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U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson Tests Positive For Coronavirus; Boeing To Receive Billions From Stimulus Package, Raising Questions Of Influence; How NYC-Area Community Contained Coronavirus Outbreak. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired March 27, 2020 - 07:30   ET




JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, the breaking news. We learned moments ago that U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has tested positive for coronavirus.

Let's get more details on this. I'm joined by CNN's Nick Paton Walsh, live now from London -- Nick.

NICK PATON WALSH, INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Right, extraordinary news here John, particularly given how London and the U.K. are beginning to feel they're nudging toward the peak.

And now, the man running that crisis response, Boris Johnson, has, in a tweet, said that he is positive. Let me read that tweet to you.

"Over the last 24 hours, I have developed mild symptoms and tested positive for coronavirus. I am now self-isolating, but I will continue to lead the government's response via video-conference as we fight this virus. Together we will beat his."

Now, obviously, that will put Mr. Johnson, himself, in great concern for making sure his own health is sustained over the hours and days ahead. On top of that as well, those around him who have been working close to the prime minister in the past days will now, of course, I'm sure urgently be testing themselves or trying to be sure that they're not exhibiting symptoms.

And, of course, too, as well, possibly, a moment for British solidarity here with the man leading the response telling everyone to stay at home, is himself perhaps becoming a symbol of how potentially contagious and dangerous this disease itself actually is.

Downing Street clear to say that the test was carried at number 10 by NHS staff and he will now still be self-isolating -- John.

BERMAN: Nick Paton Walsh, extraordinary news. We'll let you get back to reporting. We'll check back in with you in a little bit.

Notable for the United States for two reasons. One, the U.K. was slower to respond to coronavirus than some other European countries -- or at least, slower to take specific actions. And number two, the United States ban on travel from Europe initially exempted the United Kingdom. So you can see where the glitches have been in some of these responses.

The United States has now reported more cases of coronavirus than any other country. How did we get here? And more importantly, how does this end?

Joining me now is Ed Yong, staff writer for "The Atlantic" who just wrote a piece titled "How the Pandemic Will End." Ed, it's great to see you.

Let me read to you from your very own piece. You write, "Rudderless, blindsided, lethargic, and uncoordinated, America has mishandled the COVID-19 crisis to a substantially worse degree than what every health expert I've spoken with had feared."

Now, that sentence jumped out to me Ed because you, yourself, two years ago, had written that you feared the United States was ill- prepared for a pandemic. So how is it that the response was even worse than what you had feared then?

ED YONG, STAFF WRITER, THE ATLANTIC (via Cisco Webex): I think the big central failure was the inability to roll out diagnostic testing across the country very quickly. None of the people who I've spoken to -- even those who had warned about the risk of pandemics -- thought that that might be a likely point of failure.


And it has cost us so much. It meant that hospitals that had pandemic preparedness plans in place couldn't execute them -- couldn't ready themselves with supplies or with extra staff or with any of their protocols.

And it meant that the virus, which already spread very quickly, was allowed to gain a foothold throughout the entire nation, which then put states in a position when they were bidding against each other and competing for the same very limited supplies.

And it also doesn't help that we didn't have a clear warning from people in positions of power with the ear of the federal government because a lot of those people have been -- belong to offices that have closed (audio gap).

BERMAN: Ed, if you can still hear me, as bad as it sounds --

YONG: Yes.

BERMAN: -- and as grim of a picture as you're painting right now, you do say there are four ways out of this or four things that the United States can do to try to correct this even now.

YONG: That's right, and they have to be done immediately with some urgency. The first is to get more protective supplies to protect the health care workers at the front lines of the fight against this disease. As you've already heard, those are running out. We need a widespread rollout of testing to work out exactly where the virus is.

We need, in the meantime -- but those two steps will take time and everyone else needs to give as much time as possible for that to happen by staying at home, by self-isolating and buying the health care system time.

And finally, we need strong coordinated leadership to make all of that happen.

BERMAN: And, Ed, it's a terrific piece. It's a long piece. I should -- everyone should go read it because they're going to learn a lot.

