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U.S. Total Deaths Pushing To 3,000; President Trump Extends Social Distancing Guidelines; USNS Comfort Arrives In New York City; Gov. Larry Hogan (R-MD) Is Interviewed On The Coronavirus Pandemic In Maryland; White House Coronavirus Task Force Briefing; New One-Day Record With 485 U.S. Deaths Reported Today, Total Deaths Nearing 3,000; Dr. Fauci Stands At Estimate 100,000 U.S. Deaths Possible; Governors Tell Trump About Lack Of Supplies, Including PPE And Testing Capabilities. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired March 30, 2020 - 17:00   ET

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


[17:00:00]

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

We're following breaking news.

We're also standing by for a briefing over at the White House. You're looking at live pictures from the White House Rose Garden. The coronavirus task forced, that's scheduled to begin fairly soon. We'll have coverage of that coming up.

Also today, it's been the deadliest day of the outbreak so far here in the United States. Get this, at least 486 new deaths pushing the total to nearly 3,000 dead here in the United States, and the total number of cases to more than 158,000.

The rising numbers and dire warnings from public health officials prompted President Trump to extend social distancing guidelines until at least, at least April 30th, and back away from his earlier call to reopen the nation by Easter Sunday, April 12th, which he now says those goals were, in his word, aspirational.

In New York City meanwhile, that's the epicenter of the crisis in the U.S., the "USNS Comfort" arrived at port today where officials hope the floating hospital will relieve the burden on the city's health care system.

Let's go to CNN's Nick Watt. He is joining us with more on today's coronavirus developments. And there have been some very dramatic developments. Nick, give us the latest.

NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, here in California we have seen the number of hospitalizations double in just the past four days. Pretty much any expert you talk to will say that this is still going to get worse before it gets better.

An ominous sign, Virginia today implemented a stay-at-home order. And that is going to be in place, unless something changes until June 10th. That is more than 10 weeks away.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WATT (voice-over): A life lost in Brooklyn, one of thousands now across this country.

ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I would like to avoid it, but I wouldn't be surprised if we saw 100,000 deaths.

WATT (voice-over): Today, a Navy hospital ship docked in New York City.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The last time this great hospital ship was in New York was in the wake of 9/11.

WATT (voice-over): A field hospital now in Central Park and fines for those who refuse to social distance.

BILL DE BLASIO, MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY: The fines are in the range of $250 to $500. That is, you know, a violation, a summons that would be provided. I don't want to see that happen.

ANDREW CUOMO, GOVERNOR OF NEW YORK: What you see us going through here, you will see happening all across this country. There is no American who is immune to this virus.

WATT (voice-over): The federal social distancing guidelines the president had hoped to ease, just extended another month.

FAUCI: We argued strongly with the president that he not withdraw those guidelines after 15 days, but that he extend them, and he did listen.

WATT (voice-over): State to state travel restrictions also spreading -- Rhode Island now ordering all visitors to self-quarantine. They were just stopping cars with New York plates and New York State threatened to sue.

From noon today, anyone traveling to Texas from these states and cities must self-quarantine 14 days -- hotspots in all those places. And now it's time, we're told, for more rural areas to brace themselves.

DEBORAH BRIX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: If the metros and rural areas don't take care now, by the time you see it, it has penetrated your community pretty significantly.

WATT (voice-over): Louisiana today reporting 485 new cases and 34 deaths, still hundreds reportedly attended this church on Sunday.

TIMOTHY SPELL, FATHER OF REV. TONY SPELL, LIFE TABERNACLE CHURCH: The church is the most essential thing in all the world.

WATT (voice-over): Doctors from the frontline begging us all to stay home. RAVI WETTASINGHE, DOCTOR: You can think of it as your lungs being

filled with fluid like you're drowning. And once you get to that point where you're drowning, you need a ventilator to stay alive and we're running out of that equipment for people.

BENJAMIN OBASEKI, DOCTOR: The one that's beeping in the background is a young patient who was presumably healthy before they came in. This is not something that's isolated to the old.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WATT (on camera): Now, some good news. Ford and GE Healthcare announced today that they are going to produce 50,000 ventilators within the next 100 days at a plant in Michigan. Let's hope they don't come too late for too many, Wolf.

BLITZER: Let's hope indeed. Nick Watt with the very latest. Thank you very much.

Once again, we're standing by for a briefing from the coronavirus task force over at the White House. We'll have live coverage of that coming up. In the meantime, let's get an update from our chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta. Jim, the president seems to be taking expert recommendations very much to heart.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN WHITE CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. We're in the Rose Garden right now, waiting for the president to begin this coronavirus task force briefing in just a few moments. But you're right. The president did listen to the doctors. He extended that deadline for social distancing until the end of April.

But the president has made other claims about why the nation is experiencing critical shortage of much-needed medical supplies. Those claims have yet to be explained.

[17:05:05]

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA (voice-over): Explaining his decision to keep the U.S. shut down for another month, President Trump is pointing to the data from his experts, indicating the worst from the coronavirus pandemic is yet to come.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES (via telephone): We're thinking that around Easter, that's going to be your spike, that's going to be the highest point, we think. And then it's going to start coming down from there.

ACOSTA (voice-over): That grim assessment came from the top two doctors on the coronavirus task force, Drs. Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx.

FAUCI: Debbie Birx and I went in together in the Oval Office and leaned over the desk and said, here are the data, take a look. He looked at me, understood them and he just shook his head and said, I guess we got to do it.

ACOSTA (voice-over): They're warning the president the number of dead could skyrocket this month to well over 100,000 even if most Americans stay home.

BIRX: And that's where we come up with. If we do things together well, almost perfectly, we could get in the range of 100,000 to 200,000 fatalities.

ACOSTA (voice-over): But the president is still making excuses, suggesting that hospitals are hoarding crucial medical supplies without offering any evidence.

TRUMP: Where are the masks going? Are they going out the back door? How do you go from 10,000 to 300,000? And we have that in a lot of different places. So somebody should probably look into that because I just don't see from a practical standpoint how that's possible to go from that to that.

