Return to Transcripts main page


More Than Coronavirus 34,000 Cases with 413 Deaths in U.S.; Asia Markets Extend Losses, Trading Mostly Lower; IOC Begins 'Scenario Planning' if Olympics are Delayed; German Chancellor Angela Merkel to Self-Quarantine; European Countries Seeing Large Spikes in Cases & Deaths. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired March 23, 2020 - 00:00   ET



MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. I'm Michael Holmes.


And coming up here on CNN NEWSROOM, one third of the U.S. population on lockdown for the coronavirus as President Donald Trump calls in the National Guard to help three hardest hit states: New York, Washington and California.

Plus, in Italy, the situation growing more dire by the hour, with more than 60,000 cases of the virus, the country's defense minister now requesting help from the U.S. military.

And the virus now a serious threat strap threat to the Summer Olympics. Japan's prime minister says postponing the games may become inevitable, as at least one country decides it's not sending its athletes.

Welcome everyone. New infections and shutdowns as the coronavirus pandemic deepens and the world worries about another week of economic chaos.

Johns Hopkins University now reporting more than 335,000 cases globally, with the death toll now over 14,000.

Italy is just getting hammered. The virus killed another 651 people there in the past day, nearly 5,500 overall. That's more than there was in China. The Italian government now asking U.S. military personnel stationed in Italy for help, specifically requesting critical medical equipment like ventilators, as well as field hospitals. No response yet from the Pentagon on that.

All of this as the U.S. grapples with life under lockdown, almost one in three Americans being ordered to stay home, and that figure only likely to rise.

The White House has now activated U.S. National Guard units for three of the hardest hit states: California, New York and Washington state. Some 2,000 Air an Army National Guard members working on the virus response across 23 states.

And across the U.S., the death toll has shot up: 413 now, with more than 34,000 infections. Natasha Chen shows us how the state and federal governments are responding.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And through FEMA, the federal government will be funding 100 percent of the coast of deploying National Guard units.

NATASHA CHEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sunday's announcement sends troops to Washington, California, and New York, the states hardest hit by the coronavirus. A move that comes one week into the White House's 15-day plan to slow the spread of the pandemic.

In one week, we've seen the number of cases in the U.S. go from 4,000 to more than 30,000, and the number of deaths have gone from 72 to at least 400. It's a signal that Americans may experience quarantined life far longer than 15 days.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): This is literally a matter of life and death. We get these facilities up, we get the supplies, we will save lives. If we don't, we will lose lives.

CHEN: Gov. Andrew Cuomo says 40 to 80 percent of people across New York state will become infected. He and other governors have been calling for more federal help.

GOV. LARRY HOGAN (R-MD): We are getting some progress. Now, it's not nearly enough. It's not fast enough. We're way behind the curve.

TRUMP: And whatever the states can get, they should be getting. I say we're sort of a back-up for the states.

CHEN: But the president did say deliveries of medical supplies and federal medical stations with thousands of beds will be going to the hardest-hit states.

So far, the shortage of such resources has prompted a new directive in some jurisdictions to test only high-priority patients. Many hospitals have also stopped performing elective surgeries. One healthcare system in New York is barring visitors from the maternity ward: No one but the mother giving birth.

All the while, health providers on the front lines people are bracing themselves.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm afraid I'm going to get this virus. I'm going to try my hardest not to.

CHEN: All this makes Congress's stimulus package crucial.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Make no mistake about it, we'll be voting tomorrow.

CHEN: But the fate of that vote could be in question as Senator Rand Paul announced he's tested positive for coronavirus, and several other GOP senators are in self-quarantine. With them absent, the bill will need serious bipartisan support to pass. And Democrats do not agree on details of the aid given to states and large industries.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): There are issues that have not been resolved. They're serious issues.

SEN. TAMMY DUCKWORTH (D-IL): The package that the Republicans have drawn up does nothing to help struggling workers. First responders need BPE equipment, personal protective equipment and resources today, to our hospitals and first responders. There's nothing in it for them, you know. And instead, it creates a $500 billion slush fund for Steve Mnuchin to, you know, hand out loans to corporations as he pleased.


CHEN: Meanwhile, streets are growing quiet throughout the country. Even massive football state stadiums are now becoming test sites.

And as we continue facing this challenge in physical isolation, some like these high school students, are finding ways to virtually stick together.


CUOMO: America is America because we overcome adversity and challenges. We're going to overcome this, and America will be the greater for it.

CHEN: Natasha Chen, CNN, Atlanta.


HOLMES: U.S. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell putting more pressure on Democrats to back the Republicans' stimulus plan. He has scheduled a procedural vote for Monday afternoon.

