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State of the Union
Interview With Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D-MI); Interview With Gov. Larry Hogan (R-MD); Interview With U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin; Interview With Gov. Ralph Northam (D-VA); Interview With Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY). Aired 9-10a ET
Aired April 19, 2020 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST (voice-over): Testing troubles. Coronavirus claims thousands more American lives.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It is a horrible thing that happened to our country, and it should never, ever happen again.
TAPPER: As access to testing remains a critical issue. When will it be safe for Americans to leave their home?
And to the streets. The president backs protesters pushing for states to reopen.
TRUMP: I just think that some of the governors have gotten carried away.
TAPPER: As governors try to decide how and when to lift restrictions on American life, I will speak to the governors of Virginia, Maryland, and Michigan next.
Plus: desperate measures. Unemployment spikes for the fourth straight week, and struggling Americans are running out of options. Is more help on the way? Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer join me to discuss in moments.
TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is waiting for relief.
Today marks 50 days, 50 days since the first coronavirus death in the United States, a day on which the vice president of the United States told me -- quote -- "We're ready."
It is now devastatingly clear we were not ready. More than 39,000 Americans are dead as of this minute, a number that has nearly doubled in just the last week. It's a toll that has left the nation desperate for relief from the ongoing public health crisis and mounting economic losses. In the public health battle, there are more encouraging signs that social and physical distancing measures are working to flatten the curve in the nation's hospital spots. But governors in states across the country say they still do not have the testing needed to safely begin reopening, despite the Trump administration's assurances that testing is -- quote -- "sufficient."
On the economic front, the numbers are, frankly, overwhelming. More than 22 million Americans have filed for unemployment in the last month. On Thursday, the program designed to help rescue small businesses ran out of money, leaving desperate people at the mercy of ongoing political negotiations between the Trump administration and Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill.
And let's start there.
Joining me now, the Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin.
Secretary Mnuchin, thanks for joining us. I hope everyone in your world is safe and healthy.
It's been 72 hours now since the Small Business Administration's Paycheck Protection Program ran out of funds for emergency small business loans, having gone through some $349 billion. Democrats say they want to make sure the next tranche of money goes to underserved small businesses and mom-and-pop shops, as opposed to big chains, such as Ruth's Chris Steak House and Potbelly.
Are you going to try to fix that? Where are you in negotiations?
STEVEN MNUCHIN, U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY: Well, Jake, it's great to be here with you.
And I think we're making a lot of progress. I have had multiple conversations all weekend with the leadership of both the Senate and the House. I spoke with Chuck, Chuck Schumer, this morning already. I know he's on after.
And I think we're making a lot of progress.
And let me just say, on this PPP program, it was three weeks ago that the president signed the law. We -- we had the program up and running in a week, which was unprecedented. It's impacted now over 30 million Americans.
And let me just comment. The community banks have done an extraordinary job. Sixty percent of the loans have been approved by banks that have $10 billion of assets and below and 20 percent with $1 billion and below.
So the community banks have just done a terrific job here getting these loans approved.
TAPPER: Two weeks ago, you promised businesses -- quote -- "If you can't get the loan today or tomorrow, don't worry, there will be money." Some analysts and experts tell CNN that, ultimately, the Paycheck Protection Program might need upwards of a trillion dollars.
What do you think?
MNUCHIN: I don't think that's the case.
And we're incredibly pleased with the participation rate. And because of that, we want Congress to approve more funds right away. We think that another $300 billion -- that's what we're talking about -- should be sufficient to reach almost everybody.
And let me just comment. We have also reached an agreement on SBA disaster loans. So, there will be another $50 billion appropriated, which can do over $300 billion disaster loans.
So, these two programs are unprecedented response to small businesses, which I think you know is about 50 percent of the American work force.
TAPPER: And when do you think the deal will be done? When do you think there will be an agreement, and small businesses that weren't able to get in on the first $349 billion will be able to get some funding that they desperately need?
MNUCHIN: I'm hopeful that we can reach an agreement, that the Senate can pass this tomorrow, and that the House can take it up on Tuesday, and, Wednesday, we'd be back up and running.
TAPPER: Oh, so you think a deal might be done today?
MNUCHIN: I'm hopeful. I think we're very close to a deal today. And I'm hopeful that we can get that done.
TAPPER: Democrats are also pushing, as you know, for more funding for hospitals and for state governments in this bill.
Republican Governor Larry Hogan of Maryland says -- quote -- "Without sufficient federal relief, states will have to confront the prospect of significant reductions to essential services" -- unquote.
Will funding for hospitals and state governments be in this deal?
MNUCHIN: Well, Jake, hospitals are very important. And these are really the people who are on the front line.
And we -- we have two issues. We have, one, the issue of hospitals that are overwhelmed with COVID patients, but we also have hospitals that are doing no business because there's no elective surgery.
So, this is really an issue that impacts hospitals across the board. The good news is, in the last bill, we have $100 billion that's allocated. I have been working very closely with Mark Meadows, who's overseeing this for the White House. We have already distributed a lot of money. And we have agreed to have
another $75 billion in this bill, plus an unprecedented investment in testing. I know everybody's focused on testing. We're talking about a $25 billion federal program, money that can be used with the states, with new technology to invest in testing.
