A rush transcript of "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" airing on Sunday, March 29, 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 surge intensifies.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): We're now looking at a bullet train.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you haven't been paying attention, this is your wakeup call.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: A new travel advisory now in effect, after President Trump decided against a more dramatic measure.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There's a possibility that, sometime today, we will do a quarantine.
CUOMO: I don't even know what that means.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: The president ramping up production, after first questioning the demand for critical supplies.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I don't believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators.
BILL DE BLASIO (D), MAYOR OF NEW YORK: Without a ventilator, doctors can't save lives.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: Hospitals racing against time.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We just got overwhelmed, ambulance after ambulance.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: As Congress passes a record-setting rescue bill, amid historic, heartbreaking unemployment.
We're in unchartered and unfamiliar territory. This morning, we cover the very latest developments in the fight against the pandemic, from the front lines of hospitals to the shuttered storefronts across America.
Our guests, two governors at the forefront of this fight, and Dr. Ashton and Tom Bossert tracking the virus, plus top Trump adviser Larry Kudlow on the White House plan for economic recovery.
ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, it's "This Week."
Here now, co-anchor Martha Raddatz.
RADDATZ: Good morning, and thanks for joining us this Sunday.
It's been another shocking and sobering week. Since we came on the air last Sunday, the number of cases in the U.S. has skyrocketed, climbing from roughly 25,000 cases to nearly 125,000 cases this morning, and, worldwide, close to 700,000 confirmed cases.
In the U.S., the virus has now claimed more than 2,100 lives, including the tragic death of an infant in Illinois announced yesterday.
While New York has emerged as the epicenter in the U.S., cities like Detroit, Boston, New Orleans, and Chicago are experiencing a dramatic rise in cases and bracing for impact.
President Trump's response has run the gamut this week. On Tuesday, the president said he's aiming to have the country reopened and just raring to go by Easter. On Wednesday, that goal was seemingly modified to a recommendation by Easter.
On Thursday, in a letter to governors, Trump suggested a type of triage system, relaxing social distancing guidelines and other measures, based on the number of cases in each county.
And just yesterday, he raised taking a tougher approach, at least for some areas of the country, threatening a two-week quarantine for parts of hard-hit New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, before asking the CDC to issue a travel advisory instead.
RADDATZ: New Jersey’s Governor Phil Murphy joins me now. There are more than 11,000 confirmed cases in that state. Governor Murphy good morning. The president said Saturday he was considering an enforceable quarantine on New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo said he considered that an act of war on the state. Trump has now said after consulting with Cuomo and you and the governor of Connecticut he will issue a strong advisory instead. What can you tell us about that consultation?
GOV. PHIL MURPHY, (D-NJ): Yes. Good to be back Martha. We had a lot of back and forth both among the three governors, which we do regularly these days, as well as with the White House. The fact of that matter is our three states -- and I know New Jersey is obviously the best. We’re doing about as aggressive a set of steps as any states in America right now. So as challenging as this is, and you’re right, over 11,000 positives and tragically 140 dead as of yesterday in the Garden State, the fact of the matter is people really aren’t really traveling a whole lot. A travel warning we’re fine with. The fact of the matter is we are all in flattening that curve, social distancing as aggressive as any states in America and we’ll continue to be that way.
RADDATZ: So there will be no real enforcement of this because people just aren’t traveling?
MURPHY: Well it’s a travel advisory, so we take that seriously and we will execute it by the states and that’s something that, as I say, it’s defacto happening already and we’ll make sure -- listen, we are pounding the table morning, noon, and night, stay home, stay home, stay home. So if there’s another message point we can add to that we’re happy to add to that. But we want folks to stay home and flatten this curve and break the back of this virus.
RADDATZ: New Jersey has more than eight times the number of confirmed cases now compared to when we spoke a week ago and you’ve already issued, as you say, that stay at home order. So why wouldn’t a quarantine like this be effective?
MURPHY: Again Martha we are defacto staying at home as a state. There are 9 million of us. You’re absolutely right, the numbers have gone up dramatically. But we expected this and we told our folks it would happen. Part of it’s due to community spread but a big part of is we have opened up testing aggressively. So the fact of the matter is folks -- they’re already getting the message to stay at home. We’re enforcing that. If we think within New Jersey there are stronger steps we can take, we consider them regularly and we will take them. This again as an advisory adds to a message that we’ve already -- that we’ll have already been stark about. And remember the tests that we’re getting back yesterday may be as much as a week or so since the specimen was collected, so we’re not yet seeing the numbers for the most dramatic steps we’ve taken on social distancing. We probably won’t see that for another week or so.
