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Gov. Andrew Cuomo is Interviewed about the Coronavirus Crisis; Distillery Makes Hand Sanitizer; People Helping Others during Pandemic; Answers to Coronavirus Questions. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired March 19, 2020 - 08:30   ET



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Like bandanas and scarves. Will this -- will we see this in New York hospitals?

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): Good morning, Alisyn.

I'm not a -- a doctor, obviously, but I hope we don't see that in New York. But it is making the right point. Where this is going to become real, and we've been saying this from day one, but we're seeing it now, is this is a crisis for our healthcare system management. It's our -- the capacity of our healthcare system. Do we have enough beds? Do we have enough gloves? Do we have enough PPE equipment? And the answer is no. And that's why the federal government, now fully engaging, and I believe the president now gets it, that's where they have to focus. We shouldn't have to go to scarves and bandannas.

There's something called the Federal Defense Procurement Act. This is a war. Treat it like a war. Say to the manufacturers in this country, I need you to build these pieces of equipment quickly, certainly the gear, the machine next to me, the ventilator, this is going to be the matter of life and death for people.

We now have about 5,000, 6,000 ventilators in New York state. We're going to need about 30,000 ventilators because these people who come in all have respiratory illnesses.

CAMEROTA: And how fast can those be built? I mean I -- I hear your plea for those. How fast do you believe that those 30,000 can be built?

CUOMO: Well, that's -- that's the war-time mentality. You can't buy a ventilator right now. Globally, you can't buy them. We're going to have to make them or make something like them. And that's why the federal government is stepping up and ordering the manufacturers to now come together and make this happen is going to be imperative.

CAMEROTA: Governor, the last numbers we had from New York that had spiked overnight again, of course, we expect that, 1,871. Do you have any new numbers this morning?

CUOMO: We have -- we did 8,000 tests overnight, Alisyn, which is probably a new record in the country. We don't have the results of the 8,000 tests. But, when you do 8,000 tests, the numbers are going to go up exponentially. And, again, reality in all of this, it doesn't mean that's -- it's indicative of how many people have the virus, it's how many people you are testing. And when you do 8,000, you're going to see a major increase.

CAMEROTA: Governor, there has been a rather public debate going on between you and the mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio, about shelter in place policies and whether or not that's appropriate for New York City. As you know, San Francisco and the Bay area has implemented that. Basically, people should stay in their homes and just on -- I mean that's their thinking and that, I think, is the mayor's thinking. And so just on Tuesday you had said at a press conference that people should get out of the house, they should go to a state park. The state parks here are still open. There are reports of people in Central Park still.

Do you still feel as sanguine as you did on Tuesday that people should be going out to parks and not sheltering in place?

CUOMO: Yes, Alisyn, this is an important point. What I am least sanguine about is that we are battling two things, a virus and fear and panic. And I'm as afraid of the fear and the panic as I am of the virus. And I think the fear is more contagious than the virus right now.

You take a place like New York City, we are at near panic levels. So what you say and how you communicate is very important. Should everybody stay home? Of course. Are we imprisoning people? No. Can you stay inside 24 hours a day? No. When you go out to shop or when you go out to take a walk and get exercise, social distancing.

But look at your words, shelter in place. You know where that came from? That came from nuclear war. What it said is, people should go into an interior room of their home with no windows, stay there until they get the all-clear sign.

Now, that's not what people really mean. But that's what it sounds like. And I spent half my day knocking down rumors that we're going to imprison people in their homes, there's going to be a roadblock around New York City, you will panic 9 million people who will be fleeing New York City in 24 hours if we don't clearly communicate what we mean.

CAMEROTA: I hear you, but, I mean, but --

CUOMO: We're bringing down density --

CAMEROTA: But, Governor, and I'm sorry to interrupt, but then we also hear that we are on a war footing. President Trump says we are on a war footing. This is being likened to war time. And so it's very hard for people to know whether they should be going out to a park or staying home on their version of lockdown, whatever that looks like in your house.


