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Florida Institutes Statewide Stay At Home Orders. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is Taking A New Stop To Force Social Distancing by Closing Public Playgrounds; After Weeks Of Direction That Most Of The Public Should Not Wear Masks, That Guidance Could Soon Change. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired April 1, 2020 - 14:00   ET



KEVIN KIT PARKER, WYSS INSTITUTE FOR BIOLOGICALLY INSPIRED ENGINEERING: -- command system to get this up to the state and get it to FEMA so they can turn on the contracts and push these swabs out.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Kit Parker, we'll keep on this. I hope this works out and, you know, thank you for what you're doing, innovating, it's -- it's what's needed now most more than ever. Thank you. Appreciate it.

PARKER: Thank you.

COOPER: I want to reset CNN's continuing coverage of the global coronavirus pandemic. Now right now we've crossed another milestone, topping 200,000 cases here in the United States. That's a sad milestone.

Vice President Mike Pence offering a timeline today, saying the U.S. could be past the pandemic by June.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: There are tough days ahead and the president was straight with the American people about that. But, I hope people look at what happens if all us continue to do our part, and that is by some time in -- in early June we could well have the coronavirus largely behind us as a nation, reopen our country, put America back to work.


COOPER: Let's just be clear, the science is clear that all these states, every have to have to have stay at home orders, unless everybody is doing this at the same time, it's not going to work. Bill Gates will tell you that, that's what the science says, whether or not political leaders believe in the science or have other, you know, priorities, that's what the science says, and that's not happening right now.

Florida just instituted statewide stay at home orders. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is now taking a new stop to force social distancing. He's closing public playgrounds. He's been warning about that now for weeks.

I want to bring Erica Hill, in New York. The Governor has warned about this, you know, that too many people are bunching together at playgrounds, he would have to close them. Now he says he's going to do it.

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, he said it repeatedly, you're right Anderson. And again, taking that next step. He was also asked just a short time ago whether people were too close. Somebody referenced all these New Yorkers that went down to see the Navy hospital ship, Comfort, when it came in the Hudson and where it's docked now on the west side of the city. And he said, look, if we need to, we will tell the NYPD they need to be better about enforcing social distancing.

Once again, hammering home, Anderson, as you just said, that this needs to be broad effort across the country.


HILL: On the front lines the need never seems to end.

DR. STEVEN MCDONALD, EMERGENCY ROOM PHYSICIAN: Everyone requires oxygen. Everyone is borderline critical.

HILL: New Orleans warning it could run out of ventilators this week. New hot spots adding to the strain. Holyoke, Massachusetts now on the radar.

One hospital in Albany, Georgia now recording more than 20 percent of that state's confirmed COVID-19 deaths.

CARLEY RICE, CRITICAL CARE NURSE, PHOEBE PUTNEY MEM HOSPITAL: It's very hard to see someone close to your age in there fighting for their life, completely healthy and the virus, the beast, has taken them down so quickly.

HILL: In the pandemic, U.S. epicenter, 1,400 tested positive at the NYPD. Hundreds of additional EMTs, ambulances and paramedics are brought in to answer the city's surge in 9-1-1 calls. The Army asking 10,000 reserve members to return as experts and officials warn to keep the death toll down, it's time for a nationwide plan.

DR. LEANA WEN, EMERGENCY ROOM PHYSICIAN: We need people to do their part, social distancing, as a part of it. We also need the federal government to do a lot more too, because that rationing of ventilators, the rationing of supplies, that's also going to be what leads to unnecessary deaths.

HILL: More than 30 states have statewide stay at home orders. Beginning tomorrow, Florida will be added to that list.

DR. JEROME ADAMS, SURGEON GENERAL: My advice to America would be that these guidelines are a national stay at home order. HILL: The numbers, the hot spots, the urgent need tell part of this

story. But it is the personal struggles and loss that reveal the lasting impact.

ELIJAH ROSS-RUTTER, MOTHER DIES OF COVID-19: They took a walkie- talkie and placed it right by her bedside on the pillow.

HILL: Elijah Ross-Rutter and his five siblings couldn't be next to their mother to say good-bye.

ROSS-RUTTER: It's a moment that nobody really ever wants to be in. I loved her, told her everything's going to be all right with the kids.

