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Governors And Doctors Dismiss Trump Goal To Reopen By Easter; Health Workers Grapple With Lack Of Supplies And Protocol Changes; Senate To Vote On Historic $2 Trillion Stimulus Package. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired March 25, 2020 - 14:00   ET

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


[14:00:00]

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GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): On the good news side, can you slow the rate of infection? Yes. How do you know? Look at what we did in Westchester. That was the hottest cluster in the United States of America.

We closed the schools, we closed gatherings. We brought in testing and we have dramatically slowed the increase. Nassau County is 3,000. They're relatively right behind Westchester, they were at like zero when Westchester had started. So we can slow it and we have slowed it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: But while the progress is being made on those fronts, problems persist especially for healthcare workers with a lack of life saving equipment, and also hospital space.

Plus, we're now hearing about infection hitting one of the few businesses that is still booming during these dark days -- Amazon.

CNN's Nick Watt is joining me now from Los Angeles with more on how the country is coping -- Nick.

NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As you say, Brianna, it is a question of capacity and supplies right now. We just heard from Michigan that one of the biggest hospital service providers there is nearing capacity.

We just heard from six acute care hospitals on Long Island that say that they are now running out of isolation gowns.

New York right now is the focus, it will shift, but for now, New York is the frontline.

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WATT (voice over): There are field hospitals. In Manhattan College, dorms being converted, existing hospitals up in capacity and Navy hospital ship coming soon, but New York is still 20,000 beds shy of what they say they'll need.

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CUOMO: Then we're looking at hotels, we're looking at former nursing homes.

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WATT (voice over): They have 4,000 ventilators, they bought 7,000 more. F.E.M.A. delivered 4,000, but New York is still 15,000 short.

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

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WATT (voice over): They're now opening some streets to pedestrians to reduce density in city parks and no more basketball, and the rate of hospitalizations in New York is now slowing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

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WATT (voice over): Meanwhile, the President pushing to reopen at least parts of the country for business.

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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm also hopeful to have Americans working again by that Easter -- that beautiful Easter Day.

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WATT (voice over): Easter -- that's before New York estimates they will hit peak infection and other states likely later.

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DR. LEANA WEN, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: We need to know that data, and if we don't have the data, how are we making these decisions at all? It seems like these dates that are being picked are arbitrary and not based on science and evidence.

We don't have enough testing.

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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WATT (voice over): Spain just overtook China. It now has the second highest global death toll, over 3,400. Italy has suffered more than 6,000 deaths. Europe, the current epicenter. The W.H.O. says the U.S. could be next. But --

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DR. MARGARET HARRIS, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION RESPONSE TEAM: You've still got the means of turning it around. You are an amazing country.

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WATT (voice over): She says by testing, tracing contacts, isolating and many of us continuing to quarantine. More than half of Americans are now under orders to do so.

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HARRIS: And finally getting the people who are ill to treatment, and when you do that, really, really protect your health workers.

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WATT (voice over): Many of those health workers still suffering severe shortages of what they need to stay safe.

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MAYOR LATOYA CANTRELL (D) NEW ORLEANS: For example, my EMS Department, over 50 percent of my people are now on quarantine.

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WATT (voice over): Meanwhile, Amazon, a crutch for so many is now dealing with coronavirus cases among workers, in at least nine facilities nationwide.

And in stores, Walmart, Kroger and others, now adding sneeze guards to checkout lanes.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WATT (on camera): Now one of the latest confirmed cases is Prince Charles over in Britain, so there's a bit of Royal contact tracing going on right now.

And Brianna, I want to end on some good news. We got this from the American Society for Microbiology. They say that right now, there is no evidence that this virus is mutating to make it any more virulent or any more transmissible. A kind of comfort. I'll take it. Back to you.

KEILAR: Yes, I'll take it, too, Nick. Thank you so much for that.

Now for the doctors and the nurses and first responders, the fight to stop the coronavirus is upending work as they once knew it.

Many are now speaking out about not just a shortage of supplies, but changes in protocol that would have been unthinkable just a few months ago.

CNN's Drew Griffin spoke with some of them and he is joining us now from Atlanta to discuss this.

I'm so curious, Drew what they're telling you.

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DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, they are doing things today that would be fireable offenses just weeks ago, and that is reusing this equipment, knowing it's probably not clean and could infect themselves or even their patients, but they're having to do it out of necessity because the material just is not there.

We've been talking to them, not just in New York, all across the country. These nurses, these doctors are calling us. They're very scared. Some are even sending us videos where they are crying, because they're having to make this anxious decision about going to work, knowing they could potentially be exposed without proper equipment, and then risking coming back to their family.

