Return to Transcripts main page
Hala Gorani Tonight
Biden Addresses Coronavirus Crisis After Trump Speech; Trump Causes Confusion With European Travel Ban; Sports Team Grapple With Impact Of Outbreak. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired March 12, 2020 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BORIS JOHNSON, BRIME MINISTER OF BRITAIN: -- events such as sporting (ph) fixtures (ph). And the scientific advice, as we've said over the last
couple of weeks, is that this -- banning such events will have little effect on the spread.
But there is also the issue of the burden that such events can place on public services, so we're discussing these issues with colleagues in all
parts of the United Kingdom, and we'll have more to say shortly about the timing of further action in that respect.
At all stages, we have been guided by the science. And we will do the right thing at the right time. We are not -- repeat, not -- closing schools now.
The scientific advice is that this could do more harm than good at this time, but of course we're keeping this under review and this, again, may
change as the disease spreads. Schools should only close if they're specifically advised to do so, and that remains our advice.
There is no escaping the reality that these measures will cause severe disruption across our country for many months. The best scientific advice
is that this will help us slow the disease and save lives. There will be detailed information available on the NHS website, and from 111 online.
But I want to stress something that's very important in the wake of what we're saying this afternoon. I urge people who think, in view of what we're
saying about their potential symptoms, that they should stay at home: I urge them not to -- call 111, but -- to use the internet for information if
I also want, at this stage, to speak directly to older people. Because this disease is particularly dangerous for you, for older people. Even though
the vast majority of older people will experience a mild to moderate illness, I know that many people will be very worried.
And I think we should all be thinking about our elderly relatives, the more vulnerable members of our family, our neighbors and everything we can do to
protect them over the next few months. We're going to need to mobilize millions of people to help and support each other.
And I just want you to know that the government will do all we can to help you and your family during this period. We're not just going to be, as you
saw yesterday, supporting the economy during this period. We will be providing money and many other forms of support, and helping communities to
support each other.
And as we've done over the last few weeks, we will continue to provide, as soon as we have it, as much clear scientific and medical information as we
So I'd like to end by repeating the two important messages with which you will become familiar: It is still vital, perhaps more vital than ever,
that we remember to wash our hands. And lastly of course, even if things seem tough now, just remember that we will get through this, this country
will get through this epidemic just as it has got through many tougher experiences before if we look out for each other and commit wholeheartedly
to a full national effort.
And I'd now like to thank -- I's like to ask Sir Patrick Vallance, our chief -- I'd like to thank him for everything he's doing, but I'd like to
thank Sir Patrick -- ask Sir Patrick Vallance, our chief scientific advisor, to set out the latest facts and the state of play as he sees it.
PATRICK VALLANCE, CHIEF SCIENTIFIC ADVISOR TO THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT: So this is a new disease, and none of us has immunity to it, as the prime
minister has said, and that's a key part of what we're looking at here.
It is entering a new phase. The WHO has called this a global pandemic, and we're entering a delay phase. It's important to recognize that the contain
phase of case identification and isolation has had an effect to delay things up until now. And currently, we're on a trajectory that looks as
though it's about four weeks or so behind Italy and other -- some other countries in Europe.
That means that we've now reached a stage when -- of the epidemic, I just wanted to show you on a slide, if it will appear. There we go.
This is the shape of an epidemic. So you go along the --
-- that's probably where we are now. There are currently 590 cases that have been identified in the U.K., and there are more than 20 patients on
intensive care units. If you calculate what that really means in terms of the total number, it's much more likely that we've got somewhere between 5
and 10,000 people infected at the moment. We've identified 590; the same sorts of ratios will be true in other countries, depending on how much
testing they've done.
That's still a relatively small number. We're still on the flat part. As these curves start to take off, as more people get it, they take off quite
steeply. And that's why timing is so important. Because what you want to do is to protect people during the most infectious period, and I'll explain
that in just a minute.
So we're in a period now where we've got some, but it hasn't yet taken off. The actions that we need to take are to try to do two things. It's to delay
-- hopefully this will come on -- it it to delay the peak, and to push the peak down. So we're trying to reduce the number of cases at any one time.
That's very important for NHS, in order to make the NHS able to cope with this. And it's also important because it pushes it out into summer months,
where the NHS is less busy but also where there may be less transmission of virus, respiratory infections in general tend to be less common.
So that's one aim, is to change the shape of this. And it's important to recognize it's not to stop everybody getting it, you can't do that. It's
not possible to stop everybody getting it, and it's also actually not desirable because you want some immunity in the population. We need to have
immunity to protect ourselves from this in the future.
The second big aim that we need to look for is how, in that, we protect the vulnerable and the elderly, who are at most risk of serious illness and
dying from this. And the way this disease looks, as though -- it appears, is that you have five days or so of mild viral illness, and then a small
proportion of people get a second phase where they have some sort of immune response to it, which causes the damage. And the elderly and the sick are
much more likely to get that.