HILL: Sunday (ph) Rutter, who survived stage 4 breast cancer was 42.


HILL: And Anderson, I know you do this often, but it is so important to remember with each one of these numbers as the death toll goes up, there are families and friends who are affected. We are now at 1,941 deaths here in New York City alone. And another thing Governor Cuomo said is to reduce the anxiety that people have, that is yet another reason why we need to see more testing so people can better understand the extent of this spread, Anderson.


COOPER: Erica, the idea of kids saying goodbye to their mom by walkie-talkie, that is -- that's -- that is just horrific.

HILL: It's unimaginable and at the same time you think how wonderful it was that those healthcare workers knew, right?


HILL: That she needed to hear her children and they needed to be able to say goodbye to her.

COOPER: Yes. That's true. Erica, thank you. Appreciate it. After weeks of direction that most of the public should not wear masks that guidance could soon change. Sources say that members of the White House task force are now agreeing that Americans should begin wearing face masks.

The change comes in the wake of new insights and just how much people who don't show symptoms can spread the virus. Dr. Jorge Rodriguez is an internist and gastroenterologist from Las Angeles. So, doctor, my understanding is these new -- this new belief about people should wear masks.

It's from -- I think from what Sanjay Gupta told me yesterday based on what he had talked to Dr. Fauci about. It's not that just everybody should wear a mask because it will protect them.

It's that people wear masks because they maybe -- they may already have the virus, be asymptomatic and the masks will stop them from spreading it to others. It's not that the mask on somebody who's not infected is going to protect them necessarily.

DR. JORGE RODRIGUEZ, INTERNIST AND GASTROENTEROLOGIST: All right, the reason now -- and I'm fully onboard on this, is that the mask protects from people that are not infected getting infected from people that are not symptomatic and yet carry the virus.

For example, they're being -- there's some studies now in Iceland that are showing that approximately 50 percent of the people that are positive are completely asymptomatic. So we wanted to do some math. Right now there are 4,000 approximately people that have died in the U.S. Let's say that the death rate is 1 percent.

That means that 400,000 people may actually have the virus right now at this moment. And if 50 percent are asymptomatic that perfectly jives with what we're seeing. 200,000 people confirmed and probably another 200,000 people today walking around that are asymptomatic.

So, you extrapolate this to hopefully the end of the epidemic and 20 million people may get infected. That means that ten million people may have walked around without any symptoms.

And I would venture to say that almost everybody at the beginning of getting infected was asymptomatic for a few days. So I think this is a good thing, the whole everybody wearing masks if possible.

COOPER: The danger in this of course is that it leaves -- means masks are not going to be as available to medical professionals or people -- people who are not on the frontlines are now going to be competing if they want to get a mask with others who need masks.

RODRIGUEZ: Correct. Now, there are many other potential solutions that probably aren't as good. So, necessity is the mother of invention.

COOPER: The president said you can wear a scarf.

RODRIGUEZ: You could wear a scarf. You could wear a bandana. Actually a week ago I ordered like all these different bandanas just in case because I'm one of those (inaudible).

COOPER: So do you think that would actually work to some level?

RODRIGUEZ: I think it stands to reason that it would work at some level and it is probably better than nothing. If anything else -- and some people may disagree with me, it really doesn't matter, the truth is that even wearing something on your face may keep you from touching your face in areas that may be more susceptible.

Hopefully there will be a lot more availability. A lot of companies are ramping up. Health professionals on the frontline are still the ones that require these masks more than anybody because they are in direct contact. And once that resource of health professionals starts diminishing then we really are in a lot more trouble. So--

COOPER: We just heard Vice President Pence saying that this would be -- might be largely behind us in early June. I keep harping on this because I think its really important. The science is clear on how to lower the death toll and how to prevent the spread of this and that isolation, staying at home.

And I know obviously it has huge economic ramifications that are life altering and terrible. But the science is clear. Do you think there should be as Bill Gates believes a nation wide stay at home order because there's a bunch of states that aren't doing it?


And I just keep thinking well, if all of in New York City are doing this if our neighbors nearby aren't doing it, once they start doing it then the clock kind of restarts and the people who have already been staying at home are going to have to stay at home even longer until all these other states do it.

