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NEW DAY SATURDAY

Virus Kills More Than 400 Americans On Friday; FDA Authorizes 15-Minute Coronavirus Test; Trump Signs Historic $2 Trillion Stimulus Package; Biden Recommends National Lockdown As COVID-19 Crisis Grows; Asians Report Being Target Of Hate, Racist Rhetoric; Americans Cheer On First Responders From Windows, Balconies. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired March 28, 2020 - 07:00   ET

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


[07:00:00]

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: If you're looking for ways to impact a community, really impact the world, and help those affected by the coronavirus, visit our Web site: CNN.com/impact.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Those in favor say "aye."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Breaking news, the house just passed the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill. This is the largest aid package in history.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This will deliver urgently needed relief to our nation's families, workers and businesses. And that's what this is all about.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I became a nurse. I never thought that I have to choose between my job and my family.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: More than 100,000 confirmed in the U.S. new hotspots expose a growing need.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have now got doctors and nurses on the front lines who are using one mask for their entire shift.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't have the support that I need and even just the materials that I need, physically, to take care of my patients.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: This is New Day weekend with Victor Blackwell and Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: Good Saturday morning to you. We're going to talk about those shortages and the need for support in a moment. But I do want to start with some hope in the fight against coronavirus. The FDA has authorized, given a green light, to a test that can give results in just 15 minutes and the tests are expected to be in use as early as next week. CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, and the U.S. is now the focal point of the global pandemic with more than 101,000 reported cases, nearly 1600 Americans have been killed by the coronavirus, thus far.

BLACKWELL: Let's talk about the shortages because it's really one of the, the major hurdles to stopping the spread in the U.S. officials in the emerging hotspots. You see here: Chicago, Detroit and New Orleans. They say they do not have enough resources.

PAUL: Let's talk about the hospitals in New York because they're overwhelmed more than 44,000 cases have been reported there. The state's governor warning, they may be weeks away from hitting the peak.

BLACKWELL: Let's start with CNN's Athena Jones. She's outside New York's Elmhurst Hospital. This past week, 13 patients died in just 24 hours there. Athena, good morning to you and what's happening, where you are, as described, as you said in your last report with us, the epicenter of the epicenter.

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly what it's been called Victor. This is a hospital that has gotten a lot of coronavirus patients. In fact, you can already see a line beginning to form here over my shoulder, maybe a dozen or so people waiting in line to be tested, some of them wearing masks. They're mostly keeping that social distance, distancing that everyone's been asked to do six feet apart from one another. And as I mentioned, you know, New York State accounts for almost half of the coronavirus cases in the entire country.

And New York City, of course, accounts for the vast majority of the cases in New York State. This hospital has seen overcrowding, frankly, you know, we heard the report from that E.R. doctor who shared some video with the New York Times last week talking about the lack of supplies, talking about, about feeling like they don't have the weapons they need to go to war.

What some doctors are describing as a war say, they're saying they don't have the ammunition they need. One position inside this hospital said that there's so much crowding, there's so many patients, there are so many stretchers, that they're lined up three-deep and that doctors can barely get across the room at times, for instance, to deal with a deteriorating patient.

Now, folks, the city officials are surging resources here, they've sent more ambulance staff. They've sent more other kinds of medical personnel and they're also sending more supplies. So, this is clearly a hospital that's very much on their radar. And we understand that they're also going to begin to divert non-coronavirus patients to other hospitals. So, at least here at this hospital, this is just one view into what's going on around the entire city hospitals being faced with a lack of, of what they need.

PAUL: So, Athena, I want to ask you about this news that some people are pretty hopeful about, what have you learned regarding this FDA approving this 15-minute tests? What are experts saying about it? JONES: Well, first, this is a good thing. It's a 15-minute point of care test. That means you can go to a medical professional get this test and get results very quickly. The FDA authorized it on an emergency basis, which basically means that they believe that its benefits outweigh its risks.

And the idea here is that Abbott, the laboratory, Abbott, says that it expects to be able to look to deliver 50,000 tests per day, beginning next week, but here's what experts are saying or anyone would say that, you know, looking at this situation, what they've been saying this week is that you still need protective gear.

