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President Trump to Deliver Oval Address on Coronavirus After At Least 1,200 Cases, 37 Deaths; Italy Has Record Jump Of Coronavirus Cases Today: 2,313. Aired on 8-9p ET

Aired March 11, 2020 - 20:00   ET




In just about an hour, President Trump is scheduled to speak to the country from the Oval Office about the coronavirus outbreak. He's expected to lay out some sort of a plan of action in the face of what the World Health Organization today for the first time labeled a pandemic, in other words, an outbreak with potential to touch everyone. Not just in America, but around the globe.

Today, it's hard to argue that it hasn't already. All day, hour after hour, there were new signs of how significantly life has changed already and could change even more in the days and weeks and months ahead.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is the worst yet to come, Dr. Fauci?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, U.S. NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY & INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Yes, it is. I can say we will see more cases and things will get worse than they are right now. Bottom line, it's going to get worse.


COOPER: If anyone out there believes it is not going to get worse, you are simply mistaken. The numbers speak to that notion. The caseload topping 1,200 in the United States, up from 1,000 just hours before.

Washington, D.C.'s, mayor, announcing a state of emergency after a string of new cases there, joining 21 other states and more many more localities. New York's governor designating a one-mile containment zone in the New York suburb of New Rochelle. More colleges across the country today canceled classes and switched over to distant learning. Seattle shutdown public schools for at least two weeks.

And earlier this evening, a bombshell from the NCAA, Division 1 college basketball tournament, seen by tens of millions and attended by hundreds of thousands around the country will be played without spectators. No fans. Only families and essential staff.

No fans, either, at tomorrow's NBA game between the Golden State Warriors and Brooklyn Nets.

The network, late night shows, also now audience-free.

The State Department late today suspended all nonessential travel. All of it.

Late today, we learned that all tours of the Capitol are being stopped. Announcement is expected shortly.

And as all this unfolded, financial markets fell sharply again. The Dow Industrials losing more than 1,400 points in the day, officially slipping to bear market territory.

This is what the president is up against tonight. It's what we're all up against.

And elsewhere in the world, Italy for one, the situation is even darker. We're doing to bring you report reporting from there as well as perspective on whether it's a sign of things to come in this country and if it is, that is very worrying.

First, I want to check in with CNN's Jim Acosta at the White House.

Jim, the president is expected to speak. Any idea what he's going to say?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: We do have some. Indications, Anderson, from sources briefed on the contents in this address cautioning us these contents may change, remarks may change before the president lays them out in this address to the nation from the Oval Office. But he's expected to lay out a path out of this crisis, according to these sources we've been talking to.

And, Anderson, what the president wants to convey also is the fact that this started in another country. It started in China. Didn't start here. And in the words of one source, this did not start in America, but America's going to find its way out of this.

And so that is an indication, Anderson, that the president is going to try to shift the blame somewhat and say, OK, this happened in China, it didn't start here, essentially, to make the point that, you know, this didn't originate here in the United States.

In terms of what he's going to recommend to the country, he's going to recommend a couple things. One is how to contain this coronavirus outbreak, but also to contain some of the panic in the economy right now. We're told from our sources that the president is going to lay out some economic breaks for some of the industries that have been affected by this, specifically, the travel industry like the airlines, cruise ships, hotel industry, that sort of thing. Those companies, that industry, should expect some tax breaks outlined in this address.

Two other things to look for, Anderson, whether or not the president declares some sort of national emergency. We're hearing that that is under active consideration inside the White House. And also, a homeland security official told lawmakers earlier today the president and his team are considering the idea of new travel restrictions over to Europe. Whether or not those are outlined in this address is up in the air as far as we know at this moment. Our sources were telling us earlier this afternoon that he's more likely to talk about these economic breaks for companies impacted by this crisis and they have been tremendously, Anderson.

COOPER: I'm a little confused. I don't understand -- and obviously, you know, we'll know more within an hour, but the whole thing of the president focusing that this didn't start here, what does that matter? Like, what's the point of that?

ACOSTA: Anderson, I think it is in part to address some of what is being said in conservative media. We've been seeing that brought up in conservative media over the last several days. And the president, we should point out, when he was meeting with banking executives earlier today in the cabinet room here at the White House, he made the point of saying that this started in China.

And so, there is a sense talking to our sources who are familiar with this speech that the president wants to make that point crystal clear.


To some extent, Anderson, one of the problems the president has had, it is to a large extent, is that he has not had the facts straight on this crisis. He has been contradicted time and again by his own health experts, and so, part of the reason why they wanted to have this Oval Office address is to show that the president is in command of the facts, that he's in command of where this process is going and where all of this originated.