ACOSTA (voice-over): That's leaving officials in New York puzzled.

CUOMO: I don't know what that means. I don't know what he's trying to say. If he wants to make an accusation, then let him make an accusation.

ACOSTA (voice-over): The president once again blamed the Obama administration even though the Trump White House has been warned repeatedly to prepare for deadly pandemics.

TRUMP: We started off with an empty shelf.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Nearly three weeks ago, Mr. Trump told the public his administration was prepared for the coronavirus.

TRUMP: And we're prepared and we're doing a great job with it and it will go away, just stay calm, it will go away.

ACOSTA (voice-over): One of the long lists of rosy predictions. Despite the worrying projections for the pandemic, the president is now describing his handling of the virus as a job well done.

TRUMP: So we have between 100 and 200,000. We all together have done a very good job. But 2.2, up to 2.2 million deaths, and maybe even beyond that, I'm feeling very good about what we did last week.

ACOSTA (voice-over): The president said one sobering sight was the dire situation at New York's Elmhurst hospital.

TRUMP: This is -- in my -- essentially in my community, in Queens, Queens, New York. I've seen things that I've never seen before. I mean, I've seen them, but I've seen them on television in faraway lands. I've never seen them in our country.

ACOSTA (voice-over): But the president is still clashing over his dealings with some of the nation's governors. TRUMP: Excuse me. Are you ready? Ready? Ready? Take a look at what I

said. I want them to be appreciative of me, okay? And then you cut it off because it's fake news.

ACOSTA (voice-over): New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says this is not a time for politics.

CUOMO: I am not engaging the president in politics. My only goal is to engage the president in partnership. This is no time for politics.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA (on camera): Now, it's not clear whether or not the president will extend the nation's social distancing guidelines beyond the end of April. He did suggest in the Rose Garden yesterday that the pandemic might not be fully under control until the end of May.

But a source close to the coronavirus task force tells me that the doctors on that task force are fully prepared to recommend that those guidelines be extended even longer than April 30th, Wolf, if the data shows that that is necessary.

In the meantime, we can give you a little bit of a sneak preview as to what the president will be talking about here in the Rose Garden. They have just placed out on this table next to the lectern what appears to be a coronavirus test kit. And so we expect the president to talk about that when this gets started shortly, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. We'll have coverage of that, of course. Thanks very much, Jim Acosta, at the White House. We're joined now by the governor of Maryland, Larry Hogan. Governor, thank you so much for taking a few moments out and joining us.

I wonder what goes through your mind, and you've got a lot going through your mind right now, when you hear Dr. Anthony Fauci of NIH, and you know him, NIH in Maryland, estimate that 100,000 Americans, 100,000 people here in the United States could die from this virus.

He said this on CNN this morning. I wouldn't be surprised if we saw 100,000 deaths. Did you ever imagine you would be faced with anything like that?

GOV. LARRY HOGAN (R-MD): Well, Wolf, this is the best case scenario, according to Dr. Fauci, 100,000 deaths. And if you -- just to put that in perspective, that's more than the number of Americans that died in the Vietnam War and the Korean War added together.

And we're not talking about over a number of years. We're talking about in a very short period of time. I talked with Dr. Fauci over the weekend, and I'll tell you, he's been the guy that's been right on target with the facts throughout this entire crisis. And we ought to be listening to him.

[17:10:00]

And I'll tell you something that's really alarming Wolf that most people have not been paying attention to. We've put a stay-at-home order in place today that was quickly followed by Virginia and the District of Columbia because we're just two weeks behind New York, with a higher numbers here than they were at two weeks ago.

So here in the nation's capital, where we're home in our three jurisdictions to 440,000 federal workers that are involved in the response for the rest of the nation, we're about to have an explosion, exponentially, of the same kinds of problems that are facing both New York and some of these other major metropolitan jurisdictions.

And I just want to make sure that everybody is focused here in Washington about that situation right here in their own backyard.

BLITZER: Yes, that's a very important point. We're about to hear, by the way, from the president in the Rose Garden with the coronavirus task force.

You participated in a teleconference with the president, your fellow governors. You're the chairman of the National Governors Association. On that call today, what -- did you hear anything new from the president? Were you encouraged or discouraged? Because he's suggested apparently that testing is no longer a problem.

HOGAN: Well, so I thanked the president and the vice president for their efforts to date. There are a lot of things that they've made progress on. But I also raised the issue on behalf of my fellow colleagues that we're still -- and this is not pointing fingers, it's not trying to place blame, but at the federal level and with all the governors, we still have this major issue of testing and this pinch point about not enough ventilators and supplies and masks and PPEs.

It's not to say, you know, whose fault it is. It's just that we've all together got to get this thing solved because we're facing this crisis in America. And everybody's focused on it but we just haven't come up with solutions yet.

BLITZER: You declared this emergency, stay-at-home order today, and the governor of Virginia did as well and the mayor of Washington, D.C. Why today? Was it a mistake not to do it a week ago, two weeks ago?

HOGAN: Actually we took some of the most aggressive steps in the nation I think more than 48 other states. Today was just a clarification and a little bit step further. Even some of the states that had stay-at-home orders did not go as far as we did with 26 executive orders that closed businesses and closed schools and took all kinds of actions.

But today we took these actions because in our region, cases have more than quadrupled in just the past few days. We've seen a major escalation with very alarming numbers. And we decided the time was now to stop this virus in its tracks.

And I was glad to see that my partners in the region took the exact same steps because we've got to work together as a region and we've got to work together with our partners --

BLITZER: Governor, we're going to continue this conversation down the road, but in the meantime here is the president.

HOGAN: Great.

(BEGIN VIDEO)

TRUMP: Very comfortable here. A lot of room. And we appreciate you being here. Yesterday, I announced that we would be extending our social distance guidelines through the end of April. This is based on modeling that shows the peak in fatalities will not arrive for another two weeks.

