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New York Braces For Worsening Pandemic; Three GOP Senators Say They Won't Vote on Stimulus Bill Until Issue in Draft Fixed; Rep. Max Rose (D-NY) is Interviewed About the Stimulus Bill. Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired March 25, 2020 - 16:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says the hospitalizations across his state are surpassing predicted numbers so far and that the peak of this crisis there could still be three weeks away.

The calls for ventilators and protective equipment across the country still dire, as we learn 33 doctors have now died from the coronavirus in Italy, the Italian Federation of Doctors saying a lack of protective equipment is to blame.

And the World Health Organization says the entire world, in fact, is facing a significant shortage.

And, as CNN's Nick Watt reports for us now, now states across the country are bracing for what's next.


NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (through translator): There are field hospitals in Manhattan, college dorms being converted, existing hospitals upping capacity, a Navy hospital ship coming soon, but New York is still 20,000 beds shy of what they say they will need.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): We're looking at hotels. We're looking at former nursing homes.

WATT: They had 4,000 ventilators. They bought 7,000 more. FEMA delivered 4,000. But New York is still 15,000 short.

CUOMO: We're exploring splitting, where one ventilator could do two patients.

WATT: They're now opening some streets to pedestrians to reduce density in city parks, and no more group sports like basketball. But there is hope. The rate of hospitalizations in New York is now slowing.

CUOMO: The evidence suggests that the density-control measures may be working.

WATT: Confirmed cases now spiking elsewhere, more than doubling in Louisiana since early Monday, at least 18 more deaths reported today in New Jersey.

The WHO now says the U.S. doesn't have to be the next global epicenter.

DR. MARGARET HARRIS, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: You have still got the means of turning it around.

WATT: She says, by testing, tracing contacts, isolating and many of us continuing to quarantine, as around half of all Americans are now under orders to do.

DR. CELINE GOUNDER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: We're seeing a doubling once a day in deaths from coronavirus. The doubling time is only one day. And that is the worst in the world right now.

WATT: Waffle House, which prides itself on staying open even during hurricanes, has now closed nearly one in five of its diners.

Amazon, a crutch for so many staying home, is now dealing with coronavirus cases among workers in at least nine facilities nationwide. Walmart, Kroger and others now adding sneeze guards to checkout lanes.


WATT: Now, Governor Cuomo came up with a plan this morning. He said, why don't we get as many ventilators, as many supplies to New York right now, while they're experiencing the spike?

Then, when the virus spikes elsewhere in the country, we move that equipment with it. The problem is, what if a number of places get slammed at the same time? Today, we have had 11 states in different parts of the country all reporting 100 or more new confirmed cases -- Jake.

TAPPER: Yes, it's hard to imagine any governors turning over their equipment to a different state, when they know that the worst is coming.

Nick Watt, thank you so much.

CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us now.

And, Sanjay, there's so little guidance. Obviously, we know, if somebody is having trouble breathing, he or she should call the E.R. and go to the E.R. soon as possible.

But let me ask you about hypothetical. What if somebody is in one of the vulnerable groups, over 60, with preexisting conditions, and that person has coronavirus or strongly thinks so, maybe even has tested positive?

Now, the person is not having trouble breathing, but has a fever, is weak, is having trouble eating and drinking, maybe because of the loss of a sense of taste, the loss of appetite. Should that person go get checked out at an E.R. to get assessed, maybe even to get hydrated with an I.V.?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jake, I think without question. You have somebody who is elderly, who may not have the classic symptoms of coronavirus, but a lot of patients don't have the classic symptoms of coronavirus, but the idea now that they're not keeping fluids down, food down, that's a concern.

And the problem is, you can get behind pretty quickly in a situation, especially, again, if someone is elderly. A couple things. They should call ahead, let them know that they're coming, especially if they have tested positive, because that way they can be put in a room that's going to be isolated. You don't want to get other people sick, obviously.

And after that, it's just a question of getting that hydration and hopefully being able to go home. But there are going to be scenarios like this.

Jake, one thing I want to point out, because I think sometimes this is lost on people, is that we talk about the vulnerable population, the elderly, 70s, and 80s. But you're still far more likely, even at that age, to not need to go to the hospital, to not get very sick from this.

While you're more likely than younger people, the hospitalization rate for people in their 70s and 80s is closer to 20, 25 percent, which means 75 to 80 percent of people don't need the hospital.

Sometimes, I think people perceive this story as being just the automatic sentence for people who are elderly. It's not. Most of the time, it's not.

