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President Trump Declares National Emergency, Calls Coronavirus a "Pandemic"; President Trump: "I Don't Take Responsibility At All" For Lag In Testing; Italians Sing National Anthem In Solidarity From Their Homes As Coronavirus Empties Country's Streets; Psychological Impact Of The Coronavirus Pandemic; Deal Reached On Coronavirus Relief Bill. Aired on 8-9p ET

Aired March 13, 2020 - 20:00   ET




Tonight, the impact of President Trump's decision to declare the coronavirus pandemic a national emergency. We'll look at what it means to people in communities seeking not just help from the federal government but also access to testing, which as you know has emerged as possibly the single biggest challenge to the country getting its arms around the outbreak. There's that.

And there's what else the president said, refusing to take responsibility for a significant part of the crisis. Here we'll play it for a moment for you, and talk about it later in the hour.

And in a somewhat related vein, there's a question of the president's personal conduct in the face of this, because he's already come into contact with one and maybe more people who have tested positive for the virus, direct contact. The man right there to President Trump's left, the press secretary to the president of Brazil, tested positive. This picture was taken at Mar-a-Lago just this past weekend.

And there's late reporting that another person who visited Mar-a-Lago at the same time has also tested positive.

First, though, some of what the president said today about the big decision he made.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: To unleash the full power of the federal government in this effort today, I'm officially declaring a national emergency. Two very big words. The action I am taking will open up access to up to $50 billion of, very importantly -- very important and a large amount of money for states and territories and localities in our shared fight against this disease.

And in furtherance of the order, I'm urging every state to set up emergency operation centers effectively immediately.

I'm also asking every hospital in this country to activate its emergency preparedness plan so that they can meet the needs of Americans everywhere.

The secretary of H.H.S. will be able to immediately waive provisions of applicable laws and regulations to give doctors, hospital -- all hospitals and health care providers maximum flexibility to respond to the virus and care for patients.


COOPER: Well, as he said that, and laid out other steps of streamlining medical care and testing, the number of cases in the country kept rising, now stands at more than 2,100 with 48 deaths. More states declared emergencies of their own, more school districts cancelled classes.

Louisiana pushed back its primary by two months. Delta Airlines announced it was cutting overall capacity by 40 percent. The Boston marathon was postponed and, just generally, in big ways and small, life across the country took yet more steps toward whatever the new normal may turn out to be.

What has not changed is that any effort the president made to reassure people today, also including plenty of patting himself on the back, blaming past administrations for some problems today and ducking responsibility for important decisions made on his watch, it all came together in this exchange.


REPORTER: Dr. Fauci said earlier this week that the lag in testing was, in fact, a failing, do you take responsibility for that, and when can you guarantee that every single American who needs a test will be able to have a test? What's the date of that?

TRUMP: No, I don't take responsibility at all because we were given a set of circumstances and we were given rules, regulations and specifications from a different time. It wasn't meant for this kind of an event with the kind of numbers that we're talking about.


COOPER: I don't take responsibility at all, he said. The president of the United States, I don't take responsibility at all.

It is a far cry from Harry Truman's motto, the buck stops here, and it did not stop there, and there is also breaking news on efforts to hammer out relief legislation, Nancy Pelosi announcing in an agreement with the administration, but there are what are being called snags, what those are, we don't yet know.

There's plus -- also news on testing and the president himself, CNN's Jim Acosta joins us with more.

So, Jim, has the White House provided any clarity on if the president himself will be tested? And if so, when? I find it hard to believe he hasn't already been tested whether they're saying it or not. JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Anderson, we're

still waiting on officials over here at the White House to tell us when exactly the president will undergo that coronavirus test. I will tell you, talking to my sources, my understand is, is that the president essentially had to be convinced to take this test that advisers around him were urging him to undergo a coronavirus test, and that initially he was resistant to it until ultimately deciding he needed to do that, and for good reason.

I mean, if you look at what happened down at Mar-a-Lago last weekend, that Brazilian official who tested positive for the coronavirus was photographed with the president, and was in touch with lots of other people down there at Mar-a-Lago. We're hearing that there was a fundraiser that occurred at Mar-a-Lago over the weekend, that the president attended, where an attendee there is now coming up positive for the coronavirus.


