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U.S Tops 1,000 Deaths For Second Day In A Row; Louisiana Governor Warns Hospitals Could Be Over Capacity Soon; Eight GOP Governors Refuse To Issue Stay-At-Home Orders. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired April 4, 2020 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. This is a special edition of THE SITUATION ROOM.
America marks a very grim record of the coronavirus pandemic. 1,224 coronavirus deaths were reported in the United States today, making it the nation's deadliest day yet. Nationwide, more than 8,300 deaths have been reported with a total tally of more than 300,000 coronavirus cases in the United States. Worldwide, the cases top 1.1 million and the global death toll has now eclipsed 64,000.
As the numbers keep rising, President Trump today prepared Americans for very, very bleak days ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This will be probably the toughest week between this week and next week. And there will be a lot of death, unfortunately. But a lot less death than if this wasn't done. But there will be death.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Also as the White House Coronavirus Task Force had their briefing today, the White House's Coronavirus Response Coordinator, Dr. Deborah Birx, underscored that now is not the time to return to normality. Dr. Anthony Fauci reiterated the importance of social distancing measures.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: But the one thing I am confident in, so let's take this to the bank, that mitigation works. So it does. We've seen it in other countries. We've seen it in our own country. And that's the reason why I keep coming up at every chance I get to plea with the American people to please take a look at those guidelines that the vice president keeps putting up with his chart, because every single one of those points has something to do with physical separation. TRUMP: And mitigation does work. But, again, we're not going to destroy our country. We have to get back. Because, you know, at a certain point you lose more people this way through all of the problems caused than you will with what we're doing right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: President Trump warned of more deaths this week and next week. But he's also saying the country needs to reopen. People need to start filling stadiums again for sporting events. He says, people need to be going back to work.
In keeping with that message, the president again dismissed the idea of issuing a national, a national stay-at-home order.
CNN's Jeremy Diamond is joining us right now from the White House. Jeremy, so how do we read this mixed messages coming from the president today?
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it was the latest case, Wolf, of mixed messaging. And it comes today on the deadliest single day in terms of deaths from coronavirus as you mentioned, Wolf. The president talking about this being a horrendous time for the country to come and he also said there will be a lot of death in the coming two weeks in particular, Wolf.
But even as he said that, he was still talking about wanting to reopen the country. The president very mindful of the economy in this election year, that is something that certainly has been on his mind. And so once again, Wolf, you're seeing president on the one hand talking about what Americans need to do now but also trying to look towards the future, a future that seems very far away at this moment.
Wolf, I also asked the president, though, about this idea of a national stay-at-home order and why he has not yet urged those eight governors, Republican governors who have so far not issued those stay- at-home orders. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DIAMOND: You just said that you want to see as few lives lost as possible in the pandemic.
TRUMP: Yes, that's true.
DIAMOND: But there are still eight governors, all Republicans, who've refused to issue these statewide stay-at-home orders. Your own experts, including Dr. Fauci has said stay-at-home orders are the most effective way to stop the red spread of this virus. So why not do everything possible to urge those governors right now to do that.
TRUMP: We have a thing called the constitution, which I cherish, number one. Number two, those governors, I know every one of them, they're doing a great job. They're being very, very successful in what they're done. And as you know, I want the governors to be running things. Now, in some cases we'll supersede, but in this case, it's not -- I think it depends on the individual state that you're talking about. But they're doing very well and they're doing a magnificent job in running their states.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DIAMOND: Wolf, and you can see there a president who loves to use the bully pulpit for a whole host of issues, unwilling to do so, as it relates to these eight Republican governors and urging them to put in place these stay-at-home orders.
Wolf, I also had a chance to ask the president about the potential for shortages of ventilators, those crucially needed equipment, to keep some of these most critically ill coronavirus patients alive. And even as that apex of coronavirus deaths is expected to come in the next six to seven days, the ramp up in production likely isn't going to fill that shortage.
And the president did concede to me today, Wolf, that there could indeed be a shortage of ventilators in the weeks to come. Wolf?
BLITZER: So sad. You think about 1,000 people, 1,000 Americans dying now day after day, each day. These are men and women, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters. It is so heartbreaking. Jeremy Diamond, thanks for that report.
