This is a rush transcript from "Tucker Carlson Tonight," March 13, 2020. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
MARTHA MACCALLUM, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: The quarantine -- it is vodka and emergency and the emergency people tamping on it. They want you to know that you shouldn't use their products with alcohol, but whatever. Have a great weekend. You've got to read your books.
That's "The Story" on Friday the 13th, 2020. We'll see you Monday.
TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: Good evening and welcome to TUCKER CARLSON TONIGHT. Back in January, we first reported on the show about what we described then as a serious viral outbreak that appeared to be rising from a city called Wuhan in Eastern China.
At the time, the outbreak sounded ominous and potentially important, but still very far away.
Today, less than two months later, the Chinese coronavirus is officially a national emergency here in the United States. The President announced that this afternoon at a press conference in the Rose Garden
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: To unleash the full power of the Federal government, this effort today, I am officially declaring a national emergency.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: The President went on to explain measures designed to check the spread of the virus and to help the country recover and certainly, weather the economic disruption it is causing. The President's state of emergency declaration frees up $50 billion to battle the pandemic.
Regulations governing the length of hospital stays will be waived. Most visits to nursing homes will be suspended.
The President also announced a total freeze on interest payments on the nation's $1.5 trillion in Federal student loans, no more payments for a while.
He said the government will purchase billions of barrels of oil for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. We're going to fill it to the top, he said.
Then in response to an adequate testing across the country, something that's gotten quite a bit of attention. He announced a new initiative to open drive through testing facilities.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The goal is for individuals to be able to drive up and be swabbed without having to leave your car.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: We will have more on the problems with testing for the virus in just a minute. The President's announcement today seemed to calm markets a bit after dropping 10 points yesterday.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose by more than nine percent with most of the gains coming after the President spoke.
Still across America, regular life is all but suspended right now, as you know well. Sporting events, concerts and plays are being canceled. So are religious ceremonies, the Mormon Church stopped all services worldwide.
At this moment, there are about 2,200 confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States, there have been 48 deaths. Those are not huge numbers in a country of 320 million. But there is reason tonight to believe this could be the beginning of something bigger.
In Italy, another 250 people died just today. It was the worst day yet. In Spain, dozens are dying every day.
Countries are starting to take dramatic measures in response to this. Many remembering the value of having borders after having forgotten for quite a while.
Denmark, Poland and the Czech Republic have all closed themselves off from outsiders, and they're not likely to be the last countries to do that.
In Iran, which could be the country hit hardest of all globally. The military has been called out to clear the streets.
Last night, we were joined by Dr. Brendan Carr who is the Chairman of Emergency Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital. His analysis was so clear and so informative that we're happy to have him back tonight.
Dr. Carr joins us now. Doctor, thanks so much for coming on.
DR. BRENDAN CARR, CHAIRMAN OF EMERGENCY MEDICINE, MOUNT SINAI HOSPITAL: Hi, there, Tucker. Thanks for having me back.
CARLSON: So we received quite a bit of e-mail about your appearance last night, and so we assembled just a list of pretty basic questions from our viewers, and I wonder if you would mind going through and answering them, I think it might be really helpful.
So I'm going to start with a viewer called Beverly Holiday Price and she says this, explain if you would the exact symptoms and when someone ought to seek emergency medical care.
CARR: So this is a hard one. The exact symptoms are fever, cough, shortness of breath, and a lot of other things. The worrisome ones are fever, cough, shortness of breath, but people have minor symptoms, too.
As we said before, 80 plus percent of folks have very minor symptoms. Okay. And then the second part is, when do you need to seek care? The best rule of thumb is that it's a lot like the flu. It feels a lot like the flu, so you get a little bit sick. You wait and see what direction you go. You take some medicine to see if you can feel better, as you're not getting better, that's when we think you reach out to a trusted source.
You talk to someone over telemedicine, you talk to your primary care doctor, if you can talk to them. Best not to go expose yourself to other folks.
And if you're not getting better, that's when you go to the hospital.
CARLSON: So you say shortness of breath, one of the things that causes shortness of breath is anxiety. And a lot of people are anxious right now and wondering if they're sick with this. Is there some way to tell if your shortness of breath is a medical problem?
CARR: The answer is no, and wouldn't it be nice if it were. You know, so one of the things we think about a lot are what we can do to keep ourselves safe.
People worry a lot about their chronic medical problems because they're being told this is for older adults and people who have chronic medical problems who are having the biggest challenge with this.
It is important right now more than ever to be really thoughtful about your rest, about your immune system, about taking care of yourself.
And so it's hard to tell if it's your anxiety that's making you feel short of breath or if it is the sickness, but it often comes with the other things. It comes with fevers, and it comes with a cough, and it comes with feeling pretty terrible like you feel when you have the flu.
