Return to Transcripts main page


NY Governor Cuomo Holds Press Briefing on Coronavirus Response: Trump Teases Exciting Developments from FDA; Cuomo Says NY Likely to See "Tens of Thousands" of Cases as Tests Increase; Dr. Sanjay Gupta Answers Questions on Rising Coronavirus Cases; Sen. Maggie Hassan (D- NH) Discusses Coronavirus, Emergency Stimulus Package, Lack of Medical Equipment. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired March 19, 2020 - 11:00   ET



GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): I was talking about it last night. There's a smart person who I know for a long time, just panic, just fear.

None of that is going to happen. None of that is going to happen. There's no quarantine plan for New York City.

Oh, he said to me, well, you did a containment plan for New Rochelle. My containment plan in New Rochelle. My containment plan in New Rochelle didn't contain anyone. It was a bad word. It meant to contain the virus. You could come and go in New Rochelle. Schools were closed, large gatherings were closed. But there was no quarantine containment.

Well, you called out the National Guard. I called out the National Guard to help with food delivery and cleaning surfaces.

By the way, we use the National Guard. Every time there's a snowstorm or a fire or a flood, I call out the National Guard. It does not signal martial law. You know?

Shelter-in-place. Mandatory evacuation. But you don't have to evacuate. Then don't call it mandatory evacuation. Mandatory fasting, but you can eat. Well, then, don't call it fasting.

If you look at the principles of shelter-in-place -- first of all, shelter-in-place is deceptive because it does have a meaning. Shelter- in-place actually means -- it was currently used in an active-shooter context. It was most recently used for nuclear war protection.

And what shelter-in-place meant was find the room in your house with no windows where you would be free from smoke or gases and stay there until you get the all clear sign. That's where it comes from.

Well, we mean a modified shelter-in-place. Then don't say shelter-in- place. Say modified shelter-in-place. If you look at what other places call shelter-in-place, it's what we're doing now.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What they're doing in the San Francisco Bay area is basically warning people only do essential things. You can go get medicine, you can go get groceries, things like that. Would you consider that sort of model, the San Francisco model, for New York City or any other place in the state?

CUOMO: You want to wager a dollar that's not what San Francisco's is? Be careful because there it is. I won't take your dollar.

Shelter-in-place, except go out for essential services, walk the pet, go out for exercise, walking, biking, running, family members' homes to help with a family member or family member pet.

Well, if I'm going out to help with pets, right, I'm not in a room in a post-nuclear holocaust waiting for an all-clear sign. So language matters. That's all I'm saying.

We are doing -- excuse me a second -- businesses were down to only 25 percent of the work force, should go to work. That will continue to adjust with the spread.

On the residential side, stay home. Stay home. If you have to go out to shop for essential services, go out to shop. If you have to go help a family member, they have a problem, go help a family member with a problem.

But -- and if you have to get outside of the house to exercise, to get some fresh air, which is 100 percent necessary for a lot of people in a lot of circumstances, then do it. But social distancing. Just stay away from people.

Stay away -- these people even in New York City parks who are all clustered together, I don't know what they're thinking. Stay away from people. A person can infect you and they won't even know that they have the virus.

And then a special consideration, if you are a senior citizen, then hypercautious on all these points, who are compromised immune or underlying illness.

But if you look at the actual rules, Jesse, what San Francisco is doing, what we're doing, they're virtually identical.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Is it just semantics at this point?

CUOMO: Words matter at this point. Quarantine, lockdown. These words are scary words and nobody is talking about those things.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: But San Francisco isn't talking about those things, either.

CUOMO: Shelter-in-place is a scary term for people, especially when they don't know what it means, and especially when you're not doing what it means. If you're not doing that, why do you call it that? [11:05:06]

We have a mandatory evacuation policy, but you don't have to evacuate. Well, then, why do you call it a mandatory evacuation? You know what I mean? Why do you scare me and then I have to get unwound? Right?

There's not an active shooter shelter-in-place. It's not a nuclear holocaust shelter-in-place, wait for the all clear sign. There's not going to be any all clear sign.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Should we worry about filing petitions on time now that the deadline has been shortened?

