Return to Transcripts main page


New York Governor Mandates One-Mile Containment Zone in New Rochelle; Interview with New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson on Coronavirus Containment Efforts; Washington State to Ban Events of 250 Plus People; Number of Cases in Massachusetts Double in One Day; American in Georgia with Coronavirus Speaks to CNN from Quarantined Hospital Room. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired March 11, 2020 - 09:00   ET



JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: A good Wednesday morning to you. I'm Jim Sciutto.


The nation's top infectious disease expert says the infections will come no matter where you live. The big question this morning, are we as a country ready?

Dr. Anthony Fauci testifying on the hill in moments as coronavirus cases in the U.S. top 1,000.

SCIUTTO: An entire New York City suburb set to be under containment. The National Guard is now moving in to help there. More than a dozen states have declared states of emergency. Massachusetts seeing a surge in cases, so is Washington state. Look at the map there. The governor there plans to ban any gatherings now larger than 250 people. This according to the "Seattle Times."

HARLOW: And more schools and universities closing this morning, moving classes online, sporting events be held without spectators.

The "Wall Street Journal" reports the Trump administration is likely to push back the April 15th tax filing deadline.

This outbreak is moving fast and the fallout just as quickly.

SCIUTTO: Listen. We're going to bring you all the information as we have and our team is covering this pandemic across the country. Let's begin with CNN national correspondent Brynn Gingras. She is in New Rochelle.

Brynn, this is one of the most remarkable steps we've seen so far in this country. Tell us what led to this and where things stand now.

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jim and Poppy, good morning. We're already seeing the effects of that containment zone this morning. Some of the schools here in New Rochelle are shut down. Places of worship are closed and we are going to start seeing the National Guard come in to provide assistance to this town. All in an effort to contain the virus in this community which the governor says may be the largest cluster in the entire United States.

Now we are about a mile and a half from the center of that containment zone, a temple where we know a 50-year-old New Rochelle resident attended a service before even knowing that he had the virus. But we know after that positive test the case sort of multiplied after that. And so really the effort again here is to contain the virus. Officials really warning, though, this is a containment zone, this is not a lockdown.

That means people will be able to go in and out of the zone over the next two-week period. The idea here really is to not have large gatherings. We've been talking to a lot of people in this town, mixed feelings, some people actually live in that containment zone told me that they're just going to go about life as is. Others say they wish to see even more measures being taken.

Keep in mind, guys, thousands of people are under quarantine here in this town in New Rochelle.

HARLOW: It is remarkable. We're glad you're outside of that zone reporting to us. Thank you very much.

So the city of New Rochelle will be under what they're calling this containment zone for a while. They have had more than 100 coronavirus cases so far and they are trying to prevent potentially many more. And New York Governor Andrew Cuomo explained the reasoning last hour right here on "NEW DAY."


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): Just no large gatherings in that area because it is the hot spot in the nation. We really need to take more aggressive actions. This is not going away on its own. The spread is not going to stop on its own. It is fully dependent on what we do. We're going to make our own destiny. And like it or not, we're going to have to make some tough decisions.


SCIUTTO: New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson joins us now.

And Mayor, we appreciate you taking the time. We know you have a lot on your plate there. Just to be clear for folks at home, it's a containment zone. There aren't walls going up around the community there.

HARLOW: Right.

SCIUTTO: But you are taking unique and aggressive measures to try to control this. Tell us how you came to that decision, that this was necessary. MAYOR NOAM BRAMSON, NEW ROCHELLE, NEW YORK: Well, it is very important

to be clear about what this is and what it's not. Within the containment zone, large gatherings are prohibited. This has an effect on large institutions like schools and houses of worship. It is not a restriction on individuals. It is not a restriction on businesses. There's no prohibition on coming or leaving to the containment zone.

I happen to live in the containment zone myself. But these are commonsense measures to help mitigate the spread of the virus in an area where we know there's a high prevalence of those who have tested positive.

HARLOW: Can you talk about where you think this goes from here, Mayor? Because we heard Dr. Fauci say over the weekend that like Italy, it is a possibility that some cities in America could be quarantined. Not probable, but not off the table. You know, where is your head on that, on any potential quarantine of your city?

BRAMSON: Well, two weeks ago I would not have predicted that I'd be having a conversation like this.