The Trump campaign is saying the person did not interact with the president but obviously there is, you know, good reason for the president to undergo the test. We're waiting to find out when exactly that's going to happen.

COOPER: You know, the White House disbanded the pandemic office inside the administration under their watch. I want to play this clip of how the president responded when he was asked about that, the disbanding of the pandemic office, which was the administration oversaw in May, back in 2018.

This is what he said today.


REPORTER: Thank you, Mr. President. Yamiche Alcindor from PBS NewsHour.


REPORTER: My first question is you said that you don't take responsibility but you did disband the White House pandemic office and the officials that were working in the office left this administration abruptly. So, what responsibility do you take to that?

And officials that worked in the office said that you -- that the White House lost valuable time because that office was disbanded. What do you make of that?

TRUMP: Well, I just think it's a nasty question because what we've done is -- and Tony had said numerous times that we saved thousands of lives because of the quick closing and when you say me, I didn't do it, we have a group of people. I could --

REPORTER: It's your administration.

TRUMP: I could ask perhaps -- it's my administration, but I could perhaps ask Tony about that because I don't know anything about it.


COOPER: He apparently doesn't know anything about it, he said. I mean, to be specific, it was John Bolton, his national security adviser at the time who oversaw the disbanding of the pandemic unit, and nobody else was rehired for that unit.

Do we know about what the president did or didn't know about it at the time, and why wouldn't he know about it?

ACOSTA: It's a very good question, Anderson.

From what we're hearing from White House officials, the people who were part of the unit did move into other parts of the National Security Council and are doing some of the same functions. That is the official word from the White House.

In terms of why the president doesn't know about this or not taking responsibility for it, Anderson, that is consistent with how he has been since coming into office. He has been the no responsibility president. When I asked him whether he took responsibility for being impeached during the Ukraine saga, he did not take responsibility there, and this is a president during this coronavirus outbreak who said that the virus would miraculously go away when the cases get down to zero, even though we're nowhere near zero at this point.

And so, there have been multiple instances, you know, his downplaying of the problem with the test, that was going smoothly when there wasn't the case. There has been instance after instance. Anderson, you have been cataloging this over the last several weeks where the president was downplaying this crisis.

And so, ultimately, he is responsible for it. He has been president for three years. He likes to say well certain things happened during the Obama administration, he was doing that today at the press conference. Those things didn't happen that he's accusing the Obama administration of doing, disbanding the pandemic office in the National Security Council is something that happened on his watch. So, of course, he's responsible for it.

COOPER: Yes, Jim Acosta, Jim, thanks.

Before we dig further into the more overtly political aspects of the president's remarks, we want to take a look at the public side of all of this.

Joining us right now is CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, also Dr. Leana Wen, emergency room physician and former health commissioner for the city of Baltimore.

Sanjay, what do you make of, first of all, what the president said today? Is this moving in the right direction and what do you think we need to see more of?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, I think we're definitely moving in the right direction. You know, it was just not even two weeks ago when -- as Jim Acosta was just saying, the idea from the White House was this was simply going away, and now, we're -- now, we're declaring this a national emergency.

So, I think the public health officials, many of whom have been advising the president have sort of seen this coming for a long time. So, I think that's clearly the right direction. I think these public- private partnerships sort of getting them more organized and codified I think is important as well. We can't buy back the time, though, Anderson, no matter how much money this ultimately will free up. It's very hard to get those days and weeks back. That's very critical.

There's a couple of things that I think are crucial and the president sort of talked about this near the very end of the press conference, and it goes back to these breathing machines that we've talked about. And I think it's really important because this idea of having the types of resources to take care of the most critically ill patients, we're not sure we have enough of those resources now.

He did say that we will buy them, lots of them. That was his quote. That's how he put it. I think that's a good sign.

Obviously, we want to see these things come to fruition. And you know, we'll have to wait and see over the next hours and days.

COOPER: Yes, Dr. Wen, who knows how -- you know, two weeks ago, the president was saying there were 15 cases and they were all getting better and this was all going to go away.

