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Trump Extends Federal Social Distancing Guidelines Through April 30th; Hard-Hit New York Hospital Struggles with Overcrowding and Shortages. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired March 29, 2020 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: I want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York and this is CNN's special live coverage. And we begin with breaking news tonight.
The death toll from the coronavirus in the U.S. stands at 2400. And that number doubled in just over two days. But a grim prediction from the president earlier tonight warning that a number 40 times higher could be a good result. Here's what he said in the Rose Garden.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So you're talking about 2.2 million deaths. 2.2 million people, from this. And so if we could hold that down as we're saying to 100,000, that's a horrible number. Maybe even less but to 100,000. So we have between 100,000 and 200,000, we altogether have done a very good job.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: That's right. 100,000 Americans dead. Potentially a best-case scenario. And what the president calls a good job. Now that's a drastic change from what the president had to say just over a month ago. On February 26th, he used a similar phrase. The difference? Well, I'll let the president's own words speak for themselves.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: When you have 15 people and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero, that's a pretty good job we've done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: So why the change in tone from the president? Perhaps it has something to do with the reality check offered by Dr. Anthony Fauci this morning. The nation's top infectious disease specialist, did not sugarcoat the worst-case scenario for our country.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Looking at what we're seeing now, you know, I would say between 100,000 and 200,000 cases. But I don't want to be held to that because it's -- excuse me, deaths. I mean, we're going to have millions of cases. But I just don't think that we really need to make a projection when it's such a moving target that you could so easily be wrong. Let's just look at the data of what we have and not worry about these worst case and best case scenarios.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: So what does this mean? Well, for starters, we can cancel our Easter plans. The president now extending the social distancing guidelines until the end of April. Yes, more than four more weeks of the new normal for all of us. Of course that is a small price to pay if it saves the lives of potentially thousands of Americans.
And other headlines tell us what's at stake in New York. The police department saying 12 percent of its workforce has tested positive for the virus. While Italy's death toll now tops 10,000. In Moscow, taking the drastic step of closing its borders. But I want to get back to that dramatic news conference earlier tonight.
Let's get right to CNN's Jeremy Diamond at the White House. And Jeremy, you were there at that remarkable briefing. The president agreed with the scientific models and those alarming numbers. In fact, he said, and I still can't believe it, he said if the death toll stays under 100,000, we will have done, quote, "a very good job."
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That's right. At the same time, Ana, it was remarkable to see the president really heeding the advice of these public health experts. Clearly that was what was driving the president's decision today. He talked about the 2.2 million potential deaths that one model showed if the United States did not take sufficient action to curb this coronavirus pandemic.
Now I did also ask the president today about something else. And that was comments that the president made on Friday when he was talking about governors who he believes have been insufficiently appreciative of him and his administration. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I think they should be appreciative because you know what? When they're not appreciative to me, they're not appreciative to the Army Corps, they're not appreciative to FEMA, it's not right. These people -- they're working 24 hours a day. Mike Pence. I mean, Mike Pence, I don't think he sleeps anymore. These are people that should be appreciated. He calls all the governors. I tell him. I mean, I'm a different type of person. I say Mike, don't call the governor of Washington, you're wasting your time with him. Don't call the woman in Michigan. It doesn't make any difference what happens.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Don't call the governor of Washington?
TRUMP: No. You know what I said? If they don't treat you right, I don't call.
(END VIDEO CLIP) DIAMOND: And so today I asked the president why those comments, why that appreciation is necessary in a time of a public health crisis. Here's how he responded.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DIAMOND: I'd also like to ask about some comments you made on Friday. You were talking about governors of different states and you said, I want them to be appreciative. You also said if they don't treat you right --
TRUMP: But I didn't say that.
DIAMOND: -- I don't call. These are direct --
TRUMP: I didn't say it.
DIAMOND: Direct quotes, sir.
