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Coronavirus Pandemic, At Least 139,700 Plus Cases, 2,400 Plus Deaths In United States; New York Governor Pays Homage To First Responders Lost To Virus; New York Takes Extra Measures To Fight Virus; Hospital Ship USNS Comfort To Arrive In New York; President Trump, Air Bridge To Get Medical Supplies To New York; Trump Says Hospitals Are Hoarding Supplies; Videos From Health Workers Reveal Dreadful Conditions; Medical Personnel Pleading For More Supplies; Detroit, Chicago, And New Orleans Becoming New Hot Spots; Louisiana Cases Climbing As Supplies Diminish; California Closes Vehicle Access To All State Parks; FDA Authorizes Emergency Use Of Anti-Malarial Drugs; Italy Now Has At Least 10,779 Covid-19 Deaths; Europe Struggles With Coronavirus; Arkansas Doctor Greets Son Through Glass Window. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired March 30, 2020 - 04:00   ET



ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, and welcome to our viewers joining us here in the United States and all around the world. You are watching CNN Newsroom and I'm Rosemary Church.

Just ahead, 100 to 200,000 deaths in the U.S. The dire prediction from one of its top doctors leaving President Donald Trump, no choice but to see reality.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The better you do, the faster this whole nightmare will end.


CHURCH: He's no longer pushing for America to be open by Easter as the new normal of social distancing gets extended for many more weeks.

Plus, a message from doctors and nurses on the frontlines risking their lives to maybe save yours.

Coronavirus cases around the globe have reached nearly 3/4 of a million. That is according to Johns Hopkins University, of which nearly 140,000 cases are here in the United States. Nearly 2500 have died in the country, and most of those people likely died alone, without friends and family around them.

As one doctor told CNN, in the medical version of solitary confinement. That's because of fears of infection, of course. In New York, those numbers have reached a new high. Nearly 60,000 cases and nearly 1,000 deaths. The state has received 2500 ventilators from the federal government and distributed millions of facemasks and surgical gloves.

But despite all of this, a doctor tells CNN there is not enough of anything. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo paid homage to the first responders lost to the coronavirus.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): Everyone's afraid. You think these police officers are not afraid to leave their house? Do 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.


CHURCH: And the U.S. President Trump is no longer planning to reopen the country by Easter extending his social distancing guidelines until the end of April. Here's why.


TRUMP: So, you're talking about 2.2 million deaths. 2.2 million people from this, and so if we can hold that down, as we're saying, to 100,000, it's a horrible number, maybe even less, but to 100,000 so we have between 100 and 200,000, we altogether have done a very good job.


CHURCH: And they are very scary numbers. Here's how President Trump got them.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALERGY AND INFECTOUS DISEASE: The number I gave out is, you know, based on modeling, and I think it's entirely conceivable that if we do not mitigate to the extent that we're trying to do, that you could reach that number. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. It's possible. I mean, you could make a big sound bite about it, but the fact is it's possible. What we're trying to do is not let that happen. So instead of concentrating on the upper and the lower, we're saying we're trying to push it all the way down.


CHURCH: And with social distancing guidelines still in place, the new normal for Americans will not end any time soon. Of course, it's a small price to pay to save the lives of thousands of Americans. New York, as we just mentioned, is the hardest hit. New York police department says hundreds have tested positive for the virus and about 12 percent of the work force is out sick. And New Yorkers will face a fine of $250 to $500 if they don't follow social distancing policies.

In a few hours a hospital ship is scheduled to arrive in New York. The USNS Comfort will not treat patients with coronavirus but will provide surge capacity for those with other urgent care needs. A 68 bed field hospital is also expected to be up and running in Central Park by Tuesday. But New York's mayor continued to stress the need for medical help.



BILL DE BLASIO, NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: This is unprecedented. We've never seen our EMS system get this many calls ever. What we have to do first and foremost is put on more personnel, more ambulances, more shifts. And we are doing that immediately so we can serve the true emergencies, and there's a lot of them, to make sure that New Yorkers get the help they need.


CHURCH: And on Sunday, U.S. President Donald Trump announced a new initiative to get crucial medical supplies into New York. He's calling it the air bridge and says the first flight landed Sunday morning. Mr. Trump says the supplies are coming from other countries and dozens of flights are expected, but he also claims that hospitals and staff are hoarding medical supplies they don't need.


TRUMP: We do have a problem of hoarding. We have some health care workers, some hospitals, frankly, individual hospitals and hospital chains, we have them hoarding equipment, including ventilators, we have to release those ventilators, especially hospitals that are never going to use them. They have to release them.


