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U.S. Coronavirus Death Doubles in Three Days; Trump: U.S. Strategic National Stockpile Nearly Depleted; Dozens Infected, Two Dead in Washington; Linked to Choir Rehearsal Held Before CDC Issued Guidelines on Large Groups; One Michigan Hospital's ICU at Capacity as Cases Surge. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired April 1, 2020 - 19:00   ET


JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: ... large groups of people, all of a sudden, just by being in the presence of somebody have it. That is just not true, Erin. I mean, that is the definition of an epidemic where you have a viral outbreak that spreads from one person to another because they're within proximity of one another.

As we've been reporting throughout the day and just reported this a couple of hours ago with Wolf Blitzer, the CDC was saying this back in January. One of the top experts at the CDC was warning and telling reporters this during a teleconference call that basically the U.S. needed to prepare for a pandemic. The warnings coming from inside the administration, from top health officials were simply ignored by the President and other officials close to him who advise him on this and who had been advising him on this.

I will tell you I talked to a Trump advisor earlier today who's been working with White House officials on some of the messaging about all of this and this advisor said to me the President took a gamble. He gambled that this virus would somehow dissipate in the spring. President talked about this from time to time when April rolls around, it'll get warmer and the virus will go away and that the President was wrong.

He gambled and he was wrong. And so in this instance, where the President says, we just have to pass this along to our viewers, when he says that, well, nobody saw this coming, that a person could spread this from one person to another, that's just not the case. That is exactly how an epidemic and then eventually a pandemic works. And they were warned about this going all the way back to January.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Right. And, of course, as you point out, there are so many people, we're going to be joined by a choir director who had a choir practice five days before the CDC banned large gatherings, doing exactly what at the time the CDC was saying. The CDC was tweeting at the end of February no reported community spread. Just do what you would do with any respiratory illness and wash your hands. Stay home if you're sick. I mean, people were not getting the message that clearly needed to be gotten out there.

ACOSTA: That's right.

BURNETT: Daniel Dale, as they continue, tell us what stood out to you here as the fact checker.

DANIEL DALE, CNN REPORTER: Well, there was another false claim in the vein of what Jim was just talking about. Trump was talking again about ventilators and he said something to the effect of nobody could have known that we'd have this situation.

As I've said repeatedly on CNN, there were years of warnings not only about the general risks to the U.S. of a pandemic, but about the need for 10s of thousands of ventilators in such a situation. In fact, as we've written on, in 2015 there was a study written by CDC officials among others that specifically said that 60,000 ventilators would be needed, they thought, in a severe flu pandemic scenario. So the idea that this, which is unthought of by anyone is not true.

Trump also made another claim that I wouldn't necessarily call false but I think needs context. He was asked about why not issue a national stay-at-home order. He said, well, states are different. He said some states don't have thousands of cases. Some states don't even have hundreds.

Now, that is true at the moment in terms of confirmed cases, but every single state has at least 100 confirmed cases and as we know there are severe testing shortages in many of the smaller states as well as others. And so Trump continues to suggest that some places are free of this problem or have an only minimal problem, when the reality is that they all have a problem and the problem is being understated in the number of confirmed tests, because there aren't very many tests being conducted.

BURNETT: Right. We just don't know. We don't know what we don't know and we do know that every state that now has a hotspot and a massive issue, including New York, also started out with a very few cases,

DALE: That's right.

BURNETT: Sanjay, to this to this point on the ventilators which Daniel raises, look, there were years of probably people sounding warnings and people in the position to maybe do something about it, not thinking it was a priority. And now here we are and the President says tonight that the Strategic National Stockpile is nearly depleted. That's what he has now said and we have a source saying the stockpile is deploying its last round of shipments in the inventory.

So that's going to be it. That's the bulk of the protective gear is apparently going to be gone. How concerned does that make you at this point, given what you know about what supposedly is coming online or currently being made?

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's lots of sort of examples to look at certainly throughout history and currently at other places around the world. We, as Daniel just mentioned, and I think, Erin, you and I have talked about this as well, we've known for some time how many ventilators were likely to be needed in a mild pandemic situation, a moderate pandemic situation, severe pandemic situation. Leave aside like December, November before we really knew that this

was coming. In January, February, it was pretty clear and even from the CDC, I interviewed the head of the CDC who said this will take a foothold in this country. We knew the fatality rate. We knew that people were getting really sick.

