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U.S. Coronavirus Death Toll Reaches 102: 5,500+ Cases; Now: Three More States Hold Democratic Primaries; Source: Treasury Secretary Says Unemployment Could Hit 20% Due to Coronavirus; Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) Discusses About The Shelter-in-Place Order For New Yorker. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired March 17, 2020 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: I'm Anderson Cooper with breaking news on the coronavirus national emergency now spreading to all 50 states and challenging the nation in new ways every day and every hour. The death toll here in the United States has now climbed to above 100, more than 5,500 cases have been confirmed nationwide.
Airlines now are warning the impact will be worse than 9/11. York City's Mayor is telling New Yorkers to prepare to shelter-in-place. We'll soon hear what New York's Governor has to say about that.
Some financial relief could be on the way to you in the form of a check in the mail soon. The White House now is engaged in talks for $1 trillion coronavirus relief package.
And minutes ago, we found out that NBA megastar Kevin Durant is one of four Brooklyn Nets to test positive for the virus.
Let's go to Erica Hill in New York with the latest on the situation. So the city is getting ready for a shelter-in-place order, what will entail?
ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that the Mayor is saying that people in New York City should be prepared for that, noting that it's a difficult decision, but it's one he feels he would have to make in the next 48 hours. Exactly what that would entail, that's a little bit up in the air.
A lot of folks looking at San Francisco as the model and the Bay Area to see if perhaps that's what it could mean more of a shelter-in- place. We'll be waiting for those details. Because again, the Mayor is saying he will need to make a decision within the next 48 hours.
We can tell you the number of cases continues to rise here in New York City as well, 814 cases across the five boroughs. And as you just mentioned, we've just learned a short time ago, Kevin Durant, one of the cases here in New York City, of course, of the Brooklyn Nets, that's according to the athletic.
The Nets had announced earlier today that four of their players tested positive, but did not name them. But again, Kevin Durant telling the athletic that he's feeling fine, saying everyone be careful, take care of yourself and quarantine, we're going to get through this. According to the team. All four of those nets players are in quarantine only one has symptoms.
CNN has reached out to Durant's agent for more information. I can also tell you, Anderson, life continues to change here in New York City. We're in Herald Square near Macy's, which many people will recognize even if only from the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. At six o'clock today, Macy's shut down they said out of an abundance of caution for their employees, because of the coronavirus.
And I can also tell you, Hudson Yards where WarnerMedia and CNN is based, that mall with shops and restaurants close today at five.
COOPER: Erica Hill, thanks very much in New York. I want to go now to Los Angeles and CNN's Nick Watt. Nick, what is the situation in Los Angeles and also out of San Francisco where that shelter-in-place order is already out?
NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, here in Los Angeles County, Anderson, we just heard of 50 new confirmed cases. So that takes California now above the 500 mark. Officials here in L.S. County now worrying about a blood shortage, because people are frightened to donate. A quick note from Las Vegas, we've just heard The Venetian and Palazzo hotels will close through April 1st.
But as you mentioned, all eyes in California and all eyes from across the nation are on San Francisco where this morning, 7 million people in the Bay Area woke up to this new fairly draconian measure. This shelter-in-place order. You should only leave your home for what they're calling essential needs. So people will be keeping an eye on that, number one, to see if it works.
Now, it could be weeks, according to Dr. Fauci, until we discover whether these measures we're putting in place really are making a difference. But I think people, Anderson, will also be looking to San Francisco to see whether people actually obey this order.
Now, as you were just discussing with Erica there, New York says that they are looking into this. There seems to be some kind of maybe misunderstanding or disagreement between the Governor and the Mayor, but they're looking into it. Frankly, maybe everyone is looking into it. Back to you.
COOPER: Nick Watt, thanks very much. We're going to keep you updated on the outbreak throughout the night. Right now, our Super Tuesday coverage begins.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: These are live pictures coming out of Chicago right now. A surprisingly long line of voters waiting to cast ballots. Illinois is one of three states holding Democratic presidential primaries right now under unprecedented circumstances in the midst of this coronavirus crisis.
We want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in the CNN election center on this very unusual primary night.
[19:05:03] Americans facing a national emergency that drives home the stakes as
they choose a president.
Tonight's primaries could put Joe Biden on an unbeatable path toward the Democratic nomination as he looks to widen his delegate lead over Bernie Sanders. We're less than an hour away from our first chance to project winners in two of tonight's contest.
We're covering primaries in Florida, Illinois and Arizona. Ohio was supposed to vote today as well but state officials there postponed that primary because of deep concerns about the coronavirus. And any moment we expect to get the first results out of Florida. Most polling places are closing in that state right now.
At 8 Eastern, the last polling places close in Florida and in Illinois as well. Those are the two biggest delegate prizes tonight. At 10 Eastern voting ends in Arizona. A total of 441 delegates are on the line in this round of contests with about half of them coming from Florida.
After tonight, the Democrats will certainly have awarded nearly 60 percent of all the delegates that will decide the nomination.
Jake, what are you looking for tonight?
