Watch CBSN Live

Full transcript of "Face the Nation" on March 29, 2020

3/29: Face The Nation
3/29: Face The Nation 47:07

On this "Face the Nation" broadcast moderated by Margaret Brennan:

  • Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb
  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin
  • Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards
  • Dr. Gianrico Farrugia, Mayo Clinic CEO and President
  • Dr. David Heymann, WHO special adviser

Click here to browse full transcripts of "Face the Nation."

MARGARET BRENNAN: I'm Margaret Brennan in Washington and this week on FACE THE NATION, the U.S. is losing the battle to contain the coronavirus as the number of cases here explodes. And experts predict the situation to become even more dire in the next month.

It was a week of distress and despair across the country as Americans struggled to reel in the spread of the coronavirus. With the United States now recording the highest number of cases around the world, our most populated cities are in full crisis mode and preparing for the virus to move to new zones. Emotions and exhaustion levels are high as states and cities cope with severe shortages of medical equipment and personnel. Plus, continued frustration with conflicting signals from Washington.

NED LAMONT: Words matter. And those words have created a certain amount of confusion and when you lack clarity that can create confusion and confusion can lead to panic.

MARGARET BRENNAN: President Trump visited the USNS Comfort on Saturday. The hospital ship is en route to New York to help ease the load on the city's hospitals.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Our country is at war with an invisible enemy.

MARGARET BRENNAN: New York State accounts for half of all corona cases in the U.S. Governor Andrew Cuomo is preparing for the weeks ahead.

ANDREW CUOMO: You don't win on defense, you win on offense. You have to get ahead of this, anticipate what's going to happen.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Around the world there are unprecedented efforts by leaders to cope with global shortages of ventilators, medical supplies, and personal protective equipment for medical workers. President Trump signed a 2.2-trillion-dollar package of economic relief for individuals and businesses. But with a record-setting three at a quarter million new unemployment claims last week, is it enough to stop the plunging economy? We'll ask Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Plus, we'll hear from former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb. Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards. The head of the World Health Organization's coronavirus advisory board, Doctor David Heymann. And Gianrico Farrugia, the head of the Mayo Clinic Hospitals.

(Song playing)

MARGARET BRENNAN: Finally, as we try to keep our spirits up in these grim times, a thank you for all the health care workers battling to keep us safe all over the world.

All that and more is just ahead on FACE THE NATION.

Welcome to FACE THE NATION. It is increasingly difficult to find the best way to start this broadcast with the overwhelming amount of news about what's going on in the world but we're committed to bringing you the most accurate information that we can in these excruciatingly difficult times. If you stick with us until the end of the program, we promise you we'll look at some true heroes rising to the occasion and inspiring us with the strength of their human spirit.

As of this morning the U.S. has the highest number of COVID-19 cases of any country in the world. We've recorded nearly a hundred and twenty-five thousand cases. That's almost five times what it was just a week ago. And there have been nearly two thousand two hundred deaths. That rate is more than six times what it was a week ago. CBS News national correspondent Mark Strassmann has a look at the situation here in the U.S. and he reports from Atlanta.

MARK STRASSMANN (CBS News Correspondent): Good morning, Margaret. New York is still the epicenter but all signs point to a devastating spread across the country. You mentioned those mixed signals, well, yesterday President Trump floated a mandatory quarantine of New Jersey, Connecticut, and New York. Governor Cuomo shot down that idea right away. So the CDC, instead, issued a travel advisory, all residents of those three states should avoid nonessential travel for two weeks, but no question, the siege of New York is about to be felt elsewhere.

(Begin VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: Watching New York's coronavirus contagion, anyone's entitled to shutter. Overwhelmed hospitals, underprotected scared emergency workers. Shortages of ventilators, test kits, and respirator masks.

WOMAN: Many shifts that I've left from after finishing my shift I've cried.

MARK STRASSMANN: In the city famed for its grit everyone feels vulnerable.

ANDREW CUOMO: The models say you're fourteen to twenty-one days away from that apex we call it, when that curve hits the highest point.

MARK STRASSMANN: At Rhode Island's border, National Guard troops stop arriving New Yorkers. They have to register and promise to quarantine for fourteen days. Florida's set up checkpoints, this one closes the Florida Keys to outsiders.

GOVERNOR RON DESANTIS (R-Florida): How is it fair to them to just be airdropping in people from the hot zones bringing infections with them?

MARK STRASSMANN: Across America, COVID-19 has morphed into a hydra-headed threat. Nine days ago four states ordered residents to stay home, seventy-five million residents in all. Today, it's twenty-five states, two hundred twenty-eight million people, roughly two-thirds of Americans, including Californians. By midweek, Los Angeles expects to be the next New York; the Navy prepositioned the supertanker converted into a floating hospital. Its name? The Mercy. Mayor Eric Garcetti:

ERIC GARCETTI: We will have doctors making excruciating decisions. We will be trying to figure out what we do with that surge.

