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STATE OF THE UNION

Interview With Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Peter Gaynor; Interview With Rep. Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez (D-NY); Interview With Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D-IL). Aired 9-10a ET

Aired March 22, 2020 - 09:00   ET

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


[09:00:31]

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST (voice-over): Invisible enemy. Coronavirus spreads across the United States.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Every American has a role to play in defending our nation from this invisible, horrible enemy.

TAPPER: How much worse will it get? And when will doctors and nurses get all the equipment they need to fight it?

I will speak to FEMA Administrator Peter Gaynor next.

And stay at home, 85 million Americans told, stay in, to help slow the spread of the virus.

GOV. J.B. PRITZKER (D-IL): I am choosing between saving people's lives and saving people's livelihoods.

TAPPER: Should more states be doing it? Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker joins me exclusively to discuss in moments.

Plus: out of work -- Americans on edge, as the pandemic shuts down businesses across the country. What is Washington's plan to keep the economy afloat? And what do those who are suffering need?

I will speak exclusively to Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez from hard-hit New York City.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is looking at the numbers with alarm.

Last week at this time, on this show, we told you 60 people in the U.S. had died of the coronavirus. This week, that number is more than five times higher. And more than 26,000 people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with the disease, as Americans from coast to coast dramatically change their daily routines to slow its spread. For a reminder on how important health officials say it is to stay

inside, look no further than Italy, where the country delayed taking such actions, and 793 people died this weekend in one 24-hour period.

This morning, at least 80 million Americans are under stay-at-home orders, as governors in a handful of states decide that's their best chance of saving lives and flattening the curve to prevent surges at hospitals.

Those orders have already resulted in layoffs and sparked fears of a recession, as many more Americans worry about making ends meet.

In Washington this weekend, lawmakers are working on a bipartisan aid package that would help address some of the economic fallout of the virus.

But let's begin with the shortage of tests and medical supplies, including protective masks, as hospitals scramble to find the equipment they need to treat patients and ward off infection themselves.

Joining me now is the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, Peter Gaynor.

Administrator Gaynor, thanks so much for joining us.

I'm going to start off by looking for clarity on a pressing issue facing health care workers across the country. How many masks does the federal government have right now, and when can they get to local hospitals?

PETER GAYNOR, ADMINISTRATOR, FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY: Well, first, when it comes to supplies, we have been shipping from the national stockpile for weeks.

The demand on these critical items is not only nationally. It's globally. So, we have been shipping. We're going to ship tomorrow. We're linking supplies, not only from the national stockpile, but from vendors and commercial donations.

And it's just not about the federal government buying it. It's also about those hospitals and other facilities, governors that, if you find it on the market, go ahead and buy it. FEMA will reimburse you for it.

So, this is a shared responsibility. Every American has a role to play in defeating the coronavirus.

TAPPER: Do you have any specific numbers on how many masks the federal government has been able to acquire and how many have gone out the door to hospitals?

GAYNOR: It is -- it is a dynamic and fluid operation.

The president appointed FEMA five days ago to manage federal operations. And since I have been here, we have been shipping continuously from federal warehouses and, again, connecting those governors that need supplies to those who have it in the commercial sector.

So...

TAPPER: Do you have even a rough number?

GAYNOR: I -- I can't give you a rough number.

I can tell you that it's happening every day. And my mission is operational coordination of all of these things. And that's my focus. So, whether it's supplies, vents, you name it, we are finding it, identifying it, and shipping it to those who have requested it.

TAPPER: You understand, though, of course, that the inability of the federal government to give a number in terms of masks alarms people. It makes people concerned that there aren't masks going out the door.

[09:05:00]

I'm not saying that that's the case, but, without a number, it doesn't fill people with confidence.

GAYNOR: Yes, I -- I'm not sure it's about an exact number. It really is, I think, every American has a role to play.

And so let me just give you an example. When it comes to testing -- and Dr. Fauci said it yesterday, the president said yesterday -- if you don't need a test, if you don't have symptoms, please don't get a test.

For every test that we do that someone doesn't have symptoms for, that's PPE not used well. So, I ask every American, if you have systems, go get a test. If you don't need a test because you don't have symptoms, don't do it.

That helps us. It helps governors. It helps your local community. Please play your part in this effort to defeat the coronavirus.

