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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Italy Has Deadliest Day on Record, Announces 969 More Deaths; U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson Tests Positive for Coronavirus; Surgeon General: New Orleans Emerges as Virus "Hot Spot". Aired 4:30- 5p ET

Aired March 27, 2020 - 16:30   ET

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


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: And, let's begin with Delia Gallagher in Italy.

[16:30:03]

And, Delia, the number of deaths in the past day staggering, almost 1,000. What are things like in Italy?

DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, listen, Jake, on the numbers, you know, statistics are pointing that -- to the fact that these patients are overwhelming -- overwhelmingly, excuse me, elderly, with two or three underlying health conditions. Only 1 percent of the patients who have died are under the age of 50.

So, of course, we know Italy has a large elderly population that may be playing a factor in these high numbers. Other countries with different demographics may not see the same kind of death rate, we hope.

The number that a lot of experts are looking at right now is the question of positive new cases. And with the exception of yesterday, we've seen that go down. So that has led experts to say that there is cautious optimism. We had the president of the Italian Health Institute say that Italy may not yet have reached its peak but that he thinks it should happen in the next few days.

So that is obviously an important number that the experts are tracking here, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Delia Gallagher, stay safe.

Let's go now to London where we find Bianca Nobilo.

In England, of course, Prime Minister Boris Johnson just announced today that he is tested positive for the coronavirus.

Bianca, Johnson has been criticized for being kind of glib about this in the past. A few weeks ago, he was boasting how he went to a hospital and was shaking hands with coronavirus patients.

BIANCA NOBILO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That certainly looks like hubris now, doesn't it, Jake? And this is a prime minister who is naturally disposed to being more cheerful and buoyant. He has struggled with the gravity and the seriousness of this.

Also, let's not forget it was the British government's articulated strategy to go for herd immunity. They were an outlier in the global community, more similar to what the president of the United States has been advocating.

So, in those earlier days, he took a far more laissez-faire approach. But it's not just the prime minister. It's also the health secretary, Matt Hancock, and the chief medical officer of England has now self- isolated because he has symptoms of coronavirus, yet to get a positive diagnosis, though.

So, Jake, that now means that the three men charged with navigating Britain through this national crisis are now all self-isolating because of concerns about the virus. It's no surprise, as well as the behavior that you refer to, Downing Street itself, I've been in there, it is very cramped. It's a warren of little corridors. It's hard to keep those social distances when you're working there.

So perhaps it doesn't come as much of a surprise, given all the people that the prime minister has been meeting, that we have the news we have today.

TAPPER: Well, it's bad news.

Bianca Nobilo, Delia Gallagher, thank you so much. Stay safe to both of you.

The U.S. surgeon general says three more cities are likely to become the next coronavirus hot spots. The major events being blamed for the spread in one city, that's next.

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TAPPER: A stark warning from the U.S. surgeon general today who says that the coronavirus pandemic will likely get even worse next week, especially potential hot spots such as Detroit, Chicago, and New Orleans.

In Louisiana, state officials admit they're facing a critical shortage of medical supplies as the confirmed death toll jumps more than 40 percent overnight to 119.

And as CNN's Ed Lavandera reports for us now, the biggest concern is in the Big Easy.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is one of three drive-through testing sites set up in and around the city of New Orleans, long lines of cars winding through this parking lot. But each of these sites can only test 250 people per day. This site reached its limit in two hours. So far, more than 21,000 people have been tested statewide. Louisiana's governor says the state is in a dire situation as the number of coronavirus cases continues to spike quickly.

GOV. JOHN BEL EDWARDS (D-LA): We're one day deeper into this event. While we don't know what the duration will be, we know we're doing everything within our power to respond to this crisis. And we need everyone, I implore everyone to do their part as well.

LAVANDERA: The governor has said hospitals could run out of bed space and ventilators by early April. Medical teams are preparing to turn the convention center into a makeshift hospital. State officials say 120 beds will be ready to take coronavirus patients by this weekend and the site could ultimately stage more than 1,100 beds.

Fifteen years ago, the New Orleans Convention Center was the sight of despair and grief in the days after Hurricane Katrina. For many, this is bringing back the emotional memories of seeing this place once again at the center of another crisis.

ECOEE ROONEY, PRESIDENT, NEW ORLEANS DISTRICT NURSES ASSOCIATION: It feels eerily familiar.

LAVANDERA: Ecoee Rooney is the president of the New Orleans District Nurses Association. She spoke with us from inside one of the hospitals treating the growing number of coronavirus patients.

(on camera): What kind of stress are these medical professionals under inside these hospitals in New Orleans?

ROONEY: They are under tremendous stress, obviously. We are, you know, dealing with something that we've never dealt with before.

