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Coronavirus Pandemic Worsens in U.S.; Senate Democrats Block $2 Trillion Stimulus Plan; New York City Becomes Epicenter of U.S. Coronavirus Outbreak. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired March 23, 2020 - 05:00   ET

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


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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The infection rate is going to be tremendous.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm announcing action to help New York, California and Washington ensure that the National Guard can effectively respond to this crisis.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need millions of masks and hundreds of thousands of gowns and gloves. So we're out on the open market competing for these items.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Every single one of them has been on the record, preventing us from taking the next step.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The market is sending a message to these politicians that they have to stop playing politics. This isn't a stimulus package, it's an investment in survival.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): What it has is a giant corporate bailout fund with no accountability.

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JOHN BERMAN, CO-ANCHOR, NEW DAY: Good morning, everyone, welcome to NEW DAY, it is Monday, March 23rd, it's 5:00 in the east. This morning, the nation's largest cities are warning of being overwhelmed by the coronavirus pandemic. A wave of new cases and a shortage of supplies. There are now more than 34,000 cases across the country, more than 400 people have died.

New York is now the epicenter of the outbreak in the United States with roughly 5 percent of the world's total cases. President Trump is activating the National Guard in three of the hardest hit states, New York, California, Washington. The federal government is also sending medical supplies and directing FEMA to set up medical stations to increase the number of available beds.

Roughly one-third of all Americans waking up this morning under stay- at-home orders. And overnight, a remarkable interview with the nation's top infectious disease doctor, Dr. Anthony Fauci, seemed to show frustration with the president's grasp of facts telling "Science Magazine", quote, "I can't jump in front of the microphone and push him down."

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CO-ANCHOR, NEW DAY: Also overnight, the U.S. Senate failing to reach an agreement on a historic $1.8 trillion stimulus bill. Democrats arguing the Republican measure puts corporate interests above the needs of American workers. A vote is now expected around 1:00 p.m. after Democrats blocked Senate Majority leader McConnell's effort to force a vote this morning. A vote that would happen minutes after the opening bell on Wall Street.

The Republican effort hampered by the absence of five GOP senators who are quarantined after Senator Rand Paul tested positive for coronavirus. The Senate dysfunction comes at a time when millions are waiting anxiously for help, they have rents and mortgages and bills to pay April 1st. They are losing their jobs or they're having their paychecks cut. Dow futures down sharply this morning, pointing to a big drop at the opening bell. And markets around the world are down. Let's begin our coverage with Joe Johns live in Washington. Joe?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, as you know and as you just reported, there was a procedural vote just last night on the Senate floor, it failed and the negotiations continued, Christine, late into the night. Senator Chuck Schumer, Chuckman -- Mr. Mnuchin, Steve Mnuchin, the Treasury Secretary and along with of course Mitch McConnell; the Republican leader of the United States Senate.

And they are expecting to come back into session around noon Eastern Time today with a view towards trying to get that procedural vote going again. Just about an hour later, we'll see how that schedule shifts. The differences between the people here who are negotiating are pretty predictable if you think about it. Democrats are arguing that there are not enough protections in this enormous bill for workers in the United States, and also very concerned about the possibility that companies are simply getting too much money.

And there's another issue, and that is the issue of control. How much control the Treasury Secretary will have over the money that might be doled out to companies as we go forward in this coronavirus crisis. Meanwhile, there are certainly concerns about the president's briefings. He had another one last night. A lot of people have continued to question whether the president is being truthful, how much hyperbole was in his words, to the extent as you mentioned at the very top there that the Anthony Fauci, who is the scientist who works on that coronavirus task force was interviewed in a magazine, was asked about the president's misrepresentations.

He said, 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." So we'll see what the president has to say today. That a little bit behind the scenes, nonetheless important because the president's message when he talks to the American people is so critical, sending mixed messages, of course, is confusing. People don't know what to do. Back to you.

[05:05:00] ROMANS: Well, the president, Joe, his tone is one thing, but you have this enormous package that is just sort of sitting there in Washington right now. How much urgency is there for senators to get something done here? Because the market opens in four and a half hours.

JOHNS: There's tremendous urgency in Washington. People understand what's going on here. Also, there's the real question of the markets. A lot of concern up on Capitol Hill about sending a message to the markets that Washington is in control of this, is going take care of the companies as well as the people as we go forward. And there's a lot of optimism that they will get something done.