You know, two weeks in a fast-moving pandemic is a lifetime, and you know, day after day that you don't do stuff, that costs people their lives and potentially the spread of this virus.


The president announcing this new partnership with the private sector. He says it would vastly increase and accelerate our capacity to test for the coronavirus. But the Trump administration has promised millions of tests becoming available. They have been saying -- the president has been saying that the tests, anybody who wants to can get tested.

Now, all of a sudden, they have this public-private partnership because, I mean, they're not acknowledging that the testing hasn't worked because it hasn't gotten out into people's hands. They're just pretending like they never said it was working and now they're just saying it's going to get better.

DR. LEANA WEN, FORMER BALTIMORE CITY HEALTH COMMISSIONER: That's right, and it's extremely frustrating to be a clinician or a patient who needs this test. What we really need is a realistic timeline that the president and public health officials can stick to. And say, by this time, we'll have X number of tests available, and here are the patients we're testing now. Here are the patients we'll be able to test in time to come, because right now, clinicians have no idea. We as a society have no idea how many cases are out there of people who actually have COVID-19 but just don't know it. It's so frustrating and terrifying to be a patient in that situation too.

COOPER: And that question was asked by a reporter today and the president essentially said, you know, well, you know, anybody who wants to can be tested. That's been happening for a long time.

But when he let the vice president take over, I listened very carefully to the vice president's answer, I think it was roughly a minute and a half long, two minutes long. It was a complete non- answer, it just stretched over a long period of time, and he had another doctor come up to just back him up on what he said, and she went into very detailed things about the test itself.

But again, there was no answer to when Americans can actually get tested who want to be tested or need to be tested, like they have not answered that question.

WEN: And clinicians really need to know because we have patients coming to us saying that they need testing. They have symptoms, they're concerned about spreading it to their loved ones and we at least need a time line, and something to tell them other than just, wait and see.

COOPER: Sanjay, I want to play an exchange the president had with a reporter over the meeting with the Brazilian official who tested positive for the coronavirus.

Let's play that.


REPORTER: Dr. Fauci said this morning if you stand next to somebody who tested positive you should self-isolate and get a test. You say your White House doctor is tell you something different. Who should Americans listen to, and my second question is --

TRUMP: I think they have to listen to their doctors, and shouldn't be jumping to get the test unless it's necessary but I think they have to listen to their doctors. I haven't seen the picture. Somebody said there's a picture with somebody taking a picture with me, but I haven't seen it. But I can tell you --

REPORTER: The doctors said you might have it even if you don't have symptoms. Are you being selfish by not being tested and potentially --

TRUMP: Well, I didn't say I wasn't going to be tested.

REPORTER: Are you going to be?

TRUMP: Most likely, yes. Most likely, not for that reason, but because I think I will do it anyway.

REPORTER: Will you let us know the results.

TRUMP: Fairly soon, we're working on that -- we're working out the schedules.


COOPER: Sanjay, I mean, there's the question of this president setting a bad example, there's also a question is he just lying here again because the idea that his schedule is so busy that he can't get somebody to give him a test. He has an entire Secret Service which is designed to protect his life.


COOPER: If they allow pathogen -- if they allow a virus to infect the president and nobody tests him, that just seems like, you know, security malpractice.

GUPTA: Yes, I mean, look, there's a lot of tough calls in this whole thing, but it is not one of them. He should be tested. He would fit his own criteria, I mean, the CDC's own criteria for having head contact with someone who tested positive for the virus, he should probably -- he may need to be isolated for a period of time.

I mean, look, I think the point the reporter was trying to make who asked the question, if he is positive and doesn't know it, I mean, he's interacting with a lot of people, and he was shaking a lot of hands today even at the lectern, if he's passing this virus on unknowingly, so, that's obviously -- that's a terrible thing.

So, I think he's got -- he's got to be tested. He said he would. Like you, I'm not sure what the hold up is, because this is of concern and not just for him, for him for certain but all the people around him.