I was told by one source that he wants to have sort of a CEO-like moment looking in command from the Oval Office. The question, according to another source close to this process, is whether he conveys that he's in command of the facts because to be fair, ant Anderson, he hasn't been up until this point.

COOPER: Right. I assume that means tonight he's not going to say that this is going to miraculously disappear from our shores as he said, I think --

ACOSTA: That's right.

COOPER: -- a week and a week and a half ago with Diamond and Silk cheering him on. Not going to say this will all go away, which is what I believe he said if it was yesterday or the day before that.

ACOSTA: This is just like the flu, he said that as well, even though Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Capitol Hill the coronavirus is much, much worse than the flu.

Anderson, talking to our sources, one of the things they're telling us tonight, is they believe the president is starting to, quote, get it, the question is whether or not that comes across in an hour from now, Anderson.

COOPER: All right. We'll see. Jim Acosta, appreciate it.

We'll come back to you a bit later as we get closer to President Trump's address.

Three medical and public health experts for reaction on the profound impacts the virus had across the world. With me here, CNN chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, also joining us Dr. Leana Wen, former health commissioner for the city of Baltimore, and Dr. Vivek Murthy, the 19th surgeon general of the United States. We should mentioned that Dr. Murthy currently serves on Joe Biden's health advisory committee.

Sanjay, where are we right now, I mean, today versus where we were yesterday? You see now a bigger reaction in the United States, the NCAA saying no more audiences, talk shows saying no audiences.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think this is a different phase now of things. I mean, some would argue, look, we've been in this other phase for some time. I think there's been an acknowledgement by lots of different organizations. I think Dr. Fauci's tone has changed.

I mean, basically saying it doesn't matter if you have one case or no cases where you live, these cases are coming. It -- he very much reminded me of the idea of a storm coming the way he's speaking today, and he's essentially telling people to batten down the hatches. He's maybe been saying this for some time, again, that it's going to get a foothold here. I think the language has gotten stronger.

COOPER: And just in terms for people who are, you know, maybe paying more attention to this today than they were a week ago, what precautionary measures can people take now?

GUPTA: Well, you know, I think for the individuals, I think there's two major things. I mean, we've been talking a lot about what people can do to best protect themselves and at the same time saying, you know, 80 percent of people will likely recover. I think there's a couple things to keep in mind, one is people will get sick still even among those 80 percent. They will recover, but, you know, this is something they need to be mindful of, make sure they can take best care of themselves, try and not get the disease in the first place but that their health is able to withstand a significant illness that may come.

But we also identified the vulnerable population. And the vulnerable population, the elderly and people with pre-existing conditions, we all now have an obligation to buffer around them, to protect them.

COOPER: When you're talking about the vulnerable population, people above the age of 70, 75?

GUPTA: They say, yes, 70s and 80s I would say. According to the data, anyone above 60. But it's really people in their 70s and 80s who seem the most affected people. One things they wrote, Dr. Fauci talked about this yesterday, all healthy people have to conduct themselves as if they're a significant risk to anybody else with an underlying condition. How I interact with somebody, how I'd interact with my parents, for example, how I'd interact anybody with an underlying --

COOPER: Protecting the elderly population is up to all of us because we can infect even if we, ourselves, are not showing symptoms or sick.

GUPTA: That's right. We have an obligation.

COOPER: Dr. Wen, what do you make of Dr. Fauci testifying today to Congress, quote, bottom line, it's going to get worse? That seems to be an understatement. If you follow at all what's happening in Italy and obviously China, it is much, much worse there. And it seems like we are just starting to kind of get our arms around how bad it could be here.

DR. LEANA WEN, FORMER BALTIMORE CITY HEALTH COMMISSIONER: That's right, it definitely is going to get worse before we have any chance of it getting better. Even if we look at two weeks ago, we only had 15 cases diagnosed in the U.S. and now, we're well over a thousand cases. And that's even with limited testing. So as we get testing capacities up and going, we're going to find hundreds if not thousands of cases in the coming weeks.

And I'm really concerned about what's going to happen to our health care system. We could be overwhelming our hospitals with patients who need ventilators, who need intensive care support.


And it's up to all of us -- as Sanjay was just saying -- it's up to all of us to try to reduce the rate of transmission so that we don't overwhelm the health care system all at the same time.