RADDATZ: And let’s talk about the situation in your hospitals. Last week you told me New Jersey was desperate for personal protective equipment and the Federal Government had only given you a fraction of what you asked for. You’ve now received a shipment from the stockpile including 120,000 N95 masks and a thousand medical beds. Is that enough?
MURPHY: Yeah listen, we had gotten another shipment in our private sector, our hospital systems. We’ve shutdown elective surgery so we’re getting equipment from that. But we’re still way short. We have a long way to go. I’d say, Martha, the big headline for us right now are ventilators. We had a very specific conversation with the White House last night about ventilators. That’s our number one ask. It’s our number one need. And that’s the one that we are focused most on right now. We have a long way to go on the whole PPE front, but we’ve made more progress in other areas than we have right now on ventilators. That’s our big focus.
RADDATZ: You asked about ventilators. What was the answer?
MURPHY: They’re trying to work with us and, listen, we’re trying to find common ground 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. And we had a very specific conversation about our asks and the potential to perhaps phase that in as they can deliver. We need them though. There’s no question about it.
RADDATZ: You sure do, like so many others. Governor we thank you for joining us again this morning.
MURPHY: Thanks for having me Martha.
RADDATZ: And as officials race to contain the outbreak in the tri-state area, new hot spots are emerging here in the U.S., among them Louisiana. Last Sunday, there were 837 confirmed cases in the case. Today, there are over 3,300. Joining me now is the governor of Louisiana, John Bel Edwards. And, Governor Edwards, our condolences to you this morning with this sad announcement that you lost a young staffer to complications from the virus, 33-year-old April Dunn. She is part of an alarming rise of infections and deaths in Louisiana. Tell us what you are seeing this morning in your state. And again, our condolences.
EDWARDS: Well, thank you very much, Marta -- Martha, and it's good to be with you. We obviously have a spread that is growing faster than -- than we would like to see. We remain on a trajectory, really, to overwhelm our capacity to deliver health care. By the end of the first week in April, we think the first real issue is going to be ventilators. And -- and we think it's about the fourth or fifth of April before, down in the New Orleans area, we're unable to put people on ventilators who need them. And then several days later, we will be out of beds.
Now, we're surging our capacity now, both with our existing footprint of hospitals, but also in the convention center down in New Orleans. And so we're going to be able to get those beds up, but -- but the staffing remains very difficult and the ventilators are -- are what we need right now. You know, we've had orders in for more than 12,000 ventilators, some through the national stockpile and others through private vendors. Thus far, over the last several weeks, we've been able to get only 192. And so we continue to work this extremely hard.
But in the meantime, my message to Louisiana is really no different than the message that you're seeing out of the New York governor and the New Jersey governor. We need people to practice the mitigation measures we have in place, the shelter-at-home that we have state-wide now, so that we can slow this spread. We -- we cannot have everybody presenting to the hospital, which is what will happen if we don't slow the spread. We should know in the next three or four days whether the stay-at-home order that I put in place is going to have the intended effect. But we know that mitigation works, but it only works to the extent that it's actually complied with.
And so we're hopeful that these -- that the curve does start to flatten here in the next few days. But we're in a very, very difficult place here in Louisiana, with the number two case count per capita in the United States and -- I'm sorry -- number three per capita case count, number two with per capita deaths. And so we're -- we're in a very difficult place, Martha.
RADDATZ: And, Governor, you said in your press conference on Thursday, "We are not going to enforce our way through this," meaning keeping people home. "People need to comply," you said. If the outbreak continues to worsen and residents don't comply, will you consider stronger enforcement measures?
EDWARDS: Oh, sure. And when I said that, it's not like we don't have law enforcement out going to businesses and telling them whether they are supposed to be closed or not, or just -- or if you have a large group of people, that they're telling them that they have to leave. But we have 4.7 million people. We have tends of thousands of business. We have 4,500 churches. And so my point to the people of Louisiana is, "Look, don't look for us to come enforce this. We need you to take it upon yourself to comply. Because, really, that's the only way that we're going to be successful."
And so it's not that we're not going to enforce these measures at all, but we shouldn't be -- be made to enforce them, is the point that I was trying to deliver to the Louisiana people.
RADDATZ: And, Governor, Mardi Gras is now believed to be one of the sources of Louisiana's outbreak. Dr. Fauci said your state likely should have issued a stay-at-home order sooner. And the New Orleans mayor said just yesterday it wasn't canceled because the federal government said it was contained. Is that the reason?
EDWARDS: Well, look, there was never any hint from anyone, to me or to the mayor of New Orleans, that there should be any consideration to down-sizing or canceling Mardi Gras. I think, if you look back there were about 15 cases in the country, all of which were tied directly to travel or indirectly to travel, and there was never any hint of this. And if you'll go back, you will see that the federal government was saying things were well under control.
