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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Will Olympics Be Postponed?; How Are Hospitals Preparing for Pandemic?; U.K. Lockdown. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired March 23, 2020 - 16:30   ET

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


[16:30:22]

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Breaking news.

Any minute, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is going to give an address about the coronavirus outbreak in his country.

I want to bring in CNN international -- let's listen in.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: ... for decades, and this country is not alone.

All over the world, we're seeing the devastating impact of this invisible killer. And so, tonight, I want to update you on the latest steps we're taking to fight the disease and what you can do to help.

And I want to begin by reminding you why the U.K. has been taking the approach that we have. Without a huge national effort to halt the growth of this virus, there will come a moment when no health service in the world could possibly cope, because there won't be enough ventilators, enough intensive care beds, enough doctors and nurses.

And as we have seen elsewhere, in other countries that also have fantastic health care systems, that is the moment of real danger.

To put it simply, if too many people become seriously unwell at one time, the NHS will be unable to handle it, meaning more people are likely to die, not just from coronavirus, but from other illnesses as well.

So it's vital to slow the spread of the disease, because that is the way we reduce the number of people needing hospital treatment at any one time, so we can protect the NHS' ability to cope, and save more lives.

And that's why we have been asking people to stay at home during this pandemic.

And though huge numbers are complying -- and I thank you all -- the time has now come for us all to do more. From this evening, I must give the British people a very simple instruction. You must stay at home, because the critical thing you must do to stop the disease spreading between households. That is why people will only be allowed to leave their home for the following very limited purposes, shopping for basic necessities as infrequently as possible, one form of exercise a day, for example, a run, walk or cycle alone or with members of your household, any medical need to provide care or to help a vulnerable person, and traveling to and from work, but only where this is absolutely necessary and cannot be done from home.

That's all. These are the only reasons you should leave your home. You should not be meeting friends. If your friends ask you to meet, you should say no. You should not be meeting family members who do not live in your home. You should not be going shopping, except for essentials, like food and medicine.

And you should do this as little as you can. And use food delivery services where you can. If you don't follow the rules, the police will have the powers to enforce them, including through fines and dispersing gatherings.

To ensure compliance with the government's instruction to stay at home, we will immediately close all shops selling nonessential goods, including clothing and electronics stores, and other premises, including libraries, playgrounds and outdoor gyms and places of worship.

We will stop all gatherings of more than two people in public, excluding people you live with, and we will stop all social events, including weddings, baptisms, and other ceremonies, but excluding funerals.

Parks will remain open for exercise, but gatherings will be dispersed.

No prime minister wants to enact measures like this. I know the damage that this disruption is doing and will do to people's lives, to their businesses and to their jobs.

And that's why we have produced a huge and unprecedented program of support both for workers and for business. And I can assure you that we will keep these restrictions under constant review.

We will look again in three weeks and relax them if the evidence shows we are able to.

But, at present, there are just no easy options. The way ahead is hard. And it is still true that many lives will, sadly, be lost.

[16:35:02]

And yet it is also true that there is a clear way through. Day by day, we are strengthening our amazing NHS, with 7,500 former clinicians now coming back to the service.

With the time you buy by simply staying at home, we are increasing our stocks of equipment, we are accelerating our search for treatments, we're pioneering work on a vaccine.

And we are buying millions of testing kits that will enable us to turn the tide on this invisible killer.

I want to thank everyone who is working flat out to beat the virus, everyone from the supermarket staff, to the transport workers, to the carers, to the nurses and doctors on the front line.

But in this fight, we can be in no doubt that each and every one of us is directly enlisted. Each and every one of us is now obliged to join together to halt the spread of this disease, to protect our NHS and to save many, many thousands of lives.

And I know that, as they have in the past so many times, the people of this country will rise to that challenge, and we will come through it stronger than ever.

We will beat the coronavirus, and we will beat it together.

And, therefore, I urge you, at this moment of national emergency, to stay at home, protect our NHS and save lives.

Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Let's bring in CNN international anchor Max Foster. He's live in Windsor, England, outside London, and CNN international security editor Nick Paton Walsh, who is live outside Number 10 Downing Street.

Max, how significant is it that the prime minister is speaking out? I seem to recall, a few weeks ago, he said something that was derided as rather foolish, but now he seems to be taking this very seriously.

