Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Updates On Coronavirus From Around The World; Cardiologist, Dr. Heval Kelli, Discusses CDC Guidelines Allowing Doctors Asymptomatic, If Not Showing Symptoms, Allowed To Work; Updates On Coronavirus Across The U.S.; Florida Governor Rejecting Cruise Ship Headed There After Four Deaths Onboard; New York State Funeral Directors Association President, Mike Lanotte, Discusses Funerals Being Held With Only Immediate Family Members & Need For Protective Equipment. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired March 30, 2020 - 14:30   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:30:31]

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: The more surreal scenes out of India where the government ordered a total lockdown of 1.3 billion people. Social distancing, of course, seems to be only a privilege the middle class can afford.

Much of the country's working class is taking part in a mass exodus from out of the cities and into rural villages. We see huge crowds packed into markets, which could, of course, spread the virus even more.

All over the world, countries are struggling as health care systems are overwhelmed.

More now from my CNN colleagues stationed around the globe.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FRED PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Fred Pleitgen, in Berlin. A German hospital said it's pretty much stopped admitting new patients because they're so overwhelmed by the amount of coronavirus cases.

On the whole, however, Germany not doing too bad. The health ministry said Germany has twice as many vacant ICU beds as the total number of ICU beds in all of Italy. Germany flying patients from Italy and France to this country to get them the treatment they need.

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Clarissa Ward, in London, England, where doctors are being forced to make excruciating decisions about those who have the best chance of survival and those who should be sent home to die.

And it's not just coronavirus. We have spoken to a top London oncologist who said they've been asked to prioritize all of their patients, and those who are the most sick who have the least chance of recovery, are being told simply, they cannot continue with chemotherapy, they cannot continue to stay in the hospital.

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Scott McLean, in Madrid, where this country's top epidemiologist leading the daily press conferences has now tested positive for the virus.

Spain has more confirmed cases of the coronavirus than China and more than twice the number of deaths according to the official numbers.

Today, Madrid began an official period of mourning for those who have died that will last indefinitely. You can see the flags now flying at half-staff on the regional government building.

And the prime minister, Pedro Sanchez, announced further restrictions on movement. Now all workers except those deemed essential have to stay home for the next two weeks.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Ben Wedeman, in Rome, where, Monday evening, the total number of reported cases of coronavirus exceeded 100,000, and the death toll surpassed 11,000.

Yet, there's a hint of good news. For the fifth day in a row, the number of new cases went down. And Monday evening, authorities here reported that the number of people who've recovered from the disease saw its largest daily increase.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Among the dead in Italy are at least 63 doctors. That news hitting home for health care workers here in the U.S.

And guidelines from the CDC show that if doctors are asymptomatic, if they're not showing symptoms, they can still go to work.

That's the situation that Dr. Heval Kelli finds himself in. He's a cardiologist at Emory, in Atlanta.

Dr. Kelli, thank you for being with us.

First of all, you contracted the virus. Do you know when you contracted it or how?

DR. HEVAL KELLI, CARDIOLOGIST, EMORY UNIVERSITY: Thank you so much for having me, Mr. Cooper.

I'm talking about my personal experience. A couple of weeks ago, we visited a relative after surgery who told us, like a week later, they were having symptoms of cough and fever. Similar symptoms.

So we called the next hour and they got us scheduled to get testing on March 17th. So we waited since then because the test --

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: The results?

KELLI: We just heard this weekend, last night, from the nurse practitioner that we are both negative, finally.

COOPER: How are you feeling physically now?

KELLI: Feel much better. Still have shortness of breath, but I feel like we waited for 10 days, and it wasn't our institution because, at that time, there were a lot of triaging and priority given to in patient.

COOPER: So the CDC guidelines that says doctors who are asymptomatic but may be positive can work. What concerns you about that?

KELLI: We want to go back to work. We knew, every day we stayed at home, someone was doing our job.

The infectious disease doctor was calling us and updating us. We were frustrated, found out the new CDC guidelines, said, if you have new fever for three days and asymptomatic for seven days, regardless of the test, go to work.

[14:35:10]

We're fine with that, but we wanted some consistency while we're waiting for the tests during that time.

COOPER: What's the situation and what's your greatest concern in terms of what you're seeing in the hospitals?

KELLI: I mean, I think the hospitals and institution and health care worker are doing their best. What we're asking, actually, for consistent unifying message from the CDC and the top.

We are going to work, putting our life at risk and our families and everyone else we work with. We just ask not to worry about shortage of tests and PPEs. That's not something I expected to have in our country. We're one of the greatest countries in the world. We should have and can do better.

COOPER: Yes. Doctor Heval Kelli, thank you very much. I appreciate it.

(CROSSTALK)

KELLI: Thank you so much.

COOPER: Wish you the best.

