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More Than 100 Dead in U.S. As Virus Hits All 50 States; White House Proposes $1 Trillion Response Package; CNN Projects Joe Biden Will Sweep Primaries in 3 States. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired March 18, 2020 - 04:30   ET

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


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[04:30:40]

ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back, everyone.

Well, in the United States, the coronavirus has now spread to all 50 states and has killed more than 100 people. Officials are scrambling to send help to those in need, from hospital staff to local businesses. The treasury secretary has proposed a $1 trillion stimulus package, hoping to boost the U.S. economy. U.S. stocks have soared after he announced the stimulus proposal, but right now, futures are down sharply across the board. European markets have just opened up and are trading lower after Tuesday's gains.

For more on how the outbreak is affecting daily life in the United States, CNN's Erica Hill has this report.

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ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Empty restaurants, lonely streets, millions ordered to stay in their homes without a clear end in sight.

LONDON BREED, SAN FRANCISCO MAYOR: These measures will be disruptive to day-to-day life, but there is no need to panic.

HILL: The San Francisco Bay Area's shelter-in-place order has prompted questions about whether similar measures could spread.

GOVERNOR ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: Part of the fear, the anxiety, people spread rumors. Well, maybe you're going to quarantine New York City. And I have no interest whatsoever and no plan whatsoever to quarantine any city.

HILL: And yet, concern is growing by the day about how long any measure will last and what will be left when it's over.

SEN. JEFF MERKLEY (D-OR): Small businesses are calling into my office, one after another. People are not going to the barber shops. They're not going to the restaurants. Restaurants are being shut down, et cetera. We are seeing a massive collapse in the economy around this country. GOV. PHIL MURPHY (D), NEW JERSEY: The unemployment requests, first-

time requests for benefits that are coming in literally this week as we sit here are overwhelming.

HILL: The White House today announced help is coming.

STEVEN MNUCHIN, U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY: We're looking at sending checks to Americans immediately. Americans need cash now and the president wants to get cash now, and I mean now in the next two weeks.

HILL: How much, when, and who will be eligible remains unknown. The pledge comes as airlines are asking for an estimated $50 billion government bailout and dozens of retailers announced nationwide closings, including Disney, Macy's, Nordstrom, and Foot Locker.

Supermarkets across the U.S. are adjusting their hours, opening early for seniors in an effort to minimize their exposure. State and local officials preparing for an anticipated surge at hospitals and medical centers, as elective surgeries are canceled, patients are dismissed quickly and they are prepped to offer additional capacity.

DR. JEREMY FAUST, EMERGENCY ROOM PHYSICIAN: We can't do our jobs without access to equipment and fresh supply lines, so we need to do everything we can to stave that off.

HILL: The government has yet to provide a clear answer on how they'll meet the need for life-saving ventilators, advising states to get their own, while calling on other industries to help meet the need for industrial masks.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're asking them to donate their M95 masks to their local hospitals and also forego making additional orders.

HILL: Questions about supply as the demand for answers grows.

(on camera): Testing is still a major concern across the country. Here in New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio says that as of Thursday, they're going to be opening up more testing. In fact, they're going to get to the point where they'll be able to do some 5,000 tests a day in very short order, and perhaps even more importantly, those results will be back in just one to two days.

Back to you.

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CHURCH: Thanks for that.

Well, the pandemic, of course, can seem overwhelming at times and difficult to fully understand, and you, our viewers, have sent in some specific questions you have about the virus and quarantine measures.

I spoke earlier to emergency medicine physician, Dr. Raj Kalsi, who answered a few of those questions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH: The advice is to wash hands with soap and water for 20 seconds. This is a long time. Most people only wash for a few seconds. If you wash for, say, ten seconds with soap, is this less effective? Does it increase the chances of catching the virus? And are hand sanitizers any more effective?

DR. RAJ KALSI, EMERGENCY MEDICINE PHYSICIAN: You know, here's the thing. If you are -- if you have a choice between inadequate hand washing for 10 seconds versus the 20 or 30 seconds, then use hand sanitizer. We need to understand our own weaknesses. We need to understand our own vulnerabilities.

