This is a rush transcript from “Special Report,” March 17, 2020. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS CHANNEL ANCHOR: Hey, Jesse. Thank you. I love those great stories.
Good evening. I’m Bret Baier. Breaking tonight, President Trump, says he is going big in his bid to prop up the U.S. economy against the coronavirus pandemic. The president is asking Congress for close to a trillion dollars in stimulus spending. It could include a check very soon in your mailbox or your bank account for a significant amount of money. You could also get some extra time to pay your taxes.
Meantime, Wall Street responded positively after some of the worst days in its history. The death toll from this pandemic in the U.S. has reached 94 with more than 5,800 infections.
Also today, the president met with the heads of fast-food chains, who committed to keeping their drive-thru and pick up services open. The Trump administration is urging seniors to use telehealth services, along with Facebook and Skype to maintain hospital capacity.
While officials are specifically asking young people to stay out of bars, and restaurants, and getting together on beaches. The streets of American cities which would normally be filled with parades for this St. Patrick’s Day, were instead free from crowds. The New York Mayor warns the city’s more than 8 million residents a shelter-in-place order is being considered there.
And there will be no Run for the Roses on the first Saturday of May. Today, the Kentucky Derby has been rescheduled for September as of now.
And late tonight, basketball star Kevin Durant of the NBA told the athletic that he was one of the two Brooklyn Nets to test positive for the coronavirus COVID-19.
Chief White House correspondent John Roberts begins our pandemic coverage live in the North Lawn tonight. Good evening, John.
JOHN ROBERTS, FOX NEWS CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Bret, good evening to you. The federal response to the coronavirus is beginning to look a lot like the fiscal stimulus of 2008 2009. The difference back then, the economy was in danger of collapse and needed the stimulus.
This time around the fundamentals of the economy are still very strong. But the federal government is being forced to literally shut parts of it down.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please distance.
ROBERTS: On Capitol Hill, today, the treasury secretary and other White House officials hoping to convince Republicans to pony up hundreds of billions of dollars to keep businesses and taxpayers afloat.
STEVEN MNUCHIN, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY: Hardworking Americans are impacted by government decisions. That’s when the government has to step up to put money into the economy.
ROBERTS: A major part of the proposal, putting cash in the hands of American workers. Literally, cutting them a check from the federal government.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We don’t want people losing their jobs or not having money to live when they were doing very well just four weeks ago. So, we’re going big and that’s the way it will be.
ROBERTS: Another part of the plan, help for the airlines a bill that could eventually approach $60 billion. And now, the hotel industry, business collapsing. The CEO of Hilton Hotels today telling the president, it’s bad.
CHRISTOPHER NASSETTA, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, HILTON WORLDWIDE: I’ve been doing this for 35 years. Never seen anything like it.
ROBERTS: As the Senate takes up the bill passed by the House last week to fund free coronavirus testing, paid leave, and enhanced unemployment insurance, support from Senate Democrats today to get it done.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): The president has said he will sign this bill if the Senate passes it. So, please my colleagues, we will have other opportunities to legislate and there will be — will there will be a great need for them. But let’s move this now.
ROBERTS: But negotiating a new relief measure that could top $800 billion may be a tougher sell.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): The Senate will not adjourn until we have passed significant and bold new steps above and beyond what the House has passed.
ROBERTS: According to officials, to stop the economy from hemorrhaging red ink, the nation must to bend the so-called infection curve. President Trump, saying the top priority has to be to stop the spread of coronavirus.
TRUMP: We are looking to save the maximum number of lives. Everything else is going to come back, a life is never going to come back.
ROBERTS: Yesterday, Dr. Deborah Birx, said the key to slowing infection is the so-called millennial generation, who are social and plugged into social media. Today, she all but scolded them to heed the warnings of social distancing.
DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: We’re asking the younger generations to stop going out in public places, to bars, and restaurants, and spreading asymptomatic virus onto countertops and knobs and grocery stores and grocery carts.
ROBERTS: The bottom line from the president today, there will be more pain before the U.S. turns a corner on the coronavirus. But he and his team of experts are absolutely confident that if Americans follow the strict guidelines laid down by the government, that day will come.
TRUMP: It’s going to pop. One day, we’ll be standing possibly up here, we’ll say, well, we won.
ROBERTS: One of their measures the White House announced today with tax day rapidly approaching, a 90-day deferral in taxes.
