Return to Transcripts main page


Interview with Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA); Nurses Reuse Masks as PPE Shortage Increases; NBA and NFL Measures Under Way to Prevent COVID-19 Player Infection. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired July 14, 2020 - 10:30   ET



JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: And now this, growing fears of an eviction and homelessness crisis as that extra $600 benefit from the government ends -- or is scheduled to end -- this month. Lawmakers, now with less than three weeks to find a solution as the pandemic, its economic toll show no signs, sadly, of letting up.

Joining us now, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Madam Speaker, thanks very much for taking the time this morning.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): My pleasure, thank you.

SCIUTTO: I want to begin, if I can, on economic relief for Americans going through the economic effects of this --


SCIUTTO: -- as you know, that additional $600 unemployment benefit is going to end in just two weeks. Can you find common ground before then with Republicans?

PELOSI: Well, I certainly hope so. Not only will that end, but the unemployment benefits will end, the last checks will be going out the last week in July. So it is absolutely urgent that we pass the legislation, the HEROES Act, that we had proposed -- tomorrow it will be two months since we passed the HEROES Act with the -- putting money in the pockets of the American people, the unemployment insurance and the direct payments.

You talked about the moratorium on evictions ending now, we have over 100 -- almost $200 billion in there, $100 billion to help renters and $75 billion to help people meet their mortgage payments, as well as more -- other money for people who are homeless, in rural housing, specific initiatives. Very important.

And so --


PELOSI: -- it's about -- the other element of jobs is that our funds to -- our -- so aptly named for our heroes, our health care workers, our first responders, our sanitation workers, food workers, teachers, teachers, teachers, all paid by state and local government. And we have the resources in the bill for state and local governments, which are essential.

And it all relates specifically to their outlays on the coronavirus and their loss of revenue because of the coronavirus.

SCIUTTO: OK, that --

PELOSI: So this is very important that we do.

SCIUTTO: -- as -- as you know far better than me, it's all about horst-trading at this point. A priority for the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, and other Republicans, is liability protection. Is that something that you'd be willing to give on?

PELOSI: Well, I -- what does he mean by that? Does he mean essential workers have to go to work; if they don't, they lose their unemployment insurance? And if they get sick there, they have no recourse? I think a better path would be for them to join us in our OSHA, strong OSHA provision that is in the HEROES Act. We've had in every bill, they've not accepted it.

But, once again, a strong OSHA provision, which gives protection not only to the worker but to the employer. If in fact they put into place the precautions, the protections that are in the OSHA bill if someone gets sick, they have been protected because they've honored the OSHA rule.

But if they just don't want to do that and just say, You have to go to work, you're essential, you don't get unemployment benefits unless you come -- and we have no responsibility if you get sick? It's not just about workers though. It's about customers and clients and other people who have exposure to any particular workplace.

SCIUTTO: For sure.

PELOSI: So this protects the employer, protects the worker, protects the customer.

SCIUTTO: Question on time, because of course your recess is fast approaching. Would you be willing to delay that recess or forego it to get to a deal, to get a new stimulus package?

PELOSI: Was he speaking?

SCIUTTO: Sorry, Speaker, can you hear me?


SCIUTTO: Did we lose you entirely, Speaker Pelosi?

Lost the audio there, we're going to try to get that prepared -- repaired, rather.

PELOSI: I hear you again, OK. We lost you there. SCIUTTO: There she is, she's back. Speaker Pelosi, apologies.

Technology gets in the way.

I was asking you just about timing, because the August recess is fast approaching.


SCIUTTO: Would you be willing to forego that or delay that to get to a deal to extend benefits?

PELOSI: Oh, we absolutely have to. We also have to come to an agreement. The timetable is the timetable of the American people, needing their unemployment insurance, their direct payments, their assistance for rent and mortgage, foreclosure, forbearance in terms of that. And we need it for states and localities, to be able to pay their employees who are meeting the needs --


PELOSI: -- of their constituents. And you know what, we need it to open the economy by testing, tracing, treating --


PELOSI: -- isolating. We need to do that. And we call upon the president of the United States to employ the Defense Production Act so that we can have the equipment to test, the equipment to evaluate the test. It's no use taking a test if you're not going to find out for a week whether you're positive or negative.


The PPE that is --

SCIUTTO: Fair point --

PELOSI: -- necessary for the schools needs to be produced under the Defense Production Act.

So this is a path to opening the economy and opening our schools. For some reason, the president has resisted that but this is an absolute must.

SCIUTTO: Let me get -- I do want to get to schools. But just quickly, as you saw, the president yesterday is still insisting that you test more, you get more cases. He's still in that mindset.

Given there's no sign of a national plan on things such as testing, coming from this White House, I wonder how the House, how Congress is filling that void. We're months in, deaths and cases are still rising -- spiking.

