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Detroit Emerging as Virus Hotspot; Factories Race to Make Masks; Health Care Heroes Honored. Aired 9:30-10a

Aired March 27, 2020 - 09:30   ET



BETH CAMERON, VICE PRESIDENT, NUCLEAR THREAT INITIATIVE: About how we're going to procure, produce, distribute and, importantly allocate these life-saving treatments and supplies.


Yes, you're the second person in a row who has said that phrase, we don't have a plan.

You and Dr. Osterholm (ph), who's an epidemiologist in Minnesota.

Well, listen, Beth Cameron, we appreciate your help and your expertise.

CAMERON: Thank you so much.

SCIUTTO: Michigan, another state seeing a huge spike in the number of coronavirus cases as officials there struggle to get those critical supplies we've been talking about. I'm going to speak with the mayor of Detroit. Again, what's the reality about those needs?



SCIUTTO: We've said this multiple times, if you think this is a one city or a one state problem, clearly it is not. Every day we're hearing of new hot spots. Michigan -- Michigan is now seeing a surge in coronavirus cases. Detroit, in particular, emerging as a hot spot. The U.S. surgeon general says it is one of the cities that could see the pandemic hit even harder next week. At this point, 146 cases, three deaths in the city of Detroit.

Joining me now to discuss this and the broader issues, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan.

Mayor, thanks so much for taking the time. We know you've got a lot on your plate here. We're trying to get the word out so folks understand what's happening around the country.

Tell me about the situation in Detroit now. Folks have heard a lot about New York. They've heard a lot about Washington state. But now we're seeing this pop up in other places. How bad is it there?

MAYOR MIKE DUGGAN (D-DETROIT-MI): Well, Jim, your numbers are a couple of days old. We have 800 cases in Detroit out of 3,000 in the state of Michigan.


DUGGAN: And Michigan has surged to one of the top five in the country. You're seeing the same kind of pattern right now in Chicago and Illinois. And it's just a matter of time before you're seeing it in Philadelphia, in Houston.

And right now it's all hands on deck. And this community is coming together. We're running our first regional testing site, this opening this afternoon at the state fair grounds. And what it took to put together the test kits, the masks, the lab capacity, even the swabs, to get that started was a challenge, but we'll be up and running today.

SCIUTTO: Yes. You know, the president yesterday downplayed the needs, the demands for essential equipment such as ventilators, saying, in his words, I think a lot of the equipment being asked for, I don't think they will need.

You ran a hospital for nine years.


SCIUTTO: You ran one in the midst of a previous outbreak. Does the president have a sense of the reality?

DUGGAN: Well, I ran the eight hospital system Detroit Medical Center before I was elected mayor. But in Detroit, William Knutson (ph) is famous. He was the president of General Motors and President Roosevelt, two years before World War II, got him to leave GM and run America's war production board. And he was a huge factor in what people came to know as the arsenal of democracy. And I feel like we need that right now. We need a national leader.

And the thing I don't get is, whether you're for or against Donald Trump, he built some of the biggest, most complex developments all around the world. He understands supply chain probably as well as any president since Eisenhower.

And I'm hoping that he puts that expertise to work and we get a national leader because right now -- I was in the hospital business. I can get on the phone. I can get swabs and masks. But every mayor and governor in this country are fending for themselves. And some are succeeding in a significant way and a lot aren't. We really need some national leadership.

SCIUTTO: I want to ask you, because a draft letter to patients and families was leaked from the Henry Ford Health System in metro Detroit and it outlines plans for how patients would be prioritized. I'm just going to quote from the letter there -- here. It says treating these patients, patients who are described as unlikely to survive, would take away resources for patients who might survive.

Now, the hospital tells CNN that's not an active policy, it's part of their emergency response planning. But I wonder, and, again, drawing on your experience, having run multiple hospitals, are we heading towards that point where we're going to have to ration medical equipment and treatment?

DUGGAN: Well, I think New York is probably there now as well. Henry Ford is one of America's great healthcare systems. And what they put out was honest. Those who haven't formally put it out, every major hospital system in New York and Detroit and Chicago and Seattle are having exactly these same conversations internally. And we're trying to bend the curve.

The governor of this state has put a shelter in place order in. And where everybody is doing everything we can to stop it. But you would be irresponsible as a health care system CEO if you weren't planning for that eventuality.

SCIUTTO: Goodness. Goodness. That is quite a -- quite a taste of the reality to come.

Listen, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, we appreciate it.

I just want to wish you, I want to wish your team, but also the people of Detroit the best of luck as we all go through this.

DUGGAN: All right, thanks, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Take care.

A quick look now at the markets. And a three-day rally you've been watching seems to be losing steam. Stocks opening lower. This after the devastating jobless claim numbers on Thursday. We're going to watch the market for you. Just one indicator of many as to the effect of the economy of all this.

Bigger picture. Some hospitals now scrambling for another piece of essential equipment, those N-95 masks. The ones that can protect healthcare workers from being infected. One plant is now racing to make the masks.


Gary Tuchman is there.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Jim, heroic efforts taking place at this Utah factory to dramatically increase the production of those N-95 respirator masks. We'll have the story when we come back.


SCIUTTO: Welcome back.

Tests, ventilators, masks. These three critical items are ones that hospitals across the country say are already in short supply. They expect it to get shorter as the number of infections rises. Now we're getting an inside look at one of eight manufacturers who are working to try to fill that gap, producing those so-called N-95 masks.

Gary Tuchman joins us from Salt Lake City, Utah.


Gary, I imagine this company is seeing a big surge in demand. Can companies like this and these efforts fill that demand at this point?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They're absolutely trying to, Jim. There is now a dramatic ramp up of these N-95 masks. These is the Alpha Protech Company in Salt Lake City, Utah, and these are the N-95s being made on the assembly line.

