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COVID-19 Cases in the U.S. Rise to 139,700 with 2,400 Deaths; New York Governor Pays Homage to First Responders Lost to Coronavirus; Videos from Health Workers in New York Reveal Dreadful Working Conditions. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired March 30, 2020 - 05:00   ET



ROBYN CURNOW, ANCHOR, CNN NEWSROOM: Hi, welcome to all of our viewers joining us here in the United States and all around the world, you are watching CNN NEWSROOM, I'm Robyn Curnow. So, just ahead on the show, the White House extends social distancing measures. This as one of America's top doctors predicts that the number of those infected with the coronavirus could reach into the millions.

Also, New York is the U.S. epicenter, but the virus is spreading far and wide. We have reports from growing hotspots across the nation. And we'll also hear stark warnings from those who know the virus better than anyone, the patients.

So at this hour, the surge in coronavirus cases continues, nearly three-quarters of a million people around the world have the virus. Now, that is according to Johns Hopkins University. It's Monday morning here in the U.S. and the rates continue to spike. There are about 140,000 cases in the U.S. with nearly 2,500 deaths. Most of those people are likely to die alone, without friends and family around them.

As one doctor told CNN in the medical version of solitary confinement, because that's all because of the fears of infection. Now, we know that New York, those numbers have reached a new high as well. Nearly 60,000 cases and nearly a 1,000 deaths. And the state has received 2,500 ventilators from the federal government. They distributed millions and they've distributed millions of face-masks and surgical gloves. But despite all of this, a doctor tells CNN there's still not enough of anything.

Meanwhile, the New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has paid homage to the first responders lost to the coronavirus. Take a listen.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): I'm not afraid to go -- everyone is afraid. You think these police officers are not afraid to leave their house? 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.


CURNOW: So the U.S. President Donald Trump is no longer planning to reopen the country by Easter, extending his social distancing guidelines until the end of April because his top medical adviser warns there might otherwise be millions of cases in the U.S. Take a listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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.


CURNOW: So CNN's Evan McMorris-Santoro has more on President Trump's coronavirus guidelines. Take a listen.


EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For Americans still self-quarantining to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, word that the new normal will continue for at least another month. At a press conference, Sunday, President Trump says despite his initial hope that restrictions would lift by Easter, the pandemic's growth requires Americans to stay put through at least, April 30th.

TRUMP: We will be extending our guidelines to April 30th to slow the spread. On Tuesday, we will be finalizing these plans and providing a summary of our findings supporting data and strategy to the American people.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: The worst of coronavirus is yet to come. Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN's Jake Tapper, that based on modeling, 100,000 or more could die.

ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY & INFECTIOUS DISEASES: 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.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: More states across the country now preparing for a surge in cases. New York remains the national epicenter, 59,313 confirmed cases of the coronavirus as of Sunday with 965 dead of the disease. Governor Andrew Cuomo says the state has not yet reached the apex of coronavirus cases. A moment he is planning for by adding medical beds, equipment, and personnel to the state at a break-neck pace.

CUOMO: They still forecast the apex to be 14 to 21 days.


MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Four new 1,000 bed field hospitals across New York City to help alleviate the taxed hospital system, approved by a federal government over the weekend. But even as the pandemic surge spreads to new cities and new states, much of the focus of this weekend was on sniping between governors and the White House.

On Saturday, Trump caught state leaders in New Jersey, Connecticut and New York by surprise when floating a vague quarantine of the New York metropolitan area.

TRUMP: Some people would like to see New York quarantined because it's a hotspot. But there's a possibility that sometime today, we'll do a quarantine short term, 2 weeks on New York, probably New Jersey, certain parts and Connecticut.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Before finally revealing new travel restrictions from the CDC, warning residents of the New York area to stay home as much as possible and to quarantine themselves for 14 days if they do leave. Guidelines are largely echo existing regulations set down by state governments weeks ago. Trump suggested to that evidence, something nefarious behind medical workers ongoing demand for more medical equipment despite the supply chain the president insists is up and running.

TRUMP: It's a client, and they're going from -- you heard it, 10,000, 20,000 tops to 300,000? And that's a hospital that's always full. So, I think people should check that because it's something going on -- well, it's not -- I don't think it's hoarding, I think it's maybe worst than hoarding.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: "The Washington Post" reports that Florida, Trump's official state of residence since last year and home to one of America's most pro-Trump governors has said all of its request from the federal government fulfilled. Other states continue to beg for supplies and equipment.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is that everything --

TRUMP: Well, smart -- look, they're very aggressive in trying to get things and they're doing a very good job.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Throughout the country, the strain on the health system is beginning to show. Nurses in the Bronx protests lack of supplies to protect them from the coronavirus as they work on patients. With the president telling Americans to prepare for a long fight against coronavirus, continuing questions for medical workers about whether they'll get the right equipment they need to get that job done.

