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New York Governor Says Expect Tens of Thousands of Coronavirus Cases in the State; Trump Signs Coronavirus Emergency Package, Health Workers Face Supply Shortages as Cases Surge in U.S.; Coronavirus Could Hit Young People, Too; New York City Considering Turning Hotels into Hospitals as Outbreak Grows; White House Targets Young People in Push for Social Distancing; Stocks Set to Fall as Global Recession Fears Grow. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired March 19, 2020 - 09:00   ET



POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. I'm Poppy Harlow, and this morning our nation again is facing crises -- a surging number of people with coronavirus and vanishing supplies needed to treat them.

In just 24 hours, the number of positive tests soared by more than 40 percent across the country, hospitals short on beds, masks, ventilators and testing. Some health workers making their own masks. Just think about that. Making their own protective gear in America.

Washington state is building the nation's first field hospital. The president is sending two Navy hospital ships to help those healthcare workers, one of them coming to New York City, but it could be weeks before it arrives. And in the birthplace of the model T, news overnight that America's top automakers, all of them, Ford, Chrysler, General Motors, all temporarily closing all of their U.S. plants.

Ford and GM stepping up offering to potentially make ventilators that are in such short supply. And in the nation's capital, President Trump signed an economic emergency relief bill that includes free testing for the virus and paid emergency leave for workers. And now lawmakers are scrambling and negotiating on a massive stimulus plan to try to help stem the economic fall out of this pandemic.

The impact on Wall Street continues day by day to be devastating. The stock market has now erased essentially all of the gains made during the entirety of the Trump administration. This as we see the first two members of Congress test positive for coronavirus.

And another startling warning from the CDC, young people, that includes toddler and infants as well, more vulnerable than previously thought. New numbers show nearly 30 percent of those hospitalized are between the ages of 20 and 54, and 29 percent of the first few thousand cases reported in the United States were between the ages of just 20 and 44.

We have a lot to get to, let's begin in New York City, with Brynn Gingras.

Brynn, let's begin with what Governor Cuomo is saying in terms of the likely number of cases coming.

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Poppy, the governor has said he expects this state to see tens of thousands of cases. Now, just to be clear, he's not saying all those cases are going to need hospitalization. He's saying really that he believes a lot of people may even have this virus, might self-resolve, but they may not even know that they have it. So that's where that large, large, large number is at.

But, listen, the fact is that New York City alone is racing closer to 2,000 cases alone. So this is the reality. The governor also said on "NEW DAY" this morning that the city did -- rather, the state did 8,000 tests overnight. So those numbers are going to go up, but the fact remains this is going to make a huge impact on the health care system here across the country, but also again here.

You mentioned that military, naval hospital ship, we are expecting that, though it is going to take some time and there are steps being taken now. We know that the governor has been working with the Army Corps of Engineers to possibly transform dormitories into hospitals, possibly hotel rooms, possibly maximizing more beds into the hospitals that are currently in operation.

We have actually heard about, you know, the call for nurses and doctors to come out of retirement, back into the workforce. We've actually heard that people have answered that call, so thank you so much to them. But that is a major concern as far as personnel and bed space. But we're also talking about the fact that we need equipment as well.

Also, really quickly, Poppy, we're talking about the fact that the density has to decrease. The governor taking another step by reducing the workforce in this state. But not saying that there is going to be a major, major step like a shelter in place, how that's been described. That's not going to happen, just full on quarantine. But certainly he continues to take steps to try to get people to stay in their homes -- Poppy.

HARLOW: Brynn, understood, thank you for all of that.

To Capitol Hill now where lawmakers are considering a $1 trillion stimulus package. Manu is there.

Help us understand how this is different than what the president signed yesterday.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well this is much more expansive. What the president signed yesterday deals with targeted relief efforts as well as expensive bill. We don't have the exact price tag what the president signed, but it deals with paid leave for some workers who have been displaced, allowed for free testing for coronavirus for individuals who want that, increases Medicaid spending to the states, enhances unemployment benefits. But the stimulus package under consideration now much more expansive,

$1 trillion. They're far more expansive than even what Congress did to prop up what was occurring in 2008 during the financial meltdown. This bill that is under consideration was split up money towards small businesses as well as for affected industries that have been hurt like airlines, provide cash payments to consumers.


But the details of that trillion-dollar plan, Poppy, still being sorted out. We expect Senate Republicans to put forward their proposal today and further negotiations to take place in the coming days -- Poppy.

HARLOW: And on top of it all, Manu, I mean, this is coming so much closer to home for members of Congress. First it was the number of them quarantined or self-isolating, now two members have actually tested positive.

