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First NYPD Detective Dies From Coronavirus; New York Governor Andrew Cuomo Holds Briefing On Coronavirus Response; New York Governor Andrew Cuomo: State May Be 21 Days Away From Hitting The Peak, Trump Approved Four New Sites For Medical Facilities. Aired 12-1p ET

Aired March 28, 2020 - 12:00   ET



FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. The U.S. now has the largest number of coronovirus cases anywhere in the world. More than 102,000 Americans now have been infected. Nearly 1600 people had been died from the virus. But as the new cases continue to rise, some hope for health care workers on the front lines.

The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new test that provides results in only 15 minutes. This morning, 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.

And this hour, the President will travel to the naval shipyard in Norfolk, Virginia. He'll see off the "USNS Comfort" one of the two navy ships being used to help with hospital overcrowding. At any moment, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo will give his daily briefing. We'll bring that to you live as it happens.

So New York has been hit the hardest in the country. Cases in that state have surged to nearly 46,000 overwhelming many hospitals, and the Governor warns it still may be weeks before New York hits its peak.

CNN's Athena Jones is in New York for us so Athena we're hearing health care workers at one hospital have begun to protest because of the lack of supplies.

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Fred, that's right. That's going on at a hospital in the Bronx, another Borough. I should say of city Manhattan. We're in Elmhurst in Queens. This is one of the hardest hit areas in the hardest hit city in the country.

This is New York. The State of New York accounts for nearly half the cases in America. And so hospitals like the one you see behind me, a public hospital that serves a large community, a very diverse community, many immigrants, but basically a lot of people has seen a huge surge of patient people coming in who want to be tested.

I should note today there's rain here. There's no one waiting outside to be tested but we have had accounts from inside that it's very, very crowded. Many health care workers, not just here but hospitals all across the state and across the country really have been complaining and raising concerns about the lack of personal protective equipment.

The kind of equipment they have to have to keep themselves safe. Listen to one nurse in a New York City hospital who got rather emotional about this. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 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 some of the guidelines there's a contingency plan about wearing a bandanna, and I can totally picture myself and my co-workers 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.


JONES: You can hear the emotion in that nurse's voice. We've all me and my colleagues have talked to health care providers and first responders up and down the line and this is a fear we hear constantly.

They're worried not just about getting the virus themselves and dying like a nurse at Mt. Sinai Hospital this week but also it is spreading the virus to someone else a pregnant wife, an elderly parent, some other member of the community, some other patients that they are treating.

So, this is a real concern and also this issue about the changing guidelines. One doctor I spoke with yesterday an emergency room doctor from a Brooklyn hospital said look, the CDC and others are changing these guidelines because of the supplies the lack of supplies.

They are not following what's usual infectious disease control. Doctors want real data to show they're going to be safe using a bandana. We don't think this is going to cut it. So this is the real concern here. Fred.

WHITFIELD: And then also on the front lines, first responders you know police, firefighters, and now we're learning that a New York Detective has died from Coronavirus?

JONES: That is right. This is the first New York Police Department Detective to die from the virus. This is according to multiple law enforcement sources. This detective was in his 40s so relatively young. He was admitted to a hospital in the Bronx three days ago.

Now this detective did have underlying health conditions. This is the third member though of the NYPD to die from this virus. We also got an update late this week that over 500 NYPD employees.

So they may not unnecessarily people leave be police officers or detectives but over 500 employees, the New York City Police Department, have been confirmed to have Coronavirus. And we're seeing this in other areas, too firefighters EMS workers.

We know of an EMS worker who didn't even have contact with patients she only had contact with her fellow employees in the fire station other people who are going out to have contact with patients. She caught Coronavirus she is now hospitalized in serious condition. So it is a real, real concern.

And these folks will stress to us, if the health care workers and the first responders get sick, can't do their jobs, the system collapses. You won't have enough people to care for the sick patients or to transport the sick patients to the hospital.

So it's a real, real serious concern and that is why we're seeing so much attention on personal protective equipment, Fred.

WHITFIELD: And the last few instances you just described that just underscores how transferrable this virus is. Athena Jones

JONES: Highly contagious.

WHITFIELD: Yes, thank you so much. So, New York is far from the only major U.S. city dealing with the effects of the Coronavirus. The U.S. Surgeon General says Detroit, Chicago, New Orleans have become hot spots in this pandemic.


WHITFIELD: CNN's Ed Lavandera is in New Orleans for us. CNN's Ryan Young is in Chicago. Ryan, you first Illinois now has more than 3,000 cases across the state?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL COREESPONDENT: Yes, more than 3,000 cases. More than 400 new cases so far. Right now it's overcast here in Chicago. There's a shelter in place. We haven't seen a lot of people on the streets but there are people who were out walking their dog.

