Communities across US take drastic measures to slow spread of coronavirus: Part 1

As COVID-19 cases skyrocket, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, discusses what you need to know.
17:16 | 03/17/20

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Transcript for Communities across US take drastic measures to slow spread of coronavirus: Part 1
And as we come on the air tonight, much of America shutting down. Late today, president trump issuing new nationwide guidelines for Americans across this country, in the fight against the coronavirus. The outbreak spreading across the U.S. More than 1,300 new cases in just the last 14 hours and that's without testing fully up to speed. In total, more than 4,600 cases in 49 states. At least 82 deaths. Late today, the president urging Americans not to gather in groups larger than ten. And to avoid restaurants and bars. And he said the U.S. Could be dealing with this right into the summer. Tonight, a major lockdown has been declared in the San Francisco area. Nearly 7 million people in several California counties have been ordered to shelter in place, to stay at home for weeks. And the stock market freefall. Even at action by the fed in a rare Sunday move, the Dow halted shortly after opening today, emergency triggers kking in. And by day's end, dropping nearly 3,000 points. Its worst point loss ever. Dr. Jen Ashton and a team of doctors are right here tonight, taking your questions on Twitter. Use #askabc2020 and we'll be checking in with the entire team all night. But we're going to begin tonight with the remarkable changes occurring at a rapid pace across this country. A reset of American life. I'm sure you saw it this you walk into a grocery store, expecting it, but still a stunning sight to see. The empty shelves. Parents trying to find child care with schools closing in at least 35 states. And there is also the ongoing struggle for those who fear they have the coronavirus or have been exposed to it. Where and how do they get tested? How quickly will they get the results? Is what we're seeing in Italy and in Europe about to play out right here in the U.S.? I'll ask Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, that very question in just a moment. But first tonight, the new guidelines from president trump late today. Tonight, America shutting down. Late today, president trump issuing new nationwide guidelines for the next 15 days. We'd much rather be ahead of the curve than behind it. The president's task force asking for people to avoid gatherings of ten or more. Encouraging older people to stay the administration also telling people not to visit nursing homes and recommending bars and restaurants close in states with community spread. Reporters at the white house today were greeted with signs telling them to sit separate from one another. Their temperatures taken before they entered the white house briefing room. The podium cleaned right afterward. If everyone makes this change or these critical challenges and sacrifices now, we will rally together as one nation and we will defeat the virus. You're not saying it's under control, right? I'm not referring to it, meaning the -- The coronavirus. Yeah, you're talking about the virus, no, that's not under control for any place in the world. And late today, warning that the crisis could stretch deep into the summer. People are talking about July, August, something like that. So, it could be right in that period of time, where -- I say it washes through, other people don't like that term, but where it washes through. Tonight, with cases across the country climbing, several counties in the San Francisco bay area issuing a sweeping shelter in place order to stay home for nearly 7 million Americans. Residents told to only leave their homes for food, medicine and exercise. And California's governor tonight urging home isolation for all adults over the age of 65. Most important thing, again, is to protect the most vulnerable. More than a dozen states closing bars and restaurants, except for takeout and delivery, including New York, Connecticut and New Jersey, who are closing gyms, casinos, starting tonight. Across this country, at least 35 states now closing public schools. Forcing more than 35 million schoolchildren to stay home. Brings a lot of hardship for people, but it's the right choice. And we have all seen it for ourselves, across this country. The empty shelves. From Omaha, Nebraska, to the long lines at Costcos from Illinois to Los Angeles. Thoands of people are rushing to try to get into the Costco. Lines snaking around the 3wi8ding before dawn. Nationwide, stores running out of basic items like toilet paper and water. Tonight, this message from the stop and shop grocery chain, announcing new early shopping hours for customers 60 and older. And despite major new action by the fed on Sunday to cut interest rates to near zero, the Dow halted just seconds into trading today, closing down nearly 3,000 points. All of this as some of America's hospitals and health care workers sound the alarm. Reporting spikes in incoming patients amid a shortage of critical protective gear. Setting up tents outside emergency rooms. And another critical matter that remains tonight, the testing. Who can get a test, where and how quickly will they get the results? Workers on the front lines saying there may be more tests, but we need protective gear. And president trump late today was asked about his own test he took over the weekend. Not -- not something I want to do every day, I can tell you that. It's, you know, it's a little bit of a -- it's a little bit of -- good doctors in the white house, but it's a test. It's a test. It's a medical test. Nothing pleasant about it. The white house saying the president tested negative for the virus. Tonight, the president of France declaring Europe is at war with coronavirus. The uk taking