'This Week' Transcript 3-22-20: FEMA Administrator Pete Gaynor, Gov. Phil Murphy, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

This is a rush transcript and may be updated.

ByABC News
March 22, 2020, 9:22 AM

A rush transcript of "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" airing on Sunday, March 22, 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: The coronavirus crisis deepens, millions now ordered to stay at home.


GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): This is a moment we need to make tough decisions.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): Only essential businesses will be functioning.


RADDATZ: Congress racing to finalize a trillion-dollar rescue plan, as unemployment surges across the country.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): I think we're getting closer and closer to an agreement.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): We are making very good progress.


RADDATZ: President Trump faced with a growing economic and health emergency.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I view it as, in a sense, a wartime president.


RADDATZ: Amid mixed messaging over possible treatments.


TRUMP: I'm a big fan. And we will see what happens.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NIAID DIRECTOR: The evidence is anecdotal evidence.


RADDATZ: Drastic measures to combat the coronavirus are forcing dramatic changes across the country.

We’ll bring you the very latest this morning.

Our guests, the FEMA administrator now spearheading the nation's response, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, and New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, plus two former members of Trump's Homeland Security Team, Tom Bossert and Kevin McAleenan, Dr. Jennifer Ashton on what you need to know about the pandemic, and Chris Christie and Rahm Emanuel on handling a nation in crisis.

ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, it's "This Week." Here now, co-anchor Martha Raddatz.

RADDATZ: Good morning, and thanks for joining us this Sunday.

As we come on the air this morning, alarming and sobering numbers from across the globe. There are now more than 300,000 confirmed cases worldwide and more than 13,000 deaths from coronavirus.

And in the U.S., there are now over 26,000 cases, and at least 340 have died. New York, the city that never sleeps, has gone quiet, now the epicenter of this crisis, with more than 12,000 confirmed cases, one of least five states asking residents to stay at home, those restrictions affecting more than 20 percent of the country's population.

Amid growing economic uncertainty, the Senate is expected to finalize a deal on economic relief later today. Senate and House leadership are set to meet to discuss that trillion-dollar rescue bill.

All of this has visibly changed life in America, barely any cars on those normally packed Los Angeles freeways, the Las Vegas Strip, usually buzzing with life, now desolate. And in the nation's capital, the cherry blossoms have bloomed, a sure sign of spring, but no one knows what these next months will bring.

Over the next hour, we're going to break it all down ahead of a crucial week in confronting this crisis, from the emergency medical response to the economic fallout to the many ways this virus takes a toll on all of us. Dr. Jen Ashton will join us shortly with her take on what the latest numbers mean and how you can protect yourself.

But we begin this morning with FEMA Director Peter Gaynor, who is now in charge of the government's response effort.

Good morning, Mr. Gaynor. And I want to start right away with FEMA's mission, which is to lead America, to prepare for, prevent, respond to and recover from disaster. So how did we get to this point, where we have healthcare workers desperate for critical supplies?

GAYNOR: It's a -- it's a great question, Martha. And, you know, my role today is -- is about today; it's about tomorrow; and it's about where we are in two weeks. My job is to bring together whole of government, whole of nation, to include our business partners to make sure that we can navigate our way out of this. And that's what we're doing every day.

So when it comes to things like supplies, we are shipping supplies -- we shipped yesterday; we shipped today; we're going to ship tomorrow. We're going to try to meet every need in the nation.

But a word of caution. The supplies that governors are looking for are the same supplies that every other country in the world is looking for. So this is a global problem. It's a national problem. And, again, we're working hard every day here to meet those demands.

RADDATZ: We know you're working hard. The task force announced yesterday that 600 million N-95 masks to protect healthcare workers have now been ordered. But no one on that task force, not the president, not the vice president, not you, could answer the question, "When will they be ready for use?"

Let me run you part of that exchange that began with our own Trevor Ault.


QUESTION: When exactly can they expect to receive these masks, though?

GAYNOR: Every single governor across the country's looking for the exact same things. So there's a balance, but we're examining the entire supply chain, to make sure that we make them...

PRESIDENT DONALD J. TRUMP (?): When will the masks start coming?

GAYNOR: They're -- they're -- they're out there now.


RADDATZ: They're out there now. So can you tell us this morning when those masks will be distributed and how many?

GAYNOR: They have been distributed. They've been distributed over the past couple weeks. They're shipping today. They'll ship tomorrow. We find more and more masks to ship because we have -- developing great partnerships with the commercial sector out there, through donations, ramping up production.

So, again, they have been shipping. We are trying to focus those shipments on the most critical hot spots in the country, places like New York City, Washington state, California. That is our priorities.

RADDATZ: But -- but will the healthcare systems there be overwhelmed before masks get there?

I know you've been shipping some masks, but these 600 million ordered are very important and critical at this point.


