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Multiple Business Owner, Jonathan Fine, Discusses Nevada Closing All Non-Essential Businesses For 30 Days; Three Residents, One Employee At GA Nursing Home Test Positive; Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) Discusses Coronavirus; Mnuchin Warming Of 20 Percent Unemployment Rate With Stimulus Package; Johns Hopkins' Dr. Lisa Cooper Discusses Boston Opening Clinic To Help Homeless With Signs Of Coronavirus & Impact Of Virus On Most Vulnerable Communities; Pentagon Mobile Hospitals Being Put On Alert Amid Outbreak. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired March 18, 2020 - 14:30   ET



JONATHAN FINE, LAS VEGAS BUSINESS OWNER WHO EMPLOYS 700 PEOPLE: I think we were prepared by the October 1 event three years ago. So a lot of business owners are prepared and a lot of the employees have dealt with having to be out of work for a while.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Have they told you what this is going to mean for them here in the near term to not have an income? What are the stories you've been hearing from your employees?

FINE: I think before the shutdown, I know the Congress and the Senate voted on an unemployment.

So, you know, logging on, I think everybody -- logging on to the unemployment Web site I think everybody, you know, is going to get their fair share and be able to get through this and if everybody isolates and stays in. And it's only a 30-day issue.

Then, you know, at least we move forward in 30 days and we remember this later on in life as something we got through.

KEILAR: So we're learning from a government report that they are preparing for this to last as much as 18 months. It seems like they're talking about ebbs and flows but when you hear that. What are your concerns?

FINE: You know, I try to not look past what we know today. I don't want to plan for the worst. I want to plan for the best. I'm planning on everybody staying in their house, beating this virus.

Obviously, for 18 months, for the rest of our lives we're washing our hands. I don't want to look past the 30 days.

KEILAR: Tell us -- I know on a personal note, Jonathan, you have a family member who has tested positive for the virus. Tell us how they're doing and how your family is doing.

FINE: My family is -- you know, we can't see each other. You know, I called my aunt and I can't even -- we can't go to her house or bring her anything. She is quarantined. We pray for them.

You know, when he can take calls and call back, he will call back. But it is a terrible --


KEILAR: For your uncle you're talking about.

FINE: Yes. It is a terrible virus. We've seen it in other countries. I just want the American public to understand how scary this thing is because of how contagious it is.


Jonathan, thank you so much. Jonathan Fine. We appreciate you joining us.

FINE: Thank you very much.

KEILAR: We have some breaking news in the sports world. Men and women's professional tennis is now suspended into June.

Plus, what the Trump administration just announced about foreclosures and evictions during this outbreak.



KEILAR: There's been a jump today in the number of reported coronavirus cases in Georgia, with the state now reporting 197 confirmed cases and at least one death.

Among those who tested positive for the virus are three residents and one employee of a nursing home. This assisted living facility is located in Canton, just north of Atlanta.

CNN's Nick Valencia is there on scene.

Nick, what do we know about these cases?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, as you mentioned, Brianna, three residents and one employee. The last time that they tested was March 12th. So over a week ago now. According to a staff member inside, they have not had any confirmed cases since.

They are announcing these in a statement earlier today as presumptive cases. What does that mean? They tested positive here, those three employees and residents, but the cases are still waiting to be verified by the CDC.

Earlier, I spoke to a med tech who works inside the facility. She said she, herself, has been tested for the virus and tested negative. I asked if she was worried about contracting coronavirus. She said she's not.


VALENCIA: None of that scares you?

VICTORIA KEEN, MED TECH: No. I mean, it's just what nurses do. If you want to be in this kind of field, you have to be equipped for any -- anything.

VALENCIA: What kind of precautions are they taking for you guys in terms of personal protective equipment?

KEEN: Gowns, gloves, constant hand washing, cleaning, wiping down everything.


VALENCIA: There are about 89 residents inside this facility and as we understand it they are all isolated from each other.

I asked that woman you just heard from there what the spirit and mood was like inside. She said the residents do understand how serious this is. They are comfortable, though, because of all the precautions and changes that have been made, they are starting to grow a little agitated.

The worst fear, according to senior health officials I have spoken to, who are closely tied to this response of the coronavirus, the biggest concern right now, of course, Brianna, is the elderly with the fear that something we saw happen in Seattle could happen across the country -- Brianna?

KEILAR: Yes. That certainly is as they take those precautions.

Nick, thank you so much for that interview.

