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Cuomo Prime Time

Trump Suspends Travel From Europe To U.S.; Governor Andrew Cuomo On Coronavirus Testing Capacity; NBA To Suspend Season Over Coronavirus. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired March 11, 2020 - 21:00   ET




JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Chris, we are expecting this Address to the Nation from The Oval Office in just a few minutes from now.

The President is expected to talk for about 10 or 12 minutes, from what we understand, talking to our sources, who were briefed on these remarks.

And they caution us, things could move into the remarks, things could move out of the remarks, but that he is expected to recommend new travel restrictions and/or advisories for airline passengers, heading overseas.

He's also expected to offer up new tax breaks and other economic breaks for these hard-hit industries that have been clobbered by the Coronavirus like the airlines, hotels, and so on.

And then, he's also going to urge Americans to follow the CDC guidelines, wash their hands, practice social distancing, some of the things, quite frankly, he's been criticized for not following.

But, at the end of the day, one source told me the President wants to project calm tonight that he has a way out of this crisis.

The question, I think, tonight Chris, is whether or not Americans trust the President to see this country out of this crisis. Chris?

C. CUOMO: Well that has become a complicated question, right? Because he said things early on that he had to know were not true. Some of his loyalists will say, "Well he was trying to enhance calm," but distracting people from what's obvious is rarely calming in situations like this.

ACOSTA: That's right, Chris. And I talked to a source very close to the Coronavirus Task Force, earlier this evening, and I asked this person whether or not the President gets it, whether he understands the severity of this crisis.

C. CUOMO: Right.

ACOSTA: And this source said "I think so."

C. CUOMO: Well we'll see.

ACOSTA: Chris?

C. CUOMO: And we're going to see any second. This is a rare privilege for a President to ask for Network time. How will he use it? We're waiting on the President of the United States right now, finally coming to address the Nation.

Here he is.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: My fellow Americans, tonight I want to speak with you about our nation's unprecedented response to the Coronavirus outbreak that started in China, and is now spreading throughout the world.

Today, the World Health Organization officially announced that this is a global pandemic.

We have been in frequent contact with our allies and we are marshaling the full power of the federal government and the private sector to protect the American people. This is the most aggressive and comprehensive effort to confront a foreign virus in modern history.

I am confident that by counting and continuing to take these tough measures, we will significantly reduce the threat to our citizens, and we will ultimately and expeditiously defeat this virus.

From the beginning of time, nations and people have faced unforeseen challenges, including large-scale and very dangerous health threats. This is the way it always was, and always will be.

It only matters how you respond, and we are responding with great speed and professionalism. Our team is the best anywhere in the world.

At the very start of the outbreak, we instituted sweeping travel restrictions on China, and put in place the first federally-mandated quarantine in over 50 years.

We declared a public health emergency and issued the highest level of travel warning on other countries as the virus spread its horrible infection. And taking early, intense action, we have seen dramatically fewer cases of the virus in the United States that are now present in Europe.

The European Union failed to take the same precautions, and restrict travel from China, and other hotspots. As a result, a large number of new clusters in the United States were seeded by travelers from Europe.

After consulting with our top government health professionals, I have decided to take several strong, but necessary, actions to protect the health and well-being of all Americans.

To keep new cases from entering our shores, we will be suspending all travel from Europe to the United States for the next 30 days. The new rules will go into effect Friday, at midnight.

These restrictions will be adjusted subject to conditions on the ground. There will be exemptions for Americans who have undergone appropriate screenings.

And these prohibitions will not only apply to the tremendous amount of trade and cargo, but various other things, as we get approval, anything coming from Europe to the United States is what we are discussing. These restrictions will also not apply to the United Kingdom.

At the same time, we are monitoring the situation in China and the South Korea. And, as their situation improves, we will re-evaluate the restrictions and warnings that are currently in place for a possible early opening.


Earlier this week, I met with the leaders of health insurance industry, who have agreed to waive all co-payments for Coronavirus treatments, extend insurance coverage to these treatments, and to prevent surprise medical billing.

We are cutting massive amounts of red tape to make antiviral therapies available in record time. These treatments will significantly reduce the impact and reach of the virus.

Additionally, last week, I signed into law an $8.3 billion funding bill to help CDC and other government agencies fight the virus and support vaccines, treatments, and distribution of medical supplies.

Testing and testing capabilities are expanding rapidly day-by-day. We are moving very quickly.

The vast majority of Americans, the risk is very, very low. Young and healthy people can expect to recover fully, and quickly, if they should get the virus. The highest risk is for elderly population with underlying health conditions.

The elderly population must be very, very careful. In particular, we are strongly advising that nursing homes for the elderly suspend all medically unnecessary visits. In general, older Americans should also avoid non-essential travel in crowded areas.

My Administration is coordinating directly with communities with largest outbreaks. And we have issued guidance on school closures, social distancing, and reducing large gatherings. Smart action today will prevent the spread of the virus tomorrow.