RODRIGUEZ: Absolutely. I think you're absolutely right. And it may seem a little draconian but that is exactly what I think needs to be done because if not you have (inaudible) little hot beds and epicenters that keep flourishing and let's face it, everybody's traveling everywhere.

So, if you wanted to be scientifically correct the whole nation should be in a shutdown at the same time. Washington State, California are perfect examples of how that can work very well. Is it the ultimate solution? Probably not but man, you got to really bring down the fire, right, so that it can be controlled into just small embers.

And you're not going to do that if you have multiple little hot spots throughout the country whether it's Florida, whether it's New York. So, do I agree that we should have a national in home order? I actually do.

COOPER: Dr. Jorge Rodriguez, I appreciate all you're doing. Thank you.

RODRIGUEZ: Thank you. Thank you, Anderson.

COOPER: President is finally acknowledging how dyer the situation is, sort of, after downplaying it for months.


DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRES.: I want every American to be prepared for the hard days that lie ahead. We're going to go through a very tough two weeks.


COOPER: Insiders say it has taken a lot to get the president to openly express concern about the likely impact of the outbreak -- the health concern about the impact of the outbreak in the U.S.

Our political analyst Carl Bernstein joins me now with some take on Trump's response to the looming crisis. Carl, you say that President Trump we saw yesterday isn't the President Trump of recent weeks. I take -- how do you mean?

CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think there is a narrative. I've been able to get parts of it from people around the president that he has resisted since January taking decisive action except for keeping Chinese flights and people out of -- using the borders as a way to contain the virus.

But outside of that he has resisted according to these people at every turn. The definitive actions such as he has finally taken. And in his resistance he was in anger, fury, a kind of meltdown for weeks and weeks lashing out at people that he said in meetings were his enemies in the press, in the Democrats.

Those who don't wish him well were foisting this hoax on the nation. The kind of thing we heard some of when he was on Fox News. But his resistance and denial actually of the danger posed to this virus is what's so stunned may people around him and they worked assiduously to finally as happened over this last weekend to get him to capitulate to the kind of measures that needed to be taken.

COOPER: I think we should take a step back though and for all the people who say well, he's got it, his tone has changed. We have -- we've seen this before and it doesn't last very long. And let's just remember on Sunday on a call with governors he is denying saying that he had heard there was any problem with any testing.

That he hadn't heard about testing. He thought that that all seemed fine which is just -- I mean, it is demonstrably not the case.

Anybody -- any scientist you talk to will tell you we need more testing to find out all these people who have the virus and are asymptomatic. There needs to be testing especially in states that don't seem to have a lot of cases right now.

BERNSTEIN: Two things that continue in terms of his denial as those around him put it and that is denying anything that would suggest that he acted anything but timely and wisdom in all decisions. That's when he gets furious again.

And the lying, the pathologic lying that we've seen throughout his presidency continues as he spins his narrative about how he came to this decision. But I would have to say that the people that I have talked to believe that whatever this conversion was that occurred over this past weekend is real.

And one thing that is consistent about people and the national security bureaucracy and aides close to the president have been saying for really a couple of years now is that he always considers military decisions loss of life. He's very responsive to the idea that there can be loss of life when he makes military decisions to Americans.

And finally, I think there was even a strategy by people in the NSC and by Dr. Fauci and others to appeal to him over this past weekend on the basis of what this massive loss of life model shows. What's so astonishing though in some regards is that model has been out there and written about in the press-- COOPER: Yes.


And really, he only began to come to realization he was going to have to take action and not lash out at the Democrats, at the press in terms of his decision-making around the first of March, the end of February - and it took people in his family, his friends, deputies in the White House to finally convince him that that first order that we were going to have to do distancing just had to be enacted. But resistance, denial, and anger throughout - and talk about the markets - always talking about the markets.

COOPER: Yes. Carl Bernstein, appreciate it. Thank you very much. Be careful, Carl.

As we mentioned, Florida's governor just announced a stay at home order, finally to take affect Friday. He was also asked about two cruise ships hoping to dock in Florida.

Ahead (ph), what has happened before the dozens of sick passengers will be allowed to offload? We'll take a look at that. Also, later, I'll speak to the doctor working on a vaccine for coronavirus, he just received a $1 billion investment from Johnson & Johnson and the federal government.



