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Louisiana Coronavirus Cases Surge Past 4,000; CNN Analysis: NY's Rate of Increase in New Cases Appears to be Slowing; CDC Considers Everyday Americans Wear Masks; Montana Governor Says Needs More Tests as Trump Says Sees No Problem with Tests; Consumer Confidence Plunges as Coronavirus Cases Soar; Chefs' Warehouse CEO, Chris Pappas, Discusses Adapting, Branching Out to Supply Food & to Help Employees. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired March 31, 2020 - 11:00   ET




JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm John King, in Washington. This is CNN's continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.

We begin this hour with the sober coronavirus reality. The world is in for a very long fight. In Indonesia, four nationals now banned from transiting across the country. In France, President Emmanuel Macron says his country needs at least 40 million masks per week.

Here in the United States, the case counts and death tolls are quickly clicking upwards. More than 161,000 cases, over 3,000 deaths here in the states after 5,074 Americans succumbed to the virus Monday, another one-day record. The death number here is likely to surpass the reported total in mainland China by the end of this day.

The scale of the American shutdown again growing. New stay-at-home orders went into effect overnight. And 75 percent of the United States, nearly 250 million Americans, now under those restrictions.

The life pause is also an economic one with spiraling consequences on your livelihood. Ford today, putting planned re-openings of its auto plants on hold and now won't say when its assembly lines will be back up and running.

That is just one slice of already huge job losses. The forecasters now expect to reach Great Depression levels. Goldman Sachs saying today the United States will hit 15 percent unemployment by the summer, 15 percent. That translates into 25 million Americans out of work. Dust Bowl levels of joblessness.

Goldman Sachs also saying the United States economy will now contract in both the first and second quarter of this year.

Amid the Dow headlines and expectations this will get worse, there are also some signs social distancing strategies driving the disruption are also beginning to disrupt the virus. A CNN analysis of the numbers in New York State show the number of coronavirus cases are still growing, but at a far slower pace.

Still, the surgeon general this morning, with a very stark warning: What New York looks like and feels like right now, your city could experience soon.


JEROME ADAMS, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: The rest of the country is following a similar trajectory right now as New York. They're at different places on the curve, but their curves are starting to look the same.


KING: CNN is on the ground in places emerging as the next hot spots here in the United States.

One of the states with the fastest rising death rate is Louisiana. Officials there are warning the state could run out of ventilators by this weekend.

CNN's Ed Lavandera is there on the ground for us.

Ed, what's the latest?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, John. The governor of Louisiana says this state is not over the hump of coronavirus cases. The cases now stand near 4,000, over 200 deaths. In the next couple of hours, the latest numbers will come out.

But this is a state that's really bracing for a crush of needs at hospitals across the state. And in the New Orleans area, in particular, because this is where the majority of cases are in this state.

The governor has requested 14,000 ventilators. So far, the state has only received about 192.

The governor says that he did get assurances from President Trump that another 150 ventilators would be sent here to Louisiana, but those haven't arrived and there's no timeline as to when that's going to happen, as far as we know so far. We're looking for an update on that.

This is a state that is continuing to urge people to shelter-in-place. The governor has extended the shelter-at-home order through April. Another clear sign here, John, that they expect this to get worse before it gets better -- John?

KING: Worse before it gets better and one of the many states with a big supply line question.

Ed Lavandera, I appreciate your reporting on the ground. Stay in touch. In New York, a line chart offers some, some promise. A CNN analysis

finds the rate of coronavirus infection is slowing down. But while that may be an inkling of longer-term hope, New York officials today say the need for hospital beds and ventilators are more urgent by the hour.

CNN's Brynn Gingras is live in New York for us.

Brynn, perhaps -- you don't want to raise people's hopes -- perhaps that's beginning to tilt in the right direction, but the needs are still desperate.

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, fingers crossed, John, that's where we are today. Remember, officials are asking for this constant need not just for today or tomorrow or even the next day. It's because this surge hasn't stopped. It's really weeks from now they're still going to need all this material.

But listen, all these field hospitals that are going up around New York City, it is literally changing the landscape of this city. We have this one here behind me. I'll talk about it in just a second.

But we've also learned the center where the U.S. Open is played is also going to be transformed into a hospital. We're also learning that FEMA is sending 250 ambulances to the New York City area to deal with the crush that's on those first responders, along with 500 paramedics. So that's good news there.