TAPPER: So, it sounds as though there's going to be not -- money for testing, money for hospitals, money for small businesses, but it doesn't sound like state and local government funding will be in this bill, at the very least.
MNUCHIN: The president has heard from the governors, and he's prepared to discuss that in the next bill.
Right now, we have a lot of money that we're distributing to the states. We have $150 billion, that we have distributed half. We will distribute the other half. And the president is willing to consider that in the next bill, but wants to get this over the finish line, with focus on small business, hospitals and testing.
TAPPER: Two threads seem to be emerging in the business community.
I know you have a lot of relationships there. Some business leaders say, the economy needs to open up now, so people can provide for their families, even if testing isn't exactly where it should be yet.
Other business leaders say, we need to reopen the economy, but we need to do it once, the right way, even if it means waiting until testing is up to speed.
Where do you fall in these two camps?
MNUCHIN: Well, I was on the phone with the president this week. I think you know we spoke to over 150 business leaders. He spoke to governors. He spoke to Republicans. He spoke to Democrats in both the House and the Senate.
And everybody agrees we need more testing. We're now up to about a million tests a week we can do, which I think should give people a lot more confidence. And that is ramping up very quickly.
And, as the president has said, he's now put in place federal guidelines to make sure that we have a procedure to open up states. Some states will be ready quickly. Some states will take more time. The president's number one focus is the health of the American public. And the number two focus is the economy.
And I think we have a very good plan to deal with both at this point.
TAPPER: More than 22 million Americans have filed for unemployment for the first time in just the last month, essentially erasing almost all of the jobs created since the Great Recession. GDP is poised to plummet.
How long do you think it will take for the U.S. economy to recover? Will it be months, or will it be years? MNUCHIN: Well, let me just say, you know, I'm very sympathetic to
those who have been impacted by both the health issues and the economic issues.
We have shut down major parts of the economy. So, it's not a surprise. There's a lot of people who are on unemployment. The good news is, part of the last bipartisan bill, there's enhanced unemployment insurance. There's also the direct deposit payments that we started sending out last week.
I would just like to give a quick pitch for people to go to IRS.gov and click on Get My Payment. We have had over 40 million people authenticate there. We have five million people who have uploaded their instructions. We'd ask more people to do that.
That, combined with the PPP, is getting a lot of money into the economy, into the hands of Americans.
TAPPER: But do you think it will be months or years before the economy is back to the strong position it was before the pandemic?
MNUCHIN: I -- I think it will be months.
I definitely don't think it will be years. We are going to conquer this virus. We are going to have terrific breakthroughs, I know, both not just on the testing, but on the medical front. We begin to have virals. I think there's things that are being developed for vaccines, which will take a little bit longer.
But one of the things we heard is, people want testing. People also will react very positively that they know, if they get this disease, there will be medical treatments available as well.
TAPPER: Now, you said two months ago that -- quote -- "I don't expect the coronavirus will have an impact beyond this year."
That was obviously two months ago.
Looking forward, Facebook has canceled events all the way through June 2021. The Congressional Budget Office says coronavirus could affect the unemployment rate through the end of 2021. The city of Los Angeles says it might not hold any concerts or sporting events until 2021.
Isn't it almost certain at this point that the coronavirus will have an impact, I'm not saying as bad of an impact as we have right now, but have something of an impact beyond this year?
MNUCHIN: Well, Jake, let me just say, this is an unprecedented time.
We have -- we have never been in a situation where we have closed down the economy. And I think, rightfully so, people are being cautious.
On the other hand, as we get comfortable reopening the economy, I think we will see a big rebound. So, again, very sympathetic to the people, the Americans who are
impacted by this, the economic impact. I do think we're all working very closely together, and we're going to get through this.
TAPPER: You told lawmakers last month that the unemployment rate could theoretically climb -- pardon me -- as high as 20 percent if the U.S. does not do enough to help the economy.
Some estimates have put the current unemployment rate somewhere between 15 or 18 percent. Do you think it's still possible that the unemployment rate could reach 20 percent?
MNUCHIN: I think, if we're successful, we get more money out to the PPP, we get more people hired back to work, we make progress on testing, we open up the economy, hopefully, we won't be there.
But the good news is, the president has put in place, with bipartisan support, an economic program that's going to help Americans get through this.
TAPPER: Stimulus checks for $1,200 are being mailed out to many Americans.
Some already got them through direct deposit, but they're being mailed to help Americans through this crisis. For the first time ever, President Trump's name is going to appear on an IRS check. It's being put in the memo line, because the president isn't authorized to sign the checks.
Did the president personally suggest this idea?
MNUCHIN: Well, let me just correct you and say, the checks have not gone out yet.
TAPPER: Oh, OK.
MNUCHIN: And the reason why the checks have not out is, we're -- we're hoping that more people, as I said, will go to IRS.gov.