So during the period of peak transmission, we need to protect them at that phase. And if you look at the curves, it becomes obvious, if you do that at
the moment, you're not protecting anybody really because the number of cases are too small. If you do it at the right time, then you're protecting
them over the peak and you're not asking them to be in isolation for too long.
Similarly, with the idea of households going into complete isolation, that comes a bit later, when you've got some more cases coming up. At the
moment, if you asked households to completely isolate if one person was ill, most people would not have coronavirus, and you may have to do the
whole thing all over again. And what happens then is the effect of that wanes because people get fed up with doing this and you end up with not
being able to do it, time and time again.
So the timing is critical, and that's true across all of the interventions we've looked at. That's why this is a package of things that need to happen
at the right time and in the right phasing.
In terms of mass gatherings and schools, schools, it's true that there's some effect in closing schools but that effect is minimal. And actually,
you'd have to do it for 13 to 16 weeks or longer and you don't need to be a very advanced mathematician to work out that the chances of keeping
children not speaking to each other or playing with each other over 13 to 16 weeks is zero.
And therefore, you have to be very careful to make sure you take the right measures that will stop this rather than things which might end up with
children, for example, going to stay with grandparents at a time when they might be most vulnerable.
So the idea is to do things at the right time, not to end up with measures stopping during the peak and exposing more people to illness. And I'll hand
over to the chief medical officer to explain in more detail, the measures that are being proposed.
CHRIS WHITTY, CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER OF ENGLAND: So I'll just amplify just a few of the points that have just been made. First of all, we are clearly
now stopping the contain phase of this operation, that we've always said from the beginning, there were four stages to this: contain, delay,
research and mitigate. And the contain finishes from today.
Fantastic work has been done by my colleagues in the NHS and in public health across all four nations. And as a result of that, finding the early
cases as they were imported, isolating them with the consent of the people involved, for which we are very grateful, and following the chains of
transmission, that has helped to slow down the seeding of this virus and has pushed it out in time. So the delay has already begun as a result of
the work of our colleagues and the public spiritedness of people who came forward for testing.
But now, we move on to the next phase. And I think that's made very clear by the fact that the World Health Organization yesterday declared this as a
global pandemic. And today, the four U.K. CMOs agree that we should raise the risk to the U.K., all four nations, to High.
Now, in terms of what can people do to make sure that we have the smallest impact from this epidemic that is possible. And we need to do this -- do
the right things at the right time.
And just to add one point to the reasons that Sir Patrick has just given, if people go too early, they become very fatigued. This is going to be a
long haul, it is very important we do not start things in advance of need. There are several things we will need to do in due course, which it is not
appropriate to do at this stage. I'll come on to one of them at the end.
Now, the things we can do now, we cannot emphasize too much the point about washing hands. That is actually an incredibly powerful public health
intervention. But the new things from today are to ask anybody who has a cough that is continuous and new, or a temperature -- for those who choose
to measure their temperature, 37.8; some people will do it just based on the fact that they have a temperature in terms of feeling -- we wish those
people to stay at home for seven days.
Now, the reason for this -- and I want to be clear about this, because we are asking people to do something which will interfere with their lives and
interfere with their work and their social life in quite significant ways, so it's important people understand why this is going to help the national
effort to combat this virus.
The first thing is it helps to protect older and more vulnerable people who they might come directly or indirectly into contact with. The second thing
is, as Patrick has pointed out, this helps to reduce --
HALA GORANI, CNN HOST, HALA GORANI TONIGHT: All right, you've been listening to the U.K. prime minister, Boris Johnson, then his chief medical
officer of the United Kingdom there, updating us on new measures.
The U.K. government, saying that the country's entering a new phase and asking people in the United Kingdom that if they have symptoms of the
coronavirus -- even mild symptoms -- that they should basically stay at home for at least seven days, and that they are advising against
international school trips and advising against cruises for people over the age of 70.
But importantly, not closing schools for now, not banning public events yet, saying that they could in the future ask all family members to stay at
home if one of them has symptoms. But that is down the line.
Nic Robertson is at 10 Downing Street with more on what we've heard from the U.K. prime minister. And, Nic, interestingly, this comes after Ireland
basically shut down all of its schools, nurseries and colleges, a very different approach here by the United Kingdom.
All right, OK. Then it's not just me not hearing Nic. In fact, we're having some technical issues with 10 Downing Street. But you heard the summary
there, of what the U.K. prime minister and the chief medical officer of the United Kingdom has said.
And as you've been able to notice, each country has had quite a different response. The U.S. response to the coronavirus pandemic is sowing some
division among political parties, and some confusion as well and chaos in a world that desperately needs clarity. We are going to bring you that
clarity right now.
Last night, President Trump announced a 30-day ban on all travel from Europe, which the White House had to immediately clear up. It is a travel
ban, but it's not for all of Europe, just for countries in the Schengen Area, there are 26 of them. And with global markets taking enormous hits
today, Mr. Trump had to clarify that he was not going to block trade and cargo like he'd said.