BRAMSON: And so I think it's foolhardy to make predictions with any confidence. We know that this is a situation that is evolving not only by the day but by the hour. We hope and expect that the measures that had been put in place thanks to the leadership of the governor will be helpful in mitigating the spread of the virus and helping make sure that especially we protect the most vulnerable populations, seniors, those who have compromised immune conditions, preexisting respiratory conditions.


And I'm proud of the way that our community has risen to the occasion. People are taking direction from public health professionals and supporting their neighbors. And reacting in a way that is measured and calm and proportionate to the challenge that is before us.


BRAMSON: We'll see where it goes from here. And we will continue taking direction from the public health authorities who are in the best position because of their expertise to make sound judgments for our community and for other communities.

SCIUTTO: Mayor, I want to ask you a question. Because a big challenge for communities around the country has been getting a handle on exactly how many people have been infected. We've been told that tests are available to everybody, that's in fact not the experience of virtually everyone here.

Are you confident you know how many people in your community have now contracted this? If not, do you have the capability, do you have the test kids there, are you getting them so that you can do so? So you can say, we know X number of people, we can advise them to take steps on their own, et cetera?

BRAMSON: Well, the good news is that the state has really focused its testing attention on New Rochelle, hundreds of people have been tested, additional testing capacity is going to be present in our community including automated testing capacity. So we expect that our ability to monitor the spread of the disease will be substantially augmented in the days ahead.

The bad news is that New Rochelle is suffering from the same public health failure that everyone in America is suffering from. We know that there has been a real lack of leadership at the national level in terms of making sure that our testing capacity is equal to the challenge. And you know the old line, you can't manage what you can't measure.

HARLOW: Yes. Yes.

BRAMSON: And so our inability to get a full handle on exactly how widespread the coronavirus is, is absolutely hampering public health efforts to contain it.

HARLOW: Yes. No question. I mean, we've seen how effective it has been in some other countries that have done so many tests, like South Korea, for example, and I think everyone just wants to know, if I need to test now, can I get it right now and can I get it at any doctor's office and they just don't know that yet.

Mayor, thank you and good luck.

BRAMSON: Glad to be with you and thank you.

HARLOW: So now to Washington state, and the reported ban that it sounds like will soon be in place there for crowds of 250 people or more. Omar Jimenez is in Seattle.

What do we know officially at this point?

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Poppy, right now we know the "Seattle Times" is reporting that Washington governor Jay Inslee is set to announce a ban or a restriction rather on gatherings of more than 250 people in at least three different counties, which of course includes the Seattle area here. And these would be specifically aimed at sporting events, concerts, other cultural events that would typically bring a crowd of that size.

Now these would be among the latest measures we have seen government officials here in Washington take to try and slow down the spread of the coronavirus, and one of the populations that's almost been rampant is in the most vulnerable, the elderly and those with underlying health conditions. You look at -- we know at least at this moment that at least 10 long-term care facilities in just the Seattle area alone are now reporting either an employee and/or a resident that has tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

Twenty-one deaths across those 10 locations and at least 19 stemming from one single location. That one in Kirkland, Washington. And of the roughly a thousand cases we've seen across the country, more than a fifth stem from the state, so some of these measures being taken here in Washington may be a sign of things to come elsewhere -- Poppy.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Listen, the measures being taken across the state there are not unlike what we're seeing in New Rochelle.


SCIUTTO: They're not calling it a containment zone there, but --

HARLOW: Right. Right.

SCIUTTO: Listen, communities are struggling with this.

Omar Jimenez, thanks very much.

Let's go now to Massachusetts. There the number of coronavirus cases is nearly doubling in just one day. CNN's Athena Jones joins us from Boston.

Athena, I'm curious, how are they establishing that, right? You know, how scientifically are they applying testing there so they can get a handle on this, or is it kind of happening organically because they're testing at one location and those numbers are doubling?

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it appears they're testing at several locates. These numbers are coming from state public health officials, as you mentioned, 51 new cases bringing the state total to 92. 70 of those 92 cases are related to a meeting held here at this hotel last month by Biogen, which is a biotech company based in Cambridge. The "Boston Herald" reporting that almost 200 managers from all around the world including Italy were in attendance at that conference.

Now last week Biogen announced that three people who were at the conference tested positive for the virus, and so any employee who was there is now being directed to work from home for two weeks. But now cases traced to that meeting are being reported state wide and beyond. For instance, resident from Indiana who tested positive last week for the coronavirus had traveled to Boston for business and had come into contact with individuals who were attending that very Biogen conference.


