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Trump at Odds with Health Experts on Reopening Country; White House, Senate Leaders Close to Deal on Stimulus Bill; Boris Johnson Issues Stay At Home Order for U.K. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired March 24, 2020 - 05:00   ET




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nobody is getting what they need. The private sector is ramping up. FEMA is starting to deliver some of those supplies.

GOVERNOR ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: I just got off the phone with a new projection model. New York City was seeing double the number of cases every two and a half days. That can take your breath away.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If it were up to the doctors, they may say, let's shut down the entire world. You can't do that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There is a big disconnect between what the president is saying and the reality on the ground. It killed 100 people in the last 24 hours.

DR. DEBORAH BIRX, CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE: What the president has asked us to do is assemble all the data and give him our best medical recommendation.



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome to your NEW DAY. Hi, I'm Christine Romans. John Berman is with me this Tuesday morning, March 24th, 5:00 a.m. in the east.

President Trump and top health officials have very different views on how long to keep the nation and the economy frozen in place. The president says America will soon be open for business and restrictions on social gatherings could be scaled back by next week. That directly contradicts concerns that the World Health Organization which warns that coronavirus pandemic is accelerating.

And a senior White House official tells CNN if it was up to Dr. Anthony Fauci, there would be no contact between humans until July.

A senior health official also tells CNN public health experts are looking for recommendations for an orderly return to life. But that official acknowledges we're going to be in this for at least the next 12 to 18 months.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: So the president's fairly sudden reversal came on the deadliest day of the outbreak so far in the United States. More than 100 people died yesterday. In total, at least 542 people have died in the U.S. with more than 43,000 cases.

Americans in 16 states will be under a stay-at-home order by midnight tonight. That's more than 142 million people, 43 percent of the population. Army field hospitals to treat hundreds of cases are scheduled to arrive in New York and Seattle the next few days.

This morning, New York City is the area of greatest concern. Officials say the rate of people getting sick here is five times more severe than any other city. They call it the attack rate here.

There was a spike of 3,000 cases yesterday alone. Across the country, governors and mayors are running out of time and patience, scrambling to fill critical gaps in medical equipment. To get by, medical workers are being asked to reuse supplies. One doctor says health care workers feel like lambs being sent to a slaughterhouse.

Our coverage begins with Brynn Gingras who is live in New York City this morning.

And to hear officials talk about New York now, Brynn, is chilling.

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It really is, you know. And the focus really is about opening up those hospital beds. As you have noted so perfectly, the numbers keep going up. We are seeing field hospitals being built. We're seeing more demands for personal protective equipment and ventilators. And we are seeing the governor actually tell hospitals that they need to increase their capacity by more than 50 percent in the very, very near future.

This as the president is pushing to restart the economy as soon as next week despite all the warnings against his own health officials.


GINGRAS (voice-over): New York City's now the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, with more than 13,000 cases identified here.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK CITY: No one wants that distinction, not a single one of us, but it is true. And that's why we so desperately need help, particularly from our federal government, to get through it.

GINGRAS: The White House coronavirus task force revealing the virus has an attack rate of close to one in a thousand in the New York metro area, and 28 percent of those tested are positive.

BIRX: This is the group that needs to absolutely social distance and self-isolate at this time. GINGRAS: Despite the climbing numbers in New York, President Trump still suggesting he's eager to end the virtual nationwide shutdown as soon as next week, contradicting his own health experts.

TRUMP: Our country wasn't built to be shut down. This is not a country that was built for this. America will again, and soon, be open for business, very soon.

GINGRAS: And countering many officials leading in states battling exponentially rising cases.

GOV. PHIL MURPHY (D), NEW JERSEY: We believe that social distancing, that's how you keep the pressure off the health care system.

GINGRAS: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo visited this convention center in midtown Manhattan, where the National Guard is quickly working to transform it into a makeshift hospital with 1,000 beds.


CUOMO: We can scramble and create beds. We'll have a staff problem, because staff are getting sick.

GINGRAS: Even with the federal government stepping in to supply some crucial medical equipment like masks and gloves, officials say that's just a temporary solution.

GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D-MI): Our national stockpile allotment covered one shift at a hospital.

