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Coronavirus Death Toll Is Now More Than 6,500 Worldwide; Two ER Doctors In Critical Condition Battling The Frontline Of The Coronavirus. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired March 16, 2020 - 07:30   ET




ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: The death toll from coronavirus in now more than 6,500 people worldwide. There are now more cases reported outside of mainland (ph) China than inside. Germany closing it's borders with several neighboring countries to try to contain the outbreak. In France President Macron will address the nation tonight. All restaurants, nightclubs, cafes, and cinemas in that country are closed. Coronavirus cases in Italy spiking over the weekend, more than 3,500 new cases and 368 more deaths in just 24 hours.

Financial markets tanking again after the Federal Reserve reduced rates to near zero. At one point trading had to be halted so DOW Futures are frozen but they have been down more than a thousand points.

New York City and Los Angeles are the latest U.S. cities to enforce social distancing by closing dine-in restaurants and bars. And Disney World may now be the quietest place on earth with the theme park and all Disney hotels shutting down.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: More than 32 million public school children are about to be out of school if they're not already. Classes have been canceled around the country. In New York City that means more than 1 million students.

Joining me now to discuss the governor of New York Andrew Cuomo. Governor thanks so much for being with us. We've got a lot of ground to cover so we'll get through this quickly.

Number one, you closed the schools in New York City -- Westchester, and Nassau, these are the surrounding counties to New York City. Why and why not the whole state?

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO, (D-NY): Good morning John. Good to be with you. First of all you respond to the science, the data, in this situation. All throughout the state we have a different situation. Some counties have no cases.

[07:35:00] Our density is in down state New York so I closed the schools in New York City, Nassau Suffolk, which is Long Island and Westchester, on the provide (ph) though that they have a plan to provide child care for first responders and healthcare workers. We don't want to see our nurses healthcare workers not being able to work because they have to stay home, our police officers not being able to work because they stay home. So on that basis with those plans, we close the schools.

BERMAN: The CDC issued guidelines suggesting limits of gatherings of more than 50 people. How does that address the need that you need that you see this morning?

CUOMO: Yes. John, I think - let me say this. We've been behind handling this disease from day one, right? We knew it was in China in November and then we look like we got caught by surprise and we're always playing catch up. The only way to deal with a situation like this is to get ahead of it. We need to see the federal government step up to the plate here and set up national rules. It makes no sense. You look at your broadcast, all these states doing different things, cities doing different things. It doesn't work that way.

In an emergency, someone has to take charge. New York state, I'm in charge. That's the law because I can't have one set of rules in New York City, a different set of rules in Nassau County, surrounding counties. If you close the bars in New York City but you don't close them in Nassau County, all it means is everybody drives to Nassau County to a bar. So you have to have consolidated, centralized authority.

You can't - it makes no sense for all these states to be doing different things. I make rules. People can drive to New Jersey. They can drive to Connecticut. We need the federal government to stand up and say here are the rules. And secondly, John, the coming crisis is we're overwhelming our healthcare system. That is going to happen. That curve is a wave and it's going to break on the hospital system. We need additional beds, and we need the Army Corps of Engineers to come in here and retrofit state buildings, dormitories, et cetera, for additional -


BERMAN: We need -


CUOMO: -- hospital beds, and that's the federal government.

BERMAN: We need more beds. We need more beds. We need more ventilators, which is why I want to know what you think of what the Secretary of HHS said over the weekend where he refused to disclose the number on ventilators for, he claims, national security reasons. Listen.


ALEX AZAR, HHS SECRETARY: We don't disclose concrete numbers on particular items for nationals security purposes, but we have many ventilators. Thousands and thousands of ventilators in our system.


BERMAN: What's the national security imperative not to tell the American people how many ventilators they have available?

CUOMO: National security imperative is people would get very nervous if they knew how few they had. Thousands and thousands, what does that mean? I - we're looking at an overrun in New York in the tens of thousands. That's what I said. We've been behind this all along. The federal government has to step up. Nationwide rules, school closings, bars, whatever and then understand that we have and impending catastrophe when this wave of growth crashes on the hospital system and we don't have the capacity. Start now. Bring in that Army Corps of Engineers. This is what they do. They build. I'll give them dormitories.