COOPER: Dr. Wen, do you think this has sunk in with the public to the extent it needs to? I mean, should gyms be open? You know, should people be working out next to each other? Should, you know, I was out and about, there were people not, you know, next to each other. Not within, you know, well closer than 3 feet together talking with each other, complete strangers, you know, on subways.

I mean, is -- is it sinking in yet?

WEN: I think people are realizing how serious this is. It hasn't hit home for most of us, but we do see the charts, we see what's happened in other countries.


And we know that it's only a matter of time, and we're talking about days to weeks before we have tens of thousands of more cases in the U.S. and we have a chance to make a difference, individual actions now will make a difference in protecting all of us as a society.

COOPER: Dr. Gupta, Dr. Wen, thank you very much. Appreciate it.

Coming up next, more on how the country may respond to what the president said today, especially in the wake of an Oval Office address this week that did not reassure most people. The question for political professionals was today any different?

Also in that vein, we'll be joined by former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci. We'll be right back.


COOPER: I've been talking tonight about the president's emergency declaration, how it's been received, as well as the way he evaded accountability for the delay in testing, saying, quote, I don't take responsibility at all. Also the contact he had with one or more people who since tested positive for the virus.

Joining us now to talk about what his answers and demeanor to the public and say about how he continues to approach the crisis, CNN political analyst, and "New York Times" White House correspondent Maggie Haberman who broke the story of the second Mar-a-Lago guest who may have come in contact with the president.

Also, CNN senior political analyst, and former president adviser, David Gergen, and CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash.

So, Maggie, President Trump has been hesitant to acknowledge the threat the virus faces certainly. Today, he did take a big step in declaring a national emergency, frees up funds, how does the announcement help to curb the criticism that he's been facing?

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Anderson, I actually think that it would have gone much further way had he not taken questions at this announcement. I think that while he was standing with these officials, both health experts and corporate officials who oversee some of the nation's biggest drugstore chains, that diluted some of his own credibility problem that he has handed himself with things he has said that have been inaccurate about the number of people that would be sick, what he said about testing and with his own speech the other night which had inaccuracies in it.

But he didn't stop there. He decided to take questions because he likes to be the last one talking, and it got contentious at points. He said things that were not true and he claimed to know nothing about, and maybe he doesn't about what was done by his former national security adviser John Bolton in folding in the pandemic or global disaster section of the NSC into a WMD directorate.

Whether he knew it or not, he should have known it, and asking a president like that is not abnormal, he's not the first president to get questions about what happens in his administration. And he acts as if it's a personal front every time this happens.

And then there's the other question I just want to make clear here of his health, which is he was around this aide to the Brazilian president over the weekend at Mar-a-Lago. He has said he's not getting tested. He said today maybe he will. Likely he will. I don't know that that means anything.

He's doing himself actions that health experts have said people shouldn't do if they have been in contact with somebody who has the coronavirus. He was shaking hands today. He was talking into a microphone that everyone else was talking into. That is going to raise fresh questions and it should. COOPER: Yes. I mean, Dr. Anthony Fauci I learned last night is 78

years old.


COOPER: And he's a legendary person who's desperately needed right now. If the president is sick, and gets people on the coronavirus task force sick, I mean, that's -- David, you know, that's the concern. It's not only as Maggie pointed out, the president undermining his own task force's important, you know, fact-based messaging, he's not only undermining with his own non-fact based misinformation, he's undermining it with his actual actions, shaking hands in front of cameras, dismissing the idea of taking a test.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, he acts as if he doesn't really believe in what he's saying, that he's only doing it because he's under pressure. He has to do something.

But I do think stepping back from this, Anderson, most Americans do want their president to succeed in a crisis, and I think they want Donald Trump to do some things, and I think he will get some points today for declaring a national emergency, making much more funds available. Certainly, Wall Street responded well to that.

He's going to get a lot of points for pushing -- expanding the tests and if he gets a deal with Pelosi which may be in some trouble tonight, he'll get credit for that.

But if you -- but a lot of Americans are also going to judge him. I think he's teetering on the edge because of the complacency in the past, and letting this many precious weeks pass without urgent action, and allowing the numbers of people who are infected to probably go up to much higher than they would be otherwise.

