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Health Officials Warn U.S Has Reached Tipping Point, Urge Americans To Take Bans Seriously; Virus Now In All 50 States As Death Toll Passes 100; U.S., Canada Prepare To Halt Non-Essential Travel Between Countries. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired March 18, 2020 - 10:00   ET


POPPY HARLOW, CNN NEWSROOM: Good morning, everyone. It is the top of the hour. I'm Poppy Harlow. I'm so glad you're with us. We have a lot of news.

The bottom line, listen to America's top healthcare officials. Do not ignore bans and guidelines. Your decisions, my decisions, all of our decisions will impact how long this crisis is with us.

The breaking news this morning, the president has just confirmed the U.S./Canada border will be closed to all non-essential traffic. He says this will not impact trade and the flow of goods. We're on those details.

Also, coronavirus is now officially in all 50 states, and the death toll in America has topped 100, 6,000 plus cases now. That is five times as many as just on Friday. Healthcare workers are on edge, as supply shortages loom from hospital masks to hospital beds. And all we need to treat the critically ill.

We're also seeing the major economic fallout. Right now, U.S. stocks plunging despite the White House pushing for a $1 trillion stimulus package to try to battle this. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin warning lawmakers yesterday that we could see unemployment reach 20 percent if they don't act.

Now, that is only the worst case modeling. If nothing is done, but it is still startling because that is near great depression era levels.

JetBlue just announcing it is slashing 40 percent of its schedule and calls financial losses, quote, stunning. More states and cities taking aggressive steps to stop community spread. Nearly 8 million people in Northern California alone are on day two now of shelter in place. New York City's mayor, Bill de Blasio, now says that same order could very much be a reality here soon.

So let's begin in New York City with our Brynn Gingras again this hour. What is the latest message from the mayor of the most density populated city in the country?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Well, listen, this needs to be approved by the governor, so I want to calm people's fears at this point. A shelter in place, a lockdown, whatever it is called, it's not happening right now in New York City, in the State of New York.

However, this is something that the mayor continues to talk about. In fact, he was just on network T.V. talking about shelter in place, how he wants to recommend it to the governor. Take a listen.


MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK: I think an honest conversation about shelter in place has to happen. Again, this is a decision that can only be made with the State Of New York. I will be speaking with the governor about it later on today.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you going to recommend to the governor that New York City do shelter in place?

DE BLASIO: I'm almost to that point. We have a little bit more we have to make sense of how we're going to get people food and medicine. But I have to say, it has to be considered seriously starting today.


GINGRAS: And, again, this is something that has to be approved by the governor, who has said that, sure, he has everything on the table. But right now, sheltering in place for New York City and the state, it's not really -- it's not a solution at this point. He gives several reasons. Essentially, he says, if you shut down one city, then people will just move to the next.

Another reason is using the term, shelter in place, is just going to cause panic, make people flood to grocery stores and do panic buying even more than they are doing at this point. In addition to that, that also means shutting down everything, right? So daycares will shut down. People who need those daycares, essential workers like nurses and doctors, they won't be able to go to work. And, of course, we need them to go to work at this point. So, essentially, that's why it's not on the table right now.

Certainly, I want to make this clear, Poppy, that the branding is everything. We've heard about self-isolation policies, we've heard about shelter in place, we've heard about lockdowns. The message is clear, just stay home if you don't need to.

And now, I want to quickly, quickly get out of the way. As you can see, Times Square here, it is empty for the most part, certainly not a typical Times Square. And, hopefully, this is a good example of what really everyone across the country needs to be adhering to.

HARLOW: That's a beautiful picture to see because that means that so many people who would normally be flooding it on a sunny day like this are not. Brynn, thanks for the reporting. We'll see what happens there in New York.

Let's go to San Francisco where nearly 8 million people in Northern California have been told to shelter in place. So they're going through what could happen here in New York City. Dam Simon has the latest this morning.

So what does it actually mean for them?

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Poppy, we should point out first of all that there are plenty of exemptions in place. One thing that you just heard Brynn Gingras talk about is that there could be a possibility of daycares closing down in New York City, for instance, if there was a shelter in place there.

I want to make it clear, in San Francisco, daycare centers are allowed to operate. And they're critically important, especially for the essential workers out there, the police officers, firefighters, nurses, public transportation workers, people who need daycare centers, they're still operating totally fine.


