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Soon, White House to Hold Coronavirus Briefing; Concerns the National Medical Supply Stockpile Not Enough; 7 Million Told to Shelter in Place in San Francisco Area; De Blasio Considering Shelter- in-Place Order for NYC; E.R. Dr. Jeremy Faust Discusses Risk to Health Care Providers & Lack of Medical Equipment; Dr. Sally Goza & Dr. Tovah Klein Discuss Talking to Kids about Coronavirus. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired March 17, 2020 - 11:00   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. Thank you so much for joining me.

Right now, we're standing by to hear from the White House, the administration's task force on the coronavirus response. The task force is expected to update the nation in just a few minutes, and we're going to bring that to you live when it begins.

There are real questions today about the national stockpile of medical supplies, medical equipment. Top officials raising alarms that the stockpile is not enough for the potential surge that could be coming at the nation's hospitals, putting the nation's hospitals at risk of being overwhelmed.

And the numbers are rising, as was expected. The total number of cases right now is just under 5,000 across the country with now 95 deaths.

And from the White House, the president is notably changing his tone, no longer saying that it's all under control. Instead, admitting that it is bad.

The White House also issuing new guidelines advising that people should not gather in groups of more than 10 people at this point. And yes, that is another number that has been all over the map. Some folks remember they said at first it was no more than 500 people at a gathering, then 250 people, then 50 people. Now it's down to 10. You can clearly see the trend here.

One by one, cities and states are taking matters into their own hands. Across the San Francisco area, seven million people are being ordered to shelter-in-place. That is their wording. We'll have more on that move in a second.

But first, let's get to Washington. CNN's Kristin Holmes is standing by and John Harwood is at the White House. John, what are you learning there this morning?

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: We'll, Kate, we have a much more somber tone from the White House and from the president specially than we've had before. We'll see what developments they have when the task force comes out and briefs us at 11:30.

But what that brings with it is a heightened sense of seriousness about the economic response as well, because we've got the administration at noon preparing to lay out its fiscal stimulus package, which is larger than officials were talking about even yesterday, $850 billion or so.

And there's talk of combining both the administration's payroll tax cut with some of the proposals that have gained strength among Democrats and Republicans for cutting direct checks to Americans to try to ease some of the demand crunch and prevent people from losing their homes and losing their ability to support their families.

All in all, from the White House, from the administration, a ratcheting up of the seriousness of this threat. And we'll see what else that brings with it in terms of the health response in a few minutes.

BOLDUAN: That's exactly right. There's that fiscal stimulus response that you obviously see the president pushing, and then the actual response to the health and safety of every American, that everyone is waiting for that update in just a few minutes.

John is there. We'll get back to you, John. Thank you so much.

Kristen, what are you learning about this national shortage of medical supplies? Tell us your reporting.

KRISTIN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, to put it bluntly, this is not a good situation. We've been talking to these health care workers who are on the front lines, as I know you have, too, who are really scared, particularly in these hardest hit areas. They're already seeing shortages of medical supplies.

Now we hear that on a phone call last night, a top U.S. health official telling industry leaders there are not enough supplies, there's not enough in the stockpile to combat this pandemic, and that they didn't have enough supplies here on the ground.

I want to be very clear about something. There was never an assumption that the stockpile was going to have everything that everyone needed. Generally, in the case of an emergency like this, that is considered a band-aid while we ramp up production.

But there's an added problem here, which is that those medical supplies, so many of them, are made in China. So that entire supply chain got messed up, shut down during the massive outbreak that we saw in China. And now American companies are having to ramp up their production. It's unclear right now how exactly they're going to do that. There's a

lot of speculation, a lot of different ideas being thrown out there. But the problem is we're already seeing those shortages now.

So how long is this process going to take and how many people are going to have to start reusing those masks or participating in other dangerous activity activities while they are trying to get more of this personal protective equipment -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: You can see the ripple effect if stockpiles run out of personal protective equipment, what that means for doctors on the front lines and then their patients.

Kristen, thank you very much. Great reporting. Much on that ahead.

Let's get to what's happening now in northern California. The most severe restrictions in the country yet. Some seven million residents are in a shelter-in-place order.


CNN's Dan Simon is in San Francisco with more on this.

Dan, what does shelter-in-place, what does this order mean?

