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Trump's False Claims about Shortage; Reality Check Looking at Past Pandemics; Answers to your Coronavirus Questions. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired March 20, 2020 - 08:30   ET




JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: So, President Trump claims that there are millions of masks available to front line health care workers, but it's the states that somehow need to figure out how to get them where needed.

Listen to this.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Nobody in their wildest dreams would have ever thought that we need tens of thousands of ventilators. This is something that's very unique to this, to what happened.


BERMAN: Joining us now is Maggie Haberman, White House correspondent for "The New York Times," a CNN political analyst.

Maggie, good morning. It is a pleasure to see you this morning.

Shipping clerks, that was a comment that I think caused concern among the nation's governors and was tonally something that I don't know if it was particularly helpful to the cause.

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: So, John, I think that the president has said a number of things that I think have been alarming to governors, most of whom are trying publicly to sound a note of calm and working and conciliation and working with the president because being in a fight with him doesn't help their states. And on the one hand he does say, you know, we're trying to do this at the federal level, but he speaks in this way that sounds as if it's putting the responsibility back on governors and I think a number of them have found it deeply frustrating and concerning about what it means about when they might expect certain levels of help from the federal government.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Maggie, do you have any idea from your reporting why he has not invoked the Defense Production Act that would crank up the wheels of manufacturing to get people ventilators and masks and gowns and gloves?

HABERMAN: Alisyn, it's not entirely clear why he has dug in on this. I do know that it matches the perspective of a number of his advisers, which is that this is ultimately not the role of the federal government to try to step in and sort of do an umbrella approach. You have seen the president's reaction actually in general, with the exception of certain things that were in the financial package that passed through the House, and the deal that Steve Mnuchin and Nancy Pelosi agreed on. But, in general, the attitude has been, this is a Republican administration, we believe in states' rights, we should not be interceding with these individual states this way.

I think that it is a misunderstanding on the part of the president about what people look toward during a time of crisis. Look, look back at Hurricane Katrina, and how George Bush was criticized, how his administration was criticized for a slow response. There are some echoes of that here and I think that the president is delaying moves that if these numbers keep holding up and if these projections hold up, he will likely have to take them at some point.

BERMAN: Look, we have been focused on this show, as much as humanly possible, on the science, on the medicine, on what will save lives going forward, and try not to necessarily be backwards looking. But the fact of the matter is, there are some things that have been said in the White House Briefing Room that get in the way of the medicine and the science that the people need, or at least are not supported by the medicine and the science. And we were just talking to Sanjay about one of them, which is the president seemed to go into the Briefing Room yesterday to sell these drugs to the American people.


BERMAN: Which there are some doctors and scientists who hope that they will have promise long-term in treating some aspects of coronavirus, Covid-19.


BERMAN: Not a cure, not a vaccine, but in some cases a treatment. But, in the process, he said things that weren't true. He said the FDA had approved these drugs and the FDA had to clean it up and say they have not specifically approved these drugs for the treatment of coronavirus.

It's got to be creating -- or what kind of confusion is this creating within the administration, the different arms trying to battle this public health crisis?

HABERMAN: Look, the administration is having a lot of confusion in general because there are various factions that are arguing or bickering over turf because you had, you know, the president appoint Vice President Pence to lead this effort and then you had Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law, take on a larger role and people around him have tried projecting the idea that he has been getting the gears of government turning faster. Other people in the government say that's not true. Look, there's nothing wrong with a leader trying to give people hope.

That is actually what voters look for leaders to do and elected officials to do. But that doesn't mean that that is a reason to give inaccurate information. And in previous administrations understood the value of words being accurate, of what they say about these types of things being accurate. This president is used to just saying whatever he wants and whatever sounds better about a certain thing. So, sure, it sounds better to say the FDA has approved this, but they haven't. And so the things that people are going to take away from that news conference is, they'll hear what the president said, they're not necessarily going to hear the cleanup later from the FDA. And that is a problem.


CAMEROTA: Maggie, as you know, the president has been so proud of the stock market numbers, you know, basically claiming them as a mark of his own success. He's been so proud of the unemployment numbers, basically claiming them as his own. Now that the unemployment numbers are spiking in this staggering way, what's being said at the White House?

