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New York Governor Andrew Cuomo Issues Alarming Warnings To States: We Are Your Future; White House Scrambles To "Open" Economy Without Health Catastrophe; New York Governor Andrew Cuomo: "Inexplicable" That Federal Government Hasn't Helped With Ventilators; Senate Close To A Deal On Massive coronavirus Stimulus Package; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Speaks With CNN As Negotiators Near Stimulus Deal. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired March 24, 2020 - 12:00   ET

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


[12:00:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: I am John King in Washington. This is CNN's continuing Special Coverage of coronavirus pandemic in a remarkable news conference that just ended the New York Governor Cuomo delivering what he called troubling and astonishing news.

The rate of infection is climbing in New York higher than anticipated. The Governor says the need for hospital beds is even more dire now with an increase in the tens of thousands.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO, (D-NY): The inescapable conclusion is that the in rate of infection is going up. It is spiking. The apex is higher than we thought. The apex is sooner than we thought. That's a bad combination of facts. So slow the spread, we'll still keep doing what we can. But it is clear that we must dramatically increase the hospital capacity to meet that highest apex.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: New York is the epicenter. But look here16 states now have issued stay-at-home orders to force social distancing. Other states in major cities are also moving to close non-essential businesses with that same goal of keeping people apart.

President Trump may have other ideas the White House now looking for ways to reopen the economy sooner rather than later. Meanwhile some new efforts stay to get hospitals and healthcare workers much needed supplies.

The head of FEMA telling CNN that after days of mixed signals he says this has been disputed but he says the government is in fact implementing the Defense Production Act to get more coronavirus test kits and to better distribute masks.

Back to the dire projections now and predictions from the New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, New York now have ten times as many cases as any other states. Governor Cuomo says the federal government simply not helping and not helping fast enough.

As an example he says FEMA, the federal of urgency of management agency has agreed to send 400 ventilator. The Governor says he needs 30,000 ventilators and he needs them now. Our Shimon Prokupecz is at the David Center in New York which they're now turning into a make shift hospital medical center.

Shimon, that was an extraordinary news conference the Governor just unloading with dripping disdain and mocking tone at the federal government.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He certainly was. It was sobering to have to listen to this for an hour describing how the state is in need of dire help; specifically it's those ventilators that he keeps talking about.

At one point he saying release the ventilators, calling on the federal government to release 20,000 ventilators send them to the state. It is very clear that based on what he is seeing and based on the projections. He's saying that the apex is going to be higher and it is going to come much sooner.

We are talking about 14 days perhaps it is 14 to 21 days. He's mostly saying 14 days is when we could start really seeing the effect of this. He's calling for more hospital beds that number has increased. He now wants 140,000 hospital beds.

You know one of the staggering numbers in all this is today is that more than 700 people as a result of this disease around New York State are now intensive care units. That's going to run out at some point. Those ventilators that he keeps talking about, and that he is putting pressure on the federal government to release those are going to run out in the state.

And he is saying more needs to be released. He's also saying that what's happening here is going to happen in other places in the country and that we should be a test case that the way you do this here should be setting examples for how it is done all across the country which this is going to happen to he says. And here is how he describes it, John.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: We are just a test case. We are just a test case. That's how the nation should look at it. Look at us today. Where we are today, you will be in three weeks or four week or six weeks. We are your future.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PROKUPECZ: Just some other numbers you know John. The numbers are really sobering in all of this, too. 90,000 people have been tested in the state. 25,000 have come back positive. That number is obviously going to increase. What's so important in all of this is we saw a very different tone here from the Governor than we've seen previously.

[12:05:00]

PROKUPECZ: He's been out here every day talking certainly more sobering more grind today. I don't think that he could have gotten any stronger any of his words any stronger more dire in the need for these ventilators.

These 20,000 ventilators that he is calling on for the government to release and as I said earlier saying release the ventilators and that's what this is all about now for this state certainly. He's getting these hospital beds ready and getting these ventilators and getting the nurse and the doctors the protected gear that they so need in the coming days as the apex approaches.

