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Family Says Goodbye to Mother Dying of Coronavirus; Detroit Braces to Be Next Hotspot for Virus; Louisiana Officials Fearful Outbreak Will Strain Hospitals; San Francisco Was First City with Strict Restrictions But Did It Help Slow Virus?; Navy Ship Starts Treating Non-Coronavirus Patients to Free Up Hospitals. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired March 30, 2020 - 15:30   ET



MICHELLE BENNETT, LOST MOTHER, CAROLANN CHRISTINE GANN TO CORONAVIRUS: -- hoping even though it was facetime in its technology, you know, she could hear me, she could hear my voice and I said, mom, it's OK to pass on, it's OK to go now.

Within an hour, I think she needed to her that, I think she was holding on until we were able to say, you know, it's OK to go.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Yes, love and forgiveness is a powerful thing. It's not even my own mother. My heart just grieves for you.

BENNETT: Thank you.

BALDWIN: My final question is just, have you spoken with the nurse, Michelle, and what would you want to say to these heroes at the hospital?

BENNETT: I, you know, I want to give them everything I have, you know, the world for their care and compassion. You know, one of them talked to my sister for 45 minutes after she was off shift just comforting her on her own time.

I want to hug them. I want to tell them how much they mean -- I just, I cannot thank them enough for that opportunity. I can't imagine not having had the opportunity to say good-bye, to say you can pass, say I forgive you and I love you.

I can't imagine not having had that and they provided that. I can't even thank them enough, the gratefulness I have, it is just understated.

BALDWIN: Michelle Bennett. Just thank you. Be well.

BENNETT: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Thank you very much.

BENNETT: Thank you so much. BALDWIN: Detroit expected to be one of the next places coronavirus hits hard. Have doctors there been able to learn from New York? That's next.



BALDWIN: The latest hot spot for this deadly virus is Michigan. And today the state's Governor Gretchen Whitmer painting a pretty bleak picture. Some hospitals already at capacity and begging people for help.


GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D-MI): We are just imploring everyone to pitch in, do your part. Stay home. If you have masks, donate them. If you are a company that can make them, please do.


BALDWIN: Right now, there are nearly 5,500 cases in the state with more than 130 people dead from the virus. I want to bring in CNN's Ryan Young who is live in Michigan. And, Ryan, what are you learning?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This has been so very tough. I was just listening to your last interview, Brooke, and you could feel the emotion just sort of spreading through the country.

You look behind me and you see that sign right there that says flatten the curve. See you soon. We were talking to businesses all along, quite empty. One guy telling us he had to fire 30 of his employees so you understand the economic impact.

But just to update you on the numbers, we're now told the state total here is up to nearly 6,500 people who have tested positive and 184 dead. With that hit you because obviously, these are so many families who will not be able to see their loved ones.

In fact, talking to a nurse who worked in Detroit over the weekend, she says the entire staff was just stressed out as more and more sick people started rolling in and they seem to be sicker than before. And they're seeing younger patients. It's something they said they've never had to deal with before. One scary fact, though, is listen to the state's top doc talk about what may happen next.


DR. JONEIGH KHALDU, CHIEF MEDICAL EXECUTIVE: Current models suggest we are likely several weeks away from a peak in the number of cases here in Michigan.


YOUNG: Now of course people are not thinking about an auto show at this point, but we know Detroit's auto show is something that's very famous across this world. That has been canceled. To give you an idea of the impact here, they're going to turn that into a field hospital area. So, you know with so many people who are in distress throughout Michigan, especially in the urban areas, we could see more people getting sick in the next few days and that's something that's sobering for anyone who lives in the state.

BALDWIN: It is of course, and we've also heard that the national guard was deployed to Michigan. Is this part of the reason why?

YOUNG: Yes, absolutely. And you know one of the things people have all of these rumors about why they're here. We're even told they've been brought in to staff the food banks in the area so that's something that will make, bring some joy to some people as they're there. They're not there for military operation, they're there for the food bank -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: All right, Ryan, thank you in Michigan.

Joining me now is Dr. Nick Gilpin who is the Director of Infection Prevention and Epidemiology at Beaumont Health Medical in Michigan. Doc, thank you so much for joining me. And you know Dr. Fauci and other health care experts are saying that Detroit is the next hot spot for coronavirus in this country. Does your hospital have everything you all need for this expected rise in cases?

NICK GILPIN, BEAUMONT HEALTH MEDICAL, DIRECTOR OF INFECTION PREVENTION AND EPIDEMIOLOGY: Well, I think so. So, you said it. I think Detroit is definitely a hot zone. We're seeing an unprecedented level of disease activity right here in our backyard. The message I've been getting out is that coronavirus is here, it's in the community, it's here to stay at least for the time.

