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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

States Enacting Stricter Measures to Control Pandemic. Aired 4- 4:30p ET

Aired March 20, 2020 - 16:00   ET

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


[16:00:00]

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: But he did applaud the governors of New York and California for taking those measures, enacting new mandates for their residents to stay at home, meaning nearly one in five Americans are now under such an order.

And stricter measures are also now expected tomorrow from New Jersey. As New York Governor Andrew Cuomo put it -- quote -- "We need everyone to be safe. Otherwise, no one can be safe."

CNN's Erica Hill is live in New York City.

And, Erica, the Health Department there asking health care workers to stop testing other health care workers and first responders without symptoms.

ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right. We're just getting some of this guidance that the New York City Health Department sent to health care facilities here, saying, as you said Jake, not to test asymptomatic health care workers and first responders.

And the reason for that is they say they need to preserve that personal protective equipment, mentioning a shortage of swabs, as well as transport media and testing reagents. Again, that memo in all caps saying, do not test asymptomatic and/or exposed health care workers.

This just one of the many new directives and restrictions we're seeing as this happens across the country.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HILL (voice-over): New promises from the White House.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have millions of masks which are coming and which will be distributed to the states. They will be here soon. We're having them shipped directly to states.

HILL: Critical supplies now on the way, but the president was light on specifics.

It's not clear when they will arrive, nor where the White House is getting them. States, meantime, moving swiftly to try to contain the virus. GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): It's time for all of us to recognize, as

individuals and, as a community, we need to do more to meet this moment.

HILL: California telling the state's 40 million residents to stay home. While they can go out for food, medical appointments, even a jog, officials are urging people to limit the excursions and the interaction.

New York's governor going further, mandating all nonessential workers stay home starting Sunday night.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): We need everyone to be safe. Otherwise, no one can be safe. We have talked to people all across the globe about what they did, what they have done, what worked, what doesn't work. And that has all informed this policy.

HILL: The governor advising public transportation only if absolutely necessary. Any outdoor exercise must be done alone, visits with loved ones discouraged. The strictest rules will apply to the most vulnerable, those over 70, the immunocompromised, anyone with an underlying illness.

The governor warning the new rules are not optional.

CUOMO: If somebody wants to blame someone or complain about someone, blame me. If everything we do saves just one life, I will be happy.

HILL: In Florida, some counties now closing beaches, as the governor resists calls to do the same statewide.

MICHAEL A. ADKINSON JR., WALTON COUNTY, FLORIDA SHERIFF: You either think it's a liberal conspiracy, or that we're the jackbooted thugs trying to take control of everything. So -- and the reality is that this is a science issue.

HILL: As nurses and doctors are called out of retirement to help and new restrictions limit movement, the reality of this pandemic is becoming more clear.

In New Jersey, one family has now lost four loved ones to coronavirus in a matter of days. Several more are in the hospital, 19 under quarantine.

ELIZABETH FUSCO, LOST 4 FAMILY MEMBER TO CORONAVIRUS: It is absolutely surreal. It's like, the second we start to grieve about one, the phone rings, and there is a another person gone, taken from us forever.

HILL: The heartbreak of one family a sobering reminder that changing daily life could ultimately save it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HILL: And I just want to point out a couple of things here too, Jake. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio yesterday talking about the numbers in the city, saying, we need to not think of them as numbers, but as people. And, remember, each number is connected to a family and ultimately to the community.

To that end, the number is obviously going up as the number of tests go up, Governor Cuomo saying that, in New York alone, 10,000 tests were done overnight, more than 7,000 cases, of course, here now -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Erica Hill, thank you so much. As always, stay safe, please.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us now for our daily conversation.

Sanjay, always good to see you.

President Trump continues to give an optimistic look at this anti- malaria drug that people are talking about as a potential treatment for coronavirus.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, however, tempered expectations. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: Is there any evidence to suggest that, as with malaria, it might be used as a prophylaxis against COVID-19?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NIAID DIRECTOR: No. The answer is no. And the evidence that you're talking about, John, is anecdotal evidence. The information that you're referring to specifically is anecdotal. It was not done in a controlled clinical trial. So you really can't make any definitive statement about it.

TRUMP: We all understand what the doctor said is 100 percent correct. It's early. But we have -- you know, I have seen things that are impressive. And we will see. We're going to know soon.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[16:05:05]

TAPPER: Look, we all want this medicine to work. We all want it to be out as soon as possible. A president wanting to convey optimism is understandable.

But what do you make of this? I mean, is this a false hope that the president's offering?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think that's what Dr. Fauci was sort of saying. He was insinuating it, at least.

