Return to Transcripts main page


Hospitals Warn of Shortages and Closures; Faces of Unemployment amid the Crisis; Federal Reserve Warns of Unemployment Soaring; Rise in Coronavirus Cases; Canada And Australia Won't Attend Olympics. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired March 23, 2020 - 06:30   ET



ARLENE VAN DYK, CRITICAL CARE NURSE, HOLY NAME MEDICAL CENTER: Doing now so that they can see their loved ones and, more importantly, that they can speak to them and feel that they're connected to them, even though they cannot be personally at the bedside.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Dr. Varga, I don't want you to wade into politics, because it's more important that you save lives. But I do want your take on something the president said and what the possible implications of it would be.

The president said in a statement overnight he wants to make sure that the cure isn't worse than the problem and that he would reassess this 15-day call for social distancing at the end of the period.

Based on what you're seeing, what would happen in your hospitals if at the end of this 15-day period -- we're only a few days in right now, the president were to say, OK, we're done. What if we stopped now in terms of social distancing? What would happen, Doctor?

DR. DANIEL VARGA, CHIEF PHYSICIAN EXECUTIVE, HACKENSACK MERIDIAN HEALTH: You know, it's hard to say. The one thing you can say for sure right now is that the spike in cases is continuing and it's on its exponential part of a curve. So, you know, we haven't seen the peak yet and anything to do, as Juliette (ph) was mentioning earlier, to flatten the curve is going to be incredibly valuable.

But the -- you know, the way this virus works, its incubation period, et cetera, we don't know who's infected right now. The best thing we can do is to actually maintain the social distancing, wash your hands, not come to the ER if you're, you know, minimally sick. If you can, take advantage of the testing centers that are around so that you know. More importantly than anything, take care of each other. But I don't think we're going to see even the peak of this for several weeks.

BERMAN: Are you set up at this point to handle what you fear might be the peak?

VARGA: You know, it's a good question. I mean I think we've done a lot of things, just like a lot of health systems have done. I mean we've canceled elective procedures. We've done, you know, as I already mentioned, a marvelous job of trying to convert space to create critical care capacity.

My big concern going forward is really going to -- is really material and the toll this takes on our folks on the frontlines. I mean these folks are the most collaborative, compassionate, courageous and creative people you've seen in your life. They're standing in the breach. We're trying to get them the stuff that they need to really manage what they're seeing every day. But the big issue is going to be material and the ability to continue to support our frontline care givers. We'll find space. It's really more the supply chain and the human cost.

BERMAN: It's physically exhausting, it's emotionally exhausting. And what you are both doing is saving lives and keeping us safe. So we appreciate it. I wanted to thank both of you, Dr. Daniel Varga, Arlene Van Dyk, thank you very much for what you do. We know how hard it is.

VARGA: Thank you.

VAN DYK: Thank you.

BERMAN: So this pandemic has left millions of Americans wondering where their next paycheck will come from. You're going to meet some of the workers struggling right now. That's next.



ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Millions of Americans are looking to Congress for relief and they remain in limbo this morning amid a stalemate in the Senate over a roughly $2 trillion stimulus plan.

(INAUDIBLE) unemployment in the U.S. could reach as high as 30 percent. And the hospitality industry has been one of the hardest hit.

CNN's Kyung Lah spoke with people who have lost business, jobs and are right now just trying to get by.



It's just been a completely life altering experience from start to finish, and within a week. I mean this is unbelievable.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I have a 2 ounce and I have the 8 ounce.

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Like the virus spreading across the globe, the economic damage leaves no restaurant untouched.

SOUDER: We would have all the seats filled.

LAH (on camera): All of these seats? SOUDER: We'd have -- it would -- it would be a line out the door.

LAH (voice over): California's stay at home orders to fight coronavirus changed the entire industry in an instant.

SOUDER: We went from being about to franchise to basically running a to-go business. I, you know, haven't slept. I am -- I'm worried about having a heart attack to be perfectly honest with you.

LAH: With no diners, the Drunken Crab (ph) is hemorrhaging thousands of dollars a day.

Restaurants, a sign of what's to come in the U.S. economy. The industry estimates up to 7 million people will lose their jobs in the next three months, nearly half of all service workers.

SOUDER: Have a good night.

LAH: Josh Souder already forced to make that hard choice.

SOUDER: I had to, you know -- I was forced to lay off 75 people. At first you're thinking about them, OK, I feel horrible for them, and then they have to go home and tell their family, I just got laid off.

JAY BOCKEN, RESTAURANT GENERAL MANAGER LAID OFF LAST WEEK: I called my wife over the phone and said, honey, I'm on my way home, and she just -- she pretty much immediately knew.

LAH: Laid off from the Drunken Crab, former general manager Jay Bocken immediately filed for unemployment. One of the 2.25 million Americans that Goldman Sachs estimates filed jobless claims in the (INAUDIBLE) in the weeks to come.

BOCKEN: You're talking thousands and thousands of (INAUDIBLE). It's going to hit every aspect of life. And the government needs to react and help us get through this. That's the only way it's going to work. People are not going to be able to support their families for more than two months.