It's much safer to send out direct deposits. As it relates to the president's name on it, we could have -- the president could have been authorized to sign the checks. That would have slowed things down. We didn't want to do that.
We did put the president's name on the check. That was my idea. He is the president, and I think it's a -- it's a terrific symbol to the American public.
TAPPER: I want to ask you, just to follow up on a question I asked you earlier, which is, a lot of -- I have been hearing from a lot of business owners -- and I'm sure you have too -- people who run, like, a small shop, not a chain, a small mom-and-pop restaurant, not a chain.
And they say that it's been much easier for the Potbellys and the Ruth's Chris Steak House and chain restaurants like that to get money. And if you don't have a preexisting relationship with banks, it's been tougher to get these loans.
I know that this program was ramped up very quickly, but it does seem as though, when the -- when some business owners say, is there some way we can make sure that small businesses, underserved communities get this -- get that get these funds through Paycheck Protection, it does seem like they have a point.
Is there anything in this bill that will help expedite this money to these people that might not have a preexisting relationship with a bank?
MNUCHIN: Well, Jake, that's something we did correct already last week. We wanted to make sure that the banks fairly allocated across this board -- across the board.
The one thing I will say is, because there are know-your-customer requirements, it was always going to take banks a little bit longer. Again, we couldn't be more pleased. The average loan size is about $250,000. So, yes, there are some big businesses. That was in the bill.
But -- but let me say, the majority of these are going to small businesses. And I heard straight from my local cleaners and other areas that were really pleased they were able to get these loans quickly.
I know there's other people who are still waiting in line. And we're going to try to make sure all the banks get to them quickly in this next -- in this next batch of money.
TAPPER: Last question for you, sir.
Is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on board with the deal that you're optimistic could be cut today?
MNUCHIN: I have had constant discussions with him, as well as Kevin McCarthy, as well as the president and Mark Meadows. And we're all on board with the same plan.
TAPPER: Secretary Mnuchin, thank you so much for your time. Good luck.
And I hope everyone in your world continues to stay healthy and safe.
MNUCHIN: Thank you very much.
TAPPER: As Secretary Mnuchin and congressional leaders are negotiating a new stimulus package, President Trump is attacking Senate Democrats' motives.
Joining me now, the Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York.
Leader Schumer, thank you so much.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): Good morning. TAPPER: I know you're eager to talk about testing, and I want to talk about that in one second.
But I do want to talk about this funding for small business loan.
TAPPER: The program has run out of funding, as you know, because of provisions Democrats want to add.
Karen Mills, the former head of the Small Business Administration under President Obama, says Democrats just need to go along and just fund this program now.
She said -- quote -- "Complexity is not our friend here. Things that have to be implemented quickly can't have a lot of bells and whistles, or else it will be too many unintended consequences, one of which is delay, and we don't have time to delay."
What do you say to Karen Mills?
SCHUMER: Well, I would actually say, the very things that we Democrats have been fighting for are now going into the bill.
If you had a connection with a bank, it was pretty easy to get a loan. If you didn't, from one end to the country to the other, we have been hearing that people can't get the loans, the local restaurant, the local barbershop, the local drugstore, or even startup businesses, manufacturing or -- or contract -- or services that aren't happening.
So, we Democrats, yes, we want to put some more money in, but let's set aside some money to make sure it goes to the rural areas, to the minority areas, to the unbanked.
And the $60 billion for the disaster loan was our proposal. And now the administration is going along with that. Setting aside a good chunk of the money, about half of it, so it goes to these unbanked people who don't have a connection with a bank or the smaller ones was our proposal, and it looks like it's going.
So to just put $250 billion in, and leave out a large, large segment, I'd say half, of the small business community, wouldn't have made sense. And now it's going to happen because we Democrats said, let's get this done this way.
TAPPER: So, you agree with Treasury Secretary Mnuchin that the deal could be done today and voted on in the Senate tomorrow, the House on Tuesday, and then signed by President Trump on Wednesday?
SCHUMER: Well, Speaker Pelosi and I have had constant discussions with Secretary Mnuchin. Our staffs are meeting 24/7. We have made very good progress.
And I'm very hopeful we could come to an agreement tonight or early tomorrow morning. You have got a lot of details, a lot of dotted I's and crossed T's. But I am -- I am very, very hopeful.
And, as you heard, many of the things we have asked for on the banking side, on the testing side, on the hospital side, they're going along with. So we feel pretty good. We still have a few more issues to deal with.
TAPPER: Let's talk about the testing.
You were on the call with Vice President Pence on Friday, when Senate -- Senate Democrats grew increasingly frustrated with the administration's testing response.
Did you get any indication from the call that the federal government has a coordinated plan to roll out testing and to make sure governors know where all the tests are?
SCHUMER: OK, well, let me talk about testing.
Angus King, who's a mild-mannered Maine guy, was very upset, because the president said now testing is up to the states. They have been back and forth on this.
We Democrats proposed in this package a $30 billion, focused plan on testing. And we proposed three basic things, money to go into both manufacturing and supply chains to bolster them quickly. We proposed that we make free testing far more widespread. If people avoid testing because they can't afford it, that's not good for the country.
