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Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) Discusses Coronavirus In NY; Failure Of Emergency Stimulus Package Vote, Sen. Rand Paul Socializing After Testing Positive; U.K. Prime Minister Taking New Steps To Fight Outbreak As Foreign Minister Tells All British Travelers To Return Home; Trump Suggests Containment Measures May Be Too Strong; N.J. Pizzeria Co-Owner, Bryan Morin, Discusses Taking Out $50,000 Loan To Pay Employees. Aired 2:30-3p ET
Aired March 23, 2020 - 14:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DR. BARBARA FERRER, DIRECTOR, LOS ANGELES COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH: And that we'll be enforcing those orders with everyone for as long as we need to, to make sure we do, in fact, slowdown that curve, slow down the spread, give our health care system the opportunity to take care of those who are going to need care.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Dr. Ferrer, thank you so much. We really, really need this insight. And we thank you for coming on to share it.
FERRER: Yes, thank you so much. And again, thanks to all of the media out there that have done a tremendous job making sure people have accurate information.
KEILAR: Thank you for helping us with that.
Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, of New York, is on Capitol Hill. She joins us now.
Senator, thank you so much for speaking us right now.
I want to get to the stimulus bill because another key procedural vote has just failed.
First though, I want to ask about your home state, which has turned into the epicenter here in the U.S., the hot spots across the world. How dire is the situation there?
SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D-NY): It's quite urgent in New York. We do have the most cases at this point. I've been talking to our hospital heads over the last week and one state hospital is down to the last mask that they have. They're short on gowns. They're short on ventilators. So there's an urgent need.
I think we need the Defense Production Act implemented. We need to national the medical supply chain. And we need to get these supplies into the front lines where they're needed.
And we also, Brianna, need a national paid leave plan and universal sick days for our workers. When a worker has to stay home because the school is closed, they need to be paid during that time period. That's what paid leave is for. If they're sick, they need to stay home. That's what sick days are for.
Unfortunately, the Republicans are not willing to move these basic defense mechanisms forward. This is what keeps us safe. Every transmission we stop by keeping a person home, by allowing them to stay not only in their family unit but away from crowds and from work, it's one less transmission. It's perhaps lives saved.
KEILAR: One of the big hang-ups in this bill, from the way Democrats see it, is accountability when it comes to billions and billions of dollars that will be used to essentially bail out companies. Democrats are working for, they'll say, protections for workers. They also are wanting to make sure that, you know, companies are kind of walking away, laughing all the way.
We heard from our Julia Chatterley who said that the Democrats may be getting it wrong on focusing on CEO pay. That focusing on accountability makes more sense. But wrapping up something like CEO pay, which may be an issue that is kind of unrelated in the view of some folks, that they may be a mistake.
GILLIBRAND: I think that's one of many concerns about the way Mitch McConnell put the bill forward. We were negotiating very productively on Saturday until about 5:30 p.m. And then Republicans pulled back.
At 9:00, they said our way or the highway, we're not negotiating, and deleted and took away all the compromises that had been made that would have had abilities for employees to be furloughed, get their paycheck and be home as needed. They would have had the sick days in there and had accountability for when we do rescue companies, which we fully intend to do, that they are not able to use the funds in ways that hurt employees.
We just want the bill to be a worker's first bill, a families-first bill, and not allow the companies to do what they did during the last bailout. We remember quite well what happened during the financial collapse last time. I did not vote for it because of how it was structured. There was no accountability. The American people did not have the ability to have equity in these companies. It's the same thing again.
If they take billions of dollars and pay dividends and have stock buybacks and give money to CEOs, not employees, they're making the wrong decision for the common good and for America. And to receive that money, taxpayer money, to bail them out in this urgent time of need, we're willing to do that. We just want them to behave in a way that is good for everyone, not just their C suite.
KEILAR: Senator Rand Paul, as you know, in isolation. He tested positive for coronavirus. And as he was awaiting his diagnosis, and up until his diagnosis, he was socializing. He attended meetings, lunches, even went to the gym yesterday morning before learning of his diagnosis.
Are you concerned about exposure? Are your colleagues concerned?
GILLIBRAND: Well, my heart goes out to Rand Paul. I hope he's recovering. There are several Senators that have followed the directive of the capitol physician and isolating themselves for the last two weeks because they had direct contact with Senator Paul.
All of us are deeply concerned that the people in our states aren't getting the protective gear they want, aren't getting the masks and the money and the ability to be at the front lines against this disease. We are less concerned about our ourselves.
KEILAR: Senator Amy Klobuchar, your colleague, thinks remote voting in Congress is inevitable. More members likely to be quarantined. Do you agree? Do you want to see remote voting?
