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More Nursing Home Residents & Workers With Virus Symptoms; Dr. Daniel Kuritzkes Answers Your Coronavirus Questions; Booker Endorses Biden & Where Other Ex-Rivals Have Put Support. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired March 9, 2020 - 13:30   ET




BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: The coronavirus outbreak at one nursing home in Washington State is being called a sentinel event, an unexpected event that results in death or injury and is not related to a patient's underlying medical state.

Doctors are warning that the elderly, who are among the most vulnerable, really need to be protected. The Life Care Senior Center in Kirkland, which is outside of Seattle, has become the U.S. epicenter of this pandemic, accounting for more than 70 percent of the coronavirus deaths in the country.

And now we are learning that more residents and workers are showing virus symptoms, however, family members are saying they are being left in the dark as their loved ones live in fear.


SUSAN HANLEY, LIFE CARE CENTER PATIENT (voice-over): All these people. You just don't know who's going to die next.

CARMEN GRAY, MOTHER LIVES AT LIFE CARE CENTER: I am angry and frustrated and I am anxious and I am scared.

PAT HERRICK, MOTHER DIED AT LIFE CARE CENTER: My mom love to give roses to each one of the mothers in this place, including the staff members on the staff, every Mother's Day. She loved to make sure -- make sure they got Christmas gifts.

As far as we knew, she wasn't sick. So I was surprised.


KEILAR: Joining me now is Lori Spencer. Her mom is currently a patient at that Life Care Center at Washington State where she recently got tested for the coronavirus.

Lori, I think -- are you still waiting for the diagnosis? And tell us how she's doing and how you are doing.

LORI SPENCER, MOTHER LIVES AT LIFE CARE CENTER: We are losing a lot of sleep and we're very worried and frustrated. We feel trapped in the situation we are in.

And she was tested yesterday morning just after a week of being told that she would not be tested unless she exhibited symptoMs. I can tell that people close to her are the ones been going to the hospital. And --

KEILAR: Those who are close to her, meaning these are friends of hers, people she's associated with a lot?

SPENCER: Well, what happened is, when we learned the facility was being closed down, a week ago, Saturday, the facility at Life Care out an e-mail to all of the family members. And they, unfortunately for them, did not do a blind copy and they gave us an e-mail of every family member.

This is a lifeline of family members to stay in touch with each other. We are all sharing information about what we're learning, what's happening with our loved ones, what room they're in, who's going to the hospital, who's passed away, what's we're being told, what's not being done. This is how we are getting the best information right now.


KEILAR: They said your mom would not be tested if she shows symptoMs. Did she end up showing symptoms or were they just testing her anyways?

SPENCER: There were some local government officials who put word out that we should all get help getting tested and then the facility came back and said as soon as they can get test, if they can do so.

My mom got her test yesterday but nobody told me. I had to find out from my mother who said two people on hazmat type uniforms, looking like they had just been to Mars, came into her room and swabbed her.

I am relying on information from an 81-years-old who does not communicate well.

KEILAR: OK. That's very frustrating.

One of the other things that's frustrating is you said your mom was admitted to the facility after it sent patient out for coronavirus testing. Do you know if those tests were positive when you had your mom admitted here?

SPENCER: No, that's not information that's not forthcoming from Life Care. She was admitted on the 26th.


SPENCER: By Saturday, we got the phone call that the facility was being locked down but I don't know the date.

KEILAR: So you've got this frustration and you had communication issues. Thank goodness for the snafu, right, where they BCC everybody and you now know each other and can talk to each other.


KEILAR: But I know -- yes. And normally, you don't want your e-mail out there but this was a good mistake when it comes to your situation and those of other family members.

You have a lot of other concerns, though. Let's start with the issue of hygiene. Tell us your concern with your mom in this facility.

SPENCER: She has had one shower since she's been there since the 26th. She gets some sort of kit. She describes it as something you may give a soldier in the field to give use in her bed to wash with.

I checked my mother in there because she has mobility issues after her surgery. And by the -- she's the one that informed me, she graduated and passed her test, and no one needed to come to her room to help her anymore.

I wanted to hear someone from the facility, why is this happening, can we have better communications. It has been a string of snafus trying to get information.

And currently, I have been waiting for a call back on concern I have for another blood clot with my mother. I got so frustrated with the communication channel that changed as of yesterday and is still not working, that I got in my car and drove down there and had to look at my mother through the window to see the swelling on her legs that I can understand the status.

KEILAR: So you say you're trying to communicate, are you leaving a message? What is the communication like with the facility?

SPENCER: OK. To start with, they decided to set up a communication, first, from their Tennessee office, that would call each day with the status of your loved ones. That is person could reach out information to you.

And each time that I talked to that person in Tennessee, I asked, please have a status on why my mother is being released on self- mobility. I'm afraid she's going to fall down. Can I get some information on her status? Then, I would not get a call back.

He would call again the next night. And then I would try and get more information.

I have had one good session with a sequence of people with the facility on Friday to arrest my concerns about another blood clot forming, wanting to hear back on whether we can transport my mother out for a test.

I was told normally they would bring someone in for a test but physicians won't come to Life Care currently. It is not a good place for people to come and it would be difficult for her to get the test at the hospital because they're overflowing.

I have been waiting for a call back. I tried the family direct number yesterday and I got someone at public health who did not know how to help me or even how to route my call. She says I should call the facility directly and, if I could not get through, she would escalate to a public-health person on-site. That's not helpful.

