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Pandemic Crisis Worsens with Cases in All 50 States; Thousands of Hospitality Workers Laid Off Amid Pandemic. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired March 18, 2020 - 06:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The federal government -- the White House and the Congress -- needs to focus on states. Send supplies and money. We're the ones on the frontlines.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: By making shared sacrifices and temporary changes, we can protect the health of our people, and we can protect our economy.

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.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We just need to get money into families' hands so that people don't feel like they're going to literally be running out of a way to feed themselves.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We need to put politics aside and work together as Americans. Coronavirus doesn't care if you're a Democrat or Republican.


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

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Wednesday, March 18, 6 a.m. here in New York. John and I are modeling for everyone safe distances. We're more than six feet apart at this point.


CAMEROTA: Here are the latest numbers. There are now confirmed cases of coronavirus in all 50 U.S. states and Washington, D.C. There are more than 6,000 cases across the country. That is a 37 percent increase from yesterday. But if there were adequate testing, those numbers would be higher.

So far, at least 112 Americans have died. The financial impact of this is staggering. Breaking news overnight.

The White House requesting $45.8 billion in emergency coronavirus funding. That's on top of a $1 trillion stimulus proposal that includes giving many Americans a check for $1,000.

CNN has learned that Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin warned Republican senators that without action, the unemployment rate could skyrocket to 20 percent.

In Northern California, a shelter in place order has been expanded to nearly eight million people. The mayor of New York City is urging everyone to prepare for a similar order. But the governor of New York is downplaying that possibility.

BERMAN: We're seeing grocery stores starting to restrict the number of shoppers they allow inside at one time, offering special hours exclusively for the elderly, which makes a ton of sense.

Kansas has become the first state to close schools for the rest of the academic year. More will likely follow.

Also breaking overnight, it appears all but certain that Joe Biden will be the Democratic nominee for president. The former vice president swept all three of Tuesday's primaries, with big wins over Bernie Sanders in Florida, Illinois and Arizona. He now has a commanding lead in the delegate race.

And now the big question is what will Bernie Sanders do? Will he stay in the race? And if so, why and to what extent?

We're going to begin our coverage, though, with the coronavirus pandemic. CNN's Bryn Gingras live in Times Square with all that's going on -- Brynn.

BRYN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John, more and more Americans are waking up this morning to even more closures as states and the cities within them continue to take aggressive action.

Here in the state of New York, the governor says there is no shutdown or shelter in place on the table for any city, particularly New York City. But of course, we know the numbers of cases continues to rise across the country.

This as the country's top infectious disease doctor says it could be several weeks before we know if all these closures has any effect.


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.

MNUCHIN: 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.

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.


GINGRAS: And that's a big concern. Are people taking this seriously? Not just in areas where there are a large number of cases but really everywhere.

Guys, I can tell you, just across the river in Hoboken, the city's mayor issued a self-isolating order for its residents, which I'm told is not very different from what's happening in San Francisco. It's just a little less restrictive. But they said to me the root of it is really just to get people to change their mindset about how they handle this pandemic -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Understood. Brynn, it takes a lot to get your mind around what all of this means for your lifestyle and for your family. Thank you very much for the reporting.

So are Americans doing enough to contain the spread of coronavirus? What more needs to be done? That's next.



CAMEROTA: Here are the latest numbers for you. The coronavirus outbreak is now in all 50 U.S. states. The U.S. has more than 6100 cases; 112 people here have died.

But medical experts warn that Americans are not doing enough to contain it from spreading.

So joining us now is CNN medical analyst, Dr. Celine Gounder. 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 the former mayor of New Orleans. Great to have both of you here with us.

Dr. Gounder, what do you make, what are we to make of these new numbers, and what more should Americans be doing?

DR. CELINE GOUNDER, CLINICAL ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF MEDICINE AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES, NYU SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: So earlier this week, researchers from the Imperial College in Great Britain published a study showing that we really, if we want to suppress this epidemic and prevent the onslaught of patients coming to hospitals, deaths that were -- that are being predicted in the millions, we really need to be as aggressive as possible right now. And that would mean social distancing, really to the maximum. Not just social distancing of the elderly. People with chronic medical illnesses. But really, all of us.