CUOMO: Yes. Ah, yes, I agree with that. But say that, don't say I'm imprisoned in my home.

And let's take a step back, we are on war footing. Build the ventilators. Build -- manufacture PPE and gloves, et cetera. People stay home. Reduce density. Close businesses. But you're not imprisoned. You're not quarantined. You're not a prisoner. We're not going to put a roadblock around New York City so you have to pack up and get out today.

This is going to go on for months. Communicate what you mean without using terms that nobody understands and only incites panic because that's what we're doing in too many situations.


CUOMO: You can get -- you can communicate what you want, but just say it in a more clear way, rather than using these buzzwords that are panicking people. I am not going to imprison anyone in the state of New York.


CUOMO: I am not going to do marshal law in state of New York. That is not going it happen.

CAMEROTA: Governor Andrew Cuomo, we really appreciate you coming on so many mornings and giving us all of the latest information. Obviously we will speak to you again very soon.

Thank you.

CUOMO: Thanks.


BERMAN: Small business owners all over the country are putting people ahead of profits during the coronavirus pandemic.


CHAD BUTTERS, FOUNDER, EIGHT OAKS FARM DISTILLERY: This is an unprecedented time that we're in. I don't think it's a time for panic or chaos, but it is a time for a sense of urgency and purpose.


BERMAN: We're going to take you to a distillery with a new mission. That's next.



CAMEROTA: An Army veteran turned distillery owner was so appalled by the hoarding of sanitizer as the coronavirus was spreading, he took matters into his own disinfected hands.

CNN's Miguel Marquez explains.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Eight Oaks Distillers in eastern Pennsylvania, like everywhere, was about to shut down and wait out the pandemic. Then its owner, Chad Butters, husband to a cancer survivor, saw another need for the main ingredient in hand sanitizer, alcohol.

CHAD BUTTERS, FOUNDER, EIGHT OAKS FARM DISTILLERY: We're very good at making alcohol. That's our business. And so what we can do is we can take that alcohol and we can add some inactive ingredients and create the hand sanitizer that people are in need of.

MARQUEZ: The local cancer support group needed it, so did hospitals, emergency services, nearby towns and businesses that had to keep working.

BUTTERS: This is an unprecedented time that we're in. I don't think it's a time for panic or chaos. But it is a time for a sense of urgency and purpose. And I think that's what's happening within the community now.

MARQUEZ: So appalled at reports of hoarding and price gouging, Eight Oaks stopped making vodka, gin and bourbon and cranked up the sanitizer.

BUTTERS: What we're doing now is literally taking what was going to be a bourbon run and now we are going to make that a very high proof alcohol instead. We'll add ingredients like glycerin to make it more viscous on your hands and a little bit of peroxide. That's the World Health Organization's kind of recipe.

MARQUEZ (on camera): Simple as that?

BUTTERS: It's very, very simple. The thing is, is just the alcohol is the hard part. We already know how to do that.

MARQUEZ (voice over): Just hours after hatching the plan, the first batch, only a few hundred bottles, the requests, way more than they can fill. They were in desperate need for even more bottles.

LYNN ELKO, DONATING THOUSANDS OF BOTTLES: This is bottle stock that we have left over. We had a soap and lotion business where we employed adults with disabilities.

MARQUEZ: Lynn Elko shut that business down a few years ago due to personal reasons. She heard about Eight Oaks Distillery and had just what they needed sitting in storage, all for free.

MARQUEZ (on camera): What does this say about what we have to do now?

ELKO: It says, the last time I checked, we're not in this alone. That we all have to come together to keep moving everything forward, to keep everybody healthy and well. MARQUEZ (voice over): Butters, who retired from the Army in 2015, is

now scaling up. The Army chief warrant officer five turned entrepreneur expects to churn out 10,000 bottles a week. Not only is he keeping his 25 employees working, but if it turns out right, he'll be hiring.

