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NEW DAY

Pandemic Crisis Worsens in Cases in All 50 States; White House $1 Trillion Coronavirus Relief Package; European Union Closes Border for 30 Days; China Announces Just 13 New Cases on Tuesday. Aired 5- 5:30a ET

Aired March 18, 2020 - 05:00   ET

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


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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're taking aggressive action now as one nation and one family so that America can rebound stronger.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's now just time to absorb and recognize that we need to change our behaviors. We will get back to the life that we have lived.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASE: Don't get the attitude, well, I'm young, I'm invulnerable. You don't want to put your loved ones at risk, particularly the ones that are elderly and of compromised conditions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nobody's invincible. We need you to show real rigor here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People are being responsive and realizing this is like no other moment in our recent history.

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

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JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Wednesday, March 18th. It is 6:00 here in New York.

And the time for half measures is over. History will not forgive us for waiting an hour more. Those are the words from the mayor of San Jose. Our Dr. Sanjay Gupta tried to send the same message, that America is still, as he says, woefully underprepared for the coronavirus pandemic.

New this morning, confirmed cases in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. there are more than 6,000 known cases in the U.S. That's a 37 percent increase from yesterday.

But without a doubt, there are more, way more. We're just scratching the surface with testing. As of this morning, 112 Americans have died.

The financial impact is staggering, breaking overnight, the White House issued a $45.8 billion request for emergency coronavirus funding. That's on top of a $1 trillion stimulus proposal that includes giving many Americans a check for $1,000, maybe more, depending on the proposal.

CNN has learned that Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin warned Republican senators that without action, the unemployment rate could skyrocket to 20 percent -- 20 percent. That's a figure not approached since the Great Depression.

In northern California, a shelter-in-place order has been expanded to nearly 8 million people.

The mayor of New York City is urging everyone to prepare for a similar situation, but the governor is downplaying the possibility. That disconnect somewhat unsettling for 8 million New York City residents.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Grocery stores are starting to restrict the number of shoppers that they allow inside, even offering special hours exclusively for the elderly. Kansas has become the first state to close schools for the rest of the academic year.

Also breaking overnight on the political front, it appears that Joe Biden will be the Democratic nominee for president. The former vice president sweeping all three of Tuesday's primaries with big wins over Bernie Sanders in Florida, Illinois, and Arizona. This is where the delegate count stands this morning.

The question now is what is Bernie Sanders' next move?

So, let's begin our coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. CNN's Brynn Gingras is live in New York's Times Square with our top story.

What's the situation this morning, Brynn?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Alisyn, Americans are waking up and realizing that, really, now there are massive closures all across the country. States and the cities within them are taking more and more aggressive action by the day. Here in New York, the governor says there is no shutdown or shelter in place for a particular city in the state, especially New York City, on the table at this point, but we know the cases, they continue to rise, those numbers, this as the top infectious disease doctor says it could be several weeks before we know if all of these closures has an impact.

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GINGRAS (voice-over): As businesses continue to close in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, many Americans are looking for help.

GOV. PHIL MURPHY (D-NJ): The unemployment requests, first-time requests for benefits that are coming in literally this week as we sit here are overwhelming.

GINGRAS: The White House promising they're working on a solution, which could include sending checks to people who need it.

STEVEN MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY: Americans need cash now, and the president wants to get cash now. And I mean now in the next two weeks.

GINGRAS: Overnight, the Office of Management and Budget asking Congress for $45.8 billion in emergency funding, the same day Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin announced this stimulus plan.

MNUCHIN: We've put a proposal on the table that would inject a trillion dollars into the economy.

GINGRAS: The streets of San Francisco nearly deserted with about 8 million Northern Californians being asked to shelter in place. And for the more than 6 million children who attend California's public schools, the governor giving this harsh reality.

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): I would plan and assume that it's unlikely that many of these schools, few if any, will open before the summer break.

GINGRAS: In New York City, the mayor warning drastic measures could be coming there, as well.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK CITY: I think New Yorkers should be prepared right now for the possibility of a shelter in place order.

[05:05:04]

GINGRAS: New York's governor says that can't be done without his approval, suggesting the focus should be on making sure the state's healthcare system has enough resources.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): That's why I went to President Trump and said, Look, I'll work to flatten the curve.

We need the Army Corps of Engineers in here. We need FEMA in here. I need extra medical equipment. And we can only do that if we work together.

GINGRAS: For now, President Trump hoping to avoid a national shutdown.

TRUMP: We think of everything. It's a very big step. It's something we talked about, but we haven't decided to do that.

