A rush transcript of "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" airing on Sunday, April 12, 2020 on ABC News is below. This copy may not be in its final form, may be updated and may contain minor transcription errors. For previous show transcripts, visit the "This Week" transcript archive.
ANNOUNCER: "This Week With George Stephanopoulos" starts right now.
MARTHA RADDATZ, "THIS WEEK" CO-ANCHOR: COVID-19. Have we hit the apex, even as the number of deaths continue to shatter families and the record books?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): These are just incredible numbers, depicting incredible loss and pain.
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RADDATZ: Across America, food lines stretching for miles amid soaring unemployment claims.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's been a little over three weeks since I filed. I'm still marked in the computer as pending.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: The president once again pushing to reopen the country.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: What metrics you will use to make the decision?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The metrics right here. That's my metrics.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: Downplaying the need for nationwide testing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We're talking about 325 million people, and that's not going to happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: This morning, we break down what it will take to get back to business in America, while coping with a deadly pandemic.
Our guests, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, the FDA commissioner on antibody testing, Dr. Jen Ashton and Tom Bossert.
Plus, a closer look at hard-hit minority communities.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For some of us, it's a luxury to have social distancing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: And how some in the middle of the country are watching uneasily at what's happening thousands of miles away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are under the impression that we're safe, but we truly are not.
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ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, it's "This Week."
Here now, co-anchor Martha Raddatz.
RADDATZ: Good morning, and welcome to "This Week."
Nearly three weeks ago, President Trump said he hoped to have the country opened up by this Easter Sunday, but, this morning, with virtual services now scheduled for this Easter morning, America has hit a grim milestone, with more than a half-a-million confirmed cases of coronavirus across the country.
More than 20,000 people have died.
There are encouraging signs New York might be flattening the curve, but other areas across the country, like Maryland and Detroit, are still bracing for the surge to come.
And, yesterday, with the approval of Wyoming's disaster declaration, President Trump has now declared a disaster exists in all 50 states.
While the president quickly pulled back on that initial Easter timeline, he now appears to have a new one, sources telling ABC Trump is looking at reopening large sections of the country by May 1, just a few weeks from now.
When it comes to getting back to business, the president says he will listen to his team of medical experts, but he will ultimately make that decision.
So, when we can reopen the country and what would our new normal look like?
Dr. Anthony Fauci says we could see an antibody test soon, which could detect immunity. How effective are those tests? And how soon will the FDA commissioner approve them for use?
FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn joins us now.
Good morning, Dr. Hahn.
I want to start with the latest models, which are projecting that the U.S. peak in terms of daily deaths would likely be today, the president citing models that he said show Easter as hitting the top of the curve, and then starting to come down.
Have we peaked? And does this mean the worst may have passed?
DR. STEPHEN HAHN, COMMISSIONER, FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION: Martha, thank you for having me on the show.
So, the models do show that we are very close to the peak. And so I think that information is accurate. This has been a very fast-moving outbreak. And so we really have to take this day by day. We have some of the best experts in the world, Dr. Fauci, Dr. Birx, on this.
And so I think that information is -- is accurate. But, again, we have to take this day by day as the data come in, because this has to be a data-driven approach.
RADDATZ: And, of course, the president had initially set today as a target date for reopening the country. He backed off of that.
But there are new warning signs about opening the country even by May 1. "The New York Times" obtained new federal projections showing a spike in infections if restrictions are lifted. And the model the White House often cites predicts a death toll of 60,000 only if full social distancing is kept in place through the end of May.
So, wouldn't we be taking a big risk relaxing those measures now?
HAHN: Those are obviously the issues that are going into the assessment of when is the right time to go back.
Martha, I think the public safety and the welfare of the American people has to come first. That's been the constant message from the president, the vice president and within the task force itself. So, that has to ultimately drive these decisions.
There -- there are obviously other considerations. I have heard from friends and colleagues around the world that people really do want to get back to a more normal life than what we've had the last several weeks, but we have got to get the data as they come in. We have to look at what we know about this illness, what's happened in other countries and put them into the situation, into the plan moving forward.
RADDATZ: So given what you know -- sorry, given what you know is May 1 a good target when you look at it now?
HAHN: Martha, it's a target. And obviously, we're hopeful about that target, but I think it's too early to be able to tell that.
We see light at the end of the tunnel. Dr. Fauci, Dr. Birx have said that. We see the incredible resiliency of the American people with respect to social distancing, hand washing and all of those mitigation factors. So, that gives me great hope.
