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Trump Administration Projects At Least 100,000 Americans Will Die From Coronavirus; Interview With Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA). Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired April 1, 2020 - 16:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: The total death toll could reach 120,000 in just two weeks.

Of course, hopefully, that will not happen. Hopefully, the U.S. will begin to flatten the curve.

This afternoon, Vice President Pence claimed here on CNN that President Trump has never belittled the threat of the coronavirus, which, of course, is empirically false.

The president did diminish the threat, belittle the threat several times for weeks on end. In fact, it was just last week that President Trump, continuing to not fully grasp the gravity of it all, said he hoped to lift restrictions, so that he could be able to see packed church pews on Easter.

Just over a month ago, President Trump suggested that the number of cases in the U.S. would soon go down to close to zero. Those confirmed cases in the U.S., they're not close to zero. It's now more than 200,000.

The director general of the World Health Organization this afternoon said that, in a matter of days, coronavirus cases worldwide will top one million, with 50,000 deaths globally.

CNN's Erica Hill has more on the increasingly dire situation in New York, the current epicenter in the United States, as well as other states ramping up their efforts across the country.


ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On the front lines, the need never seems to end.

DR. STEVEN MCDONALD, EMERGENCY ROOM PHYSICIAN: Everyone requires oxygen. Everyone is borderline critical.

HILL: In New York, as the numbers grow, so does the warning.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): Sixteen deaths in New York, that means you're going to have tens of thousands of deaths outside of New York. It's a New York problem today. Tomorrow, it's a Kansas problem and a Texas problem and a New Mexico problem.

HILL: More than 30 states now have statewide stay-at-home orders. The latest, Florida, the country's third most populous state, the governor there reversing course today amid mounting pressure.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): So, at this point, I think even though there's a lot of places in Florida have very low infection rates, it makes sense to make this move now.

HILL: In Louisiana, New Orleans officials say they could run out of ventilators this week, as new hot spots add to the strain.

Holyoke, Massachusetts, now on the radar, the governor ordering investigation into why several veterans died from coronavirus at one facility.

In Albany, Georgia, one hospital has recorded more than 20 percent that state's COVID-19 deaths.

CARLEY RICE, CRITICAL CARE NURSE: It's very hard to see someone close to your age in the E.R. fighting for their life.

HILL: In the pandemic's U.S. epicenter, 1,400 have tested positive at the NYPD alone. Hundreds of additional EMTs, paramedics and ambulances are being brought in to answer the city's surge in 911 calls, the Army asking 10,000 Reserve members with a medical background to return, as experts and officials warn, to keep the death toll down, it is time for a nationwide plan.

DR. LEANA WEN, EMERGENCY ROOM PHYSICIAN: We need people to do their part, social distancing, as a part of it. We also need the federal government to do a lot more too, because that rationing of ventilators, the rationing of supplies, that's also going to be what leads to unnecessary deaths.

HILL: The numbers, the hot spots, the urgent need tell part of this story, but it is the personal struggles and loss that reveal the lasting impact.

ELIJAH ROSS-RUTTER, MOTHER DIED OF CORONAVIRUS: They took a walkie- talkie, and they placed the walkie-talkie right by her bedside on the pillow.

HILL: Elijah Ross-Rutter and his five siblings couldn't be next to their mother to say goodbye.

ROSS-RUTTER: It's a moment that nobody really ever wants to be in. I told her I loved her. I told her everything's going to be all right with the kids.

HILL: Sundee Rutter, who survived stage four breast cancer, was 42.


HILL: Just one of the many people we're learning more about, Jake. I also want to update you on some of these hospitals that we have been

talking about, the new hospitals and hospital ships being brought in. The Mercy, which is docked, the Navy hospital ship docked off the coast of Los Angeles, now has 12 patients on board.

Here in New York, the Comfort has one patient. Remember, these are all non-coronavirus patients. Those ships are being used for overflow. In Central Park, the field hospital that was just built and opened today, we just confirmed that they are now treating their first coronavirus patient there, Jake.