Now, he is tweeting that the ban only applies to people, not goods. But the president is not backing down from taking a strong if conflicting approach.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have very strong emergency powers under the Stafford Act, and we are -- we have -- I mean, I
have it memorized practically, as to the powers in that act. And if I need to do something, I'll do it. I have the right to do a lot of things that
people don't even know about.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you going (ph) to (ph) do that today --
TRUMP: Well, I don't want to say that. But, you know, at some point, and maybe some of the more minor things at this point. But, you know, look,
we're in great shape compared to other places, we are in really good shape and we want to keep it that way. That's why I did the ban with respect to
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: All right, and that was the U.S. president there. He was hosting the Irish prime minister, Leo Varadkar, in the Oval Office. And we are
expecting to hear from Joe Biden, the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination for president, any minute now.
There's the podium, you see Joe Biden's campaign logo there on that lectern, and American flags behind him. We do expect his potential approach
-- he's of course not the president, Donald Trump is -- to be quite different from what the U.S. president announced yesterday evening. Looks
like a sound check is going on.
Let's break this down. Stephen Collinson, John Avlon and Elizabeth Cohen are all here to help us understand what policy President Trump has actually
put in place, and how it affects all of you.
Let's first get to John Avlon. Joe Biden to speak, what political, you know, significance does this have at this stage?
JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, what Biden's trying to do is set a counterpoint to Donald Trump, to show what a Biden presidency
might look like. And I think to set a contrast to say that, look, there's a deeper continuity in American politics of responsible governance by people
who believe in government, and you can trust me to tell the truth.
Donald Trump has come under criticism, both for spreading misinformation about the virus and for his -- shall we say -- erratic leadership style. So
this, in some respects, could be considered the first speech of the general election. While Bernie Sanders is still in the race, the debate coming up
this Sunday, Biden is trying to place himself on a platform equivalent almost to the president, and that's what -- so many folks have been
watching this with such interest to see what policy he puts forward.
GORANI: Elizabeth Cohen, does this travel ban make any medical sense?
GORANI: Well, I'm not --
AVLON: -- so --
GORANI: -- one moment, John, that was for Elizabeth, but I think --
AVLON: -- OK, that's what I thought you said.
GORANI: -- I've lost Elizabeth, I'm not sure. We've lost her.
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Hala, I'm right here.
GORANI: You -- she is back. All right. Elizabeth, does it make any medical sense to ban travelers from the Schengen Area, which is the 26 countries of
continental Europe inside the E.U.?
COHEN: Well, let's make something -- this is -- you're talking about coming from Europe to the U.S., Hala, I imagine. Let's make clear what
Trump -- what Trump said is not actually what the reality is. He sort of missed a really important point.
He's not saying that everyone is banned, he's saying if you're not a U.S. citizen, you cannot come in from continental Europe. That is a big
difference, it's a big distinction. He's not abandoning Americans who are in Europe, and he did not make that clear at the beginning.
You know, whether -- I think that the infectious disease experts and the epidemiologists that I've been talking to think that that does make some
sense. And in fact, they think that these kinds of what are called mitigation measures, these sort of big -- you know, big -- working with
sort of -- painting with a wide brush, as you might say, actually should have been done even earlier. That the U.S. may have missed the boat by
whatever period of time, whether it was days or maybe more than that, that they really should have done things like this sooner.
GORANI: And Stephen, there's a lot of -- we're -- I'm in the U.K., I could travel to the U.S. under this plan that was announced by the president? But
my family in France can't. There's a lot of confusion about who can, there's some exemption for immediate family of U.S. citizens. What should
people in continental Europe know about this?
TEXT: Travel Ban Corrections Since Trump Delivered Speech: Ban applies to 26 E.U. countries, not "all of Europe"; U.S. citizens do not require pre-
screening; Ban does not apply to trade and cargo; Insurance co-pays waived for tests, not treatment
STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Right. And it's a little bit confusing because there are of course cases of the coronavirus in the U.K.,
which is exempt from this ban. But the situation is, is that in terms of not the U.S. citizens and green card holders, in terms of everybody else,
if you are a foreigner, an alien -- as people are defined by the U.S. immigration services -- who's been in the Schengen Area for 14 days, the
last 14 days, you cannot come into the United States.
Now, that raises the possibility that if you're a European citizen or a citizen of another country, you could go to the U.K. and wait there for 14
days and then go to the United States. It seems, in these regulations, that that is permitted. Of course, everything is a little confusing with this
White House. Things get drafted and the president says things, and as we've seen in the last 24 hours, they then get pulled back. But that appears to
be the case.
In terms of American citizens, I've got it written down here on the Homeland Security proclamation. If you're a foreigner of any jurisdiction
who's the spouse of a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident, a green card holder, you can get in. The same is true for siblings of U.S. citizens
and green card holders.
So, you know, it's not a completely blanket ban on all Europeans, but I think the thing to understand is, if you've been in the Schengen Area, even
if you come to the U.K., you're going to have problems.
GORANI: Right. Well, it's interesting because I don't think the virus really cares whether or not you hold a green card or not.