A lot of social distancing going on but, look, the big talk right now, what will we face next week? We're joined by a special guest here who is Dr. Omar Lateef he works at Rush University and Medical Center. You work in the ICU. What your guys seeing so far in terms of patients who are coming into the hospital?

DR. OMAR LATEEF, PRESIDENT & CEO, RUSH UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER: I think that we're seeing an increased number of patients from all walks of life. We are seeing elderly people with a lot of medical problems but we've also unfortunately seen more young people without the same medical history that we've all been so worried about. So this is really a disease that's affecting all people in the country right now.

YOUNG: Look, there has been a big conversation about the personal protection gear. I know you've spent a lot of time talking to your staff. What is it like right now in that area, especially ICU?

LATEEF: You know, the concern that we all have is, do we have the right equipment and the right safety measures in place to protect our employees? Really, one of the limiting steps of being able to take care of people safely is having the right personal protective equipment.

Right now, the institutions in Chicago, we do have the right amount of personal protective equipment but our fear, along with the fear of everybody else in health care throughout the country is as the numbers continue to increase, we'll run out of equipment. So we need to continuously have a supply coming in for each hospital in our area.

YOUNG: You've been talking to your folks in New York about what could be coming. One of the things you told me about the special treatment is turning someone, pruning them so that the fluid doesn't build up. Can you explain to the public how kind of intensive that is in terms of how much manpower that takes?

LATEEF: Sure. I think that overwhelmingly, one of the things that we're seeing, and we've known in critical care medicine for years is a technique called pruning where you actually take a patient who is ill and turn their body upside down. And that allows for shifts in the blood supply and oxygen to affect their body differently.

YOUNG: But it takes a lot of people?

LATEEF: If you think about the number of tubes in a person on a ventilator that a person has, the number of people it takes is really significant. It can take five or six people to do this. There's special equipment, special beds but not every hospital has those.

So you can do this manually, but four or five people in a room, people outside monitoring what's happening the whole time.

YOUNG: One other thing that you said has impacted you is your staff has become really close to the patients. And they are feeling the pain and the stress. Can you talk about that just a little bit?

LATEEF: Yes, I think, without a doubt, there's a tremendous amount of tension and stress and anxiety in the air in every hospital in the country, in the world. We're taking care of patients that were otherwise healthy a couple of weeks ago. These are patients that are friends of friends and friends of our families and people in our community. And so when you--

WHITFIELD: All right. Dr. Lateef Omar and Ryan, I've got to interrupt you. Let's go now to New York. Governor Andrew Cuomo.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO, (D-NY): If you are feeling disoriented, it's not you. It's everyone. And it's everywhere. And it's with good cause. Today is Saturday you know how I know today is Saturday because my alarm clock said Saturday when I woke up this morning. But if you drive around, it doesn't seem like Saturday, right? Saturday is the day that people are off work except people were off work yesterday.

Saturday is the day that the traffic is lighter. But the traffic was lighter yesterday. So it's literally one day blending into the other. And just as a matter of perspective, a matter of context, this feels like it's been going on forever but it really hasn't.

New York State had its first case of COVID just 27 days ago. New York schools closed only ten days ago. The New Rochelle Cluster which was the highest cluster in the United States, which thanks to the good work of our Health Department has now come down that, was 18 days ago when we started the school closings in New Rochelle and we started the testing and the drive-troughs.

The overall shutdown of nonessential workers was only eight days ago. It feels like a lifetime. Perspective, well, how long does this go on? How long do we expect it? China, which was the first test case, right? First case was 12 weeks ago. That's when it started in China, South Korea, started nine weeks ago, Italy about eight weeks ago.


CUOMO: So all - keep it all in perspective during this disorienting time where one day is just blurring into the next.

A lot of people ask me, why is there so much talk about ventilators. I never heard about a ventilator before. You're not alone. I never really heard about a ventilator before either. But every emergency situation is unique.

And every emergency situation winds up focusing on an issue that you would have never thought of before. We've been through emergency situations, super storm sandy. We needed 1,000 portable generators immediately. Whoever heard of needing 1,000 portable generators?

We had flooding in the northern part of the state. We need 700 miles of sandbags. Whoever heard of needing 700 miles of sandbags? So there's always a particular circumstance that winds up developing in these situations that really you could never anticipate.

And in this situation, it is about a ventilator. Why? Because the majority of these patients, they're not coming in needing surgery, you know it's all the same. It's a respiratory illness. Their lungs are damaged. They're having trouble breathing. They have a cough. And they all need a ventilator.