MARQUEZ (on camera): I'm sure you didn't think you'd be busier given what's happening?

BUTTERS: No, but we are 100 percent committed to, you know, to providing this product out to the people that need it in the community. It's perfect.

MARQUEZ (voice over): One business, one community, in rural Pennsylvania, coming together in a time of need, scrawled on a white board in their makeshift work space, their simple mission, get hand sanitizer to those in need.


MARQUEZ: And if you think this story can't get any sweeter or nicer, it can. Just how much are they charging for this hand sanitizer? They're not. It's free. They are taking donations and they're getting lots of donations and help from all over the place.

It's also a bit of a trend. Distillers large and small, not only in the U.S. but around the world, are starting to get off the liquor and on the hand sanitizer.

Alisyn. John.

CAMEROTA: Miguel, I really hope they're not doing away with all the liquor. That's all I'm saying.

BERMAN: Well, you can have bourbon and hand sanitizer, right?

CAMEROTA: I hope so.

BERMAN: I think that's the lesson. I'm proving that.


BERMAN: Time now for more of "The Good Stuff."

Stories of people working together to get through the coronavirus pandemic.

CNN's Laura Jarrett, co-anchor of "EARLY START," joins us with more on that.


LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR, "EARLY START": All right, guys, first to Arkansas where landlord Joe Clay Young heard from one of his tenants, a restaurant owner, that he may not be able to make next month's rent.


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.


JARRETT: Clay decided to wave April rent for all five of his tenants while business is slow right now.

A Pennsylvania construction company donating more than 1,000 masks and over 95 respirators to emergency workers. The county manager says protective supplies have been hard to find. The donation saves taxpayer dollars and keeps hospital staff, as well as elderly case workers, safe during this pandemic.

A Chicago area restaurant, The Country House, is offering free meals to seniors who are home bound.


The owner says the response has been overwhelming. They plan to provide them free meals as long as necessary, or at least until funds run out.

In Texas, a therapy dog is still making the rounds at a senior center, even though the facility isn't accepting visitors. Tonka, the great dane, and his trainer, are cheering people up from outside to keep a safe social distance.

And, finally, here's one incredible good deed. A man dressed as Mr. Incredible running through a Colorado neighborhood leaving roses on front porches. Laura Ristucci posted this video to Instagram saying, during such a strange time it was the perfect thing. I cannot stop smiling at how ridiculous and sweet it was.

BERMAN: This is the very reason I keep tights in the house, in case -- in case I need to run around and give flowers.

JARRETT: Well, we all need a nanny cam to see John Berman doing this.

CAMEROTA: Yes, ridiculous or romantic, there you go, Mr. Rose Giver, that's great.

Thank you very much, Laura.

JARRETT: Thanks, guys.

CAMEROTA: Dr. Sanjay Gupta is back to answer more of your coronavirus questions, next.


[08:50:39] BERMAN: So we've been asking all of you to send us your questions about coronavirus. So we can ask them to Sanjay, who is really the guy who can answer them.

We're joined now by CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Let's jump right in, Sanjay.

This is from Lindy in Fairfield. She writes, what is everyone -- why is everyone buying s much water? Is there some risk of our water service being turned off? I don't understand.

What's going on here, Sanjay.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, you know, let me -- let me get -- at least give a little bit of good news every now and then and that is that coronavirus should not, does not, we checked with the EPA about this as well, there's no evidence that it does affect the water supply. So, look, I think a lot of times people go out and buy lots of different supplies in these situations, understandably. But as far as your water goes, it's fine to drink your water like you normally would.

CAMEROTA: OK. Good to know.

This is from Jessica in Falls Church, Virginia. Is it true that certain blood types are more susceptible to coronavirus than others?

