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Trump Extends Social Distancing Guidelines Until April 30; FDA Approves Emergency Use Of Anti-Malarial Drugs For Virus; Hot Spots Emerging Across U.S. As Cases Surge. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired March 30, 2020 - 10:00   ET




POPPY HARLOW, CNN HOST: Top of the morning, everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: And I'm Jim Sciutto.

Convinced finally by the data, the White House has now extended the country's shutdown at least through the end of April, far beyond the Easter reopening that the president had suggested just days ago.

HARLOW: It's happening after the top doctors on the coronavirus task force showed the president these numbers, numbers that indicate the modeling that more than 100,000 Americans could die from the coronavirus. Dr. Anthony Fauci predicted that the number could even be twice that, Jim.

SCIUTTO: That's the concern. And, remember, they're looking at models here, they're looking at the data, they're looking at the experience from countries. Here are the latest numbers. Identified cases have skyrocketed in the U.S. to 140,000. Nearly 2,500 Americans have died so far. 1,000 of them in what's proving to be the epicenter so far here in the U.S., that is New York, New York State.

Now, doctors are now trying anything they can to stop that number from growing. Today, the FDA has issued an emergency authorization for anti-malarial drugs allowing them to be used to treat hospitalized patients hit with coronavirus. Poppy, they're using whatever they can to try to save lives.

HARLOW: And here in New York, the epicenter of the pandemic in the United States, they are building field hospitals. This is -- look at that. You're seeing field hospitals, tents, essentially, set up in the middle of Central Park in the middle of Manhattan. Unbelievable to see valiant efforts there.

And in minutes, more backup beds in the Hudson River. That's right, the Navy hospital ship Comfort is scheduled to dock soon. We'll go live to Governor Cuomo when that happens.

SCIUTTO: These are live pictures of the Comfort sailing there, made for times of war is now coming to New York to help during a time of a pandemic.

Today, we're going inside one of the hospitals that's been overrun by this virus. We're going to take you along to the Brooklyn emergency room likened to a medical war zone. But to be clear, the impact of this virus is not just in New York, it's become a national problem.

HARLOW: 100 percent. There are these hot spots emerging all across the country. You see them there, big concerns about Louisiana, big concerns about Michigan. We'll get to that shortly.

But let's begin in New York. Our National Correspondent, Brynn Gingras, joins us again with the latest.

What are the numbers telling us, what are the doctors saying this morning?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Poppy and Jim, good morning. Listen, it is all hands on deck. That's what Governor Cuomo is essentially saying that has to happen here in New York. You almost get emotional looking at the Comfort coming into New York City's port with the red crosses and the American flag. And, hopefully, it does provide not only comfort to patients but also comfort for the people who are really on the frontlines, the firefighters, the EMS workers, the police officers, and, of course, the nurses and doctors.

More than a thousand deaths can be attributed to coronavirus in this state alone. It's a grim statistic but it is very much reality. We're seeing resources just being flooded to hospitals not only just in the city but across this entire state, and it's needed. And, in fact, it's needed so much that it might actually run out those resources by the end of the week, according to New York City's mayor.

We know just within the New York City hospital system, the E.R.s are double the capacity of what they typically are, the ICU units are three times larger than what they typically are. And you'll see more of that later in Miguel Marquez's piece. But it's busting at the -- bursting at the seams.

And we actually talked to one doctor who said that they need respiratory doctors, like they're shorthanded every which way you turn.

And we know, as you guys mentioned, that those beds are going up in Central Park, a place where kids usually play baseball. We're going to see hospital beds for coronavirus patients alone. The goal by the governor is to get these makeshift hospitals in every single borough of New York City.

And, really, quickly, I want to mention, guys, that what was first sort of just taking care of each other, the social distancing, well, now it's mandatory. In New York City, the mayor saying you could see as much as a $500 fine if you don't abide by the new rules.


Guys? HARLOW: Wow.

SCIUTTO: That's remarkable, a step a lot of cities have not yet taken, but it shows the seriousness of this. Brynn Gingras there in New York, thanks very much.

We're going to Louisiana now. This is becoming another focus of the outbreak. Governor John Bel Edwards there is warning that New Orleans could run out of ventilators by the end of this week, not a distant problem, this week. New Orleans is bracing for an onslaught of new patients in the coming weeks, converting the downtown convention center now into a makeshift hospital expected to hold 1,000 beds, this as CNN has learned that a 450-person Navy medical unit is preparing to deploy to New Orleans and Texas to help in the response.