But I think it's just too early for us to say whether May 1 is that date. But more to come on that as we learn more information, and as our planning proceeds.
RADDATZ: And on Thursday, the president suggested widespread testing isn't necessary. And here's what he said about sending people back to work in states with lower density.
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TRUMP: There's not a lot of issue with testing. Certain sections -- we go to Iowa, we go Nebraska, they're very, very capable states. And they're big distances, lot of land, a lot of opening, you don't need testing there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: More than two-thirds of rural counties have confirmed cases, so how can Americans safely return to work without a nationwide testing system?
HAHN: Martha, there are a lot of factors that will go into this. One, is the geographic location, the number of tests the number of people infected. If you look at the testing where it is right now, the strategic approach has been to focus that testing in the hotspot areas, where if people come forward and are sick, as many as 30 to 40 percent test positive, whereas in other areas where there aren't a lot of sick people, and some rural areas, it's less than 5 percent.
So our strategy moving forward for opening up the country has to take all of those factors into account. And, yes, further ramping up testing, both diagnostic as well as the antibody tests, will really be necessary as we move beyond May and into the summer months and then into the fall.
RADDATZ: Why when other countries like the UK, Germany, South Korea have been able to do testing of millions of people are we still so far behind? It was over a week ago that the Abbott test, a rapid test, was FDA approved. It is still not in widespread use. This is preventing people from going back to work, getting out of quarantine. When exactly will it be available in every major city in the U.S.?
HAHN: So, Martha, this is a pretty complicated situation and it's rapidly moving. And that's to not to suggest anything other than there's certainly pressure on the supply chain in terms of getting supplies. We have heard -- and I have personally heard from people on the ground that in some areas it's very easy to get a test and in other areas it's not. And we have to as a whole of U.S. government approach, have to make sure that we get those testing to the areas that need them and.
And, again, it's been a strategic approach. Dr. Birx, Dr. Fauci on the podium on Friday mentioned that we have done over 2 million tests, which is more than any other country. Now we need to do more, no question about that.
RADDATZ: And I want to get to those antibody tests. Dr. Fauci said we're just days away from being able to use antibody tests, which can detect whether somebody has already been exposed to it and may have immunity. Do you expect the FDA to validate those tests for use in the coming days? And how fast will they get out there?
HAHN: So FDA has already authorized one antibody test. There are a number that are on the market that we haven't validated, that we haven't looked at those data. There is a U.S. government effort to look at some of those tests and to be able to allow that validation to occur. But we do expect -- Dr. Fauci's right, the team has talked about this, we're working with a number of really good manufacturers, they've gone forward with their platforms. And so we do expect that relatively soon.
Again, this is dependent upon the data and the science, because it's got to be that decision.
And Martha, just to put a point on this, we have seen reports other countries, some of the countries you mentioned, that have obtained antibody tests that aren't accurate. And I think it's really
important for the American people to know that we need tests that are accurate, reliable and reproduceable, that's what FDA does in a science and data-driven way.
RADDATZ: And if someone does have these antibodies, do you believe they can safely return to work? Is this really the key, these antibody tests, of getting this country on its feet again?
HAHN: It's one of the keys. And I think as both Dr. Birx and Dr. Fauci said at the podium on Friday, it's one of the factors that will go into this, including the underlining characteristics of the person, you know, whether they're more susceptible to a more serious outcome from COVID-19, where they live, what the prevalence of the disease is in the environment, and whether they had a diagnostic test that’s positive previously or not.
So, all of those factors would go into it, including whether you have antibodies, because that should be protective as you point out.
RADDATZ: Thank you, Commissioner Hahn.
Now to that growing and disturbing trend -- the disproportionate impact COVID-19 is having on communities of color, from New York, to Detroit, to nearby Baltimore where I drove this week to see for myself.
Baltimore is a majority black city that’s seen more than 750 infections and 22 deaths so far, and it's about to get worse, labeled as an emerging hotspot for this deadly virus.
RADDATZ: The streets of this city are nearly deserted as this virus zeroes in on Charm City, home Maryland State Delegate Nick Mosby, who is concerned about higher rates of death for people of color across the state.
NICK MOSBY (D), MARYLAND HOUSE OF DELEGATES: When you look at it from a socioeconomics perspective, there's always been health care disparities in the African-American community.
RADDATZ: Part of the district he represents is seeing a spike in infections. And he is especially concerned for essential workers.
MOSBY: Some of them do have to do not have the ability of social distancing because they rely on public transportation to get to and from work. They work in environments where they're the frontline.
