Coronavirus Q&A: Drs. Cirillo and Nampiaparampil answer viewers' questions on 'Special Report'

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," March 24, 2020. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: But to everyone who has left New York over the last few days, because of the rate of the number of cases, you may have been exposed before you left New York.

And I think, like Governor De Santos has put out today, everybody who was in New York should be self-quarantined for the next 14 days to ensure that the virus doesn't spread to others. No matter where they have gone. Whether it's Florida, North Carolina or out to far reaches of Long Island.

We are starting to see new cases across new -- across Long Island. That suggests people have left the city. So, this will be very critical that those individuals do self-quarantine in their homes over these next 14 days to make sure they don't pass the virus to others based on the time that they left New York. So, if they've already are four days out, then it's just 10 more days.

So, I thank you if you helped get that message out to others. Dr. Fauci?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Thank you very much, Mr. President, Deb. I want to just talk very briefly about two or three things. First, the issue of testing and how that has really changed the complexion of the approach that will going to be able to take.

We right know testing was an issue. We had many questions of testing in this room for a number of times. Now that we literally have hundreds and hundreds of thousands of testing out there, there are a few things that we can do with that.

One of the things is that when we make policy about what we're going to be doing with the rest of the country, particularly those areas that are not hotspots, we need to know what the penetrance of infection is there.

So, we need to put a light on those dark spots that we don't know. We have to act policy-wise on data. And we're going to be getting more data, a lot more data.

The other thing is that the areas of the country that are not hotspots -- that are not going through the terrible ordeal that New York and California and Washington State are going through, they still have a window of a significant degree of being able to contain.

In other words, when you test, you find somebody you isolate them you get them out of circulation, and you do the contact tracing. When you have a big outbreak, it's tough to do anything but mitigation.

We have an opportunity now that we have the availability of testing to do that. So, you're going to be hearing more about how we can inform where we're going, particularly because we have the ability to test.

The second thing is they just want to reiterate what Dr. Birx said about New York. It's a very serious situation, they've suffered terribly through no fault of their own. But what we're seeing now is that understandably, people want to get out of New York. They're going to Florida, they're going to Long Island, they're going to different places.

The idea, if you look at the statistics, it's disturbing about one per thousand of these individuals are infected. That's about eight to 10 times more than in other areas. Which means, when they go to another place for their own safety, they've got to be careful, monitor themselves. If they get sick, bring it to the attention of a physician, get tested.

Also, the idea about self-isolating for two weeks will be very important because we don't want that to be another seeding point to the rest of the country wherever they go. And then, thirdly, just one -- just comment about drugs and the testing of drugs. You know you heard yesterday about drugs being out there that physicians on and off-label way can prescribe it to give people hope of something that hasn't been definitively proven to work but that might have some hope.

I don't want anybody to forget that simultaneously, without doing that, we're also doing randomized clinical trials on a number of candidates. You've heard about candidates, but there are others in the pipeline where we'll be able to design the study and over a period of time particularly since we have so many infections, we'll be able to determine definitively, are these safe and are they effective?

We're talking about remdesivir, other drugs, immune sera, convalescent sera, monoclonal antibodies, all of these are in the pipeline now, queuing up to be able to go into a clinical trial. So, I'll stop there and --



Larry, how about just a quick few minutes on how we're doing over at the Hill.


We're gaining great progress on this phase three legislation. Negotiations continue, we've had continued reports. I've been up there with Secretary Mnuchin. Secretary Mnuchin continues today with Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, checking in with the president. They're getting closer and closer, they expect to vote as soon as possible.

I just want to walk through a couple of key points. This legislation is urgently needed to bolster the economy, provide cash injections and liquidity and stabilize financial markets. To get us through a difficult period, a difficult and challenging period in the economy facing us right now. But also, to position us for what I think can be an economic rebound later this year.

We started the year very strong, and then we got hit by the coronavirus in ways that probably nobody imagined possible. We're dealing with that as best we can. This package will be the single largest main street assistance program in the history of the United States. The single largest main street assistance program in the history of United States.

Phase two, delivered the sick leave for individuals, hourly workers, families, and so forth. Phase three, a significant package for small businesses. Loan guarantees will be included. We're going to take out expenses and lost revenues.

As the president said, eligibility requires worker retention. We will maintain the people eligible, we'll maintain their payrolls during this crisis period. And on top of that, we will have direct deposit checks of roughly $3,000 for a family of four, and that will bridge to enhanced, plus step unemployment, insurance benefits that will essentially take those up to full wages. This is one, two, three, four.

