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CNN NEWSROOM

Interview with Kraft Heinz CEO Miguel Patricio; Airlines Cancel Flights Due to Low Demand; Florida Opens Mobile and Drive-Through Coronavirus Testing. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired March 20, 2020 - 10:30   ET

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


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[10:31:10]

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: CNN has just learned that food giant Kraft Heinz is committing $12 million globally in support of communities impacted -- that means all of us -- by COVID-19. I'm happy to be joined by the CEO of Kraft Heinz, Miguel Patricio.

Thank you very much for being with me. I guess this is what it looks like for a CEO to be working from home, right?

MIGUEL PATRICIO, CEO, KRAFT HEINZ: Well, Poppy. I guess so. This is how it looks like.

HARLOW: Yes. I'm glad you're here. Let's address the most pressing question that so many people have. And that is, is there enough food?

PATRICIO: Well, Poppy, I think there's enough food. Food companies are working day and night to keep the shelves -- the avoid the shelves to be empty. And there is enough food.

Now, it's important that the population does not panic. I think that if you see empty shelves, it's just because people are panicking. And there's no reason for that, there's enough food.

HARLOW: You went to Davenport, Iowa just this week to be with your employees there. Can you talk to me about what they're asking you and health protections you're putting place? Because you guys produce so much of what we all use in our homes.

PATRICIO: That's correct. So I was yesterday in Davenport, Iowa. And I went to go there to be with people that are really the frontline. You know, they are taking risks for all of us by working, day and night, three shifts. And I went to thank them. They are actual heroes.

I think there are two sectors today that are absolutely crucial in society. One is the health care system, and the other one is food, food supply. Factories cannot stop and distribution centers also cannot. And grocery.

I was super-impressed with our people. The sense of duty, the pride? It's unbelievable. They told me that the morale has never been so high because they are proud to feed America. HARLOW: What are people buying most of right now, Miguel? Meaning is

there a particular spike in demand for certain items?

PATRICIO: I think that the first -- at the first moment, perishable goods were the ones that had the highest demand. So in our case, products like mac and cheese, Kraft mac and cheese. But then when school starts stopping and offices working from home, then we had a spike on -- on all other items. But I mean, we increased production and we've been, you know, attending all the demand. We do not have backorders problems today. The productivity (ph) --

(CROSSTALK)

HARLOW: What about -- are you working with -- with some of the retailers -- Amazon, Walmart, Target, Costco, supermarkets -- to make sure there's not price gouging for in-demand items?

PATRICIO: Yes. So -- so we are working very close. You know, we've been very agile and I mean, as (ph) the (ph) customers. And we are finding solutions to increase productivity so we can keep or avoid the shelves to be empty.

I'll give you an example. We stopped producing some of the SKUs (ph), or (ph) the products that had lower rotation to concentrate on products that have high rotation so we can increase the productivity of our plants. To do that, of course, we are in contact daily with -- with our customers, with the big grocery companies.

HARLOW: What -- you were on the call with the White House, with the president earlier this week. What was your message to him and did he have an ask of you guys?

[10:35:00]

PATRICIO: My ask was, you know, to praise -- not forget the people that are true heroes, that are working day and night in food factories, truck drivers distributing products, grocery, distribution centers. They are true heroes, and they have to be remembered and they have to be praised. That was my message to the president.

HARLOW: Did he ask you to do anything specific in terms of ramping up production?

PATRICIO: He asked the whole group. He asked us what was our perspective, and if we were ready to increase capacity and production, which we all are. We are all working very hard and I think --

HARLOW: OK.

PATRICIO: -- that we are doing a very good job.

HARLOW: So many -- so many companies, bars and restaurants all closed, everyone that worked in them is laid off, it is devastating. You have increased demand, which means you need more time from people working. Are you going to be hiring more in this? PATRICIO: Look, we have more demand on what -- in grocery, but we also work with restaurants so we provide many, many, many items and products for --

HARLOW: Sure.

PATRICIO: -- for restaurants. So what we do is shifting. The teams that were working what we call food service, to be now redeployed into products that -- to attend groceries.

HARLOW: So no layoffs at least, you hope?

PATRICIO: Oh, not at all, not at all.

HARLOW: OK. That's very good news right now. Miguel Patricio, CEO of Kraft Heinz, good luck to all of you and thank you.

PATRICIO: Thank you very much.