We are talking 414 to 21 days now John, much sooner and much faster and quicker certainly than the Governor has expected and has said and he's calling on the federal government to provide the state with the help that he need and the ventilators and the other equipment, John.

KING: All right. It is just the urgency in his voice and again desperation at sometimes mocking in his criticism. Shimon, the Governor said at one point the federal government only have send some but not all ventilators he needs "You pick the 26,000 people who are going to die".

That from the Governor of New York directed to the federal government today. Shimon Prokupecz on the ground for us there appreciate it very much. Let's get to Kaitlan Collins now over at the White House.

Kaitlan, the President says he wants to get the economy rolling again. He is tweeting again today that it is time to get people back to work. What are the options being discussed right now as the President comes out a considerable criticism?

Number one for the supply line and number two the Governor of New York saying today he agrees with the President you need to be ready to get back to work but he says the way he sees what the White House is doing this is clumsy.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, what he said was they're so interesting talking about how this is going to have to be coordinated between federal and state levels how they're going to handle this?

Because so far the question is really how are they going to pursue this? Last night in that press briefing the President made pretty clear that he is intent on easing these guidelines that he put in place a week ago when they come to the deadline that they put in place about a week from now.

Now because the President made clear in a meeting right before with his coronavirus Task Force that this is something he wants to move forward with. They're trying to figure out ways to do it. And they've got several options on the table. These are all things they're still exploring. We should be very careful to say that none of these have been set in stones yet. One of those is potentially sending people under 40 back to work and another is doing this by geography. Are there certain areas where they have more people with cases of coronavirus that they should try to avoid, they should maintain those stricter measures?

While other areas that don't have as many cases can start returning to normal life more open. There are several other options on the table as well, talking about age groups and nursing homes all of these things.

And really John, the reason that so many aids are trying to figure out what they're going to do next? What their plan is going to be is because they know that the President wants to get the economy going again. He has been watching these numbers.

He's not happy. They think that attitude or that opinion of the President is going to change by next Monday. But they also want to avoid the situation that health experts not only inside the White House but outside the White House are warning about and that is sending people back to work and seeing a worst case scenario with this spread of the coronavirus.

And that's what so notable about what the President said last night as I asked him have any of the doctors on your team endorsing the idea of easing the guidelines next week? The President said no, he said they had discussed it. He said he thinks they're okay with it.

That was pretty clear John that they're still trying to figure out what way forward they are to do and whether or not that's going to be on a rolling basis? So there is still very much a fluid sense inside the White House though this is something the President right now does seem intent on doing.

KING: Kaitlan Collins live at the White House. We'll continue to watch how the mixed signals of the administration. We'll see what comes next. Let's continue this conversation now with two of our important guests, the Delaware Governor John Carney joins me live now along with our CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Dr. Gupta I want to start with you. When you listen to Governor Cuomo, we thought it will be a 110,000 cases at the peak now we think it is going to be 140,000, we thought may be the apex would come several weeks down the road, now it might come in 14 to 21 days.

The federal government has 20,000 ventilators in a warehouse somewhere why won't you send them to New York? You could not hear a more dire more urgent and then a more scathing criticism of the federal response that we heard just moments ago from Governor Cuomo who sounds like he sees desperation around the corner?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. There is no question. I had a chance to speak to the Governor as well about some of the issues. Let me just say and I'll drop this point is that the situation that is unfolding right now was predictable.

I mean, we looked at the modeling data. The federal government's modeling data. They had a pretty good idea of what a moderate pandemic the number of ventilators that'll be necessary for the country? They knew how many they had. They knew how many in the stockpile and it did not match up we've known that for two months now John.

So just going to put that out there that's a point that I don't want to look into the rear-view mirror too much but that's an important point. I think you know you just heard Shimon sort of laid it out in terms of what the concerns are the number of patients and the rate at which these patients might access the medical system.

[12:10:00]

GUPTA: I thought there were a couple of interesting points that Governor also made. One is that look, clearly New York State is early in the curve here, they are the state that has the highest number of patients who requires hospitalization, when we think about these ventilators, we sort of think about ventilators for the country.