HABERMAN: Look, what you're hearing from the White House is some version of, it will come back. We expect the economy to come back. We're going to know in the next couple of weeks just how broad these unemployment numbers are, Alisyn. And, by every indicator, they're going to be really bad. There are a lot of Americans who have lost their jobs (INAUDIBLE) businesses, small businesses in particular, they can't afford to keep (INAUDIBLE) paying employees to not work and not have production going out.

These numbers could be really, really bracing. It is, obviously, very distressing for a lot of people right now. That is what the White House needs to be preparing for. And I think that some officials are, but I don't think the president is quite there yet. And I think that when the numbers come out, the president was very frustrated with Steve Mnuchin, as I understand, from telling -- the Treasury secretary from telling senator last week that the unemployment rate could hit 20 percent. The president did not like that. That's not a surprise he didn't like it, but it might be closer to reality than what he's hoping it will be. And I think that at a certain point the White House is going to have to start preparing people for what those numbers could look like.

CAMEROTA: Maggie --

BERMAN: Maggie Haberman --

Go ahead. You say thank you.

CAMEROTA: Oh, I'll take this one.

BERMAN: You take this one.

CAMEROTA: I want Maggie's thank you.

Maggie, thank you very much for all of your reporting.

HABERMAN: Thanks, guys. Stay safe.

CAMEROTA: See how well I did that, John.

BERMAN: It was great. It was great.

CAMEROTA: See why -- see why I take these.

BERMAN: It was great. I think she missed me saying thank you. I could tell.

CAMEROTA: I think so too. I think so too.

All right, the U.S. has survived this type of crisis before. We have a much needed "Reality Check" for you, next.



CAMEROTA: We have seen deadly pandemics before. So what does history teach us about this moment? John Avlon is here with our "Reality Check."

Hi, John.


You know, these are strange and difficult days. We're living through a pandemic where a handshake or a hug could spread a virus that's already galloping out of control. And it will get worse before it gets better. More people will get sick and some will die. But we will get through this.

And you know how I can say that with certainty? Because we've been through far worse before. Just over 100 years ago, the world suffered an influenza pandemic, despite being commonly referred to as the Spanish Flu, the first cases were actually at a Kansas Army base in the spring of 1918. It killed at least 50 million people worldwide, including members of my own family. And about 675,000 people in the United States alone according to the CDC.

Now, to put that in perspective, that's more Americans than were killed in both world wars, Korea and Vietnam combined. And had around a 2 percent mortality rate, twice what experts believe the coronavirus and 20 times the common flu.

Now, thankfully, medical science has improved dramatically since then. Bu the lessons from the 1918 pandemic are primarily about what not to do. The government was in denial at first. President Wilson never spoke about it in public, despite being afflicted for a time. He thought that talking about the virus could hurt wartime moral. Even as public schools and the Supreme Court were shut down.

The U.S. surgeon general told people there is no cause for alarm if precautions are observed. Another official dismissed it as ordinary influenza by another name. In Philadelphia, authorities ignored a local outbreak and allowed a big parade to go on. Within ten days, one historian says that more than a thousand Philadelphians were dead and 200,000 sick.

Now, despite that, the mayor of Pittsburgh resisted orders to shut down more public spaces, saying it didn't seem to be affecting his city. Well, it soon did. Other cities like Denver and Cheyenne reopened too soon and deaths spiked again.

Eventually the flu ran its course, but the human cost was staggering. So we need to apply the lessons of history to avoid repeating.

First, truth and transparency matter. As the author of "The Great Influenza" told "The Washington Post," the number one lesson is that if you want to prevent panic, you tell the truth.

Second, social distancing works. This isn't rocket science, folks. They knew enough to do it in 1918. Stay home if you can.

Third, practice good personal hygiene. Washing your hands is essential and wearing masks can help prevent spreading the virus to others.

Finally, listen to public health experts. Science matters. We'll innovate our way out of this eventually, but it's going to take time to find a treatment, let alone a vaccine.