Thanks very much to all of you. We have to move on. And once we hear from Joe Biden, hopefully we'll speak again with Stephen and John.
U.S. President Trump's travel ban has sparked confusion and anger in Europe -- again here, you're seeing that podium where we expect Joe Biden to make
an announcement -- we have reporters, as you can see from that map, reporting from across the region: Italy, France and the U.K.
Let's start with Germany first, where Angela Merkel, the chancellor, just a few days ago, said that up to 70 percent of Germans could contract
coronavirus. What's the reaction to the Trump announcement there?
All right, I'm not sure I have Fred Pleitgen -- Nic, Nic is back with us. So I was expecting Fred, but that's OK. Let's talk a little bit about this
approach by the U.K. government. It really differs from other countries. I wonder why Boris Johnson is choosing this path, Obviously, Brits are known
for their stiff upper lip and, you know, to take crises as they come and remain calm. But other countries are not acting this way. What's the reason
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: It's science. This is what the message is from the prime minister's scientific advisor, from his
chief medical officer, they're basing it on science.
They believe that they're about four weeks behind Italy in terms of the numbers being affected by the coronavirus. They believe that the steps that
they're taking can push back and flatten, if you will, and reduce the number of people who will get the virus.
They're not closing down schools because they say that that would mean children would have to be off school for 13 to 16 weeks. And the reality
is, they said, if that were to happen, then the children would just be out of the house, playing with friends and the situation would be just the same
as if they were at school. They want to target and be more specific in the timing.
I thought what was significant that we heard from the prime minister today, given that on Monday, he said that it could be -- it could be 10 to 14 days
before we ask people who have symptoms to stay at home, now they're introducing that now. So clearly, the recognition that some measures do
need to be brought forward to this moment.
But when these questions get asked, why don't you repeat some of the measures that are being seen in other countries? It does come back to
Britain taking its own scientific interpretation. It was interesting as well that these -- you know, we know that public figures that are known
have confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.K., it's about 590.
But the scientific advisor said, look, we absolutely readily accept and believe that the real figure of people infected is between 5,000 and
10,000. So I think that gives you to understand there that the government's not underestimating the scale of the problem. Its point is, it thinks it
knows best how to actually deal with it based on science.
GORANI: But what's interesting is, you mentioned 590 confirmed cases in the U.K. The latest figure I saw was 596, which is still very small
compared to Italy for instance, or even countries like Germany and France.
But what's interesting about the U.K. is what medical professionals and officials have been saying -- have been warning against for the last few
weeks -- is that just in 24 hours, the number of confirmed cases has jumped by more than 100 for the first time since this outbreak began. So in less
than 24 hours, we've seen an increase in the number of cases by about 145.
So if this rate of progression continues, I wonder, at what point do health officials and the government of Boris Johnson say, well, we need to ban
public events, for instance? Because though they say this is not necessary, many other countries -- including Ireland -- believe that it's pretty
crucial to do that right now.
ROBERTSON: Yes. Finland as well has taken a similar decision to Ireland today. Again, the chief scientific advisor put up a graph for everyone to
see, and the analysis is that he said is that there will be, at some point, a rapid increase. But we're not at that point yet.
They're trying to create better capacity within the British Health Service to deal with chronic cases. They want to try to make sure that those who
are most vulnerable, the elderly, people with underlying conditions are looked after first, that they take the most precautions.
But this interpretation of, you know, when to stop people attending large events, what we were told a few days ago was that one person could only
infect a small handful of people. So if they go to a very big event, they're still only going to infect a small number of people. If people
don't go to that event, and go and hang out in pubs -- let's say to watch the sporting event on television with friends -- then you're going to have
the same infection -- the same possibility of infection.
What they are saying -- and I thought this was interesting today -- is that it may not be the event and the contaminations at the event itself, but the
stresses it puts on the other services that monitor and support those events. You know, police services, ambulance services, et cetera. And those
services are going to be very stretched during the increase in coronavirus cases.
GORANI: Thank you, Nic Robertson at 10 Downing Street. This, as we mentioned, comes after Ireland announces basically the closures until the
end of March of schools, nurseries and colleges after Donald Trump announced that suspension, that ban on travel to the U.S. from 26 countries
by non-U.S. citizens. And of course, after the health minister of this country announced that she tested positive for the coronavirus.
Scott McLean is at Heathrow Airport outside London. Now, talk to us. Because so many of our viewers around the world -- in hotels, in airports
in fact -- are kind of scratching their heads, wondering, is this going to affect me? And if so, how? What's going on at Heathrow?
SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Hala. You may think that because the U.K. was exempted from these travel restrictions, that it would be business
as usual here. And to some extent, it is. Obviously, flights are still coming and going. But on the other hand, the month of February saw five
percent fewer passengers pass through this airport. And they expect those declines to be much, much steeper once they tally up the March figures,
given these restrictions.
We were over at the terminal not long ago. We weren't allowed to bring our camera with us, but we did speak to a lot of people there. We could not
find a European who was planning to get on the flight to the United States. What we did find is a handful of British people who were going who had not
been to Europe.
