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Trump Administration Wants to Send Americans a Check; Reality Check on Coronavirus Scams and Conspiracy Theories; Sanders Campaign Assessing 2020 Bid; Gupta answers your Coronavirus Questions. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired March 18, 2020 - 08:30   ET



ANDREW YANG, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: This crisis. It doesn't solve many of the economic issues. But it's a stop-gap that we have to do. I certainly would never want to be, you know, proven right in this particular type of situation. You never wish this on our country. But putting cash into our hands is a must do and I'm thrilled that it seems like Congress and the administration are moving to do this as quickly as possible.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: But, Andrew, isn't it just a little crazy that when you first proposed it, people were, like, what? I mean it was jaw-dropping. It was so radical. And now the Trump administration is proposing it. I understand we're facing a pandemic. But the -- the speed with which your idea has caught fire, are you -- you find that remarkable?

YANG: Well, I never dreamed that I would suspend my campaign in February and then we'd be implementing universal based income in March. That was certainly never something I could have imagined to be possible.

But I'm thrilled that my campaign might have advanced some of these solutions right in the nick of time to help us address this crisis.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: What's the level of contact you have with the White House on this matter now because you said there had been some?

YANG: Yes, my team has been in touch with their team. They have asked for resources that might help inform some of the policies and we're sending them any information they want in terms of the studies that show that cash infusions make people healthier, mentally healthier, more productive, more trusting. It's vital in this kind of situation. We just want to help the country move forward through this crisis and we'll do anything to help the administration implement the right policies.

BERMAN: One of the big difference not only is yours forever. I mean you're talking about $1,000 a month forever. But you also don't have any kind of means testing on purpose. Part of the economic theory behind your plan is that everyone gets it from Warren Buffett, you know, to the rest of us here. So, why? Why do you think everyone should get some kind of a check rather than just people making below $75,000 or $100,000?

YANG: Well, people's circumstances can change awfully quickly. I just heard from a restaurateur who made a lot of money on paper last year, but now their restaurant's closed, they plowed everything they have into the business and they're saying, look, like I know on paper it might look like I'm flush, but the truth is, like, I'm in desperate circumstances right now. I mean we're in a situation where it's all hands on deck, we should just be putting money into people's hands. And it's hard for the government to draw lines in the best of circumstances. Like, even if we had time, if you had to figure it out, we don't have time. We're much better off just putting money into people's hands and trusting that it's going to end up finding its way back into the economy, back into local communities to help keep us afloat.

CAMEROTA: I mean very, very quickly, you know, one of the proposals is just $1,000, just a one-time hit of $1,000. So what do you think of that proposal?

YANG: Well, I think it needs to be regular and predictable, either $1,000 a month, because we're not sure -- or more per month because we're not sure how long this crisis is going to last. And if we put $1,000 in your hands at the end of March, you know, this could extend into April, May, June and that money is going to evaporate. So we either need to go much, much bigger -- overall, we need to think much, must bigger about the situation we're in. I mean when the house is on fire, you don't worry about how much water you're using. You have to put out the fire. We're in the precipice of a new, great depression and we need to act fast. So it should either be regular installments or very, very big -- I would -- I think big and regular is the right way to go.

CAMEROTA: Andrew Yang, we really appreciate you sharing your expertise on this topic with us.

YANG: Thank you. It's great to be here.

CAMEROTA: Stay safe.

All right, now, oils, teas, solutions, even toothpaste, you won't believe the strange so-called coronavirus cures that are being pushed out there. We have a must see "Reality Check" for you, next.



CAMEROTA: As the number of coronavirus cases skyrockets, so do the number of scams and conspiracy theories.

John Avlon has our "Reality Check."

What are these, John?

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: There are two things that do no good in a crisis, fear and denial. But there are unscrupulous folks who try to grift of those very human emotions, selling scams to profit off panic. And it's a loathsome thing to do because, of course, there is no cure for the coronavirus.

And that hasn't stopped the usual suspects from trying to sell their snake oil to the gullible, promising science free quick fixes. Does this kind of sound familiar?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Silver solution would be effective.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Able to eliminate it within 12 hours.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Totally eliminate it.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Kills it in -- deactivates it.