Let's go to New York state right now, particularly in New York City, which is where the majority of the country's infected patients are located. Sadly, most of the country's coronavirus fatalities are there. The disease responsible now for the deaths of more than 3,500 people just in New York.
And tonight we also learned nearly 20 percent of the New York Police Department's uniformed workforce is out sick and now the U.S. military is sending 1,000 additional military medical personnel to try -- to New York, to try to back up the hospital.
CNN's Evan McMorris-Santoro, is in New York for us where this pandemic is, it's really testing the NYPD, right now, Evan, perhaps like never before.
EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. Sadly, we learned tonight that a tenth member of the NYPD, uniform member at the NYPD has passed away from complications of coronavirus. These deaths and, you know, the massive sick leave that you mentioned at the top of the piece here, 20 percent out sick, is coming just as the New York Police Department is out on the streets trying to convince people who haven't yet done the social distancing to do it more. They're risking themselves so that more New Yorkers can stay safe.
But it's not just the New York Police Department that is part of the problem here. We're seeing increasing in sick-outs from, you know, first responders, in EMTs and sometimes some of these people who work in hospitals. This state and this city is still building towards the worst of this coronavirus pandemic in this area.
They're adding infrastructure, they're adding equipment, they need personnel to staff that equipment and to help the city run. And as the city keeps being hit by this virus, more so and more and more every day, until that apex, which could not be a week or more away, we see more of these deaths and more of these people who have been caught sick just more of a challenge for the city, Wolf.
BLITZER: This is all so heartbreaking. Evan McMorris-Santoro in New York for us, thanks very much.
Joining us a now, Dr. Vivek Murthy, a former U.S. Surgeon General. Dr. Murthy, thanks so much for joining us tonight.
We heard a pretty stunning statement, a warning today from Dr. Deborah Birx of the coronavirus task force. I want you to watch and listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: This is the moment to not be going to the grocery store, not going to the pharmacy, but doing everything you can to keep your family and your friends safe, and that means everybody doing the six feet distancing, washing your hands.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Was a pretty stunning statement. People have to go to the grocery store, they have to get food, they have to go to the pharmacy. So what do we do with that advice from her?
DR. VIVEK MURTHY, FORMER U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: I think what Dr. Birx is underscoring is something that public health experts have been saying, frankly, for weeks, Wolf, which is that, we've got to be absolutely doing everything we can to minimize our contact with other people outside our home. And if that means that we make far fewer trips to the grocery store, that we send just one person, that we try to order food to be delivered to us or picked up on curbside, these are the things that we have to do.
They seem extreme, Wolf. But two things are important to remember. One, we know that these severe mitigation efforts actually work to reduce the peak of infections. The second thing that we know is that if you look at all of the different modeling that's being done to predict the number of deaths and the number of people who will get sick with the coronavirus infection, while the actual numbers may differ, they all agree on one critical point, which is that speed equals lives saved. The earlier you go to these mitigation measures, the more quickly you can tamp down the infection rates.
And that's why it is deeply concerning to me and to so many experts across the country that we have still yet to issue a national stay-at- home order or at least request and strongly advise every single state to put stay-at-home orders in place. The failure to do that, frankly, is a failure of federal leadership. And the consequences will be measured in lives lost. BLITZER: Dr. Fauci totally agrees with you. The president disagrees.
I want to play two clips from the president at the news conference earlier today. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: What would people gain from wearing a mask and why are you opposed to wearing one yourself?
TRUMP: Well, I just don't want to wear one myself. It's a recommendation. They recommend it. I'm feeling good. I just don't want to be doing that. I don't know. Somehow sitting in the oval office behind that beautiful resolute desk, the great resolute desk, I think wearing a face mask as I greet presidents, prime ministers, dictators, kings, queens, I don't know, somehow I don't see it for myself.
There's a possibility, a possibility. And I say it, what do you have to lose? I'll say it again, what do you have to lose? Take it. I really think they should take it. But it's their choice. And there's a doctor to us, or the doctors in the hospital. But hydroxychloroquine, try it if you'd like.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: So in this particular case, Dr. Murthy, the president appears to be refusing the CDC guidance on masks. They recommended people go out with face coverings yesterday while advocating a drug that certainly hasn't been proved in clinical trials to be effective. What do you make of that?
