospital beds.

BLITZER: Well, you're doing a lot. And we're grateful to you, Governor, because, in the process, you will be saving lots of lives.

We appreciate what you're doing. Thanks so much for joining us.

HOGAN: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, just ahead: As President Trump issues tougher guidelines to try to slow the coronavirus, is he finally facing the reality of this crisis?

And we will have more on the stunning moves by cities and states around the country to put the brakes on public life as we know it, as the president warns this could continue well into the summer.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:18:03]

BLITZER: The breaking news tonight: As stocks plunge lower and the coronavirus spreads faster, President Trump is issuing strict new guidelines and acknowledging the situation is, in his word, bad.

Let's unpack all of these fast-moving developments in this crisis.

And let me start, John Harwood, with you.

And we're sitting, by the way, CDC guidelines a little further apart, as we should.

At the end of February -- this was February 26 -- listen to what the president said when describing this crisis.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: When you have 15 people, and the 15, within a couple of days, is going to be down to close to zero, that's a pretty good job we've done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Yes, he was very upbeat at that time.

He's been upbeat all along, as recently as yesterday. And, today, we heard a very different president.

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: He said it was under tremendous control yesterday.

But you have to credit the president with a change in tone today. He was much more somber about the situation, said he told his son Barron that it was bad, said it was going to take a while for us to get through it. And he leaned in to those social distancing recommendations that the CDC put out, including limiting gatherings to no more than 10 people, and pushing back against a congressman who has been a close defender of his, Devin Nunes, who had said over the weekend, oh, go to your bar, local bar and restaurant, support them.

And the president said, no, not a good idea.

BLITZER: Right now, Dana, there are 4,158 confirmed cases of -- confirmed cases -- probably a lot more people have coronavirus right now, 74 confirmed dead.

I suspect the reality of what's going on in Italy, in France is beginning to sink in on the president. DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: What's going on in his own country. I mean, think about the numbers you just said, more than 4,000 today. The clip you just played, it was 15. And he said it was going to go down. Obviously, that didn't happen.

I was talking to sources who are around him before coming on. And last week, I was told that reality was starting to set in. This week, and particularly over the weekend, that became even more so.

[18:20:06]

And that was abundantly clear by the tone. All of us, I'm sure, we were watching going, who is this guy?

HARWOOD: Right.

And I think, Dana --

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: Yes.

HARWOOD: -- the brutal collapse of the stock market today, after it had gone up significantly on Friday, and he came in celebrated that over the weekend, that, I think, probably weighed on him as to the gravity of this.

BASH: No, that's exactly right, to the point where he even -- you talked about the things he said about the public health situation.

He even said that it's possible that the U.S. economy could go into a recession. I mean, can you imagine this president acknowledging that anything is even remotely bad with the economy just a couple of days ago?

And so he's obviously been having real conversations with aides, with advisers, with people who have finally gotten through to him. Whether or not it is going to be consistent or not, we will see. The governors are doing a lot of the work. The president freed up a lot of the aid with national emergency at the end of last week.

But, today, he became -- he used the bully pulpit in a way that presidents are supposed to.

BLITZER: Sanjay Gupta is with us as well.

He was asked to grade himself on a scale of one to 10. He gave himself a 10 today.

What do you think of these new stricter guidelines?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think that they're important guidelines. And I'm glad he did it.

I mean, as John Harwood was saying, I mean, this is a different tone that the president took. And you can read some of the guidelines here. The ones that really jumped out at me was, I mean, really encouraging

people to work from home, school from home, avoid discretionary travel, as was mentioned, avoid social gatherings of more than 10 people.

I think there's there's two things that jumped out to me. First of all, this was a big change in tone, as was pointed out, but the second thing is, the top of these guidelines says 15 days to slow the spread. That's how they're sort of listed, the president's guidelines for America, 15 days to slow the spread.

So it sounds like it's 15 days. Dr. Fauci came up partway through that press conference, Wolf, you will remember, and he said, look, just to be clear, we're going to reassess after two weeks.

And my -- you sort of get a sense of the strategy here, which is, we don't want to lay all of this out at once. But my guess is that this isn't going to be just two weeks. This is going to go on for a little while. I don't know how long. It's not going to be forever. We will get through it.

