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Coronavirus Cases Soar in U.S. as Hospitals Struggle to Keep Up; Coronavirus Deaths in Italy Rise By a Record 475 in One Day; Americans Adjust to Social-Distancing Amid Pandemic. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired March 19, 2020 - 07:30   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CO-ANCHOR, NEW DAY: It could be finalized by early next week.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CO-ANCHOR, NEW DAY: The death toll in Italy is rising by a record 475 people in one day. Healthcare workers are struggling to contain the worst national crisis that, that country has endured since World War II. More than 3,500 -- sorry, 35,000 people are infected and almost 3,000 have died. Sixty million people are under lockdown there. Other European countries are tightening restrictions to keep the pandemic from spreading as well. And CNN's Clarissa Ward is live in London with the latest. So, what are they doing Clarissa?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Alisyn. So, we're here in the heart of London in Covent Garden, and anyone who's visited Britain's capital has probably been here before. Normally, this would be heathing with hundreds, if not thousands of people. It's a very popular, busy destination. Now you can see practically nobody out on the streets.

And if we just walk over here this way, you can see Covent Garden's tube station, this is the underground subway system is now closed. One of dozens of London tube stations that have been shut down temporarily. But despite these measures, Alisyn, the European numbers are continuing to climb. We reached a particularly grim milestone today, which is that the total number of cases and deaths across the European continent have now surpassed China.

Just let that sink in for a moment, particularly, of course, we're looking at Italy. Four hundred and seventy five deaths in one day alone. That is the biggest spike that Italy has seen since it has been grappling with this crisis, and other countries are showing no signs of getting away unscathed. Germany, 11,000 cases, France, nearly 10,000 cases. The U.K. recording somewhere under 3,000 cases.

But important to remember that the U.K. has not been testing anywhere near as much as some of these other countries. So there is definitely a very real sense here that Europe is careening into the eye of the storm, and there's very real fears that this could look even uglier than some of the worst examples we already saw in China. CAMEROTA: You know, we obviously here in the U.S., we look to Europe

to see what our next few weeks looks like. Young people in Italy and France are becoming more seriously ill with this than we had thought possible. So tell us about that.

WARD: And this is so interesting, Alisyn because you know, the news that we heard from China when China was in the throes of the worst peak of the crisis was that young people essentially did not really seem to be affected. That does not appear to be the case here in Europe. We just heard from France, for example, that of the roughly 300 people that they have in intensive care units across the country, 50 percent of them are under the age of 60, 7 percent of their deaths have been people under the age of 65.

And one of the real concerns for officials is that it's young people largely who have been flouting government recommendations about gathering, socializing, going to restaurants and bars, and they could still be much more vulnerable than they realize.


BERMAN: All right, Clarissa Ward for us on the streets of London, just so people know, that neighborhood Clarissa is standing in is normally shoulder-to-shoulder with people. I mean, it's the kind of place where you have to weave your way through. It's normally so crowded. So, a remarkable image in and of itself there, Clarissa. Thank you very much.

She was talking about the dire situation in Italy. Well, an American mother of two there has been sharing her experiences in a video diary, and as the weeks wear on, it is clear the pandemic is taking a heavy emotional toll. CNN's Barbie Nadeau live in Rome with this story. Barbie?

BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you know, it is really difficult. Every single day people are under lockdown, and that's especially important for those people with little kids. You know, can you imagine being locked up in an apartment. We followed this American woman's journey, her diary, and you can just see how much more difficult it becomes for her every single day.



NADEAU (voice-over): Rachel Buchholz lives with her husband and two children on the outskirts of Milan. They are at the center of this country's coronavirus outbreak. And she's been recording video diaries on Instagram. A window into one family's life under lockdown.

BUCHHOLZ: Day two of quarantine. Day 16 of not being allowed to meet in large groups. So, no church, no school. And we're all just doing what we can. Lots going on on Skype. Thank goodness that we all have internet.


NADEAU: The first few days she's upbeat. When kindergarten is canceled, they make fort in the living room and enjoy the fresh air.


Soon, people only venture out to make trips to the supermarket or pharmacy.

BUCHHOLZ: There are reasons you're allowed to leave your house. But if you leave your house for other reasons, then you can be stopped and ticketed or put in prison. So people all talking one meter apart from each other.

