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Trump Doubts Cuomo's Prediction NY Will Need 30,000 Ventilators; Coronavirus Hits New York Police Department; Citywide Curfew in Miami Goes into Effect Tonight; Dr. Andrew Artenstein Discusses Massive Surge of Coronavirus Cases in Massachusetts & Answers Viewers' Questions on Coronavirus; Family of 31-Year-Old Coronavirus Victim in Missouri Speaks to CNN. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired March 27, 2020 - 11:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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[11:00:26]

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Hello to our viewers in the United States and around the globe. I'm John King, in Washington. This is CNN's continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.

Some startling global developments today. The British Prime Minister Boris Johnson revealing he has the coronavirus. The Kremlin also confirming the first case in its ranks as Russia now surges past 1,000 confirmed cases and turns to more drastic measures designed to keep the virus in check.

But we begin here in the United States. Now the owner of a distinction no country wants, the global coronavirus case leader. Nearly 83,000 cases confirmed here in the United States. That's more than China, where the outbreak started, but there are loud objections, including from President Trump about whether Beijing's math should be trusted.

Ongoing now, House deliberations on that massive $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package. You see the House floor live right there. This, after some lawmakers had to race back to Washington overnight.

Just moments ago, a somewhat chaotic scene on the House floor. A freshman Democrat from Michigan, Haley Stevens, ignoring the gavel, shouting her words.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. HALEY STEVENS (D-MI): We beam for our manufacturers who have no -- I request 30 more seconds -- because I rise before you --

UNIDENTIFIED CONGRESSMAN: The gentleman from Maryland is recognized.

STEVENS: -- not for personal attention, not for personal attention --

(CROSSTALK)

STEVENS: -- but to encourage you to take this seriously.

(CROSSTALK)

STEVENS: I rise for every American who is scared right now --

UNIDENTIFIED CONGRESSMAN: I'm going to give you more time.

(GRAVELING)

STEVENS: -- to the families --

(GAVELING)

UNIDENTIFIED CONGRESSMAN: The gentlelady will suspend.

The gentleman from Maryland is recognized.

(SHOUTING)

(GAVELING)

UNIDENTIFIED CONGRESSMAN: The gentlelady is out of order.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: That emergency money lawmakers hope will offset the global economics shock from restrictions on everyday life.

President Trump, ignoring the words of his own public health experts, is again stirring debate over how long to keep American life shuttered. The president says he wants to reopen quadrants of the country by Easter.

The vice president and the administration's top infectious disease experts say the Easter target is aspirational and only aspirational. They insist the administration will follow the science and the data.

But the numbers and the trends this morning, again, look grim. Map the spread of the virus and it's hard to see how large swaths of the United States can return to normal so soon.

And 24 states yesterday reporting at least 100 new coronavirus cases. Eight saw coronavirus surges of more than 500 cases.

New York remains the center of the coronavirus onslaught here in the United States, nearly 45,000 cases now. That number said to rise dramatically when we hear this morning from the state's Governor Andrew Cuomo.

But this morning, the U.S. surgeon general raising the possibility that New York's dramatic shutdown could soon pay dividends.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEROME ADAMS, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: We know that this week was a particularly bad week for New York. We're hopeful that next week New York will start to come down because, again, their cases have started to level off. And that's because they've been aggressive about their mitigation efforts. We see that, now, that the places that have been aggressive about staying home, about keeping under groups of 10 has been successful.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Governor Cuomo says even in a best-case scenario, state hospitals will be overwhelmed and face supplies crises. The most critical of those resources are ventilators. Governor Cuomo says he needs 30,000.

But President Trump last night says he doubts that math.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES (voice-over): Governor Cuomo and others that say that we want 30,000 of them -- 30,000! Think of this. You go to hospitals and they have one in a hospital and now, all of a sudden, everybody is asking for these vast numbers.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: CNN's Brynn Gingras doing reporting for us live in New York.

Brynn, the president is doubting the numbers there. How does it look in New York? And the New York Police Department now part of the grim numbers there?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, John. It will be interesting to see what the governor says in response to the president, because he's addressed the president almost every time he comes to the podium. So it will be interesting to see how he talks about that in the next half hour or so.

Ventilators, ventilators, ventilators, that's what he was saying yesterday, the governor, that that's what's needed. This hospital the epicenter, 40 people died in the last 24 hours and we're told by health officials that all of those people were on ventilators. The need is so bad the state has actually authorized splitting ventilators to accommodate all the patients.

We can see the need. I'm going to get out of the way so you can see as well. Now we have a box truck in the way. I apologize for that.

