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Health Officials Urge Americans to Act as if They're Infected; Nearly 8 Million Ordered to Shelter-in-Place in Northern California; NYC Mayor to Discuss Possible Shelter-in-Place Order with Governor; Trump Tweeted He'll Discuss Important News Today from FDA; Trump: U.S./Canada Border will Close to Non-Essential Travel; White House Pushing $1 Trillion Coronavirus Relief Package; Scott Steiner, Phoebe Putney Public Health System's President & CEO, Discusses Shortages of Personal Protective Equipment & Lack of Testing; Moody's Analytics' Chief Economist, Mark Zandi, Discusses Wild Swings in Stock Market & Mnuchin's Warning of 20 Percent Unemployment Rate Without Action; NYC Governor Cuomo Gives New Conference on Coronavirus. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired March 18, 2020 - 11:00   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. Thank you so much for joining me.

You have to behave as if you have the coronavirus. That is the message now from Dr. Sanjay Gupta. That is also the message today from the U.S. surgeon general. Presume you're infected until proven otherwise, essentially. That is where we are right now with this virus. Listen here to Sanjay Gupta.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm not someone who likes to motivate through fear, inspire through fear, but we've got to -- there's lessons staring us right in the face when it comes to this.

And you know, for a country that does so many things well -- and I think our public health system at times can do so many things well -- right now, I think we're woefully underprepared.

And I don't know what our -- the talks you and I are going to have next week, I don't know what we're going to be talking about and I'm a little frightened to sort of think about that right now.

It's within all of us. How I behave, Jake, affects your health. How you behave affects my health. Never I think have we been so dependent on each other, at least in my lifetime, and we should rise to that occasion, I think.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BOLDUAN: Right now, we're standing by to hear from the White House. The Coronavirus Task Force set to update the nation once again. We will bring it to you live when it begins. Stand by for that.

Everyone is standing by to hear if the administration will be stepping up its guidelines or putting in place new restrictions.

There's one major change already today. President Trump just announcing this morning that the U.S./Canada border will be temporarily closed to any nonessential traffic, as he put it.

This as, as expected, the number of coronavirus cases is skyrocketing. In just a week, based on numbers compiled from CNN reporting, there are almost 5,000 new cases. You can see as you see on the graph on the screen, how fast day to day the virus is spreading or the accounting of the virus is catching up to how far it has spread.

In just the last 24 hours, the number jumped by over 1,000. So right now, the total number of cases is at more than 6,000 across all 50 states and Washington, D.C. And 112 people have died from the virus.

Out front, in this effort to slow the spread, city and state leaders across the country. In northern California, more counties are joining San Francisco's shelter-in-place order, meaning nearly eight million people are required to stay largely inside their homes. So let's start there.

CNN's Dan Simon is in San Francisco. He's back with me.

Dan, a lot of people right now are right to be wondering what shelter- in-place, what the order really means, because as you have been showing, there have been -- there are people out still. As you showed yesterday and today.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. I think part of the problem, Kate, may be with the terminology. When you hear that term, shelter- in-place, you might think of it approaching tornado or you might think of a wildfire where you shouldn't leave.

So what you're dealing with here in San Francisco is this term shelter-in-place, but there are so many exemptions. For instance, people can go to the supermarket. They can go to the gas station.

And what you're really seeing is a lot of people just going outside and getting some fresh air, walking their dog or ride their bikes or go for a jog. All of those things are allowed in the order. It's unambiguous.

You can debate the merits of the order and whether people should actually be doing those things but, nonetheless, the city said those things are entirely permissible.

I want you to hear now what we're hearing from some people as you sort of roam the streets and hear what's on their minds. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is kind of creepy in a way, because usually it would be bustling with activities, and it's such a beautiful day, but nobody is out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think people are going to go stir crazy. I'm on day two and I'm already needing to get outside and walk around. So, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not going to work, my kid's not going to school, my wife's not going to work. We're thinking about getting out of the city.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So we have to figure out how our merchants are going to survive this, particularly our retail merchants.