RADDATZ: According to the economic policy institute, fewer than one in five black workers, and one in six Hispanic workers are able to work remotely.
MOSBY: They are the bus drivers. They're the folks that are cleaning our hospital floors. They're the folks that are working in our grocery stores.
RADDATZ: Like 27-year-old Leilani Jordan, who died from COVID-19 on April 1st. She worked at a grocery store in Largo, Maryland --
ZENOBIA SHEPHERD, LEILANI JORDAN’S MOTHER: There was nothing that Leilani wouldn't do for anybody.
RADDATZ: Jordan's mother, Zenobia Shepherd, tearfully told us her daughter was eager to keep working.
SHEPHERD: It wasn't the money. It was helping people, loving people, making a difference.
RADDATZ: Black Marylanders account for a majority COVID-19 deaths across the state at 52 percent, even though they make up just 31 percent of the population.
Similar numbers in other regions: Michigan, where 41 percent of deaths are among black residents who make up only 14 percent of the population.
Louisiana, where black residents make up 70 percent of deaths, 32 percent of the population.
And in New York City, Latinos have also been over-represented, making up about 34 percent of deaths there.
DR. MARY BASSETT, HARVARD T.H. CHAN SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: These racial differences aren't due to some inherent characteristics of people of who are classified as black or Latino, people who are descendants of people who were enslaved in this country have a history of being mistreated in health institutions. To just say that these are people who've made a series of bad choices and that's why they're sick -- leaves out a whole other side of the story.
RADDATZ: Back in Baltimore, delegate Mosby wants the state to start collecting COVID-19 data by zip code, to see which already-underserved neighborhoods need the most help, and to better protect any workers who can't stay home.
MOSBY: Everyone's relying on them. What are we doing to protect them?
RADDATZ: Maryland's Governor Larry Hogan has warned the region is still heading up the curve for people to prepare for, quote, dangerous times in the coming weeks.
Governor Hogan joins us now from Annapolis.
Governor Hogan, let me start with the question State Delegate Mosby asked. What are you doing to protect those minority Marylanders who are so vulnerable?
GOV. LARRY HOGAN (R-MD): Well first of all this disparity among African Americans is very disturbing. It’s why I called for the study. You know nobody was really tracking these things and it was difficult to do because none of the federal labs, the CDC, nobody was actually tracking these tests by race.
And we went back and actually, individually, looked all this up, thousands of cases and we are now -- we’ve got about 80 percent of those cases done and it’s why you have the information that you’re reporting on. We did it better than any state in America.
I also have been successful in convincing the federal administration to consider Baltimore and the entire Baltimore-Washington Corridor as a hot spot. We’ve been taking some of the earliest and most aggressive action in America. And a lot of our focus has been on those areas that you’re talking about. It’s where our highest population centers are. It is also where we have the highest concentrations of blacks and Hispanics.
And so, it’s Baltimore City, it’s the Prince George’s County, Montgomery County right outside of the Washington area, and those counties in between. It’s about 5 million people in that corridor.
RADDATZ: Governor, I know there have also been calls --
HOGAN: And we're taking every step we can.
RADDATZ: I know there have also been calls for you to release more data by zip code so that the state can direct resources to the hardest hit neighborhoods. Baltimore has started releasing its data. Will you do that state-wide?
HOGAN: Yes, we have compiled all the data by zip code. I think it’s all going to be released on the website either -- either this morning or tomorrow morning.
RADDATZ: And -- and you talk a lot about this information and this data you’re gathering. What are you doing with the information to help those communities? How do you use that data to help those communities?
HOGAN: Well, it’s where we’re directing all the resources. So, as you know, covering this story across the country, look, we’re -- everybody is fighting to save every life we can. We’re trying to save the lives of thousands of people in our state, the 6 million people who live here. But a vast majority of our resources are focused on that Baltimore/Washington Corridor and these communities that you’re talking about.
It’s where almost all of our attention and all of our focus, all of our money, all of our healthcare, all the assistance from the National Guard, it’s really where all of our testing is being done, it’s where all of our healthcare is being ramped up, where we’re adding 6,000 hospital beds. So it’s definitely where the attention of the entire state and local governments are focused. And now we, thankfully, have gotten the attention of the federal government to consider this entire corridor as a place to focus on.
RADDATZ: You say that you and many other states are in dire need of more supplies. But listen to what President Trump said on Friday about the needs of the governors.
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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We're in great shape with ventilators. We’re in great shape with protective clothing. We have additional plane loads coming in, but we’re not getting any calls from governors at this moment.