COOPER: Dr. Murthy, do you know -- I mean, how many ICU beds are there, how many ventilators are there? I'm just trying to get a sense of where this may end up going because, again, I've just been reading up on what's been going on in Italy, we're going to talk about that a little bit coming up, but if there are -- you know, hundreds of thousands of elderly people who need to be hospitalized and among them tens of thousands or more who need to be on ventilators, is there that capacity?

DR. VIVEK MURTHY, FORMER SURGEON GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES: This is a point of concern because what most doctors know and nurses know who are in the health care system is that every year during flu season, the hospitals get stretched to the limit. You'll see patients lined up in the hallways because there aren't enough beds. You'll see ICUs that are full. And this is just during regular flu season.

In a moment like this, where we have this novel coronavirus on top of the flu, this is really going to stretch our capacity not just with beds and with ventilators, but we're already seeing that hospitals and health systems are struggling with the shortage of gloves and masks. We also know health care workers, themselves, as they get sick, and even as they're quarantined, they get taken out of the workforce at exactly the time we need them.

So, part of what we need to think about and really figure out as a country both now and also for future outbreaks, is how do we build the surge capacity to supplement the people, the beds, the space, and the equipment that we need to really protect patients when they get ill.

COOPER: I want to talk more about this in a moment. We're going to take a quick break.

We're also going to take a look at Italy, the tragedy unfolding there. The lessons it may offer and the warnings that it offers that we better listen to. Not only why it could happen here but why some believe it will happen here unless drastic steps are taken.

I'll speak with somebody who believes that social distancing is the only answer in a phrase, "cancel everything", they say.

Also, as we wait to hear from the president, the question hanging over all of this as Jim Acosta touched on, does he really grasp the impact of the country of what could be just days or weeks away?



COOPER: Well, as we await to hear from the president, there's a cautionary and, frankly, dark example of what this virus can do and is doing.

I'm talking about in Italy where it's being overwhelmed. The hospitals there overwhelmed. The cases and the fatalities have skyrocketed.

More than 800 people have died there so far. Hospitals are being pushed beyond capacity. And doctors are having to make the kind of treat-or-don't-treat decisions usually reserved for wartime, catastrophe medicine.

If the president does not yet see that as a possible sign of things to come here, our next guest does. Yascha Mounk is a associate professor at Johns Hopkins University and contributor to "The Atlantic Monthly".

Quoting now from his piece, which is titled, "Cancel Everything," he writes: The coronavirus could spread with frightening rapidity, overburdening our health care system, and claiming lives until we adopt serious forms of social distancing. This suggests anyone in a position of power or authority instead of downplaying the dangers of the coronavirus should ask people to stay away from public places, cancel big gatherings and restrict most forms of nonessential travel.

Professor, thanks for being with us.

I read your piece this morning, a doctor friend of mine sent it to me in "The Atlantic." And I got to say, it is -- it is terrifying and I'm glad I read it because I feel like I have a greater sense of what it is actually already happening in Italy.

You started off by pointing out two weeks ago in Italy, 322 confirmed cases, one week ago, 2,502 confirmed cases. Today, 10,149 cases. This thing is moving fast. Talk about what's happening in Italy and

the kind of choices that doctors are making about who lives and who dies.

YASCHA MOUNK, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, THE ATLANTIC: Yes, first of all, the fact you're drawing attention to is this disease increases at an exponential rate. We saw that in China. We saw that in the beginning in South Korea. We're seeing that Germany and seeing it most dramatically in Italy right now.

Now, what happens when you jump in a matter of two weeks from 100 to 1,000 and 1,000 to 10,000 cases is that more and more people come into the emergency rooms, into the intensive care units, in hospitals in those cities, and very quickly, it overwhelms the ability of a hospital to deal with it, it overwhelms the material they need, particularly with artificial ventilators, and as a result, doctors are being pushed to the point where they might have to make a choice about which patient gets one of those ventilators and which patient is denied further care which most likely means they're going to die.

COOPER: You focus in this article about guidelines that Italian physicians working in intensive care have now put out for other doctors in Italy, essentially telling them, or helping them to make those decisions. Those triage decisions. And we're not talking about who gets treated first. We're talking about who gets treated and who doesn't get treated.

For instance, if a patient is very old, they might decide, well, given the limited resources, and we don't have enough ventilators or hospital beds, if someone's very old, they're not likely to live longer, anyway, and so we'll treat somebody who's slightly younger. Or if there's somebody younger but they have comorbidity, that's going to make it harder for them to survive, they won't get treatment, we're going to focus on someone else.

Those are the decisions that are already being made, right?

MOUNK: Yes, so we don't know exactly to what extent they're being made, but all the indications are that the emergency rooms are completely overwhelmed at point. This is the guidance the doctors are being given.


