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Standoff Between Ships & Florida Governor; Florida Governor Faces Criticism for Delaying Stay-at-Home Order; National Stockpile of N-95 Masks & Ventilators Being Depleted; NY Governor Cuomo Gives Update on Coronavirus Response. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired April 2, 2020 - 11:30   ET



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: 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. At least two people, maybe more. And 200 more have symptoms. And there's something of a standoff between the ships and the governor of Florida.

CNN's Rosa Flores is monitoring the situation in Everglades, Florida.

Rosa, the governor said he has something of a plan here for the cruise ships and passengers on board, but what is it?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, it's still very unclear. We haven't heard from the governor exactly about what his take will be.

But we know he told FOX News yesterday that as soon as he learned that there were Americans and Floridians on this ship that he figured that something had to be done to make sure that these Americans were able to get off the ship.

Now, that, of course, is in line with what Anthony Fauci said earlier today, Dr. Fauci, from the NIH, of course, that the passengers who are not sick need to get off the plane.

Now, Kate, we're learning more, actually, from the county commissioners that we've been able to talk to here in Broward County. One of them telling us that a conditional agreement has been made. That agreement has to be finalized and signed, of course, by Broward County commissioners and unified command and Carnival Cruises, which is the owner of "Holland America."

But here's what it says. Here's our understanding. According to this commissioner, passengers who are healthy will be able to disembark and go home. Passengers who are still sick and have symptoms, they will stay on the ship for now.

But, Kate, we are here literally watching the horizon, waiting for this to happen, because, according to this commissioner, these passengers, some of them, can disembark as early as today starting at about 1:00 -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: But as we have seen, Rosa, when it comes to an orderly debarkation, it takes days. It's huge choreography with, who knows, desperate times and desperate measure on this.

Rosa, also happening in Florida, the governor has finally put in place a statewide stay-at-home order. He put it in place yesterday afternoon. I believe it goes into effect tomorrow. But just that in and of itself is also facing criticism.

FLORES: It has. Definitely it has. This order goes into effect tomorrow, and it includes all 21 million Floridians, and it's a stay- at-home order. However, it allows for essential services to still continue. And under the list of essential services are religious services.

And there's the controversy, Kate, of course, because that would include church services, churches at synagogues and other places of worship and that's how this virus spreads, in close quarters with people being together and people gathering. And that's the controversy -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: Yes. All right.

Rosa, thank you so much. I really appreciate it.

So exactly what the country does not need right now is this, being told that another supply chain is being depleted. But, alas, the nation's supply of critical ventilators and protective medical gear is nearly depleted. The last round of supplies being directed to hospitals. What know? Where is hope on the horizon for this? We ask seemingly every day.

CNN's Kristen Holmes and Leyla Santiago are looking into this.

Kristen, let me start with you.

What did you learn about the stockpile?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kate, look, this is almost exactly what you said, we're seeing the final round of protective gear being shipped out from the national stockpile.

As something to note. What is protective gear? We're talking about masks, gloves, any sort of protective equipment for those health care workers. And the reason it's the last round is because the stockpile is just so low.

This is coming at a point in which we're hearing desperate pleas not only from governors but health care workers on the front lines who are just trying to get that protective equipment that they need.

I want to note one thing here. This stockpile was never the answer to the full pandemic. We knew officials were ringing those alarm bells early on to say there wasn't enough in the national stockpile to answer to 50 states in the case of a countrywide pandemic.

That being said, it doesn't make it any less scary, particularly for these health care workers on the front lines who are watching their own supplies really go down and down, and they don't know when they're going to get the next round.

BOLDUAN: That's so true.

And, Leyla, there are shipments coming from overseas. Where are they going?

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's a great question, Kate. I can't give you specifics about what the prioritized hot spots established by FEMA and Health and Human Services are because they have not released that list despite multiple requests from us to do so.


Here's what I can tell you about those supplies. Here's how it works. A private company secures supplies overseas. FEMA is chartering those flights in and then tells those companies a portion of it goes back into the private market and another portion of it is to go to these prioritized hot spots.

When I asked about the specifics on where they are, again, they are not giving that information, only saying it includes locations like New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, D.C., Illinois, Texas, Florida, Washington and California.