The same modeling also shows that by very vigorously following these guidelines, we could save more than one million American lives. Think of that, one million American lives. Our future is in our own hands and the choices and sacrifices we make will determine the fate of this virus and really the fate of our victory.

We will have a great victory. We have no other choice. Every one of us has a role to play in winning this war. Every citizen, family, and business can make the difference in stopping the virus. This is our shared patriotic duty. Challenging times are ahead for the next 30 days. And this is a very vital 30 days.

We're sort of putting it all on the line, this 30 days, so important, because we have to get back. But the more we dedicate ourselves today, the more quickly we will emerge on the other side of the crisis. And that's the time we're waiting for. The more we commit ourselves now, the sooner we can win the fight and return to our lives. And they will be great lives, maybe better than ever.

Today we reached a historic milestone in our war against the coronavirus. Over one million Americans have now been tested. More than any other country by far, not even close, and tested accurately. And I think what I would like to do is ask Secretary Azar, who has done a fantastic job, to come up and just say a few words about the fact that we reached substantially now more than one million tests. Please. Thank you, Alex.

[17:15:06]

ALEX AZAR, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: Well, thank you, Mr. President, for your leadership in marshaling all the resources that we have for this unprecedented testing effort. And thank you, Mr. Vice president, for leading a whole of economy approach to testing.

As the president mentioned today, the United States hit more than one million samples tested, a number that no other country has reached. We're now testing nearly 100,000 samples a day, also a level that no other country has reached.

I want to thank every partner that has been involved in this effort. That includes all of the men and women of the FDA and the CDC, including Director Redfield and Commissioner Hahn. Together, the FDA and CDC have worked to balance the need for testing on an aggressive scale with the scientific rigor that Americans expect. Working with our testing coordinator, Admiral Giroir, they have truly

unleashed the ingenuity of the private sector and our state and local leaders, the centerpieces of America's historic approach to testing.

I want to thank those state and local leaders who have used their on the ground resources and knowledge to lead testing and make it much more easily accessible to Americans who need it.

I'm also grateful to FEMA with whom we are working closely to get state and local partners what they need. I also want to thank CMS where Administrator Verma has given healthcare providers unprecedented flexibility to scale up capacity for testing and treatment and has ensured that tests will be paid for.

Finally, we would not be where we are today without the many American companies, entrepreneurs, and scientists who have worked day and night to develop as of today 20 different emergency testing options. With the FDA responding to requests for authorization typically within 24 hours, the number of options is growing nearly every day.

FDA has also opened up new options for using the available tests like self-swabbing and new options for re-agents. I also want to thank FDA and other components of HHS for incredibly rapid action on other tools that we need.

This weekend, we actually worked to secure 30 million tablets from Sandoz and 1 million tablets from Bayer of hydroxychloroquine which are potential COVID-19 treatments. And we authorized Battelle's new decontamination machines which can each sterilize thousands of essential N95 masks for re-use everyday.

So thank you, Mr. President, for your leadership and thank you to everybody who's played a part in getting us where we are today. Thank you.

TRUMP: Thank you very much. Thank you. I would like to ask Dr. Hahn to come up, FDA, because we have some really good stuff. First of all, the numbers have been incredible on testing. But in the days ahead, we're going to go even faster.

And we have something from Abbott Labs which is right here, and that's a five-minute test, highly accurate. And I maybe can show that as we listen to our FDA commissioner, the job he's done and the approval process. We talked about the chloroquine and the hydroxychloroquine just now.

I thought that I'd mention it, but Alex has already done that, but we have that now under test with 1,100 people in New York and it was only the fast approval by FDA that allowed us to do that. It was a really rapid approval. And doctor, please say a few words. This is the first one on the line of the five-minute test from Abbott.

STEPHEN HAHN, FDA COMMISSIONER: Thank you, Mr. President, for your leadership. Thank you, Mr. Vice president, for your leadership of the task force. I'm very proud of FDA's staff work in the last few months to expedite the availability of testing in this country. I'm also incredibly appreciative of private industry's ingenuity and

willingness to work with us quickly to develop and distribute those tests. We've had a substantial addition to testing with the authorization of point-of-care tests, especially the Abbott point-of- care test, which the president has pulled out of the box.

A point-of-care test is a test that gives you a result where you're getting care. This is truly a patient-centered approach, whether it's the doctor's office, a hospital, an emergency room, an urgent care center, or a drive-by testing site.

Just like tests for flu or strep where you go to the doctor, you can get the test done. You can get an answer within minutes of having this test done. Now, with the tests being approved for Abbott and for others, these are available around the country.

They're planning to scale up the number of tests that can be put out throughout the country over the next couple of month and patients can get the answer within as little as 15 to five minutes. And then of course an appropriate plan of treatment can be given.

[17:20:00]

We at FDA are working quickly with Abbott as well on other testing approaches and normally these tests take months to develop. I was on the phone today with the Abbott CEO. He told me that normally this is a nine to 12-month approach to developing a point-of-care test. They did this in collaboration with FDA and U.S. government within weeks.

Abbott has shared that they will be delivering these tests tomorrow and then will be ramping up. I just have to emphasize one thing. The most innovative and safe products come from the private sector in partnership with government, taking an all hands on deck approach just like in this case.

And the other point here is that Abbott and FDA worked together to make sure we had a fast, reliable, and accurate test to market. Thank you.

TRUMP: Thank you doctor. Great job too. Really great job. Thank you, Steve. So, the pharmaceutical company, Sandoz, has been working with us very closely. And as Alex mentioned, a little bit, 30 million doses of the hydroxychloroquine to the United States government has been given.

And Bayer has donated one million doses of the chloroquine, which will soon be distributed to states and state health officials around the country. Teva Pharmaceuticals is also donating 6 million doses of hydroxychloroquine to U.S. hospitals. That is 6 million doses.

So the private sector, as you say, Steve, it's been amazing what's happened, really amazing. And we're going to introduce you to some of the greatest business executives in the world today, no matter where you go, and they're going to say a little bit about what they're doing. And then we have so many more. The FDA has also authorized the Battelle's N95 respirator mask

sterilization kits. It's an incredible thing. I've been asking why are we throwing these masks away. You look at some of these masks, and they're significant pieces of equipment, and I say, how come you throw them away, why aren't they using sterilization techniques.

