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American Ingenuity Mobilizes; Interview with New York City Emergency Management Commissioner; Japan Considering Moving Summer Olympics to 2021. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired March 23, 2020 - 10:30   ET



EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): -- Industries. The couple normally makes 3D printers, and shares plans and tips online as part of an international underground home printing culture.

ISAAC BUDMEN, BUDMEN INDUSTRIES: We've seen people use 3D printers for everything from the prosthetic hands to knickknacks from their favorite Marvel film.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): Until last weekend, that is. As the coronavirus began to spread, they figured out how to make medical face shields with their printers. It took a couple days and a half-dozen prototypes to get it right.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Tell me about the masks themselves.

STEPHANIE KEEF, BUDMEN INDUSTRIES: We send a 3D file to the printer, and it prints this visor. It takes about 58 minutes on our machines to print.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): Isaac and Stephanie purchased the elastic and clear plastic needed to complete the shields, and sanitized their studio. Volunteers make up an assembly line.

With 16 printers running around the clock, so far, they've kicked out nearly 400 completed masks, all delivered to the local emergency management department in Onondaga County.

BUDMEN: We can accelerate the flattening of the curve by deploying this technology and getting people connected, then it's time well spent.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): It's not just their Upstate New York community they're impacting, they've also turned their social networker 3D printer aficionados into a network of tiny medical supply factories.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: This has gone beyond just your small company and your small set of 3D printers now, right?

BUDMEN: When the first batch got delivered, all of a sudden, we started hearing from people all over the globe: first responders in all of these areas, who are short on supplies and who need shields. At the same time, we also got a waterfall of responses from people with 3D printers.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): So they set up a database to connect those in need with others who have a 3D printer and a desire to help. So far, their face mask schematic has been downloaded nearly 2,000 times. The number of requests for masks -- according to Budmen Industries -- is more than 40,000.

Dr. Anushri Anandjara made one of those requests. She works at one of New York City's biggest hospitals. Even she is having to seek help from unconventional sources.

ANUSHRI ANANDJARA, MT. SINAI HOSPITAL: At this point, we are realizing no one is coming to save us, and we as a community at a grassroots level have to start to mobilize to utilize all of the resources that we have. You know, at some point, maybe, the federal government and the supply channels will kick in, but not enough and not soon enough.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): Until then, hospitals and health care workers will have to rely on American ingenuity and people like Isaac and Stephanie.

BUDMEN: I think it was JFK who said, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." And in this moment, we feel like we can do this for our country.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): People doing what they can for their neighbors is nothing new, but making medical devices at home because hospitals can't get them? For the time being, that's the new normal.

Evan McMorris-Santoro, CNN, New York.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: Folks are stepping up, and we need it.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, he has a dire warning today.


MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK CITY: If we don't get ventilators this week, we are going to start losing lives we could have saved. I can't be blunter than that.


SCIUTTO: A dire warning there.

Joining me now is Deanne Criswell. She's the commissioner of New York City's Emergency Management Department, helping in the response to this.

Thanks so much for taking the time. We know you must be overwhelmed. Let's drill down on this a bit. The key shortages? Protective equipment for health care workers, but also ventilators to treat the most severely ill from this. If you don't have those supplies in a week -- as the mayor's concerned about -- what's the backup plan? Is there one?

DEANNE CRISWELL, COMMISSIONER, NEW YORK CITY EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT DEPARTMENT: That is a great question. So we do have, right now, I would say, maybe a week to two left in some of our supplies and our personal protective equipment, but the ventilators are our most critical supply that is needed right now.

And so we're working -- again, our Department of Health and our Health and Hospitals are working really closely to come up with creative ways to stretch the use of our PPE, putting limits on how we use it, using some of the CDC guidance and then just really trying to be careful about how we're putting different people in different situations so we can maximize what we have until we get more.

SCIUTTO: As you know, there are parts of -- of what's known as the Defense Production Act that the president --


SCIUTTO: -- has not mobilized at this point. It appears his focus, at least for now, is on relying on the private sector stepping up. So here you are, you're running emergency management --


SCIUTTO: -- in a city that has now become an epicenter of this virus, not just in the U.S. but around the world. Does that work or do you need the federal government's help here?