But I -- Americans are asking how is it possible that we have only tested just about 20,000 people in the same period of time when Italy was on the front edge of this -- I mean, South Korea tested 100,000 people in the time it's taken us to do 20,000. That's crazy.

And I do think the testing is going to be a real key in the next two or three weeks. My bet is a lot of people think it's going to be easy to get these tests and they're going to be much more bureaucratic, they're much harder to get signoffs than anybody believes.

We have doctors here in Boston, you know, who have -- are treating patients and trying to get them tested and I've heard of one case where two people who had to be -- they were denied having tests by the bureaucracy because they were not in the ICU. That was a pre- requirement to be in the ICU. That's crazy.

COOPER: Yes, and, Maggie, Dana, we saw the president shaking hands over and over. Obviously we know the CDC has said do not do.


COOPER: Is there any sense within the White House that president Trump has a responsibility to set an example for people and, you know, we all know that, you know, evangelical leaders say they don't want a pastor in chief, they're not looking for a moral leader anymore, but what about just a, you know, a scientifically responsible leader?


BASH: Absolutely. You know, it was only one of the businessmen who kind of had the presence of mind, and it's understandable when you're in the Rose Garden, it's the president of the United States, you know, offering you a spot at the podium, putting your hand out, it's hard not to do that, but, of course, there's a responsibility to not do that.

And that goes to the whole question that David Gergen knows better than any of us of leadership, which is and should be genuinely nonpartisan in a time like this, and just look at what happened just at the very end of the trading day with the stock markets, they did rally because, you know, there is a yearning for somebody who is showing that there is a grown up in the room, and not only has Donald Trump until frankly today, a little bit with the speech, but because as Maggie said it was so riddled with errors, it contradicted the very policies that he was saying he put in place, it's because he has been down playing and undermining the really grave public health risk that is here by saying, oh, no, nothing to see here, because he has been so worried about the economy that has made the economy even worse.

Today, you know, he made it as if the country is on a war footing, bringing together the key member or some key members of the private sector, never mind the members of the medical community and the infectious disease experts that he has been relying on, and it was a much, much more calming event than we have seen before except for the handshaking and the things that they're doing that is not -- they're not leading by example.

That was definitely problematic, but in terms of the show of force, better than before. That's true.

COOPER: Maggie, you know, you and I were talking about the president saying that he hadn't, that he didn't know anything about the White House pandemic office being disbanded, and I just want to play that for our viewers.


REPORTER: Thank you, Mr. President. Yamiche Alcindor from PBS NewsHour.


REPORTER: My first question is you said that you don't take responsibility but you did disband the White House pandemic office and the officials that were working in the office left this administration abruptly. So, what responsibility do you take to that?

And officials that worked in the office said that you -- that the White House lost valuable time because that office was disbanded. What do you make of that?

TRUMP: Well, I just think it's a nasty question because what we've done is -- and Tony had said numerous times that we saved thousands of lives because of the quick closing and when you say me, I didn't do it, we have a group of people. I could --

REPORTER: It's your administration.

TRUMP: I could ask perhaps -- it's my administration, but I could perhaps ask Tony about that because I don't know anything about it. I mean, you say we did that, I don't know anything about it.


COOPER: So, Maggie, he says he didn't know anything about it. Still doesn't know anything about it. You say he did, a nasty question.

We just found a moment from a press conference from February 26th being asked about these very cuts and I want to play that.


REPORTER: -- cut the system, you called for enormous cuts to the CDC, the NIH and the WHO. You talked a lot today about how these professionals are actually critical and necessary. Does this experience at all give you pause about them --

TRUMP: No, because we can get money, and we can increase staff. We know where all the people. We know where all the good people. It's a question I asked the doctors before. Some of the people we cut, they haven't been used for many, many years, and if we have a need, we can get them very quickly.


COOPER: So, it seems like he knew something about it on February 26th.

HABERMAN: Right, I think he was defensive about the question. I want to note quickly, I think David and Dana are absolutely right, everything they announced on testing was important and a big step forward and on the national emergency he was getting praise from people like Bill de Blasio.

