This is a rush transcript from "Fox News Sunday," March 22, 2020. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
JOHN ROBERTS, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: I'm John Roberts, in for Chris Wallace.
Tens of millions of Americans directed to stay home as coronavirus cases in the U.S. rise above 20,000. And lawmakers work on a nearly $2 trillion rescue plan.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to get workers money and whichever way the best way to get it, and I want to keep the business open.
ROBERTS: As Congress debates a financial relief package, American life grinds to a halt. Manufacturing, travel, Main Street and Wall Street all feeling the effects.
SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R-IA): Never before has our society changed so much seemingly overnight.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): If we don't deal with the health crisis, nothing we do will make the economy any better.
ROBERTS: We'll ask Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin about the effort to get cash back into the pockets of Americans. It's a "FOX News Sunday" exclusive.
Plus, the latest on the race for a vaccine, the need for emergency medical supplies, and the impact of social distancing. We'll discuss it all with former CDC director, Dr. Tom Frieden.
Then, General Motors Announces it will lend its factories to step up ventilator production. We'll talk to Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer about the virus' effect on the auto industry and the measures she's taking in her state.
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Tackling this pandemic is a national emergency akin to fighting a war.
ROBERTS: We'll ask our Sunday panel about the impact of coronavirus on the 2020 campaign and the health of America.
All, right now, on "FOX News Sunday".
ROBERTS: And hello from FOX News in Washington.
Lawmakers are racing to finalize a nearly $2 trillion economic package to ease the financial fallout from the coronavirus outbreak. Here is the latest: five states, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Illinois and California ordering all nonessential workers to stay home. That's about one quarter of all Americans, as a number of known cases in the U.S. surges above 27,000 including more than 300 deaths.
And Vice President Pence and his wife Karen have both tested negative for coronavirus.
In a moment, we'll speak with the Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin about where we're going with a financial package, but first, let's bring in Mark Meredith reporting from the White House with the latest on the administration's actions.
Good morning, Mark.
MARK MEREDITH, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, John.
The Trump administration admits the country is facing an unprecedented health and economic crisis, the government is rushing to get more medical supplies to America's hospitals while at the same time, the president is trying to reassure workers that are worried that they're about to lose their job, that help is on the way.
TRUMP: Stay at home and save lives.
MEREDITH: As President Trump urges Americans to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, Congress is rushing to provide financial relief for those hardest hit by the outbreak.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): This is not a political opportunity. This is a national emergency.
SCHUMER: We are making very good progress.
MEREDITH: America's airlines, hotels and restaurants are among the industries now struggling to survive. Sources say an estimated $1.8 trillion aid package meant to help both businesses and individuals could pass Congress by Monday.
TRUMP: We are all negotiating and everyone's working hard and they want to get to a -- a solution.
MEREDITH: The package is expected to include cash payments to some Americans depending on their income, assistance for small businesses, loans to help certain industries prevent layoffs and add more resources for health care workers treating patience.
Exact details of what the legislation will and won't include are expected to be released soon.
Meantime, governors in a handful of states are ordering nonessential workers to stay home, even as federal officials say they have no plans to issue similar orders nationwide.
CHAD WOLF, ACTING DHS SECRETARY: We have no plans for a national lockdown or a national quarantine.
MEREDITH: But the government is enacting tougher restrictions on America's southern and northern borders. The president has ordered both closed except for essential travel and trade.
MEREDITH: Last night, the White House announced that the vice president and his wife tested negative for the virus. They took the test after a staffer in the vice president's office tested positive. But, John, we are told that that staffer is expected to recover -- John.
ROBERTS: Mark Meredith for us at the White House, where they will be another coronavirus briefing at 4:30 this afternoon -- Mark, thanks so much.
Joining us now, a key player in the negotiations for a coronavirus relief bill, the Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
Mr. Secretary, welcome back to "FOX News Sunday". Good to see you.
You were up on Capitol Hill all day yesterday. You're expected to be up there again today. We hear that this package is now $1.8 trillion and may go above it.
Is this going to get done? And if so, when will it get done?
STEVEN MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY: Well, thank you for having me here.
And I do think it will get done. We've been working around the clock in the Senate with Republicans and the Democrats. I've been speaking to Mitch McConnell, Chuck Schumer, the speaker. And I think we have a fundamental understanding and we look forward to wrapping it up today.
Let me just walk you through the highlights of the package because the president is very determined to protect American workers. We've ordered a major part of the economy to shut down and the president wants to protect them.
So, the first part are what I call small business retention loans. If you're a small business, you'll get two weeks of cash flow to pay your workers, you need to retain them. You will also get some overhead. And if you do that, those loans will be forgiven.
That's about half of our workforce. That will allow small businesses to keep people and make sure when we open the economy, they're up and running.
The second part is direct deposits. The average direct deposit or check for a family of four will be approximately $3,000. This you can think of this as a bridge for them to get through this quickly.
MNUCHIN: The third component is enhanced unemployment insurance for people that are laid off due to the coronavirus.
And the fourth component is a significant package working with the Federal Reserve. We'll have up to $4 trillion of liquidity that we can use to support the economy. And that's -- those are broad-based lending programs under Section 133. We can leverage our equity working with the Federal Reserve.
