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U.S. Death Toll Nears 1,000 After Deadliest Day; Hospitals Brace for Overwhelming Surge of Patients; World Health Organization Expects Deaths to Peak in Italy this Week. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired March 26, 2020 - 07:30   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CO-ANCHOR, NEW DAY: Developing overnight, the nation's top infectious disease doctor, Anthony Fauci warning that the coronavirus pandemic is accelerating. Yesterday was the deadliest day so far. The death toll in the United States about to reach 1,000 people if it's not there already. New York by far the hardest hit. Conditions at hospitals here and across the country dire.

Healthcare workers bracing for a surge in patients that could overwhelm them. Some of them building makeshift morgues on the street like the one you're seeing right there. Some health care workers using plastic bags to make up for a shortage of personal protective gear. That's a hospital in New York. Governor Cuomo says that 40,000 health care workers have volunteered their services once the predicted staff and shortages begin.

There is another development this morning. CNN has learned that hospitals on the front lines are debating universal-do-not-resuscitate orders for coronavirus patients. This morning, Louisiana emerging as a hotspot, a serious hotspot. Cases there spiking to more than 1,500 last week. Alisyn?

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CO-ANCHOR, NEW DAY: John, I want you to hear this story. A World War II veteran is among the 1,000 Americans to die of coronavirus. Ninety-three-year-old George Posas(ph) grew up the son of Greek immigrants during the Great Depression in Queens, New York. He was so eager to serve his country, he enlisted early.

He is survived by four children, nine grandchildren, one great grandchild as we understand it. Some members of his family are also sick and quarantined with the virus. His daughter Denise Bocchicchio along with her husband Rob join us now. Denise, thank you guys both for being here. Your dad -- I mean, just to add a little bit more description, he enlisted in the army when he was 17 because he was so eager to serve. I understand he was married to your mom for 64 years.

He sounds like a heck of a guy, and we're really sorry for your loss. What do you want to tell us about him?

DENISE BOCCHICCHIO, FATHER DIED FROM CORONAVIRUS: Well, first of all, thank you for having us on here. We really miss him badly. In fact, it doesn't even seem real yet because we never got to say goodbye to him. But he's -- what I'd like to say about him mostly is that he was a really -- a family man. He loved his family, he loved his kids, his grandkids, his nieces, nephews.

He loved his church, and he loved his work. So he had a love for life. He was a picture of the American dream. He started out poor. He fought for his country. He started a business, he did well and he lived his -- he lived a full life.


So that's really --

CAMEROTA: Yes, we hear you, and we actually have a moment of your dad. He recently received an award for his service in World War II. So, let's just play a little bit of that moment.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I had a responsibility to be there, I did what I had to, and I was glad to be home. In 1953, I married my wife Evelyn Lamberlon(ph), we were married for 64 years. We had a wonderful family, three girls, one boy, and I have nine grandchildren. Don't ask me their names -- I probably don't even know them.


CAMEROTA: You see him getting emotional about his marriage to your mom and being funny about his grandkids. And so it is heartbreaking, Denise, to hear that at the end you couldn't be with him and say goodbye. And so tell us what his battle with coronavirus was like.

BOCCHICCHIO: Well, we were unaware that he had it at the beginning. So, being a close family, we were all visiting him in a hospital and all over him. Lying on his bed with him and helping him eat, and he was very healthy. So we weren't even used to him not being well. So my son flew up from Florida and all my kids were there, and my sister wasn't able to go because she was getting sick and my brother was sick which ended up being they had the virus.

But we were unaware of it at the time. So we were doing the best to go visit him. And then once we found out he had the coronavirus, we all went and got tested, and my husband ended up being positive, my brother ended up not being positive, but I'm not sure if he had it and then was done with it or never had it. We weren't sure. And then my sister ended up going straight to ICU.


CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh, and how is your sister doing?


CAMEROTA: Is she still there? BOCCHICCHIO: No, she's getting better, she was sent home. She was --

she came home a couple of days ago. So from -- she was in ICU with my father, but she -- they weren't able to see each other because they were both quarantined.

CAMEROTA: We hear these stories about families who are in the ICU at the same time. It's really obviously heartbreaking and a challenge. And Rob, you tested positive. How are you feeling?

ROB BOCCHICCHIO, TESTED POSITIVE FOR CORONAVIRUS: I'm actually starting to feel better. It's been two solid weeks. I think it's kind of a -- from me personally, it's a cycle. You know, I was feeling very bad and, you know, sore throat, headache, coughing, you know, I kind of had a little reprieve for a few days and I thought I was over it, and then developed a fever again.

And I think finally yesterday, I was starting to feel like I'm done. But I think it's -- you know, it's a bit of a cycle and a little bit different for each individual, I think.