The question is how long it'll take, especially as they continue to bicker over philosophy and workers over the companies, if you will, when all are going to need help?

ROMANS: All right, Joe Johns for us in Washington, thanks for that, Joe. One hundred million Americans are under orders to stay in their homes this morning. In New York City, hospitals are already overwhelmed, and a number of cases keeps growing. Our coverage continues with Brynn Gingras live in New York. Brynn.

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Christine, good morning, I'm going to repeat the statistic that John said at the top of the show, 5 percent of the world's cases are right here in New York. And what we're seeing now is a little bit of a shift from testing to actual care. And that's because -- that means rather, that the most high-risk patients are going to be the ones who actually receive a coronavirus test. And this is to help alleviate some of the pressure that's on hospitals and medical offices and also really just to save on equipment.

And we're also starting to see, as you can see behind me, these blue tents erected at public hospitals across the city. This is also another step to try to alleviate the pressure on ERs, and to have a safe space for testing. This all happening as the mayor has said, he sounded an alarm that this city is going to run out of medical equipment very soon.

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GINGRAS (voice-over): President Trump ramping up federal assistance and deploying the National Guard to California, New York and Washington State.

TRUMP: Through FEMA, the federal government will be funding 100 percent of the cost of deploying National Guard units to carry out approved missions to stop the virus.

GINGRAS: The president under pressure from governors begging the Trump administration to start a nationwide fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D-MI): We're all building the air airplane as we fly it right now. We're doing the best that we can. But we need the federal government to get us those test kits. We need PPEs, we need clear directive and guidance.

GINGRAS: New York City is now home to roughly a third of coronavirus cases in the United States, and the mayor is fearful about what's ahead.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO, NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK STATE: We're about 10 days away now from seeing widespread shortages of really fundamental supplies, ventilators, surgical masks, the things that absolutely are necessary to keep a hospital system running.

GINGRAS: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo asking President Trump to nationalize efforts to produce medical supplies.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): The president can say to the manufacturers, I want you to make these products because it's a matter of public health.

GINGRAS: And officials say the demand for equipment like masks and ventilators is making it hard to provide hospitals with what they need.

GOV. JAY ROBERT PRITZKER (D-IL): We're competing against each other, we're competing against other countries. You know, it's a wide wild west, I would say, out there.

GINGRAS: But Trump says it's primarily up to the states to create their own coronavirus responses.

TRUMP: I say we're a sort of back-up for the states, and some of the states are doing really well and some don't do as well.

GINGRAS: This morning, at least eight states issuing stay-at-home orders, but in parks and beaches across the country, some Americans are still crowding public spaces. Officials say they're looking to avoid using law enforcement to prevent residents from gathering in large groups.

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): Be a good neighbor, be a good citizen. Don't be selfish. Recognize you have responsibility to meet this moment as well.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GINGRAS: And, in fact, here in New York, the NYPD is making sure that people abide by those social distancing guidelines. As far as tests, the FDA has approved a test that can give results in 45 minutes, and those are expected to roll out by next week. John?

BERMAN: All right, Brynn Gingras here in New York. Again, now 5 percent of the world's total cases -- thanks so much, Brynn. So, a new statement from the president overnight that raises all kinds of questions. He says the U.S. shouldn't make the cure to coronavirus -- worse than the problem. So what is he suggesting? More on that and the huge impact on jobs and the economy, next.

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ROMANS: All right, millions of Americans looking to Congress for relief, but they remain in limbo this morning amid a stalemate in the Senate over a roughly $2 trillion stimulus plan. U.S. stock futures falling sharply overnight. It comes as one Fed official predicts unemployment in the U.S. could reach as high as 30 percent. That would be worse than the great depression. Joining us now is CNN anchor Julia Chatterley.

Julia, so glad to have you here this morning. I mean, the United States government essentially has pressed the pause button on the American economy, but real people, workers, don't have a pause button pressed on their bills that come due April 1st. I mean, bills are going to come due here. What is the urgency behind this stimulus package? And will it help them?

[05:15:00]

JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN ANCHOR, FIRST MOVE WITH JULIA CHATTERLEY: It couldn't be more urgent, and every day counts. And Christine, to your point, every day delayed here is a further delay for a desperate needed check in the post for these people that are simply living paycheck to paycheck. And we're already seeing millions of people filing for unemployment. And that will only accelerate at this stage.