Right now, a cruise ship where four people have already died on board is now on the way to Florida. The governor of Florida said he does not want it to offload in his state.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: From coast to coast, states are starting to crackdown on coronavirus restrictions.

This is a cruise ship carrying hundreds with flu-like symptoms headed to Florida. Our correspondents standing by with updates across the country.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Rosa Flores, in Miami. The cruise ship crossed the Panama Canal and headed towards Florida. Four people on board have died. The cause of death has not been announced. Two others tested positive for COVID-19, and nearly 190 other passengers have exhibited flu-like symptoMs.

The ship left Argentina on March 7 with 1200 passengers on board. Now it's sailing alongside the sister ship. It will take three days to get to Florida, but once they get here, they need permission from the state to dock.

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Brynn Gingras, in New York City, where social distancing was first a moral obligation and now mandatory. The mayor now saying people can be fined for as much as $500 if they don't abide by social distancing rules.

This hopefully, to give some relief to hospitals which is seeing a major surge still. E.R.s nearly doubled the amount of patients they have and ICU units three times as large.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Ed Lavandera, in New Orleans. And the governor of neighboring Texas has issued an executive order mandating that anybody traveling from Louisiana into Texas must self- quarantine for two weeks.

There will be checkpoints set up at the border between Louisiana and Texas. People must register and explain where they're going to be staying for those two weeks. And anybody caught in violation of that quarantine could be fined and sent to jail.

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Natasha Chen, in Atlanta. Amazon workers at the company's Staten Island facility in New York are walking off the job today to protest how the company has responded to the pandemic.

A worker says there are more people who tested positive there than the company has publicly acknowledged.

[14:40:01]

I've also spoken to an Amazon cargo handler in Kent, Washington, where at least one employee tested positive, according to the "Seattle Times". The worker tells me there's fear, anxiety and frustration as there's no hand sanitizer or face masks on the job. Amazon has yet to respond to our request for comment.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: I want to thank them all.

As Rosa Flores mentioned, it's up to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to decide if it can dock. Today, he said it would be a mistake to allow it. It's been in limbo for weeks after refused permission by several South American ports.

One passenger described when it's like on board.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED CRUISE SHIP PASSENGER (voice-over): The situation is pretty terrible. Especially, we've had four people die, that's really sad. The captain has been amazing. He's been doing everything he can. This has been going on for about 10 days.

The thing is that we just feel as though the ports especially in the United States don't want to take us in. "Holland America" caters to the older people, so that's what's happening. They were elder people and we want the ports in the country to help us. More people could die.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Joining us now is Maximilian Jo. His parents onboard the ship "Holland America" The owner of the ship said it transferred passengers who weren't exhibiting symptoms to another ship on Saturday.

Your parents, Maximilian, both in their 70s, still on board. How are they feeling?

MAXIMILIAN JO, PARENTS ARE STRANDED ON CRUISE SHIP: They're hanging in there. My father has been exhibiting some minor symptoms like a fever for a few days now, and just yesterday, was hard to get things like Tylenol to him

COOPER: Tylenol?

JO: Yes, I think with the transfer, the crew was tied up with other things. He had been getting a steady supply of Tylenol to manage the fever but yesterday, it was hard to get the medical staff's attention.

COOPER: You know, your folks have worked all their lives incredibly hard. I read all about your family, and, you know, finally in retirement, started taking vacations which they had never taken before because they were constant working to provide a good life for your and your siblings.

For this to happen to them is just, I mean, it's just so awful given all that they have already gone through in their lives. And then to not be allowed back into the United States if the Florida governor has his way. How do you feel about that?

JO: It's heartbreaking. I mean, they never do things like take cruises. They never spend any money when they were growing up, and finally now, us kids are self-sufficient adults. They can do things like this, and they get caught up in a global pandemic and stuck out at sea for a month and can't come home while they're not feeling well.

It's truly a nightmare scenario, and if your own country won't take you in, where are you supposed to go? COOPER: What are your parents telling you about the conditions on the

ship? The medical care?

JO: You know, I think they're doing their best to triage, so the fact that the only symptoms as of yet are just a fever for my father, I think they're trying to just manage him while obviously given the four passed away, there's some serious cases on this ship.

So, you know, the crew by all accounts, everything I'm reading online, they're doing the best they can. They really, their efforts should be applauded.

But it's the really bad situations, so there's just not enough people and supplies to go around.

COOPER: What's your message to the governor in Florida, to the Senators from Florida, to anyone who might listen?

JO: I mean, there's the governor, there's the mayor of Fort Lauderdale, there's the commissioners of Fort Everglades. They're all on a united front saying not in my backyard. I can understand that.

But everything changes when it's your parents on the ship and, you know, you would think if it's people that matter to you, if it's you on that ship, you would help your -- hope your citizens would take in your distress call and take you in.