CARLSON: Yes, unmistakable problem. Marsha Jones wrote in to ask this, my husband, she writes, has COPD, should he not go to work?
CARR: Yes, it's so -- we're all watching as many, many mass gatherings get closed, and we're spending a lot of time talking about flattening the curve is what the public health people say.
So we talk about the fact that there is a spike coming of folks that have this disease and one of the ways to decrease how many people have the disease is to not spend a whole lot of time near each other, sharing germs with each other.
CARR: So not going to work is a pretty rational decision for someone who has got an underlying medical problem, but it's pretty rational for all of us to be really thoughtful about how much time we spend in places where we don't have to be where we could transmit terms to each other.
I work in a hospital. We sit two seats apart from each other. We take all of our -- we've moved all of our education and all of our meetings to video.
And it's a safe and prudent thing to do if you've got an underlying medical problem, all the better reason to do it.
CARLSON: Here's a question, Carol Garsee writes, are there any home remedies available apart from washing your hands?
CARR: Home remedies are hard. Keeping your home safe is really important, however. So making sure if someone is there who is infected, keeping them isolated to a room is a really good idea.
Going into that room only when they are wearing a mask, so they're not coughing stuff into the air is a really good idea. Wiping down areas that are common areas where the virus can sit on materials and you could touch it with your hand and then touch your mouth or touch your eye is a really good idea.
The over-the-counter disinfectants work. It's a lot. Again, it's a lot like flu, it's pretty easy to kill with the regular stuff. We just have to be thoughtful about making sure that we don't breathe in somebody else's air, spend a whole lot of time in the room with them.
Or especially if you're in my work, we worry a lot, I put a breathing -- I put someone to sleep and put a breathing tube into them. And I get mucus and all kinds of things that sort of are coming up into the air. That's a high risk thing.
CARR: It's a much less high-risk thing to just be in a house with someone who is controlling their cough, coughing into their arm washing their hands.
CARLSON: Interesting. Thanks so much. Dr. Carr, I really appreciate your coming on tonight. I know our viewers do as well.
CARR: It's a pleasure to be here. Thank you very much.
CARLSON: Thanks for answering this question.
CARR: Of course.
CARLSON: Thank you. Obviously, we appreciate everything the doctor has told us and we believe it. You should though always consult your own doctor if you are feeling sick.
So contact a professional directly. Do not rely purely on what you see on television. We are acting against interest in telling you that, but it's true.
So one reason America is scrambling to contain this pandemic is because our initial testing for the virus was insufficient, badly insufficient.
In South Korea, the coronavirus appears to be under control tonight, essentially, and a major reason why is that the South Korean government has been testing tens of thousands of people every day for weeks -- many weeks.
Contrast that to this country. Doctors and nurses here struggle to get tests even for patients who are showing coronavirus symptoms, patients who have traveled to infected areas or even people who have been in direct contact with confirmed cases of coronavirus.
It's not a guess. We know a couple of people personally who should get tests, but cannot get them as of now. You may know some, too.
This was not an imaginary problem. It's entirely real.
When an emergency room doctor told "The New York Times" they "we're basically rationing testing supplies," Vivek Jain who is leading the coronavirus response at San Francisco General Hospital says testing capacity remains "inadequate."
Even now, it's not clear how many people have been tested nationwide and therefore how many are infected. We really don't know.
Yesterday, Director Anthony Fauci of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, bluntly summed up exactly where we are.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: The system does not -- is not really geared to what we need right now, what you are asking for. That is a failing.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A failing, yes.
FAUCI: It is a failing. Let's admit it. The idea of anybody getting it easily the way people in other countries are doing it, we're not set up for that. Do I think we should be? Yes, but we're not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: So how exactly did this happen? Why was the richest, most advanced country on the planet not prepared? We'll give you three guesses. But you got it the first time. Government incompetence played an awfully big role in all of this.
The World Health Organization has actually had a working coronavirus test for quite some time. But instead of using it, our C.D.C. tried to create their own test and then denied state public health labs the right to create tests of their own.
Then the C.D.C. failed to deliver its test in time. The C.D.C. delayed the release of testing kits fearful of sending out flawed equipment. Then after long delays, the kits didn't work correctly anyway, a lot of the time. It was a disaster.
Two weeks ago on February 28th, New York City still did not have any way to test for coronavirus. The kits they received from C.D.C. turned out to be unreliable.
Because of all of this and it is incompetence, as late as earlier this month, March, most coronavirus tests had to be sent to the C.D.C. in Atlanta for confirmation and that created a devastating bottleneck for results. Bottleneck that may have killed people.
In Washington State, the Seattle Flu Study was barred by government regulators from doing their own coronavirus testing, if you can believe it. Finally, they decided to ignore the Feds and do it anyway. We're glad they did because they probably discovered the first community spread underway here in the United States.
