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A Record 3.3 Million Americans File for Unemployment; U.S. Now Has Second-Highest Number of Coronavirus Cases Globally; U.S. Sees a Record 248 Deaths Reported in a Single Day; U.S. Now Has Most Reported Coronavirus Cases in the World; More Than 2,300 Coronavirus Cases Reported in Louisiana; Roughly Six Times the Number from One Week Ago. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired March 26, 2020 - 19:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Anderson Cooper for a live global town hall later tonight, Coronavirus Facts and Fears. He'll be joined by Dr. Anthony Fauci and Bill Gates. That's at 8 pm Eastern only here on CNN.

Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: And OUTFRONT next, the President laying out his plans to reopen parts of the country despite warnings from top health officials. This on the deadliest day in the United States so far.

Plus, apocalyptic. That's how one doctor inside one of the busiest hospitals in New York City describes the scene now. We're going to talk to a doctor on the front lines.

And Louisiana sees a jump of more than 500 coronavirus cases in just one day. That is the fastest growth rate in the world. We're going to speak to a top official on the ground.

Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, the breaking news. The deadliest day for Americans since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. At least 248 new deaths reported today and another grim milestone, the United States now as the second most cases of Coronavirus in the world. Second only to China where infections were first counted months earlier than in the U.S.

As of tonight, 81,313 Americans are known to have been infected, much smaller than what the real number, of course, would be yet the President, again, today talking about getting the country back to work despite warnings from health officials even those on his own team that it may be too soon.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now, people want to go back to work. I'm hearing it loud and clear from everybody. I think it's going to happen pretty quickly. A lot of progress is made but we got to go back to work. We may take sections of our country. We may take large sections of our country that aren't so seriously affected.


BURNETT: That is part of a plan the President sent to governors today with potential new distancing guidelines which are based on geography, where you live and how the risk is ascertained based upon that. The President wants to identify what he calls 'high-risk', 'medium-risk' and 'low-risk' counties for different levels of social distancing.

You can imagine what many of the difficulties in such a plan might be, perhaps including this one.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What prevents many from a high-risk county going to a low-risk county? Don't you risk creating a patchwork system, allowing more cases to sip through the cracks and the virus will spread into other areas of the country.

DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: I think this is a very important concept and it's why we've really worked on messaging to the American people about these 15 days to stop the spread. Because part of this will be the need to have highly responsible behavior between counties.

And I think the American people can understand that, that they will understand where the virus is because we'll have the testing data and where it isn't and make sure that they're taking appropriate precautions as they move in and out of spaces.

I think this will be critical for our future as we work together to really understand where the virus is and where it is in real time.


BURNETT: So we're relying on responsible behavior and testing data, which we just simply currently do not have. It doesn't exist. The President also saying tonight that the Navy hospital ship comfort is scheduled to arrive in New York Harbor on Monday. New York, of course, is the hardest hit state so far, nearly half the cases in the U.S. are there and there are major concerns about a potential shortage of hospital beds in the city.

Nick Watt is OUTFRONT in Los Angeles outside Cedars-Sinai Hospital. That is where officials say supplies are literally day-to-day. Nick, and that should cause many fear for anyone listening and there are major concerns about supplies in many states right now.

NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. Listen, right here in California, Erin, we have just over 3,000 cases basically bracing, preparing for a New York style onslaught, I suppose. Tomorrow morning, the Mercy, another hospital ship, will actually dock here in the Port of Los Angeles. A thousand beds. The plan is to take people out of L.A. hospitals who are being treated

right now. Put them on that ship and clear space for the COVID-19 cases we expect to come. And as you mentioned today though, Erin, has been a day of nationwide grim milestones.


WATT(voice over): More than 1,000 now dead here in the U.S. and this evening we surpassed Italy, now second only to China in confirmed cases according to Johns Hopkins University.


TRUMP: I think it's a tribute to the testing. We're testing tremendous numbers of people.


WATT(voice over): Meanwhile, on the front line ...


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All the feet that you see, they all have COVID.


WATT(voice over): And 13 died at this one New York Hospital in one day.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We had to get a refrigerated truck to store the bodies of patients who are dying.