The line alone of people trying to see a doctor and perhaps get tested for the coronavirus. It just keeps growing. It does not get shorter and that's really what we're seeing. It's been snaking through that line all morning. And there you go. You can probably see it in just a minute.

[11:05:08]

You mentioned the NYPD, John. We just got updated numbers that the number of police officers that have called in sick is now 11 percent of the work force out sick. There are more than 500 people in the department who have coronavirus. That is a significant jump than what we were seeing just from yesterday.

And we also heard from the NYPD that it is experiencing its first death. It is a custodian who had been with the department for more than a decade, named Dennis Dixon, died from the coronavirus.

We have to keep in mind all of our first responders who are battling this just as much as everybody else.

KING: Yes, we do. They are heroes at the moment, their families as well.

Brynn Gingras on the front lines in New York. Brynn, we appreciate that. Keep in touch.

Now to south Florida from New York. Beginning tonight, a citywide curfew in Miami goes into effect. All residents must be in their homes from 10:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m.

CNN's Rosa Flores is there in Miami.

Rosa, take us through the exact restrictions of this curfew.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, John. There are restrictions that you mentioned. It starts at 10:00 p.m. tonight and goes to 5:00 a.m. There are exceptions, for people going to work or any emergency.

But this area has already been a ghost town. Take a look behind me. I know it's a little difficult to see because it's far away, but that's I-95, and normally it is a parking lot during rush hour. Right now, we're only seeing a few cars here and there.

The same thing with the Miami River. That's the body of water that you're looking at. On any given Friday and on the weekend, it's usually filled with party boats. Not the case today. I've only seen a few boats come and go.

But this is the hot spot for the coronavirus for the state of Florida. More than 50 percent of the coronavirus cases in the Sunshine State are in the counties of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach. And that's why we're seeing more restrictions in this area. Not just a curfew here in Miami, but also in Miami Beach -- John?

KING: Rosa Flores, for us in Miami, one of many places where restrictions in some localities but not neighboring localities are going to test this in the days and weeks ahead.

Let's move on to Massachusetts. A massive surge in reported new coronavirus cases there. Yesterday alone seeing more than 500 new cases, pushing the total past 2400.

And as medical supplies run dangerously low in the state, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker making a desperate appeal for federal help.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CHARLIE BAKER, (R), MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR: I stand here as someone who has had confirmed orders for millions of pieces of gear evaporate in front of us. And I can't tell you how frustrating it is.

We've literally gotten to the point where our basic position is, until the thing shows up here in the commonwealth of mass, it doesn't exist.

Our first responders, our health care workers, everybody deserves to have that gear. And I'm telling you, we're killing ourselves trying to make it happen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Let's discuss the Massachusetts and national challenge with Dr. Andrew Artenstein. He's the chief physician executive and chief academic officer at Baystate Health. He's also an infectious disease specialist.

Doctor, what's happening in Massachusetts? We're watching the epicenter in New York. We see spikes in some of the larger urban areas. A big increase in Michigan yesterday. A big increase in New Orleans. Put Massachusetts is context for us as we watch this spread across the country.

DR. ANDREW ARTENSTEIN, INFECTIOUS DISEASE SPECIALIST & CHIEF PHYSICIAN EXECUTIVE AND CHIEF ACADEMIC OFFICER, BAYSTATE HEALTH: Well, thank you for having me.

I think we're at the very early phases of the upslope in the curve in Massachusetts. Certainly, what represents about a million people in western Massachusetts that we care for. We're addressing probably week one and week two in the upslope of the curve. But we're starting to see more evidence of community transmission, although with limited testing, it's hard to confirm that.

KING: You talk about limited testing. I want you to listen here to Dr. Anthony Fauci. Again, we applaud any progress. It is nice to hear from the White House and it's nice to hear from some of the states that they're starting to ramp up testing. But my question is: Where are we now?

First, Dr. Fauci.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY & INFECTIOUS DISEASES: It needs to be ratcheted up, Anderson. Really, we have to do it better than we are now. Not that we're at fault. No one has made any mistakes.

But they have to elevate it to point where, when you have someone in society who is infected, you've got to not only identify them, but you've got to be able to isolate them very quickly. Not five days later after they wound up potentially infecting individuals.

So we've got to get that system where you identify somebody, and as quickly as possible, get them out of a situation where they may infect other people. That's what's called strict containment and that's what we've got to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: If that's what we've got to do, Doctor, when will we be able to do it in a way that allows us to have a fair representation of how many people have this, how many people have this? And is it the time, as the president says, to start backing off or do we need to dial up?