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Well, Wolf, as we await this evening's results, we have to admit there is a lot we just simply don't know about how the coronavirus will impact this round of primaries and the Democratic race going forward. Multiple states have now postponed their upcoming contests and the candidates themselves have been forced off the trail.
The delicate math is a little clearer heading into this evening. Joe Biden has 853 delegates compared to 700 delegates for Bernie Sanders. That gives Biden a hard to beat advantage in the fight for the 1,991 delegates needed to clinch the Democratic presidential nomination.
Our correspondents are covering the candidates, the first votes and the final results. Let's start with Rebecca Buck. She's at that very busy polling place in Chicago. Rebecca.
REBECCA BUCK, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Hi, Jake. Well, as you can see, the line behind me stretches not only for all of this block, but it wraps around and stretches much of the next block around as well. So why are there so many people here?
It's not only a reflection of turnout and it might actually be a little bit deceiving in that respect, because this polling place is sort of a catchall, so people from all over can come and vote at this particular polling place. And we've spoken with people in line here today who said they decided to come here because their regular precinct was closed in some cases because election judges did not show up. They did not feel well enough to come or they decided they didn't feel comfortable coming under the circumstances with the coronavirus pandemic. Now, another reason this line is so long is because inside this
polling location, they are doing everything they can to try to create social distance for the voters as they are voting. So there are fewer polling booths than you would usually have and it's a one in one out situation.
So one person goes into vote as one person comes out trying to keep it as uncrowded as possible in there for people to vote. But clearly, even you can see in line people trying to keep their social distance but just a few minutes ago, I spoke with the first person in line. They said they had been waiting for two and a half hours to vote here, Jake.
TAPPER: All right. Rebecca Buck, thanks so much. Dana Bash, Ohio was supposed to vote, but the Governor and the Department of Health decided to cancel that because of fears of the coronavirus. We don't know what the result is going to be.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: We absolutely don't know. Look, Rebecca was touching on this. She was on the ground, explaining how they're trying to work through, not just at that polling station, but at polling stations across the three states that are voting.
This is unprecedented. I mean, it really is. And the question of how, and what and why it is going to have ramifications for both of the candidates is open. But also down the road, I mean, this is certainly not supposed to be the last election day. There are many other election days that have already been postponed and there's a good question of whether even those are going to happen into the spring and early summer.
TAPPER: A lot of questions for state and federal elections officials. Wolf Blitzer.
BLITZER: All right. Guys, we have a key race alert right now. Our first key race alert of the night, look at this with 11 percent of the vote in Florida, now in 219 delegates at stake, Joe Biden has a very, very commanding lead. He's got 59.4 percent. The Bernie Sanders 18.3 percent. He's up by more than 100,000 votes right now in Florida.
Let's go over to John King at the magic wall. That's a very impressive start for the former vice president.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: An impressive start. We always have to say when the first votes are in, we need to wait, it's early. But you say 11 percent, 60 percent essentially, if you round up to 18 percent there.
And the question is where are these votes coming from? If you look, they're coming from smattering all over the state, including a couple of the counties we'll watch throughout the night.
You come down here, Broward County, everybody remembers this part of the State tends to be more liberal, tends to beat people from the northeast. That's where Bernie Sanders is from if he's going to make a statement in Florida tonight, more liberal voters from the northeast but also tend to be a lot of older voters here who have been Joe Biden's constituency.
So if you look right now in Broward County, which this says is up to 58 percent already. Sometimes that number in the early results bounces up and down a little bit, but 58 percent of precincts, 63 to 17, that's a very disappointing performance for Senator Sanders there.
Then you come up, you look and see what else has come up. You come up over here, you go over to St. Petersburg area right here again, this is about six largest counties, about 5 percent of the state population. This is the I-4 corridor, if you will, that people always watch in a close race in Florida to watch along the I-4 corridor, it's not close, 53 percent to 21 percent if you round up there so far, again, as the votes start to come in.
And then you look, I just want to show you, come up here, north of Jacksonville right along the border here. The northern part of the state tends to vote more like the south, if you will, its neighbors; Georgia, Alabama, as you go across. Tends to, but again, this is the Democratic primary and you see Joe Biden 61 percent here.
So more conservative voters up here, Joe Biden doing well. More independent voters around here, let's come over to the coast. Joe Biden doing quite well, more liberal voters down in the south as you watch it come in.
I just want to go back in time to this. This was a State Hillary Clinton won by a huge margin four years ago. So the question is, Bernie Sanders, the math already against him in this race. Can he get enough delegates tonight? Enough support tonight to make the case it's worth staying in the race.
This was four years ago. The Hillary Clinton blowout. Bernie Sanders doing only a little bit up here, 64 percent. As we come back to where we are now, we're not quite, he's not above 60. But so far very early, the map filling in a convincing way for the former vice president. This is the statement he wants to make.
