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U.S. Death Toll From Coronavirus Surpasses 3,500 Deadliest Day; Coronavirus Taskforce Debating Whether To Advise Americans To Wear Masks; G.O.P. Governors Rebuke Trump's Claim On Testing Saying They Need More. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired March 31, 2020 - 14:00   ET



LISA SCALES, PRESIDENT AND CEO, GREATER PITTSBURGH COMMUNITY FOOD BANK: It's similar. It harkens back for me to the work I did in Louisiana after Katrina. I was there for three weeks helping to direct food and volunteers where it was needed most, and it's really palpable here the fear, especially in the community.

We're serving many people who are newly unemployed. That's why the response in terms of people who are calling us, people who are coming to our front door, we've seen a five-fold increase in the number of people we're serving just from our facility here.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Lisa, I appreciate all of that you do and I hope you're able to continue your important work. Thank you.

SCALES: Thank you.

COOPER: I just want to reset our continuing coverage of the global coronavirus pandemic. Right now, there are more than 177,000 cases in the United States, more than 3,500 deaths so far.

Michigan is seeing one of the greatest surges in cases, especially in Detroit. They are converting a major Convention Center there into a temporary hospital. It's normally the home of the Detroit Auto Show, for instance.

In New York, they are opening up two high-profile hospitals. They have one field hospital in Central Park, the other Navy Ship taking in -- it is going to be taking non-coronavirus patients.

New York's Governor Andrew Cuomo is welcoming the additional beds, but it's also warning people not to get complacent.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): Everyone is subject to this virus. It is the great equalizer. I don't care how smart, how rich, how powerful you think you are. I don't care how young, how old -- this virus is the great equalizer.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: Well, in California, there are some signs that social

distancing is starting to work. Nick Watt is in Los Angeles for us. He is following the developments around the country -- Nick.

NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, LA County just told us they still expect the number of confirmed cases here to double in the next few days, and we just got some staggering news out of Louisiana. In just one day, Anderson, 1,200 new cases and 54 new deaths.

And as you just played, we just heard from the Governor of New York, he says we have been behind this virus since day one and we're still playing catch up.


WATT (voice over): In Pittsburgh, lines at a food bank; in Atlanta, city workers on the front line now getting hazard pay. In New York today, the first patients arrive at that field hospital in Central Park.

Here at the epicenter, the rate of new cases, still climbing, but now slowing.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: What we're starting to see right now is just the inklings, and I don't want to put too much stock on it because you don't want to get overconfident.


WATT (voice over): More than 10,000 coronavirus cases hospitalized right now across New York State, among them, Mia Mungin's 30-year-old sister.


MIA MUNGIN, SISTER OF HOSPITALIZED CORONAVIRUS PATIENT: She is heavily sedated, they paralyzed her, so we are unable to speak to her.


WATT (voice over): Mia Mungin is a healthcare worker who thinks she had coronavirus, couldn't get a test.


MUNGIN: And I can only speculate that I possibly, you know, infected her.


WATT (voice over): Today, the White House Taskforce is discussing whether we should all now be wearing masks if we go out.


FAUCI: The thing that has inhibited that bit is to make sure that we don't take away the supply of masks from the healthcare workers who need them.


WATT (voice over): Seventy eight percent of Americans are now under some sort of stay-at-home order. Maryland just pulled that trigger.


GOV. LARRY HOGAN (R-MD): One of the last tools in our arsenal, because we reached the point where the cases had exploded in the Washington region here.


WATT (voice over): Californians had been told to stay home more than 10 days now.


DR. JAHAN FAHIMI, EMERGENCY MEDICINE MEDICAL DIRECTOR, UC-SAN FRANCISCO: I think quite honestly, the shelter-in-place and the social distancing is working because that surge has yet to come.


WATT (voice over): But even with social distancing, one model now suggests that at the peak, mid-April, more than 2,200 Americans will die in a single day.

Hotspots now in Detroit, New Jersey, New Orleans. A Navy medical unit preparing to deploy to the Big Easy.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're tracking it about five percent on the mortality rate and it's just -- that's high.


WATT (voice over): And the economic price we're paying, hoping to save lives. Second quarter about to start, the U.S. economy could shrink by 34 percent according to Goldman Sachs.

A cafe in Wisconsin, takeout only, of course, now giving away food for free.