He originally wanted it held in the morning, 15 minutes after the U.S. Stock Exchange had opened, but Democrats objected to that move, and the vote was pushed back.

Democrats have argued the plan leans too heavily in favor of U.S. corporate interests and blocked its passage on Sunday. With five Republicans senators now in self-quarantine or isolation, the measure needs bipartisan support to win the 60 votes needed to pass.


MCCONNELL: The American people are watching this spectacle. I'm told the futures market is down 5 percent. I am also told that that's when trading stops. So the notion that we have time to play games here with the American economy and the American people is utterly absurd. SCHUMER: The legislation has many problems. At the top of the list, it

includes a large corporate bailout with no protections for workers and virtually no oversight. Also very troubling in the bill were significant shortfalls of money that our hospitals, states, cities and medical workers desperately needed.


HOLMES: Now, as you heard Mitch McConnell say there, U.S. futures are tumbling because of the failure to reach a stimulus deal and fears over everything that's happening. They did fall 5 percent within minutes on Sunday, triggering a temporary halt on trading.

Now, in the Asian markets, the Hang Seng took a nosedive at the open, extending losses in Hong Kong. Only the Nikkei in Japan trading higher now, one -- nearly 2 percent up, in fact.

Journalist Kaori Enjoji joins us now from Tokyo with more. Kaori, the Dow Jones futures way down earlier. What's the sentiment in Asia ahead of Wall Street opening?

KAORI ENJOJI, JOURNALIST: Well, I think the sentiment is very negative yet again. And after a week last week, the worst weekly performance since the 2008 financial crisis, that theme again is recurring throughout the Asian markets, except for Tokyo.

I think the fact that S&P futures went limit down in early Asian training has set the tone for the day. And you saw markets in early opens like New Zealand and Australia tank. And on top of that, you had news from New Zealand that the country is going into self-isolation, a lockdown there, prompting, of course, the central bank to ease further and say they're going to buy bonds.

Yet, this was not enough for the markets, and the New Zealand markets continue to fall.

You're also seeing continued weakness in commodities, particularly oil but also others like coal and gold and, as a result, you have countries like Australia, which are very, very sensitive to the commodity prices, continue to sink today.

The one exception today, Michael, has been Tokyo. And this has been surprising. Traders here in Tokyo, as well, because they got a slew -- slew, excuse me, of bad news before the market, with the prime minister, Shinzo Abe, saying for the first time, discussing the possibility of a postponement in the Olympic Games.

You also have the auto giant, Toyota, say that one of its factory workers did test positive for the coronavirus, and that it's going to force them to halt production for three days at one of its main facilities here in Japan.

So they're saying they don't understand why the equity market has continued to surge, which suggests, they say, that it's artificial buying by the Bank of Japan. The central bank here has been buying exchange-traded funds very aggressively, and they say they suspect that's the reason behind the bounce for Tokyo.

But the rest of Asia, Michael, negative yet again.

HOLMES: Indeed. Kaori Enjoji there. Thank you so much.

And joining me now, Megan Greene. She's a senior fellow at the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government at the Harvard Kennedy School. A great person to have for this discussion. Futures markets in the U.S. reeling. Is a global recession inevitable, do you think? And what would that look like?

MEGAN GREENE, MOSSAVAR-RAHMANI CENTER FOR BUSINESS AND GOVERNMENT, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: So unfortunately, at this point I do think a recession is inevitable. Economists are really having a hard trouble modeling it, because it depends less on economics and more on epidemiology and also on the policy response.


So, you know, some forecasters, J.P. Morgan, came out, said we can expect a 14 percent contraction in the second quarter of this year. That is eye-watering. But I actually think it could end up being worse. Either way, I suspect it will be double-digit.

But the sooner we can contain this virus, the faster we can get back to doing business as normal, the shallower the contraction, and the bigger our policy response, as well. And that's really what we're waiting for right now in the U.S., at least.

HOLMES: Yes. And to that very point, you lead into my next question. The U.S. Congress debating rather fiercely a rescue package, if we call it that. But, you know, the resistance to it is that it overwhelmingly benefits corporations, big ones, and some that use their own profits to buy back their own stock compared to individuals and families. What's your take on that impasse?

GREENE: Yes. So I mean, governments always have to go through this when they're coming up with bailout packages. They have to figure out who's holding the bag when the losses have to be crystalized. And so they have to sort of socialize it and decide how to split it up between the treasury, companies, investors and workers.

And I think the bill that they're looking at right now is, unfortunately, leaning towards supporting companies rather than workers and bigger companies, at that.

