Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Europe Struggles As Number of Coronavirus Deaths Rise; Coronavirus Outbreak Takes A Growing Toll On First Responders In The U.S. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired March 30, 2020 - 05:30   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:31:51]

ROBYN CURNOW, CNN ANCHOR: This was Naples, Italy on Sunday morning. As you can see here, priests leading Sunday mass from a rooftop. Worshipers prayed from their balconies so they wouldn't violate the lockdown which is still in effect there.

The country's also still being hard-hit there with 756 new deaths on Sunday alone, but that was a slight decline from previous days.

And in Spain, though, the health ministry is reporting 838 new deaths, the country's highest increase to date in this pandemic. That brings the overall death toll to more than 6,500 people.

And then in Britain, a warning that emergency measures could last for months as Boris Johnson and his government face criticism over their handling of the crisis.

So let's take you right across Europe. Barbie Nadeau is in Rome, Al Goodman is in Madrid, and Nic Robertson is in London. Good to see you all.

Barbie, first to you in Rome. Powerful images coming there with Sunday mass in Naples. But Italy and health workers still struggling to contain this death rate all these weeks in.

That's right. You know, we're into the fourth week now of the lockdown but we are seeing some optimistic -- cautious optimistic good news here.

We've seen a relative decrease in the number of new cases every day and that's important for those health care workers. We've seen also an increase in the number of people who are listed as recovered. That means people walking out of the hospital or getting out of isolation from their homes. You know, here, after four long weeks, we will take any good news we can get.

And those health care workers are under increasing pressure but they, too, have been given a boost with help from outside Italy now -- new doctors, new equipment. People to try to ease the situation, especially in the north of this country. CURNOW: And, Barbie, we're broadcasting around the world and here in

the U.S. You, in Italy, have gone through four weeks of this, as you say. What is your warning? What is your advice to many American viewers?

NADEAU: Well, I mean, I think you have to take the lockdown seriously. It is really, really difficult, especially now we're getting to the first of the month here -- rent is due, bills are due. And I think people really understand that only the lockdown will stop the spread of the virus. And it's tough, it's difficult, but it's worth it if we're going to start to see these numbers decrease.

CURNOW: Thanks so much, Barbie.

I want to go now to Al Goodman. Al, you are there in Spain and again, also, same where you are -- a spike in deaths and a real sense that the country's struggling to contain this.

AL GOODMAN, JOURNALIST: Indeed, Robyn. Spain is -- got the world's second-highest death toll from coronavirus, just behind Italy. It's considerably behind still, but that's been going up.

Just to give you an idea, when the stay-at-home lockdown order went into effect two weekends ago, there were slightly more than 300 deaths from this virus. Now there are more than 6,500 and about 37 percent of those have come in just the last three days. And we are expecting new figures at any moment here from the national government. They come out at midday for the previous 24 hours.

[05:35:01]

I'm standing in front of one of the major hospitals in the capital, the Gregorio Maranon Hospital, which the military is now moving into this day to set up a field hospital because it's overloaded. And they have tried to relieve the pressure on this hospital and others in the Madrid region, which is the hardest hit.

The Madrid regional government telling CNN a short while ago that they started this crisis with 641 intensive care unit beds. They've now almost tripled that to 1,745, but less than 20 percent are available. That's why the military is going in this day.

So in Madrid and in the second city, Barcelona, on the Mediterranean coast, basically, a frantic effort to come up with enough ICU beds using hotels, field hospitals -- whatever it takes. And the central government -- the Spanish government trying to get the 17 regions of Spain to share resources and alleviate the pressure here where it's needed most right now -- Robyn.

CURNOW: OK, Al, thanks for that update there from Spain.

Let's go across the channel to the U.K. Nic Robertson is live in London with more on the response there. Hi, Nic, good to see you.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, hi, Robyn. Positive news from the government. It's called for retired health workers to return and help out in hospitals. They've had 20,000 people, the prime minister has announced, who've responded to that.

And three-quarters of a million people -- volunteers, now, to help out the health service. To help get food and take care of those 1.5 million people who are vulnerable that the government asked to shelter in place -- shelter at home and not go out. So a huge national response to the current pandemic.

But at the same time, there are people who are criticizing the way the government has handled this.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BORIS JOHNSON, PRME MINISTER, UNITED KINGDOM: I've taken a test that has come out positive.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the first world leader to get COVID-19. His health secretary and several top officials all have the symptoms; all self-isolating.

The message from government, keep calm -- we are carrying on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are no gaps in government.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): As emergency hospitals are hastily constructed, masks and other vital protective equipment (PPE) belatedly rushed to the pandemic's front lines -- hospitals -- by soldiers.