This is according to Indiana public health authorities. Biogen spokesperson tells the "Boston Globe" that at the time of the meeting, we were absolutely following national guidance on travel and in-person meetings.

But, guys, this is just highlighting how this virus can spread and the challenges facing communities in trying to halt this spread of the virus -- Jim, Poppy.

HARLOW: One hundred percent, Athena, that number, 70 cases out of one conference of just a few hundred folks is so telling. SCIUTTO: And they were following the national guidelines there.

HARLOW: At that point, right?


HARLOW: Athena, thank you.

Still to come, living with coronavirus.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, didn't look good. Didn't look good for a while. It's been a hard road.


HARLOW: We're going to speak to a man who's been diagnosed with the virus. How's he doing? What does recovery look like? He will be with us from his quarantined hospital room next.

SCIUTTO: As he says, it's a tough road for many. Plus, other big story we're following today, sweeping series of victories for Joe Biden. Huge wins in key states such as Michigan, putting him firmly in the front-runner's spot for the Democratic nomination. The big question this morning, what comes next for Bernie Sanders?



SCIUTTO: So you've heard from some that coronavirus is just like the flu. Let's talk to someone who is experiencing it right now. Clay Bentley is living with coronavirus, he's currently under quarantine in a hospital room in Rome, Georgia, just outside Atlanta. He recently posted this message to his loved ones.




Didn't look good for a while. It's been a hard road. But I'm here to tell you that when you got the word of God to stand on, there ain't no weapon formed against you can prosper. A lot of people contact me, let me know that they're praying, you just don't know what that means.


HARLOW: Wow. Clay Bentley is with us now live, from Cisco, his hospital room, he's under quarantine right now. We're also joined by Dr. Carlos Del Rio; professor of Medicine and Global Health at Emory University. Clay, we're just so glad that you turned the corner. Can you tell us how you're doing this morning? BENTLEY: Well, I think I've turned a corner. I think I'm improving,

getting better. It's been a long road. But I'm getting through it. I'm improving daily.

SCIUTTO: Tell us -- tell us --


SCIUTTO: Clay, if you can, how the hospital first reacted with your symptoms, et cetera and how quickly they tested you. Because it's our understanding that they sent you home before testing you, and you came back a few days later. How did that -- how did that go down?

BENTLEY: I came to the hospital last Monday, really sick, so they kept me in the hospital all day, ran tests, ran flu, put fluids through me all day. They asked me if I had been out of the country, if I've been to China, different places in the world and I told them, no. So, they said, well, the flu is coming back negative, so it doesn't mean you don't have the flu, they're just not a 100 percent.

So, we're just going to send you home. So they sent me home on Monday. Well, I progressively got worse over the next few days. And I wound up coming, but, well, I wound up calling the hospital on Friday morning. And I said I feel like you just sent me home to die, I said I'm getting worse. I'm getting worse.


BENTLEY: So, you know, they told me to come immediately back to the hospital. So once I got back to the hospital, then they started realizing that I probably have the coronavirus. And they got in touch with the CDC, they started doing tests, and it all came back positive. So, you know, the thing that they talk about being out of the country is one of the indicators of needing a test.

HARLOW: Yes --

BENTLEY: You know, I don't go anywhere. I'm retired, so --

HARLOW: Clay, we see obviously that you have some oxygen helping you.


HARLOW: Right, can you talk to us about the treatment that they have given you since they did confirm that you had coronavirus? What did the hospital do for you?

BENTLEY: Well, I have -- both my lungs are -- I can't think straight. Both my lungs -- have fluid in my lungs, and so they have been giving me medications for it -- pneumonia, I'm sorry. I got viral pneumonia in both my lungs. So they have been giving me fluids for that and giving me antibiotics. It's breathing treatments. And, you know, they're trying all kinds of stuff to get me feeling better, so --

HARLOW: Yes -- BENTLEY: It's starting to come around. But, you know, my message is,

you know, I'm a man of God, I'll just tell you, I'm a man of God, and I believe in faith. And if anybody has more reason to be upset or uptight, it should have been me because I feel like I got this virus -- I was at a church, singing in a church choir with over 100 people, and this is where I contacted this virus.


And, you know, I just felt like the enemy was -- you know, he wants to take -- he wants to -- he wants to take us out. He wants to -- he wants to take us out. But -- and Lord told me, you know, that weapons will be formed against me, you know, these things will come and they have come. And, you know, in my past, but the Lord also says no weapon formed against me can prosper, you know.

