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House Passes $2 Trillion Coronavirus Aid Bill; White House Options for Reopening States Not Finalized Yet; Trump Lashes Out at G.M. over Ventilator Production; City Councilman, Mark Levine, (D-NY), Discusses Getting Coronavirus Symptoms & Not Tested to Avoid Straining System; Hungry & Homeless Are Most Vulnerable Amid Outbreak, Including Military Families. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired March 27, 2020 - 13:30   ET




BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Breaking news, the House just passed the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill. This is the largest aid package in history. This injects a financial boost into the economy both for individuals and businesses, big and small.

Let's go to Kaitlan Collins at the White House.

Kaitlan, we know the president is expected to sign this soon. Tell us what we are going to see.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It is on its way over hereafter a little bit of drama on Capitol Hill after one Republican wanted a recorded vote. The other member ended up overruling him. They passed it and it's on the way to the president's desk. Something he's been eager to sign.

He made clear today his displeasure of one Republican who was causing some of the drama this morning. It is likely that the president will sign it as quickly as it gets over here.


KEILAR: What is going on with this social distancing guidelines? Has the White House settled on this?

COLLINS: No, this is something they'll meet with the president about over the weekend. They have not settled what they're going to do.

What you should be expecting is new guidance on Tuesday. That's the 15th day after they issued the 15-day guidelines. The question is what it is going to look like.

Right now, the primary option seems to be a tiered system where they have certain areas starting to return to somewhat normal life. There are still a lot of questions about that and what the president advisers are saying to him. You are saying people like Dr. Fauci and the vice president say Easter were not an aspirational date.

So far, the president has not said that and we'll see just how closely he wants to stick with that deadline that he's given himself.

KEILAR: It seems yesterday, Kaitlan, that one of the few bright spots when it came to getting needed supplies was this deal between G.M. and ventilator maker, Ventec, but now that's a snag. Tell us why.

COLLINS: You can see on the president's Twitter feed about this. They had been close to making an announcement between the administration and this company and G.M. to make these ventilators.

There were some concerns and held off. There was concerned over the timeline and how much it was going to cost. It was going to cost a lot and they were worried it is going to take too long to get the ventilators they need. They put it on hold.

This morning, the president is lashing out at G.M. saying they need to do more to make these ventilators and he may invoke the Defense Production Act to mandate them to do so if they don't.

It is notable, Brianna, last night, in an interview on FOX News, the president was downplaying the New York's governor for 30,000 ventilators. Trump saying he does not see how someone would need that many ventilators, talking about how many these hospitals had before the pandemic broke out. There are a lot of questions. This is all over the place. We are standing by to see what's going to happen with G.M.

One hold us was they're not used to making ventilators, particularly this factory where they were going to be making them. They want the government to pay to refurbish their factories to be able to make these ventilators.

It is complicated talks. These are complicated machine to make and, of course, they're going to take time. And critics say the administration really should started to have this discussion months later, talking about the shortage of these ventilators.

So far, the president has said he believes they're going to be able to meet that demand though. It is certainly still an open question.

KEILAR: Yes. It is just so odd they put so much responsibility down the states and not believe governors say what they need. It's pretty -- it defies belief.

Kaitlan Collins, at the White House, thank you very much.

As New York Governor Cuomo prepares his state for the long hall, a New York City councilman is sharing his experience with symptoms of coronavirus. I will ask him why he is not getting a test.



KEILAR: The mayor of Los Angeles is warning the city could be days away from the sort of crisis facing New York. The morning, U.S. Navy hospital ship "Mercy" arrived at the port of L.A. to help ease the burden of dramatic increase of coronavirus patients.

Governor Cuomo updated the public saying there are more than 44,000 positive cases and 519 deaths statewide.

One New York councilman took to Twitter to document his experience as soon as he started having symptoMs.

I want to bring in New York city councilman, Mark Levine. And he just happens to be chair of the Health Committee there.

First, sir, tell me how you are feeling. And you have a message for people about how you handled your symptoms and what you think some people who are more mild should consider doing.

MARK LEVINE, (D), NEW YORK CITY COUNCILMAN: Thank you, Brianna, I am doing much better. I had my fever and cough for several days. I'm coming out of it. It takes about a week, eight days. I am still taking it easy.

But I am fortunate that my symptoms get better quickly and I didn't require medical care and I didn't require a test. All I had to do is stay home and rest.

This is so important. We have a hospital system now in New York City which is under enormous strain. And on those of who are not sick that don't need urgent care, the best thing we can do is stay home and stay out of the way.

Luckily, most of us will get better on our own if we rest and hydrate. In my case, that appears to have happen.

KEILAR: Coming out of New York, there's one hospital in Brooklyn, the Brookdale University Medical Center, that's down to single digits in ventilators. We've heard from Governor Cuomo that it's still 21 days away from the peak. Things are getting dire in New York. What do you want the federal government to know?

