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Actor Daniel Newman Discusses His Struggle to Get Tested for Coronavirus; U.S. Defense Chief: Virus "Could" Impact Military Readiness; Trump Activates National Guard to Hard-Hit, California; New York, Washington State; NY Governor Tours City Building Being Set Up as Mobile Hospital; UCLA's Dr. Anne Rimoin Discusses Surgeon General Warning Upcoming Week Will Be "Very Bad" as Trump Hints at Rolling Back Social Distancing. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired March 23, 2020 - 13:30   ET




BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: As Americans are coming to grips with the new reality, many have taken to social media to tell their stories about their coronavirus symptoms and their experiences getting tested.

My next guest is actor, Daniel Newman. You've seen him on the hit show, "The Walking Dead." He tried to be tested for the virus after someone he knew tested positive.

Daniel Newman is joining us now.

Daniel, tell us how you are feeling and how many days out you are from the worse of it?

DANIEL NEWMAN, ACTOR: About four or five from the worst of it. I was in the E.R. last Saturday. They admitted me to the E.R.

KEILAR: So just give us a sense of what were your symptoms and at what point were you thinking I need to get tested?

NEWMAN: This is my biggest concern that we are having here because I've heard you know through the media and stuff that people, unfortunately and so sadly with this, are dying and they can't breathe and move.

I was not concerned initially. I just had a cough. Then I started having a little trouble of breathing. And it just progressed. But it still felt like a cold or flu. So it was not really -- it didn't really hit me until I heard somebody in the group tested positive.

And so I immediately, like anyone, start thinking, how many people have I just shook hands with. We just did Mardi Gras with thousands of people. What in the world do I have?

Just to be responsible, I called my doctor and they didn't have the test. I called the urgent cares all over Georgia. Nobody had the test. They forwarded me to the Health Department. And the Health Department basically says keep calling around.

And it was not until I was able to find this one giant hospital in Atlanta emergency room. They went through all the questions and asking me everything to kind of make sure that I was a fit and they said, come in immediately.

When I got there, they took the temperature and the vitals they said, yes, we have to test you. So $9,000 later, they let me know we need the E.R. bed and your symptoms are super mild, so the government told us we are not allowed to process your test.

So they just let me and a lot of other elderly and young people go home to self-quarantine without being able to process the test.

KEILAR: OK, so eventually you get tested, right?

NEWMAN: No, no. We physically did the test but they were not allowed to process the test.

KEILAR: I see. OK.

NEWMAN: Yes. I think they're ruling with the government was you either have to be elderly, have severe symptoms, or just came back from Italy or China in order to be able to have the government or the CDC to process the test.


KEILAR: You were one point nearly turned away entirely, right, until someone recognized you from your role of "The Walking Dead?"

NEWMAN: Yes. I mean, that's disgusting. Yes. At the entrance, they had a tent and they were telling everybody, after taking temperatures, you probably have a cold and you probably have the flu, go home, go home, self-quarantine, self-quarantine.

It was not until -- preferential treatment is disgusting. The fact that our health care system is turning everyone away and then, even after I got tested and had this huge bill, I could not process the results.

My point is that we are going through -- we have Iceland and we have Germany and South Korea who are doing thousands of tests. And in America, we had all these kids partying over spring break at the beaches right now, everybody is out at the park or at basketball games.

It is not until a society can get tested that people can really hold themselves responsible and accountable to self-quarantine, knowing -- and also contacting all the people that you come in contact with. We had this with the AIDS pandemic and HIV.

Testing is so essential to be able to lockdown the virus and stop it from spreading. So now two and a half months later, it is unacceptable to not have tests.


KEILAR: Daniel, thank you. We hear you still there with your cough.

Thank you for sharing your story with us. We hope you feel better and we'll follow up with you.


KEILAR: I think that $9,000 bill that you got socked with is something a lot of people are experiencing.

So thanks for coming in.


NEWMAN: Yes, my pleasure, you guys.

KEILAR: Totally, yes.

NEWMAN: Stay safe and wash your hands and treat people with love. We are all going through this at the same time. Really, share love with each other.

Thank you so much.

KEILAR: Very good words, Daniel. Thank you.


KEILAR: President Trump is heeding the pleas of U.S. governors hardest hit by the coronavirus. He's activated the National Guard. The troops are going to assist California, New York and Washington States, those really hard-hit areas.

And the president also said that these same states will be getting large amounts of much-needed medical equipment.