MURTHY: Well, frankly, Wolf, it's a -- you know, it's challenging to be in these situations when you have elected leaders who are not listening to scientists and to evidence-based guidance. The guidance that Dr. Fauci and CDC scientists and, frankly, non-governmental scientists are in lockstep on is that masks at this point are important for the public to wear.
We know that a large percentage of people will transmit the virus asymptomatically. That means you can't just wait for people to have symptoms before you take protective measures. So that's why the guidance on masks is so important.
And when it comes to medicines like chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine, we absolutely should study them to make sure they work. But to make the claim that they are a silver bullet and that everybody should try some now is frankly does not substantiated by data.
Look, in these moments, when you go in front of the cameras, when you're in briefing room at a critical moment like this in the country's sort of illness trajectory, there's a huge amount of pressure to put a positive spin on things and to deliver good news.
But you cannot do that at the price of transparency, of honesty of science. And the critical rules of communication during a crisis is you've got to be clear, you've got to be consistent and you've got to be evidence-based. And unfortunately, I don't see us following that consistently in the administration currently.
I hope that changes for the sake of the American people.
BLITZER: And as far as hydroxychloroquine is concerned, the president says what do you have to lose? Try it if you like. Well, you check with your doctor, your doctor, no doubt, before if he or she issues a prescription for it. We'll tell you the side effects include nausea, vomiting, deafness, vision changes and low blood pressure among other side effects as well. So it's a serious, serious matter.
Dr. Murthy, thanks so much for joining us.
MURTHY: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: We're going to get the latest from another hotspot coming up. We're talking about Louisiana, where cases are well into the thousands right now leading to growing fears that hospitals there may soon be overwhelmed. Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Right now Louisiana, one of the hardest hit states in the United States, is facing some truly devastating new numbers. As of this hour, there are more than 12,000 confirmed cases there, more than 400 deaths, 1,700 people in the hospital right now and nearly 600 of those right now on life-saving ventilators.
And as New Orleans remains at the center of the crisis, the city is turning a convention center into a makeshift hospital. This move comes as the Louisiana governor is now warning that hospitals there could soon be well over capacity.
CNN's Ed Lavandera, in New Orleans for us. Ed, you are given a tour of this makeshift hospital. Tell us what you saw and what you learned.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf. Well, medical officials here in New Orleans hope that the pictures and the images of all of these hospital beds inside the convention center will send a clear message that the worst is yet to come and that the idea of social distancing and keeping away from your friends and family is what's going to make a difference here in the coming days.
But inside that hospital, all of this has been set up in the last week. They will begin taking patients, we're told, on Monday morning. Expect perhaps maybe 100 or so on that first day. But each of the spaces essentially, you know, these squared-off hospital rooms, they have a cot, some have more better bedding depending on if it's an elderly patient, that sort of thing, but they are ready to begin taking these patients soon.
These will not be the sickest coronavirus patients here. They're trying -- what they are trying to do, is alleviate the pressure on the actual hospital here in the New Orleans area, and turn those into more intensive care units, people who need the more acute and serious care. And here in the coming days up and down, across the state, they're really bracing for the worst of what is to come here. And the way the mayor is talking about what the situation is like in this city gives you an idea of how just grim and how dire the coming days will be for this area.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR LATOYA CANTRELL (D), NEW ORLEANS, LA: Our coroner's office is at capacity as it relates to our dead bodies of our loved ones. Mortuaries cannot even go pick them up or store because they're out of capacity. I've had to ask the federal government for additional refrigeration so that we can take care of our people while they're resting in God's peace, but not resting well because they haven't been laid to rest, as they deserve.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LAVANDERA: So you can see this is the kind of stress that officials here are dealing with and will be dealing with more intensely, Wolf, in the coming days. And, you know, the state officials, medical officials here are looking at these forecasts about what to expect and the forecasts as it stands right now is projecting here in the State of Louisiana a little over 1,800 deaths because of coronavirus.
That would be equal to the amount of people who died during Hurricane Katrina 15 years ago. Wolf?
BLITZER: Ed Lavandera in New Orleans for us, thank you very much.
Joining us now is the Former Mayor of New Orleans, CNN Political Commentator, Mitch Landrieu. Mitch, thanks so much for joining us. As you know more than 12,000 cases right now in your state. Clearly, the worst is still to come. Is that what you're hearing?