Shortly after they found that, regulators again ordered them to stop testing. That's insanity.
Thankfully, the Trump administration seems to have at least partly reversed these errors.
At today's press conference, the White House announced new efforts to allow states and companies to help. Walmart and Target are lending their parking lots to create drive thru testing facilities. Will it work? Well, it certainly couldn't be worse than what we've had.
The bigger question is, is it too late? Because of the lack of reliable tests, we still really don't know how many people in America have coronavirus.
Yesterday, Amy Acton, who is the top health official in the State of Ohio suggested there could be a hundred thousand people infected in her state alone.
We'll talk with her directly in just a minute on the show along with the Governor of Ohio, Mike DeWine.
Other experts think the real number in Ohio is lower than that. Okay. Let's say Ohio has -- pick a number -- a thousand cases. That's still far above the number that's currently being reported.
The more cases there are, the less testing actually helps anyone. When a hundred thousand people have an illness, you can't meaningfully track or quarantine them.
Last night, the head of Colorado's testing effort warned that, "The time for testing is moving past us." Today, the Governor of Maryland sounded a similar note.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. LARRY HOGAN (R-MD): Everybody is trying to work on it, but I don't believe they can ramp up fast enough. That's the simple answer. We've moved on from testing, quite frankly to other things right now.
We've moved from containment to mitigation. And quite frankly, at some point soon, we're probably not going to be into testing as much because the hospitals will be overwhelmed and unable to do the test.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: So things seem to be getting better. But is it too late? Too late to test? For answers, we're joined now by Fox medical contributor, Marc Siegel.
Dr. Siegel has been with us on coronavirus from the very beginning. We're happy to have him back. So Doctor, simple question. Is it too late? It does seem like things are getting better. Does it matter?
DR. MARC SIEGEL, FOX NEWS MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: It's not too late to test, but everything you just -- we just heard is correct, which is that there is sustained spread in communities all right, and our viewers can tell that just because cases keep popping up and we can't tell where they came from.
I don't know about a hundred thousand, but there's many thousands of cases that have not been diagnosed possibly because they're mild, but it's not too late to test because we don't have another system we can work with and let me explain that.
Our hospitals are telling patients, don't come in here with a cough, severe shortness of breath and a fever that tends to be a pretty high fever by the way. Don't come in here.
Our doctors are being told, don't see these patients. Well, we don't know what to do with them then, and the only thing we have is a test except you can't actually do the test because the lab -- and I just found out this today in calling and calling and calling once again all of these labs -- they're not going to do the test, Tucker.
Even if they have the equipment, they don't want to put their lab technicians in my opinion in the line of fire and be subjected to possible coronavirus.
So there's a Catch 22 here. The only thing you actually can do --
CARLSON: So we're looking -- yes, I'm sorry to interrupt you. What's the only thing you can do?
SIEGEL: Is exactly what South Korea did. You have to have the drive thrus. You have to have people dressed up in personal protective equipment like we showed in Nebraska. They have to be doing it very carefully. And it's got to be done on a high volume basis and it can't be contained anymore.
But I'll tell you why I want it done. I want to be able to reassure People who don't have it. It will help to decrease the panic.
CARLSON: Well, and there's also the question of spreading it to the people you love, and I know people personally who are facing this right now tonight.
And they know they've been exposed to someone who is a confirmed case of coronavirus. They have kids, they're married. They have friends. And they don't know whether to self-quarantine or not and it would be nice to know.
So you mentioned South Korea, you held them up as a model. We're looking at pictures of how they're doing it. That's a country that we saved from the Chinese in 1953 and whose economy we rebuilt. It was one of the poorest countries in the world, it is not of course anymore.
Why were they able to do this and we weren't?
SIEGEL: Because they have an organized system here, and because their parts are moving better and because they're not busy telling the public, we're doing it, we're doing it. You know, it's in the mail. The kits are in the mail -- all of that is so disturbing.
And you just made a great point that I want to emphasize, another reason I want to do the test. The states and cities are still telling us we can only do the tests on people who have symptoms. I want to do it for the exact reason you said, on people who don't have symptoms, but maybe sneezed on someone that turned out to have it or shook someone's hand who turned out to have it and they have elderly parents or they have a pregnant wife.
SIEGEL: Or they have someone with a high risk, chronic condition. We have to know who has this, so we can protect the people most at risk.
Even if it's sustained throughout all communities, I think it is, I think there is a whopping amount of cases, undiagnosed. We still need to know who has it.
CARLSON: Yes, you're wondering what's the point of the system if you can't do that? It's shocking and very frustrating. Dr. Siegel, thank you for walking us through it. I appreciate it.
SIEGEL: Thanks, Tucker.