GINGRAS: Hotel chains like Marriott and MGM Resorts beginning to furlough employees. And with airports nearly empty, airlines like United reducing even more flights and asking for a $50 billion bailout.

MNUCHIN: This is worse than 9/11. For the airline industry, this is -- they are almost ground to a halt.

GINGRAS: Shoppers still overloading stores to stock up on supplies. The FDA asking Americans to only purchase what they need for the upcoming week. The nation's top infectious disease doctor issuing this plea to young Americans.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASE: Don't get the attitude, well, I'm young, I'm invulnerable. We can't do this without the young people cooperating. Please cooperate with us.

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GINGRAS: And that's a big concern, are people taking this seriously? Not just in areas where there's a large number of cases, but across the country. Just across the river in Hoboken, the mayor there last night putting in place for its residents a self-isolating policy, which was described to me as a little less restrictive than what we're seeing in northern California, but they say that the root of this, it's really just to change the mind-set of people about this pandemic -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Yes, it's, you know, it's confusing. Self-isolating, shelter in place. People are still trying to get their minds around what all of this means.

Brynn, thank you very much.

There was this stunning warning from the treasury secretary as he pushes a massive stimulus plan. This was in a room of Republican senators, and Secretary Mnuchin said unemployment could reach 20 percent, if there is no action on the coronavirus pandemic.

Chief business correspondent Christine Romans joins us.

So, that got a lot of people's attention, Christine.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: It did, Alisyn. Now a treasury spokesperson is walking that back, saying the treasury secretary didn't imply that, but it just shows how nervous everyone is about the damage to the economy, an actual government response to the coronavirus coming into sharper focus Tuesday. And there's now urgency about spending money quickly to help this economy.

Secretary Mnuchin urged Republican senators to act on a stimulus package with a big price tag.

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MNUCHIN: This is a very unique situation in this economy. We've put a proposal on the table that would inject $1 trillion into the economy. That is on top of the $300 billion from the IRS deferrals.

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ROMANS: Overnight, the White House asked for $46 billion in emergency funding to address the growing pandemic. That's on top of the $8.3 billion Congress passed just two weeks ago.

Now, Treasury will delay the tax payment deadline, freeing up potentially hundreds of billions of dollars to keep working in the economy.

Here's the urgency. We're probably already in a recession. The economy likely will not grow in the first quarter at all, forecasts for at least a 5 percent contraction in the second quarter.

There are 4.4 million bar and restaurant jobs just in the five states and New York City that have closed bars and some restaurants through March. Those are 4.4 million people who are not working right now.

Marriott has begun to furlough thousands of workers. This is just a slice of what's going to hit the national labor market in the coming days. Most economists predict some sort of snapback in demand and in markets once the virus has peaked, and there is an end in sight, but nobody knows when that is.

There is no playbook for this. The economy is stopped. We don't know when it can be restarted again, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Christine, what about that plan for $1,000 a month for every American?

ROMANS: There's bipartisan support for this. And what we're hearing is they want to do this quickly, maybe $1,000. It might be -- it might be capped at how much money you make, $75,000 or $100,000 would be the cap for income.

They don't want this going out to rich people, honestly. They want to put it in the hands of people who need it right away to pay their bills. In the next couple of weeks they'd like to do that, $1,000 per person. There's bipartisan support for this.

CAMEROTA: OK, Christine. Thank you very much.

John?

BERMAN: All right, this morning we are hearing a consistent message from medical experts around the country, that people and the government not yet doing enough to contain the spread of coronavirus. Concerns that people are still out on the streets.

We'll discuss what you should be doing, next.

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BERMAN: So, new this morning, the coronavirus outbreak in the United States has now reached all 50 states. There are more than 6,100 cases, although we should note, the number is definitely higher. This is just what we know about from the testing, which has only scratched the surface, 112 people have died.

This comes as medical experts are warning that America is not doing enough to contain the spread.

Joining us now is CNN medical analyst, Dr. Celine Grounder. She's a clinical assistant professor of medicine and infectious diseases at the NYU School of Medicine, and CNN political analyst, Mitch Landrieu. He's a former mayor of New Orleans.

I just one note for people -- obviously, Alisyn and I are sitting at opposite ends of the table, about ten feet apart, more than the six feet apart, and we've got a skeleton crew working in here. We are doing everything we can to abide by the social distancing that everyone needs to be doing.

And, Dr. Gounder, there is concern that the American people in general aren't there yet. We've all seen these pictures from San Francisco, which has a shelter-in-place order, where there were people out walking in the streets. And I know technically this is part of the rules -- you can go outside, you can walk your dog. But it seems that people are treating that as the rule, not the exception.