That he'd give us power to overcome these things that come against us. So, you know, we've got to realize who our enemy is. And --

SCIUTTO: OK, Dr. Del Rio, we have Dr. Del Rio with us here as well. I wonder what this case -- and there are many cases like this around the country tells us about how hospitals are responding to cases like this. So someone like Clay comes in with these symptoms, he's sent home, right, and he has to call to come back. Are hospitals not yet prepared to identify potential cases here, and do they now have the ability to do so?

Are they changing their restrictions, their responses, do they have the test kits, what can we learn from this?

CARLOS DEL RIO, PROFESSOR OF MEDICINE & GLOBAL HEALTH, EMORY UNIVERSITY: Good morning, Jim, and Poppy. I think we can learn a lot, and I -- first of all, I want to say to Mr. Bentley, wish him he recovers. I think what we have here is a lot of things that we all need to pay attention to.

Number one is that hospitals are not ready yet, and they're not ready simply because we have very little access to testing. And I think the lack of access to testing is a major hurdle in addressing this.

I think the people at the hospital thought about this from day one, likely, but they probably -- you know, again, he was not within what the recommendations were at that point for testing. What the case of Mr. Bentley shows us is that there is community transmission already happening, and I think we need to recognize in all our communities that community transmission is happening.

That travel history is no longer of significance, and the fact that we have significant community transmission is not just happening in Washington State --

HARLOW: Yes --

DEL RIO: In New York, it's happening throughout the country. And we need to be aware. And I think --

HARLOW: Yes --

DEL RIO: The lack of access to testing continues to be a barrier to taking care of patients efficiently and rapidly.

HARLOW: Exactly to that point, Clay, back to you, as we understand it, your wife is a flight attendant. Is she --

BENTLEY: Yes, she is --

HARLOW: Currently -- is she currently flying, and has she been tested?

BENTLEY: They have put her on quarantine at her house. She can't fly because she's been in contact with me. She has not been sick, and she does fly, but she flies up and down the coast, she don't fly out of the country. But you know, that don't necessarily mean that she hasn't flown with somebody on a plane that's been out of the country.


BENTLEY: It just means she -- you know, she personally flies up and down the coast. So, I mean, you know, it could have come through that too. So -- but, no, she's under quarantine, she can't fly. She's under quarantine for a couple of weeks at home. So --

HARLOW: But --


HARLOW: She has not been tested, that's right?

BENTLEY: She has not. She has not been tested. And, you know, I've wondered why? Why would they not test my wife? I mean --

HARLOW: Yes --

BENTLEY: That should have been done, I think.

SCIUTTO: So, Dr. Del Rio, you hear that case there, you say hospitals are not ready. They don't have the testing capability. Why? What is happening? Who is failing here to have a uniform response across the country so you can help --

DEL RIO: There was --

SCIUTTO: Identify cases early like Clay's.

DEL RIO: There was a lot of failure, there's been a lot of mishap in the developing of tests by the CDC, and the way the FDA and other regulations -- when the president declared this a national emergency, it activated a series of regulations by the -- by the FDA that prevented what we call laboratory-developed tests --

HARLOW: Right --

DEL RIO: So laboratories were unable to develop tests, that -- changing that regulation is now moving forward, but again, we are behind the eight ball. And I think --

HARLOW: Yes --

DEL RIO: Catching up is not going to be easy. We're trying to, but I tell you, that the testing capabilities are not where they need to be --

HARLOW: Yes --

DEL RIO: And even though tests are now being distributed from CDC to all the states, states are --

HARLOW: Yes --

DEL RIO: Simply not yet ready to test hundreds of people. I can tell you that I know states where the limitation is, maybe 50 tests a day. So they still need to limit testing for people who want tests --

SCIUTTO: Fifty tests a day? Goodness.

HARLOW: I mean --

DEL RIO: Yes --

HARLOW: And look, just to Dr. Del Rio's point, the "New York Times" piece on the doctor in Seattle, who a month ago --


HARLOW: Developed a test for this --

SCIUTTO: And was told not to test --

HARLOW: And was shut down --


HARLOW: Because it didn't follow the regulations and the guidelines, et cetera laid out here. Clay, you spend a lot of time at church, you sing in the church choir, you were singing in the choir with about 100 other people right before you came down with this and went to the hospital?

