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Dr. Fauci Says U.S. Could See Millions Of Coronavirus Cases And 100,000 Or More Deaths; New York Racetrack To Become Temporary Hospital Site; Private Plane Crashes Carrying Coronavirus Patient To Japan. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired March 29, 2020 - 15:00   ET

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


[15:00:35]

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Hello again, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

We begin with a startling new prediction from the nation's top Infectious Disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci warning that cases of the coronavirus could reach into the millions with hundreds of thousands of deaths possible.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Looking at what we're seeing now, you know, I would say between 100,000 and 200,000 cases, but I don't want to be held to that because it's -- excuse me -- deaths.

I mean, we're going to have millions of cases, but I just don't think that we really need to make a projection when it's such a moving target, that you can so easily be wrong and mislead people.

What we do know, Jake, is that we got a serious problem in New York. We have a serious problem in New Orleans, and we're going to be developing serious problems in other areas.

So though people like to model it, let's just look at the data of what we have, and not worry about these worst case and best case scenarios.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: New cases in the U.S. have risen sharply. There are now over 130,000 people infected. The number of deaths nearly doubling in just two days, now over 2,300 people.

President Trump has now approved disaster declarations for 20 states freeing up Federal funds to fight the virus. All of this as the White House Coronavirus Taskforce is reviewing new proposals that could lead to reopening some parts of the country. They will hold a briefing in just a couple of hours. We will of course bring that to you live as it happens.

Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi blasting the White House saying the administration's slow response at the onset of this outbreak was a deadly mistake.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Are you saying that his downplaying ultimately cost American lives?

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Yes, I am. I'm saying that because when he made -- the other day, when he was signing the bill, he said just think 20 days ago, everything was great. No, everything wasn't great.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: CNN is spread out across the country and the world for that matter to bring you the latest developments on the coronavirus pandemic.

Let's start with CNN's Jeremy Diamond at the White House. So Jeremy, what do we expect the Taskforce we'll be talking about today?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fredricka, those 15-day guidelines that the White House issued nearly two weeks ago to slow the spread of the coronavirus epidemic in the United States, those are coming to an end in just a matter of days and we know that the President and his Coronavirus Taskforce have begun considering whether or not they can begin to relax some of those guidelines, those social distancing guidelines for at least parts of the country.

And CNN has now learned according to a senior Federal health official that some Federal health experts have proposed some recommendations that could allow some schools and some businesses in parts of the country that have lower infection rates to begin to reopen.

But that is just something that the Federal government is currently considering that the Taskforce is reviewing as they look at all the latest data and evidence.

As that proposal works its way through the White House, we do know that Dr. Anthony Fauci this morning that was saying that look, he is in favor of beginning to look at certain parts of the country where you can relax guidelines, but he says that first, you need testing. You need to have eyeballs on the situation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FAUCI: If you release the restrictions before you have a good eyeball on what's going on there, you're going to get in trouble.

So I'm not against releasing the restrictions, I'm actually for it in an appropriate place. But I don't recommend that unless we have the tools in place in real time to do the things I just said. If we can do that, we can keep things contained, without slipping into the need of having to mitigate the way they are in New York, in New Orleans and other places now.

So it is doable, but it's only doable if you put the tools in place.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DIAMOND: The United States of course, has expanded testing over the last several weeks, but still lags several other countries like South Korea, for example, in terms of testing per capita and that is why we have seen some of these areas that seem to be among the lower risk areas with very few coronavirus cases suddenly become hotspots, places like New Orleans in Louisiana for example.

[15:05:00]

DIAMOND: And now officials are also looking at Miami, for example, as a potential new hotspot. So this is all a moving target, that the doctor -- as Dr. Fauci has said, but clearly the White House is looking at the data, it needs more data in order to make these decisions, and we're going to have to see what the President's tone is later today, as he addresses whether or not he is prepared to begin relaxing some of those guidelines.

WHITFIELD: And Jeremy, you're also learning more about how soon Americans might see some money from that $2 trillion stimulus package?

DIAMOND: That's right. The Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, this morning, right here at the White House was saying that it's going to take about three weeks for Americans to actually begin to see those $1,200.00 checks, a maximum of $1,200.00 dollars for individuals earning less than $75,000.00 a year. That is only if you actually have direct deposit already set up through your taxes with the Federal government.