Florida, a big state. A big basket of delegates. Obviously, a big state in the general election in the fall. Joe Biden is trying to make a state, I'm pulling away in the delegates, I'm winning in these big states in the primary. The states that will matter in November doesn't always translate what happens to the primary, doesn't necessarily translate over. But Joe Biden wants to make a statement tonight, Wolf, and the early results in Florida say he certainly has a chance to do that.
BLITZER: Yes, 13 percent of the vote is now in, 115,000 votes ahead of Bernie Sanders. As we follow the votes out of Florida, we'll also have an update on the coronavirus emergency around the country. We'll talk to the New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, that's next.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [19:16:27]
BLITZER: We have a key race alert right now. Look at this, 22 percent of the vote in Florida is now in and Joe Biden as almost 60 percent of the vote, 59.1 percent, Bernie Sanders 19.6 percent. Right now Joe Biden is ahead by more than 200,000 votes, 219 delegates are at stake. That's the biggest prize of the night.
Let's go back to John King.
John, almost a quarter of the vote is in and Biden is doing really, really well.
KING: He is and we knew going in this is not a state necessarily built for Bernie Sanders, if you will. The Sanders coalition. But Sanders, again, back on his heels in this race. Joe Biden trying to make a statement tonight in the Florida results as they come in. As you know, 230,000 vote margin plus 58 percent to 20 percent right here as you watch this play and so you're just going to go across.
Look what's coming in a lot of the middle of the state here. So Tampa, Hillsborough County right here, 52 to 23. I just want to go back just to compare this to four years ago. This is the Hillary Clinton route four years ago. Let's just go back and take a look.
She performed better, 62 percent to Joe Biden. We'll see if this continues throughout the night. But at the point where we are in the delegate race now, you move over here to Pinellas County, Joe Biden 54, if you round up, Bernie Sanders 22. You're looking for a place, obviously, proportional rules for the Democrats, so delegates statewide, then you look at the congressional district.
So Bernie Sanders is definitely in play for delegates. The issue, Wolf, is with Joe Biden's healthy lead already, if he's getting close to 60 percent of the vote in Florida, getting close to 60 percent of the delegates, then you start to stretch that lead out. We're still counting, but let's just wander around a little bit.
Jacksonville up here, Duval County, again, the northern part of the state tends to be more Southern in its culture and character, if you will, because of the bordering states just to the north of it. More conservative voters, for the most part, Joe Biden getting 64 percent up here. Moving down here, I'm waiting to see if Broward - we have some from Broward, we do not have any from Miami-Dade yet.
But you see, up to 60 percent now, that number sometimes it fluctuates, but 64 percent to 18 percent, if you round that's blowout. These are blowout numbers when you go through most of the counties so far. These are smaller counties when you go across the state. You see a small number of votes here.
But again, what you're seeing is if you go back four years ago, again, it was a Hillary Clinton blow out. Bernie Sanders success. As we've seen in some other states, not so much in Florida, came in smaller towns, more working class blue collar towns. We're just simply not seeing that in the state of Florida. This map filling in much as it did four years ago. At the moment,
Sanders winning nowhere. Again, I just want to come across, you come across the - you start on the coast here. We're still waiting for Orange County, Orlando here you see the gray, no votes there yet, but 56 percent, 48 percent, 54 percent some decent populations here as you go through.
You come across the state. The smaller towns here and then you come over to the coast and you just pull it back out. There's just a pretty good healthy margins everywhere and these are your population center, Tampa, Hillsborough County, Joe Biden winning by a healthy margin. You move across the St. Petersburg, Pinellas County along the coast, 54 to 28.
At the moment, if you're looking at this map and you're in the Biden campaign, let's come down and see what's coming in down here at Lee County. Again, it's about 3.5 percent, state population 58 percent. The margin is pretty similar, blowout margins big margins for Joe Biden as we watch the map fill in, filling in quickly so far.
Long way to go in the count, obviously, we're at 29 percent. But when you get 240,000 votes ahead early in the count, your campaign headquarters is quite happy.
BLITZER: Most of the polls in Florida close at 7 in the Central Time Zone, Pensacola also they'll close at the top of the hour, 29 percent of the voters and he's up by almost 250,000 votes. Anderson, over to you.
COOPER: Yes. Wolf, john, thanks very much. We're just getting word and I'm bringing this as I get it, Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury Secretary is warning that the U.S. could see 20 percent unemployment due to coronavirus.
This is according to a Republican Senate source, Mnuchin warned Republican senators Tuesday morning that coronavirus pandemic could drive up U.S. unemployment to 20 percent. He also said, according to the source, that the coronavirus pandemic could be worse for the economy than the 2008 financial crisis. This was all part of his push to get an economic stimulus package of $1 trillion past.
Governor McAuliffe, 40 percent unemployment, it's worrying, obviously,
TERRY MCAULIFFE, CNN COMMENTATOR: Well, we're clearly headed to a recession, how big that will be. But it's frightening out there. I mean, think of the people today, the waiters, the waitresses, the people who work in hotels, they can't go without a day's paycheck, let alone a week, two weeks or even a month or two.