DAN SIMON, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It really means they want folks staying in their homes as much as possible. They really only want you leaving if there's some kind of essential activity we're talking about here.

Kate, let me explain why we are. We're on Chestnut Street. This is normally one of the busiest streets in all of San Francisco. It wouldn't necessarily be packed by people right now given the hour, but nevertheless, the fact I'm standing in the street right now is remarkable. Normally, you have this whole area just packed with cars. You wouldn't really even be able to park on the street.

Let me give you an example. You can see Apple behind me. That's considered a non-essential business. They preemptively shut all their stores so they wouldn't be open, anyway. You can see Walgreen's, there's a line to get into Walgreen's this morning. That is considered an essential business.

Let me go over some of the exempt activities, things you can do despite this order, tasks essential to maintain health ask safety, such as obtaining medicine or seeing a doctor, you can do that. You can get necessary items like food and supplies.

Outdoor activity, you can go for a walk, you can go for a hike, you can take your kids out, they can ride their bikes, things of that nature. You're allowed to take care of a family member in another household, you can take care of the elderly with disabilities, et cetera.

As for the essential businesses that can continue operating, let's go over some of those. Health care operations, of course, that's considered essential. Essential infrastructure, including operation of public transportation.

And there's a bus right there. You can see that it's continuing to operate.

You got grocery stores, they can stay open, convenience stores, pharmacies, gas stations, auto repair facilities, banks. You get the idea. All of those things are considered essential, and people who work in those industries are exempt from this order.

Now, Kate, one thing we should point out, San Francisco, of course, has a tremendous homelessness issue. They're exempt from this order, as you might expect, but those folks are encouraged, at least, to seek some shelter.

Kate, we'll send it back to you.

BOLDUAN: Dan, thank you so much. Dan has been covering that and what the ripple effect is there.

Just this morning, the mayor of New York City says he's considering taking a similar action, as Dan laid out, is happening in the San Francisco area.

New York City and the entire state of New York has already implemented sweeping restrictions on bars and restaurants and banning any gathering of 50 people or more as the number of cases in the state is now nearing a thousand.

But just last hour, New York's Governor Andrew Cuomo says he has no interest in any city ordering a quarantine.

CNN's Brynn Gingras, she's following this. She's at Macy's, the company's flagship store in Manhattan.

Brynn, what are you hearing about the restrictions in place here and also the suggestion coming from Mayor De Blasio?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and the thing is, Kate, it's a different story from coast to coast. Here on the east coast, outside this Macy's, Dan saw those lines in San Francisco lined up outside a Walgreen's, and we saw the lines outside a Macy's. So it's very different because Macy's, other retail stores, they can remain open right now,

So the question is, will they eventually have to be closed like you're seeing in San Francisco. Will the mayor take that action? Will the governor take even more action?

The governor just had a news conference and he said he's not resistant to anything at this point. But as far as a quarantine to really lock people in, to have some sort of lockdown, he said that's just rumors at this point. Take a listen.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): We hear New York City is going to quarantine itself. That is not true. That cannot happen. That cannot happen. It cannot happen legally. No city in the state can quarantine itself without state approval. And I have no interest whatsoever and no plan whatsoever to quarantine any city.


GINGRAS: Again, he said the reason for that is because it would just cause widespread panic. He used the state capitol as an example. If you quarantined Albany, there would be Albany in a panic and people would try to go somewhere else and this virus would just move.

So essentially, the idea here is, yes, there are more restrictive measures that could go in place. Like you said, we saw bars, we saw restaurants, movie theaters, casinos, those are all pretty much shut down. Restaurants only for takeout and delivery.

But he's open to more options, businesses primarily if needed. At this point, it's very possible it will be -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. I will say the candor with which the governor of New York has been speaking on really a daily basis, generally right during our show, Brynn, is something folks should watch. Because he does offer clarity amongst the rumors that a lot of folks are hearing that can be very reassuring for at least what you know is happening at this moment and what the near future may look like.


Thanks, Brynn.

Coming up for us, doctor and nurses sounding the alarms of shortages of medical supplies they need in order to treat patients and protect themselves. I'll talk to an emergency room doctor about what he sees on the front lines of this crisis.

Later, how should parents talk to their kids about what's happening around them? It was definitely something I needed help with. We'll get some expert advice.