And that is the peculiarity of this situation. Compounding it is usually when we equip a health care system people are usually on a ventilator for three or four days. With COVID patients, they are on for 11 to 21 days. That then compounds the ventilator issue.

Not only do you need more, but people are on them longer so you need even more and that increases the problem. I think the President was right to use the Defense Production Act. What the Defense Production Act basically says is, I'm not going to ask private companies to help out, and it's great that we have volunteerism, et cetera, but the Defense Production Act gives the Federal Government significant leverage to actually say, I need these produced, and I need these produced by X date.

Now the Federal Government still pays. They pay an increased cost for the accelerated production, but it gives the Federal Government the ability to do that. And when it comes to ventilators, they are the necessity in this situation. What do I do as Governor? Basically, I ask people who know. I ask the experts a lot of questions and just staying on the ventilators. Well, what if, what if, what if we can't get the ventilators? What do we do if we don't have enough ventilators? Then you use bag valve masks.

What is a bag valve mask? This is a bag valve mask. This is what you do if you have a person who needs a ventilator and you don't have a ventilator. The way this works is it's basically a manual ventilator and someone squeezes the ventilator, the bag, continuously. This looks easy.

I guarantee, if you do this for any length of time, you see how difficult it winds up being. This is the alternative if you don't have the ventilator. We are actually buying these. We bought about 3,000. We've ordered about an additional 4,000 of these bag valve masks.

We're even talking about training National Guard people to learn how to operate this device, which is relatively simple to operate, but you need a lot of people to operate these 24 hours a day for each patient, right?


CUOMO: So those are bag valve masks for each patient. They are the alternative to ventilators. And in short answer is no thank you. If we have to turn to this device on any large-scale basis, that is not an acceptable situation. So we go back to finding the ventilators because we need the ventilators.

Well, you'll need 30,000 ventilators. Do you really need 30,000 ventilators? Look, I'm not a medical expert. Even the medical experts can't tell you what you're going to need here at the high point. They do numerical projections, and then you plan based on the projection.

You plan based on the data, based on the science and based on the numbers. The data says, at that high point of need, you can need 140,000 hospital beds and you could need 30,000 ventilators. That's what the numerical projections say.

So we're planning for that "Worst case scenario" which the models predict. Maybe we never get there. Maybe we flatten the curve and we slow the infection rate so we never get to that point. And that's what we're trying to do, and we're working on that day and night.

But if we can't flatten the curve, you can't slower the curve, you hit that apex make sure you're ready for the apex and that's where these 30,000 ventilators come in. I have no desire to procure more ventilators than we need.

On a very practical basis, the state is buying most of the ventilators. The ventilators cost between $25,000 to $45,000 each so they're very expensive. And you are talking about a state government that, frankly, is already in a - from a position of revenue, in a terrible position because we're not collecting any revenues, literally. So I don't want to buy any more ventilators than we need to buy on a very parochial basis. I don't want to pay for them. And after this is over, we'll have a great stockpile of ventilators whatever we do, but the state has no interest in inflating the number of ventilators that we actually need.

Something interesting about the price of ventilators, when we started buying them, they were about $25,000. Now they're about $45,000. Why? Because they are in such demand and there's such competition to buy the ventilators, which I'll touch in a moment.

The Governor has sent - the government has sent us 4,000 ventilators. Those 4,000 ventilators are not currently in use why because we don't need them currently. What we are doing is we are planning for that apex. We're planning for the critical need and making sure we have the equipment the staff the beds for that critical need.

We're not at that critical need where projections change but the models say you're 14 to 21 days away from that apex we call it when the curve hits the highest point. When that curve hits the highest point, it is too late to try to acquire what you need. Acquire what you need now that's the concept of putting together a stockpile.

And that's the process we're going through now. We only have 14 to 21 days so it's not a significant amount of time, but do everything you can to get ready now. There's an old expression.

You go to war with what you have, not with what you need, which is true. When the bell goes off and you have to go to war, you deal with what you have because it's too late to do the preparation.

But on that is until you are in that situation do everything you can do to be prepared for it, right? If they tell you you're going to go to war in 14 to 21 days, then spend the next 14 to 21 days getting ready everything that you would need when you actually have to go to war.

For us, the war would fully engage if and when we hit that apex. And that's why everything we're doing now is in anticipation of that. Flatten the curve so the apex never happens.


CUOMO: God forbid the apex happens make sure we have as much of the equipment, staff, et cetera, that we would need for that moment.