This is us one meter apart, and this is the line for the grocery store. Everybody is standing far away from each other.

NADEAU: Like every parent in Italy, as the days drag on, Rachel tries to keep the kids entertained.

BUCHHOLZ: So this is the schedule we made for the kids, won't be strictly adhered to. But Ben is already really excited about it. I'm just running up and down our street. Our little tiny-like private street with our -- the kids. Just trying to get the exercise in.

NADEAU: But one week in, reality sets in.

BUCHHOLZ: I think yesterday and today have been tough emotionally because for a lot of reasons. I mean, just kind of realizing the reality of what we're living in for the next several weeks or months. We don't really know.

NADEAU: As news filters in of more cases and more deaths, they're struck by the tragedy unfolding around them.

BUCHHOLZ: They've run out of space in mortuaries. So, they're keeping crematoriums open 24/7 and they've had to stack in coffins in churches while they wait to cremate people because they don't have anywhere else to put them. People are -- because it's an infectious disease, people are dying alone. Their relatives can't come see them because it's dangerous.

So they try to use doctors and nurses' phones to face-time their families to say good-bye to them.

NADEAU: With countries across Europe going into lockdown, and the U.S. taking stricter measures to slow the spread of the virus, Rachel's quarantine diary may be a look at what's to come. Trying to keep family life normal while outside life is anything, but.


NADEAU: You know, I mean, it's just -- her story just seems so tragic. But 60 million people are living like that. And if you go outside and you don't have your mask on, people are angry with you. You need to -- you don't know if you're carrying it because if you're asymptomatic and you've tested positive, you have it -- you don't know. You really don't know.

And people every single day are more tense and more worried and more concerned, and we don't see an end in sight of this lockdown as these numbers continue to climb. Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Barbie, we can't help but notice, of course, that you're wearing plastic gloves and a mask. Is that what you've taken -- are you wearing that now all the time when you're outside?

NADEAU: Yes, you don't go outside without the mask on. And it's not necessarily because I believe I have it or I'm going to get it, it's for the sake of the people around you. If you are outside without a mask on, people tell you to put a mask on. Cover your face. Wear gloves. They don't want to take any chances. And we do it, and I think it's prudent to be as careful as we can at this moment in time. Alisyn?

CAMEROTA: Barbie, thank you very much for all of your reporting from there for us. So President Trump invokes a war-time law in the face of a medical supply shortage. What else can the federal government do? Well, we have a former head of Homeland Security joining us to tell us how we can get some of those masks at hospitals here.



BERMAN: New this morning, doctors and nurses sounding the alarm, saying they're running critically low on supplies for testing, and they're also running low on protective gear. So what can the federal government do to help here? Joining us now is Michael Chertoff, the former Homeland Security Secretary under President George W. Bush. Hey, Secretary, thank you very much for being with us this morning --


BERMAN: President Trump tells us he is invoking the Defense Production Act. How exactly will that help to get these supplies?

CHERTOFF: Well, what that will do is help mobilize private sector companies to produce masks, ventilators and other necessary supplies. Obviously, there have to be companies that have the capability of doing that. But I would say, this is an overdue measure given the scale of what we're dealing within the need for these essential commodities.

BERMAN: Yes, because one of the questions, and there are no bad questions during a crisis like this, as people understand it. One of the questions people ask is, well, in World War II, they turned the car plants into tank plants. How come we can't get these factories to make the masks that we need? How come we can't convert factories to make the ventilators we need? And what's the answer?

CHERTOFF: Well, we can do that. But it's going to take a little bit of time to do the transition. Obviously, if you're making automobiles, jeeps and tanks are a little bit easier than masks and ventilators. Also bear in mind that some of these companies are dealing with issues involving their own workforce, which is why had we done this a month ago, we would have been further ahead than we are now. But better late than never as the saying goes.

BERMAN: You've said had we done it a month ago, we would have been better prepared. Is it your general feeling that the overall federal response to this has been wanting?

CHERTOFF: I think we've been slow. Although, we eventually moved into a direction, I think for example, the shortage of testing kits has been a problem. And part of that is that the FDA initially and the CDC took a very conservative approach to who had the authority to create the kits. We didn't accept W.H.O. kits.