MAX FOSTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is a U-turn, but I think it's probably on very good advice.

Britain is going into a lockdown here. He had asked people to stay home and not take undue risks. But we saw these images coming out over the weekend of people gathering in parks, people cramming into the London underground train carriages. And people literally weren't taking him seriously.

So he's had to ramp things up. And he's given police powers now to find people who are out and about for nonessential purposes and any gatherings of more than two. He's telling people to stay at home.

He's warning that the virus is about to hit the U.K. in a major way. And the Health Service won't be able to cope unless people come together, act like communities and act in a responsible way. We haven't seen enough of that, Jake. That's the sadness here.

TAPPER: And, Nick, the prime minister there saying basically to everyone in the U.K., there's only a few reasons that you should leave home, if there are medical needs, to and from work, if you can't work from home, if you need to exercise, and you should do so by yourself or with people in your household, but not with anybody else, and then shopping, but only for necessities.

What kind of precautions are in place across the U.K. right now?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Significantly less than what we have heard.

Jake, no mistake care, Britain is waking up to three weeks -- remember, during that speech, he said they will review this in three weeks' time, potentially realizing that the idea of giving these extraordinary restrictions indefinitely would make some people slightly wary of them.

But Britain's waking up, frankly, to restrictions on its daily movements that nobody in this generation has seen before. In fact, only those most vulnerable to coronavirus, over 70, may remember something close to this during the Second World War.

This is quite extraordinary, all shops closed. Literally every public building, frankly, that isn't a supermarket or a pharmacy will be closed under this. He said police will have powers. That may suggest the future tense there, but they still have to put legislation through to enable the police to disperse those gatherings here.

But, remember, this is an extraordinary message from a prime minister, who has let the U.K. be something of an outlier, frankly, pursuing a strategy where some said they were trying, the scientists confessing, though, letting the disease spread to some degree, a strategy of mitigation to get the population immune, that clearly wasn't working.

Figures, models making them feel they could be seeing a death toll possibly of a quarter of a million people through the length of this pandemic, and they have suddenly changed over the past week, many wondering, though, when these measures, lockdowns, bringing them much more into proximity with their European neighbors, were beginning to be critical, frankly, of the U.K. approach, when this would come.

But there will be some still who don't say it goes far enough. They have not prohibited everyone going to work. And there are certain exemptions here that people may start using to still move around, but still an extraordinary moment here for the United Kingdom -- Jake.

TAPPER: Nick and Max, thanks so much. Appreciate it. Stay safe to both of you.

Coming up next, we're going to talk to one of the doctors on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:44:45]

TAPPER: We have some breaking news for you now.

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson moments ago ordering an essential lockdown of the U.K., telling people they need to stay home and only leave for necessities, medicine, food or exercise or work, this as the World Health Organization announces a global clinical trial to try to find a coronavirus treatment.

Joining me now to discuss, Dr. Adam Jarrett, the chief medical officer at Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck, New Jersey.

Dr. Jarrett, thanks for joining us.

What's your reaction when you hear the World Health Organization is doing treatment trials? Does it fill you with optimism? Do you think it could be readily available, or are you skeptical? What do you think?

[16:45:07]

DR. ADAM JARRETT, HOLY NAME MEDICAL CENTER: Well, I think it's a good move.

But I am concerned that cannot happen soon enough. Unfortunately, good research takes time. So, on the front lines, we are doing here at Holy Name Medical Center what I think many organizations are doing, and we're using drugs that have not shown proven efficacy for coronavirus, but we know the safety profile of those medications.

And so we're using them based on some very small studies, based on the understanding of how that drug works. And knowing the safety profile of those medications, and knowing the potential risk of coronavirus, we're using those medications now.

TAPPER: What do you say to someone who have may -- one of these drugs the World Health Organization -- may have one of these drugs the World Health Organization is going to be testing, such as chloroquine, in their medicine Cabinet, and they're thinking about taking it on their own?

JARRETT: Yes, no one should take those medications on their own.

First of all, those medications might help. And because they only might help, it's important that individual patients discuss with their primary care physician the risk and benefit of that medication for coronavirus.

All medications that we take have risks. And, therefore, you should only take a medicine if you have discussed it with your primary care provider who's made a decision that the benefits of those medications outweigh the risks.