SIMON: Whether or not you want to call it a shelter-in-place, I can tell you people do seem to be complying in general with the spirit of the order. Because when you go to some of these high-volume areas they are deserted, and traffic on the bridges is light.

So I think, for the most part, people are doing what they can to sort of follow the guidelines and try to keep social distancing from one another.

That said, yes, you will see some people out and about on the sidewalks going for their morning jogs, riding their bikes, things of that nature -- Kate?


BOLDUAN: Looking pretty quiet behind you right now, Dan, that's for sure.

Thank you so much.

So here in New York, people are waiting to find out if they'll be under a similar lockdown order or restrictions as San Francisco, as Dan was laying out there.

Besides the current closures and restrictions, New York City's mayor is urging people to prepare for a shelter-in-place order in the next couple days. New York's governor says that's not likely to happen.

The number of cases in New York is alarming, though. More than 1600 cases as of now and about 900 of those in New York City alone. Things are changing quickly in this city, that's for sure.

CNN's Brynn Gingras joins me with much more on this.

Brynn, what really is under consideration, are you hearing? What could, would the next step be?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, there's a number of steps that at least the governor of New York says he's considering at this point. However, he's been emphatic that a shelter-in-place, a lockdown, a quarantine, that is not the case.

Listen, I want to underscore what Dan Simon said in San Francisco because it's happening here on this coast. It's all in the branding, Kate, how it's being described in different cities, it all means the same thing.

If you don't have to go outside, then don't. Of course, you're allowed to go outside. It's not like government officials are locking the door and keeping you inside. But the point is, if you do go out, follow the rules. Don't go out if you don't have to and keep social distancing or else this is going to continue to spread.

I was talking to one official today who told me it's all in the mindset. These terms are trying to change the minds of people that they have to change their habits. And that's the point here.

And that's sort of the difference we're also seeing here in New York between the governor and the mayor. The mayor says that we need to have shelter-in-place in New York City.

And he even talked about it today on the "Today" show. Take a listen.


BILL DE BLASIO, (D), NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: What I was saying to people is, get ready for the possibility. It's a decision we would only make with the state of New York, of course.

But people have to realize at this point that this disease is going to put many, many people, thousands and tens of thousands of people's lives in danger.

And we're going to have to do things very differently. And if we even get to shelter-in-place, we're going to have to come up with huge new approaches to make sure that people have enough food and medicine because they sure as hell don't have income right now.


GINGRAS: And of course, the governor of New York, as the mayor admitted, he's the one who has to sign off if you're going to shut down the city of New York of eight million people, but that's not on the table as of right now.

Of course, I do want to make it clear, as Dan was, look behind me, Times Square. I was talking to someone who is usually here handing out tickets. It's a Wednesday. Usually this place is packed.

People are adhering to the stay inside your homes but, of course, more needs to be done. That's what's possible. Maybe more businesses are shut down. Maybe there are more rules in effect. But as of now, no lockdown is going to happen here at least in New York City -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: Brynn, thank you.

So as I mentioned at the top of the show, we're waiting for an update from the White House Coronavirus Task Force. President Trump also tweeted this morning he is going to discuss important news coming today from the Food and Drug Administration.

And shortly after tweeting that out, he also tweeted that the U.S. and Canada will temporarily be closing their shared border to nonessential traffic.

Let's get over to the White House. CNN's John Harwood is standing by.

John, what are you hearing about all this this morning?

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we know is that the president has consistently tried to suggest that a vaccine will come faster than it actually will. Anthony Fauci, leading infectious disease expert in the United States, says it will be 12 to 18 months. So don't know what the president was alluding to on the FDA.

We know that some trials have begun to be under way, but it's a long way from a trial to vaccine that is available to people. So not sure what that news is going to be about.

But when the president says he's going to have a news conference, if recent history, or form holds for recent history, he'll walk out in the news conference, which is scheduled for 11:30, and talk off the top, maybe take some questions, talk about the closure of the Canadian border.

And also those efforts to try to get the stimulus legislation, Kate, passed through the Congress. We have got the Senate on track to pass the House bill today. White House with a new request for $45 billion to respond to coronavirus.