LAVANDERA: Do you feel like the worst is still yet to come?

ROONEY: We know that this is going to get worse before it gets better.

[16:40:03]

I will tell you, you know, there is a lot of fear and anxiety. But what I'm seeing more than anything is that people are responding so amazingly.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Across New Orleans, life is at a standstill.

Most businesses are shuttered and the usually bustling streets are mostly quiet. A city used to being in the eye of storms is not used to finding itself in the eye of a viral pandemic.

And, Jake, state and local leaders continue to implore people to stay at home. And for the most part, many of the places that we've been to here in New Orleans, much quieter than what you would normally see here in the city. That is the convention center that you see behind me now. And state officials also urge people to remember that this isn't just

a New Orleans problem, that coronavirus has been found in all but nine parishes of the 64 parishes in this state. And another area of great concern is in the northwest corner of the state, in the Shreveport as well.

So, that message is very clear, everyone being urged to stay home, that that is their best attack in fighting this virus right now, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Ed Lavandera in New Orleans, please stay safe yourself, my friend.

In our "Earth Matters" series, an interesting development in the coronavirus crisis on the environmental front. New images showing a sharp decline in pollution over several major cities in Europe, according to the European Space Agency.

And as CNN's chief climate correspondent Bill Weir reports, this pandemic is a stark reminder of just how important it is to heed warnings from experts.

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BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Earth lovers. Bill weir, CNN, from a very surreal Brooklyn, where for some reason, I can't stop thinking about all the disaster movies that start with someone in power ignoring scientists.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have it totally under control. It's one person coming in from China.

WEIR (voice-over): That's just one of the parallels between coronavirus and the climate crisis.

TRUMP: You only have 11 years to live, folks, because climate change is coming up on us so fast.

WEIR: Think about it. Both kill the most vulnerable and will cost trillions. Both will reveal heroic first responders and scientists and inspiring neighbors, as well as deplorable hoarders, grifters, and profiteers.

And both are reminders that life as we know it depends on predictable flights and growing seasons and supply chains. But what if the age of predictability is over?

(on camera): Which brings us to the main difference between coronavirus and climate change -- fear.

Exhibit A, Jane's Carousel here in Brooklyn. The last time it was this deserted and depressing was after Superstorm Sandy. Now, between the melting ice caps and sea level rise, there is no scientific doubt my neighborhood is going back underwater.

But invisible carbon dioxide molecules cannot shut down a carousel or a city or a world the way an invisible virus can, because we think we have time. Time waters down fear.

(voice-over): But if we can go back in time just a few months, wouldn't we take science a lot more seriously? Wouldn't we know the countries that wait for their people to start dying before acting suffer the worst? And the countries with the most transparency, decisive leadership, and mutual trust, fare the best?

(on camera): We would know the importance of flattening the curve. You've probably seen this by now, right? This represents time. This is the number of patients. And the dotted line is our hospital capacity.

A sudden pandemic spike crashes the system. But with smart leadership and mass cooperation, we can flatten the curve. Guess what? This works with climate too.

(voice-over): Miami is trying to flatten the curve of sea level rise by spending millions on higher streets and bigger pumps. California is trying to flatten their curve with new wildfire regulations and insurance laws.

But so much of humanity still thinks about the climate crisis the way a spring breaker thinks about coronavirus.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We ain't in no school and we can do whatever we want.

WEIR: Since the global fossil fuel economy slowed down, you can see the cleaner air from space. In just a few weeks, China conserved about half as much heat-trapping pollution as Australia or the United Kingdom burns in a year.

(on camera): Mother Earth can bounce back if we let her. It shouldn't take a global pandemic and recession first. Just more smart science, more smart leadership, and a sense that we're all in this together -- something to think about the next time you wash your hands for 20 seconds to save people you will never meet and life as we know it.

(voice-over): Bill Weir, CNN, New York.

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TAPPER: And our thanks to Bill Weir for that essay.

[16:45:02]

Coming up next, I'm going to talk to one governor who is warning that the coronavirus peak in his state may still be a month away.

Stay with us.

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TAPPER: Welcome back.

In Ohio, there are now more than 1,100 confirmed cases of coronavirus and at least 19 deaths, though state officials are cautioning there are likely many more unknown infections.

Joining me now to discuss is the Republican governor of the Buckeye State, Mike DeWine.

Governor, thanks so much for joining us.

GOV. MIKE DEWINE (R-OH): Good to be with you.

TAPPER: First things first, how is the containment effort in your state going? You were noted for being pretty aggressive pretty early.

[16:50:06]

DEWINE: I think it's going pretty well.

