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CNN NEWSROOM

Some States Still Resisting Stay-At-Home Orders; Wolf Blitzer Goes One-On-One With Vice President Mike Pence On Coronavirus Response; Vice President Mike Pence: We Think Italy Is Closest Comparison For U.S. Projection; New York Governor Andrew Cuomo Gives Update On Coronavirus Response; Gov. Cuomo: 391 People Have Died In State In Past 24 Hours. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired April 1, 2020 - 12:00   ET

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


[12:00:00]

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I never want to - there is light at the end of the tunnel we can say between now and the summertime by putting these guidelines into practice, Wolf--

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: But why not do a national--

PENCE: And we can put this behind us sooner.

BLITZER: Why not do a national stay-at-home home? Florida Governor Rhonda DeSantis says that that would carry a lot of weight in his state, where there are a lot of retirees in Florida. Why not just do that right now and get it over with for the whole country because people are moving around the country freely right now.

PENCE: Well, actually, I've been very inspired by the way over the last 15 days, people in states that have very little outbreak of Coronavirus are still putting into practice the guidelines for America.

What I can promise your viewers is we're going to continue to bring the President the best recommendations based on real-time data and science for what every state, what every community should be doing.

But at the present moment, we truly do believe that the strong actions taken in places like California and Washington and New York and New Jersey are appropriate. We fully support those efforts. We're resourcing those efforts.

But for every American heeding the travel advisory the President announced this weekend, making sure that people in those areas of Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey refrain from travel, and if people have traveled out of those areas, check your temperature and self-monitor for 14 days if you're somewhere else in the country.

All of those principles are what our scientists are telling us are the best recommendations to slow the spread, but I promise you, we're going to continue to look at every option. We'll bring the best science and the best recommendations to the President. BLITZER: Should regular Americans start wearing masks or scarves or

bandannas right now? We're getting a lot of confusing, conflicting advice on that.

PENCE: Well, I can tell you that the White House Coronavirus Task Force has the CDC looking at the issue of masks as a protective measure right now. It was a number of weeks ago the CDC looking at the issue of masks as a protective measure right now.

It was a number of weeks ago the CDC did issue guidance that if you have the Coronavirus, even if you're asymptomatic, one of the ways to protect others is to wear a mask. But right now, I've had them looking at the science.

We'll have a recommendation for the President, but every American should know that as you go out of doors and you're taking a walk, you're getting some exercise, as long as you keep six feet distance from anyone, you practice that social distancing that we've been making clear over the last several weeks, that that will give as much protection as anything else.

But we're looking at the issue of masks and we'll have on CDC's recommendation. We'll bring those recommendations to the President at the appropriate time.

BLITZER: And just two final questions before I let you go, Mr. Vice President. I know you're very busy, and thanks for your time. But Dr. Fauci now says there could be a second wave coming in the fall. Are we going to be - is the American public going to have to be living with this throughout the rest of this year, basically, these kinds of guidelines?

PENCE: Well, we believe that the likelihood is that, just like the flu, that the Coronavirus will likely manifest again either in the fall or in the winter of next year. The good news is, is that because the President brought together pharmaceutical companies right out of the gate, they formed a consortium we're spinning up clinical trials on a number of vaccines.

We have done that already in record time. But just as promising are the therapeutics that are being developed. We think by this spring or summer, we could have therapeutics, what a layperson like me calls medicine to make you feel better, already in the marketplace.

And then there's what the scientists tell us is also, once the Coronavirus has impacted the country, there will be a certain amount of immunity that is built up. And so, for a broad range of reasons, new medications, a certain degree of immunity, and the development of vaccines as well as just good practices that I think the American people are going to continue forward, we think we'll be in a much, much better place in this fall or even in the years ahead, if the Coronavirus stays with us.

BLITZER: And especially if there's a vaccine, but Dr. Fauci says that could be a year or a year and a half away. Hopefully, it can go more quickly. PENCE: Could be a year, a year - the most important thing about a vaccine is, in the FDA, I think in 62 days, brought a vaccine proposal to its first clinical trial. That was a record. President Trump has been driving the FDA to move as quickly as possible.

The announcement this weekend on Abbott Laboratories being approved for a 15-minute Coronavirus test is a result of the team at the FDA doing a phenomenal job. But Dr. Fauci also said yesterday that there is a permission that can be given.

[12:05:00]

PENCE: If we have a vaccine that is promising by the end of 2020 that we think can have an impact, there may be some ability to authorize the use of that in a shorter period of time than a year and a half.

But I promise you, under President Trump's leadership, we're going to continue to make medicines that are available today available for what's called off-label use, like Hydroxychloroquine, a malaria medication.

We're going to develop those therapeutics and with the best pharmaceutical companies in the world. We're doing all of that in record time. And we'll also have a vaccine for the American people for the years ahead.