AVLON: Now, beneath the beard, that's Jim Baker, the OG disgraced televangelist, because back in the day, I remember he served prison time for fraud and I guess old habits die hard because the FDA said Baker's company and six others a cease and desist letter saying that they consider, quote, the sale and promotion of fraudulent Covid-19 products will be a threat to public health.

You also might not be shocked to find that 9/11 truther and Sandy Hook conspiracy theorist Alex Jones also trying to get in on the grift, peddling silver-laden toothpaste that he says will kill the coronavirus at, quote, point blank range.

Now, this is a guy who Donald Trump once praised, by the way, as having an amazing reputation.

There's a bunch of bogus coronavirus cures being pushed in the forms of teas and essential oils. Even some folks on social media suggesting you drink bleach. Don't.

But the coronavirus scams don't only come in a bottle. They also come via e-mail with ramped up malware and phishing schemes attached to official-looking coronavirus updates. And the State Department warning of an influx of fake social media accounts, possibly Russian, designed to foment confusion and fear.

Now, speaking of confusion and fear, let's talk about the dangerous denial that's been spread about coronavirus on partisan media as well.

Now, we've heard Rush Limbaugh say --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: We're shutting down our country because of the cold virus.


AVLON: It's not a cold. And we've seen Devin Nunes of the House Intelligence Committee tell people to go to their local pub, while restaurants are being shut in major cities around the country.


And while Fox News hosts consistently downplayed the dangers from comparing coronavirus to the flu, to, of course, blaming Democrats and the media.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All the talk about coronavirus being so much more deadly doesn't reflect reality.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is yet another attempt to impeach the president. The hate is boiling over. Many in the liberal media using -- and I mean using coronavirus in an attempt to demonize and destroy the president.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And the facts are actually pretty reassuring, but you never know it watching all this stuff.


AVLON: Now a number of Fox News hosts notably changed their tune once the president seemed to get serious about calling this a pandemic.

But there's a cost to weeks of denial and deflection. With a new poll from Marist showing there is a massive partisan gap between Republicans and Democrats, as well as independents on whether the coronavirus is a real threat. This information just doesn't confuse, it can really hurt people who have been told this is all a hoax.

But a scam is a scam, whether it comes from a silver-infused toothpaste tube or partisan media personalities. So, be smart, do what's right and don't believe the hype.

And that's your "Reality Check."

BERMAN: That is so important, John, because there's so much junk out there.

In the meantime, we do have breaking news. I'm going to read over here.

Senator Bernie Sanders campaign manager released a statement moments ago saying that he is going to have conversations with his supporters to assess his campaign. It comes hours after Joe Biden swept all three primaries last night, expanding his commanding delegate lead.

CNN's senior political writer and analyst Harry Enten joins me now.

Harry, the Sanders campaign re-accessing. What you're about to lay out here I think is why.

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER AND ANALYST: Yes, I would say it's -- it's why. You know, I think -- look at this, it's all about delegates at the end of the day, right, and Joe Biden's delegate lead basically exploded after last night's contest. Before last night he was up only at 153 delegates. And now he's up 314 delegates. And that, my friends, is a huge advantage in a primary in which you allocate delegates proportionately.

What this suggests, with the number of delegates we've so far allocated, is that Bernie Sanders would have to remain -- win the remaining vote by, get this, around 20 points, around 20 points.

Now, the question is, can he possibly do that? Let me tell you, it strikes me as very, very difficult because, take a look here, this is our last poll, this is the choice for the nominee in the states that have not yet to vote. Remember, Sanders needs to win by 20. What is going on here? He's trailing by 32. He's trailing by 32. So he's underperforming what he'd need to do by around 50 points, which I don't have to tell you, you don't have to be a mathematical wizard to figure out that that math, simply put, isn't there.

BERMAN: Right. Is it mathematically possible there's some universe that is. But given what we've seen, there's really just no way it adds up, which is why they're assessing right now, delegates I mean.