But we should point out that there is a lot of angst in the community over how this ultimately is going to impact small business and places that are havens for tourists. You can see, this is one area. This is the Fisherman's Wharf. This area is essentially shut down because most of these businesses in here are considered non-essential businesses. And you have a lot of restaurants, some of them are offering takeout, but a lot of them are not.

But let's just show you one other thing. Life does continue to go on in certain corners of the city. This is a bakery. This is the famous landmark in the wharf, Boudin Bakery, making the sourdough bread here. And so you can see that there is a certain amount of activity happening in the city.

The supermarkets are open, the gas stations, et cetera. And with this so-called shelter in place order, folks are allowed to leave their homes and go outside, walk their dogs, even go for a hike if they want to. They can get in their car and go to their favorite hiking area.

So perhaps the shelter in place language doesn't fully capture what is happening in a place like San Francisco.

HARLOW: Yes, that's a good point, Dan. Thank you so much for that reporting.

Let's talk about all of these developments with Dr. Jeremy Faust. He's an emergency room doctor and instructor at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Faust, thank you so much for being with me.

I mean, I think of all of you guys, all of the nurses, all of the frontline healthcare workers. One of my best friends is an E.R. doctor. I think about his family and his children. Talk about the level of risk now that our healthcare workers are facing, coupled with the inadequate amount of supplies that we now know is available.

DR. JEREMY FAUST, INSTRUCTOR, HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL: Yes, thanks for all of those concerns. And let me first start by saying that this may sound a little unexpected, but now I think that a lot of E.R. doctors and E.R. healthcare providers feel the same way. It's a really good time to be an emergency provider. We are here for this. And we are prepared, and we're also worried.

So the question you're asking is, how can we best do our jobs? And that absolutely means to advocate for keeping the supply lines flush, but the big thing is capacity. Because we cannot do our jobs if the hospitals are overrun, and I was so happy to see that in places like in California, Governor Newsom has really done some superb leadership in rolling out some innovations.

And now that he has our attention, he needs to take it one step further and actually protect doctors like me who have to make frontline minute-to-minute decisions on who to admit and who to send home. Normally, I would make that calculation without a bat of an eyelash, now the calculation changes. And I'm doing things that a week ago literally might have gotten me sued, but now we have to make this decision.

Is it going to be Governor Newsom, is it going to be my governor here in Massachusetts, Baker? Who is going to be the first in the nation to do this to really help doctors so we can help make this change happen? I wrote about this in The Washington Post. It's circulating. Whoever does it first, I promise, when this is all over, I will -- when I'm allowed to, I'll shake their hand.

HARLOW: Wow. What are we going to do about the lack of capacity in terms of the fact that just the governor of New York said yesterday that, you know, at the peak, the modeling shows we're going to need twice as many hospital beds than what we have available in New York now. They're talking about bringing in hospital ships like Mercy to the rivers that surround New York City. The president talked about mobilizing the military. They could build essentially tents, medical tents, and use what the Pentagon has. Is that going to be enough?

FAUST: This reminds me of the Lincoln -- the dogmas of the quiet past are not adequate to the stormy present, and we are rising to that. And what I'm seeing are ideas that people are floating that would have been laughed off the block a week ago are now back on the table. There's so many great ways to do capacity.

My colleague at Harvard and Brigham, David Levine, he does home hospital. He takes care of patients in their homes. And they can do intravenous drugs and they can do oxygen. Let's expand that. We can do things like, as I said before, like helping protect doctors like me who are worried about down the road not having support.

Everyone is asking, how can help? Like I said before, Poppy, everyone wants to help. That's what this reveals. People's better nature, they want to be a part of it. And it's great because for me, it's baked into my job. And so it's just, I just go to work. It's easy. But for everyone else, if they're wondering and they want to help and they want to focus their attention, and so I say, great, join me with that and help us with that. That's the best way to support your medical teams.

HARLOW: You heard the plea from Dr. Anthony Fauci who is leading this effort from a medical front last night, which was young people, listen. You think you're -- you know, you think you're not vulnerable, but you're making so many others vulnerable if you go out, if you don't social distance. What happens if we don't see a sea change in behavior?

FAUST: I think it's really hard with these models because it's sort of like the butterfly effect.