And I got a call from Mike Dewine, the governor of Ohio, and he's a tremendous guy, tremendous governor. And he said, we have a company named Battelle and they're having a hard time getting approval from the FDA. And I called up Dr. Hahn and within a very short period of time they got the approval.

Steve, we really appreciate it. I want to thank Mike and I want to thank Steve. And they're going to be able to -- each machine now can disinfect 120,000 masks per day. Now, think of that. Each machine can disinfect 120,000 masks per day. It will be just like a new one.

It can go up to about 20 times for each mask. So each mask can go through this process 20 times. And they have two in Ohio, one in New York, and one will soon be shipped to Seattle, Washington, and also to Washington, D.C. So that's going to make a tremendous difference on the masks.

This morning I spoke to our nation's governors to help each state get the medical supplies they need. And yesterday, Vice President Mike Pence asked our nation's hospitals to begin reporting total bed capacity, ICU bed capacity, ventilator capacity, and vital medical supply levels on a daily basis.

And Mike, thank you for the great job. Thank you very much. In New York, the 2,900 bed hospital under construction which is now completed, they completed it in three days. You might say three and a half days, at the Javits Center. It will be completed today.

It will be -- and when you look -- so, they're going up, I think we're going to be adding some more beds, which will be completed today. And we've opened up -- whoops, there goes our box, and my hair is blowing around, and it's mine.

One thing you can't get away with, if it's not yours, you got a problem if you're president. And nearly 3,000 medical beds will become operational. The U.S. Navy ship "Comfort" also arrived today equipped with 12 operating rooms and 1,000 hospital beds.

Work has begun on additional temporary hospital sites, including a 600-bed capacity nursing home facility in Brooklyn, and numerous floors of a high-rise building on Wall Street. So, it's been really pretty amazing what they've done.

The Army Corps of Engineers, what they've done, they just completed, think of it, a 2,900-bed hospital in New York in just about three days, maybe four days.

[17:25:00]

And the whole city is talking about it. On top of that, we floated in a great ship which is going to be a thousand rooms, which is being used for patients outside of what we're focused on, and that will free up a lot of rooms for what we're focused on. So, it's been great.

The Army Corps of Engineers has awarded contracts for the construction of alternate care facilities also at the State University at Stony Brook, State University Old Westbury, and the Westchester Community Center. We're sending 60 ambulances to New York City today. We have a total of 60.

We're getting some additional ones with up to 190 more to follow at different locations. To date FEMA has obligated more than $1.3 billion in federal support to the state of New York. So we're spending a lot of money in New York. It's a hotbed, there's no question about it. And we're spending a lot of time, effort, in New York, New Jersey.

Spoke with Governor Cuomo a lot, spoke with Governor Murphy a lot in New Jersey, and we're really getting the job done. People are very impressed and I'm very impressed by the people in FEMA, the people in the Army Corps of Engineers because what they've done, I've never seen anybody do anything like it.

In addition to the 8,100 ventilators that we've already delivered over the next 48 hours, we're delivering more than 1,000, we're going 400 ventilators are going to Michigan very shortly, 300 going to New Jersey, 150 ventilators to Illinois, 150 to Louisiana, and 50 to Connecticut.

FEMA and HHS already delivered 11.6 million N95 respirators, 26 million surgical masks, 5.3 million face shields, 4.4 million surgical gowns, and 22 million gloves.

And I don't know if you just saw it, it just came over the wires, that Ford just announced just a little while ago that they will produce, along with General Electric Healthcare, 50,000 ventilators. And they're going to be doing it in less than 100 days.

On top of that, we have other companies that are doing ventilators including General Motors, but we have nine other companies doing ventilator. As we outpace what we need, we're going to be sending them to Italy. We're going to be sending them to France. We're going to be sending them to Spain where they have tremendous problems, and to other countries as we can.

But the fact that we're doing so many so quickly is a tribute to our great companies. More than 14,000 National Guard members have been activated and can help supplement state and local efforts to distribute personal protective equipment where we're sending a lot. We have plane loads coming in.

We have 51 loads from various locations all around the world and they're landing. We had our first big cargo plane land this morning. And we're getting it from all over the world. And we're also sending things that we don't need to other parts.

I just spoke to the Prime Minister of Italy and we have additional capacity. We have additional product that we don't need. We're going to be sending approximately $100 million worth of things, of surgical and medical and hospital things to Italy. And Giuseppe was very, very happy. I will tell you, they're having a very hard time.

Joining us this afternoon are CEOs of the great American companies that are fulfilling their patriotic duty by producing or donating medical equipment to help meet our most urgent needs. What they're doing is incredible, and these are great companies.

Darius Adamczyk of Honeywell, you know that. And Darius has been somebody that I have dealt with in the past and he's a great leader of a great company. Debra Waller of Jockey International. A friend of mine, Mike Lindell of My Pillow, boy, do you sell those pillows, it's unbelievable what you do.

David Taylor of Procter & Gamble and Greg Hayes of United Technologies Corporation. And I just want to tell all of you that America is very grateful to you and what you've done, an amazing job you've done and we thank you very much.

I would like you to come up and say a couple of words if you might about your companies. Mike, come on up. Come on up fellows, please. Come on up. You have to say what you're doing because it's been really incredible. Go ahead, Mike.

MIKE LINDELL, CEO, MY PILLOW INC.: OK, well, MyPillow is a U.S. vertically integrated company, which has been forced to adjust to the changing business --

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: All right. We're going to continue to monitor the White House briefing and get the latest information. The President now saving by what he has done so far. In his words, we could save 1 million American lives.

