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Trump Sending Two Naval Hospital Ships To NYC Harbor And West Coast; Pentagon Concerned By New Data Showing Young People Getting Coronavirus In Serious Way; NY Mayor Considers Shelter-In-Place Orders For Entire City; Sloan Kettering's Dr. Kent Sepkowitz Discusses Trump Asking FDA To Reduce Red Tape To Speed Tests, Consequences Of Americans Not Isolating Even If Not At Risk, What We Can Learn From South Korea; Trump Using Defense Production Act To Address Medical Needs; Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI) Discusses Mnuchin Warning Of 20 Percent Unemployment Rate Without Stimulus Package; Countries Around World Take Drastic Measures To Stop Coronavirus Spread; U.K.'s Johnson On School Closures: "We've Got To Do It Now". Aired 1:30-2p ET
Aired March 18, 2020 - 13:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Do you think for the most at-risk people, that they are also getting priority, or is it just very spotty?
DR. ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: It really depends on where you are. There's some spottiness.
The doctors that I've been talking to -- and I've been talking to them for weeks now. A couple weeks ago, they couldn't even test the people they really wanted to test.
Now I think they are feeling, the ones that I'm talking to, that when they really do want to test someone, they are able to test them. The problem is, there are people in this sort of middle area who they would like to test and who they can't.
But I think the most critical ones, they feel like they are getting to test, but they would like to be testing more people.
All right, Elizabeth, thank you so much for that --
KEILAR: -- joining us from Atlanta.
President Trump also announced that two hospital ships full of medical supplies and staff, even operation capabilities, will soon deploy as part of the coronavirus response.
We have CNN Pentagon Correspondent, Barbara Starr, joining us now.
What can you tell us about this, Barbara? BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, this is a
change from the Pentagon because, just a few days ago, they were talking about any use of the U.S. military would be the, quote, "last resort." They wanted to see the states do it first. They weren't really lining up to step into this.
And then you had New York Governor Cuomo, of course, come out and talk about the dire need he saw in New York for hospital beds, the need for a hospital ship. He keeps pressing the case publicly, and now, in fact, he is getting that.
The "USNS Comfort," which is based in Norfolk, has orders to sail for New York. But -- and it's a big but -- it will take likely a couple weeks to get there. They have to crew it, call up the medical crew to get on board.
And what you're likely to see is an evolving policy by the military in conjunction with the states. This ship is not configured for the care of people with infectious diseases.
So, what they are looking at is people in New York, who may have broken bones or noninfectious conditions that put them in the hospital, putting them on board the "Comfort," and then that should free up infectious care beds inside New York City as this situation grows.
But make no mistake, they're going to have to call up medical crews to come man the ship and provide that medical care. And that will take some number of people away from other medical jobs they would be doing.
So, this is a big trade-off, but the Pentagon now really stepping up and offering a very visible signal of support to New York City.
I think one other very quick thing that was so interesting, you mentioned it at the beginning, Dr. Birx, at the White House, talked about they are seeing data out of France and Italy that younger people are now coming down with the infection.
That may be something the Pentagon watches very closely, because, for days now, they've said U.S. military is a young and healthy force. They believe, they hope the virus will have the minimal impact.
But if there's new data out there about young people getting the infection in a serious way, that is something the Pentagon is going to have to take a very close look at -- Brianna?
KEILAR: Certainly is.
Barbara Starr, from the Pentagon, thank you so much.
KEILAR: And we are seeing closures across the country: restaurants, businesses, schools. New York's mayor says he is considering issuing a shelter-in-place order for his entire city, something that has already been mandated in San Francisco.
Which is where our Dan Simon is.
How is this working out so far, Dan?
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, this is only day two of this unprecedented situation in San Francisco. But what you're seeing in the famed Fisherman's Wharf section of San Francisco sort of tells the story.
You're seeing very few people on the sidewalk. As you drive through the city and go to the high-volume areas where you see a lot of shopping, et cetera, the streets do seem to be bare. There wasn't a whole lot of traffic this morning.
So I think when you take all that information, I think it suggests people are trying to comply with the order.
That said, you will see people taking breaks, riding their bikes, going for their morning jogs, but all of those things are allowed under this order.
You know, you hear this term shelter-in-place. It is a little bit of a misnomer. When you hear that term, you might think of hunkering down when there's an approaching tornado.