A few updates. They still forecast the apex to be 14 to 21 days. Again, that changes on the modeling every time the case load goes up or down a little bit. That affects the calculation on the apex. What do you need at the apex? 140,000 beds that's hospital beds, dormitory beds we're working on that every day, and we're getting closer and closer to that 140,000 number.

PPE equipment, right now we have enough PPE in stock, and all the local health systems say they have enough PPE in stock short term. Nobody has enough long term so we're still buying and we're still talking to the Federal Government about acquiring more PPE.

There is a concern among health care professionals because the CDC guidelines suggest a different protocol for PPE and masks depending on the condition. And apparently there is a crisis set of guidelines for that the CDC puts out for how many gowns - how often you change your gown? How often you change your mask, et cetera, in a crisis?

And the CDC has put those crisis guidelines in place. And many health care professionals are concerned that those guidelines do not adequately protect the nurses and the doctors and the health care staff that are working on this issue.

Dr. Zucker is looking at that. If we believe the CDC guidelines don't protect health care professionals, then we'll put our own guidelines in place. You have a bed. You have the equipment. You need the staff.

And that's where we're working on bringing more reserve staff and putting that reserve staffing capacity in place and that's going very well. And then back to our favorite ventilator quest. A word to the local health systems, we need the local health systems to think more holistically.

In other words, you'll have a regional health system, Western New York, Central New York, New York City and they'll have a number of hospitals. You can have a single hospital get overwhelmed within that system. You can have the staff get overwhelmed.

You can have one hospital where they run low on supplies. The local health systems have to change their orientation where it's not hospital by hospital, which is the normal culture. Every hospital is free standing on its own and is its own entity and buys its own equipment, has its own staff, et cetera.

I need the local health systems to change their orientation and operate and plan as if that system is one. If you see a local hospital getting overwhelmed, shift to an adjoining hospital both within the public system and the private system. Your public hospitals and then you have private hospitals, voluntary hospitals.

We have to stop operating as individual hospitals and they have to operate as a system. And I need the local officials to do that. So patients can and should be moved among those local hospitals as the need requires. Staff can and should be moved among those local hospitals as circumstances require.

State Department of Health has not only advised that but has mandated that. It's not the normal operating culture, but it is a necessity in this situation because depending on where a hospital is you'll have hospitals getting overwhelmed because they'll happen to be in an area where there are not a lot of other hospitals or because that's a hot zone, cluster zone.

That hospital gets overwhelmed. All right, shift, cooperate and plan as a local health system.


CUOMO: There may come a point where the state steps in and actually allocates among local health systems. This is when I said the other day you may have patients from down state New York being moved to upstate New York. Why?

Because if the entire local health system in down state New York gets overwhelmed or the local health system on Long Island gets overwhelmed and the Long Island health system says to me, look, we've allocated, we have eight hospitals. We have allocated everything we can among our eight hospitals. We're still overwhelmed.

Well, then we'll shift the burden, literally, to a different health system. And I just want them to anticipate that and see that that's coming. We have asked the pharmacies to cooperate above and beyond here and to do free home delivery. There are long lines at pharmacies right now. That's not good for anyone.

I'm going to be speaking with some of the major pharmacy chains today to ask if they would be cooperative but this would be a very big benefit. I understand it's a hardship on the pharmacies to provide home delivery. I'm asking them to do it free of charge but it will make a very big difference.

Also, the Department of Health is monitoring the density and activity in the New York City parks, specifically on the playgrounds. This has been a problem. We spoke about it last week. The New York City Mayor De Blasio and the Speaker Cory Johnson have spoken to this. They gave us a plan. We accepted the plan.

The plan is premised on the fact that people will reduce the density in playgrounds. No basketball, no contact sports, social distancing. There have been reports that that is not happening, and it's not in compliance. Speaker Johnson has made this point, and I believe he's right.

So if the density compliance is not working on a voluntary basis, we could get to a point where we will close those playgrounds. So I again ask the people in New York City, especially young people, please take this seriously for yourself and for others and let's do it on a voluntary basis.

We're also now administering 1100 tests of the Hydroxychloroquine and the Zithromax. This is the prescription that the President has been optimistic about it. We have to be optimistic also but we're now using it on a large-scale basis particularly in the New York City hospitals and we'll be getting results soon.

Javits will open Monday. I was there yesterday. It's a 1,000-bed emergency hospital. It is amazing what the Army Corps of Engineers did in a short time about one week and the progress they made is extraordinary.

And I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart. The Army Corps of Engineers, the National Guard which is our workforce that we call out in all these situations I've worked with many of them, and I know them after so many situations together. But they've showed up and they've really done a great job. This should open on Monday.

