Return to Transcripts main page

Fareed Zakaria GPS

Interview with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong about Singapore's Coronavirus Response; When Can The United States Economy Reopen; Prognosis For The United States Economy; Balancing Public Health And Economy. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired March 29, 2020 - 10:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Just in their 20s or 30s. It was great to see that video of New Yorkers applauding health care workers during a shift change but a better way for the United States to honor health care workers would be to get them the masks and the personal protective equipment they need, so they can be there when and if you or someone you love needs them.

Applause is nice. Politicians getting them the box of N95 masks, that would be even better. And the fact that too many professionals don't have them, that's a national disgrace.

"FAREED ZAKARIA GPS" starts now.

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN ANCHOR: GPS, the GLOBAL PUBLIC SQUARE. Welcome to all of you in the United States and around the world. I'm Fareed Zakaria coming to you live from New York.

Today on the show, an exclusive interview with the prime minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong. His nation has got many kudos for its handling of the coronavirus crisis. What lessons might America learn from what that city state did?

Also, should the healthy and young among us go back to work, even if it means more infections? That's what some have suggested, from politicians to businessmen. We'll talk about what it would mean.

But first, here's my take. When a crisis hits the United States, the country's general instinct is to rally around the flag and wish the best for its leaders. That's probably why President Trump has seen his approval ratings rise even though he's had a delayed and fitful approach to this pandemic. But at some point we Americans must look at the facts and recognize an uncomfortable reality.

The United States is on track to have the worst outbreak of coronavirus among wealthy countries. Largely because of the ineffectiveness of its government. This is the new face of American exceptionalism. The United States now has the most cases of COVID-19 anywhere in the world, outstripping China and Italy. The first line of defense against the disease is testing. On this key metric, the U.S. experience has been a fiasco. We started late using a faulty test and never quite recovered.

President Trump's claim that anybody that wants a test can get a test has turned out to be a cruel hoax. Access to tests remains much worse than in most advanced countries. His assertion that the United States has tested more people than South Korea is essentially nonsense because it doesn't take into account that South Korea has one-sixth America's population.

Per capita, South Korea has done three times more testing than the United States as of Saturday. Italy, a country not known for the smooth workings of its government, has also tested three times as much per capita as the U.S.

Basic medical supplies are running low throughout the United States. In a survey of more than 200 mayors, 90 percent said they don't have enough protective equipment for health care workers like face masks. 85 percent don't have enough ventilators. That means many people could die simply because of a lack of supplies.

How do we find ourselves in this situation? It's easy to blame Donald Trump and the president has been inept from the start. But there's a much larger story behind this fiasco. America is paying the price today for decades of defunding government, politicizing independent agencies, fetishizing local control, and demeaning and disparaging government workers and bureaucrats.

This wasn't how it always was. America historically prized limited but effective government. In Federalist 70 Alexander Hamilton wrote, "A government ill-executed whatever it may be in theory must be in practice be a bad government."

Franklin Delano Roosevelt created the modern federal democracy which was strikingly lean and efficient. But in recent decades as the scope of government increased the bureaucracy was starved and made increasingly dysfunctional. In the 1950s, the percentage of federal civilian employees to vet the total employment was above 5 percent. It has dropped to under 2 percent to date despite a U.S. population that is twice as large and a GDP that is seven times higher adjusting for inflation than the 1950s.

Federal agencies are understaffed but overburdened with mountains of regulations and politicized mandates and rules giving officials little power and discretion. The FDA's cumbersome rules and bureaucracy which have proved a huge problem in this case is just one example among hundreds.


The scholar who has long studied this topic, Paul Light, notes that under John F. Kennedy, the Cabinet departments had 17 layers of hierarchy. By the time Donald Trump took office there were a staggering 71 layers. Both parties have contributed to the problem. Making the federal government a caricature of bureaucratic inefficiency. And then we have America's crazy quilt patchwork of authority with thousands of state, local, and tribal public health departments. They're proving a nightmare when tackling an epidemic that knows no

borders and where any locality with a weak response will allow the infection to keep spreading elsewhere. You see what happens on Florida's beaches doesn't stay on Florida's beaches.