WATT(voice over): An ER doctor sharing a rare look inside her hospital with The New York Times.



DR. COLLEEN SMITH, EMERGENCY ROOM DOCTOR, ELMHURST HOSPITAL: I don't have the support that I need and even just the materials that I need physically to take care of my patients and it's America.


WATT(voice over): CNN has reached out to Elmhurst Hospital for official comment on the statements of this doctor.


SMITH: Leaders in various offices from the President to the head of health and hospitals saying things like we're going to be fine. Everything is fine. And from our perspective, everything is not fine.


WATT(voice over): New York Governor says there is enough protective equipment for now, but distribution might be stop and start.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D) NEW YORK: You cannot get the curve down low enough so that you don't overwhelm the hospital capacity.


WATT(voice over): Down in Miami, starting Friday night at 10 pm to 5 am curfew. That city council debate looked like this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For the record of the motion passed unanimous five-zero.


WATT(voice over): The first confirmed case in the U.S. was January 21, Washington State. About a month later the President said this.


TRUMP: We're going down, not up. We're going very substantially down, not up.


WATT(voice over): Today, more than 80,000 cases in every single state, according to a CNN tally. Take Michigan.


GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D) MICHIGAN: Just over two weeks ago, we had zero. This crisis is ramping up exponentially.


WATT(voice over): Now, nearly 3,000 Detroit, a hotspot.


DR. JONEIGH KHALDUN, MICHIGAN DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH: Part of what we're seeing in Detroit is that there's such a high number of individuals who have those underlying conditions. And so what you're seeing now is when you have really generations of concentrated poverty, when you have pandemics like this, it's going to hit those places harder.



WATT: Erin, you just played a little clip of Dr. Birx during that White House press conference talking about some counties being hit hard some not so much. She's singled out Wayne County, home of Detroit and Cook County, home of Chicago as places where we are seeing a more rapid increase.

And between those counties, you're looking at nearly 7 million people just right there. Erin.

BURNETT: Nick, thank you very much.

And I want to go out right now to Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Dr. Richard Besser, who is the former Acting Director of the CDC. Thanks so much to both of you.

So, Sanjay, the grim milestone today, deadliest day. As we know, there will be more that fit that description. But tonight, the U.S. is surpassing Italy and now only second to China in the number of coronavirus cases, all together. What does that tell you?

Again, we know that this is detection and some function of spread and testing. Do we know which it is more a reflection of?

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think there's no question that the spread continues in the United States and when you look at these numbers, some of that obviously reflects more testing but it also reflects a picture of what was happening in this country 10 to 14 days ago. The scenario, Erin, would be somebody is exposed, it takes some time for them to develop symptoms and then they get tested.

By the time all that happens, 10 to 14 days may have passed. So that's what we're seeing right now. And over the last 10 to 14 days, obviously, there's continued to be spread.

It's interesting, Erin, when we hear about these more rural places or places where they think there's not that many cases. Nick Walsh was just talking about Michigan. Michigan had 15 cases last week, so you can see how much growth there is in places, a lot of places out there saying, look, we seem to be OK Right now. We have very few cases.

Look what's happening in these other states around the country. This virus is spreading and more testing will reveal that.

BURNETT: And Dr. Besser, the President seemed to downplay this milestone of where the United States is here in terms of infections tonight. Here's what he just said moments ago at the press conference.


TRUMP: You don't know what the numbers are in China. China tells you numbers and I'm speaking to President Xi tonight, I believe, we'll have a good conversation, I'm sure. But you just don't know what are the numbers, but I think it's a tribute to the testing.


BURNETT: So he's both raising a question about what the numbers really were in China and obviously they were significantly higher than what they said just like they are everywhere, maybe in part because of their government and what they were willing to say and in part because of testing. But in the U.S., he says it's a tribute to the testing. Would you agree that the increase we're seeing is a tribute to the testing?

DR. RICHARD BESSER, FORMER ACTING CDC DIRECTOR UNDER OBAMA: Well, I would agree with Sanjay that it's a combination of spread and increased testing. One of the key factors in this response that there's not enough discussion around is the critical role that trust will play in whether or not we are able to reduce the impact on the public.