And by the way, I just learned this -- I was reading during the break, Niall Ferguson, the physician -- or the epidemiologist who conducted that study now has a fever and cough and may well himself have coronavirus.

BERMAN: Look, every day we learn of someone new. And we're all going to know someone, if you don't already, who has it. And that is something we're going to have to cope with.

Mayor, it's interesting. That study that Dr. Gounder was -- was noting there is something White House has seen. It knows a possibility of 500,000 deaths in the U.K. and up to 2 million in the U.S.

And I want to point out, it's not just Washington state and California and New York. In your hometown, in New Orleans, the per capita rate of infection is very, very high.

So how do you get the message out? How do you get this message out. If authorities want people to stay inside, how do you make people listen?

MITCH LANDRIEU, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, we have to keep repeating it over and over and over again. So to be clear to the American public, this is going to get worse. It's going to take longer, and we have to act decisively now.

And the best way that we can help each other and to help our families is to stay inside unless you absolutely have to go outside. And then, if you do, stay away from other people. That is the best and the clearest way that we can assist the health care professionals who right now are being overrun.

As you mentioned, New Orleans is what we call a hot zone right now. We have a very large number of cases. And by the way, to the people of America, this is coming to you. There's no question that, as we start doing more testing, that it's going to become patently obvious that coronavirus is in every county, every parish, every state, every neighborhood.

And in order to get ahead of it, we have to stay home, stay away from each other, wash our hands, and be very kind. The section that you had before that about people reaching out to each other was very beautiful. And there's going to be a lot of that. We have to do more of it, and we have to be patient. But we have to listen if we want to help each other.

CAMEROTA: Dr. Gounder, we've made so much about how we're not getting the real numbers. We just don't have a lot of vision yet on what it really looks like in this country.

But you and the other doctors that we have talked to who are more on the frontlines than the rest of us are starting to see emergency rooms, starting to see alarming trend in emergency rooms. So what are your colleagues telling you?

GOUNDER: Well, what really has me concerned are the shortages of personal protective equipment. So that's the gowns, the gloves, the masks, the face shields that we're already facing in hospitals here in New York City, as well as elsewhere. In New York, hospitals, I'm told, and I -- the last time I was on

service in the hospital was actually right as this was starting to take off. I'll be on service again in May. But currently, my colleagues are telling me that they are out of the N-95 respirator masks, which are the standard for physicians and nurses to be taking care of patients. They're using those loose-fitting surgical masks, because they have nothing else. And those are the masks we usually put on sick patients just so they don't transmit to other people.

So we already have healthcare providers working in very unsafe conditions caring for patients.

BERMAN: Dr. Gounder, we look at Italy as an example of what we don't want the United States to become. What's different in Italy, and what should we be concerned about there?


GOUNDER: I actually think we are replaying the same mistakes that were made in Italy. We didn't take this seriously enough. We didn't act quickly enough. And we still are not taking this seriously enough.

So I'm very concerned for my colleagues who are going to be treating these patients. It's really not fair to them.

So it's not just about protecting the elderly and those with chronic medical conditions. Healthcare providers really are going to be very much at risk in the coming months if we don't take this, as -- as American people more seriously.

CAMEROTA: Mayor Landrieu, you know what it's like to have to be a leader in a crisis. Can these things go into overdrive? Can somebody order whoever the manufacturer is of the surgical masks and the protective gear that doctors need, can that just start to churn out?

LANDRIEU: Well, there's no question that the United States of America has responded to something like this. We did it during World War II. But the federal government has the power and the authority to order and to do all of these things in coordination with the governors and the mayors. And so I would expect much more aggressive action from the federal government on this issue.

But to reiterate what the doctor said, I'm in touch with Dr. Jen Avegno, who's the head of public health in New Orleans, and she's an emergency room doc. And we have docs and we have nurses that are in harm's way.

And so while we just talk to the public about what they have to do, it is absolutely critical that we get these tests to the ground fast, we get the results quickly, and we make sure that the healthcare providers have protective equipment.

Because again, it's a -- it's a rolling thunder. If folks don't -- don't work hard to stay inside, and the numbers go up, and the doctors get overrun, and they don't have the equipment or we don't have the treatment, like in ventilators, then all of a sudden this thing gets behind us, and we can't ever catch up.