And it may not even be through July, August. We may start to see a slowing down of cases by much earlier than that. But it's not -- it's probably not going to be two weeks, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, because there are a lot of people out there who may have already had the coronavirus, who may have it right now, who don't even know it, and, in the process, they may be spreading it.

GUPTA: That's right. That's right.

That that's part of the issue here, this idea of asymptomatic spread, different than the flu, where you're coughing and sneezing and pretty clearly you're contagious at that point.

Keep in mind, though, Wolf, the other thing, though, with a lot of people having it who don't know it, first of all, it gives some sense that there are people who really aren't going to get that sick from this. But also it is possible that you start to develop a -- what's called herd immunity.

If a lot of people are exposed to this virus, they may start to become immunized to it, and they can start to protect other people around them. And that's the sort of -- the theory behind vaccinations in the first place.

Getting infected is kind of like getting a vaccine, we believe. Again, it's a new virus, so we don't know for sure. But that's the thought, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, but the fear is that, especially if younger people have that, they don't know it, they could spread it to their parents or grandparents.

GUPTA: That's right.

BLITZER: And they are clearly more vulnerable right now.

GUPTA: That's right.

BLITZER: Everybody, stick around. There's a lot more we're following.

Get this. San Francisco announces some of the harshest guidelines so far to try to stop the spread of the coronavirus. The city's mayor is standing by live. We will discuss.

And are cities getting the federal help they need right now to fight the coronavirus? I will talk to the mayors of Chicago and Boston.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:28:45]

BLITZER: We're following a lot of breaking news in the coronavirus crisis, including the worst one-day point drop in the history of the Dow Jones industrial average, the index closing down nearly 3,000 points today.

President Trump acknowledging the U.S. may be heading into a recession, as he unveiled stricter guidelines aimed at trying to slow the spread of the virus.

Tonight, San Francisco is going beyond those guidelines, ordering residents to shelter in place.

The San Francisco Mayor, London Breed, is joining us right now on the phone.

And, Mayor, it's not just San Francisco. It's your neighboring counties as well. Tell us what you have decided to do.

MAYOR LONDON BREED (D), SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA: Well, we are basically pushing for people to stay at home, under the direction of the county health officers of six Bay Area counties.

We came together as a region to move this forward, based on the scientific data. Our goal is to stop this virus from spreading in our communities. And we need to do this now. We need to act quickly.

We can't wait. And we're doing it for nonessential services. So, our grocery stores will still remain open. People can still get gas and go to the banks. And we are asking people that -- to do those things only if absolutely necessary, and to stay home in many of the cases that people typically would want to go out.

[18:30:06]

We want people to stay home as much as possible.

BLITZER: Yes, that's a good advice.

What do you fear, Mayor, is the worst case scenario if the folks in San Francisco and the neighboring counties don't follow these new measures?

BREED: Well, the folks in the neighboring counties, their county health officers have already put out this directive. And what we are hoping is that people will be good neighbors and follow the advice of what we are providing. Because it's not just the residents of the people who live here, people who come here to work, but we still need our healthcare professionals, we still need our police officers, our firefighters and other folks who are helping us deal with this challenge.

But if you look around San Francisco now, you see that many people are already complying. A lot of the gyms and other places are empty. Most of the grocery stores are crowded but we want to keep those grocery stores open so people don't run there in panic.

This is really about public health and taking really strong position on protecting our public and trying to get through this quickly, because we know that this is impacting the entire world and we've seen it in other countries where they have been able to flatten the curve by implementing extreme measures that make people uncomfortable for the time being but are necessary to get us to a better place.

BLITZER: You acknowledge, Mayor, that this is a very significant disruption to people's lives. What resources are available to those folk who can't work, people who have kids at home, people who can't leave their homes?

BREED: Well, we've done a number of things. Number one, we delayed tax payments until February of next year. We provided emergency support for our small businesses in the form of grants. We developed a philanthropic fund that people can draw from, that people who are in the private sector have already contributed millions of dollars to helping many of our employees.