TRUMP: No -- excuse me. Are you ready? Ready? Ready? Take a look at what I said. I want them to be appreciative of me, OK? And then you cut it up because it's fake news.
DIAMOND: You and of your administration. Absolutely.
TRUMP: Just please. Let me just finish it. You just said it again. And you know the answer is a lie. You know --
DIAMOND: I could read you your full comment, sir, if that would be easy.
TRUMP: Let me just say, look.
Your statement and your response and your answer is a lie because here's the story. Are you ready? I said I want you to be appreciative of me and then you go on, and then I go on, and you cut it off. I don't call --
DIAMOND: You said, referring to the vice president.
TRUMP: No, I don't call. No, I don't call the governor of Washington now.
DIAMOND: Why in this time of --
TRUMP: But Mike Pence calls and the head of FEMA calls. I don't stop them. Did I ever ask you to do anything negative, Mike, to Washington, the state of Washington? Michigan, I love that state. That's one of my favorite places in the whole world, Michigan, and I'm so proud of what's happened with the auto industry. It's coming back to Michigan.
No, I don't have to call because I'm probably better off not because we don't get -- he's a failed presidential candidate. He's a nasty person. I don't like the governor of Washington. So you know who calls? I get Mike Pence to call. I get the head of FEMA to call. I get the admiral to call.
When they disrespect me, they're disrespecting our government. And you know what, I don't mind if I'm disrespected but they can't disrespect the Army Corps of Engineers and FEMA. OK.
DIAMOND: Why is the lack of --
TRUMP: Please, go ahead. I want them to appreciate the incredible job we're doing. We are doing a job the likes of which has never been done before. And there are couple of people that know that. But for political reasons, let's say they're Democrats, they don't want to give this administration credit, and that's OK. But I don't have to deal with them but our vice president does deal with them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DIAMOND: And you can see there even as the president is denying the comments that I read directly to him transcribed from his Friday press conference, the president was still sticking to the fact that he doesn't want these governors to be disrespecting him or disrespecting his administration. The president in the past has talked about this as being a two-way street between the governors and the states.
And that's why I asked him the question, why is such a praise for him or for his administration necessary in order for these states to actually get what they want? Now there is a kind of interesting dichotomy in this administration. And that is to say that even as you see the president saying that and on Friday talking about how Mike Pence should not be calling the governor of Michigan, who has been critical of the federal response.
Just yesterday the vice president actually spoke with the governor of Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer. She actually thanked the vice president and on Twitter yesterday said that she was getting some additional protective -- personal protective equipment that she was looking for, for medical workers in her state. So even though we do see some of this rhetoric from the president, ultimately it does seem that some of these states do ultimately get what they want.
But again, much of the criticism from these states is not aimed personally at the president. It's about the fact that they feel they are not getting enough equipment from the federal government, enough to confront what is a growing pandemic -- Ana.
CABRERA: Right. And it's not just what the governors want. It's what they need. It's what the American people in those states need. Just to potentially survive this coronavirus pandemic.
Jeremy Diamond, thank you for your reporting.
I want to bring in former adviser to four presidents, David Gergen, former assistant secretary at the Department of Homeland Security, Juliette Kayyem, and infectious disease specialist, Dr. Ann Rimoin.
Doctor, to you first. What's your reaction when you hear that the White House believes as many 100,000 Americans could die from the coronavirus?
DR. ANNE RIMOIN, INFECTIOUS DISEASES SPECIALIST: I think that this is all based on assumptions that are being put into a model and we don't actually know at this point. And so much of it is predicated on exactly how we manage the response. That is, how the social distancing practices are being put into place. What else we can do to be able to keep the cases down.
For example, there have been a number of people coming out recently and talking about how everybody might need to start wearing a mask. And I think that this is very important. There are many, many things that we can be doing to flatten this curve. I think we spend a lot of time thinking about all of these models and these protections, and that's what Dr. Fauci said. There are models that try and help us estimate what's going to happen.
