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Unresolved U.S. Problems Continue Abroad; Medical Knowledge About Coronavirus Increasing; $2 Trillion Stimulus Bill Passes Senate. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired March 26, 2020 - 10:30   ET

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


[10:32:02]

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: You might be wondering what effect this has on the U.S. military. It's global, and this is a global outbreak.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper has now ordered all U.S. troops to stay where they are. The 60-day movement freeze is the latest effort to stop the coronavirus from spreading within the military, but it's there. So far, 280 service members have tested positive, breaking out on some ships as well.

Let's speak to CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr. Barbara, so what impact does this have on military operations and is there an impact on national security?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, it does -- it does start with that 60-day freeze-in-place order you mentioned, Jim. The secretary, saying all troops overseas will stay put for 60 days, and anybody in the United States that orders to deploy overseas, they will stay put here as well, literally a freeze-in-place for the U.S. military and of course so many military families.

Because the concern is, they have not stopped this thing in the ranks. The trajectory for the U.S. military is still very much upwards. And you only have to look at the aircraft carrier, U.S. Theodore Roosevelt, which is currently sailing in the Pacific. They now have eight positive cases on board that aircraft carrier. It carried 5,000 people, they're trying to isolate people, figure out who else may have been exposed. Those eight sailors, being flown off the ship to get medical care.

But the problem is, it's an example of what they cannot risk. They cannot risk having one of these major military assets or units put out of commission. So they are really trying to get a handle on this thing. The secretary hopes the freeze-in-place order will go a long way towards that, but just look at the numbers. When you look at the uniformed military DOD employees, contractors, they have had some 600 cases so far -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: Goodness, yes. And those ships, man, close quarters, shared facilities, lots of risk there. Barbara Starr, great to have you at the Pentagon. Well, President Trump is holding a virtual summit to discuss the

coronavirus with members of the G20 group of nations. The talks, coming hours after the G7 failed to issue a joint statement because the Trump administration insisted on including the phrase "Wuhan virus."

CNN's Kylie Atwood joins me now from the State Department with more. Kylie, what's the point of this? You need global cooperation, why the focus on this label?

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, Secretary Pompeo, for weeks now, as you know, Jim, has called COVID-19 the Wuhan virus. The argument that he and his staff here at the State Department have made, is that the Chinese have been trying to deflect blame, they have made false accusations saying that the U.S. military was the one who brought the virus to Wuhan. So in labeling it the Wuhan virus, Secretary Pompeo is trying to make a point.

[10:35:04]

But this did create some division yesterday, when there was a G7 ministerial meeting that happened over teleconference, and the other leaders of these other countries did not agree that they should come out with a joint statement, calling it the Wuhan virus.

So it created some division at a moment, as you say, when they are trying to talk about a global response when it comes to fighting this pandemic. So we'll have to see if there was any division on the G20 call that President Trump was on this morning.

SCIUTTO: Goodness, a fight over labels.

So another issue -- challenge for the State Department, 10,000 Americans, they've now returned home after being stranded overseas due to various travel restrictions imposed. What about remaining Americans overseas? Because there's been a lot of frustration expressed about efforts to get them back.

ATWOOD: Yes, so there are new numbers this morning. As you say, 10,000 Americans have received assistance from the State Department in getting home. These are Americans who were stuck in countries where the borders were closed, where the international airspaces were closed.

But as you point out, there are lots of Americans who are still trying to get back to the United States. Just yesterday, the State Department said that there are 50,000 Americans who may be seeking assistance. But that number was triple the number that the State Department gave just on Monday.

So as they get these requests coming in, they are growing and growing. And the airlifts that the State Department is trying to facilitate are putting a large burden on this department, and they are creating frustrated Americans who aren't getting home as soon as they would hope to -- Jim. SCIUTTO: Yes. I imagine, they want to get themselves home, I'm sure

they want to get their families home. Kylie Atwood at the State Department, thanks very much.