(on camera): Behind me is the Aqueduct Raceway and Casino Complex in Queens, one of the four field hospitals being set up here in New York to help to confront the apex if and when it comes.


CURNOW: So as hospitals across the country cope with the surge of patients, doctors, nurses, and other medical staff are pleading with the public to just stay inside and help stop this spread of the coronavirus. They even began filming their experiences on the front lines to give us a better sense of what they're going through. Take a look at this.


MONALISA MUCHATUTA, EMERGENCY MEDICINE DOCTOR: Hi, everybody, my name is Dr. Monalisa Muchatuta; I'm an emergency medicine doctor in New York City. I'm making this video with my colleagues here in New York to try to help you understand how serious COVID-19 is, to encourage you to stay safe, to stay home.

And to kind of give you a better idea of what's going on in New York City, just so you can really take this seriously. Hospitals are running out of medications. Some hospitals don't have protective gear for staff or family members or patients that come to the hospital. We're running out of medications. We're running out of equipment and we're even running out of oxygen which is something that patients that have COVID-19 need.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't know who is going to do well and who is not going to do well. It's like you hit a tipping point, you start drowning. We do really poorly -- and we're running out of equipment in the hospital. Nearly everybody comes in the emergency department has this, and we're getting completely overwhelmed.

BENJAMIN OBASEKI, NEW YORK DOCTOR: And there's a common misconception going around that it's only the elder people in our population that's being affected. This is simply untrue. Every day, we are having people, younger adults come in who have very little co-morbidities and other illnesses going on who are being seriously affected by this illness.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because it's really killing a lot of people.

ELIZABETH STACHTIARIS, NEW YORK DOCTOR: Hi, I'm Dr. Stachtiaris and I work at an ER in Brooklyn. Today has been crazy. We're very short staffed. We're short supplied. For the last few weeks, every day the charge nurses are giving us a baggy of goodies essentially, personal protective equipment that we're to make last throughout the day. I currently did not get one today because we are out.


CURNOW: So we're joined now by Dr. Saju Matthew; he's a primary care physician and a public health specialist with Emory University School of Medicine. Doctor, good to see you again, thanks for joining us. You just heard some of your colleagues there, they were pleading, they were begging people to stay at home, but also outlining the basics that are missing from American hospitals right now.

SAJU MATTHEW, PRIMARY CARE PHYSICIAN: Crazy time, Robyn, good day to you and to all of our viewers across the world. You know, when you're in a crisis like this, you can only do the best that you can. I know that sounds almost borderline pessimistic, but really in so many ways, when you're in a crisis and you're running out of masks, you're running out of, you know, personal protective equipment, basic necessities.


And when you're talking about emergency room doctors and nurses, respiratory therapists scared to go into work because they don't feel protected. And if they're not protected, who's going to take care of our patients?

CURNOW: Yes, and we're seeing some images here. I know, there have been plans and there are plans currently to put up field hospitals in Central Park, we've obviously also got these refrigerated morgues because there are just so many people dying that have been parked outside hospitals. It is Monday morning here, it is another week beginning in the U.S. and around the world, people are really getting to grips with the idea that this is no way near over.

In the U.S. here, estimates 100,000, 200,000 people potentially could die, and the U.S. President saying that's a good case scenario.

MATTHEW: It's an awful situation. You know, what I tell all of my patients, my family members and friends -- listen, yes, it looks like there's very little we can do, but there's still a lot that each individual person can do. And I want to talk to people all across the world. You know, there are cultures where if a doctor gets on TV and says, listen, socially distance yourself, that's confusing.

I heard from a Nigerian viewer the other day, listen Dr. Matthew, I live in a family of six people. How am I going to socially distance myself from my grandmother, from my uncle, from my nephew, from my niece? So what I tell a lot of our people is, listen, do the best you can. If you live in a family of six or seven, let that one person be the only one that has to step out of the house.

In some communities, Robyn, you have to work, where you say, listen, work from home, not everybody has that luxury, but eventually this is the goal. The entire family unit should act as one person. And I know it's difficult, but in our mind, if you think about it that way, that is exactly the way that you can decrease the number of cases and cut down on that asymptomatic transmission.

CURNOW: What about a lot of people who just have to go into hospital, and I'm talking here particularly about pregnant women who are having babies, they're having to go into hospitals or to clinics. I know in New York initially, some of the hospitals said no woman can come in with a partner. You have to give birth alone.

Andrew Cuomo; the governor has just overturned that saying, you can have one person alone. But we see a number of cases of people who are dying alone or birthing alone. This is -- this is scary stuff for many people.

