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U.S. Death Toll Tops 1,500, Now Over 102,000-Plus Cases; Doctors, Nurses Reusing Protective Gear Amid Crisis; New Orleans Emerges As Coronavirus Hotspot; USNS Comfort Heading To New York City; Italy Surpasses China In Number Of Both Cases And Deaths; U.K. Prime Minister, Health Secretary Both Have Coronavirus; Congress Passes Historic $2 Trillion Aid Package; Health Care Heroes Honored Around The Globe. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired March 28, 2020 - 11:00   ET




FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. And thank you so much for joining me.

I'm Fredericka Whitfield.

We begin with the United States hitting a grim new milestone in the fight against the coronavirus. The number of cases now topping 102,000 in the U.S., the largest total in the world. Nearly 1,600 people have died from the virus; several hundred deaths reported on Friday alone.

But as the new cases continue to rise, some hope for the front lines. The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new test that provides results in just 15 minutes. And just a short time ago President Trump approved a new disaster declaration for Michigan. That brings the total number of states with disaster declarations to 15, along with two U.S. territories.

The President will travel to the naval shipyard in Norfolk, Virginia today. He will visit the USNS Comfort, one of two Navy ships being used to help with hospital overcrowding.

And at any moment now, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo will give his daily briefing. We'll bring that to you live as it happens.

So let's get started with CNN's Natasha Chen for more on this new 15- minute coronavirus test. Natasha -- how quickly could people be seeing it used to fight the pandemic, or at least detect who has it.

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. Well, the test maker -- Fred, Abbott Laboratories says they could start delivering about 50,000 tests per day beginning next week. And of course, that can be a big game changer.

As you mentioned, it's supposed to be able to give results in about 15 minutes. Abbott has on its own Web site a video showing how it works and they say the results could come back in as short as five minutes. Now, the FDA gave emergency use authorization, approved this Friday. This is a signal that federal health regulators are satisfied with the test validation data and they believe the benefits here outweigh any risks such as false positives or false negatives.

And of course, the FDA also approved a different test by a different maker last week. That one is made by Cepheid and that is supposed to give results in about 45 minutes. So all of this -- everyone working very hard to try and improve the speed at which people can be tested.

Of course, one of the bottlenecks still is the personal protective equipment that health providers need in order to get samples from patients. So that is still being looked at, the supply of masks and gloves, et cetera. But we are seeing more and more discussion about tests that can be done in a doctor's office or even by the patient themselves -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Natasha Chen -- we'll check back with you. Thank you so much.

All right. This new testing can't come soon enough for states seeing some of the worst outbreaks of the coronavirus. New York has become a flash point in the pandemic, now with over 45,000 cases across the state. More than 26,000 of them are in New York City alone.

CNN's Athena Jones is joining us from New York. So Athena -- there you are -- hospitals, they are overwhelmed there by this influx of new cases. What's the procedure? What is happening?

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Fred -- that's exactly right, Fred. We're at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens. This is one of the hardest-hit hospitals in the hardest-hit city in the hardest-hit state in the country. And this is one of the hospitals that had a third in patients.

They're having real issues with supplies of personal protective equipment like masks, gloves, gowns -- the kinds of things that hospital workers need to make sure that they don't catch the virus and that they don't spread it to others -- whether in their own household like a vulnerable family member, like a pregnant wife or elderly parent or to the rest of the community.

A nurse was interviewed this morning on "NEW DAY", not a nurse from this hospital. But take a listen to what she had to say about concerns about the lack of this gear.


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Will you continue to go to work even if the PPE runs out and you have to improvise?

SARAH BUCKLEY, REGISTERED NURSE, KALEIDA HEALTH HOSPITAL: Yes. I know there's -- in some of the guidelines there's a contingency plan about wearing a bandanna. And I can totally picture myself and my coworkers working together with bandannas because that's what we do and that's what we want to do and that's what we will do. (END VIDEO CLIP)

JONES: So you can hear the emotion in that nurse's voice. And I've been talking -- all of us have been talking to health care providers, first responders. Yesterday I spoke with an ER doctor from Brooklyn who echoed some of this and she said, you know we're concerned.

