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Senate, White House Agree on Largest Stimulus Package in U.S. History; NYC Epicenter of U.S. Outbreak. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired March 25, 2020 - 06:00   ET



SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): We have a bipartisan agreement on the largest rescue package in American history.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): This is a wartime level of investment into our nation.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): Where are the ventilators? Where are the gowns? Where are the PPEs?

The president said that it's a war. It is a war. Well, then act like it's a war.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Ultimately, the goal is to ease the guidelines. I hope we can do this by Easter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's really very flexible. Obviously, no one is going to tone down things when you see what's going on in a place like New York City.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would love nothing more than to be able to responsibly begin to open up things in a few weeks. I just fear that we're not going to be there yet.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY, with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Wednesday, March 25. It's 6 a.m. here now in New York.

And breaking in just the last few hours, there is a deal, a $2 trillion stimulus deal reached by the White House and Senate leaders just a short time ago. It is being touted as the biggest spending package in history.

But will it be enough to spark or even save this frozen economy? Will it be enough for you to keep your own personal finances afloat?

The other major headline: the alarming and perhaps unchecked spread of coronavirus, especially here in New York. Cases are doubling here every three days in the nation's largest city. Almost half of the cases, people under 45 years old.

Governor Andrew Cuomo says simply, We have not flattened the curve.

The federal government now says that anyone who has recently left New York should self-quarantine for 14 days.

CAMEROTA: John, there are more than 53,000 cases in the United States. Yesterday was the deadliest day so far.

Seven hundred and nine people have died, and that number keeps climbing. Despite that, President Trump says he would love the have the country opened by Easter. But leading health officials warn that timeline will be far too short.

Dr. Anthony Fauci calls Easter, quote, "an aspirational goal." He stresses the need to be flexible.

But let's start with the economy and when Americans will get a needed cash infusion. CNN's Julia Chatterley with our breaking news on the stimulus deal. What do we know about it, Julia?


Well, yes, you're right, individual workers will get money here. Let me talk about the most important part for me. It's not the biggest number. Two hundred and fifty billion dollars of what we call helicopter money, checks to those who earn less than $75,000 a year: $1,200, $500 for children.

This is the critical part for me. It's also matched in some by unemployment benefits. If you will go back to what we saw when checks were sent out in the financial crisis, it took two months to get them, on average. So supporting this with unemployment benefits, critical.

Then the thorniest issue, the $500 billion fund for corporate, the slush fund as it's also called -- being called. It's going to have oversight, an inspector general. That will not be Donald Trump, despite his best efforts, I think. Details on this. How many employees will they keep?

Also, similar story. For the smaller, medium-sized enterprises, we don't want loans here. We want grants. So the devil there is going to be in the detail and, again, protecting workers.

But critical for me, guys, is the money that's going to hospitals. It's going to go to states and local municipalities. This number has risen dramatically since the early negotiations in the numbers I saw. This is essential money for our emergency services.

The key on all of this I think: monster, huge amounts of money, devil in the details. We need to see the small print here in terms of conditions and also execution. Get the money out to individuals, in particular, as fast as possible. CAMEROTA: Julia, thank you. Thanks for walking us through the top-line

headlines of all this. And obviously, we will get details coming in this morning.

Now to the health crisis. This morning, New York City is in desperate need of medical supplies. The rate of infection is doubling every three days. The governor here is pleading for federal assistance. And there was a big announcement from the White House press briefing. Anyone coming in or out of New York is being told to self-quarantine for 14 days.

CNN's Brynn Gingras is live at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens. That was a confusing and surprising announcement from the White House briefing, because what does that mean?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, essentially, it means, Alisyn, that people are fleeing New York, trying to get out of a situation here. And there's that warning out there that, if you leave here, not to go to other states, necessarily, but even other parts of New York, like Long Island, the Hamptons -- Hamptons, you need to quarantine for 14 days. That's how bad the situation is here.

Now, remember, the U.S. surgeon general said this week was going to be bad. We're certainly seeing that here. We're also seeing it in other parts of the country. New Jersey saw a lot of cases, now the second most cases behind New York. Connecticut saw a surge. We're seeing it in cities, like New Orleans.


And remember, here in New York, the governor says that the peak of hospitals, what they're going to see, hasn't even hit yet. He doesn't expect that for another two to three weeks.


GINGRAS (voice-over): More than half of the coronavirus cases in the United States are from the New York City metro area. And the state's number is doubling about every three days.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK CITY: Right now, I am satisfied we can get through this week in New York City in terms of our healthcare system. And even with that, I think some of our hospitals are going to be very stressed.