We actually have allowed city employees to advance sick leave so that if they didn't have sick leave and they needed the take time off, they would still get paid. And we took that a step further and we put forth a $10 million fund for people who work in the private sector who have exhausted all of their sick leave and their benefits with their employer.

So we have a number of initiatives that we put forth here in San Francisco to help people deal with this because we know this is not just going to have a public health impact. It's going to have an economic impact. And we want to try and support and help people as much as we possibly can.

BLITZER: Mayor London Breed of San Francisco, good luck to you. Good luck to all the folks out there in California. We'll stay in very very close touch. I appreciate you joining us.

BREED: Thank you, Wolf. Thank you so much.

BLITZER: All right. So let's get an update now from two other big cities grappling with the coronavirus pandemic. Joining us now, the mayor of Chicago, Lori Lightfoot. Also joining us, the mayor of Boston, Marty Walsh.

And, Mayor Lightfoot, let me get your reaction first of what we just heard from Mayor Breed of San Francisco, Chicago, considering something along those line, sheltering the folks in place?

MAYOR LORI LIGHTFOOT (D), CHICAGO, ILLINOIS: Well, we have been encouraging people to stay at home for quite some time and we have taken some very specific measures to really eliminate places where people would congregate in mass numbers. We know that this is important. And as Mayor Breed said, this is about saving lives.

We have looked at data from Italy. We have looked the data from other European countries and Asian countries. And if you compare what's happened in Italy versus Japan, for example, that took very seemingly extreme measures early on, to really shut down a lot of public functioning.

Japan has been able to bend the curve. Other countries have not. We want to get ahead of this and save lives.

BLITZER: What do to you think about that Mayor Walsh?

MAYOR MARTY WALSH (D), BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS: Well, I think a lot of what Lori is doing in Chicago, we're doing in Boston today. We're going to shut down construction sites. We asked them to wrap it up this week so that the construction workers are protected as well. And I think here in Boston, really, we're working with the state, with our governor as far as potentially sheltering in place. I think it's complicated in this scenario yet to have one city do it and not the rest of us do it.

And I think that at some point, potentially, we're headed that way. But right now, we're asking people to be very cognizant of distancing from each other, not waiting in lines, spending as much time at home. A lot of our businesses have been closed down and or allowing people to work from home. So that's all stuff that can help us, as we mentioned earlier, the curve here. We want to try and keep as many contacts down so we don't see this epidemic go beyond what we're looking at today.

BLITZER: Mayor Lightfoot, you've been critical of the lack of communication between the federal government or local governments. The president says he rates his response to the coronavirus pandemic, he says it's a ten out of a ten. What do you say to that?

LIGHTFOOT: Well, look, I've been very blunt about the fact that we haven't got the level of cooperation, collaboration or communication that is essential at the federal level. When the federal government issues a mandate, it has to be execute by mayors and other local elect officials.

[18:35:06]

So bring us along on the journey, listening to what we are seeing the conditions on the ground, that's good, smart public policy. This is not partisan issue. But we have not seen the kind of leadership, collaboration and communication that is essential from the federal government if we are going to link arms and make sure that we're doing what's in the best interest of public safety, public policy and really saving lives.

BLITZER: Yes. It's critically an important time.

Mayor Walsh, the federal government is now recommending these new guidelines to avoid gatherings of more than ten people. Is that something you may begin to enforce in Boston?

WALSH: Well, right now, we have no gatherings of more than 25 in Boston. And, certainly, I think it make sense, the fewer people we can put together the better it is. And, again, I think, all the precautions we can take right now on the backend of this, so we can make this a shorter period of time. And I think that that's key. It's key on what we do.

And as far as the federal government is concerned, I think that is important as well. These tests still aren't getting done quick enough. We need to get more tests. We need to make sure that we're prepared for it. The numbers that we have in Boston right now are 33 positive cases. In the state, we're at 165. So without having accurate test, that number is much higher.

BLITZER: It certainly is.

Mayor Lightfoot, the State of Illinois is moving ahead with its president -- Democratic presidential primary tomorrow, even as the governor of Ohio recommending postponing the Democratic primary there tomorrow. Do you think it's wise to bring potentially large groups of people together to cast their votes right in the middle of this outbreak?