PELOSI: Well, thank you for asking. That's part of the HEROES Act, but it's been part of what we had been proposing all along. Our very first bill, March 4th, was testing, testing, testing. We increased funding in the recent PPP bill, testing, testing, testing. It's just that the administration has not done what it should do.

So in our plan, rather than trusting the administration to use their funds the way you would expect them to rely on science to do, in our bill, we have very clear directive, a strategy for testing, tracing, treatment. And again, all of this, sanitation, the distancing, the mask-wearing, et cetera.

But we have to do this. But you really can't do it unless you have the equipment. We don't have the equipment.


PELOSI: Even if we had a vaccine -- God willing, we will soon, but it won't be for months. We don't even have the syringes and the vials. So Defense Production Act, let's anticipate, let's take responsibility. We have a plan and there -- Frank Pallone, the chair of our Energy and Commerce Committee, working with his committee, working with other committees, has put that in there: real direction to get it done.

And it's necessary --


PELOSI: -- to us to address the disparity in how this is an assault on people of color and low-income people who don't have as much access to health care and to the testing.

And so, again --


PELOSI: -- more testing. So when the president says more testing means more cases, I don't even -- yeah, let's --

SCIUTTO: Well, and it's --

PELOSI: -- not go there, let's just talk about science, science, science. Governance --


PELOSI: -- governance, governance, governance. How they work together --


PELOSI: -- to defeat this virus.

SCIUTTO: And that's what we try to do every day on this show.

I want to ask you, because your home state of California has shut down early, they got the outbreak under control, they reopened and they're seeing cases spiking again. I mean, I wonder, did California open too fast, too soon? And do you believe that states now experiencing these spikes need to shut down again? PELOSI: Well, I do believe that our governor -- Governor Newsom -- has done an excellent job. And I do also know that he had some pressure from different regions of the state who have experienced the virus differently. And a lot of the -- many of the decisions that have to be made relate to the rate of infection in your area. And those -- those areas that used their discretion to open up, now are closing down again.

I do think we should look to our friends in other countries. When they had a serious lockdown -- serious lockdown, 90-some percent lockdown, they won in the fight against the virus.

So, again --


PELOSI: -- regions have to make their decisions. We should be able to give them the equipment to do so in testing, tracing, treating, et cetera.

But it is a recognition that unless you have a very, very low percentage of incidence of the infection, you really have to consider locking down.

SCIUTTO: All right. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, we appreciate you joining the program this morning.

PELOSI: My pleasure. Don't forget, the Defense Production Act, it's the answer to so much. Thank you.

SCIUTTO: We'll keep talking about it, you have a good afternoon.


It is the summer of COVID in this country, the summer protests as well. And now, a summertime surge in crime. What happens in America when the police and the people both come under fire? Don Lemon will host a special edition of "CNN TONIGHT" with an in-depth look at crime, policing and your safety. That's 10:00 p.m. on CNN.


SCIUTTO: Welcome back. With coronavirus cases surging across many states in this country, there are new calls this morning for the Trump administration to use its power to produce more PPE for the nation's doctors, nurses and hospital workers, just echoed a moment ago by Speaker Pelosi.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: That's right. We heard her say, Focus on the Defense Production Act.

Well, months into this pandemic, there's still a shortage of some of that equipment, particularly masks. Our senior investigative correspondent Drew Griffin reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is a face mask nurse Judith Laguerre will use in a Massachusetts hospital this week, dirty, reused. One of three she has to recycle, disinfect on her dashboard.

JUDITH LAGUERRE, NURSE: -- and the sun will hit the mask and will leave them there for a few days. And then use them again.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Hardly sanitary, but health workers say there just aren't enough masks.


Out on Cape Cod, Michelle Brum says it's one recleaned mask a shift.

MICHELLE BRUM, NURSE: They want you to reuse that mask multiple times. And they send it for cleaning.

GRIFFIN: And how often are you reusing the same mask?

BRUM: They do this process five times.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Across the country, nurses, doctors, some state health officials contacted by CNN say the lack of personal protective equipment or PPE is their most dangerous challenge with N95 masks the toughest to find.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is something that we were talking about four months ago.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): The American Medical Association has been begging the federal government to direct the manufacture, acquisition and distribution of PPE.

LEANA WEN, EMERGENCY ROOM PHYSICIAN: It's a national shame that we ran out of masks and other PPE to protect our health care workers. There was no excuse in March, and even less of an excuse now.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): This month, the Democratic Congressional House Oversight Committee concluded lack of leadership from the Trump administration is forcing state and local governments, hospitals, and others to compete for scarce supplies.

The National Nurses United union just endorsed Joe Biden because of what it calls "Trump's abandonment of public health and safety."