Standing possibly up here, we’ll say well, we won. One other measure. The White House announced today with tax day rapidly approaching, a 90-day deferral in taxes owed for individuals. Or people who have small businesses who file as individuals, they can defer up to a million dollars in taxes. Corporations will be able to defer up to $10 million.
Again, Bret, that’s for 90 days.
BAIER: John Roberts, live in the North Lawn. John, thank you.
The Dow today surged 1,049 points. The S&P 500 regained 143, the NASDAQ rebounded 430.
Let’s talk about what happened today on Wall Street and some of the ramifications of coronavirus response. Deirdre Bolton of Fox Business joins us now from New York. Good evening, Deirdre.
DEIRDRE BOLTON, FOX BUSINESS NETWORK ANCHOR: Good evening, Bret. Green on the screens as we just saw, stocks closing at their highs of the session. Today was a rebound from yesterday’s sell-off, which was the worst since Black Monday in 1987.
So, each index up at least five percent. Utilities, consumer staples, infotech, these were the groups that contributed most to gains. Investors reacted with optimism to some of President Trump’s comments on battling the coronavirus.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: So, the markets for everything is very simple — very simple solution. We want to get rid of it. We want to have very as few deaths as possible. Once that’s gone, it’s going to pop back like nobody’s ever seen before.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLTON: Specific biotechs were standouts. Regeneron, says it will have doses of a potential drug to treat the virus and we’ll start human clinical trials by early summer. Moderna developed a vaccine that went into human trial today with a small number of volunteers in Seattle, Washington.
Other stocks that moved on breakout-related news, Amazon up more than seven percent. And analysts noted that the e-commerce giant will benefit from this global shift, in-home shift. Other cocooning stocks rose as well. So, Netflix by seven percent, Apple by four percent.
Amazon, by the way, also hiring 100,000 new workers to deal with demand. It says it will raise its minimum pay to, at least, $17 an hour through April.
Brick-and-mortar retailers made other decisions at Macy’s, Bloomingdales, Nordstrom, all closing their stores because of the coronavirus. Their online stores will remain open. But there are other stores cutting hours or closing altogether. Some of them include Walmart, Apple, Nike, Albertsons or Trader Joe’s, Target, just to name a few.
The Fed did make an announcement a few hours ago that helps companies of all stripes. It restarted a facility put in place during the financial crisis in 2008. So, companies struggling to get short term funding will have easier access now. The Fed can provide corporate America with up to $1 trillion in liquidity if needed.
So for many CEOs and investors, this was a huge important key psychological move. Bret, back to you.
BAIER: Deirdre, thank you.
China, says it will revoke the credentials of Americans at three U.S. newspapers in response to new U.S. restrictions on Chinese media. The Foreign Ministry wants journalists working for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post, whose credentials are due to expire before the end of 2020 to hand back their press cards within 10 days.
That move comes after the Trump administration designated five Chinese media outlets as foreign missions and restricted the number of Chinese who could work for them. Late today, the Trump administration called the decision yet another step toward depriving the Chinese people and the world of access to true information about China.
President Trump, says China will not take advantage of American dependence on that country for many of its pharmaceuticals. But most experts say, Beijing does have a tremendous amount of pandemic leverage on the U.S.
Correspondent Gillian Turner lays that out tonight.
GILLIAN TURNER, FOX NEWS CHANNEL CORRESPONDENT: As China tamps down the spread of coronavirus, the Communist Party is ramping up threats to the U.S. drug supply chain, including life-saving medications.
China’s state-run news agency recently claimed the government could impose pharmaceutical export controls that would plunge America into, “the mighty sea of coronavirus”.
As retailers’ nationwide real from the effects of panic buying, President Trump sought to reassure the American public today.
TRUMP: China wants to make sure that things work very well. They have every incentive to do so.
TURNER: He claims the US does have other options.
TRUMP: Ireland does a lot of work for us, you know that in that world in the pharma world. A very tremendous producer, and we are looking to bring a lot more back home.
TURNER: But key lawmaker say, America is dangerously reliant on China for prescriptions and over the counter drugs.
SEN. JOSH HAWLEY R-MO): Thousands and thousands of our generic drugs, we’re talking about antibiotics, antivirals are manufactured in whole or in part in China. We make no penicillin in this country. Zero.
