PBS NewsHour full episode March 12, 2020

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JUDY WOODRUFF: Good evening. I’m Judy Woodruff. On the “NewsHour” tonight: Fear outruns preparation. Financial markets plunge, delivering the worst
losses since 1987, as coronavirus spreads across the U.S. Then: a shortage of testing kits. Cancellations spread from churches to major
sports and entertainment, and a breakdown between the U.S. and Europe over travel — how
we got to this moment of uncertainty and where we go next. And restoring the right to vote. Florida moved to give felons the right to
vote after they served their time. Then a political struggle began, and that
vote remains elusive. DESMOND MEADE, Florida Rights Restoration
Coalition: Yes, I believe it’s less about me voting and more about that people now have
an opportunity to vote where opportunity didn’t exist a couple of years ago. JUDY WOODRUFF: All that and more on tonight’s
“PBS NewsHour.” (BREAK) JUDY WOODRUFF: It has been a day like few
others in modern American life, from the East Coast to the West and from the stock exchange
to schools, sports and houses of worship. For stocks, it was their worst day of trading
since the 1987 market crash. As fears of the pandemic spread, the Dow Jones
industrial average plunged 10 percent, down 2,352 points, to close at 21200. The Nasdaq plummeted 750 points, and the S&P
500 lost more than 260. Meanwhile, a rapid-fire succession of new
cancellations and closures rippled across the U.S. and around the world today, from
major sporting events and cultural institutions, to entire school systems, and even Catholic
churches across Rome. The U.S. now has more than 1,300 COVID-19
infections in at least 45 states and the District of Columbia, that as the fallout intensified
over President Trump’s decision to ban travel from most of Europe. Nick Schifrin begins our coverage. NICK SCHIFRIN: In the only containment area
in the country, food is handed out by the National Guard. New Rochelle, New York is one of the cities
on the front lines of disruptions, delays, and closings across the country because of
COVID-19. Public schools are closing for nearly four
million students, including every K-12 school in Ohio and Maryland. New York state banned gatherings of more than
500. Broadway and Manchester’s Metropolitan Museum
of Art and Metropolitan Opera are going dark. Disneyland will close for rest of the month. Major League Baseball suspended operations. The National Hockey League paused its season. And the NCAA canceled its March Madness tournament,
which was supposed to start next week. On Capitol Hill, the question was whether
the U.S. has enough tests. Utah Republican Senator Mitt Romney: SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): We don’t have that level
of testing that you’re seeing in other countries, like South Korea. And we wonder why they have several thousand
people a day getting tested, and we have a handful. NICK SCHIFRIN: Dr. Anthony Fauci, the National
Institute of Health’s infectious disease chief, agreed in response to Florida Democrat Debbie
Wasserman Schultz. REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D-FL): There’s not
one person that can ensure that these tests can be administered, yes or no? 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. REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: A failing, yes. DR. ANTHONY FAUCI: It is a failing. Let’s admit it. REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: OK. DR. ANTHONY FAUCI: 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. NICK SCHIFRIN: Despite the experts’ testimony
and despite the CDC not releasing official statistics, 45 minutes later, President Trump
said this: DONALD TRUMP, President of the United States:
We have them very heavily tested. If an American is coming back or anybody’s
coming back, we’re testing. We have a tremendous testing setup where people
coming in have to be tested. NICK SCHIFRIN: People are rushing to come
in from Europe today, where presidential calls for calm were met with fear and confusion. WOMAN: Definitely been like a lot of uncertainty,
which has caused a lot of, like, panic. KARL, American Tourist in Madrid: I think
it’s a definitely a difficult situation for everyone to be in. And it’s clear that the situation is being
handled chaotically. NICK SCHIFRIN: American citizens can return
home from Europe, as can U.S. citizens’ foreign family members. But the confusion came after President Trump’s
Oval Office statement last night blaming Europe. DONALD TRUMP: A large number of new clusters
in the United States were seeded by travelers from Europe. After consulting with our top government health
professionals, I have decided to take several strong, but necessary actions to protect the
health and well-being of all Americans. NICK SCHIFRIN: President Trump’s suspension
of travel from the European continent to the U.S. starting Friday was met with shock, European
officials tell “PBS NewsHour.” And, today, the European Union’s top officials
delivered a short and terse response: “The European Union disapproves that the fact is
that the U.S. decision to impose a travel ban was taken unilaterally, and without consultation.” In an Oval Office meeting with the prime minister
of Ireland, which is exempt from the ban, President Trump called it necessary. DONALD TRUMP: We had to make a decision. And I didn’t want to take time of — it takes
a long time to make the individual calls. And we are calling. And we have spoken to some of them prior to,
some of the majors prior to. But we had to move quickly. I mean, when they raise taxes on us, they
don’t consult us. NICK SCHIFRIN: Apparently, the majors include
the United Kingdom, whose officials tell “PBS NewsHour” they were informed beforehand and
are also exempt from the band. DONALD TRUMP: One of the reasons, U.K. basically
has been — it’s got the border. It’s got very strong borders, and they’re
doing a very good job. They don’t have very much infection at this
point. And, hopefully, they will keep it that way. NICK SCHIFRIN: Johns Hopkins University says
the most infections in Europe are in Italy, France, Spain, and Germany. The United Kingdom has the 10th most infections. But, in London, Prime Minister Boris Johnson
warned things would get worse. BORIS JOHNSON, British Prime Minister: The
true number of cases is higher, perhaps, much higher than the number of cases we have so