RADDATZ: Will they get them in time, before the health system is overwhelmed?

GAYNOR: Again, they're shipping today. They've shipped yesterday. They're shipped tomorrow. And I think one of the things...

RADDATZ: When you say "they," what do you mean? How many? Which masks, the new masks?

GAYNOR: Well, I mean, there's hundreds of thousands of -- millions of things that we're shipping from the stockpile. I mean, I can't give you the details about what every single state or what every single city's doing. But -- but I'm telling you that we are shipping from our national stockpile. We're shipping from vendors. We're shipping from donations. It is happening. The demand is great. The demand from the governors is great. The demand around the world is great. And I -- I have the best experts here. I have a two-star general from the Joint Staff here, logistics, that is helping me solve these problems, plus many other from government. We are in this 100 percent.

RADDATZ: How many masks were in the strategic stockpile? You said you're shipping from the stockpile. Have all those masks been distributed? And if not, why not?

GAYNOR: Again, there are still supplies in the stockpile. We are shipping all those supplies to all the demands, all the asks from all the governors every day. We are -- we're prepared to go to zero in the stockpile to meet demand.

Again, this is a whole of government effort. And if could -- if I could just, you know, and this is shared responsibility. I know the president, Dr. Fauci talked about testing. You know, if you don't need a test, if you don't have symptoms, please don't get a test. Because the demand for PPE on unnecessary testing is -- is something that's working against us.

So we're all in it together. Every American has a role to play. And we ask you, if you need to get a test and you have symptoms, go get it. If you just want to test to make yourself feel better, please don't do that.

RADDATZ: I just want one more time on these masks. You say you're shipping them out where they're needed first. You've still got some in the stockpile. I wonder why that stockpile hasn't been depleted. Have you seen the urgent pleas from healthcare workers?

GAYNOR: We have. I have talked to our governors. I have talked to emergency managers. We've gotten updates through the task force. I am well aware of the high demand for these items.

RADDATZ: But, again, so why haven't those been shipped to those urgent care facilities? If you have those masks in the stockpile as you say you have, and they're shipped, why weren't they shipped before -- which really goes back to my original question -- how are we in such bad shape at this point, in terms of supplies?

GAYNOR: Yeah, so, again, like I said in the beginning, you know, my focus is today, right? Filling all the demands that have been in the queue, filling the demands that we get today, tomorrow, and through the next month, to make sure that we find, connect the supply with the demand and meet that need.

RADDATZ: You said your agency hadn't been invited to join the White House task force until last week. Should FEMA's involvement have ramped up sooner? And why didn't it?

GAYNOR: Well, you know, I'm not going to look back at, you know, what should have been done, what wasn't done. And we can do that at a later time. Again, my focus as the lead for coordinating federal operations is on -- is on today. We can look back at another date. My -- my eyes are focused today, tomorrow, the next day, in order to beat this coronavirus.

RADDATZ: The Washington Post just reporting that the U.S. intelligence agencies were issuing ominous classified warnings beginning in January about the global danger of coronavirus, all this while President Trump and others were downplaying the threat. The Post says that, according to an official, "Donald Trump may not have been expecting this, but a lot of other people in the government were. They just couldn't get him to do anything about it. The system was blinking red." The president says this report is inaccurate.

So did you know about those warnings? And if not, why not?

GAYNOR: You know, when it comes to public health emergencies, you know, HHS has been the lead for that. They kind of own that mission. I -- I was not part of any of those discussions, whether they're purported or factual.

RADDATZ: I want to go back to your mission again. It's to lead America and to prepare for it. You had no indication? The worldwide threat assessment of 2019 said “we assess that the United States will remain vulnerable to the next flu pandemic or large scale outbreak of a contagious disease that could lead to massive rates of death and disability, severely affect the world economy, and strain international resources…”

So is it really fair to say you had no warning about this, really?

GAYNOR: Again, you know, the public health medical mission, statutory lies with HHS. My mission, FEMA, prior to this, natural disasters and those catastrophic events that happen. Now it's a different world. Now HHS and FEMA are locked arm in arm, plus many other agencies from around government to include our private partners. And today I'm trying to focus on today and tomorrow and where we want to be in a couple weeks. That is my mission.

RADDATZ: And what do you think we'll see in a couple of weeks, a big change?

GAYNOR: Well, again, I think every American has a role to play. I think the 15 days -- do what you can do to help yourself, help your family, help your neighborhood, help your business. You know, do those things that are simple. Stay indoors if you're sick. Don't go to work. You know, wash your hands. Don't touch surfaces. All those things make a difference. This is every American playing their role to make sure that we can beat the coronavirus. That -- that's as simple as I can make it.

RADDATZ: Thanks very much for joining us this morning, Mr. Gaynor. Appreciate it.

GAYNOR: You're welcome.