We're doctors. We care about evidence based information. And if the guidelines are constantly changing saying that, you know, if you don't have a mask you can use a bandanna. Look, a bandanna won't cut it. It makes me feel uncomfortable, unsafe to be using things like -- or to be thinking of using things like bandannas.


JONES: And one more thing I should note -- Fred, is that there are hospital staff right at this moment outside of the Bronx, the Jacoby Medical Center in the Bronx, who are holding a protest at the lack of this medical equipment.

And these providers will say to you, look, if the health care workers get sick and aren't able to care for the sick patients, then we're just closer to collapse in a system that is already facing a lot strain for instance in terms of capacity just to care for all of these patients -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: And Athena -- do you have any idea how they're conducting that protest? I mean we're talking about, you know, the edict of people staying at least six feet apart. You're talking about medical workers who, you know, have good reason to be very upset and are trying to convey they need this equipment. But what does this protest in your view look like?

JONES: Well, I haven't seen pictures of this. We've been getting reports coming in. We know that it is happening but, you know, a lot of these are affiliates working from home. They have to get the tapes, send it in various ways. So we haven't yet seen pictures of this protest.

But I can tell you that certainly even the line of folks that was waiting outside of this hospital to get tested, they too are keeping six feet apart, so you would imagine health care workers would be following those sorts of guidelines.

I should also mention the Governor of New York has -- they were already in the process of building an additional 4,000 hospital beds at four separate sites including the Javits Convention Center in Manhattan which they pulled together very impressively in a matter of days.

Well now, Governor Cuomo has asked permission or is sending a letter to the President to ask for approval for another 4,000 beds -- another four sites with a thousand hospital beds each just to try to prepare for what could be a huge surge of patients.

Governor Cuomo estimating the peak which says might not come for another three weeks. This state could meet 140,000 hospital beds and it started from a point of about 53,000. So that's why they're trying to add all this capacity with things like the USNS Comfort, the Navy ship, the hospital ship also bringing another thousand beds.

So all told with all of these temporary hospitals up and running that would be 9,000 additional beds. Still that's a far cry from the 140,000 but Governor Cuomo has ordered the hospitals across the state to increase their capacity by 50 percent. That is a state mandate.

So they're trying their best to make sure that they have what they need, hoping they don't need it, but trying to prepare in case they do -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: Still continued frustration among many of those medical workers. And we'll see if the Governor addresses any of that and this planned protest when he has his daily briefing just moments from now.

Athena Jones -- thank you so much.

So meantime New Yorkers are seeking refuge from the coronavirus and they're not exactly welcome in Rhode Island. The governor there has ordered the state's police and national guard to actively look for travelers coming from New York in an attempt to try to slow down the spread of the virus.

They're stopping drivers with New York plates at checkpoints. This is in Rhode Island. And they're going door-to-door as well in Rhode Island ordering those travelers who have come from New York to self- quarantine for 14 days.

The initial penalty for violating the order is a fine. Additional violations could be punishable with prison sentence.

Let's bring in Dr. Kent Sepkowitz, a CNN medical analyst and an infectious disease specialist, who oversees quality and safety at Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital in New York. Good to see you Dr. Sepkowitz.


WHITFIELD: So let's tackle this.

You know, the FDA, you know, has green lit a coronavirus test that can provide results in 15 minutes for emergency use. Is this a potential game changer in your view?

SEPKOWITZ: Not a game changer. It's a great step forward. We're very grateful for it. We'll get it going April 1st. But frankly we needed it February 1st.

Testing is great to control the spread. It is useless for treating the now 100,000 known patients with the virus. And probably the hundreds of thousands who also have it and are not detected.

So yes, it's a huge public health step forward. It does not help us with what you're describing from Elmhurst and Jacobi where -- WHITFIELD: Yes, just a step forward in your view in trying to help

zero in on those who need the help or are about to need the help.

So let's talk about the shortages that continue. Shortages of masks, gloves, other protective equipment for health care workers, you know, across the country.

Perhaps you saw some of that interview that my colleague Victor Blackwell did with the nurse tearfully in her car, you know, during her interview talking about, you know, how painstaking this is to be in the, you know, emergency rooms, in the medical environment not being protected. And then to turn around and go home, she described, you know, tearfully, you know, being hesitant about hugging her own children.