Some of his experts are suggesting at least 100,000 people here in the United States might die over the next several weeks, even as a result of all of these steps, maybe as many as 200,000. We heard those estimates coming from Ambassador Deborah Birx and Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Let me bring in John King, if he's with us right now, get his immediate assessment on what we're hearing from the President, John?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: At the beginning, Wolf, the President was trying to be a pep talk if you will, a pep leader to the country saying this is a critical time the next 30 days. We need to follow the guidelines, we need to beat the coronavirus, an active role for the President in trying to convince the country. He just told the country April is gone. The social guidelines will stay in place, the distancing, the economy will stay shut down. He was trying to say how critical it was if we all behave.

Then he got into this self-congratulatory piece of the briefing, which has been become a trademark of these briefings, Secretary Azar come up, CEOs come up to praise him for what he's doing. And there's where we are at the fundamental question. This is Monday, let's see where we are Friday. But the President keeps saying everything is great. These tests are getting out there. Supplies are getting delivered. Now Ford is going to help make ventilators. That all may be fine and good in the long term.

But the President himself says the peak is coming Easter, that's fewer than two weeks away, less than two weeks away. He had a call with governors today. Wolf, Democrats and Republicans saying we appreciate all the help, but it's not here today. And so there's a disconnect between what the President says in these daily briefings about how great things are and what the governors will tell you in the affected states.

Now, we're wrapping up. There has to be some lag time that we have to all understand, but the governors say this is critical. They need it now. The President keeps saying everything is fine. So there is a disconnect between the White House rhetoric that's very optimistic and the governors that say when it comes to certain issues, especially with the peak still coming in New York, in these other states around the country, they need it now. That when Ford can produce it in 100 days.

BLITZER: Yes. New record. So far, nearly 500 people have died on this day, 500 -- nearly 500 people have died on this one day here in the United States, bring you the current total to 2,919.

You know, John, as we see what the President is saying, he says, as you correctly pointed out, we will have a great victory. We have no choice. The next 30 days will be challenging times.

But when he says the peak will only happen, the peak in the number of deaths we're talking about here in the United States over the next another two weeks suggesting that after two weeks, the numbers will presumably start to go down. But there's no evidence of that. We've heard very different assessments coming from some of the medical professionals.

KING: There is no evidence of that right now and that may be somewhat aspirational. But that is the best case scenario. The President has been told by Dr. Birx and Dr. Fauci, that if the social distancing guidelines stay in place, if the stay at home order stay in place.

I just saw your interview with Governor Hogan a few minutes ago here in the Washington D.C. area. Maryland, Virginia, the District of Columbia joining together, they think the very tough times, Wolf, are 10, 12, 15, 18 days away. They think it's going to continue to get worse.

So when the President says that there's some risk there, you want the President to be aspirational, you want the President to say we will get through this. But the President, remember, was very dismissive at the beginning. Now that he has signed on with the scientists and say these things have to stay in place, the question is, does he get too hopeful on that front as well?

But he has been told that if everybody follows the guidelines, if the states do their job, that somewhere around Easter, he believes, they will be the apex. We're going to have to watch as this plays out. Every day, another state reports a giant spike in numbers, some of those are smaller numbers in New York or California, but the numbers are still going up and going up.

So the immediate challenge here is to enforce the social distancing guidelines. And then I would say the second challenge is the governors who are experiencing high caseloads now, high stress and anxiety in their hospital systems now, they need supplies now.

And one of the things they've been frustrated with, they're grateful the President is wrapping things up. Many of them wish he would have done this sooner. Many of them wish he would even now be more aggressive in ordering companies using the Defense Production Act to do more and to do it more quickly.

But there are some questions whether it's ventilators, whether it's masks, whether it's other critical supplies. There are a lot of governors who say, Mr. President, you know, you say things are going to get great. They are not great today.

BLITZER: Yes, they certainly are not. The numbers keep exploding. Kaitlan Collins is watching all of this closely with us as well. Kaitlan, we're hearing various numbers coming from the President within two weeks. He says there will be a peak and that presumably it will start to go down. But as you know, he extended the social distancing guidelines until the end of April and yesterday he said, there might not be a turnaround until early June. So, what are you hearing from behind the scenes?

[17:35:13]

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, those dates are something that's really surprising to hear the President given that not only publicly last week but also privately he was insisting that they were going to hopefully reach that Easter day to open up the country. But Dr. Fauci said they had some pretty blunt conversations with the President over the weekend where he, you know, came to grips with the fact that really extending the deadlines was the only option.

And right now what you're hearing from the President in the Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar there in the Rose Garden a few moments ago, before he started inviting these CEOs to come up to the lectern was talking about testing and ventilators. One on testing, they had this, you know, lab kit there that they say is this portable, lab test kit that's going to be able to produce results, hopefully, within minutes.

That is something that they're introducing that we know the President has been -- they've been talking about privately, though, of course, the question is when is it going to be available on a widespread scale? They said they're going to start sending some of those out starting tomorrow.

But the questions of when that reaches everyone in the availability is going to be the big question, because we know there are a lot of states that are actually still struggling with testing. Some of these are smaller states, more rural areas that don't have the same kind of capacities that you've seen ramp up in places like San Francisco, and in New York. And those are still going to be vitally important as well because, you

know, Wolf, some of those people are very far away from their closest hospital and they're in very rural areas. And so that's going to be a big point of concern that we've been hearing from governors and what they've been expressing to the White House in recent days is they are not only dealing with this, you know, just like the rest of the nation.

But some of these places are just now starting to see how many people in their state, how many confirmed cases of coronavirus they have. That certainly is happening in my home state of Alabama. It's something you've been reading the reports on where people didn't realize how serious this was until more recent days and they saw how many people have this.

The other thing, Wolf, is the President is talking about ventilators. He says that Ford is now committed to also start making ventilators as well. And he says once the U.S. has more than it needs, they're going to start sending them to other countries. So, of course, we should be very careful to say that right now, we are nowhere near close to a place like that based on the conversations that you've either had with people inside the White House or health experts who say they do not currently have the ventilators they need.

Now we know the President has invoked the Defense Production Act to get General Motors to start making ventilators. Though he said they've already started. We should note that yesterday, G.M. said they have not started yet because it's a very complicated process. They've got to retool their factories to be able to make these complicated machines. So that is still something that is going to take some time, but he is saying they are ramping up.

