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Schumer Walks Back Threatening Words Against Supreme Court Justices; Dr. James Phillips Discusses Why He Expects to Be Infected with Coronavirus & How that Will Impact Patient Care; Number of Promised Coronavirus Kits Falls Short; Rep. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) Discusses Trump Administration Falling Short on Promised Test Kits & Schumer's Threatening Words Against Supreme Court Justices; Stories of Survival Emerge in Tennessee as Cleanup Begins. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired March 5, 2020 - 13:30   ET



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Now, granted, they didn't say anything that could easily be interpreted as a threat, but I just wonder, how is the chief justice navigating all of this?

ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT REPORTER: He's got to be really careful, right? Remember back in 2018, when President Trump came after some judges, particularly after one of his opinions went the wrong way, we did see the chief come forward. He issued a rebuke. He said, "We're not Obama judges, we're not Bush judges." But when the president went after Sotomayor and Ginsburg, the chief said nothing.

But you have to think he looks at it this way. He says, OK, I can't weigh in every single time, but maybe the comments against Sotomayor were based on an opinion. And maybe these comments against Gorsuch and Kavanaugh were almost like a threat to their safety. I think that's where he decided to draw the line.

But it's going to be difficult because the president doesn't seem like he's going to ease up on these attacks any time soon. Remember, the attorney general asked him to stop attacking judges and he continues.

So Roberts is going to have to draw a really fine line here, and it may not be easy because this term is filled with so many blockbuster cases.

KEILAR: It's a hallmark of President Trump attacking justices. He's been doing it for years now.

Thank you so much, Ariane.

Emergency room doctors are on the front lines in this fight against the coronavirus. I'll speak to one who said he expects to become infected. The impacts that could have on patient care.

Plus, after pledging to have one million coronavirus testing kits available by the end of the week, the Trump administration is now saying that is not going to happen.



KEILAR: Coronavirus cases are increasing around the world, including right here in the U.S., where there are now more than 170 confirmed cases. This is the number that keeps rising. In fact, it's risen in the course of this show. And so does the demand for medical professionals who are needed to fight the virus to help these patients.

Joining us now is Dr. James Phillips. He is a physician and assistant professor at George Washington University Hospital

And you are an emergency room doctor. So you are really on the front lines right now. You've been seeing patients. You wrote an op-ed on where you said you expect to get the coronavirus. Explain this to us.

DR. JAMES PHILLIPS, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL: The reason I made such a bold statement -- and it's gotten a lot of attention -- is because it's reality.

So the chances of getting the virus are a function of how close you are to people who have it and how long you're in that environment.

It's not just me. It's not just physicians. Our nursing staff and nurses, globally, and particularly in the United States where we're starting to see the spread, they're taking the greatest risks.

We really need to remember our nursing staff, our technicians, our EMS and all those folks. But just being in that proximity of the virus puts us at great risk.

KEILAR: You have patients coming in now who are worried about it even though as of now there's no known case in their communities. What are they coming in saying?

PHILLIPS: That's a great question. We refer to those folks as the worried well. An example would be after anthrax. Hospitals in the D.C. area saw a huge influx of patients coming in concerned that they may have been exposed to anthrax after those attacks.

So just like right now, people watch the news, and they talk to their friends, and they're hearing there may be an asymptomatic spread in their community. They get a sniffle, they get a cough, and even if they don't meet all those symptoms the CDC recommends that they have to get screened, they're still coming in because they're concerned.

KEILAR: So what do you do?

PHILLIPS: Well, we try to avoid those visits, because those are the things that can overwhelm our system.

In medicine in America, we're doing our best and we're the best in the world. But we're already close to capacity almost every day where it's hard to get a doctor's visit. There are waiting times in the emergency department.

And when you start adding more and more patients to that mix, especially if they don't necessarily need to be there, that means other people are waiting with serious conditions.

KEILAR: So if you get sick, do you stay home? Who replaces you?

PHILLIPS: That's a tough question. Let me be clear. I don't want this virus. I'm going to wear PPE like it was recommended to me --



PHILLIPS: Sorry, it's the protective equipment we wear in the emergency department and ambulances to help prevent the spread of viruses like this.

I worked overnight in the emergency department last night and made sure that me and my medical students, who are going through training, they put the masks on appropriately. It's kind of tricky. And doing those types of things.

But despite wearing that stuff, there's still a good chance a lot of us are going to get sick. We've seen that in the studies in China.

What happens when you go down, when I get that disease? Chances are, medically, I'm going to do fine. I'm young and healthy so far. But how long do I have to be out of work before I'm no longer contagious. We don't have that information yet.

Maybe my fever only lasts a few days and my cough is minor. But do I have to be out of work for 14 or 21 days before I can come back?

