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Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) is Interviewed about the Outbreak Containment; Italy Reports Jump in Deaths; Gupta Answers Coronavirus Questions. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired March 11, 2020 - 08:30   ET




ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: New York has deployed National Guard troops to try to contain the spread of coronavirus in one New York suburb. The troops will maintain a one mile containment zone in the city of New Rochelle, that is just north of New York City. There's a cluster of more than 100 cases there.

Joining us now is New York's Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Governor, it is great to have you this morning. I know how busy you are. So we're wondering if you can give us an update on the numbers, if you have any new numbers from overnight, and what the next steps are for New York.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): The overall numbers went up again, Alisyn. No surprise. I've been saying all along, the numbers are going to continue to go up. They went up about 20 and we're getting more numbers coming in.

New Rochelle has about three times the number of cases of New York City and New York City's 100 times the size of New Rochelle. So what we did in New Rochelle, the so-called containment zone, just no large gathering in that area because it is the hot spot in the nation.

CAMEROTA: OK. And so you say the numbers went up by 20. Does that mean we're at 193 of people infected in New York?

CUOMO: Just about, and we're going to get another tranche of numbers in the next couple of hours.

We test around the clock now. So the number constantly adjusts. But it is constantly going up. And that shouldn't give people alarm. The virus is actually spread much, much more than we know because we have been so slow on testing in this country. So now every time we test, we're chasing positive cases and you're going to see the number keep going up.

But it's not representative of where this disease is. The disease is much more advanced than we're seeing in any of these numbers. And you'll see them continually going up for weeks at this rate. CAMEROTA: OK. And so, I mean, yesterday you announced this -- that

you're trying this containment zone. What is the next step? Today, what will you be doing?

CUOMO: Today I'm going to be speaking to business leaders and asking them to voluntarily, as opposed to any mandatory government action, voluntarily agree to reduce the density by running two shifts of workers, telecommuting and letting whatever workers they can work from home.

This is about reducing the density. You know, we talk about social distancing. You shouldn't be more than six feet from a person. You take a dense city, you take a New York City, there's no such thing as social distancing. You're always within six feet of a person. So 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 and we're going to have to start to act united to reduce the density. More testing, more testing, more testing. That's the only way we reduce the spread.

CAMEROTA: OK, so you've just announced that you plan to have set up this sort of swing shift of workers if possible and more people telecommuting.

Lightning round, I have a couple of other burning questions for you.

Have you made a decision yet on the St. Patrick's Day Parade?

CUOMO: It will depend -- we're looking at it now. It depends on where, Alisyn. You know, we have some cities that only have two or three cases. We have cities that are -- have the highest number of cases in the country. So it depends on where the St. Patrick's Day Parade --

CAMEROTA: Well, in Manhattan. In Manhattan. The big one.

CUOMO: Yes, we're talking -- we're talking about that literally today.

CAMEROTA: You haven't made a decision yet?


CAMEROTA: The reason I ask is because, as you know, the governor of Washington state has just announced this decision of no big gatherings over 250 people. And I'm wondering if you'll follow suit for something like the parade and/or the Big East conference that's supposed to be happening today. What about that basketball game?

CUOMO: Yes, we -- we are looking literally at those situations today. I have a group coming in. You know, the calibration is important here. We don't want to overreact, but we understand we have to take aggressive actions and we're looking at all those large gatherings today and I'll have an announcement either later today or tomorrow.

CAMEROTA: Public school closings, what do you foresee?

CUOMO: We have done some so far. We're doing them in this containment area. We're doing them in other parts of the state. And, again, it will be calibrated to that region.


You have a dramatic differentiation between the number of cases. But where you have a large number of cases, more and more you're going to see school closings. We have a rule that, say, if any child comes to a school positive, that school must close for 24 hour period while we do an assessment of that situation and determine the plan going forward.

CAMEROTA: Those twenty new cases --

CUOMO: I'm trying to speak fast because it's a lightning round.

CAMEROTA: It is. I appreciate this. You are following instructions, Governor, and I really appreciate that.


CAMEROTA: Those 20 new cases that you talked about, are they clustered somewhere?

CUOMO: Again, mostly in New Rochelle.


Hospitals. Does New York have enough hospital beds for whatever is about to happen and enough ventilators?

CUOMO: We have enough equipment. We have enough hospital beds. But if these numbers don't slow, we're starting to plan backup quarantine hospital facilities. Mobile pop-up hospitals, if you will, to make sure we have the capacity for acute cases that need hospitalization.

But, remember, deep breath, right? Most people, most people, 60 percent, 70 percent will not require any hospitalization and they'll self-resolve.

CAMEROTA: Governor Andrew Cuomo, we really appreciate your time. You are the Cuomo we see most often now and our personal favorite. Thanks so much.

CUOMO: Oh, I love it when you say that. Thank you.

CAMEROTA: There you go. We'll talk to him again.

BERMAN: Look, there was a lot of news there. One of the biggest pieces of news was there was a Cuomo following direction. He said he was following directions with you.