And then, on top of that, the president is determined hospitals need money. There's a very significant amount of money for hospitals and medical professionals.
ROBERTS: Last I heard, for the hospitals, it was $110 billion. Is that what you're looking at still?
MNUCHIN: That's approximately. We're negotiating the final numbers, but we want to make sure the hospitals have money. The best way to get through this is for us to win this war with this virus.
ROBERTS: Let me ask you this question because liquidity is key here. And what we've heard so far with this bill and maybe it's changed in the last 24 hours that -- was that liquidity assistance really was sectoral. A lot of it go to the airlines, cruise ship industry, hotel industry, now, the auto industry has got its handout as well.
Whereas you -- there are people who say there really needs to be broad- based across the entire economy.
Where are you on that front?
MNUCHIN: Well, I think, as you know, when they started, this was a bit unique to the airlines industry since we had shut down most of airline travel. But now that we're -- we shut down major parts of the economy, this liquidity facility is a broad-based liquidity facility working with the Fed.
So, there is a small component for airlines, national security companies, but there's a very broad-based. As I said, we -- we can lever up to $4 trillion to help everything from small businesses to big businesses get through the next 90 to 120 days as we win this war.
ROBERTS: Let me ask you about this direct deposit. You said $3,000 for a family of four. That's about $1,000 per adult, $500 per child. That was one of the formulas that was floating around last week.
Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont also continues to be a presidential candidate saying that's nowhere near enough.
Listen to how he put it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What in God's name does a $600 check or a $2,000 check mean one time when you are unemployed? Yes, it may get you through three weeks, maybe stretch it, you get through a month. But that is nowhere near what the working people of this country need and should have.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: Mr. Secretary, you've suggested in the past and other White House officials have as well that this idea of a direct payment may come into different tranches -- one on April the 6th, and another one maybe on May 18th. Are you still looking at that or is this a one-time only payment?
MNUCHIN: Well, for now in this legislation, it is one payment.
But let me say, these three pieces all tied together. Workers will get money through the small business program, again, through retention. They will get money through unemployment, and they will get effectively this bridge check payment, which is really a direct deposit. So, these three programs all look very quickly.
And if, for whatever reason, you know, ten weeks from now, this virus, we haven't won this, we'll go back to Congress again.
But I think we're injecting a lot of liquidity into the system and hardworking Americans know that the president wants to protect them and we're doing everything to support them.
ROBERTS: I was going to just ask you that question, that is -- what is the time frame in which this stimulus package is designed to work? Is it six weeks? Eight weeks? You mention just a second ago, 10 weeks?
MNUCHIN: I -- well, first of all, I hope this gets passed on Monday because we need the money now.
You know, I would say we are looking at this from anywhere to a 10 to 12- week scenario. But again, the situation is moving quickly. We need to get the money into the economy now. If we do that, we think we can stabilize the economy.
We're putting a lot of money into the hospitals. And, you know, I think the president has every expectation that this is going to look a lot better four or eight weeks from now.
ROBERTS: Right. So, if this does go beyond ten weeks because -- I mean, we've seen what the infection curve is like in South Korea. We've seen it in China. We don't know what it's like here in the United States, particularly in New York City.
If after 10 weeks, businesses still have to remain closed and nobody is flying on the airlines, you're staying in hotel rooms, can you keep going back to the well?
Larry Kudlow has suggested that with interest rates the way they are, borrowing is basically a bottomless pit. But -- I mean, how much debt can you take on to address this?
MNUCHIN: Well, I think the good news is the U.S. economy is strong, OK? We stopped major parts of it, but when we get through this virus as I've said, I think you're going to see the U.S. economy come back to the strength.
We have great companies. We have great workers. What we need to do is have a bridge to get through this, and this isn't the financial crisis that's going to go on for years.
So I've been listening to the medical professionals. I think there's a lot of advances that are being made, different types of treatments. We're going to do whatever we need to do to win this war.
And I think this bill gives us a lot of money to create a lot of liquidity in the system and protect Americans. And if this lasts longer, we'll come back again.
ROBERTS: All right. You said that the economy is strong. You expect it to bounce back. But how long can we stay in the situation we are in now before this temporary damage becomes permanent? Because there are a lot of smaller businesses that are going under day by day because they can't stay open, they can't pay their people, and even the financial assistance isn't going to help them out.
MNUCHIN: Well, this financial assistance will help them out. So, approximately, 50 percent of the economy is small businesses, and what we're doing here is we're providing liquidity for those small businesses, many of which have zero revenues, to give them money to pay their workers, to pay their rent, to pay their electricity.
ROBERTS: But is that going to cover everybody? I mean, there were an awful lot of small businesses here.
MNUCHIN: That will cover, you know, kind of roughly half of the private workforce. And, yes, in most cases, it's companies 500 or less. But, yes, that's going to cover roughly half the workforce and as I said, for bigger companies, we have liquidity facilities.
We'll have enhanced unemployment insurance -- again, just for the coronavirus. But we want to make sure that workers are paid.