In this particular situation, there are so many exceptions to that order that you will see people outs and about. And I think that will cause confusion in people's minds. And I think public officials may try to clarify that little today -- Brianna?
KEILAR: So we'll learn what the exceptions are, Dan?
SIMON: Well, they'll talk about the exceptions, but I think there's a little bit of a problem with that terminology. Because when you hear "shelter-in-place," you think to yourself, I can't leave my house, when that clearly is not the case.
KEILAR: Yes, all right. Well, we will look for that guidance. It's very important.
Dan Simon, in San Francisco, thank you.
Next, an infectious disease specialist explains the consequences of Americans not isolating themselves, even if they personally may not be at risk.
And also, what we can learn from South Korea, which is faring so much better than Italy.
Plus, the Dow just erased all of its gains since the president's inauguration, as the outbreak batters the economy.
And we'll talk about what happens to hospitals once they become overwhelmed and short on equipment.
This is CNN's special live coverage.
KEILAR: President Trump has asked the Food and Drug Administration to cut through the red tape and reduce regulatory barriers in order to speed up the process for self-swab coronavirus tests.
And he added that a second press conference will be held today or tomorrow about what he called exciting FDA developments, but he declined to elaborate on the specifics of that.
We have Dr. Kent Sepkowitz, an infectious disease specialist from Memorial Sloan-Kettering joining us now.
Doctor, I wonder, what do you think about the president encouraging the FDA to reduce regulatory measures? On its face doing something that might be quick or sounds good, but are there risks here?
DR. KENT SEPKOWITZ, INFECTIOUS DISEASE SPECIALIST, MEMORIAL SLOAN- KETTERING: There's always risk. It's a push and pull any time you play with a regulation. Regulation is there for safety. Sometimes they get in the way of safety.
These are very tough calls, but this is a tough time. So I think as long as it isn't snake oil that we're approving, I think that we can assume that the process is thorough enough that whatever comes out at the other end will be safe.
KEILAR: Yes --
SEPKOWITZ: Home testing has a good tradition to it. Pregnancy testing --
I wanted to ask you about something else that we learned and that was stressed during this press conference with all of these top coronavirus officials, and that was that young people are actually more at risk than previously known. They're seeing this in other countries.
What's the takeaway there?
SEPKOWITZ: The takeaway is that we need more information. We don't know the denominator. We don't know how many youngish Millennials are actually infected. A small subset are probably quite ill.
We knew that there was detectable, though small, fatality rate in the 20 to 29-year-old range, and certainly the 30 to 39-year-old range.
So, this might be not news at all. It may be substantial news. We just don't know with this first moment of information, how to contextualize it.
KEILAR: But would you say young people should be careful as we do wait to get more information?
SEPKOWITZ: Oh, yes. That doesn't change the message at all.
SEPKOWITZ: They need to be incredibly careful.
And I think messaging to protect mom and dad or protect grandma and grandpa is very effective. It will be more effective now when the danger is not for grandma and grandpa, but when it's me, the 26-year- old.
So, I think that bad news like this actually has a very powerful effect in motivating people.
KEILAR: OK. It's just so important to hammer that home here.
I also want to ask you about this expanding of the production of protective gear and masks. He's invoking the Defense Production Act. Where is the country right now when it comes to just this basic protective gear that is supposed to help protect health care workers?
SEPKOWITZ: Yes, health care workers and other types of workers. We aren't where we need to be. We are struggling as a health care industry. We are making do. We are making decisions across the nation about using masks in a very carefully, deliberately determined way.
It ain't easy, but it is not, to me, right now, today's crisis at all. It might be tomorrow's crisis, but it's not today's crisis. And it's hard to look past, you know, an hour from now, much less tomorrow and the next day.
That said --
KEILAR: It is.
SEPKOWITZ: -- if the stuff that President Trump is talking about will actually be acceptable quality, it would be a great benefit.
Dr. Kent Sepkowitz, thank you so much for joining us.
KEILAR: Just in, disturbing, new numbers from Italy, reporting its biggest one-day jump in cases and in deaths. We will take you there.
[13:44:16] Plus, there may be financial help on the way from Washington for many Americans. And in just moments, the Senate will vote on a $1 trillion stimulus plan from the White House. We're watching for details.