But these models will change based on how well people self- quarantined, how well they self-isolate. I'd like people to start talking instead of just looking at the models. Start talking about what they can do. For example, everybody wearing a face mask of some sort when they go outside. We know this is aerosolized. We know that when people speak, they are -- they transmit by just having saliva come out of their mouths.
It does for everybody. We know there are things we can do. We can flatten this curve. So I think spending all of this time talking about what the models might predict or what they might not predict is not actually what is going to make a big difference. What's going to make a big difference is action.
RIMOIN: What people can do themselves.
CABRERA: Right. It's on each and every one of us.
Juliette, President Trump says if we can keep deaths below 100,000, then his administration will have done a, quote, very good job. Is that a good job?
JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: So it's just going to depend on what would have happened otherwise. But it's just an odd way to think about where we are now, either win or lose or good or bad.
Once again the modelling ranges from one million to two million will die, or, you know, 100,000. And it's (INAUDIBLE) just so accurately. Can we just focus on the response right now? Everyone is so ready to get outside and whether it's Easter or April, whatever. We have to have huge steps in the response right now. Not on the testing (INAUDIBLE) but the surging of adequate PPE and other materials to the hospitals.
So -- remember, social distancing isn't an end. It's just buying us time. But you have to fill that time with action. So the government needs to do a lot more. The federal government needs to surge a lot more. We need all hands on deck. And we can talk about what the modelling looks like. But we're in the response stage. And everyone focusing on modelling and numbers and whether -- you know, how do we get outside again. While important is actually missing the point right now which is none of that happens if we don't have tests. If we have two million people dead. None of that happens. So let's focus on the response.
CABRERA: I mean, this was the president --
CABRERA: -- just weeks ago, listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: When you have 15 people and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero, that's a pretty good job we've done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Juliette, how did we get to 100,000 deaths being a sign of a job well done? I mean, does the president just undermine his own message when he makes these types of comments?
KAYYEM: Yes. I think he's proved himself irrelevant to the task at hand after the last two weeks. Everything he says he either has to correct so far out of field. You know, we're going to get out in 15 fays. We're going to get out by Easter. Even -- that I just I think what you're seeing and it's maybe some hopeful news, is you're seeing others fill the vacuum that a president might otherwise own. Whether it's Dr. Fauci or the governors or the mayors or the private sector or the NGOs.
You're seeing a (INAUDIBLE), Donald Trump, the president, feels -- gets jealous of that. That's why he lashes out at others. But we have to remember they're just filling a vacuum of (INAUDIBLE) leader in terms of (INAUDIBLE), just in terms of getting stuff done at this stage. Wild accusations or speculations are just off.
I mean, I'm just going to end here. The president suggested today, let's not forget, that doctors and nurses were hoarding or stealing respirators and ventilators and masks and whatever else. It's like, that is just -- you abrogate your leadership role if you say that. That's like saying soldiers in the middle of a war are stealing bullets because you didn't give them enough ammunition. It's just -- it's not acceptable at this stage.
CABRERA: David Gergen, what are your thoughts on this?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I have a somewhat different view. And that is I think when you begin to get your mind around the idea that as many as 100,000 Americans could die between now and the end of April, that's not -- it's a horrifying number. Over 3,000 people a day are going to die over the next 30 days. 3,000 Americans. Juliette can tell you far better than I can just how many Americans died on 9/11, one of the worst days in our history.
It wasn't very different then in terms of the ultimate numbers that day. And we're going to have 30 straight days of deaths like that? That's an astonishing number. And I do think the president -- yes, I agree with Juliette that he's -- you know, he's so far off base so often and been so misleading. And then in many ways, it's certainly understandable that a lot of people are tuning out.
But I do think the president still has a base. And many people in his base tend to be the people who have been skeptical because they have been watching FOX News and hearing so many people say this isn't serious, it's a hoax, it's made up by the fake media, and so forth and so on. He has a responsibility to go to his own followers and convince them how serious this is. Because the way to flatten the curve is to get our minds around what we're facing and get people to change their behavior. And that is the responsibility of the president of the United States.