WHITFIELD: So what kind of hope are you hoping can be conveyed to these medical workers who are not looking -- who are not talking about, you know, in the long term. They're talking about right now the need and the short falls.

SEPKOWITZ: I think that the spirit of the nurses is the great untold story here. American nurses and nurses across the country have stepped up right into the line of fire. They're willing to do it because it's the right thing to do.

But as you can hear in her voice, some of them are going to get sick. And we've had at least one nurse die from the disease that the person caught in a hospital. So this is going to be tragic. This is already tragic and it's unacceptable that we, in the United States, are talking about bandannas for protection. It's unconscionable.

I wish I could say something nicer --


WHITFIELD: I'm sorry -- go ahead.

SEPKOWITZ: I wish I could say something nicer and more upbeat. I'm very moved by the spirit of the health care community and very disappointed that the safety equipment is not there. And very disappointed that the treatment equipment is not there.

It's two different things. Masks for the health care workers, respirators for the patients. We have huge shortfalls of both.

WHITFIELD: Yes. Moved is a good word. I think so many of us are so moved by the sacrifices so many of these people are making -- your colleagues are making. And you know, they're doing it because they got in the business of wanting to help people. And here they are trying to help people but they don't have all the equipment they need in order to be as helpful as they'd like to be, at the same time putting their own lives at risk.

Let's talk about New Orleans now. It's emerging as a coronavirus hot spot. As the state of Louisiana reports nearly 3,000 cases -- the outbreak has prompted questions about whether or not Mardi Gras celebrations, you know, should have been cancelled. You know, could such travel plans have contributed to the outbreak? I mean why New Orleans in your view.

SEPKOWITZ: New Orleans has lots of reasons that it could happen there. First of all, it's also happening around New Orleans. The "Washington Post" yesterday had a case -- known cases per 10,000 people -- not just how many in the state.

And if you look at Mississippi, it is in trouble. There's a lot of cases in Mississippi if you control for the population size. So it's not just New Orleans.

Yes, Mardi Gras -- Mardi Gras cut two ways. Mardi Gras put a million -- I don't know the numbers -- a whole lot of people in close proximity, socially-undistanced to put it mildly.

And a friend who is an infectious disease expert down there, Dr. Cusco (ph) mentioned to me that one thing that we should have considered is that a lot of people leave New Orleans. A lot of people leave New Orleans during the Mardi Gras because they can't stand it. They want to get out of there. It disrupts their lives. They can't get anywhere.

So they go flying to places that -- New York City perhaps or Colorado --

WHITFIELD: Right to get away from the crowds. And then they come back and -- got it.

SEPKOWITZ: Yes. So, it's a mess. It was a mistake. Everyone is a genius in retrospect. It was a mistake -- in my judgment it was a mistake. I don't know that it caused the New Orleans problem, though.

I think the signal that it's ok to go get drunk together and throw beads around was a bad signal.

WHITFIELD: All right. Still so mysterious. Thank you so much Dr. Kent Sepkowitz. Appreciate it.

Delta Airlines is stepping up and waiving travel costs for medical volunteers flying to coronavirus hot spots. The airline is offering free round trip tickets for eligible health care workers traveling to work at hospitals in Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan. Delta says it's working with state and local governments to make flight reservations. The company says it's looking at expanding the program to California, New York and Washington as well.

All right. Coming up a pair of Navy ships, one on each coast. This is now the latest tool in the fight against coronavirus. Details on their mission -- straight ahead.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) WHITFIELD: In the next hour, President Trump will be departing the White House for Norfolk, Virginia. He is en route to the Navy shipyards to bid farewell to the USNS Comfort. That Navy hospital ship will be departing today for New York City to help ease overcrowding at area hospitals by treating their non-coronavirus patients in New York.

CNN's Ryan Browne is in Norfolk for us. So Ryan -- what more can you tell us about this ship? Why the President is choosing to travel during a time when so many Americans are under orders to stay home?

RYAN BROWNE, CNN PENTAGON REPORTER: Well, it's the President's first trip outside the White House in over a week and his first trip outside of Washington in over three weeks.

