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Nearly 185,500 Cases and 3,800+ Deaths in U.S.; U.S. Health Expert Says the Peak is Over Next Two Weeks; Hospitals Overwhelmed by Surge in Patients; Cruise Ship Off Florida Reports at Least 4 Deaths; Seattle Hospital Revamped for COVID-19 Patients; Pentagon Says It Still Has Not Sent Out Ventilators; U.S. Navy Aircraft Carrier Hit with Outbreak; Futures Fall After Dow's Worst First Quarter in History. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired April 1, 2020 - 04:00   ET



ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, and welcome to our viewers joining us here in the United States and all around the world. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM, and I'm Rosemary Church.

Just ahead, a rare look inside an ICU battling the coronavirus. The extraordinary steps the hospital is taking to care for patients while trying to keep themselves safe.

And President Trump warning of a painful two weeks ahead with confirmed cases and deaths as the numbers in America skyrocket.

Plus, Britain prepares for its peak number of cases, turning a conference center in London into a makeshift hospital. We will take you inside.

And we begin in New York, the eye of the coronavirus crisis in the United States. There are over 41,000 positive cases in the city, and there were at least 830 new deaths reported on Tuesday in the United States, and these are mind-blowing numbers.

But even more staggering are these images from around the country -- field hospitals springing up in New York, Miami, and Detroit, rows and rows of hospital beds to keep up with the ever-increasing number of coronavirus patients coming in every single day. President Donald Trump struck a somber tone after a top U.S. health expert said there is no magic bullet, no vaccine for this virus.


DR. DEBORAH BIRX, U.S. CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: The peak is over the next two weeks, and this is tracking mortality. So, the number of fatalities from this virus. And so, that's the part that we think we can still blunt through the superb medical care that every client is receiving, but also even more stringent, people following the guideline.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A lot of people have said, a lot of people have thought about it -- ride it out. Don't do anything, just ride it out, and think of it as the flu. But it's not the flu. It's vicious.


CHURCH: What a contrast from Mr. Trump's tweet just a few weeks ago when he compared the coronavirus to the common flu, tweeting -- nothing is shut down. Life and the economy go on.

Well, now President Trump is asking people to start wearing masks or scarves if they go out, although 80 percent of Americans are under some form of stay-at-home orders until the end of the month.

And hospitals around the country are struggling as they are short of life-saving supplies to treat coronavirus patients. Our Erica Hill has that report.


ERIC HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The headline across America -- hospitals need help.

GINA RAIMONDO, RHODE ISLAND GOVERNOR: More testing, more beds, more ventilators, more doctors.

HILL: Convention centers in Chicago, Detroit, New Orleans, and Los Angeles being transformed into overflow facilities as emergency rooms are overwhelmed with the coronavirus. Navy hospital ships on both coasts available for non-COVID patients, while in Central Park, a field hospital is starting to treat those who have tested positive.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: We are still in a very difficult situation. We hope, and I believe it will happen, that we may start seeing a turnaround, but we haven't seen it yet. We're just pushing on the mitigation to hope that we do see that turnaround.

HILL: As beds, staff, and supplies run low, there are new concerns about the impact on care.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right now it's kind of like drinking out of a fire hydrant.

HILL: The chair of NYU Langone's Emergency Medicine Department telling doctors in an email to quote, think more critically about who we intubate -- according to the "Wall Street Journal."

In Georgia the state's nurses association estimates as many as 3,500 retired nurses have asked to return to work, and they are needed. New modeling predicts the coming weeks will see a significant surge in cases. By mid-April, 2,000 people could die each day in the U.S.

ANDREW CUOMO, NEW YORK GOVERNOR: We have been behind it from day one since it got here, and we've been playing catch-up. You don't win playing catch-up. We have to get ahead of it.


HILL: In New York City, new data on who is affected. More than half of the nearly 41,000 positive cases are under age 50. Across the country, a renewed push for more serious social distancing as the White House considers new guidelines.

FAUCI: When we get in a situation where we have enough masks, I believe there will be some very serious consideration about more broadening this recommendation of using masks. We're not there yet.

HILL: On board the Holland America's Zaandam cruise ship making its way toward Florida, the company says eight people have tested positive. Nearly 200 have flu-like symptoms. Four older passengers have died. Their cause of death hasn't been released. It's not clear when anyone will be back on land. Florida has not yet approved the ship to dock.

MAXIMILIAN JO, PARENTS ON BOARD ZAANDAM CRUISE SHIP: It's truly a nightmare scenario. And you know, if your own country won't take you in, where are you supposed to go?

HILL: As more Americans begin to feel the economic impact of this pandemic, other needs are increasingly apparent. The line for this food bank outside Pittsburgh stretching for more than a mile on Monday. Officials say they saw the demand increase three weeks ago when the virus first hit the area.