Otherwise, there's going to be a web-based application for individuals to go ahead and get that money. The Treasury Secretary also urging businesses to begin rehiring workers because of some of this stimulus money -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Jeremy Diamond. Thank you so much. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says his state has identified additional sites to build makeshift hospitals, which include a horse racing track in Queens.

Cuomo also saying even though New York remains the epicenter of the outbreak, this state will make it through this crisis.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO, (D-NY): New York is going to have what it needs, and no one is going to attack New York unfairly and no one is going to deprive New York of what it needs. That's why I'm here. That's why we have a state full of very talented professional people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: CNN's Evan McMorris-Santoro is there. So Evan, what more are we learning about this, you know, hospital -- this new location?

EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, pivoting off of what Jeremy said, you know, no one is talking about reopening things in New York. This still remains the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, and the focus here is on trying to figure out ways to alleviate the potential problem down the road when the supposed apex of this disease may be hitting the next 14 to 21 days, possibly. Meaning, a lot more cases, a lot more hospitals.

So what's happening here behind me at the at the Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens is one of four new thousand bed field hospitals that have been set up by the Governor and by the Federal government to create bed space to alleviate the hospital system if a surge of COVID cases comes in -- that's the plan.

The governor mentioned, you know, as you played in that sound at the top of the piece here, the Governor talked earlier about sort of how things are going to be going here in New York. No one is going to stop him from getting what it needs. No one's going to tell New York, they can't, you know, have what it wants.

But the Governor also said in his press conference that he is struggling when trying to meet some of the basic needs of the medical equipment he needs to alleviate that apex when it comes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: We're still working to purchase equipment all across the globe. We have a whole team that's working seven days a week. Unfortunately, we're competing against every other state in the United States for these same things. So it's very hard, but we're making progress.

In terms of finding staff, that's going very well. The volunteerism of New Yorkers, God bless them, we are up to 76,000 healthcare workers who have volunteered -- 76,000.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: As the Governor mentioned, you know, New Yorkers are stepping up in trying to help out through this pandemic. What the governor and the state government here are trying to do is build up enough of a medical stockpile and enough things like hospital beds, that's the racetrack to be able to get ahead of this virus, to try to go on offense and not just standing on defense.

Those are the things -- that is the main focus here in New York. That's why there's a hospital here. It is why there's three other hospitals like this in other outer boroughs, and that's what the goal is moving forward here in New York -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right, Evan McMorris-Santoro. Thanks so much. All right on to Maryland now where one person is dead, dozens of others are sick with a coronavirus at a nursing home in Carroll County.

Sarah Westwood joining me right now. So Sarah, I understand, a total of 66 patients tested positive. What more can you tell us?

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That's right, Fred. Sixty- six residents of this nursing home have so far tested positive and more residents of the Pleasant View Nursing Home are still awaiting their test results as well as the number of symptomatic staff members at that nursing home.

Now, Maryland official said this morning that to contain the outbreak, they are not relocating anyone that has tested positive unless their symptoms are so serious that they need to be hospitalized.

And even then, they're spreading the number of hospitalized patients out across different hospitals around the area. They said that was to avoid overwhelming any one Maryland hospital.

[15:10:11]

WESTWOOD: So there are those 66 positive cases, 11 hospitalizations have taken place so far out of this nursing home. And unfortunately, we learned this morning that one man, a man in his 90s, with underlying conditions did pass away from the virus.

Now, this has been brought up in the context of discussions also about the Life Care Center outside of Seattle, Washington. That was really the first major cluster of cases that we saw in the U.S., dozens of people died as a result of that outbreak, and this appears to be the largest nursing home outbreak since what we saw at the Life Care Center.

So it's a very serious situation, especially given that the populations of nursing homes are more vulnerable. They're older. They tend to have medical conditions. So it's a much more serious situation for the people who become sick, and that's the point that Maryland officials tried to stress this morning. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ED SINGER, CARROLL COUNTY, MARYLAND HEALTH OFFICER: This is extremely serious because of the vulnerable nature. If somebody is in a nursing home, they're there for underlying medical conditions.

So we have 66 people with underlying medical conditions who are infected with this virus.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WESTWOOD: Now, Maryland officials said this morning that as a result of the outbreak, they're actually having some staffing issues at the nursing home.

