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Virus Cases Soar In U.S, Hospitals Struggle To Keep Up; Two Congressmen Test Positive For Coronavirus; Italy Virus Deaths Rise By Record 475 In One Day. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired March 19, 2020 - 07:00   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEW DAY: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is New Day.

The reported number of coronavirus cases has spiked overnight. This is the reality we knew would happen, but it is still jarring to see. The U.S. now has nearly 9,000 confirmed cases. That's a 45 percent increase since yesterday morning. 149 Americans have died.

You can see how the number has steadily risen in the last week as testing in this country has expanded, though not nearly enough. Perhaps the most important development overnight, new data shows that it's not just the elderly at risk. Please pay attention to this.

The CDC reports that nearly 40 percent of the first patients in the U.S. who were sick enough to be hospitalized were between the ages of 20 and 54. The head of the White House Coronavirus Task Force is pleading with young adults to take the outbreak seriously and stop socializing in groups.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN NEW DAY: We're also hearing new pleas this morning from healthcare workers on the frontlines about their need for protective gear. And hospitals are also reporting shortages in staff.

Officials in Westchester County, New York, released a bulletin overnight calling on all registered nurses, including the retired ones to volunteer their services.

President Trump has invoked a wartime law to increase production of supplies, including ventilators. He signed an emergency funding measure overnight and is discussing some details of a $1 trillion economic package that could be finalized by next week.

And two members of Congress have tested positive for coronavirus, both of whom were seen mingling and voting with colleagues as recently as Saturday morning.

There is one hopeful sign to tell you about. This is from China. The potential milestone, if it is to be believed, for the first time, China is reporting no new local cases, meaning from inside the country. That, of course, is not the case in the United States.

So let's begin our coverage with Brynn Gingras. She is live in New York City. Brynn, what's the latest?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Alisyn. Good morning. New York City seeing that sobering number overnight, about a thousand new cases here in the city. Governor Cuomo thinks in the state we could see tens of thousands of new cases.

Now, yes, that is partly due to testing. Yes, it doesn't mean everyone is going to need hospitalization. But the fact is, this emphasizes the impact this is going to have on the healthcare system. And we're really seeing that everywhere. Not just Westchester County, Alisyn. States are asking nurses to come out of retirement. We're seeing hospital Navy ships going to both coasts. We're seeing a hospital in Georgia having to make their own masks because they're about to run out.

The president and other government officials saying we're at war with this virus.


GINGRAS: President Trump signing a new coronavirus aid package into law after weeks of downplaying the scope of the pandemic.

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: it's the invisible enemy. It's always the toughest enemy, the invisible enemy. But we're going to defeat the invisible enemy.

GINGRAS: the U.S. Navy deploying two hospital ships, one heading to New York City, where the mayor says there's a dire need for additional medical support.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D-NEW YORK CITY, NY): We're almost up to 2,000 cases right now in New York City alone. That's going to cause a surge into our hospitals.

GINGRAS: New York's governor insists he prefer to avoid an order to shelter in place.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): We went to 50 percent of the workforce today.

Obviously, the flipside is the more you close down businesses, the worse on the economy and on individual incomes.

GINGRAS: But nearly 10 million Northern Californians are experiencing just that, asked to only leave home for necessary activities like buying groceries.

MAYOR LONDON BREED (D-SAN FRANCISCO, CA): The people in San Francisco are definitely permitted to go out, to run, to exercise, to ride bikes. So many of our residents are complying with this order because they understand its impact on public health. This is about public health. This is not a vacation.

GINGRAS: But in Florida, some beaches are still packed with young people celebrating spring break, ignoring calls to practice social distancing.

New CDC data shows adults between the ages of 20 and 54 make up nearly 40 percent of people needing to be hospitalized because of coronavirus. Officials begging young people to take precautions.

DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: There are concerning reports coming out of France and Italy about some young people getting seriously ill and very seriously ill in the ICUs.

We cannot have these large gatherings that continue to occur for people who are off work.

GINGRAS: President Trump disagreeing with his treasury secretary, Steve Mnuchin, who warned the country could see a 20 percent unemployment rate because of coronavirus if there's no intervention.


TRUMP: No, I don't agree. That's an, absolute total worst case scenario.

GINGRAS: Meantime, many people already feeling the sting of the pandemic in their pockets. The Trump administration and Capitol Hill are working on ways to help, including a $1 trillion stimulus package with up to $500 billion in checks into the hands of some Americans, a $50 billion bailout for the airline industry and up to $300 billion to support small businesses.

TRUMP: We have to help everybody. It was nobody's fault.


