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Desperate Shortage of Ventilators; Trump Administration's Outbreak Simulations; Italy's Death Toll Surpasses China. Aired 6:30- 7a ET

Aired March 20, 2020 - 06:30   ET



JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN ANCHOR: Was to the central bank to buy anything, corporate bonds, equities. We need to bring confidence back to the system.

I'll give you a comparison. This is like the financial crisis on steroids. And the steroids have been taking steroids. And there's a political point here too. I don't care whether you're a Democrat or you're a Republican at this moment. This is so much bigger than politics.

This is so much bigger than tit-for-tat. This is what I want. We don't like the corporations. We want to stop this. No time. This has to be done in size and it has to be done quickly. Unity here is required because no one wants to be the next president that follows Herbert Hoover because we're heading towards depression style economy if we don't act and we don't act fast and we don't act in size.

Thank you for the time.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Julia, thank you. The math -- the way you spelled out the math really helps us understand what a trillion dollar economy needs.


CAMEROTA: Thank you very much.

So most people who contract coronavirus will ultimately be fine. But for those who become critically ill, ventilators are, of course, needed today. So we have more on the shortages that governors are reporting around the country and what can to be done today.



CAMEROTA: One of the breaking developments overnight is that California's governor, Gavin Newsom, has ordered all 40 million residents in that state to stay home indefinitely or risk a misdemeanor charge. That was prompted by research showing that in California over the next eight weeks 25 million people could become infected.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Newsom is not alone. Governors across the country are sounding the alarm. They say they need more medical supplies, more testing supplies, more protective equipment for those on the front lines.

President Trump responded to this plea for federal help, telling the governors the federal government is, quote, not a shipping clerk. One of the items desperately in short supply, ventilators.

CNN's Sara Sidner has more on that.


SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The vast majority of us will survive novel coronavirus. But for many of those who become critically ill, their lives will depend on whether there are enough ventilator systems to save them.

MIKE LEAVITT, FORMER SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES: We simply are not going to have enough ventilators. We're not going to have enough capacity if we allow this virus to take the natural course that it will. We're at war.

SIDNER: The virus has now hit every state. And if the U.S. outbreak tracks similarly to what happened in Italy, experts say hospitals will be overwhelmed.

DR. IRWIN REDLENER, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY CLINICAL PROF., HEALTH POLICY AND MANAGEMENT: We are so incredibly underprepared for a major onslaught to the hospitals, which is basically now inevitable.

SIDNER: The desperation for ventilators made clear by governors around the country.

GOV. CHRIS CUOMO (D-NY): We have about 5,000 or 6,000 secured. We need 30,000. I mean this is a bad situation.

GOV. MIKE DEWINE (R-OH): We do not want to be in a position that -- that the poor people of Italy are where, you know, they're deciding who's going to live and who's going to die because they don't have enough respirators, they don't have enough equipment.

SIDNER: And yet that's exactly where we could find ourselves, experts warn. There are only about 12 large scale global companies that produce ventilators, but there are also startups trying to help fill the gaps. One of them is smack in the middle of where the deadliest outbreak of coronavirus has happened yet in the entire United States.

CHRIS KIPLE, CEO, VENTEC LIFE SYSTEMS: All of our different sub assembly lines here.

SIDNER: Ventec Life Systems is located just outside Seattle, Washington. It's racing to produce ventilator systems, called VOCSN, trying to go from making hundreds of units a month to thousands. SIDNER (on camera): It's not just a matter of having enough ventilators. There are many other things that work in conjunction with the ventilator to keep patients alive. We're talking about oxygen, cough assist, also a suction unit and a nebulizer. All of these things have to work properly to keep someone breathing. And this company has been able to put all of these things into one device that can work in a hospital, but it can also work at home.

Who is reaching out to you, asking about your product?

KIPLE: We are literally having conversations with states, federal and local authorities on a regular basis. We're trying to do as much as we can to increase our production capacity to meet the demand and help save lives.

SIDNER (voice over): He says government officials from 65 other countries are in talks with him, as well as hospitals. The Society of Critical Medicine says, according to a 2009 study, there are about 60,000 functional machines in the U.S. Nearly 100,000 that were obsolete, but could be used. And even with all those, it would not meet America's needs if the Italy scenario happens here.

KIPLE: The only way you save lives right now, without a vaccine, is having access to a ventilator.

SIDNER: Those in America's stockpile are only supposed to bridge the gap until industry can ramp up. That's why this operation is now going 24/7. His employees can't work from home, so there's a serious effort to ensure they don't contract the virus. They are greeted, as we were, with a thermometer, hand sanitizer and gloves for those who can maneuver testing and assembling parts with them on. The product is tested here and shipped here.

SIDNER (on camera): Show me how the machine works.

KIPLE: Everything can be accessed literally at the touch of a button. So let's say I want to activate a patient's cough, I just go to the cough icon here. I can preset any amount of cough, a small cough, a big cough, and all I have to do is hit start.