CAMEROTA: That -- it was stunning.

BERMAN: That's never happened before. All right, but, the governor also making news, saying they are going

to take measures -- he's going to request that businesses sort of self-regulate, keeping half their people away if they can, working in shifts.

Why is the governor so concerned? Why are so many governors in the U.S. concerned? Just look to Italy.

The death toll there is soaring. Sixty million people on lockdown this morning. We have a live report, next.



CAMEROTA: Developing overnight, Italy is reporting a huge spike in the number of deaths from the coronavirus, 631 people there have died. The entire country of 60 million people is on lockdown.

CNN's senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman is live in Bologna, Italy, with the latest.

What's happening at this hour, Ben?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Poppy, yes, the latest figures are disturbing, 168 new deaths in the last 24 hours. And really Italy today is sort of a jarring juxtaposition of disturbing images coming out of the hospitals, which are overwhelmed, and people who are trying to go on with life, which must go on.


WEDEMAN (voice over): Inside the intensive care unit in the hospital in northern Italy, doctors and nurses struggle with what they say is a tsunami of new patients. Every day brings ever more new cases, ever more deaths.

Despite it all, the few tourists left in the northern city of Bologna pursue la dolce vita (ph), though many sights are now closed.

CAROLINA VERSAU, BRAZILIAN TOURIST: Italy is so beautiful outside, but I think inside is better. But I have next trip, I think.

WEDEMAN: This country of 60 million souls is now in theory under lockdown. Movement is restricted. Schools and universities closed. Public gatherings prohibited and all sporting events canceled.

FILIPPO BASSI, TEACHER: Every day this main square is full of people that talking with the chatter (ph), are very close, kissing, handshaking, you don't see that now. So, of course, it's like a plague.

WEDEMAN: The bubonic plague killed thousands here in the 17th century. Bologna survived and went on to prosper.

The cafes in the city's normally bustling central piazza majore (ph) are emptier than usual, yet the few patrons are hardly panicking. Life must go on. The dogs still need to get out.

WEDEMAN (on camera): Two dark clouds hover over Italy at the moment. Of course, there's coronavirus, but many people here are, in fact, more worried over the long term impact the virus will have on the economy.

WEDEMAN (voice over): Business has all but evaporated. And if draconian measures are what it takes to bring it back, some say, so be it.

We have to face the emergency with the strictest measures, like they did in China, says Allessandra Cameriero. It's a dictatorship, but they did the right thing.

Across the street, Emanuela Pignati says more should be done.

I would be fine with a total 20 day shutdown, she tells me, because people are afraid and work is going badly.

It's bad, but this city has seen worse.


BERMAN: Hey, Ben, can you just give us a sense of how things have changed? How rapidly things have changed over the last several days where you are?

WEDEMAN: Well, what we've seen is that the so-called red zone, which was only an area of 11 towns and 50,000 people, has now been expanded to the entire country. But it's one thing to try to control an area with 50,000 people, another when it comes to 60 million. So it appears that, you know, you can see behind me, there's still, you know, people out and about. It's not exactly a ghost town in any sense of the word.

But gradually I think the gravity of this situation is becoming very clear. There are, you know, people, for instance, are getting angry at others who are in crowded places, not wearing masks.


You don't see people shaking hands anymore. And generally there's a fear that the death toll, which is really increasing at an alarming rate, is just going up and up. And, therefore, I think even though it's gradual -- gradually people are starting to change the fundamental ways they behave to go into this system of social distancing, this in a country where social distancing just isn't part of the culture.

BERMAN: No, not at all. All right.

CAMEROTA: Oh, absolutely. People greet each other with kisses there, men and women alike.

BERMAN: I thought that was just me.

All right, Ben Wedeman, listen, thank you very much for your reporting. We'll check back in with you.

The mortality rate in Italy is shocking. It is over 6 percent right now and it has been rising rapidly. So that's something we're watching very, very closely.

We know you have a ton of questions. Everyone has a ton of questions about coronavirus. So Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us with some answers, next.



BERMAN: All right, we asked you to send us your questions about coronavirus and how you can protect yourself and your family.

Joining us now to answer some of them, CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Sanjay, this is really just a taste because so many people do have so many questions.


BERMAN: And we're going to start with one from Edie from New York.

CAMEROTA: One of our favorite viewers who may or may not be an award- winning actress.

BERMAN: It may or may not be Edie Falco.

GUPTA: Oh, really? Really?

BERMAN: And she writes -- and she wants to know -- and this is a question -- my wife asked this question when I got home yesterday. If you get coronavirus and recover, can you get it again?

GUPTA: Great question. And there's been reports in other countries, including Japan, where someone may have been re-infected with coronavirus. So they got it, recovered, and maybe got it again.

But, I talked to Dr. Fauci about this specifically and what he said was that right now it seems to be behaving very much like previous viruses, which means that after you get the infection, it's sort of like your body's vaccinated against it and you should have some period of immunity. We don't know how long that immunity lasts. With SARS it may have just been a couple of years. But you should not be able to get re-infected right away at least.

