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Shortage of Supplies Hamper Testing; Italy's Deaths Rise; China Reports No New Cases of Infections; Deaths in Nursing Homes. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired March 19, 2020 - 06:30   ET




ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Developing overnight, hospital and health care workers bracing for an onslaught of coronavirus patients. At this hour, there are nearly 9,000 cases across the United States. That's a 45 percent increase since just yesterday. One hundred and forty-nine Americans have died.

Also developing overnight, new information that Americans of all ages can be seriously sick from this virus. It's not just the elderly. New data from the CDC shows nearly 40 percent of the first patients in the U.S. who were sick enough to be hospitalized were age 20 to 54.

A member of the coronavirus task force now pleading with millennials to take the outbreak seriously and to stop socializing.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Overnight, President Trump signed a multibillion dollar emergency aid package that provides paid sick leave for some Americans in quarantine and free coronavirus testing. It comes as Congress works out the details of a $1 trillion economic stimulus package that could be finalized early next week.

Two members of Congress have tested positive for coronavirus, both of whom were voting as recently as Saturday morning. This morning, the entire Georgia legislature, their staffs and the lieutenant governor, they're in self-quarantine for 14 days after a senator there tested positive.

CAMEROTA: Now, across the country, health care workers on the frontlines battling coronavirus are reporting a severe shortage of supplies that they need for these critical tests.

CNN's Drew Griffin joins us with more on that.

Drew, what are you learning?

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, there's a reason my doctor's office just this morning sent an e-mail saying, if you're mildly symptomatic, don't come in because we don't have tests. The supplies are simply running out.


GRIFFIN (voice over): In the cascading shortfalls of the national response to coronavirus, testing labs across the country are sounding the next alarm, telling CNN there are shortages, not just in tests, but the components needed to conduct the tests. The head of a 51- hospital network in the west says key parts are missing.

DR. ROD HOCHMAN, PROVIDENCE ST. JOSEPH HEALTH: In certain cases it's reagents, some of the chemicals that are used. And even in certain cases, it's just the availability of the appropriate swab in order to take the sample.

GRIFFIN: It's the same story at New York's Presbyterian Hospital.

DR. YOKO FURUYA, INFECTIOUS DISEASE SPECIALIST: There do continue to be some challenges around expanding the testing significantly at this point.

GRIFFIN: And at the University of Nebraska's testing lab.

DR. MARK RUPP, INFECTION CONTROL CHIEF, UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA MEDICAL CENTER: We're in the situation now where we actually don't have the reagents to do the extraction from the samples so that we can run the tests.

GRIFFIN: Health officials in multiple states tell CNN they do not have enough tests for people who need them because of a shortage. In Minnesota, the state health agency is limiting testing to only the highest priority specimens due to a national shortage of Covid-19 laboratory testing material.


The Ohio Department of Health told CNN they're only testing our most vulnerable patients due to a global shortage of supplies. And in West Virginia, the state health officer says she had to scrape together supplies from flu tests.

DR. CATHY SLEMP, WEST VIRGINIA STATE HEALTH OFFICER: There's all kinds of things in the chain of testing. There's swabs, there's extraction things, et cetera, et cetera. There are shortages on many pieces of it.

GRIFFIN: West Virginia still has a critically low number of tests. Military veteran Kenneth Hawthorne says he's been to the emergency room three times in the past two weeks, sick with a cough, fever, but tested negative for flu. He says he cannot get tested for Covid-19.

KENNETH HAWTHORNE, FALLING WATERS, WEST VIRGINIA: They keep telling me that my wife and I, we're at low risk. So we weren't priority to take the test.

GRIFFIN: A major test maker, Roche Diagnostics Corporation, tells CNN, demand for its test is greater than our ability to supply it.

GRIFFIN (on camera): How did this happen? HOCHMAN: Well, I think we needed to rethink how we're going to deal

with an epidemic, or pandemic in this case. The minute there was an outbreak in China several months ago, that should have started a whole sequence of events going. Now, as everyone would say, that's -- that's the history, but what are we going to do now?

GRIFFIN (voice over): Industries are responding, ramping up production. And both Lab Core and Quest tell CNN they are greatly increasing the number of tests they can process per day. But, in the meantime, the CEO of the Association of Public Health Laboratories calls the situation a huge problem. I'm really concerned that we are not going to have the capabilities to test those who really need and should get a test.