MITCH LANDRIEU, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Wolf, there's no doubt about it. You know, Katrina is still fresh in our mind where we lost 1,800 of our family members. And so we are very aware from it.
This week the governor and the mayor, the first responders, the healthcare providers are doing everything they can to get ready. But their message is loud and clear that this week and next week, we have to brace for impact.
The numbers down here are really stratospheric. Our death rate is actually higher than New York's. As you said early, we have to over 12,000 cases and over 400 deaths. You saw the convention center that has 1,000 beds in it that's going to be a step-down facility. So we're about to get into the worse of it. It's going to be very, very difficult. People should be prepared for what is about to come.
BLITZER: You're absolutely right, because we did the checking per capita. The death rate in Louisiana makes it one of the worst hit states in the country, only trailing right now in New York and New Jersey. So what do you make of that? What do you guys need right away?
LANDRIEU: Well, we need everything that we've been asking for for a long time, first responders and doctors, still need personal protective equipment. The test is not really where it needs to be. We do not have the number of ventilators. The governor is projecting that we'll be out of ventilator capacity by April 9th at the rate that we're going. We're hoping that because of social distancing, we won't hit that mark. But it appears unfortunately that we will.
And as the president himself finally even recognized today, the next two weeks are going to be very, very difficult for the people of America. And I would just think that we have to brace for this impact because it's coming our way and there's not much you can do to stop what's going to occur in the next two weeks.
But if the federal government is listening. What we need them to do is get equipment to the ground so healthcare providers can then save lives. That's the single most important singular mission that they can work on for us.
BLITZER: You see Louisiana go through it's fair share of crises, including Hurricane Katrina, of course. How would you compare this crisis to what you saw then?
LANDRIEU: Well, you know, Wolf, unfortunately, we have been to hell and back. Katrina, Rita, Ike, Gustav, national recession, BP oil spill, you name it, we got it. Sometimes we kind of morbidly joke about when the locusts are coming. The people here are resilient. We're really tough. We have been through more than our fair share and we'll come out of it. But it's not going to be without tremendous pain and agony.
We've been through things like this before. We unfortunately, know how much they hurt, what the loss is going to be. What the sacrifice is first responders make and the heroic efforts of the doctors and nurses, and we're very thankful for that. But you can't hide from the fact that this is going to get tougher before it gets easier.
So I don't understand what the president is talking about when he's already communicating that we're going to get back into stadiums. You need in these instances for our leader to have clear commanding control, clear coordination, clear communication so that everybody is on the same page. When you have mixed messages, the public hears different things and they don't know what to do, they don't know what to believe. And that makes it worse. And, unfortunately, it costs lives.
BLITZER: You obviously have seen what's going on in New Orleans and elsewhere. Are the folks there paying attention to the stay-at-home orders, to the social distancing and all of that? Or are they not necessarily paying attention and continuing to do what they used to do?
LANDRIEU: No. I think the people here are doing a really good job. I think everybody has listened to the mayor, they've listened to the governor. They're working really hard. They hear it clearly from their local leaders about what it is that they're supposed to do. And I think that they're doing fine.
I think that Dr. Birx's admonition today was a good one. Listen to her, listen to Dr. Fauci. Those are the two people who know what's going on. The governor and the mayor and the healthcare professionals have been articulating that message very, very clearly.
I just want to be really clear with the public that we have to brace for impact now for the past -- for the next two weeks, because this is going to be a couple of the most difficult weeks that we're going to have had in a very long time here.
BLITZER: Unfortunately, a lot of people are going to die, not only in Louisiana but elsewhere as well, all around the country. Mitch Landrieu, thanks so much for joining us. Good luck to all the folks in Louisiana. Appreciate it very much.
LANDRIEU: Sure. Wolf thank you. God bless you. Thank you.
BLITZER: Meanwhile, calls to shut down China so-called wet market have grown louder. Scrutiny has grown over their role as a potential breeding ground for the devastating outbreaks, like the current coronavirus pandemic. We'll have details on these live animal markets and the potential danger danger, that's next here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Global pressure is rising on China to shut down the so-called wet markets selling wild animals. Epidemiologists believe the coronavirus epidemic started with one of those markets in Wuhan, China. This week, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, suggested the international community should immediately force China to permanently close those markets.