ENTEN: Yes, yes. And you know, this is the whole thing, right? I mean, look, if Bernie Sanders wanted to, you know, he could basically roll this out and keep this going for a long period of time because the fact is we have a lot of primaries, right -- or a lot of states that are moving their primaries further down the lane. So, you know, if I may, first, the original schedule was for 87 percent of the delegates to be allocated. Now with a number of primaries being moved, obviously Ohio and now perhaps being moved all the way to June, now that's down to 77 percent. So if Sanders wanted to, right, he could carry this out and go on -- keep going. But the fact is, the math isn't there, so he'd basically be carrying on something perhaps he shouldn't be.

BERMAN: Now, there were no exit polls because, you know, it would be too risky to have people go interview people as they're walking to the polls, but they did poll in these states beforehand, so we have some information.

ENTEN: Yes, we -- we do have some information. You know, in Illinois, right, this is the state where they asked about this question, about coronavirus, whether or not people are concerned about this. And look at this, among Democratic voters in Illinois, primary votes, 87 percent concern. So, you know, you have this primary that's sort of going on and Bernie Sanders could keep it going on, but this 87 percent concern suggests that the voters' minds, Democratic voter minds are somewhere else at this particular point.

BERMAN: They care about trust. ENTEN: They do. That's exactly right. They care a lot about trust.

And, look, this is -- you know, the whole idea with coronavirus, perhaps changed the complexion of the primary. Maybe. But, in my mind, it probably helped out Joe Biden, actually helped him widen his lead in the polls because, take a look at this, trust more to handle a major crisis, Democratic primary voters in Arizona, Florida, and Illinois. I took the average here. Look at this, Joe Biden, 66 percent of them trust him versus Bernie Sanders who just 28 percent trusts. So you can clearly see the why gap here.

BERMAN: So people were very curious what would happen with turnout given the pandemic right now. There were some weird things, but Illinois --

ENTEN: Yes, so, look, Arizona and Florida were the two states in which there was a lot of early vote going on, so you can't really get an understanding of how much the coronavirus crisis may, in fact, be impacting turnout.

But Illinois does not have that much early vote. And what do you see here? You see that the turnout, although we're not quite sure exactly where it's going to end up, it's going to end up around 1.5 million to 1.6 million.


That is significantly down from 2016. So very clearly it is having some impact on turnout.

BERMAN: All right, Harry, thank you very much.

ENTEN: Thank you, sir.

BERMAN: Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, John, up next, back by popular demand, Dr. Sanjay Gupta will be here to answer more of your coronavirus questions.

Be right back.


CAMEROTA: Every day we've been asking you to send us your questions about coronavirus. And CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta continues to show up to answer them.

And we really appreciate that, Sanjay.

Here comes one from Alicea (ph), no gatherings of ten or more. How is that possible when going to the grocery store?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, look, I mean you do need to go to the grocery store. There's a couple things I would say. You know, when we talk about gatherings, first of all, these numbers in terms of the number of people in a gathering, it's a bit arbitrary. Now, the point is, I think they don't want -- really want people to mingle as much with one another because that's how you transmit the virus, spreading it, you know, typically within six feet.


So regarding the grocery store, if you're doing this, then, you know, be careful of, you know, the grocery stores aren't going to be as crowded, you can try and avoid people as much as possible, wipe down surfaces, wash your hands after you touch surfaces.

Look, you know, something that I saw in our own neighborhood, people actually asking other neighbors, I'm going to the grocery store. So that we don't all have to go, can I go get groceries for you as well? So we've gotten a few texts like that. And, you know, like I say, Alisyn, like you've said, we're all in this together right now, not forever. Hopefully we stay connected forever, but for right now I think we can help each other out.

BERMAN: Yes, you can go shopping for someone else, drop it off on their front stoop, don't necessarily bring it in, but you can go shopping for people.

GUPTA: That's right.

BERMAN: This is a good question. Brenda writes in, does ibuprofen or anti-inflammatory medication make Covid-19 worse? Stories are circulating on FaceBook.

I hate the stories circulating on FaceBook idea. Hopefully people aren't paying any attention to the stuff being passed around there. But answer the direct question, what do we know about ibuprofen?

GUPTA: Yes, no, I think there's some merit to this concern actually. Here's the way to think about it is that some of these medications, those -- you know, the anti-inflammatories in particular, they can sometimes suppress your immune system a bit as well. So it's not necessarily that it makes the Covid worse, it's more that it may reduce your ability to fight the infection.