There is also another message from government.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The situation will get worse before it gets better.

ROBERTSON (on camera): What to believe, what to think? Questions everyone is asking with some falling unfavorably against the government.

The respected medical journal "The Lancet" describing the government's response so far as a national scandal. Its editor-in-chief saying the government has failed to follow the World Health Organization's guidelines.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Claudia Paolini, a thoracic anesthesiologist, leads a union representing doctors.

DR. CLAUDIA PAOLINI, PRESIDENT, HOSPITAL CONSULTANTS AND SPECIALISTS ASSOCIATION: It is a snapshot -- a snapshot of our members into the PPE and the preparedness for the onslaught. And 80 percent of our members that replied to this snapshot said they were fearful, they were anxious. They were fearful for their safety.

JOHNSON: Our action plan, as you know, sets out four phases of our approach attacking the virus -- contain, delay, research, and mitigate.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Just three weeks ago, Johnson's plan sounded solid. No one mentions it now. Back then, this former top government official was urging faster action and now reluctantly accepts the fate this government has delivered.

JONATHAN POWELL, SERVED AS CHIEF OF STAFF TO FORMER BRITISH PRIME MINISTER TONY BLAIR: I think it's very difficult to criticize the government in these circumstances. They're trying to do their best under very, very difficult circumstances. I think when we look back at it when the inquiry happens, people may say he was a bit late to move because usually, my experience in government was you have to move quickly if you have a crisis like this.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): That questions will need to be raised is not in doubt. Paolini's priority for now, keeping her doctors' spirits up.

PAOLINI: The questions will have to come afterwards. It's not something that is actually particularly useful right now to decide whether that's the right thing or the wrong thing because we can't judge it because we don't know what the end result is.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): A result that depends not just on government but on everyone in the country doing their bit -- staying home and social distancing.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTSON: And more news from the government today. An alternative to the mechanical ventilator system that is used to support patients in the greatest need that requires -- you know, requires more complex procedures.

[05:40:05]

There's something called the continuous positive airway pressure system, which doesn't require that sort of intense medical procedures to be performed, but does, by the pressure of the oxygen given to the patients. It has been used in China and Italy but it's now been reversed-engineered by the University Hospital here in London to go into production and stack up production of this system that keeps the lungs open for longer.

So that will take some of the pressure off the desperately needed ventilator systems that the U.K. has. It has about 8,000 at the moment. It's trying to get procurement for many, many more but it's all about scaling up and doing it quickly.

So this is an intervention that the government -- the government is sort of putting forward at the moment and this could be coming online as early as later this week.

CURNOW: OK. So, yes, some sort of stopgap for some patients.

I know that we've been seeing a lot of these shortages in New York and, of course, across Europe. How prepared is Britain to ramp up the expectation that this could get worse in the coming days and weeks?

ROBERTSON: There are many metrics in which -- by which to measure this. If one compares, in Germany, the many -- it is now into the sort of hundreds of thousands of coronavirus tests that the government can perform there. Britain is only up to about 10,000 during the same period. So, the British government is sort of behind on its testing capacity.

It has been criticized by doctors and nurses at the front line by -- for not providing quickly enough that personal protection equipment. The government announced over the weekend it had delivered 170 million masks, 40 million pairs of gloves, 13.7 million aprons to front line medics over the weekend, and that's been done by the army.

But given the numbers within the health service, the numbers of medical professionals that are using this equipment and the need to sort of, you know, not -- it's not reusable, some of it -- that, of course, while the numbers are big -- you know, experts are revising -- look, actually, we just need more of this. And in some areas, some medical authorities are reporting that

actually, when the deliveries came to them they didn't get the gloves or didn't get some other item that they needed. So clearly, that's still -- that's still stepping up.

So, the criticisms exist but everyone recognizes, at the moment, that's not -- you know, that's not going to be helpful. That the helpful thing to do is to -- is to rally around and support, and that's why you have three-quarters of a million people volunteering to do that.

CURNOW: Yes, a very British thing to step up. Look, keep calm and carry on, as you said.

Thanks so much for that report. Nic Robertson in London. Thanks, Nic.

So you're watching CNN.

And the job is to protect the public from the pandemic, but as the virus spreads, New York's first responders are struggling to protect themselves. Details on the growing risks they face -- that's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:46:20]

CURNOW: A tribute for emergency staff at a hospital in The Netherlands as you can see here, gathered on one side of a security door to serenade their emergency room colleagues. They sang and danced. You'll hear them sing "You'll Never Walk Alone." As of Sunday morning, the hospital was caring for about 70 people with coronavirus.

