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Four States Order Non-Essential Workers To Stay Home To Slow The Spread Of Coronavirus; Member Of NY Governor's Staff Tests Positive For Coronavirus; Washington Post: Intel Warnings Of Virus Threat Went Unheeded. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired March 20, 2020 - 21:00   ET




ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Hey, I'm Anderson Cooper, New York City, joining you from my house tonight. Someone in my staff may have tested positive for Coronavirus, so out of an abundance of caution, I'm broadcasting from my house.

My whole staff is in their homes. Nobody is at the -- the office this evening. And I don't have any symptoms. I don't have any -- I feel fine. It's just out of an abundance of caution.

Topping this second hour of 360, a lot going on today, a lot to get you caught up.

The three largest cities in the country are now or will soon be all but completely shut down, stay-at-home orders in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, California, the State of New York also, and in the State of Illinois, and in Connecticut as well.

Tens of millions of people now facing unprecedented dislocation, the impacts of this just beginning to get felt, and I'm not just talking about the health impacts on people, the financial impacts, the ripple effects of this are just devastating.

We are just getting, you know, we're seeing more and more calls for ventilators, for supplies, medical supplies.

The Mayor of New York has, for days now, been saying they are -- his health system is -- is under threat. He's talking about two weeks or three weeks before they start to see real, real shortages of just basic protective equipment.

Growing questions about the availability of testing, why is it still not in place? And why can no one give a date when it's going to be up and running for everybody who needs it? Lot of questions about the protective gear for medical professionals, the ventilators, the personnel to treat the critical cases.

So, in the hour ahead, we're going to focus on -- on all of that. We want to get you up to date, talk to medical professionals on hand to answer your questions as well. Want to begin in CNN -- excuse me, in Los Angeles with CNN's Nick Watt.

Nick, what's the latest?

NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, this is one of those three large U.S. cities now on this stay-at-home order, 4 million people. So, listen, the streets aren't deserted.

I'm just going to step out of the way though. This is possibly my least favorite freeway in this city. This is rush hour. This is normally a parking lot. And today, boy is it moving freely?


MAYOR ERIC GARCETTI (D-CA): This is the day everything changed.

WATT: Californians, New Yorkers, the populations of Illinois and Connecticut will all soon be under orders to stay home. That's more than 70 million Americans.

GOV. JB PRITZKER (D-IL): To avoid the loss of potentially tens of thousands of lives, we must enact an immediate stay-at-home order for the State of Illinois.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): These provisions will be enforced.

This is the most drastic action we can take.

WATT: People can go to the store, get out for some solitary exercise, but stop socializing.

CUOMO: "We're going to go visit mom. I'm going to bring the whole family to see mom," no, not now.

WATT: Essential workers are exempt, like food service and healthcare providers, who are still struggling nationwide to find the supplies to keep themselves safe, and treat the sick.

DR. PETER HOTEZ, BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: We're starting to see those individuals become sick as well, and be taken out of the work force, or in some -- in some cases become seriously ill. So, here's where everything can fall apart very quickly.

WATT: In Los Angeles, they're erecting tents in hospital parking lots to treat Coronavirus patients, distillers now making sanitizer for first responders, nurses making their own masks.

DR. MEGAN RANNEY, EMERGENCY PHYSICIAN, LIFESPAN/BROWN UNIVERSITY: We absolutely feel like we are in this alone.

WATT: The U.S. is the biggest economy on earth. And the Mayor of our most populous city is saying it will run out of medical supplies in two or three weeks.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D-NY): I have made repeated appeals to the federal government to get us basic medical supplies, and there is no meaningful response. Where the hell is the federal government in the middle of the biggest crisis we've seen in generations?

WATT: The President says he has now pulled the trigger on the Defense Production Act, giving himself essentially wartime authority over private industry to produce supplies.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have a lot of people working very hard to do ventilators and various other things. We have millions of masks, which are coming, and which will be distributed to the states.

WATT: Goldman Sachs now estimates that this week, 2.25 million Americans filed for their first week of unemployment. If that estimate is accurate, it would be eight times last week's figure, and an all- time record.

All interest on federal student loans now suspended, tax deadline day pushed three months to July 15th.

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): This is not a permanent state. This is a moment in time.



WATT: And, you know, here in L.A., Mayor Garcetti just held a press conference. And during that conference, he said "It's OK to cry, it's OK to be scared, but it's also right to be hopeful." And he said, "Thank you everybody for doing all of this, for each other."

Strange times!

And over in New Orleans, the Mayor has said that they are also going to go under a similar stay-at-home order. When New Orleans stops the party, Anderson, we know we've got some problems.