You still need the proper gloves, masks, gowns, et cetera if you're in the medical professional who's taking that swab. And so that, that holds up or that lack of supply, that shortage, severe shortage all across the country is going to possibly affect the ability to, to administer all these tests. Christi.

[07:05:11]

PAUL: Well, we hope so just so these, these medical personnel who are doing so much good work, maybe can be a little more confident in their own safety as well. Athena Jones, so good to see you. Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Thank you, Athena. Let's talk now about this aid package. It's the largest in U.S. history. President Trump signed this $2 trillion stimulus into law. Congress passed it yesterday after a few days of some hard-fought negotiations.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: But I want to thank Republicans and Democrats for coming together, setting aside their differences and putting America first. This legislation provides for direct payments to individuals and unprecedented support to small businesses. We're going to keep our small businesses strong and our big businesses strong. And that's keeping our country strong and our jobs strong.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: So, as far as the checks coming, if your individual makes up to $75,000 a year, you'll get $1200 that will taper off up to 99. Married couple earning $150,000 a year, you'll get $2400, there's also $500 per child.

PAUL: In few hours, the President is scheduled to leave the White House and travel to Norfolk, Virginia, where a Navy hospital ship is going to be departing from New York. Kristen Holmes is live in Washington with more on the trip. Also, though, let's talk about his Defense Production Act for the ventilators here, Kristen, because there's been a lot of back and forth on this Defense Production Act. What are you hearing there this morning?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Christi. After two weeks of will-he-utilized-the-Defense Production Act-won't-he, is he going to? Has he already it appears that he is actually going to authorize the Defense Production Act. Now, let's talk about how we got here.

Yesterday we heard an announcement from General Motors and a ventilator company called Ventec Life. They announced that they would be working together to create ventilators in mass using that Ventec Technology at a facility in Indiana facility belonging to General Motors.

Now, hours later, President Trump said he was going to use the Defense Production Act to force General Motors to make the ventilators. But it's unclear exactly what is going to change from this announcement that they had already made. The company say, they are still going to make the same amount and the timeline is still the same.

But we have to keep one thing in mind, this comes after a week of intense scrutiny by the nation's governors essentially begging for needed medical supplies, saying that they were only getting a fraction of what they requested.

And we know that New York's Governor, Andrew Cuomo, among others, was really pleading with President Trump to use the Defense Production Act to get these states what they needed. Now, I do want to note one thing here, one of the big things that Cuomo has said he needs are these ventilators. Last night, President Trump seemed to cast doubt on the number of ventilators that Cuomo said he needed. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I think their estimates are high. I hope they're high. They could be extremely high. We're doing even hospitals based on pretty high estimates, you know, I'm doing them anyway. If we do not need them, they'll be wonderful. We can help a lot of great people all over the world. We can help them live. But I think, I think his estimates are going to be very high; we're going to see.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: Now, of course, we know it's not just Cuomo, who is calling for these ventilators. These medical professionals say they're very needed in New York, as Athena said, the epicenter here of the coronavirus outbreak. But despite the fact that these governors have expressed frustration with President Trump, Americans, at a whole, as a whole are happy with his response. I want to pull up a poll here.

This is a recent poll of President Trump's handling of coronavirus, approval rating here of 52 percent to a disapproval rating of 45 percent. That's actually just one part of the poll. The other is his overall approval rating in general as president. We'll pull that up for you. This is the highest his rating has been since he took office. You're looking at a 47 percent approval rating or disapproval rating of 48 percent.

BLACKWELL: Kristen, the president headed to Norfolk today, tell us about the trip.

HOLMES: Well, that's right. So, he's going off to see the USNS Comfort, one of these giant medical ships as it leaves at Norfolk, Virginia and heads to New York. This is actually a first time President Trump has left the White House after being hunkered down for two weeks. Now, I just want to talk a little bit about what the ship is going to do.

