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House of Representative to Vote on Economic Stimulus Bill; United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson Tests Positive for Coronavirus; Coronavirus Cases Continue to Rise in U.S.; Michigan Coronavirus Cases Increase 2,500+ In One Week. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired March 27, 2020 - 08:00   ET



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: So we will speak to doctors coming up to get their answer of what they need.

And next hour, the House will vote on a $2 trillion relief stimulus rescue package. This is to get American workers the much-needed help that they have been asking for, as well as businesses.

And then our breaking news, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he has tested positive for coronavirus. So let's get straight to Nick Paton Walsh. He is live for us in London with all this breaking news. What do we know about Boris Johnson?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is a startling development, frankly, for a country just it seems beginning to get into the peak of coronavirus cases here. We understand very little apart from what he's put out on his Twitter account here, saying that the test happened in recent hours and he's got mild symptoms, but is currently self-isolating. Let's let the prime minister, a little more tousled than normal in this video appearance, speak for himself.


BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Hi, folks. I want to bring you up to speed with something that is happening today, which is that I've developed mild symptoms of the coronavirus. That's to say a temperature and a persistent cough. And on the advice of the chief medical officer, I've taken a test. That has come out positive. So I am working from the home. I'm self-isolating. And that's entirely the right thing to do.


WALSH: Now, to some degree this will, I think, possibly galvanize the British population here, some of which have been confused by the government's response. Some of which will probably see the fact that if the prime minister, with all the precautions around him, can in fact test positive, then they should in the weeks and days ahead listen to his advice to, quote, stay at home. He said that he will be using amazing modern technology, the wizardry,

he said, of that magic to continue his job, but, of course, now, inside that densely populated building of Number 10 there will be people trying to work out who needs testing, who needs to self- isolate. And, of course, the simple job of trying to keep a government going with significant senior members of it unable to perform normal functions or, frankly, get close to each other is exceptionally complicated given the weeks ahead.

But be it no doubt, I'm sure a contingency is behind here. But we have been hearing over the past weeks cases intermittent cases at senior levels in government of people possibly not showing up to work or indeed themselves saying in fact that they have tested positive.

One other thing I should remind you, people will be asking who he came into contact over the past weeks or so. His most recent weekly meeting with the Queen was very publicly done over the phone. So that probably reduces the risk you might say of any possible impact to the head of state here in the United Kingdom.

But as far as we can tell here at CNN, this is the first head of a government of a country to specifically say that he has tested positive, a startling development here for the United Kingdom, and one that comes at a time where we are bracing for the worst here.

Last night, very heart-warming scenes across the United Kingdom. People came out onto the streets to applaud the NHS workers who provide a free service here in the United Kingdom. Boris Johnson himself joined that outside the front door of Number 10, but kept a big distance from the man who is organizing the economic policy here, the chancellor, who was well over two meters away, as is advised.

But a startling piece of news here in the United Kingdom, bringing home how dangerous and infectious this really is, and at the same time possibly, too, providing a focal point for Britons to realize exactly how seriously they are in this together. Back to you.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Startling, as you say, Nick, both in real terms and symbolic terms. Nick Paton Walsh for us in London with the breaking news.

Joining me now, CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Sanjay, the virus is inside the British government. It's in 10 Downing Street, it's at the highest levels. Johnson is 55 years old. What questions should he be asking from a medical standpoint this morning?

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, he's younger, obviously. He's not necessarily falling into the vulnerable category. I don't know about his preexisting illnesses. It's going to be a question of him monitoring himself. He says he has mild symptoms.

There is no -- as you know, there's no therapeutic or any kind of antiviral for this, so the treatment is what we call symptomatic treatment. So if he develops more symptoms, he will have those symptoms treated. And I'm sure he'll get very good care. But really not much else to do. And keep in mind, John, statistically as tough as this situation has been in terms of the numbers of patients coming into the hospitals, statistically most people are likely to recover from this, and not have any long-term sort of problems with this. So I wouldn't expect it to be necessarily different with Boris Johnson.


BERMAN: I did talk about the symbolism here. I do think it is also worth noting that in the process of the U.S. response to this pandemic, one of the early things that President Trump did was to ban European travel, but the United Kingdom was exempt. And now the U.K. prime minister has tested positive for coronavirus. So I think it shows you, you can't pick and choose your limitations here. This virus doesn't know class, doesn't know borders, doesn't know boundaries.