We know he said they want to get 100,000 ventilators in 100 days. Of course, the question is, you know, is that going to be enough ventilators when they start needing them in the next few weeks? As we are asked, the President said he expects to hit a peak of coronavirus cases in the next two weeks. Though we haven't heard that from the doctors. We've only heard that from the President so far. But that is what they're predicting right now.

BLITZER: Yes, he has accepted the doctors suggestion based on models that maybe 100,000 or maybe even 200,000 people in the United States will die from coronavirus over the next several weeks. And he said it could have been worse, it could have been 1 million or 2 million, so he's looking at those numbers 100,000, 200,000 as relatively good. Right now approaching 3,000 deaths here in the United States.

Daniel Dale is with us as well. Daniel, you listen -- always listen very closely to the President. You're a fact checker. What did you hear?

DANIEL DALE, CNN REPORTER: Wolf, I haven't heard anything so far yet today that I could immediately call objectively false. That's an improvement on Trump's previous performances. But I'd caution we need to wait until the Q&A portion to see if he's going to be factual throughout. Even with this largely factual performance so far, I think there is some important context we need to provide. When the President touts chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine, we need to point out every time that there was not definitive evidence that these medications used for malaria, arthritis and other illnesses, actually are safe and effective in treating the coronavirus.

As Kaitlan alluded to, when he touts how many tests have been done overall in the United States, it's important to note that, one, the U.S. lags other nations per capita, and that particular places in the United States are still short. So I think, you know, Trump is not lying so far. But let's keep the facts in mind as we listen to him.

BLITZER: We will listen. And once the questions begin, we'll go back to that briefing over in the Rose Garden over at the White House.

So Dr. Sanjay Gupta, is with us as well. The good news, the President says, Sanjay, that over 1 million Americans have now been tested.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, this is obviously a significant improvement and, you know, part of the strategy from a public health standpoint to try and obviously prevent these number of people from getting sick and number of people dying, Wolf, the numbers that you've been talking about, keep those numbers as low as possible. I mean, you know, there's -- if you look at countries around the world that have done a particularly good job such as Germany, for example, in terms of really decreasing the number of people who got sick or died from this, it was really about testing and frankly, early testing as well.

[17:40:12]

So it's good that we're testing. I think the testing obviously needs to be done in some of these states now where there's been little testing and the assumption, I think, in many of those states is that there are a few cases. But obviously, without testing, Wolf, we just don't know.

I think, you know, this is significant change, Wolf, since you and I last spoke on Friday in terms of now the plan, in terms of social distancing and the recommendations to last another month, but it's starting to sound more in line with some of the other countries like China, like South Korea, that have sort of already been through this timetable.

Their entire sort of curve was longer than what this will be six weeks. So it is possible that even on April 30, you know, they're going to have to re-evaluate and see whether this needs to continue. I know that's not what people want to hear, but keep in mind, Wolf, that if you do this again as we've talked about, very diligently now, it should shorten and decrease the number of patients, you know, in the future, Wolf. So that's ultimately what this is all about.

BLITZER: I just want to get your reaction, Sanjay, to what Dr. Fauci said on CNN this morning. It's pretty stark. He said this, quote, I wouldn't be surprised if we saw 100,000 deaths, 100,000 deaths here in the United States approaching 3,000 deaths right now. That would be 97,000 more deaths in the United States. Is that realistic? What do you think?

GUPTA: Well look, Wolf, I mean, obviously I don't think anyone gets any joy at all or anything in terms of talking about these types of numbers. But, you know, frankly, Wolf, I think that the projections, some of the projections that you hear are even higher than that. You keep in mind, you talk about just the seasonal flu in any given year kills tens of thousands of people in 2017, it killed some 60,000 people.

And as we know, Wolf, this is far more lethal, and far more contagious. There is no vaccine for this. So the idea that without any sort of, you know, measures or, you know, just sort of ineffective mitigation measures, the numbers could reach several 100,000 even into the millions sort of range is something public health officials have talked about. This 100,000 number, that is really a, in some ways, Wolf, a best case scenario in the sense that it really counts on the fact that people are really following these recommendations to stay at home and to try and break the cycle of transmission of this virus.

So yes, I think it's very realistic, sadly. And I think that it's even one of those things that's dependent still very much in how we behave. We cannot let up at this point. If we do, I think the numbers will be even higher than that, Wolf.

BLITZER: Well, is it accurate that if these steps had not been put in place, the stay at home orders, the social distancing orders, as the President said yesterday, it could have been 2 million people down here in the United States?

GUPTA: I mean, you know, these are all models, Wolf. It's a little tough to say, but, you know, if you talk about something that is spreading, you know, very robustly throughout a community. You know, two to three times more contagious than flu, and up to 10 times, perhaps even more than that, more deadly than flu, then yes. I mean, that's when you start to get those sorts of numbers. I mean, you know, this is pathogen that obviously is can cause a lot of disease and death.

One of the important things, Wolf, that is emerging -- and we saw this in Italy, and we saw this in other countries as well -- is that in part, the number of people who die is determined by how serious the viruses but also very much determined by how the medical system is able to respond. This whole flattening the curve concept. So if a lot of these patients show up in these emergency rooms in these hospitals, before the hospitals have the capacity to care for them, then even people who would have otherwise been saved, people who would have otherwise survived, sadly won't be able to.

So that really factors into this as well. So there's two things how serious the virus is, and how well our medical system can keep up. That's what this flattening of the curve is all about.

Right now, you're hearing about hospital systems that are getting pretty full. In New York, as you heard, Wolf, they expect the peak to be around mid April. But in Florida, Wolf, they expect the peak to be in mid May. So this is going to happen at various timetables around the country as well and we have to be prepared for that.

BLITZER: Yes, we certainly do. You know, Kaitlan, I just want to point out to our viewers, and I want -- Kaitlan Collins is with us -- and I want our viewers to appreciate that at least the President is now accepting the recommendations, the strong advice of his medical experts like Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx, you know, he was earlier reluctant to do so.