You flap your wings here and it creates a storm across the world. We never know exactly what's going to happen. And what I don't want to have people -- what I don't want to see happen is for people to paralyze themselves, paralytic fear. I want them to feel like they can do their best and not let, what we say, perfect be the enemy of the good. We can do so many things well. But I don't want to overload everyone's brain. It's like trying to memorize some complex routine, and you forget the most important step.

And so, absolutely, we need to heed -- yes, go ahead.

HARLOW: Isn't the best advice, I think, what I heard them say is just act as if you do have it, meaning stay away from other people to the extent you can if you're not a frontline healthcare provider?

FAUST: Absolutely. But there's also what I call second order effects. And this idea that social distancing, the more the better, is a little bit counterintuitive. Certainly, we need to have the pendulum swinging towards more right now.

There's no one arguing otherwise. But there is a point, and I'm not an economist, but there is a point when it can go too far because we say, okay, we're only doing, well, at this point, only essential things, only essential things, but no one knows what that means. And it starts to creep and to creep and to creep. And pretty soon, you get worried the supply lines are going to be cut off.

I was speaking to a gentleman yesterday who runs operations for a multibillion dollar company. And he's trying to figure out, well, wait a minute, do I shut down my company that actually makes gadgets that help with insulin devices? Is that essential? We make a device that makes a device, does that count? And I'm worried we're going to get paralyzed. And the idea that more is better will lead actually down the road is having a supply issue. So let's take one step at a time and realize that we actually can do a lot but still be careful.

HARLOW: I think people need guidelines and, bottom line, if you don't have your health, you don't have anything, right? You can't do any of that stuff. Dr. Faust, thank you for your work and thanks for being here.

FAUST: Happy to do it.

HARLOW: Republican senators are meeting later today, expected to be closing in on an agreement to finalize what is expected to be this trillion-dollar stimulus package. Let's get to Manu Raju on the Hill with details.

Do we have a sense of, Manu, what this is going to look like and I guess, more importantly, how quickly it will get to people?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's expected to look a lot like what the administration outlined in closed-door meetings yesterday when Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin came to Capitol Hill and asked for Congress to approve a $1 trillion stimulus proposal that would be divided up into several portions, including assistance to small businesses, a rescue package for the airlines industries, the hotel industries, as well as payments directly to Americans who make under a certain income level.

There's some discussion, perhaps, people under maybe $85,000 per year, for instance, would get some sort of assistance in the form of a payment from the federal government. That package is being sorted out now by Republican senators.

The process essentially looks like this. Republicans hope to reach a deal among themselves today on what that deal would look like. And then they'll take that to Democrats and they hope to cut a deal with Democrats. But Democrats have their own ideas. Chuck Schumer himself detailed $750 billion stimulus package earlier this week that looks different than what the administration proposed. And so they would have to reach a deal on their side because 60 votes are needed to be approved, anything out of the Senate, meaning they need a bipartisan support.

And then after that happens, then it's the House. And House Democrats, of course, have their own ideas. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been having discussions with her caucus and others in industry and labor to try to figure out their own proposal. So there is a ways away until we get to a final deal here, Poppy.

HARLOW: Sorry to jump on you, but Mitch McConnell is speaking about this on the Senate floor. Let's listen.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): As fast as possible. So we're going to pass the House's bill, but its imperfections will just make our more comprehensive package even more urgent. So we aren't leaving. Everybody understands, we aren't leaving until we deliver it. The Senate is not going to leave small business behind. This will be just one component of our work.

As we speak, Chairman Grassley and others are determining the best pathway to put money directly in the hands of the American people, those who are employed, those who may be laid off, retirees, disabled Americans, families, as quickly as possible.

Of course, Chairman Alexander and a number of our colleagues are working on further steps in our public health fight against the virus itself, such as getting more tools in the hands of healthcare providers, removing barriers to treatment and helping researchers develop therapeutics and vaccines.

And Chairman Wicker and several senators are considering the possibility of targeted relief for key industries that are shouldering an outsized burden from the public health directives, and which our nation will need to be operational on the other side of this. [10:15:07]

We're crafting bold and significant legislation to meet this crisis head on and to strengthen our nation.

