Return to Transcripts main page


13 Die in Queens Hospital in Last 24 Hours; Senate Passes Historic $2.2 Trillion Stimulus Bill. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired March 26, 2020 - 06:00   ET



SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Not a single senator voted against this $2 trillion rescue bill.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): What is important is for us to recognize the good that is in the bill.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): The evidence suggests that density control measures may be working.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm sure that this virus is just about everywhere. How widespread it is, we don't know yet. We haven't tested sufficiently.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right now, we believe that by about April the 7th, in region one around New Orleans, we would exceed our capacity to deliver health care in the hospitals.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASE: You don't make the timeline. The virus makes the timeline. You've got to go with what the situation on the ground is.


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

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is March 26, 6 a.m. here in New York.

The coronavirus pandemic in the United States is accelerating. This morning, the death toll is approaching 1,000 people. Wednesday was the deadliest day so far.

New York is the hardest-hit area. It has nearly half of the country's cases. Conditions at hospitals there and across the country are dire. In New York, hospitals are bracing for a surge in patients. One hospital has constructed a makeshift morgue on the street, as you can see on your screen. Nurses at a different hospital in Manhattan are resorting to protecting themselves with trash bags, as you can see because of a shortage in their protective gowns. "The Washington Post" reports -- (on camera) do-not-resuscitate order

for coronavirus patients.

But there is some reason for optimism. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says there are signs that social distancing is working to slow down the doubling rate of the virus -- John.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: So this is not just a New York problem. That is becoming clear. This morning, acute concern for Louisiana. Cases there have spiked to more than 1,500. There is new fear of running out of hospital beds there.

And there is breaking news overnight. Just hours ago, the Senate passed a $2 trillion rescue package. It was unanimous. The bill authorizes checks to more than 150 [SIC] American households. We have new information about when you might see some of that money. So stand by for that.

The House expected to vote on the measure tomorrow.

And later this morning, the number that so many analysts are watching. The Labor Department will release weekly jobless claims. And there is every reason to believe that the report will shatter records, the wrong kind of records.

We have a team of reporters standing by to bring you all the latest information.

Want to begin with CNN's Brynn Gingras, live at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens. A horrific 24-hour period there, Brynn, with 13 deaths. What's the latest?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. John, I mean, that's the grim reality of what we are seeing here on the ground. And it's not going away. The demand is still there. It's not slowing down.

As you can see behind me, this line, John, has started forming even earlier this morning. And it's even longer at this hour. People waiting in the cold to get care.

The hospital tells us every day they're working to increase the capacity of this hospital by flooding it with nurses and doctors and equipment just to keep up with this demand.


GINGRAS (voice-over): Thirteen people have died at this hospital in Queens, while outside it's swamped with New Yorkers waiting in long lines to get tested for the coronavirus.

The numbers in the city are still rapidly growing. But the nation's top infectious disease expert says studying what's happening here could give clues to help reduce infection rates in other parts of the country.

FAUCI: It's accelerating. There are other parts of the country which we need to get a better feel for what is going on. And the way we do that is by increasing testing and identifying people who are infected, isolating them, getting out of circulation, and then do contact tracing.

GINGRAS: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo reports there's early signs showing stay-at-home measures are working.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): Social distancing, no restaurants, no nonessential workers. Yes, they are burdensome. By the way, they are effective, and the evidence suggests, at this point, that they have slowed the hospitalization.

GINGRAS: Nationwide, some medical staff are fearful of working in hospitals overloaded with coronavirus patients. And the shortage of personal protective equipment makes their already difficult jobs even more dangerous.


JUDY SHERIDAN-GONZALEZ, PRESIDENT, NEW YORK STATE NURSES ASSOCIATION: We are terrified. Everybody is terrified. We feel an obligation to take care of our patients. Everybody does. But we don't want to become sick.

GINGRAS: Watch medical personnel in New Jersey, dressed in full protective gear, move dozens of residents from this nursing home after several tested positive.

And "The Washington Post" reports in Chicago, doctors have privately discussed a do-not-resuscitate policy for infected individuals, regardless of the wishes of the patient or their family members.

With cases growing in Louisiana, the governor worries hospitals in New Orleans could reach capacity by the first week of April.

GOV. JOHN BEL EDWARDS (D-LA): This depends upon whether the curve gets flattened or whether the trajectory stays where it is.