CUOMO: Build temporary medical facilities, but they have to do it. I'm not shy, but a state -



CUOMO: -- doesn't have the capacity to build that quickly to that level.

BERMAN: True on both counts. You're not shy and a state does not have that capacity. Governor, you keep on saying we have been behind. We are behind you say. So then how do you assess this proclamation from the president yesterday where he said this virus is under tremendous control? Listen.


TRUMP: There's a very contagious - it's a very contagious virus. It's incredible (ph), but it's something that we have tremendous control of.


BERMAN: How does that describe the reality you see?

CUOMO: Look. I think this is not the time to be hypercritical, right? I think that generous view is the president is trying to keep people calm, which by the way is a very legitimate function for leadership. I'm trying to keep my people calm. I'm trying to say look at the facts because the fear is a bigger problem than the virus right now.


CUOMO: My way of keeping people calm is not telling them placebos. I tell them the facts. I tell them the truth. I tell them what we're doing. I say, we have the capacity to do it. And I go through the numbers and the facts, and I say, it's going to be OK.

I don't think it's enough just to say it's going to be fine and tell people what they don't believe. I don't believe that makes people calm. I believe it makes them more nervous because they doubt what they're hearing.

BERMAN: Governor Cuomo, we appreciate you being with us this morning.

CUOMO: And John, when I --

BERMAN: Go ahead. When you said --

CUOMO: -- when I said I was shy, I'm not shy. I meant that as a nice thing.

BERMAN: I -- I -- I pass no judgment. I'm merely agreeing with you that you're not shy. Governor Cuomo, we appreciate you being with us this morning. We expect to see you again very soon.

CUOMO: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: I think we can all agree on that.

CUOMO: That's what I said, it was a statement of fact.

CAMEROTA: And that is a statement of fact right there. We learned overnight that two E.R. doctors are in critical condition because they have been on the frontline of trying to battle this coronavirus. The hospitals in this country, are they prepared for the worst?




BERMAN: This morning, new questions, new reality on how the coronavirus is being spread. The fact is, people who show no symptoms, none at all, are driving this pandemic. This is why social distancing is so important. CNN's Elizabeth Cohen explains.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: As the death toll mounts from the novel coronavirus, questions arising about whether U.S. officials might have gotten it wrong about how the virus spreads.

On March 1, Secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar, said on ABC's "This Week," that it's mainly spread by people who are already sick.


ALEX AZAR, SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES: You really need to just focus on the individuals that are symptomatic. It really depended on symptomatic presentation.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COHEN: The website for the Centers for Disease Control and prevention saying the same, can someone spread the virus without being sick? The answer from the CDC, some spread might be possible before people show symptoms, but this is not thought to be main way the virus spreads.

But in Massachusetts, more than 80 people contracted coronavirus at a conference held by this biotech company. The State Department of Health telling CNN that none of the people who attended displayed any symptoms during the conference.

Epidemiologist, Michael Osterholm, is Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.


MICHAEL OSTERHOLM, DIRECTOR OF CENTER FOR INFECTIOUS DISEASE AND POLICY AT UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA: WE now have conclusive evidence that this disease is also being transmitted through asymptomatic carriers or people who show no symptoms. And trying to stop that transmission is like trying to stop the wind.


COHEN: And this study, which has yet to be peer reviewed, found that in Singapore and in Tiengen, a city in China, infection was transmitted about two to three days before symptom onset and that makes the outbreak much more difficult to control.


OSTERHOLM: Honestly, with this kind of transmission, we're never going to stop it. What we best are able to do is slow it down.


COHEN: None of the experts CNN spoke to could say exactly what percentage of people are getting infected with the virus by people who don't have symptoms.

CNN reached out to Secretary Azar and the CDC, but did not receive responses.

On Saturday, Dr. Deborah Birx, the Coordinator of the White House Coronavirus Response Task Force sent a somewhat different message, suggesting that people under the age 20 could possibly be spreading the virus without having any symptoms.


DR. DEBORAH BIRX, COORDINATOR OF THE WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE: And until you really understand how many people are asymptomatic and asymptomatically passing the virus on, we think it's better for the entire American public to know that the risk of serious illness may be low, but they could be potentially spreading the virus to others.