GUPTA: No, it is absolutely trough, when you have a virus like this, it is a little strand of genetic material, it is going to get where it wants to go. And obviously with Prince Charles as well, people who are likely coming in contact with lots of people, as said Boris Johnson did not come in contact with the Queen, but Prince Charles did during the incubation period, all these things are going to have to sort of be contact traced out. It is challenging, especially with people who are out there amidst a lot of people. I think it also might make people take this more seriously when you see what has happened to Boris Johnson.

BERMAN: Absolutely. When one of your jobs is to shake hands, it does raise questions about that contact tracing.

Sanjay, stand by. Also joining us is Dr. Leana Wen, emergency room physician and former Baltimore City Health Commissioner. There have been a lot of developments in the last 24 hours here in the United States in terms of the coronavirus.

We now lead the world in the number of reported cases. The death toll here is now approaching 1,200. And we're seeing hot spots around the country, Dr. Wen, which is why I think it was notable to many people when Dr. Deborah Birx, who has helped lead the U.S. response to this pandemic, said this about the concerns over resources in different places around the country. So listen to what she said.


DR. DEBORAH BIRX, CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: To wake up this morning and look at people talking about creating DNR situations, do not resuscitate situations for patients, there is no situation in the United States right now that warrants that kind of discussion. To make the implication that when they need a hospital bed, it is not going to be there, or when they need that ventilator, it is not going to be there, we don't have an evidence of that right now.


BERMAN: We don't have evidence of that right now. I'm trying to understand what she said and line it up, Dr. Wen, with what we're hearing from hospitals around the country and state and local leaders around the country who are telling us that they're concerned that in a week, maybe two weeks, they might run out of beds, they might run out of ventilators. So how do you line those two things up this morning?

DR. LEANA WEN, EMERGENCY ROOM PHYSICIAN: Well, we should always be listening to our frontline medical workers, because they are the ones seeing what is happening on the ground.

And what we're seeing in New York already is that people are so concerned about ventilators, intensive care unit beds, and these limited resources that they're thinking ahead and thinking about what would happen if I had to make the decision between two, maybe three patients who need that same limited resource, that ventilator? Would I have to choose between the two, can I share the supply in some way?

And I agree with Dr. Birx, that's a situation we should never have to be in. But that's what our frontline workers are facing. And I think that really underscores the need, the critical need at this moment for us to get resources to those hard-hit areas like New York, but also to prepare everywhere else in the country, because they may not be far behind. Louisiana and Michigan and many other states may not be far behind where New York is, and I don't think we could be blind to the reality of what could be.

BERMAN: And Dr. Gupta, we heard from the president last night questioning whether he really believed that New York City needed the 30,000 ventilators that Governor Cuomo says he needs. What is the need? Doesn't the federal government tell us how many ventilators we need and how many we have, and isn't there a discrepancy there?

GUPTA: I have been struck by this issue almost since the beginning, John. This idea that we have to wait until we're in crisis mode before we say, OK, now we need this thing. This is what preparedness is all about. And I should point out Dr. Wen is a former Baltimore City Health Commissioner, so she had to make some of these decisions, and it is all about sort of trying to be ahead of the curve.

First of all, the picture that we're seeing is behind the curve, by definition, because it takes a while for someone to develop symptoms, it takes a while for them to get tested. So when you see these number goes up, they reflect exposures, 10 to 14 days ago probably. So we now have good data on the ground. We're seeing for example what the doubling time is.

So when they look at these doubling times, they can say, hey, based on what we're seeing here, if this doubling time maintains, that means we are going to double in two days, we're going to double again in two days after that, and so forth. Therefore, we need x number of ventilators. Right now there is over 1,000 people who have died in this country, in two weeks time. If the doubling time is two days, that turns into 128,000.


So I'm just a little bit surprised that still at this stage when, John, you and I -- I don't even know now, a few weeks ago, we were asking about ventilator and we were told really we're not really focused on ventilators now, to still be saying that in some way is quite shocking.

If I can, for a second, John, just put up these full screens, look at the numbers, how they're going up. And then I have these graphs that show how many beds would be necessary, how many ICU beds would be necessary, and how many ventilators would be necessary, and I can tell you for a moderate scenario they said it might be some 64,000 ventilators. In a severe scenario, it could be three-quarters of a million ventilators necessary in the country.

So this idea, again, that we would -- that's the moderate scenario you're seeing on the screen. And I specifically wanted to put up a more moderate scenario. We're clearly not in the moderate scenario now. In a very severe scenario, you can see 2.9 million ICU beds necessary.

So, John, I just -- yes, maybe we don't have the need right now, but we will. That's the whole point. We should be getting ready for this as opposed to saying, OK, now we need it because there is a bunch of patients who need ventilators, they don't have them.

