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U.S Coronavirus Deaths Near 2,500, Almost Half In New York; CNN Goes Inside A New York City Hospital That's Now A Medical War Zone; Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) Holds News Conference As Deaths Rise. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired March 30, 2020 - 13:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Anderson Cooper. This is CNN's continuing coverage with the global coronavirus pandemic. You can see the growing number of people who have lost their lives on the right of your screen, more than 143,000 cases and more than 2,400 deaths in the United State thus far.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the leading voice in the pandemic, again, warning that it could get much, much worse before it gets better.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: And we felt that if prematurely pull back, we would only form an acceleration or a rebound of something, which would have put you behind where you were before. And that's the reason why we argued strongly with the president that he would not withdraw those guidelines after 15 days, that they had to extend them. And he did listen.

So would not be surprised. I don't want to see it. I'd like to avoid it. But I wouldn't be surprise if we saw 100,000 deaths.


COOPER: Well, there's some movement on the treatment front. The FDA has given an emergency approval for the use of a malaria drug as a treatment option for coronavirus, though there's no guarantee it will work. Other drugs are being tested right now as well. French researchers expect their first test results by the end of this week. And Johnson and Johnsons says they could have a vaccine ready for human trials by September.

We're expecting to hear from the New York's governor, Andrew Cuomo, any moment. We'll bring that press conference to you.

Maryland's governor has now issued a stay-at-home order for his state. Arizona has closed schools for the rest of the year. And Texas now says anyone coming into the state from these areas must self- quarantine for 14 days, California, Louisiana, Washington, Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit and Miami. New York needs help as they deal with critical shortages of medical equipment. New York City's mayor, Bill de Blasio, is saying that the federal government has come through for the most part so far but also saying that they can't stop now.


MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK CITY: This is an entirely different reality than this country has faced before. This is battlefield medicine, a huge number of cases, life and death decisions all the time. We need what we need to keep going.

This is going to be day-to-day, week-to-week. I need results constantly to be able to make sure we can save the lives that can be saved in this city.

I've got no new assurances. I am going to keep demanding them. And I put that in marker. Sunday is D-Day, we need help by Sunday.


COOPER: Well, other headlines out of New York City, the hospital ship, the Comfort, arriving now. That's around 1,000 extra hospital beds. A field of hospital is set to open tomorrow in New York Central Park. And the New York Police Department, first responders are being especially hit hard right now. 13 percent of the New York Police Department force is out sick.

I want to bring in our Shimon Prokupecz. We expect to hear, as I said, from Governor Andrew Cuomo at any moment. I might have to interrupt you, Shimon.

Earlier, the mayor welcomed the Comfort ship. What does that going to mean to the efforts here?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's going to be a huge relief for the doctors and the nurses who are operating all across New York City, various hospitals where we keep on hearing stories are inundated with patients suffering from COVID, from the coronavirus. And not only are they suffering from it, they're, in many cases, in critical -- they're in critical condition, needing ventilators and all of the equipment that goes with the ventilators. This is what the hospitals are now dealing with.

So the Comfort is here as well as the Javits Center here behind me. These are going to be served as relief facilities, hospitals for other patients, patients that are not suffering from the coronavirus. Those patients will be brought to the facilities like the one behind me here at the Javits Center and then, of course, the Comfort. It's going to be an enormous relief for a lot of the doctors and the nurses and, really, the medical teams that are working so hard to try and save a lot of lives.

We keep on hearing stories, Anderson, you keep hearing stories. I keep hearing stories from doctors and nurses who are dealing with so much right now. And any kind of relief that anyone can offer for them, they will take. And facilities, like this behind me, and, of course, the ship, the Comfort, and all of that is to help and bring some relief to some of these hospitals, Anderson.

COOPER: Shimon, I'm wondering the New York Police Department, as we said, with the high number of people who are out sick, is there any plan for that? I mean, if that increases, obviously, there would be concerns about just order in the city and the job that the police have to do.

PROKUPECZ: There's a lot of concern, and they're trying to figure out internally what to do and how best to address it. There are 5,000 members of the NYPD today that are out sick. That's about 13 percent of the police department. They are now dealing with members of the NYPD over 900 who are suffering from coronavirus. They have lost a detective. They were losing civilians. Two more civilians today, we were told, died as a result of coronavirus.