CAMEROTA: And so, Denise, how many of your family members are still battling it?

D. BOCCHICCHIO: Well, I still am. I'm getting really bad headaches. Rob is almost on the end. My son now, he has it. Since we were all visiting my father, we all ended up getting quarantined and frozen in time. So we -- I ended up with a house full of people because we were at the hospital, and then once we got the call that we couldn't leave, we've been quarantined for over two weeks now. So my son is here and he has it now. But he has not been tested.

My daughter is here, she had mild symptoms. She's -- my son is 30 and my daughter is 27 or 28, and she's had mild symptoms. Her boyfriend is here. He's barely had anything, and my niece is here. My sister who was in the hospital, I've been watching her daughter and she's had no symptoms. So we are a house full of people with all varying degrees of the coronavirus from barely anything to being pretty sick.

CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh, what a challenge. And so I mean, the fact that you couldn't be with your father at the end, and could you be on the phone? Could you say anything to him?


D. BOCCHICCHIO: No, we never -- you know, it was very difficult because he was sedated because he was on the ventilator. And we couldn't -- not only could we not say goodbye to him, but we couldn't have a funeral for him because we were not allowed out of our house. The church didn't allow it. But I'm thankful that he did get a funeral. The priest by himself gave him one.

And then we were allowed -- at the cemetery, we were all quarantined. So, and we followed those directions pretty closely, so, you know, we'll have a memorial at a later date. But it was being able to like, talk about him on TV and have people see him makes it a little easier for us. So I appreciate that you guys are doing this because otherwise it would have been like he lived a full life, fought for his country, did -- had a great family and then just died alone. So at least this way, it makes us feel like he's less alone.

CAMEROTA: We appreciate you, that's really moving. And we appreciate your father and what he did for this country. You're not alone. There are other families tragically in your situation and we just wish you the best of health. We hope that everybody there makes a recovery, a speedy recovery. And thanks for sharing a little bit of your dad with us. We really appreciate that.

D. BOCCHICCHIO: Sure, thank you so much.

R. BOCCHICCHIO: Yes, thank you.

CAMEROTA: Coronavirus has killed more people in Italy than in any other country. But there is reason to believe that Italy is about to turn the corner. That's next.



BERMAN: No country has lost more people to coronavirus than Italy. The death toll is almost double that of any other country. But this morning, new hope that perhaps Italy might be about to turn a corner. Barbie Nadeau live for us in Rome. Barbie, you've done such great reporting here. Please give us the latest.

BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, you know, it's really cautious optimism here. This is always going to be a critical, crucial week in that, whether or not the lockdown works. We're three weeks into it, and this is when we'd first see the original results. They're telling you so that, that death rate, as terrible as it is, is not necessarily reflective of the current situation.

Some of these people have been lingering for 20, 25 days now, the median age here is 80 of the death -- age of death. But there is hope here, the lockdown is working, we've got about 90 percent compliance they tell us on the lockdown. That means it is beginning to show results. If we can keep these figures plateaued, and eventually they'll start to go down, eventually this country can get back on its feet, the people can get back outside and we can lead the way out of this, John?

BERMAN: All right, Barbie Nadeau for us in Italy. Barbie, thank you very much. Look, any reason for hope in Italy is something to be happy with. Houses of worship trying to bring people spiritually together as social distancing keeps them physically apart. Bishop T.D. Jakes joins us next.




have to have none of this stuff to have Jesus. We can have our faith anytime, anywhere. Don't you be defeated as a saint because you can't receive him in the way that you're used to. Whether he comes through technology, whether he comes through your phone, whether he's coming through your iPad, whether on your TV set, is feel the word of God. Somebody give God a praise right now.


BERMAN: Bishop T.D. Jakes of the Potter's House Church in Dallas; one of the many religious leaders trying to answer the question, how do you serve the faithful and stick to social distancing? And Bishop T.D. Jakes joins me now. Bishop, it's an honor to have you on NEW DAY this morning. Thank you very much. Look, your church has closed its physical doors, but it hasn't closed its spiritual doors. So how do you reach your congregation during these unprecedented times?

JAKES: You know, we have always had a certain tech savvy to our ministry and communicated through television and social media and so forth. Built up an audience so it wasn't totally strange, but it really was a paradigm shift nonetheless to switch from having a live audience to preaching in an empty room and trying to galvanize the hearts and minds of people.

But we've been able to do that. And beyond our own walls, we have connected in fellowship by serving the community. Whether it's counseling, first responders, we're bringing thousands of lunches to people who work the late shift and the cafeterias are closed. All the restaurants are closed here in Texas, and we're just trying to serve however we can.

Kids who are at home and don't have access to food because they're not in school, poverty kids, just wherever we can find a way to give something back to the community, I think this is a tragedy that's drawing our community closer and closer together.