ROBERTS: Are we currently, Mr. Secretary, in a recession?
MNUCHIN: I think that's a technically question that in this situation is not terribly relevant. You know, are we going to have reduced economic activity this quarter? Absolutely. I think next quarter, a lot depends on how quickly the curve of the medical situation works (ph).
But, you know, when people focus on recessions, it's normally because of a prolonged economic environment. This is a very unique situation that we've never had before. This is -- the government has self-imposed shutting down large parts of the economy. And as soon as we can get the medical situation under control, we're going to reopen it.
And to the extent we've kept all these small businesses in business, we've kept workers with them, when we reopen the economy, the economy is going to bounce back significantly.
ROBERTS: "The Washington Post" reported yesterday that the intelligence community was giving the White House warnings back in January and early February that the situation coming out of China was very, very serious and would likely end up in a pandemic.
Were -- were you over at the Treasury Department ever warned that something like this was coming down the pike? Because the initial White House reaction appeared to be, oh, don't worry, it's over there in China, I was told, why do we need to respond robustly, because there's only 16 cases here.
Were you ever warned early on by the intelligence community that this was coming?
MNUCHIN: You know, I want to be careful talking about specific intelligence, but -- but let me be clear -- and this is not just in the U.S., this is -- this is around the world. Nobody expected this to take off at the rate it did.
And even as you know, I've now been on the task force listening to the medical professionals for a long period of time. I said a few weeks ago, you know, I felt comfortable traveling on commercial airfare. I did.
MNUCHIN: The situation has changed very quickly and the president has responded to that. You know, as we saw the spread here, we shut down airline travel abroad with Europe, that was a very important move. And as we see in states, we've been working with the states in recommending this.
So, I don't think anybody should second-guess the government actions. This has been moving very quickly and I think we've responded appropriately.
ROBERTS: The Defense Production Act, the president basically activated it, but he hasn't yet put it into practice. But we have states like Michigan and so many others -- and I'm going to talk to the governor of Michigan coming up a little bit later -- who are in desperate need of medical supplies. General Motors is volunteering to make ventilators.
But does the president need to pull the trigger on the Defense Production Act and say, industry, get out there and make this equipment because we're running behind, this is only going to get worse before it gets better, and we need you to step up to the plate now?
MNUCHIN: Well, I know the task force is very focused on supply chains. Quite frankly, I'm full-time focused right now on the economic side of this. We have other people working on the supply chains, but I have every confidence that the president has these powers. He's working with private industry and we're expediting this as quickly as possible.
ROBERTS: Just before we go, when do you expect to vote on this fiscal stimulus package?
MNUCHIN: Monday morning.
ROBERTS: All right. Secretary Mnuchin, as always, thanks for your time and see you at the White House tomorrow. We'll keep an eye on the action on Capitol Hill.
MNUCHIN: Thank you very much.
ROBERTS: Coming up next, we'll ask the former CDC Director Tom Frieden whether the American health system has the tools it needs to fight the virus.
JOHN ROBERTS, FOX HOST: Our next guest on "Fox News Sunday" says it's time to adapt to a new normal as the country confronts the realities of coronavirus and says there is a long road ahead. Joining us now is the former director of the Centers for Disease Control, Dr. Tom Frieden. Dr. Frieden, welcome back to "Fox News Sunday". And, on a personal level, good to see you. we interacted a lot when I was in Atlanta. Both of us were there. Good to see you again. TOM FRIEDEN, FORMER DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL: Good to see you. ROBERTS: So let me ask you first of all, where do you think we are -- are -- are -- are heading with this? With the number of infections arising, where, on the infection curve are we? Are --are we expecting tens of thousands of cases in the next few days and weeks or are we expecting hundreds of thousands of cases? FRIEDEN: Well, first off, we're in different places in different parts of the U.S. and different parts of the world. And that's why it's so important that state and local health departments and governments have a key role here in tracking what's happening locally, not only with the virus but with the health care system and advising people on what to do. Here in New York City, where I am today, we are really telling everyone, stay home. And in New York City, where the hospitals are getting overwhelmed, we're saying, if you have mild illness, don't get tested, stay home, because it's not going to change anything. Even if you're positive we're going to say, stay home. And if you go out there to get tested, you may use up testing supplies, use up protective equipment, use up time and effort of the health care workers. And if you're not infected, you might get infected. If you are infected, you might infect someone else. So, mild illness, New York City today, stay home. Where we're going, first off, really important to get one key concept. It takes on average five or six days from the time someone gets infected to when they get sick and about another week before they get very sick. So the severe cases we're seeing today are people who were infected ten to 14 days ago. That means that for the next 10 to 14 days we're likely to continue to see a big increase in cases in places like New York City. That's why we're so worried about health care becoming overwhelmed and keeping our health care workers as safe as possible. ROBERTS: Doctor, Mike Ryan of the World Health Organization says that lockdowns are not enough. Reading a quote for him, he says, what we really need to focus on is finding those who are sick, those who have the virus and isolate them, find their contacts and isolate them. But I was talking to somebody at the CDC just on Friday who told me that the CDC is not really doing a whole lot of contact racing anymore because now the disease is so widespread. FRIEDEN: It depends on where you are. In a place like New York City, where we have tens of thousands of infections, maybe hundreds of thousands already, finding the sources of cases and the contacts isn't going to work. What you want to do is drive down new infections by these social distancing, stay home, wash your hands, don't shake hands, stay at least six feet away from almost everyone and then, over the next two to three weeks, we might expect to see, after that starts, with a lag of a couple of weeks for the previously infected people, a drive down of cases. And that's when you restart really aggressive testing, contact racing, isolation. Ultimately what you want to do is tamp down cases. And anywhere in the country, anywhere in the world where cases are just coming in, you want to try to find the new cases. Anyone who's sick, isolate, identify the contacts so that they can be quarantined and isolated if they become sick. ROBERTS: And we know that you have personal experience with that as well in the Ebola crisis of a number of years ago as well, isolating people, treating them. In terms of a vaccine, we know that we're still at least probably a year away, but there is some promising therapies that seem to be on the horizon. One of them is an old friend that was used as an anti-malarial agent. It was given to every U.S. GI pretty much who went to Vietnam during the Vietnam War, Chloroquine or Hydroxychloroquine. Some evidence that in combination with a very common antibiotic, Azithromycin, it can shorten the course of disease. But there seems to be some debate over whether or not that should be deployed. President Trump very bullish on it. Dr. Anthony Fauci, of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Disease, a little more circumspect. Let's listen to both of them talking about it here. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASE: We're trying to strike a balance between making something with a potential of an effect to the American people available, at the same time that we do it under the auspices of a protocol that would give us information to determine if it's truly safe and truly effective. DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm probably more of a fan of that than -- maybe than anybody this early. But we've -- you know, I've seen things that are impressive. And we'll see. We're going to know soon. We're going to know soon. And including safety. (END VIDEO CLIP) ROBERTS: So the president has said, Dr. Frieden, what the hell do you have to lose? We've got this treatment that -- we've got this drug that's out there. We've known it for almost 70 years now. Do you think it should be tried? Should it be deployed? FRIEDEN: We all hope there will be good treatment for people will severe infection with this virus because that would make a big difference. Recently, just last week, two of the best antiviral drugs were tried in combination and they didn't show any impact. Things seem promising but until you study them, until you really figure out, does it work, we don't know. So, absolutely, I think we should urgently figure out whether Chloroquine, Hydroxychloroquine, Azithromycin have an impact on the outcomes of disease. We have three goals here, reduce the number of infections, improve the outcomes in people who have infection and reduce the societal and economic harms of this pandemic. ROBERTS: You say that there's too big stories coming in the next week. What do you see coming down the tracks? FRIEDEN: Sadly, in places like New York City and elsewhere, I'm afraid we will see an increasing number of health care workers infected, some of whom make get severely ill, and the potential that we will overwhelm some of our intensive care capacity. That's what I'm most concerned about for the coming week. The models that we've seen and the trends that we're seeing are extremely concerning. Remember, I said it's about seven, 10, 14 days from the time of infection to severe illness. That means the severe illness we're seeing now was a result of infections that happened almost two weeks ago. And I those last two weeks, there's been an escalating number of cases. So the possibility of having tremendous stress on our health care system, our intensive care units, our nurses, our doctors, transports, everyone who works in the health care system than with that more risks of infections in health care, more risks of patients dying. That's very concerning and that's why, in New York City and elsewhere people are scrambling to try to scale up the capacity to care for patients safely. But that's not easy to do. This is very involved, intensive care. ROBERTS: When -- when you were the director of the CDC you were always on the front lines. We saw you there in Africa in all of your protective equipment as you were looking at what was going on with the Ebola crisis firsthand. Are you concerned that the Centers for Disease Control has been sidelined somewhat in the -- in the -- in the public aspect of this? I mean we haven't seen Dr. Redfield for days now. FRIEDEN: I would feel a lot safer if it were clear that the CDC is both at the table, where the decisions are being made, and at the podium, where they're being explained. The CDC is the nation's leading health protection agency. One of the centers within the CDC is the National Center for Immunization, Respiratory Disease. They have more than 700 medical professionals who are experts in the understanding control of infectious diseases. And in order to do more and protect people more, we need their full involvement. Fighting this without CDC central to the responses has never been done with an infectious disease threat in the U.S. before and it's like fighting with one hand tied behind your back. ROBERTS: The president is getting high marks from people like Governor Cuomo of New York, Governor Newsom of California, for working with the states on -- on trying to combat this -- this virus. You've been watching there from your perch in New York City, what this White House has been doing. How would you grade the president's response? Because he has been criticized by people as well. FRIEDEN: This is not a time for grading. This is a time for all of us to work together, for every part of the federal government, for individuals, for people to pull together against a common enemy, a dangerous microbe. There's something everyone can do, stay home, wash your hands, don't go out of your sick. There's something that our health care system needs to do, prepare for a safer surge, to care for patients, and also key people who need their medications for hypertension or diabetes or other illnesses, keep them safe and on medications through telemedicine my refilled prescriptions. All of us can play a role. And one thing we have to do more is to understand this virus and how it's spreading and how to control it better. The better we understand it, the better we can protect people. ROBERTS: let me quickly, if I could, Dr. Frieden, come back to where we started, because you -- you didn't give me a number at the beginning. Do you believe we'll see tens of thousands of cases or hundreds of thousands of cases here in the United States? FRIEDEN: I think we already have many times more cases than have been detected. In places like New York City, we already have tens or hundreds of thousands of infections. There's no doubt from the information that' we're seeing. The challenge is, what can we do today that's going to slow down this really exponential phase of the increase, this accelerating pandemic. And that's possible by people staying home, avoiding social contact. ROBERTS: Yes. FRIEDEN: We're all in this together. And what each one of us does can protect all of us. ROBERTS: One -- one real quick question, if I could, any idea how long this is going to last? FRIEDEN: Very hard to predict what's going to happen. This is unprecedented. It's never happened before. But we do have, by working together within us the ability to change the trajectory of this pandemic. What will happen in the coming months, only the coming months will tell, but what we do is within our power. ROBERTS: Dr. Frieden, always good to see you. Thanks for taking the time. Appreciate it. FRIEDEN: Nice to speak with you again, John.