We talked to Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez, she's an ER nurse in New York. She's also Head of the New York State Nurses Association, and she told us this.

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JUDY SHERIDAN GONZALEZ, HEAD, NEW YORK STATE NURSES ASSOCIATION: We are terrified. Everybody is terrified. We feel an obligation to take care of our patients. Everybody does, but we don't want to become sick and we also don't want to become carriers nor do we want to be so disabled that we can't care for people.

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GRIFFIN: A nurse in Ohio told us she just quit her hospital because she couldn't take the risk of knowing she didn't have the proper protective equipment and exposing herself to COVID-19, and then coming home night after night to her children.

Brianna, it is a real struggle for these heroic workers who are out there doing this battle, obviously, without the protection that they need.

KEILAR: Yes, this is the -- they are serving this country. It is admirable and simultaneously unacceptable. Drew Griffin, thank you so much.

I want to talk to Richard Pollack now. He is the CEO of the American Hospital Association. Welcome. Thank you so much for being with us.

RICHARD POLLACK, CEO, AMERICAN HOSPITAL ASSOCIATION: Thank you for having me.

KEILAR: So your group along with the American Nurses Association and the AMA, they all say that a minimum of $100 billion was needed in assistance.

The stimulus proposal for hospitals is $130 billion. Some officials are warning though that coronavirus has not yet even peaked in the U.S., is $130 billion enough as you see it.

POLLACK: It's an important first step that will give us the resources that are very much needed in terms of getting the supplies, the personal protective equipment that we need to provide to our healthcare -- caregivers that are on the frontlines.

The doctors, the nurses and other workers that are the true heroes in this battle. It'll be helpful in that regard. There's also assistance in there to help us build surge capacity as well, and to help us with cash flow because we've shut down all other operations, we have nothing coming in, and we have a lot of expenses going out. So we are going to need that type of funding.

Now, I want to appraise the leadership of Senator McConnell and Senator Schumer, so important first step, Brianna, but it's not going to be enough in the long run.

KEILAR: What happens for hospital workers who end up dying from coronavirus, and they did not have the appropriate safety gear?

POLLACK: Well, our focus right now is getting them the protective gear. That is our number one priority. If we don't have the gear, and we don't get that to them, then the whole system will collapse.

Of course, we care about protecting their lives. They are -- they are the frontline warriors in this battle, and they need to be protected.

Right now. We're working with all sorts of companies to produce more of that protective equipment and get more of it into the supply line. We've asked the President to use the Defense Production Act to ensure that there will be more.

We need to press every level we conceivably can to make sure that those healthcare heroes get the equipment that they need.

KEILAR: But some of them don't have it and they're already putting themselves at risk. Are you confident that they're going to be taken care of? I mean, I think of, for instance, folks in the military, when they give their lives and you know, we've seen issues in the past where they didn't have the proper equipment as well.

When they give their lives, their families are taken care of, are you confident that the families of these frontline medical workers are going to be taken care of in some way?

POLLACK: We've got to do everything we can right now to make sure that we don't even get to that point. That's the objective. That's why we have to get them the equipment.

We have to get the supplies going from the strategic stockpiles. We have to ensure that there's more product being put into the pipeline. We don't want to get to that point. KEILAR: Can I ask you though, seriously, aren't you already to that

point? I mean, sure, you can try to catch up and make sure that it doesn't spread that far. But you're already seeing frontline workers come down with this and they're not having -- they are reusing masks. They're not using the masks they should use.

[14:10:10]

KEILAR: I mean, aren't you already to this point?

POLLACK: Well, there have been very, unfortunately some healthcare workers that have gotten infected, and that is something that obviously, is troublesome.

But again, the focus now is to protect them as much as we possibly can. Again, the system collapses without them being healthy and without them having the protective gear.

KEILAR: Okay, I want to know if you think the U.S. is going to have enough ventilators by next week.

POLLACK: There's a gap. It all depends upon where it's needed. New York obviously is struggling to get as many as they can, because they're now a hotspot, and we know that we need more. That's why again, we think that the President ought to use the Defense Production Act to order more of them.

We ought to unleash them from the strategic stockpiles. We ought to make sure that every conceivable avenue is used to make sure that those heavily impacted areas have all the equipment they need.

This is an unprecedented situation, and we're doing -- we're focused intensely on making sure we get as much as we can to the frontlines.