Joining me now is Billy Nungesser. He's Louisiana's Lieutenant Governor.

Lieutenant Governor, thanks so much for taking the time this morning, and know you've got a lot on your plate there. John Bel Edwards, the governor, told ABC yesterday, cases expected to surge, overwhelm the state's healthcare facilities by the end of the first week of April. Can you give us your latest figure?

And I wonder given the limitations on testing, are you confident you now know how many cases are out there or at least a ballpark figure for the number of cases?

LT. GOV. BILLY NUNGESSER (R-LA): Well, we're at 3,440. We're third in the country, second in deaths in the country, and those numbers continue to go up. And they're a little -- every day, the more you test, the more numbers they're going up. And we still have people that are not heeding the warning. We had to close two state parks in Toledo Bend on the state line because it looked like fourth of July this past weekend with people coming to that lake from Texas.

So people are still not heeding the warning, and we're in serious -- it's a serious issue here with people still not staying home.

SCIUTTO: I want to ask you about the help you're getting from the federal government, because a lot of states, regardless of red or blue, they're saying they need more. The governor, the states, asked for 12,000 ventilators, has so far only received 192 from the national stockpile.

The president yesterday, he said -- he described his help, the government's help for Louisiana, as being very successful. I think he, the governor, is actually amazed at what he's been able to get. Has it been successful? Are you getting what you need to treat sick residents of the State of Louisiana?

NUNGESSER: Well, I think the ventilators, the answer is no. We run out, I think, April 4th or 5th is based on the people that are going on ventilators, so we absolutely need more. And that is a critical issue because you can't order them when you need them. They have to be in the hospital when those patients need to go on a

ventilator. You can't wait for them to be delivered. So I know we've requested many more than we have received, and hopefully those ventilators will show up soon.

SCIUTTO: As you know, the borders between states, I mean, really, pretty porous, people can drive back and forth. New Orleans -- well, the City of New Orleans, the State of Louisiana, has issued the stay- at-home order, your neighboring states have not. I wonder, does that hamper your efforts in Louisiana to try to control this?

NUNGESSER: Absolutely. When we talked about Toledo Bend this past weekend, we were very disappointed to see people there like it was the 4th of July. A lot drover over from Texas because all of the things on their side were closed. And then we've got a pastor here outside of Baton Rouge driving around, picking up people to go to church. Until people heed this warning, we're not going to get on top of this. And to see that happening when people are dying is pretty incredible.

SCIUTTO: Goodness, so sorry to see that.

A lot of issues here, and you hear it in New York State too, about requiring people to follow these stay-at-home orders. And there have been some concerns in New Orleans of some people not listening. Do you think it's necessary for police to start enforcing this issue, in fines, for instance?

NUNGESSER: I think you're going to have to. I know there was a second line in New Orleans and the people were looking for the organizers of that second line to arrest them. And I think any of these large gatherings that disobey the orders of the mayors, the governors, you're going to have to start enforcing it, because they're going to spread it to other people and we're not going to get on top of this until everybody listens to the order.

SCIUTTO: Listen, Lieutenant Governor, we wish you the best, we wish the people of Louisiana the best. Our hearts go out to you and we hope you're able to take care.

NUNGESSER: Well, we'll get through this working together if we all pull in the right direction. Thank you.

SCIUTTO: We will, no question.

HARLOW: Well, Pennsylvania's governor has asked for a major disaster declaration. It's the state's largest metro area, of course, that's Philadelphia, braces for surge of infections.


With me now is Philadelphia's commissioner of health, Thomas Farley. Commissioner, thank you for what you and your team are doing every day.


HARLOW: Good morning to you.

So let's begin there, because you are preparing for a great surge in Philadelphia. We just learned last hour right here in New York City, where you used to be health commissioner there, have now been 1,000 deaths in New York City for coronavirus. What have you learned for Philadelphia from watching what has played out here in New York?

FARLEY: Well, New York is only about 90 minutes away from us. It's easy to get there by train or by car. So we've been talking to colleagues in New York City. And their hospital is coming under strain. So we have a very strong social distancing order for the city and for the state to try to slow that wave and have to be as small as possible. And we're working with our hospitals to prepare for that wave to come here.