GINGRAS: The White House coronavirus task force's coordinator asking anyone who's visited New York state recently to take action now.

DR. DEBORAH BRIX, WHITE HOUSE TASK FORCE COORDINATOR: Everybody who was in New York should be self-quarantining for the next 14 days to ensure that the virus doesn't spread to others, no matter where they have gone.

GINGRAS: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo blasting the federal government, saying it needs to provide more medical equipment like ventilators. CUOMO: How can we be in a situation where you can have New Yorkers

possibly dying, because they can't get a ventilator, but a federal agency saying, I'm going to leave the ventilators in the stockpile?

GINGRAS: The president firing back, saying it's Cuomo's problem, not his.

TRUMP: He's supposed to be buying his own ventilators. We're going to help.

GINGRAS: Over half the United States has been ordered to stay at home, with more coming by week's end. But President Trump still optimistic the country will be back to normal in less than three weeks.

TRUMP: I would love to aim it right at Easter Sunday. So we're open for church service and services, generally, on Easter Sunday. That would be a beautiful thing.

We can socially distance ourselves and go to work.

GINGRAS: Meantime, the nation's top infectious disease doctor says it's impossible to set a deadline.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASE: When you can look at a date, but you've got to be very flexible. And on a literally day by day and week by week basis. Obviously, no one is going to want to tone down things when you see what's going on in a place like New York City.

GINGRAS: As states grapple with growing numbers of coronavirus patients, officials like those in Louisiana, with one of the highest growth rates in the nation, say their hospitals and first responders are already overwhelmed.

MAYOR LATOYA CANTRELL (D), NEW ORLEANS: My EMS department, over 50 percent of my people are now on quarantine. And so while we've unlocked additional resources at the state level, the state can no longer go on without additional -- without federal assistance.


GINGRAS: So back here live at this hospital in Queens, where we have been for the last three days, I can tell you at 6 a.m. this morning, this line is longer than it was at the same time yesterday. We're just seeing these numbers grow and grow. A small microcosm of what we're seeing, really, across the city.

In fact, we saw another tent put up outside of this hospital, just to take care of all the people that they're seeing. And everyone in that line, Alisyn, they're different ages. And that's the point, right? About half, nearly half of the cases we're seeing here in New York are 18- to 44-year-olds. A good reminder that young people really cannot let their guard down.

CAMEROTA: Yes, Brynn, I totally agree. Those numbers are very alarming to people. That's not what our understanding of this virus was. Young people are getting sick. Young people actually are dying, and we need to start getting our minds around that.

Brynn, thank you very much -- John.

BERMAN: I have to say, that line at 6:08 behind Brynn there. People waiting to get tested. Waiting to be seen at that hospital also cause for concern.

The breaking news this morning, this $2 trillion spending bill, an agreement reached just hours ago. What does it mean for you? When might you see money coming your way? That's next.



BERMAN: Breaking overnight, Senate Republicans, Democrats in the White House have reached an agreement on this $2 trillion stimulus package. It happened just a couple of hours ago. It includes $500 billion for distressed companies, $350 billion for small businesses, and $250 billion in direct payments to individuals.

This is how those payments will be distributed. Individuals earning less than $75,000 will receive $1,200. Married couples earning less than $150,000 will receive two -- $2,400, with an additional $500 per child.

Julia Chatterley is back with us. Julia, and really, first and foremost, what people really want to know is how are they going to get that money in their pockets and when?

CHATTERLEY: And it's a great question. If we're talking about these cash payments, I'm already getting questions on whether this is simply just an advance on your 2020 income tax return or it, indeed, is just free money at this stage.

The challenge with simply sending checks out, either way, is that in the past, they've taken two months. So I think this is why they've chosen to break these two parts down, kicking in uninsurance [SIC] -- unemployment insurance benefits here, too, which for the first time ever will include the gig economy. So your Uber driver, self-employed people, too. This is a critical element, an underestimated portion of the U.S. economy here and workers, around a third in some ways.

So this -- there's always going to be questions, and the devil will be in the detail here. But this is about getting money as soon as possible into people's hands.

CAMEROTA: And for businesses, Julia, do we know what the strings attached are?

CHATTERLEY: And we really need to wait and see whether it's for the small or medium-size enterprises. I keep emphasizing, these guys do not need more debt. They need grants. It should be tied, as well, if they can, to retaining employees. We're going to have to wait and see for that. I know that was part of the battle that was ongoing. That it had

support from both sides, for the big corporations, too. The optics here matter. Oversight. What are you doing with the money? We know that Trump's companies are going to be excluded. The Democrats pushed hard for that and, I believe, got it.