The "USNS Comfort" is going to be on its way as of today, I'm told. The President is going to be seeing it off. It should be here on Monday. That will bring 1,000 beds. It also brings medical personnel, which, frankly, are more important than the beds in this case and it has operating rooms, et cetera.

We'll use this to back fill and take pressure off the hospital. So a hospital can back fill onto this 1,000-bed facility. I hope it gets here Monday, and I will greet it with open arms.

I spoke to the President this morning. Actually, just before I came in today. I apologize for being a few minutes late. And the President approved four new sites for emergency medical facilities one in Brooklyn at the port authority cruise ship terminal - one in Queens at Aqueduct Racetrack one on Staten Island and one in the Bronx at the New York Expo Center.


I went and toured the sites yesterday. They are perfect, well, perfect. None of this is perfect. They are appropriate and suitable to bring in large scale medical facilities that 100,000 square feet, 120,000 square feet, they are open, they have electric they have climate control, et cetera.

So this is going to be a big advantage. This is going to be a -- will add another 4,000 beds. And there's one in every borough in New York City, which was important to me. Every borough knows that they have a facility and they're getting the same treatment that everyone else is getting.

I mean, New York City, outer borough person, you don't know that classification unless you're from New York City, the outer borough, Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, Bronx, those outer boroughs, Manhattan is the inner borough but they never call it an inner borough. Everyone is being treated the same.

We're adding to that bed capacity to get to the 140,000 beds. We've added 695 additional beds South Beach Psychiatric Center on Staten Island, which is opening up. We have the Westchester Square, Bronx, 200 beds, Health Alliance in Ulster County, 235 beds. So you see, again, we're trying to have facilities all around the geographic location that's experiencing the increase.

We're also making another shift where we're going to go to COVID-only hospitals, where people in those hospitals will just have the COVID virus. So the staff that is there is basically working with one type of issue as opposed to a normal hospital setting where you can have people with heart ailments and other medical issues.

And on top of them, the COVID patients, the health commissioner has given us good advice. It's smarter to keep the COVID patients separate. You don't want a person who goes into a hospital with one situation developing COVID because they happen to be exposed. So this is smart. And we're going to isolate 600 beds for just this treatment. South Beach, again, Westchester Square and SUNY Downstate, which is in Brooklyn. This will -- shows you the coverage that we'll have when all of this is said and done. And you'll see it's equally distributed and it's significant and in truth, many locations have been constructed, adapted, modified, and it's been done in a very short period of time.

Again, all of this in contemplation of the apex. If we're lucky, the apex never happens. The New York State Department of Health has gotten approval by the FDA to start a new test, which is an antibody test, where we can test individuals to see if they were in fact, infected by the virus, resolved, and now have the antibodies so they have an immunity to the virus.

This has been being done here. It's managed by our Health Department. The FDA has given us approval. The Department of Health is working with private hospitals to actually enact this now, so this is happening now. And this -- it could be a big breakthrough if that happens.

On the theory of risk reward, we're supposed to have a presidential primary election that's coming up on April 28th. I don't think it's wise to be bringing a lot of people to one location to vote. A lot of people touching one doorknob, a lot of people touching one pen, whatever you call the device, on the ballots. So we are going to delay that and link it to an election that was previously scheduled on June 23rd.

The June 23rd date is for state legislative races and congressional races. We'll move the presidential election to that date. Ironically, I'd advocated that it'd be on that date all along anyway, so there's only one election and people only needed to come out once. Everybody wants to vote. Everybody wants this -- do their civic duty. But don't make me come out and vote, you know, 11 times, put the elections together so I can go to the ballot once. And this will actually do that.


We are also extending the tax filing deadline to July 15th. This is good news for individuals for businesses. You don't have to file your state tax return. You file it with the federal tax return on July 15th. It's bad news for the State of New York on a parochial level, that means we receive no revenue coming in until July 15th.

This is the increase in the trajectory of the number of cases. You see it goes up again. The number of people tested, we tested 17,000 people. Yesterday, again, we're testing more than any state in the country and more than China and Korea ever tested. Total tested is up to 155,000 number of new cases, 7,681.

You see the state getting more and more covered just a handful of counties that have not reported any positive tests. This is the summary 52,000 people tested 7,000 currently hospitalized, 1,700 ICU patients, 2,700 patients discharged. That's up 681.

Remember, people going to the hospital, people get treated, people leave. Remember, most people never go into the hospital, 80 percent they self-resolve. Most impacted states, State of New York 52,000, next is our neighbor, New Jersey, 8,000, and California, 4,000.