One of the most interesting parts is something that hasn't been discussed much, which is what -- you know, what's the United States going to look like post-COVID-19 -- explain.

YONG: I think this is going to be a humbling experience for us. America was meant to be the readiest nation in the world and it really has performed very badly in the face of this crisis.

I think people -- for a long time, people in the health world have warned about these panic -- these panic and neglect cycles where a lot of attention is paid to public health and to disease prevention and then after a crisis, all of that attention subsides.

I think this might be the crisis that helps us break out of that cycle because as you've already seen from the news from the U.K. and elsewhere, leaders are falling sick. This is a democratizing event that is affecting all of us in very profound ways. And I dearly hope that we learn our lesson and invest in public health.

BERMAN: You're referring to the breaking news we reported just moments ago that U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has now tested positive for coronavirus. He is said to still be leading the government through this, albeit remotely.

You talk about Generation C -- the generation, I guess, coming of age during this pandemic. What will life be like for them?

YONG: I wonder if Generation C will go -- will be born into this world where public health becomes more of a -- it becomes better recognized as such an important part of society.

People now are recognizing the epidemiologists are so important to the modern world. People like Tony Fauci are becoming household names.

And I think that hopefully, that is going to be the thing that allows us to make consistent and regular investments to things like hospitals, to our health care system, to the role of public health in the world. We need that and we need that to be stable and long-lasting in order to be prepared for these kinds of crises -- for the next pandemic that will inevitably hit. BERMAN: The answer to the question how does this end, science. How does this end, facts. How does this end, work that's really now just getting started.

Ed Yong, thank you very much for being with us. The piece is terrific in "The Atlantic." Everyone should go read it immediately.

YONG: Thank you for having me.

BERMAN: So, one of the businesses that stands to benefit from the $2 trillion rescue plan being voted on today in the House needed help even before the coronavirus crisis. What's in this for Boeing, next.



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: The House of Representatives will vote this morning on the $2.2 trillion coronavirus stimulus plan. About $500 billion of it is aimed at distressed businesses, including the aerospace giant Boeing.

CNN's Sara Sidner is live in Washington State for us with more. So, what do we expect, Sara?

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you know, Boeing is Washington State's largest private employer and a huge player in the U.S. economy as well.

It suspended operations on Wednesday due to the coronavirus outbreak and it is eligible, potentially, for billions of dollars in that stimulus package if passed by the House. But not everyone thinks it should get such a large chunk of that money.


SIDNER (voice-over): Washington State is still reeling -- 149 people dead; the second-highest death toll in America from the novel coronavirus.

GOV. JAY INSLEE (D), WASHINGTON STATE: We've got to pound it and we've got to pound it until it's done. And I'm glad that Washingtonians are pitching in into what is really a warfare against a fatal disease in our state.

SIDNER (voice-over): That war has meant a major hit to the state's economy -- empty downtown Seattle streets, and a more than 800 percent increase in unemployment claims.

One of the state's biggest employers, Boeing, which for now is paying employees, has shut down for two weeks after a worker died from COVID- 19. Boeing announced it was suspending work at its Washington facilities Monday, hours before the governor issued a stay-at-home order.

[07:45:03] About half of Boeing's 138,000 employees work in Washington State, the first state to experience a deadly coronavirus outbreak. Economic relief may be on the way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On this vote, the ayes are 96.

SIDNER (voice-over): The Senate passed a $2 trillion stimulus bill --


SIDNER (voice-over): -- praised by the president, who pushed the House to pass it, too.

A sizeable chunk of that stimulus package, $70 billion, will go to the airline industry and airports. Boeing called for $60 billion for U.S. aerospace companies that make planes. And Boeing, itself, could qualify for an additional $17 billion.


SIDNER (voice-over): But unlike when taxpayers got a stake in the automotive industry when it was bailed out by the Obama administration in 2009, Boeing's CEO told Fox Business he does not want the government to own a stake in Boeing in exchange for taxpayer-funded stimulus money.