COHEN: some experts say this is a step in the right direction. But still --


OSTERHOLM: This is a time for straight talk. This is a time when we have to tell the public what we know and what we don't know.


COHEN: A time for straight talk about a virus that might be spreading in ways we hadn't anticipated.

Now, when a virus is spread mainly by people who are sick and really showing symptoms, it's a lot more straightforward to control it, you isolate the sick people. But, when a virus -- when asymptomatic spread is really at play, as appears to be with coronavirus, as Dr. Osterholm said, it's like trying to stop the wind. John?

BERMAN: That's right, it's one thing to tell people with a cough to stay home. It's another thing to tell everyone to stay home, which is what basically is happening now.

COHEN: That's right.

BERMAN: Elizabeth Cohen, thank you very much for that. Alisyn?

CAMEROTA: OK, Teaneck, New Jersey, has the most cases of coronavirus in that state. At least 18 people there have tested positive. The town's mayor is asking people to self-quarantine.

Joining us now are the President and Chief Medical Officer at Teaneck's Holy Name Medical Center. Gentlemen, great to have you here.


CAMEROTA: OK, at the moment, let's just talk about, you have a colleague who is in critical condition this morning. What can you tell us about it?

ADAM JARRETT, CMO HOLY NAME MEDICAL CENTER: So, we've had several staff members who have developed coronavirus because of a community acquired case.

CAMEROTA: So, not acquired at the hospital?

JARRETT: Correct.

CAMEROTA: Acquired out in the community.

JARRETT: That is correct. So, we have one of those colleagues who is critically ill in the ICU.

CAMEROTA: Our thoughts are with him and all of you. JARRETT: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Thank you. Mr. Maron, what's happening with staffing at your hospital? Just explain to us the complication of when you have staff members who are getting sick, what happens?

MICHAEL MARON, PRESIDENT & CEO HOLY NAME MEDICAL CENTER: Well, so when we have staff members who are -- who are presenting symptomatic, we have to send them home under isolation and very aggressive home monitoring. So, temperatures and -- and checking respiratory rates throughout the day, twice a day. So, we put in a very aggressive monitoring telehealth system to check on them and then we just -- we wait and see.

CAMEROTA: But, you were telling me before we came on that it's a catch-22 because you need every person, it's all hands on deck --

MARON: Oh, yes.

CAMEROTA: -- and then if you have somebody exhibiting symptoms, you have to send them home.


CAMEROTA: And so what's the long-term strategy here?


DR. ADAM JARRETT, CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER, HOLY NAME MEDICAL CENTER: So we're following the CDC guidelines which means that any healthcare provider who has several minutes of exposure within six feet of a possible case or a real case we're sending home. We're doing that because we believe that preventing every single case is crucial, not because that -- we're worried about that individual but we're worried about that tree of infection that happens from that individual.

We're keeping those furloughed people in contact with us, we may have to loosen our guidelines because we need those staff.

CAMEROTA: Yes you can't be understaffed. Are you feeling that way now -- understaffed yet?

MICHAEL MARON, PRESIDENT AND CEO, HOLY NAME MEDICAL CENTER: No, not yet. But (ph) the staff especially and the frontline in the E.R. -- in the emergency room and in the ICU, they have responded in unprecedented ways. I tell you when we get through this every healthcare we -- obviously we are very proud of our people but I have never seen an unprecedented stepping up of professionals this way. They're working extra shifts, they're putting (ph), they're dedicated, they're committing their lives to making things better so we have just an incredible positive rally of staff who want to help.

CAMEROTA: That's wonderful to hear and I'm sure there will be big bonuses ahead for them. You both have experience with other pandemics. You've dealt with Ebola, with SARS, with MERS, with Cholera. How does this compare? DR. JARRETT: So the important thing about this disease is we know very little about it and that is what is scaring the public and that is, to be frank, what's scaring our staff. We don't know enough about this disease.

CAMEROTA: You know less about this disease than you did in those other frightening diseases that you've had to deal with?

DR. JARRETT: Yes. That is correct.


CAMEROTA: And so what's the answer?

DR. JARRETT: So we're using the upmost caution. That is the key. So the good news is we have not had a healthcare worker who's been -- who's come down with symptoms when we've been -- when we've used appropriate PPE. When we've used appropriate protective gear our staff we believe is safe.