So the fact that we are now deploying the last of the stockpile, which is I think - I've heard different numbers on that, about 12,000, 13,000 ventilators. It's not going to be enough.


I mean, it does depend a little bit on whether this curve is flattened because as you know that means we will still need a lot of ventilators. We may not just need them all at once or we'll be able to spread it out a little bit more. But I think there's going to be a shortfall, which is just tragic that there'll be a shortfall, because from a practical standpoint, a shortfall ventilators means this, it means that at some point somebody is going to need one and not be able to get one.

I mean, I don't know how else to describe that and I hate describing it that way. But it happened in Italy, we saw that, we watched, it's happened in other countries around the world. I can't believe that it might happen here in the United States.

BURNETT: And that's the possibility. I mean, these days trickle by New York saying their ICUs 85 percent fall, you're getting near that point where you're going to start having these answers to that question.

I mean, to this point, John King, you have the Governor of Florida, obviously, a big Trump supporter, a Trump acolyte, Ron DeSantis, having said, well, if the President tells me to do it, I'll listen long and hard. Now issuing this stay-at-home order, which would just basically mean like it is in many other states, you can go out for your exercise for your walks, but they're going to close a lot of businesses but not ending religious services.

It is pretty incredible that the President wouldn't just step up and tell him to do it. It's also equally as incredible that Ron DeSantis wouldn't just do it.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, some of this is the history of the United States of America, we are a republic, we have 50 states. The federal government is only supposed to do certain things in most cases. The in most cases part is what's so important here.

Should the President issue a national stay-at-home order, that's above my pay grade. I'm not smart enough. I don't get the science. Should the President though when he himself extended his guidelines for 30 days said it was possible he would leave them in place through May, I stood in front of those charts yesterday with Dr. Birx and Fauci and said, we may wipe a city the size of Green Bay off the map if it gets even worse than we thought we might wipe a Salt Lake City off the map. Does he then have the obligation to look in the eye and say, look, my

friends, don't be reluctant. I will back you up. I will back you up. Those are the words those Republican governors are looking for. I know your people will be mad. Maybe it runs against your culture in the West, maybe it runs against your culture in the south, maybe it runs against your culture as a conservative, smaller government. These are not normal times. We need to save lives. Do it and I will back you up.

That's what the Republican governors are looking for, Erin, and the President seems reluctant to do that. Again, give him credit for what he did in extending the guidelines, because he didn't want to do it. The scientists convinced him it was the right thing to do. But there's another step, but he would own it then, he would own it then just like he sheds blame.


KING: He said the other day, this is not my fault. The shelf was empty when it comes to supplies for a pandemic. The shelf was empty is what he said on Fox News. The Obama administration disputes that. They say at a minimum they went through these tabletop exercises with the President that you might face a pandemic you need to be ready.

But even if you have accept that argument, accept it for a minute, the shelf was empty. He has been president for 38 months. It's his obligation to fill the shelf. If I sold you a car 38 months ago that had no gas in it, it is not my fault if you haven't filled the tank 38 months later.

BURNETT: Right. That's a good analogy to make the point. When you're the person in charge, the buck stops with you and after a certain period of time, it's impossible to suggest otherwise.

Jim Acosta, what would you say, having been in these rooms with him doing these briefings, has been the shift? I mean, we see it and I've been wondering if perhaps it's just that the room is much emptier than usual because of social distancing that he is able to sort of connect. And I see him with someone like you and he's often so pejorative to you, personally, that he's going back and forth with you taking questions.

Has there been a change in his sort of relationship with the press in that room? And also, have you seen a change in terms of the way he interacts with his scientists?

ACOSTA: Well, I will tell you the shift is this and that is he is no longer denying the science of the coronavirus. He has accepted, I think, that this is now a very deadly pandemic and a huge, perhaps, overwhelming problem for the United States. We're going to have to wait and see how it's handled over the next couple of months.

But in terms of how he's dealing - with the President - and Erin, as you know, nobody feels sorry for us. But I did note yesterday in the briefing room when I was with him and they were leveling with us about the 100,000 to 240,000 people that may die over the next couple of months, even if we do everything right. The President was not as combative as he usually is and he wasn't set off as he usually is. My sense of it is, is that is because I think he's been scared straight by all of this, Erin.