It's an easy cop out to say that America can't mirror China's dictatorship. Of course not. But the governments that are handling this pandemic effectively include democracies like South Korea, Taiwan, and Germany. Many of the best practices employed in places like Singapore and Hong Kong are not tyrannical but smart. Testing, contact tracing, isolation. But all these places have governments that are well-funded, efficient and responsive.

In today's world, with problems that spill across borders at lightning speed, well-executed government is what makes a country truly exceptional.

For more go to and read my "Washington Post" column this week. And let's get started.

I just told you how Singapore employed best practices against the coronavirus pandemic and has fared very well so far. Only three people in Singapore so far have been killed by the virus. The city state has a population of about six million people. Smaller than New York's.

With that fatality rate, though, if Singapore were the size of the United States that would mean fewer than 200 deaths in America. In fact, the U.S. has had over 2,000 deaths. And if you take a look at this chart from earlier this week, you will see that Singapore has already flattened the curve.

So what can we learn from Singapore? Joining me now exclusively is the prime minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong.

Welcome, Prime Minister.


ZAKARIA: Tell us what you think Singapore got right. I mean, many people look at the early -- you know, the fact that you got in very early. You developed a test the minute the sequences were published. You developed a nucleic acid test. Do you think it was that? How do you -- you know, what do you think is the key to your success?

LEE: I hesitate to talk about success because we are right in the midst of a battle which is intensifying. We've tried very hard right from the beginning to take this very seriously. We watched what was happening in Wuhan in China. We prepared our people. In fact, we've been preparing for this since SARS, which was 17 years ago. And as the cases started to come in, we were able to identify them because we said, well, treatment for COVID-19 will be free and testing.

And we were able also to contact trace and find the contacts of the people who had come in and isolate the contacts. So that we slowed down the spread within the population. And we've tried very hard also to explain to the population what it is we are facing, what we need to do, and what are the steps which we need them to cooperate with us so that our efforts can succeed, such as keeping safe distances from one another, such as watching their own personal hygiene, such as staying home if they're sick and not going to work and not socializing.

And with great effort, I think it has helped to keep the number of cases down. But I'm under no illusions that we have won. We are just going in and there's a long battle ahead.

ZAKARIA: So, let me ask you about contact tracing, because that is one of the things that you seem to have done particularly well. You used peoples' phones the minute somebody was diagnosed and tried to figure out exactly where they had been. You now even have an app which people can get to tell them if they are close to somebody else who might have tested positive. How difficult was it to do all this?

LEE: We have not been using phone data. We have been interviewing people, asking them -- interviewing them, tracking down their contacts, interviewing their contacts, trying to piece a story together. It's traditional detective work and patient work.


And we hope to get a quick answer out within a couple of hours, but, in fact, we pursue the cases for days to try and pin down who talked to whom and who might have given the virus to whom.

We do have an app now which we hope will be able to track who has come into contact with somebody else who also has the app and who might be sick. But it's really a work in progress and we don't know yet how well that will work.

ZAKARIA: How do you respond to people who say, well, Singapore is able to do this because, you know, it has these controls. It is a paternalistic system. The government has more powers than in other places.

LEE: We have not taken extraordinary powers. I think the key thing is people must understand what we are facing, and must support what we're doing, and cooperate with us and have confidence in the government. And we put a lot of effort into explaining to them what is happening, speaking to them, and have done it a few times directly on television. So people know that we are level and we tell it straight.

We are transparent. If there's bad news, we tell you. If there's things which need to be done, we also tell you. And I think that you have to maintain that trust because if people don't trust you, even if you have the right measures, it's going to be very hard to get it implemented.

ZAKARIA: You've talked about the economic situation to your people and you just came out with a second budget, even though you had planned in February for, you know, a kind of relief budget. You've come out with a new budget that is five times I think larger.

LEE: Yes. ZAKARIA: You described in your speech, you said, this is not going to

be a V-shaped recovery, it's not going to be a U-shaped recovery, right now it just feels like it's going down. Explain what you think the economic consequences here are?