BOLDUAN: This morning, we know that two emergency room doctors are in critical condition after being infected with the coronavirus, one in Washington state, the other in New Jersey. It highlights the already real increasing threat and risk that doctors and nurses on front line of this fight are facing.

Another threat to them all, enough equipment. One Georgia hospital saying it ripped through five months of supplies, like protective gear, in just six days because of this crisis.

Joining my right now is a doctor who is on the front lines of this, Dr. Jeremy Faust. He's a E.R. physician in Boston and an instructor at Harvard Medical School. Doctor, thank you for being with us.


BOLDUAN: How would describe what it's been like for you and other medical staff as the spread has gone from bad to now worse? What has changed for you all?

FAUST: I think the number-one thing that we're all confronting here is the issue of capacity, whether it's an issue of supplies or hospital beds. I know that if we have the supplies that we need, the emergency teams, we got this. We'll be OK and we'll be fine.

But the issue is capacity. Doctors like me have to make face to face, minute-to-minute decisions about who to hospitalize and who to send home. We do that all the time. But now the calculation has changed and I need to be able to confidently send a patient home, which a week ago, I maybe wouldn't have done to keep that patient safe from getting infected and keep that capacity issue under control.

We all talk about flattening the curve.


FAUST: And the way to do that is - so we can't be looking over our shoulders and worrying, so we actually need legal support there.

And that's what I'm thinking will make a really large difference here is if governors and states' attorneys general actually make the decisions that, a week ago, might have been a little bit risky in terms of medical, legal considerations, but today would save the most lives.

BOLDUAN: And I encourage people -- you wrote an opinion piece on this going into more detail on this. It's really interesting. It sounds small but it could be a very big deal. It's something to look at.

You talked about just capacity, right? You have medical professionals who have been raising alarms for weeks now that there aren't enough ICU beds if a surge comes. There are not enough breathing machines in the country if a surge comes.

There seems to be a fight of some sort between the president and states' governors on who is responsible for getting you what you need in the event of a surge.

What is it going to be like for you if you don't get it? Can you describe to people what that's going to look like?

FAUST: Well, what I can say is we don't want to reach that point and we don't want to reach it soon, and the best thing we can do is stave it off. All I can say is we can't do our jobs if we don't have access to our equipment, access to fresh supply lines. We need to do everything we can to stave that off. Under normal circumstances, states attorneys general and governors

don't get to save lives just by the stroke of a pen. They can do incremental changes but there's never an opportunity like this.

What we need to do is not just rise to the occasion but with the occasion as it keeps piling on. That means thinking outside of the box, including proposals like the one that I shared.

I was really gratified to hear that the governor of New York, Cuomo, and others, even Attorney General Healey here, they've seen the proposal and it's circulating.

It's amazing to see people step up because there's no playbook here. The only playbook is to think beyond the normal.


FAUST: And to do whatever it takes to make a change so that we don't confront that situation.

BOLDUAN: We're also hearing stories about doctors themselves, nurses themselves, having to essentially self-quarantine when not at work, when they go home, apart from even their families because of the risk of exposure. What are you and your family doing? What steps are you taking?

FAUST: Yes, it's a great question and it's a moving target. The thing that I think most people don't realize is that there's no one answer for that. This is not a one size fits all.

That's one of the things that's so scary right now, is not that we know how bad it is, it's that we don't know what it is. Good news, bad news, we can handle that.

As an E.R. doctor, I give people good news and that's great, but they actually tolerate bad news better than you think. People are amazing, Kate, they are.

One thing people can't seem to deal with is uncertainty and I think that's what's driving the panic.

We can follow these things and actually know what to do next. If you're not armed with data, I can't answer your question.

What I will say is there are some universal things that are really important. Social distancing is very important and obviously more hand washing.

But one thing I think is really a concept that people aren't so aware of is the idea that there's something as trying to be perfect, like a god. We are human and we have to focus on doing a few things really well and not trying to do a hundred things well.

Everyone is saying, oh, gosh, can I do this or that. If you need me to get eggs at the store and I can't miss it from the recipe, give me a three- three-item list and I won't mess it up. If you give me a 50- item list, I'm going to miss the eggs.


That's what I'm worried about is people are becoming worried, oh, what can I do, who can I see, what number, what -- and I'm thinking a little bit more along lines of, hey, you're human. Give yourself a break. Do the best you can. Wash your hands like you're scrubbing into an appendectomy.