Every community faces different risks, and it is critical for you to follow the guidelines of your local officials, who are working closely with our federal health experts, and they are the best.

For all Americans, it is essential that everyone take extra precautions and practice good hygiene. Each of us has a role to play in defeating this virus. Wash your

hands, clean often-used surfaces, cover your face and mouth if you sneeze or cough, and most of all, if you are sick or not feeling well, stay home.

To ensure that working Americans, impacted by the virus, can stay home, without fear of financial hardship, I will soon be taking emergency action, which is unprecedented, to provide financial relief. This will be targeted for workers who are ill, quarantined, or caring for others due to Coronavirus.

I will be asking Congress to take legislative action to extend this relief.

Because of the economic policies that we have put into place, over the last three years, we have the greatest economy anywhere in the world, by far.

Our banks and financial institutions are fully capitalized and incredibly strong. Our unemployment is at a historic low. This vast economic prosperity gives us flexibility, reserves, and resources to handle any threat that comes our way.

This is not a financial crisis. This is just a temporary moment of time that we will overcome together as a nation and as a world. However, to provide extra support for American workers, families, and businesses, tonight I am announcing the following additional actions.

I am instructing the Small Business Administration to exercise available authority to provide capital and liquidity to firms affected by the Coronavirus.

Effective immediately, the SBA will begin providing economic loans in affected states and territories. These low-interest loans will help small businesses overcome temporary economic disruptions caused by the virus.

To this end, I am asking Congress to increase funding for this program by an additional $50 billion.

Using emergency authority, I will be instructing the Treasury Department to defer tax payments, without interest or penalties, for certain individuals and businesses negatively impacted. This action will provide more than $200 billion of additional liquidity to the economy.

Finally, I am calling on Congress to provide Americans with immediate payroll tax relief. Hopefully, they will consider this very strongly.

We are at a critical time in the fight against the virus. We made a life-saving move with early action on China. Now we must take the same action with Europe.

We will not delay. I will never hesitate to take any necessary steps to protect the lives, health, and safety of the American people. I will always put the wellbeing of America first. [21:10:00]

If we are vigilant, and we can reduce the chance of infection, which we will, we will significantly impede the transmission of the virus. The virus will not have a chance against us.

No nation is more prepared or more resilient than the United States. We have the best economy, the most advanced healthcare, and the most talented doctors, scientists, and researchers anywhere in the world.

We are all in this together. We must put politics aside, stop the partisanship, and unify together as one nation and one family.

As history has proven time and time again, Americans always rise to the challenge and overcome adversity.

Our future remains brighter than anyone can imagine. Acting with compassion and love, we will heal the sick, care for those in need, help our fellow citizens, and emerge from this challenge stronger and more unified than ever before.

God bless you, and God bless America. Thank you.

C. CUOMO: Now, other than a declaration of war, or major terrorist event, in a generation, we have not heard a message from a President as serious as the one that was just delivered by President Donald John Trump.

The headline. For the next 30 days, no travel from Europe to the United States. It will apparently include cargo, meaning economic activity. It may be different with certain aspects with the United Kingdom, Britain.

There may be certain exceptions for certain people who received what the President called "Appropriate screening." He didn't go into detail on that.

There are a lot of other releases of resources. But overall, a jarring message. And the question is how will the country receive it?

We have Dr. Sanjay Gupta along with David Gregory, and Jim Acosta, also back with us.

First, Jim, is that the speech that was expected?

ACOSTA: I think that is the speech that was expected. I think it went well beyond what any of us really thought. I don't think many of us were expecting the President to announce a travel ban from Europe for 30 days, starting at Friday, at midnight. That is stunning.

That is - that is going to cause major disruptions to the travel industry, and it is going to cause all kinds of problems that we haven't seen since the Trump Administration tried its travel ban very early on in the Administration. We saw people waiting at the airport, and so on, wondering if loved ones are going to get back from Europe. So, it is going to be interesting to find out what the details are

from Administration officials in terms of how they're going to implement that.

The other thing, Chris, and I think we should point out, at one point, during this address, the President referred to the Coronavirus as a "Foreign virus."

That - that, I think, was interesting because as I was talking to sources, earlier this evening, one of the points that the President wanted to make tonight, wanted to get across to Americans, is that this virus did not start here, but that they're dealing with it.

Now, why the President would go as far as to describe it as a "Foreign virus," that is something we'll also be asking questions about.

But it - it should be pointed out that Stephen Miller who is an immigration hardliner, who advises the President, is of one of his top domestic policy advisers, and speechwriters had--

C. CUOMO: Right.

ACOSTA: --was a driving force in writing this speech.

C. CUOMO: Right.

ACOSTA: And I think it's going to smack - it's going to come across to a lot of Americans as smacking of xenophobia--

C. CUOMO: Right.

ACOSTA: --to use that kind of term in this speech, Chris.