You know, a strong workforce requires strong business. You can't have a job without a business to work for. And the hope here is that the companies that were operating very well at the beginning of the year, when the economy was in good shape, we will help them and their employees get through this tough period so they will come out the other side, let's say this -- later this spring or summer, and will continue their operations. That's the key point.

Now, don't forget, there's income tax deferrals for individuals and corporations without interest and penalties, there's student loan interest and principal deferrals without any penalties.

And finally, I want to mention the Treasury's Exchange Stabilization Refund, that will be replenished. It's important because that fund opens the door for Federal Reserve firepower to deal a broad-based way throughout the economy, for distressed industries, for small businesses, for financial turbulence.

You've already seen the Fed take action, they intend to take more action. And in order to get this, we have to replenish the Treasury's emergency fund. It's very, very important. Not everybody understands that.

That fund, by the way, will be overseen by an oversight board and an inspector general. It will be completely transparent.

So, the total package here comes to roughly $6 trillion, $2 trillion direct assistance, roughly $4 trillion in Federal Reserve lending power. Again, it will be the largest main street financial package in the history of the United States. Liquidity and cash for families, small business, individuals, unemployed, to keep this thing going.

We're headed for a rough period, but it's only going to be weeks, we think. Weeks, months, not going to be years, that's for sure. And hopefully, pave the way for continued economic recovery after this crisis departs. Thank you, sir.

TRUMP: Thank you, Larry. I've been hearing that voice for so many years, like 30 years or more maybe, and it's a great voice and it's a great man. So, Larry Kudlow, thank you very much.

KUDLOW: Thank you, sir.

TRUMP: I want to say that, that package, and we went over parts of it, but pretty big parts. It really sets us up to, I think even supersede where we were a month ago. I think we can get up there quickly, and I think it allows us to supersede, it allows us to help these great companies that need help like Boeing, which is -- you know, had a problem and then on top of that problem, it had the virus come in.

But we'll be helping Boeing, we'll be helping the airlines, we'll be helping the cruise lines. We'll be doing a lot of things, and the money will all come back to us, and it will come back to us in a very strong form. And before we take some questions, I'd like to ask our great vice- president to say a few words if you wouldn't mind, please.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you, Mr. President. The White House coronavirus task force met again today, and on behalf of the president of the United States, everyone on our team, and our state leaders, let me just say, thank you, America.

People across this country, businesses large and small, are responding to the threat of the coronavirus in ways that are deeply inspiring. People are acting on the president's 15 days to slow the spread, and it is making a material difference. Our experts standing beside us told us that if every American, and regardless of whether you're in an area that's impacted by the outbreak of the coronavirus or not if every American would embrace these guidelines, that we could significantly reduce the number of Americans that would contract the coronavirus, and protect the most vulnerable.

And as the president reflected earlier, tens of millions of Americans are doing just that, and we're grateful.

The focus of our task force, of course, is to slow the spread, to promote mitigation and strategies. Beyond that though, the president has us focused on testing and on supplies, and making sure that those that are enduring the symptoms of the coronavirus, and those who are ministering to them, our extraordinary healthcare workers, have the support that they need.

In the category of supplies, you just heard Dr. Birx, indicate that we've made great progress. We have done more tests in the last eight days than were done in the previous eight weeks, and it's because of the public- private partnership that the president forged with commercial labs.

And I would encourage people around the country to remind your family members and friends that if you don't have symptoms, don't get a test. We want to make sure people who are having symptoms, who have a concern, have the ability to be tested and to have those tests processed.

We're continuing to urge all county hospitals, all labs around the country, to report to the CDC all the results of the test, as it'll give these experts around us the ability to continue to advise the president on best practices.

As I mentioned, we all continue to follow this -- the outbreak around the country and the test results. But as several have mentioned, we're particularly focused on New York. The reality is the New York metro area was 60 percent of the new cases in the country.

And specifically as a layperson, I can tell you that the infection rates are roughly one in 1000 in the New York City metropolitan area, where they are 0.2 percent per 1,000 or 0.1 percent per 1,000 in places like Washington State.

It is the reason why today, the White House coronavirus task force is calling on any American, first and foremost, if you're in the New York City metropolitan area or elsewhere, to take the guidelines that we issued and avoid non-essential travel.

But for anyone in the New York metropolitan area who has traveled, our task force is encouraging you to monitor your temperature, be sensitive to symptoms, and we are asking anyone who has traveled out of the New York City metropolitan area to anywhere else in the country to self-isolate for 14 days.

That we have to deal with the New York City metropolitan area as a high- risk area. And for that reason, we're taking these steps and asking for the cooperation of the American people.

Because of the spread in New York City, we will continue to surge resources. The president's described this, FEMA is coordinating with New York State for the arrival of the USS Comfort in just a matter of a few short weeks.