RADDATZ: Up next, governors in two hard-hit states respond and tell us what they’re seeing on the ground. Plus Dr. Jen Ashton joins us with the latest medical analysis as we enter a new phase in the fight against coronavirus. We’ll be right back.



MURPHY: This morning, I signed an executive order directing nearly all of our 9 million residents to quite simply stay at home. We can no longer maintain a sense of business as usual during this emergency. And again I repeat, just as it is no time to panic, but it is time to be smart, proactive, transparent, aggressive. It is also no time for business as usual.


RADDATZ: New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announcing a stay-at-home order yesterday, prohibiting social gatherings and closing all non-essential businesses. And Governor Murphy joins me now.

Governor, what finally made you tell your residents they have to stay home?

GOV. PHIL MURPHY (D-NJ): Martha, we've been trying to get out ahead of this. We first started meeting out in January. We formed a whole of government task force, I think, on Super Bowl Sunday, February 2nd. So at every step of the way, we've been trying to get out ahead of this. And it's quite clear that unless we crack the back on the social distancing side, on that curve that we're flattening the curve that we're talking about. We're going to have an overwhelming amount of pressure in our health care system.

So we took these extra steps. We've been taking them all along. My plea with folks in New Jersey is, frankly, just stay home. Unless you're essential, unless you're helping us in the fight, we need you to be at home and we need you even at home to social distance.

RADDATZ: And -- and give us a sense of what's happening on the ground there now.

MURPHY: Listen, we're -- I think the fourth state in terms of number of positive cases. As of yesterday, 1,327 positives, 16 fatalities, God rest their souls.

Our testing regime is expanding dramatically. We now will open up our second drive-thru testing on Monday. That's good news. So the numbers are going up partly because we're confirming the data. And that will allow us, as you all know, to better and more proactively deal with this awful crisis.

But folks needed to be jolted. I -- I -- you mentioned in the tape that it's no time to panic, but just as -- just the same, it's no time for business as usual. We won World War II not because we panicked. We were smart. We were aggressive. We worked hard. That's what you're going to need right now.

RADDATZ: The New Jersey health commissioner, who's leading the war against the virus, is essentially saying -- said in an interview that everybody in New Jersey is going to get the virus and yet you are having non-essentially businesses closed.

So what would you say to those businesses who are closing if the commissioner thinks everyone is going to get it anyway?

MURPHY: Yeah, listen, we've got an extraordinary commissioner, Judy Persichilli, the first nurse ever to serve in that position in New Jersey.

My view is, we die trying. I -- I -- I think the flattening of the curve, the social distancing, telling everybody just stay home gives us a real shot to keep the numbers down, to keep the pressure lesser than it otherwise would be on our health care system. And that will, God willing, save lives, have fewer sick folks.

We're not sitting on our hands, by the way. We're also working with the Army Corp to expand our health care capacity. But my view is, and I think the health commissioner joins me, the more aggressive we are on the front end, and social distancing, the better a shot we have on the back end of keeping more people alive and safe.

RADDATZ: And -- and -- and, governor, the Congress and the White House are finalizing a package to address the economic and the health challenges created by this virus. What's the greatest need for your state right now?

MURPHY: So, we've got a couple of things. We are desperate for more PPE equipment, personal protective equipment. We've had a big ask into the strategic stockpile in the White House. They've given us a fraction of our ask. We are, as a state, private sector, public sector, nonprofits turning over every stone, but we need a lot more PPE, both to protect our health care workers and to treat the sick.

And then, secondly, the economic impact is overwhelming for workers, for small businesses. We need the federal government. We need Congress and the president to send direct cash assistance. We think New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut alone, those four states, need $100 billion, direct cash assistance, to allow us to continue the fight.

And I'd say, lastly, there's a cost share between the feds and states of 75/25. We'd love to see that go to 100 for the feds, take the pressure completely off of states. So those are three specific asks that we have and they're all (INAUDIBLE) priority.

RADDATZ: Governor, I want to -- I want to ask you very quickly, if you wouldn't mind, because we want to speak to some other governors, what was your reaction to what the FEMA director said? You said you still need those masks.

MURPHY: We sure do. We've had a good working relationship. Actually, FEMA Region II has been very good with us this week, setting up our two drive-thru testing sites. But there's no question about it. We need a lot more PPE and we need a big slug of that out of the strategic stockpile.

RADDATZ: OK, we thank you very much for that. Let’s turn now to Michigan, where there are at least 790 confirmed cases. Governor Gretchen Whitmer joins me now. Good morning, Governor. You just heard Governor Murphy explain why he issued that stay-at-home order. The governor of Illinois, which isn’t far from you, has done the same. Is something similar under consideration for Michigan?

GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER, (D-MI): Well we’ve been very aggressive. I was one of the first to cancel school, we moved forward with closing restaurants and bars, pretty much at the same pace as my fellow Governor Phil Murphy and J.B. Pritzker and Mike DeWine, Republican from Ohio, as well. We’re continually analyzing and determining what our next move is and so the fact of the matter is we’re going to continue to see these numbers go up exponentially.

The problem that we have right now is that we don’t have enough test kits. And I heard your conversation with the man from FEMA, we need test kits because these numbers are informative to -- only to a certain extent. We know that COVID-19 has infected a lot more people than just those who are being tested and testing positive. And that’s why in order to make decisions we really need better data.

We’re all building the airplane as we fly it right now. We’re doing the best that we can. We’re going to continue to be aggressive and we’re continually monitoring what the next move we can make is. But we need the Federal Government to get us those test kits. We need PPEs, as Phil was just saying, we need clear, directive and -- guidance from the Federal Government. And frankly a patchwork strategy of each state doing what they can is -- we’re going to do it if we have to, but it would be nice to have a national strategy.

RADDATZ: But given all these urgent needs and the virus is spreading rapidly -- as we said, Michigan is up to 790 confirmed cases, why not get ahead of this?

WHITMER: Well I -- we have -- we have been very aggressive. We are, as I said, looking at and analyzing what is happening here in Michigan and we’re always going to be aggressive and make the best decisions based on the facts as we have them. My team is meeting 24/7. Trust me, we are continually trying to determine what we need to do to keep people safe and to keep our healthcare system from being overwhelmed.

RADDATZ: You said that you don’t think the Federal Government did proper planning. How much of a difference do you think the recent measures purchasing those N95 masks will make?

WHITMER: I mean it’s important. We’ve got to have those masks. I am working with companies to purchase masks as a state. Had the Federal Government really started focusing when it became clear that the whole world was going to be confronting this, we would be in a stronger position right now. And that’s an issue that I’m not going to belabor because I’ve got to keep solving problems and I would like the federal government to be a partner.

I can’t afford to have a fight with the White House, but the fact of the matter is at some point we are going to have to analyze where all the failures were and we’re going to have to make decisions that -- based on what happened and what didn’t happen. Lives will be lost because we weren’t prepared. Our economy will struggle longer because we didn’t take this seriously as early enough as a country. And there are going to be consequences of that. But right now, I’ve got to solve problems and I need the Federal Government to help me make sure that I’ve got what we need for our frontline providers, in particular, but also ventilators for people that are going suffer.

RADDATZ: What do you think the situation in Michigan will be two weeks from now?

WHITMER: You know what, Martha it was only 12 days ago that we had our first case and now we have over 800, over eight people have -- around eight people have died. The numbers are growing so quickly, it’s hard to say solidly what we know at this moment. And we’ve had an infant detected to be having COVID-19. So the thought that this is only one segment of our population that is exposed or in danger is ridiculous.

We have to all take this seriously and every one of us needs to do our part. Assume you are carrying COVID-19 and wash your hands, practice social distancing, stay at home if you’re not absolutely needed to be outside of your home. And if you do go outside, keep that six foot distance from others. We all have to play our part to mitigate the spread and to save our healthcare system.

RADDATZ: Very good lessons for everyone. Governor Whitmer, thank you, and thank you to Governor Murphy as well. Up next, Dr. Jen Ashton joins with the latest on testing and treatment.

Up next, Dr. Jen Ashton joins with the latest on testing and treatment.


RADDATZ: We'll be right back with Dr. Ashton, and later with Chris Christie and Rahm Emanuel on crisis management. Stay with us.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you consider America to be on a wartime footing in terms of fighting this virus?

TRUMP: I do. I actually do. I'm looking at it that way. I view it as a -- in a sense, a wartime president. I mean, that's what we're fighting.


RADDATZ: President Trump striking a more serious tone at one of his near daily briefings, which have sometimes sown confusion and doubt over the government's response effort to the crisis.

Joining me now to discuss that and more, ABC News Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton, former Trump Homeland Security Adviser and ABC News Contributor Tom Bossert, and former Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan.

And Secretary McAleenan, I want to start with you. We have this massive flow of information. You and I were talking, and you said it looks almost like a military commander. You need a military commander to run this massive operation on what is essentially a battlefield. Do we have enough people? You heard the FEMA director, what are you seeing?

KEVIN MCALEENAN, FORMER TRUMP DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY ACTING SECRETARY: Right, I had the opportunity to work closely with Pete Gaynor at FEMA and the team on Hurricane Dorian and many other incident responses. And now we have the operational muscle of FEMA backing the medical professionals at HHS. And I think that's a really important step.

But this information flow is at a different scale than any crisis that I have seen. We've got all 50 states engaged. We're trying to bring in data from hospitals, from medical professionals. We're trying to look at what's happening in 140 countries where this disease is present internationally. That's a huge amount of information to try to process, discern the key points and then take appropriate actions.