One of the things they are doing, Anderson, at the NYPD, is that if there is an opportunity, if there is a way to keep some of these officers, some of these members off the streets because they may have underlying conditions, they're going to allow that. They're telling officers, they're telling the employees at the NYPD, let your bosses know and we will try and figure out a way how to get you off the streets so that you can stay home.

They are concerned with officers and members of NYPD, the staff who have underlying conditions. So as a result, they're trying to first address that and hope that perhaps they can try to somehow prevent any more fatalities, any more deaths.

The issues with a lot of these officers, as you know, is that they live in the community. Some of them, whether live within the five boroughs of New York City or they live in Long Island or parts of Westchester, they go home, they go back to their community. And, obviously, in many cases, that is how they are contracting the virus.

It's a big problem for the NYPD, which is still trying to fight crime across the city and still trying to respond to people who are calling 911, record number of 911 calls every day from people in the city asking for help and from the fire department, from the police officers, they are dealing with that and they are still responding to those calls to try and offer the help that people here are going to need. And keep in mind, Anderson, it's only going to get worse in the days to come.

COOPER: Yes. It's extraordinary how empty New York City is. I bike to the office every day and, I mean, I've lived here my entire life, I have never seen it like this biking to work today. There was actually a school crossing guard, an elderly man who was wearing his school crossing guard uniform out on the street sort of directing traffic not because anybody told him to, he just is something he's just doing voluntarily. I just thought it was sort of one of those New York moments when people pitching in to try to help. PROKUPECZ: It is. And also people are trying to find something to do, something to do with their daily lives, if they can be outside to try and help, as you said.

I've lived here my whole life as well. I was here through 9/11. When I was standing before the ship as the Comfort was pulling in, I got a little emotional, because in so many ways, it brought me back to that day, to 9/11, the way the city was. It's very different this time. Because after 9/11, we were able to go outside, we were able to be with people, we were able to be comforted even though there was a lot of uncertainty in the days following 9/11. But you were able -- you could be with people. You can't be with people now. And that is one of the most difficult parts, I think, in all of this, certainly for people that live in this city.

The other thing that's really striking, as you say, as you go around the city, we're used to hearing horns honking, we're used to hearing ambulances, we're used to hearing people just people walking on the street, cars driving. There is none of that. And it really is striking. Each day that goes by, it becomes a little more strange and weirder in some ways. But it's difficult but it is the reality that right now we're all living with in this city certainly, Anderson.

COOPER: Shimon Prokupecz, I appreciate it.

The New York governor called the coronavirus pandemic and all hands on deck situation and its public and private hospitals that is especially true for one facility in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Brownsville, home to mostly African-Americans and Latino residents. Doctors there describe a medical war zone.

CNN's National Correspondent Miguel Marquez takes us inside in this exclusive report.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Every quarter, every corner, every ward, every inch of Brookdale Hospital Medical Center in Brooklyn now inundated with those suffering from COVID-19.

What are you looking at on a daily basis? How difficult is this?

DR. ARABIA MOLLETTE, E.R. DOCTOR, BROOKDALE HOSPITAL: Well, this is war zone. It's a medical war zone. Every day I come in, what I see on a daily basis is pain, despair, suffering and healthcare disparities.

MARQUEZ: Through Sunday afternoon, Brookdale said it had at least 100 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with nearly 80 awaiting confirmation. More than 20 people have died so far from the disease. On top of its normal emergency flow, coronavirus is pushing the hospital to the max.

MOLLETTE: We are scared too. We're fighting for your lives and we're fighting for our own lives. We are trying to keep our head above water and not drown.

MARQUEZ: Doctors, nurses, even those keeping the floors clean, they see a rising tide, uncertain how long it will rise, unsure this coronavirus won't sicken them as they struggle to stay a step ahead.

What do you need right now?

MOLLETTE: We need prayers. We need support. We need gowns. We need gloves. We need masks. We need more vents.


We need more medical space. We need psychosocial support as well. It's not easy coming here when you know what you're getting ready to face.

MARQUEZ: The deaths here keep coming while filming another victim of COVID-19 was moved to the hospital's temporary morgue, a refrigerated semi-trailer parked out back. The hospital's regular morgue filled to capacity.

How much room do you have in your morgue?

