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Detroit Doctor says Michigan Hospitals Overwhelmed; Payments Due as Millions Are Out of Work; Nurse Struggles to get Coronavirus Test; Schools Scramble to Help Students. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired April 1, 2020 - 09:30   ET



DR. TEENA CHOPRA, INFECTIOUS DISEASE SPECIALIST, DETROIT MEDICAL CENTER: So, according to some projections that were done by our epidemiologist here, a Dr. Steven (ph) in Wayne State University, we will not peak even until May or even June if we continue with these trends.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: So what you have laid out is an increase in disparity in America. The income inequality was already growing. But this crisis, this pandemic has worsened that. There's new polling and a survey out from IPSOS (ph) and "Axios" and what it shows is what, you know, we expected could happen, and that is that wealthier Americans can mainly stay at home and they can work from home and they can stay safer and they have more resources to healthcare. And poorer Americans with lower incomes and less education either have to keep going to work and taking public transportation or don't have a job. Only 3 percent of folks in that lowest threshold are able to work from home.

What are the long term societal impacts of that, far after this is over?

CHOPRA: As you know, Detroit has already suffered a lot of recession in the past. And finally when we were seeing Detroit picking up, you know, we saw this huge tsunami on top of us. And obviously the long- term effects are going to be devastating for Detroit as a city. I have practiced medicine here for 15 years and I know my population. You are right in saying that, you know, the fact that they are below the poverty line, the lack of transportation, they are still using public transportation. And they haven't been able to comply with all of the social distancing rules that have been instituted because of all of the factors we just talked about. So the long-term effects economically, socially, fiscally seem really devastating at this time.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Listen, Dr. Chopra, you're doing such important work there. We wish you the best and for every patient you see as well. Best of luck to them.

CHOPRA: Thank you very much.

SCIUTTO: Well, join us later this morning when our colleague, Wolf Blitzer, he we will speak live to Vice President Mike Pence about the federal response to the coronavirus. It is at 11:30 Eastern Time right here on CNN.

HARLOW: All right, it is the first of the month and we all know what that means, rent is due, right? Amid this crisis, everyone has to pay their rent. What do you do if you're struggling, if you're out of work, you're not getting a paycheck? We're going to talk about some things that could possibly help you, ahead.



SCIUTTO: Well, I don't have to tell many of this -- you this. It's, of course, the first of the month. That means rent and mortgage payments are coming due, despite 80 percent of Americans now living under stay at home orders.

HARLOW: Well, relief is on the way to help make ends meet for some folks. But is it really enough for millions across the country unable to work?

Chief business correspondent Christine Romans is here in New York.

I mean, so many people without a paycheck, and no end in sight, no idea when they're going to go back to work. They can't pay their rent today.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: T.S. Eliot said April is the cruelest month, and this is the cruelest month because the crisis is here for people's pocketbooks, but the stimulus money hasn't come yet. The money that's supposed to tide them over isn't here yet. And rent is due. You're hearing people talk about a rent strike in some neighborhoods in New York and in parts of California and they would have liked the stimulus bill to have, you know, just pressed the pause button on all rents and mortgages, but that -- that didn't happen. I mean you are weekly obligated to pay your rent today.

What I recommend is that you talk to your landlord or your lender. There are some banks, if you have a mortgage, who are working with you to defer your mortgage payments if you can show that you have hardship. But be careful, you might still have to pay that all in a few months, all in one lump sum, right?

And we say -- I always say, save. You know, this is why on paper you're supposed to have six to nine months of your -- of your expenses ready for a rainy day. But this crisis, guys, has revealed that this very strong economy, the biggest economy in the world, that's just not the case. I mean people, families, millions of families are living very close to the line.

You were just talking about that income -- the income inequality aspect of that. I mean I think the pay -- the rent story is that story in a nutshell.

SCIUTTO: It's an immediate demand, right? Something you've got to pay right away.

There's already talk after this $2 trillion relief package of another round. What would that look like to the extent we know and when?

ROMANS: I mean the money isn't even out the door yet of this $2 trillion, right?


ROMANS: I mean just -- just now the applications for this small business loans are going out. We don't have the $1,200 checks yet. And the jobless benefits, you've got to file for those jobless benefits. And so there will be money coming in.

But already you're hearing people talk about more. More stimulus money. That that $2 trillion, as humongous as it is, that is the lifeline just to keep small business and some of these industries afloat. And now we need to be talking about maybe infrastructure, maybe direct payments to states. You've heard a lot of different chatter over the past couple of days, guys, about more money that Congress may have to come up with so that we can talk about how you're going to stimulate the economy after this, beyond just, you know, saving the economy right now.

HARLOW: Can I just say one good tip, guys, that I've gotten, like, online and from friends is, if you can --


HARLOW: Pay those people that you would normally go to in advance. A little advance.


HARLOW: You know, your -- how -- if you have a cleaning person come, or, you know, someone who cuts your hair, if you can, pay them in advance.