RADDATZ: And you heard me press him about warnings, and about intel. How does that work? There had to be warnings, John Cohen, who was also one of our contributors texted me a short time ago and said there were warnings. They were ignored. We should have been more prepared.

MCALEENAN: Right, look, epidemic response for the Department of Homeland Security, and Health and Human Services, that has the lead role, is not a hypothetical. I mean just in the -- my 20 years at DHS, we dealt with things from Ebola in 2016, very significantly, to Zika, to H1N1, SARS, MERS. These were periodic.

What's different about this is the infectiousness combined with the lethality. That -- this is a completely different pathogen and it's created challenges that -- that are unique and different.

RADDATZ: But -- but wouldn't -- if you have warnings about a pandemic, they would be unique and different, it would seem?


RADDATZ: And -- and so why not prepare for something like that, given -- given the fact obviously it's enormous and it's global and it's a new virus, but is there not a way to be prepared for something like that?

MCALEENAN: I think there's a lot of preparation. There's a lot of equipment in the stockpile. But, again, the scale of this is just very different.

And -- and what I see in this crisis right now is that we have reached a very important point. Two key points in any crisis, you have an action point and a turning point. I believe we hit that first point, action means we have a clarity on the problem, we have a shared strategy and you have the key elements of the national machinery mobilized toward that end. Public health. You heard about the state and local governors are fully engaged. You've got the coronavirus task force. You've got the private sector now. Twenty vaccines according to the World Health Organization already in testing. You've got antiviral treatments that are on the therapeutic side might make a impact. That's what we want to see, everybody moving in a complementary direction --

RADDATZ: So when you --

MCALEENAN: And with a sense of unity and a lack of partisanship, which has also emerged over the last week.

RADDATZ: So when you look at the data that you've seen and you know people at home are so nervous about this, what do you think we'll see -- when do you think we'll know more about how long this might last?

MCALEENAN: Right. So, we're -- we're about halfway through the 15 days to flatten the curve period. I know the coronavirus task force, all the public health professionals, Columbia University, everybody's working on analyzing the models and seeing what we're going to be facing. I think a week from now we'll have a better picture. I think four weeks from now we'll have much more clarity on how long this is going to last, the extent of the outbreak in the United States and what we're going to have to do in our daily lives to address it.

RADDATZ: Thank you so much for joining us this morning. I really appreciate you coming in.

MCALEENAN: Thank you.

RADDATZ: Former acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan.

Let's bring in Dr. Jen Ashton and our own Tom Bossert now.

And, Dr. Ashton, you heard health experts in that press conference yesterday say that not everyone should be tested for the virus. Prioritizing those who are already hospitalized. So are we in a new phase of this disease? Does it not even matter anymore that people are tested?

DR. JENNIFER ASHTON, ABC NEWS CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think we absolutely are in a new phase, Martha. If you go back just a few weeks ago, we -- there was such a big push and focus on getting more tests out there and I think now it's almost looking like that was an unfortunate diversion because, yes, data does drive decisions. It's important to know the penetrance of this virus in our society.

But right now the focus on testing everyone is drawing our attention and valuable resources away from critical care, not just of patients with severe COVID-19, but with the patients that are already and always in our healthcare system at baseline, the heart attacks, the strokes, the accidents.

So I think we are going to switch very rapidly, and we heard Dr. Fauci mentioned it yesterday, to this message, if you have mild symptoms, do not try to get a test because as you see the focus on PPEs you know, we have to understand that our surge capacity here on a healthcare hospital level depends on staff, supplies, space and systems. They are all interconnected. PPEs do not work by themselves unless there are healthcare workers to use them. So I think we need to rapidly shift to the more critical patients so that we don't have a situation as we're seeing unfold in Europe.

RADDATZ: And, Tom Bossert, you had been watching this for weeks and tracking the data -- and tracking the data. Is where we are today, with the number of cases, number of deaths, where you expected us to be, better, worse, because many healthcare experts are showing, we are tracking with Italy, and that's, obviously, not good.

TOM BOSSERT, ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: So, Martha, one of the problems with this is to treat the United States as a monolithic thing, we are a really big country, as you know, so much bigger than Italy. And so what Dr. Jen said is -- is -- is right in terms of testing. We needed more case ascertainment in the beginning because the plan going into this was to target these clampdowns into places that needed to be clamped down. Because we didn't have that testing capacity and because it came on us quickly, we ended up shutting down the entire country, economically but through social distancing, all at once.

Now, where we look like we are today is that it seems to have worked if people stick to this plan. I'm upset for those that don't stick to it because we're all paying a very heavy cost here economically. And if you don't follow these rules, then you're slapping us all in the face because we don't get the public benefits of that cost.