far confirmed with tests. NICK SCHIFRIN: Worldwide the virus has reached
110 countries and infected more than 126,000 people. Denmark, Norway and Ireland have ordered all
schools closed. In Italy, the death toll today topped 1,000. Residents are coping with tighter restrictions,
after the government yesterday ordered most businesses shut. But where the virus originated, the streets
are returning to normal. Chinese health officials claim the lowest
total of new cases, about a dozen, since the outbreak began. But the Chinese are also pointing fingers
outward. The Foreign Ministry’s deputy spokesman tweeted
today: “It might be U.S. Army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan.” That is a lie, U.S. officials say, designed
to deflect blame. JUDY WOODRUFF: That was Nick Schifrin. And we return now to the financial fallout. And to help make sense of today’s dramatic
drop in the markets, Liz Ann Sonders is the chief investment strategist for Charles Schwab
and Company. Liz Ann, welcome back to the “NewsHour.” It looks pretty cataclysmic. What is driving this? LIZ ANN SONDERS, Charles Schwab: Yes. So, obviously, we know the virus and the unique
uncertainty with regard to — we know it’s going to get worse before it gets better,
but the economic impact, the impact on corporate earnings. Then we had the double whammy of the collapse
in OPEC talks and the crash in oil prices, and how that’s filtered into the economy,
but also significant dislocations in the corporate bond market, and then, more recently, you
had dislocations occur in the Treasury market, which is why the Fed stepped in with what
they did today. So, unfortunately, it’s been this triple whammy. It’s not just the virus. JUDY WOODRUFF: So, in layman’s terms, is there
nothing to reassure investors, to reassure the markets right now? LIZ ANN SONDERS: Well, I think we saw a bit
of shock and awe out of the Fed today, but that’s really just to stabilize the Treasury
market. The Fed has been very honest in saying that
they can’t really do much to ease the pain of a pandemic. They can’t create a vaccine. They can’t create tests. And I think there’s this realization that
central banks have limited power. So I think we probably need a bit more shock
and awe from government authorities, something on the fiscal policy side. And the markets are telling you that we haven’t
gotten that yet. JUDY WOODRUFF: And what would that look like,
the fiscal policy side? LIZ ANN SONDERS: Well, there have been lots
of ideas bandied around, whether it would be done through some sort of payroll tax holiday,
a little more discussion recently about just actually providing money. Is it more targeted toward those individuals
or industries that are most at risk? So there’s a lot being discussed. I’m not inside those conversations. JUDY WOODRUFF: Right. LIZ ANN SONDERS: But, so far, we’re not yet
seeing that shock and awe, like at least the central banks are attempting to give us, which
is limited in its aid. JUDY WOODRUFF: So, in the meantime, until
that happens, we stand back and watch and hope? LIZ ANN SONDERS: Well, we are at a level of
decline in the market that’s about in line historically with what the market has done
in anticipation of recessions. Now, this is a unique cause to a likely recession,
given that we have whole swathes of the economy literally simultaneously shutting down all
at once. So, there’s a tremendous amount that’s unique
about this set of circumstances. But if it is significant enough to bring on
a recession, the market, at this point, is discounting it at a similar level than what
has been the case in the past. That doesn’t mean the bottom is in, but we
have hit those levels as of today. JUDY WOODRUFF: Pretty grim. Liz Ann Sonders, thank you very much. LIZ ANN SONDERS: Thanks, Judy. JUDY WOODRUFF: And we look now at some of
the broader ripples and response with our own Nick Schifrin, who we just heard from,
Lisa Desjardins, and Yamiche Alcindor. Hello to all three of you. So, Yamiche, I’m going to start with you. We are seeing all this disruption. How is the president handling it? YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Well, the president is facing
a challenge like nothing he’s ever seen before. And, of course, this country is facing a challenge
like nothing it’s ever seen before. I have been talking to sources, Democrats
and Republicans, and they say American life is not going to look like normal American
life for a long time. You have elderly couples crying in their cars
afraid to go into grocery stores. You have people that can’t go to football
games, can’t throw a round of football with their child because they’re worried about
whether or not the virus is in the air. And you have a president who is struggling,
frankly, Judy, to really figure out what to do, with to how to calm people, because people
in some cases don’t trust what the president is saying. Just today on testing, something Americans
are very, very concerned about, he is saying testing is going to be going quickly, we’re
all working well, this is going smoothly. And then you have the top health official
saying, actually, testing is failing in this country, and we don’t have drive-through testing. JUDY WOODRUFF: Right. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: It’s not as easy as other
countries. So, what you have is a president who is trying
to calm people’s fears saying a bunch of things that health officials in his own administration
are saying are wrong. JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Nick, we heard some of
this in your report a moment ago. But how — what else are you hearing from
European officials about what the president said last night? NICK SCHIFRIN: Yes, European officials, anger
is really palpable when you talk to them. One European Union official told me yesterday
that the first time they heard about the possibility of the travel ban was when a Reuters story
hit yesterday afternoon. They called the administration in the hours
between that story and the speech. They never heard back. So they heard when he all heard, when the
president started speaking. French, German, E.U. officials, I spoke to
all of them, none of consulted before the speech. And they also wonder, by the way, why the
United Kingdom was left off, Judy. Now, each of these officials see this in a
larger context, of course. They cite candidate Trump calling the E.U.