COOPER: Yes, they've been hard-hit. Nick Watt, appreciate it, thanks very much.

Joining us right now is New York City Councilman Ritchie Torres, who has been diagnosed with -- with Coronavirus.

Councilman Torres, first of all, just how are you feeling? What does it feel like to actually have it?

RITCHIE TORRES, (D) NYC COUNCILMAN, DIAGNOSED WITH CORONAVIRUS: Thankfully, well it's an honor to be with you. Thankfully, my symptoms have been mild, so I'm feeling largely fine. My team is feeling fine.

Over the weekend, my Chief of Staff had serious symptoms, fever, coughing, vomiting, so he underwent testing, and came to discover that he had the Coronavirus, which prompted me to undergo testing, and I found out that I too have the virus.

And so, since then, I directed my team to immediately isolate themselves, and I've been isolated, and will remain so for a period of two weeks, to avoid spreading the virus to others, including my mother who at age 60, struggles with chronic conditions.

COOPER: Councilman Torres, if you could just speak to the -- I mean there's the health factor on this, but just the economic impact, particularly on the most vulnerable in -- in our communities.

I mean, you know, folks working, you know, hour-by-hour pay -- not just paycheck to paycheck, tip-to-tip, in many cases, and, you know, people who are already in difficult circumstances, and this is just I mean this is devastating for, I don't know how many people are -- are going to get brought down by this.

TORRES: The Coronavirus outbreak has the potential to radically reshape life, as we know it.

It -- it could be even more catastrophic economically than 9/11 and the Financial Crisis in 2008. There are -- there are businesses and families -- families that have been ravaged.

It's one thing to have a slowdown in economic activity. It's something else to see whole sectors of the New York City economy, entertainment, art, food, hospitality brought to a grinding halt.

So, I worry about long-term unemployment, and people who could be driven to all the pathologies that come with long-term unemployment, whether it be alcoholism or substance abuse or mental illness or deaths of despair, which is already an epidemic in America.

COOPER: I was talking to a small business owner today, who was saying he's supposed to pay payroll taxes today.

And, you know, and was asking well is that going to be deferred, and was told well you still have to file, but you can ask for a deferment, it turns out on the -- on the government's website, you actually can't ask for a deferment.

I mean there's so many things that, you know, financial deadlines that people have, whether it's individuals or business owners who, you know, landlords are telling people "Well you still got to pay the rent because I still have to make my mortgage," it doesn't seem like businesses have or -- or government has caught up to where all the -- to answer all the questions that people have right now.

TORRES: Not at all. People are struggling to survive. And we desperately need an infusion of economic support from the federal government. The Coronavirus outbreak demonstrates why we need a comprehensive social safety net in the United States to catch all of us when we fall.

Programs like Universal Healthcare and paid sick time, serve as automatic stabilizers in the lives of everyday Americans, especially in a moment of an outbreak, which has brought catastrophic losses to everyday businesses and families.

COOPER: Councilman Torres, I appreciate you talking to us from -- from in-home, quarantined, and sick, and we wish you a speedy recovery, and -- and Godspeed getting back to work and -- and getting help to folks. Thank you so much, Councilman.

I want to go to Dr. Jeremy Faust. He's an Emergency Room Physician for Boston Brigham & Women's Hospital. He's also an Instructor at Harvard Medical School. He joins us now.

Dr. Faust, when it comes to supplies potentially running out, I mean I hear from doctors now, all the time, who are raising red flags saying, you know, you got to shout this from the rooftops, you know, we're really worried about what may be coming down the pike.

DR. JEREMY FAUST, EMERGENCY ROOM PHYSICIAN, INSTRUCTOR, HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL, BRIGHAM & WOMEN'S HOSPITAL: That's right, Anderson. Here's what, I think, everyone needs to understand.

ER doctors, nurses, the whole staff, we came for this, we are ready for this fight, if we have what we need at our disposal. You don't ask Danica Patrick to run the Daytona 500 without a seat belt. And so, without that, we can't do our jobs.

Let me tell you about some colleagues of mine.


Regan Marsh, who I work with here, she'll fly to Africa, she'll go to Sierra Leone and Liberia, volunteers to work on Ebola, and they -- no problem, not scared. I ask, when they get home, like a -- like a third grader like "Were you scared?" That's my main question. You know, we talk about academics but -- and they say, "No."

But now I'm hearing that people are actually scared because we can't do our jobs properly. So, people are kind of wondering "What can I do to help?" because they're -- they're literally locked down, and they don't know what to do.