(on camera): Here at the field hospital that is being finished behind me, Samaritans first tells us they are beginning to receive patients tomorrow. Meantime, here in New York City, the mayor announcing today an additional 250 ambulances and 500 EMTs and paramedics being sent to the city to help deal with the massive influx of 911 calls. Back to you.


CHURCH: Thanks so much, Erica Hill with that report.

Well, doctors and nurses in Washington state, where the coronavirus was first detected in the U.S., are adapting to a new reality in how they treat patients with the disease. CNN's Sara Sidner takes us inside one hospital completely revamped to battle COVID-19.


SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Harborview Medical Center here in Seattle is believed to be the first hospital in America to have a patient die of COVID-19. That was more than a month ago. And since then, everything has changed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's changed how we run this.

SIDNER: Nurses and doctors at Seattle's Harborview Medical Center suit up. To go to battle with coronavirus, they have to go through an exhaustive dressing regimen -- hoods and tubes and masks and gowns, just to enter a patient's room. DR. JOHN LYNCH, HARBORVIEW MEDICAL CENTER, UW MEDICINE: We think the

greatest risk, actually, for health care workers, is when they remove things, that they contaminate themselves.

SIDNER: They have a checklist and a spotter helping with every step. They also have to adapt to new realities and shortages.

LYNCH: So, these are what I call PAPR hoods. These are the hoods that hook up to these machines that filter air.

SIDNER (on camera): And that's the hose that hooks up to the back of the hood.

LYNCH: And you get cleaned inside and out so they can be used, because the way they were built was for one-time use, but that's not the way -- if we did that, we would already be out of them.


(voice-over): They have completely revamped two intensive care units.

LYNCH: So, this whole unit was meant to be for people with brain injuries and strokes and so forth. So, now we have to move out all them someplace else because we have to continue that care.

SIDNER (on camera): So, all the people with brain injuries were moved and this was turned into a COVID-19 ICU unit?

LYNCH: Correct.

SIDNER (voice-over): All to try and help coronavirus patients live, isolate them from others, and keep the staff safe, too.

(on camera): So, I am not wearing the full personal protection equipment because in these rooms where the actual COVID-19 patients are, these are considered negative pressure rooms. That means that we are considered in a safe space not wearing full personal protection. Patients are being cared for, but we don't need to wear the full apparatus, unless you are a doctor or nurse who has to go into the room to care for the patient.

(voice-over): Inside the rooms, patients are hooked up to a shocking number of tubes, using those precious ventilators, the only thing keeping them breathing.

LYNCH: So, for the ICU patients, they get very sick and stay sick very long, so they need to require the ventilator for weeks at a time, and that's really the big issue.

SIDNER: Across just their four hospitals, 60 coronavirus patients were hospitalized last week. Already this week, it's at least 100. For each one, a delicate dance to keep staff healthy and patients alive.

(on camera): It is just coming in here and seeing the work that's being done and seeing the patients being cared for, it's stressful. It's -- I'm scared for their families as well. And so, as you walk through and you see the hard work being done and people doing everything they need to take care of patients, it's awe-inspiring, considering the fact that they, too, could be putting themselves in harm's way.


(voice-over): Outside the hospital, a large tent has been erected to assess and test potential coronavirus patients, and this is happening before the anticipated surge here.

(on camera): I feel dread and I feel fear, and I'm not working on the front line. What are you feeling as you're dealing with all these COVID-19 patients?

ARIEL ROGOZINSKI REGISTERED NURSE, HARBORVIEW MEDICAL CENTER, UW MEDICINE: It's certainly is a sense of anxiety, because we, right now, we're kind of wondering what it's going to be like when that peak comes and when people are, you know, flooding in.

SIDNER (voice-over): While the number of new infections in Washington seems to be slowing down, there's a growing sense they haven't seen the worst of it yet.

LYNCH: What they do every day is heroic. Going and taking care of patients without protection is not acceptable.

SIDNER (on camera): The surge everyone is worried about is expected to happen here on April 19th, and all of the hospitals in this region are hoping they're prepared.

Sara Sidner, CNN, Seattle, Washington.


CHURCH: And last hour, I spoke to Anthony Costello, professor of global health at University College London, and we discussed how mass testing can be done more efficiently.


CHURCH: What we're seeing in the United States, the largest number of cases of any country across the globe -- and it's having problems getting tests done, isn't it? We heard Tuesday that there's some confusion with which labs to be used. Apparently, the federal government has sent out these tests, but they're not going any further. So, clearly, if the United States can't get organized on any level of testing here, never mind mass testing, how would any other nation get this organized?