MARK STRASSMANN: Other infection hot spots expecting a bad week include Chicago, Detroit. New cases of the virus jumped eleven hundred percent in eight days. And New Orleans, its corona death rate had spiked seven folds since March 20th. Per capita its infection rate is about the same as New York's.

SOPHIA THOMAS (Nurse): We are becoming an epicenter. We need all the help we can get from the federal government to help prepare.

MARK STRASSMANN: New Orleans converted its convention center into a field hospital, like New York. City leaders will create four thousand additional hospital beds at four sites. And another Navy floating hospital arrives in New York tomorrow. Across America this week, communities in crisis will rely on the heroics of front line responders and something else that's contagious, hope.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: That's Mark Strassmann reporting from Atlanta.

Worldwide, we are close to the seven hundred thousand case mark and we are nearing thirty-two thousand deaths. CBS News senior foreign correspondent Elizabeth Palmer has a look at what's going on outside this country.

ELIZABETH PALMER (CBS News Senior Foreign Correspondent/@elizapalmer): Here in the U.K., the death rate rose sharply this week as Prime Minister Boris Johnson became the first elected head of state to become infected by the virus, a fact that he announced on Twitter.

(Begin VT)

BORIS JOHNSON (internet video): I am working from home. I am self-isolating.

ELIZABETH PALMER: The palace announced Prince Charles was down with the virus, too, but said Britain's ninety-three-year-old Queen remained in good health. After the U.S., Italy has the most cases and deaths. Near Bergamo, a parish priest conducted a mass funeral but strict stay-at-home rules meant there was not a single mourner.

(Man speaking foreign language)

ELIZABETH PALMER: In Italy and Spain together, fifteen thousand people have died from the virus, but the spread does finally appear to be peaking in some areas. The exception to Europe's strict rules is Sweden. There, the focus is to isolate the elderly while schools, restaurants, and businesses stay open--a bold some say crazy experiment. Around the rest of the world, people are discovering how to be together apart. Here, a group fitness session in Paris. Nearby, the Eiffel Tower beamed out a salute and a warning. Far away in India, people in an overcrowded village found social distancing space in trees. This pandemic is now threatening the developing world with its vast population and authorities are reacting. This Indian policeman made himself into a one-man public awareness campaign. While in Kenya, troops tear gassed crowds ahead of a new curfew. Meanwhile, back at the Vatican this weekend, Pope Francis blessed the world in a deserted St. Peter's Square, joined in spirit by millions watching on TV.

(End VT)

ELIZABETH PALMER: Finally, in China, authorities have so far anyway managed to prevent a second wave of infection and continue to gradually lift the restrictions on people moving around. Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Liz Palmer, thank you.

We now go to Connecticut and former FDA commissioner Doctor Scott Gottlieb. Good to have you back with us.

SCOTT GOTTLIEB, MD (Former FDA Commissioner/@ScottGottliebMD): Thanks.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Doctor, we heard from Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institutes of Health, this morning on another network. He said the U.S. will likely have millions of cases, potentially hundreds of thousands of deaths. Do your projections look like this?

SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Well, I-- I certainly hope not. I think we'll get-- definitely going to have hundreds of thousands of cases; we might get into the millions. Right now, you look at what's happening around the nation, you see epidemic spread in cities like Chicago with eighteen hundred cases, New Orleans with thirteen hundred, Miami with eleven hundred, Los Angeles with eighteen hundred. And you see a number of cities that have doubled the number of cases in the last three or four days: Detroit, Philadelphia. So this looks like a national epidemic right now. And I think a lot of those cities are going to be in a situation similar to what New York is in right now. New York is actually show-- showing some signs that the spread may be slowing in that city. They made some good decisions early, and maybe in seven to ten days they'll actually see themselves peak. But as they come down that epidemic curve or start to peak slowly, other parts of the nation are going to be heating up. And just in closing, I'll say our capacity to sustain and support multiple cities simultaneously as they go into an epidemic is going to be very difficult.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The White House is discussing lifting, loosening some of these guidelines and restrictions. I know you have shared your recommendations with them. What should be the trigger for loosening them at a time when it only seems that this is spreading?

SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Well, we've said in a report that we put out today that you should wait until you see sustained reduction in the number of cases for fourteen days. So fourteen days after you start to see a sustained reduction in the number of daily cases, that's the point at which you can contemplate lifting some of these measures that we have in place right now, some of these very aggressive social distancing measures. But you need to do it very gradually. You need to substitute in other things. There's other conditions that need to be met. You need to have the ability to test the population widely so you can determine who has the infection, who doesn't, and use case-based interventions, where you isolate individual people. You also want good information about where the virus is spreading. You need to be testing very widely to know where the virus is spreading. So those tools need to be in place. Now those tools are getting in place. I think by the end of the week, we'll have the capacity to screen maybe as close to-- close to even hundred and fifty thousand people a week. And in going into the week after that, maybe close to a million. The limitation on our ability to screen isn't going to be the screening platforms themselves. We've now deployed a lot of sophisticated platforms, including plat-- platforms into doctors' offices. The limitation is going to be the low commodity components of testing, like the swabs or the plastic components used to actually run the tests. The manufacturing supply chain for those components is very limited right now.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But-- but bottom line, do you expect states to be told to loosen restrictions by the White House this week?

