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Democratic National Convention Delayed Due To Pandemic; NY Testing Malaria Drug As Possible Virus Treatment; Kraft Family Used Patriots' Team Plane To Fly Masks In From China. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired April 2, 2020 - 12:30   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: This just in, another new ripple effect from the coronavirus pandemic, the DNC has announced that the party's convention scheduled for mid-July now postponed.

Joining me right now is CNN's Jessica Dean with all the details. Jessica, this is just coming in the DNC. What are they saying about this decision?

JESSICA DEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, they're saying that look, they took a look at what was going on in light of the COVID pandemic that they felt that it was the responsible thing to do to postpone this convention by roughly a month. It's now supposed to take place on August 17th in Milwaukee.

Originally, it was scheduled for July 13th. So bumping it head -- ahead by about a month. This is something that we had kind of seen foreshadowed by former Vice President Joe Biden, who is leading in the delegate race right now. He has said over the last couple of days that he could foresee perhaps the convention moving into August.

And now in fact, we are learning that is what's happening, as you mentioned, just one example of the ripple effects of this pandemic across the Democratic process as we move through 2020. Through an election year, we saw rallies come to an end for the presidential candidates, everything now being moved virtual. We've seen everything kind of come to a full stop and that -- in terms of the public events going all virtual right now.

And now we learn that the convention has indeed been moved ahead. The Democratic National Convention has been moved ahead to or moved back rather to August 17th. As for the Republicans, they were always scheduled to go after the Democrats. They say right now, their plans are full speed ahead. They are scheduled later in August, Kate, in Charlotte, North Carolina. But this is of course, a very fluid situation for everybody, Kate. And probably just the first of a lot of changes we're going to see.

BOLDUAN: Yes, move back to August at least for now is I guess what we say.

DEAN: Right.

BOLDUAN: Jessica, really appreciate it. Thank you so much.

So just as quickly as the outbreak is intensifying, so is the race to find a treatment. We know doctors are on the hunt for possible antivirals. We also know that President Trump has been focused on one in particular, an antiviral drug. Here's what he said just the other day.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It would be a total game changer. It's a malaria drug and also an arthritis drug. So it's been out there for a long time, very powerful drug. But it's been out there for a long time. So it's tested in the sense that you know it doesn't kill you.


BOLDUAN: For all the countries and here in New York, tests and trials are underway to find out just how effective and safe that drug is, and many others, quite frankly. And also new, we are learning early data from researchers in China is suggesting some promise. Let's get a view from the ground on these treatments and the situation.

Joining me right now is Dr. Robert Brown. He is a professor of medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine. He's the head of the liver transplant program at New York Presbyterian. He's also a doctor I've known for many years. It's good to see you, Bobby.


BOLDUAN: Thank you for being here. What do you take from this report out of China, this new trial, this new research on hydroxychloroquine?


BROWN: Well, I think it adds to our knowledge. You know, the data from Europe seem to suggest that hydroxychloroquine either alone or in combination with the antibiotic, azithromycin might shorten the course of illness. And this randomized trial from China does seem to support that, that we can shorten the illness.

And obviously shortening the illness would be of great value, it would improve health care workers returning to work, it would decrease the period of time that people were infectious, and potentially decreased spread. So I think that we're beginning to see some encouraging data on hydroxychloroquine. And obviously, the biggest advantage is it's available.


BROWN: And so though we have a lot of hope for antiviral drugs that are being developed, this could be used broadly and we are using them. BOLDUAN: Yes. And that's what I was going to ask you. I mean, you and I've talked about this that you said, almost all the patients we're seeing right now are COVID patients. And you're trying out some of this on your patients in real time. What are you seeing?

BROWN: Well, you know, our hospital is seeing an extensive amount of COVID patients. And I, among the volunteers who agreed to go in and care for patients with COVID infection. And we are using it in most cases of moderate disease, mild disease, we're tending to leave at home if we can in self quarantine.