BERMAN: It is about planning. It is about thinking ahead, which is something that I know you, Dr. Wen, have done for a living.

I just want to also play for you, there's a great town hall last night that Sanjay was part of with Dr. Anthony Fauci where the lead infectious disease doctor in the country was trying to explain what the president was saying when he hopes to open up parts of the country by Easter. Listen to what Dr. Fauci said.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I think what the president was trying to, he was making an aspirational projection to give people some hope. But he's listening to us when we say we really got to reevaluate it in real time, and any decision we make has to be based on the data.


GUPTA: So, Dr. Wen, I know you're looking at the data. What is the data telling you? And as you are trying to reassess this real time, what are you seeing?

WEN: I see data that is incomplete. We have already reached this grim milestone that you mentioned at the beginning about the U.S. reaching the highest number of cases in the world, but that's the highest number of cases that we know of. And we're severely limited by lack of testing. So we actually don't know the true caseload in the U.S.

We also don't know if the places that we're identifying as hot spots are the only hot spots. There may well be other communities that have very rapidly rising number of cases that we just have not yet identified because of lack of testing. So I agree, of course, with Dr. Fauci, that, as he was saying yesterday, that the virus should be what determines the dates and the timeline, but we also need to have the data to make those decisions.

And that's what the government should be working on. We should be working on getting capacity for testing to get those data, we should be strengthening our healthcare system, and then when we have that under control, that's when we begin setting up criteria for how we can roll back restrictions. Doing so before that is premature and extremely dangerous.

BERMAN: We saw concerns of hot spots now in Wayne County, which is Detroit, Cook County, which is Chicago. I'm going to jump around the world, Sanjay, and talk about a city that I know you've been looking at very closely, which is Hong Kong, which had its highest reported number of cases overnight, more than 500 reported cases.

This was a city that I think thought it had seen the worst of this, and it started to come back to life. So when I saw that alert this morning, the highest number of cases reported, it jumped out at me. What do you see there?

GUPTA: Yes, look, this was a place that you and I talked about a few weeks ago, holding it up as a model, saying, look, this is an example of the impact of the social distancing measures. And they're doing a pretty good job keeping the case numbers low. You take your foot off the pedal for a bit and think we're good, and you're suddenly reminded of just how quickly things can change. Just within a few days, the case numbers doubled, and then as you point out they've had this other surge again.

So I think what I took away from that, I guess not surprising, but a good reminder is that not only do we have to do these things, we have to do them diligently. I'm talking about the mitigation measures, the stay at home measures, things like that. So it is -- we have all this sort of historical data. We go back, a lot of people show models of the 1918 Spanish flu, things like that. What is striking to me now, John, is we have real world data. We can look around the world and see what is happening there.

Spain should have been paying attention to what was happening in Italy. They thought, well, there is a ocean. Of course, we're going to be OK. That's not how viruses work. We should have been paying attention to other countries around the world, not just looking at other historical data.


Although any of that data would have suggested that we have acted earlier than we did. But this is a lesson for Hong Kong, and again, we should be paying attention.

BERMAN: Let's hope we are.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Dr. Leana Wen, thank you very much for being with us this morning.

GUPTA: Thank you. BERMAN: Detroit, as we just mentioned, is now an emerging coronavirus hot spot. We're going to speak to Michigan's top doctor about her state's struggle to get supplies. That's next.


CAMEROTA: The number of coronavirus cases in Michigan has skyrocketed to nearly 3,000. From just less than a week ago, it was -- a week ago, it was less than 350. Sixty people have died, a state leader says they're still struggling to get supplies there.

So, joining us now is Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Michigan's chief medical executive.

Dr. Khaldun, thank you very much for being here.

So, Michigan's cases have skyrocketed, as we said. You believe you're still a few weeks out from the apex. What makes you think that?

DR. JONEIGH KHALDUN, CHIEF MEDICAL EXECUTIVE, STATE OF MICHIGAN: Yes, so like you said, we have seen over the past even week an exponential increase in the number of cases here in the state of Michigan. We're looking at various models, but we think we're still on the aggressive upslope and we still have several weeks to go as far as when we hit that peak.

CAMEROTA: And does Michigan have right now, do doctors and healthcare workers there, have enough PPE as we say, the gowns, the surgical masks, the gloves that they need?


KHALDUN: Absolutely not. It is really unfortunate. We were incredibly late as a country really with getting our supplies, supplies meaning testing supplies, supplies with my lab, my state lab, could run up tests, so people could get the swabs of their nose, right, to be able to get the tests done, I have now got doctors and nurses on the front lines who are using one mask for their entire shift, we got a shipment from the strategic national stockpile, a couple of weeks ago, that actually had no N95 masks on it.