Now, does that mean that all of the other pieces of Donald Trump's political and personal psyche get washed by the wayside? No, of course. Look what happened today instead of starting off the coronavirus task force briefing with Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx, we got a little bit of a dog and pony show in terms of what the United States is doing to counter narcotics overseas.


That is not germane to what is going on with this virus.

But one of the things I will tell you, Erin, just to touch on what John King was saying a few moments ago in terms of this idea of a national stay-at-home order. The President has been dragged sort of kicking and screaming every step of the way. He had to be dragged to this point by Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx to do the 15-day period of social distancing guidelines. Then he had to be dragged almost kicking and screaming to extend that to 30 days.

He may be dragged kicking and screaming to giving some sort of national stay-at-home order. The surgeon General was on earlier today saying that people should interpret these new guidelines as sort of a national stay-at-home order.

Well, it's not. It is not the same thing as a national stay-at-home order and I think the administration still does not have a good answer for that.

BURNETT: Sanjay, you had a point.

GUPTA: Yes. I mean look, when you look at these models, the 100,000 to 200,000 people who sadly may die from this, it is sort of predicated by the end of this week. So today is Wednesday, so in the next two days that every state in the country does have a stay-at-home order.

That model sort of falls apart, Erin, if that doesn't happen by Friday. So we're talking about how these numbers, we're trying to suppress them, hopefully they don't grow. But it's predicated on something that hasn't even happened yet, so I think that's important at this point that John and Jim both brought up.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you all very much. And as you talk about groups and stay-at-home orders, it is groups, I mean, I know people who went to a dinner party 40 people got sick, someone went to a party, 40 percent of the people at the party got sick in a choir rehearsal where it has turned deadly. Forty-five people possibly extremely ill with coronavirus, two members now dead. Dozens more infected. The choir director who does have that virus is going to be my guest next.

Plus, one health official telling CNN it is like war in Detroit as coronavirus cases skyrocket. We are on the ground in a state that has the most cases after New York and New Jersey.

And President Trump now backing a $2 trillion infrastructure bill. Is that enough? Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is my guest.



BURNETT: Tonight, a sobering reminder of just how contagious this virus is. Two members of a choir group in Washington State have died and nearly 50 could be infected with coronavirus after the choir held a rehearsal last month.

OUTFRONT now Adam Burdick, the choir's director. He is tested positive for coronavirus along with his wife, Lorraine.

And Adam, I really appreciate your time. I mean, this rehearsal was March 10th. Before rehearsal, you told anybody with symptoms to stay home and members say nobody was coughing, nobody was sneezing at the rehearsal. I mean, how soon after did you realize that something was wrong?

ADAM BURDICK, WA CHOIR CONDUCTOR, HAS CORONAVIRUS ALONG WITH DOZENS OF MEMBERS: So we had a rehearsal on the Tuesday evening and it was, for some people, it was Friday evening that they started to come down with symptoms, but I didn't hear it until Saturday. I personally came down with symptoms on Saturday.

And through today heard from about 20 of our members via email that day in the next that we're starting to come down with major symptoms of COVID.

BURNETT: And 45 now out of the 60 members who were there at that rehearsal have been diagnosed or have had very similar symptoms. Obviously, I know you and your wife are lucky, you're still on the recovery path, but you didn't have to go to the hospital.

But as I said people, of course, died. I mean, it's impossible to imagine. I mean, have you talked to others who did experience more severe cases and symptoms?

BURDICK: Most of our communications have been through email. But, yes, I have certainly heard. I know of one choir member whose husband had a fever for nine days straight and didn't seem to be able to recover. We hope that that member is finally recovering.

I know of others, we have one member who just was able to come home from hospital yesterday and we hope that that member is improving as well. But we also know some people who improved and then got worse and that's been a concern.

BURNETT: Right. And I know we have heard about that where people will get better and then suddenly take a turn for the worse. I mean, just in your head as you and your wife have talked about this, how have you gotten your head around the fact that you went to rehearsal and so many people have gotten sick and two people that you saw the time that you would practice with have actually died?