And that trust comes from knowing that decisions are made based on public health science. We need to be hearing from CDC, from the top public health scientists in the world.


So that when we're hearing something, a decision made for a policy perspective, we know the background, we know the science that went into that to make that policy decision. Right now, we can't tell what is being done politically versus what is being done based on evidence.

BURNETT: And Sanjay to that point, the President did not talk about Easter today and full churches, he didn't mention the word Easter at all. But did talk about people wanting to get back to work and relaxing social distancing guidelines. I don't know what those would be. I'm not trying to make light of it, but it's six feet some places and not in other places and you're trusting people on an honor system when you go from county to county.

You heard Dr. Birx say you got to trust people to be responsible. I mean, could that ever work?

GUPTA: I think it would be very hard. I mean, look, just put yourself in somebody like that shoes to Dr. Besser's point. So you're living in a county where most of the places around you, you still are practicing the social distancing, but this counties now being put back to work.

I mean, every door handle you touch every elevator button you push. I mean, every time you see a stranger, somebody comes in from out of town, you have to think about the country as a whole here. I think it's very hard to sort of say we're going to have this patchwork of return and the people who live in those areas, I mean, I think it's going to be sort of very confusing for them.

And again, Erin, just quickly point out again, young people can and people without symptoms can still spread this virus and young people can still get sick from this virus so if you put young people back to work, it's not this virus won't affect them.

BURNETT: And let me just say here, because as these numbers are dynamically changing, we now are the most coronavirus cases in the world in the United States. So we have now just passed that above China. Again, we all know their numbers aren't really what they reported but this is the direction this is going in this country and now the United States has the most reported cases.

Dr. Besser, on this point about Trump saying this letter to the governor is talking about these plans that he has to hopefully relax social distancing guidelines, someplace and not others. But even people in his own taskforce apparently all of them didn't know about that letter before he sent it.

And the other day, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the infectious disease specialist who's on that podium almost daily, he made it very clear that he - well, it sounded to me like he wouldn't be on board with anything like that, because he said this.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: What we don't have right now that we really do need is we need to know what's going on in those areas of the country where there isn't an obvious outbreak.



BURNETT: So, I mean, he's basically saying we don't know what we don't know. Just because there's no obvious outbreak doesn't mean there's no problem there, reopen it. It means we may not know there is an outbreak there.

BESSER: Yes. One of the underlying principles is correct and that's that pandemics or local outbreaks occurring on different timelines. But until there's widespread testing available and we can understand the various timelines and we can understand the significance of Africans of transmission by children, by people who are asymptomatic. It's really premature to talk about lightening up and opening in certain areas.

In the future, that's clearly something that you'd want to do. But right now, we don't know how much of what we're seeing nationwide in terms of numbers, in terms of deaths is simply that we're testing, we're seeing what's already out there versus continued spread.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you both very much. And don't miss Sanjay, he's going to be with our CNN GLOBAL TOWN HALL on coronavirus coming up in less than an hour at 8 pm Eastern.

And OUTFRONT next, the scene inside the New York hospital being called apocalyptic. We're going to speak to a doctor about what it is like for him inside a New York City hospital tonight.

Plus, what is going on in Louisiana? The state with the fastest growth rate in the world on known infection. The Lieutenant Governor is my guest. And a record number of Americans filing jobless claims. Small business

owners across this country are asking what now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People are not going to be able to support their families.




BURNETT: New tonight, OUTFRONT has obtained a photo of a truck that can be used as a morgue and we saw this outside a hospital in Manhattan. It is not the only one. I'll show you a photo of another truck at one of the hardest hit hospitals in Queens. This photo was obtained by The New York Times.

New York City is deploying these refrigerated trucks as emergency rooms are overwhelmed with coronavirus patients. The Chief Medical Examiner's Office says they have a total of 45 trucks that are stockpiled that can be deployed as needed.

OUTFRONT now, Dr. James Gasperino, he is the Director of Critical Care Services at the Brooklyn Hospital Center. Dr. Gasperino, I know you just spent 30 hours with patients in the hospital. The President of your hospital tells New York Times you're in disaster mode at your hospital, what is the situation like?