And so this is some Monday morning quarterbacking going on. And, quite frankly, I believe it's likely that -- that Mardi Gras contributed to the seeding of the virus in and around New Orleans, a million and a half people, just 13 days before the first confirmed case here on March the 9th. But -- but that's looking back. Right now, we need to spend our time, our energy; we need to be focused on doing what we can do right now in going forward. And I'm sure that -- that somebody's going to do a study about the -- the impact of Mardi Gras on this particular public health emergency later.
RADDATZ: And thank you very much for joining us this morning, Governor. And we wish you all the best.
EDWARDS: Martha, thank you so much.
RADDATZ: Up next, we take you inside one hospital emergency room for a firsthand look on how doctors on the frontlines are coping with the nation's surge in coronavirus cases.
Plus, Dr. Jen Ashton and Tom Bossert are standing by.
We'll be right back.
RADDATZ: In a sea of statistics and never-ending headlines in this coronavirus crisis, it's easy to overlook the human toll of it all. And sometimes it's personal.
This week, I checked in with Dr. Erin Beaumont, a young emergency medicine doctor in Massachusetts, who I have known since she was in college. On Monday, the ICU at the emergency room at Everett Hospital, where Erin is working, was already filling up. So I asked her to keep a video diary documenting day-to-day life on the front lines as she waits for a surge of patients she expects in the coming days.
DR. ERIN BEAUMONT, ER ATTENDING PHYSICIAN, CAMBRIDGE HEALTH ALLIANCE: It's Tuesday, March 24th, it is 4:48 pm. I am about to go into my shift. When I left yesterday, our ICU was full, and we haven't even come close to starting our surge yet, and so I am nervous about that because once we do get our surge, I don't know where we're going to put these people. I don't know how we're going to treat these people appropriately, I don't know - I don’t know what we're gonna do.
BEAUMONT: (ON SCREEN UPPER LEFT - "WEDNESDAY MARCH 25TH, AROUND 1:45AM) (sighs) I just got out of my shift. I took care of a patient who is my age. Normal, healthy person who I admitted because he - I'm guessing, we won't know yet, but I'm guessing he has COVID-19, based on the way he looked, the way he was breathing, his chest x-ray. it’s heartbreaking though and it- it makes me nervous because he's my age and he's young and he's healthy and I worry that we're just going to see more and more like that.
BEAUMONT (ON SCREEN UPPER LEFT - "WEDNESDAY MARCH 25TH, AROUND 9:00AM): I went to look in on the patient that I was taking care of last night. The one that's my age who is there with presumed Covid-19 and he is now in the intensive care unit.
BEAUMONT (ON SCREEN UPPER LEFT - "THURSDAY MARCH 26TH, AROUND 11:30PM): It's Thursday, March 26th. It's about 11:30 and night, um, I just got back from my shift. We're just waiting, we’re sitting here waiting, for the inevitable terribleness that we know is going to happen and it kind of eats away at you. And it's really, it's really hard. And the prospect of this country being open for business and back to normal in a couple of weeks by Easter is both ridiculous and dangerous and there's no way.
BEAUMONT (ON SCREEN UPPER LEFT - "FRIDAY MARCH 27TH, AROUND 3PM): I spoke to my mom today. She asked me a question - do you have enough PPE to get you through the surge? And my answer was, I don't know. Which brings up another interesting point, which is, you know - what do you do, where do you draw the line between protecting yourself and helping your patients? That's something that I've been kind of grappling with morally. I feel that I'm in a very unique position to be able to help people right now. I have asthma and I worry that if I do get sick, I won't do well, and so it's a really - it’s a really hard position to be in.
BEAUMONT ON SCREEN CREDIT MARCH 29, AROUND 2:30AM): At some point this evening, all of a sudden we just got overwhelmed ambulance after ambulance. It all happened at once. our ICUs are full. Our floors are full. The emergency room is full.
RADDATZ: So distressing to hear and our thanks to Dr. Beaumont for sharing her story.
For more now on how hospitals and communities are dealing with this crisis, let's bring in ABC News chief medical correspondent, Dr. Jennifer Ashton, and former Trump homeland security adviser and ABC News contributor, Tom Bossert.
And, let me start with you, Dr. Jen. Heartbreaking stories from that doctor and so many other healthcare workers. I know your brother is on the frontlines as well. The United States now has more than 120,000 confirmed cases, the most in the world, and hit that horrible 2,000-death milestone. Where would you say we are today in the cycle? Has the curve been flattened at all in any places?
DR. JENNIFER ASHTON, ABC NEWS CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we don't know. Only time will tell, Martha, because when you're dealing with an infectious disease outbreak, as Dr. Tony Fauci has said, you're always behind. So it's important to remember, we still don't know a lot about how this virus behaves. We think there could be up to two-week incubation period. And then it takes time for people to develop systems and actually become sick.