KHARI EDWARDS, VICE PRESIDENT OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS, BROOKDALE HOSPITAL: Usually, we have around 20-plus bodies that we can cover comfortably.

MARQUEZ: And you have gone over that.

EDWARDS: Gone over that. And they've -- the state has been gracious enough to bring us apparatus to help keep families and keep the bodies in comfortable areas because we didn't want bodies piled on top of each other.

MARQUEZ: Brookdale needs more of everything today. Edwards said, the hospital has 370 beds. They would like to add more, many more.

Two weeks ago, this was the pediatric emergency room. Now, it's dedicated to victims of COVID-19. Plastic tarp taped to the ceiling offering some protection and a bit of privacy.

The intensive care unit filled to nearly capacity and sealed, so fewer doors and less traffic than usual comes and goes. This window is the only place as family members can watch their loved inside the unit as they chat with them via cell phone. It's sometimes as close as they can get as COVID-19 takes another life.

As grim as it is right now. Dr. Mollette expects it will get worse.

MOLLETTE: It can end in the fall. It can end at the end of the year. But this is why we're begging everyone not just to only put that pressure on the emergency department but also put everybody to help us to help them by staying at home.

MARQUEZ: You think we're in it for the long haul? This is months, not weeks?

MOLLETTE: Definitely.

MARQUEZ: Another worrisome thing she is seeing coming through doors, not just the elderly and those with compromised immune systems. MOLLETTE: I work at two hospitals. So I work here in Brooklyn and then I work at another hospital in the Bronx, and it's the same thing. In the South Bronx, it's the same thing. I've had patients that were in their 30s and they are now intubated and they're really sick. I've had patients that are well --

MARQUEZ: No underlying conditions?

MOLLETTE: No underlying conditions. So the thing is about between life and death, as far as this coronavirus, is that this virus, there is no difference, it has nothing to do with age, it has nothing to do with lack of access to healthcare, it has nothing to do with see socioeconomics, race or ethnicity. This virus is killing a lot of people.

MARQUEZ: Brookdale has one advantage. Hospital officials say it can do rapid testing for coronavirus on-site. It's own lab right now, up to 300 tests a day. They hope to get 500 a day.

ANDREI LEGOUN, LAB TECHNICIAN, BROOKDALE HOSPITAL: And right now, we have about 52 specimens in here about to -- that we are preparing to test at the moment.

MARQUEZ: The hospital following Centers for Disease Control guidelines on who gets coveted tests. Patients admitted for possible coronavirus, healthcare workers showing symptoms and symptomatic long-term patients, each test, a laborious and time-consuming process.

LEGOUN: It's very easy to make a mistake, very easy. Just from an extra millimeter of reagent adding it to the machine can mess up the entire -- all the batch -- entire batch. All (INAUDIBLE), we will have to start all over from beginning.

MARQUEZ: E.R. doctors are used to stress. Dr. Molette says she has never experienced anything like this.

MOLLETTE: Yes, I don't really sleep that well at night. I'm worried about my family. I worry about my safety. I worry about my colleagues. I worry about how the shift is going to be the next time I come. I worry about if a family member is going to come and be a patient as well or fall victims to the coronavirus. I worry about a lot of things.

MARQUEZ: The disease, a marathon that healthcare workers alone cannot win or even finish.

MOLLETTE: It's not up to, just only to the emergency department to pull through and then make sure the curve is flattened. This is a responsibility for everybody in the country to help us pull through.

MARQUEZ: So, stay the F home.

MOLLETTE: Exactly.

MARQUEZ: Is that literally -- I mean, how -- MOLLETTE: No, stay the F home, exactly. Because it's not just us that has to help flatten the curve and take care of everybody. Help us, help you.

MARQUEZ: She says it will take everyone pulling together. The worse days she fears are still ahead.


COOPER: And Miguel Marquez joins us now.

It's extraordinary to see inside that hospital. It's difficult to get inside a hospital, but I'm so glad you did. Just seeing all those patients in the hallways, it's like that everyday now?

MARQUEZ: If you needed any more evidence about how bad this is and how bad it's going to get, the hallways in that hospital were as sobering a message as I have ever seen.


It did strike me even though I consume everything about this and I am a news junkie. We are in the first inning.

And talking to that E.R. doctor is very clear that this is going to be a very, very long game. Anderson?