ROBERTS: Up next, coronavirus halts auto production and now one automaker is gearing up to help produce much-needed ventilators. We'll discuss that and more with the Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, coming up next.
JOHN ROBERTS, FOX ANCHOR: All 50 states are currently in states of emergency, including Michigan, which, of course, is home to the nation's auto industry.
Joining us now from East Lansing is the governor of Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer.
Governor, welcome to FOX NEWS SUNDAY. Thanks for joining us. I know it's difficult times and your time is very valuable. We appreciate you spending some of it with us.
GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER, (D-MI): Happy to be here.
ROBERTS: So latest count in the state of Michigan, just shy of 800 cases, though I imagine at the next count it will be over that. Some eight deaths in your state as well.
How are you fairing at this point?
WHITMER: Well, you know, we -- I have the same challenge that states across the country are having, we need more test kits. It is hard to really make an educated decision and to know what you're really confronting without data and that all is reliant on test kits. We have too few test kits. We have from the -- from the get-go as -- the same as, you know, any other state. And that's really important. We've, right now, got to prioritize those who are perhaps the most medically vulnerable for testing and that doesn't really give you enough data to feel like you're making decisions that are based on -- on fact and science.
And so we're moving forward. We're trying to be aggressive as many other states have. We closed schools very early. I've -- I, yesterday, closed nail salons and tattoo parlors, as well as, you know, last week closing other businesses in Michigan because it's really important that we're taking this seriously and mitigating the spread, or we will overwhelm our healthcare systems and more people will lose their lives and our economy will suffer even longer. So we've got to be aggressive now.
ROBERTS: The question we -- or at least the point that we keep hearing from the White House is, only the sickest people or people who are really symptomatic should be tested. Do you -- do you think the tested -- testing should be broadened out so that we know maybe people who are asymptomatic might be carriers?
WHITMER: Absolutely. I think that the most important thing that we need is data. We should be testing everyone who can -- who comes in so that we can really understand if there clusters, are there geographic areas that we need to make priorities, are there lessons to be learned, how many people are being hospitalized of those that test positive. In Michigan yesterday, there's a report that we've got an infant that tested positive. We know that our young people are suffering severe lung damage as older people are. And -- and so this is -- there's so much that we need to learn in such a short period of time and testing is a fundamental, crucial component of that.
ROBERTS: I saw that report of a one-month old in Macomb County who has tested positive for coronavirus, which would -- which would seem to go against a lot of what we've been hearing, that there seems to be some sort of natural resistance among the youngest people out there.
I'm told that you're hoping for South Korea here, not Italy, when it comes to the spread of this disease. In terms of limiting the spread, how are you doing?
WHITMER: Well, you know, we've taken some aggressive actions. We've been on the front edge of that and I've continually checked in with my fellow governors. Larry Hogan, Republican from Maryland, or Mike DeWine, just to the south of me in Ohio, as well as J.B. Pritzker and my -- my fellow Midwesterners, like Tim Walz. It's important that we're learning from one another, that we're sharing information.
I was on the phone most of the morning yesterday with experts from around the country. We have got to be aggressive on the frontend or we are going to get overwhelmed in our healthcare systems and then everything is going to be overwhelmed. And that's why it's important that we're aggressive, it's important that we're listening to scientists and doctors and making decisions based on -- on the best facts available, always in the interest of the public health.
ROBERTS: Where are you, Governor, on this idea of a stay-at-home order like the state of California, like New York state, others are considering it as well?
WHITMER: Yes, so I -- you know, things are moving fast. We're getting information hourly and I mean it will continue to climb and so we are always evaluating. We've got an ongoing debate about what the next step is. And I would anticipate additional steps being taken because we've got to be serious about this.
ROBERTS: One thing that kind of puzzles me is that you -- you have limited groups of people to 50 or fewer, yet there was an exemption for places of worship. Why would a place of worship be any less likely to transmit disease in a larger gathering than another place would?
