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Soon, NY Governor Cuomo to Speak on Coronavirus Response; California Governor Newsom Issues Statewide Lockdown; David Benton, CEO, National Council of State Boards of Nursing, Discusses Medical Supplies Running Out; NY Governor Cuomo Gives New Conference on Coronavirus Response. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired March 20, 2020 - 11:00   ET




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

Right now, we're waiting to hear from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, and the big question today is, what is coming next.

Overnight, California's governor stepped up restrictions in a big way out west. All of California is now ordered on lockdown. The governor telling almost 40 million residents to stay home except for essential needs.

Yes, this may sound scary, but we will get to exactly what the order means and why in just a second.

But let's start here in New York where we're waiting to hear from the governor any moment now.

CNN's Athena Jones is standing by.

Athena, what is the latest from New York?

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Kate. You're right, any minute now, we should see Governor Cuomo giving the latest announcements.

I can tell you the mayor of New York City, Bill De Blasio, has been raising the alarm about supplies, saying the city of New York could run out of the necessary medical supplies in the next two to three weeks.

These are supplies necessary to, number one, keep health care workers safe and number two, treat patients effectively. The mayor saying we cannot leave our health care workers vulnerable. And they're still coming to work.

Listen to what he had to say about this a short time ago. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK: We don't want to endanger our health care workers. They're still showing up, Poppy. They keep coming to work. Retirees, we asked retirees to come forward to the health care field, and over 2000 already, in 48 hours, have said, we volunteer, we're coming back to do this work to help people. But where in the hell is the federal government?


JONES: That's one of the things Mayor De Blasio is asking for, help from the federal government, demanding help from the federal government to help replenish these supplies.

And the numbers he says the city of New York needs are staggering. Take a look at this. Three million N-95 makes, 50 million surgical masks, 15,000 ventilators, and 45 million each of personal protective equipment, like surgical gowns, coveralls, pairs of gloves and face masks.

They say they can't say the exact day they'll run out, but the bottom line is, in the next two to three weeks, he believes the city of New York will run out of supplies unless the federal government steps in to help -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: And if health care workers run out of supplies to protect themselves, they can't protect and treat you, the patients, who you will be depending on.

Athena, thank you very much. Athena is standing by to hear from Governor Cuomo.

Let's go to California right now where Governor Newsom late last night ordered all residents of the state to stay home except for essential needs.

CNN's Kyung Lah is in Los Angeles.

Kyung, what does this order mean and what does it not?

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'll let the picture here tell the story of the retail space and the residential space. This is a small commercial area in Pasadena, California, just outside of Los Angeles. It's a neighborhood I'm very familiar with. There are houses just a couple blocks away. And you can see this entire sidewalk, there's maybe somebody out there walking, exercising. It is completely empty.

Normally, on a workday you will see people walking around with coffee, carrying newspapers, people delivering their morning packages to businesses here. All the retail is closed. All of the restaurants have closed down if they have dine-in rooms. Some of them are open for takeout.

If you are an essential employee having an essential role in government, of safety, a journalist, if you are working in a hospital, if you are at a restaurant trying to feed people, you can go to work.

But otherwise, you are seeing the impact of the economy here. Empty sidewalks, empty streets. There's no traffic on L.A.'s famous highway.

So it is an extraordinary stop to one of the biggest engines of the U.S. economy. California, the largest state as far as population and economy in the United States, the fifth-biggest economy in the world, grinding to a crawl.

Forty million people, Kate, told to stay in if at all possible. All of this to slow the spread of the coronavirus -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: Kyung, thank you so much.

Also this morning, the calls for help are now sirens. Doctors, nurses, all health care workers speaking with one voice. They are ready to fight on the frontlines against the coronavirus but they are not ready with the supplies they need. Basic medical supplies are running out.

Listen to one E.R. doctor just this morning.


DR. MEGAN RANNEY, EMERGENCY PHYSICIAN, BROWN UNIVERSITY: Ae absolutely feel like we are in this alone as doctors, nurses, paramedics and even hospitals. As you said, we need equipment. We absolutely need a better response, because right now we're desperate.



BOLDUAN: But who is listening? Governors are sounding the alarm as well. Top government experts are right there with them.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY & INFECTIOUS DISEASES: When you have a seriousness of an outbreak the way we're seeing right now, there's going to be a significant stress on supplies, and that's what we're seeing play out right now.


BOLDUAN: But what is the federal government doing about it? We're not talking about in a week or two, really. We are talking about right now.

Right now there are over 13,000 confirmed positive cases of the coronavirus across the country. As experts have warned over and over again, that number is going to rise as testing picks up. As of now, 196 people have died.