This factory has had an increase of 5,000 percent, 5,000 in the last two months. They used to have ten employees a month and a half ago. They now have 60 employees and the next few weeks they plan to have 150 and they are making hundreds of thousands of masks now every week.

This is a proprietary machine. It's very complicated. But put simply, this is paper, plastic and glue, molding this together. It gets molded here at this point. And when it passes this woman, it gets cut, and it looks like the mask that you see on your doctor's faces, that you want to see on your doctor's faces.

And as it goes down this conveyor belt, it goes to this woman. She's the quality control person. And this is an incredible job she has to do. She looks at them. If they're not exactly 100 percent perfect, they go in the garbage can behind her. Three to six percent of the masks end up in the garbage. The rest get put in these boxes right over here and get sent all over the country and all over the world.

This is Eric Llewelyn. He's the vice president of this company.

Eric, first of all, you must be under a lot of pressure right now.

ERIC LLEWELYN, VICE PRESIDENT, ALPHA PROTECH: Absolutely we are. I think as the disease spreads across the country, it's just more and more pressure to produce a quality masks. And the N-95s here that we have are an American made mask with all of our suppliers here. So it's really helped us to get supplies in and make those masks as quickly as we can for the public.

TUCHMAN: I see these brown boxes over here. These are all going out all over the country. Although I said there are hundreds of thousands of masks that you're making, correct?

LLEWELYN: Literally hundreds of thousands of masks every single day and we continue to ramp up that production to meet -- to meet demand.

TUCHMAN: Another important thing, and I'm standing six feet away from you, the best I can --


TUCHMAN: Trying to -- I have very long arms, fortunately.

The final question I want to ask you, you're making lots of donations, correct?

LLEWELYN: Absolutely. Across our entire infection control division, not only our N-95s, but our apparel and shield products as well. We're trying to meet that demand as this disease spreads across country and fulfill those.

TUCHMAN: Eric, keep up the good work.

LLEWELYN: Thank you so much. (INAUDIBLE).

TUCHMAN: This is very important work, but right now, Jim, it's also quite heroic.

Back to you.

SCIUTTO: And will it be in time? That's the real question for this and other key pieces of equipment.

Gary Tuchman there, thanks very much.

Hundreds of people around the world are coming to their balconies, opening their windows and doors, applauding healthcare workers who are on the front lines, of course, fighting this outbreak. We're going to have a closer look at those hard working health workers, next.

Plus, Joe Biden joins Anderson Cooper for a CNN Democratic presidential town hall tonight. What will he say about the government response to coronavirus and the human toll in our communities. "The Coronavirus Pandemic: A CNN Democratic Presidential Town Hall" with Joe Biden starts tonight at 8:00 Eastern Time, only here on CNN.



SCIUTTO: Around the world people are thanking, they're praising health care workers for their work on the front line treating coronavirus patients. Of course that's often risky. Many of them have paid with their lives. While they appreciate the lover, though, those health care workers say what they really want for people to do is stay at home.

CNN's Isa Soares has more.


ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): In lockdown, isolation or in quarantine, the world is uniting, briefly opening their windows and doors and honoring their health care heroes. The hundreds and thousands of men and women around the world putting their health and their lives on the line for all of us. They do it out of duty, or calling or passion. But, still, the world applauds. The tributes have been global. From Spain, where the medical staff came out to welcome the recognition, to Italy, France, the United States, and right around the world.

These are some of the faces of our health care heroes, the soldiers on the front lines. And they have the physical and emotional scars to show for it. Their faces, exhausted and bruised from wearing tight protective masks for hours on end.

But the scars of war go deeper. Ruben Herrera is an emergency room nurse from Spain and he me he hasn't seen anything like this in his 14 years on the job.

RUBEN HERRERA, EMERGENCY NURSE AT ALCALA DE HENARES HOSPITAL, SPAIN (through translator): At this hour, really, I feel as if my chest is about to explode. I've spent most of my evening injecting patients in wheelchairs, because there are no free beds available, not even to put out in the corridors.

SOARES: Across Italy, medical staff say conditions remain dire.

DANIELA CONFALONIERI, NURSE IN MILAN, ITALY (through translator): We're working in a state of very high stress and tension. Psychological tension has gone through the roof. Unfortunately, we can't contain the situation in Lombardy, there's a high level of contagion and we're not even counting the dead anymore.

DR. SAMIN SEDGHI ZADEH, HOSPITAL OF CREMONA, ITALY (through translator): All the doctors and nurses have been selected to give a hand in a situation that is something like a movie. If you didn't see this, you wouldn't believe it.

PAOLA ARLETTI, NURSE AT MODENA HOSPITAL, ITALY (through translator): It's hard, above all to see people who are sick and don't' have family close to them in this moment.


SOARES: And here in the U.K., experts say the peak could still be weeks away.

DR. LUCY APPS, LONDON: I'm on a rest day before next (ph). We're still going in. It's scary, but we're still showing up for work.

SOARES: So to slow down the virus, they're calling on all of us to do more than just clap.

FRANCESCO PREZIOSI, NURSE AT MODENA HOSPITAL, ITALY: I'm Francesco and I want to say this, I'm getting applause when they see me because they know I'm an ICU nurse. That doesn't make sense. The best way to think us nurses is by staying at home.

SOARES: Isa Soares, CNN, London.


SCIUTTO: Well, thanks to Isa and thanks to all those health care workers around the world.

Just ahead, live from the country's coronavirus epicenter, New York scrambling to contain the virus and crucially to get the supplies it needs to treat the victims. We're on all the breaking headlines this morning.



SCIUTTO: Good morning. I'm Jim Sciutto in Washington.