And my message is help us do our jobs by, as you say, Anderson, cry from the rooftops to give us what we need, the safety stuff we need, and I can tell you a little bit more about that.

COOPER: Well yes, I mean do I -- how -- how bad is it? You know, we -- we don't have cameras in -- in the hospitals.

And obviously there's, you know, a patient help -- privacy laws, HIPAA laws, and doctors are working, and you don't want to expose more people, who coming from the outside, to document what's happening.

But is it as bad as, I mean, right now, is it just a concern about what may be coming? Is it what you're already seeing?

FAUST: Yes. Well for one thing, I think it takes us all aback when we have to ration. This is the United States of America, and we're rationing. That just doesn't feel right.

So, yes, there's a question of -- and I would -- to answer your question directly is it depends on where you are. I think some places are fine, and some places are actually really hurting. And that's why you're seeing the CDC put out guidelines that you never would have thought you'd see in there, saying if you have to do the bandana, you have to do it. That's just crazy to hear that. But they're -- they're doing the best they can.

But here's the thing I actually think might be helpful. The big question is, is the -- is the PPE, the protective gear, is it coming, or is it not?

And there's a lot -- there's a lot of confusion there. And as an ER doctor, I'm actually very practical. I can just -- I can just say, "Look, I don't know if it's coming or not, and so I can't act upon that."

But what I can do is actually do something else more practical, and say, let's actually address another way to save this equipment, which is to address our capacity because if we are overrun with capacity, then we're actually going to chew through more PPE.

And so, the two ways I see of doing that right now, number one, is a very simple proposal that Cass Sunstein and I wrote today in the -- in The Washington Post, which is open up hotels, lease hotels to the federal government, and use them for isolation for very mild cases who don't need medical attention.

The federal government has indicated that sites like this would not have to provide medical care, but they could provide--


FAUST: --a safe place for people who really don't have symptoms to go. And just think what that'll do for the economy, and for places like Elmhurst and Queens, where I trained, where there's poor people they can't isolate. And so, that's a really big thing.

And the other thing we can do is to help doctors like me not feel like a decision I make about who to send home, and who to admit is going to lead to some kind of legal problem down the road. We need to know the -- the American people have our back.

And so, we've asked, at that level, at the federal level and the state level, to take a look at that, and Alex Azar has been -- has been briefed on that by the President of my college, Bill Jaquis, the American College of Emergency Physicians, and we're looking for that to happen.

These are things that will help us keep the capacity down, so we don't burn through the stuff.

COOPER: Yes. Dr. Faust, I appreciate it. And those -- I hope people are listening to those very specific recommendations. We'll check in with you down the road. Thank you for all you--

FAUST: All right, be well, thank you very much.

COOPER: --you and your colleagues are -- are doing. Coming up next, we're going to take a look at what drugs may hold promise against the virus, and we're going to talk about the science, what actually we know versus what the President talked about.

He fix -- he seemed fixated on one drug that's linked to Chloroquine, which is a drug that's been used to treat Malaria for -- for an awfully long time. I've taken it for -- for quite a long time when -- when needed.

But the question is there's no actual scientific evidence. There's just anecdotal evidence, and that's not evidence at all. That's just anecdotes. We'll talk about facts ahead.



COOPER: Welcome back. I'm broadcasting from my home because someone on our staff believes they may have been testing positive for the Coronavirus, so waiting to hear, so out of an abundance of caution, broadcasting from the home tonight.

Want to talk about drugs that -- that may be something that -- that might prove to work with testing to fight this virus.

The President -- we bring it up tonight because the President in today's briefing seemed to kind of tout this -- this drug commonly used for Malaria, which sort of a Chloroquine substance and, in some cases, for autoimmune diseases.

There's no actual scientific evidence it works. There's anecdotal evidence, as Dr. Anthony Fauci, and others, have pointed out, and Dr. Fauci has, you know, cautioned reading too much into this.

The President though has said he has a good feeling about it and, you know, just kind of putting it out there, we want to talk about the actual facts and the science behind it.

Dr. Timothy Schacker, Infectious Disease Specialist, joins us now, so is Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and CNN's Medical Analyst, Dr. Seema Yasmin. She's Director of the Stanford Health Communication Initiative.

Dr. Schacker, can you, Schacker, can you just walk us through the three drug trials that you are on right now?

DR. TIMOTHY SCHACKER, VICE DEAN FOR RESEARCH, UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA MEDICAL SCHOOL: Yes. So, we have -- the first drug is the one that you talked about, Hydroxychloroquine that has been used in the treatment of Malaria and some rheumatologic diseases. The second drug is a drug called Losartan. It's a high blood pressure drug. And then the third one is Remdesivir.