KEILAR: Explain that. If it's minor, which you expect there are a lot of people who are going to have minor symptoms --


KEILAR: -- they're not going to end up with severe pneumonia. They're not going to die. But if you have minor symptoms, it doesn't mean that you can't pass that on to someone who will have the major symptoms.

PHILLIPS: That is the key point here. Everyone is obviously focused on about getting the disease and getting this virus that causes symptoms. What we know from the studies overseas is that the majority of people have very minor symptoms, maybe not at all.


But it doesn't mean you're not contagious. I can't go back to work if I'm actively shedding virus, as we say. Because that person who is coming in with abdominal pain, the appendicitis guy I saw this morning, he doesn't need to get this. If I'm spreading that to him, that's a problem. We're working on some ideas right now where I work to take the work

force, the doctors and the nurses and the paramedics who get COVID-19 but are recovering, how can we still keep you in the fight? Because we'll be stir-crazy at home with all these patients that need help.

So why can't we work through telemedicine? Why can't I be home in my robe eating chicken soup, but on my iPad, visiting patient through the Internet, who are also at home in robes having chicken soup?



PHILLIPS: Additionally, why can't I screen people coming into the emergency department in the same type of way?

If this really starts to spread and we see floors of hospitals specifically designated to COVID-19 patients and they're all positive, why can't I be there working on them if I'm already recovering but maybe --


KEILAR: That's a very interesting.

We're certainly looking forward to seeing some of the things that you guys come up with.

Dr. James Phillips, we really appreciate your insights.

PHILLIPS: Thanks for having me.

KEILAR: The Trump administration promised to have a million coronavirus test kits available by the end of the week, but that's not going to happen. Plus, the test kits that have been sent may not be immediately ready. It may be a week or two.

This information was revealed in a briefing with the Senate Homeland Security Committee.

Democratic New Hampshire Senator, Maggie Hassan, who is a Democrat, serves on this committee as well as the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. And she's also the former governor of New Hampshire.

Senator, thank you for being with us today.

SEN. MAGGIE HASSAN (D-NH): Thank you for having me on, Brianna.

KEILAR: You asked about test availability at the briefing. What kind of timeline were you given?

HASSAN: It's important for people to understand, first of all, that there are a couple different kind of test kits that the administration is talking about.

There are kits they are sending out to public health labs. They say there's about 75,000 tests available through public health labs.

Then there's kits that are being developed by the commercial sector. That will be enough kits to do ultimately about a million tests. But they will be shipped, they say, at the end of this week, then you have to train people on how to use them, and you have to validate the test.

So it's going to be several days once commercial labs get these tests for them to actually be able to administer them. And then obviously you can't administer a hundred tests all at once. This is 2500 kits, each one of which can do 500 tests. And I'm told by doctors we still need to do two tests per patient. So

it's really important.

And what I was trying to emphasize this morning is that the administration develop a timeline so the health care community, our doctors, our clinics, our hospitals and the public, know when there will be more testing available and where they can get it.

Because I don't want people to have the impression that magically this weekend, all of a sudden, everybody who thinks they may need to get tested can immediately get tested.

KEILAR: Well, and to that point, the vice president said anyone who wants a test should be able to get one, especially if they are experiencing symptoms. I mean, especially if they are experiencing symptoms.

But we just heard from an emergency room doctor, who said there's a problem with people coming in and wanting to be tested, and really they do not need to be tested.

Where do you think this disconnect is between what the administration says should be happening and what actually is happening?

HASSAN: Well, I can't speak to the way members of the administration are characterizing various points. I can say that their communications should be fact and evidence based, informed by experts.

And what the experts are telling us in multiple briefings is that if people have symptoms of a respiratory infection, cough, flu, that kind of thing, they should call their health care provider, who can then make a determination about how ill the person is, if the person has underlying medical conditions, what their age is, and how urgent their need for a test is.

And that's what we're trying to urge people to do so that we don't overwhelm the health care system with everybody showing up at once.

And we make sure that the testing is being done on the highest priority patients, the people who are most vulnerable for any number of reasons, or people, for instance, who are in the health care work force. And we need this information, obviously, about them.


So what's really important here is that the administration be clear, be fact and science based, and give people timelines --


KEILAR: It's sort of what you're diplomatically saying, you don't think they're being fact based?

HASSAN: I've been frustrated because I heard in briefings the administration say, for instance, there will be a million tests available at the end of the week. And when we pushed and asked, we drilled down on it.

Again, what we're trying to emphasize with the administration is how important it is to be clear from the perspective of the citizen at home trying to figure out what they're supposed to do if they get symptoms.