So, I would -- I would -- I would say there's a dichotomy to answer your question between the 47 states that seem to have a problem but one that they can continue to control, and the three states led by New York, unfortunately, that seemed to have a problem that's going to grow now in a way and I say this and hope I’m wrong, that's going to overwhelm the New York healthcare system in the coming days.

RADDATZ: And why not a national shutdown, slowdown?

BOSSERT: Well, what we don't want to do is fatigue the communities that don't have the need to act in this fashion and/or leave those communities that are in a really dire situation with the impression that they're not in that situation. So, I’m not trying to be alarmist, but a clear-eyed assessment of where we are.

Think of this way, Administrator Gaynor said -- I think he said, quote, every single governor is looking for the same thing.

That is a problem. We need to focus our resources into New York, in California, Washington state, the places right now that are seeing significant, potential, explosive growth, and I mean more than our hospital systems can bear.

And, Martha, think about this, if you're worried about keeping seeding coming from Europe, at some stage, which I understand was a legitimate concern, think about seeding intrastate within the United States. And think if you’re a state that hasn't yet seen that seeding of this virus to the levels that are alarming, that you’ve got time to act, not that you dodged a bullet.

RADDATZ: And, Dr. Jen, I want to go back to you. There's been new data this week showing a wider swath of the population is more susceptible, younger people, many more males with mortality rate, new symptoms, possibly stomach problems.

Do these revelations mean the data is catching up or we're simply learning more about the disease?

DR. JENNIFER ASHTON, ABC NEWS CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think it's a combination, Martha. I mean, we do have to remember that we're less than three months just into the medical and scientific understanding and familiarity with this novel coronavirus. So, everything you said really is important new information that we’ve gleaned in the last couple of days.

It's part of the reason why we need to track data and understand how this virus is behaving in the U.S. and what the patient characteristics and profiles look like. But I can tell you, Martha -- you know, to dovetail off what Tom just said, in New York City, the hospitals are already underwater. We’ve seen urgent pleas for anyone with a healthcare license, doctors, nurses, physicians assistants, to identify yourself to a local hospital system. We have an evolving situation in obstetrics, with multiple positive patients -- mothers, infants, fathers, all being separated.

There is literally brewing confusion and chaos on a clinical level here. And without the information you just mentioned, we can't integrate all of this. And we are, I think going to rapidly see a strong message that if you have mild symptoms, at any age, don't focus on getting tested right now because you're taking resources away from someone who literally may be in a more critical medical situation.

RADDATZ: Dr. Jen, I got to wrap you there. But -- we so appreciate everything you’ve said this morning.

Tom Bossert and Dr. Jen Ashton, thanks very much.

Rahm Emanuel and Chris Christie are standing by.



RAHM EMANUEL, FORMER CHICAGO MAYOR AND ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: This is a very, very important meeting, as you obviously know, as it relates to domestic and our national security. There is no higher task to any administration than protecting the American people. Whether we're Democrats or Republicans, we will have our policy differences. There's no policy difference when it comes to protecting the American people.

CHRIS CHRISTIE, FORMER NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR AND ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: People sitting on the beach in Asbury Park, get the hell off the beach in Asbury Park and get out. This is going to be an enormous storm and, for New Jersey, something that we haven't seen in over 60 years.

Do not waste any more time working on your tan.


RADDATZ: A flashback there, Governor Chris Christie, who managed two major storms, including Hurricane Sandy, during his run as governor of New Jersey, and then incoming White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, who served President Obama as he managed the fallout from the 2008 financial crisis.

Rahm is out with a new book, "The Nation City: Why Mayors Are Now Running the World."

And both join me now.

Welcome, gentlemen. As we said, you both have experience managing major crises.

So, let me start with you, Mayor. How do you assess how it's going right now?

EMANUEL: Well, you don't need this insight, but it's not going very, very well, because there's a lack of leadership in setting clear goals, bringing the country together, being honest and forthright about what the scope of the problem is, what are the goals to solve the problem, and how we have to pull together, both the public sector, the private sector, with a singular focus both of protecting the American people and then getting the economy moving.

I do think some of -- after a period of denial and delay, we're starting to finally deal with what I call fast and furious the situation at hand. But we lost some critical time.

That's water under the bridge. I don't believe the public -- I think the public health community raised the alarm. We're now dealing with it, but I think we have to get a more coordinated effort going into how to deal with that effort on the public health side.

And you have two different principles here at play. The public health -- the public health is looking at this from how to segregate and separate people. The economy is built on the principle of how to integrate people. Those two concepts are in conflict.

So, we have to figure out how to get the public health separation, apply the resources to those who need it most, strategically, in a very focused way, and then literally put a floor under the economy and bring that back to life as well.

And both of those, because they're built on different principles, have to be done in a coordinated fashion. And you're going to have to actually deal with science and data and facts, and not trying to manipulate information to make people feel just good.