We’re getting very few calls from -- from governors or anybody else needing anything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: You are chair of the National Governors Association. Is that true?
HOGAN: Well, I get calls from governors every single day. We’ve had 12 calls now with every single governor in America, eight of which the president and/or vice president was on the call with us. And I can tell you that nearly every single governor -- I had a call with the FEMA administrator just yesterday afternoon.
Look, I think the -- we’ve certainly seen an improvement over the past week from the week before. I know that a lot of people in Washington are working very hard. Everybody has gotten more supplies than we had the week before and the day before. And I know there’s people in Washington that are working very hard as partners to try to help the states.
But I think to say that everybody’s completely happy and that we have everything we need is -- is not quite accurate. I mean everybody still has tremendous needs on personal protective equipment and ventilators and all of these things that you keep hearing about. Everybody’s fighting to find these things all over the -- all over the nation and all over the world.
RADDATZ: And the administration is launching a second economic task force that will focus on re-opening large portions of the country. You have said that opening back up is not like flipping a light switch.
So do you see it happening in your state May 1st?
HOGAN: Well, we haven’t gotten any kind of an artificial deadline on that. I’m going to -- look, everybody wants to get the country back on track as quickly as we can, as long as we do it in a safe manner because we’ve got this twin problem of this -- this terrible health crisis where we’ve got, you know, tens of thousands of people dying and yet we also have this incredible economic challenge where we've got, you know, millions of people that are unemployed and small businesses being hurt everywhere, we’ve got to balance those needs.
But, really, right now the first thing is saving lives and keeping people safe. We -- we do also have to think about, how do we eventually ramp up and get some folks back to work. But it -- you can’t just pick a date and flip a switch. I don’t think it’s going to be that simple.
RADDATZ: An advisor to your state task force, former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, has said the country needs to be able to process 750,000 tests per week before opening back up. The president said he doesn’t think that is needed, that large scale testing.
Do you agree? And -- and would you be OK with lifting your stay-at-home guidance without wide spread testing?
HOGAN: I think wide spread testing and contact tracing is going to be absolutely essential to finding out exactly where we are in this -- in this fight against this deadly virus. Dr. Scott Gottlieb is one of the smartest guys in America. He’s on our task force. I agree with him. I think most governors agree with that as well. It’s something that we’re all working hard to do.
I believe we are making progress on increasing testing. The question is how fast we can get enough tests up to speed in order to help us get to the point where we are able to do all of those things.
RADDATZ: Yes, that certainly is the question.
Governor, thank you so much for joining us this morning.
Coming up this Easter Sunday morning, with coronavirus cases growing in rural America, we'll look at how communities across the country are handling the crisis.
We'll be right back.
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REPORTER: Obviously, a lot of interest in how you're going make that decision.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's a very big decision.
REPORTER: What --
TRUMP: I don't know if I have had a bigger decision than that, if you think, right? And we’re going to make a decision and hopefully it’s going to be the right decision.
I will say this: I want to get it open as soon as we can. We have to get our country open.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: President Trump revealing the pressure he feels about a decision to reopen the economy after his current stay at home guidelines expire on April 30th. And while some regions are showing glimmers of hope like New York, where the hospitalization rate seems to have plateaued, new federal projections suggest relaxing those guidelines at the end of the month would lead to a spike in infections.
So, we asked FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver to shift his focus from politics to coronavirus and asked, is social distancing working to slow the spread?
NATE SILVER, FIVETHIRTYEIGHT.COM: So this is going to be a different version of "Do You Buy It?"
I'm at home, I've got a little bit of a beard, I'm socially distancing and we've been all doing this for a few weeks now and it's been difficult -- economically and otherwise. But, is it helping to flatten the curve?
In fact there is evidence that it's working -- and the spread of COVID-19 is slowing in the United States.
From Tuesday through Thursday this week, there were an average of about 32,000 new cases detected each day. That's still a lot, but it's only a 20 percent increase from 26,000 cases per day over the same period a week earlier. We're not seeing the crazy, exponential growth that we did before.
And two factors make that number a little better than it might appear at first glance.
First, the US is testing more people now than ever before -- about 150,000 people per day. And if we do more tests -- and we want more tests of course -- we're going to find more positive cases.
In fact, the share of tests that are coming up positive has already begun to fall, slightly. It was 21 percent this week as compared to 24 percent last week.
It's fallen even more than that by the way in New York to about 40 percent now from 50 percent a week or so ago.
The other factor is the long lag between when someone gets infected, and then gets tested and then when that test eventually shows up in that data - that whole process can take sometimes two or even three weeks.