WHITMER: It's not. It's not. And we're discouraging people from gathering at all and we're encouraging everyone to stay home.
ROBERTS: So why this exemption?
WHITMER: Well, you know, the separation of church and state and the Republican legislature asked me to clarify that. We are -- you know, that that's a -- that that's an area that we don't have the ability to directly enforce and control. We are encouraging people, though, do not congregate. Do not go to church on Sunday and sit next to people that, you know, could be spreading the -- the COVID-19. You yourself can be carrying it and you might not even know it. That'd be the worst thing in the world is to go to church to worship and to sit next to someone and infect them and have them suffer life -- you know, life-threatening consequences because of, you know, this decision.
ROBERTS: All right. So -- so the state of Michigan, obviously the home of the auto industry, like the airlines, like the cruise lines, like the hotel industry, do you believe that the auto industry is going to need some sort of financial assistance here to get through the next however many weeks that we're dealing with this?
WHITMER: Well, you know, the auto industry has been the backbone of our economy and this nation, and certainly that's the truth here in Michigan. From supply -- the whole supply chain employs a lot of people in this state. And so when it shuts down, it's not an easy decision to make. I applaud the big three working with the UAW for making the -- that decision. But at the end of the day, we've got to make sure that we can still be competitive, that we can still be on the cutting edge of mobility and solving the problems that we're confronting as a globe. And so the auto industry has to be right up there with any other industry that is able to access loans and to get some assistance during these times.
ROBERTS: As we mentioned, General Motors has offered to retool to make ventilators, which may help to increase the supply. Are you experiencing shortages in your state?
WHITMER: We are. We anticipate an incredible need for ventilators, just as every other state's anticipating. We're actively trying to find ventilators or re -- you know, bring ventilators back online that perhaps were retired.
So the fact that GM is -- is really serious about moving into that space right now. This is a global crisis. This is an automaker that helped make us the -- you know, arsony (ph) -- the arsony of democracy -- arsenal of democracy when we were in the war. This is something that -- we have a battle on our hands and it's got to be all-hands-on-deck. So we're grateful for their leadership.
ROBERTS: You know, both sides here are calling for politics to be left out of this as we respond to it, but the president was very critical of you the other day, tweeting, quote, failing Michigan governor must work harder and must -- much be much more proactive. We're pushing her to get the job done. I stand with Michigan!
What aren't you doing, Governor, that you could be doing more of? I -- I know that Republicans in your state have said maybe extend unemployment insurance to people who are working part-time, unemployment insurance to contract workers, allow Canadian doctors to practice in the United States, allow online work by students to count, suspend fees for hunting and fishing licenses so that more people would get outdoors as opposed to stay indoors, allow bars and restaurants to sell take-out liquor. What -- what do you -- is there more that you could be doing? What are considering doing?
WHITMER: Well, I think the irony of -- of the attack on Twitter is that we've actually been a lot more aggressive than the federal government. We've been taking this very seriously. He's responding to my criticism that they didn't do the preparation that they needed to do on the frontend. That's why we have a shortage of tests. That's why we have people who don't take this seriously because for a long time we were told that it wasn't to be taken seriously. This is what we're up against.
We have to have truth in -- in communication. We have to be making decisions based on science and facts. We can't have half-truths or hyperbole, convince people that this isn't to be taken seriously. If you're not serious, you're woefully uneducated about what we are confronting as a nation. And that's why I'm trying to implore everyone to take this seriously. Do your part. Every one of us, whether you're asymptomatic and healthy today, or you're someone who's medically vulnerable, has to do your part. Washing your hands, social distancing, all of the practices from the CDC. I've been so impressed with Dr. Fauci.
WHITMER: But everyone needs to really listen to him. Everyone.
ROBERTS: That -- that said -- that said, Governor, are there other steps that you could be taking that you're not taking right now?
WHITMER: So, you know, we've been aggressive. I was one of the first governors to call off school for a period of time. I was the first -- one of the first to close down a lot of different restaurants and businesses.
ROBERTS: But -- but what about -- but what about these other -- what about these -- what about these other items, though, like extending unemployment insurance benefits, bringing in Canadian doctors, hunting and fishing license suspension fees?
GOV. WHITMER: Yes. I single handedly extended unemployment benefits in one of my emergency orders from 20 weeks to 26 so we can help people who are unemployed. I called on the White House to make sure that we had an extension on the travel ban between the United States and Canada for this front-line medical workers.
ROBERTS: OK. But, I'm sorry -- I'm sorry, Governor, but -- but -- OK, but what about going forward? What else are you thinking about?
WHITMER: Oh, we're -- we're obviously sharing as much information with my fellow governors so that we're making smart decisions moving forward. There are additional steps that we are going to continue to take. And we'll be rolling those out today, tomorrow, throughout the week as we ascertain precisely where we can make a difference and how we can take additional steps to flatten the curve. We've been aggressive in Michigan. We're going to continue to be.
ROBERTS: Governor Whitmer, we certainly wish you all the luck in the world as you fight this challenge. Thanks so much for joining us this morning. Really appreciate you taking the time.
WHITMER: Thank you. Be well.