SCOTT GOTTLIEB: I don't. I think what the White House is going to announce is that they're going to extend these-- these measures or recommend that governors extend these measures for another couple of weeks going forward and then reevaluate at that time. The White House has talked about being data driven. I am hopeful that they will be. It's too early to lift these measures. We really-- it's going to be a difficult April. We're going to get through this. April is going to be a hard month. Coming May-- come May we'll be coming out of this and we'll be able to contemplate starting to lift some of these measures as we see the epidemic curve come down. Remember, it's-- this isn't going to be a simultaneous reduction across the country. New York's going to come down before the rest of the country does. And it may appear that the overall number of cases around the nation are coming down because New York represents such a big part of that.


SCOTT GOTTLIEB: But in fact, New York could be coming down and the other parts of the country going up. So we need to look at this on a regional basis.

MARGARET BRENNAN: For people at home, for a long time, the administration said don't waste face masks on yourself. Save them for the sick. You now think people should look at this? Are those do-it-yourself ones worth anything?

SCOTT GOTTLIEB: They are. I think-- I think people should be contemplating wearing masks. A cotton mask-- we should be putting out guidelines from the CDC on how you can develop a mask on your own. It might create a secondary market on Etsy or other sites for selling those kinds of masks. There truly is a shortage of masks for the hospital sec-- sector. The supply chain is very limited, and the components that go into something as simple as a procedure mask that might be used in a dentist's office is the same components that go into an N95 mask. So all that supply is going into the hospitals, but people can fashion masks that are partially protective. And the masks, the value of the mask isn't necessarily to protect you from getting sick, although it may offer some protection. It's to protect you from other people. So when someone who's infected is wearing a mask, they're much less likely to transmit infection. And studies demonstrating this come out of evaluations with the flu. There's some studies that show up-- up to a fifty-percent reduction in your ability to spread the flu if you're infected, if you're wearing a mask. So that-- that's where the value comes in. So if we're looking at measures like stay-at-home orders and we're looking at lifting those in certain cities as we come down the epidemic curve, telling people, well, you don't have to stay at home anymore, but if you go out, you have to wear a mask, that could be an interim step that you take as you transition away from these very restrictive measures.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You used to run the FDA during the Trump administration. Do you think that agency can move any-- any faster than it is in terms of approving kits, different kinds of them, or even ways to sanitize masks?

SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Well, I think-- I think Jeff Short, in the medical device center, the career professionals in that device center have moved-- been moving very quickly, getting tests to the market now that that has been opened up. I think that there are opportunities to sterilize masks. I've talked to some doctors that are using gamma radiation to sterilize masks, a certain-- certainly secondary procedures for sterilizing masks that can help increase the supply chain. I also think that there's an opportunity to get a therapeutic. I'm very hopeful that by the summer we could have a therapeutic available, authorized by the FDA. You look at the monoclonal antibodies that are in development, some of the antivirals that are in advanced stages of clinical trials. It's possible one of these is going to work, and we could have a therapeutic sooner than we expect. And that's really going to be a game-changer here. That could change the complexion of the risk and allow us to implement some of these-- pull back some of these measures sooner.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay. Doctor Gottlieb, always good to talk to you.

We will be back in just one minute with a look at the economy with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Stay with us.


MARGARET BRENNAN: We go now to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who joins us from the White House. Good morning to you, Mister Secretary.

STEVEN MNUCHIN (Secretary of the Treasury/@stevenmnuchin1): Good morning. It's good to be here with you.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You will have incredible responsibility in oversight of this two-trillion-dollar rescue package. But what I want to specifically ask you about now is when Americans will receive those twelve-hundred-dollar checks?

STEVEN MNUCHIN: We expect that within three weeks that people who have direct deposit with information with us will see those direct deposit in their bank accounts. And we will create a web-based system for people where we don't have their direct deposit, they can upload it, so that they can get the money immediately as opposed to checks in the mail.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But twelve hundred dollars takes you a lot farther in Nebraska than it does in California. How do you want people to be spending this money?

STEVEN MNUCHIN: Well, there's really three components of this law now that protects the American public. And the President was determined that we protect the American workers, since it was not their fault that we shut down the economy while we kill this virus. So the first component is small business loans, which about half of the companies in the U.S., people will be able to get small business loans and pay their workers for eight weeks. So we encourage people to do that and get them back to work. Two, they'll be enhanced unemployment insurance. And three, as you said, there'll be these-- these checks in the mail or direct deposit. It's really bridge liquidity for people as they go through these difficult times.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Bridge liquidity for about eight weeks?