So, what we're seeing today, actually probably represents something that happened two to four weeks ago. And if you think that way, we don't know what two to four weeks from now will look like.
RADDATZ: And, Tom, the president floated that Easter deadline, you heard what the president said, to get the economy up and running again, he said he would release guidelines early next week so that certain low-risk areas might be able to ease up on social distancing.
But we’ve continued to see new hotspots emerge all over this country. And how can you set guidelines when -- as Jen said, we have so little data?
TOM BOSSERT, FORMER TRUMP HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISER: Yeah, you know, you just can't.
What a week. We saw him start out hearing the “don't flatten the economy, flatten the curve” line. I think that made him nervous. And he went out with a very hopeful Easter deadline.
Later in the week, he kind of 180-degree reversed with a data-driven letter to the governors suggesting we're going to move out of this in a careful manner and even conceded that some places in our country will have to increase their distancing measures.
So, I think at this stage, as this expires on Monday, the 15 days, responsibly, I think the president has no choice but to extend this national blanket intervention order.
RADDATZ: Because, Tom, even if there are fewer cases than predicted, let’s say, that does not mean that these extreme measures were not necessary.
BOSSERT: Yes. In fact, I would argue that while we can't quantify, to Dr. Jen’s point, that we can see some evidence that this is working. In fact, it's almost certainly working. If we hadn't taken these extreme measures, we would expect to see an even higher, unfortunately, number.
We can't tell you exactly how much better. We can’t prove that negative, but it's clearly less than the 20 percent attack rate that we had feared and that we had seen elsewhere. So we have to stay this course.
And a message to people -- we have to stop cheating. Any time, even a small percentage of our society steps out of these lines, the cheating has a significant effect on the -- on the slope of this infection curve.
RADDATZ: And, Jen, more and more states and cities, you heard the governor say they are desperate for equipment in hospitals. You’ve seen the images out of hospitals like Elmhurst hospital in New York.
But this is what Dr. Deborah Birx, who is on the president’s task force, said just Thursday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. DEBORAH BIRX, CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE: To say that to the American people, to make the implication that when they need a hospital bed, it's not going to be there or when they need that ventilator, it’s not going to be there, we don't have an evidence of that right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: She was clearly trying to reassure. But how do you see that?
ASHTON: Here's the thing about ventilators.
When you take into account that image, that symbol, it is so fear-producing, because it's a machine that literally can make the difference between life and death. That is true.
But if you look at a paper that was just published in "The New England Journal of Medicine," research done out of University of Pennsylvania, we could have a million ventilators, Martha. The key and critical component is not actually as much the machine as the people who operate it, the respiratory therapists, the critical care nurses.
And according to that UPenn paper, the maximum number of trained professionals we have is about 100,000. There are ratios that, for every person on a ventilator, they need a certain number of respiratory therapists.
It could be a 4-1 ratio, but the critical and rate-limiting factor may actually be the health care worker, and not the machines. So, we have to take that with a massive grain of salt.
RADDATZ: And, in some places, they are even asking for volunteers.
Tom, the situation in places like New York or California is bad, but the epicenter is going to shift. What do you see in the coming weeks in other areas of the country?
BOSSERT: Yes. Unfortunately, you're right. And I don't want to be too predictive here, but the numbers are awfully alarming, as we watch them move into those flash points, where they start to grow into that exponential curve, in places like Detroit, New Orleans, Chicago.
And places in Florida right now are very worrying, when you look at the numbers of deaths, which are indicative of a lot of spread, against the size of the populations in some of those counties.
And then, when you run it against what seems to be societal cheating, I will call it, people not quite taking this as seriously as they should, and what will happen then is, we’ll think we wish we had taken steps two weeks ago that we should have taken. And we don't want to get into that regret loop that we saw in New York.
So, if you're worried about travel restrictions and that debate in New York today, think about how that might apply in New Orleans tomorrow.
RADDATZ: And, Jen, we have about 30 seconds left. So I want to just ask you, what's your message to Americans in the coming weeks? What should they do?
ASHTON: Well, I think as we have heard Dr. Fauci say, we don't want to look back and wish we could have done more.
We, in fact, want to do the opposite. We want to overreact. And I think, as people deal with the emotions of this pandemic, which are very real, and they're as important as the physical factors, the fear, the anxiety, the concern--those are all normal.
But we have to proceed based on evidence, and not emotion, and just focus on what's important now. And I think that's really the key.
RADDATZ: Thanks very much, Dr. Ashton and Tom Bossert. You're doing important work.
Up next: Congress passes a record $2 trillion relief package, and that might not be enough to shore up the economic damage of the coronavirus.