Those are things that are -- go against his instincts, his history. He's going to have to actually change to lead this country in a unified effort. We have the capacity to do this. But, to date, we have been slow off the start, denied the facts, and we haven't brought the country together in a unified national endeavor.

We are capable of solving both the public health side and the economic side if we're working together.

RADDATZ: And, Governor Christie, what's your response to that? It certainly doesn't looking -- look like things have been going well. Is that just water under the bridge?

CHRISTIE: Well, I -- well, there's two things here.

First of all, I think there's been three stages to this. There was the very earliest stage, when the president closed travel from China, and was criticized by some quarters roundly for it. I think everyone looks back on that decision now and say, it was a very wise one.

Then we had a period where I think the public health officials were ahead of the political officials on this. And we lost some time there. And I agree with Rahm in that respect. That's time we can't get back.

But I also agree that it's water under the bridge. Now you have the third stage. And I think, in the third stage, you're seeing the American people come together. I think you're seeing much more front and center folks like Dr. Fauci and others who are experts in this area, and are giving people instruction on what to do.

But there's no question that, any time you're dealing with any crisis, there are going to be competing interests in that crisis. And so you're going to want to be bringing resources to bear as quickly as possible, but you're going to want to make sure you're bringing them effectively.

And I think that that's one of the real challenges now. Every day, when I watch these press conferences, and I see the press saying, how many tests are out there right now, you realize, in government, that you're always -- what information you have right now is always lagging behind a bit what the reality is, meaning the amount of information you have.

And so I wish there would be less of an emphasis on that, and more of an emphasis on asking the questions about what's next, what's next, because what I used to say to my folks during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy is, you have to rip off the rear-view mirror. You have to say, I have got 10 more decisions to make in the next hour. Let's make them. Let's make them smartly and forthrightly.

And, lastly, on the issue of transparency, I think the president has done much better in the last week or so, since the Rose Garden press conference, in terms of being out there, out front, and being incredibly available to the press to answer questions.

RADDATZ: But, Governor, let me stop you there. And I want to stop you there, because you say it's water under the bridge, but we have got a crisis right now because of that water under the bridge. They don't have enough masks. They don't have enough ventilators.

And we're getting mixed messages out of the White House all the time. There's some happy talk, and I understand that in a time of crisis, but we're getting mixed messages about drugs, we're getting mixed messages -- we're getting about so many things that President Trump will stand up there and Dr. Fauci will come and say something else.

CHRISTIE: Well, listen, you're talking about two different things, Martha.

It is in fact water under the bridge. We cannot hit the rewind button. This is not like being on Netflix and hitting the rewind button, this is real life. And so if there were certain things that were not done as quickly as they should have been, that's absolutely true that's water under the bridge. But now...

EMANUEL: Chris...

CHRISTIE: Hold on, Rahm, is that everybody is responding.

We can continue to put the rearview mirror on, and critique -- there is going to be plenty of time for after action reports, what we need to do now is get prepared and that's not an easy topic.

RADDATZ: Go ahead, Rahm, go ahead.

EMANUEL: Yeah, yeah, Martha, here's what I would say to Chris, and I think it is water under bridge, but you have to learn from failures if you are going to go forward and actually get it right.

Go back to 1994, President Clinton was roundly at the lowest moment of his presidency, criticized for helping Mexico stabilize its peso, because he showed political courage at that time there was a lot of criticism. Mexico paid it back, and paid it with interest early.

When the '98 financial contagion occurred around the world, America was the leader, because we showed, and we learned from what happened in '94, applied it forward going '98.

It is water under the bridge, but every lesson tells you something, how do you apply it forward.

The fact is, the president was right to stop flights from China and people coming in, but we didn't use the time. We didn't use that time that was provided, and that was a mistake. And that is what are the lessons now? We are applying basically to the global--to the public health issue--a shutdown.

The economy works on a different principle of integration, not separation. You have to have a coordinated strategy. We lost critical time. We have to have a president that actually then lays out very clearly here is what we're going to do on masks. Here is what we're going to do to stand up ICU units. Here's what we're going to do on ventilators.

Now to the economy, we're putting a floor under the economy to stabilize the financial market and then allow pieces of the economies to start to come back to life. But he has got to lead this country.

RADDATZ: Mayor, I just want to drill down with Governor Christie on the stimulus package that we now have, the rescue plan on The Hill, probably more than a trillion dollars. Governor, do you think that will do it? Will that sustain this country month after month after month?

CHRISTIE: First of all, I didn't think they filibuster in the House, but Rahm is doing a pretty good job this morning.

Let's face (inaudible), let's talk about the things that have been done already. There have been two bills passed already and signed by the president, and a third one in negotiation that is planned to be done by tomorrow evening.

Now, will that be enough? We don't know yet, Martha, whether that will be enough. But we also know that we’ve now had, and there were announcements yesterday and there will be more tomorrow, regarding the manufacture of an enormous number of ventilators that are being done in coordination with the private sector, folks like General Motors and others, converting their plants to now putting ventilators into production rather than automobiles.