TAPPER: You just made a reference to PPE. That's personal protective equipment. It's what health care workers and first responders need to wear.

And this brings me to my next question, because it's not just masks that we're talking about that there are shortages on the front lines, as you know. It's swabs, it's tests, it's ventilators.

Obviously, it's FEMA's job to coordinate all these requests coming from all over the country.

I want you to take a listen to just three governors in the last few days.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. STEVE SISOLAK (D-NV): All of Nevada's requests to the federal government regarding drive-through swab testing pods, swab test kits, and testing reagent kits are on an indefinite backlog.

TAPPER: Do you have the masks, the ventilators, anything you need, to fight this virus?

GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D-MI): No, we don't.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): Do we have enough beds? Do we have enough gloves? Do we have enough PPE equipment? And the answer is no.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: They were the governors of Nevada, Michigan, and I'm sure you recognize Governor Cuomo of New York.

You said yesterday you have been getting requests for masks, swabs, ventilators and more. When should local hospitals expect to receive these supplies?

GAYNOR: So, it's all about priorities.

We have been focused on the hot spots, New York City, Washington state, California, and others, to make sure that we send these critical items -- and we -- we understand they're critical -- to get them into the hands of governors and medical professionals, so they can treat those patients affected by the coronavirus.

This is our mission. I have 20,000 FEMA employees, and I have all the employees of 13 federal agencies, the private sector here devoting every single minute of every day to meet this demand.

TAPPER: Can you tell us how many tests, masks, ventilators are in the demand? How many the governors have requested from you in terms of those items?

GAYNOR: I -- I can't -- I can't give you the -- the micro.

I can say that there's hundreds of requests from virtually every state in the union looking for the same exact things. And it's just not the demand nationally, it's the demand globally, for all these items. And, again, we're trying to make sure that we focus our efforts to those hot spots that need it the most.

And then, if you don't need it right away, then you're going to be a little bit farther down the list, but we will -- we will get to you.

TAPPER: Again, nobody's doubting the sincerity of your effort, but the lack of numbers is alarming, because it makes people think that maybe we don't even have a full understanding of the problem.

Let me ask you. The president suggested on Saturday that, even though he invoked the Defense Production Act for the coronavirus response that would allow the military to supply more and even for the president to compel businesses to manufacture some of these well- needed supplies, even though the president's invoked it, he's not actually ordered any companies to manufacture masks, ventilators, et cetera. Has the president, as of now, Sunday morning, ordered any companies to

make more any -- to make more of any of these critical supplies?

GAYNOR: No. And -- and -- and we haven't yet.

It really is leverage, I think that to demonstrate that we can use it, the president can use it any time.

And it's really amazing that -- how great America is. All these companies are coming up asking us what they can do to help. And we haven't had to use it, because companies around the country, donations, they are saying, what can we do to help you? And it's happening without using that -- that lever.

If it comes to a point we have to pull the level, we will. But, right now, it is really -- it's really a great sign about the greatness of this country.

TAPPER: Hospital systems in the U.S. are already starting to become overwhelmed. It's going to get much worse in the coming weeks.

A Kaiser study out this week found that a majority of counties in the U.S., a majority of the more than 3,000 counties, have no, zero ICU beds, intensive care unit beds.

And in counties that do have them, there's only one bed for every 1,300 individuals over 60 years old.

Should the Army Corps of Engineers and FEMA be right now constructing hospital tents all over the country to prepare for this influx?

GAYNOR: Well, we're -- we're already doing it. We did it in D.C. We're about to do it in a couple of states.

And, again, I think 90 percent of the new cases are from New York state, and a half of all the cases are from 10 counties around the country.

So, that really is our main effort, to kind of get in there and blunt it. And then we're going to look to where we need to move next. Again, these are our priority states.

[09:10:01]

We understand it. We hear it every day from governors. I know the administration, the president has talked to all these governors. My regional administrators across the country are engaged with governors, mercy managers, and health officials every day.

TAPPER: So, you have done a -- I know you -- I read The Washington Redskins announced yesterday that it's happening at I think it's FedEx Field in the parking lot.

Is there any other place in the country where that is already happening, these hospital beds, these MASH units, for want of a better term, are already being constructed? GAYNOR: They are happening around the country. You will see more of them. Again, we're trying to focus on where the need is, right?