Over the next 24 hours, more than 4,000 additional ventilators will be delivered to New York State as well. New York State has prioritized three alternative medical facilities. And at the president's direction, the Army Corps of Engineers is working on plans to build those facilities out.

You've heard the president speak about the Javits Center, the addition of a thousand beds, and we'll continue. I want the people of New York City and the greater New York City area to know that we're with you. We're going to continue to provide resources to support your state and local officials as they confront the spread of the coronavirus in that great city.

On the subject of supplies, we had team meetings today at FEMA, which is working on identifying the critical personal protective equipment and ventilators. At this point, FEMA informs us today that they are distributing 7.6 million N95 respirator masks, more than 14 million surgical masks. And FEMA has already shipped 73 pallets of personal protective equipment to New York, 36 pallets of personal protective equipment to the state of Washington.

We'll be meeting again tonight. As you know, the president stood FEMA as a national response center up, and they are in the lead for the approach to the coronavirus which is locally executed, state-managed, and federally supported. And we'll continue to surge those resources and make sure that they're available.

One last word, if I may. The president reflected on the response businesses around the country have brought to this moment. It truly is extraordinary. And the president did initiate the Defense Production Act last week.

But as the president has reflected many times, we will use the Defense Production Act if we need it to mandate production of critical supplies. But so far, no one has said no. And in fact, we see industry stepping up. President mentioned Ford Motor Company working with 3M and G.E. Health to expand production of medical supplies.

We heard that McDonald's is now offering curbside delivery to truckers who are unable to use the drive-through to pick up a Big Mac. And I spoke today, and the president spoke last week with Tim Cook of Apple, and at this moment in time, Apple went to their storehouses and is donating 9 million N95 masks to healthcare facilities all across the country, and to the national stockpile.

There is a level of generosity that I know is inspiring to the president, and it's truly inspiring to all of us who are working on the White House coronavirus task force.

The president's made it clear that he hopes in weeks, not months, to be able to open up the country, but let me make one last encouragement to every American. We will get to that day quicker if every American will put into practice the president's coronavirus guidelines for our nation. 15 days to slow the spread. If every American will do this, I have no doubt that we will slow the spread. We will protect our most vulnerable, and we will heal our land. Thank you.

TRUMP: Thank you very much.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, you just reiterated that you hope to have the country reopened by Easter. You said earlier you would like to see churches packed on that day. My question is, you have two doctors on stage with you. Have either of them told you that's a realistic timeline?

TRUMP: I think we're looking at a timeline, we're discussing it. We had a very good meeting today. If you add it all up. That's probably nine days plus another 2-1/2 weeks. It's a period of time that's longer than the original two weeks.

So, we're going to look at it. We'll only do it if it's good and maybe we do sections of the country. We do large sections of the country. That could be too, but there we're very much in touch with Tony and with Deborah, whenever they would --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who suggested Easter? Who suggested that day?

TRUMP: I just thought it was a beautiful time. To be a beautiful time, a beautiful timeline. It's a great day.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, that wasn't based on any of the data?

TRUMP: It was -- it was based on a certain level of weeks from the time we started, and it happened to arrive, actually we were thinking in terms of sooner. I'd love to see it come even sooner, but I just think it would be a beautiful timeline, John?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, if you look at what we've just seen in the last day or so, you've seen the number of known coronavirus cases in the country double in just two days, and another 95 people have died just in the last 24 hours. New York -- New York's governor is saying this is spreading like a bullet train across the country. And the governor of Louisiana is saying that his -- that his state, I may not be able to handle the cases that they're facing by early April.

So, what are you seeing in all of this that leads you to think (INAUDIBLE) we can reopen by Easter or even earlier?


TRUMP: That we're working (INAUDIBLE). We're working with all of them. We can be talking about large sections of our country because there are sections of our country that you didn't talk about that are doing unbelievably well. They have very little incidents or problem, a very small numbers.

It's very possible that they won't be ever subject to what's happening in New York. New York is definitely a hot spot. There's no question about it. And you know, what we're doing in New York to try and help. And I think we're doing an incredible job. We're going to have the hospitals up quickly, the medical centers also quickly, but we'll just have to see. We have to follow it. We have to see where to look at that curve. We're going to see what it starts coming down and we'll do the best job that can be done.

John, please --

JOHN ROBERTS, FOX NEWS CHANNEL CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Question for you, Mr. President and Dr. Fauchi, if we could. This, when looking at this idea of an Easter timeline, I know that's probably flexible. What are the metrics by which you will make the decision as to whether you can say, yes, we can open up this area of the country or no, we can't open up that area. I mean, will you be looking at disease numbers? Will you be looking at possible containment, isolation?