TURNER: China saw reduced numbers of new cases this week, but hundreds of the country’s businesses remain shuttered. Something Florida Senator Marco Rubio, says compounds the problem for Americans.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL): Now, we don’t know is there going to be shortages? We anticipate there will be in certain drugs because the factories have been shut down because of the virus.
TURNER: That includes most of America’s antibiotics, acetaminophen, and blood thinners. Even the private sector now racing to develop a coronavirus vaccine insists the drug supply chain is an urgent national priority.
DAVID DODD, PRESIDENT, GEOVAX: The basics of a pharmaceutical product are really manufactured day in either China or India now. And that probably is a strategic issue.
TURNER: Now, already the FDA has announced the first drug shortage related to the coronavirus. Though it didn’t disclose which drug it is that’s in short supply, it did acknowledge that drug comes from China. And now the White House, says President Trump will consider an executive order to shore up the U.S. supply chain. Bret.
BAIER: Gillian, thank you. The Pentagon is heavily involved in the coronavirus response and the search for a vaccine. In fact, here to talk about all of that is Defense Secretary Mark Esper. He joins us from the Pentagon. Mr. Secretary, thanks for being here.
MARK ESPER, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Thanks, Bret. Thank you for having me.
BAIER: I understand you just got off the phone with the governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo. Can you tell us about that conversation? The governor had been wanting to deploy Army Corps of Engineers, will you?
ESPER: Sure. Let me — let me say one thing, first of all. I wanted to assure all of your viewers that the United States military remains ready and capable of defending the American people, protect the nation and safeguarding our interests abroad.
And in that context, our second focus has been on supporting the president and the whole of government approach to the coronavirus. Now, in that context, I’ve had a call with a number of governors this — today, this morning.
Later today, I had a call with Governor Cuomo. We had a very good conversation. He is very interested in getting the Corps of Engineers engaged because what he sees is a deficit, if you will, on hospital beds in New York State as he looks ahead to what may becoming.
I gave him my full commitment that we would get the Corps of Engineers up there soonest, to assess the problem and see how we can help out.
BAIER: So, today you announced you would be giving 5 million respirator masks and 2,000 ventilators to HHS to slow the outbreak. You also said that that’s just a drop in the bucket. What else could the U.S. military do potentially?
ESPER: Sure, Bret. We’re laying in, in a number of ways. So, we’re offering up the ventilators, protective gear, as some of which, you mentioned. We are making available our filled hospitals and our hospital ships as they become available.
We of course, can — we have the National Guard that has already been activated in 18 states, nearly 2,000 guardsmen are available.
And also we’re doing considerable work in terms of our vaccines and therapeutics. I had the chance today to go to Fort Detrick, in Maryland. It is a world-class facility. The U.S. Army there has been on the front — cutting edge of a number of infectious diseases. As you may recall, they helped with the solution to both Ebola and Zika. And they are working pretty aggressively to come up with a vaccine for the coronavirus.
BAIER: What are the estimates there? Tell me about that Fort Detrick visit. What are — what do they saying? Is it — is it along the same lines of a year to 18 months? Or they hoping to get something quicker?
ESPER: They’re still looking at that 12 to 18 month period, although there are outside companies that think they can cut that time down a little bit. In which case, again, the U.S. military would be standing by, ready to support, and accelerate any type of production efforts.
But I think, the 12 to 18-month timeline is what we’re looking at. In the meantime, they’re also working on therapeutics, you know, ways to address symptoms, et cetera. And that work is underway as well.
And then the third part of this, and we’re working very closely, I should say, with HHS, is accelerating the development of new testing mechanisms, so we can do testing for Americans in volume. And that seems to be very promising too.
BAIER: You know, U.S. military members, in fact, it went from 18 to 36 today, doubling. How worried are you? You’ve got obviously Navy sailors on ships. You’ve got some, you know, on submarines. Obviously, there’s a lot of close-quarters when you talk about different elements of the U.S. military. How worried as defense secretary, are you about the spread of this virus?
ESPER: I am concerned about our force and our families. That’s my top priority in with regard coronavirus, followed by maintaining our mission capabilities.
But I will tell you, we also have a very young, robust and healthy Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines. And I think they’re sustaining this pretty well. We’re also taking a lot of actions that have been devised by CDC into account. And to implementing them, such as social distancing, changing our habits, using sanitary wipes to wipe downing equipment and doorknobs and things like that. We’re taking a number of precautions.