HARLOW: Well, do you think at this point, given what you've seen play out 90 minutes away from Philadelphia, that there should be a quarantine of the city, meaning people not allowed to drive from New York City, et cetera, from New Jersey into Philadelphia and vice versa?

FARLEY: You know, we have said that anybody who comes to Philadelphia from the New York City area should be quarantining for 14 days after they arrive here. That, I think, will help a little bit. I don't think there is any point in enforcing that because the virus is clearly in every neighborhood in Philadelphia already anyway.

HARLOW: So you don't think that at this point things like road blocks and fines, et cetera, are going to work?

FARLEY: No, that's not going to make a difference. Again, the virus is here everywhere, and we want everybody here to behave and stay at home, and a very strong stay-at-home order. And we're doing everything we can on that.

And to my observation, most people in Philadelphia are following the rule. It's too early to say whether it's making a difference, but I think we've got a strong rule in place. I'm hopeful that that will make difference.

HARLOW: Let me read you something that really struck us. This is from Columbia University Hospital, Dr. Anna Podolanczuk, who wrote yesterday. This was her day over the weekend taking care of patients, if he could pull up her tweet. She writes, today, I told the 28-year- old that he needs intubation. He was scared, couldn't breathe. I told the wife of a 47-year-old that he is dying over Facetime. I bronched a COVID-19 patient who mucous plugged. It saved his life, risked mine.

These are young patients. I mean, a 20-year-old needing to be intubated, a 47-yearold who is dying. Do you think -- are you concerned that there's not a full appreciation yet of how deadly this can be for people in their 20s, 30s and 40s?

FARLEY: Well, we have emphasized that most of the people who will have severe infection are going to be elderly. However, there are so many people who have this infection, still we have substantial number of younger people, some of who, maybe otherwise, perfectly healthy who can have a very serious disease. And so we've emphasized that hard. We have daily press conferences here and just continue to hammer home the message that everybody needs to stay home to protect everybody.

HARLOW: Yes. Everybody needs to stay home to protect everybody. Good luck to you guys there in Philadelphia. Thank you, Commissioner Farley.

FARLEY: Thank you very much.

SCIUTTO: It's great to get these views from on the ground across the country, Poppy. It just really helps folks see how consistent the situation is in communities around the country. We're going to continue to bring those to you on this broadcast

Right now, a cruise ship carrying at least two confirmed coronavirus patients is now making its way to Florida. Holland America's Zaandam ship crossed the Panama Canal this morning. Four people have died on this ship, another 189 suffering from flu-like symptoms.

HARLOW: In Miami, hospitals are worried about supply shortages, as the number of cases grow across the State of Florida. At least one nurse there has died.

Our Rosa Flores joins us this morning. There was so much concern, Rosa, just a week or so ago that those images of packed beaches. What is it like now across Florida?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Poppy, Miami is the epicenter for Florida. It is the city with the most cases of more than 800, and South Florida is the hot spot with more than 50 percent of the nearly 5,000 cases in the State of Florida in the counties of Miami-Dade and also Broward County.

As you said, we've been following the number of deaths. There are more than 50 in this state, including an ICU nurse in Miami and also a doctor in Broward. We're also following that ship that Jim just mentioned, the Zaandam. It just crossed the Panama Canal. It's going to take about three days before it gets to Florida. Four patients on board died. The cause of death has not been announced yet, but two other individuals have tested positive for COVID-19, and more than 190 have exhibited symptoms of the flu. So very intense moments, Poppy and Jim, on this ship.

And this ship is going to need permission before it docks. We're going to wait and see if that happens.

SCIUTTO: We know you'll stay on top of it, Rosa Flores. Thanks very much. Ships have been just such a focus of this.


HARLOW: I'm just stunned that they're still out there. I'm just stunned to see packed cruise ships still out there. I'm hoping for the best for them.

SCIUTTO: No question.

Still to come this hour, you're looking at another ship. This is the hospital ship, the USNS, the U.S. Navy Ship Comfort, as it makes its way live to New York City, to add much needed relief in the city's overwhelmed medical facilities amid the outbreak. This is a ship designed to be deployed during times of war. It's going to arrive just moments from now, and now being used to save lives in this pandemic.