RAJU: Yes, the first two members of Congress, Mario Diaz-Balart, Republican from Florida, and also Ben McAdams, a freshman Democrat from Utah, both announced last night that after leaving Washington on Saturday that they were experiencing symptoms, that they both tested positive for the disease. And as a result, several lawmakers who have come into contact with them are now in quarantine themselves, including the Republican whip Steve Scalise on the House side as well as one just announcing on the Democratic side, Kendra Horn.

The question, though, Poppy, is what will lawmakers do when the House has to return last week? Will they stay away longer and that push for remote voting, will that ultimately occur?

HARLOW: OK. Well, we of course wish them a quick recovery. Thank you, Manu, on all those fronts. We appreciate it.

Joining me now is Dr. Sejal Hathi. She's a resident and physician -- a resident physician at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Doctor Hathi, thank you so much for being with us.


HARLOW: So, for anyone who is watching earlier this week, they heard your mentor Dr. Celine Gounder talk about what you had been experiencing and telling her. And that's why we wanted to have you on because you're on the frontlines. So just let me begin with saying thank you for being there, thank you for what you and all the doctors and nurses and hospital staff are doing.

What are you seeing? Because we hear all these anecdotes, the supplies are low, people are making their own masks, the CDC guidelines have lessened so they say if you don't have a mask, put a bandanna around your face. What are you actually having to do every day?

HATHI: Yes, so, Poppy, we see photos coming from China, Italy, Singapore, health care workers, fully clothed in hazmat suits, and we think that must be the reality here, but it's not. Hospitals across the country are rapidly running out of masks, gowns, protective eyewear that they desperately need to guard appropriately against this virus. And we're seeing that, even at Mass General Hospital, which is one of -- 10 institutions nationwide, federally funded to treat special pathogens like COVID-19. We are being asked to re-use and recycle single-use respirators and surgical masks when we go see patients.

HARLOW: You are? This is happening to you? You are being told, use that mask again?

HATHI: It's not only our hospital, Poppy. It's doctors and nurses across the country, but, yes, that's what we're doing to conserve what is a short supply.

HARLOW: What is the mood at the --

HATHI: And --

HARLOW: I was just going to say, what's the mood at the hospital? Because here you are having to take care of all these patients, not only patients with coronavirus, other virial patients as well, while trying to keep yourself healthy for your family and your loved ones. What are doctors and nurses saying to each other?

HATHI: Absolutely. So the doctors and nurses that I work with every day at Mass General are heroes. They are some of the brightest, most committed members of the workforce and I have no doubt that they will fight against the virus until every last bed is emptied. And the vaccine hopefully is knocking at our doors. But right now there is a palpable sense of dread that is pulsing through the halls of the hospital.

And while the Defense Production Act that we heard about earlier that President Trump signed, albeit belatedly, yesterday is the positive first step. The truth is, right now, we are foot soldiers in a war we didn't foresee, and were never trained for, and we're hurdling forth into a battle with neither the insight into where these infections are, nor the armor to protect against them. And that's really not OK.

HARLOW: That's a harrowing picture that you draw. I know you're also worried about the mortality rate among those with other illnesses that you're seeing, at least anecdotally, people who are sick and need to come to the hospital, they're not coming because of this?

HATHI: Well, what we saw with the Ebola epidemic just a few years ago is the uptick of health care services actually went down. And the morbidity and mortality rate of other infectious diseases like malaria, TB, went up. And we're worried that as people are appropriately practicing social distancing and staying home from the hospital, that similarly the morbidity and mortality of other diseases like heart failure, cellulitis, other infections might go up.

And so we need to be prepared for that. And there are other hospitals across the country that are doing very good work in this respect, and expanding hospital at home programs, doing more to invest in telehealth.


But we need a massive influx of resources and of money and a lot more attention dedicated to this in order to avoid that catastrophic loss.

HARLOW: Dr. Hathi, I think you put it so well. Foot soldiers without the armor needed and didn't know this was coming just a few weeks ago. Thank you very much for what you're doing every day. And good luck.

HATHI: Thank you. A pleasure to be here.

HARLOW: Good luck.

HATHI: Thank you.

HARLOW: So on the same day that officials are begging, at this point begging young Americans to take this virus seriously and to actually social distance, we're seeing packed beaches in Florida and we're hearing this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I really -- I feel like it's not a big deal to me. I'm still out here, you know, living day by day out here every day.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel like we shouldn't, like, change, like, our lifestyles necessarily just because of, like, corona, especially because it hasn't been like affecting younger people. I think, like, that's why we don't take it seriously.