When you — when you escalate up to ships at sea, for example, when a crew goes aboard, they have 14 days at least between stops, between port calls, so they’re not transmitting the virus ashore.
So, we’re taking any number of measures to make sure that we protect the force. And we sustain our ability to react and respond to any, any challenges or any threats.
BAIER: Mr. Secretary, I guess the question I get most, and we’re going to deal with viewers questions in a — in a segment or to about, you know, how bad could this get and how different is it from H1N1? And what is the difference?
And we listen to obviously, all the experts say about, you know, the contagious nature of it. The fact that the elderly and also the immune- deficient really get hit hard. But you’ve been in these classified briefings. How bad could it get?
ESPER: Look, I think what you’re hearing publicly from the CDC is what I’m hearing privately as well in terms of the range of estimates. I think the decisive action that President Trump took here in the last 24 hours, 48 hours to ask the American people to stand down, to stay in for the next 15 days to avoid large groups, will go a long way towards breaking the cycle, if we can, and flattening out that curve.
And that’s all the same things I’m hearing privately from our experts. You know, from DOD’s perspective, again, I need to maintain the force, maintain our national military mission capabilities. And we’re taking all positive actions to do such that.
We have plans in place. We’ve been implementing them now for several weeks. And we’re also wanting to lean forward and support again, the whole government approach to assist the American people.
BAIER: Last thing, I know where we are now with the guidelines out at the CDC. But have you been asked to look at options how the U.S. military would deal with some sort of national quarantine or factor into that at all?
ESPER: Bret, what we’re looking at is not necessarily a national quarantine, but how can we help affected areas where the — whether its states or localities are first line of defense right now.
So, National Guard, I was a guardsman for many years, so I know their mission. They’re doing a great job. And like I said, I talked to a few governors today about how we can improve the mission.
But we also have other capabilities, such as our hospital ships, our field hospitals, our deployable equipment and assets, and the reserves, and the active component if it gets to that to assist localities.
The challenge we face though is so much of our gear and our capabilities are focused toward trauma. And at the same time, those same hospitals, they often draw from the reserves, which means the civilian workforce.
So, we’re very conscious as we deploy filled hospitals, that we’re not robbing Peter to pay Paul when it comes to medical professionals. So, as we sort through the problems, as we respond to states and cities and localities, we want to make sure we’re conscious of what we’re doing, and that we’re not creating problems elsewhere in the force.
BAIER: Defense Secretary Mark Esper. Mr. Secretary, we appreciate your time.
ESPER: Thanks, Bret.
BAIER: Up next, we’ll continue our segment with doctors answering your questions about how you can keep yourself and your loved one safe during this pandemic.
First, here’s what some of our Fox affiliates around the country are covering tonight. WFXT in Boston as Patriots quarterback Tom Brady announces he will no longer play for the team. He has taken nine Super Bowls. Brady was unable to agree on a new contract with the Patriots. He has not announced where he will play next in the fall.
Fox Five in Atlanta where authorities say police killed an armed suspect who fired at them near one of the city’s most famous parks. Two officers suffered minor injuries. Atlanta police tweeted that the shooting occurred this morning near Piedmont Park in the city’s midtown neighborhood. One officer was grazed in the head another grazed in his foot.
Fox 32 in Chicago as the area’s top prosecutor fights for a shot at a second term. Kim Foxx is facing three Democrats in today’s primary. They have made her controversial handling of the Jussie Smollett case central to that campaign.
And this is a live look at San Diego from Fox Five, our affiliate there. Big story out there tonight, former Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter Jr. is sentenced to 11 months in prison after pleading guilty to one corruption charge.
Hunter served six terms representing one Southern California’s — one of Southern California’s solidly Republican districts before he resigned.
That’s tonight’s live look “OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY” from SPECIAL REPORT with other news, we’ll be right back.
BAIER: Well, every night we’ve been trying to get your questions answered. And giving us a medical perspective on the coronavirus situation. And to answer some of your questions tonight is Dr. Syra Madad, special pathogens expert, professor of the graduate Biodefense and Biosecurity Program at the University of Maryland.
Dr., thanks for being here. I’ll get right to it. First of all, we have Brian. Take a listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, Bret. What is the reinfection rate, like for COVID- 19? Is it like the flu where if you get it, you can still be reinfected? Or is it like the chickenpox, where you have it once and then you’re immune? Thanks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: All right, Doc, how about that?
