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Assessing Asian Coronavirus Responses Months Later; New York's Additional Medical Capacity is Ready; Interview with Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired April 2, 2020 - 10:30   ET

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


[10:30:00] JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: -- to help mitigate the spread, the impact of coronavirus. Officials around the U.S. are imposing various orders that are similar to those that slowed the spread of the virus in China, although China used things we're not using here, including electronic monitoring of individuals.

So will those measures be as effective here in this country?

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: We have a team of reporters joining us now with more lessons that can be learned from their experience in Asia. Our Paula Hancocks joins us now from Seoul, Ivan Watson is in Hong Kong. Let's begin, though, in Shanghai with David Culver.

David, what can the U.S. learn from China and should Americans feel optimistic about the dropoff in cases there?

DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Poppy and Jim, and I hear that a lot, people looking here in hopes of seeing maybe a light at the end of the tunnel. And I think there is in some cases, but it's also a light that flickers on and off, as we have seen. I mean, there are some pains that they have experience in, going forward with these extreme and at times brutal lockdowns.

While they are seeming to have been effective in many cases, what I think the U.S. is probably going to have to look at is not just shutting everything down, which is obviously happening in phases in the U.S. -- here, you have a central government that can say everything has to close, and it happens. There's it's localities, it's states that have to come up with that -- you're seeing it come online one by one, that they're doing these stay-at-home orders.

But it's also a strategy of looking ahead to how then do you start to think about reopening and coming back online. And because we're starting to see things return to a new normal, if you will, here, it's also at times that they'll take a step or two forward and then have to take two, maybe three steps back.

And a case in point of that is just looking at movie theaters. They opened over the weekend. A few hours later, the central government decided to shut them back down.

SCIUTTO: Yes. CULVER: Same thing with certain karaoke bars, even. I mean, state

media is saying that they were even cutting people off mid-song at a karaoke bar to shut it back down --

SCIUTTO: Yes.

CULVER: -- because they're realizing, it's not a perfect science, right? So that's what they're trying to figure out here. And I think the U.S. would benefit from looking at that.

HARLOW: Yes.

SCIUTTO: Yes. We should note, there are genuine concerns about China fabricating the numbers here, greatly underplaying how many people and were affected -- were infected by this.

Ivan, you're in Hong Kong. Hong Kong had a lot of success early on, but then they saw it come back up again because of people flying in from other countries. What are they doing now to mitigate that?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the government's very concerned. It's just announced that as of 6:00 p.m. on Friday, all the bars and pubs in Hong Kong are going to be shut down because there were a cluster of infections in a night -- bar district in town.

Hong Kong's case is very interesting because unlike mainland China, which had these draconian just lockdowns. Hong Kong was more phased, there are more democratic freedoms here but it it did not fool around with this. In 2003, Hong Kong lost hundreds of people to the SARS epidemic, and there was no debate here after the first case was discovered in mid-January of coronavirus, about whether or not this is a threat.

By the end of January, a week later, the schools had been shut down here and this highly densely populated city, right on the border with mainland China, with a population a little bit under New York City, managed to keep the infection numbers down to below 150, if you can believe it, by the beginning of March.

Now, the last two weeks have been rough. That number has tripled, it's more than 700 cases now but only four deaths confirmed thus far. The schools are still closed, there have been additional measures like mandatory quarantine on anybody flying in, they've been giving electronic bracelets to people to track them if they're moving around, and the police have been rounding up people who break those mandatory quarantines.

But still, if you look at the numbers, even with this second phase of infections, the second wave, Hong Kong's done much, much better than many Western cities that have the outbreak, and it may just be because people took this so seriously from the very beginning.

HARLOW: Yes.

SCIUTTO: Yes. HARLOW: They absolutely did, Ivan. Thank you for that.

Let's go to South Korea now. Paula, the top U.S. general in South Korea says he does not believe North Korea's claim that they have zero cases of coronavirus. But South Korea was so ahead in terms of testing rapidly, hundreds of thousands of people --

SCIUTTO: Yes.

HARLOW: -- a day, they had the first confirmed case the same day the U.S. did, but drastically different outcomes. What have they taught us?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Poppy and Jim, clearly, what the South Koreans believe that they are trying to tell the world is that testing works, test as many people as possible. If you don't test, you can't contact trace. If you can't contact trace, you cannot figure out how much of an issue it is and you can't even begin to stem the spread of this virus.

Now, a little earlier today, I did speak to the top U.S. commander here in South Korea, General Robert Abrams. And we talked about North Korea as well. North Korea borders China and South Korea, but claims it has zero cases of novel coronavirus.