CUOMO: We changed the dates.

Didn't we --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So what the legislature did yesterday was they changed the law to make the filing deadline of the petition travel with the new end date of the petition. Previously, it had been March 30 and then between April 1st and April 3rd you had to file. So if you see, the dates traveled exactly.

The issue with filing the deadline open is it invites fraud. People can continue to out and get signatures and predate them.

So that was all that we did. We have the dates travel together.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: On the topic of rumors spreading and things on social media, there's a lot of chatter on social media about the village and the acidic community there. Do you know anything about any positive tests in that village? And is that an area of concern at this point?

CUOMO: I haven't heard that, John. I haven't even heard the rumors.


CUOMO: Normally, I hear the rumors.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE). I mean, there are rumors of positive tests and I'm trying to find out if that's true.

CUOMO: I have not heard.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, New York Governor Cuomo giving an update in New York State about the situation unfolding here, still.

Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. Thank you so much for joining us.

You have to behave as if you have the coronavirus. Presume you're infected until presumed otherwise. That goes for all ages, old and young. That is the stark, and, yes, uncomfortable message that I started the show with yesterday. And it bears repeating today. That is where we are with the virus right now. It is what you are hearing from medical experts that you trust.

Right now, we've heard from Governor Cuomo saying that words do matter. We're going to dive into that in just a little bit.

But we also are, right now standing by for updates from the White House, from the Trump administration's Coronavirus Task Force. When that begins at the White House, we will jump right in and bring it to you.

The president has mentioned what he is calling exciting developments with the Food and Drug Administration. Maybe possibly that is what could be coming out here. What exactly it might be, though, we'll have to wait and see.

We're also waiting to hear if the administration will be changing guidelines or offering any promising news about getting any more protective gear out to the doctors and nurses who already are desperately in need of them across the country.

This is because the number of coronavirus cases continues to jump as has been expected. You can see on your screen right there just how quickly day by day this outbreak has spread across the country.

Today, there are over 10,000 cases in the United States and 152 people have died.

The numbers are going to continue to jump. So prepare for that.

And this, though, is the most important thing to hear right now. The thinking is changing, shifting about who is most impacted by the virus. This virus does not just impact the elderly. According to new information from the CDC, nearly 40 percent of those hospitalized from the virus are between the ages of 20 and 54. That is not the elderly.

Let's start at the White House right now, though. CNN's Kaitlan Collins is standing by in the briefing room as we await the Coronavirus Task Force to give an update.

Kaitlan, what are you hearing today?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The president yesterday teased he was going to make some kind of announcement related to the FDA. He was actually supposed to announce it yesterday. Now, we are supposed to get that today, so we are expecting to see the president.

Though, we should note the White House hasn't actually confirmed he is going to be out here and there isn't a presidential seal on the lectern there.

But this comes after the president announced a series of measures yesterday, relating to letting doctors to work across state lines, not allowing foreclosures or evictions by homeowners until at least the end of next month.

But, Kate, I want to follow up on one big one we talked about yesterday, which is when the president said he was going to sign the Defense Production Act, which basically gives him these emergency powers to direct companies to speed up production of things that we need.

Normally it's used for military equipment, but the presumption is it would be used for medical equipment that we've seen doctors and nurses talking about how they desperately they need it.

We should note, overnight, the president clarified on Twitter what he said yesterday. He said he's signing it but not invoking it yet. So the president is not going to be directing these companies right now to speed up the production of ventilators or anything like that from his federal command here.


So those are questions like that because we know doctors and hospitals have been saying they need those. The ventilators take a long time to make, they're pretty complex machines, but, of course, they could be life-saving machines depending on how many coronavirus patients we're seeing go into hospitals.

We're waiting for an update on that. We could get an update from the president and his task force on what's going on with those talks about the stimulus bill on Capitol Hill.

And, Kate, I want to note quickly, you might see fewer people here today than you've seen in the past where oftentimes there's been dozens of members of the task force here.