One county health officials suggesting that some workers at the nursing home don't want to come into work because they're afraid of catching the virus. So they've even had to go to a temp agency to try to get workers, and this is all taking place against the backdrop of a spike of cases in the D.C., Maryland, Virginia area with Maryland officials pointing out that it took three weeks for this area to reach a thousand cases, but only three days for that number to double to 2,000 cases -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Sarah Westwood. Thank you so much. Coming up, tragedy in the Philippines, a plane crashes to the ground

and we just learned it was used as part of the country's coronavirus response.

Plus, a Convention Center in New Orleans being turned into a makeshift hospital. Is Mardi Gras being blamed for rise in cases there?

And then later, an unusual solution to the medical supply shortage. Doctors protecting themselves with snorkeling masks.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:16:32]

WHITFIELD: Japan is reporting its biggest daily jump in coronavirus cases so far, 194 new cases were confirmed on Saturday.

We're also learning that a plane crash in the Philippines that killed all eight people on board was bringing a coronavirus patient to Japan for treatment, and at least one American and one Canadian were on the plane.

Paula Newton is following the developments and what do we know about this flight -- Paula.

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's so tragic from the moment this airplane, Lion Air plane took off. It apparently exploded into a fireball and there were no survivors.

Again, the detail important here, Fred. Eight passengers -- pardon me, two passengers, six crew, but of that crew, there was a doctor, a medic and a nurse and many, many medical supplies as you were just saying.

It has not been confirmed exactly if it was the American or the Canadian that was sick with coronavirus and was heading to Japan for treatment.

Foreign Affairs here in Canada will only say to us that they confirmed a Canadian was on board and that they send out the condolences to the family and providing counselor services.

But again, such a tragedy when you think that this flight definitely was supposed to be bringing a person who was obviously ill with the coronavirus to Japan where they could actually have some better treatment.

In the Philippines, they are struggling to deal with their own lock down there and the coronavirus and it became very apparent according to the Philippine Red Cross that when they arrived on the scene that there was no hope for survivors and again, two crew, but also a nurse, a medic, a doctor, and of course the American and the Canadian all on board.

An investigation is pending. I want to point out this is not Lion Air, the big passenger company from Indonesia. This was a small carrier also called Lion Air. Still such a tragedy there at that Manila airport.

WHITFIELD: Yes, tragedy upon tragedy. My goodness. All right. Paula Newton, thank you so much from Ottawa.

Meanwhile, Spain is seeing its biggest single day increase of coronavirus deaths, 838 more fatalities there. That grim news is being offset by a sharp drop in infections.

But there remains a sense the country may be facing a growing crisis. Our Scott McLean is in Madrid, and how is it going there for you and for everyone else there -- Scott.

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Fredricka, the coronavirus in this country has killed more than 65,000 people that is a scary statistic. Here's another one. More than one in every seven confirmed cases in Spain are that of a health care worker who are in desperate short supply of protective materials, and while doctors and nurses tell us that the situation is improving, it is still far from ideal.

And so some doctors have now resorted to a pretty unusual Plan B.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MCLEAN (voice over): The coronavirus pandemic has turned the surgical mask into a hot commodity worldwide. For many Spanish hospitals, they are in desperately short supply.

A couple of doctors in Northern Spain watched colleagues in Madrid struggle with shortages and had an idea.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I had a mask, a Decathlon mask in my house and I thought that maybe I can do some kind of connection to use it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MCLEAN (voice over): Dr. Alfredo Redondo is a cardiologist invited to lead Spain. Dr. Ignacio Amat is his boss.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. IGNACIO AMAT, CHIEF CARDIOLOGIST, HCU VALLADOLID: As always, so many of us have brilliant ideas. These one I think it was a little bit crazy, but it was true that we were all very concerned. So we have to evaluate all the crazy ideas.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MCLEAN (voice over): Making it work took some engineering, replacing the snorkel with a common medical grade filter attached by a custom made tube 3D printed at the hospital.

[15:20:07]

MCLEAN (voice over): Each part can be sterilized and reused and the filters last five days.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AMAT: With this, you're absolutely protected. There is a complete sealing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MCLEAN (voice over): The mask doesn't have official approval from health authorities, but ICU staff are already using them in Valladolid.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCLEAN (on camera); I wonder what this tells you about the situation that your country is in?