GINGRAS: Now, that plan still is being negotiated. It doesn't look like it's going to be finalized until next week, this, as day by day, more governments are making more closures.

Just in this area, we've learned that Pennsylvania has now joined with the tristate and added mall closures. So that means malls are now closed in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and now Pennsylvania for the foreseeable future. John?

BERMAN: Makes sense. Brynn Gingras for us in Times Square, Brynn, thank you very much.

Joining us now, Andy Slavitt, former acting Administrator for Medicare and Medicaid in the Obama administration, and Dr. Suraj Saggar, Chief of Infectious Disease at Holy Name Medical Center New Jersey. That hospital is currently treating several coronavirus patients.

And I just want to put the statistics back up on the screen so people pay attention. This is the age breakdown in the first tranche of coronavirus cases in the United States. And what you can see is that 69 percent of those cases are younger than 65 years old, 69 percent younger than 65. And nearly half of the 121 patients admitted to the ICU in the first tranche are younger than 65.

So, Dr. Saggar, tell us what you are seeing on the frontlines there.

DR. SURAJ SAGGAR, CHIEF OF INFECTIOUS DISEASE, HOLY NAME MEDICAL CENTER: Yes, good morning. Thanks for having me. Reporting from the frontlines, that's absolutely true. We do have data from China. We were looking for more older patients with we have called comorbidities, hypertension, diabetes. But what we're seeing really now is actually quite shocking. It's a surge of younger patients, patients coming in very acutely ill. So that means they're requiring advanced medical care, several in the ICU.

And it is concerning. You know, this is a vastly, quickly evolving process we're learning all the time about this virus. And we can't necessarily just assume the experience in China will be the same in Europe or in the United States.

CAMEROTA: And, Dr. Saggar, do we know why ours different? I mean, why we were under the false sense of security that younger people under 60 weren't becoming seriously ill but now data shows that they are going to the emergency room and being hospitalized, beyond just going to the emergency room? Do we know why?

SAGGAR: So it's a great question. There's so many different factors that are being looked at. For instance, China is a very homogeneous population. Obviously, the United States is a great melting pot. Could there be genetic variations? Could there be an association with obesity, which at least from our experience, we see a correlation in some part to obesity and those that are younger with more significant medical problems? Could there be variations in certain receptors? We know the virus uses to gain entry into the cell.

There're really a lot of questions. I mean, the great thing is that we're sharing information very quickly amongst our colleagues locally, statewide, tristate, throughout the country. But at this time, we don't have a great handle on why or what the exact risk factors are for some of the younger population. That's why it's so important for everyone to realize they have to do their part, social mitigation, et cetera, and it's not just a disease of the elderly.

BERMAN: So, And Slavitt, first of all, it's great to have you on the show. I followed you for some time on social media and a lot of people know you from social media where you're prolific in talking about the healthcare situation in the United States.

I have heard, we have all heard this situation referred to now as a war. What is most needed in your mind, Andy, for this war effort?

ANDY SLAVITT, FORMER ACTING ADMINISTRATOR FOR MEDICARE AND MEDICAID SERVICES: Well, so first of all, I want to thank the doctor and every doctor and nurse, first responder on the frontline. They are at the frontlines and they're going to be there for some time and they need a tremendous amount of support. I think the first thing we need and I've called for a $5,000 a month payment to every frontline medical worker and first responder for the duration of this. One of the reasons for that is they all are going to need their own segregated childcare, they're going to need to be able to take every protection possible, including sometimes on their own in order to protect themselves. Remember, they protect us every day. We need to protect them.

Secondly, this is a war, I think the president has the wrong people in charge. It's time to have -- to call back a general, possibly General Mattis, FEMA, and start maneuvering and creating the logistical approaches. It really just can't be done out of Health and Human Services. I was in Health and Human Services. There are some strengths there.


This is not the kind of situation that should be run quite that way. So we start treating this in a way that is a little more severe and a little more strict, that's going to help us.

And, finally, we started a #stayhome campaign with the number of scientists from both parties. And the number of entertainers and others have gotten on board. We're going to make it fun to stay home. But the kids have to understand that they have been vaping, they've been doing things to their lung capacity. It is not safe for them, let alone their relatives to be out in social gatherings.

CAMEROTA: That's a really helpful reminder today this morning for everybody to hear from you. You both, really.

Dr. Saggar, what do you need most? What is most pressing? What do you want to see the government begin churning out today?