HARLOW: Well, a tidal wave of trouble is hitting U.S. airports across the country. Coming up, how travel restrictions and fears of the coronavirus are playing out at our nation's airports. Plus, distilleries across the country, lifting spirits. We're going to show you how one business owner is shifting his company's efforts to help those on the frontlines, making hand sanitizer for all of us.

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[10:41:33]

HARLOW: So this just in, the State Department says it is suspending routine visa service at embassies and consulates overseas due to the coronavirus outbreak. The announcement comes after U.S. officials warned Americans to avoid international travel.

Let's go to our Natasha Chen. She joins us from Atlanta's Hartsfield- Jackson International Airport. This is just the latest issue plaguing the travel industry.

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Poppy, a couple of regional airlines have already said they will cease to operate by early April. Compass Air, which runs some regional flights for Delta and American as well as Trans States.

And we're seeing major airlines cancel a lot of flights as well due to low demand. Just looking at the boards, you know, less than half of the flights we're seeing have red cancel letters next to them. We've hardly seen anyone check in their bags behind us, and airport staff are telling us it feels eerie. They've never seen this place so quiet.

And if you go over to out other camera, next to the security lines right now, we see ebbs and flows. Earlier, a little bit more traffic. But now, not so many people. And those who are there, by the way, are not exactly keeping that six-foot distance apart from each other.

We also spoke to a couple who just got back from London in the nick of time, as the State Department was announcing that travel advisory. And they say they feel lucky that if their flight home had been booked a couple of days later, they may have been stuck in England. And now their problem is getting from Atlanta to Little Rock because a lot of domestic flights have been cancelled. They've been rebooked a few times, just trying to get home.

As far as the domestic travel ban possibility goes, here is Dr. Anthony Fauci discussing how they consider that.

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ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: We discuss everything in the task force. I have not heard a serious discussion about shutting down domestic travel. Might that come up the next time we start looking at this -- and we look at it constantly? Certainly. There's no plan tomorrow or the next day to seriously think about shutting down domestic air travel.

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CHEN: And with so few people coming through the airports, Poppy, if there is a domestic travel ban announced at some point, it may be moot with a lot of operations, with airlines and airports just grinding to a halt.

HARLOW: And the question is for how long -- no one has any idea. Natasha, thanks for being there.

CHEN: Exactly.

HARLOW: Right now in Florida, mobile hospitals and drive-through testing sites are opening up and Floridians are lining up. Let's go back to our Leyla Santiago who joins us in Pembroke Pines, Florida.

What is the situation there in terms of the readiness of these facilities?

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, listen, even the governor has acknowledged that there are a lot of variables here with these mobile sites. When we first arrived, Poppy, one of the first things that sort of struck me was the line of cars at the entrance, folks that were already signed up, feeling the need to get this test for coronavirus at this mobile site, where I am right now, where we have already seen health care workers, we have seen the National Guard -- the National Guard is running this.

Now, the governor has said that they are starting with 4,000 testing swabs. How long that will last? We don't know. Once they are tested, then they are sent to a private lab. How long it will take because there is a backlog? We also don't know.

So what we know is that he's hoping that this is just the beginning, that they can expand more sites like this and they will be having more test kits come in. But at this point, all of that is still very much up in the air. [10:45:01]

So what they are asking -- because there are a lot of things that aren't guaranteed right now -- are that only certain folks come in: those 65 years and over, those who may have an immune system that is vulnerable, those who have been on cruise ships or had direct contact, or anyone feeling symptoms from the coronavirus.

But remember, this is a state where one in five are above the age of 65, so a lot of vulnerable people. And this morning, the latest numbers show that there have been eight deaths in the state of Florida, the governor calling Miami-Dade and Broward County, where we are right now, the epicenter.

HARLOW: Wow, Leyla, thank you for that.

In New Jersey, tragedy strikes a family. A woman loses her mother and three of her siblings, all to coronavirus. The deaths, all coming just days apart as 19 other family members anxiously await coronavirus test results after the group gathered for a large dinner earlier this month. Listen to them.

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ELIZABETH FUSCO, LOST MOTHER AND SIBLINGS TO CORONAVIRUS: To know that two of those women I sat with on Tuesday and nourished and promised, everything's going to be OK, two is gone? They were the root of our lives. That was my mother and my oldest sister. It's like the second we start to grieve about one, the phone rings and there is another person gone, taken from us forever.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: Unbelievable. You should watch that whole interview they did with Chris Cuomo, if you can.