But, yes, let's stick you inside this hospital. We have a look with video. This is a hospital that was set up by a Christian group that came up to New York City from Saturday.

In three days' time, they were able to make this hospital in Central Park where usually people are sunbathing enjoying themselves. It's now a field hospital for overflow patients, COVID patients with 10 beds with ventilators, those precious, precious ventilators.

This is going to be a big help, along with all the other field hospitals that are across the city.

But also I've got to tell you that the governor at this point is still pleading for anyone who can help, personnel, health care workers, to come to New York City. Because, like you said at the top of the show, he says, we will be there for you when your surge hits in your community -- John?

KING: Brynn Gingras on the ground in New York for us. It is heartwarming to see all these people volunteering, the Christian group coming up to build a hospital. It's heartwarming to see every little bit help, helps, every little bit matters.

We'll hear from the governor a little later in the hour.

Brynn Gingras on the ground in New York City, thank you so much. With me to share their expertise and insights, the director of the

UCLA Center for Global Health, Anne Rimoin, and CNN medical analyst, Dr. Larry Brilliant.

I want to start with something Dr. Fauci said this morning. A CNN analysis, as we said at the top of the program, shows perhaps, perhaps the New York curve, instead of going straight up, is starting to arc a little bit. This is Dr. Fauci saying, maybe, but be careful.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY & INFECTIOUS DISEASES: We hope, and I believe it will happen, that we may start seeing a turnaround. But we haven't seen it yet. We're just pushing on the mitigation to hope that we do see that turnaround.

So what we're starting to see right now is just the inklings. And I don't want to put too much stock on it because you don't want to get overconfident, you just want to keep pushing on what you're doing.

You're starting to see that the daily increases are not in that steep incline, they're starting to be able to possibly flatten out.


KING: Dr. Brilliant, is there enough data yet? You hear our analysis in New York, you hear Dr. Fauci there. In California, people in the bay area do think the rate of increase has not been as severe as they anticipated because of the early action up in the bay area to put stay-at-home orders in place.

Do we have the daily yet or do we just have hope?

DR. LARRY BRILLIANT, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: I think Dr. Fauci is a master of wonderful words. He said inkling. I think that's right. We do see some beginning evidence in California and in Seattle a little bit and San Francisco that we can be optimistic just a little tiny bit, begin to have an inkling.

I want to caution everybody, it takes three or four weeks before the effect of social distancing is seen. And it was only the middle of march -- it's hard to believe two weeks ago -- that San Francisco and then California began this experiment in social distancing.

So it's logical to think that the models that predict that the curve will start dipping down the middle or third week of April, that sort of fits with how it takes almost three weeks or a month for social distancing to work.


BRILLIANT: But I'm optimistic that it will work.

KING: Let's hope that in several days it's not an inkling, it's a data point. You make pay very critical cautionary point there. Dr. Rimoin, very early on, when we started to cover this deeply, they

said don't wear a mask if you think you're well, wear a mask when you think you have symptoMs so you don't transmit it to others.

Now that conversation seems to be shifting. The CDC is considering, considering whether everyday Americans, who are supposed to be social distancing, but if you go to the grocery store, if you go for a walk, maybe you should put a mask on.

Listen to the surgeon general this morning saying not sure yet.


ADAMS: If you have a mask and it makes you feel better, by all means, wear it, but know that the more you touch your face, the more you put yourself at risk.

There may be a day we change our recommendations, particularly for areas that have large spread going on, about wearing cotton masks. Again, the data is not there yet.


KING: Dr. Rimoin, the surgeon general says the data is not there yet. Is there data that says it's not helpful? Is there data that says this is helpful? Is there data that says it's not helpful, people might thing psychologically I want to wear a mask but it's not helpful? And there are some that say don't do it early on, more a supply issue than a medical question.

DR. ANNE RIMOIN, PROFESSOR OF EPIDEMIOLOGY & DIRECTOR, UCLA CENTER FOR GLOBAL HEALTH: There are several issues at hand here. The first issue is -- this is a novel coronavirus, and that means we are learning about it in real time.

It is reasonable that recommendations can change as we understand more about the situation, what the virus is capable of doing in terms of spread, how infectious it is and the mechanisms for spread.

Now, there have been several cases now where we understand that it could potentially be spread by a small droplet. Everybody, when they speak, they spit. Small, small droplets will come out and be in the air and be able to hit other people. So it makes sense that if people can cover their mouths, that they might be able to stop community spread.