SAGGAR: Yes. Really, we keep talking about the surge and now the idea of this is a war and it's true. We need to make sure that those at the frontline are keeping safe. And that's really coming down to things like personal protective equipment. We have to ensure we have enough gowns, gloves, masks. We don't want those taking care of us, right -- it's not just doctors, it's nurses, it's EMTs, it's those on the first line compromising their own personal health to take care of others. We need to make sure we have enough ICU beds.

We see the patients coming in. Again, the vast majority will be okay, will recover, will have mild disease. But those that are coming we're seeing on the frontlines are coming in very sick, they're decompensating very quickly. They're requiring ICU beds and they're requiring ventilators. We have to make sure that we have the capacity as a nation to handle this onslaught, potential onslaught. What we're seeing now in the tristate area is certainly a very sick patient. So we have to stay ahead. We can't run scared, as we say, but we have to run fast.

BERMAN: Andy, you say we need to be prepared and the White House has apparently begun writing about contingency plans for things that are going to last this long. You say, we need to prepare for this to go 18 months. So how do we get prepared in our own homes and our own lives for this to last 18 months?

SLAVITT: Right. And this is not me saying this. This is really the best piece of data we have right now. And, remember, we're in the first inning. It's from the Imperial College study that came out March 16th. And for those of you that like to read or even read a summary, it's readily available. And this says we should be prepared for probably one or two waves and that we will be at this in some form -- we're going to be at this form until one of two things happens. Either we build herd immunity or we have a vaccine.

The vaccine is about an 18-month process to get the safe vaccine to us. And even then, we have to make sure that it's a vaccine that works the majority of the population. So in order for us to build a herd immunity, we're going to have to reduce the number of people that get infected every time someone is infected. And so all that means is, right now, when we're infected, we're often asymptomatic and each person infects two additional people. So in order for that not to happen, we need to be able to find a way of adjusting our lives.

And so there is an imperative there but there's also an opportunity there. You know, we've never been asked -- my generation has never been asked to sacrifice the way my parents and grandparents' generation have. And if I didn't stay at home for a few more months and figuring some stuff out, there will be sacrifices for many, many people in that. But they're not nearly the sacrifices we face, the existential sacrifices we've faced in our history and we've gotten through them. And we found great ways to get through them. We'll find the spirit to get through them. And I think we should approach it with humor and joy and compassion and support for everybody. And this will pass.

The only question is how many people will we lose before this passes. Every one of us - every one of us has a say in that number.

BERMAN: Andy Slavitt, Dr. Saggar, we appreciate both of you for coming on this morning. And, Dr. Saggar, we appreciate you for being on the frontlines of this battle. Thank you for the work you're doing.

SAGGAR: Thanks for having me.

BERMAN: Now, there is a group of people that needs to hear the message that we just heard. These people, right? Spring breakers in Florida who appear to be ignoring the threat of coronavirus. But we now know that people younger than 65, these people partying on the beach, they're at risk.

We're going to discuss this with a senator from Florida, next.



BERMAN: Developing overnight, new data from the CDC shows an alarming number of younger people, nearly 40 percent of the nearly 2,500 first reported cases in the United States of coronavirus were patients between the age of 20 and 54. Look at that chart. It comes as images like this of spring breakers packing the beaches in Florida are raising questions about whether young adults or adults as old as 65 are heeding the warnings not to socialize in groups.

Joining us now with Republican Senator Rick Scott of Florida. He is the former governor of that state and he's been in self-quarantine for more than a week after meeting with the Brazilian official in Miami who later tested positive for the virus.

Senator, it's a pleasure to see you this morning. Let me just ask you first how you're feeling, how has the self-quarantine been going?

SEN. RICK SCOTT (R-FL): You know, I've never taken my temperature like I have. I take it about every three hours. When I first got up this morning, I'm 97.5. I'm about the same for 11 days. So I'm doing fine. I have just got, I think, three or four days to go.

But with regard to the beaches, get off the beach. I mean, unless you can figure out how to completely be isolated from anybody else, I mean, this is -- individuals have to take responsibility and every level of government has got to be very clear. Don't be on the beach unless you can be somehow be completely by yourself. I mean, we've got to figure out the social distancing.


But I think whether it's the beaches, wherever we are, every part of government has got to start telling people, take some personal responsibility here. Don't infect other people. Don't take a chance that you're going to be the one that causes your grandparents or your parents or another friend from school to get sick.

BERMAN: You need to close the beaches?

SCOTT: I mean, look, I don't have all the same information that other people have. There's a way you can walk on the beach by yourself. But it's not what's happening. So whatever they have to do, they've got to stop all those individuals from going to the beach because there's a chance that somebody is going to be down there with coronavirus and how many people are they going to infect.

