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Experts Say Virus May Spread Easier than Described by Talking or Breathing; Los Angeles Mayor Garcetti Urges Residents to Wear Masks When in Public; NYC Mayor De Blasio Pleads for Medical Supplies as Cases Surge; Dr. Jan Zislis Discusses Battle in Connecticut to Maintain Medical Supplies; Record 6.6 Million Americans File for Unemployment. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired April 2, 2020 - 11:00   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. We want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world.

Today, here is what we are looking at, and we will be getting into this hour. More tough news on the virus and the economy. Interesting new steps with experimental antiviral treatments. New moves in the battle for critical medical equipment. And that is just going to be our first hour today.

Here are the numbers to start you off. The virus has now killed more than 5,100 people in the United States. The death toll doubling over the last three days. Nationwide there are more than 216,000 positive cases.

And there's also this. New reporting suggesting that the virus may spread easier than previously described by simply talking or even breathing.

Then there's the exhausting, ongoing fight for supplies. The federal stockpile of protective equipment is nearly depleted. That is what we are now learning that the last round of shipments is being deployed.

Another change. Five more states, including Florida now, added or have expanded stay-at-home statewide orders.

But there are some big caveats, in some cases, and that leaves about a dozen states still holding out.

On the economy, simply ugh. And 6.6 million people filed for unemployment, nearly doubling the record set the week prior.

That's where we start. Let us get to it.

Starting with CNN senior medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen.

Elizabeth, you have interesting new reporting on new research on how the coronavirus or the ease with which it spreads. What are you learning?

DR. ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Kate, what we're learning is that a letter went out from a National Academy of Sciences Committee to the White House last night letting them know, hey, we think, the research is showing that it looks like this virus can be spread just when you are talking to someone and even just when -- even by breathing.

This is not a contradiction, but it sort of adds something to what the CDC has been saying to us. The CDC has been telling us, oh, it spreads by sneezes or coughs because that kind of propels those germs out there.

But this is a committee from the National Academy of Sciences, the most prestigious body there is like this in the United States, saying, wait a minute, we think it can be spread just by breathing and talking as well.

And I hate to say this, those droplets might hang in the air, possibly. Someone walking by could run into them later on.

BOLDUAN: And that's what makes it so troubling and what social distancing reinforces the desperate need for social distancing to remain in place.

Elizabeth, thank you so much. Really appreciate it.

So in California, Governor Gavin Newsom, he says the number of coronavirus patients in intensive care has quadrupled in the past week. And the mayor of Los Angeles is now calling on residents there to start wearing masks whenever they go outside.

Stephanie Elam is in Los Angeles with this.

Stephanie, the CDC, of course, has not yet changed its guidance on masks in the general public. How is Mayor Garcetti explaining his thinking here?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, Kate, because when you take a look at this, the way California has not reacted has not been waiting for the federal government or the CDC to say what to do.

This was the first state in the nation to go into a stay-at-home order. Los Angeles has been living like that in the state for about two weeks.

Now the mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti, saying people should look for something to cover their face when they make those runs to the grocery store, to the pharmacy.

Take a look at what the mayor had to say.


ERIC GARCETTI (D), LOS ANGELES MAYOR: We are now recommending that Angeleno's use homemade face coverings when they are in public and when interacting with others. To be clear, you should still stay-at- home. This isn't an excuse to suddenly all go out. You need to stay- at-home.

But when you have to go out, we are recommending that we use non- medical-grade masks or facial coverings and not take the ones that are reserved for our first responders.


ELAM: Now, what he is saying is even a bandanna, a scarf, something over the face could help stop those droplets from being released into the air, keeping those respiratory droplets out of the air.

And they're pointing to countries that have had a slower spread, like Taiwan, Czech Republic, which the mayor mentioned, and they're saying this could help.

What this means is, this doesn't mean to get out and get an N-95 mask or get the ones reserved for health care or medical workers. Don't touch those. This is just for when you run to get your groceries or something so that when you're interfacing with other people, you're not contaminating that area.