KEILAR: Right now, as you know, roughly half of the country is under either what's a full stay at home order or maybe it's a partial, and something that might actually effectively be a stay at home order.

The Governor of New York says the numbers are suggesting that social distancing is working in his state. Are you seeing any evidence that it's helping in terms of stopping the spread?

POLLACK: You know, our view is we have to follow the science and we have to follow what the local public health authorities are suggesting.

And in that vein, by the way, the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association, the American Nurses Association has written an open letter to the American public saying we've got to stop the spread. People should stay at home.

And when we talk to our frontline healthcare workers, their message is that they are there for you, and their ask to the American public is that everyone should stay at home for them.

And that's why we need to follow the guidelines. We need to make sure that people do in fact, stay at home except for essential types of services, and we believe that that is the best approach right now. And we have to make sure that we follow those guidelines and instructions.

KEILAR: You've heard the President wants to reopen the country really to business by Easter. Some officials are working on a rolling plan that would ease restrictions on different people at different times, maybe in different places. What would that mean for hospitals and their ability to stay below capacity for treating people?

POLLACK: Well, you know, I know the President made some suggestion that he hoped that we can get back to some semblance of being normal by Easter. That was a hope.

We all hope we can be back in a better place by Easter, but we have to be realistic about it. We have to evaluate it on an ongoing basis and we have to follow the science and the data and do what the experts tell us to do.

KEILAR: So, I mean, it sounds like you're saying that's unrealistic.

POLLACK: What I'm saying is we have to follow the science and we have to follow the data and we have to follow what the experts tell us to do. We have to evaluate on an ongoing basis.

It's a hope. It's something that you can be optimistic about, but from everything I hear, it's probably going to be longer than that.

KEILAR: Okay. All right. That's what we're hearing, too, from the experts we've been having on.

Richard Pollack, thank you so much. We really appreciate you joining us.

POLLACK: Thank you.

KEILAR: And reminder that if you have questions about coronavirus, CNN's new podcast has answers. You can join Dr. Sanjay Gupta for "Coronavirus: Fact versus Fiction" wherever you get your favorite podcasts.

And the Senate is expected to pass a $2 trillion stimulus package today. You're looking at live pictures from the Senate floor.

We're going to break down what that means and how much money will be in your pocket.

Plus, I'll speak to fashion designer and CEO Tory Burch who says the retail industry and her employees desperately need that government help.

Also ahead, Amazon reports coronavirus cases in at least nine of its facilities. What the company says it's doing to protect workers as well as customers.

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KEILAR: Today, the Senate is trying to advance a massive $2 trillion stimulus bill after the White House and the Senate negotiates -- when negotiators from both the Senate and White House struck a deal very, very early this morning.

A key part of that bill includes checks from the U.S. government directly to you. You can see how much you might get right there. $1,200.00 for individuals earning up to $75,000.00. That phases up as you go up in income to $99,000.00, and then it phases out.

So what the Senate and then the House is hoping to put on the President's desk is this Phase 3 of a sweeping government response to the virus. Already there is talk of a Phase 4 and questions about whether the help coming down the pipeline is going to be enough.

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JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Is this enough? Is this going to be enough?

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): We don't know. We don't know. One of the -- the two awful things about this crisis are one that we don't know how long it's going to last, who is affected. We still don't exactly know.

We should be willing and able to come back in a bipartisan way and do more if we need it, and I believe we'll probably have to do that one way or another.

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KEILAR: For thousands of businesses across the country, every day without help from the Federal government is another day that they are uncertain of how long they can stay in business and whether they can keep paying their employees.

I want to bring in designer and CEO, Tory Burch. She is the founder and head designer of the Tory Burch Apparel and Accessories Company.

Tory, thank you so much for joining us. You employ 5,000 people. You have been leading a coordinated effort, an initiative to get Federal help for the retail industry. First, just what do you think about the stimulus package?

There is hundreds of billions of dollars in there for businesses and for small businesses. Is that going to be enough for the retail industry?

TORY BURCH, FOUNDER AND HEAD DESIGNER, TORY BURCH APPAREL AND ACCESSORIES COMPANY: Well, that's exactly -- thank you first of all for having me because I represent over 25 CEOs across the United States, and we've been working with the CFDA and the National Retail Federation, the AAMA, and we all came together a week ago to realize we need a voice for our sector. And quite honestly, I don't know yet, and every minute that passes,

people are talking about laying off 50 to 80 percent of their workforce if not going bankrupt.

KEILAR: Give us a sense, just put into perspective when it comes to the retail industry, how much a piece of the economy this is and how high the stakes are.