GINGRAS: President Trump's still optimistic most of the country will be back to work soon.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It could be, we'll do sections of our country. There are big sections of our country that are very, you know, little affected by what's taken place. Then there are other sections that are very heavily affected. By Easter, we'll have a recommendation.

GINGRAS: But Dr. Anthony Fauci says it's basically impossible to make that projection.

FAUCI: You don't make the timeline. The virus makes the timeline. It doesn't matter what you say -- one week, two week, three weeks. You've got to go with what the situation on the ground is.

(END VIDEOTAPE) GINGRAS: Yes, the hospital is so overwhelmed here that patients are having to actually be moved to other hospitals, because there's just simply not enough room.

Now, we know half of the cases in the country are here in New York. Listen, we've learned 40,000 nurses and doctors have volunteered, some retirees, to come back and help the hospital staff. Obviously, John, that is just heroic, as we know, because doctors and nurses are among the people that are getting sick right now.

BERMAN: Brynn, I have to say, you've been doing amazing work there. We see the ambulances behind you coming and going. We see the lines behind you growing, and it's only 6:06 a.m. And we've read the reports of the situation inside that hospital as apocalyptic.

So thank you very much. Stand by and please keep us posted as it develops throughout the morning.

Breaking overnight, the Senate has passed this huge $2 trillion rescue bill aimed at keeping the U.S. economy from crashing and aimed at getting money in so many people's pockets.

CNN's Joe Johns live at the White House. An important step, Joe.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: That's for sure, John. And this, of course, is an enormous, enormous package, the largest package in the history of the United States for emergency aid. It is hopefully going to bridge the economy for the next two to three months, or at least so says the treasury secretary.

So what's in the bill? Let's take a look at it. Five hundred billion dollars. That is for companies and distressed industries with some strings attached: oversight and accountability to keep things out of [SIC] control.

There's also $300 billion for small business loans, $250 billion for unemployment benefits for people who end up out of work because of the coronavirus.

Another $250 billion -- and here's one of the most important things - in direct payment to individuals and families. That, of course, is means tested for individuals making less than $75,000. It also depends on how many kids you have in your family.

Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader in the United States Senate, also from the state that is right now the epicenter of the coronavirus response, becoming emotional when talking about this step.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): We're going to come back. But it pains me, and it pains you in a certain sense because you can't be with the people. You have to talk to them on the telephone. That bothers me. I like to mix and mingle and press the flesh. Press the flesh is a bad word right now. And so I feel an ache for my people. And one of the things that guided me was to do as much as I could for them.


JOHNS: So it's not quite over yet. This bill now heads to the House of Representatives up on Capitol Hill. They're hoping to have a voice vote to get it out of there quickly and over here to the president's desk as early as Friday.

Back to you.

BERMAN: All right. Joe Johns for us at the White House. Joe, please keep us posted. That matters to so many people.

Alisyn, I want to address our geographic location here for a moment. Because last couple days, we've been in separate rooms, not near each other but at least in the same building. Today not even that close.

CAMEROTA: I'm coming to you from the Camerota headquarters this morning. And, you know, obviously, I think viewers have gotten used to things changing every day. The look of all -- many of their favorite shows are changing.

And this is what we're going to do while we're socially distancing and trying to be as safe as possible. But I think it's really working.

And by the way, John, don't be alarmed if you see, you know, a toddler in an exersaucer coming behind me. I don't have a toddler.



CAMEROTA: But I know that things like that can happen in home live shots.

BERMAN: I can tell you, not only would I be alarmed. But Tim, your husband, would be alarmed if he saw a toddler behind you.

CAMEROTA: That's right.

BERMAN: It would raise many questions.

All right. We'll come back to you in just a moment. There is important news this morning. Hospitals overwhelmed across the country. The extraordinary measure they're going to meet the need, and the new hot spots that have so many concerned. That's next.



CAMEROTA: Hospitals in New York are reaching a breaking point. One hospital now has a makeshift morgue on the street. Thirteen people died at that Queens hospital on just Wednesday.

Louisiana is also in trouble. This morning, cases are up 30 percent. Deaths have spiked 40 percent there yesterday. Critical medical equipment is still running low.