But I got to tell you, Kate, I have called a lot of local governments in multiple states across the country, including Louisiana, North Carolina, Connecticut, Michigan, where we are right now in Virginia. And when you talk to these local governments, most of them are telling you --


BOLDUAN: Leyla, I'm going to jump in.

We need to jump over to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. He's beginning to speak about an update, the epicenter of this virus fight in New York.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): -- per capita high in China, per capita high in South Korea. Tested 18,000 people total. We've 238,000. Which is a lot of people, but remember, New York, you're talking a base of 19 million.

So the number of positive cases up to 8,669. And 92,000 total in the state, predominantly in New York City. But you see Westchester and Nassau, which, by percentage, is a troubling number. Remember, New York City is so much larger than Westchester, Nassau or Suffolk.

So those numbers are concerning and we're watching those. You see in Nassau County 1,000 new cases, Suffolk County, 1,141 new cases. That is troubling news.

Number of counties, you see the entire state. Every county in the state now has reported a coronavirus case. We said it was going to march across the state. I've also made the point to my colleagues on every phone call I do with the other governors, the other officials, I say it's going to march across the country.

It is false comfort to say, well, we are a rural community. We don't have the density of New York City. That is a false comfort. You have counties in New York State where you have more cows than people. New York State, don't think of just New York City. Upstate New York is a rural community.

And you see that it's not just urban areas. It's suburban areas. That's Westchester, Nassau, Suffolk, comparable to suburban communities all across this country. And we have rural communities that are comparable to rural communities all across this country.

In many ways, New York States is a microcosm of the United States. That's why I believe it's going to be illustrative for the rest of this nation as to what's going to happen.

Current hospitalizations, as I said, 92,000 tested positive, 13,000 currently hospitalized. That's up 1,100. And 3,000 ICU patients. That's up 300. And 7,400 patients discharged. That's up 1,292.

The number of people going to the hospitals going up. The number of people coming out of the hospital is going up. Number of deaths, up to 2,373. Up from 1,941.

Looking for a trend line. The trend line is still basically up. Total new hospitalizations. Trend line of ICU admissions is still up. Certainly a couple small deviations but the line is up.

The number of intubations is up. But if you want to take an optimistic view, you can start to see a plateauing in the number of intubations. But the stat statisticians tell me that's an optimistic view.

Number of daily discharges is going way up. That's people going in, people going out.

Challenges still at the apex. That's what this has been all about for every system in this country now. Everyone is basically waging the same battle. Different time frames, different numbers, different percentages but it's the same battle.


When you hit the apex, which is the highest rate of infection, highest number of people coming into the hospital system, can you handle that number? Can you handle the height of the impact on the hospital system, which is at the apex of the curve? We call that the battle of the mountaintop. At least, I call it the battle of the mountaintop.

Questions people keep asking, which are the right questions. Well, when is the apex? It depends on what model you use, what model you follow. We follow all of the models. It's anywhere from seven to 21 to 30 days depending on what model you look at.

Well, how can you have that variable, seven to 30 days? It depends on how that model rates how effective social distancing is, right? The variable is the models that think social distancing is going to be more effective at slowing the rate have a longer time frame for the apex.

Those models that discount the social distancing, they have a shorter time frame for the apex. It makes it difficult to plan, frankly, because seven to 30 days is a long window.

And we are literally planning on the day-to-day basis, deploying assets on a day-to-day basis. We believe it is closer to the shorter end of the range with our in-house people looking at the professional modeling that's being done.

How many beds will you need at the apex? Between 70 and 110,000. Again, that's a broad range. That's one of the frustrations trying to plan for this. Right now we have 53,000 statewide, we have only 36,000 downstate. Remember that. And this is primarily a downstate issue. So by any estimate, we don't have the number of beds.

But, again, we've taken extraordinary measures. Every hospital, by mandate, has to add a 50 percent increase, and they have all done that.

We're setting up extra facilities, which we've been talking about. We've been shifting patients from downstate hospitals to upstate hospitals, and that is continuing.

When does this end? You have projection models that have us hitting the apex, coming down from the apex. Models vary at how quickly you come down from the apex, but they all basically say you come down from the apex quickly. And then some models have it flattening out but flattening out for a period of time. Models have it flattening out and continuing through the summer.