And this is New York City expressing their appreciation for medical professionals, first responders, and all essential workers.

And the pandemic is certainly taking a toll on the first responders trying to manage the crisis. New York's police department has now lost three employees to the virus. And we get more on all of this from Jason Carroll -- Jason.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): To see the toll the pandemic has taken on first responders in New York City, one need only to look at these police officers standing at full attention in the rain as one of their own, Det. Cedric Dixon, takes his final journey.

DERMOT SHEA, COMMISSIONER, NEW YORK POLICE DEPARTMENT: He is going to be so sorely missed and it is just a very, very difficult time for the 32nd precinct and for the department as a whole.

CARROLL (voice-over): Dixon had been on the force for 23 years. He's the first sworn member of the NYPD to die from COVID-19 and the third member of the department to die within a little more than 48 hours. The first two were civilian employees.

SHEA: As I stand here, I cannot begin to describe what we are feeling. What the families of these three heroes are feeling.

We are hurting, we are crying, and we continue to fight. We simply have no other choice. It is in our heart and it is in our soul to sacrifice, to serve, to fight for you.

CARROLL (voice-over): Nearly 5,000 of the department's uniformed employees have called out sick. That's about 12 percent of the NYPD, the largest police force in the country. The department says there would be nearly 900 positive coronavirus cases by morning. At least 29 are hospitalized; one in critical condition.

New York's governor acknowledging the department and the risk all first responders are facing.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: Do 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.

CARROLL (voice-over): The impact of the pandemic being felt across the country. On Friday, more than 400 members of the Detroit Police Department in quarantine. Thirty-nine tested positive, including the chief.

MAYOR MIKE DUGGAN, DETROIT, MICHIGAN: We are going to continue to ramp up the protection of our police officers. It is, right now, our highest priority.

CARROLL (voice-over): In Chicago, at least 21 police department employees infected. The LAPD now reporting a total of at least 24 employees with confirmed cases of COVID-19.

While in Racine County, Wisconsin, officers there, like in many cities, adopting new ways to protect themselves. SHERIFF CHRISTOPHER SCHMALING, RACINE COUNTY, WISCONSIN: We may ask

you to step out of the car. We may ask you to step out of your home on a routine call. It's in an effort for us to stay safe. It's an effort to keep you safe.

[05:50:00]

CARROLL (voice-over): It's the same in Hartford, Connecticut. Police there giving patrol cars added wipe-downs and sending a clear message to the public.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Reduce your contact with others.

CARROLL (on camera): Back in New York, the city's fire department says 235 of its members tested positive for COVID-19. The department also says EMS had its busiest four days in history last week.

Again, the governor praising all first responders, saying their ability to overcome fear makes them great human beings.

Jason Carroll, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CURNOW: Great, indeed. Thanks, Jason, for that report.

I'm Robyn Curnow. More news after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARK MCCLURG, CORONAVIRUS PATIENT: Look at me and listen. If you get coronavirus and you have to go into the ICU, that means you're going to struggle to breathe. You can't go on a ventilator.

So, please, please listen to all the advice of the government. Keep a social distance.

KAREN MANNERING, CORONAVIRUS PATIENT: It's not worth going out. I've got three kids at home and a husband that I can't see. I don't know where I caught it from but I'm very ill.

And I'm telling you now, if you're going to meet your friends for a stupid beer on the sea walk because the weather is nice, you can take this home and you're going to kill someone -- one of your family members.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[05:55:26]

CURNOW: Hard to listen to, isn't it, but wise advice from two people there who are suffering from coronavirus. Their basic message, you heard it. Keep your distance and adhere to those guidelines.

So, thanks for your company. Let's help our medical workers by staying at home and staying safe.

Thanks so much for joining me. I'll be here all week with you. I'm Robyn Curnow. "NEW DAY" is next with John and -- John and -- Alisyn and John.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will be extending our guidelines to April 30th to slow the spread.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH: Looking at what we're seeing now, I would say between 100,000 and 200,000 deaths. I just don't think we really need to make a projection when it's such a moving target.

GOV. JOHN BEL EDWARDS (D), LOUISIANA: We remain on the trajectory, really, to overwhelm our capacity to deliver health care by the end of the first week in April.

GOV. JAY INSLEE (D), WASHINGTON: Unless we continue a very vigorous social distancing program in my state, this is going to continue to spread like wildfire.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to go and work to get you every conceivable supply you need and get it to you quick.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're running out of equipment in the hospital. Nearly everybody that comes in the emergency department has this and we're getting completely overwhelmed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Monday, March 30th, 6:00 here in New York.

END