So, I mean, this is affecting everybody and people want to see leadership from the top. You think at the states, many states have just finished their legislative calendars. They have finished their budgets. Now, you got to go back in. Hopefully, they've built up big rainy day funds. But this is why people want to see confidence and that's why I think you look at this election, I think Donald Trump is in real serious trouble.
He's in trouble. He has not led on this very serious issue we have with coronavirus and that's why I think you saw Joe Biden in the debate the other night. We'll see what the numbers show tonight. The early exits from Florida say 7 in 10 trust him to deal with the crisis. People want leadership today.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: And Congress right now is considering a trillion dollar stimulus proposal and this was part of his point to them to say, look, if you don't pass this, this is how bad it's going to get because there are an awful lot of Republicans in particular up there who are real deficit hawks and (inaudible) ...
COOPER: Really, still? Because we haven't seen them for a while.
BORGER: ... and so, I don't know, well, and so were some Democrats, by the way, taking a look at this. And McConnell said to them today, look, you're just going to have to gag. If you look at it, you can gag, but then you have to vote for it. And what Mnuchin is saying is this is a worst case scenario if you do nothing.
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: They may be deficit hawks, but as long as Trump is around, they're caged birds, and they're going to do whatever he suggests, which may mean that they can get something done.
Last point I want to make, I know we got to run, the unemployment rate in 1933 was 24.9. So that gives you a sense of just how serious the situation is.
COOPER: And Alexandra.
ALEXANDRA ROJAS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. I mean, I think for the 2008 financial crisis, it spent basically a decade of people trying to recover from that and some people never did. And so to hear that this is 20 percent unemployment, are we going to experience something worse than that?
This was a delayed response. We could have acted on this earlier and millions of American lives in addition to - could be dead from the coronavirus, but also in the impact of the economy on small business owners. The response from this administration has literally cost American lives.
COOPER: Up next, we're going to talk about the impact of the virus in New York. Governor Andrew Cuomo is standing by. Stay with us.
TAPPER: Welcome back to CNN's live coverage of Super Tuesday III as well as the coronavirus pandemic. I'm Jake Tapper. Joining me now is the Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo.
Governor Cuomo, thanks for joining us to talk about the coronavirus. New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio said today that New Yorkers should prepare for a possible shelter-in-place order. He might need to get your permission, the State's permission to do so. How likely is it to happen do you think?
GOVERNOR ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): We have a lot of ideas, Jake, that are being floated all across the state. Different cities have different ideas. My job is to make sure that the state has a coordinated plan and it works everywhere.
I don't think shelter-in-place really works for one locality. I'm a New York City boy, born and raised, if you can't tell. And we're very good at getting around the rules. You say shelter-in-place of you stay in New York City, I'll go stay with my sister in Westchester, I'll go stay with a buddy in the neighboring suburb of Nassau.
So I don't think you can really do a policy like that just in one part of the state, so I don't think it works. As a matter of fact, I'm going so far that I don't even think you can do a statewide policy. And I'm working on coordinated policies with the surrounding states. So I worked with New Jersey, Connecticut. We're now working with Pennsylvania. Otherwise, it doesn't work.
For example, we just closed the bars in New York. If I just closed the bars and restaurants in New York, everybody would get in a car and drive to New Jersey and then they'd come back home, drive back to New York after being in a bar, which isn't the best idea. So the geographic basis has to make sense.
TAPPER: But you have been talking louder than anyone about the need to flatten the curve. The need for individuals to engage in social distancing. The need for people all across the country to take this very seriously, so hospitals like your hospitals in New York aren't overwhelmed. And I understand what you're saying about it doesn't work city by city or state by state, isn't this a time you think for there to be a national shelter-in-place possibly?
CUOMO: Well, what shelter-in-place means is everybody go home, lock the door and don't come out of the house for two months. That's shelter-in-place. But some of these things sound good, but you actually have to think it through.
Closing schools -- everybody closed schools right away. Same issue. Schools are child care.
You close a school, you have people who have to figure out what to do with their -- with their child, who can't afford a nanny, who can't afford a baby-sitter. So, you have to actually think these policies through.
And we need a health care system up and running and strong. This whole thing, Jake, comes down to slowing down the curve to a point that the health care system can manage it.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Uh-huh. CUOMO: Our problem now is the curve is too fast for our health care system. We now project that in about 45 days, we're going to have twice the number of people who need hospitalization that we can handle. That's our problem -- bolstering that health care system.
That's why I went to President Trump and said, look, I'll work to flatten the curve. I'm going to expand capacity in existing hospitals, but I need to find new hospital beds in 45 days, which is almost an impossible undertaking.
And we need the Army Corps of Engineers in here. We need FEMA in here. I need extra medical equipment, and we can only do that if we work together. That's -- that's the real game plan that we need.
Yes, flatten the curve. But I don't believe you're ever going to get the curve down low enough where it's going to meet the capacity of the health care system.
TAPPER: But you've seen, I'm sure, the images coming in from Italy and the trajectory of this disease both in terms of confirmed cases. The truth is, as you know, thousands of confirmed cases that we know of really are just a fraction of what there really is because of the testing lag. We don't have a handle on how widespread the disease, not to mention the deaths, more than 100 now.