CAMEROTA: But is it possible that they're getting re-infected with a different strain of it or there's just one strain that we're talking about here?

GUPTA: No, the strain does change. It does mutate a little bit. But the question becomes, does it mutate enough to be able to cause an entirely new infection or do you have enough immunity from the original strain to -- and that seems to be that, where you still have enough immunity for a period of time. I don't know if it's a year or months or next season could you be infected again? Perhaps.

CAMEROTA: OK, this comes from Jiannina in south Florida.

My family has an upcoming cruise to Mexico. Will it be safe or should we cancel it? I mean so many people --

BERMAN: This is a quick one. This is a quick one.

GUPTA: I think cruises are hard to justify right now. Look, you know, I mean we've seen -- even if you don't get sick, look what's happened to these passengers on the cruise ships.

CAMEROTA: You get trapped.

GUPTA: You get trapped. I mean you have to look at what's happened here.

You know, the majority of people, even on the original Diamond, you know, I think, in the end, 20 percent, 22 percent became infected. Most didn't still. But look at how disruptive this was to their lives, young or old.

BERMAN: This question comes to us from Sandy from Columbus, Ohio, and also from Donald at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. He writes, will coronavirus go away in the hotter summer months?

GUPTA: We don't know the answer to this question. I mean where this has come from is that, again, previous coronaviruses, such as SARS, SARS did peak in March, April, end of March, early April sort of time frame and by July you sort of saw the tail of that.

There's some evidence, if you look at the world map right now, and Dr. Redfield talked about this again recently, most of the cases are in the northern hemisphere. The ones that are in the southern hemisphere are clearly travel related. So this idea that it seems to be more common in colder weather is possible. And then warmer weather might make it start to dissipate.

CAMEROTA: And the flu dissipates as well, doesn't it though.

GUPTA: The flu does as well. So there are other viruses that do this, but this is a novel new coronavirus, so we don't know.

BERMAN: And what's the reason for that? I had an epidemiologist tell me once, the reason for that is, what, because when it's cold out your inside and closer to people. It's that simple.

GUPTA: Yes. I think that that's a majority of it. And then -- but also the climate changes. You know, humidity and warmer weather seem to be harder on the virus, harder for them to survive in the environment.

CAMEROTA: This comes from Deb in Woodbury, Minnesota. And this is such a good one. The message about frequent and vigorous hand washing has been well received. However, as soon as we dry our hands, and pick up our phones, should we be cleaning our phones at the same time and as intentionally as our hands?

GUPTA: Yes. The answer is yes. I mean you should be cleaning -- that is one of the most common surfaces we touch is our phone. So they call it phone mites (ph). These are these surfaces that could be contaminated, and the phone is one that we all touch regularly. I mean we're good about disinfecting other surfaces.

One thing I want to say, though, you know, as we talk about disinfecting in the schools and all that sort of stuff, going back to the school closings and what not, you have to be doing this regularly. Taking a day off and doing this, the next day a kid walks in and he sneezes or coughs, I mean, you know, you have to understand that that could potentially re-infect things, just like with your phone or other things. You have to not only do this, but do it regularly.

BERMAN: Very quickly, I just got a "New York Times" alert that German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she believe it's possible that 70 percent of Germans get infected with coronavirus.

GUPTA: I -- that is not an outrageous number. We have a virus that is circulating. It is very contagious. More contagious than the flu. If you looked at some of the projections, even in this country, they've said, 40 percent to 60 percent.

What happens, John, is that there will start to develop a little bit of herd immunity. There will be people who are infected and then they start to act as buffers because they, you know, unlikely to get re- infected. But that still means, you know, more than half the country could be exposed.

BERMAN: That's a big number. All right.

CAMEROTA: But do you think that same number here?

GUPTA: I think so. I think, you know, I've heard 60 percent, up to 60 percent, and 70 percent is not -- not out of the range, I don't think.

CAMEROTA: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, we really appreciate you answering questions.

If you have questions for the doctor, you can find the link at

BERMAN: Time now for "The Good Stuff."

A Las Vegas doctor dedicating to treating people on the streets without charging them a dime.


Instead, Dr. Elliott Shin (ph) asks them to pay it forward.


DR. ELLIOT SHIN, RUNS OPERATION HOPE: They are required to help somebody else in return with three acts of kindness to three people. And they have to write us a letter about that experience. And that letter is their ticket back to our clinic.


BERMAN: In addition to providing essential medical care, Dr. Shin also helps the homeless get clean clothes and a place to store their belongings. He estimates he's treated 16,000 people.

CAMEROTA: He's phenomenal. I'm sure Dr. Sanjay Gupta is soon going to take a page from that.

GUPTA: I love that.

CAMEROTA: Meanwhile, all right, new cases of coronavirus overnight. There are new plans to try to stop the spread of the virus.

CNN's coverage of all of this continues, next.