We didn't get the private sector involved right away like we have now. And I think that bureaucratic element slowed us up and has made it more difficult to accurately assess where we are with respect to this virus.

BERMAN: What would you like to see FEMA doing now? What role would you like FEMA to play?

CHERTOFF: Well, FEMA does really logistics and coordination. And I think that the White House has now triggered FEMA to use its highest level of activity. But again, I think we're a little bit late to this. So, for example, there are supplies that the military has, there are field hospitals, there are a couple of hospital ships.

In the past, in natural disasters, we have deployed those very quickly, so we could deal with medical emergencies either on land or at sea. Now, what we need to do is get those out as quickly as possible. Likewise, the veterans administration may have some at capacity that they can spare. What FEMA can do is coordinate with the states, figure out who has the need and make sure the logistics are in place to get to commodities to those who can use them.

BERMAN: Just so people have a physical illustration of what you're talking about in terms of the lead time in planning this necessary. You brought up these military medical ships, the comfort, which the president, he announced yesterday, he goes, I'm sending the Comfort to New York City and people thought it was on the way. That's not true.

The Comfort right now is in a port in Virginia being repaired, it won't leave for a few weeks, won't arrive here in New York City at best until April. So just so people understand, it's going to take some time now. Had that been done a month ago as you're saying, maybe that vessel would be here now. You think FEMA is uniquely suited to be involved here, correct?

CHERTOFF: Well, because they have -- FEMA has the capacity to manage logistics, do contracts with the private sector and coordinate between the states and the private sector to make sure that those necessary items get to where they are most urgently required. BERMAN: I've heard you discuss that one of the things that the United

States is set up to do is deal with a lot of local and regional crisis. Even many at one time. The problem though, now is that it's a national crisis. The problem is everywhere. So how do you handle that challenge? How do you scale up?

CHERTOFF: You know, as in many cases, a lot of this requires all hands on deck effort, not just federal, state and local government. But the private sector and the ordinary citizen. Citizens have to obey the instruction, to socially distance. Not to go to parties, not to go to big events because that's going to be the most important tool we have in mitigating the spread of this.

Then on top of that, you want to get supplies and expertise to hospitals and other medical-type facilities to treat those in acute need.

BERMAN: Everyone is their own Homeland Security Secretary in a crisis like this. Michael Chertoff, we appreciate you being with us this morning and helping us understand the wide scope of the situation we're dealing with right now.

CHERTOFF: Stay healthy.

BERMAN: You too. Alisyn?

CAMEROTA: John, as you know, managing stress and anxiety is a challenge during the coronavirus crisis. So we have important advice for you next.



CAMEROTA: We're obviously living in a great time of uncertainty as we hear more details about coronavirus, it is very easy to feel anxious. So let's bring in Kristin Meekhof; she's a licensed social worker and author. Kristin, great to have you here. I read through your tips for everybody, and they're really helpful. So let's get to them because you say that managing your emotional well-being right now is as important as managing your physical health.

So, let's just get right to your tips. The first thing that you say that people should do while we are just in this free-floating anxiety at home right now is engage your mind and body in positive emotions. How do you recommend we stay positive?

KRISTIN MEEKHOF, AUTHOR & SOCIAL WORKER: Well, in this time especially, we know that our immune systems can be compromised when we are under stress. And so staying positive, that means that when we look at something that could be potentially scary, not necessarily jumping to the conclusion that something is wrong. So another way to be positive is also withdrawing yourself from some of the negative conversations if you feel that your heart starts racing, when you look at certain information or engaging online with somebody, that's going to help you to stay positive. And it's also going to be your mindset, being clear about what you're

feeling and why and understanding will help you to move back on track so to speak when you find yourself going into the pathway of negativity.

CAMEROTA: One more tip for staying positive that I thought was really helpful and not to get all opera on everyone, but I do think that this is a really helpful tip in life is to just start keeping a gratitude journal for whatever you're grateful for in this day, in this moment, keep a gratitude journal or write down a few things because that redirects your mind towards the positive.

MEEKHOF: Absolutely. If you can think of four or five things each day, and either you can write them down physically or you can write them -- or text them to somebody and have an accountability partner that you can say be my gratitude buddy and texting one another and e- mailing one another, and doing it that way is really going to brighten your day and also keep you focused on things that are going well, something that is a yes instead of a no.