an economic foe. They talk about President Trump withdrawing
from the Iran nuclear deal, the Paris climate accord, and blaming Europe during impeachment
for not helping Ukraine. But no European official I talked to today
talked about retribution at all. As the E.U. statement today said, it’s time
for cooperation, not tit-for-tat measures. JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Yamiche, how is the White
House pushing back on what the Europeans are saying? YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Well, the president is doubling
down on his decision to have these travel bans and have these travel restrictions go
into effect. And the president is saying, well, you know
what, the Europeans, when they tax us, they don’t consult us. So he made it about trade. He made it about this tit for tat that he
wants to think about as he’s looking at our European allies. And this, of course, dovetails with the way
that the president has really had a lot of his relationships with our European allies. He’s talked about this American-first approach,
and he’s talking about this virus, calling it a foreign virus. But, of course, the coronavirus doesn’t know
any borders. There’s no country that might not be touched
by this. So what you have is the president really now
having to face the fact that international ties, an international strategy is going to
have to be something that happens in order for this to be tamed. And health officials in the president’s own
administration say there has to be international coordination for this all to go smoothly. But, again, the president’s doing what he’s
done in past crises. And that’s lash out at people and lash out
at people who are living across the borders and living abroad. But, at this point, he’s going to in some
ways have to figure out how to change this tone, because there are people in his own
administration who are worried. JUDY WOODRUFF: And, meantime, Americans are
clearly worried, as we have been discussing, Lisa. Stepping back, you have been talking to a
lot of folks today. Political leadership broadly, how is it looking
at dealing with this? LISA DESJARDINS: Well, at this moment, Judy,
I’m washing my phone to see if the White House and Congress, Speaker Pelosi specifically,
have arrived at a deal first about how to handle workers, families, people who are going
to have needs, whether it’s food or paychecks, for the next few weeks or months. I think that deal could be coming any minute
now. Watching my phone. But I will tell you, otherwise, trying to
arrive at that deal and for leaders of the Capitol now, understanding the scope of this
problem, today was a wild day on Capitol Hill. We put together this story looking at it. JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, the pressure couldn’t
be greater than what it is. All right, we will be back to you in just
a minute. Right now, meantime, the — many Americans
are talking about their concerns over how the government is responding to the pandemic,
the ability to get testing, and how the U.S. response compares to other — to other countries. I think — I think we want to come back. My mistake here. We do want to come back to the Democratic
presidential candidates. They weighed in today on the president’s response. We have members of Congress, as Lisa just
said, working on some sort of package that would address the pandemic. And Lisa has more on that. LISA DESJARDINS: At the Capitol, a building
now closed to the public, an eruption of recognizing the obvious: A mighty problem has arrived. SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL): I think it’s a wakeup
call for the world. SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): The only question
is, how many more cases? SEN. JAMES LANKFORD (R-OK): Testing is the biggest
challenge that we have. LISA DESJARDINS: Also obvious, Congress and
the White House must act soon. SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA): This will not be the
same issue a week from now. It will be much worse. So, we need to be here in our seats addressing
the issue and solving the problems that we know we can solve. LISA DESJARDINS: Trying to solve some problems,
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have been on and off the phone
trying to reach a deal for workers and families whose lives may be disrupted. Last night, President Trump announced executive
action from the Oval Office, including a historic travel ban that came with some confusion. DONALD TRUMP, President of the United States:
To keep new cases from entering our shores, we will be suspending all travel from Europe
to the United States for the next 30 days. The new rules will go into effect Friday at
midnight. LISA DESJARDINS: Just an hour later, Deputy
Homeland Security Secretary Ken Cuccinelli tweeted out an important clarification, that
this doesn’t apply to Americans, followed by a tweet from the president that it also
doesn’t apply to goods. Vice President Mike Pence downplayed this
in morning interviews. MIKE PENCE, Vice President of the United States:
I don’t think there was confusion. He made the decision on the spot, after hearing
from all sides, that the best thing we could do was suspend all travel. LISA DESJARDINS: The president’s plan has
other elements. He is likely to declare a national emergency,
which could free up more than $40 billion to help. He’s starting to give loans to small businesses
and asking Congress for $50 billion more to help them directly. And he wants Congress to pass a payroll tax
cut to boost the entire economy. But, on Capitol Hill, the focus is on a much
broader set of ideas proposed by House Democrats. REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): It’s about putting families
first. LISA DESJARDINS: Speaker Pelosi is hoping
to bring the White House on board Democrats’ unprecedented plan. It would give workers affected by the virus
two-thirds of their monthly pay, up to $4,000. Businesses would have to immediately provide
14 sick days to those affected. Small businesses would be reimbursed for that
cost. And it would fund $1 billion aimed in help
for food banks, low-income families facing school closures and meals for homebound seniors. REP. NANCY PELOSI: The house is on fire. People are concerned about their — of course,
their health and the health of their children. If they are losing their jobs because nobody’s
coming to the restaurant or whatever it is, then we have to be there with some help for
them. LISA DESJARDINS: But Republicans on the Hill
initially pushed back. REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): The bill that we saw
that just came forth last night at 11:00 p.m. comes up short. LISA DESJARDINS: House Republican Leader Kevin
McCarthy said the bill adds too much bureaucracy and that Republicans are wary of one piece
for workers, that it would require those 14 emergency sick days in any public health emergency,
not just this one. He asked that Congress stay in session this