And then you've got these ongoing talks between Democrats and Republicans on a huge fiscal stimulus in the form of direct checks, maybe some payroll tax as well, payroll tax relief, to try to sustain people so they can pay their rent, buy their groceries, keep their families whole during this crisis while we try to get our arms around it.

BOLDUAN: Yes. Plenty of questions to be asked. Hopefully, we'll get some answers when they come out, hopefully around 11:30.

John will be standing by.

John, thank you so much.


As we wait to hear from the president, the coronavirus pandemic is already causing major shortages at some hospitals. For weeks, doctors and nurses and hospital systems have been sounding the alarm that they will be running out of personal protective equipment.

In short, they call them PPEs, an acronym. But we're talking about masks, gloves, gowns, everything they need to protect themselves as minimum in order to protect you while treating coronavirus patients.

Remember, yesterday, we told you about a Georgia hospital system saying that it had ripped through five months of protective gear in just six days. They're trying to sound the alarm.

Joining me right now is the president and CEO, Scott Steiner, of Phoebe Putney Public Health System in southwest Georgia.

Thank you so much for coming in.


So can you first, Scott, help people understand why your teams had to go through five months of supplies in six days.

STEINER: Yes, really started last Tuesday. We have been standing up our command center for quite some time, waiting for this. We have been waiting for the coronavirus to hit the United States. We have been overbuying supplies. But until it truly does, you don't quite realize what you're going to be going through.

We began to see our influx of patients last Tuesday and last Wednesday. And we didn't -- what we know today is, to your point, we have gone through five months, now six months-worth of supplies in less than a week.

And we are scrambling. We're scrambling, even to the point where -- these are N-95 masks. We have got three days of supply of N-95 masks on hand. In order to preserve these and get them to last longer, we have a team of people sewing masks together.

This is surgical sheeting. And this is our prototype. We have about 3,000 of these made. We believe we can make 200,000 of them. It will take a few weeks.

But this is kind of what we're having to do because we don't know when the next shipment is coming.


BOLDUAN: I don't want to interrupt, but that's amazing, the lengths you're having to go to.

I saw this mentioned in a press release. You have employees sitting in conference rooms now -- as you can show folks that one more time because there was a graphic in front of it -- now putting together alternative masks in order to explain it to folks so you don't have to throw out an N-95. You could kind of extend the life of an N-95 mask?

STEINER: The N-95 is a filtered mask. This keeps our staff safe. We want our patients safe and our staff safe. This is be worn for an extended period of time. But if it becomes soiled, if we believe there are droplets on it, it should be discarded. Normally, it is a discardable item after each use. But we believe by being able to cover it with these masked made of

surgical sheeting, we can extend the life of these. So instead of going through eight or nine or ten a day, maybe an employee can go through two or three.

Because, again, we're running short. And we're concerned about running out. If we can't keep our employees safe, there will be no one to care for the patients.

BOLDUAN: That's exactly right. I will say, this is personal for everybody, but this is personal for me. I have two doctors in my family. One of them, my father, who is 70 years old. If they do not have this protective gear, can they be safe?

STEINER: They cannot be safe. If you have a patient that has positive for corona, for COVID-19, they are highly contagious. Our employees would not be safe without this PPE. I mean, it is critical.

BOLDUAN: Where are the supplies? You have said that you have been buying them up. What is the -- other than having to -- unbelievably in the United States of America, you have folks in your hospital now trying to sew masks together for your health care providers. What is the other option?

What is your ask of the state? What is your ask of folks in Washington who are seeing this and maybe now can grasp, get their hands around and grasp what a dire situation you're actually up against?

STEINER: That's right. Every hospital is looking at how many days on hand you have of masks, gowns, gloves, eye protection. We have bought eye protection off the shelves of local stores.

We have reached out. We have an incredibly supportive community. And I will tell you, our political, our governmental leaders, I know they're all supportive. They really want to do the right thing.

But I can tell you, we were just looking at a sourcing these out of a company out of Mexico, and they want $7 per mask. They have a million of them in hand. And this is a mask that normally would cost us 58 cents. But I would tell you, we're probably going to go ahead and take them for $7 each because we're that desperate.