GRIFFIN: And, John, the Food and Drug Administration tells us they're aware of these shortages, are trying to provide alternative sources for some of these people that need testing products. But, really, this is akin to the whole toilet paper run. And until that manufacturers can catch up with this ever increasing demand, we're going to be in the same situation. Laboratories, health departments, et cetera, are just looking for supplies anywhere they can get them and they're not available.


BERMAN: Yes, if you don't mind me saying, the difference with toilet paper is, no one's going to die if they run out. People are going to die if there's not the testing that needs to happen. And we've been hearing from people all morning, Drew, and we will hear more from hospital and emergency rooms that are just, at this point, they're just assuming people are sick because they can't get the tests that they need.

So, Drew Griffin, thank you so much for your reporting on this. It is crucial this morning.

So, at this hour, 149 Americans have died with coronavirus. We want to take a moment to remember some of them.

Eighty-four-year-old John Knox, a retired New York City firefighter, a Marine, passed away on Monday. After the September 11th attacks, he came out of retirement and worked at Ground Zero. It left him with decreased lung function. His son spoke to Anderson last night.


ZACHARY KNOX, FATHER PASSED AWAY FROM CORONAVIRUS: And he was just a very kind, sweet man. All the people -- he always looked out for his men and the people around him. Is that if you needed him, he was there in a heartbeat.


CAMEROTA: And seventy-seven-year-old Richard Curran (ph) passed away on Sunday after reportedly falling ill last week. Curran lived in an assisted living facility in Ft. Lauderdale with his wife of 57 years. The Chicago native is survived by his wife, daughter and two grandchildren.

And one New Jersey family has been devastatingly hard hit. Three members of the Fusco (ph) family have died. It's believed seven members of the family contracted coronavirus at a family dinner more than a week ago. The 73-year-old matriarch, Grace Fusco, passed away just last night without knowing that her two eldest children had also died in the past few days. Three of the siblings are still in critical condition this morning. Grace was a mother of 11 and grandmother to 27.

We'll be right back.



BERMAN: New this morning, Italy has seen its biggest single-day spike in coronavirus cases. Health care workers now struggling to contain the worst national crisis that country has endured since World War II. Nearly 3,000 now dead. More than 35,000 people infected. An incredible 60 million people under lockdown. Other European countries tightening restrictions to keep the pandemic from spreading, but they're seeing rates that aren't that far off from what we're seeing in Italy.

CNN's Clarissa Ward is live in London tracking all of these developments for us.



Well, I'm standing here in Covin (ph) Garden. Anyone who's ever been to London has probably visited this place. Normally it would be heaving, John, hundreds, thousands of people milling around this area. Now you can see basically just a handful of people.

And if we walk over here, we can also take a look and you'll see that the tube station here, this is Covin Garden Tube Station, is now completely shut. It is one of a number of tube stations that have been shut.

But none of these restrictions, John, seem to be doing anything to alleviate the vicious spread of coronavirus across Europe. A shocking statistic today that we're learning now is that across Europe the number of deaths and number of cases have actually now surpassed China. This is certainly a grim milestone if ever there was one. That is in large part because of Italy, which you pointed out, 475 deaths yesterday alone. The biggest spike that Italy has seen so far.

Other countries showing signs of being hot on Italy's heels. Eleven thousand cases in Germany. Nearly 10,000 cases in France. And, really, John, no sense of where this ends, where the peak hits as Europe finds itself in the eye of the storm.

BERMAN: So, Clarissa, here we are waking up to the news, to the revelation or reality that young people are not immune to this.


People younger than 65 can get sick, in some cases very sick. And this is also a lesson that is being learned in Europe, correct?

WARD: Absolutely. And it's such a crucial point because one of the real issues, particularly in the United Kingdom, even after the government told people, please, stop going out on the streets, stop going to pubs, stop going to bars, young people, particularly, were continuing to go out because of this sense or belief, a misguided belief I should add, that they were more resilient, that they were somehow immune, that they wouldn't feel the symptoms as much.