So there is a lot of funding available for big companies, but there aren't that many constraints on how they can use the cash. Other than that, they can't use it to buy back their stocks, and there are some restrictions on corporate pay.

What the Democrats really don't like about it is that they would like to have guarantees that companies won't get these massive bailouts and then go ahead and fire all their workers and use it for things like dividends or to pay senior executives, which seems fair enough to me. And so I think the big fight is over how many protections we add in for actual workers. And with this kind of demand shock, that's what's crucial.

The jobless claims number this week will be incredibly ugly. Millions have lost their jobs already. So trying to figure out how to support those people and also how to support the small and medium-sized business who account for about half of employment in the U.S. so that they can get through a couple of months in seeing their revenues come to a screeching halt. Because they were perfectly healthy, many of these businesses, before this week. And so once we contain the virus, they could be healthy again if we can just give them some sort of bridge financing.

HOLMES: Yes. You're economics, not politics. But let me ask you. I mean, the optics of the president of the nation not answering whether he will take government bailout assistance for his own businesses, hotels, and so on. What do you make of that?

GREENE: Yes, I mean, I think that, rightly so, the Democrats aren't really giving the president the benefit of the doubt. I mean, after 9/11, for example, I do think that both sides of the political spectrum rallied behind the president, gave him the benefit of the doubt. It's not happening this time around.

And comments like that are why. A bailout for the hotel industry is obviously really tricky, because the president stands to benefit from it himself. And so I think that's partly why Democrats are so insistent that we really tie down support for workers rather than just benefiting the owners of these big companies.

GREENE: Right. When you -- when you look at the global, and we're being seeing all around the world, when you think of the world economy as this all unfolds, what could be the potentially -- I mean, if the vaccine's a year out, and it probably is, what could be the lasting damage, fundamental changes to the global economy?

GREENE: Well, so in economics, we like to talk about the process of creative destruction, where new companies emerge and new technologies emerge, and they make old technologies and companies obsolete, and everyone is better off for it.

We're not seeing that now. We're just seeing destruction. There's no creative part of.

And so it could fundamentally really hurt our productivity, our growth prospects going forward, even you know, 10 years down the line. And also, our policy response will matter here, too, because we're all taking on massive amounts of debt to finance fiscal policy.

And right now, rates are really low. I think that central banks have basically globally said, Look, we're going to keep rates at zero or below for the foreseeable future.

So they're begging governments to borrow to do this, and that's absolutely the right thing to do right now. But it will leave us all with a massive debt burden going forward.

HOLMES: Yes, I can only imagine the debt burden. I mean, as you pointed out, you've got millions of people losing their jobs. I think two million applied for unemployment benefits in the last week, which is unbelievable.


HOLMES: It's stunning. How quickly can an economic recovery happen, if and when some sort of green light is given? You know, the president seems to think everything would boom immediately. Pent-up demand, he says. What are your thoughts?

GREENE: So it depends on how long it lasts, and it also depends on how much you can keep healthy businesses going now in the interim, even though they have no incomes.


And that also goes for individuals. Right? How can you keep them in their houses, and continuing to meet -- meet their bill payments while they have no income?

So if we can manage to keep businesses alive just through these couple of months, and then we contain a virus, these healthy businesses will exist, then. They can ramp back up, and we could have a fairly quick recovery. If we don't succeed in doing that with this bill in Congress, in particular, then a lot of those businesses are just going to shutter. A lot of them already have.

And so when the virus is contained, you know, we're going to have to have new businesses start up from scratch, and that's going to be a much longer haul. So how can we contain the virus and how much we support our individuals and businesses.

HOLMES: Yes. If you're starting from scratch in many ways, that is tough.

Megan Greene, really appreciate you coming on and discussing this. Thanks for your expertise.

Well, do you ever wonder what is going through the mind of the U.S. top infectious disease effort when Donald Trump misstates the facts during a press briefing? Well, now we do know.

In an interview published Sunday in the journal "Science," Dr. Anthony Fauci talked about the challenges of working with the Trump administration during this pandemic. Here's how he described falsehoods from the president.

Quote, "I can't jump in front of the microphone and push him down. OK, he said it. Let's try and get it corrected for the next time," unquote.

Fauci also added that, while he and Mr. Trump disagree on some things, the president does listen to what he has to say. We'll take a quick break here now. The country where this outbreak

began is now seeing a steady decline in coronavirus cases, but it's a different story elsewhere in Asia, where the virus continues to spread rapidly. We'll have that and much more when we come back.



HOLMES: Welcome back, everyone.

The International Olympic Committee is reconsidering rescheduling the 2020 Tokyo Games. The Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, has had a staunch position in the past, and that is that the Olympics should happen on schedule.