If Italians, which they are, in Italy are saying, United States, you need to take this more seriously. We are two weeks ahead of you, or a week and a half, two weeks ahead of you, and we are now living through hell because we did not impose draconian measures that we wish we had, you hear that I'm sure. You see that I'm sure.
Do you not think as strong as the steps you've taken have been that perhaps they need to be even stronger to avoid what we're going to seeing in two weeks or 45 days as you're talking about?
CUOMO: Yes, no, you're exactly right. You have two strategies, right? It's a balloon.
We have to flatten the curve by increasing the controls on density. Start to close down businesses et cetera. That would be the next step, because we've done everything else. Restaurants, bars, gatherings, gyms, you can't have more than 500 people, can't have more than hefty occupancy.
So, flatten the curve. But, Jake, we also have to raise the capacity of the health care system because you're not going to do it with just flattening the curve. And raising the capacity of the health care system is increasing the capacity of the existing hospitals. We met with all the hospital administrators today. Get more beds in those existing hospitals and then -- believe it or not -- find more hospital beds, convert college dorms, convert senior citizen housing, find more hospital beds. You have to do both.
But closing down business is not to be taken lightly, because you have to do it with an art form. You still have to have child care. You still have to have food. You still have to have pharmacies. You still have to have hospitals.
But there will be a degree of difficulty. You will be off the air, my friend.
TAPPER: No, I'm not going to be off the air because I'll be broadcasting from my bathroom if I need to off my iPhone.
But, Governor --
CUOMO: Nobody -- nobody wants to see you from your bathroom, Jake.
TAPPER: You know, just the sink.
My question for you, Governor, is -- I know you know -- you were talking about hospital workers and meeting with people who run hospitals. I have a lot of doctors and nurses and medical people in my family. We've been doing a lot of interviews with a lot of people out there.
And they're terrified because they don't have the supplies. They're running out of masks. They're out of protective gear. They're running out -- in some cases, they're running out of hand sanitizer.
What is the plan to get those supplies to your physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, et cetera? And what's the back-up plan to care for them given they are the most exposed, the most vulnerable? And no matter what decision you ultimately end up making, they are going to have to be going to work.
CUOMO: Yes. The supplies is a very big issue. And that takes us back to President Trump and one of the reasons why I reached out to him and the -- our agreement to work together is so important. There's a Federal Reserve of medical supplies which is our last best hope.
You can't buy a ventilator which is very important. Most of these people have respiratory illnesses. We're shopping for ventilators all around the globe. We're shopping for N51 masks all around the globe. We're shopping for PPE.
The price gouging is unbelievable, but you can't even find it, and that's why the federal government that has a stock of reserve, and I'm going to meet with them tomorrow to find out exactly how much they have, otherwise, it is a major problem because so many countries have gone through this and exhausted the global supply.
We went so far that we're making our own hand sanitizer in the state of New York believe it or not.
TAPPER: The new -- I guess the Brooklyn Nets they're called now, there are four players on the Brooklyn Nets who have tested positive, including your star player Kevin Durant, tested positive for coronavirus. A question I think a lot of people have out there who are not able to get access to these tests, or they're able to get access to the tests, but they're not able to get the results back, how are all these multi-millionaire professional athletes getting access to these tests and getting results so quickly?
I mean, I know that we have a healthcare system where those with means enjoy much better care than those without, but this seems really obscene.
CUOMO: Well, we're up to about 10,000 tests. We have the capacity to do about 6,000 tests per day. I've gone to the federal government a couple of weeks ago and I said, get the federal government out of the testing business. Decentralize to the states. We have 200 labs in New York state that I regulate. I said let the states do the testing.
So, the numbers have dropped -- have spiked dramatically. But, Jake, if you -- if you fit the protocol, you can get a test. You don't want to fit the protocol. Fever, been to a country that had an outbreak, been in the company of someone who tested positive. You fit the protocol, you can get the test.
TAPPER: Well, there are a lot of people out there who fit the protocol and are not able to get the test or not able to get the test results. But you just said that it all needs to improve.
Governor Cuomo, we wish you and Mayor de Blasio and President Trump all the best as you engage in this important mission to try to save us from this horrific virus. Thank you so much for your time.
CUOMO: Jake Tapper from the bathroom.
TAPPER: I was talking about the sink.
We're going to have more of our primary coverage straight ahead. We're getting closer to our first chance to project the winner in the state of Florida and potentially in Illinois. All polls close at the top of the hour.
Back in a moment.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: All right. We got a key race alert from Florida: 56 percent of the vote is in now. Look at this. Joe Biden has 60.1 percent. Bernie Sanders 21.8 percent. Biden is ahead right now by almost half a million votes, 219 delegates at stake in Florida, the biggest price of the night.