C. CUOMO: Well, look, sometimes we can answer the questions. And the answer is he's doing it to put blame somewhere else. We've seen over the last few days, McCarthy, and others, saying the "Chinese Coronavirus," the "Wuhan Coronavirus." We get that.

ACOSTA: Right.

C. CUOMO: It can't be the main concern right now. Let me go to Sanjay, who's here right now.

In terms of the remedies, let's call them, no travel from Europe, 30 days, including cargo, maybe a little different with the U.K., all the releases of resources for economic relief, he said "Rapidly increasing testing, vast majority of us, very, very low risk."


Well, first of all, I mean, in terms of the testing, I mean, this has obviously been a big issue. And, you know, it was just a week ago, where he said, "We have 15 cases in the country, expect to go to zero," and now we're well over a thousand, as you know.

The testing has been the issue, you've talked about it, from the beginning, as have I, and that's been the issue, remains the issue. So, this is the first time he's really acknowledging that issue.

He says "We have very few cases in the United States. Most of them are coming from elsewhere," maybe true.

The fact of the matter is we don't know that right now. We don't have good vision on this here in the United States, and that is a huge problem, because we don't really know how to allocate resources, and how to deal with this.

The other big thing, Chris, is if you see what's happening in Italy, in Europe, right now, is that the virus is obviously a problem. The bigger problem, I think, in - in Italy is that the healthcare system is essentially starting to become overrun.


The hospitals, they're having to make tough decisions, Chris, on who to take care of, and - and who not to take care of. Can you imagine those sorts of decisions? Two patients who could survive, if only we had enough resources, but we don't?

I - I wish that I heard him talk about that specifically in this country. We're a 100,000 ICU beds short. We're probably tens of thousands of breathing machines, ventilators short. What are we going to do?

I mean these are real problems. And - and this is, you know, hours and days count now, not - not days and weeks.

C. CUOMO: Are we Italy?

GUPTA: This is happening.

C. CUOMO: Or are we China?

The distinction, obviously being for you at home, China ramped up to immediate scale. They built hospitals, field hospitals.

GUPTA: That's right.

C. CUOMO: They had almost, it seemed, endless resources, that seems to have been a big part of this picture of abatement that they're putting forth right now that it's getting better. Which is the U.S. more likely to be?

GUPTA: Well I'm worried that we're - we're Italy, in the sense that we don't have a lot of surge capacity. We don't have a healthcare system that has redundancy. We certainly can't build hospitals in a week, like they were doing in China.

You're going to walk around New York City, and you're going to say, Convention Center. Well that's a place. That's going to become a hospital. High school gymnasium, that's going to become an isolation ward.

I'm not trying to sound dramatic. You know me not to be a "Scream from the roof" kind of guy. But it seems like now is the time to do that because I think we are within, and we have the capability to be - be prepared for this.

But, you know, this is weeks now, we've - we should have been thinking about some of these things. And luckily, it seems the President - seems he's taking this more seriously, certainly now.

C. CUOMO: He is. Let's go to David Gregory, on this, all right?

There are a couple of different points, David, that I'd love your take on. First, the President did not address the hard realities that it's not 15 cases. It's going to be hundreds of thousands of cases.

As Tony Fauci said, with clear eyes and a strong voice, this is going to get worse. Everybody has to be ready for that. There is something to preparing people, to letting them know it doesn't come as a surprise, as it has, to this point.

First on that, what is the plus/minus on him not dealing with the harshest realities, and what to do about going forward?


DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, the job of the President of the United States, in my judgment, and in my reporting of national and international crises, is to steal the country, from what we're going through, and what we may face, and what will be required of the country.

He is a kind of moral force for the country. Only the federal government has the kind of scale and capacity to respond to something that doesn't have borders, that is international, global, in nature, like this, like a public health emergency, just like a national security emerges - emergency.

And when he talks about this being not a crisis but "A temporary moment of time," I think he hurts himself, and I think he - he confuses the public because steps are being taken, and we should underline.

A 30-day ban, on travelers coming from Europe, now, he said the United Kingdom would be excluded from that, that's a huge deal. It's a huge deal, huge disruption economically, to families, to all of the connections Americans have to Europeans.

And yet, he's saying this is going to be "A temporary moment in time." I think a lot of Americans tonight are still confused. They're certainly anxious, and they are sensing, from their President, a discernible change in tone and demeanor.

C. CUOMO: Well let's talk about that.

GREGORY: Will he continue that? Will he continue that?

C. CUOMO: Let's talk about it because I think you and I may have a different read on it that he's more measured, and he's not blaming us, and he's not blaming Democrats, OK.

I have never seen him give a speech, and seem as nervous as he was tonight. Now, part of that is--


C. CUOMO: --what we call "Prompter Trump." He didn't write it. He's not familiar with it. It's hard for him to follow the teleprompter. OK, that's stylistic.