You know, we put in orders early on. And I have always said, though, to the people of Ohio, it's not what I order. It's what you do. And I think people get it. They're trying to keep the distance.

There's always, you know, a few exceptions to that. But I think people are doing pretty well.

TAPPER: You said today that Ohio might not hit the peak until May, and you expect a surge in the next two weeks.

What are you doing to prepare for that? And why do you think that?

DEWINE: Well, we base that on modeling. We have always gone on the best science we could get.

We have been told by the best scientists that this would hit sometime between late April and mid-May. This morning, I was on the phone with the Cleveland Clinic, who've done some re-figuring on the model.

They think the best estimate is about mid-May. And the reason, frankly, we were talking, was not just about when it's going to hit us, but what we do to get ready for it.

So, two things are going on. We're trying to do the distancing on the one side that we're asking Ohioans to do every single day. Stay away from each other. But, on the other hand, we have to build up our medical capacity, our hospital capacity.

The estimate this morning from the Cleveland Clinic is that, when this -- we hit our peak, you know, we may be well short of where we need to be. And we knew it was going to be short, but the estimate this morning was, we need to build out double what we have or maybe even triple what we have as far as our bed capacity.

And we're working on that. I have asked all the hospitals to come together in each region of the state. They're going to submit to me by tomorrow morning a rough plan of their region of the state, and we're going to start, you know, building this out.

So, we're beyond the planning stages. Now we're into the action stages. TAPPER: I know that a lot of governors, especially in the hardest-hit

states, like Washington, California, New York, are really struggling right now because of the surge in patients, which have not yet hit Ohio. And, of course, I hope it never does in Ohio, but it probably will.

President Trump has suggested the governors are asking for more than they actually need. He has specifically been going after three Democratic governors personally, including Governor Whitmer of Michigan, Governor Cuomo, and Governor Inslee, because they have been seeking more ventilators.

This is what the president had to say last night:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Governor Cuomo and others that say we want, you know, 30,000 of them, 30,000.

Think of this. You know, you go to hospitals, they will have one in a hospital. And now all of a sudden everybody's asking for these vast numbers.

Governor Inslee, that's the state of Washington. He was a failed presidential candidate. And, you know, he's always complaining.

And your governor of Michigan, I mean, she's not stepping up. I don't know if she knows what's going on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: I'm not going to hold you responsible for words that you didn't say, but I'm just wondering, since the president does seem to have some regard for you, what you would tell him about how to deal with governors going through a situation like they're going through.

DEWINE: Well, we have had a good relationship with the White House.

The things that we have asked them to do as far as waivers and things, they have done, they have done very quickly.

You know, each state is different. And there's just -- you know, there are not enough personal protection equipment, for example. And so we're working very, very hard to get more of that. We're looking to our manufacturers in Ohio to see, can they manufacture some of that in Ohio?

We're doing everything we can, just like other states are, to try to -- try to get this in place. So, every state's different. I can only comment really about what's going on in Ohio.

And we're -- we are hearing from our first responders. We're hearing from people in the medical community that we have got to have more of the personal protection equipment.

We know that. The ventilators, we're certainly looking for ventilators. We're looking for ways to deal with that as well.

So, you know, every state is doing what it can do. And we're very, very focused on this.

TAPPER: One of the things we keep hearing from governors is that you're put in this impossible position where you're all bidding against each other for these supplies.

We were talking to Mayor Garcetti of Los Angeles yesterday, and he said they had an order for some masks, and then, at the last minute, FEMA took them. And we have talked to other governors, Illinois, Michigan, others, talking about how difficult this is.

Are you having that problem? And would you like there to be some sort of centralized way for -- to avoid this from -- to keep this from happening?

DEWINE: Well, I heard from a hospital this morning. They have told me about ventilators that they had ordered, they thought they were coming, and they were diverted someplace else.

[16:55:03]

I mean, look, this is just the fact of life today. You know, when we get done with this, I think one of the lessons is going to be that we have to beef up our whole health care system, particularly our public health system.

But, you know, that's no one's fault. That's been the way it's been in this country for a long time. I think one of the lessons as we come out of this is, we have to change that.

TAPPER: All right, Governor Mike DeWine of Ohio, good luck. Thanks so much for your time.

DEWINE: Thank you. Thank you.

TAPPER: Be sure to tune in to CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION" this Sunday morning.

We're going to talk to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. We're going to talk to Dr. Anthony Fauci. We're going to talk to the governor of Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer. That is Sunday, as well as we're also going to talk to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders.

That's at 9:00 a.m. and noon Eastern on Sunday, only on CNN.

Coming up, the White House task force briefing, they're set to begin. They're setting that up. CNN is going to bring that to you live when it starts.

Stay with CNN. We will be right back.

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