So, this is what we're going to do for the country.

Part of the way to unite people, part of the way to bring them together, is to be laying out the facts and then setting clear goals for what we do next. During Hurricane Sandy, we called that the four steps to normalcy. And for us it was -- restoring power, clearing the roads, returning children to schools, and making sure gasoline was widely available not only for automobiles, but for generators, to people keep going who hadn't gotten their power back yet.

The president is now beginning to lay out those things about what we need to be doing going forward, and has led with the governors.

As a governor, I want to tell you, I'm glad that the governors are as involved as they are. I'm glad Governor Cuomo, Governor Hogan are as front and center as they are -- Governor Newsom in California, these are important leaders who know how things are going on the ground. And so the White House has to work with them.

And FEMA being involved now is a great help as well. That's only a result of the president declaring a national emergency. So, there have been a number of things that have happened--

EMANUEL: But governor...

CHRISTIE: ...that helped to move things forward.

RADDATZ: Go ahead, Rahm.

EMANUEL: The governors are no doubt, Martha and Chris, leading, but they're doing it with one hand tied in back.

Everybody at the local level -- Chris, we know this -- every one of us want to lead, but want to actually have the resources of the federal government. You can't call in the Defense Act and then say I'm not going to turn on the switch here and use it to create the type of leadership and resources going.

This is a time where character is revealed. And the president has actually not led, he has been passive. He has not taken control of the situation, and it runs against every instincts. You have got to be forthright and honest, where he's trying to spin. You got to deal with the data, the science, and the facts rather than try to manipulate them or withhold him and you've got to actually set, actually bring the country together, rather than try to figure out how to pit one group against the other.

And people at the local level are stepping up, which is good. And the reason they're stepping up is because there's been such a void left at the national level. Now that said, we have the ability, I think, to look at this and say, how do we move forward on these type of situations?

And, you know, in the first two to three months of President Obama's term, the financial stabilization, the recovery act to main street and the plan to save the auto and manufacturing foundation of this country were all passed. And on February 24th, of the first year, President Obama gave his speech about -- he would do whatever it takes to stabilize and move this economy forward. By March 10th, tht started to happen both in the market and the economy. It took a while to get those wheels turning. But people knew we had the will and the capacity to move forward and brought the country together. And three major things were done within the first two months of his tenure. That critical time was lost here.

RADDATZ: And, Chris, I want to -- Mayor, I want to stop you.

And, Chris, you have about 30 seconds to wrap up here.

CHRISTIE: Let's talk about the facts on the Defense Protection Act. The president invoked it. And when they -- the White House started to call industries that they were going to use the Defense Production Act on, those industries volunteered to do what the president was asking. You know, you don't need to put a gun to somebody's head if they volunteer to do it. So let's get the fact straight here. The Defense Protection Act will be there and is there to be used if, in fact, someone that the White House goes to, to build ventilators, to build masks or other personal protection equipment, says, no, that they won't convert their manufacturing to that.


CHRISTIE: No one has said no yet. That's an example of how great the America system is. How well this is going now in the aftermath. And we don't need more partisanship now. And I'm saying that both to my partner here, Rahm, and I'm saying it also to the president, we don't need more partisanship, what we need is cooperation. If we do that, like we did after Sandy, we're going to refocus --

RADDATZ: Rahm, I'm going to give you ten seconds, and then we really have to go.

EMANUEL: Never allow a crisis to go to waste. Start planning for the future. This has to be the last pandemic that creates an economic depression. We're going to have more pandemics, but this has to be the last economic depression.


I want to thank both Rahm Emanuel and Governor Christie.

Thanks very much for joining us this morning.

And before we go, a final thought to share.

Donald Trump has called the fight against the coronavirus “a war.” And in many ways, it is. Two Navy hospital ships will be deployed to expand the number of available hospital beds. And a soccer field in Washington state now a construction site for a new field hospital. Our healthcare professionals on the front lines, so many of them without adequate body armor, who still risk their lives to save others.

But all of us are warriors in this fight in some way. Coast to coast, so many of us are buckling down to combat this enemy from the trenches of our own homes, protecting ourselves, our families and each other against an invisible insurgent, anxious and uncertain about just how much worse it could get.

When I feel that way, I look to those men and women who I have seen battle enemies with wisdom and courage through the years. So I leave you with the words of Admiral Bill McRaven, who lead the successful mission to find Osama bin Laden, writing in "The Washington Post" this week, the coronavirus has thrown us all in the mud. We are cold, wet and miserable, and the dawn seems a long way off. But make no mistake about it, we will prevail because the only thing more contagious than a virus is hope.

And I will add to that, teamwork.

Stay strong. Stay safe. Stay home. And we'll see you next week.

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