I want to go to CNN's Will Ripley. He's joining us from Tokyo. Will, you've been tracking this controversy surrounding China's wet markets.
BLITZER: How is China to all the global pressure right now?
WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think China is trying, and they have been for years, Wolf, to modernize their wet markets, which were a crucial part of their food distribution system. You can compare them to farmer's markets in the U.S. People go there because the food is more affordable, it's fresh, you can talk to the vendor, know who you're buying from.
But then there are these other markets, these wildlife markets that China has tried to make illegal. They have failed. They're still operating, we believe. And experts say that they are a breeding ground for disease.
RIPLEY: Across China, as the novel coronavirus pandemic slows down, the wet markets are opening back up. For many in Asia, they're the only affordable source of fresh produce, meat and seafood. But at this now closed wet market in Wuhan, the original epicenter, wild animals were also for sale last year.
CNN is not able to independently verify these graphic images from early December, the early days of the pandemic. They show a meat market menagerie, beavers, snakes, raccoons, ready for sale, slaughter and skinning. White House Coronavirus Task Force member, Dr. Anthony Fauci says, the new coronavirus was transmitted from animals to humans, similar to other deadly pandemics, like bird flu and SARS.
FAUCI: I think they should shut down those things right away. I mean, it just -- it boggles my mind how, when we have so many diseases that emanate out of that unusual human/animal interface that we don't just shut it down.
RIPLEY: Some parts of China are known for an appetite for exotic animals, long believed to have nutritional and medicinal benefits. For years, the Chinese government has tried and failed to ban the sale of some wild animals tied to previous outbreaks.
Hong Kong broadcaster, I-Cable, found civic cats for sale at this market in Southern China in January. 15 years after the SARS pandemic led China to ban their slaughter and consumption. CNN cannot independently verify the video.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These animals, we don't know the history, we don't know what kind of pathogens or viruses that they are having in their bodies.
RIPLEY: Cats, dogs, rodents, even porcupines all readily available in some parts of China and other Asian countries.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SCY): People eat cats and dogs throughout the world as part of their diet. We need to stop that. It's the 21st century.
RIPLEY: Things may be slowly changing in China. This week, the City of Shenzhen announced the nation's first-ever ban on eating animals raised as pets, often stolen and then sold as food.
Humane Society International calls it a brutal trade that kills an estimated 10 million dogs and 4 million cats in China every year.
In February, China passed a law banning the consumption of wild animals in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
FAUCI: I would like to see the rest of the world really lean with a lot of pressure on those countries that have that because what we're going through right now is a direct result of that.
RIPLEY: Making wildlife markets like a Petri dish for the next pandemic.
RIPLEY: The current pandemic that began at that wildlife market in Wuhan is now accelerating here in Tokyo. Just yesterday, the largest single-day jump in infections this city has seen so far, 118 new cases. This time a week ago, it was around 40. So the number has nearly tripled in one week.
Tokyo has been trying to flatten the curve, the exact opposite is happening. They are running out of beds. As of yesterday, they had fewer than 45 beds remaining for today. They're now scrambling, trying to find out where they're going to put coronavirus patients. Will they keep mild patients in hotels or maybe Olympic athletes' village.
Wolf, it seems like Tokyo got a slow start but now things are really picking up here and there are serious questions whether the city is actually prepared for what may be coming.
I spoke with an epidemiologist who said Tokyo right now is where New York City was just a matter of weeks ago.
BLITZER: So disturbing, indeed. Will Ripley, thanks for that really excellent, eye-opening report. We really appreciate your work.
Meanwhile, 96 percent of Americans right now are under a stay-at-home order. Medical experts, including Dr. Fauci, they've said such orders are absolutely essential. So why are the governors of eight states and the president of the United States still reluctant to insist that all Americans must remain at home? Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Right now, nearly 96 percent of Americans are under stay-at- home orders. But eight governors, all Republicans, they have still not told their residents to stay inside. Just a few hours ago, President Trump dismissed the idea of issuing a nationwide directive for all- American residents to stay at home. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DIAMOND: Some experts, including Dr. Fauci, have said stay-at-home orders are the most effective way to stop the spread of this virus. So why not do everything possible that every state governor right now to do that.