But his breathing, his - what was his tone? He did not vibe a lot of "I've got this"--


C. CUOMO: --to the nation.

GREGORY: No, I agree with that. And look, he's not a natural politician. So, you know, we live in an age when people are going to look at this, and are going to evaluate his leadership with a partisan lens.

We know that. We've been covering him now for going on four years, and - and the election as well. So, people are going have different views of that.

Yes, he's not accustomed to giving this kind of speech. I thought he kind of ran through some of the language, instead of really talking us through these points. There was still self-congratulation about how great the response has been.

They were - you know, he talked about we're all in this together. Well I didn't hear any empathy for our allies around the globe, like the Italians, and what they're going through, as a country. I think those things stand out.

And again, I go back to the idea of saying this is "A temporary moment in time." This is not an existential threat to the United States.


But, you know, Winston Churchill, when he was preparing Great Britain for The Blitz, which did face an existential threat to the idea of liberty in the U.K., he - he summoned the resolve and the courage of the British people then.

George W. Bush, after 9/11, whether you agree with him, or disagree with the policies that followed, he captured the emotion and created the resolve in the American people to respond.

That's the test of leadership.

Sanjay, Dr. Gupta, gives us facts. Tony Fauci, the best there is, gives us the facts and the hard facts. We need real leadership because people are anxious. They're only going to grow more so.

C. CUOMO: I mean he is the national shoulder in a situation like this.


C. CUOMO: Now, first of all, Sanjay, were you picking up on what - what I was that it, in terms of delivery--


C. CUOMO: --you know, the - what do you want to project?

He wants to project what you have to project, what I have to project, which is I know what I'm talking about. I'm not freaked out about it. You shouldn't. But, for him, it's exponentially more important--

GUPTA: Sure.

C. CUOMO: --to project that. This is the first big moment. He takes Network time. That's a huge thing for a President to do. What do you think the country is likely to take away from it?

GUPTA: Well I am - I think David's - David's right. I mean, you know, there was - I think it was a - a much stronger sort of reaction to this crisis than I've heard from him before.

I've been with, you know, I was at that first press briefing when he talked about it. And, you know, I think he was dismissive of it. I think people, within the Administration, have been dismissive of it.

This was different. I don't know if it was - if you - you've observed him give more speeches.

And I - I don't know if it was nerves or - or what it was or if it was recognizing the gravity of this, sort of setting in, I mean you have seen the public health officials like - like Fauci now, seem a little bit more unbridled.

I didn't hear Dr. Fauci, even though he would be speaking sort of off- the-record to us, telling, "Look, you know, this is how serious I take this. I've covered a lot of these, seen a lot of these pandemics. Here's why this is really serious." We didn't really hear that until the last couple of days.

Any city, regardless of whether you have no cases, or one case, this is coming. That - that was a different sort of change in tune. And I think that that seems to have now been - been impressed upon the President as well.

GREGORY: And Chris, there's also a difference. When you're facing, as we did after 9/11, the fear of additional terrorist responses, there were things that we could do, as citizens, to prepare, have emergency plans. If you see something, say something.

But, by and large, that kind of threat, only the federal government can respond to. We can't all do it in our daily lives. Here, our public health officials are saying something different. We all have to overreact before it becomes readily apparent because at that point it's too late.

ACOSTA: Hey Chris, can I mention one thing? And - and that is--

C. CUOMO: Please.

ACOSTA: --I think one of the things that the President did tonight, and he had to do it, is he had to walk back some of the things that he has said, over the last few weeks.

One of the things that he suggested, and this was during an interview with Sean Hannity, was that people could go to work, even though they had the Coronavirus.

C. CUOMO: Right.

ACOSTA: That is obviously wrong, and should not be advised to anybody.

Tonight, he said, in this address, I don't know - I don't have the exact verbatim in front of me, but he said that people, if they are sick, should stay home. That is what the President of the United States really should have been saying all along.

And Chris, the problem that the President is in right now is he has spent the last four or five weeks trying to tell everybody to remain calm, and that this is going to be over soon, and he had about 10 minutes tonight to say otherwise.

The American people have been exposed to four or five weeks of this. Perhaps, they caught this 10 minutes tonight, and they'll - they'll say, "OK, the President is taking this seriously."

But that is going to depend, depending on whether or not people were tuning in tonight. I suspect a lot of people were tuning in. But I think the President had to dial back some of his optimism, and rosy scenarios, and wishful thinking, and he did some of that tonight.

The question is, whether or not it makes a difference.

C. CUOMO: Right. I mean, look, and let's just be clear about the dynamic at play, Sanjay. It wasn't that he was being hyper-optimistic. He was being misleading about the realities, and his motivation seemed very clear. Part of it was political. This isn't on me.

GUPTA: Right.

C. CUOMO: Not in election year, and the economy.

Well now, every percent of gain, in the stock market, which is obviously his main metric, is gone, because of this, not because of him.

But it has to be true that what is being asked of you, when you're doing your reporting, and you're out, is the same thing he needed to reflect tonight.