HARLOW: It means a lot to them.

ROMANS: I've been doing gift cards in my town.

HARLOW: That's great. That's great.

ROMANS: I've been doing gift cards for the florist, at the diner, just trying to say, hey, look, I know maybe this will put a little revenue in your pocket for right now and then you can give me a free cup of coffee on the other end.



HARLOW: Yes. There you go. All right.

SCIUTTO: Christine Romans, thanks so much. A nurse in New York says that she has struggled just to get tested for the coronavirus. She's on the front lines and she ended up working for days while she was infected. We're going to have her story just ahead.


HARLOW: Healthcare workers, of course, putting themselves on the front lines and at risk just to save other lives. A stunning number came in overnight that really struck close to home for me.


In Minnesota, they account for nearly 28 percent of positive cases in the state. Healthcare workers make up 28 percent of coronavirus cases in that one state.

SCIUTTO: And, Poppy, listen to this. You've heard a lot of claims about how available testing is. Well, in New York, here's a stunning story of a nurse who struggled to get tested and she was treating patients throughout this.

CNN's senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen spoke to that woman.

Elizabeth, tell us what we learned.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Jim, this woman, she has been treating coronavirus patients for weeks. She then started to feel sick herself. And she had to pull a trick to get herself a test.


COHEN (voice over): This nurse says she worked for about seven days at two New York City hospitals while infected with the coronavirus. She went undetected because her hospital wasn't testing the staff. She doesn't want to reveal her name or where she works for fear she'll be fired.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Two weeks ago I was feeling back pain, a lot of back pain. And then one night I had really bad chest pain.

COHEN (on camera): Did you ask your hospital to test you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was told the hospital was not testing staff. That's what I was told when I asked about getting tested.

COHEN (voice over): She continued to work.

COHEN (on camera): You wore the same mask the entire day from patient to patient to patient?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Yes, we do. I'm touching that mask. It's on my face. Putting it back on. Virus flies in the air. It goes right up in my nose. It's so easy to get contaminated when you have to put on something that already has virus on it. COHEN: And you wore the same gown all day from patient to patient to


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, the same gown.

COHEN (voice over): She says the emergency room refused to test staff, so she went there in the middle of the night when she knew a friend would be on duty.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I said, please, just this one time, do it. I want to make sure I don't have it. I don't want to spread anything. She said, OK, and she tested me.

COHEN: It took five days for the results to come back. She tested positive.

COHEN (on camera): Do you worry that you might have infected patients?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, definitely. I'm worried I infected staff members, visitors, patients.

COHEN (voice over): We shared the nurse's story with the author of "Safe Patients Smart Hospitals" Dr. Peter Pronovost.

DR. PETER PRONOVOST, CHIEF CLINICAL TRANSFORMATION OFFICER, UNIVERSITY HOSPITALS: That story is heart-wrenching. And as a clinician or just a human being, it's horrible.

COHEN: Pronovost says he wishes the U.S. could do what's being done in some other countries. At Hadassah Hospital in Israel, utilizing tests that aren't needed for patients, they test all health care workers every five days.

DR. YORAM WEISS, HADASSAH MEDICAL CENTER: We feel that this is extremely important in order to protect our entire workforce and our patients.

COHEN: But this can't be done in the U.S.

PRONOVOST: Sadly, we just don't have enough tests to do that right now.

COHEN: Which is how this nurse ended up working while infected.

Fortunately, she's feeling better now and is in isolation at home.

COHEN (on camera): Do you think right now there are doctors and nurses working in the hospitals where you work who are positive for coronavirus?


COHEN: Does that scare you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, it does. Nobody wants to get this virus.


COHEN: Now, it's interesting, at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, where they they're doing that large scale testing of employees, they caught 16 employees who were positive and completely asymptomatic. They never would have caught them if they hadn't done the screening. And now those employees are isolated at home.

So to this point, without screening, you don't catch these asymptomatic employees or people like this nurse, for example, who had mild symptoms, she only caught it because she fought for a test.

Jim. Poppy.

HARLOW: A shocking story. Elizabeth, thank you for bringing it to us.

Also right now, more than 800 U.S. service members have tested positive for coronavirus. That includes at least 70 sailors on board a Navy aircraft carrier that is right now, Jim, docked in Guam.

SCIUTTO: Yes, what effect does this have on preparedness? The ship's commander now warning that decisive action is needed to prevent any loss of life on board.

CNN national security reporter Ryan Browne joins us now from the Pentagon.

Ryan, how concerned are U.S. military officials there and the Pentagon but also commanders of a ship deployed, for instance, about this effect on their ability to do their jobs?

RYAN BROWNE, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Well, Jim, there is growing concern about this. You know, initially, top Pentagon officials said that this aircraft carrier, the Theodore Roosevelt, would be ready to respond to a crisis if needed. But we're hearing reports of cases aboard that ship continuing to mount, surpassing 70 in recent days. And we saw that stark warning from the ship's commander, Captain Brett Crozier, who said that we are not at war. Sailors do not need to die here in this situation. So saying that they need to get these sailors off the ship as fast as possible.