CLIFF HOOKS, WISCONSIN CAFE OWNER: If somebody can afford, that's great. If they can't, well, that's fine, too. They still have got to eat.


WATT (voice over): And we can't let up. Not yet.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You get your foot on snap, but we can't let up because if we take our foot off, he's coming back right up and get us.


WATT (on camera): Now, a question many of us now have is will the coronavirus return in the fall and get us again? This morning, Dr. Anthony Fauci on our air said yes, he anticipates it will come back but it will not be like this time.

We will have more equipment. We will be better prepared and hopefully those who were infected now will have some immunity -- Anderson.


COOPER: Yes. Nick Watt, I appreciate it. Thanks.

President Trump says he could foresee a scenario where all Americans are recommended to wear masks in public to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

There's worry that a policy like that would only make it harder, of course, for medical professionals already suffering from short supplies and get the mask they need to stay safe.

The World Health Organization says only those sick and those treating patients should wear masks.

Still, some countries have made it mandatory for people to wear masks in public. Joining me now to discuss Dr. Ali Raja, Executive Vice Chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and Matthew Frieman, Associate Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Maryland.

Dr. Raja, in New York, the rate of increase of new infections appears to be slowing down. It's still going up, but the rise is at least slowing with social distancing measures. Would, if all Americans wearing masks, is that something you think would slow infections even more?

DR. ALI RAJA, EXECUTIVE VICE CHAIRMAN, DEPARTMENT OF EMERGENCY MEDICINE, MASSACHUSETTS GENERAL HOSPITAL-BOSTON: Anderson, there is no doubt that a well-fitting mask actually prevents the spread of infection, especially if it's got good filtration.

The problem is that so many of these homemade masks, they either don't fit well, or they don't really have good filtration mechanisms in place, and I worry that they give people a false sense of security.

COOPER: The argument has also been that if you're wearing a mask, you end up touching your -- and you're wearing it walking around the streets and everywhere you end up touching your face a lot more than you would ordinarily.

RAJA: That's right. Adjusting a homemade mask or even just messing around with your eyes when you know that you shouldn't be doing it, it's a lot easier to do when you've got this false sense of security, as I mentioned.

It's also really easy to get well within six feet and very close to people when we should be physically distancing ourselves. So I'd focus more on the physical distance than a poorly fitting homemade mask.

Dr. Frieman, where do you come down in this debate?

MATTHEW FRIEMAN, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF MICROBIOLOGY AND IMMUNOLOGY, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND: So I agree with him wholeheartedly. I think that people who don't normally wear masks are -- you end up touching your face more, you end up contaminate yourself more.

And also, again, the homemade masks don't do much protection. They may limit large droplets, but not small droplets through the pores of the mask. So unless you really can't get well-fitting masks, it's not going to have much good, but -- and we need those masks in the hospitals for our frontline healthcare workers.

COOPER: Does it make sense to -- Dr. Frieman, I mean, I still can't wrap my mind around the fact that in the United States of America, doctors and nurses and people who need it do not have enough masks and PPE. It boggles my mind that still at this point we still don't have this done.

FRIEMAN: I agree it's something that needs to be obviously have done before. Right now, we're playing catch up on getting the PPE where it needs to be like in the hospitals and it is a big concern and you worry about healthcare workers getting affected, having to go home and then losing that kind of force multiplying effects from having doctors and nurses and other people in the hospital be able to care for multiple people during the day.

COOPER: The Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Fauci said this one he was asked that the coronavirus would come back again in the fall. I just want to play this for our viewers.


FAUCI: I would anticipate that that would actually happen because of the degree of transmissibility. However, if you come back in the fall, it will be a totally different ballgame of what happened when we first got hit with it in the beginning of this year.


COOPER: Dr. Raja, I mean, is that the new reality, you think? And I'm not sure why it would be such a different ballgame. I mean, I know he is talking about, you know, we'd be better prepared for it and have more equipment. But if this thing is -- you know, there's an estimate now going around of, you know, more than 80,000 deaths by early August even with the current social distancing, it seems like there's still going to be problems with shortages of supplies and ventilators and everything.

RAJA: It's a good question, Anderson. Dr. Fauci is right. This will likely be cyclical, at least for the next few years. When people come out of doors in a few months and we start spreading this to people who haven't been exposed yet, it is very transmissible, and so we'll have many more people affected.

But there's a couple of really important things that hopefully will have changed by then. The first is that hopefully, we'll have some treatments that have gone through trials and will have been shown to be successful.