LIGHTFOOT: Well, let me tell you what we're doing to implement the governor's order here in Chicago. We are practicing social distancing. We are doing exceptional and over and above methods to make sure that polling places are clean, machines are clean and we have urged people to early vote, which is still available here in Chicago.

We have seen an unprecedented number of people that are voting by mail and also early voting. We believe that we've got a plan in place that will be consistent with CDC guidelines to make sure that the elections are able to be carried forward tomorrow in a safe manner, consistent with the governor's directive.

BLITZER: And very quickly, Mayor Lightfoot, before I let you go, we saw those horrible crowds at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport over the weekend. Folks coming in from Europe and waiting five, six hours in very close quarters before they could even get to customs. Have you fixed that yet or is it still an enormous problem?

LIGHTFOOT: Well, it's not about us fixing it, Wolf. To be clear, that is a 100 percent on the federal government. It didn't make sense. It didn't need to happen. I was very clear and direct with our White House liaison, also folks from Homeland Security. What we told them is, again, do not issue directives that impact local governments without talking to us first. Bring us in on the action. We have to be part of this journey together.

But what we saw then on Sunday after I had some very candid conversations with folks in the federal government is the lines were diminished because they did a couple of things. They listened to us and kept people on planes rather than disembarking and holding them in big concourses cheek to jowl. They also brought in more resources to be screeners.

So what we need is more resources. We need more communication collaboration. We are willing to do our part and we have been stepping up to make sure that we're executing at a high level but we need the federal government to be a partner not just issue dictates from Washington, D.C.

BLITZER: Those close quarters really, really dangerous in this kind of environment. Mayor Lightfoot, Mayor Walsh, to both of you, thank you so much for what you're doing. The decisions you and so many other mayors and governors are making right now are saving lives. I appreciate it very much.

LIGHTFOOT: Thank you, sir.

WALSH: Thank you.

BLITZER: All right, just ahead, we have some tips on how to manage your fear and anxiety as this coronavirus crisis worsens and Americans become more and more isolated right now. A top psychiatrist is standing by to join us.

And we'll separate fact from fiction as well about how the virus spreads and how you can stay safe.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:40:00]

BLITZER: Right now, people here in the United States, indeed, all over the world, they're feeling overwhelmed and anxious about the coronavirus crisis. Let's talk about ways to protect your mental health as well as your physical health during this very difficult period.

We're joined now by Psychiatrist, Dr. Lise Van Susteren. Dr. Lise, thanks so much for joining us.

What can people do to manage the fear, the anxiety they have as they face a reality that none of us could have imagined not only a few days ago.

DR. LISE VAN SUSTEREN, GENERAL AND FORENSIC PSYCHIATRIST: Not a really easy answer because everybody is a little bit different. And, frankly, for some people, you're right, we couldn't have imagined this but other people have imagined it and they've even warned us about it and we actually were downplaying some of those warnings.

So we have to consider that on one end of the spectrum, people have to be a little bit more anxious, and on the other end of the spectrum, perhaps it has to be dialed back down.

The goal is to get people somewhere in the middle where they are concerned and effective. And by that, I mean that you have an anxiety that drives you to take action.

[18:45:03]

And classically, in any type of stressful situation, addressing that stressful situation, taking empowering actions is the secret to reducing that anxiety.

BLITZER: Millions of Americans now, Lise, they're spending a lot more time at home, in an effort to stop the spread of the virus.

What advice do you have for them especially if they're feeling isolated?

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, if they're feeling isolated, it's tricky because for those who don't feel isolated, for example and are jammed in with others, it's something that's very different. But if you are alone and you don't have a technologic savvy that enables you to use Facetime or something else, for heaven's sakes, there is still picking up the phone and calling people.

I had a patient say to me the other day, I didn't want to call my grandmother because I haven't talked to her that much and was afraid I was thinking she was going to die. Well, the grandmother thinks she's being ignored. If you feel something needs to happen, model that behavior. Lead by example.

So, some of the old fashion ways we interacted are very helpful indeed. But, of course, there's lots more to say about people who feel sequestered and are getting on each other's nerves.

BLITZER: And we will continue this conversation, Lise, down the road. Thank you so much for joining us. Very good advice as usual.