But even with this lag time, the evidence from the front lines is looking a bit better. This week both California and New York saw hospitalizations slow down -- and New York has its first declines in the number of people in intensive care.
So, that really is good news. We're seeing the impact now of social distancing in the data, and it seems to be working.
RADDATZ: And our thanks to Nate.
Up next, we will check in with our ABC correspondents reporting on COVID-19's impact across America.
Plus, Dr. Jen Ashton and Tom Bossert join us to help make sense of what life after coronavirus looks like.
RADDATZ: On Friday, President Trump said certain parts of the country, like Iowa or Nebraska, won't need testing before reopening, which prompted us to check in with some Midwesterners, John and Mary Fisher (ph) of Neola, Iowa.
We visited the Fishers on their farm a few years back to talk about the prospect of a trade war with China. This time, we connected via Skype.
There are now at least 12 confirmed cases of coronavirus in their county.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARY FISHER, IOWA FARMER: There is another case from our little village. And it's a little town.
You know, we are under the impression that we're safe, but we -- we truly are not. And it's been very hard to know how to manage, when we hear different advice at different times.
JOHN FISHER, IOWA FARMER: We -- we have got this unease that our turn our time will come, and it will be worse in the Midwest than it has been.
Most farmers don't have a backup plan if they do get sick. We just hope for the best.
The old saying is, to plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow. And you can expand that to the farm economy and to say, to plant a crop is to believe in tomorrow.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: So, how is the virus affecting other pockets of the country? And how strictly are people sticking to those social distancing guidelines?
As our team of correspondents tells us, the view from the ground depends on where you're standing.
KAYNA WHITWORTH, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: I'm Kayna Whitworth in Washington City, Utah.
This is the city in Southwest Utah of about 30,000 people. And for many of them, life really hasn't changed that much.
You can see people enjoying lunch behind me in a group. They say that's different because they're not in a restaurant, but they're outside together.
Behind me, you can see there's a cigar shop that is open for business, a nail salon, where you can go get a manicure or a pedicure. They say they're letting fewer people in at a time.
You can also still get your hair cut here or hit the links. Even the local parks are still open.
MARCUS MOORE, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: I'm Marcus Moore in Dallas, Texas, where parks are closed this weekend and a stay-at-home order is still in effect, as health officials try to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Here on this popular walking trail, there are signs that urge people to keep their distance.
And the governor here says there are signals that they may be flattening the curve here in this state, and, next week, he could announce an executive order to begin reopening businesses here.
CLAYTON SANDELL, ABC NEWS: The nearly deserted streets here in downtown are a sign that social distancing is mostly working. We see a fair number of people wearing masks. The governor says it is helping flatten the curve here in Colorado, but we are not out of the woods yet, and they have just started to set up a field hospital at the convention center downtown that could hold as many as 2,000 patients.
Now, doctors and nurses here tell us their hospitals are not overwhelmed yet, but they are seeing plenty of COVID-19 patients of all ages.
And of course people here in Colorado are still dying, which is why health officials are urging
people to stay the course and stay home.
RADDATZ: Stay the course and stay home. Good advice
Let's bring in Dr. Jen Ashton, who has been covering this every step of the way, and ABC News contributor and former homeland security adviser Tom Bossert. Good morning to you both.
And Tom, I want to start with you. A week ago, the president warned that this would be a tough week and to brace for a high death toll, and the numbers are breathtaking. We have heard a lot of people comment on this, but do you think we finally peaked.
TOM BOSSERT, TRUMP FORMER HOMELAND SECURITY AND COUNTERTERRORISM ADVISER AND ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think two things have happened this week that people are now just starting to understand. We've started to see the peak, I guess is how I'd phrase it, across the country, but they're realizing around the country that we're on different roller coasters at different times. Some people are clicking up that roller coaster, others are at the top and screaming back down, adding new cases but at a slower rate.
And now the difference is, we have to nuance the message so that we don't lose the people that are seeing themselves already down the curve and mislead the people that are about to take a really big hit.
RADDATZ: It's so important.
And Dr. Jen, for weeks now we've heard about the goal of flattening the curve, but health experts are also talking more about the need to raise the line in the health care system capacity. Can you break down what that means?
DR. JENNIFER ASHTON, A BC NEWS CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Martha, that's a concept and a term that we need to familiarize ourselves. It's kind of -- you can think of it as a phase two to flattening the curve.