So, in essence, what we're trying to do is use the cost resources in order to increase the benefit to the greatest numbers and so the guidance says that if a patient is very old and, therefore, has less likelihood to recover and would have less fewer life years left, even if they do recover, if a patient comes into the intensive care unit with a lot of other pre-existing conditions such that they're less likely to make it, then they should be de-prioritized for care and that care should go to other people.

Now, I have to tell you, you know, my training, I'm not a medical doctor, my training actually is in moral philosophy and political theory. And I've spent many hours sitting around fancy seminar rooms trying to think through, you know, how to respond to those kinds of moral dilemmas and I have no idea at all whether these doctors are doing the right thing. I have no idea what people should do under those circumstances.

But one thing I do know which is that as we've seen these number of cases rise exponentially in other countries, we've been sitting on our hands here. And right now, we can still act. We can still increase social distance distancing. We can cancel all of those events so that doctors and nurses here in this country are not going to have to take those tragic, those impossible, choices days or weeks from now.

COOPER: As you say, the end of the article, I urge people to read it, "Cancel everything now."

Yascha Mounk, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much.

MOUNK: My pleasure.

COOPER: Back with our medical team.

Sanjay, those are stark choices any doctor makes where, you know, we think of that happening on the battlefield.


COOPER: The idea they put out guidelines in Italy, whether it's happening today or going to happen next week, thankfully, let's hope it doesn't happen at all, but those are -- I don't think a lot of people here are used to situations where it's the doctors' call, we just don't have time to -- we just can't devote resources to saving your grandfather because there's somebody else who has a better chance of survival.

GUPTA: We know we could potentially save your grandfather if we had the resources, but we don't. I mean, that's the thing. I mean, doctors make triage decisions all the time. It's usually based on the fact they don't think someone will survive the treatment.

These are people who would survive if only we had enough resources. You've known me a long time. I'm not the kind of guy who screams things from the roof. But we've been talking about the need for preparedness in this country for some time.

Our health care system does so many things well but it's not a system that's built on redundancy. That's why we don't have all that he was talking about in terms of surge capacity. We don't have what we need. I know the numbers. We would need potentially 100,000 more ICU beds. We would need to have enough ventilators, probably have enough ventilators right now but many of them are being used.

You know --

COOPER: So, wait, we would need 100,000 more intensive care beds than we currently have.

GUPTA: Correct. We have about 100,000. The projections are with a moderate pandemic, this may be moderate, hopefully it's not more severe, you would need 200,000, roughly, ICU beds.

COOPER: You're talking about then -- assuming doctors get sick or doctors are overwhelmed, I mean, you know, we've seen in other countries the military gets called in, the national guard gets called in, opening up field hospitals.

GUPTA: That's right. And that likely will happen here because, again, as was mentioned, we need space. Every public building, you walk around a city, that could be open space for us, high school gymnasiums, big convention centers, whatever that might, those types of things --

COOPER: It could actually get to that point here.

GUPTA: Look, I mean, people are going to, you know, reach out to me on social saying, this is being hyperbolic and too much. But, look, this is the federal government's own modeling and now we know what's happening with the cases.

So many of the patients, if you look at patients who died in China, many of those were preventable deaths. It was a taxing on the hospital system that led to these deaths.

In Italy as Yascha just described, it's a taxing of the medical system. The virus is bad. We know that. We know it can make people sick.

But people can be cared for if we plan and prepare ahead. I'm not sure that we have in this country yet.

COOPER: Dr. Wen, what do you make of what's happening in Italy, and, again, don't want to be alarmist, but I want to be realistic.

WEN: I think alarmist is actually the right approach for us to take right now because if anything, we've been under-reacting which is why we're in a position that we're in now. I mean, this is the calm before the storm.

And so, I understand why people are saying, well, why are you canceling events now? Why are we doing all these things? Well, it's because we see the models of what will happen.

We see what's happened in other countries. We know that we are about to get to a phase. Not in a month's time but in days to weeks where we're going to see a really sharp escalation of the number of cases.

We can prevent that, though, if we take these social distancing measures that Yascha wrote about that, that public health experts are recommending. And these are painful, challenging, things for people to decide. I mean, they are closing schools. Not going to work. Shutting down large events.

These are challenging decisions to make, especially when nothing seems to be happening now. But if we don't do that, then we are going to face a situation where we're rationing health care and people who could otherwise have survived will die. [20:25:08]

COOPER: So, Dr. Murthy, what more needs to be done now, right now? What more can we do, individuals do, companies do, government do?