The White House's economic director joins me live next.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is a very important day, I’ll sign the single, biggest economic relief package in American history.
I want to thank Republicans and Democrats for coming together, setting aside their differences and putting America first.
Now, I'm going to sign this and it's a great honor. $6.2 trillion dollars. I have never signed anything with a "t" on it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: President Trump there signing that record $2.2 trillion relief plan on Friday to help individuals, businesses and hospitals cope with the economic fallout from the coronavirus.
This week, the first concrete numbers showed how the virus is affecting the economy. And those numbers were startling. More than 3 million new unemployment claims, especially hard-hit, were the hospitality and service industries. We talked with several small business owners adjusting to their new reality and hoping to have their employees back at work soon.
COLEEN SPEAKS, OWNER, HUMMINGBIRD RESTAURANT: Watching your businesses disappear so quickly is horrifying.
JOE NEUMAN, OWNER, SLOPPY MAMA'S BARBECUE: We told them to prepare for eight weeks being shut down.
OPAL FOSTER, LAID OFF WORKER: So my manager called me into the office and said, you know, Opal, I'm so sorry but, you know, I'm letting you go.
RADDATZ (voice over): The economic fallout from COVID-19 was brutal this week.
MAL STRONG, CO-OWNER, GOLDPLAITED: We were pretty much set up to have our biggest year ever in 2020. And now we're in zero dollars in gross receipts.
RADDATZ: Mal and Coco Strong opened Gold Plaited, a hair and makeup finishing salon seven years ago in Chicago. This week, they were forced to lay off their 25 employees.
M. STRONG: Nothing that we ever would have chosen to do. We really would want to try and, you know, keep them employed as much as possible. But right now, we're just left without a choice.
NEUMAN: It's been a crazy two weeks.
RADDATZ: In a Washington, D.C., suburb, Joe Neuman, owner of Sloppy Mama's Barbeque, had to make the same gut-wrenching decision for his 28 employees.
NEUMAN: Well, we told them to prepare for eight weeks being shut down. We told them we wanted everybody back and, you know, we would do whatever we could in the short term to get them through this.
RADDATZ: He's worried not just about Sloppy Mama's survival, but how his situation affects the larger economic pie.
NEUMAN: If we don't pay rent for a couple months, our landlord's fine in the short term. But she told us, she's -- you know, if we start getting into July and August, then she's going to start defaulting on her loans.
SPEAKS: I cried for about 10 minutes when it sunk in one morning.
RADDATZ: Coleen Speaks is experiencing the same with her Raleigh, North Carolina, restaurant and catering company.
SPEAKS: And then I just got busy. It's, you know, we, in this industry, are incredibly resilient.
RADDATZ: She knows it's not going to be quick or easy.
SPEAKS: We're going to need some forgiveness on some bills. It's going to take a lot of -- of money for us to get running again.
RADDATZ: Even with a tough business climate setting in, Speaks and her fellow small business owners are hopeful.
COCO STRONG, CO-OWNER, GOLDPLAITED: We have, you know, existing supporters who really want, you know, us to survive this. So I feel pretty good about the ability to open up and kind of slowly start getting back to normal with our regular clients.
NEUMAN: Our message was pretty clear that we were going to get through it and it was going to be hard and it was going to be difficult. But if we sacrifice now, we're going to be better off in the longer term.
RADDATZ: Despite that optimism, the hardships facing Americans are real.
FOSTER: Already -- already kind of hanging on by a wing and a prayer.
RADDATZ: Single mother Opal Foster lost her job last week at a printing company.
FOSTER: I think what's keeping me up the most is how long this is going to last.
RADDATZ: Her son, Jeremiah, has Downs Syndrome and with school closed in Maryland, Opal worries about the impact of that as well.
FOSTER: They're not going to get the therapies that they need. They're not going to be, you know, the socialization that they may need. There's a lot of things that -- that they're used to in their regular routine that they're not going to be getting.
RADDATZ: Opal, with her safety net fraying, has just one message for those shaping the response to the pandemic.
FOSTER: Do all in your power to make sure that we all are OK, not just people in power, not just people that are well to do, but the everyday common man, to make sure that we're all OK.
RADDATZ: So let's dig into that $2 trillion stimulus bill the president signed with President Trump's top economic adviser Larry Kudlow.
Mr. Kudlow, you heard that plea from a single mom to make sure everyone will be OK. What do you say to her to reassure her and millions of other Americans that they will be OK.
LARRY KUDLOW, DIRECTOR, WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: Well, it’s going to be the biggest assistance package in history, Martha. I mean, I hope she does well. A lot of the people you talked to had a sense of optimism. I love that. We've got to fight together to get through the effects of the virus in economic terms.