CARLSON: As we said, this country has fewer than 2,500 confirmed coronavirus virus cases, but officials in Ohio believe their state might have a hundred thousand, just within the confines of Ohio.
So how confident are they? Where did they get that number? And can anything be done to stop the disease once it becomes that widespread?
Those officials will join us. The head health official and the Governor of Ohio, after the break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. MIKE DEWINE (R-OH): We project that we have about a hundred thousand people at least who already are walking around with the coronavirus and what the experts tell us is that this number will multiply, it will double every six days.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Globally, there are still fewer than 150,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus, but thanks to a lack of testing, a single American state thinks it could be closing in on that number just by itself.
Yesterday, the Government of Ohio announced that based on multiple instances of communities spread in the state and extrapolating from those, they suspect that one percent of all of Ohio has the virus now.
The state has 11.7 million people. That adds up to more than a hundred thousand positive cases.
Mike DeWine is the Governor of Ohio. We're happy to have him tonight along with Dr. Amy Acton who is the Director of the Ohio Department of Health.
DEWINE: Hi, Tucker.
DR. AMY ACTON, DIRECTOR, OHIO DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH: Hello.
CARLSON: Thanks to you both for coming on. So Governor, first to you.
ACTON: Thank you.
CARLSON: Are you confident in this number?
DEWINE: Well, it's an estimate and Dr. Acton can explain a lot better than I do. I'm not great in science, but we rely on people like Dr. Acton, who's my Health Director, but we've also had a panel of 14 doctors who we rely on to make these decisions.
And Dr. Acton has also, and I have reached out to some other national experts. So what we do know is that there's a lot of people in Ohio, who you know, which has positive if that test was done.
Again, Dr. Acton can do the science better than I can do. I'll guarantee you that.
CARLSON: Right, well, I assume with that -- I'm sorry. You can go ahead and tell us -- explain to us in a way we can understand how you got to this?
ACTON: Yes. So you know, Tucker, we know that we don't know the exact number of Ohioans because we really haven't been able to test and we don't yet have the exact models that will tell us.
ACTON: But what we did know, and I think there was some confusion in my remarks, and partly because I'm tired, but what we did know as we assumed community spread already.
Because, you know, we weren't able to test until really this Monday, we had our first case. So what we did is we looked around at the models that exist. And it turned out, you know, some of the best people, the people who actually created the epidemic curve, the flattening the curve that we're all talking about. Those are people we've consulted with, just to really understand the model and we looked at what was happening in Italy.
Where, you know, two weeks ago, there were only nine cases, and now we have folks struggling to even get a ventilator. It's a matter of life or death.
We looked, you know, to my colleagues in Washington who said to me on a phone call, you know, we wish we could have taken steps sooner. And so we took that to heart.
You know, we've looked at the modeling and sure enough, the second we started testing, we had cases. Instantly our first community acquired, which is really the trigger.
ACTON: When you have those cases that aren't linked to another case or travel. And now, you know, within the end of the week here, we're at, you know, we had 13 this afternoon. We expect many more this evening.
And, you know, the persons under investigations in the couple of hundred. So, we are seeing community spread is here.
DEWINE: And Tucker --
CARLSON: You're taking it seriously, and that's obvious, it's reassuring. Are you ready Governor for this? I mean, if you wind up with tens of thousands, who knows how many, but in the coming weeks, is the state's health infrastructure ready to treat that many people?
DEWINE: Well, Tucker, we've taken some pretty dramatic action. We've closed the schools. We banned every meeting, you know, over a hundred people. We've closed casinos.
We have done a lot of other things to really try to get that curve down.
I mean, the whole issue here, as the experts explain it to me, is that it's here. It's going to continue to expand. A lot of people are going to get it. But what you want to do is spread this out, because if it spikes like it did in Italy, our healthcare system not just in Ohio, but across this country is just not going to be able to handle it.
And you have doctors and people make a life and death decisions about who to give a ventilator to, that we can't have. That's not what we want.
So we had to take action. The experts that we talked to, said, look, it may seem right to wait another two weeks, but if you wait another two weeks, you've waited two weeks too long. You've got to move and move now, and we did and we did it more dramatically.
CARLSON: I wish there were more with that attitude. No, I think clearly you did the right thing. Spreading it out makes a huge difference.
Governor, thanks for joining us. Dr. Acton, thank you very much for explaining that to us.
ACTON: Thank you so much.
DEWINE: Thank you, Tucker.
CARLSON: Well, you've heard a lot about the struggles this country has had in getting testing up and running. You've heard that the number of cases in this country is likely much higher than currently reported. And that means a surge of hospital cases may be on the way.
In Italy, which is, at this moment, our best model for what could happen. It's happening in the North of Italy, the most developed part of the country. Equipment shortages there have resulted in triage and death.