Let's go to Barbara Starr. She's our CNN Pentagon correspondent.

Barbara, the defense secretary just made some news. Tell us about this.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: He did. We just finished a briefing and, you know, reflecting on what this young man told everyone about his circumstances, it's so interesting, because defense secretary, Mark Esper, noted that the U.S. military has a number of medical labs, a significant number, that could process tests if only these tests kids for people who need get their tests would come to these military labs.

Perhaps an issue in address the unused capacity that the military could, could potentially offer.

But the secretary went through a number of things. I think what was so striking is, when he talked about the use of the National Guard, he felt he needed to openly say, and I am quoting him, "This is not marshal law." A remarkable moment that a secretary of defense would even have to say that in this country.

What the National Guard is going to do, under the control of state governors, is try and help provide help, provide assistance in communities around the country.

Now, there will be a number of military field hospitals being sent to various areas. The secretary talked, for example, the first two he expects to go to New York City and Seattle.

But he also laid out a concept that he sees that these military field hospitals essentially be stopgap measures, if you will.

As the Army Corps. of Engineers -- let's take New York as an example -- gets these facilities, like the Javits Center and other areas, converted into hospital bed space, then military field hospitals and the hospital ships, perhaps the "Mercy," the "Comfort," they may be able to move onto other areas of the country where they are also desperately needed.

So really trying to spread out the capability and trying to get everybody taken care of.

But it kind of really underscores that they expect this to go on for some time.

One of the biggest indicators, the secretary said, as this continues, and as it potentially spreads, he's now beginning to see the possibility of an impact on military readiness. That perhaps is extremely significant for to what might be coming down the road -- Brianna?

KEILAR: Yes, that is huge.

Barbara Starr, from the Pentagon, thank you so much.

The Senate in a standoff as the clock ticks over the coronavirus stimulus. Live picture coming from the Senate floor. We are expecting this vote any moment.

Plus, American doctors are warning of new symptoms for the illness, including the loss of smell and taste. We'll be taking a look at this.


This is CNN special live coverage.



KEILAR: New York is at the epicenter at the outbreak and mobile hospitals are right now being set up in Manhattan.

I want to go live to Shimon Prokupecz at the Javits Center.

Shimon, just give us a sense of what you're looking at and what this is going to become.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is inside the Javits Center. We've heard a lot about the Javits Center. We are now inside the Javits Center. The governor is here. He's speaking.

But I want to show you behind me here. The equipment is here. They have received equipment, respirators, hospital beds, other items. They are now inside the building.

This is the building where they're going to be doing -- they'll treat it as a hospital. There will be a thousand beds. We have seen respirators in here. As you can see, a lot of items that are here. Huge shipments of items. The National Guard. We've seen FEMA people here, people from the governor's office, Homeland Security.

And if we go over here, where the governor is speaking, you can see respirators, several respirators, other items behind the governor. There's a hospital bed and there's other items that you can see all around. You can see partitions, which they'll be using as rooms where they'll place potential patients or people who are going to need respirators.


But things are here. This is as good sign as much as we can get good signs right now. At least these items are arriving. There's supplies here.

There are hospital beds and respirators here and other critical care items that are needed for doctors and nurses who are going to be ultimately treating people, as many as perhaps 1,000 people inside this facility.

And the National Guard is here. They're the ones that are going to be putting all of this together.

But as you can see behind me, there are dozens and dozens of boxes of items and the key respirators. It is so important, that we keep on hearing respirators. They are here.

This is just a start of what the governor has been asking for -- Brianna?

KEILAR: Let's hope it is just a start. Let's hope it's enough.

Shimon, thank you so much for taking us inside what is going to become a hospital, the conventional center there in Manhattan.

And President Trump's own surgeon general giving us a somber warning this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JEROME ADAMS, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: I want America to understand this week, it's going to get bad. Everyone needs to be taking the right steps right now. And that means stay at home.


KEILAR: Despite this, though, aids to President Trump say the president is itching the scale back social distancing measure after the 15-day ends, as concerns grow about how these severe measures aimed at stopping the spread of the virus are going to impact the health of the American economy.

For his part, the president has been retweeting various messages calling for a return to normalcy at the end of this week.

Joining me now is the professor at UCLA Department of Epidemiology and the director of UCLA Center for Global and Immigrant Health, Anne Rimoin.

Anne, Professor, right now, I want to look into the future before we go back to what the president is saying. You have Hong Kong seeing a spike in new cases after relaxing their strict guidelines. How are we dropping measures we see in U.S., and we are not at the worst of it here, how would that affect the spread of the virus?