We're told by the White House they're also practicing social distancing by putting fewer people out here in front of reporters. Of course, they aren't standing six feet apart. They're trying to limit the number of people standing on stage with the president.

BOLDUAN: It's a small room, if you've ever been in there, that's for sure.


BOLDUAN: But it's good modelling by everybody.

Great to see you, Kaitlan. Thank you very much.

We'll get back to Kaitlan as this is going to develop throughout the hour.

Let's get back to New York right now where we just heard the number of coronavirus cases jumped overnight. We heard that from Governor Cuomo. He said there are now over 4,000 people who have been infected, 21 people have died. A sobering number, of course.

And the governor also said there could be tens of thousands of cases revealed as they're ramping up testing across the state. The more tests, the more positive tests you are going to find.

CNN's Brynn Gingras is live from Times Square for us again.

Brynn, the governor had a very important message for the public today.

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and, Kate, Governor Cuomo can have a very candid delivery. And he was specifically about this message of all these terms being floated around, not just in New York but really across the country. A shelter-in-place, a quarantine, a lockdown.

Essentially, the root of it, again, if people don't need to leave their homes, then don't. He even said this term, shelter-in-place, that's what you're told to do when there's an active-shooter situation. You go and hide and you don't come out until you get the all clear.

That's not the case we're in right now but people need to take this seriously without panicking. Go outside if you need a walk. Go outside if you have to walk your dog.

But he even said, in New York City, he saw in parks people were in clusters together and they weren't listening to the warnings of being six feet apart. That's what people need to take seriously.

I think it was a really important moment to hear it from that government official, really, for the entire country.

Here in New York, he again reiterated there's no lockdown, there's no quarantine. You will not be forced to stay in your home. That's not the case in the state here, in the state, really, not just in New York City.

About the testing, yes, he said, just overnight, 7,500 tests were done in New York and so we are going to see those numbers up. He cautioned even about that. Take a listen.


CUOMO: We tested 7,500 people last night. Why are you seeing the numbers go up? Because you are taking more tests. People see those numbers go up, they get nervous, they panic. Oh, look at how many more people have the virus. That's not how many more people have the virus. You're just taking more tests so you're finding more positives.


GINGRAS: And again, reiterating this is why people need to stay indoors, because we don't really know how many people have this virus.

Really quickly, he made one more move today reducing the work force. People who are working in the offices, Kate, only 25 percent here in the state of New York are allowed to actually have employees in the office.

So, again, we're seeing that incrementally go up as far as keeping people back in their homes. And that's the message we got today from the governor.

BOLDUAN: Brynn, thank you.

So the number of cases and the number of deaths and who is impacted, it does need some perspective at this point, as we're hearing from Brynn and the governor. Why are the numbers rising quickly? What should you take from that?

Joining me now, CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Great to see you, Sanjay.


BOLDUAN: How do we take these numbers? Does it mean the virus is not spreading? Does it mean it's spreading faster? Do we have a good perspective on this now?

GUPTA: We don't have a good perspective on this now, Kate. You feel like a broken record after a while, but we're really behind on testing. So the analogy I use is you're trying to look through a pinhole trying to get a bigger picture out there. We're just seeing a small slice of things right now.

I think the governor is right, numbers will go up as testing goes up. But I have to tell you, the testing is really important and will remain important, but we're so far behind the curve on testing that I think many communities sort of have to behave like the virus is spreading in their communities.

I think a lot of communities are saying, well, the numbers are low here, therefore, no reason to really start implementing some of these more strategic physical distancing measures.

But they have to. Because the testing hasn't been there. You shouldn't assume the cases aren't there. West Virginia, Kate, they thought the cases weren't there. That wasn't true. They just weren't testing there.


Going forward, it has to be assumed the cases are here. Maybe even assume you have the virus and act accordingly.

BOLDUAN: Sanjay, honestly, I've now started my show exactly the way you have been describing it, because your behavior changes when you behave as though you yourself has the virus, and what that means for everyone around you and how you interact with the environment around you. That is what's important at this point.

And then this. How about this new view of how this impacts younger people? In France, I just saw some new information. Health officials are reporting today that half of all the coronavirus patients currently in intensive care in the country are under the age of 60.