After mounting criticism to issue a statewide stay at home order, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is finally reversing course and will now order Floridians to stay at home, is to take affect on Friday. Coronavirus infections are rising in the state with nearly 7,000 cases, nearly 100 deaths.

CNN's Rosa Flores is in Fort Lauderdale with more on the governor's about phase (ph). So Rose, the Governor said he was waiting to hear from the White House on what to do - the White House yesterday didn't say he should do it, but did say these are our guidelines.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, I listened carefully to that press conference from Governor Ron DeSantis, Anderson, and he said that he was taking his queue from the president of the United States, he was watching that press conference that you're referencing and that he saw the change in demeanor by the president and when (ph) the president announced the extension of 30 days to social distancing, Governor Ron DeSantis says that that's when he knew that life would not return to normal, and decided to issue this statewide order, take a listen.


GOV. RON DESANTIS, (R-FL): Given the unique situation in Florida, I'm going to be doing an executive order today, directing all Floridians to limit movements and personal interactions outside the home to only those necessary to obtain or provide essential services, or conduct essential activities.


FLORES: Again, this is a statewide order that impacts all Floridians with a few exceptions and that is for essential services like healthcare. But Anderson, this comes after extensive criticism by lawmakers here in Florida, by experts that have been asking Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to issue such an order.


COOPER: And DeSantis has also been against letting two ships with - some with infected and asymptomatic passengers dock in Florida, where's the ship now? Or both the ships now? And what's going to happen to those passengers?

FLORES: You know, the ships are off the coast of Cuba at the moment, and during this press conference Governor Ron DeSantis, not making a complete (ph) about face, but definitely changing his tune about the people on this ship, or at least on the (ph) Floridians on that ship - we know that there's at least 49 of them.

The governor announcing in the past hour that he will accept the Floridians that are on this ship, to actually get off the ship and be here in Florida. But here's the thing Anderson - it's not just up to the governor, the individuals who are making these decisions are the Broward Country Commissioners and Unified Command, which includes U.S. Coast Guard, Customs and Border Protection and other agencies - and they met for five hours yesterday debated, and then tabled the issue until tomorrow.

So that decision hasn't been made - these individuals in these groups did not accept the plan that the cruise line provided which would allow passengers that do not have symptoms to actually go home. Passengers with symptoms to stay quarantined on the ship for 14 days, and they were asking for two hospital beds for individuals that are on this ship that need medical attention to that degree. But again, all of this is still very controversial.

A lot of the passengers onboard have been going to (ph) social media - they've written letters to Governor Ron DeSantis asking for mercy and compassion, Anderson. Because as you know, four people have died on this ship and we know that at least eight others have tested positive for COVID-19, dozens of others are already exhibiting flu-like symptoms.

COOPER: Such a nightmare. Rosa Flores, thank you, appreciate it. We'll going to do a (ph) follow-up to that - after those people.

Johnson & Johnson says it should be able to test a coronavirus vaccine by September. Next I'll speak to a doctor whose helping create it. Plus, we've learned the private gym at the Supreme Court is still open, mostly so 86 year old Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg can still get her workouts in.


COOPER: One of the reasons coronavirus is proving so deadly is because there is no treatment and vaccine, at least not yet. I say yet because doctors like my next guest are working around the clock to try to create one. Dr. Dan Barouch Is the director of the Center for Vaccine Research at Beth Israel Medical Center. He's (ph) a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. He began studying this virus' genome sequence from his home computer back in January when China made the information public.

Now the federal government and Johnson and Johnson are investing $1 billion dollars to produce and test the vaccine that he helped develop. Doctor, thank you so much for being with us and what you're doing. Can you just talk about where you are in the process right now? How far away are trials?

DAN BAROUCH, DIRECTOR OF THE CENTER FOR VACCINE RESEARCH AT BETH ISRAEL MEDICAL CENTER: Thank you, Anderson. The hope is that phase one clinical trials with this vaccine will start in September of this year. And if everything goes well, trials will expand substantially very quickly after that.

COOPER: Phase one, what happens in a phase one on a trial like this?

BAROUCH: The phase one of the trial is the initial test of the vaccine or new drug. It's often done in a small number of individuals, the primary goal is to show --