And obviously, we found a lot of Americans. Many of them were scrambling to get back home before these restrictions actually kick in. Some were worried
that if they waited much longer, then perhaps the restrictions would grow to include the U.K.; others thought that if they could get there before the
restrictions kick in at midnight, then they wouldn't have to have any mandatory quarantine or anything like that.
Most of the people that we met were not expecting very heavy screening procedures when they landed back on U.S. soil. One of the things that
people were telling us, though, is that it was costing them a small fortune to actually get on these flights. Even though flight demand is relatively
sparse, given the coronavirus outbreak, to book a brand-new flight, which many of these folks did, we met people who were paying 1,500 or even north
of 2,000 U.S. dollars to get on these flights home before all of this kicks in -- Hala.
GORANI: All right. Scott McLean at Heathrow, thanks very much.
let's take you to Germany now. CNN's Fred Pleitgen is in Berlin. Well, the E.U.'s biggest players didn't necessarily know this was coming up from the
Trump administration. Some of them are saying they were completely blindsided by this Trump announcement. How is Germany reacting?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're quite angry here in Germany. It was quite interesting, Hala, because the
country's foreign minister, Heiko Maas, who is not normally known to lash out or to find strong words, actually had some pretty strong words for
He said that he believed that this is an international crisis, an international problem and certainly not something that he said even the
United States is going to be able to solve, especially when it comes and starts pointing the finger of blame at other countries. Obviously --
GORANI: Sorry, I've got to jump in. Joe Biden -- Joe Biden is starting to speak. Let's listen in.
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: -- COVID-19, known as the coronavirus. And the threat it poses to our health, our loved ones, our
families, our livelihoods. You know, I know people are worried.
My thoughts are with those who are directly fighting this virus, those infected, families that have suffered a loss, first responders that helped
their providers who are putting themselves on the line -- as I speak -- for others. I'd like to thank those who are already making sacrifices to
protect us, whether that's self-quarantine, self-quarantining themselves or cancelling events or closing campuses.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
Because whether or not you're affected, or know someone who is infected, or have been in contact with an infected person, this is going to require a
national -- a national response, not just from our elective leaders, or our public health officials, but from all of us.
We must, all of us, follow the guidelines of health officials and take appropriate protections to protect ourselves and critically to protect
others, especially those who are most at risk for this disease. It's going to be making some radical changes in our personal behaviors. More frequent
and more thorough hand washing, staying home from work if you're ill, but also all there is a deeply ingrained habits in our country like handshakes
and hugs, avoiding large public gatherings.
That's why earlier this week, on the recommendation of officials, my campaign canceled election night rallies that we planned to hold in
Cleveland, Ohio. We're also reimagining the format for large crowd events we had planned in Chicago and Miami in the coming days. And we'll continue
to assess and adjust how we conduct our campaign as we move forward, and find new ways to share our message with the public while putting health and
safety the American people first above everything else.
Yesterday, we announced the Public Health Advisory Committee of experts who will continue to counsel my campaign and may help guide our decisions on
the steps to minimize further risks. And we also -- we will lead by science. World Health Organization now has officially declared COVID-19 a
pandemic. Downplaying it being overly dismissive or spreading misinformation is only going to hurt us and further advantage the spread of
the disease. But neither should we panic or fall back on xenophobia. Labeling COVID-19 a foreign virus does not displace accountability for the
misjudgments that have been taken thus far by the Trump administration.
Let me be crystal clear. The coronavirus does not have a political affiliation, it will affect Republicans, independents, and Democrats alike,
it will not discriminate based on national origin, race, gender or ZIP code. We will touch people in positions of power, as well as most
vulnerable in our society and it will not stop. Banning all travel from Europe or any other part of the world may slow it. But as we've seen, it
will not stop it. And travel restrictions based on favoritism in politics, rather than risk will be counterproductive.
This disease could affect every nation and any person on the planet. We need a plan about how we're going to aggressively manage here at home. You
know, we all do know the American people have the capacity to meet this moment. We're going to face this with the same spirit that has guided us in
through previous crises. And we'll come together as a nation, we'll look out for one another, and do our part as citizens.
We have -- we have to be -- we have to harness the ingenuity of our scientists and the resourcefulness of our people. And we have to help the
world -- help the world to drive coordinated global strategy, not shut ourselves off from the world. Protecting the health and safety the American
people is the most important job of any president. And, unfortunately, this virus lays bare the severe shortcomings of the current administration.
Public fears are being compounded by pervasive lack of trust in this president, fueled by adversarial relationships with the truth that he
continues to have our government's ability to respond effectively has been undermined by hollowing out our agencies, and disparagement of science. And
our ability to drive a global response has dramatically, dramatically undercut by the damage Trump has done to our credibility and our
relationships around the world.
We have to get to work immediately to dig ourselves out in this hole. And that's why today, I'm releasing a plan to combat and overcome the
coronavirus. The full details in the plan to go and want to see them go to joebiden.com, where I lay out the immediate steps we have to take to
deliver one decisive public health response to curb the spread of disease and to provide treatment those who need it, and a decisive economic
response that delivers real relief to American workers, families, and small businesses, to protect the economy as a whole.