[17:45:05]

Actually, let's listen in. The Q&A is about to begin.

TRUMP: -- some updates as to where we are where we think we're going and timing. I think timing is going to be very important because we have to get our country back. We have to get our country back to where it was. It may be beyond where it was because we've learned so much. But we will have lost a lot of people.

And in many ways they hear us, and if you look at what's happening with our medical professionals, it's a danger. They're warriors. Men and women are doing a job that the likes of which I don't think anyone's ever seen. I see them coming out of planes today going into New York, going into the most dangerous locations, dangerous areas, and they go in there and they just want to do the job. And you see the numbers, you see the numbers like I see the numbers.

I have some friends that are unbelievably sick. We thought they were going in from a mild stay. And in one case, he's unconscious, in a coma. And you say, how did that happen? So I just want to thank all of the great professionals, men and women, doctors and nurses and paramedics and first responders and law enforcement.

By the way, if you look at New York, and you see how the effect that it's had on law enforcement, it's been incredible. These are great people. Firefighters, great people, they're helping in so many different ways. So thank you very much. And if you'd like we'll take a few questions. John, please.

JOHN ROBERTS, CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, FOX NEWS: Thank you, Mr. President. Yesterday, you said that you would be extending the guidelines through the end of April and that you'd be giving specifics tomorrow.

TRUMP: Right.

ROBERTS: Do you expected the guidelines will just carry on the guidelines that have been in place now for 15 days? Could there potentially be some modification? Also, you have some travel restrictions that come up for reconsideration --

TRUMP: Yes.

ROBERTS: -- the one from the E.U. on April 13th.

TRUMP: Right.

ROBERTS: Canada, U.S., Mexico border on April the 21st, what will happen with all of that?

TRUMP: They'll be staying, and we may add a few more. But the guidelines will be very much as they are, maybe even toughened up a little bit. But they're having a big impact. They are having a tremendous impact, and we're starting to see it. And that's the key, we're starting to see the impact that they're having.

ROBERTS: And if I could ask you too, you're talking about Ford now ramping up production of ventilators, the government is sending thousands of ventilators across the country. Clearly, the supply is increasing. But when you look at the production curve against the hospitalization curve, can you guarantee that everyone who needs a ventilator in the next few weeks will be able to get one?

TRUMP: Well, I think that some are ramping up to a level that they're not going to have to, John, and I think that we also have kept in reserve. We have almost 10,000 ventilators in our line. We have them -- we've held back just because we did the stockpile. We didn't want to give them because we don't know where the emergency -- this hits -- it hits like so fast, it comes so quickly.

And we have 10,000. We're probably going to send some of them now. We've been sending a lot to Michigan and various other states. We'll probably send some additional ones to Michigan. New York has been doing very well, but we can add some more to New York. We're adding them to the areas that are having a problem.

Even Alabama, all of a sudden, flared up a little bit, as you saw over the last couple of days, and we'll send them down to Alabama. So we have 10,000, we kept them for this very specific purpose. It sounds like a lot, but it's not when you think about it, but we're making a lot. And when you see, you're talking about hundreds of thousands being made in a very short period of time. Because if you look at what just -- so we have now 10 companies at least making the ventilators.

And we say go ahead because, honestly, other countries really they'll never be able to do it. It's a very complex piece of equipment and it's big and expensive.

ROBERTS: So do you believe as we approach this peak in a couple of weeks that there will be enough for the American population?

TRUMP: I do think so. Yes, I do think so. I think we're going to be in very good shape. And we had a great call today with the governors and they were -- I actually said, I hope that the media is listening to this call because it was a really good call. And that was randomly selected largely. Democrats and Republicans and they're -- I think for the most part, they were saying thank you for doing a great job. And we discussed that at the end of the call. So it really -- people are very happy with what we're doing.

Now, the circumstances are so terrible because of what's going on. But I think they're very impressed by the federal government. I watched that beautiful ship floating in today into, you know, weeks ahead of schedule, almost four weeks ahead of schedule into New York Harbor, the Comfort and I watched the Mercy floating in two Los Angeles a week ago, almost a week ago, and they are stuck. They are really ready to go. They're stocked with both talent and tremendous amounts of equipment.

[17:50:10]

And the Navy and everybody else involved, they got it ready so fast. It's just incredible what they can do. They've geared up. That's why -- I mean, I am so impressed by the people involved. Mike and I were talking about it before the level of genius to put it all together so quickly. This wasn't a month ago. Nobody ever heard of this. Nobody had any idea.

The Mercy was being maintained. It was in maintenance for a month. And when they heard we needed it, and I was surprised, they said, sir, we're ready to go. I said, what do you mean? You're not going to be ready for three weeks? No, sir, we're all ready to go. It was incredible. So -- and we've had many instances like this.

I think the building of the hospital 2,900 beds in a matter of days, a few days is just incredible. Governor Cuomo was impressed and Gavin Newsom was impressed by what we've been doing, with Gavin in California, in Los Angeles area in particular, but really San Francisco, all over, all over California.

When you look at what we're doing with Michigan, we're getting along very well with Michigan. It's great, great place. We're sending a lot of things to Michigan because that's becoming a hotbed especially a specific areas, you know, it's become very hot. It's become -- I don't know, could even at some point supersede but it's got to be taken care of.

So we're -- the relationship we have with the governors, I just wish you could -- because we took a lot of calls from a lot of different states. And I wish you could have heard even a thing where like the governor of Ohio calls where he has a company that does the sterilization, but they have a problem because it's not going quickly at the FDA. And I call up Steve and Steve comes at and he said we'll get it done and they checked it and they got it done almost immediately.

And originally, they were approving it for 10,000 masks. And then it was supposed to be for 80,000 and they ultimately approved it for 120,000. It's a tremendous number. And I kept wondering why are they sterilizing these masks? I assume maybe you couldn't do it, but then I'd look at them and they'd look, like you know, it's not cloth. It's something that looks like it could be sterilized, and that's what they've done.

