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Experts Tell White House Virus Can Spread Through Talking, Breathing; Florida Official Says, Deal Reached For Virus-Stricken Ships To Dock; Nearly 96 Percent Of Americans Told To Stay Home As Death Toll Tops 5,000. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired April 2, 2020 - 10:00   ET


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN NEWSROOM: Just a measure of the preparations being made for the worst case scenario from all this.


This news comes as we learn that experts who are telling us more details on exactly how the coronavirus can spread. And I know you at home have heard conflicting information at times, but we've learned that it can't be spread just by coughing or sneezing, but even by breathing or talking.


Another headline this morning, early data show anti-malaria drugs can help COVID-19 patients get better more quickly. The FDA has also authorized a blood test that could identify those who have already been infected, how could that all help. It's a little bit of hope as hospitals and even first responders are facing still these critical supply shortages.

The president confirms the national stockpile of medical supplies is also running low, all of this as we barrel toward a peak that could still be weeks away.

Back-to-back days of record high deaths, 946 deaths recorded yesterday alone out of more than 5,000 overall. Nearly 96 percent of the country now has been ordered to stay at home as more governors impose those statewide closures.

Let's begin this hour in New York, again, still really the epicenter of this. Our National Correspondent, Brynn Gingras, joins us again.

Where we are getting an early and inside look at the emergency rooms hit by this pandemic?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right. I mean, we are constantly getting information about these emergency rooms. A lot of times, Poppy and Jim, what we're hearing about the public emergency rooms, the public hospitals here in New York City, 11 of them.

But I want to show you a video from a doctor that he shot a video diary, and this is from one of the private hospitals, Mt. Sinai, here in New York City. He basically talks about that morning when he had to go to work, he left his wife and 17-month-old daughter and he wasn't sure when he was going to see them again, because their family was fearful he would bring home the virus. He talked about all the equipment he has to put on and reuse in order to continue to see patients.

And those E.R.s, just like the ones we've been seeing across other hospitals across the city, are also packed. There are patients lined up in the E.R. There are people waiting for intensive care unit rooms. All of these hospitals are strained so much. And that's why there is just this need for not just the ventilators, of course, those are the big ones, but other equipment.

We know from the mayor here in New York City, that by Sunday -- he's called it D-Day. Essentially, they're going to be be very low on just those basic protective equipment, like the face masks, the N95 face masks, the shields, and they're asking for more and more of them. In fact, they've even appointed a supply czar. The former NYPD commissioner, James O'Neill, is going to be working with the team in order to ensure they get this equipment and then be able to disburse it at these hospitals.

Now, as we're learning all of this, there is some good news reporting by the New York Times, essentially saying 2,000 ventilators that are in the national stockpile don't work. We're learning that the contract with the Trump administration failed to maintain that contract, and so there are broken ventilators in that national stockpile, which we know at this point is dwindling as is, anyway.

SCIUTTO: Well, it's good to hear New York now has a formal POLICE COMMISSIONER, Jim O'Neill, and, of course, the current one, Dermot Shea. Brynn Gingras there in New York, thanks very much.

To Los Angeles now where all of the city's 4 million residents are being asked to wear face masks when they go outside. Could this be a sign of things to come for all of us around the country? Stephanie Elam, she's in Los Angeles.

This is just a recommendation there now. Will it be mandated? To be clear, how does this happen? There's a shortage of these things. Our folks being told to use bandanas, to make their own at home?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Exactly. Good morning, Jim and Poppy. The idea here is not for anyone to try to run out and find an N95 mask. That is not what Mayor Garcetti is saying. What he is saying is that what they are seeing is that there is evidence that by some sort of homemade face covering -- he actually didn't even say mask directly, he said face covering -- you are going to slow the spread of any kind of respiratory droplets.

So he's saying a bandana, a scarf, a homemade mask. Even some companies here have converted their warehouses downtown where they used to make clothes, and they will go back to that, but right now, they're wearing masks. And they're saying, this could help if you're making your essential runs, if you're going to the grocery store, if you're going to go to the pharmacy, anything like that, that's the point.

But listen to what he said about the masks in particular.


MAYOR ERIC GARCETTI (D-LOS ANGELES, CA): We must not contribute to the shortage of these essential personal protective equipment for medical personnel and first responders. But other coverings like this, which can be made of different materials that we can wear in public, research shows even a bandana tucked in can have an effect of slowing down droplet spread. These face coverings are only effective together, of course, with safe physical distancing, so this is not an excuse to get closer.