LEE: Well, first of all, there's a direct impact on certain sectors. Aviation has died, for example. Tourism is dead. And all the travel industry which is associated with the hotels, considerable difficulties. So that's an impact which is not going to go away in a hurry. Secondly, supply chains are getting disrupted because other countries are not operating at full steam. Their economies are locked down. And so supplies are not coming in.

And our production is also affected and our exports are also affected. And that's a broad-based impact on the rest of the economy. Then you've got the self-employed, the gig economy, the people who depend on entertainment, who depend on normal socializing, who get jobs day by day. And those jobs have all evaporated. And I don't see that coming back until such time as people gain confidence that they have a hold on the virus, that we can resume normal socializing, normal traveling, normal human intercourse. And I think that's quite some time down the road.

ZAKARIA: What does it mean, Prime Minister, to get a hold on the virus? Because, you know, there's these theories you have to develop herd immunity which would mean, you know, infecting 40 percent of the population or so, or does it really just have to wait for that vaccine or perfect therapy?

LEE: Well, if you're going for herd immunity, you have to have a big proportion of the population infected. Angela Merkel, who speaks very carefully, talked about 70 percent of the German population possibly. And well, if you go -- if we have to go that route all the way, I think it's either going to be very, very painful because of the huge spike and you have an uncontrolled outbreak as happened in some cities, in northern Italy or in China, or you have to flatten the curve and it takes a very, very long time.

So you've got to hope for an off-ramp to get off that path. And the only visible way to get an off-ramp is to have either a treatment or an effective vaccine. And that's some distance down the road but many very smart people are working very hard at it. I can only hope and pray that they make some progress soon.

ZAKARIA: Stay with me. I will be back with the prime minister of Singapore, Prime Minister Lee, to talk about among other things China. Is it the victim, the accuser, the helper, the help? When we come back.



ZAKARIA: And we are back with Singapore's prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong. Prime minister, you follow China very carefully and you also follow

the debate in the United States. You know there are a lot of people, including our secretary of State, who have said that the Chinese government is in some way to blame for this pandemic because they were silent about the fact it was happening, they were secretive, they covered it up, they punished the doctor who tried to, you know, be a kind of whistleblower about it. Do you think that that is a fair criticism of China?

LEE: I'm sure there are many aspects of the Chinese response to this outbreak which they will look back upon and believe that they should have done better. But I don't think overall that one can say this would not have happened if only the Chinese had done the right thing because you look at the way the outbreak has continued, grown and spread in many countries. And they don't have the Chinese government and yet they have not found it easy to keep the outbreak under control in their country.

So, I think that we are in a very difficult situation, and it's most constructive for us now to look ahead and make up, find the best way to move forward and deal with the problem which we now have.


ZAKARIA: You see how this has worsened U.S.-China relations with the secretary of State making these accusations, the official spokesman of the Chinese Foreign Ministry blasting back. Does this worry you? I mean, you sit in the middle of this situation in a sense with good relations with the United States and China. Is there a danger here that this virus -- one of the side effects of this virus would be a U.S./Chinese real kind of cold war?

LEE: It's a most unfortunate situation to be in. I mean, U.S.-China relations have been complicated even before this, but if we are going to deal with this virus, you've got to get all the countries to be working together, in particular U.S. and China. And under the best of circumstances there's going to be a very difficult challenge for mankind. But if the U.S. and the Chinese are swapping insults and blaming one another for inventing the virus, and letting it loose on the world, I don't think that that is going to help us solve the problem sooner.

ZAKARIA: It strikes me that with something like a pandemic it is so obvious that it spills across borders, it's so obvious that it can only be handled if everyone is in some way cooperating, sharing information, sharing best practices. And typically the United States has taken the lead on organizing some of these kinds of global responses. The Trump administration does not seem that interested.

What happens in the -- with the absence of U.S. leadership? Can you have -- you know, can the world organize itself without some kind of agenda setting at least?

LEE: The world has greatly benefited from American leadership in situations like this for decades. If America is in a different mode, well, we'll get by. And I think other configurations will eventually work out. But it would be a loss.