GILLIBRAND: I think we should absolutely have remote voting. I don't know why Senator McConnell is refusing to create accommodations under these circumstances.
I think this is something we can easily do. We are able to do proxy votes in committees. That's no reason why we can't do proxy votes or floor votes. It's not hard to do.
And I think this reticence is unwise, given the age and health of so many of our colleagues. I think it's important to protect everyone and we can do that better through remote voting.
We've been holding our caucus meetings, at least on the Democratic side, remotely. Republicans chose not to do that. And I think that was a deep mistake.
KEILAR: Before I let you go, just a final word from you, Senator, especially for people in your state in New York. What do you want people to know at this time?
GILLIBRAND: What's most important is to listen to health professionals and follow their guidelines. Everyone should be staying home. They should be doing social distancing. Remain six feet apart from anybody that you happen to see when you're on the way to the grocery store or at the grocery store or pharmacy.
Take time to stay at home. Call your loved ones. Talk to your grandparents and people at home alone. Remember that we can get through. We are resilient country. We are resilient people. And so kindness and thoughtfulness, speaking to people who are alone is important.
But, again, keeping your family safe by at home and limit exposure outside to when you need to go out to get medicine or groceries or just to take a walk to get some fresh air. Those things are important for everybody to do every day.
And I think if we use common sense and have the resilience and strength that America is known for, we will get through this. KEILAR: Senator, thank you so much. We look forward to getting through
this. It seems far away at this point. But, Senator Gillibrand, we appreciate you joining us.
GILLIBRAND: It is. Thank you.
KEILAR: Thank you so much.
Moments ago, the British foreign secretary advised all travelers to return home now. This, as we await announcement from the prime minister about new measures to stop the spread of coronavirus.
Doctors there are sounding the alarm and echoing warnings we've seen here in the U.S.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DOMINIC RAAB, U.K. FOREIGN MINISTER: This is not a rehearsal. You will only have one chance at this. Stay at home.
KEILAR: Prime Minister Boris Johnson has scheduled a news conference in the next few hours to announce new steps to fight the coronavirus after foreign secretary told all British travelers to come home now.
Let's go to Nick Paton Walsh in London.
Nick, it there any sense of exactly what we're expecting from the prime minister?
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I think this address, which won't be a news conference, that's what everyone is anticipating here. It will be a kind of direct address to the people of the United Kingdom, the first time in this crisis he's taken such a measure.
And it comes ahead of many days of speculation that the advice the government were giving to people to keep apart, keep out of mass gatherings, hasn't really been sinking in enough. Too many photographs circulating over the weekend of crowded public parks and places.
We get a slight sense, as you say, just in the hour ahead from the U.K. foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, releasing a statement essentially advising all U.K. holiday makers, people on vacation, to come home as quickly as possible.
Not those who are residents in other countries. Saying they should do it while there's still commercial travel available and warning some airports are being closed sometimes without notice around the world.
Not an indication necessarily that's going to happen here in the U.K. but something certainly going to be announced by Boris Johnson tonight. Whether it has legal enforcement behind it, we don't know. They have shied away from that in the U.K., giving strong advice of how they should behave but not saying you face jail if you go against that advice.
Though there's draft legislation coming through that could make the police have powers to actually arrest people if they evade quarantine.
Advice going out to the vulnerable 1.5 million people who will receive letters from the United Kingdom's free health service, the NHS, saying to them to essentially stay at home for a protected period of time.
You have to remember though, Brianna, the United Kingdom been an outlier. It's scientists at the government level, this prime minister, trying, at the start, to allow the virus to spread in a mitigated way to make sure that people gain immunity across the population of the U.K. and then possibly more resilient in the seasons ahead when this could possibly return.
But they changed their mind radically after seeing the most recent modeling and have been introducing increasingly strict measures. It may be tonight that we hear the United Kingdom become like France, Italy, Spain, with such widespread restrictions across society, including travel, too -- Brianna?
KEILAR: Could be a major pivot and we'll be watching that along with you.
Nick, thank you.
Some business owners forced to take drastic measures during the crisis. Next, I'll speak to the owner of a pizzeria, who borrowed $50,000 to make sure that their employees are getting paid.
KEILAR: In one of the hardest-hit areas for coronavirus in the U.S., New York City, there's a mobile hospital that is going up according to Governor Cuomo. The Javits Center is being converted into four hospitals with 250 beds each. We are live on the ground. We can see that there are ventilators there. All of the equipment that is needed.
Is this going to be a model for other cities in the United States? We will take you there.
We're back in just a moment.
KEILAR: Governors and mayors across the nation are growing more and more frustrated with the president's response as President Trump teases the possibility that he may relax the 15-day self-distancing guidelines.