So that's why Dr. Tony Fauci has told us in the next couple of weeks we are in the hot, critical red zone, and everybody, the best thing that we can do is to follow the advice of the health care professionals and make sure they have what they need. And thank them for their service, by the way.

BERMAN: You know, Dr. Gounder, Kansas made the announcement that public schools will be closed for the rest of the school year. From a public health perspective now, what expectations should we be setting for how long many of these stricter measures should be in place?

GOUNDER: Well, it depend on what studies you look at and, again, the coronavirus is a new virus, so we're sort of extrapolating from experiences with other viruses, in particular influenza.

If you look back at the data from 1918 with the Spanish flu, the localities that were most successful instituted very rigorous precautions, very rigorous measures for about three months or so in order to have an impact. The study out of the U.K. from Imperial College is saying maybe even five months of these kinds of measures.

So a lot of this really depends on how similarly these -- this virus behaves to influenza and how rigorously we truly enforce these measures.

CAMEROTA: I also just think if you give someone an actual expectation, you know, I think that part of the -- what people are struggling with is the uncertainty. Hearing five months is a blow. But it's better than the uncertainty.


CAMEROTA: So if people knew that they had to crackdown for three months, for five months, we might be able to do it.

LANDRIEU: Alisyn, I can't imagine, based on everything that I've heard from healthcare professionals and the studies, that anybody is going back to school this year. I just think people have to get their head right about that particular fact. And then we're going to -- we're going to have to adjust.

And I'm 100 percent comfortable that we can adjust if people really understand what it is that they have to do.

I would say to people, this is going to get harder. It's going to take longer. It's going to get worse. And so the more we do now, I mean, like right now in the next couple of weeks, the easier it's going to be long-term.

But of course, this is going to hurt. There's going to be a lot of pain and agony. There's going to be a lot of sacrifice. And -- but there's also going to be a lot of kindness. And we're going to have to help each other through it.

BERMAN: Mayor Landrieu, Dr. Gounder, thank you very much for the honesty this morning, a dose we all need badly.

So a dire warning from the treasury secretary. Twenty percent of Americans could be unemployed if no stimulus action is taken. That is twice as high as the great recession, and it approaches depression-era levels. What this means for you, next.



BERMAN: New this morning, CNN has learned that Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin warned Republican senators that without action, the coronavirus pandemic could drive unemployment to a staggering 20 percent. This as the White House pushes a plan to send checks directly to Americans as part of a $1 trillion stimulus package.

CNN's Jason Carroll is live in New York's Times Square with the latest on so many of the people who have been hit hard -- Jason.

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. This stimulus package can't come soon enough for those in the hospitality industry. More and more of these workers are being laid off at each passing day. And now many of them are suddenly wondering how they're going to make ends meet.


CARROLL (voice-over): Across New York City, empty tables, closed doors and worries about the economic impact of coronavirus as thousands of workers are laid off.

TANYA PALKANINEC, LAID-OFF BARTENDER: It definitely felt like a weight had dropped. It felt very heavy. But, yes, it was scary.

CARROLL: Tanya Palkaninec is a bartender who lost her job Monday after the state ordered bars and restaurants to limit their services to takeout and delivery.

(on camera): What's next for you?

PALKANINEC: I don't -- I don't really know. I guess a lot of waiting around.

CARROLL (voice-over): A lot of waiting for Mark Dessaix, as well. He's a hotel waiter, also now out of work. He says he spent hours online trying to file for unemployment. The system crashed due to sudden high demand not seen since 9/11.


MARK DESSAIX, LAID-OFF WAITER: Uncertainty for everyone right now. It's completely unfathomable.

CARROLL: Hotel occupancy rates in New York City have plummeted. Marriott International says it has started furloughing its employees. Economically, the worst may be yet to come if the city's residents are ordered to shelter in place. DE BLASIO: I'm hearing constantly from people who are tremendously

worried about how they're going to make ends meet. And that scenario, a shelter in place, begs a lot of questions.

CARROLL: Across the country, hospitality workers from San Francisco to Boston, to Grand Rapids, Michigan, wondering how to make ends meet and if they will have jobs to go back to.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How is everyone going to pay their bills? How am I going to pay my bills?