The Congress has an enormous role to play in responding to this challenge and we are determined to do that duty. But at the same time, never in our nation's history have Americans looked solely to Washington for answers. That's not who we are and this is no different. Even amidst the uncertainty, the American people are stepping up and reminding everyone what solidarity and citizenship look like.

In my home state, Kentuckians are going out of their way to stand with their neighbors. Stay at home parents are volunteering to help neighbors with childcare when parents are unable to telework. Grocery stores in the Louisville area are setting aside the first hour they're open each day right after they're --

HARLOW: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell saying they will pass the House Bill, but saying more needs to be done, and something even more comprehensive. Let's go back to Manu.

So it looks like this thing is going to get done, and then more to come.

RAJU: Yes. There are several phases to the Washington's intervention here, which is the most significant intervention by Washington since probably the great depression, beyond what happened in the 2008 financial collapse. Already, there's been $8.3 billion Congress has enacted. Then there's what they're calling in the Capitol, phase two.

That is the House-passed legislation. The Senate will pass it today, which includes free coronavirus testing that also include paid leave for some workers and increased Medicaid spending for the states, enhanced unemployment benefits, increased food stamps as well as nutrition assistance programs. That proposal, which has been approved by the House, will pass the Senate today, according to Mitch McConnell.

Then afterwards, they're calling phase three, that is the trillion- dollar stimulus proposal, that's what they're pushing hard to do, but that will take some time to sort out the differences on both sides here, Poppy.

HARLOW: Yes. And is it enough? The market isn't reacting like it is right now. Manu, thanks for the reporting on the Hill.

We have a lot ahead this hour. The president is set to give a briefing next hour on the crisis. Moments ago, he announced a plan to restrict all non-essential travel between the United States and Canada. We'll have more on that.

And also, if you have gone to the grocery store recently, like so many of us have, you've probably seen empty shelves, just like this, right, panic buying. We are going to talk to the people who run the grocery stores about is there a need to do this, what is the supply chain actually look like, is there enough food? That's ahead.



HARLOW: More now on the breaking news, the president has confirmed that the United States and Canada will close their border for all non- essential traffic. It will not affect, we're told, the movement of goods back and forth, especially agriculture.

Joining me to talk about this and all the developments overnight on coronavirus, CNN Senior Commentator, former Ohio Governor John Kasich, and former White House Ebola Response Coordinator Ron Klain. Good morning to you both.

And, Governor, let me begin with you. What do you think? I mean, that's a huge move to close the northern border to anything non- essential. Will it help?

JOHN KASICH, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think everything is going to help. Mr. Fauci, Dr. Fauci, has said that some of these restrictions or most of these restrictions are very good. So I think it also underlines the seriousness of this.

This morning, I wake up and I look at the news and I find the beaches in Florida completely packed with young people, you know? And they're going to leave there and they're going to go home, and God forbid that they infect their parents or their siblings. I mean, this is a serious, serious matter. And the quicker we move to lock down, the better off we're going to be to keep this wave from coming, from spiking.

HARLOW: I think we have those images, because they're striking, so we'll try to pull them up if we can find them. But I was stunned to see that as well.

Ron, to you, The New York Times reporting this morning showing and now linking to that HHS report from just March 13th that says the following, quote, the pandemic will last 18 months or longer and could include multiple waves of illnesses. I mean, it's striking. And they note that the president's tone and action completely shifted on this just days after the White House received that HHS report. Is that what we're looking at, 18 months of this?

RON KLAIN, COORDINATED WHITE HOUSE RESPONSE TO EBOLA UNDER PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I think we're looking for an extended period. No one really knows. This virus is brand-new. There are a lot of things that scientists are learning at record pace, but still a lot of unknowns.

If you look at historical epidemics like this, there are waves. We take steps to control our behavior, control social distancing. That tamps the virus down. The virus is more patient than people. And so at some point in time, we're going to get tired of being locked in our homes and businesses being shut, we'll reopen them, and the virus will come back. And then we'll take steps again and the virus will come back. So I think we're in this for a long haul. This is not going to go away quickly. The question is how successful we manage it through this period of time.

HARLOW: Well, so look at this. We have the picture now. So this is what the governor is talking about. It's an aerial shot. Look at that, as if nothing were going on in the country right now.