STEVEN MNUCHIN: Well, I-- I think the entire package provides economic relief overall for about ten weeks. Hopefully, we'll kill this virus quicker. In the end, we won't need it, but we-- we have liquidity to put into the American economy to support American workers and American business.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So you don't know if the economy is going to be up and running by Memorial Day, essentially? I mean, are you going to wait that long to come up with phase four round of stimulus?

STEVEN MNUCHIN: Well, my main focus is now executing. We have everybody within Treasury and the administration working around the clock to get this money out quickly, since this doesn't do people any good if it takes a long time. We also have the task force and the medical professionals making recommendations to the President about when they think the economy will be reopened, and if for whatever reason, this takes longer than we think, we will go back to Congress and get more support for the American economy. But I hope that's not needed.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You will also have a-- a key role in overseeing what is a tremendous financial rescue package for some of the biggest corporations in this country, at least five hundred billion in-- in size for one of-- of these funds. How is this going to work? Should Americans at home understand that you are going to run this the same way that they saw the auto companies bailed out during the financial crisis?

STEVEN MNUCHIN: Well, let me just be clear. The majority of this money, four hundred and fifty billion, is money that we use with the Federal Reserve to create broad-based programs. And, you know, Chair Powell and I speak multiple times a day. The way that works is the Federal Reserve requests us to approve a specific program. I, as treasury secretary, have to do that. I've approved every single one they've asked for so far. And in many of these packages, we put up money to support the credit for the Fed.


STEVEN MNUCHIN: So those are broad-based programs. There's also approximately fifty billion dollars that is in specific lending authority where we can lend to, out of Treasury, to the airlines industry and other national security industries where it's critical. And I'll be working with the President on-- on all of those. And let me just emphasize--

MARGARET BRENNAN: And specific--

STEVEN MNUCHIN: --we have full transparency on anything we do. We will be reporting to the public.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay. The President said on Friday, though, that the American public could end up owning large chunks of these corporations. What does that mean? Is this going to be run like the auto bailout-- bailout was? Will the U.S. government, essentially, be getting equity stakes, warrants? Will American taxpayers be owning companies?

STEVEN MNUCHIN: Well, let me be clear. We're not bailing out any-- any companies or any industries. Any loans that we make, the-- the taxpayers will be fully compensated for, and--

MARGARET BRENNAN: How? That's what I'm asking--

STEVEN MNUCHIN: As the President said, we'll-- we'll look at each one of these situations. Some of them are very good companies that just need liquidity and will get loans. Some of these companies may need more significant help and we may be taking warrants or equity as well as that. The President wants to make sure that the American taxpayers are compensated. This is not a bailout.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay. So you still have to determine that. But, specifically, with a company like Boeing, in particular, they've said they don't want to, essentially, allow these equity stakes. This potentially could be a company that is central to U.S. national security. In this bill, you have a carve out for eighteen billion dollars in direct treasury assistance. How are you going to determine who that money goes to? Is that just for Boeing?

STEVEN MNUCHIN: Well, first of all, we're not going to force money on any-- any companies. We're going to put up very clear guidelines of what we're willing to do. Companies need to come in and request. And if they do, we'll be looking at a company specific situation. We'll be having financial advisors. We have sophisticated people we're working with and we'll take all those issues into consideration. And I will be discussing all of these with the President.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But the President said that some of the most brilliant minds in the financial world are going to be working on this. Who is it that is going to be weighing in? Because the President also said they make-- make-- may make money off of this. American taxpayers want to know who and how.

STEVEN MNUCHIN: Well, any of the people who are working with us have already agreed to work at very, very, very reduced rates, making sure that, you know, this is a special situation. So we're not going to be paying big fees to any of these people and we're going to make sure there aren't conflicts in any of the people we hire. And, as I said, there'll be full transparency. So the President is right. He's asked me to make sure--

MARGARET BRENNAN: You have names?

STEVEN MNUCHIN: I'm sorry. Go ahead.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Sorry. Do you have names for any of those individuals who will be doing this?

STEVEN MNUCHIN: We-- the-- the Federal Reserve has already announced that they have hired BlackRock. BlackRock is one of the largest asset managers in the world. BlackRock was involved in the financial crisis last time. Larry Fink has enormous experience. So that's one of them that has been disclosed. And as we hire more people, we will fully disclose it.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mister Secretary, I appreciate all of what you're doing in that you're saying it's going to take time to see if it's going to be successful or not. But do you need to level with the American people here and tell them you simply don't know that all these jobs are going to come back? I mean the president of the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank said we could see unemployment hit thirty percent in the second quarter of this year. You saw three million people file for unemployment this week.

