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Prince Charles Tests Positive for Coronavirus; Half of U.S. Population Under Stay-at-Home Orders; Senate, White House Strike Deal on $2 Trillion Stimulus Package; New York City Epicenter of U.S. Outbreak; Trump Pushes to Reopen U.S. Despite Health Experts' Warning; Senate, White House Strike Deal on $2 Trillion Stimulus Package. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired March 25, 2020 - 09:00   ET

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


[09:00:25]

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. I'm Jim Sciutto. Let's get right to the news.

This morning, we have a deal. A $2 trillion rescue package Senate leaders call the largest in American history. A wartime level of investment for an economy devastated by this growing health crisis.

We are getting all the details on that plan as the number of cases surges now across the U.S. We've heard about flattening the curve, the curve is not flattening, it is still going up. Still, the president says he wants to reopen the U.S. economy by Easter. That is two weeks from now and right about the time that many health experts are predicting a peak in cases. They warned that easing up on quarantine recommendations now could just lead to an even bigger human and economic cost.

Right now, more than half the U.S. population is under stay at home orders as cases double nationwide in just the last two days. New York City alone accounts for 5,000 of the nation's 50,000 cases so far. The World Health Organization is warning that the U.S. could become the next global epicenter.

There is still time the WHO says to turn things around. And today, more proof this virus spares no one. Prince Charles has confirmed that he has tested positive and is also displaying mild symptoms. And Spain has now surpassed China in deaths from coronavirus.

We are covering this as only CNN can from every angle around the world. Let's begin in New York with CNN national correspondent Brynn Gingras.

And it struck me that the headline listening to the New York state governor Andrew Cuomo is this, we are you, he says, in a few weeks. But crucially that the curve we talk about flattening, that is the goal here, there's no evidence that curve of cases is flattening. It's still going up.

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, he says that that apex, the top of that curve, at least for the hospitals, may not be for another two or three weeks, Jim. Now, listen, I have a friend who told me that the numbers, it doesn't register to them, right? When they actually see the pictures, that's when all of this sinks in. So I want to get out of the way to show you the pictures that we're seeing here because quite honestly, it's pretty incredible.

This is a hospital that we've been at for the last three days. And I can tell you, this line of people trying to get into the emergency room, it has started earlier each morning and it has grown exponentially each day. Think about that, Jim. I mean, these are people who are sick. Who wants to stand in a hospital line for three hours waiting to possibly even get tested. They may not even get tested. But at least seen by a doctor.

These are the people that need the frontline healthcare workers. They need those people to have the equipment that they need and that's why the governor was so fiery in that exchange yesterday, right? Basically begging for ventilators, essentially saying, sure, the president says he's getting us ventilators, getting us what we need, but it's not nearly enough. They think 30,000 ventilators is what is going to be needed in order to take care of these people, these people all across the city, all across the country, really.

But really, just for the city, 30,000. That's because about a quarter of the people that actually are going into the hospital needing to be hospitalized are in the ICU. I mean, the numbers really are staggering. But the pictures are even more baffling. And I really want to quickly mention another thing that was said by the White House task force, by Dr. Birx, is that now people leaving New York City, they have to be quarantined for two weeks just because the problem is so bad here.

SCIUTTO: The other headline we're hearing, and you referenced it a bit there, Brynn, though, is the immediate need for personal protective equipment. That they are already running out of it or expect to and as a result they're concerned that lives will be lost.

GINGRAS: Yes, I mean, even the governor talked about what this ventilator issue, the possibility of having to split ventilators between patients, which again isn't an easy thing. I mean, I have a friend whose mother was on a ventilator even before this all happened, and that process alone, you know, Sanjay could probably talk about this and has, it is taxing on the patient itself. And then try splitting one between two patients? I mean, that's what it may come to if New York City, New York state doesn't get the supplies they need.

And again, it's not just here. This is the worst. But it's going to be repeated in other cities as we've already started seeing -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: Brynn Gingras there, thanks very much. We'll continue to keep you on top of things from New York.

Joining us now from Washington with more on the president's thinking on this is CNN White House correspondent John Harwood.

Now let's be fair here, John. Everyone can understand the point that the economic pain from this is very real. People are out of work, they're concerned they don't have savings, et cetera. That's part of the decision-making here is the effect on the economy.

[09:05:01]

Question, of course, is when you relax those restrictions, what does that mean for the health effects of this? Because the health effects have their own effect on the economy. But where is the president's thinking here and is that Easter date something that he really wants to hold himself and the country to?