ZAKARIA: You'd prefer to see American leadership on this issue?

LEE: Yes, of course. You have the resources, you have the science, you have the influence, you have the soft power and you have the track record of dealing with these problems convincingly and successfully, and in the greater good of many countries, not just the U.S. And it's a pity not to put those resources to work now, to deal with this very grave challenge to mankind.

ZAKARIA: Let me ask you about something you said in our previous segment. You said that you have to keep flattening the curve until a vaccine or a therapy was found. So you're thinking about the flattening of the curve not as something that you do for a month or two and then restart the economy. You think this is potentially a year, 18 months of flattening?

LEE: I would -- that would be my guess. I'm not a professional epidemiologist or infectious disease specialist, but I don't see this problem going away in a couple of months. It's taken several months to more or less bring under control in China. It's taking off in Europe now and it will take many months to bring under control. It's taking off in America now. And that's not going to disappear soon.

And there are other huge parts of the world where we don't quite know what's happening, but I think that it will happen. It will happen in India. It will happen in Southeast Asia. It will happen in Africa and Latin America. So by the time it goes around the world and then finally runs its course, I think that's several years unless something happens to abort that process.

ZAKARIA: Prime Minister, there are a lot of people in Singapore who tell me that they wish that you would stay on. You plan to leave office. You have elections at some point have to happen. Could this crisis make you decide to postpone that decision to leave politics?

LEE: I think we are -- this crisis, it keeps my hands full, let's focus on that for now.

ZAKARIA: All right. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, pleasure to have you on, sir.

LEE: Thank you.

ZAKARIA: Next on GPS, President Trump says he wants the country to get back to normal by Easter. Does the deadline make any sense for the economy or public health? We have some experts to discuss.




DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're opening up this incredible country because we have to do that. I'd love to have it open by Easter. I would love to have the country opened up and just raring to go by Easter.


ZAKARIA: After seeing the economy grind to a halt and the stock market take precipitous falls, Donald Trump wants to go from today's status quo when more than two-thirds of Americans are under some sort of stay-at-home order to having the nation open by Easter. That is just two weeks from now.

Trump's top infectious disease specialist, Dr. Anthony Fauci had a very different view. He doesn't think we can set a date. As he says, the virus makes the timeline.

Let me bring in today's panel to discuss. Dr. David Katz is a board certified specialist in preventive medicine and public health. Some have speculated that Trump got the idea to re-open American quickly from Katz's recent "New York Times" op-ed. Donald McNeill is a "New York Times" reporter who writes about plagues, pestilence and public health, and Rana Foroohar is CNN's global economic analyst and a global business columnist for the "Financial Times."


Dr. Katz let me ask you say that the piece you wrote, the evidence and time has passed so sufficiently that you have actually changed your mind. Explain exactly what has happened that has made you change your mind.

DR. DAVID KATZ, PREVENTIVE MEDICINE AND PUBLIC HEALTH SPECIALIST: Well Fareed, I don't know that I have changed my mind my position never supported what the President said. The idea of an arbitrary return to the world is dangerous nonsense and always was.

I agree with Dr. Fauci, the virus has to dictate part of this, but more than that, our understanding of the virus and - the population. Really what I've been saying from the start is that the global data shows massive risk differentials. Some of us are at higher risk of infection and death than others.

The latest data from Italy, where there's been nearly 10,000 deaths, shows that only 1.2 percent of all of those deaths are in people under age 50 and only 2.1 percent of all of those deaths are in people who don't have a major prior chronic disease and only a tiny fraction of a percent are in people who are both healthy and under 50.

So the idea is that some portion of the population could potentially return to the world early if we had the right data to inform that. We may not be left to choose between everybody back to the world now take your chances, preposterous nonsense and everybody hunker in isolation in anxiety, uncertainty and doubt until maybe we have a vaccine or if you're old and sick to begin with, maybe you die of something else while waiting.

I'm talking about a middle path. I was always talking about a middle path. Unfortunately in modern American discourse, every idea is turned into a caricature. ZAKARIA: Explain to me what the timeline for this you know because

what you're just saying is essentially have some of these low-risk people start to work. You're thinking about you know a month, something like that?