But I'm still kissing my kids -- my kid -- my daughter and my wife. That's my personal approach but that doesn't mean that's everyone's approach. Everyone has different risks.

So just because I'm not personally worried at that level at this time, it doesn't mean other people don't have a good reason to. So we have to give each other permission to adopt in accordance to what's going on in our situation, in our own unique situations.

BOLDUAN: And the highlight of my day being you're able to share a picture of your wife and your daughter doing a very good job at washing her hands at a very young age. At least, we can have that little smile in our day when we're covering this unfolding crisis.

Dr. Faust, thank you for what you do and thank you so much for coming on.

FAUST: Appreciate it. Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Still ahead for us, news about the coronavirus is impossible to avoid, even for children, of course. So how should parents talk to them about it? How much should you tell them? I had those questions and two experts join me next to discuss.



BOLDUAN: We are keeping an eye on the White House briefing room. You can see there the coronavirus task force is set to give an update on the outbreak any minute. When it begins, we will bring it to you.

Meantime, schools closed, activities canceled, playdates off limits and lives interrupted. That's what children across the country are dealing with right now, many too young to really grasp what's going on around them for the most part. And that means tough questions for millions of parents. I am definitely one of them.

As we've been doing throughout this crisis, let us turn to the experts.

Joining me right now is Dr. Sally Goza. She's president of the American Academy of Pediatrics. And Tovah Klein, the director of Barnard College Center for Toddler Development.

Thank you both for joining me. Dr. Goza, this uncertainty is so scary enough for adults, so it's

understandable it's just as scary for children of all ages. What is the most important thing that kids to know when we are talking to them about the coronavirus?

DR. SALLY GOZA, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS: The most important thing is for parents to be reassuring to their children. We need to ensure them that we're doing everything we can to keep them safe and healthy.

And also to give them information. Children will do better if they have information. But we want to keep the information simple and in terms they can understand.

We also can let children take some of the responsibility and take control by learning how to wash their hands, teaching them songs to wash their hands by, teaching them to cough into their sleeve, teaching them how to elbow bump instead of shake hands. And all of those things are very important.

BOLDUAN: And, Tovah, you stress that the parents cannot -- this is not a subject that you can avoid with your kids, because they are going to hear about the virus from someone from somewhere. How should we be talking to them about the virus? What is important for children of all ages?

DR. TOVAH KLEIN, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR TODDLER DEVELOPMENT, BARNARD COLLEGE: Yes, it's a really important question because they're hearing it everywhere. If they're three, if they're 13, their worlds are filled with this. Particularly for younger children, but across ages, they don't know what this is.


KLEIN: We don't fully understand it.


KLEIN: They're hearing coronavirus, COVID, quarantine. They're hearing big words. Really, it's the coronavirus that they're hearing.

So it's important to go to children and say, you've probably heard this word, again, depending on their age, coronavirus. If they're a little older, you can say, what is it you know about it and what are you thinking? You want to dispel myths for the older children.

For the younger children, like Dr. Goza was saying, you really need a lot of reassurance. This is a big word for something we usually call a cold or the flu. So you're demystifying it.

Children count on their parents to filter the world, particularly young children. And to say we usually call it the cold or flu, it seems like a cold or flu and a lot of people are getting. And our job is to make sure we don't give it to someone accidentally.

Then we assure children for -- particularly, for children, what we know so far, children in the date, children aren't really getting sick themselves but we know they might pass it on to somebody.

BOLDUAN: Pass it on. Yes, exactly.

KLEIN: Right. So saying it doesn't really hurt children, it usually doesn't hurt grown-ups either, because children need to know mommies and daddies are safe, they're safe. But we can do things to make sure nobody else gets it and that's part of our job.

BOLDUAN: Giving them a little bit of the power. That's a common thread I've been hearing from all of you

KLEIN: Yes, yes.

BOLDUAN: -- that's really something that's been helpful in trying to understand how to talk to my girls about this.


BOLDUAN: And, Doctor Goza, when we first spoke, you told me said something really important. I said it on the show yesterday. This is not like a snow day in terms of schools being closed. Why is that important for parents to remember?


GOZA: This is so important. The social distancing is what's going to make this crisis go by faster and be resolved a little bit sooner with less casualties, less problems in the country.