It is essentially to provide relief for these overwhelmed hospitals in New York. It is not going to see that huge number of coronavirus patients, it's actually there to offer relief in a different way: to see those patients who are not coming in to be treated for coronavirus. It has a doctors and nurses filled with medical supplies and it's supposed to alleviate some of what we've seen. You have a lot of stress on the system here, particularly when it comes to terms of the medical community.

BLACKWELL: Kristen Holmes, for us in Washington, Kristen. Thank you. So, during last night's CNN Town Hall on COVID-19, Presidential Candidate, Former Vice President Joe Biden recommended a national lockdown for several weeks.

[07:10:11]

PAUL: He also suggested social distancing guidelines need to be in place until June. Here's CNN is Jessica Dean.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JESSICA DEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He's currently leading the delegate count in the Democratic nomination. And on Friday night, Former Vice President Joe Biden took part in a CNN Town Hall focused on the coronavirus pandemic and the response to it. The Former Vice President saying that if he were president, he would support a national lockdown.

He is also asked a question about freezing rent payments. He says, he advocates freezing rent payments across the board for up to three months. The former vice president also had a very strong message to President Donald Trump.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is not personal. It has nothing to do with you, Donald Trump. Nothing to do with you, do your job. Stop personalizing everything.

DEAN: Former Vice President Biden also talking about how he's been personally dealing with the coronavirus pandemic in his household. And he's saying that the advisors he's talking to currently think that this could go well into late May, early June but stressed that nobody really knows right now for sure.

Also, on Friday night, the other person in the running for the Democratic nomination, Senator Bernie Sanders holding a virtual Town Hall. He was talking about the coronavirus pandemic in response as well, and advocating strongly that now is the time to listen to scientists.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is not a time for political rhetoric. This is a time for science and for the American people to understand the reality of what we're facing. DEAN: Of course, Senator Sanders and Vice President Biden have both been forced off the campaign trail due to the coronavirus pandemic, so all of their events now are virtual like the ones on Friday night. Jessica Dean, CNN, Philadelphia.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PAUL: Jessica, thank you so much. Listen, I know that this is a lot of heavy news for you day after day, there's some good news out there and we want to make sure that we highlight that. I want to introduce you here to Sundance, he's been trained to deliver groceries to his neighbor. Renee Hellman has several medical conditions that make her susceptible to coronavirus. So, every morning, Sundance goes next door to retrieve her grocery list and look at this, every night he's on delivery duty.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RENEE HELLMAN, MANITOU SPRINGS RESIDENT: Karen's a great neighbor. She watches out for me. He just did it. It was all of a sudden, and he was here and that's my job. And I'm going to do it. So, it was wonderful. She could not believe it. She always runs to the window to see that oh my god, I can't believe he did it again, and again, and again. He helps me so much. So, I wanted him to help other people. That's exactly what he did. pretty proud.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: Ah, she should be proud. What's in it for Sundance? Now, will you see him there? He's going to treat. We told you that they're going to keep -- we are told that they're going to keep doing this as long as they need to. There's something about those golden retrievers, Victor.

BLACKWELL: They're just lovable dogs.

PAUL: I have two, and I've found recently a golden adoption. Adopt a golden in Atlanta. I'm so wanting to get a third.

BLACKWELL: Going to get a third.

(CROSSTALK)

PAUL: My husband thinks I'm crazy.

BLACKWELL: -- I get one? I mean, I like them when I'm visiting them. But, (INAUDIBLE).

PAUL: I'll get it for you.

BLACKWELL: Thanks.

PAUL: I'll keep it at my house.

BLACKWELL: That's where we'll keep it.

PAUL: Yes, yes.

BLACKWELL: OK. So, listen, let's talk about some answers we can get for you because we've got some experts joining us, medical professionals. We have been collecting questions on both Twitter and Instagram. So, tweet us Christi is @Christi_Paul. I'm @VictorBlackwell.

We will get you some answers to your questions about COVID-19. All right. Now, we're also going to get some answers about this new 15- minute coronavirus test. It's soon going to hit hospitals across the country after the FDA cleared a path for the use.