And the way we've divided this up is we're thinking of it as either to prevent the infection, so we're looking for people who have been exposed to somebody who's with a known infection, and we're going to give them Hydroxychloroquine, and see if we can prevent that infection from occurring.

The second drug Losartan, is for people, in our study, is for people who test positive, but are without symptoms. And we want to find out if we can prevent them from actually becoming symptomatic by giving them this drug.

And this is an interesting drug because it -- its mechanism of action is actually against the receptor that the virus uses to get into the cell. So, we have reason to believe that -- that this drug might actually be helpful in the treatment of the infection.

And then the third drug is Remdesivir that's--


SCHACKER: Go ahead.

COOPER: No, no, I'm sorry to interrupt.

SCHACKER: That's--

COOPER: Go ahead.

SCHACKER: That's the drug from Gilead that is going to be used for treatment of the symptomatic or severe disease, and that drug was originally developed to treat Ebola and Marburg virus. Didn't work there, but some early testing suggest that that it may have activity against these -- this particular Coronavirus.


So, that's a multi-center trial run by the NIH. And it's running, I think, in 30 centers across the country and internationally as well.

COOPER: Do you have a sense, just a timeline, of when -- you know, I don't know how long clinical trials last, and I guess it differs for -- for drugs, but do you have a sense of when you will actually know one way or the other whether any of these have -- have any efficacy?

SCHACKER: Sure. So, you know, when you're do -- when you're designing a drug trial, you -- you need to put enough people in each arm to tell if there's a difference between the active drug and the inactive drug, if you will.

And so, if you've got a disease that's rare, or not very common, it takes a long time to recruit. Sadly, I think, here, it's not going to take long at all.

In fact, in the Hydroxychloroquine trial that we opened on Monday, we've had brisk enquiries and -- and recruitments into that study.

Once they're on study, you know, the -- and the short time after the last person comes off study, the code is broken and -- and we'll have preliminary results as to whether this drug is effective or not.

Same is true-- COOPER: And--

SCHACKER: --for the other two trials.

COOPER: And how long does that usually take to get preliminary results?

SCHACKER: After the last patient comes off. That can happen--

COOPER: And do you -- do you have a sense of--

SCHACKER: --that can happen in -- yes, in weeks.

COOPER: OK. Weeks, OK, interesting.

Dr. Yasmin, I mean do you think -- were you surprised to hear the President kind of touting something, which Dr. Fauci then had to kind of immediately say "Well, you know, the President's optimistic but, you know, it's all anecdotal at this point."

SEEMA YASMIN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: No, Anderson, I wasn't surprised because there's been so much mixed messaging that this is the standard now.

Just yesterday, the President said that Chloroquine was approved by the FDA. And then, FDA spokespeople told reporters, "No, it's not." So, unfortunately, this is adding to a lot of Americans' anxiety and uncertainty about what is happening, what isn't happening. But, as we know, we have to have these solid clinical trials.

I do think it's interesting, Anderson, that we're talking about this old-school Malaria drug being brought back, Chloroquine, to treat this. But we're also looking at really old-school medicine as a potential treatment.

So, if -- back in the 1800s, we would use antibodies, from survivors, to treat other people who are sick with an infection. And we're looking at that same 1800-year old treatment in -- for this infection too. That's why you have survivors, and we have 77,000 survivors of this COVID-19.

You look in their blood for antibodies to the virus. You take those antibodies, and you can use them either as treatment or even as a potential protective measure for those who might become infected.

The caveat there was we don't know how long those antibodies last, and also it's still experimental so that that's an issue--


YASMIN: there too. But it's tried and tested. We did this with Ebola. We've used antibodies to treat polio--

COOPER: Right.

YASMIN: --and mumps and measles as well. COOPER: Yes. Sanjay, I know you have a question for Dr. Schacker.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. So, Dr. Schacker, that -- that's fascinating, you know, you sort of going through the trials like that.

Just to be clear, so there's Hydroxychloroquine and -- and then Chloroquine, which was the one that was discussed in the -- in the press conference. Is one a derivative of the other? Are they similar sort of trials or are they -- are they different?

SCHACKER: Well they're different drugs. I don't know what the trial design, I mean, I don't know the specifics of the Chlor -- of any trials that are out there for Chloroquine.

Ours, the Hydroxychloroquine is a controlled trial.

