Return to Transcripts main page


Bill de Blasio Tells New York City to Prepare for Possible Shelter-in-Place Order; Coronavirus Fears Grow. Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired March 17, 2020 - 16:00   ET




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't pay my bills, period.


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Uber is offering two weeks of sick day pay for drivers who test positive for coronavirus.

That is it for me. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being here.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: President Trump says he's angry with Americans who are not social distancing.

THE LEAD starts right now.

The mayor of the nation's largest city tells its residents to be prepared to possibly shelter in place, this as health officials say, we might not know for weeks if these extreme measures are working.

And I'll talk to a mother of three young kids, one just three weeks old, about social distancing, even distancing from her husband, an E.R. doctor treating coronavirus patients.

Plus, the president's new tone on the pandemic, what's behind it?

Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

We start today with our health lead.

We are all now, all of us, including President Trump, facing a new reality on coronavirus, as the number of Americans confirmed as infected has jumped by more than 1,200 in just the past 24 hours; 5,359 Americans are now confirmed infected, with that number assuredly higher in reality, given the significant lag in testing.

And this sad landmark: One hundred in the U.S. are now dead from this virus. Over the course of a one hour-and-24-minute news conference earlier today, President Trump said that if Americans follow the new guidelines, things could get back on track fast. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That's 15 days from yesterday. We will see what happens after that. If we do this right,our country and the world, frankly, but our country can be rolling again pretty quickly.


TAPPER: In order for things to be rolling again, not only do Americans need, of course, to embrace the new social distancing guidelines.

The Trump administration says the economy will require a major boost, not just airlines or tourism or other industries, but boosting directly the American people as well.


STEVEN MNUCHIN, U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY: We're looking at sending checks to Americans immediately. Americans need cash now. And the president wants to get cash now.

And I mean now, in the next two weeks.


TAPPER: Cash in the next two weeks. But will that be enough? And will it be quick enough for so many Americans who are right now out of work, who have been told to stay home for an undetermined amount of time, who are struggling with child care issues?

And in New York City, the nation's largest city, the mayor just said he's going to decide in the next 48 hours whether or not to issue a shelter-in-place order, which is something that's already in effect in the San Francisco area of California.

So, how are Americans coping in the meantime?

Nick Watt is in Los Angeles with more.


NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Early opening in Houston, seniors only keeping them stocked up and safe from other shoppers.

In San Francisco's Bay Area, seven million woke to a draconian dawn, now allowed out only for essential needs. This afternoon, New York City's mayor said he might issue a similar shelter in place order within 48 hours.

BILL DE BLASIO (D), MAYOR OF NEW YORK: New Yorkers should be prepared right now for the possibility of a shelter-in-place order.

WATT: Brooklyn's DA has stopped prosecuting low-level offenses that don't jeopardize public safety. MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The president also

has us inventorying what you all would understand as field hospitals or MASH hospitals that can be deployed very quickly.

WATT: Federal officials warning there aren't enough gowns, gloves and masks stockpiled.

PENCE: We would urge construction companies to donate their inventory of N95 masks to your local hospital.

TAPPER: We have ordered massive numbers of ventilators.

WATT: Miami's mayor, from self-quarantine now, following New York and others in shutting old gyms, clubs, bars and restaurants, apart from takeout.

DE BLASIO: We have to start being honest about the human impact, if people are without their income for months on end.

WATT: At the 11th hour, Ohio postponed today's presidential primary, possibly until June.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was simply untenable for us to continue telling Ohioans to go to the polls.

WATT: Florida, Arizona and Illinois went ahead, this voter in her 70s with underlying conditions wearing masks, muffs and gloves.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This election, it's always important, but it's ultra important to me this year.

WATT: Uber and Lyft have stopped all pool and shared rides. And for the first time since the Second World War, the Kentucky Derby will not be run the first weekend in May.

Friday saw nationwide passenger numbers down nearly a million year on year.

MNUCHIN: This is worse than 9/11. For the airline industry, this is -- they are almost ground to a halt.


WATT: Meanwhile, Amazon is hiring another 100,000 workers to meet online shopping demands.


WATT: And the extraordinary news just keeps on coming in.

Marriott Hotels has begun furloughing employees. Macy's say they're going to close all their stores starting tonight. New Jersey has closed all indoor shopping malls, the National Guard now activated in 22 states.

Bottom line though, Jake, as Dr. Birx said this morning, stop going out, or we will fail to contain this virus.