DR. JAMES GASPERINO, DIRECTOR OF CRITICAL CARE SERVICES, BROOKLYN HOSPITAL CENTER: I would say from the ICU perspective, probably 80 percent of the patients in the ICU are (inaudible) under investigation at very high-risk for having the coronavirus or those already confirmed to have it. So the ICU population is clearly being dominated by patients who are likely to be infected.

I would also say demographics of the people coming into the hospital that are not like ICE and the critical care per se have all of the characteristics of infection but with milder disease. So the population of the hospital now is really transformed into patients looks like who aren't infected.

BURNETT: And so you're saying even beyond the ICU. So I know you've been dealing with several issues here. First of all, the possibility of rationing, ventilators, using one machine possibly for two people. Is that something you think can work? Does that increase the risk? I mean, are you at a point where you don't have a choice?

GASPERINO: We're not there yet and I think that right now we have enough ventilators for the number of patients that we're seeing. We're also acquiring new ventilators and additional ventilators. I think that would be like three steps or three days down the road where we would have to do that.


And we're doing simulation exercises using one ventilator for two patient scenarios so that when that time comes, we'd be ready to do that.

Right now, though, we're not quite at that phase, but we are preparing like many hospitals are doing for (inaudible) came to rationing and making those tough decisions, we have an ethics committee and a group of people following the latest evidence to guide us if it comes to that.

BURNETT: And as I mentioned, The New York Times had mentioned your hospital as well as others. One of the other ones that they mentioned specifically was the Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, which the situation there is horrific. It's been entirely dedicated to coronavirus patients which I know you're starting to see as well.

But the quote there was the calls over a loudspeaker of 'Team 700,' the code for when a patient is on the verge of death, comes several times a shift. Some have died inside the emergency room while waiting for a bed. Some patients have been found dead in their rooms while doctors were busy helping others.

Obviously, this is Elmhurst Hospital in Queens. Does this sound - are you seeing anything like this? Do you anticipate seeing anything like this?

GASPERINO: Well, so at our hospital we - like pre COVID-19, we've developed a pretty robust critical care program that already had a team in place to deal with emergencies outside the ICU, staff of critical care attendings and other really advanced practitioners and the latest technology to kind of be deployed to any emergencies in the hospital.

So now we are seeing more calls. Now those calls for emergencies in the hospital tend to be related to COVID-19 patients, patients with coronavirus simply because those are the patients who are really starting to populate our medical surgical floors outside the ICUs.

So for many people it goes from mild to moderate to severe disease pretty quickly. And so that's what you're seeing at Elmhurst. We're starting to see some of that here at the Brooklyn Hospital Center. However, we have a pretty effective team in place to handle those patients.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Dr. Gasperino, I appreciate your time. I know your patients do as well, as I said, thank you for taking time to talk to us even after putting in that 30 hour shift. Thank you, sir.

GASPERINO: Thank you, Erin.

BURNETT: And next, coronavirus cases in Louisiana skyrocketing more than 500 new cases reported there in just one day. One official calls at the disaster that will define a generation.

Plus, a 38-year-old father of two with coronavirus, the lengths he is going to, to keep his family from getting sick. He's OUTFRONT.



BURNETT: New tonight, the next hotspot growing concerns tonight about the State of Louisiana and its alarming spike of coronavirus cases. We first told you about this earlier this week and at this hour there are now more than 2,300 detected cases in the state. That is six times the number of a week ago.

The situation dire and a top New Orleans official had this grim warning today.


COLLIN ARNOLD, DIRECTOR, NEW ORLEANS OFFICE OF HOMELAND SECURITY AND EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS: This is going to be a disaster that's going to define our generation.


BURNETT: Ed Lavandera is OUTFRONT.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: On a day where the nation's coronavirus death toll passed the bleak 1,000 milestone, the focus is shifting to Louisiana. A state that may have the fastest growth rate of infections in the country.


GOV. JOHN BEL EDWARDS (D) LOUISIANA: We're not doing as well as we should, not when we know what is coming down the road in the not too distant future.


LAVANDERA(voice over): There is an urgent need for medical supplies as confirmed cases skyrocket increasing by more than 500 in less than 24 hours. The Governor says that time is running out. Ventilators and protective equipment are in short supply and hospitals in New Orleans alone could lack the capacity to provide proper care by next week without outside assistance.