And, third, we proposed contact tracing. What we need here is the $30 billion, and we need the focus from the president.
The governors of our two states who are most impacted say they need federal help. They can't do the testing on their own. You talk to the business community. When Republican and Democratic senators were on with the president a few weeks ago -- a few days ago, the number one call was for more testing and more federal involvement in the testing.
You can't have it state by state. Let's say the swabs are made in -- and I'm just -- California, and the machine -- the little chemicals are made somewhere else. You need the federal government to focus.
Thus far, I believe that the president has not been focused enough on testing. He's -- that's what got Angus King so upset.
But I think there is huge pressure to do it. I have urged him to use the Defense Production Act to get this money out, the way we have talked, the $30 billion.
But at least there ought to be one person appointed, in charge, and making sure there's a national focus and effort on testing.
I'd say this, Jake. Testing is the key. Every expert says it. Today's "New York Times," one of the best experts say, we only have about a third of the tests we need. We will not be able to get the economy going full-fledge unless we have testing. And we have examples. Korea -- South Korea, I think they had a case one day -- the first case was in -- within a day of each other in the U.S. and South Korea, the first case.
But they did just what we're calling for. They did a massive increase in the number of tests. They did contact tracing. And now South Korea is way over the hump.
We must do the same thing, for the good of the health of America and the good of the economy.
And then just a couple -- a couple more things. The money for small business, as I -- we said, we have four goals in the bill, one, money -- testing, two, money for small businesses. We discussed that. Three, money for hospitals. Our hospitals are in desperate shape.
As the -- as the secretary said, they're not doing...
SCHUMER: ... elective surgery.
In my state, St. Peter's laid off 700 people in Albany. St. Joseph's laid off 700 people in Syracuse. Joe Manchin says that his hospitals will go bankrupt. We need that.
But the third thing we do need...
SCHUMER: ... is that -- what the Republican governors are calling for, money for state and local governments.
And this is not abstract. This is -- this is...
TAPPER: Right, but that's not going to be -- that's not going to be in there. You heard Secretary Mnuchin. He said that the funding is not going to be in this bill.
SCHUMER: Well, he says that. We are pushing hard.
Well, they said, until the last minute, that it wouldn't be in COVID three. And we pushed for $150 billion, and it got in.
And it is so important. We don't want our police, our firefighters, our EMTs, our bus drivers -- this is not an abstract issue. We don't want them fired.
SCHUMER: They're as important as anybody else.
So, we're continuing to push hard for that in COVID 3-5. TAPPER: So, let me ask you a question, because you're -- you're
coming to us live this morning from one of the epicenters of coronavirus in the world, New York.
TAPPER: Democrats have been very critical of how long it took President Trump to take serious action in the fight against coronavirus.
But Dr. Thomas Frieden, the former head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, he told "The New York Times" that if New York state and New York City had adopted social distancing and physical distancing a week or two earlier, the death toll in New York could have been reduced by anywhere from 50 to 80 percent.
Didn't New York politicians drop the ball here, too?
SCHUMER: Well, look, I think our governor and our mayor have done a great job. And I think most of America agrees.
It's very hard when you don't have the federal cooperation, when you have the president early on saying, it's a hoax, or it'll go away, or don't worry about it, to get things done.
I think our state and our city have done a terrific, terrific job, given that we were the epicenter.
TAPPER: San Francisco ordered schools closed on March 12. Ohio did the same with five confirmed cases. On March 15, de Blasio ordered New York City schools to close with 329 cases.
A New York statewide stay-at-home order was announced on March 20, a day after California. You don't think more could have been done earlier? I mean, other states were taking action.
SCHUMER: Look, again, we were the epicenter. There were so many things to do. Getting ventilators, so people wouldn't die, was important. Getting the PPE for the health care workers was important.
There were many things that were very, very important. And, as I said, I think both Cuomo and de Blasio get very high marks for how they have handled this.
TAPPER: I want to ask you one other question, sir.
TAPPER: Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez this week did not rule out a possible 2022 primary run against you.
Are you confident you could beat her?
SCHUMER: Look, throughout my career, I have done my job. I'm totally focused on this COVID. We are the epicenter.
And I have found, throughout my career, you do your job well, everything else works out OK.
TAPPER: All right, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York, thank you, sir, for your time.
And I hope everyone in your world is safe and healthy. Thanks so much for being with us.
SCHUMER: Thank you. Thank you, Jake. And stay healthy, too.
TAPPER: As governors start to plan how their states might begin to reopen, what will the new normal look like?
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan will join me next.
Plus: The president is publicly attacking and undermining the efforts of three Democratic governors. Two of them, Governors Ralph Northam of Virginia and Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, will be here to respond.
Stay with us.
TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.
As governors weigh how and when it may be safe to reopen, President Trump is putting his finger on the scale, egging on a small faction of protesters who say they want restrictions lifted.
He's also attacking Democratic governors, including my next guest, Virginia's Democratic Governor Ralph Northam.