I want to go live to Kaitlan Collins on the North Lawn of the White House.
Kaitlan, if you look at what the president has re-tweeted, relaxing the guidelines, it looks like something he would be considering to happen next week. But every medical expert that I've spoken with today said that is a terrible idea. What is the thinking at the White House behind this?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, health experts do not seem to think that 15-day period that the president announced a week ago today is going to be sufficient.
They think the measures could get more extreme in a week but that is changed at the White House and now the president is considering easing the guidelines after the 15-day period is up.
And what you have going on here at the task force that the president is listening to is you've got the economic aides telling the president how devastating this is for the economy and warning him that changes need to be made.
And then you have the health officials, on the other hand, saying, no, if you do start sending people back to work and opening restaurants and what not, that is devastating not only for our efforts to contain the spread of the virus from going any further than it already has, which it did because of that slowdown in testing, but they're also worried about the effect on hospitals.
If there are so many people getting this and then the hospitals continue to be devastated, they're warning some pretty -- making dire predictions about what that could look like.
So the question here is really, which side is the president going to be leaning toward.
And there's a lot of time between now and next week for people to change the president's mind. You see people like Lindsey Graham saying, you know, it won't matter
because there won't be any economy if this continues out of control. But then you have other people like Larry Kudlow, the president's chief economic advisor, saying some difficult tradeoffs are going to have to happen because the economy has to be spared at some point -- Brianna?
KEILAR: What is that tradeoff? What is the bargain that folks are willing to make? It differs depending on who you talk to.
Kaitlan Collins, at the White House, thank you so much.
As restaurants across the country are struggling with closures, layoffs, dwindling customers due to this outbreak, the owners of one New Jersey restaurant decided to take out a $50,000 loan to guarantee impacted employees would get a paycheck for the next two months.
I want to bring in Bryan Morin, the co-owner of Federico's Pizza in Belmar, New Jersey.
Bryan, this is amazing to hear you doing this when we hear so many people without work. Tell us why you decided to go this route.
BRYAN MORIN, CO-OWNER, FEDERICO'S PIZZA: Yes, I'm very -- I really needed to take care of my staff. I know a lot of other restaurants are doing a lot of layoffs. I saw it in our own community. And I really want to take care of my staff so I made it a point, both my brother and I, that we were going to take the hit.
I would go across the street and take money out of our credit line and donate that money to -- telling employees that, no matter what happens, if we're completely shut down, don't worry about the money, your salaries, you're going to get paid for at least two months.
KEILAR: So restaurants in New Jersey, of course, are not allowed to serve food, dine-in. You can order takeout and delivery. Is that something that you're doing? Is there enough demand for that? And how much of your staff is able to work doing that?
MORIN: Well, obviously, the delivery drivers are still involved. The kitchen help and our pizza makers are still working for us currently.
Unfortunately, our waitresses are -- the people that are really taking the hit, because we can't have dine-in service. But we're definitely going to make sure that they get some form of payment just to cover their living expenses over the next couple of weeks, couple of months.
Just to make sure that we protect our families, who I consider them to be an extension of my own family, because some of these employees have been working for us for 12, 15, even 19 years. So I really owe a great debt to these individuals.
KEILAR: They are family when you've been -- you know them. You've been around them. You probably spend more time with them than some of your family members.
I know that people heard about your promise to your employees. They've been donating money. And that has led you to donate pizzas to hospitals. Tell us about that.
MORIN: So, people, starting yesterday, started calling up the restaurant saying, how can I help, how can I help? Well, I said, you know what, people just ordered 10 pizzas through medical, if you want, you can -- whatever you want to donate, we're offering discounted pies. We'll just add some more pies onto the order.
So it started out as a 10-pie order. And someone called and wanted to add 10 more pies and then, all of a sudden, five more pies and two more pies and another 10 pies.
And all of a sudden, we delivered a total of 40 pies to medical for 12:00 today. And then we're going to Jersey Shore later on tonight with 15 pies. And then we're going back to Jersey Shore tomorrow with another 30 pies. It is just -- the outpouring of support from people in our local
community and from even people from as far away as Colorado, California, Kentucky, I mean, it's a very humbling experience to know that people do want to help.
But I do say one thing. I see all of the support for us and I do really appreciate it. But I want people to know, you don't have to just support us. Support your local restaurants, your local pizzeria and your local hardware stores.
We're all going through this together and we need to stay together and we need to self-promote -- I mean, not self-promote -- we need to promote shopping local.
KEILAR: Bryan, such good words to end this hour on.
Bryan Morin, thank you so much.
And special coverage continues now with Jake Tapper.