"How bad? How real is this?" GUPTA: Yes.

C. CUOMO: "Are my kids going to be able to go back to school? When? How long? How do I handle these things? What does it mean for work?"

GUPTA: That's right.

C. CUOMO: That's what his job is about. He avoided most of that subject tonight. Yes, they have a good checklist of things they're doing, especially to help businesses. I don't know how they're rapidly expanding testing.

I'm going to do something unusual tonight. My brother, as you know, is the Governor of New York. He is dealing with this at scale in every way that presently is affecting this country, and he's got the concerns about what happens next.

I'm going to have him on the show, when we're done doing analysis of the President's speech, to give you a look at the realities he's dealing with in his State.

Where is he coming up short? Why is he coming up short? What is he worried about going forward? So, we'll get that perspective.


But on the list of things he told us, you're not going to be able to have anybody come in from Europe.


C. CUOMO: But why? And - and why is it going to be OK, and how bad do you think this gets?

GUPTA: That's right.

C. CUOMO: And what are you doing to stop it from getting that bad? That's what everybody's asking us.

GUPTA: And - and keep in mind, I mean there's really people - there are people who are really sick tonight, and a thousand people who've been infected. There's more than 30 people who have died already from this. And those are just the numbers that we have. So that, you know, that's - that's part of this - this whole equation as well.

A week ago, I don't think people in this country could have imagined that we would have a containment area in the United States that is being helped service by the National Guard, that schools, an entire School District in Seattle, would be closed, that huge festivals and - and campaign events by the Democratic candidates would be canceled, gone, you know, Coachella postponed.

All these things are happening seemingly now overnight. So, it's - it's clear that the country, I think, most of the country at least, has - has caught up, and the public health message.

C. CUOMO: But by surprise.

GUPTA: They--

C. CUOMO: Every new event is a surprise, every new batch of numbers is a shock, because they are not prepared for why this needs to happen.

GUPTA: And there hasn't been a directive from the federal government. I mean, you know, what your brother did in this State is happening ad hoc community by community.

C. CUOMO: Yes.

GUPTA: There's - there's no trigger. He decided to do that for his - looking at the numbers. But what about - is that the bar now?

C. CUOMO: Right.

GUPTA: You know?

C. CUOMO: And now, to David's point, about recognizing our allies, recognizing that this is about the world.

During election coverage, last night, we kept bouncing to London, and China, and all around, because we are all in it together. This will put a human face on it, OK?

Tom Hanks just tweeted. He and his wife Rita are in Australia, OK? They don't feel great. They got tested. They have Coronavirus, OK?

"What to do? Medical officials have protocols that must be followed. We will be tested, observed, and isolated for as long as public health and safety requires. Not much more to it than a one-day-at-a-time approach, no? We'll keep the world posted and updated. Take care of yourselves! Hanx!"

David, now look, obviously we're not just worried about celebrities getting sick. But the idea that you got Tom Hanks, who's one of America's beloved celebrities obviously, and his wife, in Australia, with Coronavirus, already tested--


C. CUOMO: --you know, and figuring it out, and they're having rules in place of what they're going to do, tells you two things. One, wow, this could hit anybody. And two, why does he seem so calm about how they're handling it in Australia, and why isn't that echoed back here at home?

GREGORY: Right. And that's the challenge. And that's the challenge for the Administration.

The President didn't address testing, and the fact that, you know, at - at my doctor's office, which, you know, has lots of great services, they can't do tests yet, so there is a backlog. And people are going to be watching this, and they're taking all this in, and they're anxious. And I would say as well, you know, when you see celebrities have it, a lot of people are paying attention to that. But I will say, you know, one of the byproducts of our political age is that we don't have a lot of trust in institutions. People look at leadership through a political lens.

We are all in this together, and it's crucially important to recognize that. And what people want to know tonight are cold-hard facts. They're going to pay less attention to the analysis of whether Trump did a good job tonight, a bad job tonight.

They want to know where do we go from here, what do we do from here, what are the facts, and that's what he, as President, has to remember, which is this is not about his impulse, it's not about his ego, it's really not about the immediate impacts on the economy.

It's what is he doing that no one else can do in the world as President of the United States, which is to lead the federal government to respond to contain, and to minimize the impact of this. That's what people want to know.

C. CUOMO: Jim, David, thank you very much. Sanjay, you're going to stick around because we're going to go through people's questions about this later in the show.

We're going to have more reaction to the President's address with a Governor on the front lines. Obviously, you know that he and I are brothers. The Governor of the State of New York has to deal with everything the President was just talking about.

But what does that mean for life in New York? What are the decisions that a Governor, like he, has to make? What are his concerns? Are they being addressed? Next.









C. CUOMO: Other than wartime, and major terrorist events, we just heard the heaviest address from a President in a generation. He wanted time on prime time to discuss what is happening with the federal response to the Coronavirus outbreak.

