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Florida Governor Issues Statewide Stay at Home Order After Pressure; New York ER Doctor Says Treating Coronavirus Patients Hardest Time of Her Career; Landlords Brace for Flood of Renters Who Cannot Pay; U.S. Reviews Guidance of Face Masks as Countries in Asia Encourage Use. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired April 1, 2020 - 15:30   ET



MARY ELLEN KLAS, MIAMI HERALD TALLAHASSEE BUREAU CHIEF (vis Cisco Webex): -- it's not done what a lot of other states have done. Even though Florida has a very large elderly population and people who are vulnerable to this virus, and he has refused to go beyond what the CDC has recommended.

So obviously when the President and his advisers yesterday took -- made that statement that we were going to wait another month to impose the social distancing guidelines, it was pretty inevitable that the governor was going to have to make a move as well.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: But just so I'm hearing you, you are saying because the governor is as close as he is with the President, that the governor didn't want to go out on his own. He wanted to wait until he got that federal guidance?

KLAS: Right. He wanted to wait. And it gives him coverage, too. Because he's been under a lot of pressure by the business -- you know, business interests in this state. Especially in parts of the state that haven't seen the -- haven't been the kind of hot spot that south Florida has been. That they've wanted to see us keep businesses operating as long as possible. So that, you know, I think has led to his reluctance to do this.

BALDWIN: You mentioned the elderly population in Florida, right, so many people vulnerable there. Also, people have been calling on the governor to be more proactive for weeks. We've all seen those pictures, those infuriating pictures of the crowded beaches with all of the spring breakers. How frustrating is it for Floridians that it is taken this long?

KLAS: Well, it is really interesting because there are so many people that are operating and going around their daily business in many ways and yet they're still being told that the safest thing to do is to stay home.

So, this mixed message has led to some conflict. There are -- there are offices where some employees don't want to work and yet the employers are still working. It's been difficult for people. I think for the most part I think everybody has now gotten to the

point that they acknowledge that they need to just stay home and they're grateful that the governor has finally said, OK, we're commanding that.

BALDWIN: And lastly, I just want to ask you about you, Mary Ellen, because you were barred last week from Governor DeSantis's news conference after you had requested social distancing, right, everyone sitting six feet apart. What was the governor trying to do, do you think, by silencing you?

KLAS: You know, it's baffling to me. We have been working on this story as you have tirelessly, really. I think I've worked more from home more hours than I've ever worked on any story.

And yet the governor has decided they wanted to make an enemy of us. And I think, you know, who knows what the reasoning was. We asked for social distancing. The governor today -- yesterday had a press conference in which he had it in a room that accommodated people being able to be spread out. Today he had it back in his office again and we were all crammed in his office.

It's pretty clear that while he believes in social distancing, he doesn't want to send the message that that that's how he's operating. It's just frustrating.

BALDWIN: Incredibly frustrating especially when everyone is being told to sit six feet apart for everyone else's own good. Mary Ellen Klas, keep holding truth to power and holding people accountable, thank you very much for just doing your job.

KLAS: Thank you.

BALDWIN: I appreciate it.

Coming up next, let's talk to a doctor who is desperately sounding the alarm saying physicians are frightened, patients are scared and that it is only going to get worse.



BALDWIN: In New York the state with the most coronavirus cases in this entire country, one hospital is reporting more than over 450 employees have now tested positive for the virus. Doctors all across the city are pleading with the federal government for more protective gear including my next guest. Who says, after working through the HIV/AIDS epidemic in this country and the opioid crisis treating coronavirus is one of the hardest things she has done.

She's Dr. Chinazo Cunningham. And she joins me now from New York. And Dr. Cunningham, of course, first and foremost, thank you for all that you do. I should also point out you're Associate Chief of General Internal Medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Montefiore Hospital. And we'll get into I mean everything that's happening in the hospitals right now. But just for you if I may on a personal note, I mean this is affecting you and your family, right? You're at your home, it's my understanding you're in one part of the house, the husband and the three daughters are on the other side and you haven't hugged your family in how long?

CHINAZO CUNNINGHAM, ASSOCIATE CHIEF OF GENERAL INTERNAL MEDICINE, MONTEFIORE HOSPITAL (via Cisco Webex): Actually, it's been about ten days. So, I knew I was going to go into the hospital and had to make plans knowing that I don't want to put my family at risk. So, I'm really just living in one section of my house and sleeping there, you know, using the bathroom there and nobody else is there touching any of the surfaces that I'm occupying.