The other thing he did do, he's saying there are still some businesses in Los Angeles County that are continuing to operate even though they're not essential. So now he's directing the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to cut their services if they continue to operate to make it very hard for them to work.

Overall, though, Kate, when you take a look at what he is saying here, he is not saying that putting on this cover means get closer to everybody. Not at all. He is saying if you do need to run out, cover up your breath, whatever may be coming out of your mouth and noise, those respiratory fluids, stop that from spreading out, but really, if you want to do your part, stay at home, stay at home.

BOLDUAN: This is another added layer. I heard one doctor put it simply and it stuck with me. Do what you can to keep your droplets to yourself. I thought that was a helpful way of saying it.


BOLDUAN: Great to see you, Stephanie. Really appreciate it.

Let's turn to New York right now. Mayor De Blasio warning New York City only has enough critical masks to last until this Sunday. That, as the number of cases and deaths continue to mount in New York, this all reinforces the urgent threats that a supply shortage poses to workers on the front lines.

CNN's Brynn Gingras is outside one of New York's hardest-hit hospitals. She joins me now.

Brynn, this stark warning coming from Mayor De Blasio about critical supplies running out by Sunday, what are you hearing about that?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He called it D-Day, Kate. He said Sunday is D-Day for their supplies, now looking forward to the next week. They need more supplies. And it's everything across the board. We're talking about face shields. We're talking about the surgical aprons, the N-95 masks.

He estimates more than three million masks are needed. And then, of course, those ventilators. Hundreds of ventilators are needed.

It's kind of like what you already told your viewers about in California, that's what we're seeing here as well, it's the way patients are coming in, the fact that they are sicker than usual. It's not the amount. It's how sick they are when they come in. That's what's really, really putting a strain on these hospitals as well.

I want to give you a quick inside look at one of these doctors who is working in an E.R. in a private hospital here, Mt. Sinai. He did a video diary explaining, showing us inside one of these areas where patients are lined up along the hallways waiting for ICU beds or taking oxygen while sitting in a wheelchair. It's just incredible strain on these hospitals.

As far as equipment is concerned, the mayor has pointed to a familiar face in New York City, the former NYPD commissioner, James O'Neill. He is basically coming from a different job, volunteering to be the supply czar, making sure New York can get the supplies they need and distributing it to the hospitals where the needs are most.

There's a counterbalancing act here of trying to get patients to those different hospitals, to the makeshift hospitals, like the Javits Center, the "Comfort," the one in Central Park, but still it's an everyday challenge that this city is trying to measure as this demand continues to increase.

BOLDUAN: Just seeing the video of people in their hospital beds, like in a hallway, it's just so sad, and it's just so scary.

Brynn, thank you. Really appreciate it.

GINGRAS: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: So the exhausting battle to maintain medical supplies, as Brynn is getting to, it's in New York City but it continues across the country.

Here's how Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont described it. Listen to this.


NED LAMONT, (D), CONNECTICUT GOVERNOR: I'm not going to complain about the protective gear because that's one thing we don't control where we are most at risk. Don't believe anything you hear on TV where they say they've got plenty of protective gear. I was just on the phone with all the governors. They're all desperate. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Desperate.

Joining me right now is Dr. Jan Zislis. He's an emergency room physician at Greenwich Hospital in Connecticut.

Doctor, thank you so much for being here.

It goes without saying. We've seen the numbers. We're keeping lists. Connecticut is one of the states -- and the governor has made no bones about it -- that it's also being slammed. And where you are, close to the epicenter of New York. What are you seeing in your hospital?

DR. JAN ZISLIS, EMERGENCY ROOM PHYSICIAN, GREENWICH HOSPITAL: Right now, the situation is definitely tense. The hospital is stretched to the max. And I think what we're seeing now is sort of the wave of people that are coming in after having minor symptoms, let's say, a week ago, now coming down with more severe symptoMs. So the severity is starting to really increase and so is the stress level.

It's really wearing thin on those of us on the front lines doing this day in and day out.