KEILAR: In the 2020 presidential race, Senator Bernie Sanders is planning to assess his campaign after a poor showing in last night's primary, but he insists that he's staying in the fight.
After last night, Joe Biden extended his delegate lead to 314. And what that means is that, in order to secure the nomination, Biden needs to win 47 percent of the remaining delegates. Sanders, though, would need to win nearly 58 percent.
And it is a dire warning from the treasury secretary. Steve Mnuchin saying the unemployment rate could hit 20 percent in the U.S., if lawmakers do not intervene. But as for whether President Trump believes his own treasury secretary, he says no.
I want to get straight to chief deputy whip, Congressman Dan Kildee, of Michigan, a Democrat on the House Budget Committee.
I just wonder what you think about that number, 20 percent? Do you think that's overstating it? Do you think that's realistic? I mean, god forbid, do you think god forbid is it under stating it? What do you think?
REP. DAN KILDEE (D-MI): I think it is something we have to plan for. The tough part about all of this is that the 20 percent that potentially could be unemployed are the people least capable of managing their way through a crisis like this.
We say all the time that millions of Americans, a big percentage of Americans don't have $400 for an emergency. We're going to have everybody facing that emergency at the same time.
So the most important thing we have to do is get money into the hands of people who need it to survive.
KEILAR: As you know, Republicans are working on this $1 trillion stimulus plan. When you look at the Senate plan, just what do are you thinking? Are there things that you like? What are your concerns?
KILDEE: There are some things, obviously, we're going to like and we need to look at the detail.
The most important thing as I said is to make sure step one people have the resources to follow the medical guidance to protect themselves so if they are sick they can stay home. We acted on that. The Senate will take that up today. To make sure people who do need to shelter at home and stay at home and have the ability to do that don't miss a mortgage payment or rent payment or if they do they get forbearance. We need to focus on immediate needs of people to protect themselves
and then not to fall victim to the economy.
In terms of the Senate, we are probably going to have to accept some things we wouldn't like if we were writing it ourselves. But we have to compromise. We can't let the country down. We'll have to move forward.
And the most important element of that is to get money into the hands of the people at the bottom of the economic spectrum, people who work hard but struggling to make ends meet. We have to make sure they get cash and as soon as possible.
KEILAR: There's a new report out from the government that shows this could all go on --, I think, to varying degrees because this is something that could ebb and flow -- but for 18 months. Can the government afford to combat this for a year and a half?
KILDEE: Well, we can't afford not to. So I think, at this point, for this country, we just have to do what's necessary to get through it knowing there will be a high cost.
But the high cost of not addressing this problem at scale is so much greater, not just in terms of the economic costs but the human costs, it's more than we could possibly bear.
At this point in time, I think Democrats and Republicans, people all across the spectrum, have to just accept the fact that we're going to have to attack this on a large scale. That it could be with us for a while. And that we just have to do what we have to do to protect Americans and to do what we can after this crisis is over.
Much the way the country came together after World War II under the leadership of President Roosevelt and President Truman, with a Civilian Conservation Corps, with the Work Progress Administration, to reinvest in our country in a way that puts us back on our feet.
The immediate need is their health. The secondary need is to make sure people have cash to survive. But ultimately, we'll have to go big to put this country back on its feet.
KEILAR: Congressman Kildee, thank you.
KILDEE: Thank you very much.
KEILAR: Millions of people around the world are on lockdown as confirmed cases of coronavirus continue to rise.
will close their borders to nonessential traffic. This does not include trade we should mention. Both countries say they're still ironing out details of the agreement including what types of vehicles and individuals would still be allowed to travel between the two countries.
This is just the latest of many measures that countries around the world are taking to try to stop the spread of coronavirus. We have more from our CNN correspondents around the world starting
with Matt Rivers in Rome.
MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Tough new restrictions at U.S. borders could be going into effect soon thanks to this outbreak with the Trump administration considering plans that would include denying entry to anyone seeking asylum in the U.S. according to multiple sources.
This would, of course, affect the U.S./Mexico border the most with asylum seekers simply sent back to Mexico without due process.
U.S. citizens would still be allowed to cross. The ban wouldn't include cargo shipments.
But one senior official at the Department of Homeland Security said this plan would be, quote, "an unprecedented closure of the southwest border."
MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT: I'm Melissa Bell, in Paris, in a country that is now on its second day of lockdown following closely on the heels of Italy and Spain. But just a few days behind.
France announcing an extra thousand new cases of coronavirus over the 24-hour period yesterday, mirroring what we saw in Italy about nine days ago.
It is that pattern, as this crisis moves from country to country, that is so interesting to watch.
The beginnings of the lockdown very did difficult to take as we saw in Italy. Here in France people still trying to go about their business.
Fines being given out if people don't have on them the proper document they need to justify they're leaving their house to go to a supermarket for instance, to a pharmacy, or to go help an elderly relative.
A strictly controlled lockdown that the French, like others before them, are struggling to get used to.
SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Scott McLean, in suburban Madrid, where we've been given access to this sterile military production facility, which typically makes a wide range of pharmaceuticals for Spanish troops posted abroad.
Because of the coronavirus outbreak, though, they've been asked for now to produce only two things Paracetamol, which Americans know as Tylenol, used to treat fevers, aches, and pains, and hand sanitizing gel, which has been in short supply around the world. You can see it here on these palettes ready to get shipped off to hospitals across the country.
The military does not have the capacity to produce surgical masks. Spain just took in a shipment of about 500,000 of them.
Meanwhile, the number of cases that have been confirmed in Spain has reached nearly 14,000 according to the health ministry and the number of dead is almost 600.
BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: This is Barbie Nadeau, in Rome, the situation continues to be very dire. We're here above 31,100 cases and above 2,500 deaths.
We're finding out a little more about those people who have died with the novel coronavirus. The average age is 80. Most of them, if not all, had pre-existing conditions, many of them with two or three pathologies.
We're also finding out the vast majority had only eight days between when they started showing symptoms and when they finally died.
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Ivan Watson, in Hong Kong. China's daily count of coronavirus cases dropped to 13 new cases on Tuesday with 11 deaths. That is a dramatic drop from just a few weeks ago when China was counting thousands of new coronavirus cases a day with hundreds of deaths.
Part of the success here is due to draconian measures like locking down the entire city of Wuhan where residents to this day are not allowed to cross the threshold of their homes.
But now the concern is about imported cases of coronavirus. People flying in with the infection from North America, from Europe, from other Asian countries.
Hong Kong, for example, is imposing a mandatory 14-day quarantine to any foreign traveler arriving after midnight on Thursday.
KEILAR: Thank you so much to all of my colleagues there.
The European Union has also agreed to shut down its borders to all nonessential travel, allowing only food, medical supplies and, in some cases, people to cross in to help with the coronavirus crisis.
CNN's Clarissa Ward joins us now from London.
Clarissa, what more can you tell us about these restrictions?
CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's interesting, Brianna. We just heard from the British prime minister, Boris Johnson, and the only major headline so far is that he has said that the U.K. will go ahead and join more than 100 countries worldwide and finally shut down the schools.
That shutdown will take place once school is finished here on Friday. School will break up for the Easter vacation. It is unknown as of yet when students or if students will be allowed to go back. But so far, what we've seen in the U.K. is a much more measured and
much more relaxed approach than what you're seeing in Europe where everyone is talking about, you know, not since the days of the Second World War have we seen these kinds of draconian actions.
Here, as you can probably see behind me, in Piccadilly Circus, there are still people on the streets and in cafes. There are still people going to pubs.
A lot of mixed messages from the government here. And that is definitely contributing to an overall sense of anxiety that the U.K. does not seem to be in lock step with the rest of the European Union.
KEILAR: Why is that? Why is the U.K.'s reaction so different?
WARD: What we're hearing is that essentially the government is concerned that it won't be sustainable. That if they try to implement these draconian restrictions too early on, simply put, British people will not be able to tolerate it for the weeks and possibly months ahead that will be necessary.
Of course, the real risk or gamble that comes there is that you end up with a situation like Italy where you quickly lose control of the situation, where you're no longer able to deescalate that sharp peak in the curve, if you will, that many epidemiologists are now predicting and fearing very much.
So while the government is trying to do this in a sort of phased and measured and "keep calm and carry on" approach, there a lot of people here in the U.K. who do not feel enough is being done quickly enough to avert the kind of catastrophe that we've seen in other countries.