Over the past century, we've beaten back diseases like polio. And when Jonas Salk developed the vaccine, he gave the rights to it away for free. We've overcome pandemics, like the largely forgotten 1957 flu, which killed more than a million worldwide, including some 116,000 Americans.

We also stopped potential pandemics like Ebola through proactive public health initiatives that helped contain its spread. And some epidemics, like HIV continue to afflict us, after more than half a million deaths in the U.S. alone, 32 million worldwide, despite drugs that help keep people alive.

If you're feeling anxious, you're not alone. But panic never solved a problem. It might feel like the world's ending, but it's not. Recently the REM tune, it's the end of the world as we know it has made a comeback on the charts. But it's the back half of that title that matters most, as we know it. And while you probably don't feel fine, know that we will get through this, especially if we learn the lessons of history and listen to science.

And that's your "Reality Check."

BERMAN: Dr. Michael Stipe.


BERMAN: John, thank you very much for that.

AVLON: Thank you. BERMAN: Really important history and context there.

So, healthcare workers across the country are going beyond the call of duty on the front lines of this pandemic, including these Texas nurses. Look at this message. It says, we stay at work for you. You stay at home for us. They're urging people to follow social distancing guidelines by staying inside as much as possible to minimize the risk of exposure. That's such a great message. Look, if you don't want to do it for yourself, do it for the front line healthcare workers. Do it for the older population.


Do it for everyone else. It's necessary.

CAMEROTA: OK, John, Dr. Sanjay Gupta is back to answer more of our viewer questions on coronavirus, next.


BERMAN: So we have been asking you to send us your question about coronavirus and you are complying. So many people have so many questions. Thank goodness we have CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta --

CAMEROTA: Only one person has so many answers.

BERMAN: Yes. We got nothing.


BERMAN: Sanjay's got answers for you, luckily.

So, Sanjay, let's dive right in.

This is from Lisa. What is the average length of stay in the hospital for someone who gets coronavirus?

GUPTA: Yes, and we've got some real data on this, Lisa. It's about ten days. So, you know, this isn't a short hospitalization. And we also know that from the time someone starts to develop illness, to the time they get admitted to the hospital, if they're going to get admitted to the hospital, is around nine days. So people sort of -- sort of develop symptoms for some time before they actually start to worsen.

CAMEROTA: But, wait a minute, that means that you have coronavirus and are symptomatic for 19 days, nine at home, then you go to the hospital and you have ten more days of battling it?


GUPTA: Could be. Could be. You know, people -- we're not exactly sure how long people stay symptomatic or how long they're symptomatic before the develop symptoms, so it could be longer than that. As you know, there have been people who have found -- have the coronavirus in their system for even over 30 days, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: That's the next question. This comes from Kelly in Illinois. If we are infected yet asymptomatic, but yet still contagious, how long will the virus remain with us and how long until we're safe to be around others?

GUPTA: Yes, it's a -- you know, it's an interesting question. And again, you know, I preface, as I often do, that, you know, we're all learning together. This is still a new virus. But what they're doing is, in some of these trials, they're looking at patients and continuing to test them, either every day or every other day, even after they recover from their symptoms and they have found evidence of the virus for up to 37 days.

The question, and this is still an open question mark, what time period of those 37 days are you actually contagious? Are you able to spread the virus to others? If it's the entire time, obviously that's something public health officials will want to pay attention to because that's going to be -- take quarantine time and dictate all these social distancing -- physical distancing measures we're talking about.

BERMAN: I just want to clear up one question. It was the first question on hospitalization. Not everyone will be hospitalized for this. And that's only the people who are hospitalized will have the 10 day hospital stay, Yes.

GUPTA: That's right. Correct. And even the time period from illness to hospitalization is about nine days. But, again, that's if you're hospitalized. The majority of people will not be hospitalized. But this is just, obviously, for the more severely or critically ill.

BERMAN: All right, this is a question, Adam from Seattle asks. Is the food I order from a restaurant and have delivered safe?


BERMAN: Obviously is concerned of somehow if someone sneezes on it or something.