So, I think the message that you've already been talking about from the markets here today is, guys, you need to put the party politics aside and agree this. What we are looking at is a $2 trillion stimulus, but the thorniest part of that is what the stabilization fund for big corporate. The suggestion is that Pelosi, Nancy Pelosi came into the negotiations and said that, fine, you can have this money, but these corporate then have to limit executive pay for the next ten years.

Look, we need to think about this stimulus package as an investment in survival in the short term. What happens later with executive pay as long as these companies retain employees should be the focus. So, Christine, party politics aside, I think --

ROMANS: Yes --

CHATTERLEY: They need to be the focus.

ROMANS: Well, the markets are going to put a lot of pressure, a lot of pressure on them to get something done. It feels to me a lot like 2008 when there was a big bailout, the TARP, remember? It didn't pass the first go around. The markets tanked, and all of a sudden they got religion in Washington to get something done. This is even bigger than that. We have never seen a rescue that is this big.

CHATTERLEY: It's a huge rescue package, but that is because as you point out, this is so unique, we've put the economy into an effective coma for an undetermined length of time. Businesses are afraid that they're going to go bankrupt. You've got the real estate, the residential market afraid that they're not going to get rent payments. ROMANS: Yes --

CHATTERLEY: What we're seeing in financial markets is the equivalent of a meltdown at far quickest speed than we saw during the financial crisis. We simply have to get over the politics here and stabilize --

ROMANS: Yes --

CHATTERLEY: The system.

ROMANS: What about those Fed officials saying you could see 30 percent unemployment. I listened to the president last night, and he said that once we get on the other side of this virus, there's pent-up demand and the economy will be beautiful again. That American companies will be beautiful. Can both of those things be true?

CHATTERLEY: Look, I think what you've got there is a Fed official saying we are risking economic depression in this country which points out why the stimulus is so important, that it's way too early for the president to be suggesting that we're simply going to walk away from this period and be absolutely fine. There is going to be economic damage. They will try and tackle this with the money, but --

ROMANS: Yes --

CHATTERLEY: But, Christine, I can't reiterate how important it is that they just sort this out, get this money to people and limit the damage, but there will be damage.

ROMANS: All right, Julia Chatterley, thank you so much for that. And you know, John, this is going to be I think -- John, I think this is going to be one of the hardest weeks in the American economy that we've ever lived through. You're going to see several million people probably lose their jobs this week, and the numbers are going to turn south pretty quickly.

BERMAN: We're going to get a read on those numbers. We're going to talk to the governor of New Jersey, they're reporting their unemployment numbers later today, perhaps we'll get a preview of that. But you're absolutely right, look, investors are going to wake up to the news that Congress has no deal. So five hours until they get their act together in Congress at a minimum today, so we'll watch that very carefully.

In the meantime, a dramatic development on the future of this Summer's Olympic games. A live report from Tokyo next.

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[05:20:00]

BERMAN: All right, developing overnight, Italy requesting U.S. military support as that country struggles to contain the outbreak of coronavirus there. In just 24 hours, more than 600 people in Italy have died. The death toll in that country now stands at more than 5,400 with more than 59,000 cases. Delia Gallagher live in Rome with the very latest. Italy asking for help now from the rest of the world. But of course, the rest of the world has its own problems with coronavirus now, Delia.

DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, John. And you know, these numbers are still very high here in Italy. But what's important to note is that Sunday's numbers were actually down with respect to Saturday, down by about 800 total cases and about 150 deaths. That is significant, John, because we are at the two-week mark of lockdown.

This is what they're calling the crucial week in Italy when they want to start seeing those numbers decline. Yesterday was a very small start. We'll be watching to see if that trend continues. International help, as you were mentioning is arriving from Cuba and Russia, 52 Cuban doctors and nurses arrived here yesterday.

A Russian military jet with eight teams of doctors and equipment also arrived. But the Kremlin says that they have another 100 doctors ready to go. The U.S. defense official says that they have been asked by the Italian Defense Ministry to also help out with ventilators and equipment masks. They have also asked for the U.S. military that is stationed here in Italy to be able to go out and help build field hospitals and act as medical personnel.

We do not have word yet, John, on whether that request has been granted. John?

BERMAN: All right, Delia Gallagher for us in Rome, thank you very much for that report. Romans?