TAPPER: Erica Hill, thank you so much.

It's such a good reminder, Erica, that behind every one of these numbers, 400 and 1,000 of this or 4,500 deaths in the United States, it's somebody's mom, somebody's daughter, somebody's son, somebody's dad.

Today, the governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, gave a grim reality check, saying that only about one-fifth, 20 percent, of the people who contract this virus and end up on a ventilator will ever be taken off the ventilator, will survive.



CUOMO: On a ventilator, there's roughly only a 20 percent chance that you will come off the ventilator. The longer you're on the ventilator, the lower the chance you come off.


TAPPER: Let's bring in CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

And, Sanjay, that statistic, is that a normal statistic for people put on ventilators? Or is there something particularly nefarious about coronavirus and how it affects patients? And how does that change how hospitals treat this horrific virus?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, a piece of data that we have learned earlier about these patients who go on the ventilator with this particular infection is that they end up staying on the ventilator a lot longer than is typical.

I mean, it obviously depends on the particular illness or if there was an operation or trauma.

But you typically think about people on the ventilators less than a week. With this, it seems like it's 11 to 20 days typically people stay on the ventilator, which is a lot longer. When people are on the ventilator that long, it is harder to wean them off of it.

I have not heard this statistic, as you mentioned. It's one of the highest in terms of people not getting on the ventilator that I had heard. You typically think maybe 30 percent of people won't be able to get off the ventilator. Here, we're saying 80 percent.

So, it's early, Jake. You want to see how this sort of -- if these numbers sort of continue in other places, or if there's something specific here,. There is -- it is worth noting that, in some cases, the people who are contracting these infections, they develop not just an ammonia, but what is called an ARDS-type look to their lungs, acute respiratory distress syndrome.

The lungs become much stiffer and much harder to sort of ventilate as well. So that could be part of this. I know people are looking into it, but, as you mentioned, that is a tough statistic to hear, Jake.

TAPPER: It's a horrible statistic, 80 percent mortality. We hope that, obviously, more data comes in, and that number changes as the world learns more about coronavirus.

The governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, today, Sanjay, announced a stay-at-home order for the state. This is after much criticism and weeks and weeks of cruise ships landing and spring breakers packing the beaches.

Shouldn't the governor of Florida have done this weeks ago? I mean, just empirically, didn't his delaying this mean more cases and possibly more deaths?

GUPTA: I think that that particular issue now -- and it's an uncomfortable thing that has been asked at these press conferences -- could these deaths have been prevented?

That is the thing that I think the medical establishment always worries about the most, preventable deaths. And it came up yesterday. Jim Acosta asked at the press briefing, had we acted sooner, could deaths have been prevented?

And, look, I mean, I think there's no question that that's the case. You look at what's happened around the world, you look at other places within the country. I think Florida now has the fourth -- is fourth in terms of overall number of infections.

I hope that this -- and I know, I'm sure that this will make an impact now that there's a stay-at-home order. I think, if nothing else, it gives a level of seriousness to people who may have thought, look, there's no stay-at-home order. How serious could this be? Let's vacation down in Florida. Let's do our spring break down there, whatever it might be.

We know that these stay-at-home orders, these policies make a difference. Jake, we -- you and I have talked about this for some time now. But if you look at countries like Germany, for example, vs. Italy, places that acted sooner, that did testing sooner, that isolated people sooner, did all those basic things, people always think of a drug or a vaccine -- and, hopefully, those things will come soon -- but we shouldn't minimize the impact of these what are called non-pharmaceutical interventions, such as social distancing.

So, we will wait and see. I hope this makes a difference. I know it will. But I think most people wish it had been done earlier, Jake.

TAPPER: It's just been weird watching, because, like, three or four weeks ago, when we were covering this, I would see governors -- I don't mean to pick on Governor DeSantis -- but governors all over the country being rather glib about this.

And I kept thinking to myself, they're going to do a stay-at-home order eventually. Why not do it now, as opposed to in four weeks? Because that's thousands of lives, potentially.