We have new warnings for young people who are not listening to guidance to stay home.


Plus, when asked why professional athletes are being tested but not others, the president responded, "That's life." We'll discuss next.


KEILAR: In Newark, New Jersey, a frantic search is over after a woman who tested positive for the coronavirus under a fake name has now been found.

That, as the total number of cases in the state tops 360 while three people there have died.

New Jersey Senator Cory Booker joins me now. He also the former mayor of Newark.

Senator, thanks so much for coming on today. Yesterday, we heard from Treasury Secretary Mnuchin, who proposed

sending cash payments to Americans to help shore up the economy. You and several Democratic colleagues have also crafted a direct payment plan. Tell us a little bit more.


SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ): We are going to see an economic catastrophe. People are already feeling it. Thousands of people in New Jersey, alone, are reaching out for unemployment insurance because there are massive lay-offs going on.

This is a crisis. We could see economic conditions not seen before in this country, even beyond the Great Recession back to the depression. And we have to act proactively now, not reactively later.

So my team has been leading with other Senators an effort to get pretty significant cash payments out to families who are under certain income levels in this country.

In other words, about 90 percent of Americans. And this would be really something to help stabilize our economy and have a multiplier effect as people would actually use that money and more significant than what the administration is calling for.

A one-time thousand-dollar paycheck, cash payment is not enough when we could be seeing this go on for many months and people are facing new challenges with losing jobs, rent payments. College students coming home who also don't have any source of income.

We're calling for three tranches, $2,000 payments, not just to every adult but to every child. A family of four for example could get upwards of $18,000 this year.

KEILAR: I would also mention college students who are coming home and maybe want to have a job. But I've heard of some who don't want to bring the virus back home being out in the community as well.

One of the startling statistics we heard from the secretary, sources tells CNN that Mnuchin has actually warned Republican Senators U.S. employment could hit 20 percent if no action is taken. President Trump called that a worst-case scenario but -- and he doesn't think it is going to happen.

What do you think?

BOOKER: That is why our plan is to put something in place now that would last for the entire year so three more quarters let's say and would have triggers on it. If the economy restores the other payments fall off.

The problem we have with this president, right now, is now they're trying to play catch up but still not listening to the Wayne Gretzky situation where they're still skating to where the puck is not where it can. Government often moves slow. We need to put things in motion now to

deal with what is going to be a potential tremendous problem in the future. Our plan covers for that now by getting resources out there to all Americans to help weather this storm no matter how bad it gets.

KEILAR: Do you have any Republicans on board? Because, you know, Mitt Romney for instance has proposed a one-time cash payment. Have you heard from any of your Republican colleagues who would like to join you with your plan?

BOOKER: As you know, I've been working across the aisle since I got here, so conversations are going on.

I want to caution people who think this is going to be a short-term fix with a $1,000 cash payment and then try to get the gears of government moving again would that not be enough.

This is a time we should be putting out about $2 trillion in support on everything from paid family leave, reforms to unemployment insurance, food support, but getting money into the hands of people who have car notes, rent payments, mortgage payments, who now have more challenges because of child care.

This is going to help put a floor on our economy so the people of our nation don't suffer through this. Now is the time to act and act boldly not with half measures that may not go far enough.

KEILAR: You're dealing with a lot of issues. I know a lot of Senators are. You're hearing from constituents. They're calling you. What are they calling about? Because this really is a multifaceted kind of domino effect we're seeing from this.

BOOKER: I'm a former mayor who was on the front lines and I have a lot of intimacy in knowing what my mayors are concerned with.

I'm making hundreds and hundreds of phone calls a day into those people in the center of the storm and they're facing all kinds of challenges, real fears about ventilator access and what is going to happen if we don't bend this curve and have a spike in need.

People with real concerns. Small businesses that have been around for generations face go-to crisis of potentially. Real challenges with people just concerned about those that are incarcerated in facilities and their health and wellbeing or undocumented immigrants and their fears of ICE raids.

This issue goes wide and far, especially people concerned about the health, immediate health and safety of their loved ones.

This is a time all Americans have to see themselves as actors on this national crisis. All of us with the capacity to help others and serve others, even if it is just calling and checking in.

America has been tested before. The Great Depression, World War II, even 9/11. What makes me love my country so much is that, in crisis, we tend to pull together and not pull apart. This is the time all of us have to be of help and of service to the larger cause of our country.


KEILAR: Senator Booker, thank you for joining us from Washington. We appreciate it.