So, no, we don't have enough. We're doing everything we can to go to manufacturers, the federal government, whoever has PPE materials, we want them here in Michigan.

CAMEROTA: If you're using one mask for your entire 10-hour, 12-hour, however your working shift what does that mean? That germs from infected coronavirus patients are getting on the mask?

KHALDUN: Well, you know, you're absolutely right. We are in unchartered territory right now. Right now, I heard stories of doctors and nurses putting their masks in a paper bag for their shift, and then taking it out when they think they have a patient who has coronavirus, absolutely. It is very concerning. It is not something we would normally do. I know our doctors and nurses and staff on the frontlines are doing

everything they can to protect themselves. But we don't have enough masks. We don't have enough gowns. And we need more from the federal government and others.

CAMEROTA: So. Governor Gretchen Whitmer as you probably know has asked President Trump for a federal emergency declaration, and that that would allow FEMA to step in, in Michigan, and to help. What would that change on the ground?

KHALDUN: Absolutely. We need more resources. We are currently looking at off-loading and balancing our hospital beds across the state. The bulk of our cases right now are in southeast Michigan. So, we're looking at extending and expanding, spreading the patients out across the rest of the state. Also, we're going to need to build alternative care sites and we're currently looking at that and we need staff to help us get those up and running very quickly.

CAMEROTA: Governor Whitmer says she placed an order for some of this protective gear as we're talking about, the masks that you're saying you need, the gowns. She placed an order I think a week ago. She was outbid or at least sidelined by the federal government because their order had to take priority with this private company.

Why is this lord of the flies? Why is this every man for himself? Do you understand this whole bidding process?

KHALDUN: No, I don't understand it. I do think we need to have a national strategy when it comes to how supplies are divided up among states. I have talked to my governor, talked to my governor every day, and she is unfortunately having to battle, if you will, with her friends and colleagues, governors and other states, and that's absolutely not the way it should be.

As you can see, like you mentioned, the city of Detroit, Wayne County, has had an exponential increase in the number of cases and so Michigan needs to be one of those states that is prioritized when it comes to receiving the PPE.

CAMEROTA: Do you feel that you're not being prioritized? Do you feel somehow Washington state or New York or fill in the blank of any other hot spot is getting priority over you?

KHALDUN: You know, everyone on the ground, when they have cases, all these governors, all these medical officials are doing the best they can for the people in their state. And I understand early on, we had Washington and now New York City, who are prioritized, and I understand that.

But I can tell you, what I'm seeing on the ground here in Michigan is we are seeing an exponential increase in cases, particularly in southeast Michigan and we here in the state of Michigan need to prioritize at this time.

CAMEROTA: We hear your pleas. We really appreciate you taking the time, we understand that Michigan is having skyrocketing rates. We'll see what happens today obviously.

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, thank you very much for all the information.

KHALDUN: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Now to the economy, the record unemployment claims this week could be the tip of the iceberg. What happens next week? Well, former Labor Secretary Seth Harris is here to answer your viewer questions, next.



BERMAN: This has been the worst week for the U.S. economy in decades. A staggering 3.3 million Americans filed unemployment claims in just the last week. One former chief economist for the labor department estimates that 14 million workers will lose their jobs due to this pandemic.

So, what does it mean for you?

Joining us now, Seth Harris, former acting labor secretary, he oversaw the rollout of the 2009 stimulus package under President Obama.

Mr. Secretary, thank you very much for joining us this morning.

One of the things the administration has said is that people could start seeing some of these checks that they have been promised with -- in two weeks. How realistic is that?

SETH HARRIS, FORMER ACTING LABOR SECRETARY UNDER PRESIDENT OBAMA: I think it is ambitious. I hope it is true. I think for people who have direct deposit from the IRS, there is some hope that it will be a matter of a couple of weeks, maybe three weeks.

For people who will get paper checks, I think it's going to be a good bit slower. You know, one of the things that people don't keep in mind about these bills is that the money doesn't start to flow as soon as the president signs the bill. There are a lot of symptoms that have to be put in place, data that has to be put to work.

You know, existing bureaucracies are being asked to do something very different from what they have done before. So, it's going to take a little bit of time, but I'm hopeful they'll move quickly and they already got plans in place.

BERMAN: So we learned yesterday that 3.3 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week. It is a huge number. The secretary of the treasury, Steve Mnuchin, said that that number in his words is not relevant.