BURDICK: It's hard to grasp. It's hard to know how to deal with it. One of the ways that we would have dealt with it is by being together and singing together some of our songs that we were going to do this particular concert are about coming together and living through painful times and being strong and we can't do any of that.

We can communicate via email and via phone and via Skype or Zoom, but we can't reach out to each other as we usually would. We are a community and we haven't been able to be that community in that same way and that makes the grieving process much more of a private and alone thing to do which is hard for all of us.

BURNETT: And I know that you put a statement out, addressing the questions about some people now with the benefit of hindsight. They say, well, why could you have gone ahead and had this rehearsal, but you made it clear, yes, there were cases at the time in Washington State. They were none in your county. Schools were open. Businesses were open. The CDC didn't issue guidelines against gatherings of 50 or more people until five days later.

You were doing what millions, 10s of millions, hundreds of millions of Americans were told to do, be safe and responsible but continue with your life. I mean, are you frustrated that the government did not give Americans an earlier warning that this horrible tragedy could have been averted?


BURDICK: There is frustration, absolutely. I want to say that I feel that our local public health department has been very strong, very much an ally and a support for us. And I appreciate the people who have not only done their jobs with amazing diligence, but also reached out with caring and support to our community.

I wouldn't have liked to have seen testing, for example, many of our members. As you mentioned, 45 of our members have been sick, but many of us haven't been tested. We were told not to because of the scarcity of tests and that's a problem, of course.

BURNETT: Right. Obviously, had you known you wouldn't have done this and two people would have been alive today who are not. And, Adam, before we go, I know you're on the road to recovery. Your wife I know is a little bit behind you. You and I were speaking before, but she is also getting better.

BURDICK: That's right, yes. And I wanted to add one other thing about you're saying many, many people were living their lives as we were. I've heard from choirs not only around Washington but around the country who have said we were rehearsing that very night as well. Choirs and orchestras and wind bands, all kinds of music ensembles.

We were all doing our thing. We were trying to live our lives as we understood it being safe, but still doing what we needed to do to live. So I would not have wished this on any other organization, but it's frustrating that happened to us and I want people to pay attention to those warning signals and our message is for people to pay attention.

BURNETT: And I hope they will, thank you so very much. And we are glad that you and your wife are doing better. Thank you, Adam.

BURDICK: Thank you very much.

BURNETT: And OUTFRONT next, Detroit still emerging from an economic crisis and now at the center of the coronavirus crisis. It is weighing on Extremely heavily on the city's first responders.

Plus, could a blood test, an antibody test, do a lot for this country.



BURNETT: Tonight, at capacity. One major hospital in Michigan warning that it is out of ICU beds. Currently, Michigan has the third highest case total lagging behind only New York and New Jersey. A big problem area is Detroit which accounts for about a quarter of the state total. Ryan Young OUTFRONT.



DR. JUSTIN BRIGHT, EMERGENCY ROOM DOCTOR, HENRY FORD HOSPITAL: It's a eerie walking through the ER now because everyone is in all this crazy protective gear. And you can't even tell like who is under there.


RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT(voice over): Tonight, a new reality sinking in for doctors in Detroit.


BRIGHT: I've had shifts that have spooked me in a way that I've never been spooked before in my job.


YOUNG(voice over): With more than 9,300 cases, Michigan is now third unknown coronavirus cases in the United States. Trailing only New York and New Jersey. Dr. Bright and his team at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit have cared for more than 650 of those patients.


BRIGHT: I think the big shock is how rapidly some of these patients are deteriorating in their clinical condition. Like their breathing and their oxygen needs get pretty intensive and pretty critical and we have to intervene.


YOUNG(voice over): For nurses like Michelle Thompson, the dramatic jump in cases has been a sobering reality.


MICHELLE THOMPSON, ER NURSE, HENRY FORD HOSPITAL: Up until about a week ago, I thought, how much of this is hype and this and that, and until you start seeing it come in and how real and how sick people can get with this, we're seeing young people as well get very ill.


YOUNG(voice over): For a city that's been emerging from an economic crisis that has been decades in the making, Detroit once again at the center of another crisis is a profound step backward.