BLITZER: Bottom line right now, Americans are watching. People all over the world are watching us right now. What's your message to the American people right now, what they should be bracing for over the next few months?

PENCE: Our message to the American people today is there are challenging days ahead, but your future is in your hands. And the truth of the matter is the President unveiled, again, the 30 days to slow the spread.

And we know over the last 15 days, tens of millions of Americans have heeded the federal guidance that we've issued. They've been listening to the state and local authorities in places where the Coronavirus outbreak has been more significant.

And as you saw in those final charts yesterday that Dr. Deborah Birx put forward, other than in the greater New York City area, where we believe that city may well have had exposure to the Coronavirus earlier than other parts of the country because of the international travel and other factors, that even places like Washington and California have made real progress.

We think that's a credit to the American people heeding the guidance of their local authorities and every American putting into practice the President's guidelines for America. And so, our encouragement to every American is.

It's important every one of us continue to do our part to protect our health, the health of our family, to keep in our hearts, in our minds all of those that are struggling with Coronavirus, the families that have suffered loss, to be grateful for all of those like the people here at this great distribution center that are keeping food on the table around America and all of the people in law enforcement, and most especially, our health care workers.

Keep them in your hearts and in your prayers. If we all of us do all that we can, we'll get through this and we'll get through this together.

BLITZER: We eventually will, I am sure, because we are a great country and people are working. And thanks so much to everything that you're doing. I know this past month has been extremely difficult on you, Mr. Vice President, as well.

You do have an excellent team. Thank Dr. Fauci, Dr. Birx and the whole team on behalf of all of the American public for what they're doing. We are grateful to them, and hopefully, we'll get through this without too many more deaths. Unfortunately, that doesn't look like the case. Good luck.

PENCE: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, let's go back to Kate. Kate?

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: Wolf, thank you so much a very important interview with the Vice President a lot of things to discuss here. I really appreciate it, Wolf. And as you can see, we're after the top of the hour, everyone.

Thank you so much for sticking around with us. I'm Kate Bolduan. And what we are looking at right now is a new reality in the Coronavirus pandemic. The death toll has nearly doubled over just the past three days, now reaching nearly 3,900.

Moments from now, we just heard from Vice President Mike Pence. Moments from now, we're also going to hear from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo with an update on the Coronavirus response. When he begins, we will bring that to you as soon as it gets under way.

It comes, of course, as President Trump is warning - there's been a shift in his tone - he's now warning that in the next two weeks, it could be very painful, very tough is how he put it. And we just heard something startling from Vice President Mike Pence, telling Wolf Blitzer that, in his view, Italy might be the best Coronavirus comparison for the United States.

His words exactly were, "We think Italy may be the most comparable area to the United States at this point" As you've been watching this play out, that is a terrifying comparison, from what we have learned on the ground.

That's also - Italy is a country of 60 million people that has been completely locked down. The United States not. We're covering every angle of this for you.

[12:10:00] BOLDUAN: Let's get to it and start in Florida, where the Governor there is resisting putting statewide Coronavirus restrictions in place. Wolf Blitzer asked. Rosa Flores is joining me now from Port Everglades in Florida.

Wolf asked the Vice President about the situation in Florida. The Vice President really didn't answer when he was asked about the Governor and his decision to not do a statewide lockdown, a statewide stay-at- home order, Rosa. What is the situation there?

ROSA FLORES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, Democratic Leaders here, the Agriculture Commissioner, experts have been pressuring Governor Rhonda DeSantis to issue a statewide order, but instead, what he has done, he has focused on some of the hotspots.

First of all, issuing a mandatory isolation period for any airline travelers coming into the State of Florida from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and later, Louisiana, and then also issuing a regional stay-at-home order.

That includes Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach counties, and Monroe County as well. But Kate, a lot of the experts and the people criticizing the Governor has said that that's too little, too late, because a lot of the local governments had already issued safer at home orders.

Now Governor Rhonda DeSantis has said that he's waiting for the White House, and as you mentioned, the Vice President didn't answer Wolf's question about issuing an order that is U.S.-wide, but the Governor has also said and maintained that the virus has not reached every corner of the state, and so it is not necessary.

A lot of controversy, Kate, here in Florida, because the Governor is getting a lot of pressure, a lot of criticism from people in this state because he has not issued a statewide order.

BOLDUAN: Yes, the Governor there saying he's looking for the administration for direction. The administration very seemingly thinks that the Governor is doing a good job, and they're almost seemed to be looking for the Governor and what's happening on the ground there.

There seems to be a complete disconnect between the Federal Government and what's happening in Florida, from what you're seeing in New York and the mitigation policies that have been had to be put in place to slow the spread, which is exactly what the administration wants.