Governor Northam, thanks for joining us.
I want you to take a listen to President Trump's attack against you at his press briefing Saturday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: ... that people really have to start looking at is what's going on in Virginia, because that's a mess, with a governor -- with really a governor that's under siege anyway.
They're trying to take that Second Amendment right -- that Second Amendment right away. To me, that's liberty. That's -- when I say liberate Virginia.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: What's your response to President Trump, sir?
GOV. RALPH NORTHAM (D-VA): Well, good morning, Jake. And thanks so much for having me on. I hope you and your listeners, your viewers are all healthy.
You know, our president, obviously, has been unable to deliver on tests. Now he has chosen to focus on protests.
And this is not the time for protest. This is not the time for divisiveness. This is time for leadership that will stand up and provide empathy, that will understand what's going on in this country of ours with this pandemic. It's the time for truth.
And it's the time to bring people together. And that's what I have done, as the governor of Virginia. And we're -- we're fighting a biological war. We have been asked, by the way, as governors, to fight that war without the supplies we need.
And so the governors have worked together to -- to really increase the amount of PPE that we have. We have been competing for that, unfortunately, but working collaboratively, we have -- we have worked very hard every day to increase our testing capability.
And I just -- I commend the governors, but I also commend Virginians. Virginians know what this is about. They're working together. They're checking on others. Our teachers are stepping up.
I just -- I just -- it's an unbelievable response. And we're fighting. We're in the middle of a health crisis right now. We're also in the middle of an economic crisis. And just as soon as we can get this health crisis behind us, we will be able to address the economic crisis, get back to where we were in, and let people get back to their normal lives.
TAPPER: Obviously, you signed a number of sweeping gun control measures into law in the last few weeks. And President Trump has not made any secret that he disagrees with that.
But Governor Jay Inslee of Washington state says, the language of "liberate Virginia" that you heard from President Trump, in Inslee's view, it -- quote -- "encourages illegal and dangerous acts" and -- quote -- "could also lead to violence."
Do you agree?
NORTHAM: Well, we have had some terrible tragedies here in Virginia, Jake, with gun violence.
As you know, in 2007, we lost 32 precious lives at Virginia Tech. And over the Memorial Day weekend last year, we lost 12 lives.
And I brought the legislature back to Virginia for a special session. The Republicans spent less than 90 minutes addressing gun violence. And Virginians stood up. They spoke. They said, enough is enough. They said that thoughts and prayers, we appreciate those, but we want legislators that will come to Richmond and take votes and pass laws.
So, I was pleased, just this past week, to sign seven pieces of commonsense gun legislation that will keep Virginians safe. So, that's what happens when people listen. And they have -- they have responded. And, right now, Jake, this is about this pandemic. I was -- I'll be
glad to talk about gun violence and what we have done. But it's time for Virginia, for this country to come together and address the lives that we are losing every day and to try to put this health crisis behind us.
TAPPER: This week, you said your state -- or, rather, your commonwealth was slowing the spread of the virus, but that the peak would likely not happen until the end of the month.
With coronavirus cases continuing to climb in Virginia, when do you think that the economy could potentially start to open back up?
NORTHAM: Well, it's a great question, Jake. And I think it's something that governors wrestle with every day.
Today, just as an example, we had close to 500 new cases, close to 20 new deaths. And while we're not seeing a significant increase, it looks like it's flattening out a bit. And so we would like to see at least two weeks of trending numbers going down.
We want to make sure that we have the PPE that we need in our hospitals and our penitentiaries and our nursing homes. We want to ramp up our testing capabilities. And, as soon as we see all these things coming together, we will open up our businesses just as soon as we can.
But we want to make sure that we do it responsibly, and we want to do it safely.
TAPPER: As you know, you have been criticized for your handling -- handling of the crisis, compared to your neighboring states.
Robert McCartney from "The Washington Post" recently wrote -- quote -- "One might assume that a governor who spent most of his career as a physician" -- that's you -- "would be among the first depress for quick, decisive action to combat a deadly, fast-spreading infectious disease. But one would be mistaken."
And it is true that you only ordered a state of emergency after Maryland and Washington, D.C., did so. You only issued a stay-at-home order after West Virginia and Kentucky did so.
Do you wish you acted earlier?
NORTHAM: Well, Jake, as you said, I am a physician. I served during Desert Storm, taking care of wounded soldiers. I have been in some tough situations in the E.R. saving and helping children and their families.
We took some very aggressive steps in Virginia. We were one of the first states to close down schools for the spring. We have a stay-at- home order through June the 10th. We have asked our hospitals and our providers to stop elective surgeries, so that we can make sure that we have the bed capacity, the supplies that we need. So, we have taken some very aggressive steps. The social distancing,
the good hygiene that we -- the guidelines that we have been providing, they're working in Virginia.
I -- and, again, I'm so proud of Virginians for what they're doing. And we're going to get through this together.
And, Jake, we came into this COVID-19 as a very strong commonwealth. We were the number one state in this great country of ours in which to do business.
And I have reminded Virginians that we're going to come out of this strong as well.