TAPPER: That's a lot of people that are no longer going to be getting paychecks.

Nick Watt, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Joining me now, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Dr. Celine Gounder, clinical assistant professor of medicine and infectious diseases at the NYU School of Medicine, and Dr. Mark Rupp. He's the infection control chief at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. He's been overseeing treatment for coronavirus patients.

Thanks, one and all, for being here.

Sanjay, the president said that if Americans follow these guidelines for 15 days, keeping away from groups of more than 10, don't -- going out for unnecessary trips, not eating in restaurants, no playdates, et cetera, et cetera -- quote -- "Our country can be rolling again pretty quickly."

What do you think of this 15-day number? What will that time period be able to tell us, if anything?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I don't know that it's going to tell us much.

I mean, it is a short time period. And I think we have had some inclination that the numbers are going to -- are going to go up during this time period, if for no other reason, Jake, because the testing is going to be increasing during this time period.

So I'm not sure there's going to be some sort of information that's going to come out to say, look, we can now have some assessment that things are getting better.

I actually think the strategy might be the opposite, that instead of saying four weeks or some other time period, what you heard Dr. Fauci say is, after two weeks, we're going to reassess. And, at that point, the recommendations might come back as more stringent.

In fact, I thought, today, Jake, when they did this press conference, that we might hear that already, that we're actually going to recommend more stringent social distancing measures.

But I don't know that -- I think it might actually be going in the other direction at two weeks, because it's just too early.

TAPPER: Yes. And people at home should just prepare themselves emotionally for the fact that it's likely going to last longer than 15 days.

Dr. Gounder, let me ask you, is the president's timeline of 15 days or whatever his timeline is, in order to get the country rolling again pretty quickly -- pretty quickly is obviously a term of art. I don't know if he's referring to the 15 days there or his projection into the -- that this might last until July or August. But either way, is it too optimistic to be using terms like pretty


DR. CELINE GOUNDER, INFECTIOUS DISEASE AND PUBLIC HEALTH SPECIALIST: Well, we're still in the exponential phase of this.

So I think it would be very surprising to see anything but an increase over the next 15 days. If you go back and look also at the data from the 1918 Spanish Flu, the cities that did the best around the country are the ones that implemented very stringent social distancing measures.

They did so quickly, early, dramatically, and they did so for eight- plus weeks. So that's at least what I would anticipate that we would be looking at to really see an impact here.

TAPPER: And, Dr. Rupp, the president announced today a new policy to help ramp up testing. All states can now authorize tests developed and used within their borders, in addition to the FDA.

You have been overseeing treatment for some coronavirus patients. Will the new policies announced today make it easier?

DR. MARK RUPP, NEBRASKA MEDICINE: Well, we certainly welcome the unleashing of these restrictions that are in place to develop the test.

Unfortunately, the reagents that are necessary to actually conduct those tests are in short supply. So, for instance, in our institution, I'm blessed with working with some absolutely brilliant, very hardworking laboratory.

We were one of the first places to develop our own assay. We actually went through the process of getting it FDA-approved. But we're in the situation now where we actually don't have the reagents to do the extraction from the samples, so that we can run the test.

So just simply making a rule that we're going to relax the regulations, allow states to develop these tests only goes so far.

TAPPER: Sanjay, the president also announced a new policy today with regards to telehealth services. Take a listen.



TRUMP: Today, we're also announcing a dramatic expansion of our Medicare telehealth services.

Medicare patients can now visit any doctor by phone or videoconference at no additional cost.


TAPPER: I mean, is that true? Are patients just able to do this, snap a finger, it's ready?

GUPTA: Well, I think that the idea that you can have a telehealth consultation with a doctor, it sounds like that that's something that's possible, something that already happens.


And I think they're going to reduce some of the regulation around that, because there are, you know, understandably privacy concerns with this and HIPAA concerns. So I think that that's part of the regulation loosening the president was talking about.

But, you know, I think there's two goals of this, from what I understood and made some follow-up calls. One is that it's not a diagnostic sort of visit, I don't think, but it is a more of a screening visit, to get a sense if somebody really needs to be coming into the hospital or not.

And the second thing, Jake, is that there is this desire to try not to overwhelm the hospitals. I mean, that's something that we have been talking about, this flattening the curve. Somebody who comes to the hospital who may not be that sick may still infect other people, may, in fact, get infected, may cause greater load on the hospital.