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I actually don't think so, Jim. I think he's preserving some maneuvering room there. A lot going on in President Trump's head as you can see from his Twitter feed this morning, all sorts of childish statements putting out about Mitt Romney and others. But the president's worried about the economy, he's worried about his re-election, obviously those two things are related, but if you listen carefully to that briefing last night, I think you heard the president backing off from that ardent desire to reopen the country as he's stated by Easter.

That clearly is not feasible from a public health point of view. Dr. Fauci made that clear. said that we're going to be driven by the data. The president said we're going to be driven by the data. So I think just as he was influenced by the complaints of business people, and the forecasts of unemployment of 20 percent or 30 percent, the idea that we're going to be in a severe recession, if not a depression itself.

All of those things buffet the president back and forth, but I think he was also chastened by Governor Cuomo yesterday, his urgings about not leaving anyone behind, that Liz Cheney, remember, the Republican leadership, who tweeted out there is going to be no functioning economy to go back to if people are dying by the thousands in hospitals.

I do think the president was responding to that. Continues to embrace the aspirations as it would be nice, that's appealing to a lot of Americans out there who treasure their Easter holidays. But I don't think he is drawing a line and committing himself to doing that, although there is increasing study of the idea of risk stratification, that some areas or some segments of the population might be safer to resume something like normal activity more than others the most vulnerable.

SCIUTTO: Well, and, of course, in a couple of weeks, if the current data trends continue, that will be well into the spike of this and not a time when things are slowing down.

John Harwood, great to have you at the White House.

HARWOOD: That's right.

SCIUTTO: Thanks very much.

After five marathon days of negotiations, you've heard about them here on this broadcast, the Senate and the Trump administration overnight reached an historic deal on a $2 trillion coronavirus relief package.

Suzanne Malveaux, she's on Capitol Hill, Christine Romans in New York to break this down for us.

Suzanne, I know that the details of this are just coming out. I mean, the key agreement here between Republicans and Democrats was how much of this money goes to corporations, corporate relief, how much of it goes to individuals, small businesses, et cetera.

Based on what we know at this point, where is the balance there?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they certainly tried to achieve as close a balance as they could. I just talked to Democratic minority leader Chuck Schumer moments ago and he said, look, they do expect that the vote will happen this afternoon, but the delay on the vote, he says, is because literally staffers are still drafting the specific language of this enormous economic stimulus package because of those last-minute negotiations and compromises.

We don't have the exact text right now. But we do have a broad sense, a broad outline here, if you look at the $2 trillion breakdown. $350 billion of loans for small businesses. $250 billion for direct payments to individuals and families. $250 billion in unemployment insurance benefits. You have $500 billion when it comes to loans for distressed companies. And if you look at what it means to everyday Americans, the breakdown there about $1,200 for individuals earning up to $75,000 and $2,400 for a married couple earning up to $150,000.

A very important concession, Jim, is also that Schumer said, look, the president, the vice president, and also lawmakers, members of Congress themselves who have control of businesses should not actually benefit from this piece of legislation, whether it's investments or loans. That was a very important point.

When it comes to the process of this, as I mentioned before, the Senate expected to vote on it this afternoon. And the big question, of course, how is it handled in the House? We all saw House Speaker Nancy Pelosi here at the Capitol yesterday. She was with her daughter and her grandson, so she is comfortable being here, but not comfortable with asking the rest of the House members to come back for a vote. She hopes that happens through unanimous consent, which would not require for them to travel back here to Washington -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: All right, Suzanne, important data there. Thanks very much.

So, Christine, the market futures there are already up. We saw Europe responding to this in the earlier hours of the morning here.

What is your sense from talking to people? This obviously fills some of the hole in the economy left by this virus. Does it fill all the hole?

[09:10:03]

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: No, I mean, look, seven weeks ago we were talking about record high 401(k) balances and a really strong job market, and now we're looking at a week where we could have three million layoffs this week. So to me, the most important part of this rescue package is the unemployment benefits part of this.

The unemployment checks will be bigger, they will last longer, and they include more people. For example, furloughed workers, the government will pay basically their entire paycheck for most of those workers. So they get their healthcare through their company and then at the other side of this, they can still go back to that company, not like tearing apart companies and putting people out on jobless benefits.

So it's an idea about what it's going to look like on the other side. I think that's a really, really important part about this, and something that the Democrats really, really fought for. So, again, that part of it, the jobless benefits, the help for communities and for hospitals, that's important too.

And small business loans. The small business piece is structured so that a small business owner can get money quickly, Jim, and then keep the employees. The retention incentive there is really, really important. That could keep some people on the job, which is -- which is key -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: Yes. And we have spoken to a lot of small business owners throughout the last couple of weeks. And that's what they say they need, right? They need access to funding.