DR. ANNE RIMOIN, PROFESSOR OF EPIDEMIOLOGY & INFECTIOUS DISEASE DIVISION & DIRECTOR, UCLA CENTER FOR GLOBAL AND IMMIGRANT HEALTH, UCLA: You are right. We are seeing a spike in Hong Kong from imported -- and it looks to be this comes from imported travelers coming back to Hong Kong who have not been quarantine overtime.

It shows how difficult it is to be contain this virus. And any relaxing of containment measures is going to result in a spike of cases. We are not out of the woods. We are not even in the woods yet. We're just getting there.

It's really important to note that any place that's had the ability to relax at all has had adequate PPE, personal protective equipment. They have had hospital beds that's available. They have had the ability for contact tracing that's linked to the massive upscale testing that's available in other places. We are not there.

We are probably worse off than Italy in terms of where we are on the curve right now.

I think it's important to realize this is a difficult situation and everybody has to be doing their best to be controlling spread by social distancing and managing to keep hospitals as quite as possible.

KEILAR: I wonder, when you look at what is a desire on the part of the president to start backing off some of these restrictions, because the economy is taking a beating, but when you listen to Governor Cuomo and others who are saying there's no way around it if you are talking about human life.

Is this decision going to make itself, in a way, when here, in the coming weeks, we see some of the worse of it and it becomes clear that there's no way these measures can be relaxed?

RIMOIN: Absolutely. The problem is, our ability to control this virus is going to be predicated on how well we can keep people from being together and spreading the -- providing opportunity for spread. By relaxing, having any kind of measure that is only halfway, we'll be propagating the spread of the virus.

We have to do our best right now. We'll pay for it now or we are going to pay for it later. The price is going to be much bigger if we pay for it later.

A very good shutdown of movement right now will benefit everybody in this country in the long run. I know it is difficult. I know it is complicated for people. But the more we can restrict movement and keep people in place and reduce spread, in the long-term, the sooner we'll be out of this and we'll see light at the end of the tunnel.


KEILAR: Are there other measures besides social distancing that people need to be thinking about? Also, just give us a sense of, when you've seen people social distancing, are they doing it the right way?

RIMOIN: These are all very good questions. The first issue that we're talking about is, is there anything else we can do besides social distancing. And in the absence of personal protective equipment available for everybody on a mass scale, there's very little else we can do.

If we had masks and gloves and hand sanitizer and Clorox for every person in the United States, there might be, you know, other solutions, but we do not have those things available to us.

We need to protect our health system first. We need to keep people in place for now because we have no other tools at our disposal. We need testing to be able to determine who needs to stay, who needs to be isolated and who doesn't. We don't have those things in place.

And because we're so far behind, there's literally nothing else that we can do at this point. Social distancing is our only hope.

KEILAR: Our only hope. Well, keep it up, staying far away from other people.

Professor Anne Rimoin, thank you very much.

RIMOIN: Thank you.

Just in, the World Health Organization is warning this pandemic is accelerating.

And officials are rebuking the president for pushing drugs that are not yet approved to treat coronavirus.

Stand by.



KEILAR: The family of an Atlanta girl hospitalized after testing positive for coronavirus said her condition is not improving and that she is fighting for her life. The 12-year-old girl tested positive last week after first contracting pneumonia.

Her family tells CNN and Atlanta affiliate, WGCL, she did not have any preexisting conditions and she is now on a ventilator.


JUSTIN ANTHONY, COUSIN OF 12-YEAR-OLD GIRL WHO TESTED POSITIVE FOR CORONAVIRUS: Her fever did not go down and she took her back the next day. They still said it's quite common. It happens in kids. Sent her back and she just kind of deteriorated.

By Sunday, the fever has not broken and she started coughing, and so they admitted her. The doctor checked her out and they admitted her with pneumonia and she kind of deteriorated from there, to be honest with you.


KEILAR: The family said they do not know how their daughter contracted the virus, but they want to stress to the public that children can, indeed, become infected. And this girl right now is remaining in isolation. Family members tell CNN and affiliate, WSB, that they are now concerned about the girl's younger brother who is also under quarantine.

And moments from now, the Senate will vote on whether to move forward on the coronavirus stimulus. And Wall Street is watching closely.

Plus, the St. Louis Fed chair issues a somber warning that unemployment may hit 30 percent.