TRUMP: I think we'll be looking at a lot of things. We'll also be looking again at very large portions of our country and I will be guided very much by Dr. Fauci and by Deborah, and by some of the other professionals that work with both of you. And we're going to see what will be. But that would certainly be, I think that's a goal that perhaps can happen or at least for a very large portion of our country.

ROBERTS: Dr. Fauci, since the president said, you and Dr. Birx and others will be guiding him in making the decision, where are you now with this timeline, 19 days from now?

FAUCI: That's really -- I mean, that's really very flexible. We just had a conversation with the president in the Oval Office talking about, you know, you can look at a date, but you got to be very flexible. And on a -- on a literally day by day and week by week basis, you need to evaluate the feasibility of what you're trying to do.

And John, you asked for, you know, what kind of metrics, what kind of data? When you look at the country, I mean, obviously, no one is going to want to tone down things where you see what's going on in a place like New York City.

I mean -- I mean, that's just, you know, good public health practice and common sense. But the country is a big country and there are areas of the country -- and I -- and I refer to this in my opening remarks that we really need to know more about what the penetrance is there.

So, if we do the kind of testing that we're doing, and testing will always be associated by identification, isolation, and contact tracing. And you find after a period of time that there are areas that are very different from other areas of the country. You may not want to essentially treat it as just one force for the entire country but look at flexibility in different areas.

So, I think people might get the misinterpretation. You just going to lift everything up and even somebody's going like that, I mean, that that's not going to happen. It's going to be looking at the data and what we don't have right now that we really do need, is we need to know what's going on in those areas of the country where there isn't an obvious outbreak.

Is there something underneath the surface that says, wait a minute, you better be careful and really clamp down or what looks there that you don't really have to be as harsh as you are in other areas.

So, it's looking at information that up to this point, John, we never had. So, it's a flexible situation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, is New York becoming on (INAUDIBLE)? Is New York becoming --


TRUMP: Well, certainly is, by far, if you call it hot if you call it any word you want to use it is at a level that I was speaking to Tony before. It's a level that no place else is close. It's very unfortunate. You know, one of the things that's happened that we've done, I think a really good job on it. I think that it's something special what's happened, is I learned from Dr. Birx a little while ago when she said, I learned it actually this afternoon.

In eight days, because we kept hearing about South Korea. They had a very tough time at the beginning if you remember. In eight days we're doing more testing than they've done in eight weeks. That's a tremendous turn and with our testing, it's going exponentially, it's going up, up, up every day.

So we're going to be able to do things with his very highly sophisticated testing and it's also the test itself is considered the best test. So, on top of doing now, more than anybody else, we have a very high-quality test. That makes a big difference. It also makes a big difference even in terms of opening because we're going to see those areas like the hotspots, but New York City definitely is a very hot spot. Steve.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you talk about areas that you could open up, what specifically are you looking at? What states are you talking about? Out West or Mid-West or South?


TRUMP: Well, you can talk about the farm belt and take a look at the farm belt. Take a look at the areas out West. Look at big sections of Texas. I was talking to the great governor of Texas. They've done a fantastic job out there, but they have very big sections of Texas where -- you know, it's -- that's like numerous states frankly.

But we can have large sections of -- if we want to do it that way, we could have large sections of the country open. I think it's very important that we start moving on that and start thinking about it because our country wants to be open, our people want it to be open, and they want to -- they want -- they're raring to go.

And I think it's one of the reasons that we're going to have a tremendous bounce back. I think it's going to go very quickly. Also, I want to thank while I'm here. I want to thank Larry for the job he's done. Steve Mnuchin for the job he's done.

If you look at Peter Navarro, he's sort of doing different things. He is really -- he's a force in terms of getting masks and getting all of the ventilators and all the things. He's been fantastic, Peter.

But I also want to thank Congress, because whether or not we're happy that they haven't quite gotten there yet, they have been working long hours. I'm talking Republicans and Democrats, all of them, the House, the Senate.

I want to thank Congress because they are really trying to get there and I think they will. And I'll see you all tomorrow. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you give Governor Cuomo a heads up, Mr. President, about the quarantining for people who left New York?

TRUMP: Like what?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you give Governor Cuomo a heads up about quarantining for people --?

TRUMP: We're talking to them about it.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, is it wise to pack churches --


BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS CHANNEL ANCHOR: President Trump in the White House briefing room. Good evening, I'm Bret Baier.

We have just seen the daily briefing from the White House coronavirus task force. Our top story tonight, obviously, the president insisting the countdown to normalcy or semi-normalcy is on.

President Trump, telling Fox today, and repeating in this press briefing just moments ago, he would love to have the country back open for business by Easter, April 12th, 19 days from now.