TRUMP: We have a thing called the Constitution, which I cherish, number one. Number two, those governors, I know, every one of them, they're doing a great job. They're being very, very successful in what they're doing. And as you know, I want the governors to be running things. Now, in some cases, we'll supersede.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: All right. Joining us now the former Ohio governor, John Kasich. Governor Kasich, thanks so much for joining us. Do you think the president is wrong? Should the president issue a national stay-at- home order or even a recommendation at this point?
JOHN KASICH, CNN SENIOR COMMENTATOR: Yes, I think he's completely wrong, Wolf. Look, we're Americans, okay? And the president says we're in a war. And I'm not here to bash the president tonight. We're in a war. Well, we don't go to war with like 42 states and leave eight out. I mean, the fact is this is a time, a time of national unity. It's a time for all of America to pull together, Wolf.
And when eight of them are outliers, and I don't even understand it from a medical point of view, whether it's Dr. Fauci or whether it's any of these other -- Birx, any of these people, they have all said, you need to be on top of it and to stay on top of it before it explodes.
And I'm going to give you one good example. I have got a great friend who is now the coronavirus czar in West Virginia, appointed by governor Jim Justice. Yes, they are spread out in that state but yet, they've locked everything down. And in talking to Dr. Marsh today, he tells me that they will run, expected to run a mortality rate that is significantly, significantly less than the regular flu. And why? Because they got on it early, just like they did in Ohio and the places where we got on it early, we've tamped it down. But this is not a time to let up.
And in addition, I don't even understand this, Wolf, why wouldn't they all lock themselves down and tell people to stay put? I mean, this starts to spring, and that's the other thing we know about this virus, it jumps like crazy and it spreads like crazy. And once it's spreading, it's so very, very difficult to get it under control.
So I don't think this is a time to debate states' rights. I think this is a national emergency, it's an international emergency and all people have to work together to overcome this. And I'm at a loss for this.
And you can't let -- one other thing I want to tell you. If I was asked by governors what to do, I would say, you always do more in terms of a national emergency like this, not less. And don't worry about the politics, the pressure. This is a time to be a father or a mother of all the people in your state.
BLITZER: Yes, it's a good advice. And we know that Dr. Fauci actually agrees with you. He supports a national stay-at-home order. He made that public in an interview here on CNN. So how do you explain the disconnect, let's say, between Dr. Fauci and the president?
KASICH: I don't know what it is. It's disappointing to me. And I don't want to prejudge or judge somebody on this, but politics should play no role in any of this. If West Virginia, which is a sparsely populated state where people naturally sort of have social distance, can take the action that they have taken, the actions that were taken in California earlier, it's saving lives. And I cannot understand why the president just doesn't say, let's all get together and do this.
I mean, again, I don't like to really bash a president in the middle of wartime, but at times when you see things not going the right way, which is the lack of the equipment we need, which is doctors exposing themselves to very harmful situations, when we don't have all we need, it's appropriate to talk about how we need to move forward.
And, Wolf, I've said just really recently, I've said, I think we ought to have a private sector operation with people that understand how to make things, how to run the logistics, how to deliver things, because right now, we still have bureaucrats that are just afraid to take a risk.
So in terms of the president saying everybody ought to just lockdown, I think it's appropriate. I think he'd be cheered for that.
BLITZER: Your governor, Mike DeWine, in Ohio, he was really ahead of the curve, I think, in dealing with this weeks ago.
KASICH: He was.
BLITZER: I know you agree with me. But tell us what it's like right now in Ohio. How are things going?
KASICH: Well, here in Central Ohio where I am, I'll tell you, they've done a fantastic job in the medical community of preparing.
Now, you know, we never can guess exactly where the peak is. But I think in talking to one of my dear friends, Dr. Bechtel (ph), says that he's never been so proud of how the medical community here has operated. And a lot of this credit goes to Mike DeWine and the fact that he acted early.
Wolf, back when I was governor, we had an Ebola scare. And we had a situation where we were chasing these people all over the state. And one the women we suspected that could have had Ebola was going to leave the country. I said to my folks, she's not leaving the country. If she tries to go to the airport and get on an airplane, we're stopping her. There is no way we're going to permit her to leave the state and to go to some other place and spread this.