If you had a choice and you're on the go and you have to go take care of your kids or you have to go take care of your kids or you have to go do something, use hand sanitizer and wipe until it's dry.

But if you're going to wash your hands, do it effectively. Go between the fingers. Rub both sides, and do everything you're supposed to do for at least 20 seconds. In fact, do it for 30 seconds, and this will make a difference.

CHURCH: Right, absolutely. And then this next question. Is the only way that the United Kingdom can stop or beat this to totally lock down like other countries so that the spread eventually stops?

KALSI: You know, based on what we're seeing as doctors -- and again, I'm not a politician, Rosemary -- but as a doctor, it seems that quarantining is key here. Here's why.

One, we will not have enough data until probably August, perhaps even 2021, to really effectively understand what's going on with this virus. And next year, we'll be way more prepared. That's scientific data. That's just how it goes. We can't understand this well enough as it's going on.

Two, we know quarantining works, and it seems like some of the data from places that are more concentrated, cities in America, places in the world like Italy that are more concentrated, seem to have higher fatality rates, higher rates of infection, and that's just my ad hoc review of the data.

I can't tell you for sure. I'm not an epidemiologist, but that makes a difference to me in how I recommend things to my patients here in the community.

CHURCH: And, Doctor, this next question -- can people who were infected and have recovered still be infectious?

KALSI: You know, with the evolving viral syndrome that you get with flu, influenza A or B, for instance -- as you're resolving the illness, your rate of viral replication does go down, but there is a period of time where you're still infectious.

We just don't know right now how infectious you are, one, when you are asymptomatic and you're carrying COVID. Two, we don't know when you reach a state when you're very low infectious rate and you're safe to be around elderly and people that are more vulnerable, or anybody, for that matter. That's why we're putting in strict quarantines for a minimum of two weeks, because we are just estimating based on other data we have from other viruses that we know really well, like influenza.

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CHURCH: And thanks to Dr. Kalsi for answering those questions and for you sending them in.

You can join Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta for a third CNN global town hall, "Coronavirus: Facts and Fears," Thursday at 10:00 p.m. Eastern here in the United States, Friday at 6:00 a.m. in Abu Dhabi and 10:00 a.m. in Hong Kong. And the program will replay a few hours later, 8:00 a.m. in London, 4:00 p.m. in Hong Kong.

We'll take a short break here. Still to come, Joe Biden is closer to locking up the Democratic nomination. Primaries in three states Tuesday night could mean the end of the road for Bernie Sanders.

Back with that in just a moment.

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[04:41:34]

CHURCH: CNN is projecting Joe Biden will sweep Tuesday's Democratic presidential primaries in Arizona, Illinois, and Florida. The wins will put him substantially ahead of political rival Bernie Sanders in the delegate count needed to secure the nomination. And that's expected to ramp up the pressure on Sanders to end his campaign.

In a speech from his home, Biden sounded like he had it all sewn up, acknowledging Sanders' influence in reaching out to his supporters.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Senator Sanders and I may disagree on tactics, but we share a common vision, for the need to provide affordable health care for all Americans, reduce income inequity that has risen so drastically, to tackling the existential threat of our time, climate change. Senator Sanders and his supporters have brought a remarkable passion and tenacity to all of these issues, and together they have shifted the fundamental conversation in this country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH: So, let's talk now with CNN's senior political analyst, Ron Brownstein.

Always good to have you with us.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Hi, Rosemary. CHURCH: Former Vice President Joe Biden won big Tuesday night,

sweeping Arizona, Florida, and Illinois, adding to his almost insurmountable lead over rival Bernie Sanders.

Is it game over for Sanders?