ELAM: And so this is the idea that they're doing here. Keep in mind, California was the first state in the nation that the governor ordered everyone here to stay at home, shelter at place, Los Angeles too. So it's been about two weeks here. They're seeing some effects.

And Mayor Garcetti pointed to the Czech Republic, South Korea, Taiwan, other places that have used some sort of face mask as the reason why he's saying that this is a good idea.

Now, the other thing that Mayor Garcetti has done is he's saying that for people who -- businesses that continue to operate, that are non- essential, that he's now directing the water company, the power company, to shut off water and power to them if they are not listening to this mandate that essential people only, and, of course, this mask covering, all of those, Poppy and Jim. The best thing to do, as the mayor points out, is just stay home. Just stay home. It works better than a mask.

HARLOW: There you go. Stephanie, thank you for that reporting.

Let's talk about all of these developments, there are so many of them today, with our Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Sanjay, thank you so much for being here. You're going to get a lot more questions, I know, from our viewers in the town hall with Anderson tonight, but one of our main questions this morning is about this FDA news, that they have issued the first emergency use authorization for coronavirus test that looks for antibodies in the blood. How significant is it and what does it ultimately mean?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, no. I think this is very significant. I mean, we try to temper our enthusiasm on certain things, but this idea of trying to figure out who has been exposed to this, are they protected against this coronavirus and maybe could those people actually start to do some essential services because they have that protection?

It's called an antibody test or a serology test. Quite simply, it's actually a pretty simple test, guys. Basically, it's a strip. You have some of the virus that's on this strip. You take somebody's blood and you basically see, does it react to the virus there. Because if it does, that means the antibodies are in the plasma of the person whose blood you just drew.

So this could be a big deal. We'll have to see what it means ultimately does someone how long does someone have these antibodies, how long are they protected, but this is a significant development and hopefully it can get spread out across the country.

SCIUTTO: Sanjay, folks often ask me, and I'm sure they ask you, about time. How long, right? Now, we know a spike in the next couple weeks, national recommendations pushed out to the end of this month. But because different cities around the country are experiencing this at different times, they will spike at different times. Does that mean, you know, the country has to move, in effect, in lockstep here and wait until everyone gets through that spike, or can you see waves of relaxing some of these things going forward?

GUPTA: Well, I think it's going to be tough to see the waves of relaxing. We may see some of that. But the problem, as you know, Jim and Poppy, is that, you know, if you still have significant spread, community spread in some areas, because it's a virus, that still affects at least the region around those areas where it's spreading. So, just mentally, are you going to feel comfortable knowing it's still spreading close by to go out and push on elevator button, doors and handles and all of that sort of stuff? It's going to be tough both from a physical standpoint but also emotional standpoint.

What they mean about this peak, really, is, from a medical standpoint, they're saying, at what point are we going to need the most supplies? When are we going to we need the most ventilators, hospital beds, ICU beds? And that seems to be, if you look at all the modeling sometime over the next few weeks, I mean, some say middle of April, some say third or fourth week of April. But I think we're sort of starting to get to that point where we may see the apex in terms of medical supplies necessary for the country over that time period, but it is a little bit of a shifting target.

HARLOW: So, Sanjay, yesterday afternoon, as I do most afternoons now, and I was going to today, I took my kids in a stroller and walked them 15 minutes to the park, right? And then I wake up to news that experts are telling the White House that droplets of someone with coronavirus that may cough or breathe or talk can stay in the air, and if I walk past them, I or my children could contract them. Is that where we are now?

GUPTA: Well, you know, I think there's been this concern for some time that there's evidence of asymptomatic spread, right, that people who don't even have symptoms could be spreading this. If they're not coughing or sneezing, how are they spreading it, through just normal breathing and talking. It's been more confirmed, as you guys know, recently, but that's been a concern for some time. And now it's a question of how long do those viral droplets last? They can last a couple of hours, but they do tend to be heavier than like -- they don't seem to attach to dust, for example. They seem to be heavier, fall to the ground. Outside in the air, they're going to be more sensitive.

These aren't very robust viruses. They're very sensitive to even simple cleaners and things like that.