MURTHY: Well, I'm glad you're asking Anderson, because this is a moment where we need all hands on deck. If you're an individual, we need you to think carefully about your own personal practices in terms of your hand washing, making sure that if you're sick, you stay home. Making sure that you're not touching your face as often as you do or hopefully not at all, unless you wash your hands first because that's a common way that infection gets transmitted.

But we also need workplaces to step up and start accelerating telework options so that people don't have to come in and congregate at work. We need organizations that are responsible for large events to cancel those events or postpone them in the interest of not transmitting infection in large groups.

Look, these are hard decisions to make. There is a cost, an economic cost, a human cost, to making these decisions, but it's important to make them now so we don't have to make much bigger, you know, payments later on in terms of human lives and in terms of money.

You know, finally, let's just remember this -- this is the worst pandemic that we have experienced in the last century. And it's going to take a toll on us, but we know how to address this. What we have to remember is that this is a moment, a kind of moment that comes along every so often in the world's history, where we have to come together as a country, as countries around the world, to take on an issue that we can only resolve together. So, this is a solidarity moment and that is the only way we are going to overcome this virus.

COOPER: Doctors, I appreciate it. Thank you.

Coming up next, if president Trump does propose financial leave for the coronavirus tonight, what will that look like? And is Congress satisfied with what it's been hearing so far? That and more on the virus when we continue.



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Well, the President is expected to speak at the top of the hour. We wanted to take a closer look at what lawmakers may be called on to do in the coming days and weeks. They're already doing fact finding. We played a clip at the top of the program, Dr. Fauci warning the public that things are about to get worse, happened at hearings of the House Oversight Committee.

Democratic Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi sits on that committee. He joins us now. Congressman, thanks for being with us.

REP. RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI (D-IL): Thank you. COOPER: How do you reconcile what Dr. Fauci told your committee today with what you have seen and heard from the administration so far, in particular the President who says, you know, I think he said it was 15 cases that, you know, may soon end two weeks ago and, you know, late yesterday it was this is all just going to go away.

KRISHNAMOORTHI: Well, I think that Dr. Fauci was telling the truth. I think that the cases that we identify going forward are going to be measure numerous than what we've seen so far. And so, it is going to get worse before it becomes better. And I think that does run contrary to some of the programming, if you will, or the spin that the President seems to put on what's happening right now.

I think I saw a quote that he said everything is going extremely well. As you can tell, most of the public does not think so, and it's having ripples in the economy, not to mention, obviously, the health impact on so many communities across the country now.

COOPER: Also, I mean, just doctors that I'm talking to, they seem more concerned about this. I mean, I got -- I talked to a number of doctors just today and yesterday and I was surprised at the urgency and great, great concern many of them are expressing --


COOPER: -- about what they are seeing in hospitals. We learned at the top of the hour, the President, according to sources, is expected to say tonight as part of his state, his comments tonight that the crisis isn't America's doing and he'll likely note the virus was first detected in China. Do you understand the point of why that would be worth the valuable time of the President and the American public?

KRISHNAMOORTHI: Well, it's finger pointing, right? I think that he wants to potentially say that this was a -- somehow a Chinese- sponsored virus when, of course, the WHO today certified this as a global pandemic, meaning that it's something that has spread throughout the world at this point.

And so now we're dealing with an American problem, not just a problem that was originally in another country. Because it is an American problem, now we have to move very quickly, for instance, with testing. And here we have been, unfortunately, flatfooted in terms of testing as many people as possible who may be in hot zones or in areas where there might be community spread so we can get ahead of the virus.

COOPER: Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar still cannot say how many people --


COOPER: -- have been tested in the United States, which I find remarkable. I mean, I was just talking to Sanjay Gupta in the commercial break, CNN has been calling around state by state to find out locally how many tests are being done to try to get an accounting of this. But the idea that the federal government doesn't know is kind of, I don't know, it sounds stunning to me. Do they -- is there a reason why they wouldn't want to know?

KRISHNAMOORTHI: Well, I think that today we elicited the fact that Director Redfield of the CDC thinks that there's probably, you know, about 5,000 tests that have been done in total. But in comparison to some of our allied countries, so for instance Korea, or Italy, or the U.K., that is a paltry number of tests that have been conducted.

Just as an example, in Korea, there they have tested 4,000 people for every 1 million residents compared to the United States where we have tested 15 people for every 1 million residents. So, our allies, so to speak, are moving aggressively on this and we're not.


COOPER: You know, the vice president has been saying, you know, that a million tests are out there and that all state, you know, laboratories are able to conduct tests. All the accounts, though, of people trying to get tests, it is not -- it is not an easy thing at all to get tested.