Joining us now to talk about all this, we have Mitch Landrieu, CNN political analyst and former mayor of New Orleans; and Dr. Michelle Gong, head of critical care medicine at Montefiore Medical Center here in New York.

Dr. Gong, I want to start with you, because you know, we hear all sorts of different things about whether things are stabilizing, whether hospital workers are able to get the protective gear they need. What's happening at your hospital? What are you seeing?

DR. MICHELLE GONG, HEAD OF CRITICAL CARE MEDICINE, MONTEFIORE MEDICAL CENTER: We're still seeing an escalation in cases every day. Every day, we're seeing more and more patients presenting to the hospital and more and more patients presenting to the intensive care unit with critical illness.

In terms of PPE, the hospital has worked very, very hard to get PPE to protect its healthcare workers. We're no different than any other institution in the United States right now. And there is a dire need for them.

Right now, there is enough for my clinicians, my nurses. But the fear is always there about what happens next week or the week after as the number of cases that we're seeing are increasing at an exponential pace.

BERMAN: Dr. Gong, I read that you are having multiple conversations a day about ventilators. What are those conversations like?

GONG: We have multiple conversations a day with all of my team, actually, as well as the hospital administration, on resources. And the resources does include ventilators. How many do we have right now? What kind of ways can we do to try to free up more ventilators for the patients coming in?

We are switching patients from ventilators to using, actually, non- invasives, such as something that you would use for sleep apnea, to ventilate them so that we can free up some ventilators for other patients that are coming in for respiratory failure.

We're looking for other innovative solutions that can help ventilate the patients. Because right now, we are having a large demand in terms of respiratory failure and need for ventilating these patients.

And my team and I are working tirelessly to think outside a box to see how we can come up with solutions to meet the needs of the patient.

But a ventilator's only one resource. ICU beds is another resource. Every day, we're adding ICU beds to try to meet the needs of our patients. Personnel, because even though you have the beds and you have the ventilators, we need to be able to staff them to be able to have the expertise to take care of these patients.

And every day, we try to find qualified people. How do we supervise the qualified people, as well as the people who may have less experience, in order to do all the things that are needed for the patients that are coming in?

CAMEROTA: Mayor Landrieu, what's happening in New Orleans?

MITCH LANDRIEU, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, what you see in New Orleans is a mirror of exactly what you see in New York. You basically said before we came on what our numbers look like. And that's accurate.

I'm hearing from emergency room docs stories very similar to what the doctor just told us. Both the mayor and the governor continue to scramble to make sure that, No. 1, we got the declaration from the president, which was good. But No. 2, once that's done, getting those resources down to the ground in a -- in a way that healthcare professionals can use them.

So as was said at the beginning of the week, this was going to be a very, very tough week, and next week is going to be a tough week, as well. And it's proving to be just that.

BERMAN: Mayor Landrieu, I think my concern for Louisiana is it's not just a mirror of New York City. It might be a little bit behind, so the worst may be yet to come in Louisiana. And I'm reading reports that there are only 29 percent of ICU beds available.

Dr. Gong was talking about the need for ICU units here in New York City. In Louisiana, I think the need is even more acute and, if it spikes even more over the next week, that need won't be able to be reached. What are you hearing from the people you know inside these hospitals?

LANDRIEU: That's an excellent point. When I said it's a mirror of New York, what I meant was we're on the same trajectory, maybe even worse than New York. And both of us are as bad as it can be in the country.

And so, yes, we're hearing the same exact thing. The governor indicated the other day that we may be out of critical-care beds by April 4. I think they're really scrambling hard, like Governor Cuomo was, to find enough beds. I think there are only going to be 15 percent available today, and by April 4, they're going to be gone.

But the need for more healthcare workers, the need for PPE, all of those things are still critical needs in the city of New Orleans as we speak.

CAMEROTA: And so Dr. Gong, I mean, you've just described how you're having to basically repurpose equipment from sleep apnea to ventilators. We're seeing healthcare workers -- you know, we have the shots of the healthcare workers wearing trash bags, because they can't get the gowns.

Are you -- are officials from the federal government or the local government giving you any indication of that this dire situation could change and that badly-needed supplies are headed your way?

[06:20:09] GONG: So, you know, at Montefiore, we have tapped into multiple, multiple resources to try to get the PPE for our healthcare workers. So in addition to our usual supply chain, we did at one time tap into New York state for their stockpile, and that was actually truly needed at that time.