And the President is coming down in part to talk to some of the personnel who will be participating in this mission -- this USNS Comfort mission to New York City.

Now, President Trump talked a little bit yesterday about why he's choosing to come here to see the ship off.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And I think it's great if I go to Virginia. I guess I can take helicopter or plane. It's like a tiny trip. I think it's a good thing when I go over there and I say thank you. It doesn't mean I'm going to be hugging people and it doesn't mean that I'm going to be shaking people's hands.

But I think it sends a signal when the President is able to go there and say thank you. So, you know, we'll be careful.


BROWNE: Now the President will be looking at this ship, which is about 900 feet long. It carries some 1,200 medical personnel aboard. It has about 1,000 hospital beds. And it's expected to arrive in New York on Monday.

Now, the ship may take about 24 hours before it can start receiving non-coronavirus patients being referred from other hospitals treating them for things like broken legs, other emergencies, things like that that the hospitals are incapable of doing because of the strain that the coronavirus pandemic is placing on these civilian hospitals in New York City.


BROWNE: Now, the ship's maintenance was actually postponed a bit in order to get that ship up to New York as quickly as possible. But it's just the latest step that the U.S. military is taking to help support local medical providers as they battle the coronavirus.

There's been several steps. They've deployed field hospitals to New York City. They're converting the Javits Convention Center into a hospital. So many steps that the military is taking. The Comfort just being the latest of those.

WHITFIELD: And Ryan -- the President has also issued an order that could lead to bringing back former active-duty military members to help with the response. What more can you tell us about that?

BROWNE: That's right. The President signed an executive order yesterday which raises the possibility of troops who have left active service, who've entered what's called the individual ready reserve. Now many troops see that as basically being outside of the military once they enter that status.

President Trump talking about bringing them back on, particularly medical personnel and headquarter staff potentially, the Pentagon says, to help battle the coronavirus.

In addition, the U.S. Army has contacted retirees to see if any volunteers will be willing to come back on active service to help provide medical support in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The army saying some 9,000 retirees have already expressed interest in doing so.

WHITFIELD: All right. Ryan Browne -- thank you so much.

Let's talk more about that.

Retired Admiral John Kirby is a former Pentagon press secretary and a CNN military and diplomatic analyst. Good to see you -- Admiral.

So let's begin with this, you know, signing of this order that could bring back former troops, you know, to help with the coronavirus response. What kind of troops would likely get called back and how unusual is this type of order?

ADM. JOHN KIRBY, CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: I think it's very unusual. It's the kind of thing you don't see too much except in the time of war. So it's not something we do lightly and we do very often.

But Fred -- I think who comes back is really going to depend on what the need is. And it's going to be done -- coordinated through FEMA and through the states, the governors, who will decide what they want.

It could be everybody from obviously medical service personnel to perhaps logistics and then transportation units -- people that can provide just basic logistical movement of material to and from.

So it's really going to depend I think on the states. But it does give the President more options. And I think more options in a time like this is always a good thing.

WHITFIELD: And then you heard Ryan say that some 9,000 retirees have actually said --


WHITFIELD: -- they wanted to come back. So it sounds like many wouldn't mind, you know, to get the call.

So then let's talk about the USNS, you know, Comfort. What can you tell us about this Navy hospital, this floating Navy hospital that really has been deployed for a variety of things?

KIRBY: Right.

WHITFIELD: But this is rather unique because it will be in New York but then it's not necessarily going to be there to treat the coronavirus patients but --

KIRBY: Right.

WHITFIELD: -- everyone else but, right?

KIRBY: That's right. They will be doing non-coronavirus patients.

So basically think of them -- these two ships as release valves for the hospitals in Los Angeles and New York City. For the doctors and staff that are going to be dealing with virus patients.

These hospital beds on these two ships -- and they're enormous ships -- a thousand beds as Ryan said -- will be able to take other patients away so that they don't have to worry about that. It'll sort of remove some of the distraction so that they can focus on virus patients.

But these are old ships. They were built in the 1970s as oil tankers. The Navy converted them into hospital ships in the mid 80s. They saw action in Desert Storm. Comfort was used up in New York City after the 9/11 attacks. She was also used down in Haiti after the earthquake. The Mercy was used in the Indonesia -- in the wake of the Indonesia tsunami in 2005. So they have a lot of real world practical experience.