But then he answers a question like the one Yamiche Alcindor asked him, the way that he did, which is not just to say he didn't know what she was talking about -- he got personal with her and nasty and said something about her that was just not true about how she left her previous role. She worked with us at "The New York Times" where she was loved. Now she's at PBS.

When you do something like that, it is not -- and he does things like that often. It is not just -- you know, a momentary blip that everyone should look away from. It was how he was answering a substantive question about his administration, he chose to make it personal, and I'm sorry that is something people are going to factor into their reporting and into their assessment of how this event.

BASH: And can I just add one thing --

COOPER: First of all, I got to say, it's a woman asking him a question, a tough question, and he uses the word nasty in relation to women, we know this.

BASH: Yes, that is not --


BASH: Absolutely, that is not the first time, nasty or rude.

But on the substance of it, the other thing is that not only was the president asked about it last month, there has been, you know, report after report, a reminder, I should say, from members of Congress, people who had important jobs like this in the past --

COOPER: Right.


BASH: -- from real-time, you know, trying to, you know, raise real big concerns about him disbanding it. Sherrod Brown, for example, wrote a letter in 2018 as soon as this happened saying this is a very big mistake, Mr. President. You need these people in place in case a pandemic happened, and shockingly he didn't get a response.

COOPER: Yes. He's not responsible. He doesn't know anything about it. We got to leave it there. Maggie Haberman, David Gergen, Dana Bash, thank you.

Perspective is next from a White House insider about what to make our President who claims he doesn't take any responsibility for the central aspect of the crisis on his watch.



COOPER: You heard at the top of the program what President Trump had to say about his part in managing the coronavirus pandemic. It's worth repeating both the question he was asked and his reply.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dr. Fauci said earlier this week that the lag in testing was in fact a failing. Do you take responsibility for that? And when can you guarantee that every single American who needs a test will be able to have a test? What's the date of that?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes. No, I don't take responsibility at all because we were given a set of circumstances and we were given rules, regulations and specifications from a different time. It wasn't meant for this kind of an event with the kind of numbers that we're talking about. (END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: With me now, President Trump's former White House Director of Communications Anthony Scaramucci. Anthony, what do you think today did, not only as positive for combating the virus, which is the most important thing, but also on the President?

ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Well, they definitely took steps to combat the virus, but I think they had a very big failing over the last seven days where the President, you know, a sign of leadership obviously is the buck stops with him. He said twice today that it doesn't stop with him. He doesn't take any responsibility. But he did something really bad this week, which I think is going to hurt him in November.

He -- a good leader defines the problem, directs people to where he wants to take the American public, but speaks very honestly to them. And so, he's had three attempts. I was on your show a few weeks ago, I said that was a trillion dollars. He took another couple of trillion dollars out of the market and then they staged that today at 3:00 with everybody on the podium there to try to get the market lifted back up.

And so it was successful in the short term, Anderson, but the real colossal mistake is that the American people have lost trust in him. Maybe the red state voters and people that are watching Fox are going to still hang in there, but the average person is looking at what he's doing and saying, wait a minute, we can't really trust what he's doing. He's overreacting to the situation without any moral compass or any scientific compass. And so, I think those things are really going to haunt him come November.

COOPER: How did the President's, you know, address to the nation, how was that allowed to happen by allegedly professionals who are around him in the White House? I mean, it was disastrous.

I mean, it did nothing, if you want -- you know, if the very basic point of that was to, you know, calm people and at least give a sense of, you know what, I got my arms around this, we're working on this. I hear -- you know, I believe in science and we're going to beat this thing, it did none of those things.

SCARAMUCCI: Yes. And you could tell from his body language, he knew that that did not go off well. Those were 10 disastrous minutes. He's made three really bad sorts of speeches, but that was by far the worst one. And the main reason why it was so bad was a combination of his body language, his lack of certainty about what he was saying.

And then the last piece, which I think really spooks markets, and again, forget about partisanship or liking the President or disliking the President, just looking at it objectively, I run about $10.5 billion of capital, and every time he was speaking, he was causing people to get into cash as quickly as possible.

So again, why that happened? We both know why that's happening. The people that are surrounding him are afraid of him. He's a little unstable. He acts in this really bellicose way towards his staff and they're, you know, they're on pins and needles.