How much more do you think people need to be doing than what you're seeing in these pictures right here?

DR. CELINE GOUNDER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: I do think that people do need to take this very seriously.

[05:15:01]

I am concerned that that is still not the case, as we have seen with spring breakers in Florida, for example. The American people are strong. We're resilient. We're resourceful.

But we also have this very strong streak of individuality, individualism. And unfortunately, when it comes to personal responsibility, when you apply that same sense of individualism, that means that we're not doing the best we could be doing for our fellow Americans.

CAMEROTA: Mayor Landrieu, I also think that it's confusing. What does shelter in place mean? I mean, I was just saying yesterday, that's the language of like a school shooting.

I know what it means for a school shooting, where you're supposed to hide at that moment in the closet in your classroom, but shelter in place for months in your house? What does that even look like?

MITCH LANDRIEU, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, that means different things in different places, which is one of the challenges. You know, a good response looks like clear command and control, clear coordination and clear communication to the public.

And unfortunately, you see mixed messages. And the public sometimes says, well, I don't really understand. So that means -- you want alignment from the president to the governor and to a mayor, and we have to get better at that.

However, I think the American people have now heard clearly many, many times that no matter what you call it, what the health care professionals are telling us is to stay inside and to stay away from each other as much as is humanly possible. That is the one thing that all Americans can do to help stop this spread.

Dr. Tony Fauci has been very clear about this from the beginning. And I think -- I'm sure the doctor's going to agree with me -- we're going to see a massive spike as the government gets a better job of getting testing down to the ground.

I don't think the American public fully comprehends, even though they've heard it many times, how serious this is going to get. It's going to get much worse. We're going to have a lot of people that are infected. We're going to have a lot of people that get sick. And unfortunately, we're going to have a lot of people that die.

So we need to begin to brace for impact. The way to ease that impact and the way to flatten the curve is to do what only you can do, which is to stay away from other people and care for your neighbor.

BERMAN: We are seeing a spike in the rate of infections. We have a 30 percent increase in just one day. And again, that only scratches the surface, more than 6,000 known cases. It's almost certainly multiples higher than that.

But we do have a sense also, Dr. Gounder, of the mortality rate. This jumped out at me. This is in the "Financial Times," which they put together using data from Johns Hopkins University.

In the United States, there is that pink or purplish line there, which shows that our mortality rate is higher at this moment than South Korea, or at least South Korea was at this point in the outbreak over there, but lower than Italy and Iran and China.

So, when you look at this, what does it tell you? Is it reason to be encouraged, discouraged? I'm not quite sure.

GOUNDER: Well, we're still very much in the early epidemic exponential phase of this, so we are going to see numbers shoot up. In terms of case fatality rates, it's a little hard to sort out because we're so under-testing, even more so than -- well, definitely more so than South Korea and probably more so than Italy even.

Our best guess right now is our number of reported cases is about a tenth of the true cases. So, if you say 6,000 cases right now, we're probably looking on the order of about 60,000 true cases right now.

BERMAN: Does that hold for the death rate also, though? Do we have -- are we under-acknowledging the death rate as well?

GOUNDER: It's just hard to say right now because you're so under- testing. We don't know what the true denominator is. So, we're only really capturing the sickest people who are ending up at the hospital and dying.

BERMAN: Mayor Landrieu, it's not just people, regular people, who don't seem to know exactly what the parameters are or what they should be doing, it's also, it appears, the federal government. And so, it was only just yesterday that President Trump said that he's enlisting, quote, the whole-of-government approach, OK? So, that feels late to some people.

And then, enlisting the whole of government, obviously, you know better than we do, but that is a huge juggernaut that takes a long time for the wheels to be greased. For instance, if he's enlisting the Army Corps of Engineers, well, they say that they haven't gotten direction from the Trump administration yet. So you can announce that you're enlisting the Army Corps of Engineers to help, but they're waiting for clear direction.

So the wheels don't appear to be turning all in the same way right now.

LANDRIEU: Well, a couple of different points. We may not know to the question that you asked before about what the exact number is today, what the mortality rate's going to be, but this is what we do know absolutely, that it's going to get higher and that it's going to be a lot worse. And so, people, again, the best way for you to help is to stay home and stay away from other people.

As it relates to the government, there's no question, a good response looks like clear command and control, clear coordination and clear communication from the White House all the way down to the ground to the health care workers that are in the emergency rooms that are doing incredible work or to the people who are handing out food to the families, and that takes a lot of work and a lot of time.