So I think that that's what the telehealth is trying to address. But it's not -- it's obviously not a test. It's not going to make a diagnosis. I think it's sort of more of a stopgap to accomplish those goals.

TAPPER: All right, everyone, stick around.

I want to keep talking to you.

Officials cannot say it enough. Keep your distance. The risk in some states is higher than in others. We will tell you where.

And the San Francisco area getting serious, seven million people affected. I'll speak with the mayor about the city's shelter-in-place order.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: Think of your loved ones. One of President Trump's top health experts, Dr. Anthony Fauci, pleading today with younger Americans to create social distance.

His message -- it's up to you to help slow the spread of coronavirus.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Don't get the attitude, well, I'm young, I'm invulnerable. You don't want to put your loved ones at risk, particularly the ones who are elderly and ones who have compromised conditions. We can't do this without the young people cooperating. Please cooperate with us.


TAPPER: Tom Foreman is with me now.

And, Tom, when it comes to older Americans or Americans with underlying health issues, especially respiratory ones, which states are considered the most dangerous for these vulnerable individuals?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's a complicated equation. Don't forget -- anyone from any age anywhere can get sick and even die from COVID-19. Being much older does range the danger level, according to medical authorities about 52 million Americans are over the age of 65 according to census data, an analysis by the nonprofit Population Reference Bureau.

But those people are not evenly distributed.

For example, a quarter of them live in California, Florida, and Texas, with the next quarter living in a handful of states there you see in the darker red. Meaning these ten states could bear the brunt of age- related complications from this outbreak. But underlying medical issues also make people more susceptible to this virus.

And again, some states are more at risk than others. Let's look at some of them on this map from the CDC, or these maps from the CDC, starting with heart disease. The middle of the country, particularly in the South, is extremely vulnerable on that front from the size of their population. These states have the highest percentage of population suffering in this way.

But remember, in raw numbers, big states, like California, Florida, they may have more people overall involved. Now, nearly 63,000 people a year die from heart disease in California. But those are just because they're big populations.

Look at the other states out there, smaller population, but person for person, if you're watching, they may be in greater risk. Those states have huge numbers when it comes to diabetes-related deaths as well. But look again, the middle of the country, though, those hot states and they're the ones that are in red, that's where person for person, it's a bigger problem, and they may be more at risk.

And chronic kidney disease, that's in our -- chronic lung disease, excuse me. Remember, a key symptom of this virus is shortness of breath. And it can cause catastrophic pneumonia. So, all these areas with really elevated levels of lung disease, whether related to smoking or work conditions or whatever, they face a higher risks than some others when it comes to dealing with disease.

Remember, these are general snapshots and there is a lot we don't know about this, for example how much any given state or community's health system may help offset the numbers with a strong public health response. But there are places out there where there are just so many of these factors colliding. Arguably, those people will be at greater risk on a person to person basis.

Again, anybody can get it. This is a threat, don't think that because you're not in one of the hot zones that somehow you are clear. But there are places that will probably have worse numbers than others when all this is said and done.

TAPPER: All right. Tom Foreman, thanks.

Let me bring back my medical team.

And, Sanjay, you saw Tom lay it out --


TAPPER: -- a quarter of all Americans, 65 and older, living in three states, California, Florida, Texas, states in the middle of the country also at risk because of issues such as heart disease, diabetes, lung disease.

How should that impact if at all what measures states take to reduce the spread of the virus?

GUPTA: Well, that was a fascinating chart, I hadn't seen it laid out that way before. But I think that ultimately, though, Jake, it still means that the country as a whole has to take this seriously. I mean, you know, for all the reasons that we've been discussing, even young people can be a risk to people with these preexisting conditions and even if there's higher populations of elderly people in some of these states, there's still elderly people in all these states and people with these preexisting conditions in all these states.

So, you know, that's the one thing I think we're going to keep coming back to, is that, you know, it has sort of felt like a patchwork thus far. And, you know, with one state handling it one way and another state the other way. And I kept thinking the federal government would come out with, you know, recommendations, which they have, but still allowing some of these other states to follow their own recommendations. Alabama, for example, saying 25 people or more.

It's not so much the number of people, Jake, to be clear, those are arbitrary numbers. But I do think there needs to be national guidelines on this that everyone should abide by.

TAPPER: Well, and there are national guidelines, they're just not enforced.



TAPPER: Dr. Rupp, let me bring you in.