CABRERA: Juliette, you have an article coming out in the "Atlantic" about what is needed in the coming weeks. What should the federal government be doing in the next two weeks?
KAYYEM: Well, I think you're starting to see some of that. I just -- David and I rarely disagree. It's part of what you're seeing is knowing that the president is unlikely to change. What David describes, I would agree with, too, especially when you start to look at numbers in rural America and red states, it's terrifying. Right? Cuomo, New York, like we got it. We know what's going on there.
You start to see these numbers amongst his base in terms of illnesses and the lack of health capacity they have, one would hope that the president would be out there. But I'm just -- I'm sort of three and a half years later, I'm not sure of that.
So basically what you're seeing is (INAUDIBLE) the vacuum filled by first responders, by governors and mayors, the private sector to simply serve as a failsafe at this stage. The system is not working perfectly at the top. And so you are -- here's the good news. You are actually starting to see some movement. You're starting to see some creative things going on. You're seeing movement on (INAUDIBLE) as well as test kits from the private sector.
So I'm not saying we're out of the woods at all. We've got to keep social distancing. We're just buying time at this stage. If Donald Trump changes during that time, I will be first in line to be thrilled. It's just we don't have the time at this stage. We've got four to six short weeks.
CABRERA: Well, let me get to the doctor because we are just getting some news that could be a good sign when it comes to the scientific community here. The FDA has now issued a limited emergency authorization for two drugs. Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine.
Dr. Rimoin, this part struck me in the FDA's letter. It says that the FDA said that the drugs benefits outweighed their risks. Quote, "Based on the totality of scientific evidence available to the FDA, it is reasonable to believe that chloroquine phosphate and hydroxychloroquine sulfate may be effective in treating COVID-19." What's your reaction?
RIMOIN: I think that this is terrific news. And I think it shows that the FDA is moving as quickly as they possibly can to be able to evaluate the evidence that is available and are making decisions quickly. This has not always been the case. And, you know, we've seen with previous epidemic, in particular my experience with Ebola, that the FDA approval has been slow. But I do believe that this is -- this is a very good news.
However, this is not -- therapeutics are not a substitute for prevention. We're talking about, you know, prevention versus cure. What we need to do right now is we need to flatten the curve. And we can avoid having to use all of these drugs and avoid having to worry about which drugs we're going to be using by doing things that we can all do which is social distancing, staying home, washing your hands, making sure that we don't overload the health system, wearing masks, all of these things we can do.
And I think the thing we have to really worry about here -- I want to go back to what Juliette was saying before as well about the issue of PPE and hoarding. You know, if hospitals are hoarding PPE, it just shows you that we need a national PPE strategy. And frankly, hospitals never had -- you know, they operate with a margin of just enough PPE to work as needed. So I think that these are all things we need to think about.
CABRERA: Dr. Rimoin, Juliette Kayyem, David Gergen, my thanks to you all of you. Be well.
Doctors are describing apocalyptic scenes inside a Queens hospital where 13 people died in 24 hours from the coronavirus. The ongoing struggle to get the medical staff what they need. A doctor from that hospital joins us, next.
CABRERA: New York City is the hotspot for coronavirus infections in the nation, and one particular New York hospital is bursting with patients and running critically low on supplies and space.
Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, a handful of cases a few weeks ago, has now mushroomed into a barely manageable flood of people infected with the virus. In desperate need of immediate help, these are people literally lined up to be seen at the emergency room standing apart of course to keep their distance. And this is a giant refrigerated truck now on the property to store what the hospital morgue cannot.
Let me offer some more perspective. In one 24-hour period last week, at least 13 people at that hospital died from the coronavirus. A nurse at Elmhurst telling CNN how patients with the virus suddenly slip away from them. Quote, "It's frightening because, although they are sick, they appear stable. Then right before your eyes, they start to desaturate and in a few moments they are gone."