For most healthy people, it's not going to be enough of a decrease to make a significant, you know, issue. But for someone who's already got pre-existing illness, or somebody who's got a weakened immune system, if you're trying to take something to fight a fever, Tylenol is probably going to be a better bet for that reason.

CAMEROTA: OK, David from Michigan wants to know, can a person increase or build stronger immunity by eating certain foods or vitamins as a precaution to stave off a virus?

GUPTA: Yes, look, I think, you know, there's not necessarily a lot of great data on supplements doing this. You know, there's a little bit of data. But the basics really do apply here, you know, with regard to building up your immunity. And, you know, I think it's really important. We should not minimize this idea of building up your own immunity. We don't have an antiviral. We don't have a vaccine. Everyone knows that. But building up your own immunity through getting good sleep, decreasing your stress, dare I say not getting too bogged down with the overwhelming messages about this particular story, tune in, get the information, but don't get too stressed out by it, spend time with your family.

CAMEROTA: But, I mean, should people start like just eating a lot of fruits and vegetables? I mean does that help?

GUPTA: They should have always been doing that. And, yes, they should continue doing that. I mean I think a good -- a good diet and all that really is helpful. Again, sometimes it sounds silly to talk about the basics in the midst of a pandemic, but they've stuck around so long as good advice because it works.

BERMAN: Look, I'm zero for four on all those things, between the sleep and the stress and the vegetables.

Sanjay, this comes from Calvin. You're going to like this. Do people need to refrain from going outside completely or not? Can you go on your porch or in your backyard?

GUPTA: Yes. Yes, of course you can. And, look, I mean, even in the discussions that we were having regarding people being outside in San Francisco, whatever, it wasn't so much the point about being outside. I think it's good to get outside. You can be on your porch, backyard, just want to stay away from people as much as possible. That's how the virus spreads. I mean that's it. I don't -- how you interpret the guidance, how you interpret when you know how -- what's actually happening here, how you choose to behave, should seem very logical. You can go sit on your porch. If you think that you've contaminated a surface after sitting on the porch, maybe you have a wipe and you just wipe down surfaces after you leave. You're doing it for the next person.


GUPTA: I mean it's as simple as that. I'm not saying don't go outside. I'm not saying don't get exercise. I think the concerning thing when Jake and I were talking yesterday was just how close people were together in Florida and some of these places in San Francisco and obviously in other places as well.

CAMEROTA: But we shouldn't all go to Calvin's porch, I just want to be clear.

Meanwhile, this --

GUPTA: A very nice porch.

CAMEROTA: I think this is a really important one. Is it possible for a subset of healthcare professionals to start training volunteers who can take over structured tasks such as administering the swabs and the tests?

Is that starting to happen, Sanjay, where people who may be retired --

GUPTA: Yes. CAMEROTA: Or may never have been in the medical industry can help out?

GUPTA: Yes. That is happening. I mean you're starting to see people get credentialed, either to broaden their areas of things that they can do, or, as you say, Robin -- I'm sorry, Alisyn, bringing people out of retirement to sort of help, you know, alleviate some of the demands on the task force.

We do have to be careful with the elderly, though. So let's now, you know, let's keep in mind who's vulnerable here.

CAMEROTA: Sanjay, you're wonderful. Thank you very much.

GUPTA: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Be sure to join Sanjay and Anderson Cooper for a new CNN global town hall tomorrow night at 10:00 p.m. Eastern.

BERMAN: All right, time now for "The Good Stuff."

A brother and sister duo in Ohio brighten an elderly neighbor's day with music while she self-isolates to protect against coronavirus.



BERMAN: They put on an impromptu cello festival for their 78-year-old neighbor on her porch while she sat a safe distance away. Their neighbor called it a delightful break and a real gift. Good for them.

CAMEROTA: How awesome are their outfits as well, OK? They're not just phoning it in there. They got dressed up.

BERMAN: I can't tell, it's like Cindy Lou Who. I don't know what -- is she wearing a snood (ph)?

CAMEROTA: It's beautiful.

BERMAN: They're adorable.

CAMEROTA: And he's in a suit or a tux or something.

Meanwhile, there are, of course, new numbers for you this morning as the global pandemic grows.

So CNN's coverage continues, next.