So, if you look at that curve, which so many people saw several weeks ago, that raising the line, or raising the bar is that horizontal line that needs to come up. That refers to the capacity of the health care system, and way beyond just in terms of staff, space, and supplies, it's really resources, it's t he strategic use of our health care system, and so without raising that line, when the flattening of the curve does occur, and as Tom was saying and the peak has passed us, without certain measures in place we run the risk of being in the same position with our health care system inundated and under water if we don't take those steps right now.
RADDATZ: But are there any areas where we're seeing progress in raising that line?
ASHTON: Well, I think so. You know, you're seeing it with these alternative treatment centers popping up in hotspots around the country. And you're seeing with the mobilization of staff, health care workers who are coming out of retirement and volunteering to help in these hotspot cities, and you're seeing it with the increase in manufacturing and distribution of some supplies.
But this has to be an integrated well-planned-out approach, otherwise when we ease back on the social distancing measures that we have seen have an effect, those numbers will just go right back up. That's how the virus works.
RADDATZ: And Tom, I what to essentially ask you the same question, the president is clearly anxious to reopen the economy at the end of the month, but how is it possible if there's still not massive testing, no nationwide testing scheme, and no vigorous contact tracing? We talk about that lot and how important that is.
BOSSERT: Yeah, that's the other half of what Jen just talked about, we need to increase, as Jen said, the health care delivery system capacity, but we also have to increase the local public health capacity. So, we have heard the CDC director talk about upwards of 500 or 600 people, but we all know it's going to require a lot more, some have called it a mobilization of an army. We don't know how many people.
But think about doing that contact tracing. One of the places doing a great job is Maryland, we have heard from the governor there, his task force and Dr. David Marcozzi on that task force, they know what this takes and they're putting out people to do that contact tracing, to talk to individuals and say, listen, who have you been in contact with and then talk to them and talk to them and so on.
So, I think the idea for the president is that we're starting to move past the idea of putting this virus into the household, and that was the idea, to break the chain of transmission in everyone's home and into a new phase in which it's making the workplace the safe place, and that's going to require not only those localized armies of contact tracers, but people wearing masks and doing other things to be more diligent diligent about taking their temperature and accessing their own health.
RADDATZ: And, Jen, we just heard from some of our --
ASHTON: And, Martha --
RADDATZ: Go ahead.
ASHTON: Yes, I just want to dovetail on that.
When you talk about testing, because now we're -- we're hearing about it so much, and we're hearing the -- the director of the ADA and people from the task force saying, you know, once that antibody testing is more widespread, it will help. And it could divide people up into basically three groups, who's susceptible, who's infected and who's recovered.
But that is only if the tests work. So when you hear the term, are these tests validated, are they validated, are they accurate and does the science of how our bodies respond to this infection support that? If we can't detect antibodies, we will still be left with a big question mark as to where that person falls in those three groups.
RADDATZ: Or what I would assume if they can get re-infected is also a question as well.
RADDATZ: Jen, I -- we were saying, we just heard from some of the ABC colleagues who say that not all Midwest and rural communities are abiding by the governor's social distancing guidelines, although two-thirds of them have cases.
When you look, and you talked about raising the line and flattening the curve, when you look at those rural communities, what is your concern there?
ASHTON: So many concerns, Martha. One, that they don't have the same access in terms of geography and proximity to health care services, providers, testing. That if they become critically ill also those -- that access becomes a problem.
And, again, we -- we can't look at this as such an insular geographic issue. We have to look at this as our country has these hotspot. And if you put out a fire in one place, and one picks up in another place, that affects all of us.
And, you know, I direct your attention to data that just came out of Iceland in the last few days. They are, of course, a very small country, but they are doing massive screening of people without symptoms and they're finding as high as 50 percent of people they test with no symptoms are testing positive for coronavirus. That's the kind of information we're going to need in order to integrate people back into a functioning society.
RADDATZ: And, Tom, there's been talk of the administration setting up a kind of nationwide surveillance system to help determine which areas of the country could possibly relax social distancing. There's a partnership between Google and Apple. How would this work and I know it's worked in other places, but this is this country and we don't like to be tracked so much.
BOSSERT: Yes. Well, it's going to have to happen one way or the other, whether we trust technology to assist us or whether we just add to that manpower problem I discussed.
So Dr. Jen is completely right, we don't want free riders in a system where everyone has to rise and fall together. So there's a unified effort problem, a free rider problem. But, on top of this, the app question I think is going to ultimately have to resolve itself from private industry, where people don't trust it as much, but they don't -- they trust it a little bit more than government. And then it's going to have to flow back into the state and localized surveillance mechanism.