[07:14:05]

PAUL: We're going to speak to a doctor who's on the front lines and ask him how this new test really is going to help in the fight against the virus? That's next. Also, the normally busy French Quarter Look at this. That's New Orleans. Looks like a ghost town now, doesn't it? People have social distancing, as that city becomes a hotspot for the virus. Is it working is the question? We'll ask an E.R. doctor about that again. It's just a head. Stay close.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PAUL: Well, the FDA has approved a new coronavirus test. This promises to provide results in less than 15 minutes. Federal health officials clear the test for emergency use saying its benefits outweigh any risks such as false positives or negatives. Well, Dr. Rodrigo Kong is with us. He's an Emergency Medical Physician at Staten Island University Hospital in New York.

Dr. Kong, first of all, I just want to thank you for everything you and your teams are doing. We cannot imagine what it is like for you as we hear some of your stories about the fear that, that a lot of you are feeling because you don't have enough resources. Are there enough resources, where you are? And how confident are you that you and your team are safe as you treat people?

DR. RODRIGO KONG, EMERGENCY MEDICAL PHYSICIAN, STATEN ISLAND UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL: Thank you for having me on your show. It is very troubling the lack of personal protective equipment that is going on throughout the country, and my heart goes out to all the providers who have to endure this.

Luckily, in my institution, we do have enough PPE. That doesn't mean that we have a huge supply that we can use it unintelligently. We're very careful with it, but we happen to have enough right now, for our needs.

PAUL: Talk to me about this new FDA test that will be able to give you some sort of results in about 15 minutes. How hopeful are you with the availability and the validity of the test?

[07:20:00]

KONG: Well, that's hard to say because testing -- a test that's created this quickly, it's hard to know how well it's going to perform. Sometimes you have to do some of that work in the field. However, I am, I'm happy that we're going to have a rapid test. Having more numbers from an epidemiologic point of view, that is to gather data to see how many people actually have the disease will be very helpful for the country to track the disease and to understand the true mortality or severity of the disease.

However, to be honest, from the emergency medicine point of view, if I have a rapid test, sometimes these rapid tests, sometimes they helped me and sometimes they don't. In emergency department, we are seeing sick patients who are coming in with respiratory symptoms. Their x- rays often look very bad. Bilateral problems in their lungs. So, if we have the test, or if we didn't have the test, if we recognize the patient, we can still treat them the same way.

PAUL: You say what is new that you've noticed recently as the type of respiratory illness that you're seeing that that seems to be different that the escalation of the distress that patients go through is different, how so?

KONG: Yes, that's right. So, in the emergency department right now what we're seeing are patients who are coming in often very short of breath, breathing fast, or hypoxic and or hypoxic. Hypoxic means not enough oxygen in their blood. Now often when we have these kinds of patients, we can apply to them breathing adjuncts.

A breathing adjunct would be like, facemask that we could apply, BiPAP or CPAP is a common one. This is a kind of mask that you might use for sleep apnea. When you apply those masks, we have a predictable sort of increase in improvement in the way that patient is getting oxygen into their blood.

However, we're encountering two problems right now with these kinds of patients. Number one, their blood oxygen level comes in very low and it's hard and they can drop off very quickly if we don't act fast. And then number two, these devices that we would traditionally use, we're having trouble using them because they create dangerous aerosols when we use them, and that will increase the risk for everyone in the room, or everyone who's taken care of the patient.

PAUL: So, when you say they create aerosols help us understand what that means.

KONG: Sure, sure. So, right now, the common mode of transmission for the coronavirus, everyone is pretty sure that it's through droplets spread. A droplet is sort of like a large, a large drop of water, you might cough out, this might go six feet or so.

And then because of its weight, it will drop off, maybe live on the floor or clothing or something like that. An aerosol however, is a much smaller particle, or when someone coughs or if they have a high flow of air traveling through their airway, they can create these various fine small particles, less than, say five micrograms.

When you use something like BiPAP or CPAP, again, these masks that people might use for sleep apnea, or other high flow oxygen devices, you can generate or a patient will generate these very small particles that float to the air. Unlike a droplet, which falls down quickly, the aerosol might float in the air for a longer period of time and travel some distance. It's unclear how far it might travel. And I'm not -- this one is hard for me to say but because they're so small, it makes them more dangerous and more troubling.