But this idea of using ventilators predicting the patients at some point could be able to come off these ventilators and then moving them around the country is an option that I think he's laying it out there and you know makes some sense.

Not everyone is going to need the same number of ventilators at the same time. That's an important point. Another thing that I think is going to continuously sort of come up John is this idea of when these patients recover, they're not in the diagnosed category or they're not in the hospitalized category, but they have come through already.

These patients potentially are now protected against the virus. They're immunized against the virus. People have been talking about possibly using their plasma as a therapy but also the possibility that the Governor raised at least in the call with me that could they be protected people who could go back to work earlier as part of this returning to work gradual sort of policy that people are talking about.

So those are some of the more interesting things but you are right, John, that it was a dire picture that he's presenting and dare I just finish again, with saying a predictable one sadly.

KING: A predictable one sadly. So Governor, jump into the conversation here. You just listened to your friend and colleague Andrew Cuomo talking about how bad things are in the New York. And he says he's is the canary in the cold mine.

He is trying to have a desperate conversation he is kicking the federal government essentially saying help me. What is your situation in Delaware and as you listen to the Governor, do you believe, that this - you are a much smaller state obviously, you don't have a condense area like New York City obviously.

But is this is coming to you and how confident are you on what you are hearing out of Washington, about is FEMA going to send you what you need? Is the President going to actually invoke the Defense Production Act or just talk about it? GOV. JOHN CARNEY, (D-DE): Well, certainly we have to prepare for the worst and pray for the best. New York is 19 times the population of Delaware. We are barely a million people. We've gone from in the last two weeks from one positive case to 90 today with 7 hospitalizations.

One of the things that we know is that we don't know exactly what the positive rate is on the ground in our state because we did not do enough testing on the front end. We have significantly ramped up the testing and obviously we have been finding more and more cases.

We also know as folks like Dr. Gupta and Dr. Fauci have reminded us for the last two weeks that the number of cases and infections increases exponentially. And so the number accelerates and gets very big and very fast.

And so everybody needs to lean into this idea of social distancing that cease and that's why we've gone to a stay-at-home order in our states. We've closed businesses we've closed bars and restaurants. We closed the beaches and parks and so if we can flatten that curve as the experts have said for the last two weeks that has slowed down the infection rates.

Then we have a chance on the back end with respect to hospital resources. We are here in Delaware are looking and we have a working group with our hospitals looking at all the things that Governor Cuomo talked about from the availability of hospital rooms to ICU units to personnel.

A real limiting factor to the protective equipment that the personnel use and ultimately to the ventilators at the last stage we've had some good news over the last 24 hours on ventilators. We continue to work on all those issues that affect our capacity to deal with the surge.

But first and foremost, people have to listen to our directives to stay home and keep social distance when you have to go into the public.

KING: Well, to that point Governor and then Sanjay come in but to you first Governor. So is it in your view is it this moment every Governor every Mayor and certainly the President of the United States wants to have a team of people working on when we can flip the switch, we need to get people back to work.

We need to get the economy backup again. Of course you would have that planning going on. But is this the time my question is to talk about it in the sense that as the Governor of New York lays out that dire situation.

As we watch other states, as you and your state which is doing okay so far and let's knock on wood and it stays that way. You are trying to get people to stay-at-home so it does not get work. Is it time for President to be tweeting, our people want to return to work. They will practice social distancing and all of us and senior will be what? Is it the time to talk about that or just plan and wait?

[12:15:00] CARNEY: No, it is time to talk about social distancing. It is time to talk about staying home. It is talk about the fact that this infection rates accelerates exponentially and it will happen fast. We know that the situation on the ground is worse than the positive tests that we already have.

So the measure should be everybody stays put, stay out of groups in the public. When you go out make sure there is a safe distance between you and others, six feet or more. That's the message right now too many people of my state have not been paying attention to that message as I drive around and as I drive around and see some essential businesses that are out there working and I see folks too close together.

We're going to have to close those businesses down as well. Are we thinking about starting things up again? Yes, we have a group thinking about that but that should not be our message right now. Our message right now should be stay-at-home and stay safe and protect your seniors.