GUPTA: Yes, Kate, we are learning together, differently than I think we've ever learned together on something.

Typically, when you're asking me questions, I can say, here's 10 weeks of data, Kate. I don't even have 10 weeks of data to tell you things.

I think the narrative was elderly people and those with preexisting conditions, vulnerable, everyone else OK. What we're learning, to your questions, if that's not what we're seeing in other places around the world.

Two things jumped out at me. One, if you go look at patients in China, younger patients who recovered, listed as recovered, there was still significant impact on their bodies. And 20 to 30 percent loss of lung function, for example.


GUPTA: That's significant.

Also, you look at the number of people who are being infected here in the United States by age, and you look at the blue category, 20 to 44, that's 29 percent of people infected.

These are important things to pay attention to, especially for younger people, people who wouldn't consider themselves vulnerable.

Kate, one more thing, and I want to say this, and I want to make sure I say this slowly. When they look at the China studies, they found that four out of five people, 80 percent of people who were confirmed with the infection were likely infected by people who didn't know they had it. So 80 percent of people who were confirmed to have the infection were infected by people who didn't know they had it.

That's why your message --


BOLDUAN: Said another way, this is on all of us.

GUPTA: Yes. Yes. Everyone has to behave, like you and I are saying regularly, everyone has to behave as if they have the virus. You could be unknowingly, unwittingly, unintentionally spreading this. That's not to malign anyone or anything.


GUPTA: That's just the way it is right now and we should behave accordingly.

BOLDUAN: There's a lot of work being done by amazing minds trying to work on a vaccine and also treatments.


BOLDUAN: The president has teased about some news with the FDA that could be coming. I think it's important to maybe -- before he speaks, I'd like to know what you think that could be, or maybe, more importantly, what that really can't be, given the amount of time that they are still in trials with all of this.

GUPTA: It's a great way of framing it, Kate. First of all, everyone asks about the vaccine. No matter how good medical technology is, it just takes time to trial these things, to prove out what you believe to be true.

There was a promising trial looking at two HIV drugs in combination, widely available drugs, that we just learned yesterday through the "New England Journal of Medicine," that trial did not work. It did not show any benefit as compared to just standard care, supportive care. So that's disappointing, obviously.

But a couple things I want to point out. That trial was started after the first patient was diagnosed. So very, very rapid start to the trial and a very rapid fail, which means that failing quickly is very important. You want to divert your time and your resources to other trials also under way. That didn't work but there are other promising things out there.

I don't know what specifically they're going to announce at the briefing today. My guess is it has to do with testing, which we talked about, or with potentially new therapeutics that are being evaluated. But this HIV drug trial didn't work but there are other trials under way.

BOLDUAN: Hearing there's promising progress, we'll all take that at this point.

GUPTA: That's right.

BOLDUAN: Having a realistic view on when it could get to you and me and our loved ones, that's important perspective to keep as well.

Sanjay, as always, you're Superman. Thank you.

GUPTA: Thank you, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Be sure to join us tonight for the third global town hall on the coronavirus hosted by Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Anderson Cooper. You can watch that right here on CNN at 8:00 eastern. Please join us for that.


At any moment, the White House Coronavirus Task Force is set to give an update on the outbreak. We'll bring it to you as soon as it begins. Even if it's on the commercial break, we'll dump it out and bring it to you.

Stay with us.


BOLDUAN: We are keeping an eye on the White House right now. The Coronavirus Task Force is set to have a briefing any minute. We will bring it to you as soon as it begins. This also just into CNN. FAA Administrator Stephen Dickson will self-

quarantine after meeting with one of the two congressmen that tested positive for the coronavirus. These are the first U.S. lawmakers to get a positive test result. Florida Republican Mario Diaz-Balart, who met with Dickson, and Utah Democrat Ben McAdams.

Add to that, there are at least 21 members of Congress who are self- quarantining or isolating themselves as a precaution after coming into contact with an infected person.

With all of this, Congress is trying to put together a massive possibly $1 trillion emergency stimulus package to help Americans and businesses, big and small, to weather this storm.