Some back and forth with his medical advisor, Tony Fauci and Deborah Birx about the possibilities there and the data that would go into that decision.

Talk of reopening many businesses and schools and other institutions, plus expected passage of a massive stimulus bill as was just referenced there led to a big rally on Wall Street today. The biggest single-day point gain in the history of the Dow.

Speaking of numbers, the president has tied his all-time best approval mark. 49 percent in the new Gallup Poll. His approval for handling this coronavirus crisis is at 60 percent. And even 60 percent among Independents polled in that Gallup Poll.

As for the coronavirus right now in the U.S., 696 deaths tonight. More than 53,000 infections, and a death rate of 1.3 percent.

Chief White House correspondent John Roberts, begins our coverage tonight from the White House briefing room, just in that briefing. Good evening, John.

ROBERTS: Good evening to you, Bret. Clearly, there is an enormous amount of concern in the business community about what will happen to the American economy if this shut down as we -- as it is now continues on.

The president said earlier today in our Fox News Town Hall that America wasn't built to have its economy shut down, and he is clearly eager to reverse course before the temporary pain becomes permanent.


ROBERTS: With the potential for an economic calamity on the horizon, President Trump today said he would like to get Americans back to work by Easter, just 19 days away.

TRUMP: We're all working very hard to make that a reality. We'll be meeting with a lot of people to see if it can be done. Easter is a very special day for many reasons.

ROBERTS: While he didn't put a date on it, New York's Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo, also said he believes we will soon be at a point where certain people can get back on the job.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): If I understand what the president is saying, this is unsustainable that we closed down the economy and we continue to spend money. That there is no doubt about that.

ROBERTS: Both Cuomo and the president, say we are learning enough about who is at risk to protect the most vulnerable. And that new protocols about social distancing and disinfecting will remain in place.

Cuomo insisting it's not a choice between people dying and preserving the economy.

CUOMO: No American is going to say, accelerate the economy at the cost of human life. You can develop a more refined public health strategy that is also an economic strategy.

ROBERTS: The President Trump, more blunt.

TRUMP: You're going to lose a number of people to the flu, but you're going to lose more people by putting a country into a massive recession or depression. You're going to lose people. You're going to have suicides by the thousands.

ROBERTS: The president pointed out that tens of thousands of people die every year from common flu yet the country doesn't shut down. He also repeated that thousands of people die in car accidents, yet we keep driving, a comparison his top infectious disease expert was recently critical of, when Senator Ron Johnson made it.

FAUCI: I think that's a false equivalency to compare traffic accidents with -- I mean, that's totally way out, that's really a false equivalency.

ROBERTS: The surgeon general today said, the president is taking into consideration advice from his task force and the states.

JEROME ADAMS, SURGEON GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES: The president listens to Tony Fauci, he listens to Dr. Birx, he listens when I, or Dr. Carson, or Dr. Hahn, or Dr. Redfield speak up. And he also listens to the governors. And so, we will assess at the end of the 14 days.

ROBERTS: Congress still stuck on the appropriate thing to do to keep the economy afloat. President Trump, shooting down House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's attempts to load up the bill with what he described as ideological political giveaways.

TRUMP: All of a sudden, they start throwing all of the little Green New Deal stuff in, right? And the boardrooms, what they look like, and we want green energy, we want all this stuff. Let's stop drilling oil. They had things in there that were terrible.


ROBERTS: But as you heard from the president just a few moments ago, he is confident, optimistic that this fiscal stimulus package will get through. Larry Kudlow, saying the overall price of all of this will be $6 trillion. Including $4 trillion worth of money available from the Fed.

And back to this idea, Bret, of the -- everything opening up on Easter, the president clearly said that they'll do it in a case-by-case basis, it may be that certain parts of the country open up, while other parts of the country like New York, which is experiencing a terrible problem right now may have to wait a little longer before they get back to business. Bret.

BAIER: And quickly, John, for all the questions about Tony Fauci, obviously played a role in this briefing today.

ROBERTS: Yes, and the president was quite happy to have him come up and answer the question which was basically, do you agree with what the president said about getting open by Easter? There is a lot of speculation going on out there that Dr. Fauci was being pushed to the side, clearly, that's not the case. Clearly that's not the case. Clearly the president not afraid of what he would come up say here at the podium. Bret?

BAIER: OK, John Roberts in the White House briefing room. John, thanks.

Optimism over that stimulus, massive stimulus played a big part in the rally on Wall Street. The Dow finishing up a record 2,113 point, more than 11 percent today, the S&P 500 gaining 210, over nine percent, the Nasdaq surged 557, more than eight percent.