There are some people doctors cannot treat. There are too many people. So the question is, will this country have enough beds and critically, enough ventilators for sick people when they show up for treatment?
Seema Verma is Administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Yesterday, she went on Martha MacCallum's show and was asked that question, do we have enough? Here's the exchange.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: Can you reassure everyone tonight that there is not a shortage of ventilators or ICU units.
SEEMA VERMA, ADMINISTRATOR, CENTERS FOR MEDICARE AND MEDICAID SERVICES: And that's why the President has taken such a bold and decisive action. Right? We're not waiting for this to get worse. We're not waiting for this to be a crisis in our healthcare systems and that's why the mitigation strategies that he announced last night, limiting travel from Europe, not allowing that.
You know, we've given travel advisories on cruise ships. That's why we're taking all of this action, because we don't want to put stress on the healthcare system.
MACCALLUM: Okay, that's not a direct answer to the question.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Seema Verma joins us tonight. Thanks so much for coming on. Appreciate it. So I watched that exchange last night and I must be honest with you, I was really troubled by it because you were asked a direct question by Martha MacCallum, do we have enough ventilators and ICU units? And you appeared to intentionally not answer it.
So I'm going to ask you that question again in the hope that we'll be reassured by the answer. Do we have enough ventilators to treat a surge in cases of coronavirus right now, do you believe?
VERMA: So we have a stockpile of ventilators. So right now, today, we are able to address people that need ventilators.
Our strategy, though, is to not make the situation worse. But there is a stockpile of ventilators. The President talked about ventilators today and said, we're going to purchase more to make sure that we have that backup supply.
But the idea here is we don't want to get into a situation where there are shortages, which is why we're taking that aggressive mitigation action.
But you know, there is a strategic stockpile that has medical supplies, which include ventilators, and we talked this -- the President talked about that today about getting more.
CARLSON: Right. So that's -- and that's seems wise, of course, you'd never want to be in a position where we run out of anything in a hospital. Can you put some meat on those bones and give us a sense of how many ventilators are in place? How many are in the stockpile? How many do you think we will need?
VERMA: And it's a good question. In terms of numbers, we're still assessing. We're still working with hospitals to understand what their needs are.
Right now though, I will tell you that we haven't had hospitals at this point in large numbers saying we need more ventilators. But that situation could change rapidly.
And so we're trying to make sure that we stay in communication with hospitals, with healthcare facilities so we can understand what their needs are.
The declaration -- the emergency declaration was actually very important today, because what that said was that we want every hospital to basically launch their Disaster Preparedness Plan and to get ready for this.
VERMA: So it sort of gets the entire healthcare system ready. We're trying to avoid shortages. But, you know, we do have supplies available.
CARLSON: Of course. No, of course.
VERMA: But the idea here is to avoid that type of situation.
CARLSON: And pardon my ignorance if this is widely known, but I didn't know that we had a stockpile of emergency medical equipment. Where is it kept? And are there a lot of ventilators sitting in storage somewhere?
VERMA: And so most of that is handled by the Department of Health and Human Services. ASPR which is our emergency response folks, so they have a system in place. This is not unusual if you think about our response in the hurricanes.
So in Florida and Texas, you know, that whole system, FEMA that was involved in responding, that's the same system that's going to help us respond to this as well.
So some of the things that they can do, they can set up temporary hospitals. You know, you could have overflow, you could have situations where people need to discharge folks from the hospital, but there's no place to put them, so they could have temporary facilities. So those are -- those are the things that we have in place.
But right now, at this moment, our focus is on ensuring that we have an adequate supply and really hitting hard on the mitigation strategy.
I mean, what you just talked about, what we heard from the Governor in Ohio is, you know, these projections could potentially have a major impact on the healthcare system.
The other thing that we did today, I think was -- I'm sorry.
CARLSON: Well, yes, no, no, I was just thinking, major impact. I mean and of course, we all pray this wouldn't happen, but if something like what is happening in Italy right now were to happen here, you know, on an American scale that would be -- that would be an absolute disaster.
So I'm just going to end on this one question, and I hate to fixate on the ventilator thing, just I was -- I couldn't get that exchange out of my mind last night. You're confident that if we had a huge uptick in the need for that specific piece of equipment that we could get new ventilators into ICU units quickly?
VERMA: You know, Tucker, I don't want to make drastic predictions here, right? Because this situation is changing every single day, and based on the information we have, we know that we have to be aggressive.
And that's what today's declaration was all about. The President allowed CMS to give a lot more flexibility to the healthcare system so that they can have providers come from across state lines, so that they don't have bed limits, so that they can move people around within the hospital, so they can provide care for them, to allow more telemedicine.
So some of the things -- it's not just about having supplies, it's also making sure that they have flexibility on the front lines. And those are some of the things, those are some of some of the actions that we are taking to make sure that the healthcare system is prepared.