GUPTA: But you -- I think the -- but it was the Chloroquine, I think, that they were talking about today where they were going to bring several million tablets over. Did -- did you hear about that, Dr. Schacker? And--

SCHACKER: You know, I didn't -- I didn't hear the press conference. I know that they're looking at both Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine.

GUPTA: OK. But they--

SCHACKER: I think the -- I think the data that's out there, frankly, is in -- on Hydroxychloroquine, not Chloroquine.

GUPTA: OK, got you. I just wanted to clarify that because two different drugs, Anderson.



Dr. Timothy Schacker, appreciate all you're doing and I -- I hope it goes quickly. Thank you so much, and Sanjay, always, Seema Yasmin, as well.

Coming up, we're just getting some breaking news, a member of Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York's staff has apparently tested positive for Coronavirus. We'll have more on that when we come back.

Also new report from The Washington Post that dropped moments ago, the Intelligence reports that warned the Coronavirus would become a likely pandemic, and reportedly went ignored.

We'll have the Reporter on that story ahead.



COOPER: And welcome back, broadcasting from my house tonight in New York City because a member of our staff believes they may have tested positive for the Coronavirus, waiting to hear. So, out of an abundance of caution, we're doing that.

A story just broke in The Washington Post that we want you to hear about. It regards what the government knew about the Coronavirus, and when it knew it. And I'm quoting now from the lead of the story in The Washington Post.

"U.S. intelligence agencies were issuing ominous, classified warnings in January and February about the global danger posed by the Coronavirus while President Trump and lawmakers played down the threat and failed to take action that might have slowed the spread of the pathogen, according to U.S. officials familiar with spy agency reporting."

The Post's Shane Harris, who is a Reporter, shares the byline in this story. He joins us now by phone.

So, Shane, explain what -- what officials are being told, and who was being told this?

SHANE HARRIS, REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well what we're reporting tonight is that U.S. Intelligence agencies were issuing these various reports that get disseminated out across Congressional committees as well as people in the Administration.

Essentially, for the most part, citing actually public information, and giving the Intelligence Community's analysis that what was happening in China with this virus looked like it had all of the makings of a pandemic.


So, these were reports that would have been available to people in the Administration as well as lawmakers on the Hill, who served on the Intelligence Committee positions, essentially building this picture, through January and February, of an outbreak that was not only characteristic of something that was going to have global spread, but importantly, reporting, including from classified sources, we understand, indicated that the Chinese government was not being forthcoming about how bad the situation really was.

And that's important because experts have said, in those early days, of the outbreak in Wuhan, the Chinese government didn't move quickly enough, and didn't tell the world enough about what it understood about the virus.

And that is information that that, at least in the classified channel, was available to key U.S. policymakers, as early as January.

COOPER: Is it known how much of this, you know, would end up in briefings that the President would receive on a -- on a daily basis?

HARRIS: We're still trying to determine that specific question.

But there's -- there's no question, I think at this point, that the information that would have been available to people in Congressional committees would have also been available to folks at the White House as well.

So, we're still trying to determine precisely what Intelligence officials would have told the President directly.

But we're also reporting is that there are people on his staff who were trying to bring this issue to his attention, and felt that the President wasn't engaged sufficiently with the severity of the virus.

COOPER: Yes. I mean if you look back at the statements from the President, January and February, it is just -- it's a litany of, you know, dismissing this -- dismissing it as, you know, something, you know.

Even when the President spoke publicly about it, saying, you know, "There's 15 patients when it came to the United States. There's 15 patients, they're all doing better," you know, "It's going to -- it might just end there, it's going to go away when it gets warm," all that sort of stuff.

Has there been any response from the White House to your reporting?

HARRIS: Now, the White House does not deny that these reports exist, and has essentially, you know, criticized the, you know, as they said, Democrats and the media, for criticizing the President and his response.

But, you know, I think you kind of put your finger on it there, Anderson, is that the President was saying something remarkably different from what these Intelligence reports were indicating.

And, to be clear, these reports were not saying the Coronavirus is going to break on U.S. shores at date certain. But from what people, we understand, have seen these -- the volume of this was it was coming every day.

And, by early February, the majority of reports that get disseminated out to -- to key people, throughout the government, was looking at Coronavirus. It was sort of overtaking everything.

So, the idea that the President was portraying this as something that wasn't at all a concern is just totally at odds with what his own--


HARRIS: --Intelligence Community said.

COOPER: Shane, I also want to bring in Kaitlan Collins at the White House.

Kaitlan, I mean fascinating reporting by Shane and -- and others at The Washington Post.