BROWNSTEIN: Absolutely. Look, this was, as we say in the U.S., kind of like making the rubble bounce. I mean, the race essentially ended on Super Tuesday, was reconfirmed last Tuesday. And again, the point driven home again today. Bernie Sanders has reached 40 percent of the vote in only three states -- his home state of Vermont, North Dakota, which was a caucus, and Idaho, a small state out in the western U.S. Everywhere else he's been below 40 percent of the vote.

Self-identified Democrats, Joe Biden is winning them 2-1. He is winning African-American voters in every state. He is winning not only the college-educated white voters, but those blue collar, non-college white voters.

And Bernie Sanders says his campaign is about mobilizing the working class. The Democratic Party, Rosemary, has spoken at this point, and it's not really clear what else there is of a message for Bernie Sanders to deliver and to go on with.

CHURCH: Right. So, the next question has to be, at what point does Sanders need to drop out of the race, and will he ensure his supporters, particularly the young ones, get behind Biden before he's viewed as a spoiler, as he was back in 2016 when he was up against Hillary Clinton?

BROWNSTEIN: Right. I think for most Democrats, he will be viewed as a spoiler if he is not out of the race tomorrow. I mean, there really is, as I say, this is not 2016 where he was competitive in a number of states. He has reached 40 percent of the vote in only two states outside of his home state of Vermont. And I think that message is kind of unequivocal.

Now, it is true, as you noted -- I mean, his strength among young people really is striking. And even tonight with the race functionally over, he still generated enormous advantages among voters not only under 35, but even under 45. So, there is work there for Joe Biden to do. But in terms of prolonging this, particularly with the coronavirus making the act of voting itself so fraught and uncertain, it's just really unclear what there is to be gained by making this go on any further.

CHURCH: How does he convince -- Bernie Sanders -- how does he convince those supporters, though, to get behind Biden?

[04:45:02]

Because we saw what happened in 2016. Some of those young people either didn't turn out to vote or they voted for Donald Trump.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes, or voted for third parties, actually, I think more than even voted for Trump. Look, some of the Sanders coalition aren't really Democrats. They're attracted to the candidate who seems least like a conventional politician, and there will be a piece of his coalition that is going to vote for whatever third-party alternative emerges in the general election.

But the answer to your question is really two words -- Donald Trump -- or maybe four words -- Donald Trump in office. Donald Trump in office has been a, you know, much more contrary to what Democrats believe in and they even expected when he was running in 2016. And I think the polling evidence is that the vast majority of Sanders' supporters are going to vote for Biden.

The issue really is more turnout. Can Biden inspire turnout among younger voters, particularly younger voters of color? And I think that imperative is going to have a big influence on his choice of a vice presidential running mate.

CHURCH: Right. So, how tough will Biden's fight be up against Donald Trump, and how big a role might the coronavirus crisis play in the outcome, do you think?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, so far, you know, I have been struck looking at public opinion. Maybe we shouldn't be surprised any more after impeachment and everything else failed to move things. But by and large, the respond -- the reaction to Trump's handling of the coronavirus almost exactly is following the tracks of the overall approval and disapproval of him.

I looked today at one of the polls that came out, national polls that came out today. Ninety percent of the people who approved of Trump to begin with said they approved of his handling of the coronavirus, and 90 percent who disapproved of him to begin with said they disapproved of his handling of the coronavirus. So, like everything else that has happened in these tumultuous two years, it tends to reinforce the existing divide. The existing divide, however, leaves him somewhere between 43 percent and 46 percent of the electorate, particularly against Joe Biden, I think Trump is very unlikely to win the popular vote.

The challenge for the Democrats is getting to that 270th Electoral College vote that you need to win. If you win all of the states that Hillary Clinton won, you add Michigan and Pennsylvania, all of which is very doable for Joe Biden, you still have to win one more state, and that last state, whether it's Wisconsin or Arizona or Florida -- although there is some favorable polling for Biden -- all of those are a lot tougher than the first 22, and that's what we'll be watching all fall, especially in the shadow of this, you know, extraordinary outbreak and pandemic.

CHURCH: Yes. It has been extraordinary. It continues to be that. And, Ron Brownstein, always great to get your analysis and perspective on all these matters. Thank you.