So that is a concern to some extent. And I think it's also in part what's driving -- what's happening in Los Angeles about masks, you know. Not medical masks, not surgical N95 masks, but even cloth masks, which by the way, my kids have been making as little projects. But that is to prevent yourself from spreading the virus. No one has suggested necessarily that that's a medical grade mask that's going to keep you from getting the virus. But if everyone potentially -- you have to behave like you have the virus. Could you reduce the amount of virus you're putting in the air by doing this?

I still go outside, Poppy, to answer your question more directly. My kids still go outside. I try and go for a run. I spoke to Dr. Fauci yesterday. He and his wife went for a run a couple nights ago after he got home late from work. So keep that in mind as well.

HARLOW: Okay. Good idea to make the masks though.

SCIUTTO: Yes, it is, it is. Although can everybody do that? That's a big question. But, Fauci at 79, he's still running his miles out there. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thanks very much.

GUPTA: You got it. Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Listen, that was a short time, we'll have a lot more time to hear from Sanjay Gupta this evening. He and Anderson Cooper, they're going to do a new CNN global town hall, Coronavirus, Facts and Fears, live 8:00 Eastern Time only here on CNN.

HARLOW: All right. Well, this morning, unprecedented, record- shattering unemployment claims coming in, 6.6 million Americans filing for them last week alone.

SCIUTTO: CNN Business Anchor Julia Chatterley, she's been covering this. Julia, they're coming from so many different sectors of the economy, just the numbers are staggering. The country literally, through everything, 2008, the depression, has never through weeks like this. Put that into context for us.

JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN BUSINESS ANCHOR: It's dire and it's deliberate. That's the key. This is the price we continue to pay in terms of jobs for systematically shutting down the U.S. economy and telling people to stay home. And to your point, and it's an important one, at the beginning, we saw it was hospitality, hotels on the frontline, but this is far more broad-based now. Healthcare, even, warehousing, transportation involved. But the geography to me also matters.

We're seeing a ramp-up in jobless claims from states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Massachusetts. These were some of the first states to implement the stay-at-home orders and implement furlough. So I deduce from that that we are going to see a continuation of a ramp-up of these claims.

This is 10 million people claiming for unemployment benefits in the space of two weeks, guys. Jim, to your point, we've never seen anything like this, and we're also in this financial vacuum, of course, where we know support is coming, but it's just not coming yet. It's desperate for the people involved.

HARLOW: It's tragic. Julia, thank you. Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Well, cruise ship controversy continues. Hundreds on board two ships. They're sick. But will officials in Florida let them dock? A member of Congress told me it's inhumane to keep them confined out there. We're going to have all the updates.

HARLOW: Plus the U.S. in the middle of a fierce fight with this virus, but China has been battling it for months and months. What can we learn from them? We're going to take you overseas this morning.

And the economy, as we just said, hit after hit, and it is affecting so many of you out there. We get the economic view from the CEO of one of the biggest companies in the world. The CEO of Coca-Cola is with us.



SCIUTTO: Well, the Broward County commissioner in Florida says that a conditional deal is in place that would allow two cruise ships that are filled with sick passengers and crew, hundreds of them, many Americans, some residents of Florida, to finally dock in Florida. Those ships set to arrive this morning if that deal holds. The ships have reported more than 200 people sick on board.

HARLOW: And nine tested positive for coronavirus. Four passengers have actually died on those ships. Health officials tell us critically ill patients on one of the ships will be transferred to local hospitals.

Let's go back to Rosa Flores. She's live again this morning for us in Port Everglades, where the ships are going to come in.

This has been quite an ordeal for them because, initially, the governor -- there was no answer on whether they could dock or not or what would happen to all these people.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's been quite the nightmare. Like you mentioned, with Governor DeSantis changing his tune and saying on Fox News yesterday that as soon as he learned that there were Americans and Floridians on board, that he wanted to make sure that something could be worked out.

Well, now, Poppy, we're learning more. I just got off the phone with a county commissioner here from Broward County, and it's the Broward County commissioner's unified command that made the ultimate decision to allow that ship to dock. And like you mentioned, there is a conditional agreement. Well, here are the terms of that agreement. The passengers who are healthy will be allowed to go home. The passengers who still are sick, exhibiting symptoms, will be treated on the ships.

Now, to avoid community spread, according to this county commissioner, these passengers will be transported on private buses directly to the airport, and then they're going to get on charter planes. They're not going to linger at the airport. And, again, this is to avoid community spread for the health and safety of everyone.

We're also learning more about the individuals who were tested for COVID on the ship.


