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New York Governor Says, 391 People Have Died In State In Past 24 Hours; Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) On Phase 4 Coronavirus Aid Package. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired April 1, 2020 - 13:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I guess Long Island and Westchester, too?

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): Yes, they are not at capacity now. It depends on how fast that curve goes up. We monitor it on the daily basis and that's the $64,000 question, Jimmy (ph), is when you get to the apex, you will be over capacity. Any of those models, by the way, say you are over capacity, you are over 100 percent by any model at the apex.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: You're watching New York's Governor Andrew Cuomo. He says there were nearly 400 deaths across New York State alone in the past 24 hours. And he says that number will continue to rise.

The face of the pandemic here in New York has been Elmhurst Hospital in Queens. They even brought in a refrigerated truck to act as a makeshift morgue. Now, they're seeing another uptick in the need for intensive care beds. Our Shimon Prokupecz is at Elmhurst Hospital.

Shimon, what is the situation there? How is the hospital handling things?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The hospital, obviously, is functioning. You know, one doctor explained to me, Anderson, they're learning tricks to cope with what's going on, and it's become the new normal. The entire emergency department has basically been converted into COVID care. There are some patients within the emergency room that are not COVID patients, but almost entirely, some 150 patients inside this emergency room has turned into basically a place where COVID patients are treated.

The most serious, obviously, are those that are in critical care, that are in the ICU, in some cases, on ventilators. And what's happening is, is that it's just one crowded space, what someone described as just stretchers from head to toe, everyone close together, doctors just trying to work on a lot of these patients in very crammed situations.

And the thing is, we heard the governor talk about transfers. That is the biggest priority right now, certainly for Elmhurst Hospital here. They want to get patients who are not critical. They are suffering with the coronavirus, but they're not critical. They want them moved out so that they can make space and take better care of the more critical patients.

I was told this morning that supplies, though they're low, they are coming. Ventilators right now are okay behind me. Keep in mind, this hospital, Anderson, as we know, was one of the first hospitals really across the nation to really see this influx, this large amount of critically ill COVID patients, but they've adapted, they've adjusted and they've been able to deal with what's been coming in.

It's slowed down a little bit. They're not getting the same amount of patients. People are still coming in. We're not seeing lines behind us on the entrance into the emergency room, but it's still very busy. The doctors are dealing with a lot of stress. They're in their protective gear almost their entire shift.

One doctor described how when they leave, the decon process. They spend hours deconning. There's a whole new thing now that they never used to do before, before they go home to their loved ones. They get to their home, there's a whole showering process and laundry that they need to do before they can go and be with their loved ones.

So, there's an enormous amount of stress, but they say they're going to keep doing it and they're going to keep going until this ends. They don't expect it to end any time soon. All they want to do is just -- they just need a little relief. They're starting to see some of that. They need more, they say, certainly on the transfers, and they hope the supplies still keep coming, Anderson.

COOPER: Yes. This is, as the governor keeps saying, the frontline of the war. Shimon, thank you.

Joining me now is Chief Medical Officer at Nassau University Medical Center in New York, Dr. Anthony Boutin.

Doctor, the governor mentioned that they'd like their limitation (ph), rapid test you can do at home to eliminate anxiety. Do you think that's close to reality?

DR. ANTHONY BOUTIN, CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER, NASSAU UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER: The answer is yes, but we're not seeing that here yet. We want to be able to do it. And then the turnaround time could be between 5 and 15 minutes, but we haven't been able to see that yet here.

COOPER: What's your biggest need right now?

BOUTIN: Right now, our biggest need is staffing. You know, most of our patients are critically ill. We've expanded our ICUs, and it's vent management, it's respiratory therapist is a big need, and also critical care attendees, pulmonary critical care attendees, there is a shortage of it here at the hospital. And our volume has gone up exponentially. We're used to caring for X amount of vents. That actually tripled and quadrupled over the last two weeks. So we're stretched really thin on that.

COOPER: It's one thing that's often overlooked in the coverage of this.


People talk about the ventilators. They talk about, you know, ICU beds. But staffing is one of those critical factors that a lot of people don't necessarily think about. You need people, obviously -- you know, an ICU bed, it's not the bed itself, it's all the care that comes with that bed, and that involves staffing.

BOUTIN: Correct. We were worried about the vents for a while. But you know, we reached out to New York State. We got a couple of vents here and there. We've got that. It's really the staffing behind it, you know, the nurses, the respiratory therapist, the critical care attendees, and the load that it takes.

A critical care patient takes a lot of work in the vent settings. And because these patients are different, the care they're getting is completely different from a normal critical care patient that we've seen over the last couple months.