I want to talk to Dr. Rachel Shively, she is an emergency room physician at that very hospital, Elmhurst Hospital Center in Queens.
Doctor Shively, I can't even imagine what that is like to be in your shoes. Has that been your experience what we just read treating COVID- 19 patients in your ER? Are they stable one moment and then just crash the next?
DR. RACHEL SHIVELY, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF EMERGENCY MEDICINE, ELMHURST HOSPITAL CENTER: Yes, this has been a virus where, you know, we have plenty of asymptomatic patients that we're able to send home with return precautions. But we have been seeing a lot patients come back sicker and sicker and with respiratory compromise that requires immediate intubation, and that's one of the reasons why we really need to have these ventilators at the ready, not just in time but in a prepared way because you can't be, you know, having somebody not be able to breathe and then waiting for a ventilator to come from elsewhere.
CABRERA: Right. Take me back to when the first patient with the virus came in and then, you know, watching the cases start to skyrocket. What was the feeling inside hospital and at what point did it become clear that you would be overwhelmed?
SHIVELY: Yes. So this started about three weeks ago with just a handful of cases. We had a special room that we had constructed for when the Ebola epidemic was going on. And then within a few days, it was three quarters of our department. Then half of our department. Then three quarters. And now it's basically the entire department that is devoted to caring for these COVID-19 patients, which is really an issue because we're still an emergency department that handles other cases. You know, typical heart attacks, strokes, appendicitis, traumatic injuries.
We're now at the point where we've have had to sort of cohort these patients away for the COVID patients for their safety. And our administrators are really working tirelessly trying to get us more capacity, but the pace of these patients arriving is just hard to handle.
CABRERA: Your hospital, I know, is one of 11 hospitals in the public health system in New York City, but Governor Andrew Cuomo today singled out Elmhurst as being particularly under stress. Why is that? What do you attribute that to?
SHIVELY: Yes, I mean, this is not just an Elmhurst problem. This is a Queens problem, a New York City problem, a New York state problem. It's going to be a country problem if we don't take it seriously. But Elmhurst, and specifically, Queens is very vulnerable. We have a lot of low-income patients, undocumented patients, who live in tight quarters where they can't self-isolate properly. They work in jobs that are in public. Delivery service people, food service people, construction workers, where they're not able to properly self-isolate.
And their livelihoods are at risk if they do this without proper guidance. They are also the same people that will come to these tents and ask for testing when they really should just be at home taking care of themselves and not exposing other vulnerable patients because their employers are requiring them to provide documentation that they need to be quarantined. So it is a really specific type of stress on our hospital.
We also have patients that, you know, because of their living situation, we can't discharge them because they are going to expose other patients. So our social workers really try hard to prevent this from happening where they end up being admitted and taking up space in the hospital. But sometimes that's the only alternative.
CABRERA: That sounds complicated. How are the doctors, nurses, therapists, orderlies? How is the entire hospital staff holding up?
SHIVELY: I mean, it's very hard. I am about two days away from giving birth. And I -- my last shift was the end of Wednesday night, early Thursday morning. I -- there was never a question in my mind to continue to work. The Elmhurst community and the Elmhurst staff, administrators, doctors, nurses, custodial staff, everybody really is just a family there. And it's -- there's just such a heart to that hospital.
I have been there, Ana, since I was a medical student years and years ago. And I think, you know, as hard as it is, we're working 12-plus hours in these cumbersome suits. They're very hot. It's very noisy. Patients are dying alone because we can't let their family members in because it's unsafe for them. It's very hard but I think the community and the staff have really rallied well together.
CABRERA: You are such a hero in so many ways. And to think you are working as hard as you are under these circumstances and pregnant and just days away from giving birth. Knowing that, you know, what goes through your mind as you think about bringing a new life into the world during this current crisis?