CHURCH: But many hospitals are running critically low on supplies and space while overflowing with patients. Elmhurst Hospital in New York City's Queensbury is one of them. And this is the line of people waiting to be seen in the emergency room standing apart to maintain social distancing. The city's mayor says dozens of additional medical workers have been sent to the hospital to help care for the flood of people needing attention. Elmhurst has moved a giant refrigerated truck on to the property to hold what the hospital morgue cannot at this time.

And here's some perspective. In one 24-hour period last week at least 13 people at Elmhurst Hospital died from the coronavirus. A nurse who works at Elmhurst spoke to CNN and she described how patients with the virus can suddenly slip away saying, quote, it's frightening, because although they are sick, they appear stable. Then right before your eyes they start to desaturate and in a few moments they're gone.

Well some New York health care workers are filming the dreadful conditions they face on the front lines and are sharing their experiences with CNN.


running out of medications. Some hospitals don't have protective gear for staff or family members of patients that come to the hospital. We're running out of medications. We All right running out of equipment and we're even running out of oxygen which is something that patients that have covid-19 need. So we don't want to test your immune system in this day and age. If you're feeling unwell, stay home. Don't get expose to somebody, stay home.

DR. BENJAMIN OBASEKI, NEW YORK DOCTOR: A common misconception going around that it's only the elder people in our population that are being affected. This is simply untrue. Every day we are having people, younger adults come in, who have very little co-morbidity, there are other illnesses going on, who are being seriously affected by this illness, affected to the point where you have to get put on a ventilator just to breathe.

MUCHATUTA: The one that's beeping in the background.

OBASEKI: Exactly. The one that's beeping in the background is a young patient who was presumably healthy before they came in. This is not something that's isolated to the old. Please hear this warning and do whatever necessary to prevent this from spreading.

MUCHATUTA: All right. We love you. We want you to stay healthy.


CHURCH: Well, Dr. Richard Dawood is the medical Director of London's Fleet Street Clinic, and I spoke with him last hour about the differences between maintaining supply and hoarding and the shortage of personal protective equipment in the United States.


DR. RICHARD DAWOOD, MEDICAL DIRECTOR, FLEET STREET CLINIC: Up until this crisis began, United States had an outstanding international reputation for its work in public health and with the CDC which has really led the world in so many different ways, and it is a bit alarming to see that the U.S. is now coping and having to deal with so many cases and appears to be facing these shortages and difficulties. I mean, I have to say, these are almost universal. It is impossible for anybody to keep up with the production and distribution of the equipment and PPE that is required.


CHURCH: And we are keeping an eye on three places in the United States that are quickly becoming new major hot spots for coronavirus. The state of Michigan has the third most coronavirus cases after New York and New Jersey. According to Michigan health watch, in one week the number of cases there has quintupled.


Five times the number. In Illinois the governor announced on Sunday more than 1100 new cases and 18 new deaths there. Chicago's Cook County Jail is dealing with a cluster of coronavirus cases. And in New Orleans a convention center will be converted into a hospital with 1,000 beds for covid-19 patients.

Louisiana is running out of supplies as the number of cases grows. The state has reported 151 deaths from the virus. The fourth most in the United States. Among those dead, a member of the governor's staff. CNN's Ed Lavandera has more now on how Louisiana is handling this crisis.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The number of coronavirus cases here in the state of Louisiana and New Orleans continues to spike. There are now more than 3500 cases of coronavirus here in Louisiana. Nearly 1400 of those are here in the city of New Orleans. That is putting a great deal of strain on the medical system all around the state.

The governor says that they're in desperate need of more personal protection equipment for medical staff and they also need ventilators. The governor said he's requested some 12,000 ventilators and so far has only received 192 from private vendors. The governor says that he's asked FEMA and the federal government for more, but ventilators from the national stockpile have not been released here to this state. That will be something to look toward this week as state officials here are continued to urge people to practice social distancing, stay away from people, stay away from large clouds.

That is still not something that this state is fully complying with. And there have been a number of issues that have popped up here over the weekend that suggest that state officials are growing concerned about just how seriously some residents here in the state of Louisiana and in New Orleans, a very social city, is taking all of these warnings. They say that is crucial in terms of trying to get this coronavirus outbreak here in this state under control. Ed Lavandera, CNN, New Orleans.