STEVEN MNUCHIN: Well, let-- let me clarify. I never said we didn't know if this will be successful or not. I think this-- this program is going to be enormously successful in stabilizing the U.S. economy while hardworking Americans who lost their jobs or aren't able to work because of the medical situation, that they get help. So this money is going to go into the economy very quickly. It is going to help American workers very, very quickly. And I don't know how long it's going to take to kill this virus. I do know we will kill this virus. And when we do--


STEVEN MNUCHIN: -- I have great confidence that the U.S. economy will become roaring back.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mister Secretary, thank you for your time.


MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll be right back with a lot more FACE THE NATION.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Coming up in our next half hour, a lot more on the COVID-19 crisis. We'll speak with the Governor of Louisiana, John Bel Edwards, the CEO of the Mayo Clinic, and the World Health Organization special advisor Doctor David Heymann. That's all ahead on FACE THE NATION.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION. We want to take a closer look at one state where the crisis is getting worse. Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards joins us from Baton Rouge. Governor, before we start, I do want to extend our condolences on the loss of your staffer, April Dunn, who we understand died yesterday of coronavirus. Thank you for joining us.

GOVERNOR JOHN BEL EDWARDS (D-Louisiana/@LouisianaGov): She did. And-- and thank you very much. And she was a very sweet lady and an important part of our team. So thank you.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to talk about the fate of your state. You have said that Louisiana could run out of ventilators as soon as April. That's this week. Has the Trump administration given you any assurances that your state will get what it needs?

JOHN BEL EDWARDS: Well, not yet. And we continue to press the case. And-- and, look, we know that ventilators in short-- are in short supply for everyone. You know, all-- all states are having this issue to one degree or another. And, obviously, New Jersey, New York and-- and other states have been clamoring for ventilators as well. But over the past few weeks, we've put in orders with the national stockpile, for example, through FEMA. But we've also pursued manufacturers and vendors trying to place orders for about twelve thousand ventilators. I think thus far we've received a hundred and ninety-two. That is inadequate to the task because we stay on this present growth curve that we're on with respect to coronavirus cases, we believe that by about April the fourth or so in the New Orleans area, we will exceed our capacity for ventilators. And-- and, obviously, that's not where we want to be. So we're doing everything that we can to try to find ventilators, get them to Louisiana, especially down into that New Orleans area. But it is a big challenge right now.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Has the federal government told you you're on your own to secure those ventilators?

GOVERNOR JOHN BEL EDWARDS: Well, no, I'm not going to say they told us that they're on-- that we're on our own. We-- we haven't yet been approved for ventilators out of the national stockpile. I continue to press that case, and-- and I hope that we will be cut in for a slice of what they have left there and that we get them in the next few days. In the meantime, we're identifying every breathing machine that we can convert, modify into a ventilator. We're looking at-- at trying to source ventilators that would typically be used in the EMT area as opposed to hospital rooms. And then we're looking to see what ventilators we can use to potentially service more than one patient at a time, depending on the acuity levels of the patient and so forth. So we're doing everything that we can. This is the-- the biggest issue in the near term, however, is ventilator capacity.


GOVERNOR JOHN BEL EDWARDS: And it's-- it's the one thing that really keeps me up at night right now.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You also told CBS that you need N-95 masks. Those are the masks--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --for front line workers. You told one of my colleagues that your state is paying four and five times the normal cost when you are able to get them.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Have you told the White House that this system of states outbidding each other or trying to bid against the federal government, that it's just not working for you?

GOVERNOR JOHN BEL EDWARDS: Well, yeah, we've had plenty of conversations with the White House and-- and the vice president leading the Coronavirus Task Force. We've had many phone calls and telephone conferences. And-- and our situation here in Louisiana is not like other states. I'm sorry, not unlike other states. We did receive into our warehouse about a hundred and ten thousand masks yesterday. They've all been distributed. So the PPE situation does appear to be getting a little bit better. We hope that that, obviously, continues to improve over time. But it's a challenge and-- and everybody is paying more for these items than we would have paid several weeks ago. It's a function of supply and demand. I do think there's some price gouging going on as well. And I'm hoping that that gets investigated. And as we identify practices that we believe to be illegal price gouging, we are turning those over to the U.S. attorney for the Middle District here in Louisiana.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah. That's fighting on a lot of fronts at once, Sir. Is there money that you know--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --will be coming to you through this congressional relief package?

GOVERNOR JOHN BEL EDWARDS: Yes, the two-trillion-dollar package that Congress passed that the President signed into law, we know is going to help with hospitals with unreimbursed expenses, the expansion of telehealth. We know that families are going to benefit, small businesses, employees--


GOVERNOR JOHN BEL EDWARDS: --nutrition for our schools and our food banks. Well, you know, it's a very generous package. It's the largest one in the history of our country--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right. But is it enough for you?

GOVERNOR JOHN BEL EDWARDS: --there's about one point eight billion dollars' worth-- well, there's one point eight billion dollars for the state that's going to help. And so there's going to be additional legislation coming forward, I believe as well.