[10:35:06]

And he said that it is impossible, given the intel that he has, that that is even the case, saying that he believes that is simply -- he doesn't buy it, that North Korea has no cases. Also talking about the USFK side of this the U.S. Forces in Korea, they have 16 confirmed cases related to USFK but they have 58,000 people who are going on and off these U.S. bases every day. And he says that he is proud of that.

And he also says he has some advice for militaries around the world.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEN. ROBERT ABRAMS, COMMANDER, U.S. FORCES KOREA: Go hard, go early. It will seem like overreaction, it'll seem a bit over-the-top. You know, my gosh, why are -- why are we having to do that draconian measure? A week later, your community will understand, your unit will understand why you had to do that. We've seen the worst, but now is not the time to get complacent.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANCOCKS: And that's the concern here as well, there's a lot more people out on the streets in South Korea. There is a concern about complacency, but also of around 10,000 cases in this country, the recovery rate is also significant, around 6,000, and that's something we really need to remind ourselves of.

HARLOW: Paula, thank you for that reporting. David Culver and Ivan Watson, to you as well. We'll be right back.

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[10:41:05]

SCIUTTO: The Javits Convention Center in New York City is now accepting patients to lighten the load on hospitals in the city. The idea here, really, they're going to get overwhelmed, they think, in the next couple of weeks. Brynn Gingras has more.

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jim. You know, the Javits Center, like you said, taking some patients as of now and really, again, it's to ease the burden on these hospitals.

It's not just the Javits Center at this point. We know that the tents that are set up outside Central Park, those are also accepting patients. And then of course there's overflow going to the Comfort that pulled ashore earlier this week as well.

And we even know more makeshift hospitals are coming online, we expect the one to be built very shortly here -- it's actually in the process of being built right now -- where the U.S. Open is played, at that tennis center. So again, this is all going to help these hospitals.

And, guys, listen, I have been -- you know, you know me, I've been standing in front of this line for a couple of weeks now, and I can tell you that the lines have gotten shorter. So that's good to see from the outside. But again, we know what it looks like inside, it's just that more and more patients are coming in when they are sicker than usual, needing to be on those ventilators longer than usual.

And the numbers that the governor has been telling us, they've been dire. We've been hearing it at a national level. When you break it down to New York, Governor Cuomo says that same model that he - or one of them at least, that you know, Anthony Fauci has described, that puts New Yorkers seeing about 16,000 deaths at the end of all this. I mean, that is just an astonishing number.

And of course, it's because of the hospitals, the burden they're feeling. And to ease that burden --

HARLOW: Yes.

GINGRAS: -- we also have to put a mention in there for social distancing.

I want to quickly explain to you, in New Jersey, guys, there are four towns that took a drastic step of having a lockdown for seven days, a lockdown, meaning no one can leave their homes except for an emergency. That's happening in four cities in New Jersey.

HARLOW: Wow.

GINGRAS: And then there are other measures being taken in other places, like here in New York City, playgrounds are now shut down. So social distancing of course is a big part of this, guys, as we know.

SCIUTTO: Yes. HARLOW: Huge part. Brynn, thank you for the reporting. Appreciate

what you and your team are doing.

[10:43:08]

One of the most devastating periods in history for the American job market, and so many people, 6.6 million unemployment claims filed last week alone. Next, we're going to talk to the CEO of Coca-Cola about where his company stands, about jobs and about what he calls a profound economic shock around the world.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARLOW: The U.S. economy, simply devastated by this pandemic, unemployment claims -- we just learned this morning -- hit a record 6.6 million alone last week.

Our next guest is CEO of one of the most iconic brands in the world, with a dire warning: We will see profound economic shock, he says, in the second quarter. I'm glad we have James Quincey, chairman and CEO of the Coca-Cola Company, with us.

Of course, James, you guys have over 86,000 employees around the globe. Thank you for being here. And let me just start with our thanks to those employees of yours who are still working, who are still going out and are distributing bottled water and all of your supplies to the grocery stores, et cetera.

And let's begin on jobs. This record unemployment claim number, you said just last week, you're not going to lay anyone off. Is that still the case this morning?

JAMES QUINCEY, CHAIRMAN AND CEO, THE COCA-COLA COMPANY: Yes. I mean, firstly, let me say, of course, you know, not just a thanks to our workers who are out there ensuring supply around the world, but to all those affected by this crisis. And a big thanks to all those on the front end in the health care community, for all they're doing to keep as many people as well as possible.

But clearly, this virus, this pandemic is having an economic impact. I -- you know, I think we're going to see the worst of it from starting from March through to May. At the minimum, it's going to be a deep shock.

And to your question, no, we have not made any global restructuring. We are still -- we still see ourselves in a position as a long-term company, trying to do our best both for the company and for society, in protecting jobs and ensuring supply.