TAPPER: The president and vice president been saying over the past few days that the U.S. has enough testing capacity for states to begin opening back up, if you feel you're ready to go into phase one.
Is that the case in Virginia? Do you have enough tests to do the tests you need to do?
NORTHAM: Jake, that's just delusional to be making statements like that.
We -- we have been fighting every day for PPE. And we have got some supplies now coming in. We have been fighting for testing. It's not a -- it's not a straightforward test. We -- we don't even have enough swabs, believe it or not. And we're ramping that up.
But for the national level say that we have what we need, and really to have no guidance to the state levels, is just irresponsible, because we're not there yet.
TAPPER: All right, Governor Northam, thank you so much for your time.
Come back. We'd love to have you on to talk about some other issues.
NORTHAM: Thanks so much, Jake.
TAPPER: President Trump is pushing states to ease coronavirus restrictions, even as his own medical advisers and many governors do -- including my next guest say, reopening the country right now still risks too many American lives.
Joining me now, Maryland's Republican Governor Larry Hogan.
Governor Hogan, it's good to see you.
I want to start with the news that, in this bill, the legislation that's coming out that will fund some of the small business loans, it's also going to fund testing, it's also going to fund hospitals, according to Secretary Mnuchin, but they're not going to provide money for states. And I know you have been outspoken. I quoted you to Secretary Mnuchin. He said maybe in the next legislation will there be funding for states.
What's your response?
GOV. LARRY HOGAN (R-MD): Well, first of all, we're -- we're just hopeful that we can get all these parties to agree and put aside the partisanship in the U.S. Senate, get the administration and the senators on both sides of the aisle to reach some kind of a deal to get this done, because we do need to get this money out for our small businesses.
And, certainly, the hospitals need help as well.
I spoke with Secretary Mnuchin several times last week. We also had a discussion with the president. And while we were a little disappointed. The NGA is pushing -- it wasn't just me, but the National Governors Association was pushing for this funding, which is desperately needed, for the states, if we want to get this economic recovery moving -- but that they did commit to work with us in the fourth stimulus bill.
The governors all across the country, Republicans and Democrats of the National Governors Association, were pushing to try to get it included in this bill. I don't think the deal is finalized yet.
But, look, we do not want to hold up funding to these small businesses. And we hope that the Democrats and the Republicans in the Senate can come together in a bipartisan way and get something moving for the American people.
TAPPER: I know you have seen this video from Takoma Park, Maryland, video on Friday from local news. It shows hundreds of Marylanders lined up outside Mega Mart stores for a free food giveaway. They are obviously desperate. Many of them, I'm assuming, have no income at all because of the shutdown.
What do you say to your constituents about when you're going to open the state up? And what goes through your mind when you see the desperation evident in the video?
HOGAN: Well, first of all, my heart goes out to people -- all the people that are struggling. And we have been focused on this.
It's this twin problem of fighting to try to save people's lives, but we're also very concerned about the people who are not able to work and the small businesses that are hurting, which is why -- you know, I'm a lifelong small business person myself. I ran for governor because I was concerned about people losing their jobs.
My goal is to try to get us open as quickly as we possibly can, but in a safe way.
The president's own guidelines say that you should have 14 days of declining numbers before you start to consider phase one of a reopening. And we have increasing numbers every day here in the Washington region, Governor Northam, myself and Governor -- Mayor Bowser in the District.
So we're not at the point yet where we can. But we have a very detailed reopening plan we have been working on for weeks. We're anxious to get people back to work.
The folks that were lined up for food, look, it -- it came from a good place. This grocery store was offering free bags of food, which is why so many people showed up. But they didn't coordinate with the local authorities. And you had some crowds, which was unfortunate.
But, look, we put have eight $8 million into local food banks to try to make sure that people were not going hungry.
TAPPER: The first thing you have called in order to reopen your state is an expansion of testing capacity.
I want you to take a listen to what the vice president and President Trump have said on that issue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We believe today that we have the capacity in the United States to do a sufficient amount of testing for states to move into phase one, at the time and manner that they deem to be appropriate.
TRUMP: As our experts said yesterday, America's testing capability and capacity is fully sufficient to begin opening up the country totally.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Governor Northam just called that delusional, the idea that states have enough testing.
What do you think? Do you have enough testing to move into phase one?
HOGAN: I think this is probably the number one problem in America, and has been from the beginning of this crisis, the lack of testing.
And I have repeatedly made this argument to the leaders in Washington on behalf of the rest of the governors in America. And I can tell you, I talk to governors on both sides of the aisle nearly every single day.
The administration, I think, is trying to ramp up testing, and trying -- they are doing some things with respect to private labs.
But to try to push this off to say that the governors have plenty of testing, and they should just get to work on testing, somehow we aren't doing our job, is just absolutely false. Every governor in America has been pushing and fighting and clawing to
get more tests, not only from the federal government, but from every private lab in America and from all across the world. And we continue to do so.