SIDNER (voice over): The questions still unanswered, how many units will be needed to ensure no one dies simply because there weren't enough ventilator systems to breathe life into them.


SIDNER: And that is still the big question, how many of these ventilators may be need when coronavirus hits its peak here.

Alisyn. John.

CAMEROTA: Sara, thank you very much for that report.

Now we have this tragic update about one New Jersey family who's been ravaged by coronavirus. Yesterday, the Fusco family lost a fourth member to the virus. Vincent Fusco Jr. was in his 50s. Seven members of this family on your screen apparently contracted coronavirus at a family dinner last week.


The mom, the matriarch, who you see there, her name is Grace, she died on Wednesday. Earlier this week, two of the -- of her kids died. They were in their 50s. Grace had 11 children. Her youngest daughter, Elizabeth, spoke to CNN last night.


ELIZABETH FUSCO, LOST HER MOTHER AND THREE SIBLINGS TO CORONAVIRUS: It's like the second we start to grieve about one, the phone rings and there is another person gone, taken from us forever. It's not like it was one By the time we got over my first sister, not over, we -- it settled in our brains, we got the next call. I listened to those doctors and those machines code my mother on the phone when she passed last night. I'll never get over that.


CAMEROTA: Three of Elizabeth's other siblings are battling the coronavirus right now. Two of them are in critical condition this morning. We will be speaking to the pastor and family friend of the Fusco family in our next hour, John.

BERMAN: That is so chilling to hear that. Such a tragedy. And such an important warning about gatherings. One family dinner, it seems, led to that.

So President Trump says that nobody could have imagined the need hospitals are facing right now. But you know what, his own administration imagined it almost exactly. They ran through a pandemic exercise last year and they gave warnings about just this type of thing. The reporter who broke that story, next.




DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Nobody in their wildest dreams would have ever thought that we would need tens of thousands of ventilators. This is something that's very unique to this -- to what happened.


CAMEROTA: That was President Trump claiming that nobody could have imagined a shortage of ventilators, but that's not true. "The New York Times" report that as recently as last year the Trump administration, along with officials from 12 states and at least a dozen federal agencies ran through a fictional pandemic exercise just like this real crisis.

Joining us now, "The New York Times" journalist behind that report, CNN political and national security analyst David Sanger. Also joining us, Lisa Monaco, CNN's senior national security analyst and former Homeland Security and counterterrorism assistant to President Obama. She's a member of Vice President's Biden's Public Health Advisory Committee.

You're too credentialed, Lisa. You're an overachiever.

OK, David, tell us about "Crimson Contagion." That was the fictional name for a mock exercise, a simulation that has eerie similarities to what we're seeing right now.

DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: That's right, Alisyn, and it was run by the Department of Health and Human Service and their Office of Preparedness. And it ran from January until about August of last year. Parts of it took place in Chicago. Many other cities and states participated. So did the National Security Council inside the White House.

And the purpose of this was to model a pandemic. It was not the Covid- 19 pandemic we see. Instead it was a pandemic flu. But it was designed to be just about as devastating as the 1918 Spanish Flu.

And as they did this, they came to the conclusion that there would be 110 million infections, 7.7 million hospitalizations, 586,000 deaths as the 90 percent probability. And if you run the numbers out from that, you get a situation very much like what we're facing.

So when the president says no one could have imagined it, it's hard to -- hard to see where he's getting to that.

But, also, if you just look at the charts they put in the report, which moved up through the administration, what you see is exactly that kind of exponential acceleration that we're seeing today.

BERMAN: They specifically and deliberately imagined it. So the idea that this was all a shock and a surprise could not have been true.

And, Lisa Monaco, it wasn't the first time that the administration had imagined it. Not at all. Because during the actual transition from the Obama administration to the Trump administration, you ran a pandemic exercise with incoming Trump officials that I believe you considered to be successful. Explain.

LISA MONACO, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, look, John, you're right, we held an exercise during the transition, during the last week of the transition, where the outgoing national security team from President Obama's administration and the incoming national security team for the Trump administration sat down, literally side- by-side in a big room in the old executive office building on the White House campus and we walked through a set scenarios.

And we specifically chose a pandemic scenario, and indeed it was a flu scenario, because it's -- this was the type of thing that, frankly, kept me up at night when I served as Homeland Security adviser in the White House. And we wanted very much to highlight for the incoming team, these are the types of things you need to get prepared for, you need to be thinking about. What are going to be the needs you have for personal protective equipment for health care workers?

What is going to be the strain on vulnerable populations like nursing homes? You need to be able to anticipate these needs, get resources out quickly, communicate clearly and credibly to the American people about exactly what's going on. So these are the types of issues we tried to highlight. And it was argued that this should be a national security -- an urgent national security priority for the incoming administration, just like terrorism, like cyber-attacks.