What I think is interesting is I talked to Navy officials last night that normally the medical staff that fill out these ship are designed for trauma-type medicine because they go, you know, to disaster relief areas. In this case they've actually altered the kind of medical service personnel they put on board to deal more with like internal medicine and normal cases that you wouldn't see necessarily in a dramatic disaster relief scenario.

So they've actually tailored the staff on board to deal with the kinds of cases that they think they're going to have to deal with in New York and Los Angeles.

WHITFIELD: Wow. An already versatile USNS Comfort made even more versatile under these conditions.


WHITFIELD: All right. Thank you so much -- Admiral John Kirby.

KIRBY: My pleasure.

WHITFIELD: All right. Still ahead, deaths in Italy surged to more than 9,000 making it the highest coronavirus death toll in the world. A live report from Rome, next.



WHITFIELD: A grim milestone to report out of Italy this morning. The number of both coronavirus cases and deaths there has officially surpassed that of China's. There are now more than 86,000 cases and more than 9,100 deaths. This as the country sees its biggest daily jump since the crisis began with the death toll rising by 969 in just 24 hours.

Our Ben Wedeman is in Rome. Ben -- earlier this week, Italy was reporting that the number of coronavirus infections had stabilized slightly offering some caution of optimism. But that's no longer the case. What happened?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we still don't know, actually. Keep in mind -- Fredricka, that these draconian measures, this lockdown that's been put on Italy is now into its third -- almost into its third -- the end of its third week.


WEDEMAN: And this is basically what the officials here said. That after about two weeks it would start to show some sort of impact on the numbers. What we saw since the beginning of this week a slow down in the increase. So the numbers are still going up, but not quite as dramatically as they were before.

Now day before yesterday we saw a large increase, then yesterday the increase was down a bit. So we really have to -- I hate to use this cliche -- but wait and see.

But if you speak to doctors and what-not and officials, they seem to indicate or believe that perhaps the worst is over, that we may have passed the peak that the ICUs, the emergency wards are going to be able to handle the numbers that are coming in after this wave, they think, has passed.

So we'll have to wait and see. Keep in mind, of course, that 80 percent of the cases are in the northern part of the country. The rest of the country somewhat less affected. But the lockdown is throughout this entire nation of more than 60 million people, which has really come to a standstill since this lockdown has been in place -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: And then, Ben -- kind of paint a picture how folks, I mean among the 60 million, you know, who have to stay in place. They are at least able to go out to a grocery store. But then if they do that, what do they see? What do they find?

WEDEMAN: The grocery stores are well stocked. There isn't a panic. There isn't a rush on toilet paper or anything like that.

Now my wife, who's Italian, who lives down the street from here, says that there's a shortage, for instance, of yeast, because everybody seems to be baking bread.


WEDEMAN: But you can go out to take care of those necessities. I have a 95-year-old father-in-law here. My wife goes to see him and his -- her mother as well. So you can move around, but you can't simply congregate in public. You have to have a reason to be out.

And oftentimes you'll be stopped by the police and you have to show this declaration of who you are, where you live, and what you're doing. And if they don't find it credible, you can be fined -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: Wow. Out with purpose or a penalty.

Ben Wedeman -- thank you so much, in Rome.

All right. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is offering words of encouragement after he tested positive for coronavirus. And a second member of Johnson's cabinet begins to self-isolate after experiencing coronavirus symptoms as the number of cases in the U.K. surges to nearly 15,000.

CNN International Diplomatic Editor, Nic Robertson joining me now from London. So what more are you learning?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, Fredricka -- the death rate, if you will, the increase -- percentage increase of the number of people who have died in the past 24 hours compared to the previous has gone up again. The death toll in the U.K. stands at 1,019. That's gone up by 260 deaths, which is a 34 percent increase. The day prior was a 31 percent increase. The day prior was also the highest so far.

So what you're seeing is actually an increasing growth rate of the number of people who are dying. That, of course, is for concern.