[11:10:13]

ARTENSTEIN: I agree 100 percent with Dr. Fauci and our national experts. We need to dial up. We're not there yet. And I can't give you an answer to that excellent and invalid question. We are --

(CROSSTALK)

KING: I'm sorry to interrupt, Doctor, but what does it tell you that you're on the front lines and you can't give an answer to that question. What does it tell you? Whose fault is that?

ARTENSTEIN: I don't know who is at fault, but I do know it's very tough for the 12,000 people that I have in harm's way taking care of our patients and trying to stay safe.

KING: Hopefully, it gets better.

I want to ask you a couple questions we get from our viewers, because to me this is the most important part of our program. We have people sitting at home who don't know what to do, who are getting conflicting information in the debates about testing, about PPE, should they get a test.

A couple of questions here. There are rumors that certain blood types, i.e., "O," is less susceptible. Not immune to the virus, let's say "A." Any truth to that?

ARTENSTEIN: Not that I know of. It's possible but I don't know that there's evidence to suggest that at this point.

KING: Here's another question. People are told, if you think you have a fever that would be a sign perhaps. Here's another question: Is it common for body temperatures to fluctuate widely during the onset of COVID-19? My spouse returned several days ago from a business trip to Seattle. He's self-quarantined and taking his temperature every two hours. Today, it varied between 97.5 to 101.5, up and down during the day.

ARTENSTEIN: The human body does vary somewhat, but once you get over 98, it's an abnormal temperature.

KING: Once you get over, so you should keep an eye on that.

Here's another that's close to home for you: I'm a nurse in a Boston hospital. China and Italy are a model for the United States. New York and Washington are a model for what we will soon be facing. Can you please tell us, if health care workers are not protected, they will infect healthy patients, if they're even well enough to continue to come to work?

That's more a statement than a question. But when it comes to this PPE, when it comes to knowing that you have what you have today, are you confident you're going to have what you need tomorrow, next week and the week after that?

ARTENSTEIN: I'm not confident. We're working as hard as we can and trying the best we can, just like everyone else nationally. We are in a scarce situation with personal protective equipment.

KING: I know your governor. I'm a Boston kid. And I know Governor Baker. And to see him emotional like that raises questions about should the states have more restrictions and the like. But to see him frustrated on the procurement front, saying they have orders confirmed and then they disappear. There's competition around the country as you well know.

What is your experience when it comes to trying to get it, whether you're trying to get it yourself, for your hospital system or trying to get it through the state or federal government? Is today better than yesterday or more confusing?

ARTENSTEIN: We're better in terms of the options. But in terms of deliverables, I can't say with absolute certainty that we're going to have what we need when we need it. We're trying to conserve as best as we can.

And I agree 100 percent with the governor's frustration. Asking health care workers and others to take care of sick patients, which is what they sign up to do every day, we need to be able to protect those people.

KING: Doctor, we're grateful for your time here on the program. More importantly, we're grateful for the work of you and all your colleagues as you go through this, especially given the added stress of your safety in the supply chain. I really appreciate your help as we try to put this in context.

ARTENSTEIN: Thanks.

KING: Thank you, sir.

Up next for us, the family of a 31-year-old coronavirus victim will join me. Jazmond Dixon's loved ones want you to know that no one is immune. They will share her story in just a moment.

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[11:18:12]

KING: More than 1200 people have now died from the coronavirus across the United States. The death toll roughly quadrupling over the past week. Right now, the United States has well over 82,000 confirmed cases. That is more than any other country in the world.

New hot spots and clusters are continuing to emerge nationwide. Two dozen states seeing more than 100 new cases in just a single day, yesterday, including Missouri. Its health department reports now over 500 confirmed cases and eight deaths from the coronavirus.

Jazmond Dixon was the first person to die in St. Louis from the virus. She was -- you see her there -- just 31 years old.

I'm joined now by her cousins, Belafae Johnson and Kimberly Merritt- Watts.

Let me just start by saying I'm grateful for you to be here at a time of such a sad loss, and we are sorry as we go through this to learn about these remarkable people who are falling to this deadly virus.

Could you please just tell me a little bit about Jazmond?

BELAFAE JOHNSON, COUSIN OF CORONAVIRUS VICTIM, JAZMOND DIXON: John, thank you for having us.

Jazmond was just a beloved family member. I would say Jazmond was the person in our family who would get the perfect attendance reward at all the family gatherings. She was always there, always smiling, always part of the life of the party. And we are utterly devastated as we're still trying to wrap our heads around what has happened.

KING: The smile is contagious. And I know it's a terrible period of loss. I hope when the country gets to see some of the people, as we try to figure this out, to see the smile, to see the family. This is a moment of family.