BALDWIN: Wow, it's tough. It's tough as a mom and as a wife. But of course, as a doctor. You've been an E.R. doctor for more than 25 years, and we mentioned you've worked through the opioid crisis and the HIV/AIDS epidemic.


What makes this one of the hardest experiences for you?

CUNNINGHAM: Yes, so actually, I'm sorry but (INAUDIBLE) in general internal medicine and you know there are a couple of different things that have come together really that have made things, you know, feel really bad. And so, one of the biggest things is our inability to care for patients like we're used to.

And so, you know patients are really scared. And they're alone. And so right now most hospitals are not allowing any visitors. And so, we don't have the ability to speak with the family or for the patients to get the kind of support that they would get from their family as usual.

In addition, you know, we're all geared up. So, we have our masks on and we have our face shields and our gowns, and we can really only see each other's eyes and we're not really touching each other very much.

We're also limiting the amount of time that we're spending with the patients because we want to limit our exposure to the virus. And so, all of those things together really, you know, make it very difficult to provide the kind of care that we want to provide the kind of support that we want. And we just don't have that level of interaction that we're used to.

And then what I would say in addition is, you know, this is a brand- new virus, right. And we're still learning a lot about it. And we're trying to figure out what the best treatments are. And as of yet, we don't really have an effective treatment. I mean, we are using antibiotics but we're still trying to figure this out and so at Montefiore and at Albert Einstein College of Medicine we're involved in clinical trials to try and figure out, you know, how to best treat the virus. But it's very frustrating when we don't have treatment that we know could be really effective. BALDWIN: No, I think going back, if I may, to your second point

about, you know, we've been thinking so much, of course, about like people like you, our medical or hospital heroes is what I've been calling you. But also, for these patients who to your point are so alone, right. They're in their room, they're cordoned off by themselves, you know, you guys walk in fully gown and masked up and I imagine you have to reduce your contact with these patients. So, there's that loneliness for those people who are sick.

I want to go back though to the point because you were tweeting about it, just in the fact that you have been at this for so many years. You have seen some really tough things in this country and I'm wondering why this is the toughest?

CUNNINGHAM: Yes, I mean, I think it is certainly the unknown that we're all facing. The sort of lack of effective treatment is a big part of it. And honestly this is happening so fast. I mean we come into the hospital and every day, you know, we see different challenges. And patients get sick really quickly in front of our eyes. And so, I think that that's really kind of different than the other experiences that we've had where, you know, people have sort of known what's going to happen or they sort of -- you know, it's more of a chronic picture.

But now we're seeing people coming into the hospital, they look OK and then within 48 hours they're very short of breath and then at sometimes they may require ventilation, you know, for us to help with their breathing and it just happens so quickly.

BALDWIN: Last thought, just on the fact that, you know, you look at the numbers and you listen to Dr. Fauci, we know the number of infections, the number of patients will go up in the coming weeks and presumably doctors, nurses, staff will get sick and so the numbers will go down as far as those who can help, what's your biggest fear just as a doctor in that regard?

CUNNINGHAN: So, you know, I'm afraid that really our health care system's ability to take care of patients. You know, we've ramping up. We're adding more beds every single day. But we don't really know what, you know, sort of what the largest case load that we'll get.

And then also worried about the medical providers. So, we're a teaching hospital. We have young physicians who are still in training. And they're also incredibly scared. You know, they're pretty new doctors, we're matching them up with more senior doctors but those combinations of really trying to take care of the young doctors in training and taking care of the patients as the volume increases, it's just very challenging.

BALDWIN: I can't even begin to imagine but again we are so grateful to you and those who you work with side-by-side. Dr. Chinazo Cunningham, thank you and here's hoping you get to hug your family sooner rather than later. Thank you.

CUNNINGHAM: Thanks so much. BALDWIN: Coming up next, in Asia, there is a new uptick of cases that

all tie back to a common cause. Why it means traveling abroad may not be in your future any time soon. That's next.



BALDWIN: It is the first of the month and residents aren't the only ones who say they can't pay their landlords today. It is the same deal for many retailers and restaurants. Cheesecake Factory said it won't be able to pay its April rent at nearly 300 of its locations.

I want to bring in CNN business anchor Julia Chatterley. And Julia, the #rentstrike is flooding social media with all these stories of people who just can't pay their landlords right now.

JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN BUSINESS ANCHOR, FIRST MOVE: Absolutely, and it's happening all over the country. Remember, we've seen millions of people losing their jobs already. We're probably going to see millions more registering for benefits tomorrow.