That's where the hospitalization comes in as the discussion with Governor Cuomo with our most vulnerable population and our mothers, our father, our grandmothers and grandfathers our aunts and uncles who are over 70-years-old.

KING: And Sanjay, again to that point the President says you know seniors can be watched over protectively and lovingly. We can do two things together. Again, we would pummel the President if he did not have a plan to reduce the economy to get things going once we reached the point from a public health standpoint that everybody felt that was safe and wise? Are we at that point?

GUPTA: I don't think we are at that point. I mean, not even close really sadly and--

KING: Not even close?

GUPTA: --seeing that John but look there is data - there is data around the world. If you look at China and South Korea, you'll see that their curves were sort of eight weeks sort of curves. So we are talking about a couple of months as opposed to a couple of weeks.

You know when Governor Cuomo was saying that we're seeing a doubling sort of every two to two and half days. I mean, you know sit down with a piece of paper and sort that out, start with a thousand today and two days go to 2,000 - 4,000 two days after that, you will see how quickly these numbers go up.

So that's the real concern. As the point was made, what we are seeing right now is sort of a picture from two weeks ago, right? Because between the time someone has exposed, they develop enough symptoms to get tested and then get tested 10 to 14 days can go by.

The question is what has happened over these last 10 to 14 days? Do we think the spread has gone down? I don't think there is any evidence of that at all. So that's why you are seeing the log arithmetic sort of growth right now that was just described.

I mean, you know there is going to be no number or rational a week from now next Monday to say now is the time to open things backup. It just won't make sense.

KING: And what makes sense Sanjay Gupta, appreciate it as always we're blessed to have you here. Governor Carney, we really appreciate at this busy time you are coming here as well. We wish you the people of Delaware well as we go through this in the weeks and months ahead

Up next for us here, Congress says it is getting close to a deal on the coronavirus Stimulus Package. The House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will join us live.

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[12:20:00]

KING: Close but not quite there. That's the word on Capitol Hill right now on what could be more than $2 trillion stimulus package begins in the Senate. The goal was to help Americans and businesses dealing with the devastating financial fallout from the coronavirus pandemic but there are concerns that some of the most vulnerable businesses are at risk or being left behind by Congress during this pandemic.

That's how my guest describes the estimated 57 million people who make up the gig economy. People he says won't get relief from the stimulus at least as now being debated on Capitol Hill. Josh Silverman is the CEO of ETSY. Welcome Josh, to the program.

Your concerns are urgent because all Americans are wondering will this help me. In a letter you urged Senator Mitch McConnell and the Speaker Nancy Pelosi to make sure that any stimulus office protections for your sector of the economy, who are we talking about here?

JOSH SILVERMAN, CEO, ETSY: So we are talking about 57 million independent workers, these are taxpaying Americans that are not part of our bigger business they're business of one. So think about a wedding planner or fitness instructor or the 2.7 million creative entrepreneurs who sell on ETSY.

And being a business of one is really than being a business of 10 or 20. If they're left when get sick, they don't have a colleague that they can pull in for help. If revenue declines because of sales or declining, they don't have a steady pay cheque to count on; it comes dollar for dollar out of their pocket.

So they're really different and really growing part of the economy. We need to make sure that they are protected and included in these provisions.

KING: And from what you know of the current proposal and their negotiations behind closed doors. So we don't know the current details especially when you get into the weeds and semi colons which become very important here as to who gets covered and what's available to them? But based on what you do know how does the current proposal fall short when it comes to addressing those people?

SILVERMAN: We think there are three particular areas where we want to make sure that independent workers are protected. And in the short term we think direct assistance is very important. These workers are going to feel the brunt often harder than others and so there are specific types of direct assistance that they're going to need today.

The second is debt deferment. So they don't qualify for even small business loans. They tend to fund their business on credit cards and mortgages. We think it is really important that they get deferment of payment for their credit card and mortgages.

And third we think that the social safety net needs to be expanded to cover this really important part of the work force particularly unemployment insurance. The vast majority of these workers do not qualify for unemployment insurance as constructed today.