How many lives lost? There's only one model that we look at that has the number of projected deaths, which is the IHME model, which is funded by the Gates Foundation. And we thank the Gates Foundation for the national service that they've done.

But that is the model that suggests approximately 93,000 deaths across the country. That's the model that I believe Dr. Fauci was referring to when he said about 100,000 deaths. New York would be about 15,000 deaths by that model.

When we are doing this planning and we're doing our deployment, the theory is the chain is only as strong as the weakest link, right? So that's true for the hospital system.

We have about, give or take, 180 hospitals that we are focusing on here in the state. The hospitals that will have the greatest issue will be those hospitals that are usually the most stressed in normal circumstances, right?

So if the hospitals before this were under stress, you then add this crisis on top of that. Those are the hospitals that one would expect to see struggling first.

[11:45:07] That's also true for the entire hospital system. You know, we talk about beds, we talk about staff, we talk about supplies, but the truth is you need all three of those things to provide any care.

A bed without staff doesn't do anything. A bed and staff without supplies doesn't do anything. So you need all three of those components to work to have a situation where someone can actually get care.

In terms of beds, those are the easiest to find, and we are constructing additional facilities. We're now going to start at the Brooklyn cruise terminal, obviously in Brooklyn, New York City. It's expected to open this week, 150 beds. We're hoping to take P.A. facility in Staten Island and convert it to a COVID-only hospital.

On beds, we are in relatively good shape because a bed is a bed, right? A bed is a question of a structure. If push comes to shove, we can acquire dorms. We can acquire hotels. We can acquire physical structures with beds in them.

Of those three components, beds, staff, supplies, I personally am least worried about bed capacity. We have 2,500 beds at Javits. We have a thousand beds on the naval ship "Comfort." Beds we can find. Not easy but we can find them.

The harder components are the staff and the supplies, which is what we've been talking about. On the staff, we're continuing to shift staff from the upstate hospitals that are less impacted to downstate hospitals.

We've requested out-of-state health care workers. God bless America. And 21,000 people have volunteered from out of state to come into New York State. I thank them. I thank their patriotism. I thank their dedication and passion to their mission of public health. These are beautiful, generous people.

And New Yorkers will return the favor. New Yorkers will return the favor. This is going to affect every place in this country. We are, in some ways, the first major encounter. We're learning. We'll get the experience, and we will return the favor.

When your community needs help, New Yorkers will be there. And you have my personal word on that.

And it's also the New York tradition when there's been a hurricane or there's been a flood or Hurricane Katrina, New Yorkers are the first ones in their cars to go anywhere in this nation that needs help.

And I will be the first one in my car to go wherever this nation needs help as soon as we get past this. I'll never forget how people across this country came to the aid of New Yorkers when they needed it. And I deeply appreciate it.

We have 85,000 volunteers now in total, which are being deployed to the hospitals so they can find staff that works for them. Supplies are an ongoing challenge. The PPE is an ongoing challenge,

the gowns, the gloves, and the ventilators. First of all, we have for the first time ever a hospital-by-hospital survey that will be done on a nightly schedule of exactly what they have.

We are coordinating like we've never coordinated before. Rather than have all these regional systems, public systems, private systems, et cetera, we have a central stockpile. We are asking all the hospitals to contribute what they have to that central stockpile. And then we will disburse on a need basis.

Some hospitals have more supplies than they're using. We're saying, don't hoard supplies. Let's put all the supplies in a central stockpile and then we will draw down from the central stockpile and we will monitor this literally on a daily basis.

I'm also asking on supplies, I don't have a New York Defense Production Act, right? A governor can't say to a company, we need you to manufacture this. But I ask businesses just to think about the situation we're in and a possible opportunity.


It is the cruelest irony that this nation is dependent on China for production of many of these products. Many of these products in the normal marketplace were being produced in China. And now you have everyone shopping China for PPE, gowns, ventilators. The gowns and gloves are not complicated components to manufacture. Gowns or paper material.

If you are a manufacture who can converse to make these products and make them quickly. They are not complicated products. The FDA lists the specifications for these products on the Web site. If you have a capacity to make seizure products, we'll purchase them and we'll pay a premium. We'll pay to convert or transition your manufacturing facility to a facility that can do this.