week to work out a deal. REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY: We shouldn’t just take a rush
just because there is a bill. We want to make sure it works in the process
where we are going. LISA DESJARDINS: Just a few hours later, Senate
Majority Leader McConnell announced via Twitter he is canceling next week’s planned Senate
recess to stay in Washington and deal with the issue. Outside of the Capitol, more evidence of the
national shift, as presidential candidates spoke in studios, not before crowds. Former Vice President Biden was in Delaware,
laying out how he believes a president should approach this crisis. JOSEPH BIDEN (D), Presidential Candidate:
The White House should measure and report each day, each and every day, how many tests
have been ordered, how many tests have been completed, and how many have tested positive. By next week, the number of tests should be
in the millions, not the thousands. We should make every person in a nursing home
available for testing. Every senior center or vulnerable population
has to have easy access to the test. LISA DESJARDINS: His Democratic opponent,
Senator Bernie Sanders, also previewed how he would act as president, speaking in his
home state of Vermont. SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), Presidential Candidate:
We need also in this economic crisis to place an immediate moratorium on evictions, on foreclosures,
and on utility shutoffs, so that no one loses their home during this crisis and that everyone
has access to clean water, electricity, heat, and air conditioning. LISA DESJARDINS: Sunday’s debate between Biden
and Sanders has been moved from Phoenix, Arizona, to Washington, D.C., where it will be held
in a largely empty TV studio. JUDY WOODRUFF: And I’m back with Lisa, Yamiche,
and Nick. Hello again. So, Lisa, you did say a minute ago that the
White House, Congress close to a deal. Where do things stand right now? LISA DESJARDINS: All right, texting with sources
right now, I can tell you what looks like will be in this deal. And we expect the details of this tonight,
depending on any possible snags. First of all, it does look like temporary
sick leave, 14 days is the number they have been talking about, for anyone affected by
the coronavirus. And I want to stress that’s not just people
who are sick or quarantined. They’re talking about allowing that sick leave
for parents of children who may be home from school. So this is a broad category. Sick leave looks like it’s going to be in
here, temporarily, for this disease. Then, also, some kind of wage relief. They’re negotiating over the specifics now
for people who go without their salary, have to stay home for all of these reasons. What is not in here, Judy, is a permanent
kind of emergency sick leave. That’s something that Democrats wanted. That’s not going to be in here. What also is not in here, a payroll tax cut. We know the president wanted that. Yamiche has been reporting on it. Not going to be in here. And, Judy, I will tell you what the real fight
is here. It’s about the next bill. This bill is probably going to be easier,
dealing with people who are affected directly. The next bill will be about stimulating the
economy. That could come in a few weeks. And people on both sides, including the president,
are trying to keep leverage, because they want to get their ideas on the table in that
likely-to-be-larger deal. JUDY WOODRUFF: The kind of thing maybe Liz
Ann Sonders was pointing to that the investors are looking for. LISA DESJARDINS: That’s right. That’s right, the kind of big shock that the
economy might need. JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Yamiche, where is the White
House? How are they coming down on this negotiation
right now? YAMICHE ALCINDOR: The White House and White
House officials have been negotiating pretty much nonstop with Capitol Hill officials. And what I’m sensing from White House sources
is that the president is leaning towards signing whatever ends up on his desk, because he’s
desperate in some ways to show the American people, here’s what the government, the federal
government in particular, is doing for you. Now, he did say today that he’s settled on
using the Stafford Act. Now, that’s a national emergency bill that
would free up about $42.6 billion. But even with that bill and what he can do
unilaterally, what he’s looking for is for Congress to help him out and for Congress
to also have a bill that also does more than what he can do unilaterally. JUDY WOODRUFF: Now, you also you — Yamiche,
you were telling us, you have looked at — the White House is talking about the president’s
emergency powers, and basically the extent of his ability as president to make a difference
right now. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: That’s right. The president has limitations on what he can
do. But I will say that the president has been
saying a couple different things, including the fact that he might have restrictions on
domestic travel. Today,he was asked whether or not he might
consider doing something because California and Washington state were so hard-hit, I mean,
are some of the hot areas. He said, if areas become — quote — “too
hot,” that he might — he might think of making some sort of domestic travel restrictions. The other thing to note is that the president
himself is worried about whether or not he came into contact with anyone who might have
the current virus or COVID-19. We should show our audience a picture of the
president next to an aide to the president of Brazil. Here, there are reports that the president
of Brazil now has tested negative for the coronavirus. But that’s the president and the aide at Mar-a-Lago
just within the last week or so. So, there are real worries that the vice president
and the president might have been — might have had contact with these people. The White House, of course, is saying, though,
that they are not being tested, the president or vice president are not being tested. They say they have never had any sort of extended
interaction with people who have tested positive for the coronavirus. JUDY WOODRUFF: And that picture was just,
as you said, over the weekend in Florida, the president and the vice president? YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Yes, at Mar-a-Lago with
someone who has tested positive. JUDY WOODRUFF: Who has since tested positive. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Yes. JUDY WOODRUFF: So, we will see. So, Nick, the Pentagon, there’s been some
restrictions placed on the movement of U.S. military members. What’s going on here? NICK SCHIFRIN: Yes, so the U.S. government
can’t forbid U.S. citizens from traveling, but the Pentagon can control its own employees. And so for, active-duty, as well as civilians,
who work for the Department of Defense, as of tomorrow, they will be banned from traveling
to any country listed as level three. That not only includes places like China,