COOPER: And Brookdale is one of the few hospitals serving historically an underserved community. It's -- you know, just what these doctors are going through every day, it is extraordinary.

As you said, this is early innings and I think that's one of the kind of the sobering things. We heard Dr. Fauci saying he wouldn't be surprised by 100,000 deaths. He's said anywhere to 100,000 to 200,000. This is going to go on for some time.

MARQUEZ: It's going to go on and on and they're already running short on supplies. I mean, we were dressed in full PPE or protective gear with the Tyvec suits, the proper white hooded suit (INAUDIBLE) and boots and gloves, double gloves, they look at us like we were from another planet. We want that stuff. That's the stuff that we should for this.

Doctor that I was talking to there, she was in a surgical gown. It's made of paper. And she has to get rid of it every day. They're rationing masks. They have thousands of workers there. The people who clean the floors and into the trash cans, they help keep that hospital running as well. They need gears as well. So you can see how quickly it multiples and how much gear they actually need. Anderson?

COOPER: Yes. Miguel Marquez, thanks for doing that. Be careful.

I want to listen in to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in a news conference that he is just starting to hold.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): -- have been volunteering to help us here. Michael Israel, President and CEO of Westchester Medical Center Network, and Deanne Crisswell, Commissioner of New York City Emergency Management Department.

Let me thank them all very much for being here. We just had a great meeting, which I will refer to in a moment. Let me wish everyone happy national doctors day. And this is a day that doctors are truly busy and truly stepping up to their oath and their passion and literally saving lives. So we honor all the doctors in the the State of New York today.

Let me also thank the people from the Javits Center, Alan Steel, who is the director here. Javit Center has done many magnificent exhibitions and transformations and they never cease to amaze me. But this a transformation that I would think anyone could ever anticipate, 2,500 beds as an emergency hospital. it is a partnership between the state and the federal government. And I want thank the federal government very much for what they have done. The Army Corps of Engineers did a fantastic job and getting in here getting everything set up as quickly as possibly.

It will become operational today receiving the first few patients. And we'll start to run the facility and then we'll take it from there.

Let me go through a couple of facts to give you an update on where we are today and then we'll take your questions.

In terms of the number of cases, you see the curve continue to go up, 71.95. You see the number of people tested continues to go up. This state is testing more people than any state in the United States, more per capita in China and South Korea. That is a good thing. We want to test and find the positives and we want to find the positives so we can isolate, stop the transmission.

We tested 14,000 people yesterday. The number of cases continues to go up, 69.84. The total number of cases is 66,000 cases. And those numbers are daunting, to be sure.

You see, it's continuing to move across the State of New York. There is only one county now that does not have a COVID case. Anyone who says the situation in New York City only situation is in a state of denial. You see this virus move across the state. You see the virus move across this nation. And there is no American immune from this virus.

I don't care if you live in Kansas. I don't care if you live in Texas. There is no American that is immune. What is happening to New York is not anomaly. There is nothing about that's a New Yorker's immune system that is any different than any other American's immune system. So in many ways, New York is just a canary in the coal mine. What you see us going through here, you will see happening all across this country.


So part of what we are doing here is not only serving New Yorkers but we believe that we are dealing with this pandemic at a level of intensity and density that no one has seen before. And, hopefully, we'll learn lessons here that we can then share with people across this nation.

In terms of the overall numbers, 66,000 tested positive, 9,500 people are currently hospitalized, 2,000 ICU patients, 4,000 patients are discharge. That's an increase of 632. You don't often focus on this line when we have these conversations. But people go into the hospital and people leave the hospital. And that's important to remember.

We've dealt with some really deadly viruses before. We dealt with the Ebola virus. That's not what this is. Most people will get sick, most people get sick and stay home and have some symptoms, as 80 percent. About 20 percent will get sick, need hospitalization, they'll feel better and they'll leave. It tends to be those people who are acutely ill, have an underlying illness who have the most problems.

Most impacted states, New York, you see at 66,000, New Jersey is next to 13,000 and California is 6,000. So we have ten times the problem that California is dealing with, 2,739 deaths in the State of New York, a total of 148,000 cases, 2,739 deaths. That's a lot of loss, it's a lot of pain, that's a lot of tears, that's a lot of grief that people across the state are feeling.