Today's rally likely a big boost for your 401(k), or rather savings. It's been a tough right lately. Deirdre Bolton of FOX Business joins us from New York with that story. Good evening, Deirdre.

DEIRDRE BOLTON, FOX BUSINESS NETWORK: Good evening, Bret. Today was a lot easier to look at the screen, but in the past two weeks a lot of anxiety. Just a note from experts, if you are years from retiring, you have time for the stock market to rebound, even on these very volatile lower days. So for example, if we look after the last big shock, credit crisis 2007 through 2009, the stock market lost 48 percent in that time, but recovered in six years, six months, and 17 days to be precise. So if you have years left to work, don't worry. Experts say the urge to panic during volatile sessions may be strong, but stay rational. If past is precedent, the market will be higher 10 years from now.

Market crashes are nauseating. We know that especially for young people, people who haven't experienced one, they are frightening. But time usually works in favor of the long-term investor. So experts say keep contributing to your 401(k)s now, don't even sell on a high day like today. If your employer matches your retirement plan contributions, you are lucky. You are buying shares partly with free money.

Now, if you are closer to retirement or if you have already retired, the economic effect of this virus may fall hard on you. For example, if you are living on a fixed income, companies such as Ford, Delta, Nordstrom, Macy's, they are all putting their dividends on hold, which means your investors are not giving you the income that you counted on.

The Senate as we know battling over this relief bill, and it would include a measure that permits affected saviors to take a hardship withdrawal from 401(k)s of up to $100,000. Most times those withdrawals come with the 10 percent penalty that apply to anybody over under the age of 59-and-a-half, and people would still be on the hook for any income taxes on that amount. However, the measure would give three years to pay back the taxes and then replace the money taken out. This has not yet been decided, but even if it's passed, Bret, experts say, those withdrawals should really be your last resort.

Side road to protecting your retirement account or any asset is to look elsewhere. So for example, 30-year fixed-rate mortgage near a record low, 3.5 percent roughly. So borrowers with the amazing credit scores, they can find even better rates. So if you have a mortgage you can refinance it. You can lower those monthly payments and save money in that way.

So bottom line, Bret, experts say leave your 401(k) alone, it will work out. Try to find savings in another way. Back to you.

BAIER: All right, Deirdre, good advice, thank you very much.

When we come back here I will talk live with Wyoming Republican Senator John Barrasso about the very latest on that phase three stimulus bill, where we are at this hour.


BAIER: Other news around the world, the U.S. is cutting $1 billion in funding for Afghanistan over the refusal of rival factions to work together on a peace plan with the Taliban. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Afghanistan's president and his chief opponent during a surprise trip Monday. Pompeo left Kabul without being able to secure a power sharing deal there. He said the $1 billion would be cut unless the two men agreed to form a new government.

The International Olympic Committee is postponing the summer games in Tokyo because of the coronavirus pandemic. The panel says the games must be rescheduled to a date no later than summer of next year. It's the first such postponement for the games, which have been canceled in the past because of war. It came as nations and teams urged the IOC to make the decision to protect the health of athletes.

Lawmakers in the House are working on a bipartisan resolution condemning the Chinese government over its handling of the coronavirus outbreak. The major contends China was aware of a novel coronavirus strain in mid- December with multiple doctors raising the alarm among the Chinese medical community. It says the Chinese government made multiple serious mistakes in the early stages of the outbreak that heightened the severity and spread of the pandemic.

Let's get some additional insight and what the government and Congress specifically are trying to do to help small business and businesses overall. Wyoming Republican Senator John Barrasso joins us tonight. Senator, thanks for being here.

SEN. JOHN BARRASSO, (R-WY): Thank you, Bret.

BAIER: Can you give our viewers an update of where this is right now tonight, and the negotiations are continuing, but the prospect for passage of this phase three bill?

BARRASSO: This should have been passed on Sunday, and then it should have been passed yesterday. This should be passed tonight. But yet we are in a delaying pattern based on Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. The American people need a couple of things. This is a rescue package, probably the largest piece of legislation that Congress has ever done. The resources are needed by our health care providers. And I'm a doctor and I have been talking to doctors, I know what they need. And immediate relief is needed by Americans who need the support that they are not getting in terms of their job, 150 million Americans, many not allowed to go to work.

So we put together what was started as a bipartisan piece of legislation to address these needs. These are supposed to be targeted needs, temporary relief and answers for people. But yet Nancy Pelosi showed up here on Sunday with a liberal wish list that has slowed down the entire process. She comes in, and I've seen her on television, several shows today, no sense of urgency and no true understanding of what the American people are worried about as they wait and they watch for Congress to act.