GOVERNOR JOHN BEL EDWARDS: But we know that this is a good start. And-- and I appreciate everything that they have done in Congress in order to help us. And we're going to be working with our congressional delegation if we can identify other needs that we can get--


GOVERNOR JOHN BEL EDWARDS: --help on. We're going to make sure that we continue to do that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The first confirmed case of coronavirus in your state came about thirteen days after Mardi Gras.


MARGARET BRENNAN: You didn't cancel it. Do you regret not doing so? I know you've said the CDC didn't issue guidelines saying to do so. Is that what you were waiting for--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --for the federal government to tell you as a state what to do?

GOVERNOR JOHN BEL EDWARDS: Margaret, look back to where we were at that time. I think there were fifteen cases in the country, all of which had been linked to foreign travel, either directly or indirectly. There was not one person at the state or its federal government, not at the CDC or otherwise, who recommended cancelling any event, not just Mardi Gras but I don't think anywhere across the country. And we'll know what role Mardi Gras played in seeding this virus later. But right now, that's not our focus. We can't do anything about what happened or didn't happen yesterday. We're focused on building our capacity to deliver health care in the short term--

MARGARET BRENNAN: I understand--

GOVERNOR JOHN BEL EDWARDS: --and slowing the spread--

MARGARET BRENNAN: I understand--


MARGARET BRENNAN: I ask you the question on guidance, though, because we know the White House is preparing to issue new guidance in the coming week.


MARGARET BRENNAN: So as a governor, you know, you wish you knew a few things back then. What do you need to know now?

GOVERNOR JOHN BEL EDWARDS: Well, first of all, every time the CDC comes out with updated guidance, we look at it very, very closely and we're-- we make sure that we're talking to our federal partners whether it's the surgeon general, whether it's Doctor Fauci, Doctor Brett Giroir, who's over testing. I've had conversations with all of those individuals to make sure that we're doing everything that we can in Louisiana. You know we've been about a week into our stay-at-home order. We expect that that mitigation works and that we'll see that come into play in the next couple of days as-- as we continue to report the positive cases. We need to flatten the curve because-- because we know that we're on a trajectory right now where we're not going to be able to deliver the health care that people need when they need it, not just with respect to ventilators, but a few days after that--


GOVERNOR JOHN BEL EDWARDS: --by the tenth or so of April, bed space. And so we need to flatten the curve, surge our medical capacity.


GOVERNOR JOHN BEL EDWARDS: Again, these are the same situations, challenges that are-- that are facing a number of states right now.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We understand and we wish you good luck, Sir.

We'll be back in a moment.


MARGARET BRENNAN: We now go to the president and CEO of the Mayo Clinic, Doctor Gianrico Farrugia. He joins us from their campus in Rochester, Minnesota. Good to have you with us, Doctor. You may have--

GIANRICO FARRUGIA, M.D. (Mayo Clinic President and CEO/@GFarrugiaMD): Well, thank you for having me on the show.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You may have just heard the governor of Louisiana tell us that his state is about to run out of ventilators. It's the one thing he says that keeps him up at night. And by April 10th, he doesn't expect to have enough hospital beds to accommodate the sick. Is this going to be the story across this country at hospitals?

GIANRICO FARRUGIA: Yes. This is a critical element of our conversation and discussion as a nation. We have to focus on saving lives, and saving lives means that we have to be very diligent about it because there is no direct end in sight. And, therefore, we have to continue to learn and improve as there is the wave of surges happens across our country. We have to really be diligent about focusing on what we can do to prevent people from getting sick. And if they're sick, how can we prevent them from entering into an ICU? And then once they get into an ICU, how can we make sure that their stay is as brief as possible? Because if, for example, you can go from ten days on a ventilator to five days on a ventilator, then you can double the number of available ventilators. And Mayo Clinic, together with many other organizations, is-- is laser-focused on doing this, focusing on-- on testing and focusing on novel therapies to be able to-- to really flatten and bend that curve.

MARGARET BRENNAN: One of the therapies that's gotten a lot of attention is these antibody serums. Tell me what your thoughts are on how effective that can be.

GIANRICO FARRUGIA: So we know that in order to really handle this crisis, we have to take many different approaches. The best antivirus still remains washing your hands, and we have to remind people of that. Then there are the antivirals themselves that attack the virus themselves. Then there are agents that are effective at blocking the molecules that the virus causes our own cells to release. And that can prevent some of the damage we're seeing in the lungs and other organs, including the kidneys. And then there are these convalescent ser-- or convalescent plasma, where you take plasma from a person who has had the virus and has recovered and has now an antibody response to it. And take that and, in general, you can treat four people from one person. And doing so, you can provoke a artificial-- a given response that allows them to recover more quickly. This is based on other diseases. It is now being tried for the coronavirus, for COVID-19. And Mayo Clinic and other institutions are working very hard, collaborating with industry to make sure that we can have adequate supply to test if this is going to make a difference. And I'm hopeful that it will.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We've also heard from epidemiologists about the hope of contact tracing, basically, figuring out who you've come in contact with in order to determine how at risk you are. How would something like that work in the United States?