Now, the Navy is saying they're trying to get as many sailors off as they can, put them in isolation, put them in quarantine. But there's some issues here. One, you can't just clear the ship. It's not a cruise ship. There's a nuclear reactor onboard. They have to maintain some personnel on that ship to run things, like that nuclear reactor. And there's a limit on the space there in Guam where they can put sailors in isolation in quarantine.

Now, the Guam government said it will open up some hotels today to allow for sailors who have tested negative for the virus to be placed into isolation, but they're still working to get as many sailors off that ship as fears about the spread of the pandemic there continue.

SCIUTTO: Yes. HARLOW: Wow. Ryan Browne, keep us posted. Thank you very, very much.

BROWNE: You bet.

HARLOW: All right, next we're going to focus on the children. Millions of them and their parents right now trying to navigate virtual learning as schools scramble to insure that all children have an equal chance to learn, especially those without a computer or Internet access. We'll speak with the superintendent of Camden, New Jersey, schools, where almost all of the students live below the poverty line. She's next.



HARLOW: So, right now this may be your reality at home right now. Millions of children are starting their virtual school day as parents and students try to turn the kitchen table into a classroom. Schools scrambling to help those, especially without access to a computer or maybe parents at home to help them.

In Camden, New Jersey, where a majority of the public school student population is below the poverty line and nearly all of them receive free breakfast and free lunch at school, it is particularly hard.

Katrina McCombs is the superintendent there and she joins me this morning.

Thank you very much for being here. And I really wanted to highlight Camden because of the need that you have there. The digital divide, let's call it, and the fact that only about 30 percent of your students, at least as of a few weeks ago, even had access to a computer at home to get their work done. Where do we stand this morning?

KATRINA MCCOMBS, SUPERINTENDENT, CAMDEN CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT: So, this morning, where we stand is that we have really been able to garner the support of many philanthropists, as well as partner with the New Jersey Department of Education in order to make sure that we have Chromebooks for all of our students in the district from grades k through 8. And so, more specifically, we were able to receive a combined philanthropic donation of $400,000 from various partners to cover all high school students, to purchase 1,550 Chromebooks and we're using our title funds in coordination with the state to make sure our k-8 students have Chromebooks. So we are just awaiting those devices to come in. And when they do, we will find a safe way to deploy them in order to help to close the digital divide here in our city.

HARLOW: That's great news. Let's hope it happens soon, right, because every day missed is a day they -- that they fall behind.

MCCOMBS: Absolutely.

HARLOW: What about those children with special needs? Because their ability to learn at home, even if they have a Chromebook, just -- it's not going to be the same.

MCCOMBS: It is not going to be the same. However, while we're in this remote or continuous learning atmosphere, we are working very closely with our special services division, our child study teams, to make sure that our staff is on call and that we are available to be responsive to the needs of parents who may be facing the challenge of supporting their students with special needs for an extended period of time for the first time. The state has also been working diligently to support efforts to insure that we're able to provide certain related services like occupational therapy, speech therapy, et cetera, through a teleconference format, and for that to also be able to be recognized as a way to meet a student's IEP needs.

So the challenge exists, but we're finding creative ways in collaboration with the state and our partners to meet the needs of our students with special needs as well.

HARLOW: I was able to spend a few days in Camden a few years ago doing some reporting on your school system there and some positive changes that had been happening. And I think we have some video that we can show folks. But because there's such economic disparity and because you have almost all of your students living at or below the poverty line, I just wonder how concerned you are about this crisis exacerbating income inequality in your district specifically. I can imagine so many of the parents of the students right now are out of work and not getting a paycheck.

MCCOMBS: Absolutely. And I think what you're sharing, Poppy, just strikes home with not only myself, but my -- also my other colleagues who lead large urban school districts. And so what we have done in Camden to make sure that we are being responsive to everything that you just mentioned is to work in collaboration with our city government, with our state officials, and also our community organizations to insure not only that our students have the work that they need, not only that we're closing the digital divide, but also that we are providing food, basic necessity for our families during this time, in collaboration with other partners. So twice a week we're able to --

HARLOW: Yes. Are -- are all those kids -- are all the kids getting fed, because most of them relied on free lunch and free breakfast at school?

MCCOMBS: That's right, because we have a 95.8 percent poverty rate in our district and 100 percent, as you shared, of our students qualify for free and reduced lunch, we are able to serve food, meals, breakfast and lunch, to all of our students each day. And we have been able to do that, not only with the district schools, but to partner with our charter and renaissance providers so that every child in the city of Camden, every family has access to food at their neighborhood school.


MCCOMBS: And so we have 13 sites available.


HARLOW: OK. Good. Good luck to you guys, Superintendent McCombs, and thanks for your time.

MCCOMBS: Thank you so much, Poppy.