Certainly, in patients with coronavirus, that may be the case with the chloroquine-type medications, but you only want to do that in good consultation with your doctor.

TAPPER: You're on the front lines of this pandemic. And Teaneck is in something of a shutdown, I believe.

Can you describe how things are going both in Teaneck and then specifically in your hospital?

JARRETT: So we recommended several weeks ago to the leadership in Teaneck that it was time to begin thinking about a shutdown.

And that has happened here in Teaneck, appropriately, and we're glad that happened. We began seeing cases here about two-and-a-half weeks ago, and it's really ramped up since then significantly.

Our emergency room is essentially full of coronavirus patients. We have approximately 20 patients in the hospital that have known coronavirus, another 60 patients that we suspect highly have coronavirus. And we continue to see more and more patients.

The scary part of this disease -- and I say scary not to make people afraid, but to stress how important it is that they follow the recommendations of social isolation -- the patients that we see that come into the hospital who need care, a significant percentage of them are going to progress and need critical care, and need to be put on ventilators.

TAPPER: And at what point do people come in? When they have trouble breathing or when they lose so much energy they can't even stand?

What's the point that differentiates somebody who has it, or probably has it, and is self-quarantining at home, and somebody who needs to go to the E.R.?

JARRETT: So what we have done here at Holy Name is, we set up a telemedicine option for all of our patients.

We hope that they are using that option and they are making that decision about whether or not they need to come in while they're talking to a provider on the phone.

But the bottom line is, if you aren't having symptoms typical of a flu with low-grade fever and a slight cough or congestion, then you really should stay home. When you begin having high fever, and, most importantly, when you begin feeling any symptoms of shortness of breath, that's when it's important that you come and be seen in your emergency department.

I want to stress, though, patients that are coming in either to their doctor or to their emergency department really need to call ahead. We need to stem the tide of this infection. And when patients call ahead, we can be prepared for that patient and our staff can use the appropriate protective gear, so they're not at risk.

TAPPER: All right, Dr. Jarrett, thank you so much for your time and thank you for the work you and your medical team are doing on the front lines there in Teaneck, New Jersey. We appreciate it.

JARRETT: Thank you so much.

TAPPER: Two major nations say they will not be sending their athletes to the Summer Olympics.

What officials are saying about the status of the Games, that's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:53:07]

TAPPER: If you need a little inspiration to get off the couch and get moving even as you're confined to quarters, a man in Toulouse, France, ran an entire marathon his 22-foot balcony. He crossed the imaginary finish line in just under seven hours, after the two races he had been training for were canceled.

No word on whether his downstairs neighbors were cheering him on or begging him to stop.

In other sports news, Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe giving a strong indication that the Summer Olympics might be postponed. Canada and Australia announced that they will not send their athletes if the Games go on as scheduled in July.

CNN's Will Ripley joins me now live from Tokyo.

Will, where do things stand right now with the International Olympic Committee?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're saying, Jake, that they need four weeks to sort out the massive logistical nightmare that is involved when you're moving major global sporting event like the Olympics, everything from cancellation fees to making sure the venues are available.

We have even heard that they sold most of the Olympic athletes village. People are supposed to be moved in by next year. So that all needs to be sorted out. But what is being said, without explicitly saying it or making an official announcement, is that Tokyo 2020 is not going to be happening in late July.

The question is, when will it be happening? And how are they going to make it all work?

TAPPER: Is there any consideration, Will, being given to just outright canceling the Games?

RIPLEY: No.

The Japanese prime minister, the International Olympic Committee all have said that basically canceling the Games is not an option. And even though postponing the Games, according to one economist I have spoken with here in Tokyo, could cost Japan upwards of 5.5 billion extra dollars, on top of the $20 billion they're already on track to spend, it's still significantly cheaper to hold the Games, considering all the infrastructure and whatnot that's been invested, to postpone them.

TAPPER: Will Ripley in Tokyo for CNN, thank you so much. Will, good to see you. Stay safe.

[16:55:01]

The White House Coronavirus Task Force will give an update in the next hour. We're going to bring that to you live.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

We're following breaking news.

We're standing by for a White House briefing on the coronavirus pandemic, as the number of known cases here in the United States now tops 42,000, with more than 500 deaths.

[17:00:00]