GIANRICO FARRUGIA: So every country has a different threshold on-- on privacy of information, on data. But, certainly, we as a country have plenty of technology to do better at tracing. We've been collaborating, for instance, with MIT on an app called Safe Paths where you can opt-in and then within your network you-- you know if somebody within that network tested positive or even has symptoms. Now, we're working with a company called Nference in Boston at really becoming better on predicting hot spots, because currently we're predicting hot spots very close to or even a little too late from when they start to occur. And you have the ability to use artificial intelligence to real-time know when a test is positive, but also understand things like, okay, how many tests happened in the last twenty-four, forty-eight hours because that's really important. How many people are being admitted? You can get a much better idea of where the next hot spot is and then move resources. And in the last couple of days, we've tried that. We've done that within the state of Minnesota. And we believe that there are many of these innovations that are happening across the country that will help us improve the way we trace and the way we advise people to be able to, one, avoid getting sick. And once they get sick, to understand what we can do for their immediate contact. And that is one of the very important ways that we can flatten that curve and at the same time inform the public because, as you know, fear is a big part of this current pandemic.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well-- well, based then on what you have seen so far, do you think that it is underestimated how much of this virus has already infected parts of the American Midwest?

GIANRICO FARRUGIA: There has been a lot of discussion about that. We have to be driven by the science, not by conjecture. I mean, we always have to be driven by the science. And to be driven by science, we need to have the right testing. And-- and testing serology is going to be very important that way to understand who has an antibody and, therefore, can be presumed to have had contact with the virus and has mounted a response to it. We at Mayo Clinic have spent a lot of time developing a first-- a PCR test, now a serology test. There are many other institutions that are doing so.


GIANRICO FARRUGIA: And this is where innovation and collaboration comes together because there is no one single test that is the right test. And there are many different tests that can be used. Serology for what you-- for what you stated, but also trying to bring the price down. For example, the atomic--


GIANRICO FARRUGIA: --agency in Austria is trying to use isotopes to develop a very cheap test.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay. All right.

GIANRICO FARRUGIA: University of Washington, UC Berkeley are using CRISPR to try a different test as well as in New York--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, thank-- well, thank you, Doctor--

GIANRICO FARRUGIA: So what we're going to be seeing is a multitude of tests--


GIANRICO FARRUGIA: --and that multitude of tests is going to be able to give us that-- the answer to that question.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We wish you good luck. Thank you very much, Doctor.

GIANRICO FARRUGIA: Well, thank you very much.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll be right back.

GIANRICO FARRUGIA: And I really do want to thank every health care worker. Thank you.



MARGARET BRENNAN: We now go to Doctor David Heymann, a professor of epidemiology who serves as a special advisor to the World Health Organization. He joins us via FaceTime from Saverne, France. Good morning to you, Doctor.

DAVID HEYMANN M.D. (World Health Organization Special Adviser): Good morning.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The United States is the wealthiest country in the world, and we are now the epicenter of this outbreak, does how this virus affect here-- people here in America look any different to you than what it has done in the rest of the world?

DAVID HEYMANN: No, this is a pretty vicious virus, and everywhere it has appeared, it's caused great numbers of people to die. And it's also spread very easily in communities. So what's happening in the U.S. has happened around the world. But what has been different is the strategies to contain the virus.

MARGARET BRENNAN: From what you're seeing, it sounds like you're suggesting the strategy to contain has not worked. I mean the White House has said now they're just trying to mitigate it.

DAVID HEYMANN: Well, the strategy works if it's started early and if it's continued even during a time when there are many cases, the objective is to identify people who are infected, either those who are sick or those who are contacts of those people who are sick, and then to isolate those people and stop transmission while at the same time having other measures, such as physical distancing and means to keep people from getting too close together.

MARGARET BRENNAN: It sounds like what you're describing is what South Korea has done.

DAVID HEYMANN: Well, that's right. Singapore, South Korea, and Hong Kong have all begun a strategy very early to contain the outbreak. And they've tried to contain that outbreak with minimal disruption in their daily lives. There's a very important issue in all of these countries, and that is that people clearly understand how to protect themselves and how to protect others. They've been through the SARS outbreak. They know that they can stop this outbreak and they're working very hard to do that. So that's one of the differences. They've had SARS outbreaks before. They have learned how to not only stop transmission, but also to stock up their hospitals. So they're able to take people when they do become sick.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Would it be too early to lift some of the restrictions here in the United States? As a medical professional, what is your opinion? I'm not asking about the politics.