PAUL: Well, Dr. Rodrigo Kong, we -- I just cannot emphasize enough how much people are thinking of all of you. There are certainly prayers going up for all of you because you are doing the work that is most needed right now and we want you to be safe and confident in what you're doing. So, thank you again, so much for sharing with us what you're what you're dealing with and know that we are wishing you the very best.

KONG: Thank you.

PAUL: Absolutely. Victor.

BLACKWELL: Still ahead, the coronavirus spreading stigma as well. We're talking in China communities around the world even here in the U.S. There's concerned that rhetoric is making people become the target of hate, like, like labeling COVID-19 the Chinese virus.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why do you keep using this? A lot of people say it's racist.

[07:24:24]

TRUMP: Because it comes from China. It's not racist at all. Now, let it off. It comes from China. That's why. It comes from China.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLACKWELL: 28 minutes after the hour now. If you didn't watch the latest news conference from the White House, I get it, there are other things going on. But there's one moment we want you to know it's about the states facing this critical supply of shortages. The President says that governors are not doing enough, and the reporter asked: well, what do you want these governors to do? The President says, "be more appreciative." Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I think they should be appreciative. Because you know what, when they're not appreciative to me, they're not appreciative to the Army Corps. They're not appreciative to FEMA. It's not right. These people are in credit. They're working 24 hours a day. Mike Pence -- I mean, Mike Pence, I don't think he sleeps anymore.

These are people that should be appreciated. He calls all the governors I tell him I mean, number a different type of person. I say, Mike, don't call the governor of Washington, you're wasting your time with him. Don't call the woman in Michigan. It doesn't make any difference what happens.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: No. You know, what I say? If they don't treat you right, don't call.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: The woman in Michigan has a name. It's Gretchen Whitmer. And she says a state is not getting the health and safety supplies it needs because contractors tell her their products have to go to the federal government first.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[07:30:01]

GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D-MI): When the federal government told us that we needed to do -- go it ourselves, we started procuring every item we could get our hands-on. But what I've gotten back is that vendors with whom we had contracts are now being told not to send stuff here to Michigan.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: The New York attorney general, launched a hotline this week for people to report hate crimes against Asian Americans. President Trump, he also spoke out about the issue this week after referring to COVID-19 as the Chinese virus several times.

The president is now saying the Asian community is very important to him. But here's the president's response when pressed for details on what he is doing to protect Asian-Americans.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's the concrete measure that you're taking to combat the hate crimes against Asians?

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Well, I don't know. All I know is this. Asian-Americans are a country doing fantastically well. I'm very close to them, as you know. And they're doing fantastically well, and I think they appreciate the job we're doing.

But I did want to put that statement out the social media statement because to me, Asian-Americans are great part of our country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: With me now to discuss, Yuli Yang, she has family and friends that have been under lockdown in her hometown of Wuhan, China for a little more than two months now.

And Jeff Yang, a CNN contributor who says he was the target of anti- Asian hate earlier this week. Welcome to both of you. I want to talk, have a broader conversation. But let me start here with you Jeff, in what you said that you experienced your first breathing while Asian encounter. Tell me about it.

JEFF YANG, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, it was actually a little shocking to me because I've obviously been following the larger conversation around this. Seeing it happen to other people, seeing incidents that were, in many cases, much more dramatic and problematic than the one I faced. But it was still definitely a surprise to encounter firsthand.

I went out shopping, it was the first time I'd gone out basically since the lockdown to pick up groceries. I was standing in line, a long line outside of the supermarket, you know, separated by six feet per person. And a woman who came out of the store turned to me, shouted a profanity in my direction.

And when I looked up, pulled down her mask and purposely coughed in my direction before walking away and getting to a car and driving off. And I didn't even know how to process it, I couldn't respond until afterwards. And it took me a while, even to recognize that I was the only Asian person in line and that was the likely reason why this had occurred.

BLACKWELL: It's one of those did that just happened moments. When it happens, you don't expect that it's going to you. Yuli, let me come to you because obviously, the vitriol is despicable that's happening. But you say that there should be a 180 approach specifically when it refers to Wuhan that the world should be reaching out to Wuhan not just in a humanitarian way, but to learn something.