Now, I want to do something special tonight. My brother, as you know, is the Governor of New York. He is dealing with everything that's happening in this country, in the State, presently figuring out how to catch up to a situation, and has the concerns going forward.

Thank you for joining me tonight. I appreciate you taking it.

The President's headline move was 30 days, Andrew, no travel from Europe, including cargo, a little different with U.K., maybe some exceptions, how do you feel about the move?

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): You know, Chris, I think the President - it's a dramatic move, obviously. It's, I think, designed to show action.

But I don't think this was about a political speech for the President. You know, what was his tone, how did he sound, how did he look? I think this is a governmental situation that we're dealing with. And it's a governmental crisis.

And I think the President should, in a speech like this, say to the American people, this is what we're looking at, this is what to expect, and this is what government is going to do, because the truth is those numbers on cases are going to skyrocket.

We know that. That is going to be jarring to the American people.

We do have a problem with testing. And people are getting more nervous, and they're going to see the numbers go up, and they can't get a test. And that's an issue that we have to talk to.


You're going to see major disruptions, social distancing. What does that mean? It means we're going to have to start to close schools. We're going to be closing venues. Let the American people know that that's coming.

Reducing density, what does that mean? There're going to be major governmental actions that have to be taking place.

The American people have to be ready for it. They have to understand that the government is in charge, the government is mobilized, the government is competent, it's capable.

And when you see these big changes coming, don't be nervous because it's part of a plan. And that's what I would have liked to hear from the President tonight.

"Here's what your government is going to do at this time of crisis. Yes, it's going to be a disruption. Yes, you will feel anxious, but it's going to be OK at the end of the day."

C. CUOMO: So, two things for you. One, how true is it what he said about the rapidly ramping up of testing, and then it's getting out there, and just about anybody who wants one can get one?

And second, you know, you did something that was a surprise move for people in New York.

It turns out like the big bucket of cases that you're dealing with right now, I think it's a 121 of them, is in Westchester, which is not a place where people expected them. So, you created this containment thing, and that came as a surprise to people.

And how did that play, that move, in terms of this is what we have to do, and in this random place, where people wouldn't have expected it? And are you getting more testing and more stuff from the Fed? Are you catching up?

A. CUOMO: Well, you're right. First of all, it was shocking to people, and that is my point.

This is not about a foreign virus, whatever that means. It's here. It's community spread. It's much more prevalent than we know. The testing does not reflect what it is. These are not random sample tests.

It's because we have no testing capacity. That's why the numbers are low. If you actually had testing capacity, you would see how high the numbers are already. And as we do ramp up testing, you're going to see those numbers go sky-high. And if you don't have the American people ready for it, it's going to be a problem.

We are way behind on testing. And if you look at the other countries, you look at China, you look at South Korea, you see how they - they turned that curve, it was with very aggressive testing, where they got ahead of it.

You had maybe 200,000 tests per day in China, 15,000 tests per day in South Korea. We haven't done 10,000 tests since they've started testing.

We just went through a situation with the federal government, where I said, "Look, we're going to start contracting with private labs in New York State because we can't wait for this federal bottleneck."

As soon as those private labs go out, and start the test, Chris, the numbers are going to be shocking to people. And we are going--

C. CUOMO: But at least people will understand the scale, and you'll start to see good outcomes also, right? That 80 percent number that Tony Fauci and you talk about, which is 80 percent are asymptomatic, or they get it, and they get better.

Now, Italy is looming large as a model of what not to do. But now, they're on lockdown. Do you foresee quarantines like that, societal temporary shutdown like that, here as unavoidable?

A. CUOMO: Well look, there were only - there's only two ways that countries have reduced the numbers, massive quarantine or massive testing. We are not doing the level of testing we need to do, so you're not identifying the positives, so you're not stopping the communication. Quarantine, I don't even think you could get away with in this country what some of these other countries have done. You will see shutdowns. And I think that's one of the things that the - the President should have talked about tonight.

You're going to see closing down a venue, schools, large gatherings, because you don't have an option. You're never going to bring the testing up to capacity--

C. CUOMO: Yes.

A. CUOMO: --in time. We're going to try, we're going to scramble, but it's not going to happen.

C. CUOMO: Andrew, here's what I'm hearing right now, just so you know.

A. CUOMO: You're going to have to see shutdowns.

C. CUOMO: To your own point, you're making a point that is actually playing out in real time.

The NBA just announced it's going to suspend this season, following tonight's games. Now, that is going to be a life-changing situation for people on an entertainment level, I know, but they're not ready for this. NCAA games, having no audience, that was enough.

How should they understand a move like this to what does this mean about where they're going?

And now, look, not to add on the pile of problems, but you have a huge holiday coming up in New York, the St. Patrick's Day Parade. It's - it's great for enthusiasm, and emotion, and community. What are you going to do about it?