CARROLL: Here in New York City, with an estimated 25,000 restaurants and bars, business leaders say a comprehensive restaurant rescue plan will be needed.

ANDREW RIGIE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NEW YORK CITY HOSPITALITY ALLIANCE: Restaurants are cash businesses. They operate week to week, month to month. We're going to need direct cash infusion into business owners' pockets, into the workers' pockets. And then we're going to need a long-term plan to figure out how we can pull people out of debt.

CARROLL: In the meantime, restaurants like Cafe Fiorello, which had to lay off nearly all of its staff, is selling its pasta and produce supermarket style.

MICHAEL VITANZA, MANAGING DIRECTOR, CAFE FIORELLO: You just keep going. You just keep going. You recreate yourself if you have to, which is what we're doing here. And you just wake up every day and make a new plan and try to -- try to keep moving on.


CARROLL: And John, when it comes to that stimulus package, the workers that we spoke to say that they're really hoping that it meets the needs of the people who need it most. I'm talking about the busboy, the server, the bartender, the dishwasher. Time for these people, it's already running out -- John.

BERMAN: All right, Jason. It's such an incredible reality for so many people.

Joining us now, Christine Romans is CNN chief business correspondent and author of "Smart is the New Rich." And Rana Foroohar, CNN global economic analyst, and associate editor for "The Financial Times."

And Romans, let me start with you. Because when Steve Mnuchin said that unemployment could reach 20 percent, that is Great Depression-era levels, near. That startled a lot of people. The Treasury Department walked it back.

But it really, perhaps, isn't unreasonable when you think about entire classes of workers who have already been laid off. From waiters, movie theater employees, hospitality. Nowhere to work.

ROMANS: I think it shows you the pressure he's putting on those senators behind closed doors to try to get through to them how dire this really is.

And I really feel like there's a more political will this time around than last time, in 2008-2009, when there was a lot of fighting about bailouts. This sounds like there is a bipartisan push here that something has to be done.

Because workers with being hurt. And it's not their industry's fault for bad management like in the banking crisis. This is because of something that was literally out of their control. An exogenous shock, as we call it.

Look, there are 4.4 million bar and restaurant workers just in the five states that have already closed bars and New York City. That's -- those layoffs are happening right now: 4.4 million workers. And that's just, you know, the tip of the iceberg for what we're seeing in the rest of the country.

CAMEROTA: So Rana, this proposal that we keep hearing about from different corners: $1,000 to every American. Is it every American? Is there an income cap? Is it a one-time cash infusion? Is it every month? What are these plans?

RANA FOROOHAR, CNN GLOBAL ECONOMIC ANALYST: Well, TBD. The idea of sending out $1,000 to every American is really in response to the fact that there's no time to means test.

You know, in an ideal world, you would be trying to reach the most vulnerable people first, you know, those restaurant workers, contingency workers, gig workers.

If you look at, you know, before all this happened, the last relatively robust jobs report before the virus came down, that was 48 percent of the growth was in service industries in areas just like restaurants. So you would want to get to those people first.

But we don't have time. So the idea is send out $1,000 now. You can recapture it on the back end of the tax code later on after this has passed.

What I'm hearing, though, is there may need to be further cash infusions. Some people are talking about, hey, maybe this is a good time to test out that universal basic income concept for certain folks, sending out checks every couple of weeks. So I think that this is going to be a work in progress as we go.

BERMAN: And just to be clear, there are different proposals out there. Steve Mnuchin may be talking about a one-time, $1,000 check, but there are members of Congress -- Cory Booker, Michael Bennet, Sherrod Brown -- calling for a higher number and staggered.

And people, Andrew Yang, who we're going to have on later, wants $1,000 a month for everybody.

What are the different considerations, Romans? And what do we know from history as to how people will use this money?

ROMANS: Well, they want to get money out there and working quickly.

I mean, the other thing they're going to do is if -- if you have to pay taxes on April 15, they're going to push that to June 15. They want people to have as much time as possible to keep their own money working for them.

Of course, if you're going to get a tax refund, you should, of course, file your taxes so you can get that money. But they're just trying to keep the money in the system, right, the money in your pocket so you can use it.