Look, we have increased our testing in Maryland by 5000 percent over the past month, but it's nowhere near where it needs to be. And, as Governor Northam said a moment ago, there are things like shortages on swabs that we don't have anywhere in America that you can't do the test without, on reagents, which is a part of the test.
So, look, I think they have made some strides at the federal level. I think states are all working hard on their own to find their own testing. Lab capacity has been increasing.
But it's not accurate to say there's plenty of testing out there, and the governors should just get it done. That's just not being straightforward.
TAPPER: Protesters gathered in the state capital yesterday to call for you to reopen businesses, reopen schools.
I want you to take a listen to what President Trump said about protests occurring around the country.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I mean, I notice there are a lot of protests out there.
And I just think that some of the governors have gotten carried away. We have a lot of people that don't have to be told to do what they're doing. They've been really doing everything we've asked them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Now, specifically, I think President Trump is referring to three Democratic governors in, coincidentally, I'm sure, three battleground states for 2020.
But what's your response when you hear the president saying that some governors are going overboard?
HOGAN: Well, look, I think that -- first of all, I understand the frustration among the people that want to get things open right away. I'm frustrated also. I mean, I wish I had someone to protest to.
But, look, we're doing everything we possibly can to reopen in a safe manner. But I don't think it's helpful to encourage demonstrations and encourage people to go against the president's own policy.
For example, I mentioned earlier, the president's policy says you can't start to reopen under his plan until you have declining numbers for 14 days, which those states and my state do not have.
So, then to encourage people to go protest the plan that you just made recommendations on, on Thursday, it just doesn't make any sense. We're sending completely conflicting messages out to the governors and to the people, as if we should ignore federal policy and federal recommendations.
TAPPER: I have been meaning to ask you about this meeting that you attended.
You attended a briefing about coronavirus on February 9 with Dr. Fauci and the head of the CDC. You were at the White House for -- I guess governors were a having convention of some sort.
You told "The Washington Post" -- quote -- "The doctors and the scientists, they were telling us then exactly what they're saying now."
How stark were the warnings that you were getting in private on February 9?
HOGAN: So, I was -- I'm chairman of the National Governors Association. We had our annual winter meeting in Washington on February 9.
I called that meeting. We added it to our agenda because there were governors -- this was at the very beginning of the crisis, I think sort of around the time when the outbreak was just happening in the country in the state of Washington.
And we asked for some of these folks to come brief the governors to give us a better understanding of what was happening. And we had Robert Redfield, the head of the CDC, Dr. Fauci, and a number of others. There were five panelists from the administration who came.
And they gave us a pretty -- a pretty detailed outline of what they felt was happening with this -- this virus and what they thought was a good potential for what might happen in the country.
And I can tell you, I left that meeting very, very concerned, and came back the very next day and got our team completely ramped up to try to get to work. We had actually been looking at this since early January, and had a preliminary effort ongoing.
But when I left that briefing that the administration gave to the governors, we knew that this was going to be a serious crisis.
TAPPER: Governor Larry Hogan of Maryland, thank you so much for your time, sir. Really appreciate it.
HOGAN: Thank you, Jake.
TAPPER: Joining me now is Michigan's Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
Governor Whitmer, thanks so much for joining us. Hope everyone in your world is safe and healthy.
President Trump tweeted on Friday about your state -- quote -- "Liberate Michigan."
What's your response to that message and others like it from President Trump?
GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D-MI): The only response is that Michigan right now has the third highest death count in the country. We are the 10th largest state.
As you can deduce, this means we have a uniquely hard issue going on here, because it's disproportionately hurting our state. And that's why we need to take a uniquely aggressive action to protect people.
Our actions are working. My stay-home order is one of the nation's more conservative, but the fact of the matter is, it's working. We are seeing the curve start to flatten. And that means we're saving lives.
And the hard part of public health is, when you're doing a good job, you're saving lives, and it's hard to quantify precisely what that looks like.
But we know that this curve was steep at the trajectory we were headed, and now it looks as though it is starting to flatten. These efforts are making a difference and saving lives. We have got to continue doing it.
TAPPER: There have been a lot of criticisms of how detailed your stay-at-home orders are, in terms of people not being allowed to buy seeds for gardening in stores, or people not being allowed to use jet skis, although they're allowed to use kayaks.
A spokesperson for the Michigan Retailers Association said, there's just confusion all over the place when it comes to your executive order.
Do you regret anything about the way these rules have been rolled out?
WHITMER: You know, this is an unprecedented crisis that we are confronting as a globe, frankly.
And the harsh -- the harsh way that it's hitting my state means that we have got to be really smart about the actions we take now to protect life, as well as the actions we take to reengage.
And no one's more anxious to reengage our economy than I am. But I want to do it in a way that really does save life, that makes it safe, that mitigates risk, and means that we can avoid a second wave, because, as tough as this moment is, it would be devastating to have a second wave.
And I know that the vast majority of Michiganders understand that. Not going to the gas station to fill up your boat, so that you can go tooling around, is a sacrifice, but it is one that is worth it, because who among us wouldn't rather forgo jet-skiing or boating right now if it's going to save your grandparents or your neighbor's life?