But, we need it like now. We are not talking about two months or three months or four months. We need these materials now. That's the stress. I understand that. If you are in the garment manufacturing business, if you have machinery that can cut a pattern, you know, a coverall, you are not making a fashion forward fitted garment, these are relatively straightforward components.

If you can do it. It is a state need and a national need. Contact us. We'll work with you and we'll work with you quickly. There will be no bureaucracy and no red tape and we'll finance what you need and we'll pay a premium. We need it.

In terms of ventilators, we released 400 ventilators to city health corporation. You see there were rolling number in suffix. That's starting to stress that healthcare system. We released those ventilators last night.

At the current rate, we have about six days of ventilators in our stockpile, meaning if the rate of usage, the rate of people coming into hospitals and need ventilators, if that rate continues in our stockpile, we have about six things. If the apex happens within that time frame, if the apex increases or longer, we have an issue with ventilators. We'll need what we need.

I have no desire to acquire more ventilators than we need. We are basically requiring ventilators because the state is buying them. They're expensive. The state is broke. We have no desire to buy more than we need but we need what we need.

If a person comes in and needs a ventilator and you don't have one, the person dies. That's the blunt equation here. Right now, we have a burn rate that we have about six-day in the stockpile. But, but we are taking also to extraordinary measures.

I've spoken to people across the nation. Dr. Zucker has done all sorts of research. And we have extraordinary measures in place that can make a difference if we run into a real ventilator shortage.


First, we know where all the ventilators are in the state of New York by hospitals. If we have a problem in any hospitals, we'll take the ventilators that are not need from the upstate hospital to transport them to down state New York to hospitals that do need them. More and more are going to be on Long Island.

And then we'll return them and we'll figure out the finances of it and make those hospitals hold.

We are also increasing the number of ventilators by ending all elective surgeries. If you don't need an elective surgery -- a hospital can't perform it if it is not critical. That's freeing ventilators.

We are using anesthesia machines and using them as ventilators. We are splitting ventilators. We put out protocol to practice it now. It is not easy and it is not ideal but it is better than nothing.

We're also converting what's called bypass machines, which don't have the same force as a ventilator but, on an emergency basis, some research that's been done that says it could be suitable.

We are still looking for ventilators, to buy vent ventilators. Too late to ask companies to make them in any way that would work for our timeframe. You look at our timeframe, seven days to 30 days. No one is going to be able to make a ventilator for you in that period of time.

Nationwide, parts of the country that has a later curve, yes, give the company two months or three months, they can ramp up production, but not on our curve.

So we have to find ventilators that we can buy. And we're still doing that. Again, the main place is China.

We are converting the bypass machines. It has not been done before. NorthWell, which is one of our premiere health care systems, has developed the protocol and they are teaching other hospitals to do it. We just bought 3,000 bypass machines and 750 came in yesterday.

So, yes, the burn rate of ventilators is troubling. And six days of ventilators in the stockpile is troubling.

But we have all these extraordinary measures that I believe, if push comes to shove, will put us in fairly good shape. I don't want to say yet. I am confident. And it depends on how many we need.

But I can say with confidence that we have researched every possibility and every idea and every measure you can possibly take in finding ventilators. This state has done that, I can promise you.

We are also going to open the health care exchange enrollment period through May 15th. We have about 96 percent of the people in the state covered without insurance. If you are not covered, we are extending the enrollment period until May 15th. Please get covered. You can go to the New York State health Web site and sign up.

My little brother -- I only have one brother -- Christopher has been tested positive for coronavirus. A lot of people are concerned about him, obviously, people in my family, but even beyond that.

New Yorkers are compassionate and many people asked me about Chris and how is he doing. Not just for himself but we keep on saying coronavirus. And I am afraid of it and I am anxious about it and what it does it mean?

OK, your brother has it. How is he doing? A lot of people ask me that question. And I talk to him quite frequently and he's doing OK. I checked in with him this morning and asked him how he was feeling and he was up and spry and much of his normal self.


I invited him to join us for a couple of minutes if he was up to it this morning. And I think he said that he was in a position to join us. And I asked him to join us by video if he's available.

There he is.