MAYOR LATOYA CANTRELL (D) NEW ORLEANS: We need resources from the federal government to unlock the change and really tear them down in the State of Louisiana so that we can meet our people where they are and so that we can give them the services that they desperately need and particularly our healthcare professionals on the ground working tirelessly.

(END VIDEO CLIP) LAVANDERA(voice over): Dr. Rebekah Gee, CEO of LSU's Health Care

Services Division says some health officials have resorted to buying hospital gowns on eBay. Other extreme measures are underway just to get the basic medical supplies they desperately need.


DR. REBEKAH GEE, CEO, LSU HEALTH CARE SERVICES: Making masks from Office Depot, plastic covers that you put on documents that you're trying to make look formal and putting string and punching holes in them.


LAVANDERA(voice over): Health experts are monitoring six clusters at nursing homes including Lambeth House Retirement Community in New Orleans, where as of Tuesday official say 11 people have died of COVID-19.

A growing theory for the rapid spread is last month's Mardi Gras celebration in New Orleans, taking place weeks before the Governor issued a stay-at-home order. The first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the State was from an individual who tested positive in the New Orleans area, 13 days after the end of the iconic party, which draws thousands from all over the world.

Officials say they believe the patient contracted the virus locally.


ARNOLD: We had over a million and a half people in the city including international visitors all attending parades daily.


LAVANDERA(voice over): Federal help is on the way. President Trump approved Louisiana's disaster declaration on Tuesday and some residents are heeding the stay at home guidance with movement in New Orleans down 73 percent according to one federal official.


FAUCI: I have spoken to the political officials in New Orleans and in the state of Louisiana. They are now shutting things down in a very vigorous way.

It is likely that that should have been done a little bit sooner.



ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): And Governor John Bel Edwards warns that Louisiana's current trajectory is not sustainable and compliance is crucial for the state's well-being.

GOV. JOHN BEL EDWARDS (D), LOUISIANA: Our future from where we are today with the curve that we are on is not promising.


LAVANDERA: And, Erin, this is Bourbon Street in the French Quarter. It hasn't looked this quiet since Hurricane Katrina. This is a city and region that is well accustomed to staring down the eyes of hurricanes, but being caught in the eye of a storm like a viral pandemic is not something this city is used to -- Erin.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: All right. Thank you very much, Ed Lavandera.

And I want to go OUTFRONT now to the Republican lieutenant governor of Louisiana, Bill Nungesser.

And, Lieutenant Governor, I appreciate your time.

I mean, how would you describe what you are seeing right now on the ground?

LT. GOV. BILL NUNGESSER (R-LA): Well, this is unprecedented. We have taken over several of the state parks. We've moved all the tourists out of the state parks, sent them back home. And now, we're going to be turning the convention center into a 300-bed hospital.

This is serious and hit America at a horrible time, around Mardi gras. And we love to hug people in Louisiana. So, we are paying for it now. And we've got to take this serious, 28 percent increase in infection in 24 hours, over 80 people dead here in Louisiana. This is going to continue to get worse before it gets better.

BURNETT: So, the governor has issued a stay at home order now just a couple of -- four days ago. I want to play again, though, for you, Lieutenant Governor, what President Trump's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Fauci, said last night about your state.

Here he is.


FAUCI: I have spoken to the political officials in New Orleans and in the state of Louisiana. They are now shutting things down in a very vigorous way. It is likely that it should have been done a little bit sooner. Not blaming anyone. But you get caught unaware.


BURNETT: So, he says it is likely that it should have been done sooner, not blaming anyone, but you get caught unaware.

Your response?

NUNGESSER: You know, I take responsible (ph) for that too. I think, you know, we can always go back and say, we should have, could have, would have. But, you know, tourist is a big business in Louisiana, $1.9 billion in taxes left here by tourists last year. And, you know, you've got to look out for the people that have these

jobs in the restaurants and hotels and not want to make a call that you might not have regretted. So, could we have done it a little earlier? Maybe so. But I take as much responsibility as any elected official.