Ron, can you just speak about the plea that Dr. Fauci made last night to young people, especially, to take this seriously, and what the implications will be if stuff like this persists?


KLAIN: Yes. I mean, look, there's no question that social distancing is something we all have to practice. And I think it's important to remember, it's not just about you. It's not about keeping yourself safe. It's about keeping other people safe. And it's not just even you like keeping yourself -- you and your immediate family, your immediate friends safe.

One of those people on the beach gets the virus, has contact with another person, has contact with another person, has contact with another person. If you look at what the epidemiologists call the are not of this disease, how quickly it transmits, it's about 2.5 persons for each person. So every person on that beach, if they have a contact by the end of one month, they will have infected 144 other people.

So, I mean, this thing really explodes exponentially. And so I think we have to keep that in mind. It's not just about you and the people immediately around you. It's about the way this transmits throughout repeated contacts.

HARLOW: There was something uplifting, Governor Kasich, yesterday, and that is when we heard Governor Cuomo of New York praise the Trump administration and say they're on this. And the president handed praise right back. I think we can play that.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): I said to the president, who is a New Yorker, who I have known for many, many years, I put my hand out in partnership. I want to work together 100 percent.

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: With respect to Governor Cuomo, we had a great talk this morning. We're both doing a really good job and we're coordinating it, And we agree, different states need different things. And we agree on that 100 percent.


HARLOW: How significant is that for those to be praising each other.

KASICH: Well, thank God.

HARLOW: I know, thank goodness. But what does it mean for the country.

KASICH: Well, look, a couple of things. First of all, I'm always in search of some good news out there. And I have talked to doctors, it seems like non-stop, and epidemiologists, and I think Ron would agree with this. We need to take a look at China and what has happened. They were like three months ahead of us and how they are controlling things.

Now, as they reintroduce people into their workplace, the question is, does the virus spring back up again. The same is true in South Korea. These are things we have to keep our mind on.

Now, in terms of the bipartisanship, they're trying to pass these economic packages, which are really, really important. You know, some extended unemployment, some cash for people. If they're going to do cash, it needs to be for people who really need it, not for people who don't need it.

And in addition to that, we want to call on our banks to have forbearance. I know here in the Midwest, the Huntington Bank is now doing a series of things to help small business. Small business must be helped. And when it comes to bigger business, the question is, which ones get targeted, how do they do it, and they have got to think about the workforce.

But we want to make sure we are doing things that don't put an additional burden particularly on small business. You don't want to leverage them up. And in terms of bigger business, it's got to be targeted. These are the kinds of things they can do.

And Poppy, why does the bipartisanship matter? Because when you get Pelosi and Schumer and McConnell in a room, use your best brains, don't play politics, don't think about your constituency, think about the country. And if they do that, this will be helpful. I don't think this solves it, but this will be helpful.

HARLOW: Just, Ron, one final thing because we heard as recently as March 6th from the president, no one saw this coming, this was unforeseen, et cetera, I'm paraphrasing here. Not only was it foreseen, you wrote about it, a whole opinion piece about this in 2016. It doesn't help to Monday morning quarterback. I just wonder if you have confidence that now the lesson is learned in terms of preparedness.

KLAIN: Well, of course it isn't, Poppy. I mean, look, I think there're two things to say. One is that I think bipartisan tone is better, but the question is are we going to see actions? The Army Corps of Engineers said today they still haven't been given a mission.

We have hospitals that are going to start to break this weekend, not weeks from now, not months from now, in the next few days. And so it's time for the words to be matched with kind of the same tempo of actually doing things, as they did in China. They built hospitals in two or three days. We need to get this going now.

And in terms of preparing, I mean, I think the sad history is that we have these epidemics. People like me write pieces about what needs to be done before the next time, and then we kind of slack off and we don't focus. And so I think right now, our focus should be on fighting this current crisis, but when it ends, we need to learn the lessons for real this time because as bad as this is, something worse is still yet to come. We need to be even more ready before that worse thing comes.

KASICH: I know we're out of time. Dr. Osterholm, who is a great epidemiologist from the University of Minnesota, wrote in 2005 about this, and public officials sometimes only look at what is right in front of them and not longer term. So maybe this could even change the way that public officials can look at a distance rather than the immediate.


Sometimes we've got to plan for what can become the immediate.

I'm in complete agreement with Ron.