CHURCH: And on the West Coast, concerns are deepening over whether Los Angeles could emerge as another big hot spot for the pandemic. The state has closed vehicle access to all 280 of its state parks. The decision came after a surge in visitors making it impossible to maintain proper social distancing. Restrictions on beach access have already been in place, but there is some good news. U.S. Navy hospital ship Mercy has gun accepting its first patients. The ship will take on patients who have illnesses not related to covid-19, and that will allow local hospitals to focus on treating coronavirus patients.

Well, New York's governor says his state will roll out a new coronavirus test within the next week. The test is done through a saliva sample and a self-administered nasal swab. The new method will help conserve critical personal protective equipment and reduce potential exposure of health workers. And there are new efforts to find successful treatments. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is allowing limited emergency use of two anti-malarial drugs to treat coronavirus patients. The agency's actions come despite there being little evidence chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are effective in treating the virus.

Well, Italy reported hundreds of new deaths in the past 24 hours. They say 756 people died over the course of a day, but that's fewer than the day before. The number of new cases reported is also lower than it has been, but Italy has suffered the highest number of coronavirus fatalities in the world. Civil authorities say at least 10,700 people have died.

So, we want to go now to Rome and that is where we find our Barbie Neadeau. Barbie, the numbers out of Italy simply shocking, when you told me back nearly, 11,000 deaths. But there is this slight downward trend. How much hope is that giving people across the country?

BARBIE LATZA NADEAU, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, you know, people have cautious optimism. Right now, we're set to stop the lockdown April 3rd. That's almost guaranteed to be extended. We heard from the Prime Minister, he's meeting with some people today that the lockdown will likely be extended at; until far into April, but people are hopeful that this leveling off of the curb and hopefully will that lead to a downward slant is going to make this lockdown worth it.

You know, people have given up so much economically and personally, and they want to see the results. And when you see these deaths, and people can't bury their dead, they can't say their final good-byes or anything like that, you know, the psychological impact is really starting to weigh here, Rosemary.

NADEAU: Totally understand that. Barbie Nadeau bringing us the very latest there from Rome. Many thanks.


Well, the Spanish health ministry is reporting 838 new deaths, the country's highest increase to date in the pandemic, and that brings the overall death toll in Spain to over 6500 people. With one of the highest rates of infection in the world, Spain's hospitals and morgues are quickly becoming over crowded. So, here to tell us more is journalist Al Goodman from Madrid. So, Al, despite the lockdown across Spain, the country recorded its highest increase to date. Talk to us about what's happening here and what this means in terms of the lockdown.

AL GOODMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Rosemary. It means what officials have been saying here and in other countries, that there's a lag time between the moment that the authorities say stay at home, the stay at home order, and what we see then in the number of cases and in Spain's case the number of deaths. Spain is just -- is the second -- has got the second biggest death toll on the planet after Italy, and just to give you an idea, when this lockdown order went into effect a couple of weekends ago, there were slightly over 300 deaths. Now there are more than 6500.

I'm standing outside one of the major hospitals in the capital the Gregorio Maranon, where the military this day is going to be setting up a field hospital on the sprawling grounds. This hospital complex occupies several square city blocks. Just plenty of space in there and just before the live shot, a couple of military vehicles pulled in. The Madrid regional government, which handles the capital and the city surrounding the capita, that's the Madrid region, tells this about their difficulty in getting enough intensive care unit beds.

At the start of the crisis they had 641 across the region, they've now got 1745, -- 1-7-4-5 of these. So not quite triple the number of beds as the number of cases of covid-19 are coming in and they're trying to get enough beds, but right now they have less than 20 percent available according to a senior official confirming that to CNN just before we went on air.

So, the rush to get enough ICU beds across Madrid and around the Barcelona metropolitan area, the second hardest hit part of Spain, is really on. Officials are trying to slow down the pace of the new infections to keep fewer people from coming to the hospitals and keep them out of the ICUs and hopefully save some lives. Rosemary?

CHURCH: Absolutely. Al Goodman, bringing us the very latest there from Madrid. Many thanks to you.

And you are watching CNN Newsroom. Still to come, it's not just Spain. The rest of Europe is still struggling to get a grip on the coronavirus, and now a French minister is warning that the credibility of the E.U. is at stake. We are live across the continent.

But before we take a break, we always think of our doctors as heroes, don't we? And now more so than ever. What a noble profession it is. Take a look at this photo that went viral. Dr. Jared Burks is on the front lines of fighting the coronavirus pandemic and after two weeks of not seeing his family, he finally gets to see his one-year-old son through a glass door. Truly a hero. We salute you and all the doctors and nurses and medical workers, first responders across the globe. We thank you.



CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. Across Europe health care systems are under pressure as the number of dead just keep rising. In Britain 1200 people have now died with 19,000 infected. And the numbers in France are even worse, more than 2,000 dead with 40,000 people infected. And in Germany a hospital has stopped admitting new patients because several staff members have tested positive. The strain has led to a French government minister saying the credibility and usefulness of the European Union is at stake.

Nic Robertson is in London, and Fred Pleitgen joins me now from Berlin. Good to see you both. Nic, let's start with you. The British government has come under considerable criticism for the way it's been handling this pandemic. What's being said about that?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, one of the criticisms has been that why wasn't it aware of and across and involved in and E.U. wide effort despite the fact Britain's are leaving the European Union, in an E.U. wide effort to source ventilators and the government has said, well, there was a mix-up in the email.


-- was drop there by the government. The government is, you know, and the pressure to do the right thing has been criticize for not getting enough personal protection equipment, PPE out to medical workers and on the frontlines on hospitals over the weekend. They announced they delivered 170 masks, 170 million masks, 40 million gloves, 13.7 million aprons, but the numbers are still falling short of what's required. They are coming late.

The government trying to do its best. The Prime Minister here in his third day of isolation now issued another video message over the weekend, again, leading the government from isolation saying that the government has had a good response to the call for retired medical professionals to return and help out in this pandemic. 20,000 of those retired doctors and nurses have now stepped up.

So, the message from the government continues to be a positive one. But a very critical line from the respected medical journal, the lancet, the editor in chief that saying that the government's response so far, has been a national scandal and that they failed, because they didn't follow the WHO, the World Health Organization guidelines, by test, test, test. Chasing down, you know, connections of anyone and contacts with anyone who had had -- who had tested positive with the virus.

And the reality is still that Britain lags significantly behind the number of tests that it can perform in a day just reaching 10,000 tests that it can do in a day this weekend, whereas, Germany has many, many fold more than that.


CHURCH: Yes, Germany has done an incredible job in the midst of all of this. Nic Robertson bringing us the latest there from London. Let's go to Fred Pleitgen. And Fred, A French government minister says the credibility of the E.U. is at stake in the midst of this pandemic. What's the latest on that?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think a lot of European countries feel that way. The French president, Emmanuel Macron, he apparently said that if the European Union is going to die, it's going to die because of inaction. That just shows you how the -- dire the situation is. Right now for the E.U. in this situation and how some countries feel that other E.U. member states have responded to this crisis.

And I think it really comes on two levels at this stage of the crisis. On a medical level there are a lot of countries who are feeling that there's not enough solidarity and then also of course in the future dealing with the financial fallout of this crisis as well, there were a lot of countries also unhappy. I want to hit you with a number that I saw this morning, Rosemary that seems to be absolutely crazy.

The German health minister this morning said, that there are currently twice as many vacant ICU beds in Germany than Italy actually has ICU beds. Vacant ICU beds. That's a discrepancy in the amount of available medical treatment centers and what some countries are facing. Now, as far as the medical response is concerned, a lot has happened over the weekend. A lot of countries have stepped up. Germany, none the least. They have taken -- the German military has flown in patients from Italy, has flown in patients from France to be treated here in Germany.

And that certainly shows some of that European solidarity that some leaders here in Europe have been missing. But the bigger problem it seems as though is going to be the financial response where some countries are saying they want corona bonds as they put it. West countries like Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, and Finland are saying that they don't want to collectivize, as they say, the death that this crisis, no doubt is going to invoke, Rosemary.

CHURCH: Yes. Absolutely. And of course, just on Germany, I mean, they started very early in January testing everybody, and their mortality rate is below half of percent, which is astounding. Because for others, in United States is around 2 percent if those cases -- those case numbers are to be believed. Fred Pleitgen, many thanks to you and also and Nic Robertson in London. I appreciate it.

Well, you are watching CNN Newsroom. Still to come, the U.S. treasury secretary says financial help is on the way for Americans, but investors are still worried about how the economy will recover from the pandemic.

Plus, same country but two different worlds. In New Delhi crowds of people gather around a bus station in a desperate effort to get home after Prime Minister Narendra Modi declares a three-week lockdown.

And in West Bengal, a much different scene, some poor residents there are being forced to live in trees to keep a safe distance from others during the pandemic. We are back with more in just a moment.