Help is coming in the form of those checks and extra benefits of course but it's not happening soon enough for millions of people.


So, we've got this gap, there's a list of things to do here, prioritize. Things like food, medicines, your health insurance payments if you're lucky enough to have it, utilities too. Then work out what you've got left. Call, call your lenders, whether it's your landlord, whether it's car payments, whether it's mortgage, speak to them, find out what their leniency policies are. Because this is critical too. And keep trying if you can't get through.

And then, Brooke, even in the short term there are a few options here. If you have savings, many people don't, some do, now is the time to use them.

But within that stimulus bill, there was a few things people need to be aware of. If you have an IRA, a retirement account, you can now take money out of that, there's no penalty. If you have a 401(k), you can also borrow against that too, again, no penalties here. Now, admittedly the value is a lot less than it was just a couple of months ago. But these are short term options for people, they're not great but at least there's something at least there.

BALDWIN: And just quickly just looking at the time, ten minutes before the markets close and wrapping up another day of decline. The Dow finished yesterday with its worst first quarter on record. What are the chances that the second quarter will be just as bad or, dare I say, even worse?

CHATTERLEY: Too much uncertainty, Brooke. At the heart of this is the health crisis we have to get on top of this. History suggests that when you see such a downward push for stocks in one quarter, you tend see a little bit of a bounce in the following quarter. My honest answer is we have no history book for what we're seeing here, multiple crises. So bottom line advice would be, remain cautious.

BALDWIN: Julia, thank you.

CHATTERLEY: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Countries across Asia were first to report coronavirus. They were first to slow their surge in cases. And now they may be first to prove what it takes to prevent a second wave.

CNN's David Culver is in Shanghai, China. And David, there in China, you know, containing coronavirus has led to more lockdowns, travel restrictions. Tell me about that.

DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, and as of now, it seems, Brooke, that they have shifted the concern to an external threat. I mean initially it seemed the rest of the world was concerned mostly with travelers coming from where we are in mainland China, as well as other parts of Asia.

Now they are really worried about these imported cases. And that's what has led to essentially shutting down all importing of, really, people and allowing people to come into mainland China for that matter. Every foreigner pretty much has been blocked from coming into China. But it's not just mainland, it's also Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, following the same lead. What they're seeing now is this surge of these imported cases.

And for that reason, they're worried that people are going to start moving around within these places as these lockdowns are beginning to ease and hence start spreading this virus more. So, it's become a real threat that they now believe is meriting just this total shutdown.

BALDWIN: What about just this question also, David, about masks, right? People are wondering if this should be that we all are doing here in the U.S. wearing them and wear the most effective. And there in China it is more common to see people wearing masks. Are there rules on that or advice from health officials there?

CULVER: Yes, you're right, in China and across Asia. I mean I walk out of my room here and you feel like you're forgetting a part of you when you don't have your mask on you now. It is not only mandatory, but it's really something that people just feel comforted when they see somebody else around them wearing a mask.

And I was talking to some foreigners who happen to be here -- living here in Shanghai and got in before they shut down to all foreign travel. And they said they're shocked that people in Europe and people back in the U.S. aren't wearing masks every single day now as part of the requirement to go out. It is something that I think overall may shift in the culture in the West in particular.

I mean here it's just -- you step into an elevator and if somebody doesn't have a mask on you look at them as though they're committing a grave offense, that's how people feel. BALDWIN: Not quite the case as it is here. But it sounds like the

Surgeon General is changing his tune on that. David Culver, stay well, thank you very much, in China for us.

California has been praised for its early action to slow the spread of coronavirus. Coming up, the Governor, Gavin Newsom, joins CNN to talk about California's actions and more.



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

And we begin today with these stunning projections. The Trump administration predicting there could be anywhere between 100,000 and 240,000 deaths in the United States from the novel coronavirus. And that's if things go well.

Look at this picture of President Trump standing next to the chart labeled, quote, goals of community mitigation. This projection, between 100 and 240,000 deaths, that's the goal. If we fail to meet it, then it will be much worse.

The death toll right now, April 1st, stands at 4,564. One month ago, today, on March 1st, only one person in the United States had died from this virus.

President Trump is predicting a very painful two weeks coming up. And with the death rate in the United States -- the death toll, rather, doubling about every three days, if we stay on this trajectory, this course, the total death toll could reach 120,000 in just two weeks. Of course, hopefully that will not happen, hopefully the U.S. will begin to flatten --