CAMEROTA: I read that one of your biggest concerns is testing accuracy. So obviously there is concern about just testing availability right now, and I assume you've had to deal with that, but also if they are available the accuracy. What do you mean?

MARON: So we have currently over 68 symptomatic people. Seven of them have come back negative tests but they're symptomatic. We've run other PCR testing through BioFire to rule out other viruses, other versions of the coronavirus, they have not come up. So we're concerned about a potential false negative. And so if you're not monitoring people that we're testing than they're going to get a false sense of hey I was negative and they're going to be out in the community saying I don't have to observe any of this social distancing, I don't have to observe any of this isolation, I've already been tested negative and it's false.

CAMEROTA: And so either way people need to stay home, self-quarantine --

MARON: No matter what.

CAMEROTA: -- if they're having any --

MARON: That's the best --

CAMEROTA: -- symptoms.

MARON: Correct.

CAMEROTA: Mr. Michael Maron, Dr. Adam Jarrett we really appreciate you telling us what's happening in your hospitals right now. Best of luck. We'll check back with you.

DR. JARRETT: Thank you.

MARON: Thank you so much. DR. JARRETT: Thank you very much.


BERMAN: All right. With so many pro-sports putting their seasons on hold, see how some athletes are stepping up to help those affected by this crisis.



BERMAN: So new this morning, another NBA player has tested positive for coronavirus, the third confirmed case in the league.

CAMEROTA: Carolyn Manno has more in the Bleacher Report. What do we need to know?

CAROLYN MANNO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. Well, the sports void is here for the foreseeable future. Another playing (ph) tested positive. More confirmed cases across pro leagues. The Detroit Pistons say that one of their players tested positive over the weekend. The player was not identified by the team. He is isolated and under the care of medical staff. The team says it is working with public health officials to monitor the situation.

And while we can't know exactly when the virus was contracted, the Pistons played the Jazzs back on March 7 in Detroit, and days later Jazz All-Stars, Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell, did test positive. In the meantime, the New York Yankees are confirming a minor league player is in isolation after testing positive for coronavirus. This is the first confirmed case in baseball.

There are players and organizations that are helping those hit financially by the virus. Cincinnati Red's pitchers, Trevor Bauer and David Carpenter, organized a sandlot game in Arizona or Saturday which ultimately led to a fundraising effort for ballpark workers. Houston Texan star, J.J. Watt, and his wife are donating $350,000 to the Houston Food Bank. Warriors star, Steph Curry, and his wife teaming up with a food bank to provide more than one million meals to students in Oakland who cannot attend schools due to coronavirus shut downs. And NBA rookie, Zion Williamson, setting and example for the rest of the league late last week. He offered to cover the salaries of workers at his home arena for the next 30 days. Cavs forward, Kevin Love, also pledging money to help those affected with other players following his lead. So not an ideal situation for any of these players to fit into. They don't fit into the vulnerable category across America. They have a lot of advantages, but they're using this platform to try to do the best that they can.

BERMAN: I was going to say I hadn't heard the Zion Williamson news. He's 19-years-old, really leading there. I hope others take notice because there are so many people, so many jobs that are going to be lost over the next few weeks.

MANNO: Yes, you're right. CAMEROTA: Carolyn, thank you very much. All right, we're about two hours away from a White House briefing on coronavirus. What new measures will they announce? New Day continues right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The effects of the coronavirus pandemic were pretty clear across the United States this weekend.

TRUMP: It's a very contagious virus. It's credible (ph), but it's something that we have tremendous control of.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A pandemic like this could overwhelm any system in the world no matter how good it is.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D), V.T.: Whether or not I'm president is to shut this president up right now because he is undermining the doctors and the scientists who are trying to help the American people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're guided deeply by what's happening not just by anxiety, not just by fear, but a very pragmatic response.

UNDIENTIFIED MALE: We're in this for the long run. This is not going to end overnight.

ANNOUNCER: This is New Day with Alisyn Camelot and John Berman.

BERMAN: Good morning. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is New Day. It's Monday, March 16. It is 8 o'clock in the east, and honestly chances are you're watching us from home this morning knowing that you will pretty much be nowhere but there for weeks. This is the new reality of the coronavirus pandemic