GINGRAS: Across the country, businesses continue to close, and even parks and playgrounds are shuttered temporarily, all efforts to help flatten the curve.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's necessary. I think an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

GINGRAS: Over 142 million Americans in at least 16 states will be under stay-at-home orders by Wednesday.

GOV. JAY INSLEE (D-WA): So, it's time to hunker down in order to win this fight.


GINGRAS: Let me break down some of these alarming numbers for you here in this state. Again, 13,000 cases in New York. About 2,000 of those are in the hospital, and a quarter of that, of those people, are actually in the ICU. And again, remember, these numbers are only going to get worse.

Though, there is a little bit of hope. We're learning from the governor that that drug that was fast-tracked by the FDA that threats that malaria, that is going to be in the state today and that drug therapy is going to be started immediately -- John and Christine.

BERMAN: All right. Brynn, thanks very much.

ROMANS: All right, Brynn.

OK. So, guys, they are getting closer but still no deal on a $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill. One key holdup, Democrats want oversight of $500 billion in funds to bail out distressed companies.

CNN's Suzanne Malveaux live on Capitol Hill with more.

And Democrats have been very clear, there cannot be a big slush fund for companies that size that there isn't transparency and oversight, making sure that companies don't turn around and pay their executives a lot of money or buyback their stock when the economy recovers.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's absolutely right, Christine. I mean, what happened overnight, this is when we were all sleeping, just before midnight, those talks ended, stalled after day four. This $2 trillion package is really essential and critical to come right away. And again, this delay that happened, over 15 hours, Christine, of talks and negotiations that happened on Capitol Hill yesterday.

You had offers, counteroffers, outrage on the Senate floor. The major players, of course, Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, as well as the White House political director and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. Mnuchin saying he called the president 10 times yesterday. The last call he said the president was happy, that they were very close to a deal. They will be meeting again on Capitol Hill about 9:30 this morning. So we will see just how close they are.

But as you mentioned, that key sticking point, Democrats looking at the $500 billion fund. Loans to businesses saying it's a slush fund, that there is no oversight, or not enough oversight. Hearing from the president yesterday saying that he was the oversight.

And so, that is where you have the hang up here. We are going to see whether or not there really is a deal just in a few hours, Christine.

ROMANS: Yes. In this package would be direct payments to Americans and to small business. So really important that they get something done here and find a way to get this deal.

All right. Suzanne Malveaux, thank you so much for that.

The entire United Kingdom ordered to stay home. Why Boris Johnson finally took dramatic action to slow the pandemic.



BERMAN: All right. You're looking at live pictures of Abbey Road in London. This is as empty as you will ever see it at 11:00 a.m. That's the local time in London on a Tuesday. Really just barely anything going on on that street. Why? Well, breaking overnight, the harshest restrictions on the United

Kingdom since World War II. Prime Minister Boris Johnson issued a stay-at-home order for the entire nation following the lead of other European leaders.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh live in London with the latest.

You know, Nick, Boris Johnson was late to this, later than others than most European nations. But now, it's fully in place.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: To some degree, but there is still criticism that this isn't as extensive a lockdown possibly as it could be, a primetime address from the prime minister telling Britons what they thought was eventually going to happen. This the first morning they have woken up to restrictions on their movement frankly that nobody seen since the Second World War. In fact, it's the vulnerable that it's designed to protect who may have some kind of memory of seeing city like this.

This is Piccadilly Circus. There should be cars packed here. It should be impossible to move just after 9:00 on a busy day. If I just move this way, you can see how utterly deserted it is.

Shops that are not essential closed. People told to work from home unless essential. We see some traffic moving around here. It seems like some people are still making the journey to work and confusion too.

One sporting goods shop it seems thinking it should be exempt, and pictures circulating of construction workers moving to work on the Tube. This is quite extraordinary, restrictions on daily life here. There is a suggestion that police may be allowed to enforce this. That was referred to in the future tense in the statement put out by the prime minister.

But, in fact, today, here, you're seeing a group of three people approached by an unmark police car and asked how long were they going to be around. So, clearly, the police in place to try and second people home, banning gatherings of more than two here.

The prime minister said this will go on three weeks and then be reviewed. But many Britons startled to see this change to their daily lives and also too wondering how Britain has been an outlier from its European neighbors for so long. Some British scientists working with the government had suggested that maybe the more the disease is spread the more immunity we might have for future outbreaks. But they've told the vulnerable, 1.5 million in fact receiving letters to isolate themselves for possibly as long or longer than 12 weeks.