But you see the reports nationwide that other states are finding it, other cities are finding it. I believe you're going to see more and more of that. But again, in comparison, you take California 4,000 cases compare that to the situation we're in with 52,000 cases.

People say, I advocate for more help for New York with the federal government and I asked for more things than other states are asking for. Yes, respond to the need, respond to the need. We have 52,000 cases. California has 4,000 cases. I want California to have all the help they need. But I want to make sure the distribution of need is proportionate to the number of cases.

If you're looking for good news today on the numbers, the number watchers, this is good news. I wouldn't put tremendous stock in it. But it's good news. We're watching the trend, right, because we're trying to gauge when if there's an apex, the number of daily ICU admissions which are the critical point for us, ICU admissions means people who need ventilators. Ventilators are what's in short supply.

The ICU admissions went down only 172 compared to 374 the day before. You see the overall line is still up. The 374 was very troubling because that was a gigantic leap. The 172 may be a correction from the 374. I don't like to look at the data on any one night. We averaged three or four nights to get a more consistent track. But this is good news on a one-day number.

The number of ICU admissions dropped as the number of new hospitalizations drop. So there's a correlation there that also affirms both, right? It affirms the ICU number and affirms the new hospitalization number. But again, I wouldn't put any -- I wouldn't put too much stock in any one number. You see, the overall trend is still up. But you could argue that the trend is slowing.

I say, don't argue, follow the numbers, get more numbers, whatever the numbers say, the numbers drive the policy. So we'll track it every day. And we'll see where we go.

The worst new, the news that is most depressing to me and I'm sure every New Yorker number of deaths is up 728. Of that 728, what's happening is people are on ventilators longer, so that average length of stay on a ventilator. The longer you are on a ventilator, the less chance you're coming off that ventilator.


That has always been true. It's more dramatic in this situation. Since this has been going on a period of time, you're having more and more people now who were on ventilators for longer and longer period of time. And those are the people we are losing.

They tend to be people who came in with underlying illnesses, underlying respiratory illnesses, compromised immune system, not all of them, but most of them. But that doesn't make it feel any better, right? These are still people who we lost. We lost because of this virus. If they didn't have this virus, they would be with us today.

So I don't accept the concept of well, these were people who were old and death is inevitable. Yes, death is inevitable for all of us, just not today, right? That's the point.

Again, total perspective, this is not a new situation. It's not just New York, it's not just the United States. This started in China. They have all the data since China. And you have a very broad database to call from. Again, on perspective, don't forget the basics. I know people feel this has been going on for so long. Wash your hands. Washing your hands, by the way, is just as effective healthcare professionals, will tell you as hand sanitizer.

So, wash your hands. Don't touch your face. I'm a big face-toucher for some reason, my own face, I'm don't touch anyone else's face. Stay six feet away from people. The social distancing is important and don't get complacent. These rules are not just important in the beginning. You have to do this, every day. So you have to stay disciplined about it.

General comment as to where we are. Rule one, in any, almost any situation in life, certainly in government, certainly in an emergency situation is to plan forward, plan forward, plan the next step. Don't be reactive. Be proactive. Don't wait to find out what the virus is going to do to you, anticipate what's going to happen and plan for the step ahead.

We have been behind this virus from day one. We have been in a reactive posture from day one with this virus. We're waiting to see what the virus does and then we respond to it. The virus makes another move and then we respond. No, you don't win on the defense, you win on offense. You have to get ahead of this, anticipate what's going to happen and create that reality now. That's what we're doing with the apex preparation, right?

We don't have that crisis today. We could have that crisis in 14 to 21 days. So yes, I'm creating a stockpile today for a possible reality 14 to 21 days from now. I'm not going to wait for day 13 to say, oh my gosh, we need 30,000 ventilators. It's over. So get ahead of it. That's our apex preparation plan.

But beyond just New York, as a nation, we have to start to get ahead of this, in two areas specifically. On purchasing, you can't have a situation with 50 states are competing with each other to buy the same material. That is what is happening now. When I showed you the price of ventilators went from $25,000 to 45,000. Why? Because we bid 25,000, California says, I'll give you 30,000, Illinois says, I'll give you 35,000, Florida says, I'll give you 40,000. We're literally bidding up the prices ourselves.

Now, every state, no one's doing anything wrong. I'm here to protect New York, that's what I get paid to do. I have to acquire the ventilators. I have to pay whatever I have to pay to acquire the ventilators. I don't mean to take them from other states. But when you have a system where you say to the states, OK, you go out and buy what you need to buy, we all need to buy the same thing. We all need to buy PPE. We all need to buy N95 masks. We all need to buy ventilators, so we're all shopping the same distributors the same group.