Straight ahead this hour, medical workers at one New York City hospital, just one, now say they are busting at the seams. Dr. Sanjay Gupta is going to be with me, live with more on all your questions, all the news, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:41:37]

SCIUTTO: Welcome back. So much news to cover in this. Busting at the seams, that's the way medical professionals in New York City are describing just one hospital there, hardest hit, Elmhurst Hospital. Just one little vision of something that's affecting so many communities across the country.

Let's speak now to all the latest developments with CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Sanjay, always good to have you on. A lot to run through today.

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Good (ph) to (ph) see (ph) you (ph).

SCIUTTO: Dr. Fauci last night, he warned that the coronavirus could come back in cycles. And that's caused a lot of concern when he said that. What does he mean by that, and over what period of time?

GUPTA: Well, you know, he's talking about this idea that has come up almost since the beginning, of seasonal variation. Is this going to have a seasonal variation like other coronaviruses have, like seasonal flu has, where it kind of comes and goes like this.

He seemed to think that there's more evidence of that now. Why? Because in the southern hemisphere, as the temperatures start to cool over there, you are starting to see more spread of the virus, which would also mean in the northern hemispheres, as the temperatures start to warm, you should see decreased spread, which is potentially short- term good news.

But I think the reason that Fauci -- Dr. Fauci was really bringing this up is, look, that also means that it will come back as the weather starts to cool again. So let's make sure we can be even more prepared, take advantage of this warmer weather time and -- and also recognize...

SCIUTTO: OK.

GUPTA: ... that it's not over just because the numbers start to decrease.

SCIUTTO: Understood. OK, so let's talk about where we are then in the first cycle, because we're still very much in it. Governor Cuomo said yesterday that the rate of infections, at least in New York State, not slowing yet. Do we see -- do we know where we are on the curve that we talk about, the curve that we're trying to flatten? And is there evidence that the social distancing that everybody is -- or many people are doing is having an effect?

GUPTA: Yes. You know, I think there's some early evidence that the social distancing is having an effect. The metaphor that I always use, Jim, it's kind of like a huge ship going through the water. You make these changes, and it takes a while to actually see the ship start to respond to that. It's not, you know, a sort of instantaneous.

I think -- I think the point that Dr. Fauci is making -- and by the way, I have to say that he's very responsive. I text with him all the time, I've known him for 20 years. He's very responsive on this stuff.

The point is that he says the virus sets the timetable. And what he means is that we're looking at the curve right now, we see the curve for the United States, which is updated almost every hour nowadays. But the problem is, we don't know where we are on that curve exactly. Where are we? Is that going to really peak in a couple -- three weeks, as some have suggested, or are we in the earlier part of that curve? We don't know.

In New York, as you mentioned, Jim, it could be that we are starting to see some evidence of -- of the curve, you know, of the peak happening in two to three weeks. In California --

SCIUTTO: Yes.

GUPTA: -- it may be a short time thereafter. We just don't know.

Here's the thing to look for. The case numbers will continue to up. The thing that people should really look for is when the pace at which these numbers are going up starts --

SCIUTTO: Yes.

GUPTA: -- to decrease. That means that you're starting to --

SCIUTTO: Yes.

GUPTA: -- get towards the apex of that curve. I don't know that we're there yet.

SCIUTTO: OK, understood. We're learning so much about this disease every day. And there was a study out about a connection to heart injuries here. Tell us what that is and why it's important.

[10:45:01]

GUPTA: Yes. So we are learning a lot. And, you know, we have to have a humility about this as these new studies come out. They teach us something.

They found about 20 percent of people -- regardless of age, regardless of pre-existing conditions, had evidence of some sort of heart problem, heart muscle damage with the -- with the COVID, with the coronavirus infection.

And people who had this sort of heart damage were three to four times more likely to die as a result of that as well. So this is an area for clinicians to really focus on. Obviously, the respiratory, the lung issues, the overall inflammation in the body, impact on other organs.