We don't want to waste our precious resources. So, the team behind me making sure that the resources that we have, whether it's beds, alternate care facilities, the capacity of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, we put it in the right place at the right time. And it's happening today, and you will see it happening more over the next few days.

TAPPER: Lastly, Administrator Gaynor -- and we thank you for your time -- what's your message for the American people, many of whom are scared, not just about the health epidemic, but about the economy?

What -- what do you say to them?

GAYNOR: Yes, so there's an end to this, right?

I have no doubt that we will be successful. Mitigation, the 15-days plan that the president put out, those things work, right? And I know it's painful. But every American has a role to play. So, stay at home, social distance, wash your hands, and help your neighbors that need help.

But -- but it works. And there will be a brighter day in a few weeks. But we ask everyone. This is just not the other guy doing it. This is everyone doing it to make sure that we beat this thing.

TAPPER: Administrator Gaynor, thank you for your time. Please let us know if there's anything we can do to help. And God bless you and good luck on this.

GAYNOR: Thanks, Jake.

TAPPER: At least 80 million Americans told to stay at home, not only to keep yourself healthy, but to keep someone else alive. One of the governors issuing that order joins us live next.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:15:38]

TAPPER: Welcome back the STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.

As coronavirus spreads, it is changing life as we know it, from the coasts to the heartland.

Illinois is now joining California, New Jersey, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut and telling its nonessential workers, stay home. The governor of Illinois says the move could potentially save tens of thousands of lives.

Joining me, that governor, J.B. Pritzker.

Governor Pritzker, thanks so much for joining us.

You said last weekend that -- quote -- "We're on our own out here. I wish we had leadership from Washington. We're not getting it."

Since then, FEMA has been put in charge of the response. You just heard FEMA Administrator Peter Gaynor respond to some of my questions. A week later, is it better? Do you still feel like you're on your own?

PRITZKER: It is better.

We really were getting very little help before. I think FEMA being the central repository for everything that we need is very helpful. We're not having to ping different agencies. And I do think FEMA is more prepared for this than the other agencies were.

So, for example, we have received some PPE in the past couple of weeks, about a quarter of what was an original request. We just, just got a call this morning, before I went on the air, that we're going to receive another shipment of PPE later today or tomorrow from FEMA.

But it's a fraction still of what we have requested. We need millions of masks and hundreds of thousands of gowns and gloves and the rest. And, unfortunately, we're getting still just a fraction of that.

So, we're out on the open market competing for these items that we so badly need. And we're succeeding in some ways, but we still need more. So I have got people on the phones, working the phones, calling across the world, frankly, to get this stuff shipped to Illinois.

TAPPER: That seems kind of a weird way to do it, though, doesn't it, I mean, you competing with Governor Newsom of California, competing with Governor Cuomo of New York?

I mean, that doesn't seem like a very efficient way to -- and, not to mention, thrifty way to get these supplies to the states as soon as possible.

PRITZKER: That's correct. We're all competing against each other.

This should have been a coordinated effort by the federal government. And the national defense authorization that the president has to essentially push this manufacturing really hasn't gone into effect in any way.

And, so, yes, we're -- we're competing against each other. We're competing against other countries. It's a -- it's a wide -- Wild West, I would say, out there. And, indeed, we're overpaying, I would say, for PPE because of that competition.

TAPPER: You issued a stay-at-home order for the entire state of Illinois. It took effect last night. You're one of five states now to do that.

Your neighboring states have not issued such an order, Wisconsin, Indiana, et cetera. Will your order work if other states are not doing the same? PRITZKER: Look, these orders that the governors have led on -- I led

with canceling gatherings of a certain size in our state, and then we closed schools. We have moved on now to a stay-at-home order.

These should have been done nationally. They haven't been. But I have got to protect the 12.7 million people that live in my state. And I'm dedicated to that. It's their health and safety that matters most to me.

It will work. It will work. Remember, we -- people are interacting every day in every way possible. And unless we tell people to stay home, and to stop interacting in the way that they were, we're going to see more and more, thousands more, tens of thousands of more deaths than we otherwise would.

So that's why I had to take the action that I did. I don't relish it. Frankly, this is a competition in the decision-making between saving lives and saving livelihoods. And I have had to make some tough decisions here.

But I believe this is the right thing to do.

TAPPER: Well, let's talk about how to save the people or help the people whose livelihoods are being threatened, if not destroyed.