Take a look at this chart on your screen and that gives you a perspective of how dramatically things have changed in just a matter of days. Joining me now is one person who represents some of these people on

the front lines. David Benton is CEO of the National Council of State Boards of Nursing.

David, thank you so much for your time and coming in.

This is the most urgent crisis for nurses and health care workers right now is access to this protective gear. How bad is it? How soon are they going to run out?

DAVID BENTON, CEO, NATIONAL COUNCIL OF STATE BOARDS OF NURSING: These are major problems, but we also need to think about how we get nurses onto the front line as well.

The point made by the New York mayor about returning nurses to practice is something we are also looking at in.

In the meeting with the president earlier this week, we identified we really need to remove a number of barriers that would facilitate getting people back into practice.

We need the people, we need the protective equipment, and all these things work together. It's not a single piece of the system. It's an entire system. So governors have a role, the federal government has a role, and we all have a role as citizens in all of this.

BOLDUAN: David, as you just mentioned, you were at the White House. You met with the president on Wednesday along with other stakeholders in terms of nurses and health care workers on the front lines.

At that meeting, you all sounded this alarm and also applauded the president for signing that bill that would allow the federal government to ramp up production of supplies of what you need. But the president is not pulling the trigger yet. Yesterday, he put the blame on governors, saying explicitly it's essentially their job to get you what you need.

Did he tell you that in the meeting? What do you say to that?

BENTON: The president asked us to specifically identify what we saw as some of the issues and what actions federal government could take. My colleagues, who represent some of the frontline nursing staff, really gave them much more detail in terms of how shortages were occurring.

But there are other issues that we need to remove as well. For example, there are barriers in terms to practice in terms of --


BOLDUAN: David, I need to jump in.

Only because we need to get to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. He's giving an update. Let's listen in.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): -- General Patrick Murphy. General Patrick Murphy was in charge of our National Guard for many years. Did an outstanding job. I've been with him in many emergency situations over the years. He's a man who leads from the front, so he's my type of leader. He had so much fun that he retired and then he came and joined us as commissioner of Homeland Security.

This team and the team we have working on this, New Yorkers should have total confidence because they have done this before. They've been in this situation. Not this exact situation, but they've handled emergencies and they've handled them all very well. So they are proven.

Let's go through an update for today. Overview of the system. Everybody knows what we're dealing with. It's preventing an overload of the health care system.

So the number of acute cases that are coming into the health care system, the growth in the number of acute cases must match the capacity of the health care system. And that's what we've been working on.

We watched the rate of hospitalizations. We watched the rate of ICU hospitalizations even more closely. It's the difference between how many beds you need versus how many ICU beds.

And the real focal point, the rate of ventilated patients, because that goes to the number of ventilators, as we've been discussing. So those are the three most critical points.

We need more beds. We've been saying that, we know that. We've been working on it. There was a discussion with all of the hospitals across the state of New York today. There's about a 50,000-bed capacity that has to be increased. It has to be increased in the existing hospitals.

We're planning to cancel all non-critical elective surgeries. By definition, elective surgeries that are non-critical can be done at a different time, and now is the time not to do them. We informed the hospitals of that. We're going to the city a date probably next week for that. That will free up between 25 to 35 percent of the existing hospital beds.


We've also instructed all the hospitals to maximize capacity. We want to know from each hospital, how many beds can you get in your hospital. We're waiving the Department of Health and DFS regulations about space, et cetera. This would be for short-term emergency basis.

But we want to plan from every hospital, if you use every available space, how many beds can you get in the hospital. And we started that a few weeks ago, but that is now coming to a critical point.

With more beds, you need more staff. So we're going to nursing schools, medical schools, asking retired doctors and nurses to come back into service.

Supplies are a major issue. PPE, gloves, gowns, mask suppliers. I'm now asking all product providers, all companies who are in this business, we will pay a premium for these products.

If you are a business that doesn't manufacture these exact items but if you have equipment and personnel and you believe that you could manufacture these items -- they're not complicated, a mask is not a complicated item to make, a PPE gown is not a complicated item, gloves, nitrile gloves are not a complicated item.

If you will make them, we will give you funding to do it and we will give you funding to get the right equipment, to get the personnel, et cetera. I'm asking businesses to be creative.

I'm even looking on the state side. As you know, we went into the hand sanitizer business, which we're now increasing, by the way. We've opened additional hand sanitizer manufacturing areas.

But I've also spoken to the state facilities that make uniforms. If you can make a uniform, why can't you make a mask? And we're researching that.

But it's that kind of creativity we need from businesses. I can't mandate that businesses make something, but I can offer financial incentives, and that's what we're doing.