Safety comes first. But we're doing the best we can.
We've got a $6.2 trillion assistance package. And just some of the quick factoids -- we’re basically going to be providing significant assistance to 175 million people, 175 million people. Roughly, $600 billion dollars is allocated to that. And to the small business -- small business which will go up next week, there's another $350 billion, and then when you count the payroll tax holiday, you're going to be moving towards $500 billion or $600 billion.
We're trying to keep folks working. We’re trying to let them have enough assistance to get through daily, family needs, with the kids, some of them may be home. We are going to cover their sick pay leave, as I think you know.
And we’re also protecting payrolls. All the loans and loan guarantees will be forgivable -- well, first, they’ll be made and then they’ll be forgivable provided the small business people hang on to their payroll.
So, it may not be perfect but I think it’s going to give tremendous amount of resources to get us through what we still believe is going to be a question of weeks and months -- hopefully weeks -- maybe I should say prayerfully weeks. But we think we can get through this period.
RADDATZ: We know about those eye-popping numbers this week, $2 trillion stimulus package, with checks going out to millions and millions of Americans as you say. But will that be enough given those soaring unemployment numbers, more than 3 million people?
KUDLOW: Well, I think it will be enough. I mean, you know, the whole package when you take the $2.2 trillion of direct federal assistance, which, by the way, goes to states and goes to hospitals and goes to medical equipment covering the waterfront, you know, you're really talking about one-third of GDP, one-third of the whole economy is being covered by this package. That's really quite remarkable. It's the largest mainstream financial assistance package in the history of the United States.
So, it's hard to know if we can get everything -- help everybody, but I think -- I’m an optimist, I think the sheer resources here we are putting in whatever it takes, we’re using every federal power lever possible to help folks. It’s going right into the middle, lower-middle class people.
And, by the way, Martha, other things, student loans are going to be deferred. Payment on student loans is going to be deferred. Income tax payments are going to be deferred for several months.
As I said, as the small business --
RADDATZ: Mr. Kudlow, you say weeks -- you say weeks, not months -- but how can you be sure this economic tragedy won’t be long term if there’s no guarantee that people will have jobs to return to. Because getting those businesses reopened, we’ve heard it from them, with changes necessary to ensure people stay healthy will take time. Coffee shops are not going to look the way they did before, theaters.
So, what is waiting for unemployed people on the other side of this? I don't see how it can be just weeks.
KUDLOW: Well, listen, I say that weeks, it could be four weeks, it could be eight weeks. I say that hopefully, and I say that prayerfully. That's what some of the science experts are telling us. I don’t know if they’ll be right.
But let me just say this, you can't have a good job unless you have a healthy business. And what we’ve tried to do is to provide tremendous, tremendous assistance to the individual men and women, and therefore, on the other side, tremendous assistance to the small businesses for which they work. We're trying to balance this out. And I think that's really the first time this kind of package has ever been put forward.
I can't guarantee it. I can't wave a magic wand. I wish I could. I’ve spent all my career being an optimist and trying to promote economic growth.
This virus, nobody expected this thing to come down as far and hard and widespread as it did, but it did. And we are --
RADDATZ: Mr. Kudlow, I want to -- I want to stop you there just for a second, including you. It was -- it was also just a month ago you told CNBC that you thought the virus was contained in the country, even though doctors were warning others -- otherwise, you also downplayed the threat of a long-lasting economic tragedy.
You have since said that was based on facts at the time.
RADDATZ: But why should people trust you this morning with your prediction?
KUDLOW: Look, I’m as good as the facts are. And at the time I made that statement, the facts were contained. The president had just put the travel restrictions on China and a lot of people agreed with me. In fact, at the time, a lot of people thought that the flu was worse than this virus.
But as soon as the facts changed, we changed our whole posture and our whole strategy, and we've gone full bore, as I said. No package like this has ever been passed Congress before.
And, look, as the president has said, we will do more if need be. Let’s just try to get this done now --
RADDATZ: How quickly can you get those checks out?
KUDLOW: Couple of weeks. The direct --
RADDATZ: Given the infrastructure, that much money, those -- that number of checks?
KUDLOW: The -- the direct checks will come out probably in a couple -- two weeks, I believe, Secretary Mnuchin is saying.
The loans to the small businesses will be ready for processing this coming week, OK, this coming Friday. So we will have rapid speed, much faster than has been done in the past with these things.
And so we will get it into people's hands right away. And don't forget also, please, regarding things like rent payments or rental, home loans, all that will -- evictions -- let may add that -- all that will be put on hold. There will be no evictions during this period.
Principal and interest on loans, if they're federal loans, can be suspended. There's a moratorium on student loans. We tried to cover every single base as we realized the scope and spread of this thing.