SHIVELY: Yes, it's a really weird time to be having a new baby. I mean, you sort of think about you're going to be quarantined with your new baby already, but in terms of my own risk, you know, if I end up testing positive, I won't be able to hold my baby. I won't be able to breast-feed my baby. So there are certain pressures that I knowingly took on because I wanted to be able to protect my patient community.
But it's definitely a weird time. And you know, we're having to figure out what would happen if that was the case and, you know, my parents are old and they wouldn't be able to help out. My husband's parents are far away. So we'll just have to take it as it comes.
CABRERA: I wish you the best of luck. And just pray for healthy and happy delivery.
Dr. Rachel Shively, thank you very much for taking the time. And thank you for what you do. SHIVELY: Thank you. Thank you.
CABRERA: We know New York's hospitals are being pushed to their breaking point, but the city's police department is also watching the number of infections in its ranks creep up. So what does this mean for New York's finest facing a new threat that none of us has ever had to deal with before? We'll talk about it next. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: The coronavirus in New York City is overwhelming the emergency medical services according to New York Mayor Bill de Blasio.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK: This is unprecedented. We've never seen our EMS system get these many calls ever. What we have to do first and foremost is put on more personnel, more ambulances, more shifts and we are doing that immediately, so we can serve the true emergencies and there's a lot of them to make sure that New Yorkers get the help they need.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Now this comes as we are learning of an alarming number of cases among first responders in New York City. More than 820 employees of the New York Police Department are infected including more than 700 uniformed officers. Three members of the NYPD have died from the coronavirus. Meantime, 235 members of the New York Fire Department are infected.
With us now is former Philadelphia police commissioner, Charles Ramsey, who is also a CNN law enforcement analyst.
Commissioner Ramsey, the NYPD commissioner said today he expects to see the number of confirmed cases in the NYPD to hit 900 by tomorrow morning. And furthermore some 4600 officers are out sick right now which is about 12 percent of the police force.
CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes.
CABRERA: What kind of impact would this have on the department's ability to ensure public safety?
RAMSEY: Well, it has a tremendous impact. Even the department as large as NYPD. It has to have a huge impact. Now they are already modified the way in which they respond to calls for service. I'm sure they've triaged calls. They are taking a lot of over the phone, online and so forth. But to have that many officers out sick or actually testing positive for COVID-19, that's just unbelievable.
And it's not just New York. I mean, Detroit, for example. Their chief tested positive. They had about 200 of their members that tested positive for COVID-19. Here in Philadelphia, New Orleans, it just goes on and on and on. It has a huge impact.
CABRERA: Add into the equation the FDNY. Commissioner is saying they expect to have over 6,000 911 calls today which would constitute a 50 percent increase in a normal day. He said that this is affecting response time. Are you concerned the police and the fire department, and these are emergency responders, are being spread too thin?
RAMSEY: Well, I mean, you know, we have to do what we have to do. I mean, this is unprecedented. No one has ever dealt with anything of this nature before. So everyone is doing their very best they can. You know, and I've heard a lot of talk about and rightfully so about the lack of PPE equipment among the medical community.
Well, the same thing is happening with police, fire and so forth, because the longer this thing goes on, the more difficult it is to come by the kind of equipment you need to keep the officers safe. And I hate to say it. But I think those numbers are going to increase over time just like they are in the general population.
CABRERA: I mean, you're right. I have a cousin who is a police officer who I was just speaking with today who is concerned about his public safety when it comes to, you know, contracting the virus.
CABRERA: Because of the lack of equipment in order -- the PPE equipment that you mentioned. How does a department now prioritize responses? If you are spread thin, you're getting overwhelming number of calls to respond, and yet you have fewer men and women who are physically able to go and check things out.
RAMSEY: Well, violent crime, obviously, we're going to continue to respond to violent crime calls. Gun calls, things of that nature. But domestic violence, you know, there's a lot of concern that over time people are, you know, sheltering in place, but unfortunately, there are some people that are sheltering in place with their abuser. And so those kinds of calls are going to get priority. And they will be dispatched.