And so, it's so hard to know because the course of this illness can be so variable and unpredictable. So what I'm hoping is that we're going to get a lot of data because we're seeing a lot of patients. And when the dust settles, we'll be able to look back and figure out which of the drug combinations we're trying are the most promising and need to be studied in more detail, which ones are complete duds. And we can hope that we're going to find in there the game changer that we're all looking for.

BOLDUAN: You know, I'm always struck, I mean as I mentioned, you're the head of liver transplant for New York Presbyterian. What does this entire crisis meant for liver transplants?

BROWN: Well, you know, it's been challenging. We need to -- we needed to quickly find ways that we could screen donors for COVID infection. Nobody wants to do it. There have been places where they won't accept the donor team coming from New York City. And patients are scared to come to the hospital.

BOLDUAN: I think we just lost a connection with Dr. Brown. Bobby, thank you so much for joining me and for all of your work that you're doing for your patients and for the city, Dr. Robert Brown.

Coming up for us, there is so much of the focus has been on major cities. But one community in rural Georgia has one of the most intense clusters right now. I'm going to talk with the top hospital administrator in that area about how they're coping.



BOLDUAN: Well, big cities like New York, Detroit, and New Orleans have been particularly hard hit. This isn't just a big city problem. More rural areas are also squarely in this fight. One small Georgia community has now nearly 700 cases of the coronavirus, 31 people have died. That's more than 20 percent of the deaths in the state.

Officials there say, this large cluster of cases is linked to the funerals of two men who died in February. There's funeral services brought hundreds of people together and they think caused an explosion of COVID cases in the weeks after.

Joining me right now is Scott Steiner. He's the president and CEO of the Phoebe Putney Health System. Scott, thank you so much for coming back again. The last time we spoke which was just a couple of weeks ago, which feels like a world ago, you were already dealing with the outbreak, and now you're dealing with one of the most intense clusters of coronavirus in the country. How are things going? Can you describe the change in the last two weeks?


You know, It's -- it hasn't led up. That's the -- we keep feeling like every day, it's going to be a little bit slower than the day before and it just hasn't been that way. We certainly are doing our best to care for this community. I think what I hear most amongst our colleagues is how quickly this has come on. We experienced that in our very first few days. And we're hearing across the state and across the nation of how quickly this has come on them and then how seriously ill people are.

We've got all of our ICU's full. We stood up two additional ICU's. We've got 48 in our ICU today, normally, all of our ICU's total 38. We've got 48 today and we've transferred out because we're full from a critical care standpoint, 12 ICU patients in the last 24 hours.

BOLDUAN: Oh my goodness. The last time you're on, you're also showing me how you and your staff were making masks in a conference room to try to extend the life, save the life of those critical N95 masks. That got so much response from everyone who saw what you guys were up against. Where are you on supplies?


STEINER: Yes, you know, supplies still tend to be day to day. You know, we're looking at how much we have, our burn rate. I'll tell you making those masks has significantly helped us. We've gone to an all mask policy. So everyone in the hospital has to have a mask on. I don't right now because I'm the only one in my office. Otherwise I would have one on.

Those masks have really helped us from a lot of different ways, but certainly extending the life of those N95. So from a supply standpoint, we've been able to access enough supplies to at least sustain us for the next two weeks.

BOLDUAN: That still troubles me just thinking that you're working on a two-week basis for what you are up against.


BOLDUAN: Because you've got what's going on in New York and as the governor said here, it might be a city problem now but it is hitting rural communities and you are exactly, what you guys are facing, is exactly an example of that.

CNN talk to one of the nurses who's working for you. Her name is Carley Rice. And she described -- she put a really important perspective on what all of the frontline health care workers are up against, especially in your area and your hospital system. I just want to play that for you and for our viewers.