DR. SYRA MADAD, SPECIAL PATHOGENS EXPERT, PROFESSOR, GRADUATE BIODEFENSE AND BIOSECURITY PROGRAM, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND: So, well, first, I’ll start by obviously from stating that we don’t know a lot about this particular virus. And I’m sure you’ve heard it many, many times. And so with that said, you know, there are reports of individuals getting reinfected, but these are not scientific studies, these are reports.
And when we say scientific studies, this is backed by data and an actual methodology to actually prove or disapprove whether a patient or an individual does get reinfected. So, right now, there isn’t a whole lot of data to show that individuals can get reinfected.
But what we know in terms of just basic infection, infectious disease and epidemiology is that it does confer some amount of immunity. Now, how long that immunity can last for? It just really depends. So, if with SARS, you know, there are studies that show you can have immunity for one to two years. But again, every virus is different and in terms of how, you know, how your immune system is going to respond, that really varies from person to person. So, it’s a bit hard to tell, you know.
BAIER: Ok — Yes, and lot of science yet to be discovered on this. But that leads to next question. This is from Butch. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, Bret. It’s Butch Giorgio, here from Reading, Pennsylvania. And the question I would like to know is, how is this virus more dangerous than, say, the H1N1 virus back in 2009? Hi, buddy. Thanks. Let’s all hang off.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: All right, Doc?
MADAD: So, the H1N1 is actually part of our yearly seasonal flu that we see every year. And when we compare COVID-19 to seasonal flu, one of the biggest differences is the reproduction rate that are not. And what this means is that, if one person is infected, how many more individuals can — this particular infected individual, in fact?
And so, with seasonal flu, it’s about 0.1. And with the coronavirus disease, it’s you know, a little over two to two — between two and three. So, it’s about 10 times more virulent than seasonal flu.
BAIER: OK, and just along those lines, a lot of different stats out there. And I understand we’re trying to get our hands around the facts. But how long can the virus stay in the air? How long can it stay on surfaces, you know, that are not cleaned off? Whether that stainless steel or cardboard or wood. What is the life of this virus on those surfaces?
MADAD: So, there’s a number of different variables that come into play in terms of how long a virus can survive on a given surface, whether it’s obviously wood or metal, or fabric, it depends on not just obviously, the type of surface but also depends on the humidity and the temperature.
And so, a number of different factors come into play in terms of how long the virus can survive. It’s not just a one answer, and it kind of, you know, it’s two hours and that’s it. No, it actually varies depending on obviously the environment and things like that.
So, it’s hard to tell, and again, it’s a (INAUDIBLE) new virus. We’ve only known about this for, you know, a little over three months, and the amount of information that we actually have is unprecedented.
If you look at other infectious disease outbreaks, there was — we didn’t come anywhere near as much as close to the amount of information that we’ve been getting for this particular virus.
BAIER: OK, let’s wrap it up with Renee. Take a listen to this question, Doc.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are in a very remote location. As long as we don’t have people coming or going, this virus cannot be spread through just air particles. Am I correct in that?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: So again, Renee lives in a remote place. She watches who comes in and goes. What about her question?
MADAD: So, we know that the primary means of transmission of this particular virus is through respiratory droplets. And now that can mean a number of different things. Now, this is where social distancing comes into play. We want to obviously make sure we don’t have contact with other individuals that may be infected because obviously, of getting infected.
And on top of that, there’s high touch surfaces. This is why we constantly say, wipe those down as well as washing your hands because we want to make sure people obviously don’t get infected.
And one of the things people should understand is, this is a virus, it needs a host to be able to survive. And so the whole goal right now is to basically limit or reduce the amount of times we can encounter this virus.
So whether it’s somebody that you come in contact with, or touching a door handle or something that has high touch surface, we want to make sure we’re applying everyday measures. And then, social distancing, so we can basically not get infected and not give the virus a reason to get, you know, infect other people.
BAIER: Dr. Syra Madad, we really appreciate your time tonight answering questions. We’ll continue to do it. Thanks.
MADAD: You do.
BAIER: Up next, what life is like tonight for the heroes on the frontlines of this pandemic, health care, and medical workers?
BAIER: Breaking tonight, concerns the increase in coronavirus testing will lead to a flood of patients at already overcrowded hospitals that may already be short of equipment and supplies. There are also worries about the health of health care workers we depend on. Correspondent Laura Ingle looks at the situation tonight from Oceanside, New York.