Now, he has now addressed the possibility that the games may be postponed because of the virus.

For more, I'm joined by CNN's Will Ripley in Tokyo.

Several countries now a little reticent about going ahead. Is it starting to feel a little inevitable it's going to be postponed?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is, Michael. It does seem only a matter of time before Japanese Olympic organizers and the IOC announce that Tokyo 2020 will be postponed.

A lot of people are saying it should be postponed for a year. But obviously, from the Olympics perspective, it's such a massive sporting event with so many stakeholders, they put out messaging within the last several hours saying that they need more time. They need more time to figure out things like changing venues, changing bookings, cancellation fees, all that sort of thing.

But they are letting this growing list of athletes and countries from around the world know that they are listening, and that they understand that the health and safety of athletes, as well as, frankly, their time to prepare for the Olympics, is their priority.

And so we are now basically in wait-and-see mode to see what solution they do come up with, which does seem likely to be postponement.

HOLMES: You know, what are going to be the impact here, financially, logistically, for Japan, if it is moved forward? It sounds easy, but you know, apparently a lot of those stadiums are already booked for next year. I think the athletes' village has been presold. People are going to want to move in. It's going to be hard.

RIPLEY: It is going to be an absolute nightmare. And expensive. It could actually cost more, Michael, to postpone the Olympics than to cancel them altogether, according to a source of mine who works inside Tokyo 2020.

That is because, as you mentioned, there are so many things that have already been lined up. You know, leases signed for the Olympic athletes village. Hotel rooms, millions of hotel rooms booked. Flights that will need to be canceled. Tickets that were, you know, sometimes $1,000 that will need to be refunded, or change fees. That sort of thing.

Not to mention the fact that some of the venues might already be unavailable. And then, what if there's a conflict with other sporting events at whatever time they do decide to hold the Olympics?

You know, they time these things and other sporting events schedule themselves around the Olympics. So there's not a conflict. Not to mention what will that mean for the training schedules of the athletes involved.

So it is a huge undertaking, and that's precisely why Tokyo 2020 organizers and the IOC are saying they're working on it, but they might need up to four weeks before they actually make an announcement. It could actually take that long, they say, to sort everything out.

HOLMES: All right. Will Ripley, thanks very much there, in Tokyo for us.

Well, Wuhan, China, the center of the original coronavirus outbreak, has reported no new cases for five straight days. Meanwhile, Thailand seeing a spike in the pandemic. Public health officials reported nearly 200 new cases in a single day.

The World Health Organization has recorded almost 600 cases of the virus in Thailand. One death there. CNN senior producer Steven Jiang joins me now from Beijing.

What are we expecting to see in Wuhan as this moves forward? No new cases for several days, and are those numbers reliable?

STEVEN JIANG, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER: Well, Michael, the reliability of those numbers is very much a big question mark on the minds of many people, including residents, given the initial mishandling or even alleged the cover-up of this outbreak by local officials.

In the past few days, we have seen numerous social media posts alleging the existence of new cases in Wuhan, some showing photos of public notices posted by property management officers at certain residential compounds.

Now, these voices of skepticism have gotten so loud, the Wuhan government actually issued a statement on Sunday to deny these allegations. They say they have checked with all local hospitals and found no concealment of new cases. And there were no instances of coronavirus patients being denied treatment, because hospitals did not want to report new cases.

But the authorities says some of these allegations were due to misunderstandings of earlier confirmed cases, be mistakenly thought to be new cases.

At least in one instances, the authorities confirmed the discovery of one asymptomatic carrier of the coronavirus. But because of the national health authority's classification rules, carriers without symptoms are not listed as confirmed cases. And this, of course, has raised more alarm than calming things down, as you can imagine.

But despite all these controversies and concerns, the Wuhan city government is moving ahead with its effort to resume some form of economic activities. They have removed checkpoints within city limits and also starting to allow people to come back into Wuhan if they're deemed healthy by the government -- Michael.

HOLMES: Yes. Interesting how the numbers are run there in China. Given that the new cases in China, the Chinese authorities already are saying imported. Tell us more about how those new arrivals are being handled.


JIANG: That's right. That's, increasingly, their focus. We have seen officials around the country, but especially here in Beijing, take increasingly drastic measures.

Now the government has ordered all Beijing-bound international flights to be diverted to 12 other cities in China. So passengers will clear immigrations and customs at their first point of entry, and then undergo very thorough health screenings. Only those deemed healthy and low-risk will be allowed to re-board their planes to fly into Beijing.