BURCH: Well, the stakes are huge and I think we need to be start -- we need we need to be talked about similarly to the way airlines and hospitality is talked about.

Our sector is millions and millions of jobs. It's two trillion to the GDP if you include retail, fashion, and fashion apparel, so it is enormous and that includes jewelry as well.

And we're talking about people that are living paycheck to paycheck. And I think that's one thing we need to dispel is that it's a lightweight industry. It is not. It is heavyweight, and it's very much part of Americans and putting Americans, keeping Americans in the workforce.

KEILAR: So let's talk about some of the things that you're pushing forward through this initiative. Essentially, forgiving rent, right? Financing loans that would allow for brands, stores, department stores to be forgiven rent until they can get back up and running.

Also asking for grants that would cover a big chunk of employee pay so that you can keep them on payroll, and then also a request for some relief from tariffs and duties for the next year, which is key. Obviously, this is something we've heard from many folks in retail. This hits them pretty hard.

You spoke with the Treasury Secretary. You spoke with the Republican leader in the House, were they receptive to any of these asks?

BURCH: They were very deceptive and have been working around the clock as well as Anna Wintour has spoken to Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi. This is not partisan. We are talking about American people right now.

And we, as industry leaders need to keep Americans in the workforce. That's our way to keep them being paid because a lot of them as I've said live paycheck to paycheck. This cannot be partisan. Every minute we lose hurts certainly the American economy, but it hurts the American people.

KEILAR: Have you had to lay people off personally yet?

BURCH: We have not and that is something that we are doing our best not to have to do. But I can tell you when companies don't have revenue coming in, it's very difficult to be paying employees.

So we need to get that relief. That's urgent. And I would say yes that when we are asked, you got it perfectly, every CEO that I've spoken with has talked about their employees. We want to protect them. But we also need to protect commercial real estate because it's an

ecosystem. We need to protect everybody in this crisis. We need a bridge to help us get through the next, however else we need to be able to keep America focused. I know it is a national health crisis, but I feel it is going to be a national business crisis very shortly.

KEILAR: Tory Burch, thank you so much for joining us.

BURCH: Thank you so much.

KEILAR: And Amazon is still open for business sorting and sending and then delivering things that Americans rely on during this coronavirus pause on normal life, but there are some troubling signs today.

According to the company and local media reports, coronavirus cases have been identified in Amazon warehouses in New York, California, Florida, Kentucky, Michigan, Oklahoma, Texas and Connecticut.

[14:25:00]

KEILAR: I want to bring in CNN's Cristina Alesci with more on this. I mean, this is pretty widespread Cristina and a lot of folks are relying on Amazon, but a lot of folks are also expecting them to protect their workers.

CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN BUSINESS POLITICS AND BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: That's absolutely right, and it is an issue that a lot of these critical businesses are facing. How do you keep operations going? And at the same time, protect your employees and consumers.

Now, we're talking about Amazon because of the sheer scale of it. You talked about all of those warehouses that recently had employees who were infected.

This is a massive logistical nightmare for the company, and they have taken steps to try and prevent the spread within the warehouses. We have a screen that shows some of those measures that includes cleaning the facilities more often, staggering the start time so that the employees can practice social distancing, smaller training groups, doing interviews with for candidates over video conference. All of those things are being put into effect.

But the matter is, this challenge comes at a time when delivery demand is surging. The company said it wants to hire 100,000 more employees, and we know, based on the employees that we spoke to that they are anxious if the company isn't doing enough.

For example, CEO Jeff Bezos wrote over the weekend that it is trying -- the company is trying to source masks for the employees in the warehouse, but that's obviously very difficult given the shortages.

Employees have also complained about the way that paid time off is structured, and whether that encourages or discourages people to do the right thing if they are sick to stay home.

So the company is having to juggle this while it ramps up, so this is not like any other business, just stay open and put these extra measures into effect.

This is let's make all of these changes and add these precautions as we're expanding, Brianna.

The problem is huge and it impacts millions of Americans because they get -- they buy their stuff on Amazon. There's a report that shows 40 percent of e-commerce happens on Amazon -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Yes, it's huge. And Cristina, thank you so much for bringing us that report. We appreciate it.

We have some new details about how President Trump is reaching out to countries across the globe to get critically needed supplies. Even though he said this just yesterday.

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TRUMP: We should never be reliant on a foreign country for the means of our own survival. I think we've learned a lot. We've learned a lot.

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KEILAR: We're going to break down the 25 items that the Federal government needs the most.

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