And it's not even legally price gouging. I was attorney general. I don't even think you have a price gouging case. This is just private market competition. My daughter, Cara, is working on the purchasing team. They change the prices. You can see the prices going up literally during the course of the day.

So, if the federal government organized this, if the states organized among themselves, because you can't have the state's competing against the states. And then by the way, when the federal government goes out to buy the same equipment for their stockpile, now it's 50 states competing against the states and the federal government competing against the states.

So, this is not the way to do business. We need a nationwide buying consortium. Either the federal government should say, I'll be the purchasing agent for the nation. And I will distribute by need, or the states which is hard to organize 50 states, I'm vice chairman of the National Governors Association, I'm going to talk to them about this. Maybe the states could come up with a voluntary buying consortium, and then we distribute by need.

But this is something that has to be worked out, not just for this, but for the future because this can't happen again. Also, we have to plan forward on testing. We've mobilized, we've scrambled, but this is still not where it needs to be. We need many more tests. There are still people who can't get tests. And we need tests that are faster.

There are other countries that are developing faster tests, developing home tests. We have a rigorous approval process through the FDA and CDC in this country. It served us well, in normal circumstances. These are not normal circumstances. I would say to the market, if you have a test and a home test and a state wants to take responsibility for monitoring the results of the test, God bless you. Because you can't have a situation where you have a five-day waiting period for a test.

That's five days for the person to be out there and possibly infecting other people. And if the goal is to open up the economy as quickly as you can, you're going to need a much faster testing process to find out who had the antibodies, which means they had the virus in resolve. And who's negative and who's positive. So you will, you are going to need a much faster testing process. That's the only way you get the economy up and running in any relatively short period of time.

I showed you those -- I'll end where I close -- I'll end where I began. You saw the number of days that this has been going on, only 28 days. Schools closed only 10 days, feels like a lifetime. This is not a sprint, my friends. This is a marathon. You have to gauge yourself. You have to understand that this is going to be a long term situation and even though it's so disruptive, and so abrupt, and so shocking. It's also long term.

And each of us has to do our own part to adjust to it. It is a new reality. It's a shocking new reality. There is no easy answer. We're all working our way through it. And we all have to figure out a way to get through it. My gratuitous two cents. See if you can't find a silver lining in all of this. People say extraordinary things to me that I just pick up anecdotally.

I was going for a walk yesterday with one of my daughters and Captain, Captain is my dog. And people come up with all these interesting ideas, you know. Who is painting their house because they never had time to paint their house before? Who is working on a project that they never got to? Who is reading a book that they never got to do? Who is writing a book? Few people say I'm writing my journals. I'm writing my life story.


You know, find the way. You have the advantage of time here. And you have the advantage of time for communication. I've had conversations with my daughters, hours long conversations, where it's just us, just us talking, no place to go. She doesn't have to go to work. She doesn't have to run out. And they're priceless. They are priceless. I'll never get the opportunity in life to do that again. You know, we're going to get through this and she's -- they're going to go off and find the boyfriend and then do whatever they do.

I've had conversations with my mother, who can't leave the house. And she's in the house. And so we sort of take turns talking to mom and took my mother for hours. And it's special, it's special. So, yes, it's terrible. And I'm not trying to say it's not a terrible circumstance. But even in a terrible circumstance, if you look hard enough, you can find a little raise a few rays of light. And people are doing it. And I think we all should.

It's going to be a marathon but we're going to get through it and we will get through it. And we are going to be the better for it when we get through it. We will have learned a lot. We will have changed. We'll be different. But I believe net will be different in a positive way.

Tell me questions, comments you have.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Trump is apparently mowing the quarantine from New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, he said so in White House remarks today. He said also that you had spoken to him about this. Can you comment on that?

CUOMO: I spoke to the President about the ship coming up in the four sites. I didn't speak to him about any quarantine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hasn't spoken to you about a quarantine, have you had any indication that that's a possibility for New York or --

CUOMO: No, I haven't had those conversations. I don't even know what that means.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mayor Bill de Blasio said yesterday that April 5th is the day that the apex is going to hit the city. What are -- what can they do to prepare for that, given that at this point, we only have a couple hundred or a couple thousand extra hospital beds that are going to be set up?

CUOMO: April 5th, well, look, all of the projections on the apex are just that our projections. April 5th is earlier than our state projection. So Dr. Zucker will get with the local health commissioner there to have that conversation.