And in Shanghai, for example, also, the authorities have ordered all arriving international passengers who will not go to government quarantine facilities to take a mandatory coronavirus test -- Michael.

HOLMES: All right. Steven Jiang, good to have you there for us in Beijing. Appreciate it.

All right. Another break. Now, when we come back, the most powerful woman in Europe going into self-quarantine. What that could mean for other European leaders. That and more, when we come back.


HOLMES: Welcome back, everyone.

To our viewers here in the United States, indeed, all around the world, I'm Michael Holmes. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM. Time to check the headlines this hour.

The U.S. Senate Republican leader pressuring Democrats to agree to the Republicans' stimulus plan. A procedural vote scheduled Monday afternoon.

Democrats blocked the measure on Sunday, arguing it favored corporate interests over workers, hospitals and local governments.

Meanwhile, President Trump sending U.S. National Guard units to three of the hardest-hit states: California, New York and Washington state. Also getting medical stations and thousands of beds. Republican Rand Paul is the first U.S. senator known to have

contracted the coronavirus. A source says Paul has no symptoms but decided to get checked out after learning he attended an event with two people who did test positive. Paul now one of at least five Republican senators in self-quarantine or isolation.

The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, under self-quarantine, as well, after possible exposure to the coronavirus. And this comes after she saw a doctor who gave her a needle and later tested positive for the infection.

Now, over the weekend, the German leader also announced a contact ban, limiting gatherings to no more than 2 people. CNN's Fred Pleitgen with more.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Another major development in the battle against the coronavirus here in Europe and especially in Germany as German Chancellor Angela Merkel has announced that she has gone into self-quarantine.


Now, Merkel's spokesman put out a statement late Sunday, saying that Angela Merkel had received a routine vaccination on Friday afternoon and later, the doctor who administered her that vaccination tested positive for the coronavirus.

The German chancellery says that it was immediately decided that Angela Merkel needs to go into quarantine. They say she is going to be taking on her full workload there as much as it's possible in a self- quarantine or home quarantine, as they call it here in Germany.

And also that she's going to be continuously tested for possible coronavirus, because they say since the time -- between the time that she saw this doctor and the time that it was discovered that he had coronavirus was so short, that tests right now might be unreliable. So they're going to continue to test her to see whether or not she develops any sort of symptoms and whether or not she actually has coronavirus.

All this came just after Angela Merkel announced new measures here in Germany to try and combat the coronavirus. As of now, gatherings of more than two people are not allowed here in this country.

Also, key things like restaurants will have to close, except for takeout. And other places will need to close, as well, to try and get that social distancing to a level where the government is comfortable for it.

As the number of infections continue to rise here in Germany, with now possibly the chancellor also affected, having at least had contact with a person who, indeed, has coronavirus.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Berlin. (END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: And Europe in general is seeing dramatic spikes in the number of deaths reported. Both France and the U.K. reporting increases of at least 20 percent over the weekend. And the E.U. says it is taking charge of getting desperately-needed medical supplies to affected countries.

Hadas Gold is in London now, joins us with more on this. And it does seem that pretty much most of Europe on lockdown. What's the latest?

HADAS GOLD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Michael, it does seem like most of Europe is nearly completely on lockdown. And a lot of Europe, Michael, is actually asking for help.

Italy has actually reached out to the American military, asking them both for supplies and personnel who are perhaps stationed in Italy to help their civilians out. Because, as we all know so well, they are completely overwhelmed in Italian hospitals.

Madrid in Spain is getting a planeload of supplies from China, which has been sending out many donations, especially from billionaire Jack Ma.

And then also, in Spain, they are thinking of extending the state of national emergency. France is building military field hospitals. Greece is banning all nonessential travel.

But in a glimmer of, perhaps, some sort of good news, we're looking at the death rates. Although Italy had one of its worst death rates just the other day, yesterday that had decreased. At least we are seeing the trajectory, for at least one day, go down; and officials are hoping that that trajectory continues in places like Italy that have been so hard-hit.

HOLMES: Yes. Yes, I can imagine. The U.K. really resisted stringent measures or as stringent as others. Why is that?

GOLD: Well, so in the United Kingdom, they have locked things down like pubs and restaurants and theaters from Friday. It was already a little bit later than some other places, especially if you look at where the U.K. is when it comes to cases and deaths.

And so far, they have resisted further calls to really lock down the country. And this is what I'm talking about. Movements like in Germany, where you're not allowed to gather more than two people. Or not allowing people, really, to go out for anything other than grocery shopping or getting supplies.

And Boris Johnson did warn yesterday that, if people don't adhere to these social distancing recommendations, that he will take further measures.