Three more members of the Fusco family are hospitalized with coronavirus. The virus has now killed at least 196 Americans. We'll be right back.

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[10:51:19]

HARLOW: As so many cities across the country face a really dire shortage of critical supplies, the health system in Indiana is calling on the public to help by actually sewing their own masks -- here's a how-to video, if you can believe it -- to try to help those on the frontlines, fighting coronavirus.

Also stepping up, some liquor distilleries, pitching in to help the people on the frontlines. Instead of making vodka, bourbon and gin, how about making some hand sanitizer?

Craig Moore with us. co-owner of the Old Fourth Distillery. Craig, thank you for being here and thank you guys for doing this. CRAIG MOORE, CO-OWNER, OLD FOURTH DISTILLERY: Oh, thank you. We --

thanks for having me too.

HARLOW: So how did this happen? I mean, you woke up one morning and you're like, I think we need hand sanitizer more than we need bourbon?

MOORE: Well, actually, we saw a distillery out in Washington State that had started to make hand sanitizer and distribute it to their local community. So that, you know, certainly gave us the idea that we might be able to do the same.

Obviously, our industry -- bars and restaurants -- are being hit very, very hard right now so we wanted to try to find a way to kind of keep our staff going and stay busy.

But it's just evolved so quickly over the last couple of weeks, where, you know, we ordered five gallons, we're like, we'll give some out to our local neighbors --

HARLOW: Yes.

MOORE: -- to, you know, now we've got GEMA and other state and local agencies, even federal agencies reaching out to us, so we're trying our best to kind of fill the need here where we can.

HARLOW: And for -- well, good for you. And for folks not in Georgia who don't know what GEMA is, it's Georgia Emergency Management Agency. I didn't know what it is, so I had to look it up. You've got --

MOORE: We're all going to know these --

HARLOW: Yes --

MOORE: -- these terms --

HARLOW: -- these acronyms soon. So there's that, there's FEMA, there's the V.A. reaching out to you guys?

MOORE: The V.A, you name it. We've got 5,000 e-mails over the last two weeks, from state and local agencies that just -- you name it. There's obviously a global supply chain interruption for masks and ventilators. Hand sanitizer is the same, so we're just doing what we can.

And ironically, it's been, you know, somebody like Southern Company and my good buddy Wilbert (ph) over there, who has actually helped kind of finance getting us going to ramp up our supply chain. So it's just changing rapidly, day to day.

HARLOW: Does this mean that you haven't had to have any layoffs? And I wonder if maybe you might hire more people as a result of this?

MOORE: Absolutely. No layoffs, we're keeping all of our people going and we'll probably be hiring dozens of people over the next couple weeks, if our supply chain partners, which -- changing our supply chain in a matter of weeks is difficult at best. None of us have slept very much. My brother Jeff and I are just running ragged right now, and getting into arguments every once in a while, but yes.

HARLOW: Comes with the territory of running a business --

MOORE: It comes with the territory.

HARLOW: -- with your brother, yes.

MOORE: Yes. But you know, we're working as a team and just trying to hire folks locally who are out of work in the industry that normally supports us.

HARLOW: Can -- it's a silly question maybe, but can people make hand sanitizer at home if they really had to?

MOORE: No, they really can't. You know, people think that they can just take vodka or something like that and try to make hand sanitizer. It isn't high-proof enough alcohol to do that, so you really have to have -- the end product needs to be at least 70 -- we think 70 percent alcohol, I believe CDC guidelines say 60 percent. We're trying to make it a little bit higher.

So that's tough for end consumers to get their hands on, alcohol that has that alcohol content.

HARLOW: Craig Moore, good for you guys. Good luck, and great news that you might be hiring dozens of people --

MOORE: Yes. Can I -- can I say --

[10:55:00]

HARLOW: Yes.

MOORE: -- one other thing real quick?

HARLOW: Of course.

MOORE: There have been some scammers out there, trying to collect donations, saying that they are us. We are not collecting donations at all right now --

HARLOW: OK.

MOORE: -- so please, let's get that word out there.

HARLOW: Thank you. Thanks, Craig --

MOORE: Thanks (ph).

HARLOW: -- for clarifying that, and good luck to you guys.

MOORE: All right, thank you.

HARLOW: All right. In minutes, we will hear from the coronavirus task force. Stay with CNN for our live coverage. Kate Bolduan picks it up next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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