LEVINE: We have 4700 people hospitalized this morning with coronavirus. That number appears to be doubling every four to six days.


While the system is under strain today, in a week or two weeks, we are going to be experiencing something that we have never seen in the city or never see in this country, a hospital system which is overrun.

And we desperately need help from the federal government to protect the people that are going to need care.

China saved Wuhan by sending in resources all over the country and sending in 40,000 doctors from other parts of the country. Unfortunately, we are the Wuhan of the United States. We need the rest of the country to come to our aid in supplies and ultimately with medical personnel.

What's coming, so far, has been helpful but only pushed back our needs by a few days. We are still facing that prospect of running out of critical materials if more help does not come soon.

KEILAR: We learned more than 200 members of FDNY, of the fire department there in New York City, tested positive. This is on top of 11 percent of the NYPD calling out sick. You made a list 10 day ago of what the city needs by April. How much progress will be needed?

LEVINE: This is so important. There are workers in society that we must detect or our ability to fight back will collapse. Health care workers and first responders and transit workers and people who are keeping the city running. They're vulnerable and they don't have enough personal, protective equipment. We are rationing that equipment right now.

We have received several 100,000 of N-95 masks. Our need in New York City along is close to 10 million. We have received several hundred thousand surgical masks. And in New York City, we need 50 million surgical masks. We have received 700,000 face shields. We need 25 million face shields. The help that's comes so far has only bought us a few more days.

For the sake of our health care workers and the police officers, the firefighters and transit workers, we need help now. We don't make these things in New York City.

We need the federal government to organize producers and manufactures nationally to ramp up production and distribute where it is needed, in places like New York City, which has a desperate need in our hospitals and is growing every single day.

KEILAR: Councilman, thank you so much for joining us. It is great to see you are on the mend and that you continue to feel better.

LEVINE: Thank you, Brianna. Be safe.

KEILAR: As some worry that Mardi Gras is to blame for Louisiana's dramatic surge in coronavirus cases, we'll take you to other emerging hot spots in the U.S.



KEILAR: Today on "HOME FRONT," our digital and television column where we try to bridge the civilian military divide and bring you stories of military families, we're talking about food insecurity in America, people going hungry, and how the coronavirus pandemic is adding an extra layer of stress to families already struggling to make ends meet.

Joining us now, Shannon Razsadin, a Navy spouse. Also the executive director for the Military Family Advisory Network. And, Shannon, you know, this is something that we've been talking a lot about recently, you and I, that people might not think of military families when they think about hunger in the United States.

I'm part of the military family and the issue that's going on, because the reality is there's a lot of families struggling to put food on the table and it's becoming even harder in the age of coronavirus.

Tell us more on why that is and what's going on with military families on this issue.

SHANNON RAZSADIN, MILITARY SPOUSE & EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, MILITARY FAMILY ADVISORY NETWORK: We have really been surprised with what our data has told us around military families and food insecurity. We started hearing about this issue anecdotally through our network and decided we needed to take a closer look at what's happening and we found one in eight of our survey respondents actively serving are food insecure.

This is a problem widespread across our country right now. When you think about kids out of school, for the families whose children on free and reduced-price school meals, that's additional 10 meals a day they need to stretch and figure out how to feed their children.

So it's a challenge. It's a challenge for a lot of people right now. It's something that people often would not think of military families being at risk of hunger, but that's the reality for us.

KEILAR: Yes, OK, so one in eight food insecure. Explain to our viewers what that means in practical terms about folks trying to feed their families.

RAZSADIN: So these are people who are not getting enough healthy food themselves for their families. We asked a question using a scale that is widely recognized by the USDA as the best way to address food insecurity and it's something families are having to resort to unhealthy foods or choose things they're not feeding their spouses and feeding their children instead because the children need to eat.

So families are really having a hard time making ends meet. And one in eight, those are actively serving families. So these are people who thousands of servicemembers are going out, working, wearing the uniform, and families are forced to stretch.


We also know that, of our actively serving respondents who have school-aged children, 23.8 percent of the respondents use the free and reduced-price school meal programs. Now they have to figure out new ways to feed their children. And at a time when many are out of work, it's causing a lot of stress for families.

KEILAR: It certainly is.

Shannon Razsadin, thank you so much. And we'll make sure to put more online on what the Military Family Advisory Network is doing and interesting data you have out.

If you have a comment or a story idea for "HOME FRONT," please email them to me at

I want to take a moment now to honor military spouse on Joint Base Langley Eustis, who died with complications from coronavirus. The family member's name has not been released. The spouse of the deceased, who is a soldier assigned to Fort Eustis is also someone who tested positive for coronavirus and is in isolation. In a statement, base commander, Colonel Clinton Ross, urged everyone there take the virus threat seriously.

As the United States becomes the epicenter of the pandemic, I'll be speaking live with one nurse who's terrified about the surge inside hospitals.

Plus, why Bill Gates said the entire country needs to be shut down for up to 10 weeks.