This is extraordinary, though. The simple seen I'm standing in here, unimaginable. And Britons concerned possibly, particularly the capital is three weeks ahead in terms of virus spread with the rest of the country, concern we could start seeing our death rate spiking fast. Back to you.

BERMAN: Very real concerns that it could be too little too late.

Nick Paton Walsh for us in London. The time difference is challenging, Nick, and I'm bad at math. But we thank you for being there. I appreciate it.


WALSH: It's summertime. But thank you.

ROMANS: All right. To Spain now, where the death toll there is climbing by hundreds each day as coronavirus pushes its health care system to the breaking point. Doctors seek care is being rationed. And some are forced to make protective gowns out of garbage bags.

CNN's Scott McLean is live in Madrid with more.

What's the situation?


More than half the coronavirus deaths in Spain are here in Madrid, where the health system is stretched far beyond its limits. The severe lack of protective equipment means the staff are having to improvise, and the lack of ventilators means that doctors are literally having to choose who lives and who dies.


MCLEAN: Every night Spaniards gather on their balconies to applaud the nation's health care workers. But little do they know how much they deserve it.

Not only are the hospitals short on space, front line health care workers say they are dangerously short on protective equipment.

Do you feel safe at work?

Not completely. It reaches a point where we don't stop to think about it. Otherwise, we wouldn't go in to see the patients and we need to treat them, he says.

Eduardo Fernandez is an ICU nurse and a union rep who says staff are forced to reuse single-use masks because there simply aren't enough.

Already, more than 1 in 10 people in Spain with a confirmed coronavirus case are health care workers.

I'm not surprised at all, he says. In fact, I'm sure the numbers are higher because they don't test us. The protection measures are decreasing as we are running out of material. And now, well, we're using garbage bags.

You have to be pretty desperate to use a garbage bag as a medical gown.

He says it's a desperate measure, but it's better than nothing.

His union created this how-to video to teach staff a skill they never learned in medical school. The thicker the bag the better.

Another doctor fearing repercussions agreed to speak with us anonymously. He has he's exhausted, overwhelmed and even showing mild coronavirus symptoms. But he has no choice but to show up for work.

The situation is saturation way beyond 100 percent capacity, he says. It's around 180 percent to 200 percent.

This video shows patients lying on the floor at a Madrid hospital. The Madrid health department confirmed is authenticity but says it shows only a snapshot in an especially busy time and that conditions quickly improved.

Hotels and even a convention center in Madrid are now housing patients. The doctor tells us in his hospital, there isn't enough medication and both protective equipment and ventilators are being rationed.

What has been the hardest thing for you personally?

To decide who survives and who you can't give the resources to knowing that many of those people with mechanical respirators could survive, he says. You have to tell many people that their family member will have to die because we don't have the resources.

The regional government didn't deny either of these accounts, instead blaming the federal government for widespread shortages across the country. Madrid is expecting some $25 million worth of protective gear to arrive this week. They can't come soon enough.


MCLEAN: You heard the doctor we spoke with has coronavirus symptoms but is still going to work. That's because the regional health guidelines say that for mild symptoms, health care workers should still go in. Just wear a mask. More moderate symptoms, they will be tested. But they still have to work while waiting for a test.

Only when there is a confirmed positive test will they be sent home. With more than 3,400 health workers across Spain already infected with the virus, they cannot afford to lose any more staff.

ROMANS: Wow, Scott. To be a first responder, a medical first responder, not have the tools you need just so frustrating. Scott McLean in Madrid, thank you so much.

You so how many lives is the economy worth? The president wants to scale back social distancing. But health officials say slowing the economy is a price worth paying.


BERMAN: A milestone of sorts in the United States. More Americans died yesterday of the coronavirus than any other date. More than 100 deaths in a single day.

Still, though, the president seems eager now to reopen the United States for business. He indicated within weeks. This is really not in line with what health officials say should be done to control this pandemic.

Joining us now is Dr. Darria Long, emergency room physician and clinical assistant professor at the University of Tennessee. And, Bianna Golodryga, CNN senior global affairs analyst.

Dr. Long, I want to start with you. From a medical perspective, public health perspective, what would ending social distancing in 10 days, say, let's pick a number, what would that do to your battle against this pandemic?