BRIGHT: It's a perfect storm of patient with poor access to care. Poor financial situation. Just a normal life for them. Poor transportation. And poor health. And so that's a perfect recipe for what we're seeing in Wayne County right now.


YOUNG(voice over): Business as usual, grinding to a halt for the Motor City. Plans for the annual Detroit Auto Show scrapped to make way for this makeshift hospital capable of holding a thousand patients.

On Tuesday the state received 400 ventilators from the Strategic National Stockpile. Officials say they'll need thousands more but doctors like Bright warn there's only so much they can do.


BRIGHT: Its' tough because we have ventilators and we have experimental medications, but there's no magic cure for this. Our goal is really just to keep them alive while their immune system fights it.


YOUNG(voice over): Fear, anxiety and hope all part of the daily battle for those with the biggest impact on saving lives.


BRIGHT: I'm tired of being afraid and I'm tired of worrying about the next germ that I get is going to be coronavirus. And I've really tried to maintain a positive attitude where all of us are on the front lines.


YOUNG: Erin, we could focus on numbers, but I just want to tell you there's a lot of the healthcare workers we're talking to you like Dr. Bright say when they get home, they're still a little worried. They're worried about spreading this to their family. When he gets home, he actually decontaminate himself. He takes all his

clothes off, then goes right in and takes a shower before greeting his wife and his infant. You can understand why people are worried about this. There's so much spread.

The one thing he did tell me though, a lot of folks are fighting because that's all they know how to do here in Detroit.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much.

And now the race for a cure, obviously, going on around the world and one doctor working on a treatment using antibodies from recovered patients is Dr. James Crowe. He's the Director of the Vanderbilt vaccine center. Dr. Jonathan Reiner is also with me. He advised the White House medical team during the George W. Bush presidency as a cardiologist and, of course, was cardiologist for Vice President Dick Cheney.

So Dr. Crowe, let me just start with your treatment of this antibody treatment. Explain exactly how this works and what you have seen so far to the extent any you know?


DR. JAMES CROWE, VANDERBILT VACCINE CENTER DIRECTOR: Well, antibodies are part of your body's natural immune system and they're the way that you fight infections and also prevent becoming infected again. And we've used antibodies for many years as prevention or treatment.

So, the old hemoglobin (ph) treatments that many of us got when we travelled to prevent infection was a transfer of antibodies from one to another. But now, instead of transferring whole blood, we are using the blood cells of survivors to find individual cells and get the genes out of those cells to make an individual antibody or an individual molecule that we can use as a drug to give to other people to prevent or treat infection.

BURNETT: So, when we hear about studies of serum from recovered patients and you're talking about this with a blood cell, you know, I guess in concept they're similar because they're dealing with antibodies. But am I correct in saying that the technology that you're doing in each of these cases is different, and one might be more effective than the other?

CROWE: Well, they're very similar principles, but in the serum treatment, you're taking the serum from people and you're moving that whole serum over that contained lots of different antibodies, not all of which are for coronavirus. What we're doing is finding a single antibody or maybe two and we use those to be very specific for coronavirus and we can make these in a manufacturing scenario, and we don't need additional people. It's a renewable resource that we can make over and over again reproducibly in a very high quality environment.

BURNETT: You don't need more donations. CROWE: Yes.

BURNETT: So, how quickly could it be ready to go and for how many people?

CROWE: We have antibodies on our hand right now that that look promising, and we're sorting through thousands to come up with the one or two that are best. We'll be transferring them to our manufacturing parties to make for clinical trials. We're aiming for early this summer.

BURNETT: Dr. Reiner, how transformational do you think something like this would be, you know, along with some of the other -- whether it'd be serum or other ideas that are out there?

DR. JONATHAN REINER, CARDIOLOGIST, ADVISED WH MEDICAL TEAM FOR EIGHT YEARS: Yes, well, you know, we're searching for therapeutics. So, there's really a two-pronged attack to beat this pandemic. You know, one is to race to create a vaccine, to prevent people from acquiring the disease. And, obviously, you know, for those who are sick now, we're searching for therapeutics, and, you know, antibody therapies such as this would really move the ball forward dramatically.

BURNETT: Now, you know, Dr. Reiner, to that point, Vice President Pence today said, if everyone does his part, this would be, quote, largely behind us by June. He was not referring to any possible therapeutics at that point. It's just sort of what he perceives or what the White House is saying the curve of the illness would.