Let me ask you, Sanjay, because we're running out of time. You spoke to Dr. Anthony Fauci, obviously, perhaps the most prominent member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

And you talked to him about their work trying to contain the virus. What did he have to say?

GUPTA: Well, he is focused, obviously, on trying to convince people of the importance of this.

But he also talked about the fact that they're getting a lot more information now about who's really most at risk. We talk about the elderly. We talk about people with preexisting conditions. But one of the things that really jumped out to me -- and I don't know if we have the sound or not.


I will just tell you, regardless, because I know you're running -- OK, we do have the sound.

Just go ahead and listen to this, Jake. Listen to carefully how he described this.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NIAID DIRECTOR: This is an unusual disease. I'm fascinated, Sanjay, by what I would call the pathogenesis.

You get so many people who do well, and then some people who just, bingo, they're on a respirator, they're on ECMO, and they're dead. I mean, the dichotomy between that, there's something there, Sanjay, that we're missing from a pathogenesis standpoint.

And I don't think it's only if you're elderly or if you have underlying conditions. There's something else going on there that hopefully we will ultimately figure out.


GUPTA: Such an important point, Jake.

We obviously know the elderly people with preexisting conditions, but they're starting to drill down now on why some people seem to get so sick with this, vs. others, even the elderly, even people with preexisting conditions. Hopefully, we will get that data soon, Jake. TAPPER: All right. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, as always, thank you so much. I

will see you tomorrow.

Coming up, the governor of California is going to join me live, the actions he has taken, what more he says he needs from the federal government, that's next. Stay with us.

Plus, I'm going to speak with a former member of Trump's inner circle on the administration's handling of the pandemic and the economy. That's also coming up.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: There are indications of possible ways out of this, possible success stories in this global crisis, as the surgeon general of the United States mentioned this morning.


JEROME ADAMS, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: The good news is that states like Washington, like California, countries like Italy, when they leaned into aggressive mitigation, they're being able to flatten their curve.


TAPPER: Let's talk about that aggressive mitigation with the Democratic governor of one of those states, California, Gavin Newsom.

Thank you so much for joining us, Governor. I appreciate it. I know your time is valuable.

You have over 8,000 confirmed cases in your state, at least 171 deaths. You said there are 747 people in ICU beds in your state, that's 16 percent increase from yesterday. The virus peak in California is expected to come in the middle of May.

So, what are you doing to make sure that California does not become the next Italy, the next New York?

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): Jake, and those 774 people represent a quadrupling just in the last six days of the number of people on ICU. So, we're not out of the woods by any stretch of the imagination.

But I am very proud of this state, the largest state in our Union. We're the first stay-at-home order where we're practicing physical distancing at a scale that's really done justice to helping us buy time and begin to bend that curve so we can prepare for a surge as you suggest, may come in the early part of May, maybe mid to late May.

TAPPER: There's still more than a dozen states that do not have stay- at-home orders. You were one of the first states hit. Based on what we've seen from your state, based on your experience being on the tip of the spear of all this, do you have a message for the other governors who have not taken these strong measures, these extreme measures? Should everyone be issuing these stay-at-home orders?

NEWSOM: My message is this: what are you waiting for? What more evidence do you need? If you think it's not going to happen to you, there are proof points all across this country, for that matter, around the rest of the world.

Don't dream of regretting, lean into the moment, take responsibility and meet it head on. You'll never regret overcompensating at the moment so that you're preparing people for meeting this moment in a responsible way.

And there's no greater intervention, period, full stop, none, than physical distancing. We talk about social distancing, but it's really physical distancing. You can stay socially connected, but you need to be physically apart. And that foundationally and fundamentally we know can bend the curve, can save lives and ultimately can get people back to work and get society back to some semblance of normalcy faster than anything else we can do.

TAPPER: Is your curve bending in California? Is it -- is it going in a better trajectory, because the United States in general, it's just going up? But I know it's different state by state.