BOLDUAN: Day in and day out, the stress never ends. A newborn baby in Connecticut died of COVID-19 less than seven weeks old. You've likely not seen patients as young as that, Doctor, but certainly younger people in what you would assume is generally good health who then need to be admitted to the hospital.


Do you think with that, folks in general need to change their thinking about who is, quote, unquote, "vulnerable" to the virus?

ZISLIS: Absolutely. And, you know, the studies that came out of China really pointed towards the elderly being at risk and those who are immunocompromised. But I have to say really no one is immune from this. Just yesterday I took care of my first three patients and their ages were 32, 40 and 55. So --

BOLDUAN: Oh, wow.

ZISLIS: -- it's not just a disease that's affecting the elderly. It has to do with, you know, our immune system and our ability to fight off the viruses and then the cascade of inflammation that happens after we're infected with the virus.

And that's really what's hurting us and killing folks is the cascade after the infection of the virus.

BOLDUAN: So then there's the moment of decision of when someone needs to be put on a ventilator and not.

And New York's Governor Andrew Cuomo said something really startling yesterday. He said that only 20 percent of coronavirus patients, who go on ventilators, are getting off ventilators. And 80 percent of COVID hospital patients on ventilators, they're not coming off. They're dying. That is really scary.

Are you seeing that in Connecticut? And if so, can you -- is there any rhyme or reason to why that is?

ZISLIS: I don't know the exact numbers in the state of Connecticut, but what I do know is that the longer one is on a ventilator, the harder it is to come off the ventilator.

And it's really about controlling the level of inflammation and some of the inflammatory markers that are going on within the body and some of the treatments that we're using now are aimed at decreasing some of that inflammation.

So, you know, it is true. I think that once you go on a ventilator, it's going to be that much harder to get off the ventilator.

Obviously, the younger folks have an easier time than the elderly, but, again, like I said, no one is immune from this.

BOLDUAN: Is that something unique that you're seeing with this virus, about the deterioration or kind of how compromised -- how the deterioration when someone has to get on a vent, or is it in general when people are on a ventilator for a prolonged period of time?

ZISLIS: I think this is new with the virus, the amount of inflammation that is caused. This is a novel virus, so our bodies have never seen such a threat from a microorganism. So the amount of inflammation that happens is really overwhelming the system, so much so, that it's affecting the heart, the lungs, the kidneys, multi-system organ failure.

Yes, I think this is something that we've not seen with other viruses and other bacterial threats.

BOLDUAN: Can I also ask you, the governor was talking about a battle for supplies, right, the masks to ventilators to more. I've been struck. The president said -- let's call it last week, but then also said it again yesterday, that he was surprised and didn't understand how hospitals are using so much protective gear.

Can you just help folks, including the president, I guess I would say, understand why there's a need, why you have to use protective gear at a rate that you never use otherwise?

ZISLIS: Absolutely. Any time you have any form of contact with any COVID-suspicious patient, you have to basically don the entire gear. You can't just walk into a room, you know, without any protection.

Even for those patients that we're seeing that have very minor symptoms and are low risk, we still have to assume that they are COVID positive. Because as you all know, you don't have to have any symptoms at all.

So the amount of PPE that we have to use every time, every encounter we have, every time we go in the room we have to put on the gloves, the gown, the N-95 masks, sometimes another surgical mask over the N- 95 masks, a cap, shoe covers.

So any interaction we have with a patient, we have to put that on, and as soon as we exit the room, we have to take it off. So if you can imagine, if we're seeing, you know, 10, 15, 20 patients in a given shift, we have to probably, you know, take off and put on that equipment at least, you know, 15, 20 times.


So the supplies are going to wear thin very quickly. We're OK in our hospital with the amount of supplies we have now. But what happens tomorrow, and what happens next week? That's what we're afraid of.

BOLDUAN: Asked, answered. The way you describe it as perfect. And I don't think it's hard to understand at this point. So hopefully, that message is getting through.

Thank you so much, Doctor. Really appreciate it. Thank you for your time.