CAMEROTA: And so, David, to be clear, in this exercise that they did just last year, was it highlighted that they would need to manufacture more ventilators, that they would need more surgical masks and more protective gear? Was all of that the upshot of this?

SANGER: Well, what's interesting is that at the end of the report, and we only have a draft report.


In fact, we don't have any evidence that they finally published this report, which itself is pretty interesting.

But in the -- in the draft, they made clear the number of hospitalizations. And so you can move forward from -- from those numbers. They did not specifically mention ventilators. They did not specifically mention hospital beds.

But, actually, if you go back to a report that was just before the simulation that Ms. Monaco just described to you, the Obama NSC turned out another report and both -- by the way, both these reports are available on "The New York Times" site. We've linked them to the story -- you'll see one that her colleague, Chris Kurchoff (ph) wrote that did lay out exactly this, it was an after action report from the lessons learned from Ebola, which obviously did not spread widely in the United States, but it envisioned what was, what was going to be needed.

BERMAN: David Sanger, Lisa Monaco, thank you for coming on this morning, helping us understand. We will talk to you both again very, very soon.

So we have new reports this morning of acts of kindness and compassion, big and small, particularly for medical workers on the front lines.


BERMAN: That's people across Europe showing their appreciation by cheering from their windows and balconies. The scene unfolding in Spain as they see the medical workers travel beneath. The same is happening in Italy, France, Greece and the Netherlands. What a sight.

CAMEROTA: That's beautiful. Oh, my gosh, that's so heartwarming.

BERMAN: Check this one out. So a Tennessee woman is trying to brighten spirits during the coronavirus by putting up Christmas lights. Why not?

CAMEROTA: Or did she just never take them down?

BERMAN: She -- this is a -- she's saying she put them up fresh just for this.


BERMAN: Brenda Sparks (ph) also changed the lyrics of "Merry Little Christmas" to "Merry Little Quarantine."


BRENDA SPARKS: Some day soon we all will be together, if the fates allow.


BERMAN: Brenda's got a voice. How about the voice on Brenda.

Her idea has caught on. People across the country are stringing lights and putting up holiday decorations and sharing their pictures on social media. I have a feeling now, if my wife is watching this, I now have a new weekend activity.

CAMEROTA: All right, also, you know, these things are really heartwarming and emotional. So here's another story.

After initially being told no, a Boston man got the chance to serenade the love of his life through her window at a nursing home.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are my sunshine, my only sunshine.


CAMEROTA: See, that one actually is making me cry. I mean that song, in itself. But Ed Oliver Bould's (ph) longtime girlfriend, Mary Lou (ph), has been living in a Compass On the Bay assisted living facility for five years. He visits her daily. Yesterday, under an umbrella, he sang, "You are My Sunshine" before tearfully having to say goodbye.

BERMAN: In Boston we know how to love. That's -- that's awesome. Good for him. Good for him, but how moving.

This is something, again, being dealt with around the world.

And Italy has reached a milestone. The death toll from coronavirus has now surpassed China. We have a live report, next.



BERMAN: Overnight, the global death toll from coronavirus topped 10,000 people. At least 245,000 people have become infected worldwide. And Italy has now surpassed China as the country with the most coronavirus deaths with more than 3,400.

CNN's Delia Gallagher live in Rome now with what really, truly is a national crisis there.

DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, really disheartening news, John, for Italy. Youi know, the Italian ministry of health put out a study that gives us a kind of picture of those patients who have died.

They say the average median age is 80 years old. Thirty percent are women. And many of the patients had two to three underlying health issues. We also know that Italy has a very large elderly population, which may play a factor in those high numbers.

Of course, a lot of the focus right now is on the immense pressure on the hospitals in the north. Take a listen to what one nurse who's working on the front lines had to say about their experience.


DANIELA CONFALONIERI, ITALIAN NURSE (through translator): We're working in a state of very high stress tension. Psychological tension has gone through the roof. Unfortunately, we can't contain the situation in Lombardi. There's a high level of contagion and we're not even counting the dead anymore.


GALLAGHER: And the prime minister announced just last night that they are going to be bringing in 300 doctors, volunteers, from around the country to help alleviate that pressure in the north. They are also calling on doctors and nurses in retirement to come back out and help.


CAMEROTA: Delia, thank you very much. We are looking very closely at what's happening in Italy.

So, extreme measures to try to contain the pandemic. We'll tell you about them.

NEW DAY continues right now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We direct a statewide order for people to stay at home. We are confident that the people in the state of California will abide by it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I never anticipated something like that would happen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congress is now sprinting to pass a $1 trillion plus economic stimulus package. MIKE DEWINE (R-OH): We can slow this thing down. If we don't, and we

go up like Italy did, we can't guarantee that we're going to be able to handle it.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There's never been anything like in this history. It's a medical war. We have to win this war. It's very important.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

CAMEROTA: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY.


The developing news at this hour, the entire state of California ordered to stay home.