But now, some pretty clear evidence, at least one in five patients having evidence of heart damage as well. It could be that the inflammation starts to build up and block some of the blood vessels that are leading to the heart, they're not entirely sure why it's happening.

But you've got to -- they've got to monitor for this because if they can help reverse some of this heart damage, that might improve the patient's chances at recovery as well.

SCIUTTO: It's sobering to learn that there are some lasting effects from this if you're lucky enough, right? To get through it.

Final question because we've been making a point today and in recent days, of speaking to doctors around the country because this is clearly not just a New York problem or a Washington State problem. We talking (ph) in New Orleans, we talked to rural Georgia yesterday. What is that telling us as this spreads more broadly outside of the coastal urban areas?

GUPTA: Well, look, I know this hospital in rural Georgia, I've been talking to people there as well. They're basically full right now. I mean, so you know, this is obviously an issue over there.

Jim, as we look at these maps, as we see these numbers, the thing that people should keep in mind -- you and I have talked about this -- is that we're really looking at an image from basically 10 to 14 days ago, between the time someone is exposed to the time they develop symptoms, get their testing. We're seeing that, but that's reflective of, you know, up to two weeks ago.

What has happened over the last two weeks in this country? It's pretty clear that the virus continues to spread, and these rural areas which seem to have, you know, fewer or no cases, they probably have them, they just haven't really been tested there yet. So I think it says that, you know, we really can't let our guard down now.

And I think more practically, for people who are watching right now and saying, look, this is a new story for me, I feel fine? I would say, I hope you continue to feel fine, and the chances are that you will. But keep in mind that, you know, 14 days or so later from your time of exposure is when you develop symptoms. So really be mindful, monitor yourself, keep an eye on symptoms --

SCIUTTO: Yes.

GUPTA: -- stay home and behave like you have the virus so you don't spread it to other people.

SCIUTTO: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, you're doing yeoman's work. Thanks so much for joining us and thanks for all of that.

GUPTA: Thanks, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Well, tonight, join Sanjay and Anderson Cooper. They're going to be back for our next coronavirus town hall. Dr. Anthony Fauci, Bill Gates, they will also be special guests. You're going to get a lot of your questions answered there. It's worth watching, 8:00 Eastern time right here on CNN.

[10:48:05]

And still ahead this hour, now that the Senate has passed the historic $2 trillion stimulus bill, what will happen in the House? It is expected to pass there. We're going to have an update.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCIUTTO: In a show of bipartisan agreement, the $2 trillion stimulus bill passed in the Senate. The vote, unanimous, 96 to zero. Now it's in the hands of the House. CNN's Manu Raju, he's on Capitol Hill. House expected to vote tomorrow. What's likely to happen there? I imagine quick passage, but will representatives have to come back to Washington to cast their votes, because that's been an open question.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's still a question. Because Democratic leaders in the House -- and the Republican leaders -- want this to be approved by voice vote, which would ensure that members do not need to return to Washington amid the coronavirus pandemic. But one member, any one member can request a recorded roll call vote, which means that the members would have to return to Washington to cast that vote.

And we're hearing some members not ruling out that possibility. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, yesterday, would not rule that out when I spoke to her about it. Also Congressman Thomas Massie of Kentucky has told reporters that he also may do that, and we'll -- so we'll have to see if any member decides to mount their objections. And that could delay the enactment of this law for several days.

So there will be some drama tomorrow morning as the Democrats and Republican leaders try to get this done quickly. We'll see if all the members agree to do just that -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: Yes. And we know House speaker in just moments, Nancy Pelosi's going to be speaking live. Just very quickly, she's talked about additional -- an additional relief package, where -- oh, here she comes, in fact. Hold your thought, Manu, let's listen to the House speaker.

[10:54:08]

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Thank you. I'm not celebrating, though, until I can hug my grandbabies. I was waiting for that day, hopefully that will be soon. But thank you.

