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Doctors Brace For Worldwide Epidemics As Coronavirus Cases Surge; Tornado Hits Nashville, At Least 19 Killed Statewide; Mike Bloomberg Faces First Test In Super Tuesday States. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired March 3, 2020 - 11:30   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: There is new concerns about the impact from the coronavirus outbreak and how it could reach far and wide around the globe.

This morning, Japan's official in charge of the Olympics, said the Tokyo games scheduled for this summer could be postponed until later this year. This as the number of coronavirus cases continues to rise around the world and in the United States. At least 12 states now have confirmed cases. And that is on top of the Americans who contracted the disease aboard the Diamond Princess Cruise Ship in Japan that we talked so much about at the very beginning of all of this.

Some of those patients from the cruise ship remain under quarantine at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, a facility that specializes in the treatment of infectious diseases.

Joining me right now is the Medical Director and Infection Control Chief for Infectious Diseases at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, Dr. Mark Rupp. Doctor thank you for your time.


BOLDUAN: You have a unique perspective here. You and your team are some of the relatively few doctors in the country right now who have treated coronavirus patients. You had 13 of the coronavirus -- 13 of the Diamond Princess passengers tested positive were in your care. Can you give people some window into what the treatments have been like?

RUPP: Well, unfortunately, currently, there is no approved vaccine or treatment for coronavirus, and therefore, it is really important that with these initial patients that we try to learn as much as we can from them. And so we're proud of the fact that we have a clinical trial that is up and running here testing remdesivir, which is an antiviral agent. This trial is being led by one of our faculty, Dr. Andre Khalil, in close conjunction with the NIH. And so we're trying to gain some information to find out if this medication works.

BOLDUAN: Any clue on that front? Because Dr. Anthony Fauci of NIH, he talked about kind of the promises of these clinical trials on these treatments. Any clue yet on how promising the treatment might be? Obviously, it is, you know, months out before you have the results.

RUPP: Well, interestingly, this is a drug that was developed and tested initially against Ebola. It was found to be safe but not very effective against Ebola. But in additional tests it was found to be showing some efficacy against MERS and SARS, other coronaviruses. So we're hopeful that it will have activity against the COVID-19 agent.

Again, this is a very important trial. It's being done hopefully in multiple centers. We were the first to come online. And we're hoping that we're going to gain some very useful information initially as this outbreak continues and be able to hopefully offer people a medication that will help them.

BOLDUAN: What's your, if you could, best guess on timing for a conclusive -- a conclusion on this, on the trials?

RUPP: Well, this trial has been really nicely designed so that it is an adaptive trial, where it will go under evaluation at multiple points during the trial, additional agents could be potentially added to the trial if there appears to be something else that is coming online that is effective. And so we're hopeful that within a few months, we'll be able to get some very, very useful information.

BOLDUAN: That is really promising. I'll tell you, obviously, we have been getting and -- I can only imagine the questions you get -- but we have been getting a flood of questions from just people who are concerned about what the coronavirus means for them and for their families.


Can you help us as a doctor who has been treating patients with coronavirus, what are the range of symptoms that these patients have exhibited?

RUPP: Well, you know, I think that everybody needs to take a deep breath and realize this is not some sort of existential threat against human kind. That in the next year, you know, a quarter, a third of us are not going to die like the Black Death. On the other hand, we do need to take it very serious and be prepared for it.

The symptoms range everywhere from very mild disease, just a simple cold-like illness, upper respiratory infection, all the way up through lower respiratory infection, pneumonia, and as your viewers know, even death. We are finding that more people have the very mild disease rather than the severe aspects of the disease.

And those that seem to have worse outcome are those who are a little older in age and those with underlying co-morbid events, so cardio- respiratory disease, immune suppressive disorders. The things that, you know, people are used to thinking about as predictive of poor outcome with influenza. Very much the same with this coronavirus.

BOLDUAN: Dr. Rupp, you and your team, thank you so much for the work you've done and the work and the risks that you take every day in your treatments and in your work. We really appreciate you coming on on. Much more to come, thank you very much.