South Korea, Iran, and Italy, but also most of Europe as of last night. And service members won’t be allowed to travel
there even on non-official travel. The military also announced it’s scaling back
some of the major exercises over the next few months. And, really, the large story here, Judy, is
that the people, whether in the Defense Department or in the intelligence agencies, that are
charged with protecting the country are now fearing or having to worry about protecting
their own people from going to work. JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, some of them are based
in these countries, aren’t they? NICK SCHIFRIN: Some of them are based in these
countries, and they simply can’t leave, can’t go in or out any country labeled as level
three right now. JUDY WOODRUFF: Very quickly, Lisa, this is
a situation where we’re looking at Congress and the president and who’s doing the job
they need to be doing. LISA DESJARDINS: Right. And I have to say, in the last few days, I
have noticed that policy and real concern has seemed to override the politics that have
dominated the Capitol. There are still politics involved, Judy, but
it does seem like Congress has gotten the message in the last few days in a big way
that they need to act as leaders now. JUDY WOODRUFF: Everyone’s watching. Lisa Desjardins, Nick Schifrin, Yamiche Alcindor,
thank you all. NICK SCHIFRIN: Thank you. JUDY WOODRUFF: So, many Americans are talking
about their concerns over how the government is responding to the pandemic, the ability
to get testing, and how the U.S. response compares to other countries. Ashish Jha, who runs the Harvard Global Health
Institute, watches all this. And he joins me now. Dr. Jha, first of all, how do you size up
the way the U.S. has responded, compared to other countries, to this pandemic, this coronavirus
crisis? ®MD-BO¯ASHISH JHA, Director, Harvard Global
Health Institute: You know, Judy, the American response has been deeply disappointing. In almost every way, our response has been
far less effective than every other major country in the world. It’s baffling, actually. We have, in the CDC, arguably the best public
health agency in the world. All of us thought that the CDC was going to
— was prepared and was going to help fight this virus. The federal response has been a fiasco. JUDY WOODRUFF: And I want to, just for and
you for our audience, play again something we aired a few minutes ago. And this was an exchange with Anthony Fauci,
who is the — of course, who has been in charge of much of the treatment of infectious diseases
in this country. He was in a hearing on Capitol Hill today,
followed by something the president said today. Let’s listen. REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D-FL): There’s not
one person that can ensure that these tests can be administered, yes or no? 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. REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: A failing, yes. DR. ANTHONY FAUCI: It is a failing. Let’s admit it. REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: OK. DR. ANTHONY FAUCI: The idea of anybody getting
it easily, the way people in other countries are doing it, we’re not set up for that. DONALD TRUMP, President of the United States:
We have them very heavily tested. If an American is coming back or anybody’s
coming back, we’re testing. We have a tremendous testing setup where people
coming in have to be tested. JUDY WOODRUFF: Ashish Jha, what do you make
of this? ASHISH JHA: Well, of course, Dr. Tony Fauci
is right. It has been a failing. And what your viewers need to understand is,
if you get sick tomorrow with coronavirus, and you reach out to your doctor or you talk
to your doctor, and your doctor wants to test you for coronavirus, he or she can’t. Most doctors today cannot test people for
coronavirus, because we just don’t have the tests. Every other major country has figured out
how to do it. South Korea is testing 15,000 people a day. Across the European Union, people are getting
tests. Even Iran and Vietnam are testing more regularly
than we are. We have just managed to bungle this so incredibly
badly that most Americans cannot get the test they need. And, as Dr. Fauci said, it’s a failing. JUDY WOODRUFF: Who has dropped the ball here? ASHISH JHA: You know, it’s very hard to sort
out. The World Health Organization put together
a test kit; 60 countries accepted it. America decide to go its own way and not follow
the WHO test kit. That’s OK, because America has a strong track
record of developing its own test. And then it’s been one kind of debacle after
another. My best sense is that the administration has
not prioritized this. They have no sense of urgency over this. And when you look at what’s happening across
the country, with school closures, the NBA, and March Madness, all that being shut down,
it’s basically because we can’t test anybody. We have lost the most powerful tool we have
for fighting this disease. And so we’re having to resort to a whole lot
of other things. JUDY WOODRUFF: What is it going to take to
catch up? ASHISH JHA: Well, I still can’t quite figure
out why the testing — you know, last week, Vice President Pence said we’re going to have
a million tests available. I’m speaking to state health officials who
tell me that they’re rationing tests. They still can’t get the tests out to doctors
who need them. So there is some set of technical issues that
really need prioritization. And for us to not get really walloped by this
infection, we have to implement very kind of draconian, difficult measures, like shutting
down public meetings, like sending kids home, like ensuring people are not going to the
office or going out to restaurants or movies. We’re going to have to do all of that until
we really get a grip on the infection. JUDY WOODRUFF: But are you concerned where
we will get to a point where people will — who should be tested, who desperately need to
be diagnosed one way or another, won’t be, and this virus will go on for longer than
it should, and people will die as a result of that? ASHISH JHA: I think there is reason to be
concerned that’s already happening now. If today, I, as a physician, wanted to test
somebody that I was worried might have coronavirus, I can’t, generally, largely. Most Americans can’t get that test who need
it. And, you know, the doubling time of this disease
is six days. And another way of thinking about it is, my
guess is, about 10,000 Americans probably have the infection today. Officially, it’s only about 1,400, but my
best guess is 5,000 to 10,000 Americans. That number is going to double in six days. It’s going to double again in another six
days. And until we get widespread testing available,
we’re not going to be able to wrap our arms around this. And I think all of us in the public health
community are baffled that we, the most sort of innovative, ingenious country, with all
this scientific capacity, have not been able to do this. It’s really a failing of federal leadership. JUDY WOODRUFF: And just in a few seconds,