The CDC is urging Americans to limit gatherings to no more than ten people. Entire states have closed schools, restaurants, bars, theaters, to limit public contact. Some states are postponing elections.

How severe does the social distancing effort need to be to have a significant impact? In other words, the states not doing the most extreme measures, do you expect to see results that indicate that in a few weeks?

DR. MARK RUPP, INFECTION CONTROL CHIEF, UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA MEDICAL CENTER: Well, these measures do need to be aggressive and far- reaching. Clearly you don't want to wait until it's too late and you're already having lots of spread through the community before you put these into place because then they're just not going to be as effective. So the far-reaching measures, increasing social distancing, closing gatherings, these are all very, very important at this point because we don't have medications. We don't have a vaccine.

So, we're just back to old-fashioned garden variety infection control and public health, and that means achieving that social distancing. Now, the amount of people that can get together, the number of people, that's fairly arbitrary. And the real key is, are you achieving that distance between people, five to six feet is kind of that danger zone?

So, if you even have a small group of folks trying to maintain that distance is really what should be achieved.

Now, if we do those things, hopefully we'll see an impact. Realize that in any epidemic or outbreak, we're always behind the curve.


RUPP: So, what we're seeing today the incubation that occurred a week or two. What we'll see in a week or two is what's going on today. So it takes time to see the impact.

TAPPER: Yes. Dr. Gounder, you heard Dr. Fauci earlier today pleading, pleading with younger Americans, please stay home, don't go to bars, don't go to restaurants, protect your other loved ones, protect yourself, help flatten the curve. But Fauci said it would be weeks before we know if these measures work.

Take a listen.


FAUCI: It probably will be several weeks and even longer before we know whether we're having an effect. It may be at the end of the day, we'll see a curve that would have been way, way up. But I wouldn't, like, put us to task every few days, wait a minute, it's going up, is it working or not. That would be really misleading if we do that.


TAPPER: How long are you telling your friends and family to be prepared to hunker down?

DR. CELINE GOUNDER, CLINICAL ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF MEDICINE & INFECTIOUS DISEASES, NYU SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: I'm telling my friends and family about eight plus weeks. You know, what we've seen with prior epidemics including the 1918 Spanish flu which is probably the most comparable to what we're living through today, communities that instituted very strict social distancing measures early, rigorously, and for the at least eight-week period, they were the ones who were able to control the peak in cases.

Some of them did observe a recurrence, a second wave of cases after they loosened those restrictions, then had to re-implement them. But, you know, I still think we're looking at, at least, eight weeks to really get a handle on this.

TAPPER: All right. Thanks to one and all for your expertise and being with us today.

San Francisco shelter in place order, is it catching on? Is it too much?

I'll speak with the mayor. Stay with us.



TAPPER: New York City says prepare to shelter in place. That would be for more than 8 million people. They would be urged to stay inside except for essential activities such as doctors' appointments or if you need, need, to go to the grocery store.

Mayor Bill de Blasio says he will make the decision in the next 48 hours. This comes as nearly 7 million people are already sheltering in place in northern California, including in San Francisco.

President Trump asked today whether this should be implemented nationwide.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, you can do a national lockdown. Hopefully we're not going to think that. We think of everything.

We have every idea that you've mentioned, we've thought of. That's a very big step. That's step that -- I mean, in one sense, would work. It's a very big step. It's something we talk about but we haven't decided to do that.


TAPPER: The president for the time being leaving it up to local leaders such as my next guest, the Democratic mayor of San Francisco, London Breed.

Mayor Breed, thanks so much for joining us.

Mayor De Blasio says New Yorkers should prepare to shelter in place. He has not yet given the order. Do you think more cities will be, should be, following your lead?

MAYOR LONDON BREED (D), SAN FRANCISCO, CA: I think they probably will be. We are taking the advice of our public health experts which I believe are some of the best anywhere in the world. They have been monitoring the situation from the very beginning. And the recommendations that we put forth have everything to do with what they are saying.

They're using the data. They're using real facts and science to make a determination, because ultimately, the goal has to be to protect public health. And we need to act quickly, because as we see, this virus is moving fast, and we can't react to it. We need to be more proactive in order to save lives.

TAPPER: Today, there are nearly 7 million people under lockdown in northern California. I know four of them very well, my brother, his wife, and my niece and nephew. They say they're doing OK.

How is it going so far for the general population there?

BREED: I think what we're seeing in kind of --