VAN SUSTEREN: Thank you.

BLITZER: All right. We got much more news right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:51:6]

BLITZER: Here at CNN, we're certainly committed to giving our viewers the facts about the coronavirus pandemic.

Brian Todd is joining us right now to debunk of some false information you might be hearing from your neighbors or reading online.

Brian, there are myths being spread about the virus.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A lot of them, work. You know, we've already dealt with the myth of the mask regarding coronavirus. The idea that wearing surgical masks is what everybody should be doing. That one quickly debunked by government officials.

But in the past few days, there have been a lot of other myths circulating on social media that medical experts really do want to dispel.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice-over): Feel free to drink plenty of water. It's always good to stay hydrated medical experts say. But as for the idea that drink more water will flush coronavirus from your system --

DR. PETER HOTEZ, BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: We don't know if the oral fecal route is an important mode of transmission but water will not flush the virus out of your system.

TODD: The notion that drinking more water will flush coronavirus from your system is one of several myths about coronavirus circulating on social media. Myths that experts are eager to dispel tonight.

Another prominent myth, that if you hold your breath for more than 10 seconds without coughing or discomfort, you don't have fibrosis, a sign of infection in the lungs.

(on camera): Is holding your breath for 10 seconds some kind of a barometer?

GAVIN MACGREGOR-SKINNER, INFECTIOUS DISEASE EXPERT: Fibrosis in your lungs is scarring in your lung tissue, and no, there's no -- there's no barometer like that. Again, if you had any respiratory distress, if you have any shortness of breath, if you have a fever, if you have any of the respiratory symptoms, you need to pick up the phone and call a medical provider and tell them what those symptoms are.

TODD (voice-over): Another myth that young people and children can't get coronavirus.

HOTEZ: We know that children and as adolescents, yes, they can indeed contract this coronavirus. But for reasons we don't understand, they don't seem to be getting as sick as older individuals or those who are debilitated.

TODD: But experts say children and adolescents are also potential transmitters of coronavirus.

There's another popular notion floating around that the warmer weather approaching will either make the virus recede or go away. Experts say there have been previous viral outbreaks that have peaked in the winter than declined. But they say with coronavirus, we haven't gone through a whole year of it yet, so we don't know the summer weather will help.

MACGREGOR-SKINNER: Don't rely on temperature or humidity to inactivate or kill this virus. The way that you kill or inactivate this virus is by proper cleaning and disinfection.

TODD: There's another myth out there, that coronavirus can be transmitted through the mail. Experts say judging by previous similar viruses, they don't stay alive for long on surfaces or subjects.

HOTEZ: The likelihood of risk of getting the various from the mail is pretty low. Remember, especially a lot of mail is flown by aircraft which is under pretty harsh conditions. But if you've having doubts, there's no harm in first wiping that package down with either Clorox wipes or alcohol wipes and that will ensure it's safe to open.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: Another fringe theory is that the coronavirus is manmade. One version of that myth circulated outside China is that a Chinese lab had been secretly working on some kind of biological weapon that got leaked. One Chinese official actually claimed the U.S. military might have brought the virus to Wuhan, China. There's, of course, no evidence for any of that. Experts are still trying to figure out the exact source of the virus, but research indicates it was likely in bats and was transmitted to an intermediate host before infecting people -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Brian, what's the best way to sift through all these myths out there on social media and avoid the misinformation?

TODD: Wolf, one public health expert says it really has to come from education from one trusted source. That's a great way to do that.

In many countries, they do have one government website devoted to this and one only.

[18:55:04]

So that's where people can go to the get the facts. But he says here in the United States, there's too many government agencies giving different information, and it's only in English. So if you speak another language, you can't even use that.

BLITZER: Good point.

Brian Todd, thanks very much.

More news just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Finally, tonight we're experiencing extraordinary changes in America as we combat this pandemic. Schools and businesses are closing, some primaries are being postponed and many of us are sheltering in our homes.

These are serious times that require us to observe the recommendations from our public health officials. Among them, that we avoid large groups, that older people who feel -- and those who feel sick stay at home. This country has endured tough times before. Together, we will certainly get through this.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.