KATZ: So Fareed, first of all I want to thank you for your thoughtful commentary. I read your "Washington Post" piece. I thought it was great. Your interview just now with the Prime Minister of Singapore was beautiful. His commentary was beautiful.

But consider what he said years in lockdown I mean, the world the end of civilization as we know it effectively while we wait for a vaccine we don't know when it's coming. Essentially I don't know whether this is two weeks, three weeks, four weeks, six weeks or eight weeks. Here's what I'm saying what we should be doing now, first of all the public deserves to know.

My parents deserve to know my - parents deserved to know there's a plan for a plan. And its data informed and we're collecting the data, who has this? Who is likely to need hospitalization? Who is likely to need an ICU bed? Who is likely to have such a mild version of this infection that they don't know they have it?

All of those questions can be answered with data. There are two radical positions, again, take your chances no matter what your baseline age, your health status or lock everybody away indefinitely.

What I'm saying is we can quickly learn in the span of just weeks if we have the same massive risk differentials that we're seeing in South Korea, that we're seeing in Germany and that we're even seeing in Italy.

And if that's the case, a large portion of the population returning to the world could achieve herd immunity at a low risk of severe infection or dying and we could double down on protecting people like my parents and people with prior health problems.

So that we do a better job of sheltering them, providing them services, providing them information while they wait it out and then we avoid both extremes that Prime Minister talked about we don't shut the world down for years which is calamitous.

But we also don't achieve herd immunity at the cost of a very high number of deaths because those most at severe risk of dying are the very ones we shelter away, and the rest of us who can afford to get this because we are very likely to get over it.

And by the way I think I have it and I'm awaiting my test results we are the ones who back to the world early, achieve that herd immunity that allows us to resume normal life but I can't say how many weeks that is? Nobody can because we've done such a poor job in this country of gathering the data, absolutely essential to answer that question.

It's some amount of time. Dr. Fauci says the virus will tell us how long? I would argue it's us doing the epidemiological work with the virus it is understanding that will dictate the timeline. But some arbitrary timeline that was never anything I wrote about and I think that's a huge mistake.

ZAKARIA: Don McNeil, what do you make of this?

DONALD MCNEIL, SCIENCE AND HEALTH REPORTER, NEW YORK TIMES: I'm glad that Dr. Katz has backed off his original thinking a bit. I found that piece that he wrote in "The Times" shocking from somebody who has an M.D. and some of the interviews he gave afterwards, because it essentially argued that we should trade lives for his father's 401(k), that we should let people out there so that we can achieve herd immunity.


MCNEIL: The whole concept of herd immunity is different when you have got a novel virus. Herd immunity in the old days was something that the old had because they had survived smallpox and they were able to go out there and keep the economy going until the fields while the young recuperated the ones who survived.

Right now we're in a situation where nobody has herd immunity and so saying we all can go out to work on Easter or a couple months from Easter is asking to watch enormous numbers of people die. I mean the original paper said that we should just put away the vulnerable and make sure that they're okay.

Perhaps Dr. Katz's parents have a nice house. He's a retired cardiologist. But many elderly people I checked the stats there are now 50 million people over the age of 65 in this country. Where we're going to hide the obese who are likely to have diabetes, who are likely to have heart disease or lung disease?

Where do we hide people who have asthma? Where do we hide pregnant women like my daughter? Where do we hide even teenagers? Because the FDA now says that Vaping is a possible risk factor for this disease.

So before we went into lockdown, if you read the epidemiological models, the real ones, we were on track to lose between 500,000 and 10 million people. That's not something I want to sacrifice in order to bring the economy back in a big hurry.

We have to think of ourselves in a situation now where we are not be able to think about our 401(k)s or take retirement at the time we wanted to. We're going to have to think about getting enough calories, perhaps for the next year, until a vaccine is here.

If a treatment works and the clinical trials are going on now, that will be fantastic but even if Chloroquine works or one of the other drugs, we're going to need 330 million pills per day to use as a profile access where does that going to come from? Who is going to run the factories?