the number of hospital beds available? ASHISH JHA: Yes, this is something that we
have been looking at and are very worried. If the infection rates spike, we don’t have
enough hospital beds to take care of everybody. And so that’s the reason for this social distancing
of trying to spread the infection out, so that not everybody gets infected at once. I think, if we can do that, our hospitals,
some of the best hospitals in the world, I think are going to be able to accommodate
infected people. But we really have to make sure that we’re
not seeing spikes in infection, and that we’re spreading the infection out over time, so
the health care system can manage this. I’m optimistic, but it’s not going to be easy. It’s going to require a lot of work. JUDY WOODRUFF: Dr. Ashish Jha of Harvard’s
Global Health school, we thank you very much. ASHISH JHA: Thank you so much for having me. JUDY WOODRUFF: In the days other news: The
U.S. military confirmed three American service members died in a rocket attack north of Baghdad. The strike happened yesterday at a military
camp in Taji. The Iraqi government has launched an investigation. In Washington, the head of the U.S. Central
Command told a Senate panel the attack bore the markings of Iranian-backed proxy forces. GEN. FRANK MCKENZIE, Commander, U.S. Central Command:
I will note that the Iranian proxy group Kataib Hezbollah is the only group known to have
previously conducted an indirect-fire attack of this scale against U.S. and coalition forces
in Iraq. While periods of decreased tension may provide
the illusion of a return normalcy, ample intelligence and, indeed, yesterday’s actions indicate
the Iranian regime’s desire to continue malign activities that threaten lives. JUDY WOODRUFF: U.S. Defense Secretary Mark
Esper threatened retaliation against the proxy group, and said — quote — “You don’t get
to kill and wound Americans and get away with it.” A federal judge in Virginia has ordered former
Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to be released from prison. She was being held for refusing to cooperate
with a grand jury probe into the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks. Her lawyers say that Manning had been receiving
medical treatment for an apparent suicide attempt yesterday. At least five people have died in widespread
flooding across Egypt. Thunderstorms bombarded Cairo, as cars struggled
to drive through overflowing streets. Authorities said at least one victim died
when strong winds flipped his vehicle. Government officials said at least five other
people were injured, including a child. And the torch-lighting ceremony for this Summer
Tokyo Olympic Games went ahead today, as planned, even as other sporting groups announced suspensions
over the COVID-19 pandemic. In Olympia, Greece, the birthplace of the
Games, an actress playing a pagan priestess lit the flame during a small ceremony that
was held without spectators. Officials in Japan said that, for now, the
competition is still on. YOSHIRO MORI, President, Tokyo 2020 Olympic
Games (through translator): We are not thinking of changing directions nor changing plans
at all. Now is a time when everyone is making effort
toward one direction. There is no room for thoughts that are negative
or pessimistic. JUDY WOODRUFF: Today, President Trump said
that officials should consider delaying the Games until next year. The opening ceremony in Tokyo is set for July
24. Still to come on the “NewsHour”: despite a
decisive ballot measure, the full right to vote remains elusive for ex-felons in Florida;
and 85-year-old Lucile Day gives her Brief But Spectacular take on the joy of living. Florida was one of only a few states that
banned felons from voting for life, until 2018, when a majority of Floridians passed
an initiative giving felons who had served their sentences the right to vote back. It was a major victory for voting rights. But as Stephanie Sy reports, the implementation
has been fraught with legal battles and confusion. CORAL NICHOLS, Formerly Incarcerated: So,
I was just looking at this picture. It was actually the day that I was released
from prison. STEPHANIE SY: Coral Nichols was 23 years old
when she went to prison for financial fraud. What was it like in prison? CORAL NICHOLS: A lot of harassment, a lot
of male guards being in places they shouldn’t be. STEPHANIE SY: After serving a four-and-a-half
year sentence, she was released into a world she barely recognized. CORAL NICHOLS: What are people going to think
of me? How are they going to see me? Will I ever live past this? STEPHANIE SY: Today, Coral, now 41, runs a
nonprofit organization that helps other people grappling with the challenges of life after
prison. And while criminal justice advocates like
to call them returning citizens, not all their rights as citizens are returned to them. CORAL NICHOLS: I am a free individual inside
and out, but I am not free to cast a vote right now. I am continually reminded by society that
I am a felon. STEPHANIE SY: Florida used to be one of the
only states to ban former felons from voting for life. But in the 2018 midterms, two-thirds of Florida
voters decided to automatically restore the voting rights to former felons who had completed
their sentences. It excluded those convicted of murder or a
felony sexual offense. DESMOND MEADE, Florida Rights Restoration
Coalition: We showed the entire world that, in spite of our racial differences, in spite
of our political differences, that we could come together as human beings and move major
policy. STEPHANIE SY: With Florida home to a full
quarter of all former felons in the country, the act promised to enfranchise some 1.4 million
people, including Desmond Meade. A former felon himself, he was a driving force
behind getting Amendment 4 on the ballot. But more than a year after its passage, his
job is not finished. DESMOND MEADE: To see the spirit of Amendment
4 get pulled down into the mud of partisan back and forth and legal maneuvering and all
of that, it is kind of disheartening. STEPHANIE SY: The legal maneuvering started
soon after the ballot measure passed, when Republicans in the Florida Statehouse passed
legislation saying that only those former felons who paid off all fines and fees would
be eligible to vote, leaving folks like Coral Nichols wondering whether they’d ever get
their vote back. The judge ordered you to pay how much in restitution? CORAL NICHOLS: A hundred and ninety thousand
dollars. STEPHANIE SY: How much of that have you paid? CORAL NICHOLS: I’m down to $180,000, so $10,000
of that. STEPHANIE SY: State Representative Jamie Grant
is chairman of the Criminal Justice Subcommittee. He wrote the bill focusing on these financial
obligations. JAMIE GRANT (R), Florida State Representative:
Fines, fees, costs, restitution, all of that is part of a sentence in the state of Florida. So, I believe in restoration and redemption,