DAVE CALHOUN, CEO, BOEING: Nobody has an interest in retaining government equity in their company. We want to pay everything back -- everybody does -- and to think that that's not our motive is sort of silly. I don't have a need for an equity stake but if they force it, we just -- we just look at all the other options and we've got plenty of them.

SIDNER (voice-over): The idea of a government bailout in the first place had one of its board members bail from her position. Former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley left the board in protest, saying "I cannot support a move to lean on the federal government for a stimulus or bailout that prioritizes our company over others and relies on taxpayers to guarantee our financial position."

CALHOUN: Nikki has been a great member. When a philosophical argument encumbers your ability to help the board represent itself to the government, it -- you have to make that decision. So that's what she did. And now, we're moving on.

SIDNER (voice-over): Boeing has faced serious criticism long before COVID-19 closed it down. Its 737 MAX aircraft grounded after two of its passenger planes crashed, killing all 364 people on board.

Nevertheless, Boeing may also get more of a bailout than other industries. It's a huge employer in the United States.

INSLEE: As far as --

(END VIDEOTAPE) SIDNER: So, the governor there talked about how important Boeing was to this economy here in Washington State and obviously, around the United States, but also said it has to be tempered with fairness when it comes to what the citizens will get out of it since it's taxpayer money that is funding that stimulus package, and other industries and how they will fare.

We should mention that while Boeing could be eligible for $17 billion, the cruise ship industry may not be eligible for any of the stimulus money. And that is partly because many of the large cruise ship lines are actually headquartered outside of the United States.

CAMEROTA: Ah, interesting, Sara. Thank you very much for that clarification and all of the reporting.

OK, so remember that containment zone in New Rochelle, New York just north of New York City? Did that work -- setting up a containment zone? The mayor is going to give us a status report next.



CAMEROTA: The city of New Rochelle, New York, just north of New York City, was the area of a cluster of coronavirus just two weeks ago. And the mayor set up this so-called containment zone and called in the National Guard for help. So how is that hotspot doing today?

Well, joining us now is New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson. Mr. Mayor, great to see you.

I interviewed you two weeks ago on the day that you were announcing that you were asking the National Guard for help and I just remember that day -- first of all, it feels like two months ago. I mean, I can't believe all that's happened in that time. But back then, the words containment zone, hotspot, National Guard, it all sounded so dramatic.

But a lot has changed in the world in these two weeks. So tell us, how is New Rochelle doing today?

MAYOR NOAM BRAMSON (D), NEW ROCHELLE, NEW YORK (via Cisco Webex): Yes. Well, you're right that events have moved so quickly. It took exactly a week for all of the restrictions in our local containment zone to be overtaken and exceeded by statewide standards that were more restrictive. So in effect, all of New York State had become a containment zone and much of America was not far behind.

Now, even so, I would say that New Rochelle's local experience gives us some reason for cautious optimism. Because of those early restrictions, we're now seeing some indication that the rate of increase in the virus is moderating and with each passing day, New Rochelle accounts for a smaller share of COVID-19 cases within our region.

So I do want to emphasize the cautious part of that equation. The data can be interpreted in multiple ways -- they are still preliminary -- but even in the most positive light, the number of cases is still increasing. So it's entirely premature to celebrate, but at least the early -- the early signs are good.

CAMEROTA: So just so that I'm clear, the number of cases in New Rochelle is increasing but not at the clip that it had been two weeks ago.

BRAMSON: That's exactly right and this is what all the public health experts refer to as flattening the curve. There's no expectation at this stage of the public health emergency that COVID-19 cases will actually decline, but if we can slow the rate of increase then it will prevent the virus from overwhelming our health care system.

So again, New Rochelle's experience gives us reason for cautious optimism.


CAMEROTA: And does it give us reason to try to recreate that model elsewhere? I mean, the containment zone -- I think it became sort of a household name. People around the country head about it. But what did you actually do that you think helped flatten the curve?