This is the time for leaders to take tough action.
And at the same time, as we take the action on healthcare, Wolf, there will come a time, particularly when we test or if we get an anti- viral, there will come a time where we can begin to think about the ways in which we can reignite the economy. But health is number one. The economy right now is number two. That time will come.
And I will tell you that a lot of the healthcare professionals that I talk to who believe in these lockdown orders, including Fauci, I haven't talked to him, but I know including him, they don't live in a silo that is just all about health. I think they know that there's a point at which it will be appropriate to do something to get this economy up and going again. But right now, it's health, number one, number two, number three.
BLITZER: The CDC is now recommending that people when they go outside, they should wear face coverings, some sort of mask, not the surgical masks but some sort of -- some mask to keep themselves and others a little bit safer. The president says it's voluntary. He's not going to do it. What do you think? Are you seeing people in Ohio walking around with face coverings now?
KASICH: Well, some places Wolf. And here is what we do know. What we know is that if you touch a surface, you need to wash your hands and use Purell. Okay, that's a given. The second thing we need to do is to maintain that social distance, okay, which is that six feet.
If you're going to be in a place where you're going to be close to people who could sneeze or who could cough, who could transmit these droplets, yes, then I think it's appropriate. In fact, I said to my wife earlier today, the next time you go to the grocery store, I would like you to wear a mask.
And it's not just to keep you from getting the droplets, Wolf, but we have this habit of always wanting to touch our face, 35, 40 times every hour. And so the mask can keep your hands away from infecting yourself, plus it could prevent these droplets. So that if you're in a place that's going to be somewhat crowded or within that six-foot range or just to protect yourself from a sneeze or cough, I'd say that you wear the mask. If you're way outside and you're taking a walk, probably don't have to do that. That's at least what the experts have told me.
And, Wolf, I've spent so many hours talking to epidemiologists and doctors, I feel I maybe know how to get a little bit of an honorary degree.
KASICH: Hey, Wolf, one other thing I want to tell you, USA Today is writing a piece I wrote about faith, and I hope people will take a look at it. It's online tonight. It will be in the papers next week. People need to know that there is a creator in charge. But everybody can take some time to figure out the meaning of life for themselves. We are going to get through this and you know in many ways we can come out better for it.
BLITZER: Well, let's see how long it takes and how many more people unfortunately will have to die in the process.
KASICH: That's the tragedy.
BLITZER: I'll look forward to reading the article, indeed. Thanks as usual for joining us.
KASICH: Thank you, Wolf, very, very much.
BLITZER: The former governor of Ohio, John Kasich.
The heroism of medical professionals and first responders is certainly undeniable, but there are others, delivery people, grocery store clerks, everyday Americans proving that even in dark times, there are rays of light. We'll have a tribute to them when we come back.
BLITZER: In these very, very tough days it's little moments that can make us smile, and that's why we want to share this one story of one woman who got a special shout-out from flight attendants as the only person onboard a Boston-bound flight. Watch this.
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REPORTER: We have Sheryl as our passenger. You're living it up (ph) on first class. Yes, everybody shout-out to Cheryl, the only passenger on the plane.
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BLITZER: All right. Sheryl Prado was flying flying to see her dying mother and the crew of an American airlines flight bumped her up to first class and addressed her personally over the loudspeaker. Sheryl said she spent the flight telling them about her mom and says it's kindness like theirs that will get us through this.
To our viewers, thank you for watching. That's it for me. I'll be back tomorrow night with another special edition of THE SITUATION ROOM at 6:00 p.m. Eastern.
But before I go, I want to leave you with something very powerful, a reminder of the good in people, the courage we are seeing every day in America, in our hospitals, grocery stores, warehouses, everywhere, people inspiring us by simply doing their jobs. Watch this and please stay safe.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm a New Yorker. It's essential that I'm out here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a little risk coming outside but I kind of feel like a super hero, saving the world.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a war zone. It's a medical war zone.
CUOMO: This is an extraordinary time where you need to see people at their best.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is in our heart and it is in our soul to sacrifice, to serve, to fight for you.
[21:55:00] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I travel coast to coast as long as we can haul food for the American people, you will have plenty of food on those shelves.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My heroes are all of the people that I work with who are showing up and helping us fight this pandemic.