KRISHNAMOORTHI: No, it's not. It's one thing to actually shift these tests and, again, we don't know exactly what the numbers are. We seem to get, you know, differing estimates on that. But really, at the end of the day, Anderson, it boils down to how many tests have actually been performed.

And there, we do run into a lot of constituent complaints that are coming into my office every single day where people are saying, we don't know where the tests are. Doctors are calling health departments and the health departments are saying they don't have test kits.

And so, we're basically running into a problem where we just don't have enough people being tested, that's the bottom line. And unless we can outpace the spread of the virus, if we cannot test more people or go at a rate that's faster than the virus is spreading, then we're not going to get ahead of it. We can get ahead of it just like Korea and the U.K. have, but we've got to move very quickly right now.

COOPER: Yes. Congressman Krishnamoorthi, I appreciate your time tonight. Thank you.

KRISHNAMOORTHI: Thank you, sir.

COOPER: Up next, we're going to talk to a doctor who treated two members on a California tour group who went on a ski vacation to Italy. All of them came back with the virus, the whole group. We'll be right back.



COOPER: Tonight as the coronavirus caseload in the United States grows, we wait to hear what the President plans to do about it in about 20 minutes. The story of what began as a dream ski vacation to the Italian Alps, all 14 men from that trip, all relatively young and in good health have now been diagnosed with coronavirus and four were hospitalized.

Joining me now, the doctor who's currently treating two of the men, Dr. Sam Fink. Dr. Fink, thanks for being with us. This group of 14 skiers, many of those who got sick are relatively young. Can you just -- I understand some of them, they in their 40s and 50s, is that right?

SAM FINK, TREATING CORONAVIRUS PATIENTS: Well, what struck me, and the reason I posted on Facebook was because all 13, actually it was 13, became positive. They got to Italy, nice ski vacation, within one day storm became ill. Within two to three days, everybody was ill. They had fever. They had chills. Within a week, they had a dry cough, some were short of breath.

Then within another week, four of them who had been hospitalized, including my patient, and three of those hospitalized were placed in the ICU and they remain in the ICU and they're quite ill. Fortunately, my patient went home yesterday.

COOPER: So their -- your patient went home, the others are still in the ICU. You wrote in that Facebook post about this. You said, "I practiced for over 30 years and have seen it all or so I thought. Nothing has worried me like this." What about this worries you so? And I know you believe that more should be done right now.

FINK: Yes, I do. I mean, I've never seen any illness where out of 13 people exposed, 13 get it. And out of 13, 4 of them get hospitalized, 3 in the ICU. The ages of people in the ICU, they're in their 40s, 50s, 60s. Only one has a preexisting condition. So this really worries me. And I think in addition to what's been done, I think we should be closing all schools at this point.

Now, children do well with this virus in general, but then they come home and they hug their grandpa and he goes to the ICU. So we've really got to help the health care system handle this. And one of the ways we can do this is by minimizing the number of cases we see.

Coronavirus is here. It's going -- you know, it's present. There's not much we can do about it. But one thing we can do is do the best we can to minimize the number of cases and this load on hospitals and ICU beds.

COOPER: Fr. Fink, I want to bring in Dr. Sanjay Gupta. I know he has some questions of his own for you.

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: So you know, one of the things that keeps coming up, Dr. Fink, and you're on the frontline of this, is we don't have enough of these beds. We don't have enough of these ventilators. And I feel like people have been talking about this for some time. Is there a solution? I mean, more money, you know, buying ventilators. How do you think this is going to play out?

FINK: Well, I think it's difficult because we have to operate with what we have now. Right now, we have only a few tests out there. We don't have a vaccine, although, one will be around within six months, but it's not going to affect this outbreak. We don't have treatment, although people that are very ill can receive experimental treatments.

So in my mind, if I want to solve this now or if I want to help, you know, I'd try to minimize the number of cases. So in my mind, that is the best approach to deal with this because I don't want to have to make the choices that they're making in Italy. The America I grew up, they never had to make those choices.

GUPTA: Right.

COOPER: So if -- the people you saw who are on this trip are in their 40s and 50s, that's not the 70s, 80s, and older people that we've been told about. That seems to me, and correct me if I'm wrong, there's just a lot about this virus we still don't know. Is that correct?

FINK: That's very true. In fact, one of the interesting things is that the person that has done the best and was the -- and is the least ill, he's 82, the oldest member of the group.

COOPER: Dr. Fink, I appreciate it and I hope your folks get better quickly and their families are doing OK. Sanjay, thank you.