CRISWELL: We need the federal government's help, right? So relying on the -- on the private sector, the private sector is what we need but the private sector needs to be directed to do this for us. We can't negotiate with them to help -- and get them to give us what we need, we need to direct them to change their production into those critical supplies that we need today.


I'll tell you that the most precious commodity that we have is time. And every day that goes by, more lives are going to be lost.

SCIUTTO: Yes. I mean, those are the blunt warning you hear from so many. That's the concern.

As you're aware, President Trump, he tweeted last night, "We cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself," talking about how in 15 days he may reassess these recommendations about social distancing, et cetera. Here you have New York City. Do you think it's time to consider pulling back from those social distancing measures?

CRISWELL: I mean, if you're saying relaxing those social distancing measures, no. The only thing that's really going to help us protect those that are the most vulnerable right now is really enforcing those social distancing measures.

You know, I think for most of the population, it feels like there's nothing really happening because 80 percent of the people that get this aren't sick. But our focus is really on protecting those 20 percent, those that are over 65. Those are the ones that we're seeing in our hospitals here in New York City today. Those are the ones that we're seeing die from this disease here in New York City.


CRISWELL: And so social (ph) distancing (ph) is going to protect those that are the most vulnerable.

SCIUTTO: Yes. It's all of our responsibility, right? I mean, we're in this together.

I want to ask, before I let you go, about testing. Because this is one of the biggest questions folks at home have. But the clear guidance, is it not, is only seek a test if you have symptoms, right? Because -- well, there just aren't the resources. Tell us what your message is, not just to New Yorkers but others around the country when it comes to testing.

CRISWELL: Yes. So the message is, if you feel sick, you should stay at home. If, after three or four days, you're not getting better, then you should call your doctor. But unless you're in a hospital, right now, you shouldn't be getting tested. We need to preserve those critical resources so we're testing those that we can really help, that are really sick from this.

Because it's not just the test kit itself, but every test we give takes up valuable personal protective equipment that can be used when we're treating those that are in the hospital.

SCIUTTO: That's great advice to folks because so much confusion about it.

Final question, just before I let you go. How long should people be preparing for their lives to be changed by this? Is it weeks, is it months? Is it longer? And I know you don't know a hard --


SCIUTTO: -- answer to that question, but the best guidance you can give.

CRISWELL: I think right now, it's going to get worse before it gets really bad. And we're going to see that happen over the next maybe four to eight weeks. But it's going to be months before we start to see life as we knew it start to get back to normal.

SCIUTTO: Well, Deanne Criswell, you're doing God's work, right? You've got a lot on your hands there. We wish you and your staff the best of luck. And we know you're taking risks as you do this as well, so thank you. CRISWELL: Thank you very much for having me on today. I appreciate



SCIUTTO: Well, under pressure from the spreading pandemic, and other countries saying they're not going to go. Japan is now considering whether to delay this summer's Olympic Games. We're going to have a live report from Tokyo, next.


SCIUTTO: Well, pressure is now mounting on Japan to delay the summer Olympic Games. This comes as Canada has now withdrawn its athletes amid the coronavirus crisis, and Australia has told its competitors to plan for the games but for next year, 2021.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said that the games should happen on schedule. But now he says -- and this is key -- that a postponement is possible. So does the International Olympic Committee. Joining me now for the latest on this, CNN's Will Ripley, he's in Tokyo. CNN's Paula Newton, she's in Canada.

Will, begin with you here. Is the writing on the wall really about the Olympics now?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is. I mean, the fact that we're hearing from the Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, who has been adamant for weeks that he's pushing forward with a late July start time, and now this. This is what he said to Japanese parliament just hours ago.

Quote, "If I'm asked whether we can hold the Olympics at this point in time, I would have to say that the world is not in such a condition." That is just about as clear as he can be without saying for sure that a postponement is happening.

Because they still have to sort out a lot of details, massive logistical details to sort out over the next four weeks, that's how long the International Olympic Committee is giving itself to have these discussions over things like cancellation fees, whether the venues are going to be available this time next year, if indeed they do, you know, postpone for a year.

Even details like the Olympic Athletes Village, where the athletes stay, those units have largely been sold. People are supposed to be moving in next year. What happens to them? What happens to the people who paid thousands of dollars for tickets?