JEAN ROSS, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL NURSES UNITED: It's not just N95, it's everything. We really need the president to fully invoke the Defense Production Act so he can mass produce the things that will keep us safe. And to this point, he has refused to do so.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): The Department of Health and Human Services disputes that account, telling CNN it has "moved with deliberate and determined speed to ensure we secured supplies and equipment needed by frontline U.S. health care workers." HHS listed 19 companies that have received orders under the Defense Production Act or DPA to acquire emergency supplies, including 600 million N95 masks. But experts say it's not enough and it started far too late. Only half of the masks ordered will be delivered by the end of this year.

KELLY MAGSAMEN, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: This is going to be a really serious, serious and persistent challenge for the United States, you know, for several months if not longer.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Kelly Magsamen, a former Pentagon official under the Obama administration, says the Trump administration hasn't used the full power of the Defense Production Act.

MAGSAMEN: The administration listened a little bit too much to corporate interests early on in the crisis. The DPA was not used early enough nor aggressively enough to put us in a position to get the kind of equipment and PPE we need in time.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Some major hospitals tell CNN they are making their own deals to buy ever scarcer supplies, some even stockpiling PPE. But smaller hospitals, nursing homes and doctor's offices are left out of the supply chain, jeopardizing even routine medical care according to the AMA.

SHIKHA GUPTA, DOCTOR, GETUSPPE.ORG: A few months ago, we're in this really dire emergent situation. And our hope was that that situation would change and improve. And it's really unfortunate that here we are in the middle of July, and things look more or less the same as they did in mid-March.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Early on in the pandemic, Dr. Shikha Gupta helped start an organization to do what the federal government has not, trying to fill shortages of PPE where health care workers were going without.

Today, she says her group has 13,000 requests; they can fill just 10 percent.

GUPTA: It shouldn't be seen (ph) in the United States. We had the opportunity to do a better job of preparing ourselves and preparing the people that we're trusting to care for COVID patients. And we didn't do that. We really fell short as a country.

GRIFFIN: And according to a medical supply chain expert, it is only going to get worse in the weeks and months to come as school systems enter the market, trying to get protective gear so they can reopen. Drew Griffin, CNN, Atlanta.


SCIUTTO: Big point, would have to expect demand to jump then.


Well, other news, one of basketball's biggest stars has now tested positive for COVID-19. This, as the NBA's so-called bubble faces a lot of big tests.


HARLOW: Well, Houston Rockets superstar Russell Westbrook is delaying his return to the NBA after he tested positive for COVID-19.

SCIUTTO: Yes, big problems for the NBA's plans here. Andy Scholes has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report."


So, yes, when the Rockets went to Orlando to enter that bubble last week, their two superstars, Russell Westbrook and James Harden, weren't with the team. And Westbrook, confirming the reason he wasn't with the team is because he in fact did test positive for COVID-19.

TEXT: I tested positive for COVID-19 prior to my team's departure to Orlando. I'm currently feeling well, quarantined, and looking forward to rejoining my teammates when I am cleared. Thank you all for the well wishes and continued support. Please take this virus seriously. Be safe. Mask up! #whynot

SCHOLES: The all-star guard, posting on social media that he's feeling well and looking forward to joining his teammates as soon as possible. He also asked people to please take this virus seriously, be safe, and wear a mask.

Now, Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni said on Sunday, Westbrook and Harden were dealing with things and he hoped to have them in the bubble in the next three to four days.

Now, in the meantime, the NBA says two players inside the bubble have tested positive. But those players, they were still in that initial 48-hour quarantine period since arriving. Those players have left the campus to isolate at home or are in isolation housing.

Two other players, though, they're under quarantine after accidentally breaking the bubble's protocols. The Kings' Richaun Holmes crossed the campus line to pick up a food order while the Rockets' Bruno Caboclo inadvertently left his room during the initial quarantine period. Now those two guys are going to have to self-isolate for eight more days before they can rejoin their teams.

All right, the NFL, meanwhile, they could have players wearing these new mouth shields when they hit the field this season. The sports equipment maker Oakley designed the guard with the help of doctors and engineers from the NFL and the Players Association.

A source with knowledge tells CNN that select teams are going to be receiving prototypes to test this week. For now, the league is encouraging but not yet mandating the use of face shields this season. The biggest concerns, Jim and Poppy, right now from players are visibility and breathability. That -- it's all about the comfort level, if they're actually going to be able to wear these masks to protect themselves.


HARLOW: It's so interesting, I need to watch in real time how this is working, may not work and the hiccups along the way. Thanks a lot for the reporting, Andy.

SCHOLES: All right.

HARLOW: And thanks to all of you for being with us today. We'll see you back here tomorrow. I'm Poppy Harlow.

SCIUTTO: And I'm Jim Sciutto. NEWSROOM with John King starts after a very quick break.