We're just about 15 minutes away from the President's Oval Office address. Coming up next, what we know about what he'll say. We'll talk about that, ahead.



COOPER: In just a few minutes President Trump will talk to the country from the Oval Office about the coronavirus pandemic that a top member of his task force, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said today would get worse.

In another sign of how quickly this is deteriorating, there's this, the NBA game between the Utah Jazz and the Oklahoma City Thunder was abruptly postponed tonight. The players were on the court for warm ups but recalled back to the locker rooms before tip-off. The game broadcasters have said the decision to not play was made by the NBA and not by either team.

As we get ready, I want to quickly go back to the White House and CNN's Jim Acosta. So only few minutes left until the President's going to speak. Do we have any more information on what he may be saying?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, a few more details, Anderson. We expect this address to be about 10 to 12 minutes. The President is expected to announce a batch of new travel restrictions for airline passengers heading overseas.


Obviously, that's going to be critical because so many people may be interested in flocking to Europe where they have major problems with the coronavirus right now. I'm told by a source briefed on the speech that this batch of travel restrictions that will be announced by the President, it is based on input coming in from the scientific and medical communities.

The source were saying we know the President likes to shoot from the hip, but much of what the President is going to lay out tonight is based on input from the scientists, from the medical community. So that is a striking contrast from what we've been hearing from the President in the last several weeks.

The other thing we should point out, Anderson, the President is also expected to urge Americans to follow the CDC recommendations, wash their hands, practice social distancing. Again, this is one of those areas where the President hasn't always led by example. He is continuing to shake hands out there despite what the CDC is telling the public that they should not be shaking hands right now, that they should be keeping their distance to make sure they don't catch this very dangerous virus.

And one other thing, Anderson, we should point out, Stephen Miller, the President's chief -- speech writer, apparently he was a "driving force" behind this speech. And Jared Kushner, the President's son-in- law, has been playing a more instrumental role in guiding the coronavirus response, we're told, sources telling Dana Bash, Jeremy Diamond and myself about that evening, Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Jim Acosta. Jim, thanks. Whatever he says tonight, much to the criticism of President Trump's handling the coronavirus pandemic stems from his original comments, some frequent comments and tweets that severely underplayed the severity of the virus. Take a look.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: By April, you know, in theory, when it gets a little warmer, it miraculously goes away.

The coronavirus, which is, you know, very well under control in our country, we have very few people with it. The people are getting better. They're all getting better.

We're very close to a vaccine.

We're going down, not up. We're going very substantially down, not up. Of the 15 people, the original 15 as I call them, 8 of them have returned to their homes -- to stay in their homes until fully recovered. And again, when you have 15 people and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero, that's a pretty good job we've done.

It is going to disappear. One day it is like a miracle, it will disappear. And from our shores, you know, it could get worse before it gets better. It could maybe go away. We'll see what happens. Nobody really knows.

Anybody that needs a test gets a test. They're there. They have the test. And the tests are beautiful. Anybody that needs a test gets a test. As of right now and yesterday, anybody that needs a test, that is the important thing, and the tests are all perfect. Like the letter was perfect. The transcription was perfect. This is not as perfect as that, but pretty good.

It will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away.


COOPER: Joining us now is David Gergen, CNN Senior Political Analyst, who's advised four presidents, Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and Clinton, Senator Rick Santorum, former Republican U.S. Senator and CNN Senior Political Commentator, and CNN Chief Political Correspondent Dana Bash.

David Gergen, I mean, you've advice a lot of presidents. Would you advice this President to continue saying things like he has been saying?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: No. I'm glad the President is making an address, Anderson. Millions of Americans are nervous on the edge of their seats asking about the future of their health care and their families asking about the future of their savings. So it's good to be making the speech. The big question is, is he going to give us more happy talk tonight or is this going to be straight talk?

The happy talk, you know, from Trump has been, oh, this is all going to go away. Fauci, legendary figure to six presidents, six presidents, saying it's going to get worse before it gets better. President says a vaccine is near. Fauci says a year to a year and a half before we have that.

You go down the list of things, the questions that are opposed to us and again and again and again the President will seize on the science but make it a happy ending and that is not what the country is going through.

Just here in Massachusetts, two weeks ago we had Biogen, a company in here that have a conference. Two day conference, we have 92 cases of -- in this state now of people who have the virus, 70 of them, 70 of them came from that Biogen conference.