Minor calls of theft, even some calls that you may not think are so minor, but under the circumstances, you're not going to get the same kind of response like stolen auto. Even some burglaries may not get police response directly. It's unfortunate, but it's just the way things are right now.
Every department has come up with an alternate protocol that they are using to handle these calls for service. And I think that as time goes on, you may see even fewer and fewer calls responded to. Other than obviously people who are injured, violent crimes, shootings, things of that nature.
CABRERA: If you were the commissioner there now, what would you be doing in order to try to keep your officers safe and healthy during this outbreak?
RAMSEY: Make sure they have sufficient PPE equipment. Only dispatch to the calls that you absolutely need to make an officer go to. Officers are already being deployed in single-person cars. They're not working with partners now, simply to kind of maintain some distance. You go to a roll call now and you see officers standing as far apart as maybe six feet or so. That's highly unusual. Usually it's shoulder to shoulder.
So there are a lot of steps being taken. And I'm sure commissioners and police chiefs, sheriffs across the country are doing the same thing. Try to keep your people safe because you're going to be in this far the long haul. I mean, the president extended this whole event until April 30th. That's another month. We'll be lucky if this is over by summer, quite frankly. So we're in it for the long haul. So we're going to have to make adjustments as they go along.
CABRERA: Right. The president said today they're looking at June as the time where maybe we're out of the woods. But let me ask you about the National Guard and, you know, how they are responding because more than 14,000 National Guard troops are assisting states with the coronavirus response including here in New York.
What does coordination between local and federal law enforcement look like in a situation like this?
RAMSEY: Well, you know, it's very good actually. You know, the National Guard is very, very helpful. And I'm sure they're going to be deployed strategically, like a backfilled positions for police officers so they can be available to actually respond to calls. But the National Guard is very, very helpful.
All the federal agencies are doing the best they can. I mean, my son is an ATF agent. They are still working but they are limited in what they can actually do because obviously everything is closed down. So you don't have that much presence on the street. But the cooperation is great. And that's not a problem. The problem is the illness. And the number of people who will be taken out of service over time and how we can continue to stretch these thin resources to make sure we can continue to protect the public.
CABRERA: We're so grateful for all of those men and women who are our first responders.
Commissioner Charles Ramsey, thank you for the conversation. I appreciate your expertise. Be well.
RAMSEY: Thank you. You too.
CABRERA: Now that the president is extending the social distancing guidelines until the end of April, what are the national security concerns tied to the coronavirus pandemic? We'll explore that. And look at the president's efforts to get companies to make ventilators.
You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
CABRERA: More breaking news tonight. Legendary opera singer Placido Domingo has been hospitalized in Acapulco with complications from coronavirus. He announced a week ago on social media that he had tested positive for the virus. According to his spokesperson, Domingo is doing well and is responding to treatment.
President Trump yesterday touted the idea of a strict quarantine on parts of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Today Dr. Anthony Fauci told our Jake Tapper that the president's decision not to impose such a measure came just hours after, quote, "very intensive discussions."
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DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: After discussions with the president, we made it clear and he agreed that it would be much better to do what's called a strong advisory and the reason for that is that you don't want to get to the point where you're being enforcing things that would create a bigger difficulty morale and otherwise when you could probably accomplish the same goal.
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CABRERA: That brings us to your weekend presidential brief with CNN national security analyst, Samantha Vinograd.
And Sam, the CDC went on to issue strong travel advisories to these areas instead of an actual quarantine. And then today the president extended the national social distancing guidelines through the end of April, you know, after previously saying he hoped to ease restrictions by Easter. All things considered here, what are the security issues at large?
SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, Ana, it's hard not to have cognitive whiplash at this point. The president has private places for a reason. I've been in these crisis situations and I can tell you that the president should float ideas. He should weigh options. He should ask about the costs and benefits of different courses of action. But in my experience, those conversations happen privately because brainstorming publicly, which is what President Trump is doing, is so costly.