AMAT: We are in a dramatic situation. I know the health authorities are doing as much as they can, but we need some solutions straightaway.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MCLEAN (voice over): That's because 15 percent of all confirmed cases in Spain are healthcare workers. One of the highest rates on Earth.

Some hospital staff in Madrid have had to make gowns out of garbage bags, and reuse single use masks. To aid the initiative, sporting chain Decathlon has now blocked public sales of the 25 euro mask. Plus --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AMAT: Many, many people from around is trying to send us their scuba masks from home.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MCLEAN (voice over): In Valladolid, the hospital is going all in on the EasyBreath. They've already bought a second 3D printer, and it's also catching on at other hospitals desperate for a solution to protect staff on the front line.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MCLEAN: So Fredricka, I have one of these masks before it's been converted into a hospital mask. You see the snorkel here, this comes off pretty easily, and then this is where they attach that special custom made piece that attaches to two filters that are usually used in hospital ventilators.

And so they're usually pretty well supplied in hospitals. Now, this is not certified by the Spanish health authorities, and so the doctors say, if you have the normal mask, obviously you should wear that first, but this is a pretty good workaround because it seals to your face completely and so you don't have the risk of infection of getting into your eyes or getting to your nose which sometimes mask don't completely cover.

In fact, Italian doctors are actually using the same type of mask to pump oxygen into patients similar to a CPAP mask. The doctors here in Spain say they're not looking at that just yet. That might be their next project, but for now they just want to keep their colleagues safe -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: Wow. Scott McLean, that's incredible. This, you know, kind of desperation is also provoking a lot of innovation. I appreciate it. Stay well there in Madrid.

Still ahead, police stopping and screening drivers entering Florida. We'll talk about the measures states are taking to try to protect its residents.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:26:57]

WHITFIELD: Several hospitals around the nation expect to run out of beds within just two weeks and volunteers are answering the call to address a dire shortage of medical supplies. CNN's Omar Jimenez joins me now from a protective equipment drive in Chicago, and also CNN's Paul Vercammen is joining us from Los Angeles where the US NS Mercy has already docked.

So Paul, you first, you know what is being done with Mercy to help alleviate some of the pressure on hospitals in the Los Angeles area?

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the Mercy's help will be in the future, Fred, that's when they start admitting patients. They have not yet, but they're prepared to do so.

Back on ground, the LA City Fire Department trying to help out by conducting COVID-19 testing, the fire department, and in fact, among other things, they're testing first responders, anyone over 65, who is vulnerable or vital workers such as Department of Water and Power, and now firefighters in LA before they even start their shift are having their temperatures taken.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARC ECKSTEIN, MEDICAL DIRECTOR, LAFD: We only have one of our responders get within six feet of the patient unless the patient is clearly unstable. The patient is handed a surgical mask to don as soon as possible, and we keep -- try to keep the other responders out of harm's way.

We also modified our dispatch questions to try to identify high risk patients.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VERCAMMEN: And now that they are in the department of COVID-19 testing, another concern for LA City firefighters are the homeless communities such as Skid Row and other poor neighborhoods. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ECKSTEIN: We have people living in very poor conditions. We have a lot of immigrants and undocumented people and a lot of people with health disparities.

So we have special testing we're setting up for the homeless. Under the mayor's leadership, we've been able to move a number of homeless individuals off the streets, into shelters and rec centers and RVs located at various locations throughout the city including some parking lots by city beaches.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VERCAMMEN: And as for those COVID-19 tests, the LA City Fire Department says it can get them back within 24 hours and so far thousands have been tested. Now back to you -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: Thanks so much, Paul. And so Omar to you, let's talk about the steps being taken there in the Chicago area, turning the basketball arena into a place of dispensing supplies.

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Fred. Basically, today, what's happening is a personal protective equipment drive. You can see kind of the setup behind me here. All of these boxes have various medical supplies that people have come and dropped off, that's masks to gloves. They literally drive up and then some of these volunteers and staff members help place them and then they'll then be put into trucks and taken to local healthcare providers where that's the reason this drive is even happening to begin with.