Coming up for us, devastating jobless numbers just released show a record number of Americans are now out of work. How much worse is it going to get? Will there be an economic freefall? Is there any light on the horizon? We're going to discuss.



BOLDUAN: A gut punch when the economy is already coming to its knees. The Labor Department just released the latest data on jobless claims and here they are. And 6.6 million people filed for unemployment benefits last week. That's the populations of both Chicago and Los Angeles combined for perspective there. It's hard to find any silver lining in that, of course.

Joining me right now, CNN business anchor, Julia Chatterley, and White House correspondent, John Harwood.

Guys, thank you for being here.

Julia, give us your take on the numbers. What exactly do they show?

JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS ANCHOR: Kate, this is what deep recession looks like, deliberate deep recession. To your point, this is 10 million people who a few weeks ago had a job and now they are without one.

It's pretty broad based. If you look at the numbers here, it's transportation, it's warehousing. And it's coming from the health care sector, too, which is quite surprising.

It's also seeing a ramp-up in claims from states like Pennsylvania and Ohio, some of the first states to have the stay-at-home orders implemented, so that arguably will get worse.

For me, in the middle of a health crisis, Kate, these are millions of people who don't have health insurance, either. And they have 60 days to try to go to an exchange and get some. is where they need to be going. But clearly there are millions now who didn't have health care in the first place.

It's unimaginable what we're seeing here.

BOLDUAN: Add that to all the stress and anxiety people are facing right now --


BOLDUAN: -- with trying to keep their families healthy, keep food on the table, and now trying to get health insurance again.

John, what are you hearing from the White House on these numbers?

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, as you indicated in the intro, there's no silver lining on this. This is what President Trump was talking about a few days ago when he said it's going to be very, very painful for the next few weeks.

Given that very painful situation, catastrophic economic situation, along with what we saw from President Trump today has been trying to point his fingers at other people and deflect responsibility.

He sent out a tweet saying, states need to get out money to people who need it fast. Of course, that is partly a responsibility of states through their unemployment insurance programs.

It's also a responsibility of the federal government through the stimulus bill that was passed that will require getting cash out to families and also small business loans to many businesses, especially if they keep their payrolls up.

He also pointed to Congress, saying they need to pass a tax break for the hospitality industry. He said that he had reached out to MbS, the leader of Saudi Arabia, to try to get a cut in production that would boost oil prices.

It has boosted oil prices. That's good for people who work in the oil industry, but it's a drop in the bucket compared to the overall economic problem.

Finally, the number-one economic intervention the president could do most effectively is get on top of the virus. That is the key to unlocking this situation. And the president was blame casting there as well, pointing to states saying, we could never give them enough help. They should have stocked up ahead of time.

BOLDUAN: We are all in this together. That is not what that message is.

Julia, what is the outlook after this? Do folks just sit, wait, dread next week's jobless claims report? Does it look like anything from the government stimulus package is going to do anything to slow this bleed?

CHATTERLEY: That is the only silver lining is that help is coming. The problem is it's not coming soon enough, quite frankly.

Yes, I think we're going to see more weeks of these devastating numbers, Kate. The hope is that when the stimulus kicks in, it provides some level of support.

But these numbers are only going to accelerate the call for more checks to be made and a further extension of those four months' unemployment benefits.

The bottom line here is it's not enough. What we've seen is not enough.

BOLDUAN: I'm just left wondering in a bitterly divided Congress, no matter what the country looks like right now, I'm just wondering if they've all been scared straight enough to actually do more and do it quickly. I mean, hope springs eternal, I guess.

Julia, John, thanks, guys.

Any moment, -- we're going to keep an on our screen, because, at any moment, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo will give an update on New York States' coronavirus response, the epicenter of the coronavirus. It's attacked the state so viciously they're not over that mountain, as Cuomo describes it, yet, but where are they? We'll bring you that when it begins.


Be right back.



BOLDUAN: A troubling situation in Florida today involving two cruise ships off the coast is now turning dire. Two people have died, nine have tested positive for coronavirus. And 200 more have symptoms.