Everything right now is being postulated or being based on case series rather than true trials.

Secondly, we should be well on our way, although we probably won't have one yet, but we should be well on our way to having a vaccine that can hopefully stop future cycles in their tracks.


COOPER: Dr. Frieman, there's a new report from "The Wall Street Journal" with documents how one New York hospital group is telling its ER doctors to think more critically about who to save with ventilators.

I know this is something that in Italy, Spain, doctors have had to, you know, come up with guidelines for and think about, at least in Italy, they published guidelines about, you know, who you choose to give a ventilator to if you have to make a choice.

Those are tough -- those are, I mean, impossible choices to me.

FRIEMAN: Absolutely. And I'm not a clinician, I'm a lab scientist, but I've read the same reports and seen what's happening in other countries, especially Italy, and I think that it becomes a big problem for the healthcare centers to really deal with this.

And this is exactly why all the recommendations are to keep people inside, to limit your exposure to other people who may be positive when they're symptomatic or asymptomatic, and to really try to limit the surge that's going to go on in hospitals like it is going on in New York right now, so that all of those measures don't have to come into place as it really moves around the country.

And I think we will see waves of this from metro center -- metro area to metro area around the country.

We're seeing it now in Louisiana. It's in Seattle, San Francisco. Some are handling it better than others. And I think that the big worry is that as it gets to maybe those smaller centers of populations where there isn't two dozen hospitals like there are in New York City, that they can be quickly overwhelmed, and this is going to be a broader problem. COOPER: Yes, Professor Frieman, I appreciate it. And Dr. Raja, thank

you so much for all that you do, both of you. Thank you.

President Trump seems surprised when some governors told him they were still lacking the number of test kits they need to do to try to accurately track the virus. I'll speak to an Emergency Room doctor who says that disconnect is devastating to medical workers.

Plus the Secretary of State warns U.S. citizens abroad that time is running out to get home if they want to. We'll take you live to New Orleans also where people lined up to get tested today as the Governor warns the state is dangerously low on ventilators.



COOPER: During this national crisis, a critical disconnect has popped up between the President and the country's governors over testing kits. Some Democrats as well as Republican governors are pushing back against President Trump's suggestion that the lack of testing kits is no longer a problem. It is a problem.

Any scientists will tell you that -- it is. Here's audio obtained by "The New York Times" in Monday's conference call between Trump and those governors, including Montana's Steve Bullock.


GOV. STEVE BULLOCK (D-MT): Literally, we are one day away. If we don't get test tests from the C.D.C. that we wouldn't be able to do testing in Montana.

While we're trying to do all the contact tracing, we don't have adequate tests to necessarily do it, we don't have the PPE along the way, and we're not finding markets to be able to do that.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Tony, you can answer it if you want, but I haven't heard anything about testing in weeks. We've tested more now than any nation in the world. We've got these great tests and we're coming up with another one tomorrow where it's almost instantaneous testing. But I haven't heard about testing being a problem.


COOPER: I mean, that's extraordinary. That is extraordinary. The idea that the President of the United States hasn't heard anything about testing being a problem. Any scientist will tell you what the situation is and the need for testing even in states and particularly in states where that hasn't -- that allegedly do not have a high number of cases.

Dr. Amy Cho specializes in Emergency Medicine and is a member of the group Physicians for Patient Protection. Dr. Cho, I mean, this just boggles my mind that this country has messed up testing so much and continues to.

The fact that, you know, the Governor there in Montana is talking about trying to do contact tracing, which is essential, long term and isn't able to do it because we don't have enough tests.

DR. AMY CHO, ER DOCTOR: Yes, absolutely. Testing is completely -- it's the first step we have to take in order to do the proven public health measures that we need to do to tamp down this epidemic and this pandemic.

If we do not have testing, we have to continue to burn through extensive amounts of personal protective equipment. We are increasing our risk of exposures to healthcare workers, as well as to the general public, and if we don't have testing, we're not able to see the enemy. We cannot see what we need to be fighting and we don't know where to attack it at.

COOPER: It seems like, you know, it's very easy in the sort of the day to day coverage of all this to kind of lose sight -- and it's important, I think every now and then to step back and just point out. It is ridiculous that in this country, we have messed up testing so much and still continue to and that we are not giving doctors and nurses that they don't have the very basic protective equipment that they need.