CAMEROTA: That is so great, I'm going to do that on my way home. You say "keep in mind what you can control." There is so much that feels out of control right now, yet, we are in control of our own behavior such as social distancing. What else can we control?


MEEKHOF: Well, we are also in control of one of the number one things that CDC has stack can keep us safe, and that's hand washing. So, we can control that, we can control many times social-distancing, some of us can control our travel, we can control the input that we're having from the media, and how often we're engaging in it. We can control what we're eating and other healthy practices at home that will keep us healthy and also feeling better about the situation that we're finding ourselves in.

CAMEROTA: OK, back to the number three, those healthy practices. This is a great time to fulfill those new year's resolutions that you made. For instance, if you vow to do more meditating, if you vow to do more yoga, if you vow to workout at home more often, now is the time.

MEEKHOF: Yes, it is. So I know that Dr. Deepak Chopra was on with Dr. Sanjay Gupta and he has a meditation app. Now is the time to begin meditation, it's also the time to begin yoga on your own, stretching is something that you can do, whether you're doing planks. I know, I set a new year's resolution on January 1 to start running a mile every day, and I've been doing that, I've been keeping track of that.

So, even if you've diverted a little, now is the time to get back on track. And -- or to set a new goal for yourself now that you are home more, and you want to improve on something physically.

CAMEROTA: OK, next, you say notice your inner dialogue, this is such a tough one for people because they have that broken record in their head of negativity, of negative thoughts, of, you know, your inner voice telling you bad things or not helpful things. So how do you turn that around, and what can be a good mantra for people?

MEEKHOF: A good mantra is I'm trying the best I can, or it can be something of self-compassion. So mistakes are going to happen. Now, we are under new set of circumstances that none of us have experienced before, so we can't say in the past, I did X, Y and Z, I'm going to try that again. And if you feel that you're overly harsh or that you respond in a way that wasn't at its best, just remind yourself in a very compassionate way, you're doing the best that you can and you're going to take the next right steps to make -- to get yourself back on track.

And self-compassion will allow you then to be more compassionate with others that we're all trying the best that we can during this time.

CAMEROTA: And also last, I just wanted to say that, you said develop and write down a health plan. I think that this can make people feel better. Know where your closest hospital is, have your primary care physician number out --


CAMEROTA: Know what vitamins you're taking or medication, have it all written down --


CAMEROTA: Just so that you feel that you're take some ownership over your health regardless of what crops up. Kristin Meekhof, these are so helpful, thank you very much for giving us all tips this morning that we can use.

MEEKHOF: Thank you, I'm honored to be on your show.

CAMEROTA: Thank you. John?

BERMAN: Right, we're about to talk to an emergency room doctor for a firsthand account from the front lines of this public health crisis. She said she's been told to buy her own protective gear. NEW DAY continues right now.


ANTHONY FAUCI, IMMUNOLOGIST: This is a work in motion. It's evolving. Every day we learn more and more.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is like nothing we've ever experienced before. People are making adjustments.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A relief package passed by the house was then approved by the Senate and signed into law by President Trump.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have tremendous numbers of ventilators, but there's never been an instance like this where no matter what you have, it's not enough.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is a massive national crisis going on, and he is consistently late and very marginal in what he does.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): There are so many different problems we have to deal with. We can't be partisan. We can't be timid.


CAMEROTA: Good morning, everyone, welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY, it is Thursday, March 19th, 8:00 now in the east. Hospitals and healthcare providers are sounding the alarm this morning about becoming overwhelmed as the number of coronavirus cases soar. Here are the numbers.

There are nearly 9,000 confirmed cases in the United States. That's a 45 percent increase since yesterday morning, but we expected that as testing increases. A hundred and forty nine Americans have died. This chart shows how the number of cases has steadily risen this week because testing is expanding. Also, developing overnight, new data shows that people of all ages can get seriously ill from this virus, it's not just the elderly.

A CDC report says that nearly 40 percent of the 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 stop socializing in groups. It is Spring break right now, people are on the beach. It's time to socially distance.

BERMAN: And again, we're hearing new pleas this morning from healthcare workers on the front lines about a shortage of protective gear. Hospitals reporting shortages in staff. An emergency room physician will join us in just a moment to talk about this. President Trump has invoked a war-time law to increase production of supplies including ventilators.