ANTHONY COSTELLO, GLOBAL HEALTH PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY COLLEGE London: Well, yes. I mean, the problem that the United States faced was a bit like Britain, they've overcentralized the testing process initially. And in addition, you had a faulty test, where they couldn't roll it out in any way quick enough and the infection spread to many states in the country without people knowing about it. So, like Italy, Spain, and elsewhere, U.S. is specifically trying to

catch up. You've hugely wrapped up testing in the last week or two, but it's going to be a very big challenge for the United States to get this back under control.

In the U.K., it's been kept rather under control by what's called public health England, and there is criticism that they haven't wrapped this up to all of the laboratories around the country where they could have done it. The governments are saying that they are having problems accessing, you know, the chemicals required for these tests. But back in January-early February, the strategic committee apparently decided that they wouldn't have the capacity to do large- scale testing, and so, the mathematical modelers didn't actually evaluate that as a strategy, which I think was a mistake.

CHURCH: I mean, it's all confounding, isn't it? Because meantime, doctors and nurses on the front line they're begging, sometimes sobbing, for more personal protective equipment to help them save the lives of their patients. President Trump tells us he's sending this protective gear to hospitals, but that's not what medical professionals are telling us. So, how is it possible that Western nations that were supposed to be poised and ready for a possible flu pandemic are not ready for this? In any way, it seems, in terms of protective gear, testing people, ventilators. I mean, it's sort of laid them bare, hasn't it?

COSTELLO: It certainly has. And I believe that in the U.S., the pandemic surveillance team was disbanded a couple of years ago. In the United Kingdom, it seems to have been a strategic issue early on to simply delay the epidemic, not try to suppress it. But with protective equipment, we are having the same problems, that we're not even at a testing level that enables us to simply protect health workers. And I think that is a huge failing.

And of course, we'll have to look at all of the measures. I mean, the only defense, I guess, is that this is the worst pandemic, really, for 100 years. But nonetheless, we've had warning signs from SARS, from MERS, from swine fever, that we should be prepared for this. And I mean, Bill Gates talked only about three years ago on a well-known "TED Talk" that this was coming and that we had to be prepared. And sadly, the Western states haven't.

Just one other thing is that the other group in the states (INAUDIBLE) and low-income economy -- it's simply beyond their resources. They can't really do social distancing. They're not going to be able to do testing. They won't have anything like the protective equipment and ventilators. So, we're facing a potential catastrophe, and the knock- on effects on the economy in sub-Saharan Africa/South Asia.



CHURCH: That was Anthony Costello, professor of global health at University College London, talking to me last hour. And then there is this -- the Pentagon confirming Tuesday it hasn't

shipped out a single ventilator because it hasn't been told where they'll go. That's despite promising to distribute up to 2,000 of them. A defense official also saying only 1.5 million N-95 masks out of the promised 5 million have been sent out and it is unclear if the military has tested civilians. All contradicting what Defense Secretary Mark Esper said two weeks ago. Take a listen.


MARK ESPER, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: First, the Department of Defense will make available up to 5 million N-95 respirator masks and other personal protective equipment from our own strategic reserves to the Department of Health and Human Services for distribution.

Next, we are prepared to distribute to HHS up to 2,000 deployable ventilators for use as needed.

Third, the department has made our 14 certified coronavirus testing labs available to test non-DOD personnel as well, and we will soon offer two additional labs for that purpose.


CHURCH: And a U.S. navy aircraft carrier has now been hit by a COVID- 19 outbreak. CNN's Ivan Watson is covering this live for us from Hong Kong. Good to see you, Ivan. This is very disturbing. What's the latest information you have on this?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is pretty remarkable. You have the USS Theodore Roosevelt, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier with a crew of more than 4,000 sailors on board, with a coronavirus outbreak.

So, its captain wrote a letter that was published earlier this week in the San Francisco "Chronicle," initially, calling for the complete, almost complete evacuation of this aircraft carrier after the number of coronavirus infections suddenly surged there in about a week from less than a dozen to suddenly more than 70 suspected cases on board that aircraft carrier.

Now, it docked at the U.S. island of Guam last week, and now the governor of Guam as well as the U.S. admiral there have announced that they are putting together a plan to begin to move sailors off of that ship. The plan that was proposed by the captain initially was for at least 10 percent to remain on board to run things like the nuclear reactor and to ensure the safety and security of the aircraft carrier.

And now, the civilian and military authorities are trying to come up with a way to move potentially thousands of sailors to a number of tourist hotels on the island where the Navy has said they would be monitored and kept in quarantine by basically Naval or Marine police.