And that's precisely what the trade-off is in this moment. TAPPER: Governor, you have said that testing is an essential piece of
fighting the virus.
We have a chart up here of the states with at least 1,000 coronavirus deaths, and Michigan is next to last, with just over 1,000 tests per 100,000 residents. That's just a half or a third of the number in other hot spots, such as New York, Louisiana, Massachusetts.
The Trump administration says that you, all governors, have enough tests. Why is testing still so low per capita in your state? How long do you think it will be until you have enough infrastructure set up to test, isolate, contact trace, in order to reopen?
WHITMER: Well, right now, I can tell you, we could double or even triple the number of tests that we're executing daily if we had the swabs and reagents.
And I know you talked to Governors Northam and Hogan before I came on, and they're saying the exact same thing. This is not a unique situation in Michigan.
But the crisis that we're confronting is unique. And that's precisely why it would really be incredibly helpful if the federal government would use the Defense Production Act to start making these swabs and reagents, so we can improve testing.
Even by their own guidelines, they say that you should have 14 days of declining growth, that you should be able to test. But their gating criteria says only testing for high-risk health care providers. That's not nearly enough.
You talk to any epidemiologist, and they tell you, we should be testing between 1 and 2 percent of our population regularly. And that's precisely why we need these fundamental supply chain issues addressed, so we can ramp up our testing, and have some confidence in the numbers, and know when it's safe to engage, and be able to track folks after we have started to reengage parts of our economy.
TAPPER: I have heard from people in the administration that one of the issues is that there are millions of tests out there that have been sent to states, but that the governors don't even know that those tests are in the states, not necessarily through any fault of the governors.
Is that one of the problems here, that tests are being put out on the market, but you're not even being informed about it?
WHITMER: Well, in some cases, yes, we will get tests into our health care providers, and it's -- we're dependent on them to let us know that that's happened.
That's not a great way to run this system. It would be nice if we had a national strategy that was working with the states, so every state knew precisely what was coming in. But, at the end of the day, we governors are doing the best we can
with what we have got. We could use some assistance, though, to make sure that those supply chain issues are addressed, and we can do the robust testing that every epidemiologist in our country tells you is absolutely essential as we prepare to think about reengaging sectors of our economy.
TAPPER: Governor Gretchen Whitmer, thank you so much for your time.
Hope you and everyone in your world stays safe and healthy.
WHITMER: You, too.
TAPPER: The Trump administration on Thursday publicly released guidelines for opening up America again. One key measure, that states need the ability to quickly set up safe and efficient screening and testing sites and test symptomatic individuals and trace their contacts as well as setting up other sites for asymptomatic individuals. The White House says the states are ready.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our best scientists and health experts assess that today we have a sufficient amount of testing to meet the requirements of a phase one reopening if state governors should choose to do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: But as the White House Coronavirus Task Force makes this assertion, there seems to be a real disconnect with the states and the struggles the states face such as what we heard a few days ago from the Republican governor of Ohio, Mike DeWine, and the state director of health.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. MIKE DEWINE (R-OH): Health systems worldwide have struggled because of the critical shortage of test kit components.
DR. AMY ACTON, OHIO DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH DIRECTOR: Testing is the bane of every, I'm sure, governor and I'm sure everyone, every health director around the states. We just wish we had more.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Getting from the president anything remotely resembling a coherent policy on this critical issue of testing has been close to impossible as best exemplified by this blatant lie from when the president visited the CDC on March 6th.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Anybody that wants a test can get a test.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: This pledge from March 21st also seems to be untrue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ADMIRAL DR. BRETT GIROIR, HHS ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF HEALTH: We expect that by March 28th to be well over 27 million into the market.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: What is the actual number of tests that have been produced? White House officials were not able to tell me when I asked them repeatedly yesterday, though experts caution it is far less than 27 million. But even if they produced a lot of tests, how many of them have been administered?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: To date we have conducted more than 3.78 million coronavirus tests.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: 3.78 million versus 27 million. These two numbers illustrate a problem.
First, there are not enough tests. Capacity still needs to increase significantly. And second -- and perhaps even more important right now -- there is a real disconnect between the tests that exist and getting them to where they're needed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The governors are responsible for testing and I hope they're going to be able to use this tremendous amount of available capacity that we have.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Interesting language there. Credit for the tests that have been completed that, we, the responsibility for future testing, that's them, the governors. And many governors simply do not know where these tests are, even if they're in their very states. The communication has been sorely lacking. Not that the president has had any issues communicating support for those protesting against governors or specifically three Democratic governors of Michigan, Minnesota and Virginia. Three battleground states in the 2020 election.
So that's where we are, April 19th. Testing continues to be nowhere near where health experts want it to be, there remains a huge disconnect between making the tests and delivering them to where they're needed, and the biggest development on testing is that the president has now officially completely passed the buck to the governors.
[09:55:06] Some of whom he then turns around and attacks for doing too much to try to save American lives. You know, leadership is being tested here, too, Mr. President.
Thanks for spending your Sunday morning with us.
"FAREED ZAKARIA GPS" starts next.