CARLEY RICE, NURSE AT HARD-HIT HOSPITAL IN GEORGIA: I just pray for our community. We're such a smaller hospital compared to the bigger ones in New York. And we're using our resources the way that we should. We have what we need. But eventually, we're going to run out of space and we'll have to rely on the other communities to be able to help us and other hospitals and stuff. And I just pray that each patient is taken care of the way that they need to be taken care of, and we have everything that we need to.


BOLDUAN: It's so powerful and so hard to hear. I'm sure that's one of so many stories. I mean, how are your teams holding up?

STEINER: Yes, you know, Nurse Carley, she's fantastic -- what a warrior she is and our other 4,500 people here. They are doing incredible work under very stressful and something we've never seen before. But I think what she displayed is we're doing it together. We call it the Phoebe family. You know, and it's the good, the bad, and the ugly. But we're in it together.

And we feel like that from our community, from our state governor, Governor Kemp has been extremely helpful, has sent supplies. Look, we were running out of a medication just a few days ago, and Governor Kemp and his office actually flew in, helicoptered in needed medications that we needed here.

So it's been a team effort here in Georgia. And our neighboring hospitals, Kate, have been unbelievably helpful. Have we not been able to transfer these patients? We would be -- the water would have been over the dam probably more than a week ago.

So we're doing it together here in Southwest Georgia and for the state and we so appreciate not only are our Phoebe family members who just like Carley are doing incredible work under stressful times, but they've got their head up. There's no fear here. And we've got this. We're going to get this run a drive this out of Southwest Georgia. And we're going to drive it out of Georgia.

BOLDUAN: Now, I can't -- it's hard to tell if we're in the beginning, middle, or near the end for where you are, but you're there. So thank you so much Scott for coming on. We'll check back in with you. Thank you for what you're doing. Thank you.

STEINER: Thanks, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Thank you. We'll be right back.



BOLDUAN: Right now it's almost like a plot out of Mission Impossible, quite frankly. Face with desperation, one state, a governor, a consulate, an NFL team owner, and a team plane, all combined forces to fly critically for critical protective gear out of China back to the frontlines in the United States. That's exactly what happened and is happening right now in Massachusetts.

Joining me right now is Victoria McGrane. She's politics reporter for "The Boston Globe" with some of the great details on this. Victoria, it's an incredible story. You got Governor Charlie Baker, you get New York Patriots owner Bob Kraft getting a million -- more than a million masks flown out of China on its way back to the United States to Massachusetts. How did this all come together?

VICTORIA MCGRANE, POLITICS REPORTER, THE BOSTON GLOBE: So I spoke with Charlie Baker, our governor, this morning and he said it really started with -- around March 18th when the federal government impounded an order of 3 million masks that the governor had tried to secure, had an agreement to purchase and they were sitting on the docks in New York port and the government, the Fed swooped in and took it.

So he started thinking and looking around the world for some other path, as he said. And then he found someone who thought they could help get the masks in China but then he had to start thinking, how do I get them out? And he thought to himself, he said, who do I know with a plane and he's had a longtime friendship with the President Jonathan Kraft of the New England Patriots.

And, you know, the wheels got turning and that's where we are today. There was a lot of, you know, red tape and bureaucracy and diplomatic ties to work through. And those masks, 1.2 million, we have been told are literally in the air on their way to Logan Airport right now.

BOLDUAN: I mean, make a great point in your piece about this. On one hand, it's a heartwarming story of people coming together to get it done, right? But it's also highlights the truly haphazard nature of supply allocation and how supplies are being fought for, fought over. It really does highlight that.


MCGRANE: Yes. And Charlie Baker has expressed a lot of frustration about, you know, supplies being snatched out of his hands from the federal government and states competing against each other and this is where it brought us.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Great reporting, Victoria. Thank you so much for coming in. We'll hear more about what's coming on in Massachusetts. Our coverage continues next, with Anderson Cooper. Thanks guys.



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: I'm Anderson Cooper with CNN's continuing coverage of the global coronavirus --