You have also been sounding the alarm on another aspect of this crisis. The still lack of test availability and how long it's also taking to get test results back. What are you hearing about what the hold-up is still?


STEINER: You know, we're not hearing really much. You know, we have been using a large commercial lab. I would imagine they are inundated. There's probably not much more to it than just a volume and, you know, a supply and demand aspect to it. But we've got -- we've got as of this morning, we have nine positive patients, 21 negative patients, but 400 that were pending. Some of them greater than six days. We're waiting on results.

BOLDUAN: Did you say 400?

STEINER: Four hundred pending, and we're probably testing more than 100 each day.


BOLDUAN: Scott --

STEINER: Now, those are not in the hospital. Let me clarify that. Seventy-five are in the hospital. Most of them are at home. But we have to get these results for peace of mind for people, for our peace of mind, of our health care workers and our doctors.

But that's our big push. We need more testing. And just the quickness of it.


STEINER: You know, that just has to improve.

BOLDUAN: Time is of the essence on all fronts that we're discussing right here. Getting protective gear for health care providers and getting the test results back so folks know what they're up against.

Scott, thank you for coming in. Thank you for what you're doing. Amazing innovation that you're already doing amongst your staff. I hope a lot of hospital systems are seeing what you're doing and looking to do it themselves to save the resources they have.

Thank you.

STEINER: Thanks for getting the word out.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much. Unbelievable.

Coming up for us, wild swings in the stock market yet again today, as a new report says Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is warning that, without intervention from Washington, the unemployment rate could be hitting 20 percent.

We'll be back.



BOLDUAN: All right. Welcome back, everybody. We're keeping an eye on the White House. The Coronavirus Task Force is set to give an update on the pandemic. We'll obviously be going to this as soon as it begins. We're also waiting for an update from New York's Governor Andrew

Cuomo. He's been briefing really the state, almost every day, and they're often very important updates and new restrictions that come into play. We'll bring you that when that begins.

In the meantime, let's look at the stock market. No surprise, plunging again. The Dow down over 1200 points amid continued fears of the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

CNN has learned that Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin warned Republican Senators in a meeting that without action on their part, unemployment could skyrocket to 20 percent.

He's asking Congress for a $1 trillion stimulus package in response. It could include a plan to send checks of possibly $1,000 directly to Americans.

This is an economic story, of course, but this is so much more, a human story, on all levels.

Joining me right now, Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody's Analytics for some perspective on this.

Great to have you here, Mark. Thank you so much.


BOLDUAN: What does 20 percent unemployment look like and mean?

ZANDI: Ugh. We haven't seen that since the Great Depression of the 1930s. And of course, if 20 percent of people are unemployed, that means probably double that are folks that aren't getting the hours they would like, their wages are getting cut.

It represents just tremendous financial pain. So, you know, it's even hard to imagine.

BOLDUAN: That is a really important piece of that, how many more people are getting underpaid and beyond, and the ripple effects of that.


BOLDUAN: Do you think that's possible, with what you're looking at?

ZANDI: I think that's an overstatement, but probably not by much. I mean, if he's saying, the secretary of Treasury is saying look, if we do nothing, if we just stand still and don't respond, this is the kind of economy we're going to get. It's not 20 percent. It's going to be -- doesn't really matter. It's going to be so uncomfortable, painful.

And if that's what it takes to light a fire under Congress and the administration to get something done, then so be it. So is it 20 percent? I don't know, but it's high enough that they need to act.

BOLDUAN: I have so many stories. You have heard so many stories of people already having to make tough choices. Preparing to close down businesses because they don't have any income coming in now and have children out of school and they won't be able to afford childcare anymore.

For those folks, how bad is it looking? I mean, what do people need to plan for? And how do they with the uncertainty of we don't know where the end of the tunnel is on this?

ZANDI: No, no, it's going to be very tough. It's already very tough. Just a year ago, the Federal Reserve ran a survey and found 40 percent of Americans didn't have enough cash in their bank account to manage through a minor emergency, something that cost a few hundred bucks.

This is more than a minor emergency. This is going to cost more than a few hundred bucks.