But this operates in two levels. First, you have a local health system. So Mayor de Blasio has runs a very large public health system. And then you have voluntary hospitals, private hospitals, as call them. All those hospitals have to be planned and operating as one system.

One hospital gets overwhelmed, which we've seen in New York City. You have to immediately from a management point of view, be able to use the surrounding hospitals for support. So one system gets -- one hospital gets stressed, shift, shift to the other hospitals. One staff gets stressed, shift to the other hospitals.

Remember what I was saying before, this is not how they think, it's not how they manage, it's not how they plan, and it's not take any analogy, school districts, right, every school operator -- school district operates like an isolated entity. There's no thought that maybe this school district would have to cooperate with the neighboring school district. Yes, but the hospitals have to.

And each local health system has to do that, because you will have hospitals overwhelmed. Now, if within that hospital system, you want to maximize all of your potential, you still are over capacity, then the state can help with additional capacity, either by one of two ways, shift, shift some of those patients to less occupied health systems.

Our health system is upstate New York right now are not as occupied as the downstate ones. So either shift among health systems or start to use the additional capacity that we've been creating in that locality.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Piggyback on Justin's (ph) question here. The President said he's looking to -- he's looking at some sort of enforceable quarantine for New York, New Jersey, parts of the tristate area. Is that a sound policy from your perspective or would you advise against it?

CUOMO: I don't even know what that means. I don't know how that could be legally enforceable. And from a medical point of view, I don't know what you would be accomplishing. But I can tell you I just I don't even like the sound of it, not even understanding what it is, I don't like the sound of it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the doctors are on the topic of quarantine. There are folks in New Rochelle who have been quarantine for 24, 25 days now. There's some confusion about whether the state is following the CDC guidance that says you have to go X amount of days without being symptomatic or whether you should have to pass a second test to be let out of quarantine. What is the state's guidance on that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That has been lifted the quarantine for those individuals. And the CDC's recommendations have been that after for those who are positive, after seven days, they don't have symptoms up to 72 -- within the period of 72 hours, then they can be not in quarantine anymore.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So as of today's go, the Westchester Board of Health voted against letting -- lifting like quarantine for the people who tested positive until they pass a second test, is that an error?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the guidance's I've mentioned is that seven days, after positive seven days, 72 hours without symptoms.

CUOMO: Excuse me, one second Justin (ph). This is why it's dangerous to answer a question until you actually know what the person said.

Mandatory quarantine, if you're talking about what we did in New Rochelle that means a person in that area must remain in that home if they're in their home or a mandatory requirement if they meet a certain protocol, right? We never said, you can't travel outside of New Rochelle. We never said there was any geographic boundary to New Rochelle.

You know, if you said I want to go quarantine in my girlfriend's house in the Hudson Valley, all right, but you have to be quarantined. So we never said any geographic constraints, right? Mandatory guidance -- mandatory quarantine is a scary concept because it sounds like you're saying to people, you can't leave this district. We never did that. I'm sorry, Justin (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of the least of that, can you give some reaction to what happened in Rhode Island where apparently the Democratic governor there is stopping police -- stopping cars with New York plates to stop people from New York coming to her state. Can you give us a reaction to that?

CUOMO: I have heard that. I don't know any details about that. I don't know if anyone does. Does anyone know about it?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I almost reported this morning, we're going to reach out to Gina Raimondo's office after this.

CUOMO: But I haven't heard other than the news reports. And look, you're getting a lot of sensational news reports now. So you know everything with a grain of salt, sometimes two grains of salt.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- this morning with governors who have feeling on Lamont.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can a -- CUOMO: It doesn't mean I don't like them and I wouldn't like to be on the phone with them. But this morning -- and I am -- we're in constant communication. Governor, for those of you who can't hear the question, Governor Lamont is the Connecticut governor who caught the bigger fish than me in the last fishing outing. Governor Murphy is the New Jersey governor. We're in cooperation. We're coordinating like no states have ever coordinated before but I haven't spoken with him this morning.


WHITFIELD: All right, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo answering a variety of questions there. But he was underscoring that, you know, the nation needs to be proactive because he says, the U.S. has been behind in fighting coronavirus since day one. So he says that's why his state is stockpiling ventilators in anticipation of what he believes. Scientists are saying to him that will be an apex in 10 to 14 days.

And CNN's Health Department is also giving nationwide numbers right now the update of 111,000 cases of coronavirus across the country, 1,842 deaths in the U.S. thus far with New York leading in those categories.

With me right now, medical analyst Dr. James Phillips and Dr. Kent Sepkowitz. Good to see both of you. Let me ask you, you know, you heard the governor there also say that the USNS Comfort will be making its way to New York on Monday.