but I also believe in fidelity to our constitution. STEPHANIE SY: Grant says he also included
in the bill a way for former felons to get their fees waived. But opponents, including groups now suing
the state of Florida, say the new requirements amount to a poll tax and are themselves unconstitutional. In October, a federal judge blocked the rule. On Martin Luther King Jr. Day in January, Desmond Meade and the Florida
Rights Restoration Coalition marched in a parade in St. Petersburg, Florida. People in the crowd who voted for Amendment
4 over a year ago said they’d seen it as a straightforward mandate. ILANA GOOTSON, Florida Voter: The people’s
will is that they wanted it to be as easy as possible, because they believed their rights
should be restored. STEPHANIE SY: In some districts, local officials
are taking matters into their own hands, like Hillsborough County state attorney Andrew
Warren. Warren is working with the Florida Rights
Restoration Coalition to help returning citizens through the process of getting their fees
waived. ANDREW WARREN, Hillsborough County State Attorney:
We’re committed to fulfilling the will of voters. They said very clearly they wanted Amendment
4. And since there is nothing to implement Amendment
4 from what the legislature did, it falls to us. And that’s exactly what we’re doing. STEPHANIE SY: But most Florida counties have
yet to set up pathways to restore voting rights. Back at the parade, Desmond Meade isn’t letting
the setback slow him down. What’s driving you right now? Like, it seems like you want to get to as
many people as possible. DESMOND MEADE: You know it. That’s right. You know, I tell you, we’re running into people
who don’t even know Amendment 4 is passed. STEPHANIE SY: Brenda Purnell Morris is a volunteer
with Meade’s group. BRENDA PURNELL MORRIS, Florida Rights Restoration
Coalition: My husband. I’m directly impacted. So, it was very hard to be married to a felon. STEPHANIE SY: So has his right to vote been
restored now? BRENDA PURNELL MORRIS: Yes, and he has his
voter registration card. And I am so happy for him. STEPHANIE SY: Many of the folks we have talked
to here at the MLK Day Parade in St. Petersburg say the challenges to Amendment 4 are just
the latest attempt to suppress the African-American vote. While the majority of former felons in Florida
are white, black people were disproportionately affected by the ban, and black voters have
overwhelmingly backed Democrats. In this key swing state, any move that could
alter the electorate is seen as political. President Trump won Florida by just over 100,000
votes in 2016. In Bush vs. Gore, just a few hundred votes
made the difference. But if politics does explain why returning
citizens now face another hurdle to vote in Florida, Coral Nichols challenges the logic. CORAL NICHOLS: There’s this misconception
that every felon is a Democrat and that, if we all register to vote, that this — that
the state will swing and we will become a Democrat state. And it’s far from the truth. STEPHANIE SY: You’re a Republican. CORAL NICHOLS: I am a registered Republican. STEPHANIE SY: The only thing clear is the
confusion. And, so far, it is estimated only 50,000 former
felons have registered to vote. Desmond Meade is among them. DESMOND MEADE: Well, I know, on Election Day,
I’m probably going to cry. Yes, I believe it’s less about me voting and
more about that people now have an opportunity to vote where opportunity didn’t exist a couple
of years ago. STEPHANIE SY: For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m
Stephanie Sy in St. Petersburg, Florida. JUDY WOODRUFF: And we will be back shortly
with a Brief But Spectacular take on the joy of living. But, first, take a moment to hear from your
local PBS station. It’s a chance to offer your support, which
helps to keep programs like ours on the air. For years, rural and small towns have been
experiencing a brain drain, as some of their most talented young people move to more urban
areas. But recent census data has shown that millennials,
those born between 1981 and 1996, are increasingly choosing to live in suburbs and smaller cities. In this encore look, Jeffrey Brown traveled
to Montana to hear why. KAROLINE ROSE, CEO, KRose Cattle Company:
I have to talk strategy with you for a minute. JEFFREY BROWN: For Karoline Rose, it’s just
another day at the office. KAROLINE ROSE: Fall 2020 production sale. You click, and it pulls up. JEFFREY BROWN: The 27-year-old is the founder
of a digital consulting and agricultural marketing company near Toston, Montana, population 108. KAROLINE ROSE: The town of Toston isn’t much. If you blink, you kind of miss it. JEFFREY BROWN: Not a typical setting for a
millennial CEO, perhaps, but with clients across much of rural America, she’s not only
surviving, but thriving, in a place where cows outnumber people. Rose started KRose Company in 2015 and began
using social media to do what her family has always done, sell cattle. KAROLINE ROSE: So we listed them, and they
sold it in about six minutes. And I called my dad on the phone and I said,
I have something. And I was actually the first company to sell
cattle on social media that we know of. JEFFREY BROWN: But her dad, John Rose, who
has been in this business in Montana since the 1980s, was initially skeptical. JOHN ROSE, Montana Rancher: Agriculture’s
still very much a handshake business. And she came home and said, we’re just going
to put them on Facebook or the Internet, and we’re going to sell cattle. I said, that — there’s no way that’s going
to happen. I said, it just is not what agriculture in
the West is. And she said, oh, yes, we can do that. JEFFREY BROWN: Karoline’s success is no surprise
to Ben Winchester, a researcher at the University of Minnesota. He’s been documenting rural population trends
for more than 25 years and says young adults are increasingly coming to these areas for
the cheaper cost of living and new opportunities. BEN WINCHESTER, University of Minnesota: You
can be a doctor in a rural community. You can be an editor for a newspaper in a
rural community. You can be a book publisher. You can be electrical engineer. While not every town will have that diversity
of employment or occupation, when you start putting together five to seven counties, you
have got the same diversity in a rural region that you find in the metropolitan area. JEFFREY BROWN: And according to the latest
census data, millennials are no longer finding metropolitan areas as attractive as they once
did. Collectively, large U.S. cities lost nearly
30,000 millennials in 2018, the fourth consecutive year the population of young adults declined. And it’s not just millennials. A 2018 Gallup poll found that, while 80 percent
of all Americans live in urban areas, rural life is most desired. All this is fueling migration to places like
Bozeman, Montana, now one of the fastest growing small cities in the nation. Dr. Meghan Johnston grew up in Montana and
settled in Bozeman after finishing her residency in Seattle. DR. MEGHAN JOHNSTON, Montana: I live five minutes