ROBERTS: Up next, we'll bring in our Sunday group to discuss the impact of coronavirus on the nation's health, economy, and the race for the White House.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have a very good relationship with China and with President Xi. I have great respect for President Xi. I consider him to be a friend of mine. It's unfortunate that this got out of control. It came from China. It got out of control.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: President Trump, on Friday, defending his calling of the coronavirus, the Chinese virus, despite growing calls that the phrase is a racial slur. And his election campaign following suit. An e-mail from the Trump war room accusing Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden of siding with the Chinese as the race for 2020 takes shape.
It's time now for our Sunday group. GOP strategist Karl Rove, former DNC Chairwoman Donna Brazile, and Dr. Marty Makary, professor of Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and now a Fox News contributor.
Good morning all.
DONNA BRAZILE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Good morning.
ROBERTS: Karl, let me start with you because you -- you lived through both of these at the White House. Is -- is this a 9/11 moment or a Katrina moment for President Trump?
KARL ROVE FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I guess what you mean by that, is this a moment in which the American people respond and say the administration's doing the right thing or say you failed.
ROVE: And we don't know because we looked out now -- we look back now and call them moments. But like on 9/11 it was not only the response on 9/11 itself, the -- which ended with the president's remarks from the Oval Office, but it was the visit to the mosque on Wednesday, it was the National Cathedral speech, it was the iconic moment in New York, it was the -- with the -- with the bullhorn, I hear you, the whole world hears you. It was the visit to the -- to the World Series and it was that planning and the execution of the effort in Afghanistan.
So this is -- this, like that, will be a series of moments. It will be a judgment that will be made by the American people as this goes along and as the administration is seen to be making the right steps or not making the right steps.
So far so good though. ABC IPSOS poll last week, Trump handling of the coronavirus crisis approved 55, disapprove 43. That was this week. The week before was 43-54 disapprove. So the president's had a pretty quick turnaround for a guy who's never been above 50 percent in a Gallup poll. The initial reaction seems to be the American people see him as doing the right things. And this is a situation where the Democrats make a mistake if they overreach.
This attack, for example, calling it xenophobic and racist to call it the Chinese virus, it emanated from China. And China lied to the world about what was going on there. China has launched an attack blaming this on the United States. Their ambassador in South Africa went out and said America created this virus. A foreign ministry official said the U.S. Army let it loose. A concerted, organized effort by the Chinese government and the Democrats appear to be sort of in a weird place by saying, don't call it China. Don't call it the China virus.
Did they call Barack Obama racist when his -- when he was briefed about MERS, the Middle East respiratory Syndrome, and his press spokesman said it -- went out and said, oh, yes, the president received a briefing today about the pre-emergence of MERS in the United States. We think we can contain it?
ROVE: You know, it's just an overreach that -- that -- that is -- that is really a bad -- a bad mishandling of this moment.
ROBERTS: Well -- well, let's -- well, let's get Donna Brazile to -- to respond to that and -- and the fact, Donna, as well that the president has been praised by New York Governor Cuomo and Gavin Newsom from California while he's also receiving all of this criticism? What's your take on it?
BRAZILE: First of all, we are faced with a -- a global pandemic that is deadly and also, I believe, it calls upon our leaders, national leaders, local leaders to work collectively to speak as often as possible with one voice.
I think the reason why many Americans, including myself are very concerned about labeling it as a Chinese virus is because this is not the time to sow discord and division. We have to provide the kind of leadership that the American people understand, that we stay at home so that we can not just protect ourselves and our families but our communities. That our public health personnel are on the front lines and they need equipment, they need materials in order to do their jobs and to protect their lives.
This is a time where you look for leadership, not division, not dividing. And I understand the -- the -- the normal response to going to a poll- driven what I call mania, but right now we -- we want straight answers from our leaders. We want to know how we can protect ourselves and protect our economy as well as our own lives and livelihood. So I just want to say, because I came out of my home in my neighborhood today and I came out because I am concerned, as an American citizen -- Karl and I worked very close together after Katrina to make sure that we did not, you know, have this so-called partisan moment.
BRAZILE: We had to -- we had to work together. And that's what we must do today, work together if we're going to stop this pandemic from destroying who we are as a country and who we are as individual citizens as well.
ROBERTS: On -- on the subject of leadership, let me go to Dr. Makary. What should the federal role be in all of this, Dr. Makary, to assist states or -- or lead the way and -- and how do you view what the White House is doing?
DR. MARTY MAKARY, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, first of all, many government leaders are doing the right thing, but the problem is, some of America still is in denial that we even have a problem.
You know, we live in a very opinionated country, but this is not fantasy football here. These are facts and this is data and what's happening in Italy will happen in the United States. They had 793 deaths in the last 24 hours. I saw your interview with Dr. Frieden just now. I don't think he answered your question about how many cases we're -- we're going to have here.
ROBERTS: Yes. Yes.
MAKARY: We're going to have hundreds of thousands of deaths and we're going to have millions of people with the infection. That's based on the data of Italy extrapolated to our population what they're experiencing now is over 4,000 Americans dying per day when we get to their point in the infection. We've got the governor of Oklahoma taking selfies in crowded food courts saying he doesn't want to do any restrictions on Friday. We've got hospitals that still have been doing elective surgery all this week using valuable gowns and masks. So we've got the scientific battle but we need to do the public awareness to really make a big dent here and to try to flatten the curve.