TAPPER: But if you do -- if you're having those symptoms that I described, you should go to the hospital.


Let me ask you. President Trump is hoping to lift...

GUPTA: You should.


President Trump is hoping to lift the restrictions on movement and social gatherings by Easter. That's just 18 days from now. It was hedged a little bit yesterday during the briefing,. Dr. Fauci said that the date needs to be flexible.

What do you think is the impact if the president says, OK, everyone, crowd the pews on Easter, even if Fauci is saying, that's not my advice?


And Fauci is being very clear on this. Let's follow the data is what he keeps saying. Sort of, it sounds like he's being flexible there. But the reality is, Jake, we know what the data is going to show.

Right now, the picture that we're getting from the data is reflective of 10 to 14 days ago. We know that, during this time, the virus has clearly been spreading. You have heard that some -- in some places, the doubling rate is every two days, sometimes even faster than that in some of these places.

So the data is going to look worse at the time that they're starting to think about pulling back. That's going to be clear, I think.

So that -- in fact, some have estimated that we may start to be getting to the peak in terms of patients needing to be in the hospital. So, I think it's very hard to imagine that, in April, around Easter, that could possibly look like a scenario where it's time to start relaxing things.

TAPPER: And we have seen some places, some countries think that they were out of the woods, relax restrictions.


TAPPER: And then they get another spike and the disease comes back with a vengeance.


I mean, Hong Kong has been the example. Hong Kong was the place that you and I were talking about as showing a good example of how things can go and cases can remain low.

They relaxed the restrictions, and they doubled their cases within a few days. So, if you're going to do this, it has to be done early. It has to be done consistently. It has to be done diligently. It has to be done honestly, all those things we talk about.

If you take your foot off the gas at some point, you kind of -- you run the risk of erasing a lot of the gains you may have made.

TAPPER: A leading epidemiologist, one who advises the, CDC has estimated that the peak of deaths in this country will be three weeks from now. So we need to keep doing the social distancing, right?


Look, I mean, and the three weeks from now, I mean, people hear that and they think, well, that's not that far away.

I think one of the points of that study is that it's too soon, in a way, because that's not a flat curve like we want, right? You want this to sort of be a flatter curve, that that's -- where you see the people actually peaking later on, so you don't -- not all these people are rushing the hospitals at the same time.

So he's sort of making those projections on the existing sort of social distancing. If we don't keep doing that, I mean, the situation could be even worse. Right now, we're probably somewhere in between the red and the blue line. We want obviously want to be in the blue space, Jake.

TAPPER: A little fact-check now.

Today, President Trump tweeted -- quote -- "Just reported that the United States has done far more testing than any other nation by far. In fact, over an eight-day span, the United States now does more testing than what South Korea, which has been a very successful tester does, over an eight-week span. Great job."

Now, to break down these numbers, we can't find any evidence this is even remotely true. South Korea has run more than 350,000 tests. And while there's no official count of tests done in the U.S., on Sunday, Vice President Pence said it was about 250,000. That doesn't include private labs and hospitals.

Other rough numbers we have seen suggests that South Korea is slightly above the U.S. They're roughly comparable, but South Korea has done a little bit more.

But here's the important point, right? The U.S. population is six times that of South Korea. So, a far more meaningful metric would be that South Korea tested one in 170 people, and the U.S. tested one and 1,090.

GUPTA: Look, I mean, no question.

And we have been doing an inadequate job when it comes to testing. You're right. It's kind of striking to us as journalists that we don't even know really how many tests have been performed because there's public labs and there's commercial labs and there's hospitals.

But we were told, Jake, because we have been following this so closely, that all of that would report into the CDC, we would have a really good way of sort of accessing that information. That still hasn't been made available.

But, despite that, I think you're absolutely right. I mean, we're still behind other countries on testing. And we're still inadequate by just about any metric.

TAPPER: Now, when you hear that some places are just assuming, some E.R.s are just assuming everyone who comes in with those symptoms has coronavirus, and some of them are just not even testing people, that doesn't mean, right, that we should stop testing.

We still really need to get a very aggressive national testing campaign, so that we can isolate the virus.


I mean, Jake, I think some of these recommendations came about as a result of the fact that we didn't have enough tests, right?

TAPPER: Right.

GUPTA: We would like to be doing a lot more testing. We'd like to get good surveillance.

And now people are being told, don't bother getting a test if you're not showing any kind of symptoms. That makes sense for the patient, because there's no antiviral the patient's going to get specifically.