Our offer is the roadmap, not for what I will do as president 10 months from now, but for the leadership that I believe is needed required at this
very moment. President Trump is welcome to adopt all of it today.
The core principle is simple. Public health professionals must be the ones making our public health decisions, and communicating with the American
people, public health professionals. It would be a step toward reclaiming public trust and confidence in the United States government as well towards
stopping the fear and chaos that can overtake communities faster than this pandemic and overtake them.
And as critical to monitor an effective national response that will save lives. Protect our frontline health workers, slow the spread of the virus.
First, anyone, anyone who needs to be tested based on medical guidance should be tested at no charge. At no charge.
The administration's failure on test is colossal. It is a failure of planning, leadership, and execution. The White House should measure and
report each day -- each and every day, how many tests have been ordered, how many tests have been completed, and how many have tested positive.
By next week, a number of tests should be in the millions, not the thousands. We should make every person in a nursing home available for
testing. Every senior center or vulnerable population has that easy access to the test. And we should establish hundreds of mobile testing sites at
least 10 per state and drive through testing centers to seek testing to protect the health of our workers.
The CDC, private labs, universities, and manufacturers should be working lockstep to get this done and get it done correctly. No effort should be
spared, none. No excuses should be made. Tests should be available to all who need them. And the government, the government should stop at nothing to
make that happen.
We must know the true extent of this outbreak, so we can map it, trace it, and contain it. Nor should we hide the true number of infections and hope
of protecting political interest or the stock market. The markets will respond strong to strong, steady and capable leadership that addresses the
root of the problem, not efforts to cover it up.
Secondly, we need to surge our capacity to both prevent and treat the coronavirus, to prepare our hospital, to deal with this influx of those
needing care as I've been saying for weeks. This means not just getting out testing kits and processing them quickly, but making sure communities have
the hospital beds available, the staff, the medical supplies, the personal protective equipment necessary to treat the patients.
The president should order FEMA to repair the capacity with local authorities to establish temporary hospitals with hundreds of beds in short
notice. The Department of Defense should be planning now, should have bent the plan -- planning to prepare for the potential deployment of the
resources provided on medical facility capacity on logistics support that only they can do.
And a week from now, a month from now we can easily nest a 500-bed hospital to isolate and treat patients in any city in this country. We can do that,
but we are not ready yet and the clock is ticking.
As we take these steps, state, federal, and local authorities need to ensure that there's accurate up-to-date information available to every
American citizen, to everyone so everyone can make an informed decision about when to get tested, when to self-quarantine, when to seek medical
treatment. And the federal government should provide states and municipalities with clear guidance, but when to trigger more aggressive
mitigation policies, such as closing schools.
Thirdly, we need to accelerate the development and treatment of a vaccine. Science takes time. It'll still be many months before we have a vaccine
that can be proven safe for public use and reduces sufficient quantities to make a difference, but therapeutics can and should come sooner. This will
When we -- when I put together and we passed the Cures Act to 2016, to accelerate work on the national -- at the National Institute of Health. But
now, it has to be made available -- make available resources to speed up, speed that process along. We have to fast track clinical trials. And then
NIH, while closely coordinating with the FDA, the Food and Drug Administration on trial approvals. So the science is not hindered by the
And when a vaccine is ready to go, it should also be made widely available, and again, free of charge. We should also immediately restore the White
House National Security Council director for global health security and bio defense with a full-time dedicated coordinator to oversee that response.
Our administration, our last administration, we created that office to better respond the future global threats after the Ebola crisis in 2014. It
was designed for exactly this scenario. But for some reason, I still don't understand President Trump eliminate that at all -- eliminate that office
two years ago.
But here's the bottom line, we have to do what's necessary to beat the challenge, beat this challenge sooner rather than later, we will beat it. I
assure you if we wait for it to worsen, then scramble to catch up, the human and economic toll will grow faster, larger, and more dangerous.
Congress gave this administration $8 billion last week to fight the virus. We need to know exactly what that money is going to be used for, how
quickly is going out the door, and exactly how it's being spent. This brings me to the second half of the challenge in terms of economic
dislocation the coronavirus is going to cost in our country.
We must do whatever it takes, spend whatever it takes to deliver for our families and ensure the stability of our economy. Taking immediate bold
measures to help Americans who are hurting economically right this minute. It means, we'll need bigger and broader measures to shore up the economic
demand, protect jobs, keep credit flowing to our job creators, and make sure we have economic firepower we need to weather the storm and get the
people and this economy back to full strength as soon as possible.
This crisis is going to -- will hit everyone. But it'll hit folks who live paycheck to paycheck the hardest, including working people and seniors.
Another tax cut to Google or Goldman or millionaires won't get the job done. Another tax cut and these folks will not get the job done.