CARLSON: Well, amen. We're definitely counting on you. So thanks for doing that. I appreciate it. Thanks for coming on tonight.
VERMA: Thank you. My pleasure.
CARLSON: So the stock market seemed a little calmer after the President's remarks in the Rose Garden today, but one doctor continues to warn that we may not be ready for what may be coming.
He will give us his estimate of what we could see in coming days just ahead.
Plus, America's massive homeless population has always been a threat to public health, a grave threat in some places. But how much greater is that risk in the age of a pandemic? That's just ahead.
CARLSON: If you've been watching, you know that we just spoke with Seema Verma, who assured us that the U.S. healthcare system is in fact ready to handle what may be coming in this epidemic.
Dr. Michael Olsterholm home has a different view. He is Director of the Center of Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. He joins us tonight. Doctor, thanks so much for coming on.
DR. MICHAEL OLSTERHOLM, DIRECTOR OF THE CENTER OF INFECTIOUS DISEASE RESEARCH AND POLICY, UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA: Thank you for having me.
CARLSON: So the question of ventilators is -- it's obviously just a small part of a much larger question about whether we're prepared for this.
But to put some specifics into the conversation, we just looked it up. We have about -- there are about 160,000, I think ventilators for patient care in this country and there are about 9,000 in the stockpile. Put together, do you think that's enough for what we're likely to see in coming weeks?
OLSTERHOLM: Well, you know, first of all, Tucker, let me just make a comment that I've never made in a public interview before.
I've served in the last five presidential administrations, just most recently, as a Science Envoy for the State Department in the Trump administration.
I served two Republican governors, two Democratic governors, one Independent governor here in Minnesota. So this -- I am not a partisan guy. I'm a private in the public health army, and I fight it.
And I have to say, having heard that conversation you just had scares me terribly. That was one of the most incompetent and absolutely incoherent responses to what's going on right now.
And I take no assurance from what I just heard that somebody who is in charge in H.H.S. right now, in this level with this issue. We are terribly, terribly underprepared for the number of ventilators that we will need, the circuits, the pieces that connects you to the ventilators. We don't have nearly enough respirators in the terms of the air protecting masks.
No, we're not at all -- and to continue to maintain that we are, I think is really, really very disturbing.
CARLSON: Well, that's unequivocal what you just said. So --
OLSTERHOLM: I mean it to be that.
CARLSON: I can tell that you did.
OLSTERHOLM: Yes, we are in a fight against this virus. We don't have time for double talk, we need straight talk. And I think it's time that we say what it is because you know what, if we start to see situations like Seattle, and what might be happening in Ohio and elsewhere, as they start to emerge around the country, that is not a time for us to try to figure out that all we were talking about was happy talk.
We need to understand what we have because we're going to have to plan for it. This is like triage in the military on the battlefield. When you don't have what exactly you need, then you've got to deal with what you've got.
And we've got to understand that and to try to sit here and paint the fact that somehow we're going to mitigate cases, in such a way as to not run into this, we're going to run into it. Why are we now just dusting off these plans, when in fact, we've known for at least six to seven weeks that this was coming?
And so I have to tell you, I'm really disturbed by this conversation tonight. And I hope that everyone else in the United States of America is disturbed in terms of asking who's in charge? And what are they saying? And what will they do to say that they're going to be there to help us when we really need the help.
CARLSON: Doctor Osterholm, if I had known this conversation was going to take this turn, I would have booked more time for you tonight. I hope you'll come back because I'm interested in knowing and I know that our viewers are, too, after what you just said, what we need to do to get complete care.
OLSTERHOLM: Well, I hope so, too, and I ask you to keep it up. I ask you to keep it up, too. I mean, you've been asking really important questions and I applaud you for that.
This is not a time for you know, as I said, happy talk. We need straight talk.
CARLSON: Thank you, Doctor.
OLSTERHOLM: Thank you.
CARLSON: Yes, I hate that. Great to see you tonight. Thank you.
New York, California and Washington have some of America's largest homeless populations. They also have the three worst coronavirus outbreaks.
Suddenly having a population that leaves needles and garbage everywhere and defecates on the sidewalk doesn't simply seem disgusting, though it is. It seems dangerous and insane.
Jason Rantz is a Seattle area radio host. He joins us tonight. Jason, thanks so much for coming on.
So, look, we can't -- we're not epidemiologists. We don't know if there's a direct connection between the filth of the places we just mentioned and the outbreaks they are seeing now. There's no proof of that.
But clearly, this is a wake up call for cities that you can't have Calcutta like conditions downtown. No?
JASON RANTZ, RADIO SHOW HOST: It should be. I am growing increasingly concerned. The more we hear about what we need to do to make sure that the coronavirus doesn't spread seems to make sense to me because I live in a home and I have access to hand sanitizer, soap and water. Homeless people do not.