But, from a public health standpoint, it still doesn't give us really good vision on what's happening here. And that's because of the inadequacy of the tests.

TAPPER: And why is the U.S. still so behind in testing for this?

GUPTA: Well we have looked into this. And part of it is that we got a late start, because they sent out a flawed test initially. That did not work in these all these various public health labs around the country.

The other part of it, Jake, is, this really shows how interdependent all these things are. So, for example, in order to do a test, a health care provider is going to put on the personal protective equipment, the mask, the goggles, the gloves, the gown, all that sort of stuff.

Well, Jake, that has also been limited. So, all of a sudden, you now have this issue with lack of personal protective stuff being available impacting testing as well.

There's all these points that -- for that to have worked properly. And that's another example of where it sort of fell apart.

So, they got to fix each problem to make it work.

TAPPER: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, we always appreciate your time. Thanks so much for answering our questions.

GUPTA: You got it, Jake.

TAPPER: And to hear more answers from the doctor, Sanjay Gupta, be sure to tune into CNN for another global coronavirus town hall. That's at 8:00 p.m. Eastern tomorrow night.

Coming up next, we're going to speak to a congressman from hard-hit New York about the situation in his state and the historic stimulus that might now be in jeopardy.

And also ahead, he's next in line to the throne, and has recently visited the queen, and now we learn that Prince Charles has coronavirus.

We're going to go live outside Windsor Castle. Stay with us.



TAPPER: Welcome back. Today, three Senate Republicans are threatening to hold up the largest

American stimulus package in American history. They say it cannot go forward with what they see as incentives for businesses to lay off workers.

What's public about the deal shows unprecedented unemployment benefits, possibly $600 a week for jobless Americans, on top of what states may already offer. In addition to that, there are direct payments to Americans looking to pay bills during this coronavirus crisis.

CNN's Manu Raju is on Capitol Hill.

And, Manu, so Senator Bernie Sanders says that if these Republicans get the generous unemployment benefits, generous, you know, relatively, unemployment benefits taken away, he's going to put the bill on hold because of all the bailouts to corporations.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and this is exactly the problem in trying to push through such a massive proposal in so little time, because in the United States Senate, the majority leader, Mitch McConnell, needs support from all 100 members to move quickly to a final vote. If he does not get that consent from all 100 members, it could only delay the proceedings and he'll have to essentially listen to some of those demands and try to cut a deal to move to a final vote.

That's why the timing of the final vote is uncertain, despite the hitting deal that was cut, historic deal at 1:00 a.m. this morning. We still have not seen the final version of this bill because they're trying to sort out these issues coming up. You mentioned unemployment benefits. The Republican senators are arguing they're too generous and it would incentivize workers to stay out of the workforce because of this unemployment benefits. But proponents say this is simply a temporary measure, and that deal, the jobless benefit deal was cut between the administration, Republican senators, and Democratic senators. They're unlikely to succeed in stripping it out but they could succeed in delaying final action on the vote, Jake.

TAPPER: Even, let's put aside the delay that's going on right now by these three Republican senators. If you take away the delay, the Senate still needs to vote. The House of Representatives still needs to vote. The president still needs to sign it. Even without the delay, how quickly can this aid get to those who are desperate for it?

RAJU: It's going to take some time because after all those steps happen, they still have to implement this, and the implementation will take some time, particularly spending the enormous amount of money we are talking about here in this proposal. And when we're talking about a final vote, in the House even there's a question about that. The House is not going to vote today. It's uncertain whether the House will vote tomorrow.

And the members are out of town. The question is can they simply do it by a voice vote. One Democratic congresswoman, Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez, told me earlier today that she is considering and she might object to any effort to vote on this by voice and essentially force some members to come back and vote in person.

She's not ruling it out. She's keeping open that option because she wants to see the final bill. But she's concerned in her view the bill is too tilted towards corporations. We'll see if that gets sorted out.

But among the issues here, as they try to pass the historic measure, they're finding resistance on both sides of the aisle -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Manu Raju, thanks so much.

Let's bring in Democratic Congressman Max Rose in New York. His district spans Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn in New York, which is obviously the epicenter in the United States of this pandemic.

Congressman Rose, what's your view of this massive stimulus package? Is the aid enough for the people in your district who are hurting?

REP. MAX ROSE (D-NY): Sure. Thank you so much for having me and I hope you and all your viewers are staying strong during this incredibly difficult time.