RADDATZ: And, Mr. Kudlow...
KUDLOW: So, it's really as much as anybody has ever done.
And, by the way, we have provided temporary emergency financing from the Treasury Department to unlock massive, massive resources from the
Federal Reserve. That -- resources will help stabilize financial markets, will also stabilize credit card payments, student loan payments, money market funds, stock market.
RADDATZ: Mr. Kudlow, I just want -- if you would quickly, please, even in the most optimistic scenarios, how can you spend that kind of money and not raise taxes?
KUDLOW: Well, we're not raising taxes. We're cutting taxes right now.
The whole package is essentially direct assistance on the spending side and large-scale tax cuts. As I said, 180 -- 180 -- 175 million, I will put that number, 175 million, Martha, are going to get tax rebates.
And massive amounts of small business, probably half of the companies in the U.S., are going to get rebates or deferred payroll tax holidays. And we will cover their expenses. And we will forgive the loans, as long as they keep the payroll going.
So, we have tried to hit both sides. We're helping the individuals. We're helping the small business. Those are the major components of the American economy.
I hope that the machinery works. Secretary Mnuchin is working hard. Our National Economic Council is working hard.
RADDATZ: I'm going to have to stop you there, Mr. Kudlow.
I know that you're all working hard, and we really appreciate you appearing this morning on the program.
KUDLOW: Thank you. Appreciate it very much.
RADDATZ: Thanks very much.
So, let's get some analysis now from ABC chief business and economics correspondent Rebecca Jarvis.
Rebecca, first your reaction to what you just heard from Larry Kudlow.
REBECCA JARVIS, ABC NEWS CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Martha, first of all, I think the key question is, how long does this last, and what does the world look like on the other side?
And Larry Kudlow talked about that $2.2 trillion stimulus, an eye-popping number. That stimulus is, frankly, to plug a gigantic hole, the zero dollars coming into most American businesses right now, the zero dollars in the pockets of more than three million Americans who were laid off last week.
So, when you think about these stimulus programs, plus the $4 trillion backstop from the Federal Reserve, it is to plug a gigantic void in the system. And the question is, as we go through this, the longer we last in this void, what does the world look like on the other side?
And I spoke earlier this week with the CEO of Starbucks, who's now been through this already in China, where they closed a number of stores; 95 percent of those stores, Martha, have reopened. And I asked him about traffic in those stores, because we know the world, when things start to reopen, how are people going to respond?
And he said, the traffic picks up a little more each week, but there are still social distancing measures inside of the stores.
And for many American businesses, this will be a new reality of the future, fewer tables, for example, if you're a restaurant in your shop, maybe fewer people coming in if you're a hairdresser.
All these different types of American business are going to have a different amount of foot traffic in the future. And the question is, how long can they really hold on for, even with this gigantic stimulus?
RADDATZ: And, Rebecca, just in these coming weeks, do you think things could get much worse?
JARVIS: Well, if we continue to see the type of layoffs that we saw, that more than three million number that we saw last week -- and we very likely will continue to see the layoffs continue.
We know, for example, that there were technical issues with websites, the unemployment insurance Web sites crashing. So we know that there will be more layoffs, especially with lockdowns. We know that unemployment, that unemployment rate, which was 3.5 percent in February, is very likely to climb much higher in the coming weeks.
If it were to climb to the worst-case scenarios, we would be looking, Martha, at 20 percent unemployment. That is what we saw in the Great Depression. In the Great Recession, it was 10 percent.
So, we know these numbers are going to continue to climb.
But here is something we also know, the American people are resilient. And you heard this in your package the number of unemployed workers out there who are doing everything. I hear from small businesses every single day, they are doing everything in their power to keep their employees on board. They're running GoFundMe’s, people in neighborhoods and communities on websites like Nextdoor are showing up for their neighborhoods.
So we know that people are going to do everything in their power to help, but that fundamental question is, for how long? How long can this last?
RADDATZ: Thanks so much, Rebecca. And the American people are indeed inspiring, thanks for joining us.
ABC's Jon Karl is standing by and joins me next. We're back in just 60 seconds.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Are you able to guarantee, to assure these states, these hospitals, that everybody who needs a ventilator will get a ventilator?
TRUMP: I think we're in great shape. I hope that's the case. I hope that we're going to have leftovers so we can help other people, other countries.
KARL: Everybody who needs one will be able to get a ventilator.
TRUMP: Look, look, don't be a cutie pie, OK, everyone who needs one, nobody has ever done what we've done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: The president on Friday talking about my colleague Jon Karl, who has covered Mr. Trump for about as long as anyone, dating back to when Trump was a fixture of the New York tabloids.