YULI YANG, JOURNALIST, FORMER CNN PRODUCER: Yes. Well, Wuhan, my family, and friends are all under lockdown, have been under lockdown for the past -- more than two months now.

People there need support, not just aid support but also emotional support. Because, keep in mind, when you give people emotional support, their immune system is going to go up and they will have a better chance in beating this virus.

And that's why we have been working on this small campaign, #GoWuhan and GoWuhan, go world now, to hopefully bridge that gap, to bringing these emotional supports for Wuhan.

BLACKWELL: Hey, Jeff, let me reach over to Congress now. There's this bill that condemns China for among other things, its handling of COVID-19. You opposed the bill, 38 Republican co-sponsors. The only Democratic co-sponsor, Seth Moulton of Massachusetts, he pulled to support. Why are you opposed to it?

J. YANG: It's a larger process of essentially putting what we're seeing in individual instance like the one I encountered, like the ones that the other people are facing, and putting it into policy. Essentially, legislating and institutionalizing this kind of calling out of China.

And I think we've seen historically, consistently that when government leads, people follow, and it simply inflames the feeling of hate, of xenophobia, of targeting towards people who look like they might be the source of disease, and that includes people who are right here in the United States.

BLACKWELL: Yuli, you told one of my producers that there is fear and ignorance as well that's happening in Asia that when they hear an Italian accent or they see a person using your characterization that the European-looking, that people kind of recoil. Is their conversation happening in China, much like the one we're having this morning?

[07:35:14]

Y.YANG: Yes, for sure. There's actually regional discrimination, so to speak, as well that's going on in -- inside China. If you are like me whose hometown is Wuhan, if you speak with a Wuhan accent, you kind of need to be very aware and need to be careful when you are walking on the streets in Beijing and Shanghai, for example.

Not everyone is that understanding and not everyone is ready to kind of -- to greet and embrace a Wuhaner. It's really fascinating to see how all these hates and discrimination evolved through the course of as the -- this virus towards the world because initially was -- and still, right now, Asian looking people, then, potentially people with Italian accent, or in Asia, if you see like you said, while like I said earlier, people with European looks, that would bring out the panic in some people.

I don't personally think that it's race is the fundamental issue here. I think it's fear and ignorance.

BLACKWELL: Yes.

Y. YANG: Fear really is there to save and help us and protect us really. So, we need to be thankful for fear. Ignorance is really the problem because ignorance is what causes to carry out irrational behavior, carry out unhelpful behavior in -- while everyone is dealing with this crisis together.

So, we really need to fight that ignorance and try to bridge that gap of ignorance, and there's a lot of work to be done.

BLACKWELL: Yuli Yang, Jeff Yang, thank you both for being part of the conversation this morning. Stay healthy.

J. YANG: Thank you.

PAUL: Still ahead, we're getting your questions about coronavirus answered. How long can the virus survive on surfaces? Are there new drug therapies that are working? We have an E.R. doctor with us next. Stay close.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:41:56] PAUL: 41 minutes past the hour right now. So glad to have you with us here. You know there are more than 100,000 known coronavirus cases in the U.S. now. Due to a lack of available tests, we don't know how many more people are infected.

BLACKWELL: That could change though. The FDA has approved a new test and it could give results in 15 minutes.

With us now, Dr. Darria Long, an emergency room physician and clinical assistant professor at the University of Tennessee. Doctor, good morning to you what's your initial reaction to this FDA authorization of this 15-minute test?

DR. DARRIA LONG, CLINICAL ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE: Good morning. Victor, good morning. And I think it's very promising to see, this test and a number of other tests have gotten to get emergency use approval. I look forward to actually getting them in the emergency department, that's what I care about is when are they going to actually be accessible. And the other thing to tell people is we don't know the exact accuracy of these tests.

We know that most of them can be still about 60 to 70 percent accurate. So, even if you get a negative test, if you have the symptoms of COVID, I'm telling people to act and assume as if they have it, and make sure they self-isolate.