But yesterday, if you walked to some of the parks here in London, some of the farmers' markets were opened. I was shocked to see hundreds of people gathering in these farmers' markets. It was a beautiful day. It might have been any other Sunday.

And Boris Johnson Johnson is warning that if people don't adhere to these new recommendations, that he will issue these more stringent measures.

And there are growing calls for him just to do so, because it doesn't seem as though people are necessarily listening. Some of the national parks in the United Kingdom have seen record numbers of people visiting. These are holiday levels. And this is exactly what should not be happening.

So now, it seems the question in the United Kingdom is not if there will be a lockdown, a full lockdown, but more about when -- Michael.

HOLMES: Wow. Extraordinary. Hadas, thank you. Hadas Gold in London.

And joining me now from Ridgefield, Connecticut, is CNN medical analyst Dr. Arthur Caplan. Great to have you, Doctor.

Wanted to start with -- We've seen what's happening in Italy with the health system there. Spain, as well, increasingly. What is your assessment of the likelihood of the system in the U.S. being overwhelmed: more patients than beds, more needing ventilators than there are ventilators? What do you think are the chances?


DR. ARTHUR CAPLAN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: I think the chances, sadly, are fair. Not likely, but they're there. The reason is we still haven't had a stuff a tough stay-in-place policy. Some states better than others. Where I am, in Connecticut, pretty good; Louisiana, some other parts of the country, Florida, terrible.

So I don't think we've done everything we needed to do to sort of take down the spread of the virus.

HOLMES: Right. Another thing, too, with this. You know, nobody knows for sure, but how long could this last? And it won't just disappear, right? Until there's a vaccine, there's going to be a risk of a second wave, if -- even if this one flattens.

CAPLAN: Well, let me tell you a couple of things we don't know. First of all, we say 14 days quarantine if you've been infected. We actually do not know for sure that that's the infectivity. Maybe it will last longer. That wouldn't be good.

We also are not completely certain, when you look at the infection rates, about whether you can get it again. So there are cold viruses that float around, and we do get them again and again.

I'm going to be this. Until we get a vaccine, we're going to spend at least the next year, not necessarily quarantined or having to stay in our homes, but battling reappearances of the virus again and again, maybe the occasional quarantine. It dips down. We come back out. But I think we've got a long year ahead of us. HOLMES: Yes, it would seem so. I mean, there's been, you know, a

situation in the U.S. of states fighting over scarce resources. The wild west, somebody called it today.

How concerned are you that the federal government isn't forcing industry to make what is needed? Mandate it. Don't ask nicely. And then distribute that in a coordinated fashion rather than what we're seeing now.

CAPLAN: Yes, I'm usually concerned. It's a free-for-all out there. Each state in the U.S. fighting with suppliers to try and get ahead of one another to get supplies. Despite some assurances from the White House, we're still short in the places where the pandemic is really acute right now: New York, Los Angeles.

I have colleagues who don't have the right equipment to protect themselves, much less test patients.

So federal government needs to toughen it up and order manufacturing and, as you said, Michael, get on top of the distribution. We can't have 50 buyers biding against one another for scarce supplies. That's not going to get them where they need to.

HOLMES: Yes. The president said the other day that the federal government isn't a shipping clerk. Perhaps it needs to be.

I mean, we do -- we talk about the impact of shortages on infected people. That's pretty obvious to everyone now. I think what perhaps gets a little less attention is the impact on other sick people. People with heart attacks, strokes and so on.

How worried are you about that, and that there might be hard decisions on who gets treated and who does not?

CAPLAN: Well, it's important to remember, Michael, as you're saying, the hospital didn't close. There are still accidents. There's still heart attacks. There are still people getting cancer treatments and so on.

I'm very worried that, as the pandemic sort of seeps, or if you will, sweeps through some of our big hospitals, the medical personnel are stretched thin, not just to go into the room of the person who's got the virus, but because they're sick, there's fewer people in the E.R. to handle that heart attack.

So I am worried that at least some of our hospitals, maybe not Italian-style with mass overrunning of the system, but some hospitals may get, if you will, overrun. And they're going to be facing some pretty tough rationing decisions.

HOLMES: The president seems to be continuing to push certain drugs, therapies, painting a positive picture of their potential efficacy and so on, when scientists are urging caution and prudence. Is that damaging? Does that give false hope?

CAPLAN: Hugely damaging. I really -- this is where I disagree with the president the most.

He keeps saying, you know, right around the corner, tomorrow morning, there's going to be malaria pills, and we know they work. Or there's going to be antiviral drugs, and we know they work.