A. CUOMO: Yes well, for example, you're right.


Now, I am - I have the issue of the St. Patrick's Day Parade, right? And I recommended to the organizers that we have to postpone it. It's 2 million spectators, a 150,000 marchers, you can't do that in this environment. But that's going to play out--

C. CUOMO: How'd they take it?

A. CUOMO: Well not well, I can tell you that much. The - but, you know, that's why I get paid the big bucks, right? Well let's not go near big bucks. But anyway, the - that situation's going to play out a hundred times, Chris.

I did the New Rochelle Containment Area, nobody was ready for it, closing down schools. We thought this was only 10, 15 people. This is all an overreaction.

No. The numbers go sky-high. There will be disruption. The density has to come down. We have - we have to scramble now to make sure we don't have a healthcare crisis, where we don't have hospitals to handle the capacity.

We have no surge hospital capacity here. We may very well. We're looking in New York at secondary structures that we can start to prepare for temporary hospital situations.

I mean this is a massive governmental mobilization that you need a real government to handle. You know, this is not political. You're not going to do this on Twitter. This is government, baby. This is what it's about.

This is the mobilization, the skill, the expertise, to manage your government, and then you need the people of this country ready to accept it, without getting overly anxious, and be part of it.

It's not just "Wash your hands."

C. CUOMO: Right.

A. CUOMO: We're beyond "Wash your hands," my brother. We are - there's going to have to be major shifts in society, short-term. Long-term will be OK. But short-term, there's going to be major shifts that government is going to have to enact. We all want to be part of it.

C. CUOMO: Well Governor Andrew Cuomo to everybody else, my big brother, I'm proud of you. I love you. Thank you for explaining the hard parts and what's going to have to happen, so that we can get to a better place in the future. God bless. I'll talk to you in a second.

A. CUOMO: Proud of you.

C. CUOMO: All right, we're just getting details on this huge breaking news from the sports world. The NBA is going to suspend all games until further notice.

Now look, I know the scariest part of that, or is the most confusing, the most frustrating is "Until further notice." What does that mean? We don't know. So, we're going to be back with that, and what we know, next.









C. CUOMO: All right, we've got breaking news and new understandings coming on us. So, let's roll with this together.

The NBA has just announced that the season is going to be suspended for whenever, like they don't know. Why? A Utah Jazz player tested positive.

This now comes to common sense, right? If one has it, it's not enough that there's no crowd watching, as they're doing with the NCAA. It's you're going to be doing things that spread it.

Let's bring in Dr. Sanjay Gupta. We have Gene Sperling, OK? You remember him as the main Economic Adviser for President Obama. I grew up with him. He worked in New York State as a main adviser to my father, then Governor Mario Cuomo, and David Gregory, the handsome man in the middle.

First, let's talk about the NBA. But guys, I want to do it in this context. We just got a clarification, Sanjay, from DHS, Homeland Security. They say that the 30-day ban from Europe only applies to foreign nationals. It does not apply to U.S. permanent residents.

Now, when I said that out loud, you said, "Yes, but what happens when you come back?"

GUPTA: Correct.

C. CUOMO: So, you can come home, we'll call it a right to return, but what do you do with somebody from Europe, who's an American, and has every right to come back to their house, then what happens?

GUPTA: Two questions. How do they get back because I don't know what the - what the status of flights are going to be, if this ban is in effect?

Are they coming back by commercial flights or are they coming back, as happened in Wuhan, where they brought people back, and then they went to quarantine, Chris, you remember, for 14 days at that airbase in California.

C. CUOMO: Right.

GUPTA: So, if they're - if they're consistent with how they handle this in China - by the way, there does seem to be evidence that there was benefit to that, what - what happened, you know, by bringing and quarantining out of China, then the same thing would probably have to happen here.

But they would - they would be allowed, foreign nationals would not be able to come in. But citizens come back, and have to be quarantined for 14 days, out of every place in Europe, except for the U.K.

C. CUOMO: So, here's what they're saying.

"The President suspends the entry of most foreign nationals who have been in certain European countries at any point during the 14 days prior to their scheduled arrival in the United States. These countries, known as the Schengen Area, Austria, Belgium, Czech

Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland."

That is Schengen. That's what that word means. It's an acronym.

It "Does not apply to legal permanent residents, (generally) immediate family members of U.S. citizens, and other individuals who are identified in the proclamation."

OK. So, we now have it right. Sanjay's logistical question winds up being dominant here, how do you do it? How do you get them back? Now let's make clear what should be clear to everybody.

Yes, everything is going to change, in life, as we normally live it, which is you do what you want, where you want, when you want, based on your own means. That's not going to happen for a while.


You're not going to go to the places you want to go to. You're going to have to find and seek this new normal because it's for our collective benefit. That's what the President was trying to communicate tonight.

Gene Sperling, now, what these moves cost us, no travel from Europe for 30 days, including cargo economic materials, no NBA season, no venues of big entertainment, maybe theaters etcetera, how do you calculate cost and benefit analysis?