BAIER: Let me ask you about that. I saw you on the Senate floor yesterday, the Senate floor, and as livid as I've seen you, listing extraneous pieces of the House piece of legislation. Speaker Pelosi was asked about that today, about other items in the bill. Here is what she said.


REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D-CA) HOUSE SPEAKER: We had the best minds in the country 24/7, all hands on deck, trying to find a path here. And that is what will be the light at the end of the tunnel. What the president is suggesting is that light at the end of the tunnel could be a train coming out of us if people are out and about in a way that spreads the disease further.

Everything we are suggesting just relates to COVID-19. It's not about making law for the future. Well, except for COVID-19, it's for the future, but it's not changing policy except as it applies here.


BAIER: So basically, she said that all the things in the bill are related to that. You say that that's not true?

BARRASSO: Well, you've seen the bill. FOX has been putting that up. It's a wind-turbines, solar panels, the Green New Deal for airplanes. It's election reform. Its new powers for members of unions. You got one after another after another. And the holdup I hear tonight in terms of the chatter on the Internet, that the hold up today is funding for Planned Parenthood. I have to tell the American people who are listening, the Republicans are ready to act to provide relief in this rescue operation for our health care providers, and they need it. They need the --

BAIER: Senator, they are negotiating a Senate bill still. They are not on this House bill. They are still negotiating, from what I'm told, and what the president just said at that news conference, that they are very close to a deal. You are sounding a little bit more negative, but is there a possibility of a deal, do you think, tonight?

BARRASSO: Chuck Schumer this morning said we're on the two-yard line. Then why haven't we crossed the goal line? Republicans have been ready to vote. We voted Sunday, Monday. I want to get this finished tonight. The holdup is the Democrats continue to vote no as Nancy Pelosi tells them to vote no. And Chuck Schumer, who Saturday night said we've had all this great bipartisan work, that has ended. The American people need relief, and we want to get it to them tonight. Nancy said, well, if we don't do it today, we can do it tomorrow. The sense of urgency isn't there and felt by here in the way it is felt by the people at home who are watching and waiting for relief.

BAIER: There is an urgency as well, and you're a doctor, you know this, on the front lines dealing with this pandemic. Here is the governor of Michigan talking about that.


GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER, (D-MI): The allotment of personal protection equipment for one of our hospitals was 747, and 95 masks, 204 gown, 4,467 gloves, and 64 face shields. With the exception of the gloves, that allotment is barely enough to cover one shift at the hospital.


BAIER: Senator, there is a desperate need, right, on the front lines?

BARRASSO: There is a desperate need, and every day that is delayed those needs are not being met. Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer right now are wasting time that we as a nation do not have. We need to get this passed now and get rid of all these extraneous things, focus on the virus, focus on the needs of defeating the virus and the needs of the people who, through no fault of their own, are out of work as a result of what has happened in their lives by the government stepping in and saying, stay home.

BAIER: I only have 15 seconds here, but the president says his ideal would be to have the country opened by Easter, April 12th. You are a doctor. You know that it's data and what this virus is doing. What's your response to this?

BARRASSO: That's an ambitious guideline. I share the president's goals there. You have to evaluate the situation on the ground rather than the calendar on the wall. The best way to get there is by abiding by the things that they've recommended so far to slow and stop the spread of the disease. That's the best way that we can get to that goal of Easter Sunday.

BAIER: Senator Barrasso, we appreciate your time tonight.

BARRASSO: Thank you.

BAIER: Next up, we'll answer your questions about the pandemic with two medical experts. Keep it here.


BAIER: We continue our segment here on SPECIAL REPORT answering some of your questions about the coronavirus pandemic. Joining us tonight are Dr. L. Anthony Cirillo, director of government affairs at U.S. Acute Care Solutions, and Dr. Devi Nampiaparampil, she is a physician, director of Metropolis Pain Medicine. Doctors, thanks for being here. we really appreciate it. Let's get to some of these viewers' questions. First, here is Albert.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi. We live about 150 yards downwind from a coronavirus open air testing center. Do we run the risk of an airborne infection?


BAIER: Dr. Cirillo, what do you think?

DR. L. ANTHONY CIRILLO, U.S. ACUTE CARE SOLUTIONS: I would say that the risk from that is extremely low. We know that social distancing, staying six feet apart is already good safe distance, 150 yards would be a pretty safe distance to be from anyone who even we know had the virus. So I would say they are still pretty safe.

BAIER: OK. This is Patricia. She writes in, "Is it true that the loss of taste and smell are early signs, and if you are still reporting to your job, should you quarantine if you have that?" Dr. Devi, is that something that we've seen?