DR. AARON E. GLATT, MOUNT SINAI SOUTH NASSAU: We all undertook this responsibility. We all are prepared to protect ourselves as best as we can.
LAURA INGLE, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Wearing masks, gowns, and gloves, health care providers are trying to keep patients and themselves safe while working to identify and treat the coronavirus pandemic. From major health institutions to nursing home facilities, dozens of doctors and nurses have reportedly tested positive for COVID-19 here in the U.S. and around the globe.
Li Wenliang, the doctor in Wuhan, China, who alerted the world there was a new viral threat and contracted COVID-19 himself, did not survive his illness and died last month, a fate health care providers are frantically working to prevent as they work through this new crisis. Screening patients is their first line of defense.
DR. JOSHUA KUGLER, MOUNT SINAI SOUTH NASSAU: One of the most challenging things for us in the emergency room on the front lines is to differentiate patients who have a cold and a flu-like illness from a novel infectious disease such as COVID-19.
INGLE: As cases are rising, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is sounding the alarm on his state’s ability to deal with the coronavirus, saying it is in desperate need of ventilators as well as hospital and ICU beds, pleading with the federal government for help.
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO, (D) NEW YORK: We are working with FEMA, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the National Guard and the building trades unions to help us on this issue.
INGLE: Staff at Mount Sinai South Nassau on Long Island have been clearing areas to make space for more beds, moving their oncology infusion center from one floor to a conference room for the influx they know is coming.
KUGLER: Surge capacity planning is of the utmost importance during any kind of crisis situation affecting health care. And we have done this in the past, and we are doing it now.
INGLE: While there are no hard numbers coming from government health officials, hospitals around the country like this one are having to send home doctors, nurses, and staff who had inadvertently been exposed to the virus, creating more of a strain on the system. Bret?
BAIER: Laura, thank you.
One of the most dramatic and impactful responses to the virus has been the closing of most schools in this country. Everybody feels it. It has left millions of parents scrambling for child care help. But many daycares are still operating. Correspondent Doug McKelway looks at the situation tonight.
DOUG MCKELWAY, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Nearly 39 million public school students in 38 states, Puerto Rico and D.C., are staying home as schools temporarily close their doors. New York City public schools, the largest in the nation, recently joined that growing list.
MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I know all of the negative ramifications of this decision, and it’s very painful.
MCKELWAY: It includes continuing to provide food for the millions of students nationwide who qualify for free or reduced-price meals. In Fairfax County, Virginia, were 50,000 students use the program, staffers today provided cold sandwiches outside locked doorways.
MORGAN MALONEY FAIRFAX COUNTY, VIRGINIA, PUBLIC SCHOOLS: We want to be able to provide for those families and provide meals for those families and children during this time.
MCKELWAY: Unlike schools, many daycare centers are choosing to remain open — 7.5 million U.S. children are enrolled in day care centers. Most of them are keeping their doors open despite bans on public gatherings, something the coronavirus taskforce seemed surprised by during Monday’s briefing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Considering that children can sometimes be asymptomatic carriers and go home to older individuals, are there any recommendations about daycare centers?
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I think it’s important. We should probably go back discuss that in some detail.
MCKELWAY: Governors have also been hesitant to issue orders that would close day care centers. Ohio Governor Mike DeWine initially urged daycares to remain open, noting many health care workers have small children. He tweeted “Our health care system needs to be staffed. You’ll start seeing health care facilities creating their own daycares. To close daycares overnight won’t work, but it’s coming.
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan recently expanded access to childcare services for first responders and health care workers by suspending regulations. For now, Maryland daycares are able to stay open at their own discretion.
MCKELWAY: And that is not without risk. A 2004 NIH study found that children account for most of the 21 million respiratory infections in an average year. With COVID-19, they can become silent carriers who pose a risk to older adults they come in contact with. Bret?
BAIER: Doug, thank you.
It is voting day in three states of the four that were scheduled. It’s hard to believe it’s Election Day and this is so far down in the show, but we will look at some of the numbers when we come back.
BAIER: It is primary voting day in three states — Illinois, Florida, and Arizona. Ohio has postponed its election. We are getting our first look right now at our FOX News voter analysis in those states. In all three states voting today, more than three quarters of the Democrats say they are concerned about being infected with coronavirus. In Florida, a slight majority wants a candidate who will restore the political system. And in Arizona, a slight majority says the more important quality is to change the system.