There, of course, is concern amid the civilian population on Guam, and this is an island with a population of about 170,000 people. There are some major U.S. military installations there with perhaps 12,000- 15,000 personnel there with concerns as that island struggles with the outbreak and deaths as a result of coronavirus.

What is the impact going to be if potentially thousands of sailors coming on shore, any number of which could be infected? The Navy is ensuring that only sailors that have tested negative for coronavirus would be put into 14-day quarantines in these hotels on the island. But this is still a plan that is being worked out.

The military have announced that they're sending 40 medical personnel from the Marines to Guam to help with this rather remarkable plan that is now starting to get under way, which is, again, to try to evacuate the bulk of the sailors from this aircraft carrier and then try to disinfect it somehow.

Meanwhile, Pentagon officials have told CNN that at least one other U.S. Navy aircraft carrier, the Ronald Reagan, has detected cases of coronavirus -- Rosemary.

CHURCH: It is a big concern. Ivan Watson bringing us the very latest on that from Hong Kong. Many thanks.

And you are watching CNN NEWSROOM. U.S. stock futures react after the Dow closes out its worst first quarter in history. CNN's Christine Romans is in New York to break it all down for us. We're back with her in just a moment.



CHURCH: Well, Asia markets fell on Wednesday on continuing worries surrounding the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. In the U.S., stock futures fell after the Dow closed out its worst first quarter in history Tuesday. The index lost 23.2 percent during the first three months of the year.

The federal government is trying to turn things around with a $2 trillion stimulus package designed to boost the economy and help American workers and businesses of all sizes.

And CNN is also learning that negotiations have quietly begun between U.S. lawmakers on what could become a fourth stimulus package to respond to the coronavirus crisis.

CNN's Christine Romans joins us now from New York. Christine, always good to see you. So, let's look at that lifeline, the federal government's offering small businesses. Who will get those loans and how generous will they likely be?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: You know, I think lifeline is the perfect word, Rosemary, because this is meant to get these small business owners through the next few months to try to keep people employed. It's called the "Paycheck Protection Program." And the idea here is to get money into the hands of small business owners so they can keep their workers. They can pay their rent. They can keep the lights on until we get to the other side of that. This is also interesting because one of the details of this is this is

available retroactively going back to February 15th.


So, some small businesses have already been struggling, so there is retroactive money in there, and employers essentially need to rehire the people that they have let go -- recently laid off, and they have until June 30th to do that.

So, what's in this? Who can get this, right? You can get this if you're a non-profit, a veterans organization, an individual owner, if you're self-employed. And these are maximum loans of $10 million here. You see the interest rate there, very low, 0.5 percent. If you keep your workers on, some of that loan turns into a grant, right, so that you are paid by the government, Rosemary, to pay your workers. It is a lifeline, though. This just keeps everybody's head above water until we get to the next phase of this, and that's why you're hearing about more stimulus.

Right, I hope it's fairly easy to navigate, because that can be a lot of the problem with all sorts of things.

ROMANS: I have the form right here. It's already on the SBA website, so you can get it -- right now you can get started.

CHURCH: Unbelievable. Well, of course, as a result of the pandemic, this first quarter was the worst in U.S. history. It is a grim picture. Where does this leave investor confidence?

ROMANS: Well, you know, consumer confidence, we saw that take a hit yesterday. It will likely continue to fall. Investors, you know, have had a quarter unlike any I have ever seen. I mean, we were at record highs seven weeks ago. I was reporting on record-high 401(K) balances, and then this thing just fell off a cliff and you essentially had a crash in the stock market.

And then last week you had the best week for the Dow in years, since the Great Depression. So, you can understand why investors are so nervous about what's happening here. What I'm hearing mostly is until we know if this virus is under control and what business will look like on the other side of it, there is still a lot of risk for investors in the economy.

What I also know is that we have never seen something like this before. There's no playbook for this, Rosemary. So that has economists with really wildly different expectations of what the economy looks like heading into the end of the year. Goldman Sachs, for example, expects the economy to contract 34 percent in the second quarter. That's unheard of. But then snap back into the end of the year in a v- shaped recovery. Others are not quite so optimistic. But there are estimates all over the place. It just shows you how unique and unprecedented this moment is for us.

CHURCH: Yes, and for so many people. I mean, they just can't see a light at the end of the tunnel here. We need some hope that something's going to change, don't we? But we'll see.

ROMANS: We'll see.

CHURCH: Christine Romans, many thanks, joining us live from New York. Appreciate it.

And you're watching CNN NEWSROOM. Coming up --


GROUP SINGING: She'll be coming around the mountain. She'll be coming around the mountain when she comes --


CHURCH: We speak to one woman helping her mother-in-law cope with the anxiety of isolation. That interview just ahead.