Any business that's interested should contact Empire State Development Corporation. They will get on it right away. Eric Gertler is the head of that.

Any company who wants to sell product should contact my office, the executive chamber, at that number.

There are also a number of companies that have masks. Goldman Sachs donated 100,000 masks to the state of New York. And I want to thank them. But if you have masks, offices that are non-essential right now, there are dentists' offices that are closed, clinics that are closed. We need those masks, gowns, gloves and we need them now.

In terms of building more beds. As I said, we have the Army Corps of Engineers here and we're working with them. Lieutenant General Todd Semonite is really a top professional. Ironically, I worked with him when I was in the Department of Housing and Urban Development, working reservations at the Pine Wood Reservation. He's top shelf.

We're looking at a possible number of locations for large temporary facilities. Javits Center, a number of CUNY sites, a number of SUNY sites.

Ventilators, ventilators, ventilators. That is the greatest need. We're notifying any health department in the state, if you have a ventilator and you are not using it at this time or it is non- essential to your use, we want it.

If you are a regulated health facility, we are asking you, by order of the Department of Health, to make that ventilator available. We will purchase it from you. You could lend it to us. But we need ventilators. And anyone who has them now, please call the New York State Department of Health at that number. [11:15:09]

Again, there are a lot of medical offices that have ventilators that are not operational now, and they're just in the corner of the office. We need those ventilators.

The ventilators are to this war what missiles were to World War II. Right? Rosie the Riveter. We need ventilators. That is a key piece of equipment.

We can get the beds. We'll get the supplies by hook or by crook, but a ventilator is a specific piece of equipment. These are people with a respiratory illness. We need the ventilators.

The number-one opportunity to make a difference here is to flatten the curve, flatten the increase in the number of cases, as we've talked about. Flatten the increase of the number of cases coming into the hospital system.

And the best way to do that is by reducing density. Density control, density control valve, right? That's what we have been doing all along.

And we're going to take it to the ultimate step, which is we're going to close the valve. All right? Because the rate of increase in the number of cases portends a total overwhelming of our hospital system.

So we're going to put out an executive order today. New York state on pause. Policies that assure uniform safety for everyone. Uniform safety for everyone.

Uniform safety for everyone, why? Because what I do will affect you, and what you do will affect me. Talk about community and interconnection and interdependence. This is the very realistic embodiment of that. We need everyone to be safe, otherwise no one can be safe.

We've studied all the other countries, we've talked to people all across the globe about what they did, what they've done, what worked, what doesn't work, and that has all informed this policy.

Two basic rules. Only essential businesses will be functioning. People can work at home, god bless you, but only essential businesses can have workers commuting to the job or on the job.

Second rule, remain indoors to the greatest extent to protect physical and mental health.

On the businesses, on the valve, we reduced it to 50 percent of the work force. We then reduced it to 75 percent of the work force must stay home. And today, we're bringing it to 100 percent of the work force must stay home. These are non-essential services.

Essential services have to continue to function. Grocery stores need food, pharmacies need drugs. Your Internet has to continue to work. The water has to turn on when you turn on the faucet. So there are essential services that will continue to function.

But 100 percent of the work force. And when I talk about the most drastic action we can take, this is the most drastic action we can take.

We also have specific rules for people's conduct. First is for the, what we call the, quote, unquote, "vulnerable population." And remember, many people will get this disease. Different countries estimate 70, 80 percent of the population.

People will get it. People will recover. That's what's going to happen for the vast majority. That's what's happening in this state for the vast majority.

Who are we worried about? Seniors, compromised immune system, people with underlying illnesses. Where are the places we're really worried about? Nursing homes, senior congregant facilities. We need real diligence with vulnerable populations.

There's been a lot of confusion and a lot of different theories and a lot of mixed information. I've gone through it myself with my own family. As I said, we have my mother who lives alone. Everybody wants to help, and we've gone back and forth. Who should go visit mom? Should mom go to my sister's house? Should mom go to this house? Nobody knows for sure.


I asked Commissioner Zucker, speak to every health official, get the best rules you can to protect our senior citizens and people with vulnerable populations, and that's what these rules are.

Remain indoors, go outside for solitary exercise. Prescreen all visitors and aides. Don't visit households with multiple people.

Don't go to your daughter's house. Mom doesn't want to be alone. I understand, but you bring her into your house, and you have 10 people coming in and out, and your daughters have friends, that is a mistake. That is a mistake. Well, we're going to go visit mom. I'm going to bring the whole family to see mom. No, not now.

Vulnerable people should wear a mask when in the company of others. To the greatest extent, anyone with a vulnerable person should wear a mask. They shouldn't be with them unless it's urgent and absolutely necessary. What does that mean? It means urgent and absolutely necessary. That's what the words say.