Now, this drive is a partnership between U.S. senators, Project Cure and the United Center, which is set to turn into a logistics hub for the Chicago land area to be a central location for medical supplies, food distribution and even first responder staging as well.

But when you talk about the availability of those medical supplies, it has been a real point of emphasis here in Illinois.

[15:30:10]

JIMENEZ: Governor J.B. Pritzker has said in multiple occasions, and in some cases, they are competing against other states and even the Federal government just to be able to get personal protective equipment.

They did partner with manufacturing and biotech industries here in the state and put it in order for 2.5 million N-95 masks and around a million surgical masks, and that is a partnership that is ongoing.

But the Governor here says it's going to be drives like this, it is going to be volunteer efforts, and also they are continuing to scour the global supply chain as well to keep up with what we have seen to be a rising number of cases daily -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: Thanks so much, Omar Jimenez and Paul Vercammen. Appreciate it.

So the White House Coronavirus Taskforce is now weighing proposals to draw back social distancing guidelines in some parts of the country as one of our nation's top medical experts warns that we could see more than 100,000 deaths.

Joining me right now to discuss Dr. Jennifer Lee, a CNN medical analyst, and the former Medical Director for the State of Virginia, and Gayle Smith, a former Obama administration official who helped lead the U.S. government international effort to combat the Ebola crisis in 2014.

Good to see both of you. Gayle, let me begin with you. You know, the House Speaker today said the President's delayed response to take the virus seriously cost lives. What are you hoping can be learned at this juncture to help either slow down the rate of increase or address the protective equipment shortages?

GAYLE SMITH, FORMER SENIOR DIRECTOR, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL: Well, you know, I think what we learned from the Ebola response was that we need to move quickly. Time is our friend in this and science and data need to be the guide absolutely.

On things like PPE, the single most important thing is to build a supply chain and it needs to be systemic, it needs to be organized, not just across the country, but the entire world is going through this pandemic -- so that there's a regular supply of equipment to our frontline workers who are health workers and we need to be able to deploy them at scale and in good health. So that's supply chain is absolutely vital.

WHITFIELD: So in your view, it's not too late to try to impose that because we've heard it from the President. He says it's up to the states.

But you think, at this juncture, a national plan could still come in, and perhaps the dispensing of equipment could be coordinated from the White House.

SMITH: Yes, well, look, I'm thinking about this in terms of the entire world. This is a global pandemic. So there are also other countries competing for the same goods on the market. And we need to be able to deploy the resources where they're needed, but also to track the virus because we're trying to control it all over the planet.

So yes, I think our experience again in Ebola was that consistent, well-organized systemic supply chain where one could count on what was coming through and health workers didn't need to worry about that is one of the single most important things we can do.

WHITFIELD: Dr. Lee, Florida Governor Ron deSantis is hoping to stop coronavirus from spreading, by stopping and screening travelers entering that state. Would you recommend a measure like this? Might it provoke, you know, effective results to help slow down the spread? DR. JENNIFER LEE, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Well, Fred, I think we need

more testing, but we need more testing everywhere. You know, testing, as we all know, has been in really short supply and has been slow.

In the coming weeks as our testing capacity and our speed begins to grow, we need to -- I'd like to see us be able to open up the testing criteria.

You know, right now very appropriately, we are prioritizing testing for those who are the sickest and those who have both symptoms and exposure, but as we get more testing, we need to -- I would like to see us test more people who have either symptoms or a high risk exposure.

Also, I'd like to see a place where all the data comes together, all of the public and the private data on the testing, our testing capacity, our testing results.

I don't think that we can change anything we're doing with social distancing until we have evidence of what the virus is doing. And, you know, lastly, with testing, another important piece of this is what do you do with the test results when you get them?

You know, if someone is positive, they have to be quarantined, and you need to trace all their contacts. Who is going to do all of that?

We don't have enough public health staffing right now at the state or local level. We need to be creative. We need to look at what countries like South Korea did.

You know, can we, with the permission of the American people use digital and high tech solutions to do contact tracing, using phones, your credit card history. I think we need to look at that and also can we look at the workforce like the military, you know, military medics and corpsman, there are thousands of them who are well trained and dedicated and may be able to help us with things like contact tracing.

[15:35:10]

WHITFIELD: So Dr. Lee, President Trump and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo have had lots of conversations, they don't necessarily see eye to eye on all things ventilators.