PAUL: I want to ask you real quickly. There are people who say young healthy people are immune -- who aren't immune-compromised, don't have to worry. There's this new report of a man named Jack Allard, 25 years old, two-time all-American college lacrosse player, he's in a medically induced coma right now, critical condition. He had no symptoms beforehand, he hasn't been out of the country.

Does that change? Does Allard's case change what we know about this for young people?

LONG: Christi, I'm really glad that you're asking that because actually what we're seeing is that even the information from China. China largely reported on the death rates, which is why some people are saying, are we seeing more illness in young people? It's not the case. It's just in the United States, we are reporting more information.

So, we're not just reporting on death rates, we're reporting people who are severe and critically ill. And what we are finding is that this disease does not discriminate critical illness by your age.

We're seeing that in many ICUs, I'm talking to many of my colleagues across the country, anywhere from 12 to 30 percent of their patients in the ICU are younger ages.

So, still, the death rate is higher when you're older, but people of all ages can be critically ill.

PAUL: OK. BLACKWELL: let's get to some of the questions from Twitter and from Instagram as well. First question up here, "On what surfaces can the virus survive? Metal? Plastic? Paper? Skin?" What's the answer?

LONG: So, Victor we get a lot of these questions. Some people are saying, what should I do with my groceries? There been a number of tests, and it looks like things like copper, the virus stays about four hours. So, maybe your pennies in case you're using them maybe still safer.

We see also on cardboard, it's around 24 hours, and on plastic and steel, around two to three days. So, what does that mean for the average person it means, you know, when you bring home your groceries, if they're plastic or in something that's metal. If you're worried, you can wipe them down because otherwise, would be on there, two to three days.

Is that necessary? Is it actually infectious? We don't know that. So, it's really if you want to be on the safe side.

PAUL: And they --

(CROSSTALK)

[07:45:05]

LONG: And that's also why we want to be careful with doorknobs and things like that.

BLACKWELL: Yes.

PAUL: So, so, I wanted to ask you this because it goes along those lines. Somebody tweeted me, could COVID-19 -- if I sanitize my hands before touching a contaminated surface, say, a gas pump, will that kill the virus on contact? They want to know.

LONG: Oh, that's a really good question. So, what I would tell people is you want to -- sanitize your hands before you touch a gas pump to prevent illness from spreading to the next person.

But for you, after you touch that gas pump before you touch your hand, or your face, or anything like that, wash your hands or sanitize with something that's 70 percent alcohol or higher.

BLACKWELL: OK. Here's one from -- that was posted to my Instagram. "I am an Airbnb host. What requirements should I have from a guests before they come in? Should I take their temperature? Ask their whereabouts? I'm expecting a guest, April 1st."

LONG: Oh, Victor, this is, is really tough. As we are learning, people can be contagious for 24 hours even from six to 24 hours, even before their symptoms happen. And we know a number of people who have very mild or atypical. We're seeing very many atypical conditions in -- of COVID in the emergency department.

I would tell our Airbnb host and people like that, this may be a time to suspend having visitors altogether. Because there's really no way that you can prove that, that person does not have COVID.

PAUL: Dr. Darria, I got this on my Instagram as well. "How will we know when we've turned to the corner and things are beginning to return to normal? What are the signs that we should be looking for in that regard?

LONG: Christi, we are all wondering this. Because we -- this is really hard for all of us, for on so many levels. What I'm telling people what we're going to be looking for is what we've seen and been looking at, at China and Italy.

When do we see the number of new cases start to level-off? Right now we're primarily testing people who are in the hospital, so that's going to be our only data point. But when do we start to see fewer patients coming into the hospital?

I know at my hospital and many hospitals nationwide, those numbers are continuing to be increasing, which is a proxy to let us know that we're not at the plateau and we haven't peaked yet.

BLACKWELL: Here is a tweet from J.B. According to most reports in the worst cases, COVID-19 causes the severe case of pneumonia. "Would getting one of the two pneumonia vaccines now lessen the symptoms, or possibly lower the death rate in case someone eventually become infected with COVID-19?"