COOPER: Normally, in a hospital, you know, there are multiple people -- if you're in a hospital room, there are multiple people coming in and out over the course of your stay, putting hands on you, dealing with different things. Have you changed procedures? Because I imagine, obviously, the more people exposed to somebody who has the virus, the more potential for spread and the more PPE you need.

BOUTIN: Correct. So we've limited the things that we do as opposed to having a team come see a patient or a lot of consultants, because we're a teaching hospital, we've limited the amount of people that are actually going into the rooms, seeing the patients, to like one or two, usually an attending and a fellow or attending and a resident, it's not the entire team, and we spread that around.

And we've cut down on the amount of consults that we're doing also. We're doing more phone consults, and somebody has to come in, they'll come in. But we're limiting the amount of exposure to everybody. We've had several tests before you even get into the building where we screen patients. If they have to get -- you know, before they even enter the building, sometimes we can actually see them, evaluate them and discharge them before they even get into the building.

COOPER: Your hospital right now has four floors dedicated to coronavirus. That's obviously not -- I mean, that's something you have scaled up in a very rapid amount of time. You're admitting 30 patients a day. Is four floors going to be enough?

BOUTIN: Actually, it's not enough. Every day that I walk into the emergency department, we have 38 patients waiting for beds. So what we're doing now is we used to have beds that turned into office spaces. We have already decanted some of these office spaces and converting them into beds.

Just over the last hour or so, we got 27 beds delivered to backfill some of these floors. So, every day, we're trying to keep up with the flow of patients that are coming in, and we're just -- we're catching up. And hopefully, you know, we'll catch up.

I'm not sure what's going to happen over the next couple of days, especially the weekend. So the more beds that become available, they're being taken up. We just cannot keep up with the amount of patients that are coming in.

COOPER: All right. Dr. Anthony Boutin, I appreciate all you and the nurses and everybody are doing, keeping people alive and keeping all of us safe. Thank you so much and god speed to you, and keep at it. Thank you.

BOUTIN: Thank you, Anderson.

COOPER: A new cluster emerging includes dozens of young adults after returning from a spring break trip in Mexico.

Plus, the president changes his position, now acknowledging that the situation is dire. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi joins me live talking also about phase four, as it's being called, of the next aid package.



COOPER: At $2 trillion, the recent stimulus plan to prop up an economy reeling from the virus is the biggest in U.S. history. My next guest says that was just a down payment, that even more efforts are needed.

Joining me now from Capitol Hill, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Speaker Pelosi, thanks so much for being with us. I want to ask you about the next round and what you think is necessary. But before we do that, I just want to ask you. The president -- you have said that the president's denials of the seriousness of the virus in the beginning was deadly, that it cost lives. The president and the Senate Majority leader are now suggesting that impeachment distracted the president from responding to the virus. Do you buy that at all?

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): I think that's an admission that perhaps the president and the majority leader cannot handle the job. We have a life-and-death situation in our country, and they should not try to hide behind an excuse for why they did not take action, but it does admit that they did not take action. But let's have an after-action review down the road.

Right now, we have to work together to get the job done. And all of the statistics that we are hearing, right, every one of those deaths, all of that loss of life is tragic for our country. To see the big numbers though, we have to see what we can do to stop that growth of that number of people dying.

And so, yesterday, we spent the day, our Democratic members on the phone, communicating with each other, with the press, with everyone we could, to say, Mr. President, implement the Defense Production Act, because our men and women, our first responders, our healthcare providers, our TSA, everyone who comes in contact, administering to the needs of people who are sick or potentially infected deserves our help.

How can we be worthy of praising them, of praying for them, of thanking them if we are not giving them what they need, the personal protective equipment that they need to do their jobs and the ventilators to save the lives that they are there to save?


This is something that regardless of what went before, that we in the here and now have to address. The president can do that by implementing the Defense Production Act.

COOPER: The other thing --

PELOSI: I'm sorry.

COOPER: The other thing the president could do yesterday, some people said over the president seems to get it now, he seems to have changed his tone, which we've certainly heard before. The thing that he could do to prove that is to order, or at least, you know, strongly suggest that every governor institutes stay-at-home orders for their states.

You talk to any scientist -- the science is clear on this -- staying at home, social distancing works. I do not understand as a citizen of a state which is social distancing and is staying at home why all states aren't doing this, because for all of us who are staying at home, we're going to have to stay at home longer because these other states haven't yet instituted these orders.

PELOSI: Well, we're all in this together. Why the president doesn't take action, you're just going to have to ask him about that. But what we had in our House bill, which was rejected by the Senate in the most recent bill, was directing the president to implement the Defense Protection Act. That is one thing that will make a difference in saving lives and protecting those who are ministering to the needs.