There's a couple of guys inside that more or less said to me, hey, you know, I'm here. It's better to have me here than like Alex Jones or somebody like that. And so I'm just going to keep my mouth shut and I'm going to get under the bunker and hope for the best and hopefully I can make some incremental changes here to help the American people.

But you know, the whole place is under siege and they're making a very big mistake. They would be much better off teaming up and having an intervention with the President and just say, OK, look, it's not going well the way you're handling this. Can we just take a pause in the system?

And so, that sort of happened a little bit today, because he was allowing other people to take the podium, but he needs to do way more of that. And we're leaving out the elephant in the room, Anderson, is that we're way behind the curve on surveillance and testing here. Anybody that looks at this situation from a public health point of view knows that, and he's not telling the truth.

You could have a hundred million people infected with this disease over the next six to eight weeks and he's got to be very honest with the American people and explain how that fans out, and how we eventually get immunity, and how we can eventually solve the problem, but he's done none of that. And I think that's why people are in such a turmoil, particularly here in New York City which is one of the hot zones.


COOPER: You know, the one thing you want in a disaster of any kind, whether it's a hurricane, you know, a financial collapse, a military takeover, you want to have a sense that there are good people working on it and they are focused like a laser on it, and that they are telling you the truth.

And that is what, you know, the truth takes on an even greater importance than in normal times and that's, I think, to me just personally as a citizen, the most worrying thing when you just get a sense that what they are saying is not what you yourself are seeing in your doctor's office when you try to get a test or whatever it may be.

You know, there's a tweet on the President talking about leadership in 2013 saying, "Leadership: Whatever happens, you're responsible." I mean, you know, there's a tweet for everything. If it doesn't happen, you're responsible he even says.

SCARAMUCCI: Two quick things, I would say May 1940 when Winston Churchill took over the parliament, and I would also say Rudy Giuliani right after 9/11 in terms of the compassion he had and the speeches that he was giving.


SCARAMUCCI: And so, you have to rise to that occasion and the President is failing at that. He's got to be more responsible. He should bring out Harry Truman's the buck stops here, put it on the desk, see if that helps him a little bit.

COOPER: Yes. Anthony Scaramucci, I appreciate it. Thanks. Good to talk to you.

SCARAMUCCI: Good to be here.

COOPER: The early empty streets of many Italian cities are a stark reminder of not only the physical but the psychological impacts of the coronavirus. And it's important, I think, to talk about that for what may and may, let's hope it doesn't, but what may be ahead for American citizens.

I'm going to talk to a Harvard trained psychologist about how this country's reacting to the possibility of scenes like that happening here.



COOPER: People all over the world are reacting in very different ways, of course, to the coronavirus. There's frustration, anger, hope -- in Italy, and also fear, we should point out. In Italy, the hardest hit European nation, the people in this apartment broke out in their country's national anthem. Listen.



COOPER: They're physically isolated but they are not alone. They are together in this. Scenes like this seem especially poignant when the entire nation is on lock down in Italy, and it's certainly one way of dealing with this crisis, facing it together.

Joining me now is Gretchen Schmelzer, a psychologist and author. Gretchen, you write, "Yes, you need to wash your hands and stay home if you're sick. But the biggest work you can do is expand your heart and mind to see yourself and see your family as part of a much bigger community that can have a massive, hugely massive impact on the lives of other people."

I think -- I read your blog post and I just think it's so important. So, can you just talk to us about that, about sort of the idea of this not being about us, it's about us protecting others, the weakness, the most vulnerable.

GRETCHEN SCHMELZER, PSYCHOLOGIST, AUTHOR: Absolutely. You know, I think when you're talking earlier about Italy and the stress we're all feeling, you know, it's important to recognize that extreme stress has a predictable physiological effect. It makes us narrow our focus. It makes us kind of become our smallest selves.

And it's really important for us to lower our stress to expand ourselves to our bigger selves so that we can see the bigger picture, so we can remember that I'm not just an I, I'm a we. I'm not just a family, I'm a community. I'm not just an organization, I'm a city. And it's not easy to do that. It takes a lot of discipline.