Lawmakers here in D.C. are right now scrambling to pass this unprecedented $1.7 trillion aid package to help the American economy. One of the last sticking points is whether to spend more on sending checks directly to members of the public or to put that money into state unemployment programs for the states to distribute.

[09:20:02]

What would you like?

PRITZKER: Well, look, we're going to have to do a lot.

There's no doubt that the economy is being significantly harmed by the delays that the federal government had during January and February getting going dealing with this. That's why we have all had to go on stay-at-home orders or keeping kids at home and closing bars and restaurants and so on.

So, what would I like? First, we have got to fund unemployment. There's no question about that. And the federal government needs to step up. It appears to be stepping up on that.

As far as sending checks to individuals, I certainly think that that should be means-tested. There's no reason to send a check to Michael Bloomberg for $1,000.

So, if that's something the federal government decides to do, fine, but there's another thing that isn't really being talked about, which is, state governments are out here. As I said, we're on our own. And we're having to spend quite a lot of money to do things that really are the job of the federal government. But we're doing it because I have got to protect the people here. All

across the country, our budgets are going to be slammed. Our revenues are going down, no doubt, precipitously.

And our spending has to go up, because we're -- we're saving people's lives. And we're trying to at least put some money in their pockets. So, we need help. We would like block grants to the states. We have got to go back, no doubt, to the 2008 era to look at what was done there and try and replicate those, in fact, bigger, because that is what is necessary in this time of national emergency.

TAPPER: So, Governor, last question for you.

I'm sure you're getting pushback from business leaders. We have seen op-eds written and editorials written in "The Wall Street Journal" and other places suggesting that what the government is doing is, by -- is harming the economy, which will ultimately be a cure that causes more pain than anything else.

What's your response when you hear business leaders say that to you?

PRITZKER: Well, first, I would say, those op-eds are not going to age well. I think, when you look back on it a year from now, that's not going to look like it was the right thing to write at the time.

Here's what I would say. The business people in Illinois, frankly, have been so incredibly generous. They -- many of them have offered paid leave to their employees. Many of them are doing whatever they can help us in the state. I have a number of businesspeople here who are acquiring PPE for us in the state.

And so I know this is very harmful to small businesses, to all businesses, really, what we have had to do across the country, but this is the right thing to do. We have got to save lives. Now is the moment.

So, this is what we are going to do. And the businesspeople who -- in Illinois, frankly, I have been amazed. Every businessperson, every CEO that I have called and asked them to do something for the state or for their employees or for the people has stepped up to the plate.

TAPPER: Thank you, Governor. Appreciate your time. Good luck to you. God bless. Hope everything goes OK for our friends out there.

Roughly half the U.S. coronavirus cases are in New York state. We're going to ask Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez about the crisis next.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:27:51]

TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper. FEMA has now declared a major disaster in New York, which is dealing

with almost half the coronavirus cases in the country right now. And the governor said yesterday a majority of those cases are now of people ages 18 to 49.

Joining me now is New York City Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez.

Congresswoman, good to see you, as always.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says that your city is now the epicenter of the crisis in the U.S. There are more than 8,000 cases of the virus in New York City, at least 60 deaths.

What are you hearing from your constituents and the health care workers in your district about what they need?

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): Yes.

So, I have several major hospitals in my district, from Jacobi Medical Center to Elmhurst Hospital, New York Presbyterian, and one of the things that we're hearing over and over again from hospitals, again, is this point on personal protective equipment.

There are not enough face masks, gloves, ventilators, hospital beds to get us through this. Many hospitals are already at capacity or approaching capacity. And there is kind of no real stream in sight from the federal government on where these materials are coming from.

Companies are donating what they can. That is great. It is not enough. And the fact that the president has not really invoked the Defense Production Act for the purpose of manufacture -- of emergency manufacture is going to cost lives.

TAPPER: The FEMA administrator, I asked him about that. He said, it's not needed because so many American companies are stepping up to the plate and volunteering to do the right thing.

Your response?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: It is absolutely needed.

We are thankful to anyone who's pitching in on this effort, but we are nowhere near the beds, the capacity -- and the capacity that we need in this country.

And the -- we're hearing it every step of the way from this administration. First, we were hearing it was a hoax. Then we were hearing that everything was fine. Then we were hearing that the fundamentals of the economy was OK, until the crash comes.