The restrictions placed on public gatherings have forced the Democratic presidential candidates, Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden, to do their campaigning online. It has raised serious questions about the safety of voting in person. Correspondent Peter Doocy reports from Biden headquarters near there in Philadelphia.
PETER DOOCY, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Two candidates are still trying to win the Democratic nomination, but they still can’t do it in person.
JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This isn’t the way any of us would prefer to connect and engage.
DOOCY: If Biden can’t be out railing, people asked him how they can be saved voting.
BIDEN: Up to now at least three of the states believe that that can be done by separation in lines of six feet apart and washing down the machines, et cetera.
DOOCY: In Arizona, people voting in person could pop into any polling place. And in Florida, primary voters came prepared.
WENDY SARTORY LINK, PALM BEACH ELECTIONS SUPERVISOR: A lot of the feedback we’ve gotten is that they don’t want to touch anything other people have touched. So we are encouraging voters to bring their own pens. Black pen is best.
DOOCY: In Illinois, voters tried something different.
JAMIE DALTON, VOTER: We had hand sanitizer, but we came prepared with gloves, so we didn’t really need that one. But yes, they have a big thing of hand sanitizer.
DOOCY: But in Ohio the health department shut ballot boxes down to protect older poll workers.
GOV. MIKE DEWINE, (R) OHIO: For those poll workers for 13 hours to be sitting there, we felt, Dr. Acton felt, the health department felt, was not safe.
DOOCY: Ohio Democrats are upset with the state’s party chairman stressing yesterday’s postponement does not create unchecked authority with the governor or secretary of state to run a new election. For now, Ohio’s plan is just postponed until June 2nd.
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They are going by the rule of 10 as opposed to 50, and it’s pretty tough. I would say probably you could violate that if you wanted to for an election. I just think an election is a very special thing.
DOOCY: Bernie Sanders didn’t mention today’s primaries once in his election eve rally online.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (D-VT) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We are all in this together, literally in the sense that if I have the virus, then you’re in trouble, and if you have the virus, I’m in trouble.
DOOCY: And the Democratic frontrunner was delicate in asking for support, too.
BIDEN: I don’t think this is a decision for candidates to make as to whether or not people should vote.
DOOCY: The DNC doesn’t want any more primaries postponed because of coronavirus, so tonight the DNC chair is sending a letter to all the states that haven’t voted yet, urging them to proactively mail out ballots to every registered voter and let them do it from here on out by mail. Bret?
BAIER: Peter Doocy live in Philadelphia. Peter, thanks.
Next up, the panel on today’s developments in the coronavirus pandemic.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think we’re going just something that gets money to them as quickly as possible.
STEVEN MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY: We want to make sure Americans get money in their pockets quickly. This is stuff that needs to be done now. The president has instructed me that this is no fault to American workers.
We are looking at sending checks to Americans immediately. Americans need cash now the president wants to get cash now, and I mean now in the next two weeks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: Big package underway from Capitol Hill, the administration pushing. Meantime, as you look at the map, now there is a case in every single state in America. West Virginia getting its first case, total number of cases over 5,800. Total deaths at least 99.
As you look worldwide, 196,640 cases. Total deaths come almost 7,900. Total recovered, an important number that we often don’t hear about a lot, 80,840 total recovered.
The Dow today on news about this package, the stimulus package, took a big hop up come as you see the high there about midday and then finishing about 1,000 points up.
With that, let’s bring in our panel, Byron York, chief political correspondent for the “Washington Examiner,” Mara Liasson, national political correspondent for National Public Radio, and Jonah Goldberg, editor in chief of “The Dispatch.” Mara, it seemed like the treasury secretary was pretty adamant, needed to get this out right away. The president pushing as well. Where are we on this package and what it looks like?
MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: I think where we are is we are in a new chapter. The Federal Reserve has done what it can. Monetary policy has done what it can. Now it’s fiscal policy. That means the administration and Congress are going to get in the act. And it looks like they’re going to send money to individual Americans in the form of checks, not in the form of payroll tax cuts that get kind of doled out in tiny amounts over time.
So whether this is going to help when people can’t go out of their houses and spend it in restaurants and bars because they are closed — we now have a demand problem, not a supply problem — we don’t know. But it’s the kind of big kind of bazooka that the markets wanted to see the government use, and that’s why they responded positively.