COOPER: Wow. Senator Santorum, what do you want to hear from the President tonight? Because, I mean, to hear him say that, you know, anybody who wants it can get a test. We just know that's not true. I mean, it's not going to just disappear. Let's hope it does, but it's not. That's -- hope is not a plan.

RICK SANTORUM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, that's not a plan. So, look, I think this is maybe the most significant speech of his presidency. At least I think we're getting into a period of time which I think his presidency will be judged on.

This is a moment where presidents matter. This is a moment when you -- as David said, in the last few days I think things have really change, attitudes and moods have changed in this country. I think people see this. You're looking that business is closing, school is closing. You know, the NBA shutting down a game. This is now reaching a big threat.


And if the President doesn't grasp that and show leadership and show -- and display confidence in a plan that not just, you know, trying to get the economy going, the issue is not the economy, the issue is trying to assure the American public that we have a plan in place or we'll be putting a plan in place and do whatever is necessary to make sure that we arrest this virus before it becomes lethal to our -- to too many people in this country and to the economy in this country.

And so, that's what the President has to do. He has to begin that. He's not going to do it in one speech. I don't expect him to do that. But I think we need a change in tone, a change in attitude of this President assuming leadership.

And, again, I don't expect him to do it all. He has a great team around him. He's got people that the public trusts. He needs to put them front and center and they need to be out there telling the truth and hopefully, you know, the American public are listening to that. Because what we saw in Italy is the Italian public didn't listen and look at the consequences.

COOPER: Yes. Dana, I mean, you think back to Katrina and, you know, President Bush saying, you know, Brownie doing a heck of a good job --


COOPER: -- and was lambasted for that. The President has day after day said the equivalent of that, I mean, that the tests are perfect, that anybody can get one, that it's going to disappear, it's going to be miraculous disappearance from our shores.

What are you hearing from your sources about, you know, will there be a change in tone or approach from the President side? Will he acknowledge the reality that so many doctors are telling us?

BASH: Well, I was told by sources familiar with the President's thinking that he has begun to understand the reality that Senator Santorum just before that we've been reporting 24/7 that this is not something that he can will away, this is not something, which he clearly believed before that he can change with his remarkable power of persuasion that he has done in business before, in politics before. This is a completely different animal.

And we're talking about two things. First of all, just the fundamental health issue, the health crisis, but also what has been in the back of his mind obviously that has driven all of his, you know, your analogy heck of a job Brownie statement that he's been making is this concern about the economy.

And the two have come together in the fact that he has believed that he can calm the economy by saying nothing to see here. When, in fact, when I said -- I'm told that reality is setting in, it is setting in that he's starting to realize that by saying nothing to see here, it is rattling the economy even more, never mind, never mind what matters more than that, which is the public health and safety of the people he is leading.

COOPER: David, I mean, if -- you know, if the President does not go on television tonight saying with a different tone as Senator Santorum, you know, pointed out and hopes, you know, according to the doctors, if this does get as bad as it's -- you know, here as it is right now in Italy where doctors are, you know, drawing up guidelines for how to -- you know, who lives and who dies and how to make those choices to advise other doctors, there is going to have to be another speech down the road, you know --

GERGEN: Yes, exactly.

COOPER: -- preparing the public for that.

GERGEN: The worst thing you can do -- yes. The worst thing you can do regarding what the senator said is at a serious, serious moment for the country that you engage in happy talk, that you oversell and under deliver and he will be held accountable for that politically in the reelection campaign if that's the case.

I just can't emphasize enough, when you have a crisis like this and next door to Italy, Angela Merkel has said in the last 24 hours that as many as 70 percent of the people in her country of Germany could be infected before this is over. That's an astonishing number.


GERGEN: And that's why the President has to take this very seriously.

COOPER: I have to toss over to Chris. Thank you everybody. We'll all be watching this. The news continues. I want to hand it over to Chris for "Cuomo Prime Time."

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: All right, thank you, Anderson. I am Chris Cuomo and welcome to "Prime Time." Any minute the President will address you. Will he face the reality of what is without question the biggest challenge of his tenure? So far, this President has been far from perfect.

The country is struggling with the unknown and changes to every day life. Trump, frankly, has added to the distress by telling us there are enough tests, not true, that this will all be gone soon, not true. You know that there is only one way for the numbers to do right now, and it is up.

Will he be the leader this country needs? Will he tell you the truth, and more importantly, will he give you confidence in what he and the government can do about it? Is there a plan? Is there an outline of what happens and when? We'll see.

Let's get some insight from CNN's Jim Acosta at the White House. Jim?

ACOSTA: Yes, Chris. We're expecting this address to the nation from the Oval Office in just a few minutes from now.