The Governor says his state needs 30,000, a number the President, you know has questioned. Listen to what Dr. Anthony Fauci told our Jake Tapper about this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FAUCI: You know, there's a lot of different calculations. I mean, in my experience, I tend to believe Governor Cuomo. I mean, there are some that say there are ventilators that are there in a certain place that's accessible. We just need to connect the dots to get them accessible.

So there are two issues here. Are there ventilators there that you can use, that you need better accessibility to? And if so, get them, if not, then give them to him. One way or the other, he needs the ventilators that he needs and hopefully we will get him the ventilators that he needs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: And Dr. Lee, how do you see it?

LEE: Well, I think the issue with ventilators is similar to the issue that we have with PPE. One, we don't know how many we really have across the country and how many we can get. What is the supply side of that? The same thing with PPE. How much do we really have available right now?

Second, what's the demand? What's the need? We have projections, but those will change as we get more data, as we learn more about the curve of cases across the country.

Do I think we're going to need more than we have? Yes. But that need is going to vary depending on where the virus is hitting the hardest and over time, so we need the data.

WHITFIELD: Okay. And then Gayle, okay, and then quickly, you know, given your experience in the Obama administration, dealing with Ebola in terms of preparation, and even response, what kind of advice would you want to give this administration right now? What it can do now to prepare for what could be a continued surge and response to the numbers that are already increasing overnight?

SMITH: Yes, I'd say a couple things. I'd say rely on the facts and the science and communicate that, number one. Number two, think of this as a military exercise. We need a systemic response across the board. We can't do it with piecemeal operations. We've got smart people in this country who can help pull that together.

But third thing about this in the global context, because we've got to solve it here. But we've got to be part of solving it all over the world. So those are the three things I would strongly urge.

WHITFIELD: All right. Excellent. Thank you so much, ladies. Gayle Smith and Dr. Jennifer Lee, really appreciate your time. Both of you, be safe, be well.

SMITH: Thank you so much.

WHITFIELD: Still ahead. They're on the front lines of the danger every day. Now, police and firefighters in New York City are getting hit hard by coronavirus. The staggering statistics, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:42:14]

WHITFIELD: The coronavirus outbreak is hitting those on the frontlines of the battle in New York especially hard. The New York Fire Department just announced that more than 230 members of its ranks have tested positive.

This coming as a third member of the New York Police Department has died from the virus. An emotional moment played out on the streets of New York when members of the NYPD stood in the rain and saluted as the van carrying the officer's body away.

Detective Cedric Dixon, a 23-year member of the force became the first NYPD detective to die from coronavirus. Around 700 members of the New York Police Department have also tested positive.

CNN crime and justice correspondent, Shimon Prokupecz joining me now. So Shimon, you know, how are these two departments now fire and police dealing with all of this?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: I mean they're going forward, right. I mean, they have calls to respond to. They have help that they need to give to people. The police department continues to respond to reports of crime despite the streets being empty and most people at home, there are still crime and the fire department says they're seeing record number of calls for help.

That is for ambulances, people reporting that they're sick -- that they're sick. Some 6000 calls each day this past week. It's a record number for them. Of course, as you said, 730 police officers, uniformed members of the NYPD. There are also civilian members, in total 826 people inside the NYPD who have contracted this virus.

The governor today, the New York governor, Governor Cuomo speaking about this thanking the heroes who are on the front line and here's what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Everyone is afraid. You think these police officers are not afraid to leave their house? You think these nurses are not afraid to go into the hospital? They're afraid.

But something is more important than their fear, which is their passion, their commitment for public service and helping others. That's all it is. It's just their passion and belief in helping others and that overcomes their fear.

And that makes them in my book, just truly amazing, outstanding human beings.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PROKUPECZ: And one of the things, Fred, that the NYPD is doing is that they're looking at their members, the members who have any kind of underlying conditions, who don't want to report to work or rather work at home. They're telling them that that's a possibility. They're working on that.

If they have any issues that they should report to their commanding officers, their supervisors and they will likely get to stay home.

Of course everyone is dealing with this. The NYPD, the Fire Department, so many people on the front lines here -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: Yes, so many having to make some big adjustments, you know and be very nervous about what's around the corner.