And we cannot wait until people start really dying in large numbers to start production, especially of more complicated equipment like ventilators and hospital beds.

[09:30:05] We need to start this production right now to get ready for the surge that is coming in two to three weeks.

TAPPER: Let's turn to congress. Right now negotiations are ongoing on an economic stimulus package. Chief White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said yesterday it could be as high as $2 trillion. You suggested that's still not enough.

If you were writing this bill, how much would you spend and where would the money go?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Well, I think first and foremost, there is almost no number too small. I don't think a lot of people out there really understand the systemic shock that is being experienced in the economy right now.

Folks are comparing this to 2008. This is very, very different than even 2008, because what we have seen is that almost overnight our entire economy, even the felt economy from jobs, is ceasing almost overnight. So, the question is not just the size but what we are doing with those funds, because if we are having a huge package, and this is something for people to look out for, when this package rolls out there is no reason for corporate bailouts to be included in an emergency relief package.

We should be focusing, is unemployment expanding, are we getting checks in people's hands, are we suspending mortgage, rent, and debt payments? If we're able to do that, if we're able to get money into households and stop the bleeding with pauses on money going out of households, then we can get working families through this thing.

But if all of this money is going to bailing out the airline industry in a way that does not help workers, if it's going to bailing out banks and other industries without helping workers, then it's not going to be enough and in fact it could be too big. So it's really about how we're using these funds.

TAPPER: So you seem to be suggesting that you support, as a lot of people do in both parties, direct payments to the American people. Some Democrats have said that the $1,200 figure that's been proposed is way too small.

How much money do you think the government should be giving the public directly and should it go to everyone or just people who need it?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Well, so the financial services committee actually released their own plan. And I am very supportive of that plan, which has about $2,000 this month for every American with an additional $1,000 per child. But in addition to that, it stops payments.

So it stops -- it halts mortgage payments, rent payments, and all major consumer debt. And that is the key, because when you're able to stop the money going out, then that money that you do give goes a much longer way. So I'm very supportive of both those measures.

TAPPER: You used to work as a bartender so you know what it's like for food service workers, people in the service industry who face the prospect of their hours being slashed. No customers, so there's no tips, not to mention obviously people being fired.

What are some of the economic realities that you're hearing from your constituents?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Oh, I mean, from the moment that the business closures started happening, I've been very scared for a lot of these workers. All I can think about is what I would have done just two or three years ago.

And so one of the issues here is that, of course, we need to be expanding unemployment. But there are a lot of workers in our economy that will not be covered by unemployment because they're hourly workers, they are gig workers, they are freelance and contract workers. And unemployment does not cover those workers, even though they're essentially unemployed right now. All of their contracts are frozen up or their gigs -- their hours are drastically slashed but not completely slashed.

And so what we really need to do, really that's why these checks -- getting checks into people's hands is important. I do think it should be universal. I hear the argument of people saying, why are you going to give a check to Bill Gates? One of the things that we're saying is, tax it back a year from now so you don't have to worry about a big complicated bureaucratic means test up front, mail them all out to everybody and let's get it back from the folks who don't need it next year.

TAPPER: Let me ask you a question. You're part of a new generation of leaders in this country. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said yesterday that there's an issue with young people in New York State not complying with the stay-at-home order. He said they need to practice -- quote -- "social responsibility."

What's your message to the young people or people of any age who are still disregarding the stay at home rules?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Yes, I've been speaking about this for, you know, over a week now, in that if you are a young person in America today, you need to stay home. There was so much messaging about how coronavirus is only impacting older people and that younger people don't have to worry about it for their personal health.

[09:35:00]

Well, let me tell you something, in the state of New York, about 55 percent of our cases are with folks 18 to 49. And when you have that, you know, A, you are able to be directly impacted, and B, you're going to get your mom sick, you're going to get your grandparents sick, you're going to get people you love and that you care for sick if you are asymptomatic. So you may not think that you have it and you very well might and you especially might if you continue to go out and live life as usual.

TAPPER: The Department of Justice has submitted to Congress several legislative proposals on how to deal with the impact of the coronavirus on the judicial system including one measure that would allow a district's chief judge to delay the defendant's right to a speedy trial after a request from the attorney general. What do you think about that?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: I think it is abhorrent. This is not a time and, you know, it is -- there is a long history in this country and in other countries of using emergencies as times to really start to encroach upon people's civil rights. And in fact this is the time when we need them the absolute most.