We don't know they work. We've had hopeful signs from some very weak evidence that these things are worth studying. But the idea that there's a magic bullet on the shelf that will make all of these of social isolation demands and need for protective equipment demands go away, I just don't buy that.

And I think it's actually, if you will, really disruptive, because it undermines trust in what the president is saying. Later when people see there were no magic bullets right away, why will they believe the next thing he says?

HOLMES: Yes. I think it's disconcerting to people to see the president say one thing and decide to come back and say, Well, actually, not really.

I mean, one thing when it comes to testing, and this really struck me when we're talking about the spread. Iceland carried out and is carrying out massive widespread testing. And what's interesting, they're finding that half of the people with the virus have zero symptoms. Half of them.


And doesn't that suggest widespread testing should be done, rather than as the Trump administration is doing, just those already in bad shape with symptoms? If half of those without symptoms are carrying it and spreading it, that's a bad thing.

CAPLAN: Absolutely. By the way, we had one of our senators in the U.S. get tested, Rand Paul. He didn't have any symptoms.


CAPLAN: It's one thing to say you don't have to get tested, and then to see the rich, the famous, the celebrities, the politically connected getting tested anyway. That really sends a terrible message, as well.

But to your point, you have to test for two reasons. One, healthcare workers want to know if they're dealing with an infectious person or not, because then they don't need the protective gear if it's just some other infection or respiratory problem that lets them share.

The other reason is people are much more likely to self-quarantine if they know they're positive. That's just human nature. Of course, we should all self-quarantine, but you're more likely to do it if someone says you've got the virus.

HOLMES: Short term, are you optimistic? Worried? Fearful?

CAPLAN: I guess I'm somewhere between fearful and worried. I'm not optimistic. I don't think in the U.S. the response has been what it needed to be. It wasn't fast enough.

I'm worried other countries are already way behind where they need to be. I'm not sure Italy's going to come out of this anytime soon.

So I do worry that we're going to see a big boost, a big increase in deaths in North America. I worry that Africa, with the weak health systems, isn't really prepared for this. They could be in trouble, too. So I am deeply concerned.

On the other hand, we'll get through it. I am optimistic we're going to get a vaccine for this thing, and that is the answer.

HOLMES: Yes, yes. We have yet to see Africa and parts of the Middle East -- Iraq, Iran, others -- are going to be in bad shape.

Dr. Arthur Caplan, fantastic to have your expertise. Really appreciate it. Stay safe.

CAPLAN: Thank you.

HOLMES: Meanwhile, the state of South Australia closing its doors. Tasmania, too. In South Australia, the measures the area is taking to hold back the coronavirus. We'll have that and a live report from Australia when we come back.



HOLMES: Welcome back. The state of South Australia has declared a major emergency and closed its border with the rest of Australia. The state's premier says they have seen cases increase from travelers entering South Australia from other states. Anyone entering the state is going to have to be self-quarantining for 14 days.

For more, I'm joined by Hannah Sinclair. A reporter with 9 News in Sydney, Australia. I mean, critics say Australia had been late to act in any serious fashion. Crowded beaches, football being played, schools open. But what are you seeing now?

HANNAH SINCLAIR, REPORTER, 9 NEWS: Well, Michael, we have now essentially been put into lockdown as of midday today. All nonessential services have been closed.

Our prime minister, Scott Morrison, has told us to prepare for the toughest year of our lives.

I'm currently outside Sentling (ph). And behind me, you can see a number of people queuing. This is where people come to get government payments.

We've seen thousands of people across the country today line up to receive government payments amid what is happening. Many people have lost their jobs already. We've been told to brace for hundreds of thousands of job losses here. And as for these tough new measures that have been imposed, as of

midday today, all of our gyms, our bars, our clubs have been closed. Churches, as well. Cafes and restaurants are now only doing take away here.

And this comes after scenes at Bondi Beach just a few days ago thousands of people packed the beach there. They ignored the advice to practice social distancing, to wear masks. And they were crammed onto that beach.

After that, our government decided, that's it. And they put tough new measures in place. And we've been told that they will be in place for the next six months.

Now, as for the cases here at the moment, more than 1,500 confirmed cases in Australia right now. The most here in New South Wales; more than 600 people infected. Only seven, people here have died so far. It did spike quite dramatically and bond I as I mentioned earlier. A number of backpackers were affected because of several parties there. Nd also, a few cruise ships were allowed to dock.

HOLMES: Right.

SINCLAIR: So they are continuing to monitor the situation and just hoping these new measures help, Michael.

HOLMES: And Hannah, we're going to get a little bit. But yes, I mean, it's good to see these measures. Some would say a little late. How much criticism has the government faced for what has been, really, a lack of coordinated national response? A lot of states doing their own thing.