So, what do you -- what do you say that? Largely behind us by June? You're obviously seeing this in your cardiology department every day.

REINER: Yes. I think that's certainly optimistic. It depends on when and how much we can flatten the curve now. The -- I think most optimistic scenarios show the incidence of new infections dropping, you know, dramatically by the beginning of the summer.

We heard Dr. Fauci today talking about a scenario where in July and August, there are a few new cases, a very limited number of new cases. But there's so many people getting infected. And right now, the curve continues to rise. The number of people infected is doubling every three days, that I think any, you know, prediction that we're going to be out of this by any certain day is purely conjecture.

I hope we're out of this in June, but I think there's a long way to go before we really can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

BURNETT: And it would seem, Dr. Crowe, that there's no way even if you are looking at numbers like that that you're going to say, OK, everybody can go back to work. Everyone can go to sports gathering and start jamming thousands of people together again. I mean, that seems hard to imagine. As a layperson, what do you say as a doctor?

CROWE: Right. We'll minimally be at the tail of a large outbreak. I think there's another concern that we could have a resurgence in the coming winter of another round of this. And it's not clear that would happen but it's a possibility. And so, a lot of the discovery that people like we are doing are getting ready for late summer and early fall to be able to treat or prevent people -- at that time, to prevent any resurgence.

BURNETT: Dr. Reiner, do you share that concern about a resurgence? I know Dr. Fauci was saying, oh, it may happen but it wouldn't be nearly as problematic in his view.

Do you think that that's right or perhaps too sanguine?

REINER: Well, I think most of the models that I've seen suggest that there very well may be a second peak in fall or early winter.


The big unknown is how much herd immunity at the time and will the fact that so many people exposed both symptomatically and asymptomatically to the virus in the first wave, how much that herd immunity will blunt the second peak. And then there's a race obviously for a vaccine which we're hearing is maybe optimistically ten months away.

So, hoping that the second peak is not so severe. Developing therapeutics to treat people who get sick and then moving as quickly and as safely as possible a vaccine are ways to really get this country beyond this.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Dr. Reiner and Dr. Crowe, both of you. I appreciate it.

And next, President Trump says he is now -- he's for providing hazard pay for some workers. But which workers? Who would qualify and how?

Senator Chuck Schumer has idea, he's next.

Plus, $50,000 in rent is due today. A lot of that is not going to be paid because people were laid off, furloughed. They don't have the money.



BURNETT: Breaking news: President Trump doubling down on his push for a massive infrastructure package in the next round of coronavirus economic relief.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I proposed a $2 trillion infrastructure plan which would not only fix our roads and highways and bridges and tunnels and other things, but we'll also do something very good. It's called jobs.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: This after the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats pushed their own plan that would cost $760 billion over five years.

OUTFRONT now, the Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

Senator, I appreciate your time very much tonight.

You know, the president making a point just moments ago in that briefing that he wants -- you know, he's saying he wants more than double what Democrats want and even more than what Republicans want.

Do you give President Trump credit for saying that he is willing to spend $2 trillion on infrastructure?

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): Well, I have to say, seeing is believing. We once asked him for that amount, Speaker Pelosi and I, in the White House, and he sort of got up and walked out. So, let's wait and see.

But let me say this, Erin, our immediate problem is dealing with the health crisis. Infrastructure is good. I'm all for it. That's when we try to heal the economy.

But until we get this crisis in order, the economy will get worse and worse and worse because people won't be at their jobs, people will be stuck in their homes, et cetera.

And here is one of the greatest problem we face, there's a dramatic shortage of all the needed supplies, or most of them, whether it's masks, whether it's PPE, the protective equipment, whether it's ventilators.

And we have no one really in charge. We have this awful spectacle of governors bidding against one another. One governor told me he called Sweden, or a mayor actually, to get ventilators.

We have an act called the Defense Production Act that was passed during the Korean War. It allows the president to appoint someone who commandeer the factories and the supply chains to produce what's needed and then distribute it to the place that's most need it so we won't have this -- you know, this sort of chicken with your head cut off, everybody running around trying to get the equipment.