I think as far as our own preparations have gone, I feel pretty good right now in terms of our bed capacity situation and ventilator capacity and PPE. But it also feels like in a lot of ways we're living paycheck to paycheck on those things.

BALDWIN: You've work for the biggest hospital system in Michigan. You mentioned the uptick in activity in cases. What else are you seeing in your hospital at this point?

GILPIN: Well, one of the things that I worry about constantly is our staff. I worry about our physicians and I worry about our nurses. Not just because our nurses and doctors themselves are starting to get sick, but also because they're working incredibly hard and incredibly long hours.


I've been noticing that a lot of my staff is really doing great work. They're banding together in ways that are unprecedented and I'm proud of all of the work they're doing. But I really -- I worry about their wellbeing.

BALDWIN: We are all are. We all are. And we're so grateful to each and every one of them and when you think about -- you know, you look at what's been happening here in New York, I was talking to reporter a second ago, and Central Park, they're setting up a field hospital in Central Park in the middle of Manhattan.

You know, you there in Michigan, you're at the beginning of the spike with the peak expected still weeks from now. What have you learned from New York?

GILPIN: So, one of the things I'm watching very closely in New York right now is obviously their PPE usage, their ventilator usage and their bed usage. And I'm very much interested in how they're balancing their staffing.

One of the things that we're working on here is the concept of what we call load balancing. The idea being that a lot of hospitals in southeast Michigan are getting hit very hard right now, but there may be hospitals in the surrounding areas that are not hit as hard. And so what we're trying to do is fairly balance the load of patients and equipment across all of the different hospitals.

So, for instance, the hospitals like the ones that I represent, that are being hit very hard, might be able to move patients or take equipment from some of the hospitals and health care systems that are not being hit as hard. And that's something that we're really pushing very hard on and it is something that I really hope our governor will support as well.

BALDWIN: What is, Dr, Gilpin, at the top of the list in terms of just the most pressing issue you and other doctors are dealing with right now?

GILPIN: So, I have to go back to staff. You know, last week I think the answer would have been PPE. I think that we've had a lot of great stories in terms of a lot of businesses, private businesses that have really stepped up and have provided us with some PPE.

I've seen innovations, you know, companies that manufacture products like roofing have converted their factories to producing isolation gowns. So that really gives me a lot of hope. And I feel better about our PPE situation today.

But the staffing is the big one. So, you know, you talked about setting up field hospitals and that's great. But I guess the thing that concerns me is who is going to work at these field hospitals? Who are we going to staff the beds with? We're going to need nurses and we're going to need physicians and that's the big concern.

BALDWIN: Right. What do you do, not if, but when, because they're on the front lines, when they get sick. Dr. Nick Gilpin, thank you so much for being with me and for talking all things Michigan. Be well. Thank you, doc.

GILPIN: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Coming up, Louisiana could soon run out of ventilators. The state has asked for 12,000 but has only gotten about 200. That story is next.



BALDWIN: New Orleans bracing itself to be hit hard by coronavirus this week. As state health care experts are worried about the strain the virus will have on hospital capacity. The U.S. Northern Command preparing to send a 450-person Navy medical unit to Texas and to New Orleans to support the response to the outbreak.

Let's go straight to CNN's Ed Lavandera who is live in a normally very busy French Quarter there in New Orleans. And, Ed, you just learned Louisiana is reporting a huge spike in cases.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. Another almost 500 cases has been added to the cases here in the state of Louisiana. It now tops more than 4,000. But state officials here say people still aren't doing enough to socially distance themselves.


LAVANDERA (voice-over): This is a uniquely New Orleans tradition. A second line funeral procession down a neighborhood street. But in the age of coronavirus, this second line ended with police issuing an arrest warrant for the parade's organizer accused of violating the stay-at-home orders.

MAYOR LATOYA CANTRELL (D-NEW ORLEANS, LA): We will have to enforce the laws every step of the way. We need law and order.

LAVANDERA: The pastor of Life Tabernacle Church near Baton Rouge also defied the orders and held Sunday services with 1,200 people. The pastor's father says church is the most essential thing in all of the world.

GOV. JOHN BEL EDWARDS (D-LA): It is grossly irresponsible for people to flagrantly disregard and violate these social distancing measures.

LAVANDERA: Louisiana is bracing for a week that's expected to strain hospital capacities across the state. Outside of the Tulane Hospital in New Orleans, a sign of the grim task unfolding inside. The hospital confirms these refrigerated containers are being used as a temporary morgue to hold all the deceased patients. Medical teams are scrambling to salvage personal protective equipment.

A hospital worker shared this image with CNN of brown paper bags where medics store masks to be reused.