BROWNSTEIN: Thanks for having me.

CHURCH: And we'll take a short break. Still to come, millions of people are living in lockdown in Europe's hardest hit country with no end in sight. One woman shares with us how she's coping with life under lockdown in Italy.

Back in a moment.

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[04:51:48]

CHURCH: Italy has the second highest number of coronavirus infections in the world, more than 31,000, and its health care system is struggling to deal with the consequences of this new virus. As a result, the country has been put in a total lockdown for more than a week.

And Cynthia Farhat is one of those 60 million residents under quarantine. She joins me from the northern city of Milan. Thank you so much for talking with us.

CYNTHIA FARHAT, LIVING UNDER QUARANTINE IN MILAN: Thank you. Thank you for having me.

CHURCH: Now, you've been on lockdown for more than ten days, and you expect to be there for another 20 or so days. Just how hard has it been so far?

FARHAT: Yes, good morning. So, I've been here for exactly 13 days. I've been counting the days. And for now, the expected date is set for the 3rd of April, but we don't know yet if they're going to extend it or not.

And it's been quite hard and challenging, I have to say, especially that the weather's getting nicer, the days are getting longer, sunnier. But obviously, we have to do it for, out of responsibility and out of security reasons. We're kind of forced to do it. We don't have the choice.

CHURCH: Yes, absolutely. And talk to us about what the process is that you have to follow to get out and buy food.

FARHAT: Yes. To buy food, to go to the pharmacies or any necessities or even leaving the House, you need to print out a certain permit, putting in the information just to say where you are going and the reason behind your, I would say you are going out, if there is something, an emergency or something urgent.

As long as you stick to these rules and you have this paper, then you can do it. Otherwise, you get a fine. So, you really have to be very careful.

CHURCH: And when you go out to shop, how much time are you given to grab what you need? And are the shelves always fully stocked? Is there any problem with that?

FARHAT: So far, I haven't been out. I've been quite lucky when it comes to foods provision and I've been ordering online. But for timing, I've had the waiting time of almost one week to get my upcoming, I would say order. But I've seen it on TV and I know some friends who had to go out to grab something.

It depends, I think, on the timing. So, either we have to go very early or very late, because you can spend as much time as you want. You don't have a specific time, as long as the place is not overly crowded, because they would only want a certain amount of people inside the store at one time.

CHURCH: I see.

FARHAT: Yes, the majority of the shops, they're still providing us with food, with everything. So at least we're not panicking on that.

CHURCH: So, what are people in Milan saying about the impact of this pandemic, and of course, the lockdown, on their lives? What are your friends telling you?

FARHAT: I mean, it's been quite unexpected behavior and unexpected also situation because we were not expecting it to evolve like that.

[04:55:09]

When we started hearing about the epidemic and the pandemic then, we were just being overly precautious. The message was social distancing, so we canceled all of the events, we postponed all of the events. And then, as things were getting more severe, as we actually got into the whole new attitude and this new behavior of being locked in.

From a personal perspective, people have been of great support to each other, especially -- I'm not Italian, actually, so it feels home-sick not being with your family or your family's stuck in another country going through the same process.

But I have to say, they have been amazingly supportive. People call each other, video call each other. They check on each other. They see if someone needs something. And they're trying to do it together.

There's a lot of support in the air because from a socioeconomic perspective, the city was greatly affected. And just like any other city. But maybe because we started to feel it way before anyone else, since people started to avoid coming to Milan, to Italy, so we really feel it very deeply.

CHURCH: Yes. You're very right. Thank you for explaining that to so many people around the world. Of course, the big fear for some is the isolation that can be felt during a time like that. But thank you so much for joining us, Cynthia, and sharing your situation with the rest of the world, because this is a shared experience for everyone. Many thanks.

FARHAT: Thank you. Thank you very much.

CHURCH: And thank you for your company. Remember to wash your hands, keep your social distance, and stay safe.

I'm Rosemary Church. NEW DAY is next.