MATTHEW: Really scary, you know, I was so happy, Robyn, when I heard that they overturned --

CURNOW: Yes -- MATTHEW: That almost mandate. I mean, come on, when you're pregnant,

you know like you think you're dying, you know, what you want is comfort. You want somebody to touch you, to hold you. So, you know, this is the way I look at it. If you're pregnant and you're about to deliver a baby, you can take in one person with you. That absolutely should be a consolation to all of our pregnant patients across the world.

Unfortunately, Robyn, you can't predict what's going to happen with COVID-19. If you're short of breath, and you're whisked into an ICU, you may have little time to call your loved ones. But I'd still like to believe that the healthcare providers and the people that are there with you will comfort you and make you feel better and comfortable.

CURNOW: And what advice also do you have for folks here in the U.S. and around the world, for folks who have elderly grandparents, parents who are alone at home or in retirement homes. How do you, A, keep them going with social -- with comfort? And, B, get food to them or make sure that they're safe?

MATTHEW: Good question, Robyn. You know, I tell a lot of my patients, listen, if you have elderly people living in your house, they should not be stepping out of the house. They should not be going to church. They should basically be sheltered in place. And also, you know, we need to check on our elderly. Nursing homes should have no visitations. Only the appropriate healthcare professionals that need to visit our elderly should be in the building.

And I was also talking the other day on "CNN USA", that when it comes to groceries, listen, if you can help an elderly, you know, drop off some groceries right there at the doorstep, do that. My parents are elderly, Robyn, and I have done my best to socially distance myself from them. We're ordering groceries and they're not going to church, they're trying to do more Face-Time.

And that's basically how we should proceed, we should really protect not only our elderly, but we should also remember Robyn, the number of young people out there that are also, you know, compromised. It might be asthma, it might be somebody recovering from cancer. These are all different types of people that we should really be taking care of.

CURNOW: OK, thanks for your perspective and your advice, Dr. Matthew, appreciate it.

MATTHEW: Thanks --

CURNOW: And still to come, the three American cities quickly becoming major virus hotspots. That's just ahead here on CNN.



CURNOW: Welcome back. Three places in the U.S. are quickly becoming new major hotspots for the coronavirus. That's according to a Michigan health watch. In one week, the number of cases there increased fivefold. In Illinois, the governor announced on Sunday more than 1,100 new cases and 18 deaths there. And then take a look at this in New Orleans, a convention center will be converted into a hospital with 1,000 beds for COVID-19 patients.

And CNN has correspondents in these hotspots and beyond. Our Ed Lavandera is in New Orleans with more on the surge in Louisiana. Omar Jimenez has the latest on the outbreak in Chicago while Sarah Westwood is covering the spread of the virus at a nursing home in Maryland. So, let's start with Ed.


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 3,500 cases of coronavirus here in Louisiana, nearly 1,400 of those are here in the city of New Orleans. That is putting 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 says he's requesting some 12,000 ventilators, and so far has only received 192 from private vendors. The governor says that he has asked FEMA and the federal government for more, but that ventilators from the national stockpile have not been released here to this state. He says that will be something to look toward this week as state officials here continue to urge people to social -- to practice social distancing, stay away from people, stay away from large crowds.

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.



OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As the number of coronavirus cases continues to rise here in the state of Illinois including coming on the heels of the deadliest day we have seen yet in this state, there's a real push for medical supplies to keep up with the rate of infections that we have seen. And that push has come from all levels, from federal, to state, even the volunteer level.

And on the volunteer side at least, we saw it play out over the course of Sunday in the form of a personal protective equipment drive. Literally, people would drive up here to the United Center, that would typically be hosting Chicago Bulls and Chicago Black Hawks hockey games, and they would drop off gloves, masks and other various equipment that would then be distributed to local healthcare systems here in the state of Illinois.

At least, this location in particular, we mentioned, this arena typically hosting professional athletic games now. It is now the beginning of a new reality for the United Center becoming now a logistics hub for the city of Chicago organizing first responders food supplies, even medical supplies as well. And we are continuing to see why efforts like that are going to be so significant as the number of cases continues to rise, and we mentioned this coming on the heels of the deadliest day yet we have seen in the state of Illinois.

Well, one of those deaths this weekend came from an infant less than a year old. Omar Jimenez, CNN, Chicago.


SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN REPORTER: A nursing home in Maryland is the site of a growing cluster of cases of coronavirus that spiked just over the past couple of days. Sixty six residents at the Pleasant View Nursing Home in Mount Airy, Maryland, have tested positive for COVID-19, 11 of those patients have been hospitalized. But the nursing home says they aren't moving patients out of the nursing home unless they require that elevated level of care.