You know, since the start of the modern Olympics, Jim, the only time that they've been cancelled was during World War I and World War II. They've never been postponed, but that seems to be an all but certainty, it's going to be happening maybe in the coming days or coming weeks.

[10:45:00] SCIUTTO: Wow, remarkable, only world wars have stopped the Olympics before, notable.

Paula, you're in Canada. Canada's already made its own decision here.

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely, on the front foot (ph). And really, Jim, this came from the athletes themselves, saying that they did not feel safe in going. And right, Jim? It's not summer here. These are summer games, there's not a lot of summer happening in Canada.

So many of these athletes had their training disrupted, and were very concerned about attending games, both for their health and what it means competitively. You know, Marnie McBean, the chef de mission for Canada, described the athletes as crushed but relieved. I want you to see the tweet from Team Canada, in which they say, we are all on Team Canada now. But key here, Jim, saying, you know, postpone today, conquer tomorrow. And that is the slogan.

We kind of got some indication of this coming down, Jim, from the prime minister, Justin Trudeau, on Friday. He is likely on the phone with Shinzo Abe right now. He made it very clear last week, even, that Canada and its athletes will make the decision about whether or not to pull out. The issue here is since, you know, Japan wasn't taking July as a date off the table soon enough, in their words, they decided to take it off the table for them.

And Jim, you know, parent to parent, before I leave you, Justin Trudeau, a reminder, is doing all of this under quarantine, right? His wife has COVID-19. She's in a different part of the house. He is running a G7 country with three kids running around.

And speaking to his staff, he says, you know, you often hear kids screaming in the background. Sometimes he has to drop off to go do the kids' bath, he's putting their meals together. It is not easy. They will be relieved, at least hopefully, some of that quarantine will be lifted in the end of the week. But unprecedented times on so many levels -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: Well, he's experiencing what a lot of our viewers are experiencing at home right now, right? Trying to manage it all with families at home. Paula Newton, thanks very much.

NEWTON: As doctors and nurses put their very lives on the line to treat coronavirus patients, retired health care workers now face an emotional decision to return to work to do their part and prevent a coming shortage of staff at hospitals. Hear from one doctor on why she wants to head back to the frontlines.



SCIUTTO: You've heard about a shortage of equipment, how about a shortage of doctors and health care workers? Health care workers across the country are warning that a surge in demand for care could soon overwhelm hospitals. And many doctors and nurses could get sick themselves.

So now, retired medical professionals are bracing for the call to head back to work, back to the frontlines. And many would do so at great personal risk, members of that most vulnerable age group.

CNN's Miguel Marquez spoke with one such doctor who, despite those risks and the dangers, is ready to answer the call.


ANNE SACKS-BERG, RETIRED DOCTOR: I am in a high-risk age group.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): High-risk, but highly motivated, 67-year-old Dr. Anne Sacks-Berg retired last year. No longer can she watch as the COVID-19 coronavirus kills and changes the way we live.

SACKS-BERG: I feel I have a moral obligation to share my skills.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): For 28 years, she was an infectious disease and palliative care physician at Huntington Hospital on New York's Long Island. It's one of nearly two dozen hospitals run by Northwell Health, New York State's largest private health care provider.

She is exactly the sort of health care professional hospitals everywhere need, right now.

MARQUEZ: Why, may I ask, do you get emotional, talking about this?

SACKS-BERG: I think it is because I feel it is a moral obligation. And I -- you know, I feel I have this in common with other health care workers. They're putting themselves on the line every day, and going to work. This is kind of who we are and what we're made for. And it's hard to sit on the sidelines.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): She is also one of thousands of Americans heeding the call, helping take on the biggest challenge the U.S. and the world has seen --


SCIUTTO: We're breaking in now because we're just about to hear live from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo here. Let's listen in.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: -- but it's -- she's not working, for obvious reasons. And she's here to help, and that's a joy to me.

Melissa DeRosa, who everybody knows. She worked for President Obama, she was chief of staff to the attorney general, she's been working with me for seven years. She's current secretary to the governor, Larry Schwartz; former deputy county executive-Suffolk, former deputy county executive-Westchester, former secretary to the governor, Patterson, then former secretary to the governor under Governor Cuomo, 2011 to 2015.