LAH: And already signs money is getting tight. Outside this west Hollywood bar, employees only, a line. Inside, the small staff preps meals. Free meals for workers who show a pay stub. Like bartender Geri Courtney-Austein.

GERI COURTNEY-AUSTEIN, BARTENDER LAID OFF LAST WEEK: All of us like immediately lost our jobs, I think, as of Monday or Tuesday.

LAH (on camera): Are you worried about how long this is going to last?


AUSTEIN: One hundred percent. If it goes on months like I -- I don't think any of us have any idea what we're going to do.

TOM SOPIT, RESTAURANT OWNER: The moment this happened, we were going to dig ourselves in a hole regardless. LAH: Are you scared?

SOPIT: I'm concerned.

LAH (voice over): Restaurant owner Tom Sopit's rent is a thousand dollars per day. he doesn't want to fire anyone. But this is a new reality he will have to face.

SOPIT: Yes. All we can do is help each other.

LAH: Kyung Lah, CNN, Los Angeles.


BERMAN: It is so hard for so many people now. Not a few people. We're talking millions of people.


BERMAN: Our chief business correspondent Christine Romans joins me now.

And, Romans, people are struggling with this. People who were working two weeks ago are now not working.


BERMAN: They're looking to Congress for answers. Congress isn't getting its act together, at least not yet. They're delayed. So what should people do?

ROMANS: Well, look, so if Congress does get its act together, for example, those small business owners would have a couple of weeks or maybe even more of cash flow to retain their workers. I mean that's one of the things the stimulus plans wants to do. It wants to give money right away to small business owners so they can at least pay people not to work so that you don't disrupt the economy even more.

If you have lost your job or you're a small business owner and you've got bills to pay on April 1st, the first thing to do, John, is talk to your lender. They're ready to hear from you. The phone lines might be jammed, but you've got to talk to your lender.

Bank of America, for example, is deferring your mortgage payment, your small business loan, your auto loan, a lot of other banks are doing the same thing, you just have to talk to them right away.

Student loans, by the way, the president has said that interest -- he waived interest for the next 60 days on student loan payments, and then went even further and said you don't have to pay the student loan minimum for the next couple of months. So check into that. Again, check with your lender, though. Super important.

And if this stimulus plan passes, John, you're going to get some money. You know, the Treasury secretary this weekend said the plan was is was going to be about $3,000 for a family of four. It caps out at a certain income level, you know, so this is meant for people who are working people, people who need money to pay their bills right now, that's if Congress gets its act together.

BERMAN: What's so sounding is the idea that $2 trillion might not even be enough.


BERMAN: So, if it is enough or if we do or when we get through this, Romans, why are people talking about a v-shaped recovery. I'll give a visual aid here.

ROMANS: Right.

BERMAN: What is a v-shaped recovery? How quickly can we come back from this?

ROMANS: Well, and that's what the president is saying. You know, last night we heard from the president. He's talking about -- he said the economy will be beautiful again.

Let's listen to the president.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have to help the worker. We have to save the companies, because as soon as we're finished with this war, it's not a battle, it's a war, as soon as we're finished with this war, our country is going to bounce back like you've never seen before.


ROMANS: He's talking about pent up demand. All the things you're not buying, the things you aren't doing right now will come surging back in the end of the year. And there's some economists who are hoping that's the way it is, but that's assuming everything is perfect, right? That's assuming we get our hand around the virus, that there's money, maybe even more, well over $2 trillion, maybe two more phases of stimulus gets passed and gets into the hands of American consumers and American business owners quickly.

You know, John, what they're fighting about right now on Capitol Hill is essentially, you know, how do you -- do you -- do you throw money at the companies, do you throw money at people? I mean the answer is, yes, both, and even then some. We've never embarked on a rescue. And that's what this is, it's a rescue of the -- of the American economy. So the next couple of days I think are pretty critical.

BERMAN: They're not trivial questions that they're held up on right now in Congress.


BERMAN: I don't want people to think that it's some technicality here. They're talking about how much oversight should be on $500 billion. That's a lot of money.

ROMANS: That's a lot of money. And, you know, look, we have recent history of the 2008 financial crisis. The American people were really unhappy about the perception that -- (INAUDIBLE) that helped as much as companies. And so they want some strings attached to all that money and some oversight of all that money. They don't want just a black hole of money that can go to -- to favorite industries or favorite companies. They want to have some oversight of that.

Also, they want to have really robust, you know, unemployment benefits. They want it longer and more money to be -- because we don't know how long this is going to last.

I will say, this is revealing something about the American economy, just how close to the line so many companies and so many people were in what was, you know, heralded as the beset recovery -- the longest recovery -- expansion in the history of (INAUDIBLE). I mean this is -- this coronavirus is so big and people were living really close to the line.


BERMAN: And we're talking about just weeks. It's only been about six weeks since this came into focus in the United States specifically.

Christine Romans, thanks so much for your work on this. Appreciate it.

ROMANS: Sure, John.

BERMAN: Erica.

HILL: Coronavirus cases continue to spike across Europe this morning. Italy and Spain being hit especially hard. We've got a live report, next.