Most of those pills are made in India. India is having an outbreak right now. We're going to have the worst outbreak in the world until India surpasses them. Quite soon we're going to surpass everybody else in this because we're the third biggest country in the world. It was an extremely dangerous way of thinking. And I wish Dr. Katz would take that paper back and apologize for it because I think it provided a scientific underpinning for Donald Trump to say things like the cure is worse than the disease.

And I know what it feels like to provide the scientific underpinning for Donald Trump because one of my articles did that. I wrote the one that said on February 28th that Donald Trump did the right thing by closing the border to China.

And closing the border to China did, even according to the W.H.O., save us two or three weeks, but it's nine weeks since then and we squandered the time we bought. It was as if a man in a high-crime neighborhood went out and put beware of the dog sign on the lawn to scare off the criminals, then went back inside, didn't buy a dog, didn't buy a lock or put bars on the house.

Now we're overrun. I'm afraid we're facing a whole series of Wuhan's in New York, Seattle, New Orleans and Detroit in the number of other cities. We're going to have to suffer through what China suffered through and I think that's disastrous.

ZAKARIA: All right. Of course I will ask Dr. Katz to respond, when we come back, and I also going to ask Rana who has been patiently waiting to tell us about the economics. Are we talking about a second great depression or is Ben Bernanke right when he says this will be like a snowstorm of limited long-term consequences when we come back.



ZAKARIA: We are back with David Katz, Donald McNeil and Rana Foroohar. Rana let me bring you into this conversation. We know what has happened to the economy. It's essentially paralyzed, freezed-up in a way that frankly I don't think there's any historical parallel.

We also have this stimulus package, we call it what you will which is larger than ever, I mean it is 10 percent of GDP. What is the likely economic future for the next few months?

RANA FOROOHAR, CNN GLOBAL ECONOMIC ANALYST: It's going to be bleak. I mean, there's no question. You know, and that would be true whether we were all in quarantine for two weeks or two months. You know, we have just seen record unemployment numbers. We've seen market falls, the parallel you know something in the 19th - great crash in the 1920s, the aftermath of that.

You know one other thing that is really important for people to recognize though is, even when we are in the clear with the virus, we still have a lot of underlying problems in the economy. We have a massive debt level, a record corporate debt level out there.

So a lot of us that follow the economy, we're expecting there to be some kind of major correction, if not a crash, with or without the coronavirus. But what we're seeing now is a perfect storm of Main Street being hit, so many people being out of work, and Wall Street being hit at the same time. And those two things had a snowball effect that's going to be damaging for months if not years.

ZAKARIA: And Rana, do you think that means that, you know, the stock market, which is still down roughly 30 percent, when I compared to '08/'09 when it fell 55 percent, 2000 when it fell 70 percent, you think markets have not grappled with how serious this is?

FOROOHAR: I don't think so because again, I see this more akin to the period of 1929 and is the aftermath where you have the unwinding of a huge debt bubble. You know yes, we have a pandemic and that's the singular event and a terrible one but we also have pressures in the system that have been building up and building up for at least ten years if not more.

A lot of things that we have not really fixed since the great financial crisis that are now coming home to roost at a time when Main Street is tripled. So yes, I do I think that we are going to be in a period certainly of market correction and sluggish growth for - I think, years to come.


ZAKARIA: And people think the U.S. can get out of this because it has the reserve currency of the world and it can print dollars at will. What do you say to that?

FOROOHAR: Well, it's interesting. You know Chinese and Russians are buying gold a lot of foreigners who was selling U.S. T-bills. It's true that the dollars is in the reserve and as you often said you can't replace something with nothing.

But what I would say is we're headed to a world that is going to be more local, more regional, I don't think globalization is going to reset exactly like it was in the 1990s, and I think that the dollar may be in for a fall.

If you think about this $2 trillion stimulus package and this may be one of many to come, the Fed is printing money right now. And that ultimately could degrade the value of the dollar and dollar assets. That's something I'm concerned about.