Now, this is a very different issue than PPE for health care workers. I think these things are getting confused and conflated.

So we must have enough PPE, surgical masks, N-95s for our health care workers. They are our precious resource that are at great risk, getting high volume of virus in their faces, and they must have N-95s and surgical masks. That is not what this discussion is about. What the discussion is for

the public is that everybody can do their part to keep their droplets to themselves. That's my tag line here. So what they can do is they can wear a bandanna, they could wear a fake covering. This could make a difference.

KING: Thank you for the important context there, especially the difference between a mask an everyday American might wear walking around and the desperately needed protective equipment, PPE, for medical workers.

I don't like to ask doctors about politics, but I want you to stand by. This is a supply question, a reality question, this is an is the president listening question more than anything.

The governor of Montana yesterday saying, I need more tests. The president of the United States saying, I don't see problems with testing.


GOV. STEVE BULLOCK, (D-MT) (voice-over): Literally, we are one day away. If we don't get test kits from the CDC to do testing in Montana while we're trying to do all of the contact tracing, we don't have adequate tests to necessarily do it. We don't have adequate tested to necessarily do it. We don't have the PPE along the way. And we're not finding markets to be able to do that.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES (voice-over): Tony, you can answer it if you want, I haven't heard about testing in weeks. We've tested now more than any nation in the world. We have these great tests and we'll come out with another one tomorrow where it's almost instantaneous testing. But I haven't heard about testing being a problem.


KING: I listen to that last part, Dr. Brilliant, with considerable disbelief in the sense that every day on television -- and we know the president watches television -- we see red state governors, blue state governors, red state mayors, blue state mayors, doctors on the front line saying we simply don't have enough tests yet. Correct?

BRILLIANT: Of course, there's a problem with testing. There's been a problem with testing since day one. We don't have enough tests. We should be flooding the zone with testing. That's our eyes and ears in this outbreak.

For people who are on the cusp of being diagnosed with this disease, to not be able to have a confirmation test is unthinkable. No, we don't have enough tests. They're unevenly distributed, they're not always the right tests for the right issue.

This should be a moon shot, a Manhattan Project, to have enough tests.

KING: Dr. Brilliant, Dr. Rimoin, I appreciate your insight. The most important thing we can do is put the pros on camera to help us explain where we are and where we're going. Really appreciate it.

Up next for us here, families and companies struggling from dire new predictions about the coronavirus impact on the economy.



KING: Hundreds of thousands of workers furloughed, businesses closed, assembly lines not running, all mounting signs that the United States continues to reel from the coronavirus pandemic.

And last hour, we received new data that shows consumers are rapidly losing faith that the United States will be able to weather this crisis without extensive damage to the economy.

With us is CNN International anchor and business correspondent, Julia Chatterley.

Julia, the American economy is consumer driven. What do we take away from the consumer confidence numbers?

JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR & BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: John, that's such a great point. The sad fact is this data we got this morning belongs in a parallel university. It was the U.S. consumer that was seeing stock markets weaken. It was eyeing what was going on in Italy specifically with the coronavirus. But none of the lockdown measures that we've seen in the United States had even happened yet.

Today, we're in a very different place and it's a far worse place. And it's a far worse place.

The data this week and the only data this week that will give us a sense of where we are comes on Thursday with those jobless claims numbers. Moody Analytics has suggested we might see 4.5 million workers claiming unemployment benefits this week.

Just to give you a rule of thumb here, for every 1.5 million jobs lost in this country, it equates to a 1 percentage point rise in unemployment. I think we're talking about a figure already in the space of a few weeks of 8.5 percent to 9 percent unemployment in the United States. It's mind boggling.

So when I look at Goldman Sachs, and you just mentioned it, I think they look pretty optimistic at this stage to only be talking about a 15 percent unemployment rate.

You also mentioned the retail sector. One in four employees works in retail in the United States. There's good news here, too. They furloughed around 405,000 workers. They need to get help to pay those workers in the interim, but they're already looking to the economy to open up again.

Goldman Sachs says we could see a resurgence in the third quarter. That's the hope. That will be contingent on the financial aid we've seen agreed to in Congress and how quickly that gets through to the real economy.

But the ultimate fact is it relies on getting control of the virus, getting that money to people as soon as possible, and probably more money being agreed by Congress between then and now.

And that's the bottom line.