I -- last night, as you know, the Senate passed important legislation. We're very proud of the product. We think it is -- we did jiu-jitsu on it, that it went from a corporate-first proposal that the Republicans put forth in the Senate to a workers-first -- Democratic workers-first legislation.

But let's first back up.

As I was coming here, I saw that nearly 1,000 deaths in the United States - - 900 yesterday, so I don't know what the number is today, but they're saying nearly 1,000 deaths in our country, tens of thousands of people are -- we have tens of thousands of cases.

This is a pandemic that we haven't even seen since over -- for over 100 years in our country. It's really such -- such a tragedy.

PELOSI: So we had to take important action -- we had to take action, though, that puts families first and workers first and that's what we did when we did our first legislation. The first two bills were about addressing the emergency directly -- $8.3 billion for research for a vaccine, for -- for a cure. And that's of course the light at the end of the tunnel.

But funding for testing, testing, testing, very important so that we know, we can take inventory of -- of the challenge that we face. And more importantly, that we can address each family's concerns about this.

The next bill was about masks, masks, masks so that we can test, test, test among other things, emergency.

The bill that we -- that was passed in the Senate last night and that we will take up tomorrow, is about mitigation. Mitigation for all the loss (ph) that we have in our economy, while still addressing the emergency health needs that we have in our country.

And next, we'll go from emergency, mitigation to recovery, in terms of where we go to grow the economy, to create more jobs in light of the reality that we've just been through.

So right now, we have the legislation that will come to the floor tomorrow. I anticipate -- I feel certain that we will have a strong bipartisan vote. We take some pride in the fact that, as I said earlier, congressional Democrats in the Senate and in the House were able to flip this over from corporate trickle-down Republican version to bubble up for first (ph) -- families-first legislation. So again, we have some other things we want to do, but first we want to take pride in what -- what happens there. For workers, we were able to get, of course, extended and expanded -- extended from what the Republicans wanted -- and expanded unemployment insurance. This is so very, very important, of course, in terms of funds that go to major corporations or companies or anyone.

The direct condition is that, for example with the airlines, that the money have -- the money that is given to the airlines is given to the workers directly. Just a pass-through, it goes directly to the workers and have (ph) some conditions on -- for other money that goes to any of these companies, that they have no buybacks, no dividends, no bonuses -- all of those kinds of concerns, they're so offensive -- that happened before with federal funds infused into their entities. So -- so we're very happy about all of that.

One of the differences, as I said, they're corporate-down, we're bubble up from workers. I think it was demonstrated last night. Can you believe that almost -- I think it was every Republican, 49 Republicans last night, voted in the Senate to deprive those on unemployment insurance of the additional $600 a week?

How could it be that in this time of stress and strain and uncertainty about health and livelihood -- life and livelihood, that they would vote that way? But I think it does demonstrate the point that I made, that, not about workers first. But the bill got to be there, and I thank the Senate Democrats for using the leverage they have with the 60 votes. I take pride in what we had in our House bill that is in the Senate bill now. So for workers and for families with all three of our bills, we have put families and workers first.

PELOSI: The -- we, again, I hope that the -- the U.I. will -- right now, we want people to take advantage of all of this quickly. The U.I. will depend on how the states do it, and they're not all uniform but we want people to know exactly how they can benefit from that, and we're putting that all together so all of our members -- both sides of the aisle -- can know (ph) how they can facilitate enabling their constituents to take advantage of the opportunities there.

So again, the bill last night and -- and tomorrow will be a large infusion of funds for hospitals, health systems and state and local governments. We want more -- and this was a big strong step but we need more. Small businesses -- so proud of the work of all of our Chairmen. They were just dazzling in their knowledge, their strategy, their -- their -- they're just -- their -- their experience in getting the right kind of bill passed, even though, again, compromised -- compromising, not getting everything we want but recognizing that -

[11:00:00]