Alistair Jack, the Secretary of State for Scotland as you say has now seen the symptoms. He says they're mild symptoms of the coronavirus, so he is self-isolating. So the prime minister now in his second day of self-isolation. He tweeted "We can get through this. We can get through. We can do this. We can do it together," which has been his mantra since the beginning.

But his health secretary is also in isolation because he also has tested positive for the virus. The chief medical officer in England has the symptoms as well -- the fever, the cough. He is self- isolating.

So you see this creeping through government and it accelerating through the population as well. It is being -- the government's response is being criticized. The medical journal, "The Lancet" which is a trusted medical journal here in the U.K. and I think worldwide, too, has described the government's response so far as failed. That it is a disaster. That the government hasn't done what the World Health Organization said, which was test, test, test. The government today has opened, begun to open their first mobile screening facility for health care workers, but that's come short. So much criticism that the government hasn't done enough for health care workers here, like so many countries -- short of PPE desperately, short of tests -- Fredricka.


WHITFIELD: Sure it is, personal protective equipment. All right. Thank you so much. Nic Robertson from London. Appreciate it.

So with the passing of the $2 trillion U.S. stimulus bill comes direct payments to many Americans. So how much can you expect to get, and what's the best way to use that money?

Suze Orman will join me live.



WHITFIELD: As the governors of New York and other states plead for more protective equipment for hospital workers and they need ventilators as well for the sick, President Trump says the federal government will deliver 100,000 ventilators in 100 days.

The President also says he is using the Defense Production Act to get General Motors to start building ventilators at one of its former plants.

Kristen Holmes is at the White House for us.

So GM appeared to be ready, you know, and gearing up to begin producing the ventilators. So what is the White House saying about why it invoked the act? Why it was needed when GM said they were going to do it anyway?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, there's a lot of questions surrounding that. Essentially what we know is that General Motors made an announcement yesterday that it would be working with a ventilator company called Ventec Life to produce a large amount of ventilators at one of GM's facilities in Indiana.

Shortly after that, President Trump said that they were going to force GM to make these ventilators. And in a press conference later, President Trump saying that GM was wasting time. But it's unclear whether or not this invocation of the Defense Production Act is actually going to do anything.

The companies say they still have the same timeline and they're are going to be producing the exact same amount of ventilators.

But one thing we have to keep in mind here is that this comes after a week of intense criticism of President Trump by governors across the country. Many of them pleading for more medical supplies, saying that they were only getting a fraction of what it was that they had requested.

And New York's Andrew Cuomo saying -- essentially begging the administration to use the Defense Production Act. So unclear here exactly if this usage with GM is going to change anything but first time President Trump has used it since it invoked it about a week and a half ago.

WHITFIELD: And then after signing the historic $2 trillion stimulus package yesterday, President Trump says he won't comply with several provisions of the bill, including some on oversight. What is he taking issue with?

HOLMES: Well, President Trump essentially has said that his constitutional powers do not mean that he has to have oversight. So let's break this down a little bit.

Remember, Democrats put in this safeguard in order to get them to confirm, to agree with the $500 billion oversight fund -- excuse me -- $500 billion corporate bailout fund. In order to get them to agree with it, they wanted to have some sort of oversight.

What does that mean? Well it meant that the inspector general had every legal right to look through that, to audit all of those the expenditures and if they came across something to demand answers from any agency, including the Treasury Department.

Now President Trump is saying he doesn't believe that he has to comply with that, that he doesn't have to answer to any inspector general and on top of that he doesn't have to give those answers to Congress either.

WHITFIELD: All right. Kristen Holmes -- thank you so much at the White House.

All right. So what can Americans expect from this stimulus package? Who better to ask about the path ahead than Suze Orman, host of "Women in Money" podcast, and author of so many books including the latest one, "The Ultimate Retirement Guide for 50 Plus".

Suze -- so glad to see you. We were looking forward to seeing you last week. You were among the Americans who was, you know, not on the mainland trying to make your way back. So I see, now you're back in action in the U.S. of A.

SUZE ORMAN, FINANCIAL EXPERT: Actually, I'm still not on the mainland.

WHITFIELD: You're what?


ORMAN: -- but that's all right -- I'm fine.

WHITFIELD: I'm thinking that's Florida.