Is this bill perfect? Absolutely not. But what we have to understand right now is there is a fierce sense of urgency.

A fierce sense of urgency for all those people I see in my district, all those nurses and doctors having to go and serve every day without PPE or at least not enough PPE. They're the soldiers in this frontline war and we have to get them these resources. There's a fierce sense of urgency for all those people who are now unemployed, been laid off.

To these senators who are saying that unemployment benefits don't matter or that people want to be laid off, maybe we should lay them off from the Senate, because this is utterly insensitive. It is ridiculous.


Let's stop with the filibustering and let's get something done, because after this is done, we're going to have to think about what else needs to be done because this crisis is here to stay.

TAPPER: Your fellow New York Democrat, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, says that she might, might, force all members to vote in person on the record, at the House of Representatives. As you know, members of Congress are back in their home districts right now.

Do you think that it's -- I mean, what do you make of that? Her view is that people need to take a look at this bill, that there are too many giveaways to corporations, it's not enough -- it's not tilted enough towards the worker and it should not just be done through unanimous consent with only one or two members of Congress there.

What do you think?

ROSE: Well, look, first of all, what I think when we're considering large corporations, medium sized corporations, small businesses, when it comes to the hard working Americans who are employed by them, they don't really care how big the business is that employs them, they just want to stay on the books.

So we have to be concerned about not making the same mistakes we made in '08, not allowing for these bailouts to lead to shareholder buybacks and to extensive, exorbitant CEO compensation, and all different ways in which executives have padded their own pockets on the backs of workers.

But again, I go back to the fierce sense of urgency that we have to have right now. Every day that we let this go by, it will be harder to recover. This is not just a status quo that lives on from day to day to day. You know from your reporting of previous financial and economic crises, the longer it goes on, the harder it is to get out of it.

TAPPER: So, you don't support Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez theoretically forcing all members of the House of Representatives to come back to look at the bill and then vote on it in person?

ROSE: Right now, considering the fact that we have members of Congress quarantined, considering the fact that it could take days if not weeks to get people back, I am -- I can't come out here and support what she is doing. I think that that would be irresponsible.

But with that being said, going forward, Congress has to adopt some way for remote voting and a remote participation in this effort, because otherwise, we will -- we may not be able to act as a relevant legislative body. And that is also unconscionable.

TAPPER: Your office notes that Staten Island, which you represent in Congress, has the highest rate of coronavirus cases in New York City, which is already hard hit on its own. Northwell Health which runs hospitals in your district today said it had to set up one triage in a hospital lobby. Its cases have gone up tenfold in the last week to more than a thousand.

Is there help on the way for the facilities in your district and other ones in New York?

ROSE: Yes, so let's talk about what I think needs to happen, because this is not a state issue. This is not a city issue. This requires the actions of the federal government in a wartime footing.

Eight days ago or so, I called on the president to work with the governor to bring a naval ship to New York harbor. That is on its way with a thousand beds for non-COVID patients so we can relieve the stress on the existing hospitals.

Our V.A. system needs to be opened up to non-veterans and they need to start building out into wings that they were not formerly using. The Army, the military should deploy at least a medical battalion if not a medical brigade to Fort Hamilton Base in my district, the only active duty base in New York City, so they can build a field hospital.

You know, when my vehicle hit an IED in Afghanistan seven years ago or so, and I was medevaced to Kandahar air force base to a state of the art field hospital, that thing wasn't there in the '90s. We built it.

We know how to do this. It comes with strategy, solidarity, and resources. And we have got to dedicate that to our current effort, to say nothing of FEMA pushing millions of PPE items, thousands of ventilators to our hospitals, because we need them. And then when we're done with these ventilators, when this crisis subsides and it moves on to somewhere else, we, as the governor mentioned today, will happily allocate those resources to the states and cities that need them most.

TAPPER: Uh-huh. Democratic Congressman Max Rose of New York, stay in touch. Let us know what you need. Send our love to your brothers and sisters in Staten Island, we appreciate it.

ROSE: Absolutely. Thank you so much.

TAPPER: It's not just you feeling a little isolated at home. Aides say President Trump is going through the same. What might that mean for the United States? That's next.



TAPPER: Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, was told by a doctor to self-quarantine after Romney was exposed to the coronavirus through Senator Rand Paul, who tested positive. Thankfully, Senator Romney's test has come back and it is negative. Romney is 73 and was particularly concerned since his wife Ann, who is 70, has multiple sclerosis, which makes Ann particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus.