Return to Transcripts main page


Global Pandemic; Economic Fallout; Interview With Gov. Phil Murphy (D-NJ). Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired March 31, 2020 - 16:30   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome back.

On a conference call with governors on Monday, President Trump made the astounding statement that he had not -- quote -- "heard about testing in weeks," suggesting he did not know that the U.S. remains way behind in testing on a per capita basis.

This, combined with his wild suggestions that those dealings with the crisis and its epicenter, New York, are perhaps doing something unscrupulous with the personal protective equipment doctors and nurses need -- there's no evidence of that -- combined with his accusations about New York stockpiling ventilators, a charge that the governor of New York called incorrect and grossly uninformed, there's a reason that President Trump attacks reporters with personal invective when they read back to him comments from his weeks of downplaying the threat of the virus.


The president does not want you to remember that, a month ago, he was telling you that the U.S. would soon be down to close to zero infected individuals.

And while the president may be finally listening to his top health officials, he remains empirically a troubling source of misinformation.

And, as CNN's Kaitlan Collins reports, some of the president's advisers are still encouraging him to not listen to his doctor.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Today, the White House will formally reissue nationwide guidance after President Trump determined another month of social distancing is necessary.

Trump made that decision after being shown models that predicted hundreds of thousands of Americans could die, and polling that revealed the nation favored keeping stricter measures in place.

DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: So, going through all of the graphs and all the information that we took to the president for the decision.

COLLINS: Today, the public is expected to get its first look at those models that guided Trump's decision, though some in the White House have privately questioned whether they're overblown.

This week, Trump said officials should know within days if a drug that treats malaria works for coronavirus, but, today, Dr. Tony Fauci said it's still too soon to say.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NIAID DIRECTOR: There is no definitive evidence that this works.

COLLINS: The president has made many claims about his coronavirus response that are misleading or not true.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Anybody that wants to test can get a test.

COLLINS: On a call with governors yesterday, the president claimed that the nation's testing problems have been resolved.

TRUMP: I haven't heard about testing in weeks. We have tested more now than any nation in the world. But I haven't heard about testing being a problem.

COLLINS: Maryland's Republican Governor Larry Hogan says the president is wrong, and the problem hasn't been fixed.

GOV. LARRY HOGAN (R-MD): Yes, that's just not true. It's an aspirational thing. And they have taken -- they have got some new things in the works, but they're not actually out on the streets. And that's -- no state has enough testing.

Trump once claimed that Google was building a national Web site that would tell Americans where they can get tested.

TRUMP: Google is helping to develop a Web site.

COLLINS: But, right now, that Web site is only available for people who live in four California counties.

While he once assured the public that the coronavirus outbreak was under control...

TRUMP: It's something that we have tremendous control over.

COLLINS: ... his health experts now say that, even if social distancing measures are executed perfectly, models predict that between 100,000 and 200,000 people could die.

TRUMP: You're talking about hundreds of thousands, and maybe more than that, numbers of people.


COLLINS: Now, Jake, I noted that there had been some skepticism in the White House about those models.

That's because a lot of them are based on assumptions, because there are still so many unknowns about the coronavirus going forward.

So -- but that's really basically what they have to go off of at this point inside the West Wing.

TAPPER: All right, Kaitlan Collins, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

The U.S. economy is taking hit after hit. Goldman Sachs expects unemployment to hit 15 percent by the middle of the year. It also anticipates the U.S. economy will shrink by a third.

Let's bring in CNN business anchor Julia Chatterley.

Julia, these are staggering figures. And add today consumer confidence fell to a nearly three-year low. Are we going to see a wave of bad economic news basically every single day until this crisis is over?

JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN BUSINESS ANCHOR: Unfortunately, yes, at least in the short term.

And there's something very important to remember about the data that we get this week. Most of this, including the confidence data today, was collected before we saw the real suppression and the economic shutdown across the United States economy.

So, the only real data point that we can point to this week is those continuing claims, the unemployment benefits. On Thursday, Moody's is suggesting we could see another 4.5 million people claiming for unemployment benefits.

If you add those to what we saw last week, Jake, we're already more than halfway towards Goldman Sachs' estimate there for peak unemployment. And we have done it in two to three weeks. It's frightening.

TAPPER: And, Julia, today, J.C. Penney, LOFT, Ann Taylor joined companies such as Macy's and The Gap and Kohl's, all furloughing thousands, thousands of retail employees.

Is this a sign, at least a partially encouraging sign, that these are furloughs and not layoffs?

CHATTERLEY: It's such an important point.

Across the retail sector now, we have seen over 500,000 workers furloughed, and not fired. And if they're furloughed, the critical point here is, is that they remain getting health care benefits, critical at this point in time.


Now, these big companies will probably have to get loans, so that they can pay their workers in the short term. But the hope is that, when we get the other side of this, these workers are in place, and that should make the recovery quicker.

It's just the part of getting to the other side of this, Jake, as you were just hearing there, which is the big unknown.

TAPPER: And, Julia, I'd never even heard of Zoom before two or three weeks ago, but now it's huge. It's a videoconferencing service.

And Zoom is now responding to the New York state attorney general, who flagged network flaws that might allow intruders to hijack a user's Webcam. "The New York Times" reporting that hackers interrupted a Webinar on anti-Semitism with white supremacist messages.

The FBI said it received complaints of conferences disrupted with pornographic images, threatening language.

What does Zoom have to say about this?

CHATTERLEY: They say they take privacy very seriously, that they're willing to give the attorney general information in request of their questions.

The bottom line is, these guys have zoomed to attention, with everybody working from home, students from home as well. They're struggling to cope with the amount of scrutiny. They have got a class- action lawsuit too.

The bottom line here, Jake, this app is free. Nothing in life is free. So if you're downloading it, you're using it, great. But just try and get comfortable with the terms and conditions that have been updated. And remember that you're paying something in terms of access to your data.

TAPPER: You're always paying something.


TAPPER: Julia Chatterley, thank you so much.

Coming up next, I'm going to talk to the governor of the Garden State, New Jersey, the state that's been hit hardest-hit behind New York when it comes to the number of people infect, the shockingly note low number of ventilators New Jersey has.

That's next.



TAPPER: There's been tremendous focus on New York state, the current U.S. epicenter of the virus outbreak.

But New Jersey, just across the river, now has the second highest number of confirmed cases in the nation, close to 19,000, along with at least 267 deaths.

Joining me now is the Democratic governor of the Garden State, Phil Murphy.

Governor Murphy, thanks so much for joining us.

You said New Jersey needs 2,300 ventilators, and, so far, you have received 300. Is the federal government helping you to acquire the 2,000 more that you anticipate you will need?

GOV. PHIL MURPHY (D-NJ): Yes, Jake, good to be with you.

We're turning over every stone. Our ask was for 2,300. As you mentioned, we got 300 overnight. We're grateful for that. We need them urgently.

And we need the federal government. And they know this. The administration knows this. We need a good slug of the balance. And, separately, we're doing everything we can to find other avenues.

But we need a lot more out of the federal stockpile as well.

TAPPER: We have heard stories from governors and mayors about how frustrating it is for you all to compete against each other for ventilators and PPE and masks, as if one -- I think some -- one person described it as the Wild West or the "Lord of the Flies."

I want you to take a listen to Rhode Island's governor from earlier today.


GOV. GINA RAIMONDO (D-RI): I want to be very clear about this.

Right now, in this country, we do not have enough ventilators to meet our needs. We do not have enough masks and respirators and goggles to meet our needs.


TAPPER: Do you agree?

MURPHY: I think it's pretty clear.

I mean, at least in New Jersey, we are light on beds, although the federal government, to their credit, are helping us build some field hospitals. We're light on personal protective equipment. There's no doubt about it. We're getting a lot of donations. And we're turning over every stone.

And we're light on ventilators. And so the fact of the matter is, we are going into this sort of with one arm tied behind our back and making the best of a situation.

TAPPER: CNN has learned that the president insisted on a call with governors yesterday -- you were on the call -- that there are no problems with testing in this country as far as he knew.

What was your response when he said that, because, obviously, it's not true?

MURPHY: Listen, we were faced right from the get-go -- we started meeting on this in January.

And in a perfect world, you would do what South Korea has done and you would test -- you would have universal testing. We knew right from the outset we were going to get limited supplies, particularly on the specimen intake side and the PPE to protect our health care workers.

So, right from the get-go, we have only tested symptomatic people. We have now got 25 different locations, I think, in the state. So, we can't let -- we can't let what otherwise would be a perfect world stop us from at least getting to the folks who have symptoms.

And that's what we have been aggressively doing. We're -- we're playing the hand were dealt right now, Jake. I don't know how better way to say it.

TAPPER: President Trump obviously has publicly attacked some of your colleagues, fellow governors, Governor Inslee of Washington, Whitmer of Michigan. In his view, they're not appreciative enough of the federal effort.

Do you ever find yourself holding your tongue when it comes to criticizing the federal response, for fear that the president will take some action that will end up hurting the citizens of New Jersey?

MURPHY: Listen, I don't think I pull any punches. And I'm sure the president doesn't pull any punches.

As I have said to many folks, I don't wake up in the morning getting to choose between President X or President Y. President Trump is the president. And so we have to have a good working relationship with the administration, whether we like how we got here or not.


And it's quite clear we're undermanned and underprepared. My job is to play the hand, as I say, that we have been dealt and make the best of this. And we're not going to -- we're going to rely on our federal partners.

But we're also going to turn over every single stone and explore every avenue we can in the state, around the country and around the world.

TAPPER: And you're planning to open field hospitals next week.

The state has brought back over 3,600 retired health care workers. Are you confident that you're going to have enough to fight this virus as we head into the peak over the next few weeks?

MURPHY: We're going to see.

I mean, Jake, we are doing everything we can. We basically have two strategies, very simple, flatten the damn curve, stay at home, don't go out unless you have to, and, God willing, bring that curve and flatten it as low as we can.

And, on the other hand, with beds, PPE, ventilators, health care workers -- as you note, it's now over 4,000 folks who signed up and said they want to help. We have to do both sides of this. We can't just manage the inputs. We have got to manage both the inputs and the potential outputs.

TAPPER: All right, God bless.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, thanks for your time. Let us know how we can help bring attention to anything you need that you're not getting to help the citizens of New Jersey.

MURPHY: Will do, Jake. Thank you.

TAPPER: Coming up next: the drastic steps one country is taking, turning a stadium into a jail for those violating lockdown and using sanitizer meant for buses on people.

Our reporters around the globe, we're going to them next.



TAPPER: In our world lead: European hospitals are warning they could run out of essential drugs for ICU patients in just days in the hardest-hit areas.

And in India, a cricket stadium has been turned into a makeshift jail for people who violate India's lockdown restrictions.

We have CNN reporters around the world.

Let me start right now with CNN's Nick Paton Walsh, who joins us now from London.

Nick, the U.K. has just confirmed the youngest victim to coronavirus, a 13-year-old boy.


Not much else known at this stage, Jake. This would be the youngest death in the United Kingdom, one of the youngest, sadly, in Europe, and, of course, people will be now asking whether or not this tragically young victim -- remember, cases around the world so rarely see people below the age of 20, 12 even admitted to ICU, whether there were any underlying health conditions here at all.

But this just accentuates the gravity of what's unfolding here in the United Kingdom. The death toll went up to 1,789 today, up 27 percent in one day, one of the largest leaps we have seen. And many are concerned that, certainly here in London, the capital, the peak may be coming as quickly as this weekend. Is Britain ready? It's unclear. A large hospital being built on the

banks of the River Thames in just a week to prepare for the overflow of cases here, but the government's struggling to answer basic question today about why so few tests have been done here in the U.K. -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Nick Paton Walsh, stay safe, my friend.

CNN's Sam Kiley joins me now live from Abu Dhabi.

Sam, migrant workers in India, I'm told, are being sprayed with a potent sanitizer that's meant to sanitize buses?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this was a case in which 5,000 workers, Jake, were sprayed with a disinfectant containing bleach that, as you say, was used to really clean busses by what were described as overzealous health officials.

And that is because there are hundreds of thousands of unemployed migrants, people who've lost their jobs because of the three-week shutdown, the 21-day shutdown announced by Prime Minister Modi across that nation, that's now halfway through.

They're trying to return to their homes. They're destitute. And the Indians are having to create, effectively, refugee camps to deal with some of them. They have got 600,000 people in internal camps, a feeding program for 2.3 million people, and a recovery package, Jake, of $25 billion when it finally comes through.

But, at the moment, the concern is the spread of the virus by these migrant laborers returning home.

TAPPER: All right, Sam Kiley, thank you so much. Stay safe.

Finally, some relief from the stress and sadness of this crisis.

He could be the most popular Italian American since old blue eyes himself. Dr. Anthony Fauci is the man America is relying on. His steady guidance has turned him into a social media sensation.

A donut shop in Rochester, New York, put the doc on a special donut with red, white and blue sprinkles. You can now buy Anthony Fauci socks on Etsy, along with all kinds of other Fauci swag.

A clam bar on Long Island is now also selling Fauci linguine, claiming the sauce itself was invented in the doctor's native Sicily, available pickup only, of course.

And speaking of Italian Americans that we love, before we go, we want to send some well-wishes to a member of our CNN family, Chris Cuomo. Cuomo regrettably tested positive for the coronavirus.

We're all thinking and praying and sending our love to you and your beautiful family, Chris.