Just think about yesterday. I live in New York. Governors are spending precious time refuting the president's claims and trying to calm down their constituents, when in fact it was all unnecessary. The president was adlibbing on national television. Governors and other officials should be spending their time focused on security measures and not trying to refute the president when he wasn't planning on following through on this option. And from a foreign policy perspective, keep in mind that every time
the president spreads this confusing content, he's giving Putin a freebie. Remember Russian influence operations are focused in part on spreading confusion among the American public. There's so many Americans using social media right now. At this point Russia just needs to push out the president's content and they accomplish part of their mission set. The bottom line is you float ideas but he should do so privately.
CABRERA: I want to ask about the Defense Production Act because on Friday the president used this act to order General Motors to produce ventilators. Do you see that as a positive step?
VINOGRAD: Well, the president did sign a memo delegating authority to HHS to implement the Defense Production Act or the DPA but we don't actually know if HHS has done that. But it's worth noting that strategic planning is in short supply right now along with medical supplies more generally. The DPA should have been invoked and implemented weeks ago to prepare for the pandemic. Trump did take this action on Friday.
But even if HHS does move out on the president's order, what the president authorized only relates to one key supply, the ventilators, and one company, GM. There is a dire shortage of other key supplies like face masks and gowns, which the president has not addressed yet. And the DPA doesn't just focus on supplies. It also could give the government authority to get involved in things like strategic distribution of manufactured items and giving financial support to companies so that they can manufacture more goods.
It would really behoove the administration and frankly the American people for the president to consider a more thorough and comprehensive implementation of the DPA because we really have a month's long fight ahead of us.
CABRERA: And Sam, also on Friday, the president tweeted in part that China has developed a strong understanding of the virus and that we are working closely together. How do you assess the U.S.-China relationship right now and the ability to work together?
VINOGRAD: Well, we have a perverse game of good cop-bad cop unfolding right now and now is not the time for games. On the one hand, we have the secretary of State who has been lambasting the Chinese for their response to the pandemic and their disinformation campaign about the virus more generally. Chinese -- the Chinese Communist Party is really focused on pushing the narrative that they are now the knight in shining armor when it comes to confronting the pandemic, when in fact they covered it up. They are using their own state-run media to push out that narrative.
While Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is really trying to hold them accountable for this, we have the president extolling their response. His tweet on Friday sounds like a Chinese Communist Party propaganda point. It's really important that the president and his team be on the same page at all times, but especially now when we're trying to confront the Chinese disinformation campaign. Calibration here is key. We can work with the Chinese in specific
areas without showering them in accolades like President Trump continues to do.
CABRERA: OK. Samantha Vinograd, as always, thank you.
We'll be right back. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
CABRERA: I've been talking to my kids this week about the meaning of resilience, and how it's something you can acquire and develop through perseverance in the face of adversity, and no doubt this is a time that's really putting our individual and collective resilience to the test.
We've had to reframe what gives our lives purpose at a time when productivity and the way many of us defined it is actually counterproductive. Work and school have become almost unrecognizable. Even the activities that bring us comfort and joy are beyond reach right now, from team sports to dinner with friends to a simple hug or kiss.
But how we get through this depends on whether we shun or embrace the challenge. We must endure. We can do this. Do it for the 51 doctors in Italy who have lost their lives to coronavirus in their mission to save others. Do it for your parents and grandparents, your friends and neighbors.
Do it for your children. You never know whose life you could be saving by simply staying home and washing your hands. And let us not underestimate the power of a friendly wave, a warm smile or an encouraging word. You know, with so much out of control at the very least, we can be kind. And I know how hard that can be sometimes. That is my wish and my challenge for you. Each small measure taken has an impact and could make all the difference.
America has always demonstrated remarkable resilience. Now is the time to dig deep.
Until next weekend, thank you for doing your part, and thank you for joining me tonight. Stay strong and be well. "CNN TONIGHT" with Don Lemon is next.