COOPER: And I think especially in this polarized day and age, but also just in regular times, you know, it's only in wars or disasters or big events that we as citizens are called upon to be better than our regular selves. We are called upon to be -- to sort of relearn what citizenship is all about, and this is one of those opportunities, I think.

SCHMELZER: Absolutely. I grew up with the stories of my grandmother in the great depression and hearing how entire families and communities pooled their gas ration tickets so that my grandmother's grandmother could go to her college graduation far away.

And you know, there were times when people stepped up and I feel like people just needed the permission to do that in some ways. I think that we had gotten so engaged in fear over the last week that people weren't looking up. They weren't feeling like they could do something.

COOPER: It also seems like, maybe I just spent a little too much time on Instagram, but I'm getting sick of watching people sort of make videos in the supermarket and they're talking about, oh, my god, it's so chaotic here, and we got to get stuff.

And you know, I feel like this is a time for all of us to put down our phones and to sort of, if you can, OK, you have to stay 6 to 3 feet away from somebody, but you can still reach out to somebody in different ways, and you can reach out to a larger society.

And I feel like if you're going to post stuff on Instagram, it's not about you and your needs in the midst of this disaster. It should be about, you know, the doctors who are working around the clock right now whose names we will never know who are trying to save the rest of us by taking care of those who are most vulnerable.

SCHMELZER: Right. I mean, there was a -- has been and really was on Tuesday, when I wrote this, a real vacuum of leadership about what people could actually do to be helpful in under stress. You know, severe stress also makes us feel hopeless. And the antidote to hopelessness is action or agency.


But this was a paradoxical situation and that what would feel like doing something was actually not going to helpful. We needed people to understand that inaction, staying home, not going out and taking everything that they're not doing --

COOPER: So what do you recommend people do? What can we do?

SCHMELZER: I mean, it's starting to happen. So I think schools have stopped classes. I think people can stay home. I think that people can reach out to the elderly, who are afraid to go to the food store. I think we can shop local or order food from restaurants that, you know, might go out of business.

I think that we -- you can read books on video and send them to your nieces and nephews who are out of school. I think, conversely, I think nieces and nephews can put on a show and tape it and send it to their grandparents, who might not be able to leave the house.

I think we can get out in nature and go for walks. You know, this might be a really good time to reconnect with nature in a way that we haven't been able to because we haven't slowed down.

COOPER: Yes. I mean, I'm going to look in ways to do that in my own life. And I just think trying to, again, focus on that we are all part of a larger community. It's very easy to think of ourselves only, but that we are part of a larger community, beyond just our families, and I think that I hope is something we see more of in the coming days. Gretchen Schmelzer, I'd like to talk to you again. I appreciate your time. Thank you.

SCHMELZER: Thank you so much, Anderson. Bye.

COOPER: Still to come on a very busy night, a breaking news, the latest on the coronavirus relief legislation that so many people are working -- waiting for. We'll be right back.



COOPER: Let's check in with Chris to see what he's working on for "Cuomo Prime Time". Chris?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: How you doing, Coop? So, we're going to shift to war mode because that's what this is. The virus is an enemy and we have to take it on as such.

You and I remember, you and the audience, you're so brilliantly took them on the journey of what happened to Katrina. That's where we are now. So, I asked for Russel Honore, the general, to come on, to remind us what wartime looks like, how you prepare for this, what we need to do and not do. And we're going to do that with the politic -- political side, as well, about what's going to happen in Congress and will it be enough?

COOPER: All right. Good advice, Chris. We look forward to that. Thanks very much.

Just ahead, a deal reached on the virus relief bill that lawmakers in the White House have been trying to agree on.


COOPER: We have breaking news this evening on the tense negotiations between House Democrats and the White House over that coronavirus relief bill that we mentioned at the top of the hour.

Moments ago, President Trump tweeted his full support for what he called a compromise. And separately, we learned a deal has, in fact, been reached between the White House and lawmakers. Vote on it is expected tonight. That's it for us. The news continues. I want to hand it over to Chris for "Cuomo Prime Time". Chris?