Pope Francis said last week -- or maybe it's now ten days ago -- that his world prayer was for God to enlighten those who have responsibility for the common good, that they -- we -- would take responsibility for those in our care. That's what we have to do. And, again, what these states do and why they're not using common sense to protect their people is a subject between the governors and their population. But as you say, it has an impact on all of us.

And so, that's why we do need another bill, much of it to help the states and localities to meet the needs of their people. We had $150 billion in the bill that the president just signed. That is simply not enough, unfortunately. We had 200 in our bill, but 150 -- even the 200 would not have been enough.

So what we are doing now is we're calling upon the president to make sure that people have the personal protective equipment for themselves to protect the people they're ministering to and the ventilators and other equipment that is needed, A. B, we want to make sure that all Americans understand the opportunity that is in the cares bill for them, if they're unemployed, if they're a small business, if they -- in any of the aspects that that legislation can be helpful to them.

We're calling upon the administration to release the funds as soon as possible. And again, whether it's direct payment or assistance for small business, the list goes on.

And now, the first bills we passed was about recovery, recovery. The cares bill was about mitigation, mitigation for the damage to our healthcare system, to the health and well-being of the American [eople, and also mitigation to our economy.

We still carry forth emergency mitigation as we go into the next phase, which is recovery. And today, with over 200 reporters on the phone, Chairman Peter DeFazio, Chairman Frank Pallone and our distinguished Mr. Clyburn and I put forward our recovery piece of this that related to how we have to invest in this next bill in the infrastructure of America, when we're talking about meeting health needs, community health centers, when we're talking about water, clean water and the rest, investing heavily in clean water in the legislation.

And where we're talking about broadband, when we talk about all that that means in tele-education, telemarketing, telemedicine, the list goes on about how dependent people are now on the internet, and we have a big investment in broadband to address underserved areas, rural or inner city, wherever it is. And we had $25 billion in the Cares Act. That's not enough to meet the mobility needs of getting product to market, getting people to work, those who are essential workers, and then to do even more as this tragedy unfolds.

So we're very pleased with the aspects that we put forth today as they directly relate to the coronavirus challenge that we have.

COOPER: The president has said he would like to see the next stimulus focused on infrastructure. Do you believe your vision for what infrastructure is and what the president's is, is the same?


And already, Mitch McConnell is saying before we get to stage four, which would be the next round, they would like some time, some have said even maybe 30 days to see how things play out. Are you willing to wait?

PELOSI: I'm sorry, I didn't hear the beginning of the question here, but the ending is, are you willing to wait? Well, the fact is, is that we will be waiting because we are out of session because of shelter- in-place and other realities of life, but that doesn't mean that we can't be ready. We passed -- we put forth our infrastructure bill. More than just this, we have education and housing, which we'll be unfolding very soon as well, perhaps tomorrow on some of it.

But in terms of that, we can see what is working. We know already that we need more for state and local government. We know already that we'll need more for the national institutes of health. We also know that there were items that we could not get in the first few bills, the first three bills that people said wait until later. One of them addressing the pension needs on our country, which are

overwhelming, and the president supports but McConnell -- but leader McConnell said save it for another day.

We need to be more generous in terms of family medical leave. We need to make sure that people get tested, that they're not charged a large amount for the other accompanying services that go with being tested. District of Columbia was greatly prejudiced against in the Cares Act and we need to correct that. The list goes on.

But, again, it's a --

COOPER: Do you have a price tag?

PELOSI: I said a down payment, and I meant a down payment. We need to do much more, as well as invest in the recovery.

COOPER: I'm not sure if you can hear me, but if you can, the last one was $2 trillion. Do you have a price tag on this one?

PELOSI: Oh, now I can hear you. I heard you in the beginning and then I didn't.

COOPER: I'm sorry.

PELOSI: I'm sorry too.

The -- well, $2 trillion, let's put that in perspective. Everybody says, oh, it's the biggest bill. It was comparable to what the president and the Republicans did with their tax scam to give 83 percent of the benefits to the top 1 percent in our country.

That was over, with interest, close to $2 trillion bill that didn't create jobs, only added to the national debt. So let's not make it sound like this is something so exorbitant. It's for a much better purpose. It is investing in people. It is what is absolutely urgently needed. But, again, we need more.

And we can't just stop and say, well, since we have only spent as much as we spent on the tax bill, we can't spend any more. No. No. And, again, the state and local governments -- I'm so proud of my own governor in California, Gavin Newsom. Andrew Cuomo is just doing a remarkable, remarkable job.