DR. DEVI NAMPIAPARAMPIL, METROPOLIS PAIN MEDICINE: The World Health Organization is looking at that right now. That's not one of the classic symptoms that we've been looking for, which is cough, fever, shortness of breath. But they are looking at it because some early reports from China and from ear, nose, and throat surgeons are suggesting that those might be symptoms. So I would say just based on Dr. Fauci's press conference recently and the president's that if you are in a hot spot like New York City and you have those symptoms and it's possible to quarantine yourself, then go ahead and do that to be safe. On the other hand, if you are in parts of the country where there is very little penetration of this illness, it should be OK to go ahead and continue to work.

BAIER: All right, here is a question from James about immunity.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, Mr. Baier. This is James from Chicago. I'm hearing a lot of information about coronavirus and its relation to the immune system. There's a lot of products I've seen out there that advertise boosting your immune system, or something like that. Is anything like out there helpful, or do those actually work at all? Let me know, thanks.


BAIER: So he just wants some help there, Dr. Cirillo.

CIRILLO: I would say that there are certainly things that we can do to be healthy and to keep our immune systems healthy. Those include healthy diets, diets that include a wide variety of vitamins and minerals. So I would say that the best advice is not just for now but on an ongoing basis is that people should have healthy diets, healthy exercise. Those are the things that help our immune system both today and for the future.

BAIER: Can we answer the question, Dr. Devi, about cardboard and packages you receive and what you should do about the packages? Do you keep them outside? Do you wipe them down? The virus on the cardboard.

NAMPIAPARAMPIL: In the best-case scenario for the virus, they did a study looking at this. These government-funded researchers sprayed the virus in a hair spray type form onto two different surfaces. And in that best-case scenario for the virus it survived for about a day. So for most of us, we are not exposed to virus in that form, so I would say for most people, it should be OK to just take the food or take materials out of the package and then bring it in. But if you are in a hot spot, again, take a little bit more precaution. But this, I would not think, is a major source of spread of this virus.

BAIER: This is from Lola about recoveries. "Of the people who have tested positive, how many did we know are hospitalized? No symptoms? Mild symptoms? Major systems? Recovered? We need a better perspective." I think some of this was dealt with, Dr. Anthony, about Tony Fauci about testing and we know and what we don't know but. But to her question, do we have any sense of the percentages on those numbers?

CIRILLO: I think it's a great question, Bret, and it raises a question of, we do have data, but I think we on the front lines, particularly in the emergency departments where we are as a team trying to evaluate who is at risk in which patients with symptoms we need to be more cautious around, I think we are all hoping for, as the days go on, that we get more data so that we have a much clearer picture of what truly is the representation of patients who are infected and many of those we suspect may be asymptomatic. But then of those who are sick, how many have mild illness, moderate illness, or severe illness? As we get more data, I think we will be able to better manage not just the health care of those people that we know are infected but really better manage the resources of the health care system. So it's a great question, and we continue to look for more and more data to help answer that.

BAIER: But quickly, Dr. Cirillo, what is your biggest concern on the front lines?

CIRILLO: On the front lines there are two concerns. We need more data about what percentage of the population truly is infected. I think in some ways the more data we get we can be more reassuring to the public. And then the second need is that we still need personal protective equipment. Here in Dade City, Florida, where I'm practicing, we still don't have enough masks. We are rationing them. And I know that across the country, particularly in places like New York that are the most hard hit, they truly have a shortage, and health care workers need more PPE. So those are the two greatest needs for us right now.

BAIER: And that is serious, and Congress hears that, I know. I was just talking to Senator Barrasso. Last thing, Dr. Devi, parents are sometimes pulling their hair out at this point. Gail Henderson, she sent in, "Is it OK to hug a tree?" And she's got a picture of her son hugging a tree. Is that OK?

NAMPIAPARAMPIL: Yes, that should be safe. That should be safe.


BAIER: It's safe. All right, doctors, thanks so much. We appreciate your time.

CIRILLO: Thank you, Bret.


BAIER: When we come back, good news from a bad situation.


BAIER: Finally tonight, and every night, we like to end with a few stories to brighten your day, something through the darkness sometimes. In Canada, Helen Lambing was still able to celebrate her 85th birthday, her family showed up across the street from a nursing home, balloons, signs in hand. That is happening a lot nowadays.

And a nursing home in Wales came up with a new activity to lift the residents' spirits. A life-size version of the game "Hungry Hungry Hippos." They made hippo mouths out of plastic baskets, and broomstick handles, and the residents kept themselves pretty busy. You think of some things. You do think of some things when you are holed up.

Thanks for inviting us into your home tonight. That's it for the SPECIAL REPORT, fair, balanced, and still unafraid.

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