Shimon Prokupecz, thanks so much.

[15:45:12]

WHITFIELD: We'll have more on coronavirus in a moment, but first, investors are bracing for yet another wild week on Wall Street. CNN Chief Business correspondent, Christine Romans has more.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Wall Street is bracing for some of the ugliest economic data in decades. We got a taste last week, more than three million Americans filed for first time jobless claims nearly five times the previous record set in 1982.

This week, readings on consumer confidence and manufacturing are due, so is the March jobs report. That report probably won't reflect the worst of the layoffs because when the Labor Department conducts its survey. But initial jobless claims are likely to be staggering again this week.

Meantime, investors are still trying to figure out when the economy can reopen. Despite efforts by central banks and governments, there is still so much uncertainty and that's likely to keep pressuring the stock market.

Analysts say until it looks like the spread of the virus is under control, you won't see a sustained stock market rally.

In New York, I'm Christine Romans.

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WHITFIELD: As the deaths from coronavirus continue to escalate, the President tweeted today about the television ratings of his White House briefings. CNN chief media correspondent Brian Stelter with us now. So, Brian, how does one digest that?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: He is celebrating what he says is the popularity of the daily briefings that have been broadcast from the White House.

Sometimes he comes out, treats them like rallies, make misstatements actually cleaned up by his doctors.

But these daily briefings have been a lifeline for the American people. And of course, people have been tuning in by the millions.

The President read an article in "The New York Times" about those ratings and then has spent a good portion of the afternoon, Fred celebrating and touting his ratings on Twitter, the way he would do 10 years ago whenever he would send me articles.

When I worked at "The New York Times," he would send me stories about how popular he was and how high his ratings were. Usually exaggerated, but that's what he would do 10 years ago for "The Apprentice."

The fact that he is still doing it today is disgusting. We are talking about a pandemic here on CNN. The President is on Twitter talking about the ratings for his briefings.

People are dying and the President is talking about his ratings. It's beneath any human being.

And, Fred, I think -- and I don't say this lightly -- I think it's the surest sign that there needs to be some sort of intervention, whether that's with Leader McConnell, whether that's the with Members of the Cabinet, who can give the President good advice about getting back on message, whether that's family members or aides, like Hope Hicks and Kellyanne Conway who know better than this.

They all have a position of responsibility to get him back on track, to get him away from talking about ratings you know, because, I get it, Fred, he is trying to pick a fight with the media, right? The President loves to pick a fight with the media.

He could instead pick a fight with hoarders and price gougers and people that are gathering in large groups, but instead, he is focusing on the media. And that's all well and good most of the time, but it's disgusting in the middle of the crisis.

WHITFIELD: At the same time, it seems as though the President is seeing dual purpose in these briefings. One to say or underscore what the Taskforce is doing. But then at the same time, remember, he got a lot of heat about wanting to continue with his rallies, even though the edict was out, you know, social distancing was imperative, and then he backpedaled off the rallies. This is serving as a replacement of that.

So the President, you know, in this reelection year, the President appears as though is using this to help him in his reelection.

STELTER: Yes. Using these briefings as a stage for the Trump Show, a recreation of the rallies. In fact, "The New York Times" reporting that the campaign is thinking about how to bring the rallies back in some new form in the future, but for now, it is the briefings.

Okay, I think all Americans benefit from televised briefings with experts, with health and medical and science experts at the podium. What we don't benefit from is misinformation and smears and distractions from the podium, and what nobody benefits from are tweets and backslaps about ratings and about his own popularity.

Think about the folks that are in hospitals right now. How do they possibly benefit from him tweeting about negative Harry and Meghan are about ratings? I really hope there are folks in the White House who can help get him back on track. WHITFIELD: All right, well, if that realization hadn't happened

already, it seems like that realization may not necessarily happen at all. Brian Stelter --

STELTER: You're right. You're right. Thanks.

WHITFIELD: Okay. Thank you so much. I'm Fredricka Whitfield, thank you so much for being with us this weekend.

A special edition of "The Situation Room" is next. Wolf Blitzer will be interviewing Senator Amy Klobuchar about the coronavirus and her husband's recovery from the disease.

[15:55:03]

WHITFIELD: And we'll go live to the White House for that briefing from the Coronavirus Taskforce.

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ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: We want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world.

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