Indiscriminate corporate tax subsidies won't effectively target those who really need the help now. We need to place our focus on those who are
struggling just to get by. People already losing jobs. We need to replace their wages. That includes workers in the gig economy. Lack unemployment
Parents already struggling with childcare costs. We need to give them relief. Children rely in school lunches, we need to provide food for them.
Schools will need to help ensuring children who don't have easy access to computers can still learn if your schools shut down.
People who have difficulty paying their rent or mortgage because they've been laid off or had their hours cut back need to help them to stay in
their apartments in their homes. Small businesses will be devastated as customers stay home and events are canceled. And we need to make sure they
have access to interest free loans. Not loans and interest, interest free loans.
It's a national disgrace that millions of our fellow citizens don't have a single day of paid sick leave available to you. We need both a permanent
plan for paid sick leave and an emergency plan for everyone who needs due to the outbreak now.
Beyond these national measures, my plan also calls for the creation of a state, local emergency fund to make sure governors, mayors, and local
leaders who are battling the coronavirus on the ground as I speak, have the resources necessary to meet this crisis head on now.
These funds could be used at the discretion of local leaders for whatever they need most, from expanding critical health infrastructure, hiring
additional health care and emergency service personnel or cushioning the wider economic blow this virus is going to create in their communities. We
need smart, bold, compassionate leadership that's going to help contain the crisis, reduce the hardship to our people, and help our economy rebound.
Let me be very clear. Unfortunately, this will just be a start. We must prepare now to take further decisive action, including relief that will be
larger scale focused on broader health and stability of our economy. Look, if we only protect the health of our economy, if we do everything in our
power to protect the health of our people.
The last point I want to make is this. We'll never fully solve this problem that are unwilling to look beyond our own borders and engage fully with the
rest of the world. The disease has start any place in the planet can get on a plane to any city on earth and then a few hours.
We have to confront the coronavirus everywhere. We should be leading a coordinated global response, just as we did to the Ebola crisis that draws
on the incredible capability of U.S. agency for international development and our State Department to assist vulnerable nations in detecting and
treating the coronavirus where ever expanding.
We should be investing in rebuilding and strengthening the global health security agenda, which we launched during our administration, specifically
to mobilize the world against the threats of new infectious diseases.
Look, it can be hard to see the concrete value of his work when everything seems to be going well in the world. By cutting our investment in global
health, this administration has left us woefully unprepared for the exact crisis we now face.
No president can promise to prevent future outbreaks. But I can promise you this, when I'm president, we will be better prepared, respond better, and
recover better. We'll lead with science. We'll listen to the experts. We'll heed their advice. And we'll build American leadership and rebuild it to
rally the world to meet a global threat that we are unlikely to face again.
You know, and I'll always tell you the truth. This is a responsibility of a president. That's what he's owed the American people. Now named difficult
days ahead. I know that this country will summon the spirit, the empathy, the decency, and the unity needed.
Because in times of crisis, the American people always, always stand as one have told the truth. Volunteers raised their hands to help neighbors look
out for neighbors. Businesses take care of their workers. So we'll meet this challenge together. I'm confident of it. But we have to move and move
Thank you all for taking the time to be here and God bless our truth. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: The democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden there in an effort to appear presidential, announcing his own
plan, what it could look like if he were president to combat the coronavirus pandemic and explaining that he, in fact, himself canceled the
campaign event next week and was considering the cancellation of other large gatherings, saying that he would lead by science if he were
president, criticizing the Trump administration's response and rhetoric.
Let's break this down once again with Stephen Collinson and John Avlon, who are still with me.
So, John, what did you make of Joe Biden's -- I mean, in the end, it is a presidential campaign, he is trying to kind of appear presidential and
statesman like here. Is he achieving that?
JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, mostly because he flex the muscle that he's developed over decades in the Senate. His contrast with
Donald Trump isn't just decency and empathy, which you heard him highlighting and you'll hear again, but the fact that he is a great
familiarity with a lot of these agencies as vice president, as Senate.
So you saw a plan put forward that was designed to say the United States should take a leadership role in the world to combat these viruses that a
focus on folks who might not have jobs, how the virus may affect those vulnerable Americans, from seniors to folks in the gig economy.
And really also criticizing the administration, particularly for dismantling some of the global health initiatives, particularly the
National Security Council, that the Obama administration built up for Ebola and future pandemics. So this was a clear contrast speech. It was a self-
consciously presidential speech, basically trying to bypass the fact that Bernie Sanders is still in the race, and it had the optics and the
rhetoric, and I must say, the policy chops.
You can quibble over some of the details, some overlap with things the administration has proposed. But there was a clear contrast rooted in
Biden's experience. This was a preview of the general election.
GORANI: Sure. And, Stephen, Joe Biden very clearly saying that, unlike Donald Trump, he would not shut off the United States from the world again,
placing himself in stark contrast with President Trump.
STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, and I think that's been one of the most interesting aspects of this crisis is the way that there's
been a global vacuum. Each country seems to be doing its own thing.