So you can see -- you go back to what happened to South Korea, that one individual they said that went to a variety of churches, the one who infected -- caused more infection of more than a thousand people. So you've got to figure out how to figure out to get these people off the beach.

BERMAN: Senator, you and I have had the pleasure of speaking, I don't know, a half dozen, maybe a dozen times. It's always during a hurricane, before, during, after. You're no shrinking violet. You're saying you don't have the same information as some people. But you also say that people at every level of government need to make this happen.

So you've told the spring breakers to get off the beaches. What's your message to the -- whether it be the state or local officials about how they manage the beaches?

SCOTT: I think they ought to do everything they can to stop people from being on the beach. They ought to make sure that the only way you can go on the beach is if you're going to be there by yourself.

So, John, I went through four hurricanes, I went through Zika. Everybody wants to second guess everybody. What I want to do is the only way we got people to do the right thing in these hurricanes is tell people, you have got to take care of yourself and your family, the exact message with this.

What are you thinking about by being on the beach around all these people that might have coronavirus and then you're going to go home and potentially infect the people you love the most? What are you thinking? Stop doing it now.

BERMAN: Yes, that's what I was saying. Because I've had all these conversations with you when you instituted mandatory evacuations for hurricanes. And I know it's a different situation. But you did this early. You didn't wait. You did this early. You sent a clear message early and often so people understood.

SCOTT: John, everything we're doing right now, if you think about it, we have got to get everybody in this. We have got to get these testing sites up now. We have got to close our borders now. We have got to get people to do social distancing, whatever way it takes, we've got to do that now. And we've got to go through every pieces of supply chain, whether to make sure everyone is swabbed, make reagents or tests or ventilators, whatever. We've got all of the (INAUDIBLE) what each of us is going to do to make this happen.

Ultimately, the response is going to be you, your family, your church, your community. That's going to be the response that it was. The same thing with hurricanes. If the federal government only can do so many things. If we don't individually take responsibility, this is going to be much worse and we're going to lose many more of our loved ones.

BERMAN: The news this morning is there are two members of Congress who have tested positive now for coronavirus, Representative McAdams from Utah and Representative Diaz-Balart from Florida, where you are. Look, both of these members were voting as of Saturday morning. What are your concerns about Congress in general? It's not a particularly young group of people up there, Senator.

SCOTT: So -- and I think we're -- I think it's more than two people. (INAUDIBLE) typically when we vote. We go in and vote. We don't all go in and vote together very often. But I think everybody take this seriously. And, plus, your example. I mean, as soon as I was told that a member of the Brazilian delegation, he was about -- I think about six feet away from me, he was tested positive. I said, I'm not going to be around anybody for the 14 days. I called the Senate doctor, I called my doctor and said what should I do with regard to testing. They said, you don't have any symptoms. When you do, then you should go get tested.

So each of us have to take -- I mean, I want to go down the path Taiwan, okay, where they have, what, as of this point, a hundred (INAUDIBLE) cases and one death. Why do we want to go down that path? And it took everybody doing their own job, figuring this out, but we have to get these testing sites up and we have to get people to self- quarantine.

I mean, think about your -- I told people in the hurricanes. I said, you could rebuild your house. You can't rebuild your life. You are the one that possibly would be the one that could infect your relative and they will potentially die because of this. What are you thinking?

BERMAN: Senator Rick Scott, thank you for joining us this morning. I appreciate it.

SCOTT: Thanks, John.

BERMAN: I appreciate the message you are sending out. And, again, it's not just everyone in their lives, I think it's the local and state officials and federal officials everywhere about what they need to do and doing now (ph).

SCOTT: Everybody.


BERMAN: Thanks for being with us.

SCOTT: Thanks, John.

CAMEROTA: Okay, John, we're getting a new firsthand account from an American family on lockdown in Italy right now.


RACHEL BHUCHHOLZ, AMERICAN LIVING UNDER LOCKDOWN IN ITALY: People are dying alone there. Their relatives can't come to see them because it's dangerous.


CAMEROTA: Her story, next.


BERMAN: Developing overnight, hospitals and healthcare workers bracing for an onslaught of coronavirus patients. In some cases, they're already there. At this hour, there are nearly 9,000 cases nationwide. That's a 45 percent increase since yesterday. 149 Americans have died.

New data from the CDC shows that nearly 40 percent of the first patients in the U.S. who were sick enough to be hospitalized are between the ages of 20 and 54. A member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force is pleading with young people to stop socializing in groups. Overnight, President Trump signed a sweeping multibillion dollar emergency aid package that provides paid sick leave for 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 by early next week.


CAMEROTA: The death toll in Italy is rising by a record 475 people in one day.