The major concern here is hospitals could run out of ventilators by this weekend. The Governor says the state has requested 12,000 machines and has only received 192, none from the national stockpile. The Governor said he's repeatedly requested ventilators from the federal government.

EDWARDS: I'm making the case as emphatically as I can, but even if we get several hundred ventilators that's not going to be enough based on the current modeling that we're seeing.

LAVANDERA: Tiffany Vega Gibson says she was diagnosed with COVID-19 almost two weeks ago. She's convinced she picked up the infection during Mardi Gras.


TIFFANY VEGA GIBSON, CORONAVIRUS PATIENT: I honestly at one point thought I wasn't going to make it and I couldn't breathe.

LAVANDERA: The 34-year-old says she saw firsthand the strain medical teams are enduring to treat coronavirus patients filling hospitals.

GIBSON: The nurses told me that the floor that I'm on, there are 33 beds, and every single bed is full. So, the nurses -- anybody who comes in the room has on like a protective plastic mask over their face. I feel like they've had to reuse -- the nurses like reuse the same one every shift, because I see it hanging outside the door.

LAVANDERA: After a week in the hospital, Vega Gibson was sent home to finish recovering. And just like that, another hospital bed is free for the next coronavirus patient.


LAVANDERA: Brooke, it is extremely quiet here in the French Quarter. And this is a city not used to be socially distant. I talked to one woman yesterday who said that after all this is over, and the city isn't cooped up anymore, they should have a second Mardi Gras this year -- Brooke.


BALDWIN: Amen to that. Love to New Orleans. Ed Lavandera, thank you.

And across the country, a Navy ship is now treating patients across the coast of California while a cruise ship with infected passengers heads toward Florida and immigrant doctors are begging to help fight this virus but restrictions are holding them back.

Out team of reporters is covering all of those angles or more for you today. Let's start with CNN's Dan Simon in San Francisco with an update on the first city to put in strict stay-at-home restrictions -- Dan.


DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Dan Simon in San Francisco where doctors believe the city's early call for a shelter in place two weeks ago appears to be making a difference in emergency rooms across the city and the Bay Area.

Dr. Jahan Fahimi, the Emergency Medicine Medical Director at UCSF, says the expected surge of COVID-19 patients has not yet come. Why? He believes the city's shelter in place, the first city to institute such an order, appears to be the difference-maker. Now he cautions that things are early, but he says right now they are not overflowing with patients by any means. And because of that, the hospital also has the protective medical gear necessary for doctors, though he says they're looking at ways to conserve masks like all hospitals across the country.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Rosa Flores in Miami. The Zaandam cruise ship has crossed the Panama Canal and is headed towards Florida. But according to the governor neither the U.S. Coast Guard nor the White House wants this ship to head towards the sunshine state.

Four people on board have died. Cause of death has not been announced. Two others have tested positive for COVID-19. And nearly 190 other individuals are exhibiting flu-like symptoms.

This ship left Argentina on March 7th with 1,200 passengers on board. It will take about three days to get from Panama to Florida. And authorities are meeting on Tuesday to determine what to do.

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Natasha Chen in Atlanta. At a time when doctors are desperately needed, thousands of immigrants who are medical professionals in their home countries want to help the U.S. to help fight coronavirus but it's a challenge to get relicensed here.

Some repeat training they've already done abroad. It's hard to get paperwork transferred and there are language barriers. Two doctors from Iraq told me they aren't allowed to help in a U.S. hospital until July when their residencies begin. For others scheduled to start U.S. residencies this summer but who still live abroad the State Department has said they will process approved visas even as embassies have stopped other routine visa services.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Stephanie Elam in Los Angeles where the United States Navy hospital ship Mercy has begun taking on patients. So far, three patients have been transferred onto the ship on Sunday.

The idea behind this is that for the greater Los Angeles area, this ship will add another thousand beds to capacity, focusing on patients that do not have coronavirus. That will free up the land-based hospitals to then focus on people who seem to be or are suffering from COVID-19.


BALDWIN: Our thanks to all of you. And coming up we will talk to own chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, what the potential of millions of cases in the U.S. would mean for hospitals that are already overwhelmed.



TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. At this hour there are at least 155,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in

the United States and 2,845 deaths in the U.S. That is up more than five times from the 501 deaths in the U.S. that I brought to you at this time last week.

The nation's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, has warned this could get much worse in the United States. Dr. Fauci standing by the assessment. He told me on Sunday morning that there could be at least 1 million Americans infected and potentially 100 to 200,000 deaths in the United States, a horrible statistic to contemplate. But it's one that President Trump is now casting as a sign of how well the Trump administration is managing this crisis.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So, if we can hold that down as we're saying, to 100,000, it's a horrible number, maybe even less, but to --