GUPTA: Well, let me tell you something. So our family, we've been ordering food at, you know, take-out to be delivered to the house. And here's how we sort of have approached it. First of all, it's not your food specifically that you're worried about. That's not how coronavirus is spread. It's not a foodborne illness, it's a respiratory illness. So it -- but I worry about surfaces, you know, the packaging itself. So, you know, we have the food stay there. We need to keep our physical distance from whoever is delivering it. Usually pay online or something like that. We take off the packaging of the food, leave it on the porch and then bring in the rest of the containers into the house and just make sure to clean surfaces and clean your hands every time you're doing something like that.

Again, the way that this -- the concern there would be you touch something, and then touch your eyes, your nose, your mouth. So every time you touch a new surface, do wash your hands and then -- and then wipe the counters or wherever you put those containers as well.

CAMEROTA: But -- but I'm interested by what you said, that it's not a foodborne illness. If somebody -- if a chef sneezes on your food, it doesn't live on that entree throughout delivery to your house?

GUPTA: It shouldn't, no.

CAMEROTA: OK, then I feel much better already.

OK, next, from Paul in St. Louis. Are cancer survivors considered to be high risk? Is it more lethal to people who have survived certain cancers?

GUPTA: Yes, well, the thing about cancer, you know, especially if it's a more recent cancer, if your immune system has been suppressed, either as a result of a cancer or the treatment for the cancer, that could put you at higher risk. So I wouldn't say that all cancer survivors are necessarily higher risk. Some, oftentimes if you are a cancer survivor, you know the status of your immune system as a result of the disease or your treatment. So, you know, that's something you may want to look into, if you haven't looked into it for a while. But I wouldn't make a blanket statement that all cancer survivors are higher risk.

BERMAN: This comes from -- I want to ask -- Anthony from Jacksonville, does vaping make teens or anyone more susceptible to the coronavirus? And this is interesting, Sanjay, because I know Ben Tinker (ph), your terrific producer, you know, you've been getting all kinds of questions as what can you do to make yourself more safe from coronavirus? Well, when it comes to vaping and smoking, there is an answer.

GUPTA: Yes. I mean, look, again, this is a new virus, so we're learning a lot. But I think it's safe to say, because other respiratory viruses behave this way, that smoking, vaping, things like that do put you at higher risk, reduces your lung's function. So if you're -- if you're -- if the virus is affecting your lung function, you're already starting low, that obviously will worsen things more quickly. And it also reduces your likelihood of being able to clear the virus out of your lungs.

So, look, this is a good reason to quit. People have been sending me tons of e-mails, how to I boost my immune system, what can I do to give myself the best chance of fighting this virus. Vaping, especially for young people, and smoking, I know it's hard to quit, but this is a -- this is one of the best excuses I've heard in a long time to really give it a shot.

CAMEROTA: Sanjay Gupta, we really appreciate you being here. Thank you very much for all of the answers.

GUPTA: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: And we want to take a moment from this difficult week to celebrate life. This morning we welcome our newest member of the NEW DAY family. Look at how cute he is. This is Nicholas Thomas Becker (ph). He was born last night.


His time of birth, John, was 20:20.

BERMAN: It's 20:20.

CAMEROTA: Yes, p.m., 20:20, get it.

BERMAN: That is outstanding.

CAMEROTA: Look at how cute -- look at his cheeks.

BERMAN: Nick, his mother Cheryl and his father, NEW DAY senior producer Patrick are doing great. Patrick has experienced not sleeping. He will need that. They can't have any visitors at the hospital, but they're looking forward to bringing Nick home to meet his big brother Ben.

CAMEROTA: That's an adorable baby.

BERMAN: He's really an adorable -- those cheeks are really big. Not just baby big, but like really big.

CAMEROTA: It's going to be -- it's going to be very hard for family members not to smother that baby in kisses right now.

BERMAN: Yes. Yes.

CAMEROTA: That will be a challenge.

BERMAN: But they can love him all the same.

So the entire state of Florida being ordered to stay home this morning. Our coverage continues right after this.



POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow. It is Friday, March 20th. And all of our lives, once again, turned upside down. So much --