NEWSOM: Yes, look, I mean, we're at this a little bit longer than anybody else. We started to take those repatriation flights from overseas, six of 'em, in late January, working with the federal government, with our Navy, to provide the resources and resourceful mindset of support for those flights.

We then had the Grand Princess. We have over 3,500 people we had to accommodate and that was a joint mission with the federal government, CDC and the state of California that really socialized a consciousness in the state around the significance and severity of the moment.

We were the first to go out with 65 and over and stay away -- stay at home orders. And then we had counties, including my old San Francisco, that really led on a regional basis and then ultimately at a state basis. And none of that could have happened soon enough and all of that has bought us time and has helped us bend the curve in this respect, that while we see things increasing, we don't see them increasing as fast as other parts of the country.

TAPPER: You say California needs 10,000 ventilators to be prepared. So far, your state has received I believe 4,200. But nearly 1,000 of them need to be refurbished.


Is the federal government assisting you in the refurnishing or in the supplying of ventilators?

NEWSOM: Well, we received 170 ventilators. L.A. County specifically received 170 ventilators from the national stockpile. Unfortunately, they weren't working. But I didn't call a press conference and run on your show to discuss that.

We actually delivered overnight those ventilators when we found out they weren't working, and we brought them into Silicon Valley, a company that's in the green tech space, Bloom Energy (ph), and they completely refurbished them, sent them back to Los Angeles County.

We don't expect that we're going to receive the requisite amount of ventilators from the national stockpile and that's why we have already found some 4,252 from across the globe and from entrepreneurs like Elon Musk. I was talking to Richard Branson this morning and their Virgin Orbit, where they're usually doing launching systems and rocket engines. They're coming up with these bridge ventilators that may help us buy a little bit time.

So we're being as resourceful as we possibly can. Not finger-pointing, not nail-biting, just taking responsibility to try to meet this moment.

TAPPER: I want you to take a listen to something that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said yesterday about acquiring medical supplies.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: It's like being on eBay with 50 other states bidding on a ventilator. And then FEMA gets involved and FEMA starts bidding. And now, FEMA is bidding on top of the 50. What sense does this make?


TAPPER: We've heard from Los Angeles Mayor Garcetti that he had a check cut and he was about to get 100,000 -- I think it was N95 masks, and then all of a sudden, FEMA came in and took it out. We heard from Governor Pritzker that the lord of the flies like atmosphere of states just bidding against each other has just been madness.

What's been your experience with this bidding process?

NEWSOM: Yes, I mean, there's -- it's the Wild, Wild West, there's no question about it.

Look, we're blessed here in California with purchasing power that's second only to the federal government. We've ordered 101 million N95 masks. I've been able to distribute 35.4 million N95 masks.

I'll put in perspective, it's not a critique, it's just an observation -- all of the deliveries from the stockpile, and there have been three, total 1,089,000 N95 masks. We've distributed 35-plus million.

So, it gives you a sense that states are getting a little bit of support, but we're going to have to be resourceful. I reached out to Governor Pritzker. I reached out to Jay Inslee, some of the other governors to see if we can get out purchasing folks to work more collaboratively together at a state by state level. And we've got a really good relationship with our regional FEMA director. And so, we're making sure that we're not competing head-on, at least regionally in some of those purchases.

This is a huge issue, but again, I'm not going to complain about it. We're going to own it and we're going to work our way around it and we're going to try to help other states using the purchasing power of a state as large as California to help advance an effort to avoid price gouging and to ultimately get these deliveries in a timely manner.

TAPPER: Governor, the CDC says that your state California has a testing backlog of nearly 60,000 tests. What's being done about that?

NEWSOM: Yes, these are the tests that have already been conducted and we're just waiting for the results. It's incredibly frustrating. You're having results that take six, 10, 12 days in some cases. The commercial labs like Quest and Lab Corps overwhelmed.

All these private labs and all these things you're hearing about on the nightly news and press conference. Let me give you an example of that. Abbott, we have the capacity -- Abbott just shipped from the centralized procurement and distribution about 1,500 kits that we can do a quick turnaround. That's nothing. It's a drop in the bucket.