from here. My day care is five minutes from here. So I can run out of here at 5:20. I can pick up my kids and go home for dinner
and be home at 5:35. And I know my good friends that live in Seattle
that, logistically, is so much more challenging. So, I think the quality of life here is just
— it’s just easier. JEFFREY BROWN: Dr. Johnston also trains medical
students like Ezekiel Sharples, who has another reason for staying. Nearly 80 percent of rural America is classified
as medically underserved, and Sharples says his hometown of Chinook in Northern Montana
remains without a doctor. EZEKIEL SHARPLES, Medical Student: Almost
everywhere in Montana is like that. All these small towns are either single-physician
or no-physician towns. And so kind of that experience growing up
gave me this drive to go back and kind of be part of solving that issue, I guess. JEFFREY BROWN: Ben Winchester sees a pattern. BEN WINCHESTER: So, millennials especially,
they’re starting to hit the same trends that we had seen in other generations, which is,
again, as you age and you start to gain some stability, that you start to question some
of the facts of your life. JEFFREY BROWN: Of course, moving to a more
rural life hardly guarantees success. BEN WINCHESTER: Well, you have some towns
that — quote, unquote — “succeed” and other towns that fail. And what we find is that really the biggest
differential in communities is social capital. And it is, how well do people work together? JEFFREY BROWN: Another factor, cultural life. Bozeman may not have the nightly high-profile
music and arts scene of a larger city, but it does have Live From the Divide. JASON WICKENS, Singer-Songwriter: Started
with the intention of just creating a place for songwriters to have a place where they
could play their songs and people would respect that, but listen. JEFFREY BROWN: Thirty-five-year-old Jason
Wickens is a singer-songwriter from Central Montana. He lived briefly in Nashville, but decided
to come back home, and now runs a music venue, where national touring acts can play to small,
intimate crowds. So, when did you realize that you could give
it a go here in Montana? JASON WICKENS: If you’re in Nashville or New
York or L.A., it is hard. Like, I would say it’s a lot harder, depending
on what your… JEFFREY BROWN: Harder because it’s expensive? JASON WICKENS: It’s expensive. It’s way more cutthroat. You have to really be a hustler. And there’s nothing wrong with any of those
things. For me, I just — I had no interest in even
trying to make it work there, because I wanted to be back in the culture that inspired me
in my music and to do the things I wanted to do. JEFFREY BROWN: Back on her family’s ranch,
Karoline Rose says she’s now buying, selling and marketing cattle to more than 300 clients
in 12 states. And she has this advice for those who might
want to try making it in places like this: KAROLINE ROSE: It’s really important that,
when you move into rural America, that you get out and you know the community and you
show up, but also that you’re different, and you bring your skills and your knowledge to
the table, because that’s what we need and that’s what we’re looking for. JEFFREY BROWN: For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m
Jeffrey Brown in Montana. JUDY WOODRUFF: Tonight’s Brief But Spectacular
comes from Lucile Day of Greenville, Florida. A town of 800 people, 33 percent of Greenville
residents live below the poverty line. But even amid hard times, Day remains optimistic
about the sense of community that has prevailed. We thought her spirit and wisdom would be
welcome after a very unsettling week and day of news. LUCILE DAY, Greenville, Florida: As a child,
I went to a segregated school. My reaction has always been to feel sorry
for the person who is discriminating against somebody. I felt that they were missing something in
their lives. I would always try, well, why is that person
feeling that way? Well, what’s wrong? I feel so sorry for that person. He can’t get it right. That’s just my reaction. I don’t mind telling you how old I am. I am so proud to be 85. I live in Greenville, Florida. The land that I’m living on, we moved here
in 1939. I was 5 years old. My grandparents planted this garlic, so you
know it’s been here a very long time. I enjoy working in the garden, watching things
grow. This is where I get plenty of exercise. I feel at least 16 years old. I get around as I always did. I’m able to drive places and climb places. This is where the fun stuff — I call this
area my backyard spa. You can choose your own exercise equipment. And should you want to cut some logs, I have,
and will show you how to use my chain saw. But best of all is seeing the smiles on people’s
face when I give them my veggies. This is part of my breakfast foods. (LAUGHTER) MAN: Can we try one? LUCILE DAY: Yes. You’re welcome. Don’t have really, really worries. I know where to take my worries. I do have some concerns. I’m concerned about our young people. One night, I was I in bed reading. I heard a click coming from the carport, went
to the door, turned on the light. Lo and behold, there was a familiar face looking
at me. This is the side of the car the young man
was trying to get into. And when I flipped on the light, he kind of
dodged that way. I went out and talked to that familiar face. You know you have done something wrong, and
that’s not the way you were raised. We don’t do that to each other. I gave him an opportunity to jump the fence
and leave, because I could see that this young man needed a change. He still calls me. And to this day, I have never told anyone
his name. Mothers would ask: Was it my son? Was it my son? I’m not telling. I’m not telling. Still don’t tell. My work ethics have come from my grandparents,
my family, and my community, which I call the village. If you’re going to do something, then do it
right. If there is a secret to aging, this is it:
Do the best you can when you can. Treat your body and your mind right. Treat other people like you want to be treated
and enjoy life. My theory is, many times, we already have
what we are seeking for if we just look within. My name is Lucile Day. This is my Brief But Spectacular take on the
joy of living. JUDY WOODRUFF: And, boy, did we need to hear
that. Thank you, Lucile. And you can find all our Brief But Spectacular
segments online at PBS.org/NewsHour/Brief. On the “NewsHour” online right now: We answer
a major question in this crisis these days, as public health experts warn that a lagging
number of coronavirus tests means that the U.S. is far behind in controlling the spread
of the disease. We examine why more people aren’t getting
tested. That’s on our Web site, PBS.org/NewsHour. And that’s the “NewsHour” for tonight. I’m Judy Woodruff. Join us online and again here tomorrow evening. For all of us at the “PBS NewsHour,” thank
you, and we’ll see you soon.

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