BAIER: Sort of like a one-time Andrew Yang, if you will.
BAIER: The effects on the airline industry and the hotel industry, take a listen from this meeting today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVEN MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY: This is worse than 9/11. For the airline industry, this is — they are almost ground to alt. The president wants to make sure that although we don’t want people to travel unless it’s critical, we want to maintain for critical travel the right to have domestic travel.
CHRISTOPHER NASSETTA, HILTON CEO: I’ve personally lived through many crises starting with the S and L, the 9/11 crisis, the great recession. I’ve been doing this for 35 years, never seen anything like it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: So Byron, whatever this looks like, it’s likely to be the tip of the iceberg.
BRYON YORK, CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, “WASHINGTON EXAMINER”: It is. Look, this has been another one of these sinking in day were the extent of what’s going on is sinking in to people, the extend of the closures that they’re going to be facing for at least two weeks, possibly a good deal more is sinking in. I think what really became clear on Capitol Hill and the White House was you can’t just take a relatively healthy economy and just stop it for some period of time and then just start it back up again. The human cost of that really sank in today. And that’s the reason you’re seeing these enormous numbers being thrown about.
The problem is I think the instinct of a lot of people in government is to do what we did in 2008. It was a different situation. The economy was collapsing then, but for an entirely different reason and in an entirely different way. Not sure if what they are planning now will actually work.
BAIER: The FAA just putting out an alert that the Midway Airport in Chicago, the control tower is closed because of COVID-19. We don’t have any details on that, but that’s coming out of the FAA. Jonah, one more soundbite, because I think the advice for Americans you can never hear it enough. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. DEBORAH BIRX, CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: Every single generation has a role to play. We are asking our older generation to stay in their homes, and we are asking the younger generations to support them in social contacting through videos and other skype type functions.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: You don’t want to put your loved ones at risk, particularly the ones who are elderly and the ones who have compromised conditions. We can’t do this without the young people cooperating. Please cooperate with us.
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I would recommend that they just enjoy their living room.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: Enjoy their living room. Jonah, it is tough to get your head around this big a change in this short amount of time.
JONAH GOLDBERG, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: It is. And I think that there are a lot of irresponsible young people out there who do need more finger wagging at them. Those pictures from the beaches in Florida are pretty bad.
But at the same time, I do worry. If we are really talking about keeping people out of bars and restaurants for four months, which is some of these estimates now, we are going to have to figure out a whole new way of social organization for a lot of these things because that seems to me unsustainable, even for a lot of these businesses, they are going to go under. And so we are going to make mistakes as we go. We’re going to have to keep thinking about this stuff on the fly. I think Byron might be right about the economic measures here, but it’s the best effort we have with the facts available to us.
BAIER: And Mara, it’s just so sad that staying out of bars happens on St. Patrick’s Day.
LIASSON: Yes, really sad. Look, this is an unprecedented act of social solidarity that we are all being asked to execute. We are not doing this — if you’re not over 70, to keep ourselves safe, although that’s part of it. We are being asked to do it to give doctors and nurses in the health care system a fighting chance to save the people who are at risk. That’s what we are being asked to do.
BAIER: I saw a post the other day that said your grandparents were asked to fight on the front lines of a world war. You are asked to stay home and wash her hands. Take it easy. Panel, thank you.
When we come back, more on the bright side on this St. Patrick’s Day.
BAIER: Finally tonight, some more good stories during a tough time. First, after Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium closed due to coronavirus, staff decided to let a few waddling residents out for a field trip. A group of rockhopper penguins were allowed to leave their habitat and explore the rest of the aquarium. Take a look at that. Oh, look, a shark. Nice.
Dollar General announced starting today it’s dedicating its first hour open in the morning at its more than 16,000 stores to help senior shoppers avoid busier and more crowded shopping periods, and just after they opened when everything has just been wiped down. Other grocery stores and pharmacies are following suit.
And in Minnesota, Charlie Johnson vowed to keep his daily visits with his father despite visitation limits put in place by the senior living facility where his father, Bernard, lives. Charlie moved his chair to the other side of the exterior wall, talking to his dad on the phone while they watch one another through the window. Just got to improvise.
Thanks for inviting us into your home tonight. That’s it for the SPECIAL REPORT. We will get through this. Fair, balanced, and still unafraid. Here is Martha.
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