But the thing now, we know what we've got. And we've got to shelter in place. We've got to do what the governor has asked and make sure we get control of this thing that has gotten a little out of control here.

BURNETT: And you were told -- just to be clear, though, it's not like you were defying anyone with Mardi gras, right? No one from the CDC or the NIH or nobody asked you to cancel it.

NUNGESSER: No, absolutely not. It hit right about that time, actually right after that. And even when we were asking people to support our local restaurants, didn't know how bad this could get this quickly. And I think the governor has taken the right steps asking people to stay at home, and not touch, and keep our distance when you do go out to buy groceries and hopefully in the next week or so, we'll get hold of this.

BURNETT: Georgia's governor says he believes the coronavirus actually has been present in his state since December of last year and when history looks back there, you know, that you're going to see that that was the case. Do you think that may be true for your state also and no one realized it, or do you really think that this was Mardi gras?

NUNGESSER: No, I think it is probably here. I think Mardi gras probably escalated it. And the reason we have so many cases here in Louisiana, but I think a lot of people that might have misdiagnosed it with the flu.

So, I think it was absolutely here is my opinion before Mardi Gras and it just helped spread it.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Lieutenant Governor, I appreciate your time. Thank you so very much.

NUNGESSER: We'll get through this. Thank you.

BURNETT: All right, sir.

And next, more than 3 million workers, 3 million Americans just filed for unemployment, it is an all-time record.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, I have not slept. I am worried about having a heart attack to be perfectly honest with you.


BURNETT: And a patient with coronavirus reduced to communicating with his young children by notes pushed under the door. He is my guest, next.



BURNETT: Tonight, a record 3.3 million Americans filing for their first week of unemployment benefits last week. People across this country are losing their jobs in a stunning and unprecedented fashion, thanks to coronavirus. And now, many of them are struggling to figure out how to even put food on the table.

Kyung Lah is OUTFRONT.



It's just been a completely life-altering experience from start to finish, and within a week. I mean, this is unbelievable.

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A record number of newly unemployed Americans as the virus leaves no business untouched.

SOUDER: We would have all of the seats filled.

LAH: All of the seats.

SOUDER: There would be a line out the door.

LAH: Three-point-three million filed jobless claims last week, coronavirus cratering businesses.

SOUDER: We went from being about to franchise to basically running a to-go business. I have not slept. I am worried about having a heart attack to be perfectly honest with you.

LAH: With no diners, the drunken crab is hemorrhaging thousands of dollars a day. Every business, every industry, reevaluating under this economic tsunami.


Josh Souder already forced to make the hard choice.

SOUDER: I had to -- you know, I was forced to lay off 75 people. At first you are thinking about them, OK, I feel horrible for them and they have to go home and tell their family I just got laid off.

JAY BOCKEN, RESTAURANT GENERAL MANAGER LAID OFF THIS MONTH: I called my wife over the phone, I said, honey, I am on my way home. She pretty much immediately knew.

LAH: Laid off from the Drunken Crab, the former general manager Jay Bocken immediately filed for unemployment and it is just the tip of the iceberg, say economists, predicting by summer, 14 million workers will lose their jobs due to the coronavirus shock.

BOCKEN: You are talking thousands and thousands of people looking for work simultaneously. It's going to hit every aspect of life, and the government needs to react and help us get through this. That's the only way that it is going to work. People are not going to be able to support their families for more than two months.

LAH: And already, signs money is getting tight. Outside this West Hollywood bar employees only a line. Inside the small staff preps meals, free meals for workers who show a pay stub.

Like bartender Geri Courtney-Austein.

GERI COURTNEY-AUSTEIN, BARTENDER LAID OFF THIS MONTH: All of us like immediately lost our jobs I think as of Monday or Tuesday.

LAH: Are you worried about how long it will last?

COURTNEY-AUSTEIN: One hundred percent, yes. If it goes on months, like I -- I don't think any of us have any idea what we are going to do.

TOM SOPIT, RESTAURANT OWNER: The moment this happened, we're going to dig ourselves in a hole, regardless.

LAH: Are you scared?

SOPIT: I'm concerned.