wartime measures, asking companies like Ford and rolls Royce to manufacture vital equipment like ventilators. And British actor Idris Elba saying he's tested positive for coronavirus. This is serious, you know? Now is the time to really think about social distancing, washing your hands. He says he feels okay and is now in self-isolation with his wife, who hasn't yet been tested. And here in the U.S., an NBA player with the Utah jazz, Donovan Mitchell and his own message. He's isolated after testing positive for coronavirus, too. And his case highlights the need for more testing. I keep making the joke people asking, if you were to told me I'm about to play in a seventh game series, I'd be ready to That's really something. Mitchell testing positive but saying he has no symptoms, which begs the question, how many Americans have this without even knowing and when will the testing finally be up to speed? Do health care workers have the gear they need? Are there enough ventilators in this country? I spoke with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top expert on infectious diseases, just before we came on the air tonight. Dr. Fauci, thank you for joining us here tonight. You have been sounding the alarm for weeks now and we heard the president late today issue those new guidelines, no restaurants, no bars. We heard the president acknowledge coronavirus is bad, is not under control. Can you tell the American people watching tonight who have seen what's happening in Italy and elsewhere, as best you can, what we're about to see here in the Well, what we're about to see, David, is that things are definitely going to get worse before they get better. If you look at the pattern of the outbreak as it hit different countries and different cities within countries, and I talk specifically about China, about South Korea and most recently, Italy, what happens is that you putter along with cases, a few, and then you reach a point of inflection, where it takes off. And if you look back at the history of outbreaks, you get this big, big peak and then it starts to come down. If you leave the virus to its own devices, without trying T interfere with it. We have the opportunity now, even though we will still continue to see an acceleration of cases, we have the opportunity to blunt that peak and essentially make it more of a mound, which would mean less sick people and less death. But that's not going to happen continuously. Dr. Fauci, I have to ask you what viewers have been asking us. And they commonly ask about the tests in this country. We've heard promises from the administration of a million tests, then the promise of 4 million tests. You've already called it a failing. We're now weeks into it, so, tonight, we've been saying, if you have a fever of 100.4 or more, to call your doctor, but bottom line, how soon can you get a test and how soon will you get the results back? Well, the situation has really changed dramatically, David. Again, we admit, and I have been publicly saying that a little bit ago, it wasn't nearly adequate to meet the needs. Right now, there has been a major embracing of the private sector, which is, you know, calling upon the forces of what America does best, private industry, and get those companies and those labs involved. And we are told, in discussions with the CEOs of those labs and with the state and other government, that the tests are going out, they're literally now, as we speak, tomorrow, the next day, the next week, are going to take that riveting up until you get to the point where there will be millions of tests for several weeks over a period of between now and the next few weeks. I tend to -- You speak of the CEOs there, and we certainly hope that that's true, but we heard from health care workers on the ground just today who said, you know, we have the tests but we don't have the protective gear and workers in some of the labs who are saying they are also concerned they don't have the gear that they need, the protective gear to actually process these tests. That's a very good point, David. And I would have gotten to that, but you're right, I appreciate you bringing it up. It's not just the tests. It's how you can deliver them. And people who are involved now in making this happen, but when upstart something up, David, it doesn't go from effective right away. What we're going to start seeing is there will always be people who are not getting the tests or the results exactly when they want it, but that's going to be changing rapidly. When Americans see what they've seen with these tests, they're going to be concerned about equipment, supplies, the adequate number of health care workers on the front line. We heard what the president told the nation's governors today, that, don't wait for the federal government, for the white house, on ventilators, go get them on your own. Do we have enough ventilators in this country for what's coming? Well, it depends on what you mean, David, by what's coming. There are 12,700 ventilators in the strategic national stockpile, and the ability to back fill with several thousand. If you have a situation like they have in Italy, I don't think any country or any preparation in the world would be able to adequate to have the equipment that you need. What we're trying to do is to blunt that response and we'd be able to handle it with the equipment we have. But when you're dealing with a fluid situation like this, you're really racing against the virus trying to get out of control as you're trying to keep it under control. The more you keep it under control, and that's where the mitigation and the containment comes in, the less you'll be in risk of running out of that vital equipment that you need. Doctor, can you assure the American people that what they've witnessed in those images from Italy and those hospitals won't happen here? You know, David, I'm always trying to