So I just caution people when they hear about the latest this or latest that, the latest protocol, that we're not at the scale we need to be, and one of the challenges is not just getting the diagnostics back on positive and negative, it's also getting the supplies on the front end in terms of the specimen collection and that's swabs and media for the swab.

I will say this, though -- proud to be in California. Stanford University and others working to 3D print now a lot of those swabs so we can help, even with the collection process. That's the PCR test. We're moving to these other tests, the blood-based tests, but it can't again happen soon enough.

TAPPER: I've talked to officials throughout the country who have said that they have to temper their remarks in what they say about the federal government response for fear that President Trump will punish the citizens of their state if he considers them to be a complainer. You and President Trump seem to have been working collaboratively. He praised you yesterday.

Do you find yourself by necessity tempering what you say in terms of any issues that you might have with the federal response?


NEWSOM: I've been consistent -- and, Jake, and you know this, we've been dealing with historic wildfires and droughts out in the west here in California, and I've always said, I've said it back a year ago, this is not time to bicker. I don't care who's up and down, whose polls are looking better than someone else's or who wants to run for president or who doesn't. When it comes to times of crisis, we need to raise above the bipartisanship and I've extended always an open hand, not a closed fist in those circumstances. And this is no different. But let me just be candid with you. I'd be lying to you to say that he hasn't been responsive to our needs. He has. And so, as a question -- as sort of an offer -- offer of objectivity, I have to acknowledge that publicly.

And the fact is every time I've called the president, he's quickly gotten on the line. When we ask to get support for that Mercy ship in southern California, he was able to direct that in real time. We got 2,000 of these field medical sites that are up almost all operational now in the state because of his support. Those are the facts.

We always want more. I could criticize this or that. At the end of the day, we're just trying to focus on developing a relationship of trust as a matter of course, because there's just too many Americans, 40 million, that live in this state that deserve us to get together and get along.

TAPPER: And, obviously, the coronavirus is taking a huge economic toll worldwide, but certainly in California. Already 1.6 million Californians have filed for unemployment in your state. That's -- of course, your state as the world's fifth largest economy.

What are you doing to try to take care of those who are without work, might be struggling for basic necessities to keep food in the refrigerator, to have a roof over their -- over their heads?

NEWSOM: That's the right question. And when I think -- we think in terms of the federal stimulus, $2.2 trillion, we don't look it through industry and buckets, we look at it through the lens of real people, real lives, trying to keep people in their homes and not get evicted, try to keep businesses operational even at a time when they can't open the doors to make sure that they can meet payroll.

And so, we're doing everything in our power. Look, we provide unemployment checks as much as $450 a week. We have the additional layer of now $600 a week. That will help, over $1,000 a week in some circumstances.

But as you say, we're being overwhelmed. It takes about 21 days in good times to get those unemployment checks out. We still want to maintain that status in this difficult times, but it's 109,000 on a seven day trailing average of unemployment insurance claims in the state. We average 2,500 before this crisis.

So you're correct to identify this as an overwhelming challenge and know this, we're doing two things at once -- situationally trying to meet this crisis head on and sustainably thinking about when we turn the corner, when we turn into a position or rather we bend the curve where we can turn on our economic engine, how we can do it as quickly and efficiently as possible and getting small businesses up, businesses, one, two people, not just 200 or 300, and how we can get them online front and center.

That's our top priority, and know we have economic teams working on that overtime, and we're looking forward to getting to that point where we're in a recovery mode, not just in an emergency response mode.

TAPPER: All right. California Governor Gavin Newsom, I have a lot of relatives including my baby brother out there. Keep up the good fight. Thank you so much for your time.

Let us know if there's anything that we can do to shine a light on any need you have that you're not getting.

NEWSOM: Wonderful of you. Thank you, Jake.

TAPPER: Coming up next, I'm going to talk with a former top Trump adviser who dealt with many crises during his time at the White House. His grade on the president's handling of this pandemic, that's next.

Stay with us.