[05:25:00]

ROMANS: All right, developing overnight, a new reason to doubt whether the Tokyo Olympics will happen as planned. Japan's Prime Minister conceding for the first time that postponing the Olympics is a possibility. CNN's Will Ripley live in Tokyo. Will, we've heard from the Canadian delegation that they're not going to be sending their athletes, they'd like a year delay.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And the Australians are asking for the same thing, Christine. Yes, all powerful USA track and field and USA Swimming, first countries like Colombia and Slovenia all calling on Japan and International Olympic Committee to do what a lot of people seems obvious. Don't hold the games on July 24th because it's just not going to be possible.

One, they have no idea what the situation with the coronavirus pandemic is going to be globally. And two, athletes just don't have time to prepare, especially athletes in places like the U.S. and Europe who are under lockdown right now. There has been this course of calls, and for days, you know, the officials here in Japan have seen almost tone deaf, and the IOC as well, saying that they're still moving forward with holding the Olympics on schedule.

But then there's been a real shift now, first, it was the IOC and their President Thomas Bach writing an open letter to athletes saying that this is a very complex thing. Obviously, postponing the Olympics requires so much in terms of logistics and changing venues. There are millions of hotel rooms that have been booked. They have to talk to all the stakeholders and figure out what the price tag is going to be, what dates are going to work and all of those logistical details.

But at the same time, now, you have the Japanese, the Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and others finally, publicly acknowledging that it seems almost inevitable that the games are going to be postponed. But they're still saying, Christine, that they need four weeks to come up with a plan because, again, it is such a massive undertaking. Really, a huge mess here in Japan, and as of now, they still don't know what the coronavirus situation is in this country with the number of cases confirmed now around 1,100.

They had the biggest single day spike in deaths, five people reported dead yesterday. And they're still testing here, just a tiny fraction of what they're testing in other countries, raising question about whether they know the true picture of the virus on the ground here in Japan.

ROMANS: Yes, makes it so hard to gauge too, because now we're learning more and more that healthy people are bigger carriers of this than we thought before. So, testing so important. All right, Will Ripley in Tokyo, thanks. John?

BERMAN: All right, new this morning. Germany moving to ban public gatherings of more than two people. Just two people. There are more than 24,000 reported cases of coronavirus there and 90 deaths. CNN's Frederik Pleitgen live in Berlin with the latest. And Fred, this comes with the news that the chancellor there is isolating herself.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and I'll tell you, that was a really awkward and quite shocking moment here in Germany because Angela Merkel actually yesterday was at a press conference announcing these new very stringent measures. She then walked off stage, and a couple of minutes later, we got a message from the chancellery, from her office saying, by the way, the chancellor is going into self-quarantine.

And apparently, what happened, she saw a doctor on Friday who gave her a routine vaccine shot and then on Sunday afternoon, they found out that, that doctor actually has coronavirus. Now they say that she's going to be doing her regular workload while she's in the self or home quarantine as they call it here in Germany. And what they're also going to do -- and this is key, is they're going to continuously test Angela Merkel for coronavirus simply because they believe that the timing from Friday afternoon from when she saw this doctor to Sunday afternoon when they found out that the doctor actually has the coronavirus is too short for any test to be reliable just yet.

So they're going to continue to update that for as long as she is in quarantine. And as you mentioned, very stringent measures, no gatherings of more than two people as Germany puts more stringent measures in place while trying to avoid a complete lockdown, people are still allowed to go to work. At the same time, the numbers, guys, here in Germany also continue to spike. As we're on right now, there was a press conference going on by the

German Center for Disease Control. They have more than 4,000 new confirmed cases, and now possibly also the German chancellor herself affected as it's clear that she was in contact with someone carrying the virus, guys.

BERMAN: All right, Frederik Pleitgen in Germany. Such a contrast, Christine, with what happened in the United States. Senator Rand Paul was tested a week ago and then spent the week, you know, rubbing shoulders, literally, with other members of the Senate, even working out in the Senate gym while he was waiting for that test to come back.

ROMANS: Even that important stimulus vote yesterday influenced by the fact that there were several senators who couldn't be there to vote because they're in self-quarantine just shows you how far this crisis has reached in the nation's capitol, John, OK. Critical shortages are being reported in hospitals across the country. Shortages that could mean lives lost. We're going to hear from a doctor on the front lines of the coronavirus fight, next.

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