ORMAN: No problem. WHITFIELD: Ok. Well, I'm glad you're able to be with us. So, you know,

everyone wishes they could, you know, have that six months, you know, savings you traditionally recommend but many, you know, have been caught flat-footed by all of this. So what's your advice to people who are worried about making rent, mortgage, utility bills, credit card bills? I mean, how do they prioritize?

ORMAN: Well, here's the good thing first -- Frederica, is that so many of your creditors are working with you so that you don't have to pay those bills -- your mortgage companies, your credit card companies, the utility companies.

All of you should go online to your service provider, because the calls are just too much for them to take. And they will tell you there if you have to pay your mortgage, if you don't have to pay your mortgage, if you have to pay your utilities and all of that.

Obviously if you have a federal student loan, they are postponed until September 30th. So zero percent interest, no payment. So that you don't have to worry about, but please check anyway to make sure that your loan is a federal student loan.

WHITFIELD: And you have some tips there. You said, you know, really save your money for food -- that's an essential. And try really not to borrow anything in order to pay bills.

ORMAN: Yes, you know, you're all going to be getting a stimulus if you qualify for it. You're probably going to be getting unemployment. What should you do with those checks?

This is the time that let's say you have credit cards and they won't deal with you for whatever reason. If you get a check, do not pay your credit cards in full, pay the minimum payment due. Spend at least amount of money as you can possibly spend so that you have cash there. Don't go spending the money that you're getting.


WHITFIELD: And for some people, you know, under that stimulus bill, people who are making $75,000 and under -- individuals, you know, couples -- they can look for that $1,200; $500, you know, for each child. Now is this tax free money or people expecting to pay it back? Or will they be taxed on it later? What should they expect in the long term?

ORMAN: They're going to be taxed on it. They do not have to pay it back. Obviously unemployment is taxable -- that's another story. But again, you get $500 if you have children under the age of 17. And so you just have to know that. Not every one of your kids is going to get a check for $500.

But the key is where are they going to send those checks? And they're only going to send those checks to you if you have filed income taxes so that they have a bank account or an address to send you that check.

So if you haven't filed this year, ok. As long as you filed in 2018. But if you didn't file either of those years, you need to file right now. Again you have to be a United States citizen with a Social Security number.

WHITFIELD: Ok. A lot of people are really worried about a lot of things. What are you most hopeful about to try to allay some of the fears that people have?

ORMAN: We will get through this. We have to get through this. Obviously the government is willing to throw as much money as they have to to make sure that you're ok. It's your job out there, everybody, to really make the most out of every penny that you have right now.

We got through this before in 2008. We lost jobs, we did all of that, it's affecting us in a different way. But if you just dig deep here and you stay grounded in the hope and the faith that we will do this, we will do this. It may take some time, but time passes very quickly.

WHITFIELD: Right. We will get through this. Suze Orman -- thank you so much. Glad you're well. You're looking good. And even though you're not back on the mainland, I hope you stay safe and well where you are. At least it looks like a great setting.

ORMAN: I'll be here for a while I have a feeling.

WHITFIELD: Ok. All right. Well, be safe, be well. Thank you so much. Suze Orman -- glad you could be with us.

And we'll be right back.



WHITFIELD: Around the world, health care workers are being praised for their work on the front line treating coronavirus patients. While they appreciate the love, they say, what they really want is for people to stay home.

CNN's Isa Soares reports.


ISA SOARES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: 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 tells me he hasn't seen anything like this in his 14 years on the job.

RUBEN HERRERA, EMERGENCY ROOM NURSE, ALCALA DE HENARES HOSPITAL -- SPAIN: 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 place out in the corridors.

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

DANIELA CONFALONIERI UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 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 on contagion and we're not even counting the dead anymore.

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

PAOLA ARLETTI, NURSE AT MODENA HOSPITAL, ITALY: 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 bay before night. 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 Francisco 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 thank us is by staying at home.

SOARES: Isa Soares, CNN -- London.


WHITFIELD: And at any moment now, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is set to give an update on his state's coronavirus response.

Stay with us. We'll bring that to you live.




WHITFIELD: Hello, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me.

I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

The U.S. now has the largest number of coronavirus cases anywhere in the world. More than 102,000 Americans have now been infected.