And you -- you think back to the some of those things the President said, you know, that beyond his, you know, his tete-a-tete with Diamond and Silk, about how this was just going to miraculously disappear about, you know, telling people that, you know, it's not a pandemic, he doesn't think it's a pandemic that that they have it totally under control, it's under control, and now, he's rewriting history and saying oh, well he knew all along, it was -- it was going to be a pandemic.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and that's certainly not the case.

I mean you can lay out a series of remarks, as you just did, of what the President actually said. And that's what's so interesting about this report because it says that the Intelligence showed that the Chinese officials were downplaying the severity of it.

So, that raises questions of, you know, when it did start to gain traction, here in the United States, and when the President and his advisers, maybe not the President, but certainly his advisers?

The HHS Secretary, Dr. Fauci, the CDC Director, they started to have these daily meetings about this, long before the President started publicly, you know, issuing these statements about the urgency, about responding, the guidelines of this virus.

You know, why then were they not taking this more seriously, and looking into this, to see, you know, just how much were these Chinese officials downplaying it? That really raises a lot of questions about the President's initial remarks because you think they would have been so skeptical of what the Chinese officials were saying.

But instead, remember, the President, back in January, was praising the Chinese President, saying he was doing a good job, trying to contain it, that they were being forthcoming about information.

And we now know that's not the case. And officials say, actually we lost a lot of precious time because of how much information they did shield.

COOPER: Also, Shane, I mean it's sort of, you know, it's so frustrating what you're reporting that you hear OK, they're getting these briefings. The -- the Intelligence is out there, coming from the U.S. Intelligence Community, folks on Capitol Hill are -- are being briefed about it.

You only imagine the President has much more specific and -- and urgent and, you know, the -- the best information possible. And yet, you know, there's delays on, you know, ridiculous delays on this testing, which is still going on.

I mean, all of this, you know, I think people kind of Pooh-poohed the power of the President to kind of direct all the levers and arms of the U.S. government and say "Well it's up to states and localities."

But it matters if the President does not fully agree or believe the Intelligence, does not believe or pay attention to words, not even interested in -- in what might happen. HARRIS: It absolutely matters, you're exactly right. I mean the President could have immediately, you know, sensed the -- the urgency of this and taken actions.


And what we're finding is that even, you know, up to the level of his Chief of Staff, and the Head of his Domestic Policy Council recognized fairly early on that this was a serious problem, and at the very least, was going to be a political problem for the President, if he didn't engage on it, and were trying to figure out, amongst themselves, essentially, how do we make the boss care about this?

And -- and that just goes to show you that this Administration seem to be somewhat paralyzed, absent the involvement of the President, or his willingness to engage, on what was, by all accounts clearly, you know, a pandemic in the making.

It's just -- I think it -- it really underscores the degree to which you have to have, in any Administration, for a response that is going to require the whole of the government, including frankly the willingness of the nation to commit to these just drastic measures, you're going to have to have the President willing to engage on it, and believing that it's true, and that just wasn't happening--


HARRIS: --in the early stages.

COOPER: Shane Harris, great reporting, as always, from The Washington Post. Shane, thank you very much, Kaitlan Collins, as well.

You know, we've heard the President say "Well how could have anyone predicted this? This came out of nowhere."

Plenty of people have predicted it, talked about pandemics, the likelihood of this, and other ones, there'll be another one in the future, there's no doubt about that.

But someone did predict what the response might be from the White House to a situation like this.

Author Michael Lewis, who's one of the great writers, has written so many fascinating books, often a lot of them get turned into movies, he wrote a book that predicted President Trump and his Administration would not be able to handle a major crisis.

We'll talk to Michael Lewis in just a moment.



COOPER: Hey, welcome back.

The Washington Post, as we just told you, a moment ago, has reported that the U.S. Intelligence Community had warnings, ominous warnings, as early as January that the Coronavirus would become likely pandemic. Their concerns reportedly went ignored.

Joining me now is Michael Lewis, who's a fantastic Author. If you haven't read all of his books, you're -- you're really missing out.

He's written a ton of bestsellers, including "The Fifth Risk," which is about President Trump and the Administration, which he says is ill- equipped to handle the most critical missions of government.

Michael Lewis joins us now.

Michael, I'm wondering what you make of the Administration's response that you've seen thus far, and how it relates to what you wrote about in this book and predicted?

MICHAEL LEWIS, AUTHOR, "THE FIFTH RISK": You -- you know, my -- it's sad to watch, not hard to have predicted. If you just -- because you -- if you just go back to the way they behaved when they took Office, you could see something was going to happen, right?

I mean he had, by law, to prepare a Transition team of hundreds and hundreds of people who were supposed to go in and kind of learn how this government, that he was supposed to run, worked, the day after the election.