Well, we're now learning from France of all countries that of the 300 people who are currently being treated in ICU, in intensive care units, 50 percent of them are actually under the age of 60. Seventy -- seven, percent, sorry, of the total deaths in France have been under the age of 65. So it is foolishness of the highest degree for anyone to take it cavalier attitude towards this virus. While it may be targeting the elderly, it certainly affects the young, too.


CAMEROTA: That's really important information, Clarissa. Thank you very much for reporting for us.

Developing overnight, a major milestone, though, for China, where the coronavirus outbreak first took hold. The government there reporting no new local cases.

CNN's David Culver is live in Shanghai with the latest.

Can they be believed, David?

DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is interesting, Alisyn. And I know a lot of folks are looking at this and perhaps trying to glean some optimism from what we're hearing out of the National Health Commission. They're the ones who each day we monitor for their release of numbers. And they are suggesting that the most recent update is that there are no new cases out of either Hubei province, the epicenter of all of this, or the rest of mainland China.

However, they are seeing an increase of 34 cases. Well, where does the 34 come from? Imported cases. This is the big concern here. It's the cases that they say are coming from other countries.

And you go back just a few weeks and China was the -- the -- really the nation that everyone else was -- was blocking out. It was in its own globally imposed quarantine, if you will. People didn't want any travelers coming from here going into their countries. Now it's the reverse it seems. China doesn't want anyone else coming in and bringing with them the potential to spread the virus and expose others.

So what are they doing here? Well, you've got in Beijing, for example, all international travelers are going to be funneled through and put into government-forced quarantines. So the government designated facilities. And they'll be there for those 14 days. And then they can move about within mainland China after they've cleared that.

You're also seeing, even though these numbers are seeming to be under control, this cautious approach from the general public and really from officials too as to just resuming life as it was. And so little by little, John, what we're seeing is that they're still increasing hospital capacity, which is really interesting, and they're also continuing to manufacture ventilators.

BERMAN: That's really interesting. They are still taking this very seriously. Still at war with coronavirus, even as the news comes and they have no new local cases.

CULVER: That's right.

BERMAN: Again, if that can be believed, it is something that we can look at here in the United States as a sign of hope, although the measures that were taken in China, nothing like what we're doing here. Not yet.

David Culver, thank you for your reporting on this.

The coronavirus crisis, so much a part now of all of our lives. And it has brought out the best in many, including Arkansas landlord Shawn Clay -- Joe Clay Young, who heard that one of his restaurant owner tenants might not be able to pay next month's rent. Young not only waived his April rent, he did the same for all five of his restaurant tenants. This is what he told Don Lemon.


JOE CLAY YOUNG, PRESIDENT AND CEO, YOUNG INVESTMENT CO.: I said, I know you've got hourly employees, you've got single moms. We're going to get through this together. And I said, let's just do April on one condition, that you -- that you take care of your employees and take care of your family.


CAMEROTA: There's also country star Brad Paisley, the Nashville grocery store that he opened with his wife regularly provides food -- free food to people in need. Paisley says they're now delivering a week's worth of groceries to seniors who are homebound because of coronavirus.

And a therapy dog is still making the rounds at a Texas senior center, even though the facility is not accepting visitors during the coronavirus crisis. So Tonka, the great dane, and his trainer are cheering people up from the outside during these days of no touch and social distancing. They're saying hello from the other side of the glass. BERMAN: Now, Tonka is a great name for a dog, as opposed to --

CAMEROTA: Tula (ph). We just came up with it last night. We got a rescue dog during these days of the kids being home and we, just last night, at dinner, had a family vote. We've decided Tula.


BERMAN: Tula should meet Tonka.

CAMEROTA: Tula and Tonka.

BERMAN: And Tula should say to Tonka, you have a better name than I do.


CAMEROTA: And you're much bigger than I am.

BERMAN: All right.

OK, Americans who have loved ones in nursing homes have so many questions this morning. There's new data just out that shows that one in four coronavirus deaths have been linked to a single facility. We'll dive into this next.

CAMEROTA: I'll put a picture right now on Instagram.


BERMAN: All right, new this morning, one in four coronavirus deaths in the United States have been linked to a single nursing home in Washington state. Of the 120 residents who were living at Kirkland's Life Care Center last month, 81 have tested positive, 34 have now died.

Joining me now is Dr. Sean Morrison, chair of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital here in New York, who has been so helpful in helping us understand the risks to the elderly population.