Put yourself in their shoes. What are you supposed to do? Where are you supposed to go?

COOPER: Maximilian Jo, I'm sorry for what your family is going through. And we'll continue to keep in touch with you.

Thank you.

JO: Thank you very much.

[14:45:03]

COOPER: Two makeshift morgues now set up in New York as the number of deaths threaten to overwhelm the system. I'll speak to the head of the Funeral Directors Association in need of personal protective equipment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: As the death toll from coronavirus mounts, many family members are unable to be with loved ones or hold hands or comfort them in the final moments. One the most heartbreaking aspects of the disease, to protect others from being infected many patients die alone.

The separation and deeply personal loss that so many Americans are now dealing withdrew an emotional response from Democratic presidential candidate, Joe Biden, during our CNN town hall on Friday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) [14:50:09]

JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES & DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I've lost a couple of children. I've lost a wife. And it is -- it is incredibly difficult to go through. And it is harder to go through when you haven't had the opportunity to be with the person while they're dying.

My mom, my dad, I was able to be with him and lie in bed with them when they took their last breaths. My son I was able to. My deceased wife, I was not able to do that. I was not able to -- to be there. And it makes a gigantic difference for people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Adding to the pain, many funerals for coronavirus victims are being held with only immediate family members in attendance due to strict social distancing guidelines.

Mike Lanotte is the executive director and CEO of the New York State Funeral Directors Association.

Mike, thanks for being with us.

Can you describe what it is like for families now to hold services for their loved ones because without extended family and friends being allowed to attend?

MIKE LANOTTE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR/CEO, NEW YORK STATE FUNERAL DIRECTORS ASSOCIATION. Yes, it's actually heartbreaking when you hear the stories of what is going on out there, Anderson.

We were very fortunate in the sense that we are still able to do at least some services with immediate family. Our funeral directors are so experienced. They are the experts in helping families and guiding them through the grief journey.

So they know the parameters so they are trying to help the immediate family members through the initial phases of that mourning process.

COOPER: I talked to somebody who wasn't going to be able to have their parents attend a service and they were facetiming, going to have the parents facetime in to make comments. I know you've seen a spike in streaming services.

LANOTTE: Absolutely. So, again, with the social mandate restrictions with obviously adhering to -- the safety and health of the service staff and members there are very important so that limits the number even further to just immediate family at least six feet apart.

However, in order to help the family get through this and to allow those extended family and friends an opportunity to be part of the service, we have seen some funeral directors now start to do live streaming, whether that is Facetime or Zoom or other services to allow family members and friends to partake in the service. We had one funeral home that is creative calling it the unity station

while the immediate family is actually in with their loved one that other folks could come around to almost like a drive-thru and get connected through video and audio technology to the family who are in. That is like a receiving line, if you will, in the funeral home with them at the time.

COOPER: And what about personal protective equipment? Obviously, the front lines right now are hospitals and doctors and nurses, but for funeral directors as well, you're picking people up -- the dead up from hospitals, from morgues and preparing them.

LANOTTE: Correct. So there's definitely a very extreme dire need right now for PPE for funeral directors. Obviously, the frontline workers, the first responders, the doctors, nurses, completely understandable, they need the equipment and the goal is to make sick people better.

But unfortunately, as you know, we've seen a spike in the death rate and the last responders, the funeral directors, whose job it is to take the person from the time of their death and see that part through, they need that equipment. They have to follow what is called universal precautions, which are CDC recommendations.

We also have to wear the masks and the bottom line is right now there's such a short supply that we're starting to see funeral directors in the city become sick.

And in addition we've also seen a very big spike in the number of deaths. I know that you've probably seen just as reported just over the weekend there were about 875 coronavirus-related deaths. Normally, in New York State for a month we have about 425.

So if this is just the beginning of the death surge, it is going to be extremely important for our funeral director to have the proper equipment to do their job for the family members.

COOPER: Michael Lanotte, I appreciate your time and all you are doing. Thank you very much.

[14:54:39]

We have new details on the efforts to find a vaccine and when the trials will start.

Plus, the governors of New York are begging health care workers from around the country to come in and help in his state's hard-hit hospitals.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Hi, there. I'm Brooke Baldwin. You're watching CNN. Thank you for being with me on this Monday.

This afternoon, New York Governor Cuomo said the coronavirus situation has become painfully clear. There's no question about the grief or loss of life or what -- we must do, stay home for another month. [14:59:51]

President Trump and the federal government are advising all Americans to continue to stay at home as much as possible until at least May in the hope this nightmare, as the president of the United States put it, will end sooner rather than later.

So far, at least 155,000 people in the U.S. have tested positive for coronavirus. More than 2,800 have died.