LONG: So, that's a great question from J.B. So, getting your Pneumovax, you know, pneumonia vaccine, getting your flu vaccine, those aren't going to keep you from getting COVID, but they can do two things. One is if you get COVID, you're now less likely to get a secondary infection of pneumonia on top of it, which could increase your chances of severity and death.

And also, they're going to decrease the fact that you could just get the flu, which may look like COVID, and now may be confusing. Me, as an E.R. doctor, I have to find the needles in the haystack. The needles being the sickest patients and the smaller that haystack can be, i.e. fewer people who have COVID-like illnesses, the easier it is for me to figure out who's truly sick from COVID.

So, those vaccines help us in many ways.

PAUL: OK, Dr. Darria, we talked a little bit about the younger age group here. But, is there a gauge of how many people have become critically ill or died who aren't compromised or aren't in that heightened group?

LONG: So, we don't -- there is not an official data set yet. We do know and anecdotally from talking to E.R. doctors, my colleagues nationwide, and my colleagues in the ICU, we are seeing, yes, the majority of people who get -- who died from this, the majority people who get critically ill often have some sort of comorbidity. Asthma may be potentially increased risk from obesity, but all of us are seeing people who are otherwise healthy. Fewer, but still, it exists. You're otherwise healthy getting severely ill from this.

So, again, this virus does not discriminate, unfortunately, against any age group or health class.

BLACKWELL: So, I receive this on Twitter, something that we all have to be concerned about. What's the best way to sanitize our phones?

LONG: Oh, our phones. I know those are probably one of things that pass the germs the most. So, what I'm doing -- I'll tell you what I'm doing and it's maybe not the best thing because I've heard that it may be bad for your screen, but I'm using those wipes -- disinfecting wipes that we know are active against the coronavirus. The EPA has a list of all the different disinfectants that are active against coronavirus.

I'm using that on my phone, it's best if you have one of those cases. That's impermeable and then you can just wipe the entire thing down. That's what I'm doing right now to make sure that I'm not spreading germs from one place to another.

PAUL: Dr. Darria Long, we so appreciate you taking so much time with us to answer these questions for our viewers. I mean that's what we want to make sure that they get the information that they're really looking for.

[07:50:05]

LONG: Absolutely. Thank you.

PAUL: Thank you so much, and listen, thank you for everything that you're doing in the E.R. and in the medical community. We're thinking of all of you.

LONG: Thank you, Christi. Have a good day. Bye, Christi. Bye, Victor.

BLACKWELL: Thank you, Doctor Long. And we have to thank the people who are working on the front lines of the outbreak.

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BLACKWELL: Every day, nurses and doctors and first responders are putting their lives on the line to treat thousands of sick people across this country. And all over America, they are people who are cheering them on. Watch.

In New York, people leaned out from their windows and stood on balconies to applaud these essential workers for two minutes. And this is -- this is Atlanta. Watch this.

We got a lot of people there. Listen, for a couple of nights this week, the people who live in these condo buildings stepped out, they cheered, they applauded, they sang to the doctors and nurses. This was during the shift change at Grady Hospital, which is, is nearby. Just a small gesture to say thank you to the people who are saving lives every day.

[07:55:06]

PAUL: We are cheering to make sure that they know we hope they're safe. Looking for ways to impact your community and help those affected by the coronavirus, I know you feel like you want to do something. Visit our web site at cnn.com/impact. We have some ideas for you there.

BLACKWELL: A sad news here. Civil rights icon, Reverend Joseph Lowery has passed away. He was known as the dean of the civil rights movement, he worked hand in hand with the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Reverend Jesse Jackson.

Lowery spent his life addressing injustices of the criminal justice system, fighting for gay rights and election reform. He said the work is not over.

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REV. JOSEPH LOWERY, FORMER HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST: And after 40 years -- almost 40 years, but it is very difficult and some instances because it's not as obvious, the discrimination is not as blatant. It's subtle one, and yet it's deadly. And we've got to continue to point it out and how America understand that everything has changed, but at the same time nothing has changed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: Reverend Joseph Lowery was 98 years old.

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