[12:25:00]

SILVERMAN: We also should expand the earned income tax credit, the safety net that has been most successful and has bipartisan support to protect people who are most vulnerable in poverty. So those are the three areas we think for short and medium and long-term we want to make sure to get included.

KING: And do we know Josh at the moment, how they are doing? It's probably an unfair question because you're talking about millions of people who do very different things and a lot of them as you said one or two person businesses there.

But you know when the airlines shutdown. You can quantify how many employees they have in the impact. When the auto factory shutdown you can quantify that and talk to the unions about what the members were doing?

How do you keep track of these individuals who are spread out all of the country to get a sense that may be some are actually thriving with orders in this environment but I suspect a lot are doing quite the opposite.

SILVERMAN: Yes, it is hard to know exactly and things are changing day-to-day. We suspect that vast majority are getting hit pretty hard. Look, if you are a wedding planner, there are not a lot of people doing weddings right now. If you are any kind of retail establishment, that's going to be very challenging.

But all of us are feeling economic distress right now. People are tightening their purse strings. So it is pretty fair to say that the vast majority of these independent workers are going to feel very meaningful impact. They just have a lot less support than people who work for companies.

KING: Josh Silverman is the CEO of ETSY a great online retailer sales site. Josh I want to appreciate you coming in today. Keep in touch as this plays out so we can keep in touch with your workers as well out there.

I want to bring in our Chief Political Correspondent Dana Bash who has a very special guest who is central to this question. What will Congress do when it comes to the stimulus plan, Dana?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, John. I am actually waiting to get word that the House Speaker is ready to go. When I do, I will go to her. We are doing everything a little bit different these days. I am going to wait for the control room to let me know that everything is okay.

KING: All right and as we do--

BASH: You know what John, John I am going to toss it back to you and hopefully we will get this set and as soon as we do we'll back.

KING: OK. We're working out some tech - as we go do I can just tell you that on the floor today the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell saying who is at the five-deadline and Chuck Schumer advance that to the two yard line. Dana Bash I'm going to go back to you and see if you can get into the end zone with the Speaker of the House.

BASH: Well, that's going to be up to her and to the Republicans on Capitol Hill. Madam Speaker, thank you so much for taking the time during these crucial times.

My first question for you is this, over in the Senate where you are right now, your colleague, Senator Schumer just came out of the meeting with White House officials saying that he feels that they can overcome the few issues that you all have left in the next few hours, is that your understanding and how do you feel of where this $2 trillion package is headed in the Senate?

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Well, let's just agree that if Senator McConnell says we're in the five-yard line and Senator Schumer says we are on the two-yard line that we are in the red zone and hopefully we can get it over the finish line.

I do think that much progress has been made and I salute Chuck Schumer and Senate Democrats and again the intellectual resource our House Democrats have been in provisions that we have put forth working with the Senate Democrats and then in some cases of appropriations with the Senate Republicans as well.

So the fact that they now have assistance for states and local government was a big concern for us. That's my understanding is now in the bill. The unemployment insurance was almost right from the start agreed that we would have it but the scope of that was enlarged and we are very pleased with where it is.

I'm exquisitely better but nonetheless good enough for now. Issues that relate to help for small businesses which are essential to job creators the wealth creators in America that was very important for us so they could at least survive until hopefully we have a cure which is what we must find that list goes on and on our appropriations that we've come to most of the agreement on are very positive that are in the legislation. There are few things--

BASH: What is outstanding, what is remaining that you want changed?

PELOSI: Well, I am not going to negotiate it on TV. I want to have a unanimous consent. I want us to be able to go forward and it is not a bill I would have written in terms of something that related to family and medical leave that relate to workers' protection that ruling and worker's protection, that could be done administratively, we can find other ways.

Not enough money for elections etcetera, at this time. Everything we are suggesting just relates to COVID-19. It is not about making for the future. I accept fighting COVID-19 is for the future but I mean it is not changing policy except as it applies here. So again many of the provisions in there have been greatly improved because of negotiation.