But in addition to that, we have now tapped into other resources from other countries to try to order.

There also are foundations and other institutions around the country and around the world that are making donations of PPE. And we, like other institutions, actually have benefited from those donations.

But basically, right now, given the state that we are in, we're all having to be imaginative to get all the resources needed to take care of the patients and to take care of our healthcare workers.

BERMAN: Yes. It's wonderful that we can all be MacGyver in this situation, but it's not ideal in a pandemic.

And Dr. Gong, I want to ask you about a report that we're getting out of Chicago. "The Washington Post" is reporting this: that there's a hospital there that's considering issuing a do-not-resuscitate order for the medical personnel and the doctor. And the thinking is one, triage -- one, because they need to reserve their medical personnel for people who can be saved. And the second thing is because of the risk involved with the group effort to resuscitate a person who may be close to death.

Why would that decision be made? What are the considerations there, and what does that tell you?

GONG: So in a pandemic, the situation is oftentimes so dire. And in a situation where you don't have enough resources, you often have to debate. Where can you best use the resources to save the most lives?

And, unfortunately, we're seeing data from China, from Italy, from other parts of the world that certain populations, the very, very elderly with severe co-morbid disease and severe organ failures, may not do very well with the COVID.

So the question comes down to, actually, if you have run out of resources, how best to use the resources that you have to be able to save as many lives as possible. This is an intensely uncomfortable discussion among clinicians, right?

We swear to take care of patients. We want to do our best to save every life that comes through our doors. But during a pandemic, when resources become scarce, sometimes we have to engage in uncomfortable conversations.

What we're doing now is to try to actually augment our resources as much as possible, because that's always the first choice. To try to see if we can augment our resources to meet the needs of the patient before we need to actually get down to the part where it's like what happens if we don't have enough resources? But this is a conversation that's happening in health care circles right now.

CAMEROTA: Mayor Landrieu, I mean, that is just so stunning to hear that these kinds of choices are going to have to be left to doctors, because they don't have the resources.

And so it means that a healthy 71-year-old could have come into the hospital with coronavirus, could deteriorate, and they may not be able to resuscitate that person, because they're 70; and they have somebody else who's 48 who's on a ventilator. Those are the kinds of choices that they may have to make.

LANDRIEU: We saw some of these -- this during Katrina. This is an awful position to put first responders in. It is just really unacceptable.

I still do not understand to this day why the president will not invoke the Defense Production Act to get PPE to the ground, to get ventilators to the ground.

I know right now the governor is expanding the opening up the convention center to expand 3,000 beds in the event that we need them.

I heard from two emergency room physicians yesterday how just pained they are that they're in the position to have to make the decisions that the doctor said, that she's seeing in her treatment and her care. And it's unacceptable, it's untenable.

And I know the governor and the mayor are working hard to get as much as they can. But if it's not available and if you have governors competing with each other for it, you're going to put these healthcare providers in an unacceptable position. And of course, it's going to cost us lives.

BERMAN: Mayor Landrieu, please stay safe --

CAMEROTA: Mayor Landrieu --

BERMAN: -- where you are. Dr. Gong, thanks very much for being with us. And thank you for the work that you're doing -- Alisyn.

LANDRIEU: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: So, John, today we'll get a look at how hard the labor market is being hit by coronavirus. The jobless claims for the last week are set to come out this morning. We have the details of what they look like.



BERMAN: Two hours from now, the U.S. Labor Department will release its weekly jobless claims. Economists are predicting somewhere between one and four million people who have filed for unemployment benefits in the past week. This will smash records.

Joining us now, CNN chief business correspondent Christine Romans and CNN anchor and correspondent Julia Chatterley.

And Romans, when you look at the range, a million to four million people filing, that's essentially an early look at what the unemployment numbers will be, I guess, next week. That is a breathtaking number. The low-end estimate of one million is a breathtaking number.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Just shattering records. You know, in 1982 there was a terrible, nasty recession in this country. And in one week almost 700,000 people filed for first- time unemployment benefits. You're going to see this week surpass that, maybe by a factor of two.

You know, it's -- it just shows you the depths of the problems for the American economy right now when you shut everything down. You just shut it down, and people started laying off their workers.

And I think every one of the numbers, it's really important to remind people, every one of the numbers is a family, right?