We have to keep an eye out for these kind of authoritarian and frankly, for this expansion of -- rather, and suspension of rule of law, it does not matter how urgent times are, we have to make sure that we retain our civil rights and there's no reason to be waiving folks' civil rights in an emergency.

TAPPER: Congressman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York, thank you so much for your time, we appreciate it. Stay safe.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Of course, thank you.

TAPPER: So how are hospitals coping with the coronavirus crisis? We'll take a look that next, stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:41:23]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Mr. President, I just want to read you what some of the doctors on the frontlines of this crisis are saying. Doctor --

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You mean the ones that are saying good things or bad things?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASE: We don't take lightly what you just read. I get the calls every night, the way you get emails. It's a serious issue. We don't want that to happen. But it is happening. You're not making things up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: CNN's Jeremy Diamond asking the coronavirus task force about the real needs of doctors, nurses, and health care workers, getting an assist there from Dr. Fauci that this is a real issue. Let's discuss.

Dr. Lee, let me start with you. You're a CNN medical analyst, you're an emergency room physician, you're a professor who works as the Medicaid director of Virginia and at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Tell us what's happening on the ground and what front line health care professionals need. DR. JENNIFER LEE, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Sure, Jake. So what's happening on the ground is very different depending on where you are in the country right now. But for myself and where I work as well as many of my colleagues, there's actually this odd and eerie quietness in the emergency department, sort of a calm before the storm, if you will.

A lot of the elective surgeries have been canceled at many hospitals across the country which is a good thing. A lot of patients are staying home and trying to avoid going in unless they absolutely need to. And so volumes are actually down in many places.

Now, not in New York, where we heard earlier there is a surge of sick patients coming in. But where I work and in many places, it's actually been a little bit quiet.

TAPPER: Dr. Murthy, you're the former surgeon general. You're author of "Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometime Lonely World." What should the government be doing right now to prepare doctors and nurses and health care workers on the front lines?

DR. VIVEK MURTHY, FORMER U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: Thanks, Jake. I think this is a time of great concern in the health care world because people are dedicated and committed to making sure people get care, but they're also worried about their ability to deliver on that and to protect themselves given the shortages that we have.

What people are worried about, I just spoke to a health official from a major American city last night about this is that when they looked at the peak of this pandemic, they're predicting that they will need somewhere between five to 10 times the number of beds that they have now. They're predicting they're certainly going to run out of personal protective equipment or PPE.

So what these hospitals need from the federal government is they need to know in concrete terms that help is the on the way. And three numbers in particular would be helpful. Number one, how much do we have? Second, how much do we need? And third, how much can we expect from the government?

Those are three simple but critical numbers that cities and states need in order to do their planning. And as much as the focus has been on masks and other protective equipment, there hasn't been nearly enough focus on health care workers themselves. And what we have going to do if, as Italy has experienced, we start to see more and more health care workers get sick.

Italy has had over 3,000 health care workers who have fallen ill. So in addition to thinking about masks, we need to be thinking about how do we take people who have been furloughed, who have some basic medical training in CPR like flight attendants and see if they can be put into work to help assist in the medical setting. How do we train more volunteers on an emergency basis? We need to be doing that right now.

TAPPER: Congresswoman Murphy, you represent a district in Florida. You're actually self-quarantining yourself right now because you met with Congressman Diaz-Balart who has tested positive for coronavirus.

[09:45:00]

I'm really curious about what you think about what's going on in your home state given the fact that so many of cases have into your state from cruise ships docking in Miami or Port Everglades, given all the spring breakers we saw frolicking on the beaches just days ago. Is your governor, is your state taking this seriously enough?

REP. STEPHANIE MURPHY (D-FL): Well, I am in self-quarantine. And I think it's a reminder that we can all be at risk of coming in contact with COVID-19. But that we all have a responsibility to make sure that we don't continue to spread the infection.

I think as far as it relates to Florida, we have particular vulnerabilities because we are such a large destination for tourists. And there is a lot that the governor can do and can do to make sure that the public can respond in a responsible way so that we can continue to try to build out the health care capacity.