And he fired the entire operation, and then made a great show of like tossing the briefing books that he -- that they might have used to brief him into the garbage can.

So, you had this situation where I mean the reason I wrote "The Fifth Risk" is if you think of the federal government, you know, one way to look at it is as a manager of this portfolio of really, you know, serious risks, and there are lots of them.

And you -- if you're -- if you're not going to manage them, if you're not going to learn about the thing you're managing, you're heightening all of the risks.

And what -- the question I had is what is the thing that's going to happen that -- that is going to bite us? It was just question, you know, is it going to be a cyber-attack? Is it going to be the Electric Grid, it's going to be nuclear weapons, who knew what it was going to be?

But you -- you knew--

COOPER: So, what's the fifth risk?

LEWIS: Well the fifth risk in the book is, is the risk you're not thinking about. It's the, you know, the ones you attend to, the ones that are vivid or recent, are the ones that you, you know, you tend to be prepared for. And the point is the government at any time--

COOPER: And so you've -- you've got that term from a -- you got that term from a former, I think it was a Department of Energy official, right?

LEWIS: So, that's right. I wandered into the Department of Energy because it just because, you know, it was just where I happened to start, and I asked him to name what the -- what the top five risks he worried about were.

And, you know, it was a nuclear weapon going off, when it shouldn't. And it was the Iran Nuclear Deal falling apart, and the Electric Grid being compromised, and he got to five, and he couldn't think of one.

And it took a while. He finally came up with one. But -- but basically it -- while he was grappling for it, I thought that's the fifth risk. The fifth risk is the thing you can't think about because the thing you're not thinking about is the thing that's going to cause you trouble.

But that's what the government does is it manages those sorts of risks. And so, you look, you ask me like -- like what do I think about how Trump has handled this? And it's appalling to watch. But it's very in character.

I mean that's what's been so striking about it it's, you know, it's not surprising that a President who really didn't want to know about the government that he's running has led us to having this disease, this virus out there that we don't know anything about.

I mean that's the -- the signature of this moment is that we haven't -- we don't have the testing ability to figure out where it is, who's got it, who's given it to whom? And that, you know--

COOPER: Well--

LEWIS: --that's a very Trumpian thing.

COOPER: Well it's not even not interested in the government. It's a complete suspicion of the government that does exist.

I mean, even today, in the midst of all of this, he wasted, you know, a second of his life in order to say the Deep State department, you know, with the Secretary of State standing right next to him, who of course just, you know, remains there, not defending the Department at all.

But I mean the idea that even in the midst of this, he is trying to, you know, cut the knees off all these, you know, it's now a dirty word to have, you know, lifelong civil servants, people who actually know what they're doing, that's now viewed as, you know, Deep State or, you know, bureaucrats.


LEWIS: Know what they're doing is probably the important phrase in what you just said because -- because I think the source of hostility is there -- is that, you know, this is a -- a guy who has insisted from the beginning he kind of knows everything he needs to know before he knows it. And you've got this body of people, and the government is, among other things, is great scientific enterprise, who actually do know things, and they're in a position to challenge him, and I think he finds that threatening.

His -- his pose in the beginning was indifference, and a lot of things came in, as a result of that indifference.

And, you know, but -- but, you know, just look at that -- at the various ways he's handling it, and it -- it's so in character like -- like the focus on foreigners. "It's the Chinese Virus. We're going to," first thing he said almost was we're going to close the Mexican border, right?

And -- and actually what threatens us is not foreigners coming in, or it's not even really travel. It's -- it's mixing with in our communities.

And it's that -- that he's unable to kind of get that across because it's -- it's outside of his frame of reference. Everything, it's "The Other. The Other is responsible for the problem."

But this hostility to knowledge at -- it was just at the bottom of his Administration is now coming -- is really haunting us. And people -- lots of people--

COOPER: Yes. It's -- it's also--

LEWIS: --are going to die who don't--



COOPER: It's also one thing if you're a person just on a bar stool, talking about, you know, the Chinese Virus.

It's another thing when you're responsible for all the citizens in this country, many of whom are of Asian descent, and who are now risk -- at risk of having, you know, racist, you know, bigoted idiots, on the street, accost them with slurs as it's happened to a CNN Reporter today, today or yesterday, I think it was, and which has happened to people who videotaped.

We've seen people -- Asian-Americans being attacked on the streets or being screamed at on -- on trains or in buses. I mean it's ridiculous that the President of the United States is the one, you know, using that lever.

LEWIS: Fanning these flames.