GUPTA: Yes, so this is a really interesting question. And what I will tell you, and I'll give you some information on this, but preface it by saying that we're all learning as we go along, as we've said every morning. I'd like -- when I talk to you guys typically on this program, I'll give you something based on ten years of data or 20 years of data. Here, it's a couple of months, so the numbers are really early.

But what they did find in some of these studies that people with A- type -- blood A type were more likely, a higher risk of getting coronavirus and O type less likely. Again, that could be something that just is based on small data, therefore it may not sort of extrapolate out with larger numbers. But that's what they're finding in some of these pre-published analysis looking back at the patients who are most likely or least likely to get the virus.

BERMAN: My grimace, for the record, was because I am type A.


BERMAN: So I didn't quite like hearing that, Sanjay. Thank you.

GUPTA: In so many ways. That's right.

BERMAN: This question comes from Melanie. She writes, when the president does his press briefings, why are the people on stage not practicing social distancing? They're all standing shoulder to shoulder. It's a great question, Sanjay.

GUPTA: It's a great question, especially when we're told that we shouldn't do that and our lives have all changed, your lives have changed, the way you're conducting yourselves on the set. I'm in this small little studio now as well. They should.

And, you know, we've asked about that as well. I'm sure others have asked them. And I'll be curious to see if they start changing how they conduct themselves on that stage because, you know, people do need to practice what they're preaching.

The guidelines do say, you know, from a hospital perspective, for example, that stay away six feet from somebody who's known to have the virus. Obviously no one on that stage is known to have the virus. But the message is very clear, social distancing, behave like you have the virus, even if you have not been diagnosed as positive. And a number that keeps jumping out, and I'll say this again, we said this last hour, but this really made the case for me about four out of five people who are confirmed to have coronavirus, this is the early data out of China, four out of five people who are confirmed to have coronavirus were likely infected by people who didn't know they had it. So, you know, again, that's a message for everybody out there who feels fine this morning, says, look, I don't have it. Yes, but when you look at some of that data out of China, people just like you who didn't know they had it were the most likely to transmit this virus.

CAMEROTA: This next question is from Patty in Indiana, should people over 60 years old donate blood? Can the coronavirus be transmitted through blood transfusions?

GUPTA: Well, so we, again, looked into this particular possibility. There's no evidence the coronavirus can be transmitted through blood transfusions. There was evidence of finding the virus in the -- in the blood and in other bodily fluids, but not in high enough concentrations to cause disease. What the recommendations are is that if you've come in contact with anybody who's known to have the coronavirus, and, again, that can be anybody, but if you've known somebody who's positively diagnosed with the coronavirus, 28 days before you donate blood, if you've come back from an area of the world or here in the United States where coronavirus is known to be circulating, 28 days before you donate blood.

BERMAN: I got a question from Bob, who lives across the street from me and has helped get me through the last week. And he was wondering, Sanjay, and we've asked this before, is, do you get an immunity from coronavirus if you get it? If you come down with it, and you recover, what do we know about when or how you can get it again?


GUPTA: Yes, there was some early reports out of China and Japan talking about people who got the infection, recovered, and then got it again. We've looked into this. They think that that may have been a testing issue more than a reinfection issue, meaning that the virus was actually always in the body, even if the person stopped showing symptoms.

I asked Dr. Fauci about this specifically some time ago and he said he had no reason to believe that this wouldn't act like other viruses in that once you get infected, you should develop an immunity. Getting the infection is sort of like getting a vaccine. Again, we have to see how this plays out, but that would obviously be some good news as well.

CAMEROTA: Sanjay, thank you very much for all of the answers, all of the information every morning.

And make sure you join Sanjay and Anderson Cooper for a new CNN global town hall, "Coronavirus: Facts and Fears." This is in partnership with FaceBook Live. It is tonight at 8:00 Eastern.

BERMAN: We do have breaking news this morning. The CDC is now telling healthcare providers they might have to make do with homemade masks, scarves or bandannas as protective gear runs out.

Our coverage continues right after this.