And you know what, I'm a mom of two. Ideally, I would love to see life go back to normal. But let's think through that.

In 7 days or 10 days, say, we do end the social distancing. I want to know as an emergency room doctor, will we suddenly have more PPE? Will these medications that we're talking about, Plaquenil, all this remdesivir that are in shortage, are they going to stop being in shortage?

Are we going to miraculously have more ICU beds when we know those ships won't be here in two weeks. Are all of those things going to change in seven days? Because if not, what is going to happen to the emergency rooms? What's going to happen to the hospitals?

And the truth is, the pandemic is not like ordering it on Amazon Prime. I can't solve it in 48 hours. This is going the take time.

BERMAN: How helpful has it been for you, Dr. Long, these last eights days to have these measures in place, mostly across the country, and specifically even more so in certain states?

LONG: So, John, we are still seeing a rising of cases. And it usually takes, as we have seen, from the time you are infected, it takes four to five days for symptoms, and then another three to four days for you to get critically ill. The patients do get critically ill. So we will not see the impact of closures until nine or ten days after we have closed. Then you hope you start to see some slowing of infections. .

BERMAN: You are looking at the death rate in the United States. You can see, it is over 540 with 100 deaths yesterday alone. By far, the largest number of dead in one day. Bianna Golodryga, you for a long time were a business reporter and

great business reporter at that. You know that there are people now in the business community and in the economy saying, yes, we want to save lives but the economic cost is too high and you need to reassess how much of the economy you shut down. What's the calculation going on?

BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN SENIOR GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, look, you are never going to fix the economy without fixing what's ailing it. In this situation, it's finding a vaccine or at least some treatment for the COVID virus before anything starts to reopen.

And what's really frustrating about what the president is suggesting is that we are barely two weeks into this shutdown mode and social distancing. So, it's sort of a worst-case scenario to suddenly jump start it right now.

BERMAN: It really is just the beginning. Which is why it was so surprising to me to hear the sudden shift in tone from the president over the last 24 hours. And not just a shift of tone in some cases, there was a shift in personnel. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head infectious disease doctor in the country, wasn't beside the president yesterday during the briefing.

Now, he hasn't been there every day. But he has been there many days. And listen to how the president responded to that, Bianna.


REPORTER: Where is Dr. Fauci right now? Why is he not at this briefing?

TRUMP: I was just with him for a long time. Oh, he's task force meeting right now. We have a task force meeting. He was there.

REPORTER: Does he agree with you about the need to reopen the economy soon?

TRUMP: Well, he doesn't not agree.


BERMAN: He doesn't not agree, Bianna, is pretty interesting language. But it's clear. Let's just be clear about this.

Public health officials in the government and public health officials around the country do not agree that it's time to end social distancing. But what's the impact of having this dichotomy, if you will, the economy versus medicine here. How will that affect this discussion going forward, Bianna?

GOLODRYGA: Well, look, it is a tale of two worlds if you are looking at what is happening in the hardest hit states like New York and Washington where you see these pressers from the governors desperate for more aid, talking about a crisis situation, calling at times for the National Guard to even come in. And you have a president who is saying, listen, our numbers are very good to the rest of the world. I don't know what numbers he's talking about. The numbers we're

getting shows the U.S. has the third highest cases out of all countries around the world. That is likely to rise as more people are starting to get tested.

So when people watch the president on television play this down, once again compared to the flu or car accidents, it's really setting a bad example for the country.

BERMAN: And, Dr. Long, just give us the raw facts because you are seeing them every day. They are walking into your hospital. What are you seeing? If you can, also explain to me something we heard from Dr. Birx yesterday, which she talked about the attack rate in New York City where 1 in 1,000 people, which is very high, testing positive now for coronavirus. It may be under-measuring the number of cases.

LONG: John, I think you're exactly right. I think, to your last point, we are undermeasuring.

So, Dr. Birx said 1 in 1,000 in New York City. And on a one hand, New York City is a very dense city. So, we expect them to much a higher disease burden because the disease can spread so quickly. On the other hand, when they say 28 percent of all of their tests are testing positive for COVID, for me that was just a sign that there is so much they haven't even scratched the surface.

And if you look at New York City compared to South Korea, South Korea is two and a half times the size of New York City.