DAVID HEYMANN: Well, at the World Health Organization, we've been discussing with a group of people how best this outbreak can be stopped. And at the same time, how the lockdown procedures can be lifted. And the general consensus is that it depends on the risk assessment in the country. China has already begun to unlock its heavy industrial sector and also its small business sector. And they're watching very closely to make sure that transmission doesn't increase as a result. That's what other countries need to do as well. They need to understand where the majority of transmission is occurring and then they need to keep those sectors locked down most while unlocking the sectors where transmission is less important and heavy measures in place to stop transmission should it begin to increase again.

MARGARET BRENNAN: There was a team of British doctors who wrote this week that one of the signs of exposure to the virus is loss of taste and smell. Is that an indicator? Should Americans be looking out for that?

DAVID HEYMANN: It certainly has been an indicator in the U.K. and in many other countries, and I'm sure that in the U.S. it will be the same manifestations. So, yes, loss of taste has been a characteristic in some populations, but the most reliable means of determining whether or not one is infected is a fever and a persistent dry cough.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you have any reason to believe that once someone is infected that they then become immune? Or do you think this virus will hit in waves again and again?

DAVID HEYMANN: You know other coronaviruses don't develop long-term immunity. People can get infected with those coronaviruses that cause common colds on a regular basis. So it's very important that the immune response to this organism be studied. It's too early to say for sure. Hopefully, there will be a solid immunity that develops so that vaccines can be developed that will be effective and other means of prevention will be possible.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, there's some talk about people developing immunity and therefore allowing them to go back into society. You're saying it's not clear, yet, if we can say that's a safe method. You-- you talked about the fact that this was transferred from the animal kingdom into humans and then now spread human to human. Will animals continue spreading this disease? Or was this a one-time transmission?

DAVID HEYMANN: As far as it's understood, this was a one-time episode where an animal in nature, or even a bat in nature because this virus is very close to viruses in bats, infected a human and that human then infected others. And there was some mass events in the city of Wuhan where many, many different people were infected at the same time and sent off chains of transmission among their contacts that travelled internationally and also within China.

MARGARET BRENNAN: China shut its borders to foreigners yesterday. Would you advise other countries to do the same?

DAVID HEYMANN: It has to be a risk-based assessment to really understand whether borders need to be closed. China has closed its borders because it now has more infections coming from outside China than within China itself, at least at present. And so they-- they've decided that they want to stop this by actually closing their borders and putting people who should come in if they're infected in quarantine.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Should the Chinese Communist Party have shared more information about this virus and done it sooner?

DAVID HEYMANN: The comm-- the government in China has shared information very freely with the World Health Organization and also with others. There are many published articles from Chinese investigators that have been put out on many different medical journals in front of the paywall so that everybody can understand what's going on. So there's been to date quite a free sharing of information among countries and from countries to others.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Doctor Heymann, thank you for joining us.


MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll be right back with some thoughts on our heroic first responders.


MARGARET BRENNAN: That's it for us today. We'll see you next week. But we leave you with a look at the people around the world who aren't able to weather the crisis at home with their loved ones. They're the health care workers and first responders who continue to report for duty to protect us.

(Begin VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: These are the troops on the frontlines of this new world war--the nurses, emergency responders, doctors, scientists, and hospital staff defending us all against an advancing and invisible enemy. In New York, Governor Cuomo's call for reinforcements was met by a surge of volunteers, forty thousand retired health care professionals and newly graduated students stepped up to serve in the besieged and makeshift hospitals at the new epicenter of this global outbreak. Another six thousand mental health professionals offered help to those in distress. In Seattle, New York, and soon-to-be hotspots across this country we've seen these acts of community and courage. Hospitals cannot provide the body armor needed, the masks, goggles and protective gear to help the healers avoid becoming patients themselves. In scenes reminiscent of the World War II home front, many quarantined Americans put their sewing machines to good use, crafting makeshift versions of face masks. Gestures of gratitude from a public told that the most useful thing they can do is to simply stay home. In Italy and Spain, where the pandemic arrived earlier, the virus has claimed a disproportionate share of health care workers' lives. As one New York surgeon wrote to his colleagues this week, "The enemy is inside the wire except that there is no place to hide. They survived because we don't give up."

(Crowd cheering)

MARGARET BRENNAN: In recognition of that sacrifice, millions of people in cities across the world took to their balconies and doorsteps to applaud from afar their nation's caregivers. The very first warning of this mysterious virus came from a physician Li Wenliang. His urgent message was deemed illegal activity by Chinese authorities. That selfless defiant act, a reminder that medicine is not a job. It is a calling. In this country, we're accustomed to thinking of heroes dressed in military uniforms, not medical scrubs but a virus cannot be stopped by borders or bullets. And that has reminded us all that we are united by our vulnerability to this microscopic but deadly enemy. It will take a particular type of valor to defeat it, one rooted in protecting the very first of those inalienable rights that Thomas Jefferson once wrote of, life itself. And on behalf of a grateful nation, we thank them all for their service.

(End VT)

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.