RUPP: You're very welcome, thank you.

BOLDUAN: Still ahead for us, we're following developments in Tennessee after the deadly tornadoes ripped through the state overnight. We're getting an update coming in. We'll be right back with that.



BOLDUAN: Back to the breaking news out of Tennessee. The death toll this morning from the severe storm system that struck overnight jumping to 19 people. 19 people killed and at least 14 of those killed were in Putnam County, about 80 miles east of Nashville. You can see the devastation and the images that have been coming in all morning.

Let's get the very latest. Joining me right now is Chief William Swann. He's a Director of the National Office of Fire and Emergency Management. Chief SWANN, can you hear me?


BOLDUAN: Thank you very much for jumping on. I appreciate it. The latest we've heard is that that the death toll has rose to 19 this morning. Is that the latest or do you expect it to rise more?

SWANN: Well, and let me be clear that 19 is throughout the State of Tennessee to where our head count right now is. Davidson County, we've got two confirmed personnel that lost their lives. And we have one critical. But at this moment, we're still actually -- we're still actually making assessments, urban search and rescue teams are going into highly debrised area, where a lot of damage was done to make door-to-door assessments. We did aerial view and mapped out where the devastation and the line of the tornado went through. So we're still making assessments. But Davidson County, in my area, my county, we have a two confirmed.

BOLDUAN: From what you're hearing coordination with all of the other emergency management across the state, what is the status of search and rescue? I can only imagine with the devastation that I'm seeing just from images coming in that you're in the beginnings of it, not the end.

SWANN: Absolutely. And once the storm actually hit, we immediately had our teams out trying to make -- we operate off of the LIC (ph) method, which is life safety, infinite stabilization and proper constipation (ph) and we do it in that order. So once the storm initially hit in, it was dark, we -- early hours of the morning, it was just really trying to get people that we knew that was trapped out of these harm's way and then put a temporary shelter in place.

Now, that we're getting a little bit of more arms wrapped around of the actual damage, we can make a little bit more assessment of what areas that we need to really concentrate on, make sure we have shelters in place for people that, of course, don't have a place to stay. It's a long process but one that takes a collective effort from everybody in the city.

We've activated our Office of Emergency Management, which is the EOC, and we have all the parties here to be able to collectively together make a sound decision in order to make the city still be able to go on as a daily journey.

Of course, today is voting day, so we got a lot of things that we're sort of challenged against. But, again, we're just working harder to keep everybody safe and still move forward.

BOLDUAN: Yes. I mean, what is your message to folks in your county and beyond right now when they're looking at this kind of devastation, they're dealing with devastation maybe in their own home and in their own family? We're talking about Election Day. I mean, what's your message to folks right now?

SWANN: Well, our message is pretty simple. I mean, if you're at home and, it's a safe environment, that's where you need to stay. We know our local state and nonessential personnel even for metropolitan government, they have a day off, and others, if you have to go to work or just to make sure that you check the -- your path of entry in and out of the city.


Because at this point, we have so much debris, power outages and, of course, we have a lot of downed trees, downed power lines, and then we have a lot of people who want to volunteer.

So we're trying to establish and we do have those outlets where people can volunteer their time in a collective effort in more of a structured way to go out into the communities and actually help move debris. We just don't want anyone doing it independently.

Again, we've got these things established through our city. We're actually putting it out on all the social media outlets and the local news where they can call in to actually volunteer their time, because it is much needed.

BOLDUAN: Do you fear that the death toll is going to rise? It stands in your counting at two. But do you fear that it's it is going to go up?

SWANN: Well, I'm an optimistic type person. I'm praying and hoping that it doesn't. But, again, we're just making those assessments as time -- as we speak right now. So we just got through the aerial view to get a bird's-eye view of our county, we're actually putting the map together now. We got teams that is going to be going out to certain areas that we know that maybe there was no communication where there may be somebody trapped or displaced.

So we're just going to hope that the number doesn't increase. But, again, we're just hoping that with everybody's effort and working as one unit, we'll be able to make this a little bit more fluid.