ROMANS: Yes.

SCIUTTO: One, to keep the business from folding, right? But, two, also to keep money going to their employees. That's good news, I'm sure, for a lot of folks who are watching today.

Christine Romans, we're going to have you back. Thank you.

ROMANS: Sure.

SCIUTTO: Still to come this hour, heir to the throne, Prince Charles, has tested positive for coronavirus. We're going to be live from the U.K.

SCIUTTO: Plus, President Trump says we are beginning to see, quote, "the light at the end of the tunnel." Is that true? Health experts say it's actually going to get worse.

What you need to know, what it means for you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:15:00]

JIM SCIUTTO, ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: Welcome back. And right back to the news. Prince Charles, the 71-year-old heir to the British throne has now tested positive for coronavirus. The Prince of Wales is self- isolating at his home in Scotland, with he says mild symptoms. As the royal family works to determine how exactly he became infected. CNN's Richard Quest joins me now with the latest. Richard, you know, we got a lot of signs, this from NBA players to members of Congress, now to the Prince of Wales, that this is -- that everybody is vulnerable to this. What are we learning about how serious the symptoms are and how he may have gotten this?

RICHARD QUEST, HOST, QUEST MEANS BUSINESS: Mild symptoms is how it's being described. He's up and about, and he's working. But he and the duchess are isolating in separate parts of their house, Burkle(ph), which is on the Scottish estate. It's a fairly larger house so they can separately isolate. Several of their staff have gone into isolation because they will have obviously been close to them.

It's not surprising in many ways, if you look at the events that the 71-year-old heir to the throne had done, and you're seeing some of them here. Just look at the events that he did over the last week or so. All of those events, where he would have met many people and even with the best will in the world will have come into contact.

His last contact with her majesty the queen was on March, the 12th, when they met briefly. The queen has subsequently gone to Windsor Castle with her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh. Now, she's 93, he's 98, so you can understand there is great concern there. But at the moment, it seems that this is contained, the symptoms are mild. And when asked how he might have got this, from who he might have got it, all the palace basically says he's met so many people over the last few days or few weeks, it's impossible to know who it might have been the cause.

SCIUTTO: Yes, and as you note, he is in the age group that has been most vulnerable --

QUEST: Yes --

SCIUTTO: To this. Richard Quest, thanks very much. Back here in the U.S., half of the U.S. population is now under some form of a stay-at- home order. Dr. Celine Gounder is a clinical assistant professor of Medicine and Infectious Diseases at New York University, and she joins me now. Dr. Gounder, so good to have you on. I know that when folks at home, they want to hear from the doctors. So, I got a lot of things to run through with you this morning.

First of all, let's talk about the president's comments and plans. He says he's hopeful for Easter. That that's when the country can begin relaxing some of these stay-at-home restrictions here. But from other quarters, for instance, the Pentagon says that its stay-at-home restrictions are going to be in effect for possibly months. Do the science and medicine back up the president's timeline here?

CELINE GOUNDER, CLINICAL ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF MEDICINE & INFECTIOUS DISEASES, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY MEDICAL SCHOOL: So how do we decide when to loosen restrictions? That's really dependent on when community transmission ends. And so, so long as we're not able to say this is where this person got the infection from, this is who they got the infection from, we're not really in a position to be able to lift restrictions. SCIUTTO: OK, can you -- here is another question, because the

president, some of his supporters, but not just them, there is a doctor writing in "The New York Times" today about this. Can you specialize the restrictions, target them, in other words, quarantine just the most vulnerable, the elderly, those with pre-existing conditions and still accomplish the broader goal of flattening the curve as it said, you know, reducing the number of cases over time?

GOUNDER: So, the problem with that is as we're realizing much of the transmission with the coronavirus is asymptomatic. In other words, it's by people who do not have symptoms or maybe have very mild symptoms. And so when you're talking about, you know, 20 percent, 30 percent-plus of these cases are perhaps asymptomatic and even more are mildly symptomatic.

[09:20:00]

That means a lot of your transmissions by people who are maybe younger, healthier, don't even realize that they're sick. And so it's really hard to target in that way. You know, when you have an elderly person who is going to bring them food? Who is going to take care of them, bathe them, you know, all the other things they need? So, they're going to be in contact with those younger people who, you know, healthier people who may be still at risk for transmitting and infecting.

SCIUTTO: OK, so let's talk about now what the data shows us as to where we are on the curve. So, let's show that graphic again, the goal here of flattening the curves. You want to -- you want to -- or this is where the cases are, and I know that this is -- this is a busy graphic, but you could see the U.S. there, it's the pink line right at the top that shows U.S. cases still rising on a pretty steep curve there.