It looks like a blow out, John, is about to happen.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And that would be a big statement for Joe Biden. And, Wolf, and it's also a statement by Democratic voters. Democratic voters, if you're voting in the primary, you're following the math, you understand. Bernie Sanders back on his heels. Joe Biden trying to stretch out that delegate map. Let's come back to the full math, coming into the night. There's your
353-delegate lead for Joe Biden. You're hoping with Illinois, Florida and Arizona to stretch that out. It doesn't mean Bernie Sanders will get out of the race, but you want to make a statement by the end of the night.
So, look at this, if you're at 60 percent now to 22 percent, it doesn't translate exactly. You get a percentage of delegates statewide, and you go through the congressional districts. But if you just roughly say Joe Biden gets 60 percent of the delegates, if that holds up, of the 219, that's 130. That's 130 just out of state of Florida.
That number could get bigger when we look at the congressional district resulting, that's a big few hours down the road, maybe a couple of days down the road, the congressional district level, but look at this map. It's in all Biden blue.
BLITZER: Dark blue.
KING: It's all Biden blue.
So, let's come down and walk through it all. We've been waiting. Since last you came over here, Miami-Dade, largest county in the state, 57 percent to 21 percent, if you round, that says 14 percent, that's still a big lead early on you come at there.
Just move up the coast. For the people that live here, Broward county, 36 percent. And this number was higher earlier, they've been adjusted. I told you that one might be wrong earlier, 65 percent to 18 percent.
BLITZER: That's Ft. Lauderdale.
KING: Right. That's Ft. Lauderdale is.
Wolf Blitzer knows the coast of Florida very well. Then you move up to Palm Beach County up here, again, 65 percent to 14 percent. The population centers in the southeast part of the state, overwhelmingly for Biden. If you keep going up the coast, you get smaller, you start to move to north.
But everywhere you go, 64, 67, 63. It's a rout. It's a rout. You just go right up the coast.
Then you come over to the west coast over here, it's a different -- a little bit character here, a lot of people from the Midwest. You have the northeast culture, the further south you go, the further north you get to what they say. You come over here, more Midwestern culture, 60 percent, 57 percent, 80 percent, pretty small county but 80 percent, 62 percent.
So, you see it happening in the southeast, in the southwest. Then you come across the so-called I-4 corridor, independent voters. If it's a close race where people look for the swing voters. Sometimes that gets overplayed, but certainly growing population centers. We don't have Orange County yet, Orange County, Orlando, the suburbs around it, fast growing, an area hard hit by the coronavirus, for example, the tourism down there.
So, in a state that's being tested, cruise industry, tourism, tested by the coronavirus, the voters are overwhelmingly voted for Joe Biden. As we go through it, again, we can keep looking, but this wasn't up here before, Leon County, where the state capital is, the numbers in the 50s and 60s everywhere you look.
BLITZER: Yes, the rest of the state closes at the top of the hour. Very impressive, a lot of early voting in Florida, that's why 57 percent of the vote is now in.
Anderson, over to you.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Yes, Wolf, thanks very much, and especially in states that have early voting turnouts, given all the circumstances that are going on.
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: A lot of speculation about whether somehow Joe Biden would be damaged because senior citizens would be unwilling to come out and vote. But the reality is senior citizens are the ones who most often grab those absentee ballots and vote by mail. By the way, I think 380,000 votes were cast in Florida before Super Tuesday, mail-in ballots. So, the reason those numbers don't add up to 100 is Mike Bloomberg for example probably did pretty well in some of those districts because he was still in the race at the time those people voted.
COOPER: It is such a strange disconnect. But incredibly generous and good citizenship for all those people who turned out to vote today in places, given all that is going on. But it is a strange kind of Election Day, given all that's going on.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: It is surreal.
AXELROD: Surreal Tuesday.
BORGER: It's surreal in so many ways. I mean, people as you say standing in lines, trying to space themselves out to do what they should do is good citizens, worrying about their personal health, worrying about the economy, worrying about where their next paycheck is going to come from, and protecting their family, and then going out to vote.
And what's surprising to me, actually, and makes you feel good, is that you did see lines of people trying to space themselves out do, the right thing, use hand sanitizer. But then exercise their right to vote. And I think -- yes?
ALEXANDRA ROJAS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I was going to say that I think in this moment, in the midst of a pandemic, where we know millions of American lives are at risk, it feels like an abdication of leadership, Democratic leadership in this moment to carry forward. I know most of these states like Arizona and Florida have vote by mail. You have absentee ballots and folks voting early. But just as the right to vote is sacred, so is every American life. I
think unprecedented times and moments of uncertainty call for unprecedented measures. And so, even if it's just one or a few votes, it matters, the fact that we are, it feels like we were talking about how young people were crowding bars and going into public places just a few days ago. We are pushing forward on primaries --
COOPER: Are you saying they shouldn't have voting today (ph)?
ROJAS: I think that Ohio made the right call. They prioritize the health and wellbeing of their citizenry and I think that if the question right now is if we gather in groups of more than 10, which those lines anecdotally, I did not see people standing 6 feet apart, that is really frightening, especially when it comes to the older population, the younger population where could easily spread it.