GENE SPERLING, FORMER DIRECTOR, NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL UNDER PRESIDENTS OBAMA & CLINTON: I think what you have to realize is what you're saying, which is that this is a kind of massive pullback on consumer spending and economic activity like we've never seen before.

And, you know, we've got a major credibility gap. You have a President who, just on February 28th, was calling this a hoax, just yesterday, said it will go away. You know, in a crisis, credibility is precious. Credibility is a terrible thing to waste.

Secondly, as Governor Cuomo was saying, you've got both a massive testing gap, and you have a massive economic mobilization gap. You're not going to solve this with little - with payroll tax cuts here or there. You've got to solve the uncertainty, the health risk.

And one of the things you could be doing now is leading a major economic mobilization to help people who need paid sick leave.

That's a triple win, Chris because one, it's going to help health- wise, if they don't feel they have to go to work because they have paid sick leave. Number two, it's going to help their families. It's the compassionate right thing. Three, that's going to help the economy. You also need to be giving massive aid to people, like the Governor of New York, and others, so that they can do the kind of mobilization to make sure that we are staffed to get this kind of healthcare response needed, if we could get the testing.

And the reality, Chris, is that any little thing the President might throw out for show, I mean there's a lot of economic things we might want to do.

But if you don't address the fundamental health risk, the fundamental testing gap, the fundamental credibility gap, the healthcare response, nothing else is really going to work that well. It can cushion. We need a major economic mobilization.

I was so disappointed to see the President just looking like he was reading talking points, instead of talking about how he's going to do paid sick leave and unemployment that's going to help everybody, caregivers, drivers, gig economy workers, domestic workers, everybody.

C. CUOMO: Right.

SPERLING: Because so many people are going to be hurt here. And we need real competence, real credibility, real mobilization for that.

C. CUOMO: And, David, obviously, he can't do it himself.


C. CUOMO: And this comes to can he get Congress to work together fast enough and well enough to mobilize what Gene is saying and to be on - fair to the President, he mentioned some of this with the Small Business Administration etcetera, but can he get it done in this environment?

GREGORY: Well I think one of the things that's happening tonight, as we speak, you talked about the news from the NBA, this is getting real for a lot of people, and I don't mean to trivialize it by - by talking about the NBA.

But for a lot of people who may not pay attention to what goes on in Washington--

C. CUOMO: Yes.

GREGORY: --and they're huge Hoops fans, this just got real, because now it's not - earlier in this afternoon, it was the NCAA said "March Madness, it'll still be on TV, but no crowds."

C. CUOMO: Right.

GREGORY: Now, an NBA season is suspended. So, whether it's that, whether it's you're worried about if you're in public school somewhere in America that the school system may shut down, this is going to be so disruptive.

So, the psychology of the country is what's really important tonight, and I still think that's the overriding imperative for this government, as your - as your brother said, as the Governor of New York said, that's - it's a governmental effort.

And everybody's got to get on board. And I think members of the Republicans and the Democrats will do that as they see the need because the private sector is doing it.

C. CUOMO: Right.

GREGORY: States are doing it. People, well they have to do it.

And I think there's a danger, and I - and I certainly respect what Gene is saying, but there's also a danger of tonight coming out, and just beating up on the President, and trashing his credibility in his speech, and whatnot, because, again, I think most people are thinking about what has to happen next.

C. CUOMO: Right.

GREGORY: And he's absolutely right. Credibility and belief in our government is crucial right now. That will be judged over time. It's the immediate steps that people are feeling like my world is changing, it's disrupted in a way that I hadn't really fathomed before.

C. CUOMO: Right. Now, listen, fellas, I couldn't ask for a better panel of people that have the right head in the right moment in the right understanding. So, Geno, thank you very much. David Gregory, thank you very much, Sanjay Gupta.

SPERLING: Thank you, Chris.

C. CUOMO: Gene Sperling, to everybody else. I grew up calling him Geno.

Look, here's one thing that if you take nothing else from the President's speech tonight, it's not about style. I've never seen him more affected by what he had to say to you before.


This is serious. It is going to get worse. I know he didn't say that. But it can be the only reality. But remember this. We will get through it together. There will be better days. This will be the temporary part. But it's going to be very real, and for a while.

Stay with us.







C. CUOMO: Listen, this is a time to be honest with one another. We are in a new normal, and we don't know how long it's going to last.

But as the President told you tonight, it's going to change, and there is going to be limited travel from Europe for the next 30 days. There will be some exceptions. Obviously, if you are a United States resident, it's different.

But the NBA canceled games. You're going to see more of it. Schools are going to close. You're going to see more of it. Your ability to do what you want to do, when you want to do it, how you want to do it, no matter where you live, it's going to change. But remember why.

If we do the right things now - I know we got a late start. I know there is blame for that. You got to put it to the side because you've got to get better now. If you do it now, you won't be Italy. You will get better faster. That's the hope.

CNN TONIGHT, D. Lemon, right now.