We had a case today -- you and I last week talked about the potential homelessness crisis and where it intersects with coronavirus. Well, someone last night was put into a motel in a city nearby Seattle. It's supposed to be an isolation site. They suspect that this individual who was homeless has coronavirus. They are waiting for the test.
Well, this morning, he left the self-quarantine site. He went across the street to a 7-11, which he allegedly robbed. Then he jumped onto a bus and he left. That is a problem.
When we have people who are in desperate need of support services because they're living with potentially a mental illness, an addiction, they're not necessarily going to be put in a position where they can just self- quarantine, they need the help.
And we have yet to have a significant enough plan presented to the public that's addressing this particular concern.
CARLSON: So in other words, if you allow your society to fall apart, as they have in Los Angeles and Portland and Seattle, when a crisis comes, it might collapse completely.
RANTZ: Yes, I mean, that's a certainly concern. I mean, this is something that was a long time coming and people have been calling this out and saying you cannot allow the homelessness crisis to get this out of control.
You have to actually have some semblance of a plan and simply saying, well, we're not going to sweep people from these encampments and put them in the system, because we want to pursue politically ideologically driven policy prescriptions.
Remember, we have a homelessness situation that the City Council and this Mayor pretends as a direct result solely -- almost solely -- on affordable housing.
They blame Amazon. Amazon is driving up the rent.
CARLSON: That's a lie.
RANTZ: I'm sorry, but that's not the reason and waiting to address the actual underlying causes so you can pass affordable housing policies. That's a problem.
CARLSON: No, totally. And I say this is someone who despises Amazon and I mean that. I try not to use Amazon as much as I dislike them. But they're not the cause of this. You're exactly right.
RANTZ: They are not the truth.
CARLSON: Tell the truth. Stop lying. Amen. Jason, great to see you. Thank you.
RANTZ: Thank you.
CARLSON: Store shelves are being stripped bare in some places. Certainly, friends have sent you the inside of Walgreens. I'm sure you know.
Airlines are suffering a demand shock worse than 9/11. We will investigate the expanding economic effect of what we're watching. We'll be right back.
CARLSON: We're really only a few days into a national awareness of coronavirus and already, it is causing, we're sad to say, measurable harm to our economy.
All cruise lines out of America canceled as of tonight. Airlines are slashing not simply the cost of flights -- they're incredibly cheap right now -- but the number of flights in the air, in some cases by 40 percent. Across the country, basic supplies are suddenly hard to find.
Melissa Francis, co-hosts "Outnumbered" here on Fox. She hosts "After the Bell" on Fox Business. She joins us tonight.
So you do this for a living. You watch all the indicators. First, just give us a read of how you're feeling, your confidence level about the American economy right now.
MELISSA FRANCIS, FOX BUSINESS NETWORK HOST: You know, I mean, it's going through a shock. So it is people who are trying to figure out what to do. And, you know, it's so lumpy. It's hammering some industries, and then other places, you know, you can't even get in the doors.
And you see this when you go around. You take the airlines, for example. So they were totally empty. People weren't getting on planes. They cut back on flights.
So now planes are -- you know, I talked to a couple of people today that were flying. They said it was about half full. Delta, among others, you know, they showed the fogging they were doing to their seats, which by the way, would be nice if they did that all the time. Maybe we can keep that in place going forward. There'll be less flu.
But you know, I mean, the airlines, they're definitely going to get hammered. But the government is aware of that and they know that we need an airline industry. So they're going to do something about that.
I'm more worried about the little guy. I mean, that's the one that breaks my heart because for example, so I was out today, there are these amazing food trucks that are on the street. I mean, a lot of them have been on TV shows, you know, but this is small business.
You know, this is one guy or gal who's had a dream, and today there's a picture up there, I tweeted that. So I went out -- that's around the corner from us. Usually, there's 30 to 40 people deep at these food trucks, you know, and -- nothing.
And it was 70 degrees outside. It was sunny. It was gorgeous. I decided to go out and look and see if my favorite one was there, this Food Truck USA, that's awesome. They have the best chicken in the world. But I wanted to go look for him and see if he was out there and there was nobody there. So it was empty.
But you have -- Nintendo had a line around the block. They had some new game out. They are fighting over toilet paper at Costco.
So there are some places that are jammed. This is the line. There were hundreds of people around the block. This was just down the street from where those food trucks were.
These people were waiting to get into the Nintendo store to buy a Nintendo. Now, I don't know if they think they're going to be locked up for a long time, so they want the new game or if they just don't care about being in a small space.
But you know, between that and the grocery stores where the aisles are packed, some people are doing great and some people are going to go out of business. It's crazy. It's tough to tell. It's heartbreaking for the little guy.