And so, as a young person seeing this in the midst of a pandemic, a potential another recession in my lifetime, it feels very frightening in this moment. I hope Democratic leadership follows --
COOPER: Governor, how does this impact things moving forward? I mean, just -- you now look at this race, there's Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden. I mean, does it make sense to have this be continued as normal? Is there something Sanders is going to be taking into account when he's deciding his next move?
TERRY MCAULIFFE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: We are a very resilient country. We did not delay voting during the Civil War. We did not doing it during the 1918 pandemic. We did not delay at all during World War II.
I mean, we are the greatest democracy in the world. What you will see tonight from the early numbers, it looks like 2.2 million people will have voted in Florida, which is up from 1.7 million in 2016.
MCAULIFFE: So, people want to exercise their constitutional right. You got to keep citizens safe. Governors in the respective states have to make those decisions but we'll see where the numbers go. This looks like a huge blowout we would have in Florida tonight and if we see the same results from Florida in Illinois and Arizona, you know, it's clear the math is some point becomes determinant and at some point, we could, at the end of the night, depending on where the states go, you have a presumed Democratic nominee tonight headed towards the general election. And then everyone fires on Trump.
AXELROD: That is -- look, the bottom line is right, now given the way the Democratic party rules work, Biden has 150 delegate lead going into tonight and he could as much as double it. That is possible.
That is -- that is an almost impossible number to surmount.
[19:50:02] But we also now have the postponement of all these primaries. And, you know, Bernie Sanders is going to have to take all of this into account and decide what he wants to wait.
COOPER: We're going to get a break in here. Let's go to Wolf and then we'll have more --
BLITZER: All right. We got a key race alert coming in right now. Let's take a look at Florida. Sixty-five percent of the vote is now, 219 delegates at stake, the biggest prize of the night.
Look at this, Joe Biden at 60.3 percent, Bernie Sanders only 21.9 percent. Biden is ahead by half a million votes right now. We're going to get more results right at the top of the hour, when all polling places are scheduled to close in Florida as well as in Illinois.
We should note, courts have ordered 40 polling stations to remain open an extra hour in Illinois, a heavily-populated Cook County, 374 delegates are up for grabs in Florida and Illinois, the top prizes tonight. They account for most of the 441 delegates at stake in this round of voting.
And, Jake, we already have a lot of votes coming in from Florida.
TAPPER: That's right, Wolf, and we'll see if we can project a winner in the Sunshine State. Joe Biden is aiming to demonstrate electability in the battleground of Florida that President Trump won in 2016,and now claims this is his home state. Bernie Sanders is currently trailing Florida by a wide margin with the state already reporting 65 percent of the vote.
Let's check in with our correspondents.
Arlette Saenz is covering the Biden campaign -- Arlette.
ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, these early results from the Biden campaign are certainly a welcome news as we are waiting for Florida to finish their voting. But the Biden campaign acknowledged today that in person turnout could certainly be lower because of coronavirus concerns. But they argue that high early voting and vote by mail could bring those overall turnout numbers in all three of these states to levels closer to 2016 and 2018 turnout.
Deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield argued in a memo that the overall turnout in these three states well reflects the population at large. But the bottom line here, the campaign believes that they will emerge from tonight's contest with a bigger delegate lead over Bernie Sanders than when they entered it -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right. Arlette Saenz with the Biden campaign in Wilmington, Delaware.
Let's go to Washington right now where we find Ryan Nobles. He's covering the Sanders campaign.
A disappointing results so far, Ryan, although we should point out that 4 years ago, Senator Sanders lost all three of these states to Hillary Clinton.
RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I don't think anyone in the Sanders campaign was counting on a big night for Bernie Sanders. In fact, we already heard from the senator early tonight. He had a live stream addressed to supporters and he spoke for about 25 minutes and did not even mention tonight's vote or his future in the race for president.
Instead, he talked about a long list of policy proposals he will introduce to the Democratic leadership in the United States Senate that he wants to be a part of any package dealing with the coronavirus. In fact, Sanders calling for a $2,000 a month payment to every single household in America during the duration of the crisis. He also suggesting that Medicare should pick up the cost, out of pocket medical expense cost, for every American during this crisis.
Now, he's not saying Medicare-for-All, but instead saying all medical expenses should be paid for during the coronavirus crisis. Jake, that is basically all he has been able to focus on here since this became the biggest story in America. We still don't know after tonight's results what the future holds for Bernie Sanders and his campaign. We do know he will be staying in Washington this week in his role as a senator to deal with the coronavirus.
TAPPER: All right, Ryan, thanks so much.
Let's go now to Chicago, Illinois, where polls are being kept open an extra hour in Cook County, which is Chicago's county.
Rebecca Buck is there.
Rebecca, people are still voting where you are?
REBECCA BUCK, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: That's right, Jake. You can see this long, long line here behind me of people still waiting to vote. We are in Chicago proper here, not in the suburbs. People, as you can see, keeping a safe social distance even as they are -- excuse me, are waiting in line.