For example, in Florida we don't have Medicaid expansion. And so there are a lot of people who are uncovered who might not go seek medical treatment as a result of that and continue to be sick and spread the disease. Additionally, we don't have paid leave. So that puts workers in the difficult position of having to decide whether or not to stay home and not infect others or continue to make a living so that they can take care of the family. We also don't have a very robust unemployment insurance.

All of these things are asks that the governor can do to provide the support that's needed so the public can do what they need to do, which is to stay home and to not continue to infect and spread the disease in the community while our health care providers build out the capacity that's needed to respond to this.

TAPPER: Lanhee Chen, let me bring you. And you're a former senior official at HHS. You also served as a policy adviser to Mitt Romney.

As a health policy official, how should the government be improving its response? I think we can probably all agree that it needs improvement.

LANHEE CHEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I think there are a couple of things, Jake. I think, first of all, the communication element of this is key. We looked at pandemic planning during the Bush administration, for example. One of the first tenets of that was making sure that we were having clear and consistent communication with the American public. And I think you're seeing that from a lot of our public health professionals now, you're seeing that in the form of these daily coronavirus task force briefings. But we need to make sure the messaging is consistent. I think that's the first thing.

The second thing is looking what critical needs are for states and localities. One of the issues with depending so much on the federal government is given our federal system, Jake, as you know so much of this response is key to the state and to the local level. So ensuring that the federal government is doing what it can in terms of regulatory relief, supply procurement, working with the private sector to encourage whatever it is that states and localities need, I think that's the second thing.

And then the final thing is, in areas like vaccine research, in the stockpiling of critical medications going forward, coronavirus is not here just for these few months. It is here to stay with us likely for some time. We need to be thinking ahead beyond just the current phase that we're in, into the future and thinking about how we can keep the American people safe going forward. Those are some critical things the federal government needs to be focused on right now.

TAPPER: And, Congresswoman Murphy, let me just ask you, do you think that Florida should follow the lead of New York, Illinois, California, Connecticut, New Jersey, and impose a stay-at-home order to its residents?

MURPHY: I think that depends on the spread of the virus and I would leave that to the health experts to decide. But what I think we need to absolutely do is try to stay in front of this disease. The spread of this disease is going to really cripple our health care system if we can't slow the spread and so we need to make those decisions as this moves forward.

When I worked at the Department of Defense, I worked on pandemics during the avian flu and so we looked at a lot of these scenarios. And the key on this trying to -- make sure that we slow the spread so that our health care systems can prepare and be ready and we can also advance on treatments and development of vaccines.

TAPPER: Flatten the curve, as they say. Everyone, thank you so much, really appreciate it. Please stay safe, please stay healthy.

Coming up, I'm going to go ahead and guess you're having a tough week. We're going to talk about a reason for hope, next.

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[09:54:02]

TAPPER: It has been a difficult week and there is little indication that these coming days are going to anything but worse. But with all this grim news it is worth reminding you of two things. One, we are going to get through this. And, two, it's also worth

noting some of the good that we're seeing. Some of the humanity.

To start, millions of Americans are showing great care for their neighbors this week by practicing social distancing, and staying inside, and giving up their routines in order to keep high-risk individuals virus free. And there are other people worth singling out to thank, the helpers, as Mr. Rodgers once called them.

Jayde Powell, a pre-med student in Reno who's using the time she would normally spend on learning to organize free grocery deliveries to the sick and to the elderly. She calls her volunteers across the country Shopping Angels. Restaurant owners are having a tough time figuring out to make ends meet. So it was a welcome surprise for some in Jonesboro, Arkansas, when their landlord told them, don't worry about next month's rent.

[09:55:08]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KARL LOWE, CO-OWNER AND EXECUTIVE CHEF, ROOTS: I've been in this industry for 27 years and I've never seen anything like this.

We consider them family. We don't consider them employees.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: School bus drivers are using their buses to deliver meals to students who need them. Students who aren't getting the school lunches that may have been their only real source of nutrition. They're offering hope for stressed parents.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDREA MIRABELLI, WISCONSIN MOM: We're in it together, right? We'll get through it We just all need to hang in there and support each other the best we

can.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: "We're in it together. We'll get through it," and, "We just all need to hang in there and support each other the best we can." That's what she said and I cannot improve on that.

Stay strong. Stay healthy. Love each other. I'll see you here tomorrow. Thanks for spending your Sunday morning with us.

The latest numbers on the coronavirus crisis next.

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