Governor Hogan, a Republican chairman of the National Governors Association, speaking truth about what the challenge is. The governors and the cities and municipalities need resources. They have a job to do without the coronavirus. So with this additional challenge, they need more resources, and we should be able to do that. And consider them investments.

We can do it in many ways -- appropriated funds, using the tax code, policy changes and as well as working with the Fed, which Secretary Mnuchin, I believe, intends to do, to work with the Fed with Chairman Powell there to see how we can get resources to the entities who are bearing the brunt of caring for those in their charge. COOPER: Governor Hogan has now instituted a statewide stay-at-home orders. That was about two days ago, I think. Do you want to see -- would you like to see all states having stay-at-home orders so that there is a nationwide compliance?

PELOSI: Well, it works. It works, and that's why the governors are doing it and they're seeing a return on that initiative. That is the only way we're going to contain the virus.

And so, for places that don't want to do that -- 80 percent of the country is confined or constrained. The other 20 percent will have an impact on the rest of the country, unless they weigh in. But just looking to their own interest in their own states, I would prayerfully hope that to avoid death, illness in families, that they would do that, whether -- yes, I'd like to see that.

But I don't know why the scientific community isn't more outspoken. I think they are, but I don't know that they're getting the attention when they say that this confinement really is an answer.


And if you look at countries that have been through this, that was one of the ways that they were able to reduce the increase in the spread of the virus, in fact, to reach a better place with it. So, it is an answer but we have to do more.

And in our first bill, we had numerous amount of money for a cure, hopefully, soon, and vaccine, which will take longer. I'm glad Dr. Fauci is there. He understands this very well for three or more decades he's been working on these issues. But the fact is, is that there's some political decisions that have to be made, and they have to be made in a timely fashion. The delay and denial, that's cost lives.

COOPER: And the idea of Mitch McConnell, well, let's wait 30 days or let's wait to see how stage three goes before going to stage four, before going to throwing more money to stimulus.

PELOSI: Well, let me just say this. We passed our first bill. You probably remember us describing it as testing, testing, testing, March 4th. Since then, we've passed two more bills. The second bill putting families and workers first, the third bill, cares, and now the Care Act. And so this isn't -- this is a reasonable amount of time to say we couldn't get everything we wanted in the other bill, let's begin to go down this path.

But it is going to be a number of weeks, because we're not here. So rather than putting it off further, why aren't we working together? And that's the way I like to do it, just have the four corners -- House and Senate, Democrats and Republicans, putting together the bill, again, with the president's folks at the table to see what he would be willing to sign so that we're not losing time.

This is a time and place in our history that -- well, it's over 100 years since we've had such a pandemic, over 100 years. But the assault on the lives and the livelihood of the American people is just -- well, we just don't even know how big it is. But you know what, we have to be ready. We have to be ready.

And there's no question that we need more broadband, we need clean water, we need to have more community health centers, we need more resources for the National Institutes of Health, we need money for other hospitals and hospitals and other health institutions serving the needs of people at this sad time. And we need the cities and states to not get going into deficit because they are helping their people.

COOPER: Just finally, on Sunday, the president in a call with governors said that he hadn't heard anything about testing for weeks, that as far as he's concerned, everything was going great with testing or everything was going fine, and I'm paraphrasing his words. That is clearly not the case. There is a lot of places that don't have tests. There's a lot of states who think they don't have a problem or big problem, which need to actually be doing much more testing to find out what kind of a problem they actually have. Do you think the president gets it?

PELOSI: Well, I pray that he does and I certainly hope so. And the figures that are out there certainly are staggering. They have been having an impact on him. But I do think that the testing is essential. We're never going to be able to know what the challenge is unless you have the testing. And it has to be accurate testing. And for some reason, the administration ignored the WHO tests, decided to do their own. They weren't accurate. Again, the beat goes on. But, again, that's for an after-action review.

Right now, the president knows that we need more testing. That goes into the category though of equipment. Let's have the Defense Production Act, insist that businesses will turn their attention and their assembly lines to tests, testing materials, all of the personal protective equipment, ventilators and the rest. It's market opportunity.

People aren't buying things because they can't go out, or they're buying things online, but our economy is suffering because of that lack of consumer participation. This is something people have money for, want to buy. Just take advantage of the market opportunity, if you have no compassion in your heart. But I think that people do.

I think that America's heart is full of love. I think that everybody sees that we're in this together, that we're trying to work together to get it done, but we can't ask people, healthcare professionals, others who are working with those who are infected to risk their lives to save someone's life and at the same time not be able to even go home because of the infectious atmosphere in which they are working. Let's just embrace the opportunity that is there. Let's get that equipment.

As I say, each one of us has to make a judgment if we are worthy to even give thanks.