1,200 is up from 965 deaths. Yesterday, what you are seeing is people who have been on ventilators for a long period of time, the longer you are on the ventilator, the less likely you will ever come off that ventilator. And as we have now some period of time when people first enter the hospital and were first intubated, we're seeing that death number go up as the length of time under ventilator increases.

To keep it in perspective, the John Hopkins numbers are still instructive. We've been studying this since China, so 732 deaths, 34,000 worldwide.

Total hospitalize, we are still looking for a pattern on these cases that are coming in. We're still looking for a pattern in the data. The number goes up and the number goes down. There is no doubt that the number is still increasing. There is also no doubt that the race has slowed.

We had a doubling of cases every two days, then a doubling every three days, then a doubling every four days and every five. We now have a doubling of cases every six days. So while the overall number is going up, the rate of doubling is actually down.

The daily intubation rate is way up. Again, sometimes it's just an anomaly. There is no clear pattern, as you can see from those past several nights.

Discharge, again, that, by and large, is going up. People come into the hospital, they stay for a period of time, number of days and then they move on.

But the big picture is the situation is painfully clear now. There is no question what we are dealing with. There is no question as to the consequences. There is no question as to the grief and the loss of life. And there is no question about what we must do.

There are only two missions. There are only two operations that we need to perform. First, the public has to be responsible. Stay-at- home. When I issue the stay-at-home order, it wasn't -- it would be nice if you did. It is a mandate. Stay at home. If you are a non- essential worker, stay at home. If you leave the house, you are exposing yourself to danger. If you leave the house, you are exposing others to danger.


You can get infected, go home and infect whoever is at home. So stay at home.

I know the isolation can be boring and oppressive. It is better than the alternative. Life is options, right? Stay at home. That's the best option.

If you are out, no proximity, six feet distancing. You don't want proximity to other people and you want to stay away from places that are dense. Still, in New York City, you have too many places with too much density. I mean, I don't know how many different ways to make the same point. New York City parks, we made the point there is too much density. You want to go to a park, go to the park but not in a dense area, not in playgrounds where you are playing basketball with other people.

And I have said that New York City is trying to reduce the density in those playgrounds. Thus far, they have not been successful. If that continues, we'll take a mandatory action to close down playgrounds, as harsh as that sounds, but it can actually save people's lives. So that's mission one.

Mission two, and this is going to be more and more clear as we go on, the frontline battle is in the healthcare system. The frontline battle is going to be hospitals across the city, across the state and across this nation. That is where this battle is fought. It's that simple.

You know exactly where it's coming. You know exactly where the enemy is going to attack. They're going to infect a large number of people. That number of people descend on the healthcare system. The healthcare system can't deal with that number of people. You overwhelm the healthcare system. That is what's happening.

So first step was flatten the curve, reduce the density, keep people home. We have done everything that we can possibly do there. Second step is don't let the hospital system get overwhelmed.

The soldiers in this fight are our healthcare professionals. It's the doctors, it's the nurses, it's the people who are working in the hospitals. It's the aids. They are the soldiers who are fighting this battle for us.

You know the expression, save our troops, troops, quote, unquote. In this battle, the troops are healthcare professionals. Those are the troops who are fighting this battle for us. We need to recruit more healthcare workers. We need to share healthcare professionals within this state and within this country.

As governor of New York, I am asking healthcare professionals across the country, if you don't have a healthcare crisis in your community, please come help us in New York now. We need relief, we need relief for nurses who are working 12 hours shifts, one after the other after the other. We need relief for doctors. We need relief for attendants. So if you are not busy, come help us please. And we will return the favor. We will return the favor.

New York, yes, we have it now intensely. There would be a curve. New York, at one point, will be on the other side of the curve and then there will be an intense issue somewhere else in the nation. And the New York way is to be helpful.

So help New York, we are the ones who are hit now. That's today. But tomorrow, it's going to be somewhere else. Whether it's Detroit, whether it's New Orleans, it will work its way across the country.

And this is the time for us to help one another. We need supplies desperately and we are working on that. We just had a very good meeting where we discussed supplies. I want to thank Michael Evans from Alibaba who's here with us today. I want to thank Elizabeth Jennings from the Asia Society, who is here with us today, who are helping us source supplies, because we are in a situation where you have 50 states all competing for supplies. The federal government is now also competing for supplies.


Private hospitals are also competing for supplies.