BRAMSON: Well, it already has been replicated elsewhere. So the containment zone, which seemed like a forceful measure at the time, was really simply a restriction on large gatherings within large institutions. Schools were closed, houses of worship were closed, people were advised voluntarily to limit their interactions with each other. But now, that's the policy that's been adopted statewide and across multiple states all across America.

New Rochelle was different only because it came a little bit earlier. And so, our experience here can be something of a leading indicator for how things might go elsewhere.

CAMEROTA: I think the term 'containment zone' made it sound as though people couldn't leave that one-square-mile -- you know, the map that we have up -- that radius there, but that wasn't exactly the case.

And also, the fact that the -- that you called in the National Guard. What was their role?

BRAMSON: Well, the Guard was here in New Rochelle to help us with logistical and operational challenges. They assisted in the delivery of meals to schoolchildren, cleaning of public facilities, the distribution of supplies. Things that would have been beyond the capacity of a municipality the size of New Rochelle. So we were very grateful that the state devoted these resources to us.

But we also recognize that as New Rochelle moves from being an unusual outlier to being, instead, a more typical community that those resources are going to be spread thin. So it's vitally important that we strengthen and mobilize our own internal resources to meet the challenges that are coming over the next few weeks. I am so proud of the community agencies and the not-for-profit groups

that have risen to the occasion. The great work of our city team that has managed to maintain essential services in the context of a radically different work environment. The many residents and volunteers who have stepped up to assist each other.

But we are going to need those resources like every community will need those resources because this is going to be a long challenge and to the degree to which we support each other will determine what kind of community and what kind of country we have on the other side.

CAMEROTA: And have you now lifted the so-called containment zone? And if so, what changes for life there in New Rochelle?

BRAMSON: So the containment zone was formally lifted two days ago. But to be clear, it had really become practically meaningless a week earlier when, as I said, New York State's restrictions, which apply to New Rochelle and every other city in our state, became effective and were more restrictive than anything that was in place locally.

CAMEROTA: OK. Mayor Noam Bramson, we really appreciate you giving us a status report. We hope that New Rochelle continues to show signs of progress. Thank you very much.

BRAMSON: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: OK, a major world leader has tested positive for coronavirus. NEW DAY continues right now.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH: When you have a situation when the cases today compared to tomorrow has increased dramatically, that's no time to pull back.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR, ANDERSON COOPER 360: The U.S. has now passed China for the most reported coronavirus cases.

DR. ASHISH JHA, DIRECTOR, HARVARD GLOBAL HEALTH INSTITUTE: What's happening in New York, we're going to see that in Louisiana, we're going to see that in Florida, we're going to see that in Arizona.

DR. DEBORAH BIRX, RESPONSE COORDINATOR, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE: We are concerned about certain counties that look like they're having a more rapid increase.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We've seen the numbers, we've seen the projections. This is about saving lives.

DR. COLLEEN SMITH, EMERGENCY ROOM DOCTOR, ELMHURST HOSPITAL: I don't have the support that I need and even the materials that I need, physically, to take care of my patients - and it's America.


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

BERMAN: Good morning. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Friday, March 27th. It is 8:00 in the east.

We have breaking news all over the place.

First, as of this morning, the United States has more reported cases of coronavirus than any country on earth. That's more than Italy, more than Spain, more than China where the outbreak began. Nearly 1,200 people have died in the United States and the pandemic is accelerating here. At least 24 states have reported 100 or more new cases yesterday.

Cases surging in Florida, Michigan, Illinois, and Louisiana. Governors there still struggling to find ventilators. They're facing competition though with other states and the federal governments.

Hospitals in different locations around the country are telling CNN that they expect to run out of ICU beds within two weeks.

The number of hospitalized patients in New York jumped 40 percent yesterday. Refrigerated trucks are being mobilized now as makeshift morgues.

And more than 150 health care workers at four Boston hospitals have tested positive for coronavirus.

Overnight, the New York City Police Department reported its first death. And this morning, more than 10 percent of the force is out sick.

CAMEROTA: OK, John. And despite the pleas from governors, President Trump says he does not think that they need the amount of ventilators that they are requesting.