HARLOW: In New York, which is the epicenter of coronavirus right now, hospitals are describing the chaos, some as medical war zone. Officials now say a thousand people, Jim, have died in New York from this alone.

SCIUTTO: Yes, and they haven't peaked.

Joining us now, Dr. Kent Sepkowitz. He's an infectious disease specialist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Doctor, we appreciate you taking the time this morning.

I want to ask you this, because New York is the epicenter in this country so far. For people who are watching at home and other parts of the country and might say, it hasn't come to community, I'm safe from this, , what do you say to them?

DR. KENT SEPKOWITZ, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: I say that, unfortunately, that's incorrect, and that's even wildly incorrect. As we have seen last week, Chicago, Detroit, New Orleans, Dallas, Miami, big cities, sort of the touristy cities have been hit.

But what's really emerging now are smaller cities. Shreveport, Louisiana has a problem that's not related to New Orleans. It's its own problem. It's five hours away from New Orleans. Albany, Georgia, 70,000 people, big outbreak, Jackson, Mississippi. So smaller cities are now being affected and that's going to leak out into the counties and the small towns.

So this is everywhere. And there is no denying it and hoping that it will go away will not work.

HARLOW: You know, you have said, Doctor, the notion that the book is written on how this is going to play out across the country is dangerous, and you just laid out why. My question to that is, what do you do in some of those areas?

We have a lot of hospitals here in New York City. And they don't have enough gear and they may not have enough ICU beds in a week, but we have a lot of hospitals and they're building more in Central Park. But what about rural America where it is easily a half hour or two-hour drive to the nearest hospital? They don't have big ICU units. What's going to happen to rural America? What's going to happen to Appalachia, for example? SEPKOWITZ: I think that's an excellent question. My concern right now, I've been looking at a few small outbreaks in little counties in Arkansas, for example, where the closest hospital is a 25-bed hospital without any ICU, without any specialists.

And this is going to cause a break in the way we do business healthcare-wise here. It works great for the 25-bed hospital to be able to ship the very sick up into Little Rock, Arkansas. And if Little Rock can't handle it, maybe they'll send it to Dallas.

So we depended upon staging our facilities. We can't do that now. So the 25-bed hospital in rural Arkansas is going to have to deal with it. They can't send it to Little Rock because Little Rock is going to be full. So the whole way we have built our healthcare system in rural America will not work, and this is a huge concern to me.


SCIUTTO: Goodness. Doctor, you're, of course, an infectious disease specialist. Can you help clear up something that I get a question so often from viewers, as well as family and friends. Are we learning as this outbreak progresses that it is dangerous beyond the elderly and people with underlying conditions? You see some cases, young people here and there, are those exceptions or is it showing that this has a broader threat?

SEPKOWITZ: I think that the confusion is about the rate of complication with the very elderly, which is quite high. The rate of complication with younger people is one-tenth of that with the elderly. But there are ten times more younger people.

So even a rate of complication in the 0.1, one in a thousand range, it turns out to be a real number, because thousands and tens of thousands of people in that age range have the infection and are going to get the infection. So even a low rate translates to a whole lot of people. So it's the rate that is interesting (ph).

HARLOW: Doctor, before you go, given all the work you do in oncology leading Memorial Sloan Kettering, what does this mean for cancer patients and their ability to get their chemo treatments?

SEPKOWITZ: Another great question. I think that every patient in America with a chronic condition, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, neurologic problems, are stuck right now.


Every hospital is having to individualize treatments, trying to weigh the risk of coming into the hospital for therapies versus the danger of contracting the COVID-19 virus. I would say it's a tremendous challenge. People are having to make the toughest decisions, delaying chemotherapy, delaying heart surgery, delaying a hip surgery because the risk and the benefit has to be recalibrated. So it's not just, alas, patients with COVID-19 themselves who are having health issues that are being exacerbated, it's anyone with a chronic condition in the United States. HARLOW: Dr. Kent Sepkowitz, thank you for the work that you're doing and please keep us posted, especially on those rural areas that we talked about. We'll try to keep a spotlight on that as well. Good luck.

SCIUTTO: No question. We're going to bring you around the country every day as we learn more about this.

But look look at this live picture from New York. That is the USNS naval ship Comfort arriving in New York City, a hospital built for times of war now helping in a time of a global pandemic.