SINCLAIR: Well, that's it. They have faced a lot of backlash. And there's been a lot of mixed messaging. Our schools are still open, but parents are being told, kid keep your kids at home if you can. So people are a bit confused about what they should be doing as well as our government payments here.

As I said, I'm at Centerling (ph). You can do in our online or come into store. And people have been lining up. So they haven't been sure how to apply for those payments so far.

And as I'm sure you guys saw, we've already had a horrid summer here with the bush fires and now this. We're just hoping to get through with the least amount of deaths as possible -- Michael.

HOLMES: Yes. Yes, very good point regarding the bush fires, as well. Hannah Sinclair with 9 News. Appreciate it. Thanks, Hannah.

We'll take a short break. When we come back, the -- an appeal from the epicenter of Europe's coronavirus outbreak. When we come back, how Italy is hoping the U.S. military can help with the pandemic there.



HOLMES: Welcome back, everyone. Italy asking the U.S. for military help in combatting the coronavirus. And they're hoping U.S. forces who are stationed in Italy can help by providing medical personnel. Also field hospitals.

The Italian defense minister also appealing to his U.S. counterpart, Mark Esper, for critical medical equipment like masks and ventilators. This coming as Italy reported more than 650 deaths from the virus in a 24-hour period to Sunday.

Barbie Nadeau takes a look at why the country has been hit so hard.


BARBIE NADEAU, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A convoy of military trucks passes through the northern Italian city of Bergamo. Crematoriums so overwhelmed that the military is transporting the dead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Undo, due, tre.

NADEAU: And there are many, many dead. More have now died from COVID- 19 in Italy than in all of China, where the virus first emerged. That's despite Italy having far fewer overall cases.

The question: why? And what can America learn from it? In addition to sending a plane full of supplies --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you want to say something --

NADEAU: -- Chinese have also sent the vice president of the Red Cross, who gave this explanation.

SUN SHUOPENG, VICE PRESIDENT, CHINESE RED CROSS: You're not having very strict lockup policy of the city, because the public transportation is still working and people are still moving around. And you're still having, like, dinners, and parties in the hotels. And you are not wearing masks.

NADEAU (on camera): Here in Rome, it's plain to see. Officials are putting ever more stringent policies in place, trying to keep people home. But there are plenty of Romans out, disobeying the order.

ANDREA, BUTCHER (through translator): If I stay in here every day I risk contagion. There aren't rules. The people don't understand. It seems like Italians don't get it. They shouldn't stand less than a meter apart.

MAURO, NEWSSTAND WORKER (through translator): Lots of people are afraid. They are taking the situation very seriously. They go around IN face masks and keep their distance. They try to avoid contact, while others act like nothing's happening, Like it's a normal flu. They're underestimating the problem.

[00:55:14] NADEAU: Italy declared its first positive cases at the end of January. The prime minister moved quickly to declare a state of emergency. But it would not be until three weeks later, on February 23, that the government started to ban public gatherings, close schools and ask anyone who might have been exposed to self-quarantine in northern Italy, where most of the cases were at that point.

Leaders sent mixed messages, even politicians posting photos of themselves out drinking cocktails in Milan.

It would not be until two weeks after that, March 8, that the region was put on lockdown. Two hundred and thirty-three were already dead.

Maurizio Toniolo (ph) is a schoolteacher in San Fiorano, part of the original red zone.

MAURIZIO TONIOLO (PH), SCHOOLTEACHER (through translator): Here people have never stopped dying. Every day, it has been like this. We have a number of deaths that just keeps increasing exponentially. A police car has just passed by. Maybe the first time I've heard this. They are asking the population to stay inside their homes.

NADEAU: Italy's population is older than average, and the average coronavirus victim here is just over 80.

Like other European countries, testing here has not been nearly as aggressive as in countries like Korea, meaning it's been much harder to trace the infection. And as the center of the first contagion in Europe, its hospitals were immediately overwhelmed.

At first, Italy's government counted on people to do the right thing. Now, they make sure they do.

DANIELA CONFALONIERI, NURSE IN MILAN (through translator): There is a high level of contagion, and we're not even counting the dead anymore. Look at the news that's coming out of Italy and take note of what the situation really is like. It's unimaginable.

NADEAU: Take heed.

Barbie Nadeau, CNN, Rome.


HOLMES: Thanks, everyone, for watching CNN NEWSROOM and spending part of your day with us. I'm Michael Holmes, and do stay with CNN for the very latest on the coronavirus.


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon. Here's our breaking news.

The Senate failing tonight to reach a bipartisan deal for a massive stimulus package.