BERMAN: I've heard you say, if you can't preach in a quiet room, you can't preach in a loud room, right?

JAKES: That's very true. You know, while we enjoy the response of the crowd, most of us are inspired more by the truth that we teach than the response of the audience. And this is just a good opportunity for us to exercise that commitment to our message rather than our audience.

BERMAN: For so many people, though, church, synagogue, your religious gatherings are about community. It's being able to communicate with God, but also all the people around you. So how can you fill that void for people? You talk about reaching out to people in the community with the food, with the public service, with all the things that are so badly needed at this time.

JAKES: You know, I think our church has done very well. I think we felt that all the years that we have been together have prepared us for this moment. And this is an opportunity to exercise our faith, to have private devotions. I'm encouraging people to find connectivity with their family, to spend time in prayer and fellowship, really making sure that your children have your goals and your core goals down inside of them.

Spending time with your family, which is something that life often doesn't give us enough time to be able to do, and to have private devotionals in your own sanctuary. Then we can make it through with social media, comment, talk back and forth to each other. We found a way to survive. That's not the real problem. The real problem is not just connectivity, it's concern for the nation, the sick, the afflicted, the wounded, the distraught and the elderly.


BERMAN: A crisis like this, Bishop, raises a lot of questions for a lot of people. So, what do you say to people who come to you and ask, Bishop, why -- you know, why is this happening to us?

JAKES: You know, I don't try to over explain things beyond my pay grade. I just direct them to the fact that our faith has never hit suffering, the emblem of our faith is the cross. We're entering into the -- we're in the midst of the lent season. God has been flamboyant about exposing the fact that suffering is a part of life, it's a part of faith, it's a part of who we are as believers.

And he joins us in that suffering and we experience in that suffering. Paul said, "oh that I may know Him and the fellowship of his suffering." So, suffering is not dismissed from the fiber of our faith, it is interwoven into it.

BERMAN: Look, all I'll say is that when it comes to your pay grade, when it comes to faith, that's at a high level, I'm not talking about salary, I'm talking about status right now. So, I appreciate what you're saying with that. You've also had to serve not just as a spiritual leader here, but something as a public health official. I know that you're watching very closely the CDC. I know you have an eye on the W.H.O. Tell me about that need that you're filling.

JAKES: Well, we have tried to leverage our relationships to have our voice in the room with the officials that are making the decisions as much as we can. We are -- our church is one of the locations that has been designated by FEMA. We've been trained to serve. We served from Katrina on back in terms of using our facilities, and were first responders to people in the Bahamas and elsewhere in crisis.

So we've had a long history of building relationships with organizations. I think it's going to take a union between faith leaders, corporate leaders, elected officials and community leaders, not only to fix this, but to solve all of the many problems that I see perpetuating themselves in the inner cities.

BERMAN: Now, I have no doubt that you would love to see your church filled on Easter Sunday, which is soon. But how realistic of a goal do you think that is?

JAKES: I don't hold out much hope for it. We're not really planning on having a live service. I would love to have a live service. We've been preparing for months and months and months to have a live service. But if you want to make God laugh, just tell Him what you had planned. You know, the real essence of the Easter resurrection message is that Christ rose from the dead, and I think it's going to be a very unique experience for people to celebrate that at home.

To find ways to honor that in a personal way. It may make our faith more intense in the fact that we don't get the opportunity to connect as a group, but we have to have personal devotions and recognition of what Christ did for us.

BERMAN: Bishop, just one last question to you, what are you doing personally to stay safe during this time?

JAKES: Well, we're shut up in the house. I've been in the house a long time. I'm trying to resist the temptation to over eat and exercise and stay on a routine. But most of all, I have been very busy trying to provide as much comfort and continuity in our community, whether it's doing Facebook Lives or whether it's been doing special teachings and sessions, I've really had my hands full.

And then trying to keep the 300 people we have on staff, I'm trying to keep my staff together, and keep organization together. I've had my hands really full.

BERMAN: And that's a good reminder, do not forget about charity, do not forget public giving during times like this. Bishop T.D. Jakes, it's been an honor to have you on this morning, you always make us feel good about things. Thanks so much for coming on the show.

JAKES: Thank you, John. God bless you.

BERMAN: You too.

JAKES: So the situation at one New York City hospital is being described this morning as apocalyptic. This pandemic is accelerating. NEW DAY continues right now.


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 goodness in the bill.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The evidence suggests the density control measures may be working.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm sure that this virus is just about everywhere, but 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, and reaching around New Orleans, we would exceed our capacity to deliver healthcare in the hospitals. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don't make the timeline. The virus makes the

timeline. You've got to go with what the situation on the ground is.


CAMEROTA: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is your NEW DAY, it is Thursday, March 26th, 8:00 now in the east. 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.