And, Dr. Morrison, that's Washington state. In Florida, 19 long-term care facilities either have a suspected or confirmed case of coronavirus.


Such a public health concern inside these nursing homes. It might seem obvious to people, but why are they so at risk?

DR. SEAN MORRISON, CHAIR, BROOKDALE DEPARTMENT OF GERIATRICS AND PALLIATIVE MEDICINE AT MOUNT SINAI: Yes, there are three reasons why nursing home residents are at such increased risk. One is, almost every single person in a nursing home is in one of our high risk groups and a high risk group for severe Covid-19 illness. The second is, in many, many nursing homes, people share rooms. So that the risk of spreading from one person in bed A to the other person in bed B is very high. And, finally, in nursing homes, the nurses aide cares for, on average, about five people, five residents. A nurse can care for up to 15 to 20 depending on its day or night. And so unless rigid infection control processes are put in place, even health care workers can spread Covid-19 from one resident to the other.

BERMAN: Now, Americans, we like to try to fix things right away. So I know a lot of children of older parents who might be in nursing homes might be thinking this morning, I'm just going to get them out. If it's so risky, I'm just going to get them out. Why isn't that the right solution?

MORRISON: Oh, I wish that could be an option. The reality is, most people in nursing homes in the United States don't want to be there and are there because they have to be. And they're there for two reasons. One is that their family can't provide the 24-hour seven day a week care that they need because they themselves work or have young children that they're taking care of. The second reason is that most people in nursing homes, the overwhelming majority, have Medicaid, which pays for nursing home care where Medicare doesn't. And the reasons that they have Medicaid is they have spent all of their savings on health or personal care before they entered the nursing home.

BERMAN: So what can you do to make these facilities safer?

MORRISON: There are a number of things we can do. And many of those are already in place. The first, which is very hard, is rigid restrictions on visitors. That really the only people that should be allowed in that don't need to be there are there because their relative is dying and we need to provide that type of compassionate care. The second is that we need to follow rigid, rigid infection control processes. That now is not the time to be a little bit careless. The third is that we should be routinely and rigorously screening every resident at least twice a day for respiratory symptoms and for fever. And if any of those develop, those people should be isolated immediately.

BERMAN: Doctor, it's so sad, right? And I don't want to beat around the bush. This is -- we can't beat around the bush because now's the time for brutal honesty. But one of the biggest fears that older people have is the fear of dying alone, right?


BERMAN: And isolation is something that's terrifying to people. So how do you square this circle? If people are so terrified of being alone, yet they know how dangerous it is to see other people, how do we accommodate?

MORRISON: It's a real fear. And I think there are some things we can do to help. The first is frequent phone calls and phone calls from different people and focus on things other than Covid-19 when you're making those phone calls. Focus on things that would be happening every other day when we wouldn't be in this epidemic. Video visits are really, really helpful. Streaming, movies, watch TV and don't watch the news 24/7.

And, finally, you're right, depression is a risk and we should be looking for it. And the things we should be looking for in older adults are weakness, fatigue, loss of appetite, some weight loss, trouble with memory and, finally, problems with sleeping. In the elderly, sadness often is not the major complaint for people who are depressed. And if those symptoms develop, call your doctor right away.

BERMAN: Dr. Morrison, you have been so helpful the last few weeks and we're going to lean on you going forward. The older population at such great risk, which is why the news this morning that younger people are getting more sick in higher numbers than we believed is so alarming because it means potentially they could pass it on to their parents and grandparents too. We'll be talking about that all morning long.

Dr. Morrison, thank you very much.

MORRIS: Thank you very much.

CAMEROTA: John, as you just mentioned, there are these alarming new figures on young people becoming severely ill with coronavirus.

NEW DAY continues now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's going to get a lot worse before it gets better.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A coronavirus relief package has now been signed into law by President Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have a societal responsibilities to make sure that you don't inadvertently pass on the infection to someone who would not fare as well as you fare.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel like we shouldn't like change like our lifestyles necessarily, especially because it's (INAUDIBLE) like affecting younger people.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I hope they just listen to what we've been saying over the last period of time. We don't want them gathering.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is about public health. This is not a vacation. This is not a time for a play date or a dinner party at your house or bringing people together.


ANNOUNCER: This is -