So we've got sentinel systems and surveillance systems in this country that track for flu-like systems. And it's ILI Net and things that people are regularly accustomed to using in our healthcare system. If we can aid them, add data from experiences that people are having, we don't have to have a perfect solution. There will always be some people that opt out of using apps and technology. But if a large number of people can be told the benefit, I think we can convince them to do the things that are right for themselves and our own collective best interests.
I'm not usually a big one for forcing it on people or mandating it. That never -- that never seems to work out. Different places, especially in different places in this country, have different relationships with government authority. And I'm starting to see a troubling sign where politically, based on your view of government and authority, you're changing your own behavior or not changing it relative to the collective public health (INAUDIBLE).
RADDATZ: I think -- I want to show a chart right now, that you mentioned that, Tom. An ABC/IPSOS poll shows that more Democrats are basically wearing face masks for coronavirus. Exactly what you're talking about.
BOSSERT: Yes. Well, it might have more to do with where people live and the density than it does their political view. But their relationship to government and being compelled to do something is often a failing recipe in this country.
RADDATZ: And, Jen, I just want to close with some thoughts from you on what we can expect in the coming weeks, what you're most concerned about?
ASHTON: Well, I think a lot of people want to make predictions, Martha, but no one has a crystal ball here. And this virus is about four months old, so we don't have a track record on it.
You know, in medicine, in public health, it's generally best to prepare for the worse and hope for the best and take steps in order to safeguard what if the worst case scenario happens. So as we start to come off some of these peaks, if we go right back to the way things were six months ago, we're going to have a problem. But I’m optimistic that we’ve learned a lot about this virus and our response to it, with our behaviors, that, hopefully, that will not happen.
RADDATZ: By no means think this is over.
Thanks so much, Dr. Jen and Tom Bossert.
BOSSERT: Happy Easter.
RADDATZ: Thank you.
Coming up, with miles of cars lined up at nation's food banks and cities across the country, we'll look at how the increasing demand for food assistance is raising the prospect of food bank shortages in America.
RADDATZ: Rebecca Jarvis and Cecilia Vega are standing by with the latest on the economic fallout from the coronavirus and its impact on the race for 2020.
We will be right back.
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LESLIE BACHO, CEO, SECOND HARVEST: I have never seen this, when we have so many people feeling so much anxiety right now, and so many people finding themselves for the first time in need of help.
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RADDATZ: Sobering images there of long lines at food banks, as households across the country grapple with the economic effects of coronavirus.
Many Americans are getting some relief, as those much-awaited stimulus checks are beginning to arrive via direct deposit.
For more, let's bring in ABC News chief business and economics correspondent Rebecca Jarvis and ABC News senior White House correspondent Cecilia Vega.
Nice to see you both this morning.
And, Rebecca, I want to start with you and those images of those incredibly long lines at food banks. The CEO of Feeding America said she's never witnessed the system being more strained. They have actually had to turn people away.
That's clearly a result of those 17 million people in the last three weeks filing for unemployment.
So, how much worse can this get?
REBECCA JARVIS, ABC NEWS CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Martha, the numbers are mind-boggling.
But the images are also a stark reminder of the fact that half of this country doesn't have emergency savings. And when we see numbers like that, 17 million layoffs in the span of three weeks, you start to understand how these projections, the forecasts, which sounded completely unbelievable a month ago, 15 percent, 30 percent unemployment in this country, you start to see how that becomes more realistic.
And what we have seen throughout this crisis is that, initially, the most acutely impacted industries were the ones that laid off their employees, hotels, restaurants, airlines, which clearly had issues with lockdowns.
But now we have seen a larger ripple effect, Martha, to areas like retail, even doctor's offices which aren't seeing the same number of people coming in the door, because they're afraid of getting sick, are now having to make decisions about whether to keep employees or lay them off.
RADDATZ: So, Rebecca, when you factor in the terrible health risks and the economic risk, which is exactly what President Trump is trying to do now, what are the metrics being used for the business world?
JARVIS: Well, the business community is looking to law enforcement, they're looking to the health care community to understand how things would potentially reopen. But the biggest companies in America since day one of these lock-downs have been looking at how they might conduct themselves going forward. They're looking at social distancing. They're looking at working from home, but of course that isn't going to work for every employee when things begin to reopen.
If you look at China, for example, as a template for how things might look here, and of course t here are a lot of differences between the U.S., the openings when you get back to normal, it is messy and uneven. You don't see everything. There's no switch that gets turned on, Martha, where the whole world comes back to life and everybody goes back to work day one.