And even the fact that governors in some states are not having people stay at home, that's going to impact all of us who are staying at home, because we're going to have to stay at home longer, because governors in some states haven't figured out that this is actually a real issue.

CHO: It's a huge issue. You can see what's happening in New York because there was no testing for the two weeks leading up to when people started presenting critically ill to the hospitals.

If you do not do testing, if you are not capable of doing testing, you have no idea what is going on in your communities. You have no idea how big the risk is, and you have no idea what measures you need to take in order to decrease the risk to everybody.


CHO: Testing is absolutely critical. The disease itself is not something we can screen for as medical professionals. It's very different from other conditions and other diseases.

We have to assume that everybody coming to our Emergency Departments might have this and we need to use appropriate precautions because of that.

Testing would help to alleviate some of those issues. With PPE, it would help us to be able to keep our healthcare workers safe. It would help us to prevent hospitals from becoming hotspots.

We have to have testing. The issues now are hinged on other supplies that are needed for testing like reagent and nasal swabs. It's a supply chain issue and the supply chain has not been secured.

COOPER: It's also interesting because -- and I talked to Dr. Fauci about this last week, and he certainly understands the issues and the problems better than anybody.

The idea that the President hasn't heard from him about testing, you know, in weeks seems just frankly -- unimaginable, frankly. But even in states that, you know, still have not reported huge numbers. It's really -- they don't really have the testing to report an accurate sampling of what the spread of this is in the general population.

And Dr. Fauci was pointing out that it is essential in those states where the numbers may seem low right now that they do have contact tracing -- because that is the way to keep the numbers low.

CHO: Absolutely. It's absolutely critical. We need the testing. Most states across the country are limiting testing to healthcare workers and to hospitalized patients because we have to ration our supplies. We do not have the ability to test and do mass testing that is needed.

South Korea has been successful in tamping down this epidemic by doing mass testing and proven public health measures like contact tracing and isolation and we need the testing in order to be able to do that.

COOPER: So, you work in Minneapolis hospitals, are you seeing any patient right now with problems that do not look like they're from the coronavirus? I mean, is it difficult to tell symptoms sometimes?

CHO: It's incredibly difficult. My colleagues from across the country have been sharing their stories and their experiences with coronavirus. Unfortunately, we thought early on that patients wouldn't have diarrhea with this illness, but that's not what we're seeing in the United States. A large proportion of patients are having diarrhea even though the critical illness involves the lungs.

There's patients who are coming in with hallucinations, patient are coming in with nausea and vomiting, patients who are coming in because they cut their foot, but they may still have this virus with minimal symptoms yet still be infective and still be putting our healthcare workers and other patients at risk.

So the great fear for every healthcare provider is that it is a sneak attack. Somebody who doesn't even know that they're sick is going to give us the virus or we're going to be contaminated and we're going to transfer that to another patient and make them ill.

COOPER: Dr. Amy Cho, I appreciate all you're doing. Please be careful out there. Thank you.

Quick -- a quick programming note, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden will join CNN next hour to discuss the response to the coronavirus crisis.

A pastor in Louisiana has just been criminally charged for continuing to host hundreds of people for services in a flagrant violation of the Florida Governor's orders. We'll take you live to New Orleans -- excuse me, I said Florida Governor -- I was referring to Louisiana there. We will take you live to New Orleans ahead.

Plus Goldman Sachs predicts the U.S. economy should shrink by a third as this crisis drags on, we'll take a look at what that means for you.




CUOMO: So you have 50 states competing to buy the same item. We all wind up bidding up each other and competing against each other, where do you now literally will have a company call you up and say, well, California just outbid you.

It's like being on eBay with 50 other states bidding on a ventilator, and then F.E.M.A. gets involved and F.E.M.A. starts bidding. And now F.E.M.A. is bidding on top of the 50. So F.E.M.A. is driving up the price. What sense does this make?


COOPER: It doesn't make any sense. That was New York's governor today raising the alarm about the bidding war between states and F.E.M.A. for critical medical supplies.

This comes as Louisiana's governor warns his state will run out of ventilators next week. A state that reported a surge of more than 1,200 new cases along with 54 new deaths in just one day.

CNN's Ed Lavandera is live in New Orleans for us. So exactly how many ventilators does the State of Louisiana have right now? And what's the timetable for getting more for them?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the Governor here, Anderson has requested some --