Jon is out with a timely new book called "Front Row at the Trump Show," which is quite literally where Jon finds himself more often than not.
Jon, it's great to see you and congratulations on this book. The president, we saw the last few weeks who has rarely stepped into the briefing room, is now there every single day.
KARL: It's really something else. I mean, literally, Martha, for three years of his presidency, he almost never went into that place. He had one appearance where he didn't take questions, now he has discovered that this is the place where he can be front and center and he is there every single day taking questions.
RADDATZ: And Jon, you have covered him since 1994. I love looking at all of the old pictures in the book of the two of you, but what have you learned from your time covering him? How does it inform you when you're look at this crisis today.
KARL: Well, I see so much that I wrote about in this book, and what I tried to do is I tried to tell a story. I tried to convey what it has been like to be covering this singular moment in American history with a president unlike any we have ever seen.
And what I have seen is so much of what I looked at and what I have experienced we see playing out to the extreme here. One of the themes here is the ways in which the president runs his own show, the way he's his own communications director, he's his own national security adviser, he is his own press secretary...
RADDATZ: Gone through a few chiefs of staff.
KARL: He is his own chief of staff. And this crisis hit at precisely the moment that he literally had no chief of staff, acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney was on the way out. Mark Meadows, who to this moment is still a member of Congress and not formally the chief of staff, he's literally been doing it himself, calling the shots without any guardrails. This is pure Donald Trump.
RADDATZ: And pure Donald Trump in that he always seems to have an enemy. He appeals to his base no matter what. It's the Democrats' fault, it's the media's fault. It's -- it's whoever's fault. It's a governor in Michigan's fault. That's pure Donald Trump.
KARL: Absolutely. And -- and -- and often the news media. And he goes back and forth. I mean one day he's attacking Andrew Cuomo, the next day he's praising him. Day after day after day he seems to be blaming the entire crisis on the Democrats or on the news media and then he comes out and he's saying, actually, I think you guys have been doing a really good job or pretty good job covering this.
It's been back and forth, back and forth, because he's a guy that does this by instinct. This really is -- he -- he cares. Obviously he wants to get through this crisis. Everybody does. But he sees this as part of the -- the -- what I call the Trump show. He looks at the numbers. Who's watching? What are the --
RADDATZ: And even in this crisis?
KARL: I mean do you remember when -- when -- in the early days of this crisis, when the -- when the cruise ship was coming in to -- to California and he actually said he didn't really want it to come ashore because it would ruin his numbers. His numbers would double the number of cases.
You know, I -- I wonder, I think -- there's been a lot of self-congratulations every day that we see in those briefings, frankly, about the testing in the United States, the testing, and we're doing so well, we're doing now more than South Korea did.
RADDATZ: Although that's per capita, no --
KARL: You -- you know how bad the testing situation remains. Martha, we had a -- we have a member of the White House press corps who last week -- last week came down with what we -- was a presumed case of coronavirus. Took a test on Tuesday. We still don't have the results to that test. So we don't know if the colleague who many of us have been sitting in the briefing with there actually has coronavirus. It's not working. It's not working yet. And I wonder, you know, how strong that push was from the president on testing early on? How strong was it? Because, again, more testing, more numbers.
RADDATZ: And -- and one of the things he's also been focused on, besides these mixed messages, despite what he's telling people is getting the country back, but he seems to float these ideas and then take them back, the Easter in two weeks, and then maybe not, we'll just recommend it's Easter.
KARL: Yes, it -- and it's -- and it's like, hey, that sounds great. And that was -- that was something -- and by -- wouldn't it be wonderful if we could all be packed in churches, Christians across the country on Easter Sunday? Well, he -- he sees it. He sees the image. Comes up with it. Boom. Was that a subject of discussion? No, this is Donald Trump who, again, plays by instinct, plays by gut. And -- and you see through the course of the book, I've --
RADDATZ: Do you think he's nervous about his numbers with the election coming up?
KARL: He's always obsessed with his numbers. So I'm sure he's concerned when he sees bad numbers. He asks virtually every day, by the way, what the latest count is on his Twitter followers, his Instagram followers, his Facebook followers. He cares about any kind of metric numbers of how he is perceived.
RADDATZ: And, very quickly, Jon, you write in your book about the dangers of Trump's war on truth. Will this do lasting damage?
KARL: I really worry that we are in a situation now where Donald Trump has undermined faith in the news media, amongst so many of his followers, and where so -- and -- and where his lack of credibility on so many issues has undermined truth with the other half of the country.
RADDATZ: We should all read your book. I already have. It's terrific.
KARL: Thank you.
RADDATZ: Thanks to all of -- thanks for all of us today. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us. Check out "WORLD NEWS TONIGHT." Stay strong and stay safe.