BENTLEY: That's right. That's right.

HARLOW: So what's the church --

BENTLEY: Yes, oh, I have heard --

HARLOW: Doing about it?


BENTLEY: I have heard that there were other people that is in the church choir sitting in the hospital now. I have heard that there were at least -- they are at least now seven or eight people out of this particular church in hospital.


BENTLEY: So, yes, And you know, this is what I see, instead of dealing with it, doing the testing and testing the people that need to be tested, everybody's running in fear and taking care of things on their own.

And, you know, I've got a son, I got a son that's 36 year old, he works in law enforcement, you know, the community he works in, they called him and said, you know, we heard -- we have heard that the grapevine, that your dad has got coronavirus, so we're going to send you home, so don't come back to work for two or three weeks.

You know, and I haven't even been around him. And then yesterday, I got a 4-year-old grandson, his son, they canceled his school because, you know, they found out that I got coronavirus. And I haven't been around my grandchild. You know, so I feel like everybody's running in mass hysteria --


BENTLEY: Trying to take care of things instead of finding the people who need to be tested, and let's take care of the problem.

HARLOW: Yes --

BENTLEY: Dr. Del Rio, doesn't this tell us that there has to be a national plan for this, right? Because it seems like things are happening ad hoc. One patient goes back of his own accord like Clay Bentley, but there's no kind of nationwide response, community by community.

DEL RIO: Well, you're absolutely right. A nationwide plan is necessary. Local plans are necessary. But again, this is no different than the plans -- I tell people, dust off your plans that you have developed for pandemic influenza in 2009. This is very similar. What we need to do are three things at this stage. We need to identify those infected, and therefore you have to test them.

We need to isolate those infected. We need to do aggressive contact tracing, so find out the contacts and test the contacts and know who is infected and who is not and put in quarantine. And we need to implement rapidly, what we call social distancing, and we need to --


DEL RIO: Stop having massive events, we need to stop having massive gatherings, we need to really -- this virus gets transmitted with an efficacy that is pretty high. It's about two to three per infected individual. So, one infected individual transmits to two or three. The only way to decrease -- to implement social distancing is to implement distancing within -- between people. We --

HARLOW: Yes --

DEL RIO: Have to get people separated.


HARLOW: Clay, finally to you, I mean, we're just so sorry for everything you're going through, and your family, you're alone. I mean, you've been alone in that room.

BENTLEY: Yes, I thought --

HARLOW: What is it like for you? It has to be so lonely.

BENTLEY: Well, I feel like I'm in prison because, you know, nobody can come see me, I can't -- I can't even walk out of the room, so -- you know, I worked in law enforcement my whole career, so, I feel like I'm in a jail cell and this can't away. You know, so hopefully, I'll be out of here soon. It's very lonely. It's a lonely place to be, to be sitting and you can't even -- you can't even talk to your own family.

SCIUTTO: Yes, listen, my friend, we are rooting for you. We are. We wish you the best, swift recovery. We're glad you're getting the treatment you need now. And Dr. Del Rio, thanks to you as well for helping us put this all in context here because --

HARLOW: Yes --

DEL RIO: And I just --

SCIUTTO: Listen, families around the country are going to be dealing with this kind of thing more and more.

DEL RIO: And I just want to say to Clay, hang in there, and again, I want to emphasize that the discrimination and stigma that Clay and his family are suffering is not what should happen. And we --

HARLOW: Yes --

DEL RIO: Need to actually to offer compassion and care for people --

SCIUTTO: Yes, I hear you --

HARLOW: Absolutely --

SCIUTTO: Well, thanks to both of you, OK, and, Clay, take care of yourself. We'll talk to you again soon, we hope.

HARLOW: Thinking about you.

BENTLEY: Well, I want to say one last word, that God is in control. And He's bigger than anything that comes against us, so we just got to put our faith in God --

HARLOW: Yes, we are -- we are so glad your faith is helping you through this. And hopefully, you know, the medical professionals as much as possible for you. Thank you, both.

BENTLEY: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Coronavirus, more fears, more facts, join Anderson Cooper, Dr. Sanjay Gupta for a second CNN global town hall, "CORONAVIRUS FACTS AND FEARS", it airs tomorrow night 10 O'clock Eastern Time only here on CNN. It answers the kinds of questions I'm sure crossing your mind as you read the news about this.