And that's the machine that is over there actually. They have a piece of the machine over there. I won't bother showing it to you. And this is incredible when you talk about five minutes, 15 minutes, and highly accurate and not nearly as disturbing to do as the other tests. So we've just gotten better. We're doing things that nobody else ever thought of. Please.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The DMV has issued state at home orders. But Governor Ralph Northam of Virginia took it pretty far. He issued a 70- day stay at home order. Is that constitutional first of? And secondly, do you think it's warranted to go ahead and issued a 70-day guidance at this point?

TRUMP: Well, we're letting the governors do in their states pretty much what they want with our supervision and they consult with us in all cases. Some go further than others as you know, I mean, I could give you plenty of examples, but I'm not going to do that because we never want to be controversial. But some of the governors have taken it a step further. And people are questioning that but, look, staying at home with respect to what we're talking about, doesn't bother me at all. People should be staying at home, that's what we want.

OAN, please, OAN.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 2,405 Americans have died from coronavirus in the last 60 days.

TRUMP: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Meanwhile, you have 2,369 children who are killed by their mothers through elective abortions each day. That's 16,500 children killed every week.

TRUMP: Two states have suspended elective abortion to make more resources available for coronavirus cases, that's Texas and Ohio. Do you agree with states who are placing coronavirus victims above elective abortions? And should more states be doing the same?

TRUMP: Well, I think what we're doing is we're trying to, as a group governors, and that's Republicans and Democrats we're just working together to solve this problem. That's been a -- what you're mentioning has been going on for a long time. And it's a sad event, a lot of sad events in this country.

But what we're doing is now we're working on the virus, we're working on that hidden enemy. And I think we're doing a great job on -- as good job as you can possibly do when Tony and Deborah came up with numbers yesterday to say that if we did nothing you could lose 2.2 up to 2. -- maybe beyond that, or maybe beyond, but 2.2 million people if we did nothing. And I can't tell you what the unfortunate final total is going to be but it's going to be a very small fraction of that. So we're doing an awfully good job I think with what we're doing.

Please go ahead. Please.

[17:55:12]

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you considering all a nationwide stay at home order? I know there's a lot of states that have put them in place, but some haven't. I was wondering if you were considering some sort of broad stay at home order. And I have a question for Dr. Birx, if you don't mind. TRUMP: Yes. Well, we've talked about it. We -- you know, there -- obviously, there are some parts of the country that are in far deeper trouble than others. There are other parts that, frankly, are not in trouble at all. So hopefully, we're going to be able to keep it that way by doing what we're doing.

So we talked about quarantine, as you know, the other day, a group came to me and they wanted to do the quarantine and I said let's think about it and we did it, we studied it. And by the time the evening came, it just was something that was very unwieldy, very tough to enforce. And something we didn't want to do. But we did advisory and I think that's doing well.

I mean, I see -- I look at the streets, you look at New York where it is -- I look down Fifth Avenue. Today, they were showing a shot of Fifth Avenue and sort of primetime and there was almost nobody on Fifth Avenue. I've never seen that before. There was no car, there was no anything. So I think the people of this country have done an incredible job. If we do that, we will let you know. But it's pretty unlikely I would think at this time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And can I ask a quick question for Dr. Birx also?

TRUMP: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So Dr. Birx, if you don't mind, you had mentioned today that this model that predicts 100,000 deaths is if we do things almost perfectly. So I wanted to know, are we currently doing things almost perfectly or are there more things we need to be doing to cap, you know, to not exceed that 100,000, 200,000 model?

TRUMP: Please, come.

DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: Thank you. Thank you. I think that's a really great question. And tomorrow we'll go through all of the graphs and all the information that we took to the President for the decision. But when you -- and I just want to thank the data team that's working day and night to get -- I mean, I usually get my data about 2:00 a.m. from them and they assimilate all the data from all the states.

And when you look at all of the states together, all of them are moving in exactly the same curves. And so that's why we really believe this needs to be federal guidance, so that every state understands that it may look like two cases today that become 20, that become 200, that become 2,000. And that's what we're trying to prevent.

And I think states still have that opportunity. But they're going to have to do all of these recommended -- I mean, these recommendations are recommendations that the globe is using. And so we really do recommend that every governor, every mayor looks very carefully and ensures that their communities are utilizing these guidance

TRUMP: Thank you very much. Next.

It is amazing. You look at Louisiana and for a long time, it was just staying at -- nothing. And then all of a sudden, I look one day, and I see a lot and a lot and a lot and then it explodes. And now we're working very carefully and very powerfully with them. We're building hospitals, we're building a lot of different things for Louisiana. So it's very important.

Yes, please. Go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, Dr. Fauci has warned hat this could be seasonal, cyclical virus. So -- and maybe both of you could comment on this and Dr. Birx as well. Are you prepared for this to strike again, say in the fall, all the efforts that are taking place right now to contain this to be proactive? And --

TRUMP: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- you do --

TRUMP: Well-prepared. I hope it doesn't happen. Doctor, would you like to say something about that? I hope it doesn't happen, but we're certainly prepared.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY & INFECTIOUS DISEASES: In fact, I would anticipate that that would actually happen because of the degree of transmissibility. However, if you come back in the fall, it will be a totally different ballgame of what happened when we first got hit with it in the beginning of this year. There'll be several things that will be different.

Our ability to go out and be able to test, identify, isolate, and contact trace will be orders of magnitude better than what it was just a couple of months ago. In addition, we have a number of clinical trials that are looking at a variety of therapeutic interventions, we hope one or more of them will be available. And importantly, as I mentioned to you many times at these briefings, is that we have a vaccine that's on track and multiple other candidates.

So I would anticipate that, you know, a year to a year and a half, we'd be able to do it under an emergency use. If we start seeing an efficacy signal, we may be able to even use a vaccine at the next season. So things are going to be very, very different. What we're going through now is going to be more than just lessons learned. It's going to be things that we have available to us that we did not have before.

TRUMP: OK, please. Go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Mr. President.