Now, the president appointed somebody, a man named Peter Navarro, the professor on China, to run the production side. I talked to him. He is not up to the job. He's a very nice man but he has no experience doing things like this.

And they have no one that I can best tell in charge of the distribution. They need one person, a military person, a general, who knows how to deal with logistics and quarter mastering, who knows command and control. You need to place that person, the czar, in charge of both production and distribution of all of these kinds of needed equipment and get it to the places that are needed.


SCHUMER: Erin, the president could do that -- the president could do that right now and not interfere, no politics, and get the job done. I'm calling on him to do it.

BURNETT: I mean, because the reality is now he's saying the stockpile is nearly depleted. But another thing that's pretty clear is not just what you're talking about, the spectacle, which is a good word for it, of people bidding against each other and -- for all these things. But also that there also seems to be a real lack of awareness of what's really there and where there is, right?


BURNETT: What PPE is, and what state and in what warehouse?

SCHUMER: It's a big mix.


BURNETT: I mean, it seems absurd but people don't know.

SCHUMER: And this is a job -- the military is great at stuff like this. When they go into battle or prepare for a battle, they have to put different kinds of equipments in different kinds of places all at once. There are some very fine generals and high ranking members of our military who could do this job if they were appointed, given the power and let loose.

I called the president -- I called him personally several weeks ago and said, invoke the DPA, this Defense Production Act, which is on the books. He had someone in the room, he said, let's do it. But then a few hours later --


BURNETT: Why do you think he hasn't done it? He threatened to do it again to GM on the weekend and didn't do it. What's holding him back? I mean, it's not a fear of socialism. What is it?

SCHUMER: I have no idea why he's not doing it. But it is exactly -- this DPA is exactly so to speak what the doctor ordered, and he should do it immediately. We're running short.

I can tell you, from my dear home city of New York, there are shortages all over the place. I talked to a bunch of hospital workers and health care workers last night and they told me they don't have what they need.

BURNETT: Do you have any specific generals in mind that you would recommend?

SCHUMER: No. I believe that -- frankly, I'd ask General Milley, who's the best person for this. I have a lot of respect for him. He's head of the Joint Chiefs. [19:45:01]

He's had years of military experience. He would know just the person to do this.

BURNETT: So, you're talking also about asking the president to sign an executive order that would allow for hazard pay for doctors and nurses, 25 percent hazard pay.

Trump was just asked about this at the presidential briefing. He said, quote, I like it. It's been discussed. Not definitive.

Have you had any discussions with him yet?

SCHUMER: I have sent him a letter -- I believe I sent it tonight or tomorrow asking that he -- he can do this by executive order. Give hazard pay to all federal workers who are in harm's way.

And then I think we should legislate it and require everybody to get it. We have to do that in COVID 4, which will come up in a few weeks. But right now, if the president did it and set an example, I think lots of private sectors would do it. Some are doing it already.

BURNETT: Quickly, if you do it in a few weeks, obviously, that -- you know, who knows where we are on the curve at that point. But would it be back pay for doctors and nurses who are working right now in the frontlines? OK --


SCHUMER: I'd like it -- and by the way, I'm sending the president a letter saying on this, first thing the DPA and urging that he'd pick a military person in charge first thing tomorrow morning. I hope he'll respond.

BURNETT: All right. I appreciate your time, Senator. Thank you so very much, Senator Schumer.

SCHUMER: Erin, very nice to talk to you. And be safe, keep safe.

BURNETT: And to you (ph), sir.

And next, outrange tonight spilling into the streets. As many Americans are struggling to make rent or mortgage payments today.

Plus, Jeanne Moos on the tough talk directed at those not staying home.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I basically want to address the idiots out there.




BURNETT: Tonight, April 1st, and rent is due. Millions of people are struggling to pay it after losing their jobs due to coronavirus.

Kyung Lah is OUTFRONT.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need the rent (INAUDIBLE), we got to work.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If we can't work, we can't pay!

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Renters line the streets and circle in cars, calling this rent strike. It's the first day of the month and nearly $50 billion in rent is due in the U.S.

MELISSA REYES, LOS ANGELES TENANTS UNION: A lot of us are already choosing between food and rent. We're saying to choose food.

LAH: Across the country, rage rising with job losses climbing. Renters have been sharing warning letters from landlords online. One warns rent is due on the first. Nothing is changed.