HILL: This morning, the global coronavirus outbreak is growing. There are more than 341,000 coronavirus cases worldwide, nearly 15,000 deaths. And a dramatic rise in Europe, particularly in Spain and Italy, despite nationwide lockdowns there.

CNN's Bianca Nobilo joining us now live from outside of London.

And the spikes still continue in those countries.

BIANCA NOBILO, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: Yes, across Europe. Of course Italy is the worst affected globally now in terms of fatalities. They had their worst day on record on Saturday of 793 death.

Now, yesterday, the number of deaths was down slightly to 651. But, still, they are struggling to cope. Italy's actually asked for U.S. military assistance, particularly to provide the protective gear that medics are in such desperate need of. And medics themselves have also been dramatically affected by this. [06:50:00]

At least 17 doctors in Italy have died trying to fight the virus with over 3,500 other medics infected.

Some Cuban doctors have also arrived to try and support the effort in Italy. And, of course, now we're seeing numbers spike dramatically in Spain as well, which recorded its worst day in terms of fatalities yesterday. They're trying to incorporate other message to -- other measures to ramp up the preparedness to fight this, including converting hotels into coronavirus hospitals in Madrid. The capital city, like other capital cities around the world, has been the worst affected in Spain too with about half of the fatalities and half of the nationwide infections. They're also asking nurses who are still training to come and fight this battle, too.

HILL: Calling in as many people as they can.

Germany, meantime, has banned gatherings of over two people. That, though, is happening as the country itself is still reporting a remarkably low number of cases and deaths. Is there any more insight into how they've managed to keep those numbers down?

NOBILO: Right. Comparatively speaking, across Europe, Germany has had a relatively low number of deaths. And Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, has introduced more draconian measures, including, as you say, banning meetings of more than two people, making it a rule that people in public can't be any closer than 1.5 meters from each other. Also banning large gatherings at home too.

She thanked the German public for abiding by all of these rules. So it's difficult to draw any conclusions at this point. The countries, for example, like where I am in the United Kingdom, have definitely had sever issues with people abiding by the government advice. According to what Chancellor Angela Merkel has said, Germans have been heeding that. Although, sadly, in the last hour it's been reported there has been a theft of medical equipment from Hanover Medical School, which, of course, the government has condemned. And it's sad to see things like that happening.

And I should also say that the chancellor herself is now in quarantine after she found out that she'd been attended to, she was given a pneumonia vaccine by a doctor who then subsequently tested positive for coronavirus.

HILL: Bianca Nobilo with the latest for us from Europe.

Bianca, thank you.


BERMAN: Potentially major developments pertaining to the future of the Olympics in Tokyo this summer. What countries are now telling their athletes, next.


BERMAN: All right, new this morning, the International Olympic Committee says it will take a month to decide if the summer games will go on as planned or be postponed. But I don't think this is going to take a month. Two countries already have announced they are pulling out of the Olympic games because of the global pandemic.

Andy Scholes has much more in the "Bleacher Report."

Andy, this really seems inevitable.


You know, the dominos are starting to fall when it comes to the Summer Olympics. You know, Canada and Australia both announcing yesterday they will not be sending athletes to Tokyo this summer. In a statement, the Canadian Olympic Committee said it's not safe for its athletes to continue to train right now, adding, while we recognize the inherent complexities around a postponement, nothing is more important than the health and safety of our athletes and the world community. This is not solely about athletic health, it is about public health.

Now, Australian Olympic Committee CEO Matt Carroll, meanwhile, telling his athletes to prepare for the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.


MATT CARROLL, CEO, AUSTRALIAN OLYMPIC COMMITTEE: Athletes desperately want to go to the games, desperately want to represent their country at the Olympics. But they also take on board their own personal health, but also the health and well-being of their fellow athletes around the world.


SCHOLES: Now, in the meantime, the United States swimming and track and field over the weekend both calling for the games to be postponed. Now, the president of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach, says canceling the games still not on the agenda. In a letter he penned to athletes, Bach said the IOC is going to take the next four weeks to determine when the games will be held. But he said moving the Olympics, a very difficult thing to do. Millions of hotel rooms have been booked. The sports calendars for all the different sports are shaped around having the Olympics this summer, John. So it's definitely not an easy thing to do, but it certainly seems to be the way things are trending that it's going to have to be postponed.

BERMAN: The athletes need an answer. The athletes need an answer.


BERMAN: The people of Japan need an answer. And I do think it sends a public health message to the world as well. So we'll wait and see if it takes a full month to get the official statement. Andy, great to see you. Thank you very much.


BERMAN: As we sit here this morning, The U.S. Senate in a stalemate over a coronavirus emergency funding bill as Americans desperately await help.

NEW DAY continues right now.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): The infection rate is going to be tremendous.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today 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.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 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 record preventing us from taking the next step.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The markets are 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, giant corporate bailout fund with no accountability.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

BERMAN: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to NEW DAY.


Erica Hill joins me this morning. Alisyn is on a long planned day off.

This morning, the nation's largest cities warning of being overwhelmed by the coronavirus pandemic.