It is confounding at this point. Rosa is on the ground there. Rosa, thank you so much. So, as we obviously need to keep a close eye on Florida, there is also a big focus right now on Louisiana. The Governor there says his state could run out of ventilators in just a few days, as early as this weekend.

Louisiana had 14 cases of Coronavirus three weeks ago. Now the number is at over 5,000. Let's get some perspective on this. Joining me right now, Stephen Russo, he is the Interim Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health. Thank you so much for being here. STEPHEN RUSSO, INTERIM SECRETARY, LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH: Pleasure to be here, Kate. Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Really appreciate it. Yesterday we learned that Louisiana is one of, I believe it was five states that reported over 1,000 new cases in 24 hours. Can you bring us up to speed on what's happened in the last 24 hours there?

RUSSO: Yes, ma'am very sobering numbers. We've showed 1,200 new cases in the greater New Orleans region, while statewide 1,212 new cases. We have had 54 new deaths. That brings our total in the greater New Orleans region up to over 3,000 cases in that region.

We are showing right now a time to zero vents in that region, as you pointed out, around April 6. That is where we are going to get to a critical needing level.

BOLDUAN: April 6th. That's next week. The Governor said--

RUSSO: Yes, ma'am.

BOLDUAN: The governor said that you could run out of ventilators in the state by Saturday, hospital beds by next week. You just said this has been another day, another 24-hour period, folks, where Louisiana is seeing over 1,000 additional cases.

It is really starting to roll in, in your state. What can you do about it with what you have? Sorry. Go ahead.

RUSSO: Yes, I mean, what we're looking at right now, we are sourcing vents from any possible source we can get them from. Right now we have gotten in about 450 vents. They are being immediately cleared out of the warehouse when we do it.

We got 150 from the strategic national stockpile. What the case is now, is you know, making those orders, tracking them down. I think, like I said, we have 14,000 that are on order now, and just kind of waiting for them to trickle in. So, it is a very, very critical stage right now of this process.

BOLDUAN: Can I ask you also, we just heard Wolf, my colleague, Wolf Blitzer, was just interviewing the Vice President. And what the Vice President said was that right now, here's his quote "We think Italy may be the most comparable area to the United States at this point" When you hear that, knowing what happened in Italy, just your reaction.

RUSSO: Well, my reaction is, you know, we have a very proactive Governor here that is a leader.

[12:15:00]

RUSSO: I know the Governor has said this on at least two or three occasions, that there is absolutely no reason why we will not be the next place like that, unless you know, folks heed the Governor's orders, stay indoors, use social distancing. I think his quote was, "Why don't you tell me why we won't be like that? That is the sobering facts.

BOLDUAN: I think that's a really important way of thinking of it at this point, unfortunately. You were talking about the leadership of Governor John Bell Edwards I want to put up a map. I think it's really startling when it comes to Louisiana. You might not be able to see it, but I'll describe it.

It's a map that shows states, just shows the United States and it highlights which states have issued statewide stay-at-home orders and which states have not. And when you look at the map, what sticks out to me very distinctly is that Louisiana is surrounded - do you see right there?

Louisiana is surrounded by states that have not issued statewide orders, as Louisiana has. What do you say to Texas, Arkansas and Mississippi at this point? How big of a problem is that for Louisiana?

RUSSO: Well, Kate, this is what we've been telling people in the other regions of Louisiana is, don't wait until you start to see your numbers rise, until you start taking social distancing, taking a lockdown seriously.

By the time you start to see your numbers start to rise, guess what, it's too late. It's already in your community and it's already probably going to start spreading. You need to be proactive like our Governor has been and start to take those measures now and take them seriously.

BOLDUAN: Look, what - is it safe to say that what you're getting from the Federal Government is not enough? That's what I've been hearing from Governors across the country. But I've heard it day in and day out. But what's going to change that?

RUSSO: Well, I think what's going to change that is when you start to get closer and closer to this timeline, like I said, date for the end of beds is going to be around April 10th, dates to the end of vents in the New Orleans region is going to be the 6th is what our models are showing now.

So, it's going to, I think, driving towards the end of those dates, and so the Federal Government can actually see that those models are correct models, and then hopefully, they're going to spring into action and get us the ventilator supplies we need.

BOLDUAN: Yes, but what we hear from doctors is when a patient needs a vent, a patient doesn't need a vent in two days. The patient needs a vent in two minutes. Stephen Russo?

RUSSO: Exactly.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much for coming on. We'll stick close let us know what you need, let us spread the word. Thank you so much.

RUSSO: Thank you, Kate. I appreciate it.

BOLDUAN: Thank you. Still ahead for us, while major cities like New Orleans, as Stephen was just talking about, and New York have been a major focus, one rural community in Southwest Georgia is also one of the worst-hit areas in that state.