CARLSON: They're not that worried about the credit card companies or the weed dispensaries, but I agree. It's the guys you worry about.
CARLSON: Melissa Francis, thank you for that.
FRANCIS: All right.
CARLSON: From the early days of this crisis, the left was distracted by its need to cry racism whenever someone calls the Chinese coronavirus what it is, a virus from China.
But that's not the only politicized part of the response to this disease. Currently, the Hyde Amendment bars Federal funds from paying for abortion. That's been in place a long time. It's the law of the land.
But with the coronavirus package being worked out tonight in Congress, Democrats fought to include a possible loophole in that law.
In other words, as the nation is fighting a pandemic, they're worried about abortion. This virus does not kill children, they wanted to fix that.
Tonight, a deal has been worked out apparently, but did the process need to take this long. Chris Bedford has been following it since day one. He's an editor at "The Federalist." He joins us tonight.
Chris, thanks for coming on.
CHRIS BEDFORD, EDITOR, THE FEDERALIST: Good evening.
CARLSON: So look, just in the interest of fairness, because you always want to be fair to both sides, you know, use crises to push their political -- preexisting political agendas. But do you think it's fair to say that the Democratic Party attempted to use this bill to promote abortion?
BEDFORD: They're certainly much better at using crises and crises to their advantage than the Republicans are in politics here. And yes, this has held it up.
The reporter who broke this, Christian Datoc of "The Daily Caller" gave her -- Nancy Pelosi's office hours to respond to the accusation from the White House to the Hyde Amendment and trying to fit abortions in here was holding this up and was a source of holding up the deal with Mnuchin and with the Republicans and with the White House, when time is absolutely of the essence.
I can't imagine exactly how getting the public and getting people and getting a nation that is supposed to be uniting to pay for other people's abortions would possibly save anybody from this disease or save anyone in this country.
And not only that, but she is always crowing about being a Catholic, to draw people into this abortion thing, it's just gravely troubling, especially when we're supposed to be coming together as a country to try and solve this.
CARLSON: It is absolutely -- it is absolutely shocking. And I appreciate your confirming that. Chris Bedford from "The Federalist" for us tonight. Great to see you.
BEDFORD: Great to see you.
CARLSON: We've got a Fox News Alert for you. The President has just tweeted his support for the coronavirus deal currently making its way through the House and we're quoting now, "I fully support H.R. 6201, Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which will be voted on in the house this evening. The bill will follow my direction for free coronavirus tests, paid sick leave for impacted American workers."
"I've directed the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Labor to issue regulations that will provide flexibility so that in no way will small business be hurt. I encourage all Republicans and Democrats to come together and vote yes. I will always put the health and wellbeing American families first. I look forward to signing the final bill as soon as possible."
Of course, we'll continue to follow that story.
This has been of course, one of the fastest moving news weeks anyone covering news or anyone in America has ever seen. A remarkable week. We'll try to summarize what we've learned from it after the break.
CARLSON: It's been a remarkable week in the history of this country. Things have moved so fast that it's easy to forget that coronavirus as a story has been building for months, it's not new.
Most people in the media were not paying attention. They're worrying about impeachment in Russia. But we noticed.
In January, this show castigated the media for its single minded focus on the impeachment of the President, and the final outcome was not even in doubt.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: The world is changing incredibly fast out there, and it's fascinating and ominous and worth covering. But by and large, the media are all but ignoring it. Why are they doing that?
Well, consider the stories they're downplaying in favor of a protracted government hearing, who's ending we already know.
For starters, at this very moment, a serious viral outbreak is spreading across China, the world's biggest country.
In just a matter of weeks, this new strain of coronavirus has generated almost as many new cases as SARS did. Remember SARS? SARS did in three full months.
So by any objective standard, that is the biggest story of the day, maybe of the moment, a potential pandemic rising from Asia.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: And then the primaries hit and the world was focused on the Iowa Caucuses. On n that night, when they were caucusing, voting in Iowa, it was still clear that a much bigger story was looming in Asia.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: We have a lot more from Iowa in this hour and throughout the night, but that's not the only thing going on in the world this evening.
China's coronavirus keeps spreading and there are alarming signs -- genuinely alarming signs -- that that country's communist government is hiding just how bad things are in that country.
You should be concerned. We are. There's new troubling undercover footage out of China and we've got it for you. And that's next.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Then Monday, just four days ago, it was very clear that coronavirus was going to disrupt your life in a big way. We predicted March Madness would be canceled. That travel might be sharply curtailed, that you could be told to work from home.
We took a lot of heat for saying that. Some accused us of sucking up the liberal media -- as if -- a group we spent three years despising.
But it wasn't exaggeration. In the end, it took just four days to prove that all of this was totally real.
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