Sir, if I could ask, you we're live on CNN. How long have you been waiting here right so far?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A little over an hour, an hour and 20 minutes or so.
BUCK: An hour. OK, that is a long time to vote here, and it is getting colder as the sun goes down. But Chicagoans, of course, are hearty, they are definitely here to do their civic duty today. Inside, they are limiting the number of voting booth to just 7 or 8, trying to keep the key social distance as much as possible once voters are inside, hand sanitizer, wipes, also on tap at this polling place -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right. Rebecca Buck, thank you so much.
And one of the key questions, Dana Bash, is what's going to happen today? What are you looking for tonight?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I'm looking for the answer to voter turnout. When we see the polls close at the top of the hour, and later when Arizona closes, how much will turnout be affected by coronavirus? Especially in Florida which famously has a big senior population and later when polls close in Arizona, which has a big senior population as well, they are the most vulnerable to the virus, but often the most reliable voters.
In this election, the most reliable Joe Biden voters. We heard Arlette reports that they feel they will be in good shape early voting that is coming in from Florida already is any indication, even if there is lower turnout, Jake, it may not change the outcome.
TAPPER: All right. Dana Bash, thanks so much.
David Chalian, let me go to you. What are you looking for?
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Jake, we are taking a look at this primary poll out of Florida. We did not do in person Election Day exit polling today, due to the coronavirus in the way we have done in previous contests. But we did a survey of voters in advance of the election today to find out what they were thinking about this election.
And let me just tell you what the Florida electorate looks like tonight. You see 48 percent. We expect voters in Florida today, the white, 29 percent black, 21 percent Hispanic. So, take a look -- 50 percent, let me just show you, 50 percent of the vote here is black and Hispanic. That's the kind of electorate that Joe Biden always this primary season has done quite well with a very diverse electorate.
Take a look at ideologically how people are sorting themselves in Florida, only one in five, 21 percent of voters in Florida tell us that they consider themselves very liberal. That's where Bernie Sanders looks to get a lot of his vote. Look below that, 34 percent, somewhat liberal, 39 percent, moderate, 6 percent, conservative. This is a more moderate electorate. Again, that is why we see these huge numbers in the returns for Joe Biden right now.
The issue that mattered most to voters? This is a constant story throughout this whole election season. It could not even be more important now given where we are as a country, 43 percent of voters say health care is the most important issue, followed by 22 percent who say income inequality, then climate change and race relations.
And, finally, the Medicare for all question. Once again, even when you see Joe Biden on track for a blowout in Florida. Even when you see the success he is having, 57 percent of Florida voters are telling us they support Medicare for All, only 32 percent oppose it -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Very interesting, indeed. David Chalian, we'll get back to you. John King, look, 70 percent of the vote in Florida is now, the rest of
the state in the central time zone about to close. Biden is ahead by more than half 1 million votes.
KING: Yes, just repeat what you just said. Biden is ahead by more than half 1 million votes. It is a big state, but that's overwhelming math, insurmountable in the state of Florida, 61 percent to 22 percent if you count it up right here, you don't even look at the number, just look. That is Joe Biden as you look at all the counties in Florida. There is no Bernie Sanders blue anywhere, because of these margins.
You start down here with the population centers are, 57 percent to 21 percent around Miami-Dade. You move up to Broward, again, you're looking at 66 to 19. What does that tell, it tells me if these numbers hold up, number one, that Joe Biden is going to get a big chunk of delegates, 219 at stake in Florida. If you are getting 61 statewide, you are getting 130 or so.
You have to match it up with congressional districts, the formula is a little complicated. But this math makes it easier. It's not like you are looking at a close race and thinking we have to look into these congressional districts. When you're seeing a blowout like this, this is what you get when you slice up the delegates.
To David Chalian's point, in other contests, we have seen Bernie Sanders do well with Latino voters, plenty of Latino voters, Wolf, if you look at the Latino population, the deeper the shading the higher the population of those Latino voters. They are all over Florida.
However, this is a much more diverse population, the most diverse Latino population in America lives here, a mix of people from around the world and their backgrounds. And remember, Bernie Sanders saying some favorable things about education and Fidel Castro, not going to play well with a lot of Latino voters in the state of Florida. So, this could be a Joe Biden exception, if you will, among Latino voters.
And, again, you watch it fell in no matter where you go, you come up here, Jacksonville, Duval County, 66 percent to 23 percent, if you go over. Come over here, another big population center, Hillsborough County, that is Tampa, 55 percent to 27 percent if you round. Move to Pinellas along the coast here, lots of military here, we're in a Democratic primary, 55 to 25.
You keep looking to find a place for Bernie, is he going to make a run for a win here. You can see that, looking at this. Is he going to make a run for delegates? When you start to go through this math, Orange County and Orlando, 57 to 33, that means you will get some delegates, some congressional delegations here, congressional districts here, I mean, Wolf, when you look at this, it is all Biden blue and those numbers suggest a blowout margin.
BLITZER: The last polling places in Florida are about to close, as well as in Illinois.