You do see where there is more pent-up demand, for example, maybe at the hair dressers, at the doctor's offices, at the dentists, you see the reopen there and people start to resume. But for retail, for malls, those are areas which, when the analysts look at what the future holds, it is going to be a much slower opening.
And the big question now when it comes to getting back to work is child care. A lot of schools are now out for the rest of the year, so what do those families do about their child care if they're called back into the office?
Privacy and surveillance, this is something you just discussed with Mr. Bossert, the idea that we now have to have a conversation as a country about our privacy and the surveillance that might be necessary to track this. And then finally, there is the question about monitoring. Whose job is that going to be? Are companies -- and a lot of companies are thinking about this -- are they taking this on or is the government taking on, Martha?
RADDATZ: And Cecilia, we know President Trump is eager to get people back to work by a deadline of May 1. On Friday, he only committed to listening to the task force doctors and what their advice is. But how much does this continue to be a point of contention between him and his public health officials in.
CECILIA VEGA, ABC NEWS SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, we've been seeing it nearly every day in these briefings, Martha, but we also just saw it right now on your show with the FDA commissioner play out in real-time when he was hesitant to commit to this reopening of a May 1 date that we know the president very much to see happen in this country.
This is a huge point of contention right now. And you heard the president say this week that this is the most difficult decision that he will have to make of his presidency.
Look, on one side you have got folks, allies in the president's ear in the business community, you've got voices on Fox News that he listens to as advisers very much, really pushing for a sooner than later opening.
And then on the other side, you've got these health experts that we see line up on those briefings every day. Dr. Birx said that this is just the tip of the iceberg.
And you mentioned it at the top of the show, that report that was in the New York Times that essentially said that social distancing and the rules that we've got in place right now have been working, and if you end those prematurely, we could see cases skyrocket.
The president says point-blank, he's not going to do anything that is going to jeopardize the health of the country. And look, we should say he has listened to health experts in the past. If you remember, he said initially, that he wanted the country to be back up and running today, Easter Sunday, that we would be packing church pews. Obviously that is not the case. But he has got a very big decision to make on his hands right now, and he's really got to make this in a matter of days if he wants to see this May 1 date happen.
RADDATZ: And Rebecca, you have some people loosening things. You have people talk about the guidelines going away, the stay-at-home gradually and all of this, but what happens if people get sick again? President Trump has to be thinking about that every single day and the business community.
JARVIS: And that could be a worst case scenario. This country runs on confidence. And the worst thing for confidence would be to reopen and then have to lock down all over again, that would be a "W"-shaped recovery, Martha, where we start to reopen, things resume, and then immediately fall back again, that would be very bad for confidence.
Consumers have to want to spend. They have to feel confident that their jobs are going be there tomorrow. And that would be a really troubling factor for the country.
RADDATZ: And so Cecilia, he is not only thinking about the economy and the health, he's got to be thinking about these elections. And these daily briefings seem almost like rallies.
VEGA: Rallies. Sometimes, Martha, they see and they feel -- having sat in many of them -- like sparring matches, frankly. He is looking for an enemy and he's using the press to -- to go up against them often.
We crunched the numbers this week. Listen to this. I just have to look at my notes here. He attended 27 briefings in the last 30 days, more than 40 hours at that podium. He's really trying to project this do no wrong image of infallibility right now. But you know this, we've been talking about this for weeks, the briefings really have ended up being this series of mixed messages, of the president expressing this -- this sense of optimism, this light at the end of the tunnel, with health experts saying, whoa, pump the brakes a little bit here, we've really got to use the data and see this play out.
And what we're seeing now is the effects of that, Martha. We're seeing polls that are showing that Americans are losing faith in the president's credibility because of these briefings. And now we're hearing from allies who are saying maybe that he needs to stop them. They're doing more harm than good, in fact.
RADDATZ: And -- and, of course, we've got Bernie Sanders now out of the race and Joe Biden the presumptive nominee. It will be an interesting campaign year and one like we have never seen before.
Thank you so much for joining us this morning, Cecilia and Rebecca, and all your expertise.
We'll be right back.
RADDATZ: And that's all for us today.
Before we go, this remarkable and stunning sign of the times, Pope Francis celebrating Easter mass inside a largely empty basilica, an extraordinary sight on the holiest of days for Christians and a stark contrast from the crowds that would normally gather. So many watching from home this morning.
Thanks for sharing part of your Easter Sunday and Passover week with us. Stay strong and stay safe.