COOPER: It's incredible. LEWIS: Now, you got to -- but you're going to kind of ask yourself, who does that? I mean who behaves like that? And in part it's someone who doesn't accept any of the consequences of his actions. And I think--


LEWIS: --that -- that's also a piece of the like in -- in the fabric of the Trump Administration this is one of the threads. It's like he's never really accepted the responsibility of the job he was given. And it's--


LEWIS: --you know, I don't want to lay it all at his doorstep because it is, you know, one of the things that come in the book -- the fifth -- in the book that was striking to me was he was more an ultimate expression of stuff that's going on in this country for a long time. This hostile--


LEWIS: --this -- this hostility on, especially from the Republican Party, towards the federal government, and the bleeding--


LEWIS: --of the federal government. I mean the--

COOPER: Hey, Michael, I'm sorry. I got to interrupt you.

LEWIS: --look--

COOPER: I got to interrupt you. I got to take a quick break. But stick around, we're going to -- we're going to come back just a couple minutes. I want to keep talking to you. We'll be right back.

LEWIS: All right.



COOPER: Back with bestselling author, Michael Lewis, talking about his book, "The Fifth Race," which really predicted sort of the failure of the Administration's response to a threat like this.

Michael, you and I, during the break, were talking about, you know, the -- there's the -- the medical piece of this, and then there's just the -- this huge financial destruction that is taking place, and the havoc that it's going to create in people's lives.

And you said something really interesting, which reminded me of something Mitch Landrieu had said on the air a little while ago about what happened in Katrina.

Can you just explain? You said that basically this will expose all these hidden things in the economy.

LEWIS: You know, it's just -- and it'll expose the fragility of the society. I mean it will expose the weak -- the weak places in the society.

And one of the weak places that's been exposed is the -- is the management of the federal government. For example, we now can see just how little control sort of Trump has of this enterprise, and his ability to organize the response.

But another -- I mean a whole another layer to this is we've got, you know, you see the statistic that 40 percent of Americans couldn't handle a shock of $400 or more that if -- if they had that kind of reversal, it's -- it's catastrophic for them.

I don't know if that's exactly true. But something like that is true, and that's what we're just -- we're experiencing.

And I really worry about lots of people who are living paycheck to paycheck, what they're going to do in this situation. And -- and I think you're going to -- you're going to see it.

You're going to see -- you're going to see just how precarious a lot of people situations where we need a -- it really has got to be a giving moment. I mean I just think it's a time where your -- your natural impulse, when something bad happens, is to look for -- look out for yourself, look out for your family, and that -- that's fine, but you got to do more than that.

I mean because, right now, we're kind of all in something together, and they're only going to get through it together. That's my hope is that and that's what we learn--

COOPER: And I mean--

LEWIS: --is that we--

COOPER: --and never is that more true in -- than in a case like this. I mean literally, you know, my health depends on, you know, your health. And, you know, your -- your health can affect your, you know, your dad's health, I mean the -- or whomever.

LEWIS: Right that you're that -- that it is -- it's not a moment for selfishness. Selfishness will -- will come back -- will come back and haunt you. That's a -- I think that's absolutely right that this -- so it's created.

But what we -- what we have evolved into a more and more selfless -- selfish and kind of isolated society, and I think that we're going to have to bounce in a different direction to address this problem.

I mean, so--

COOPER: What I've -- what I've seen around the world in -- in places where terrible things are happening is that for many people it is a choice how you choose to behave in a situation like this. [21:55:00]

You can choose to commit acts of -- of kindness, and you can choose to, you know, commit acts of -- of depravity. I mean, you can choose how you respond, whether you rise up to this occasion, or whether you shrink from it, and -- and hurt others.

LEWIS: And you could choose how you feel about it, right? I mean that you -- it very -- you can avoid wallowing in self-pity. I mean everybody will have lost something.


LEWIS: And you can say -- say like how do I make this work? Katrina is a really good example of this, right? I mean that was a tragic event for my city, the City of New Orleans.


LEWIS: I was there for it like you. But the City bounced.


LEWIS: You know. It came back, and it came back in all kinds of interesting positive ways. And I think that's kind of how you have to think about this.

COOPER: Yes. Michael, we got to go. Michael Lewis, the -- "The Fifth Risk" is the book. Thank you so much for being with us. It's great talking to you.

LEWIS: Thank you, Anderson.

COOPER: Stay safe.

LEWIS: Lovely talking to you.

COOPER: All right, you take care.

Coming up, more news ahead, all these government officials, Congress- people, selling stocks ahead of the crash. We'll talk about that ahead.