But as far as, again, retaining employees, it's about limiting job losses just for the next two to three months, however long, of course, this economic sleep goes on.

BERMAN: We do believe that the Democrats were be -- were able to get more oversight than the initial part of the plans. We believe there will be some kind of oversight panel with an inspector general over the moneys being given to corporations and not, I don't believe, the six-month blind period where Steve Mnuchin can hand out money, without any knowledge of where it's going.

I believe there is now that oversight, but as you said, the details there matter. And also we do know, according to Chuck Schumer, there are restrictions, that this money cannot be given to anyone who works in the government or their families or their company businesses.

Julia, again, to people, to consumers, you talked about the direct payments, but there's also this element of unemployment benefits, which is separate from the direct payments, which is crucial to so many people. And studies have shown that increasing those benefits and lengthening them can get money where it needs to be much more quickly.

CHATTERLEY: Absolutely. And that goes back to the point I made about the check. That, in the past has taken two months. It's just not good enough for people that have already lost their jobs, so their jobs are threatened.

So I think that's why we've got the push you, pull you situation here. Whether it's split in half, in terms of the, what I'm calling helicopter money, send those checks out. But also half for bumping up those unemployment benefits. And including for people that have not been included in the past and extending the length of them. That's critical, because that does get money back to people far quicker, I think, than those checks.

CAMEROTA: And Julia, do we understand if there's anything that accommodates geographic differences? Obviously, $1,200 doesn't go as far for New York City gig workers as it does in other parts of the country.

CHATTERLEY: It adds a complexity to the calculations here, I think. And I'll have to check and find out whether that's the case. But I know even just means testing it, there were people saying, Look, just send these checks out and we'll claw them back for those above higher income levels.

So at this stage, I'm not sure that it is broken down by state or by region, but I'll double check and get more details. We'll see that this afternoon.

BERMAN: Just bigger picture, Julia, it is interesting, because the president has been portraying that he's been hearing from business leaders who want the economy opened up immediately. But it's not a universal sentiment. Morgan Stanley was saying overnight that they're concerned that there could be serious economic consequences, dire consequences, for relaxing some of the social distancing restrictions too soon.

CHATTERLEY: It's a terrible and awkward, again, conversation to have about this. But you know, when you're offsetting the acceleration of job losses that we've been talking about, you have to look at how economic lives, perhaps, are imperiled in the offset.

But it's got to be in line with the health authorities for confidence purposes. There's no point opening up your economy and saying, Hey, everybody get back to work, if people don't want to go out because they're still fearful for their lives. And that's the situation we're in now.

If we do see -- and Governor Cuomo talked about this yesterday. He said a staggered reopening of the economy, can we protect the vulnerable 5 percent -- the elderly, those with preexisting conditions -- and let the other 95 percent go, in line with health authorities. Fine, but that's going to take top-down focus, strategic leadership.

And guys, as we well know, when you look at the healthcare supply chain, for example, we don't have that leadership. So I think people in general are still scared and will be cautious. You could get this very wrong.

CAMEROTA: Yes. I'm also just not sure that there is only 5 percent that's vulnerable anymore. New York City's numbers in terms of the sickness, even the death, is sort of defying what we thought we knew about this virus.

But Julia, thank you very much for giving us everything we know at this hour. I know this happened at 1 a.m. last night. And you'll bring us the developments as we know more about this stimulus. Thank you very much.

CHATTERLEY: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: So back to the medical crisis. Hospitals in New York are desperate for supplies. And Governor Cuomo is warning, what's happening here will spread to other states. We talked to a doctor about the shortages. Why is this happening? Next.




CUOMO: Where are the ventilators? Where are the gowns? Where's the PPEs? Where are the masks? Where are they? Where are they, if they're doing it?

When we went to war, we didn't say, Any company out there want to build a battleship? Who wants to build the battleship? That's now how you did it. The president said it's a war. It is a war. Well, then act like it's a war.


CAMEROTA: That was New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, begging the federal government for help and warning that the state's already strained hospitals could be flooded with more than 100,000 new patients soon.

And hospitals across the country are reporting major shortages, still, of those critical medical supplies and protective gear.

Joining us now is Dr. Rochelle Walensky. She's the chief of infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

Doctor, thank you very much. I know it's a busy time for you.

So this isn't just New York, obviously. What's happening at Mass General? Are you still having all sorts -- it's hard for us to know, basically, if hospitals are getting supplies or not, because one word comes out of the federal government. Another comes out of governors' press conferences. So what's the situation in your hospital?