Now, the CDC says that 147 nursing homes across the country have reported at least one case of coronavirus. And of course, this outbreak in Maryland is raising concerns because of the situation that happened at the Life Care Nursing Home outside of Seattle, Washington. Dozens of people died when that nursing home became the site of the first major cluster of cases inside the U.S.

And so far, Pleasant View is the largest nursing home outbreak since that tragedy in Washington. And of course, an outbreak at a nursing home is especially serious because of the unique vulnerability of the populations of nursing homes. They're older, they tend to have underlying conditions, and that's a point that Maryland officials tried to make on Sunday when they spoke to reporters. Take a listen.


ED SINGER, CARROLL COUNTY, MARYLAND HEALTH OFFICER: This is extremely serious because of the vulnerable nature. If somebody is in a nursing home, they're there for underlying medical conditions. So, we have 66 people who with underlying medical conditions who are infected with this virus.


WESTWOOD: Now, Maryland officials have said that they're struggling with staffing at the Pleasant View Nursing home with one county health department official suggesting that it's perhaps because some of the staffers are afraid of contracting the virus if they come into work. And so Maryland officials have had to turn to temp agencies to try to staff that nursing home amid the outbreak. And of course this comes as cases in the D.C., Maryland, Virginia area

have spiked. It took three weeks for the number of cases to reach 1,000, but just over the past three days that number has spiked to 2,000.

CURNOW: OK, Sarah Westwood, thanks for that reporting there. Now Amazon employees at the company's Staten Island, New York, warehouse plan to walk off the job in the coming hours. Up to 200 workers are expected to protest Amazon's decision to keep that facility open despite news of a confirmed coronavirus case there last week.

And also, we know that investors remain worried about the pandemic's impact on jobs and corporate earnings. Right now, here are the U.S. stock futures. This is where they stand, clearly, all in the red ahead of this new week. Christine Romans joins me now from New York with more on all of this. So, certainly, the markets are preparing for a wobbly week again.


No doubt that's because a lot of folks are still waiting for paychecks and planning on a longer period of unemployment that they had initially thought.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Robyn, Wednesday is April 1st, so rent is due, auto loans are due, you know, that's going to be a really tough day for millions of Americans who we know have already lost their jobs. And we're told -- the White House says, look, you're going to get a stimulus check, every 179 million or so people are going to get a stimulus check, it's going to be a direct deposit and it could happen within three weeks.

So, that's a pretty aggressive timeline, but they're trying to get money into people's hands right away through that stimulus. Also part of that stimulus, a really important small business bailout. The Treasury Secretary saying go back to small businesses, he says this weekend -- "go back and hire your workers back. The government is paying you to do that."

And they say that by Friday, there should be methods in place to go to your local bank for a small business and apply and get money to pay for a couple of months of expenses. So, the real important turn this week, I think, Robyn, is how quickly the government could get hands -- money into the hands of unemployed people, small business owners and regular Americans.

CURNOW: Yes, most definitely. So let's also then talk about Amazon and this walk-out, certainly concerning for many of those employees.

ROMANS: Yes, this is a Staten Island facility where they're planning to walk out at noon. They want the facility shut down and thoroughly cleaned. Amazon, the corporate parent says, look, they are clean, they're doing routine cleaning of everything all of the time, and that they have a safe location. All of these are safe environments for the workers. And Amazon is saying that, you know, if anybody feels uncomfortable, if anybody is unhappy, they can go home, not paid, for as long as they need to, to weather the coronavirus outbreak.

So you're seeing sort of people on the ground at Amazon concerned at least in this one facility, the Staten Island facility, and they say that they're going to walk away just for a strike or a walk out earlier -- later today. The company saying that facility is safe. I will say Instacart and some other -- some other companies are also having big questions from their workers who are saying, look, how are we safe?

We were shopping in grocery stores, now we're going and delivering goods to people. So I think that you're going to see more questions as people get nervous, rightfully get nervous about trying to do their jobs, these essential workers trying to do their jobs when so many other people are home.

CURNOW: OK, Christine Romans, thanks so much.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

CURNOW: So, the impact on the travel and the airline industry has been felt across the globe as you know. So, the latest corporate victim is European airline easyJet which is now grounding its entire fleet due to the coronavirus pandemic. And a budget airline also reached an agreement with its union to furlough staff beginning April 1st. The company is among many airlines across the world making these drastic moves to survive the economic impact of the pandemic due to a drop in passengers.

Meanwhile, Airbus has delivered 4 million face masks from China to some European countries battling the pandemic. The plane maker says one of its aircraft landed in Spain over the weekend for shipments destined for France, Germany, the U.K. and Spain. These countries of course, racing to get more protective gear amid worldwide shortages.

So, you're watching CNN, still to come, we take a closer look at Europe where the pandemic rages and countries struggle to keep up. We're live across the continent, that is next.