He's got probably got the toughest job in America right now, Dr. Fauci does. But, look, yesterday, President Trump said this drug was approved for

coronavirus. It is not. Yesterday, he said it could potentially be a game-changer. Dr. Fauci said there's only anecdotal evidence around this.

On one hand, you have someone who trusts their gut instinct, but it's not science-based, it's not evidence-based instinct. And he's being fact-checked real time by Dr. Anthony Fauci at the lectern. I'd never seen anything quite like it.

But, Jake, you're absolutely right. I mean, look, everybody wants to be hopeful. Everybody on the planet is looking for a therapeutic like this. But you have got to approach this in a scientific way, so you find something that actually works.

TAPPER: Yesterday, Sanjay, you and I were talking about the fact that Dr. Birx, the head of the Coronavirus Task Force, had said that more than 50 percent of the cases came from only 10 counties in three states, Washington state, California, New York.

And you and I were talking about whether or not they should tell everybody in those three states, or in those 10 counties at the very least, to stay at home. Since that conversation, California and New York have done that.

But you think it should be nationwide?

GUPTA: Yes.

Look, I mean, this is one of those things that we're sort of trickling along here, we get more numbers, more people who are diagnosed with this coronavirus, and that then starts to stimulate action.

The problem is -- and, Jake, you and I have talked about this many times, but, obviously, we're way behind on testing, and there's plenty of evidence that this virus is circulating much more widely than I think anybody realizes.

If you are going to do these actions that Governor Cuomo is talking about, Governor Newsom is talking about, they are most effective, Jake, if they are done early.

I don't think you can stress this enough. If you wait too long, maybe they will still have some impact, but not nearly as much. And that's a problem. It's got to be done early. It's got to be done consistently. People have to be honest about it, and they have to be diligent.

But I just don't think there's a reason to wait. There's no trigger here. We know what's happening. And people should act.

TAPPER: I asked Governor Whitmer of Michigan, basically, shouldn't you be doing this?

GUPTA: Yes.

TAPPER: Like, if you ask Governor Newsom or Governor Cuomo, if you could put sodium pentathol in them, and said, don't you wish that you had done these -- I don't want to begrudge them. I'm glad that they're taking this step -- but don't you wish you had done it two weeks ago, I feel like they probably would admit yes.

But, I mean, I'm just making that up. But it just seems like we are always dealing with what we think is the reality is actually like a week or two behind.

GUPTA: That's right.

And the thing about it is that we -- this isn't conjecture. We have evidence throughout history and we have evidence real time. We have evidence from other countries of how this can potentially play out.

And everyone says, look, we're at this inflection point. It's either going to go the way of Italy, which has been really sad, what has happened over there, or possibly the way of South Korea, which has had more success.

We keep saying that, Jake, but what are we really doing about it, then, to make us go in a better trajectory? I feel like it's just still slow-rolling this. I mean, I get that you don't want to shock the country, you don't want to shock the population.

But some of these measures that go into place now for a shorter time will have a much more of an impact than then these same measures for a much longer time later on. We have got to do this.

I don't know what the metaphor is, ripping off the Band-Aid or whatever. But it has to be done. And I think everybody recognizes it. It's just become a question of how to get the country used to it at this point.

TAPPER: Well, I think one of the issues -- and it seems pretty obvious to me -- Governor Whitmer, when I asked her about it, she said, basically, because it doesn't make sense for it to be a hodgepodge.

And there is no one at the federal level, i.e., the president, saying, we need to do this nationally, although, if you like kind of like read between the lines of everything Dr. Fauci says...

GUPTA: Yes.

TAPPER: ... it seems like he is really suggesting, as much as he can publicly, while not getting fired, that he would like it to be national.

That's my interpretation.

GUPTA: Yes, I think you're absolutely right. And he sort of said something to that effect. Like, look, we're doing this. This sort of falls in line with our recommendations.

The problem, Jake, as you and I know, is that without some sort of a more significant guidance or something that's applied more broadly across the country, there are places that are still not taking this seriously. There are places that think, you know what, our numbers are low, we're OK, we're going to escape this whole thing.

There are places that don't realize that a virus does not respect boundaries or borders. It's traveling wherever it wants to go. And no one is really necessarily protected. That's not to alarm people. That's to tell them to take action. And the action can make a big difference.

[16:10:07]

Jake, let me just show this again this, 1918 example, because every time I show this, I get e-mails. People find this illustrative in terms of what can happen if you actually take action.

The big line, the big peak -- Jake -- you have seen this many times -- Philadelphia...

TAPPER: Yes.

GUPTA: ... they had a big parade during the 1918 flu pandemic. They didn't call off the parade. And a lot of people got together. And you saw a massive influx of patients into the hospitals, and many, many patients died.