I call it Matilda's Law. My mother's name is Matilda. Everybody's mother, father, sister, friend in a vulnerable population. This is about protecting them. What you do is highly, highly affects their health and well-being. I want to be with them. Mom wants to see the kids. Be smart. My mother and your mother.

For non-vulnerable populations, these are the rules. No non-essential gatherings. Any concentration of individuals is because you're an essential business and an essential work force.

When in public, social distancing at least six feet. Outdoor recreation is a solitary recreational exercise. It's running, it's hiking. It's not playing basketball with five other people. That's not what it is. It's not laying in a park with 10 other people and sharing a beer. That's not what this is.

There are people and places in New York City where it looks like life as usual. No. This is not life as usual. And accept it and realize it and deal with it.

Sick individuals should not leave their home unless they receive medical care, et cetera. Young people need to practice social distancing, avoid contact with vulnerable populations.

Precaution, alcohol wipes. We talk a lot about hand sanitizer. Since I went into the hand sanitize sanitizer, I'm a semi expert on hand sanitizer. Hand sanitizer is alcohol. That's what it is. If you can't get hand sanitizer, get a bottle of alcohol, pour it on wipes, paper towels. That's an alcohol wipe. Hand sanitizer now, according to the CDC, has to be over 60 percent alcohol to be effective.

These provisions will be enforced. These are not helpful hints. This is not if you really want to be a great citizen. These are legal provisions. They will be enforced. There will be a civil fine and mandatory closure for any business that is not in compliance. Again, your actions can affect my health. That's where we are.

So there's a social compact that we have. Government makes sure society is safe for everyone. What you do can affect my health.

There's some bad information, especially among young people. You look at some of these videos going around and some of these newscasts on what young people are saying. I can't get it. Yes, that's wrong. That is wrong. Well, young people can't get it. That is wrong. That is not a factual statement.


And 20 percent of coronavirus cases, according to CDC, ages 20 to 44, OK? France, more than 50 percent of the coronavirus patients in ICU under 60 years old. You can get it.

Well, I can't transmit it if I'm not symptomatic. No, you can transmit it if you're not symptomatic. Even if you're young and strong and everybody is superman, superwoman, I can deal with it. Oh, yes? You can give it to your grandparent. You can give it to your parent. And you can put somebody else's life in danger. So just factually, a lot of these premises are wrong.

These are nothing that people don't know. It's nothing we haven't been talking about. But we have to do it. And we have to be serious.

And, again, it is a government responsibility. Everyone has personal freedom. Everyone has personal liberty. We respect that and I'll always protect that. But everybody also has a responsibility to everyone else. And this is a specific case of that.

I believe in regional actions. None of these policies work unless the geographic area is an area that works. I have spoken to the governor of New Jersey, governor of Connecticut about the actions that we're taking today. I'm going to speak with him later this afternoon.

We have been coordinating to the greatest extent possible. And they're going to be considering these policies which, again, are very dramatic. And I said, I'd like to do it in coordination. I understand we have somewhat of a different circumstance in New York, but they are considering it.

We've added Pennsylvania and Delaware to the states we're working with. And, again, you can have businesses in New Jersey, if they don't close, then their workers are driving into New York. Businesses in Connecticut stay open, you need New Yorkers to drive up to those businesses. So regional action is the best. We're talking. I'll speak with them later today.

The number of cases, total positive up to 7,000, 2,900 new positive cases. I've told you in the past that the number of cases is relative to the number of tests.

I've also said that New York has been very aggressive about increasing our number of tests. We went to the federal government. We asked for authority to allow the state to run the tests as opposed to waiting for the federal government. The president granted us that ability.

I ramped up all the labs in our state. We opened drive-throughs all across the state. We have the testing so high in New York right now that we're testing per capita more than China or South Korea. And China and South Korea obviously had a much longer time to ramp up.

So we have done a great job at ramping up the number of tests. But when you ramp up the number of tests, you're going to get more positive cases. Well, now we're more worried. No, because it was the reality. The tests are just demonstrating what was.

And, again, if we could do more tests, you would find more positives. And finding positives is a good thing, because then we can isolate and we can track back.

The number of counties continues to increase, and it will until that entire state is blue. Blue is not a political statement, by the way. It's just blue versus yellow.

New York now has 7,000 cases. That compares to the state of Washington that has 1,000, California that has 1,000 and change. So you can see that New York is in a dramatically different position, and you can see why we're taking these actions.


Now, again, New York may very well be testing at a multiple of the other states. So does New York necessarily have seven times more people who are infected than California? You don't know. You know that we are doing more tests per capita. But you don't know what the actual infection rate is.