Any idea how? And 31 years old. Any idea how she contracted the virus?

JOHNSON: John, at this point, we do not know, and that's one of the reasons why we're grateful we've had the opportunity to come on, is there's just no way to really say how. Anything would be speculation and we don't want to add to any fear mongering or any panicking.

[11:20:08]

KING: Very grateful for that.

Kimberly, in the sense this is so isolating, families are told to stay apart. Even when people get sick, you can't necessarily see them if they're being treated or when they're home self-quarantining. How does that factor into the pain here?

KIMBERLY MERRITT-WATTS, COUSIN OF CORONAVIRUS VICTIM, JAZMOND DIXON: It's really devastating for our family because we are such a close- knit family. We literally visit each other several times a week. So to not be able to be there for Jazmond during those final moments or her mother or be there for each other during this time, it's been very, very dismal.

KING: It is a very dismal. I understand you don't want to talk about -- you can't answer some of the questions here. Americans around the country are dealing -- and it's different in different places -- about having interactions with the health care system right now, having interactions to desperately try to get information.

Do you have questions and issues there, or are you just in the wake -- in the immediate wake of the loss dealing with that first before you try to get answers to your questions?

(CROSSTALK)

MERRITT-WATTS: Right now, we are just still dealing with the loss.

JOHNSON: Yes.

KING: Still dealing with the loss.

Take me more through when you see the pictures, you say she got the A- plus in attendance at family gatherings. Tell us more about her, who she was, why this is such a painful period.

(CROSSTALK)

MERRITT-WATTS: I would like to share that Jazmond was so selfless. Of course, she always had the perfect attendance at family gatherings. And she was the one that, if you could not make it, if you were sick or you were at work, she would make sure you were part of the celebration.

On her most recent birthday, February 9, she turned 31, and she had two birthday cakes. So instead of just taking the cake home and just having them for herself, anybody that did not come to her birthday, she went home, packed up the cake and she took it around to different family members that could not make it to the party.

That's just how beautiful of a person that she was.

KING: Belafae, I know you're still lacking some information here, but are you aware of any underlying condition she might have had that made her more vulnerable? A lot of people -- we keep hearing conversations about how young people are immune to this, young people get mild symptoms, young people don't need to worry about it. You're suffering the loss of a 31-year-old cherished member of your family.

Any questions there, any issues there?

JOHNSON: John, that's, again, what's so devastating to this. The reason why Jazmond has really been spoke about all over the country is because she really shattered a lot of myths. We have not been told by her doctors of any preexisting conditions that would have contributed to Jazmond succumbing to the results of this virus.

KING: And how is the family -- it's a tough question to ask and I'm sorry if I ask anything that sounds insensitive. I don't mean it to if I do. In the sense that you have a family member, you've lost a cherished

member of the family, this is a time for the family to get together, to cry, to share time together. That has to just add to the devastation.

JOHNSON: It does, John. I think one of the stories that kind of paints a very vivid picture is, with Kimmy, myself, our mothers are sisters along with Jazmond's mother, and we have not been able to see our parents.

My daughter was born on Jazmond's birthday. And my mother has wanted to be there for her sister. She has not been able to see us. She has not been able to see her granddaughter. Just because of fears of potentially spreading the virus.

We are utterly devastated, as Kimberly said earlier. We are just so accustomed to being together. If Jazmond was in the hospital for any other reason, John, we would be there praying to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, eating lunch together. We would not have left the hospital until Jazmond left.

KING: Amen, I understand that.

So, Kimberly, what know? I assume you don't know. You don't know when you can have that family grief. Obviously, everyone is grieving individually, but you don't have a date certain. You don't know how long, when doctors and professionals are telling you, please, even though this is a time you want to be together, you must be apart.

MERRITT-WATTS: Yes. Facetime, Skype, video messaging. That's the most we can do right now. And it's all day every day. That's just what's keeping us together at this moment.

JOHNSON: And late nights.

KING: And late nights.

MERRITT-WATTS: Yes.

KING: I cannot thank the two of you enough. I know it's a period of grieving but you're an inspiration. People around the country, hopefully, many don't have to deal with the pain you're going through, but it's an inspiration to see you pay tribute to your family member but also be in such good spirits to help us get through this.

I cannot thank you enough.

[11:24:15]

JOHNSON: Thank you.

KING: Thank you.

MERRITT-WATTS: Thank you for having us on.

KING: Thank you. Both of you take care, please.

We're waiting to hear from the New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Every day, he gives us the update. You see the pictures there. He's in New York City today. Also new developments in New York just ahead.

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