ZAKARIA: Fascinating. Dr. Katz, let me give you a chance to respond. And I think the core issue that Don McNeil says is this is an unknown virus. The danger of taking a chance and saying let the general population achieve herd immunity is very high because we don't know a lot about it and what if that herd immunity is achieved with a 2 percent death rate, which would be hundreds of thousands of Americans?

DR. KATZ: It looks to be the opposite though, Fareed. In other words, the virus looks like it is very widespread in the U.S. and a lot of people have already had it and never knew. We need to find out. I've never suggested doing anything that wasn't data driven.

Also, to be clear, I can't be personally responsible for a President who deals with nuanced public health policy in tweets with all the refinement of farts. This is a nuanced discussion, and the goal here is total harmonization.

I never talked about trading lives against for dollars. I'm a humanist, not an economist. I love my parents I'm a public health physician. But we're going to lose lives to the virus and we're going to lose lives as we erode the social determinants of health, people lose their jobs, desperation, depression, addiction, suicide.

There's been a spike in domestic violence already. There's been a rush to buy guns already. People are not using guns to shoot the coronavirus, so what are those for? We need look it total harmonization and what I regard you is we should be gathering data.

This was the argument from the start, it just got characterized but we should be gathering the data so we can risk stratify. And all of the people who most need protection it's not just old people or people with heart disease, it may very well be pregnant women, we need to find out.

But even if it's 50 million people we can do a better job of sheltering 50 million people than we can of sheltering 330 million people right now--

ZAKARIA: I got to let you go, Dr. Katz. We will have all of you on again. This thing is not going away. I really appreciate this is a serious, substantive conversation. Thank you.

DR. KATZ: Thank you.

ZAKARIA: Next on "GPS," some good news really.



ZAKARIA: For all of you staying at a home, which means most of you, if you need some good book recommendations, we've put up three years worth of my books of the week they're available at

This week, as you sit at home, if you're pining for travel, well you can experience it vicariously and hilariously in "Less" a novel by Andrew Sean Greer. It's a funny sweet novel that won the Pulitzer Prize. It's a story of a gay man who travels around the world to get away from a love but then unexpectedly find himself in the process.

A fun read. If you want something granted take your mind of the nuisance sweep you long I'm rereading John Steinbeck's "East of Eden" which is my candidate for "The Great American Novel"

Before we go a few parting words. Following times of crisis, terror attacks, hurricanes, mass shootings, our spirits have historically been lifted by inspiring stories of people coming together. This time, though, the crisis itself forced us all apart. There can be no spontaneous gatherings, no concerts no vigils uniting people in their grief.

But, even though we can't physically come together, it doesn't mean that the world is devoid of displays of humanity and even camaraderie. There were the quarantined Italians, serenading each other across balconies and singing their national anthem along with the radio.

High a top Rio de Janeiro, the Statue of Christ the Redeemer was illuminated with flags of countries affected by the virus along with messages of prayer. In Canada, France, U.K. and other places, residents cheered to show gratitude for health care workers at an appointed hour every day.

Spanish police officers serenaded house-bound residents. Fitness instructors led group balcony workouts from neighboring rooftops. Tens of thousands responded to a call for reserve medical staffing in New York City alone.

Food and funds were donated generously. Musicians and opera singers posted performances for free on the internet. Countries came to each other's aid. China and Russia, for example, sent medical equipment and expertise to embattled Italy. And sometimes it was companies, not individuals or countries showing solidarity.

Distilleries made hand sanitizer. Fashion designers offered to produce face masks. Companies like SpaceX and Bloom Energy pivoted from manufacturing rocket ships and fuel cells to making and refurbishing ventilators. A world of online courses has ramped up to deal with the rising traffic of all those kids at home.


ZAKARIA: I asked the Twitter verse for examples of good news through these trying times. And I heard from many of you, some of you sending the stories we just heard. Please continue to tweet @FAREEDZAKARIA and respond on Facebook with examples of the light of humanity shining through the darkness.

These acts of kindness small and large remind us of who we are and the world we want to build when this is all over. Thanks so much to all of you for being part of my program this week. I will see you next week.