I called the facility directly. I got put on hold. I got in my car and I went down there to see my mother through the window.

KEILAR: Lori --


KEILAR: -- I mean, I can't imagine the frustration you are going through. But I know you are not alone. You and other family members are dealing with this with folks there at Life Care.

Thank you so much. We'll keep on talking with you to see how things are going. This is so important that we focus on this.

Lori Spencer, thank you.


SPENCER: You're welcome.

KEILAR: We are thinking of you and your mom and your entire family as well.

Next, we'll answer some questions that you have, including what medicine you show have in your house. How do you self-quarantine? What's the difference between symptoms of coronavirus and symptoms of a cold?

Also, should the president and his two Democratic challengers, who are all over 70 years old, change their behavior when it comes to campaigning?



KEILAR: Most health officials agree coronavirus is spread from person to person, folks who are in close contact, within 6-feet apart. And this means rallies, concerts, church services, sporting events, essentially any place that has a crowd. This raises the question, should these big events be cancelled.

I want to bring in Dr. Daniel Kuritzkes. He is the chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Brigham and Women's Hospital.

Doctor, what do you think? Should these events be cancelled or is that jumping the gun?

DR. DANIEL KURITZKES, CHIEF, DIVISION OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES, BRIGHAM AND WOMEN'S HOSPITAL: I think cancelling events right now is jumping the gun. I think it depends very much on the circumstances and individual locations. And these are decisions that really need to be made by the local health authorities. And individuals can make decisions about whether it is wise for them

to participate in events if they have some predisposing conditions or if they are elderly or having under line heart and lung disease. They may think twice about going to some of these events.

But to really recommend that we stop having concerts or that people don't show up at sporting events, I think, is something that has to come from local health authorities.

KEILAR: We know folks who have been in touch and others that have been exposed have been asked to self-quarantine. What does that entail?

KURITZKES: Self quarantine really means taking responsibilities yourself and ensuring that you are not in contact with other people and risk spreading the virus to people who are not yet infected.

For most people, that means staying at home. And ideally having other people drop off things like food and other supplies for you. But not venturing out of the house. And to the extent possible, within a household, keeping yourself separate from other members of the household so as not to infect them.

KEILAR: OK. Thank you so much for answering that. Because we have a lot of folks who have been wondering.

We also have viewers questions as well. One is this. Since most cases are mild, how do we know if we have a cold or coronavirus?

KURITZKES: That's really the big challenge that we all face as clinicians as well. The symptoms of mild coronavirus infection are really no different than the symptoms of a cold or even of mild influenza.

I think, right now, what we are saying is people we would be concerned about are those who would be traveling to a country that's a high-risk country, who had been contact with somebody who has been diagnosed with coronavirus.

That's one of the reasons we may be missing other people who don't fall into one of those categories and have the very mild disease. And I'm being told, until testing is more wildly available, it's going to be harder to catch every last case.

KEILAR: Of course, there's no vaccine here. There's no cure. But folks want to know how they should prepare for this. One of our viewers asked, what medicine should we have in our prep kits? What should you tell viewers should they be ready if this does come to their house?

KURITZKES: Since there's no specific treatment for coronavirus, then the way to treat yourself, if you end up with mild disease in self- quarantine, is the same way you would treat a cold.

You want to take Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen if you have a fever and muscles aches and pains. You want to make sure to stay well hydrated, get plenty of rest. If you have a lot of nasal congestion and pressure in the sinuses, sometimes hot shower or having a dehumidifier or putting your head -- draping your head in a towel and sitting over a bowl of hot water can provide some symptomatic relief.

It is those home remedies that are going to be the most useful for the vast majority of people.

KEILAR: So important to remind people of their cold health care.

Dr. Daniel Kuritzkes, thank you for joining us.

KURITZKES: My pleasure.


So you're looking at live pictures off the coast of California where the "Grand Princess" cruise ship is set to dock moments from now. Thousands of passengers will be going to military bases across to the U.S. where they'll be quarantined.


KEILAR: One day before the Super Tuesday sequel, former Democratic rival, Senator Cory Booker announcing he's backing Joe Biden.

Chris Cillizza joining us now.

So, Chris, Booker is just the latest ex-rival to endorse Biden. But there's been several others.

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER & CNN EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Yes, that's right, Brianna. It's been an absolute wave since Super Tuesday. This is the Booker endorsement. We know that happened.

Let's go to the next screen because this is what's really important. This is where you start to see the disparity in who has endorsed whom. The Biden list is, basically, everyone who ran for president, short of Marianne Williamson, who hasn't endorsed Bernie Sanders.

In the undecided list, this is the one I'm focusing on. Sure, you'd be glad to have Kirsten Gillibrand's endorsement, or John Hickenlooper, Castro, et cetera. But Elizabeth Warren's endorsement might actually mean something, particularly if it goes to Sanders.


The story line right now is not good for Bernie Sanders. Joe Biden won Super Tuesday in a way no one expected that he would and going to have a delegate lead coming out of it. Michigan, a poll that just came out before I went on air, shows Biden with a big lead there.

So he needs to change the momentum and dynamic. This is one thing that might be able to do it -- Brianna?

KEILAR: All right, Chris Cillizza, thank you.

Moments from now, passengers onboard the virus-stricken cruise ship arriving to be quarantined. Live pictures coming just outside of Oakland, California. Stand by for that. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)