be as cold and honest, I don't want to scare anybody. There's no guarantee of anything, but I can tell you, we are going to try our very best, with all of the resources, all of the force, all of our might, so make sure that doesn't happen. But David, it is going to require the cooperation of the American people. Because the reason why we made the announcement this evening about, don't go to bars, don't go to restaurants. If you are an elderly person, shelter in, stay at home, don't go out -- It's going to take every community in this country. I wanted to ask you before you go about the reports out of France over the weekend of the hundreds in critical condition, potentially, they reported half could be under 60. What does that tell you and perhaps more importantly, what do you know right now about who has this right now in the U.S., what the demographics are? What are you seeing in Americans right now? Well, it's not -- the number in America is still low, but we're seeing the patterns that we saw in China and that we saw in South Korea. Which is that if you look at the people who get into trouble, they are overwhelmingly weighed towards individuals who are elderly and individuals who have underlying conditions that compromise their ability to fight the infection, like heart disease and lung disease. You will individuals who are otherwise young and well who wind up getting into trouble, getting seriously ill and even dying. I'm very interested in that we want to follow up on those reports from France that say there are several people -- when I heard that, I called up some of my colleagues, some of whom I trained years ago in my own group in Italy and I said, I'm hearing this are you seeing in Italy? And he admitted, we are seeing a few people, minor proportion, but they certainly are there, of younger people in their 40s and 50s, who are getting seriously ill, but he confirmed that the overwhelming majority of people that get into trouble, the average age of the people who really get sick and die is 80 something years old. But of course, we all want to make sure there isn't a false sense of security out there, as well -- Oh -- You share that concern. David, let me be on the record and be very, very vocal about this. We don't have a false sense of security about anything. We take everything seriously. Yes, of course, when you look at the numbers, younger people do much, much, much better. The overwhelming majority of them do well. When we start hearing reports of people who are 40s and 50s and 60s who are getting into trouble, you have to pay attention to that and find that, a, is it real, and it is real, why is it happening, when we didn't see it in other countries? So, nothing is taken for granted. No false sense of security. Dr. Fauci, thank you so much for being here tonight. We appreciate the work you're doing. Good to be with you, David. So, let's take this over to Dr. Jen Ashton and the medical team who are taking your questions, as we're on the air here tonight, but Dr. Jen, first the news that Dr. Fauci just made there. We talked to him about the headline from France, that of the hundreds of patients in critical condition, there were reports that about half of them potentially could be 60 or younger. And even Dr. Fauci said, I got on the phone, I wanted to know more about that. And that's why it's so important for us to test more and to release our clinical data from the United States patients. We need to know what our average age is here, how many are serious, how many are critical, what pre-existing conditions they have. We don't have that data out yet. He said it hasn't been adequate in this country, inadequate to meet the needs of testing so far. But that's what's so important here, not just to tell an individual whether or not they have coronavirus, but it's what it could tell the medical community about where it is in the country and who is being hit the hardest. 100%. And we're expecting some early results possibly out of the Seattle cases and the rest of our U.S. Cases any day now, but right now, we haven't had that. And we're seeing already a burdening of our health care system. We need that information to help us make our decisions. Data drives decisions in medicine. A lot of people at home have been asking about up supplies on the front lines. He talked about, in addition to the 62,000 we have in hospitals around the country, 12,700 ventilators that have been stockpiled. But he acknowledged that if we were to have coronavirus hit the way it's hit in Italy, he said, no amount of preparedness would be enough. Right. And when you look at our critical surge capacity, David, it's based on space, staff, supplies and systems. Ventilators don't run themselves. They need respiratory therapists and critical care nurses. We have a shortage of that type of personnel. But that's why we're hearing as recently as a few days ago the American college of surgeons saying postpone all elective surgery because those things use valuable resources like vent lay torps and masks and we need those now. Really important point. Just to drive this home, what we heard from president trump late today, these new guidelines to avoid restaurants and to avoid bars. A lot of people might be asking, is this a step too far? But Dr. Fauci and I know you would say, this is exactly what we need to do, because Dr. Fauci was talking about flattening the curve again. So that the ventilators, the medical workers on the front lines, so that our supplies can keep up. If you keep the number of cases lower over a longer period of time, it gives the medical staff a better chance. 100%. And Dr. Fauci himself said, when you're trying to contain or respond to an infectious disease outbreak, you are always behind. We need to take those in mind. All right.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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