HARLOW: OK, so no layoffs at this point. You did say, though, last week, that in the second quarter, we will see, quote, "profound economic shock." Is the Coca-Cola Company at this point modeling in a severe global recession?

QUINCEY: I'm not sure about the technicality of the word -- the recession, because that tends to be two quarters. Look, I think in the second quarter, there's going to be a deep shock, sharp economic shock. You can see what happened in China when they were locked down in the first quarter.

[10:50:04]

The European and the U.S. lockdown, whilst it started in March, is predominantly going to fall into the second quarter. And as you said from the jobs numbers, almost 10 million in the last two weeks in the U.S. is going to be a sharp shock in the second quarter.

The shape of the recovery from Q3 through to next year will depend on a series of factors. We know what the factors are, but we don't know how they're going to play out. And so we model a set of scenarios from the famous V recovery through the U to the L.

HARLOW: Well --

QUINCEY: No one knows which one it's going to be, but we need to prepare for the worst and hope for the best and be very adaptable if this goes through.

HARLOW: To that point, I wonder, do you agree with the experts who have said -- including Morgan Stanley's analysis -- that if we open up the economy too soon and there are adverse health impacts of that, then that results in a worse economic outcome, long-term?

QUINCEY: Look, I think there are a lot of unknowns. I certainly feel that we're going to see this very tight lockdown phase that Europe and the U.S. and a number of other countries are in.

And then of course once the cases come under (ph) control (ph), there's going to be some degree of phased or restricted opening. It's not going to snap back to normal. You can see the examples, we've looked at the examples, out in China, out in Singapore, out in South Korea.

The one thing we do know, as the Coke (ph) system, is that over our 134 years in business, whether the crisis has been military, economic or pandemic -- and this is the fourth big pandemic one at least in the last hundred years -- the Coca-Cola Company has always emerged stronger by the end of the crisis. So we know there are going to be ups and downs over the next six, 12 maybe even 18 months. Our objective is by the end of it, we're a better, stronger, bigger company by the end.

HARLOW: There -- let's talk about your workers. There are some Coca- Cola workers in different facilities, in different states that have been confirmed to have contracted COVID-19. What have you changed in terms of protecting your workers in bottling, in distribution, in trucking, et cetera? And the consumer on the other end?

QUINCEY: Yes, look, we have set out very clearly that in this very intense phase of the crisis, worker safety is number one. Then security of supply along with helping the community. Those are the three things we're focused on in this very intense phase. And to protect the workers, we've implemented a great amount of

measures to increase social distancing, whether that's sending the office workers all to work remotely, all around the globe; whether it's the series of measures in manufacturing to increase distancing, to increase hygiene, to increase sanitation individually and collectively in the plants. Similarly in the logistics.

We've gone through a whole lot of measures to try and keep our workers as safe and as healthy as possible, including of course, if they do get sick, extending paid sick leave to cover that period.

HARLOW: That's really important. Can I ask you about that? Because obviously, Coca-Cola has a lot of distributors, companies you partially own for example, that -- they distribute the products, right? And they drive (ph), them, the bottlers or the manufacturers.

And I know you're giving your core employees paid sick leave. There have been some who have told us -- that work for these distributor companies -- that they're not getting any paid sick leave, it's not in their union contract. What can you say about what they may get? Meaning if any Coca-Cola employee has to call out because they have symptoms or have COVID-19, are they fully paid, their full salary, for that time?

QUINCEY: If they work for the Coca-Cola Company -- so obviously, health care and benefits systems are different around the world. But specifically in the U.S., we don't just have office workers. We run vertically integrated businesses with Minute Maid, where we run all the manufacturing and we deliver to the customers. Also the fountain business, that's a business that's run by the Coca-Cola Company.

All the people that work for us are covered for paid sick leave, whether when they're sick, they are even confirmed with the COVID virus, even if they just have to self-quarantine because they believe they have it and they haven't taken the test, they are covered.

HARLOW: Let's hope that the same -- that the companies that distribute also do the same for their employees as well. Because after some of the concern has been -- I know you guys have given away a lot of product, you've teamed up with Georgia Tech in terms of donating plastic sheeting for health care workers, so thank you, thank you for doing that. And good luck to your employees.

QUINCEY: Thank you.

HARLOW: Appreciate it -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: There is so much going on today, here's "What to Watch."

TEXT: What to Watch... NOW, Pelosi Holds Weekly Briefing Via Conf. Call; NOW, N.J. Senators Release Coronavirus Funding; 5:00 p.m. Eastern, W.H. Coronavirus Task Force Briefing

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[10:55:30] SCIUTTO: CNN is getting new information, and it's important to all of us. It's about how the airborne virus is being transmitted more ways than we imagined: breathing, talking. We're going to get details and a live report, straight ahead. Stay with us.

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