CNN: Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) speaks with CNN’s Don Lemon on the eve of Super Tuesday about how she would combat the global spread of the novel coronavirus if she was elected president.
LEMON: Let’s move on from the race and talk about the — the coronavirus– WARREN: Sure. LEMON: — crisis. And the numbers are updated every so often– WARREN: Yeah. LEMON: — but, as of now — as of now, as we’re speaking, six Americans have died from the virus. And the cases are now surfacing here on the East Coast where I am. If you were president, what actions would you take to contain the virus? WARREN: So, actually, I’ve been putting out plans about this for a while now. And the key plans right now is, first of all, we need to make testing for the virus free. And as soon as we get a vaccine, we need to guarantee everyone that it will also be available free. We need to set aside federal money so anyone who is quarantined is — actually still gets paid for work. And the reason for that is that we want to make sure that everybody gets tested, gets vaccines, stays home if they’re sick. Because that’s going to help make all of us safer. We need to be supporting all of our public health infrastructure, but we need to be taking concrete steps right now. The second part that we need to acknowledge about this virus is it has — it has terrible public health implications, but it also has economic implications. The fact that supply lines are now being disrupted, say, from China, where manufacturers in the United States can’t get parts, can’t get materials to make certain drugs, this is going to have effects in the U.S. that’s going to echo over to Europe and back again. People could be laid off. We could see a lot of economic dislocation. So I think this is the time that we put the money aside for a stimulus. We reassure the markets the money’s going to be there. And we call on the Fed to open the window for lending to corporations, to businesses that suffer disruptions during the virus if they will agree not to lay people off. This is — this is — you’ve got to act now. Because this thing is gaining steam. Look, we should have acted weeks ago, months ago, on this. But this thing is gaining steam. And we need to get ahead of it, both on the public health front and on the economic front. That’s what leadership is about. And that’s what being governed by science is about, about good planning, instead of a president who just seems to be engaged in magical thinking. And I’m very worried right now for our country. LEMON: You just said — you just said economic– WARREN: We need to get started. LEMON: You just said economic dislocation. But you have said that you were worried that the — it might cause economic — an economic crisis. Are you worried that people will lose jobs? WARREN: Yes. Yes. I am very worried about this. Look, our economy already was showing real cracks. I was talking about this six, eight months ago. We were seeing small business lending defaults go up, a lot of problems within the economy itself. And I said at the time, a few minor shocks could cause the economy to start to break apart — or one major shock. Well, the coronavirus looks like it is going to be the major shock. The– LEMON: So what do you do to prevent job loss? WARREN: We have to be — well, part of what we can do is what I just said. You do this by doing stimulus, so there’s other business going on in the United States. You put more money into circulation. And the other part is to do what we did during the 2008 crisis, when the Fed very quietly opened the lending window so that, at very low interest rates, banks could borrow money in order to keep money in circulation and to support themselves. We need to do that for businesses that are counting on those supply chains. And those supply chains are now badly disrupted. And they can’t work. We don’t want to see those businesses suddenly contracting and laying people off. We have economic tools. We don’t have as many as we should have because the Trump administration has already lowered interest rates, has already done a big, big tax cut. And that’s — that’s, kind of, backed us up to the wall. But we need to use the economic tools we have and we need to start now, before this crisis gets out of hand, both as a public health crisis and as an economic crisis.