I'm going to talk to a top hospital administrator on how it is coping with such a large cluster of cases, what they're doing to try to get ahead of it? We'll be back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:20:00]

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): The number tested is up 15,000, 220,000 total people now tested--

BOLDUAN: He is beginning his press conference.

CUOMO: --are 7,900 total cases 83,712 down to one county that now doesn't have a COVID case. That's what you're going to see going all across the nation. Well, we're a rural area. We're not going to get it. Oh, really?

Go visit upstate New York if you want to talk about rural areas. We have rural areas. And just the way it's gone through rural New York, it will go through rural America. Total numbers - 83,000 tested positive, 12,000 people currently hospitalized. That's up 1,200 people, 3,000 people in ICU. 6,000 patients discharged. That's up 1,167.

People go into the hospital. They get better. They leave the hospital. Most impacted states. New York is at 83,000. New Jersey is at 18,000. That's Governor Phil Murphy, who's been a great partner to me, a great partner to the people of this state.

Governor Ned Lamont also in Connecticut has been a great partner. We've done a lot of great work as a region, which is very unusual. You know those lines between states often become walls. Not with Governor Murphy and not with Governor Lamont.

We're working together, and we're going to work cooperatively with New Jersey because they have a real problem. California's ticking up. Michigan's ticking up. Florida is even ticking up Massachusetts. But no one is anywhere near where we are, 83,000, compared to 18.

Number of deaths, 1,900, up from 1,550 that number will continue to go up that is people who have been on ventilators for a period of time. If you go 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. We're still looking for a curve. We're still looking to see where we hit the plateau. Total number of new hospitalized. Again, you see the number goes up and down, but the overall trajectory of the number is up.

Change in ICU admissions, bounce here, bounce there, but the overall number is still up. Change in intubations, same thing. The line is basically a line that is going up. Change in number of discharged, line is going up. Why? More people going in, more people treated, more people coming out.

Everyone asks the same questions, and they're all good questions. When is this going to be over? What happens? How does it end? And people want answers. I understand people want answers. I want answers. But the answer is nobody knows for sure.

Anyone who goes on cable TV and says, or network TV, and says, this is what is going to happen, that's not true. Nobody knows what's going to happen. And I understand the need for closure, the need for control. We're at a place we've never been before. We're out of control. I need to know. I need to know nobody can tell you.

[12:25:00]

CUOMO: What you do know are facts. And you know facts are funny things. What you're now getting are subjective facts, people who are optimists want to interpret it one way. People who are pessimists want to interpret the other way. People who bring their own subjective agenda tend to interpret the numbers a different way.

For me, facts are facts, and the facts that we offer the people of this state and the people of this country they're not pessimistic facts or optimistic facts. They're not interpreted facts. They are just the best information we have as of this time.

And I think that is empowering and in some ways relaxing. As I've mentioned to you who have worked with me, I say to my team all the time, I don't - I'm interested in your opinion, but I'm interested in your opinion second. I'm interested in the facts first.

And give me the facts un-jaded by your opinion because once a person has an opinion or once a person wants a certain outcome and they look at the facts through that filter, and then you can interpret facts differently. Just give me the straight facts.

Sergeant Joe Friday "Just the facts ma'am, just the facts no opinion". There's something empowering to that. We look for the facts to projection models. That's how we gauge what we do. We follow the projection model.

Every day you get additional data, they run that data into the model, and they refine the model. And basically, we then have a composite model, because you have many different people out there with many different models.

We use McKenzie, which is a consultant to the state, for this purpose, to basically look at all of the models and come up with a composite model. And if people wonder, well, where do you get these numbers, Governor, how do you decide what you're going to do?

We have a model, we have a projection, and that's what we follow. The current model - and the model, by the way, even more maddening, the model changes the more data that comes in. Because they started with assumptions and presumptions, and then the more data that comes in either affirms or discounts their presumptions that they started with.

So, they refine the model over time. And the model changes and the numbers change. But what we're looking at now is the apex, the top of the curve, roughly at the end of April, which means another month of this.

The apex, the recent number is you're going to need 110,000 COVID beds. What does that mean? Beds for COVID people as opposed to other people who are in the hospitals for other reasons 37,000 ventilators that are our current model that model - that model is based on minimal impact from social distancing, meaning what?

One of the great variables is how effective is the social distancing? Are people doing it? Are they complying with it? And to what extent and how effective is it? Nobody knows that answer. So, they do different projections depending on how well social distancing works? How well people comply with it? And then how effective it is?

Minimal social distancing impact is where we get the 110,000/37,000 ventilators. High compliance with social distancing, you still have 75,000 COVID beds as opposed to 110,000. You're 25,000 ventilators, okay?

So, when I keep pushing for high compliance on social distancing, it's because high compliance on social distancing will reduce the number. This is what they began talking about, flatten the curve, flatten the curve and flatten the curve with social distancing.

This says this is the difference between high compliance with social distancing and less compliance.