We are probably a week or two behind New York, but we are scrambling. Right now, we have the supplies that we need. But we know what the weeks are that -- what they look like ahead. And we are thinking a lot about our ventilator supply; how we could repurpose devices that we already have; how we might put two patients on a vent if we needed to; and how we could secure more ventilators from other sources.

So we have what we need right now, but our units are getting fuller. They're -- our ventilators are getting used. We've expanded our intensive care capacity. And so we believe we're probably in for what New York is seeing right now.

BERMAN: You say put two patients on a ventilator. Is that a practice that's been done before? Is that something you would recommend? Is that something that's advisable?

WALENSKY: I would say that's a dire outcome of where we are. I have never seen it done. Until -- until the discussion of it, I didn't know it was possible. But my colleagues tell me it is and that, if need be, we will do it.

CAMEROTA: The national stockpile of ventilators, has that been cleared out? What's your understanding? We just put up a graphic a second ago, showing how many ventilators are in use and how many were, at least days ago, in the national stockpile. Are -- have those now been loosened up and dispersed to hospitals around the country? WALENSKY: I can't speak to that nationally. I know that we're in -- in

a lot of discussions to try and secure more. And I know that pipeline, we could use a little more leeway into that pipeline. But I know those discussions are ongoing.

BERMAN: Do you think --

CAMEROTA: But just so that I understand -- Sorry, John. But just so I understand. When you say discussions are ongoing, meaning what? You're calling FEMA and saying, Please give us more, and they're saying, We have more for you? I mean, what -- what's the holdup?

WALENSKY: Yes. I don't know exactly where things are stuck. I think things -- it would certainly -- we need coordination of this at the federal level. We then need coordination at the state level. It doesn't help for us to have ICU beds and somebody else to have the vents. So I think all this coordination has to be done both federally, at the state level and locally. And then we need the healthcare workers to -- to be able to use the vents. We need respiratory therapists.

So I think that coordination has to come from the top down. And -- yes.

BERMAN: So, doctor, and I think this is important, because there's a lot of focus on New York City right now. But what are you seeing in terms of numbers of cases and the rate of change?

WALENSKY: Yes. First of all, we've been in touch with our colleagues in New York. Our hearts go out to our colleagues in New York. Our numbers are also doubling every two or three days. We're lower on the curve than New York is. We believe we'll be where New York is in about a week or two. We're taking lessons from what they've done and, certainly, sending our love and support.

BERMAN: So on that line, though, if you're doubling every three days like New York is, do you think Boston will be ready to open for church services on Easter?

WALENSKY: Right. You know, nobody wants to not have control over their lives, and everybody is very interested in understanding when things will end. Our modeler suggests that in Boston, we will probably be in the thick of it in the middle to late of April. I don't think we will be ready to be in a place where we are recongregating at around that time. I think if we are in the thick of it, it will be very clear we're not going to be able to recongregate at that time.

I think if we thought so, we wouldn't have sent all of our kids home from college.

And I just want to reiterate that we've been saying that your death rate is higher if you have co-morbid conditions, if you have -- if you're older. But when you have a vast number of people who are getting sick in the 20 to 45, 50 range, there is a mortality rate there in the, you know, 0.5 to 1 percent. And if that's the case, we are seeing lots of young people get very sick in our intensive care units.

So when we are asking you to stay home, we are saying please stay home, because we don't know who they will be. We have no way to predict who of the younger will get sicker and who will not. So please stay home as if it could hit very close to home.

CAMEROTA: Doctor, that is so frightening. I feel like this morning, we're hearing more about young people getting sick in New York. Half the cases -- half the cases -- are young people under the age of 44. This is different than what we were hearing out of China. This is different than what we had gotten our minds around. That, OK. If you're 70 or older, if you're infirm you should stay home.

Half the cases are under 44. It's time to adjust our thinking. I mean, is what I hear you saying from what you're seeing in your hospital, too.

WALENSKY: Yes. I think the -- the real issue is that the disease is now rampant. If we expect, before it dies down, that 40 percent of Americans will have had it, or 40 percent of people in our own cities will have had it, that's a lot of young people.

So even if you have relatively low mortality rates, or comparatively low mortality rates, compared to the older or more vulnerable patients, you still have a lot of young people succumbing to this disease in a very scary way.

BERMAN: And if the president keeps comparing it to the common flu, which he is doing once again, how active a comparison is it?

WALENSKY: You know, two things are different about the flu. One is there's a vaccine. And about half of Americans get vaccinated every year to protect themselves.