11 people total were tested. Now, we know that nine of those people tested positive.

We've been reporting that four people died on board, but until now we didn't know the conditions, the cause of death. We're learning from this commissioner that two individuals who died tested positive for COVID-19 and there was an individual who had a heart attack who also died, and also another individual had a pre-existing condition.

We're also learning more about the passengers on board. Of the 311 U.S. citizens, there are 46 states represented. We're also learning more about the countries. People on board are from Canada, the U.K., Australia, France, Germany, Sweden, Mexico, Ireland, Switzerland, just to name a few.

Poppy and Jim, this just tells us a little more about those human beings on board. We've been talking to them, we've been talking to their family members via WhatsApp, via social media. There's so much worry about these individuals that are on this ship that I hope that this gives them a glimmer of hope that some of these people will be able to go home today.

HARLOW: Yes, we certainly do too. Rosa, thanks so much.

Well, in the State of Michigan, they are just dealing with an explosion of COVID-19 cases, especially in and around Detroit. Detroit alone has more than 2,400 confirmed cases and 80 deaths.

SCIUTTO: One hospital in the area already near capacity. They are now working to transfer patients out when necessary. Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan joins us now. Mayor, thanks so much for taking the time. We know you've got a lot on your plate. We always appreciate our conversations.

You've got a real problem coming your way in Detroit. You're doing your best to prepare. This morning, the president is taking aim at states, saying that some have insatiable appetites for emergency equipment. He, of course, has attacked the governor of Michigan as well. Do you have insatiable appetites there in Detroit for help from the government?

MAYOR MIKE DUGGAN (D-DETROIT, MI): Well, I was just over yesterday at our major convention center, near the TCF center. The Army Corps of Engineers is turning it into a 1,000-bed temporary hospital, which is a pretty sobering sight. But we've had combination of help from the federal government. We've had to acquire a lot of assistance on our own. But the community here is pitching together.

And Abbott Labs has got the 15-minute testing kits. They came to Detroit first. Our staff are being trained on them as we speak, and this afternoon, we'll be the first city in the country that will be able to give people answers in 15 minutes, which means our cops, our firefighters, our bus drivers, our health workers can get back to work.

So we're working hard here, but it's a combination with government and just flat out hustling to find supplies.

HARLOW: It's really wonderful news though about that 15-minute test from Abbott and that you guys are getting it and what it could mean for your city and the country.

If you could just listen to what Jim and I heard from a doctor in Detroit just yesterday who was on the show with us yesterday. Here is what she said.


DR. TINA CHOPRA, INFECTIOUS DISEASE SPECIALIST: 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 the orders (INAUDIBLE) rules that have been instituted because of all the factors we just talked about. So the long-term effects economically, socially, fiscally seem really devastating at this time.


HARLOW: I mean, she's saying, Mayor, the poor people are going to be hit even harder by this. What can the city of Detroit do for them?

DUGGAN: Well, the poor people are being hit hard and wealthy people are being hit hard in this country. But I reached out two days ago to the doctors in the City of Detroit because we are running a huge regional testing site, the only major testing site, the state with drive-thru site, at the state (INAUDIBLE) where we're seeing 700 people a day. But you need a prescription. And we have a lot of folks in Detroit who don't have a doctor or don't have insurance.

And two days ago, 25 physician offices came forward, two-thirds of whom said we will take people without insurance. And we now have 25 physician groups taking patients in the city, writing them prescriptions, and by tomorrow I'll have a plan in place for specialized transportation for people who aren't mobile to be able to drive them, get them to a testing site and get straight through.

We have had to set up food distribution sites across the city, and we're distributing 40,000 meals a week. It's hard work. We don't spend a lot of time complaining about it, we just get settled down and do the work.

SCIUTTO: Well, Mayor Duggan, we wish you the best. Let's keep up the conversation because we want to know how things are going there. We're going to keep checking in with you. Thank you.

DUGGAN: All right. Good to talk to you.


SCIUTTO: Officials across the U.S. are taking a page out of China's playbook, urging Americans to stay at home. Can those measures be as effective here in the U.S.?


SCIUTTO: Well, just look at how far we've come as a country today. Nearly 96 percent of the U.S. population are now being asked to stay at home. This, of course, to help mitigate the spread, the impact of coronavirus.


Officials around the U.S. are imposing various orders that are similar to those that slowed the spread of the virus in China.