[05:20:04]

And it's the down line logistics that really matter.

So it's one thing for the president to articulate -- and we are clearly late on this -- that the corps should be doing something, but if nobody tells the corps and the corps doesn't tell their regional director and the corps doesn't tell the folks on the ground, getting it to the ground takes a long time.

And I happen to think that we're way behind right now. Hopefully, we will catch up. And hopefully, we will catch up as we begin to flatten that curve, because if we don't do that, then what happens is we get overwhelmed on the front lines, and the doctor can tell you, the front lines are in the emergency rooms, in the hospitals, in the ICU units, and trying to match up whether or not we have enough ventilators to care for the people who are going to be in distress.

Getting all of that stuff organized is really hard. It can't be done, though, if people don't stay at home, because if people don't stay at home and the numbers are higher, you need more people, more equipment to do that things, which is why everybody has to cooperate.

CAMEROTA: Yes. Mayor Landrieu, Dr. Gounder, thank you very much for the information. We will speak to you again. We have more questions.

The European Union closing external borders as the number of coronavirus cases skyrockets. So, the latest on this unprecedented step there.

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[05:25:40]

CAMEROTA: Developing overnight, the European Union taking unprecedented action to try to contain coronavirus, sealing all of its borders to ban travelers for 30 days.

CNN's Max Foster is live near London to explain what this means.

Hi, Max.

MAX FOSTER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Alisyn.

This extraordinary measure, really. There will be, of course, some essential workers that will have to cross these borders, but that's what, effectively, European Union countries are doing. They have also said the U.K. can join that as well, if they need to.

One of the more extraordinary narratives, really, that we're getting across the continent, is this wartime footing. So, Emmanuel Macron of France is saying they're effectively at war with this virus.

And also, here in the U.K., there are certain measures going into effect that some political scientists are already worried about. They're effectively wartime emergency powers. For example, to be able to close down airports and borders if enough staff aren't available to go into that. Also, they've got this rationing in supermarkets taking effect today. So people can only buy a certain number of products at a certain time of day to try to rid the country of this panic buying.

So, really, the continent going on this wartime footing. And nurses, medical staff, doctors, being treated as frontline staff who need the essential services, which the rest of the country are going to have to free up by staying at home, much like I am here at the moment, Alisyn.

So, extraordinary times here, but the continent on a wartime footing and emergency powers being enacted across the continent.

CAMEROTA: Max, thank you very much for that report.

BERMAN: I have to say, you know, so many people now doing their jobs from home. We're getting a look at the homes of some of our favorite correspondents this morning.

So, new this morning, maybe a source or cause for some distant hope, a plunging rate of new coronavirus cases in China. Just 13 on Tuesday. And all except one came from outside the country. The growth in cases there really has slowed dramatically, but remember, there was such a strict lockdown there.

CNN's senior international correspondent Ivan Watson joins us now live from Hong Kong with the latest.

And in China, Ivan, you get the sense that they think the biggest threat is now from the rest of the world. IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's true. I

mean, they have really succeeded at something, if you can trust the official figures. At its worst just a couple weeks ago, China was counting thousands of new coronavirus cases a day and hundreds of deaths as a result of that. And now, you're down to double digits, which is really remarkable.

The crackdown is still in effect. That city of Wuhan, where the coronavirus pandemic began, it is still under lockdown. The people there are not allowed to cross the thresholds of their homes. But some of the restrictions have softened for other cities in the same province where Wuhan is located.

People are starting to be permitted to walk around. Some of the checkpoints are being lifted. And China has implemented this kind of yellow, red, and green system with your phones that can say if you're a high-risk person, medium-risk, or low-risk, which can also indicate whether or not you're allowed to come and go places.

But one of the big concerns is that now that countries are locking down international travel and people are trying to get home in time, that people could bring coronavirus back to places like China, back to places like Hong Kong. As of midnight on Thursday night, Hong Kong, this semi-autonomous city on the edge of China, will force anybody flying in here, except from outside of mainland China, to go into 14 days of quarantine, because this city has succeeded in keeping the infection rate down to about 168 people outside of more than 7 million, which is really an achievement, but they're worried about losing that if people fly in from Europe or North America with the virus.

Now, there has been a blame game under way between Beijing and Washington. The Trump administration has publicly called this the Chinese virus, which has caused responses from the Chinese government, saying that this is stigmatizing China. But also, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman has been slamming the U.S., spreading complete lies, claiming that the U.S. Army may have brought the coronavirus to the city of Wuhan in the first place.

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