LAH: Restaurant owner Tom Sopit's rent is $1,000 per day. He doesn't want to fire anyone, but this is a new reality he will have to face.

SOPIT: Yes, all that we can do is help each other.


LAH: Now, employees only in West Hollywood has set up a Go Fund Me page, hoping that the community will keep it going. But there is only so long given their overhead, given their payroll that they can do this, because they are looking at an empty parking lot just like this business is looking at an empty parking lot, just like American businesses across this country are looking at empty parking lots -- Erin.

BURNETT: Kyung, thank you very much.

And next, a health care worker dying from coronavirus, the first medical professional in the United States known to succumb to the disease. Others on the frontlines though are ill. How will hospitals manage?

And a coronavirus patient whose illness has taken a toll on his entire family. He's very young children, one of whom suffers from a preexisting condition. He is my guest next.


BURNETT: New tonight, Americans on the frontlines -- they've been putting their lives at risk and many are increasingly getting infected with coronavirus. More than 150 hospital workers testing positive at just a few hospitals in Boston.

OUTFRONT now, Dr. Lakshman Swamy. He works at the ICU at Boston Medical Center.

I know we talked to you a few days ago. I am glad that you're back. I'm glad you're well. I know you're exhausted, and this is just one of the many things you have to deal with of those 150 infected workers in Boston, 15 are at your hospital, Boston Medical.

Dr. Swamy, how worried are you?

DR. LAKSHMAN SWAMY, ICU DOCTOR AT BOSTON MEDICAL CENTER: I think every day, we are -- the atmosphere is so tense. We -- you know, so many of us have known each other for years and years. And we're strangely scared of each other, right? Someone thoughtfully brought food to the intensive care staff and it was hardly touched because we are in a constant state of sort of paranoia and fear.

BURNETT: I mean, are you able to get regular testing to even know who is infected or are you also -- I mean there is some testing going on.


BURNETT: Or only if you are sick?

SWAMY: Yes. I think that unfortunately, you know, since we spoke last when I said that testing was a huge problem. I think testing is ramping up, but it has not ramped up. I think we are all working hard to get it going and we are advocating for it. People are pushing.

But all of the centers are just overwhelmed, I think. And we're really not at the point yet where we need to be where we are testing all of the health care workers, because, you know, if one of us gets knocked out we could take out so many of our colleagues, too. So, that's certainly scary.

BURNETT: And for your peace of mind, with also just exhausting hours you are working. I know you said we were talking about the situation in the E.R. and that the entire ICU has been converted to only hold coronavirus patients at this point. So, I know that you see stories in New York, right? They're describing the situation as apocalyptic, the entire ICU, it's also now the entire hospital. We were talking to another doctor earlier in the show.

Where are you right now in terms of coronavirus and your ICU and your hospital?

SWAMY: Yes. No. Sure. I think, you know, my heart is with New York. I think all of us are. We realize that right now that is the hot spot and what scares me the most is that is going to be a lot of places. And it's terrifying because it's not just a strain on the PPE, the equipment like ventilators, it's the strain on the staff and it's the strain on the infrastructure.

And that -- we see that coming. We're -- thank God we're not there yet. A lot of the country is watching and wondering, will that happen to us? I think that we feel the strain growing dramatically since we spoke last week.


It's been already so many changes. You feel it everywhere you go in the hospital. Our whole ICU is now focused on the care of coronavirus patients. But that doesn't mean our ICU doctors are only looking at that. We still have critically ill patients and we're taking care of them wherever they are.

BURNETT: And right now, how are you getting through this, putting in these never-ending days, knowing that you could get sick, knowing that many of your colleagues have gotten sick, a father of young children? How are you getting through it?

SWAMY: Yes. You know, I think it's bizarre because one of the things that's different, I think, about our ICU and intensive care in general is that intensive care is the long haul, right? It's not -- it's not the same as the emergency room and other places. We -- we get a patient who is sick with this virus and if they're really, really sick, it could be days to weeks.

And that is, of course, a huge drain on our staff. In a good way because we want to get people better through critical illness, but it weighs on the staff. It weighs on everyone because I think this is something that's missed.

There's no families here. There's no families. And the families really bring an intensive care unit to life and they play a huge role in patients getting better.