Joining me is Democratic Senator Maggie Hassan, of New Hampshire.

Senator, thank you for coming in.

SEN. MAGGIE HASSAN (D-NH): Thanks for having me, Kate.

BOLDUAN: This is personal for everyone. This is especially personal for you, Senator. Your son, Ben, has complex medical needs, and he is a young person. He's at risk if he contracts -- he's at high risk if he contracts this virus, Your staff was telling me that's why you're staying in Washington.

HASSAN: That's right. Thanks for having me on, Kate.

To me, this social distancing is about much more than making sure none of us get the virus. It's about unknowingly transmitting the virus to someone like Ben.

He's a great young man but he has a cerebral palsy and a compromised immune system. I think about, two years ago, he had pneumonia that wouldn't quit and got lots of fluid in his lungs. He needed really intensive intervention, minimal surgery and really intensive care to pull out of that.

So what I want people to think about when we think about social distancing is not putting other people at risk who will be much more challenged to fight this virus off.

But also we don't want to overwhelm our health care system, because each of these high-risk cases could, in fact, require multiple health care providers at the bedside, expensive specialized rare equipment.

That's the kind of thing we all have to be thinking about. And that's why I'm so glad you're focusing on the need for everybody to just act as if we have the virus.

BOLDUAN: Senator, I know you've seen the video. What do you say to the folks you've seen packing beaches in Florida?

HASSAN: First of all, to your earlier guest, the doctor, young people are getting this virus, too, and it's impacting them in significant ways, too. Many of them are ending up in the hospital. For their own safety, they should be keeping their distance and cancelling their plans to be in large groups.

But they also again run this large risk of giving the virus to somebody who is at higher risk. And so we need to focus on social distancing.

It's also because of the concern about overwhelming the health care system. And that's why it's so important for the president to do more than just invoke the Defense Production Act but also implement it so we can get more protective gear and equipment to our health care providers.

BOLDUAN: I want to ask you about that in one second.


BOLDUAN: Look, the message for most in leadership positions has been, across the board, this is serious and you need to heed the warnings.

But then there are comments from Senators like Republican Senator Ron Johnson. He told the "Milwaukee Journal Sentinel" -- well, let me read it because it doesn't make sense in light of what we're discussing right here.


BOLDUAN: He said this: "I'm not denying what a nasty disease COVID-19 can be and how it obviously is devastating to somewhere between 1 percent and 3.4 percent of the population. But we don't shut down our economy because tens of thousands of people die on the highways. It's a risk we accept so we can move about. We don't shut down our economies because tens of thousands of people die from the common flu."

Is that the kind of message you want coming from the U.S. Senate right now?

HASSAN: No, it's not. And I would look forward to talking with Senator Johnson.

There's bipartisan concern about this virus, bipartisan action. You've seen it on the Hill in the last two weeks where we've come together to put together packages on the seriousness this virus puts on our health and our economy.

The two are related. You can't separate one from the other. We need a healthy work force, a healthy population to have a healthy economy, and that's why it's important to focus on the danger this virus presents.

BOLDUAN: And as you mentioned, protective equipment. There's a horrible situation already playing out where doctors and nurses are running out and can't get the gear they need to protect themselves, to protect their patients. My father is a 70-year-old doctor in Indiana and he is already facing

these choices. He's running out of protective gear, still needing to see his patients, obviously, and he's 70 years old. And he's wondering -- and he can't get any more. He's having trouble finding it.

What are doctors like my father supposed to be doing?

HASSAN: And that's the point, right? And we are seeing in New Hampshire our health care professionals are asking for contributions, donations of personal protective gear. That's unacceptable. It's especially unacceptable in our country.

That's why the Defense Production Act is so important. And that's why the president has to do more than talk about it. We have manufacturers who are slowing production. We have workers who want to be on the front lines and help.


There's a safe way for ramping up production so we get the personal protective gear out, we get the nasal swabs for testing out. There's a big shortage of those right now. And we get respirators built so we can have more available as this pandemic peaks in the United States.