That's why we come back to policymakers and lawmakers. They need to provide support, income support to folks that are becoming unemployed, the folks who can't get to work because their kids are home at school, and also, more broadly, to people with significant hardship.

It's really about getting cash into the hands of those folks very quickly.

BOLDUAN: What is your take, then, on this $1,000 check potentially for every adult American?

ZANDI: I think that's a good start. You know, we may and probably will need more, but I think that's a place to start, a nice round number. I mean, you're talking about, in total, a support that comes to about a trillion dollars. I think that's a number we should shoot for.


So not only, Kate, about the dollars and cents -- and obviously, that's really important --


ZANDI: -- but it's also about confidence. People are nervous and they want to know for sure that the government has their back. That's why we have government. In time of crisis, government steps up and provides the kind of support that we need.

In a big, large package with $1,000 check, $1 trillion in total, I think it would send a strong signal that, look, hey, we're here. We understand what's going on. We're going to act.

And this may not be the end of the support if this virus continues to drag on.

BOLDUAN: The signals are so important for everyone at home, for investors, for markets, for everything when you're at such a tipping point that it feels like we're in.

Is there something specific for small businesses that you think can be done, should be considered? I mean, if the small business sector is wiped out, what does it mean for the economy in the long run?

ZANDI: Yes, I totally agree. So just to give you a sense of it, companies that employ fewer than 500 employees -- it's called a small business -- they account for nearly half of all the jobs in the country. And those businesses are going to be under extreme pressure.

They have the same cash problem that households are going to have --


ZANDI: -- because they don't have a big cash cushion.

So, yes, there are a few things we can do. For example, one idea would be a payroll tax rebate. Every employer, small or large, has to pay payroll tax for their employees. Well, instead of them paying, let the government give them a check equal to the amount of payroll tax that they have already put into the system since the beginning of the year.

If you live in an area that is a disaster area, disrupted by the virus and you're being shut down, you get twice or three times that. Because that system is already in place, that mechanism is already there. They can use that and get a check in the checking account of the small businesses very rapidly.

So that's an idea. That's something that I think they're starting to consider as part of this larger stimulus package.

BOLDUAN: You're hitting on something that is important here, the speed. There's no time to start up a new agency, a new system of accounting to reach out and find. It needs to be a way to work within the existing systems to pump it in and pump it in quickly. That's very clear.

And you do hear that in the urgency of what Mnuchin is trying to get at with lawmakers right now.

Mark, always great to have you. Thank you so much.

ZANDI: Sure thing.

BOLDUAN: Appreciate it.

Coming up for us, yet another nursing home is now facing a major crisis after 22 people test positive for the virus. What should families be doing to protect their loved ones in long-term care facilities now?

We'll be right back.


BOLDUAN: We're going to jump in here. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo giving an update, holding a news conference on the coronavirus. Let's listen in.

ANDREW CUOMO, (D), NEW YORK GOVERNOR: Projections can change or you can change projections. But that's the problem we're dealing with.

So what is the plan of action? Flatten the curve, flatten the curve, flatten the curve. Reduce the spread. How do you reduce the spread? Testing. Isolate the positives. But frankly, more move towards density reduction. Just reduce the number of people in contact.

Second, increase the current hospital capacity. Hospitals currently have 53,000 beds. How do you get more beds in your hospital?

Third, identify new hospital beds. How do we increase the supply of hospital beds? Well, that's very hard when you're only talking about 45 days. So what? This is New York. There's nothing we can't do.

And do all three of those things simultaneously, which is what we're doing.

On identifying new hospital beds, we met yesterday with all the hospital administrators. I spoke to them. I said we have to increase the number of beds you have in your hospital.

We're going to waive all the Department of Health regulations for the time being. Department of Health says how many beds you can have in a room, the space between the beds, all good regulations, by the way. But waive them so we can get more beds into existing hospitals.

We also have to make sure those beds are staffed. So, more staff, reserve staff. We're reaching out to retired nurses, retired doctors, nursing schools, medical schools to build up a reserve capacity.


Because also, you have to anticipate that some hospital workers will get sick during this. So you need a reserve capacity for that basis.