ROBERTS: We only have one minute left because everyone was espousing so much their opinions on this, which we love. It was great. But let me ask you this question, Karl and Donna Brazile, do you believe that this, and the way that it unfolds, could have a real impact on Donald Trump's re- election chances?
ROVE: Oh, absolutely. It's going to have an effect on everybody in the political drama, but Bernie Sanders is basically dead in the water. He needs to have big rallies to keep his movement going.
ROBERTS: Can't do that.
ROVE: Joe Biden is reduced to being on the sideline. And then we have President Trump's fate -- fate is going to determine -- be determined by how well he is seen as handling this crisis.
BRAZILE: No question it will be a referendum on his leadership during this moment of crisis and how I think the American people will judge him if he can tell the truth and to make us believe him. I think that's a moment for the president to try to take advantage of this opportunity, to try to heal and bring us together.
ROBERTS: Dr. Makary, real quick answer, should the president continue to push to get Hydroxychloroquine and Chloroquine out there? I need 10 seconds.
MAKARY: Yes, look, there's a study from France showing it. There may be of benefit. The idea that it's just anecdotal is -- is not really true. There is some data out there. And when someone's on a ventilator about to die, why not give them a chance with a medication that safe?
ROBERTS: We've got to go. Panel, thanks so much. We'll see you again next Sunday.
BRAZILE: Thank you.
ROBERTS: Coming up next, our "Power Player of the Week." The wife of an NFL Hall of Famer who carried the ball to help older retired players get their dues. Stay with us.
ROBERTS: Last fall we brought you the story of an NFL wife fighting to make sure the players from seasons past get there due for the league that they helped to build. Here's Chris Wallace with his "Power Player of the Week."
LISA MARIE RIGGINS, ADVOCATE FOR NFL PENSION PARITY: You have very proud families and proud men who aren't going to beg and I've tried to create a way to be a voice without exposing them in an uncomfortable way.
CHRIS WALLACE, FOX ANCHOR: Lisa Marie Riggins is talking about FAIR, Fairness for Athletes in Retirement, a nonprofit she helped set up last year to advocate for former pro football players. She has the support of Hall of Famer like Dick Butkus, Franco Harris, and her husband, John Riggins.
JOHN RIGGINS, NFL HALL OF FAMER: I mean I'm getting by all right for now, but there's a lot of guys out there that aren't. And they deserve a little bit better than what they've been shown.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's another Green Bay touchdown.
WALLACE: The problem is, players who retired before 1993 have a whole different set of benefits than player who retire now. A pre-'93 player in the league seven years gets a pension of about $25,000 a year and nothing else. The current player gets more than double that pension, health care, a 401(k) and other benefits.
L. RIGGINS: We are asking for parity and -- in one benefit.
WALLACE (on camera): Pensions.
L. RIGGINS: Pension.
WALLACE: You're not asking for the health care.
L. RIGGINS: Nothing.
WALLACE: You're not asking for the 401(k).
L. RIGGINS: Nothing.
WALLACE: Just give us the same pension that current players get.
L. RIGGINS: That's it.
WALLACE: What's the reaction been from the league and the Players Association?
L. RIGGINS: I have not gotten any direct reaction.
WALLACE (voice over): Lisa Marie says some older players, even household names to football fans, are suffering from the physical and cognitive effects of the game and don't have the money to take care of themselves or their families.
L. RIGGINS: I just saw this sad, sad despair that was growing amongst friends and people I care about and how do you stand by and watch it if there's something you can at least try to do?
WALLACE: Lisa Marie and John met when he was a college student and he was still a player.
L. RIGGINS: I thought he was one of the more exciting, charismatic, dynamic people I'd ever -- I'd ever seen.
WALLACE (on camera): So you were smitten from --
L. RIGGINS: I was smitten. I didn't know they made people like John.
WALLACE (voice over): They've been married 23 years and Lisa Marie, who started as an actress, has been a lawyer for more than a decade.
WALLACE (on camera): Does she know John Riggins the bad boy, or had you mellowed by the time you two met?
J. RIGGINS: Oh, no, she still knows who that guy is. He hasn't showed up for quite a while. But, you know, he's always around. I mean you never know when he's going to show up.
WALLACE (voice over): Lisa Marie just wants to make sure John's generation of players get what they deserve for helping build the game.
L. RIGGINS: I will get tremendous satisfaction knowing that there are these 4,500 players and their families that will have a check that they earned that is commensurate with their contributions that something will improve their quality of life and it will be a thanks for everything that they did. They were not forgotten. They are not ignored. They are honored.
ROBERTS: Last week, NFL players and owners signed a new deal that increases the pension benefit for NFL retirees.
And that's this edition of FOX NEWS SUNDAY. We know that you have a tough week ahead of you with an awful lot of uncertainty. All of us here at Fox News will do our best to help you through it.
And Chris will be back here again next FOX NEWS SUNDAY.
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