One extends the rent deadline only until April 10th. And this one stresses rent is still due. If you've been laid off, it adds places are hiring, like grocery stores, Amazon, Walmart, and more.

Renters are fighting back from this Los Angeles protest to signs of resistance posted across the Midwest, from Chicago to Brooklyn, New York, to New Orleans, pledging to not pay. Los Angeles and New York mayors issued no eviction orders. Renters say that's not enough.

REYES: We can't pay our rent and we're in debt. How are we supposed to get out of that debt post-quarantine?

LAH (on camera): Did you lose your job?

SHUJANA ANTHONY, WAITRESS: Yes, all of us lost our job.

LAH (voice-over): Because of coronavirus, says Shujana Anthony (ph). She used to make enough at restaurant Rosa Mexicano to cover her Los Angeles apartment rent.

ANTHONY: Check out my little 500 square feet, $1,100 a month.

LAH (on camera): How are you going to pay this $1,100 rent?

ANTHONY: I don't know. When you're scared, you don't see nothing but fear. So those people, they don't have nothing else but a sign in their car.

LAH: These rent strikers. You feel for them.

MATTHEW HEITZER, LANDLORD: Oh, absolutely. Twenty years ago, it would have been me. LAH (voice-over): But today, Matthew Heitzer sits on the other side

as a landlord. He is working with his tenants, but can only do so much.

HEITZER: I have no ability to handle this beyond a couple of months.

LAH: His family started out in a small condo just before the 2008 mortgage crisis, which left them $70,000 under water, unable to sell, but able to rent the condo, they're still climbing out of the red.

HEITZER: Someone loses their job, they can no longer afford to pay rent. Follow it through. If I can't pay that mortgage and I have to pay that mortgage at some point, well, that could bankrupt me.


LAH: Matthew Heitzer tells me that his renters did pay their rent on time today, but many of the renters in our story did not pay because they simply couldn't. The Urban Institute does talk about that figure, $50 billion in rent being due. Here's another figure: $90 billion in mortgage payments, Erin, are also due -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right, Kyung, thank you very much.

And next, Jeanne talking about the insults hurled at people who are not staying at home.



BURNETT: Tonight the many ways that Americans are getting the message to stay home.

Here's Jeanne.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If you're sitting alone on your couch, pantsless perhaps, the governor of New Jersey is not admonishing you.

GOV. PHIL MURPHY (D), NEW JERSEY: No more knuckle head parties or gatherings.

MOOS: He and Larry David --

LARRY DAVID, ACTOR: I basically want to address the idiots out there.

MOOS: -- are trying to reach the congregators ignoring, please to stay at home.


MOOS: New Jersey even recruited "The Situation" from the reality show "Jersey Shore." SORRENTINO: I jut have unbelievable mass appeal.

MOOS: To convince the fun-loving masses.

SORRENTINO: The time for parties is over.

MOOS: And Larry David is doing the same thing for California.

DAVID: Nothing good ever happens going out of the house. You know that. There's just trouble out there.

MOOS: But even more eyebrow raising are the musical efforts to encourage social distancing from the parody of the Vanilla Ice classic, "Ice, Ice, Baby", by a guy known as the singing dentist.

To this parody of the sound of music.

CROWD (singing): Do not fear, but please say here, stay at home now, everyone --

MOOS: The message: it's safer for the Von Trapp family to be von trapped at home.

CROWD (singing): Don't let COVID virus spread, isolate yourself at home --

MOOS: Even if the kids keep encroaching on your social distance.

Australian comedian Chris Franklin wrote a little ditty.

CHRIS FRANKLIN, COMEDIAN: The world has caught a virus, so I've written you a poem.

BOB E. KELLY, SINGER (singing): We need your need help to cure, so stay (EXPLETIVE DELETED) at home.

MOOS: Retiree Bobby Kelly turned lyrics into song while self quarantining at home in the woods of New Hampshire.

Who needs to call people idiots and knuckle heads when you can just sing?

KELLY: You need to grow a brain cell and stay the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) at home.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN --

CROWD (singing): Keep 2 meters clear of me --

MOOS: -- New York.


BURNETT: All right. Thanks for watching.

"AC360" starts right now.