BOLDUAN: Yes, Director, thank you for jumping on and really appreciate the time in such a busy day for you. I really appreciate it.

SWANN: All right, thank you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much. We'll be right back.



BOLDUAN: For Mike Bloomberg, it all comes down to today. He's appearing on the ballot for the first time after skipping over early voting states, and unusual strategy, yes, and he is betting on it big, spending more than $234 million on ads in Super Tuesday states. Is that investment going to pay off?

Joining me right now, Co-Chair of the Bloomberg Campaign, former Mayor of Philadelphia, Michael Nutter. Thanks for coming in, Mayor.


BOLDUAN: So, Mayor Bloomberg has spent big, so much money, millions and millions of dollars in ads in the Super Tuesday states. What is that money going to get him tonight?

NUTTER: Well, it certainly has raised his not only name recognition, but also a whole lot more people know about his record as mayor of New York, three times successful mayor, a businessperson who created a company after being fired from his previous employee, as well as a philanthropist who has given a way millions and millions of dollars to all kinds of causes that Democrats and Republicans and independents care about.

And so when you start a race like this one, not that many people actually know a great deal about whoever is the mayor of New York at any point in time, and so we play a bit of catch-up. A lot of people know who Mike Bloomberg is today. We'll have, I think, a very successful Super Tuesday. It's our first time on the ballot, as you mentioned, and then before you know it, it will be March 10th and all the other races in March, April, May and June.

BOLDUAN: And on and on it goes.

The reporting from the Bloomberg campaign this morning is they expect a strong finish in Virginia, in North Carolina, in Arkansas, in Kansas. What is a strong finish though?

NUTTER: Well, we do expect to win some contests today, and then, you know, this is -- two things going on, as you well know, Kate. There is the vote certainly by the citizens, but there also is the delegate count, which gets a little more complicated than just a straight-out vote. And so you're trying to certainly maximize your vote in the respective states that we're running in, all 14 plus American Samoa and Democrats abroad. But at the same time, you're trying to accumulate delegates.

At the end of the day, it is about the big 1,991 delegates that you need to become straight out, the Democratic nominee. And so there's a race within races, so there two races going on literally at the same time.

BOLDUAN: But, Mayor, with as much money as Bloomberg has spent on Super Tuesday, one question is, how do you make the case that Bloomberg is the only one who can beat Donald Trump if you don't come up with a big delegate haul after today, forgetting the multiple Super Tuesdays we have coming up the rest of this month?

NUTTER: Well, I'm sure the rest of the states would not like us to forget all those Super Tuesdays and the contests to come. And so that's why, you know, you run in as many states as possible. The race for us has literally just begun, and it is about accumulating those delegates. So today will be the day, and before you know it, it will be March 10th.

BOLDUAN: But if things turn out poorly, do you need to reassess after today if you don't pull off a big delegate haul?

NUTTER: I think every campaign reassesses and -- assesses and reassesses every Tuesday or whenever there is a contest for those that may be voting on Saturday or something like that. You see where you are, plot the new or additional change, tactical strategy for the next contest coming up. So, you know, I mean this is -- I mean, you know sports as well as I do. You know, you don't completely figure out the game in the first quart or the first few minutes. It's a concept series of adjustments.

BOLDUAN: Let us see after -- at least after today. Mayor, thanks for coming in.

NUTTER: Thank you, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Good luck today.

We do have some sad news that we need to pass along to you. About a legendary member of the CNN family.


Former Anchor Bobbie Battista, has passed. She was one of the original CNN Headline News Anchors, appearing when the network first launched in 1981, a dedicated thoughtful journalist. Battista's career at CNN span two decades. She was also an innovator, hosting CNN's first interactive talk show, Talkback Live.


BOBBIE BATISTA, FORMER CNN ANCHOR: All right, we will start again. You're welcome to Talkback Live. America speaks out.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BOLDUAN: Battista, passed away this morning after a four-year battle with cervical cancer. Our thoughts and prayers go out to her family during this difficult time. She will be sorely missed. Bobbie Battista was 67 years old. We'll be back.