KEILAR: I want to switch topics for a moment. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is being criticized for saying that Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch will, quote, "pay the price," end quote, for their decisions concerning a Louisiana abortion access law. A short time ago, he said he misspoke. He said he shouldn't have used those words.

When you're looking at the rhetoric, do you worry that some people in your party are starting to use the same kind of language they criticize President Trump for?

HASSAN: I certainly think Senator Schumer shouldn't have used that language and I'm glad he acknowledged that today on the floor.

We need to stay focused on coming together in our response, for instance, to the coronavirus, we are working across party lines.

I was just in New Hampshire on Monday. The whole congressional delegation, which happens to be Democratic, with our Republican governor and public health officials, we were working together to make sure that we are getting the resources we need and communicating to our public about what they need to be doing and how they can get help if they need it.

And that's what I think Americans expect from all of their leaders. And that's what I think we need to stay focused on, the priorities of the American people and working together to address them.

KEILAR: Senator Maggie Hassan, thank you.

HASSAN: Thank you.

KEILAR: And back to our breaking news now. Senator Elizabeth Warren dropping out of the 2020 presidential race. The focus shifting to who will get her endorsement, if anyone.

Plus, in the aftermath of the deadly tornados in Tennessee, incredible stories of survival from those who experienced them firsthand.


KEILAR: Incredible stories of survival are starting to come out of Tennessee after deadly tornados ripped across several counties killing 24 people. Among the victims are young children and families. National Guard members are on the ground assisting with recovery efforts.

But what we're also learning is that while families are starting to pick up the pieces of what used to be their homes, neighbors are doing anything they can to help.

CNN's Nick Valencia has more.


NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We are beginning to hear just incredible stories of survival.

And we're joined now by not just a resident but also a first responder, Traci Brown.

You live in this neighborhood. You have some incredible stories. First, I want you to tell us about this tree here.

TRACI BROWN, TORNADO SURVIVOR & FIRST RESPONDER: This tree is one of the first trees in our neighborhood. It's about 600 years old. This was the old Eller Farm, that's why we're named Eller Plantation. The tree is the staple of the neighborhood because it's the largest, biggest tree we have.

VALENCIA: Just uprooted just like that.

BROWN: It's gone, and it's unbelievable that it's gone.

VALENCIA: It's unreal.

BROWN: It's huge.

VALENCIA: So you have these unreal stories here and specifically about what happened here to the resident, Raymond, you said? What happened?

BROWN: So Ray lives here in this house, and when we looked out of our house to their house and saw his house was gone, we started searching immediately for him and making sure his children isn't here. His bedroom -- it's a split foyer home, and his bedroom is on the back side of the home. And we found him about 100 feet that way in that garage.

VALENCIA: Oh, my gosh.

And he survived that?

BROWN: He survived it. He was impaled through the garage door. That's where we found him. He's alive. He was treated and he's home I think. We don't know the extent of his injuries. We do know he had a broken arm. VALENCIA: As far as you know -- that was a very serious injury. As far

as you know, were there any people that died here?

BROWN: Not that I'm aware of. We did head counts and everybody was accounted for. We don't think anyone died here. Just seriously injured and homes.

VALENCIA: Your home, it's fully intact, but it turned into like a triage center or a first responders station.

BROWN: Yes, we treated --


VALENCIA: The one with the blue tarp right there?

BROWN: It's a gray tarp. And of course, that's my husband walking.

That's my house. And we turned it into the command center, and we doctored abrasions, scrapes, bruises, bumps, glass in the feet. We just tried to do as much help as we could. And of course, we have a storm shelter so we put everybody downstairs.

VALENCIA: What was it like? What was it like?

BROWN: It was cold. It was wet. It was scary. The unknown, we just didn't know what was going to happen. And where do we begin? Where do we start over? What do we do next?

VALENCIA: That's it, the long road ahead of recovery. At the very least, you have your life and you have to be very grateful for that.

BROWN: We're very grateful, for family, friends, and everybody involved. We're very grateful.

VALENCIA: Thank you so much for joining us.


KEILAR: Our thanks to Nick Valencia on the ground there in Putnam County, Tennessee.

Coronavirus fears impacting the economy with the airlines cutting back flights. And the Dow dropping about 900 points. Senators are now working on an $8 billion emergency funding package to combat the virus.


Plus, health officials last year performed a simulation of a high- level pandemic in a global outbreak. We will speak with someone who was there. Hear what happened.


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Hi, there. And thank you so much for being with me. I'm Brooke Baldwin. You're watching CNN.

We start with fast-moving developments in the coronavirus outbreak right here in the United States. And 179 cases as we begin this broadcast.


In California, another cruise ship is not being allowed to dock so that federal health officials can screen the people on board.