KING: That is the bottom line. The third quarter begins in July. On this last day in March, that seems a long way off.

Julia Chatterley, very much appreciate it. Thank you very much.


All across the country, as Julia noted, businesses devastated by this pandemic. The restaurant industry one of the hardest hit. Some companies are now trying to adapt by branching out in different directions, all while trying to help their furloughed workers.

Joining me now is Chris Pappas. He's the CEO of Chefs' Warehouse.

Chris, just explain to me your main business is supplying restaurants. Most of them have now gone.

Let's see if we lost Chris.

Can we get that back? OK, Chris is -- he has dropped. He has dropped.

We'll move on and bring him back if we can.

Some of the nation's largest automakers are now making supplies for health care workers as they treat the coronavirus. General Motors said they expect to deliver their first 20,000 masks by next week. And once at full capacity, G.M. says it can produce an estimated 1.5 million masks a month.

Ford says it's set to restart production in its plant in Michigan plant the week of April 20, that to make ventilators, not cars. They're working with G.E. Health Care now to make as many as 50,000 ventilators, the hope is, within 100 days. Ford said that factory will be staffed by 500 paid workers volunteering to do this task.

Take a quick break. We'll be right back.



KING: More now on the economic disruption of the coronavirus and how businesses are trying to adapt in this world.

Chris Pappas is the CEO of Chefs' Warehouse.

Chris, nice to have the connection back. That's also part of the way we live, with technology doing things a little bit differently. Your business supplies 35,000 restaurants. Many, if not most of them, are closed. The restaurants have had to scale back significantly in this new world. How do you adapt your business to try to stay alive in this environment?

CHRIS PAPPAS, CEO, CHEFS' WAREHOUSE: When most of your business is restaurants, you're challenged to be creative. We started this business 35 years ago as entrepreneurs with the dream to bring the greatest ingredients in the world to the greatest chefs in the world. We said we can roll over or we can reinvent ourselves.

We've always had a tremendous demand from lots of people calling me and saying, how can we buy like all the great restaurants you supply and buy stuff in bulk. So we had a few of our Web sites up, always supplying the greatest steaks to the public. They always had access to that.

But we said, let's see how we can reinvent our business and get our trucks rolling again and get our people back to work as much as possible and do home delivery.

We're doing cash and carry. We just rolled out home delivery. It will be rolling out to the cities where we have warehouses to most neighborhoods within that 50-100-mile reach of our warehouses, and it's taking off.

More people are going online and shopping at And they're shopping our different sites and we're getting trucks rolling. It's amazing to watch this thing pivot.

Rolling out businesses I always wanted to roll out. I never thought it would be like this unless a nuclear bomb shut down the restaurants.

We've seen more and more restaurants opening up for takeout. They realize people will be home right now and it's an opportunity to get them food. People get tired of cooking after a while.

KING: Innovation is a challenge for every entrepreneur. You have to do it as you go.

How many of your employees have you been able to keep, how many have you had to furlough, and how do you try to help them through this?

PAPPAS: Well, we're doing everything we can to keep as many people. We did have to furlough some, but we still have many, many people on payroll.

And we're starting our own charity, too, so as part of this new business. So we'll donate 10 percent of the profit to go to the people most affected in our company. We're going to hopefully get a pile of money and we'll start to give it out as it comes in.

And we think, long term, we could do this. We said we're going to do this for at least six months. We're thinking of all different ways to get money for the people most in need from our business. You know, we started as a family business. We still call ourselves a

large family business. You know, we treat everybody like family as much as we can and we're doing the best to supply them. And we've been here for 35 years and we plan to be here another 35 years when all the restaurants reopen.

KING: Cooking is stressful for me, even more so at a time like this. I'm going to go to the Web site when I'm done today.

Chris Pappas, best of luck to you. It's a blessing what you're trying to do for your workers and with the charity work. We'll keep in touch as this plays out. Thanks very much for your time.

PAPPAS: Thank you, John.

KING: Thank you.

Meanwhile, more than 55 million kids across the country now at home indefinitely since this coronavirus outbreak shuttered schools for students from kindergarten through high school. That, according to "Education Week."

Take a look at your map right now. Schools are closed through every single state, including some that are shut down until further notice.


In Washington State, where there are nearly 5,000 coronavirus cases and nearly 200 deaths so far, schools have been closed since mid-March and will stay that way until at least April 24th.