HARLOW: Wow. The CDC releasing new numbers and guess what they show? That of the first 2449 cases reported in the United States, 29 percent of those infected with coronavirus were young. They were between the ages of 20 and 44.

With me now is Charles Ornstein. He's the deputy managing editor of Pro Publica, and the piece that you wrote on this is getting so much attention. Thank you for your time.


HARLOW: So you write that you're surprised that the number of top officials and even some friends and acquaintances who keep comparing this to the flu. Without any evidence.

ORNSTEIN: Right, well, I mean, that's what people know. Right? They know every year they go in to get a flu shot and it is going to decrease your chances of getting the flu and if you get the flu, it is not going to be all that bad. And that's in part because of what the president has been saying a whole lot. The president has been comparing it to the flu for weeks now.

HARLOW: Right. ORNSTEIN: Just this week, he compared it again to the response to the

2009 swine flu epidemic. But this is really a whole lot different from both the annual flu and the swine flu.

HARLOW: It is. And by the way, there is not enough flu vaccine. I mean, there is not a coronavirus vaccine the way there is a flu vaccine every year that many of us get.

So Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin was speaking to the "Milwaukee Journal Sentinel" and I know you saw it, but for those who didn't, let me read you what he said. "I'm not denying what a nasty disease COVID- 19 can be and how obviously it's devastating somewhere between 1 percent and 3.4 percent of the population but that means 97 percent and 99 percent will get through this and develop immunities and will be able to move beyond. We don't shut down our economy because tens of thousands of people die on the highways. And we don't shut down our economy because tens of thousands of people die from the common flu."

That's from a sitting U.S. senator. Well, what do you think when you read that?

ORNSTEIN: Right. Well, 1 percent of the U.S. population would be 30 million people. So -- I'm sorry, three million people. And so that is a tremendous amount, 3 percent would be somewhere, you know, of 9 million to 10 million people. That is orders of magnitude beyond who died from the flu annually and in fact if you look at it, then the death rate from COVID-19 may decrease over time.

The numbers out of China hit a country that was not prepared for a novel virus. The U.S. is somewhat more prepared for that, so you would expect that the death rate to be decreased, but even at 1 percent, three million deaths from COVID-19 is an inconsiderably large number and one which is causing all of the alarm that you're seeing right now.

HARLOW: I just want to point out one other startling thing that you bring up importantly in your piece. And that is the overall number of hospital beds. Can you break down for people the comparison between our economy and how the resources and hospital beds in the United States versus other OECD countries and those developed nations and where we rank?

ORNSTEIN: Yes, absolutely. The U.S. has fewer hospital beds than China does. It has fewer hospital beds than Germany does, it has fewer hospital beds than almost every developed country does. We have about 2.8 hospital beds for every thousand residents in the U.S. ProPublica did an analysis, if you go to our Web site, you'll be able to see -- we did an analysis with the Harvard Global Health Institute. In which we looked at each region's capacity to handle the influx of patients in a, you know, COVID-19 outbreak.

And what we find is that if this hits really fast, almost every region is going to be overwhelmed, which is why we need to slow the curve. That's why you're hearing messages for folks to stay at home, and why almost every public health official in the U.S. today is taking this as seriously as it is. Hospitals just simply don't have the room for a surge of patients that could come if this really roots.

HARLOW: Yes. Boy, I hope those young kids on spring break you just heard from are listening to you and heeding this and watching this, because they have no idea how many people this is affecting and how.

Charles, thank you for your reporting. Thanks for being here.

ORNSTEIN: Thanks, Poppy.

HARLOW: So the crisis is so serious in New York City, they're weighing here whether to turn hotels in New York into hospitals. We'll talk to the head of New York City's Emergency Management Division next.

Plus, the economic fallout of this pandemic is stunning. Thousands and thousands without jobs as businesses shut down.


Will a stimulus package help? Will it do enough? And professional athletes not playing sports right now, but they are playing a role in helping fight this pandemic. We'll talk to one of them, next.


HARLOW: This morning, New York City is considering plans to possibly turn entire hotels even in the middle of Manhattan into make-shift hospitals as the coronavirus outbreak grows. This comes as the debate continues over whether New Yorkers should actually have to shelter-in- place, essentially stay in their home except for necessary outings.


Joining me now is the commissioner of New York City's Emergency Management Department, Deanne Criswell. Commissioner Criswell, thank you so much. I mean, this is -- this is what you and your team prepare -- or I suppose, you don't imagine something like this. But these are the crisis that you guys prepare for, so thank you for what you're doing.


HARLOW: Talk to me about how realistic it is that we could see some of the biggest hotels in the world, New York City hotels turn into hospitals. I should note not to treat coronavirus patients, but to take care of so many other people that fall ill with something else.

CRISWELL: I know exactly. I think it's a real possibility right now, and as you stated, we want to be able to have maximum space available in our current hospitals to treat those that are the most infected and the most ill from the coronavirus. And so that means if we can take and move some minor patients over to hotels or other types of locations, it will relieve the pressure on our hospital system so they can take care of those that need it most.

HARLOW: You're also considering -- and I think there's some images of this for people who aren't familiar with the Jacob Javits Center and how huge it is. It's one of the biggest convention centers in the world.


HARLOW: They're considering turning -- it takes up city blocks here, a few blocks from where I'm sitting right now. You are considering --

CRISWELL: It is --

HARLOW: Turning that into one massive hospital?

CRISWELL: We would definitely like to use that and turn that into a massive hospital. Again, working with the state, our health department and emergency management working with state officials to see what we can do to turn that into really a large scale hospital. Again, taking the pressure off of our hospital system itself, giving those beds to those that need it most.

HARLOW: I understand from the "New York Times" reporting earlier this week that you, New York City, requested 2 million of these specialty masks from the federal government. Is that the case and what did you end up getting?

CRISWELL: So we requested 2.2 million masks through the strategic national stockpile, what we received was 76,000 and they were all expired.

HARLOW: You couldn't use one of them?

CRISWELL: Well, now, we can use expired masks, the CDC does --


CRISWELL: Have guidance that -- run out of the non-expired ones, that it is acceptable to move down into an expired one. But of course, we would like to have ones that are not expired, but even that, we need more. We just need more masks.

HARLOW: Well, of course you do, right? And this is happening --


HARLOW: In America with other doctors telling us, like, one, we just had on, that they are being asked to and having to make their own make-shift masks as this week, the CDC downgraded sort of their level of what's needed in terms of masks, saying that if you need to, home- made masks should ideally be used in combination with the face shield that covers the entire face.

And they say that healthcare providers might use home-made masks like a bandana or a scarf. Is that safe?

CRISWELL: Yes, I haven't seen that guidance, but we're --

HARLOW: Yes -- CRISWELL: Looking at any possibility we can put in place to protect

our healthcare workers. You know, we're reserving the N95 masks for our healthcare workers that need them most. Those that are working with the patients that are having high risk procedures, whether intubating them and where they have the most risk of having those droplets splashed on them and then using surgical masks or other types of protection for our first responders, our healthcare workers that are working with less --

HARLOW: Right --

CRISWELL: Critical patients.

HARLOW: So the debate now in New York City is over, will there be a shelter in place order or not, like San Francisco. Do you think one would be effective?

CRISWELL: I think that massive social distancing is what's needed to slow the spread of this disease. We put in a lot of significant restrictions a couple of days ago, we're talking about what the results and what the compliance is with that to determine if we need to take even stronger steps.

HARLOW: We wish you luck --

CRISWELL: But the biggest thing that people can do is truly adhere to those restrictions.

HARLOW: Yes --

CRISWELL: We need people, especially those that are the most vulnerable to stay inside, not go out, because those are the people that we're seeing in our hospitals, and those that are eventually succumbing to this disease.

HARLOW: We wish you a lot of luck and thank you for your service to the city. Commissioner Criswell --

CRISWELL: Absolutely --

HARLOW: We'll talk to you soon --

CRISWELL: Thank you.

HARLOW: Yes, we are moments away from the opening bell on Wall Street, and it has been devastating day-after-day. Look at that, futures down once again this morning. Today's session will begin below the level where stocks were when the president took office.

That means that huge rally we've seen in the last few years, it is essentially completely gone. The Dow is just a few hundred points away from dropping 10,000 points from its record high reached just last month.

Starting Monday, trading at the New York Stock Exchange will take place not there, but electronically only. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


HARLOW: All right, we're just moments away from the opening bell on Wall Street. The Dow, think about this, has now essentially erased all of its gains since the president took office. The New York Stock Exchange, the floor, for trading, will not be open on Monday. All trading will be electronic to try to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Kevin Hassett is back with me, former chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisors.

Kevin, thank you so much for being here --


HARLOW: You saw my jaw drop on Monday when you told me that you think we could lose a million jobs in the month of March alone.


HARLOW: Now all estimates are, even from the federal government, this thing is going to last a whole lot longer than a month, they're preparing for even 18 months of this and multiple iterations of the virus. Looking into April and May, what's going to happen to U.S. jobs?