We have breaking news from the Pentagon as the president deploys two hospital ships. We're also getting word of field hospitals being put on alert. Stand by for that.


KEILAR: The Trump administration is suspending all foreclosures and evictions through the end of April, hoping to provide some reliever for homeowners and renters. This move comes as a growing number of Americans face losing jobs and missing rent and mortgage payments during this pandemic.

As the spread of the virus continues to worsen here in the United States, it is also deepening the social and economic division.

In Boston, officials have set up a temporary medical clinic in a homeless shelter to treat people with signs of coronavirus and more pop-up clinics could be established.

Joining me to discuss the impact of the virus on our most vulnerable communities is Dr. Lisa Cooper, a professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Equity.

And, Doctor, thanks again for joining us.

And just walk us through who you are focused on, these groups most vulnerable during this pandemic?


Yes, there are several groups of people who are in vulnerable groups at this time and they are actually vulnerable people even when there's not a pandemic.


And so that includes older persons. It includes very young children. It includes people who have chronic medical and mental health conditions, those with low income and low wage jobs.

There are people who are homeless as you mentioned earlier. People who are institutionalized or in prison and then we have people who have disabilities, physical and mental disabilities, like hearing and vision impairment. Those are the groups.

KEILAR: So let's -- that is a number of groups. Let's start with children, for instance. We've seen schools shutting

down and meal pickups set up for those that need it and that creates logistical and scheduling difficulties. And sometimes, it is not two meals, just one, period, during one mealtime.

What are the long-term effects for that group, for children and for low-income Americans who rely on that food?

COOPER: Right. So as we know there are a lot of families that rely upon one individual to work and to provide for those families. And so what happens if, when school closes there's a lot of the children don't have access to the food that they get at school on a regular basis.

They also may not have supervision because their parents might be hourly workers and they might be needing to go to work at this time for fear of losing wages or of losing jobs.

So you do have kids who are really not going to get the nutrition they need and are, therefore, then more likely to be falling susceptible to illness.

And a lot of the individuals in these low-income groups tend to be racial and ethnic minorities as well as people who are immigrants and people with language and cultural barriers as well.

KEILAR: And one of the new cases of coronavirus that was announced yesterday was a person who was staying at a homeless shelter in New York City. What happens if the virus spreads throughout that community?

COOPER: There are devastating consequences. We know a lot of people in that situation -- for example, people who are homeless tend to have higher rates of chronic medical conditions there they're already vulnerable to getting ill. And then they're in crowded conditions, of course.

They don't have the type of nutrition that those of us that have higher levels of income and access to those kinds of resources have. And so the likelihood of an infection spreading in that situation is extremely high.

KEILAR: Dr. Lisa Cooper, thank you so much.

COOPER: Thank you.

KEILAR: We have breaking news. The Pentagon is now putting field hospitals on alert.

Let's get straight to Barbara Starr.

Barbara, what is happening here?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: This is very significant, Brianna. What we're talking about are these mobile hospitals that could basically be taken by air to any location in the country where they are needed. And it is the equivalent, we are told, of a thousand beds, over a number of units.

So a number of field hospitals and the military medical personnel to man them now alert. The equivalent of 1,000 beds. And when you add them all together, they would go to any number of locations where they are needed. They could be set up very quickly and move around.

Not expected that they will treat coronavirus patients because they're not set up for infectious disease treatment. What they will do, like the hospital ships, they will treat people moved from hospitals who have some noninfectious situation, and go to these places, this is the plan, and that frees up hospital capacity for coronavirus patients.

But, Brianna, what is happening here at the Pentagon today is basically military medical policy being set minute-by-minute.

Just a few days ago, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said he saw the military medical capacity as "a last resort" -- his words. He wanted to see the civilian and State National Guard step up first. He was concerned about taking this away from the military if they were needed to treat military troops.

Now we are seeing that on the move. They are now talking here at the Pentagon about activating active duty, putting active-duty medical teams first out there and on the hospital ships if they can't get enough, and then moving to the reserves and then moving to the private-sector civilian medical care.

This is a wholesale shift here today from what we have seen just days ago. A few days ago, the Pentagon was in the mode of the states have to deal with it first. If they're overwhelmed, we'll step in.

Today, we're seeing the Pentagon, at the direction of the White House, step forward and we're going to begin to see military medical capacity and personnel begin moving into place -- Brianna?


KEILAR: It is stunning.

Barbara Starr, thank you so much for that report from the Pentagon.