In a normal time in the pre-Trump era, I think he would have seen under Republicans and Democratic presidents, the United States, calling
international meetings, drawing up plans for everybody to get on board with presidents talking much more with their counterparts. That was what Joe
Biden was proposing a return to the internationalism, the traditional U.S. leadership role in the world.
What we saw from the President last night was very much an America first approach to a global pandemic. He called this a foreign virus, almost as if
it was some kind of threat balled up abroad to come and threaten the United States in its own borders. So that is a very clear contrast.
What Biden is offering is almost a return to normal, to traditional American leadership at home and abroad, and that is what I think we're
going to see play out over the next month, and that's the choice the American voters will have in November.
GORANI: And, John, many of our viewers know that President Trump has tweeted about the Dow Jones and stock market increases to record levels
when the numbers were in his favor. And today, we saw something and all the years I've covered the markets, almost 10 percent drop. It's actually a
very startling number to see.
I wonder how will the U.S. president kind of spin that because he said that his presidency is what's helping Americans 401(k) and pension plans and
increasing the wealth of corporate America and now we're seeing this giant tumble.
AVLON: You saw the president ramp up his attention on combating coronavirus when it started to be reflected in the markets, not when it first started
appearing in the United States. This gets his attention to your point. It cuts to the heart of the argument for reelection he has made.
Now when the markets have dipped in the past, his impulse, obviously, is not to take credit or responsibility or blame for the downside as well as
the upside, but generally to lash out at others, particularly the chairman of the Fed, and to blame him for monetary actions, something that if a
democratic president did, the markets would be in outrage about because of the way it threatens the independence of the Federal Reserve, but it's sort
of been baked in the cake with this president because of deregulation, tax cuts, and folks liking the results.
But I think what Biden tried to say is, look, if we do the right thing for our people, the markets will notice that tax cuts themselves can't be a
permanent plan to deal with every problem. And there's a clear contrast there as well.
GORANI: John Avlon and Stephen Collinson, thanks so much to both of you.
A lot more to come this evening.
And the reality of a pandemic is hitting home for sports teams and fans. A lot of your favorite events might be getting canceled. We'll be right back.
GORANI: Well, if the seriousness of the virus hasn't hit home yet in the U.S., it has now for some sports fans and team owners. In fact, you can see
the moment Dallas Mavericks owner, Mark Cuban, found out that the NBA had suspended the rest of its season. It decided to halt games after a Utah
Jazz player tested positive for coronavirus.
And we've just learned that the National Hockey League, the NHL, is suspending its season as well, effective immediately.
Let's go to CNN World Sports Don Riddell in Atlanta.
So things are changing by the minute in the sports world as well.
DON RIDDELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely, Hala. I mean, we've been following this on CNN World Sport for the last couple of
weeks as events in Asia and then through Europe were impacted. But this week and last night, in particular, was when it knocked on the door of the
United States from a sports perspective.
I mean, it was quite extraordinary watching those scenes play out in the Dallas game, especially since that was happening just moments after
President Donald Trump had addressed the nation from the Oval Office.
Within the last hour or so, as you say, National Hockey League, ice hockey, has also been suspended. We don't know when those games will return or when
those seasons will continue or even be completed.
We also have the PGA golf tour today announcing no fans at any of their events through April the 5th, starting tomorrow. They got the Players
Championship in Florida right now, fans are there, but they will not be welcome tomorrow.
The week after this period ends is the Masters, so we'll see what happens there. The ATP, that's the men's professional tennis tour. All events now
suspended for the next six weeks. Major League Soccer in the United States now suspended for 30 days. NASCAR will be going ahead but without fans.
This all coming just literally within the last couple of hours, Hala. It's been very, very difficult trying to follow all of these developments.
And, of course, the problem continues in Europe. UEFA, European football's governing body has announced that the two Champions League games next week
have been postponed. Those are the games involving Manchester City and Real Madrid, that coming after Real Madrid's football and basketball teams had
to be quarantined. And also Juventus versus Leon, that is off. Juventus, by the way, have the first soccer player in Europe, Daniele Rugani to test
positive for the coronavirus.
Since that was revealed last night, we now have another player in Italy, Sampdoria's Manolo Gabbiadini also testing positive. So these events are
now falling thick and fast. There remains question marks, of course, about the Premier League, about the European Football Championships, and the
Olympics coming up this summer.
President Trump weighing in on that today saying he thinks maybe they should postpone it for a year. He said it's a shame but I like that better
than the empty stadiums.
I'm not sure what the organizers in Tokyo or the International Olympic Committee will think about President Trump weighing in. They have been very
clear over the last few weeks that they have no plans to change that event, which doesn't start until the end of July. But clearly more pressure now on
the Olympics as well.
GORANI: Don Riddell, thanks very much.
And, Don, Tom Hanks even and his wife, actress, Rita Wilson, have both tested positive for coronavirus. They were in Australia where Hanks was
doing pre-production work on his latest film. They say they are being observed and isolated and taking it one day at a time. We wish Tom Hanks
his wife and everyone who may be feeling ill a full recovery.
Thanks for watching tonight, I'm Hala Gorani. "AMANPOUR" is next.