Now, if you compare that to the flattening the curve graphic, which is what you want to bring it down so that you don't overwhelm the healthcare systems. The data seems to show -- and the New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the same thing that we're not flattening the curve, that in fact, the case rate is accelerating.

GOUNDER: Right, I mean, we're not flattening the curve, we haven't even peaked yet. And one of the things I've heard people say is, oh, well, this is just an artifact of the fact we're testing. Well, if you look at deaths, so deaths are a very hard outcome. We know that when those happen, those are also rising, 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. We have -- we have one against Iran and Italy in that respect if you call that winning.

SCIUTTO: OK, let's talk about how other countries have responded to this and what we could learn from them. Wuhan, I should note, China, where this all started, still has travel bans that won't be lifted until April 8th. And of course, they started weeks before the U.S. And you know, there are a host of things to take issue with China, including hiding the numbers early on and so on. But on that one point, how long and how severe those travel restrictions were, is that something that the world can learn from, you know -- you know, in terms of flattening the curve?

GOUNDER: Well, absolutely. And it's not just about travel restrictions with countries outside of the United States. It's also travel restrictions within the country. So they blocked travel within China, for example, from Wuhan to other areas. And we're already seeing because that was not done here, New York City, people left for the Hamptons, for upstate New York, we're already seeing out on Long Island, you know, new outbreaks.

And so, it is very problematic. You know, the most important thing people can do is truly shelter in place. And even if you're in New York City --

SCIUTTO: Yes --

GOUNDER: Which is the epicenter for this, if you stay home, you're not going to get infected.

SCIUTTO: Yes, and, listen, as you've said, as Dr. Sanjay Gupta said on the air, it's about protecting your own health, but also the health of others. This is -- this is truly a team effort, only works when we work as a team. Dr. Celine Gounder, thanks so much, we know we'll have you back on the air soon.

GOUNDER: Thanks, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Tomorrow night, be sure to watch our next coronavirus town hall. These are really useful. Anderson Cooper will host, Dr. Sanjay Gupta as well, starts at 8:00 Eastern Time right here and only on CNN. Well, a massive agreement on Capitol Hill, $2 trillion to stimulate the economy. Is it enough? We're going to ask the CEO of one of the world's biggest tech companies next to see how much of a difference this makes.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:25:00]

SCIUTTO: Wall Street looking for a big boost after the Senate and the White House agreed to a massive $2 trillion stimulus deal in the early hours of this morning. The markets are set to open at any moment. Let's bring in CNN chief business correspondent Christine Romans because Christine, I know folks at home, they want to know what's in this deal for them --

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes --

SCIUTTO: Right? A lot of folks, either they own small businesses --

ROMANS: Yes --

SCIUTTO: They work for big companies that have been laying people off or they've been laid off themselves or furloughed. When you look at this money, where is it going? And how quickly is it going to get into the hands of people who need it?

ROMANS: Well, the money pretty quickly is going to get in the hands of people who are unemployed. And I think you're going to see a spike in unemployment benefits this week. So, in this package is enhanced unemployment benefits,$250 billion and here is something that's really important about this. This will allow people who have been laid off to get almost their whole paycheck.

Usually when you're laid off, you don't get the full thing, right? You just get some money. This will get you almost to full, a 100 percent of your paycheck. And if you're furloughed, your company pays your healthcare, the government pays your paycheck, and you can go between three and a half and 4 years like that if necessary. What that means is on the other side of this crisis, companies can start to put themselves back together again with their existing workforce.

So, that's meant as a really important bridge to the other side here when we're building on the economy again. There's also money for small business owners. And I think that they can't go today to their small business administration office and sign up for this because the legislation hasn't even been written all the way yet.

But maybe in a week or so, they're going to be able to go to an SBA office and find out what kind of loans they qualify for, that allow them to keep their workers right now. So, essentially loans to pay your overhead for the next few months, and keep your workers -- they're employed. Again, so that on the other side of this, you have your workforce. You can bounce back.

So some of these provisions are meant to really make sure that we can get the economy started again, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Yes, no question. I mean, those are key things, your full paycheck or as close to that as possible --

ROMANS: Yes --

SCIUTTO: Plus extending the time limit. That's going to be great news to a lot of Americans. Christine Romans, thanks very much, we're going to stay on top --

ROMANS: You're welcome --

SCIUTTO: Of this particularly as we see the market open. Joining me now, though, is someone who knows about the effect of all this on the economy. IBM president and CEO Ginni Rometty. IBM, it's a huge tech company, it's launching a new tool.

END