The dotted line is St. Louis, same time period, Jake. They practiced social distancing, physical distancing, as we're calling it, and it made a huge difference.

Why don't we listen to the evidence here? It's going to hurt, a lot of it. This is -- nobody likes what's happening here. I get no joy in saying this at all. But if we do this, we can save ourselves a lot of pain and anguish later on.

TAPPER: And just for people who maybe are tuning in to CNN for the first time because of this, and aren't familiar with either of us, like, you're not an alarmist.

I mean, you were the guy that says it's going to be OK. For you to be sounding the alarm right now says a lot.

And there's one other thing I want to say, because we get some feedback that people don't like the -- where is it? It's over here, the coronavirus pandemic chart that we have up which shows the number of cases worldwide and fatalities worldwide, as well as in the United States.

That number, 215, you're looking at right now, fatalities, it was 208 about an hour ago. Now it's 215.

Why is it -- why are we doing this? I mean, I know why, but tell our viewers, why are we showing people this graph?

GUPTA: Look, this is -- what is happening is serious. I think, sometimes, people just look at this sort of more broadly, and they forget that there are real people behind these numbers. These numbers are increasing. We can show you how fast they are

increasing, all of that. But people do need to be reminded of this.

I mean, even now, Jake, we're not even really in this yet, and I find that people are already becoming complacent, people talking about, what are they going to be doing this weekend, making plans and stuff like that.

And, again, I get no joy in telling people not to do this. I don't want to be that guy either.

But we put those numbers up to remind people not to get complacent and to remind them that, if we act now, those numbers don't have to skyrocket, like Philadelphia or like other places around the world. It is still within our control somewhat.

So, Jake, whatever your program does to remind people of that, I think is really important. So, people should see this. It's sad. It's not good. But we can still avoid a much worse sort of fate here.

TAPPER: The reference to Philadelphia, of course, a reference to the 1918 pandemic, not what's going on right now.

GUPTA: That's right.

TAPPER: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thank you so much.

GUPTA: You got it.

TAPPER: We will have another conversation on Monday. I'll see you right here.

President Trump says he's kicked the Defense Production Act into gear, but has anyone been asked to actually ramp up production?

And ahead, the global toll, in Italy, more than 600 deaths in just 24 hours. Our CNN team is live on the ground around the world.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:17:06]

TAPPER: Breaking news, Illinois Governor Jay Pritzker moments ago announced a stay at home order for residents of the entire state of Illinois. They had 163 cases of coronavirus announced just today.

CNN's Ryan Young is in Chicago.

Ryan, tell us more.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this just happened in the last seven minutes or so. I stepped out so we could have this conversation. You talked about the new 163 cases. But so many people will be impacted by this. In fact, the governor said he would rather make sure that people's lives are safe instead of businesses, and this has been a very tough decision.

This order will start tomorrow at 5:00 and will run through April 7th. Just to give you an idea, they've already closed schools in the Chicago area through April 21st but this guideline will be everybody shelter in place. The governor made clear people will still be able to go to grocery stores, they'd be able to get gas, they'd be able to go to hiking, they'd be able to walk their dogs.

So, he was trying to make sure that everyone understood, they would be able to go outside, but he thought the way to get rid of this curve in terms of all the people getting sick, this was the best way to do it. If you think about it, in DuPage County, just outside the city, 46 more seniors have come down with COVID-19. So, this is something they're definitely concentrating on.

We'll continue to listen to this news conference and give you more information as it becomes available -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Ryan. Thank you so much.

Here in Washington, at that time when Americans are looking for calm and fruitful leadership at the top, President Trump held a contentious briefing with reporters today in which he refused to name specific companies that are producing the critical medical supplies under the Defense Production Act.

And as Kaitlan Collins reports, President Trump stepped up attacks on journalists, ones asking pertinent, legitimate, honest questions.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I watched what's been happening in California with Governor Newsom, and this morning with Governor Cuomo, and I applaud them.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Today, President Trump praised the major moves made by the governors of New York and California to keep people indoors, but said he's not considering a national lockdown of his own.

TRUMP: You go out to the Midwest, you go out to other locations, and they're watching it on television, but they don't have to same problems. They don't have by any means the same problem.

COLLINS: The president says the U.S. and Mexico will close the southern border to all nonessential travel starting at midnight Saturday.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH: Understand that there's a public health reason for doing that.

COLLINS: Today, the president faced questions after he touted a potential treatment for coronavirus the day before that the FDA says has not been approved and is still being tested. TRUMP: It may work and may not work. And I agree with the doctor what

he said. May work, may not work. I feel good about it. It's just a feeling.

COLLINS: One of the lead scientists on his task force offered a much more sobering analysis.

TRUMP: The president feels optimistic about something, his feeling about it. What I'm saying is that it might -- it might be effective.

COLLINS: Hospitals say critical supplies are running low, but the confusion over whether they will get them isn't.

[16:20:04]

TRUMP: Last night, we put it into gear.

COLLINS: The president now says he is using the Defense Production Act to speed up the manufacturing of masks and other supplies.

TRUMP: The states are having a hard time getting them.

COLLINS: But moments later, he said he's not requiring companies to do so, which is what the act does, but claiming the companies are doing so voluntarily.

(on camera): This is important. You haven't directed companies to make more ventilators or masks.

TRUMP: I have, I have. And they're making a lot of ventilators and they're making a lot of masks.

COLLINS: The president did not offer a list of companies that have been compelled to speed up production under the Defense Production Act like he claimed. In his fifth briefing this week, President Trump grew confrontational with reporters.

PETER ALEXANDER, NBC NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Nearly 200 dead, 14,000 more sick. Millions as you witness are scared right now. What do you say to Americans watching right now who are scared?

TRUMP: I say that you're a terrible reporter. That's what I say. It's a very nasty question, and I think it's a very bad signal that you're putting out to the American people.

COLLINS: Moments later, the vice president answered that same question from the same reporter much differently.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I would say, do not be afraid, be vigilant.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: Two very different styles there, Jake, you can see in how the president answered that and how the vice president answered it. I do want to note two things quickly that today the president also said federal student loan borrowers will not have to make their payments for the next 60 days and he also said there is not going to be anymore standardized testing for the school year.

TAPPER: Kaitlan Collins, thank you so much.

To those paying attention, the president's outburst is the latest evidence that he should possibly consider letting Vice President Pence and Dr. Fauci and the others leading the Coronavirus Task Force at the White House take the helm at the daily press conferences.

I don't want to eat up too much time discussing President Trump's behavior. We have too many life and death issues to discuss. But while President Trump should be heralded for closing flights from China early on and the government is currently working now on the pandemic, we cannot ignore that much of Mr. Trump's personal response to the pandemic has been insufficient, and deceptive and not focused enough clearly on one issue, saving lives.

For months, the president belittled the threat of the virus, he only recently acknowledged the gravity of the crisis. I could provide video clips of all this, but I don't want to the waste your time. You know it's true.

Even after President Trump clearly understood what was going on, too many of the messages he's been delivering from that podium are promises of things that remain far off or maybe won't actually happen. The hospital masks that are not yet ready, the website he discussed that's just local in the Bay Area. He keeps talking up a medicine that may not be effective. Hospital ships remain weeks away from arrival in port.

Peter Alexander, he is a fine reporter of NBC News, which just lost an audio technician to coronavirus. He just died. And Peter's question would have been easy for any other politician. It was basically, Mr. President, please reassure frightened Americans.

Indeed, Vice President Pence did not have a problem handling that question.

If President Trump is not capable of leading stably and effectively, he should at least for his own reputation, for the good of country stop making things worse and consider leaving the podium to others. The Hippocratic Oath -- first do no harm -- that applies to President Trump, too.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:28:29]

TAPPER: The global coronavirus death toll now more than 11,000. That's the death toll, more than 11,000. Total cases, more than 266,000 worldwide. The Chinese government showing these images today. If they're

legitimate, they are a sign of hope. Doctors and nurses in Wuhan smiling as they remove their masks as one of the makeshift hospitals in Wuhan closes, because they don't have enough patients for the hospital.

Of course, we need to remind viewers, anything the Chinese government is putting out there, anything they're claiming should be viewed skeptically.

In Italy, the situation remains dire. Six hundred and twenty-seven deaths in just one day. ICUs pushed beyond capacity. Patients being sent to other parts of the country to get care are frankly being sent home to die.

And in the U.K., the National Health System, NHS, has asked 65,000 retired doctors and nurses to come back to work and help with the influx of patients.

We have reporters joining us now from China and form Italy to discuss.

Let's start with CNN's David Culver. He's in Shanghai.

And, David, for the second day, the Chinese government claims -- I'm emphasizing the word claims -- that there are no new locally transmitted cases but there are new reports of new cases from overseas?

DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Jake. And your attribution is right on, and we've been doing that from the beginning now more than eight weeks in our reporting on this, the numbers coming directly from the Chinese government. Their national health commission here releases those numbers and their most recent report suggests that in the past two days, there have been no new locally transmitted cases.

However, they're still seeing an increase in cases. Those are imported cases. Their concern now, an external threat -- as they portray it -- travelers coming in from other countries.

And we should say that the World Health Organization --

[16:30:00]