BURNETT: People are alone, they're sick and dying alone.

SWAMY: People -- that's exactly what's happening. I think we try to find ways to get family as much as we can. But the combination of not enough protective equipment and also just the real fear that this could be transmitted is leaving us with critically ill patients who are left with strangers, which is us.

And we do that. We do that. And that's like a really meaningful part of our job. But I think we feel that the rooms are empty, too.

BURNETT: Dr. Swamy, thank you very much. I'm glad to speak to you again. I hope you stay well. We'll talk to you soon.

SWAMY: Yes, thank you, Erin.

It's -- I hope everyone out there is staying strong. This is a hard time for everyone, but I just want everyone out there to know that by staying home, you really are saving lives because the strain that's building is immense and we can only handle it if people stay home. Thank you.

BURNETT: And next, a 38-year-old father with two little children. He is now really quarantined in just a room. He has coronavirus. He is my guest.



BURNETT: And OUTFRONT now, Craig Hollander. He is a 38-year-old father of two. He has the coronavirus.

And, Craig, I appreciate your taking the time. You want everyone know you are in your home right now. You are completely isolated from your family.

You know, tell us how you're doing now and your symptoms. They were not typical of coronavirus, were they?

CRAIG HOLLANDER, HAS CORONAVIRUS, HAS PREEXISTING CONDITION: No, not from what I've read. Although they may be more typical than I think than what we're hearing.

Basically it started with a fever and chills and maybe a slight cough. My stomach was fine for the first couple days. I thought it was a run- of-the-mill virus. I went to get checked out. I didn't get better for a few days.

By the fourth day, my stomach started turning for the worst and I took that as a good sign that it wasn't COVID-19 because from what I've read, which is a lot, it was pretty much only associated with pulmonary symptoms and people coughing and having a sore throat. And I didn't have any of those symptoms, so I thought when my stomach went bad it was actually a good sign.

But to make a long story short, I ended up getting tested several days later and finding out that I was positive. I still have these G.I. symptoms. At no point was my breathing impacted. I have a cough.

Other than that, it's not the symptoms that, you know, most people have come to associate with COVID-19.

BURNETT: I think that's important for people to know, to your point, because people wouldn't necessarily expect that. But I mention you're in your room alone. If isn't it isn't that you're going to go out and see your family even though you're recovering. You have two daughters, one is three, one is six.

How worried are you that she could get sick from you? I mean, you've really isolated yourself.

HOLLANDER: Yes, in hindsight, I was freaked out, because, again, you know, what I thought might have been just the flu or some other virus or a stomach bug, you know, I didn't think that I was, you know, risking her welfare or let alone her life by being around her. It was only after nine or ten days after getting the results back, but looking back, I though, oh, my gosh, I'm lucky she's so far asymptomatic, because, you know, a lot of people out there have stomach bugs or what they think are stomach bugs.

And that's how COVID is actually presenting itself with them. So, they have to be careful.

BURNETT: And your daughters, now you're completely separated from them, not able to see them, not able to hug them. They've been slipping drawings, we'll show everyone one under the door. How hard has it been to be away from them? To note, you've been given no time when you can re-engage. Yes, you're holding it up.

HOLLANDER: Yes, I just -- every day I get these notes passed under the door, cards from them. It has been cheering me up. But we've received absolutely no guidelines about, you know, when we should expect to, you know, be in the clear. And it's very chilling and scary because I don't want to accidentally -- even though I feel fine, I've been fever free for three days now. I still have gastrointestinal issues. I still have a slight cough.

I don't know -- I'm not an immunologist, I don't know -- or a virologist. I don't know if my cough -- I don't know if it's getting better. If that still carries the virus. I don't know anything like that.

So -- and no one other than the health department calling me to do contact tracing, no one's called me to actually -- to give me guidance.

BURNETT: Well, we are rooting for you and rooting for you to see those little girls and I hope that's a lesson for the health department to learn here. Those communications are crucial because you have all these people coming out of quarantine.

Thank you, Craig. We wish you the best.

Thanks to all of you for joining us.

CNN's global town hall, "CORONAVIRUS: FACTS AND FEARS", begins now.