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Grief In America Swells As Coronavirus Deaths Top 5,000; Veterans' Nursing Home Under Probe For Coronavirus Cluster. Aired 1- 1:30p ET

Aired April 2, 2020 - 13:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Anderson Cooper with CNN's continuing coverage of the global coronavirus pandemic.

Right now, there are more than 216,000 cases in the United States, wherein 5,100 people have died. Around 96 percent of Americans are now under stay-at-home orders with the new order in Texas takes in effect today. Nearly a dozen states do not have these orders in place.

The FDA has issued an emergency use approval for the first antibody test to try and identify people who have the resistance to the virus. In the short term, people who have the virus or recovered without even knowing would be more able to care for others who are already infected.

The first sailors who are disembarking from the USS Theodore Roosevelt today, more than 110 sailors aboard that aircraft carrier tested positive for the virus. Sailors who have tested negative will be able to leave the ship.

Finally, the virus -- the coronavirus virus spread jobless claims hit a grim number with 6.6 million Americans applying for unemployment. That's double the number that applied just last week.

In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio warns that the city's medical supplies will start running out Sunday if new equipment doesn't arrive. And as the clock ticks, patients are on the move. Today, the first non-coronavirus patients are being transferred from overcrowded hospitals to the Navy hospital ship, the Comfort, and a temporary field hospital at Central Park.

I'm bringing our Shimon Prokupecz. Shimon, you're at the Javits Center, which is also now accepting patients, non-COVID patients. Governor Cuomo says more than 1,100 new patients came to the hospital, many outside New York City. What's the latest of where you are?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. The Javits Center here also serving, Anderson, as, really, an operation center. We've seen a deputy mayor go in, we've seen folks from the New York City Office of Emergency Management. So a lot is going on behind me as they try to figure out how to take some people out of hospitals, of course, These non-COVID patients, and try and move them around into facilities like behind me and the ship, the Comfort. That is a big under taking that the city is still trying to do and go through.

The other thing, the numbers, right? The number of people that are going into hospitals continue to rise. And, of course, one of the most important numbers that the governor just spoke about just a little while ago was that close to 3,400 people are being treated in the intensive care units across the city, across the state, and that number is rising.

Another stat that the governor gave, which I certainly found startling, was that they are using about 350 ventilators a night. That is 350 people at night are coming into the hospitals that require ventilators. And as that continues, obviously, the need for more ventilators is going to grow. And that is why they are putting so much pressure on trying to get ventilators in the right place.

And to do that, one of the things that the governor said they are doing is, each night, they look at how many ventilators are at a hospital, they look at supplies and work off that to see where the next day or through the night they should be distributing supplies and ventilators.

It is something new that they are doing. City's head of hospitals said that he goes home every night, and before he goes to sleep, he looks at an email that tells him where each of the ventilators are and tries to figure out if any of the hospitals need more ventilators. So there are all sorts of things that the city is doing, that the state is doing, as you said, to prepare for that apex.

As you said, the mayor here wanting all of the supplies and ventilators to be in place by Sunday. He's saying that is a key date and it should be sometime after that where we start to see the numbers really grow, hospitalizations, people who need ventilators, still all that is the big focus here, making sure that the hospitals have the rooms and have the resources as the numbers start to grow, Anderson.

COOPER: Yes, Shimon Prokupecz, I appreciate. Thank you very much.

There is also growing evidence that the virus has spread more easily than it originally thought, as experts tell the White House it could spread not just by coughing and sneezing, but basically talking and breathing. This could explain why more than 40 members for the Washington State Choir were either diagnosed with COVID-19 or showed symptoms, and two later died after a single choir practice in early March.

CNN's Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen has more.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Anderson.

COOPER: Hey, Elizabeth. Go on. Sorry, we had a technical problem. Go on. COHEN: No problem at all.

So last night, the head of an important National Academy of Sciences Committee sent a letter to the White House saying, look, you asked us if this virus could be spread even just by breathing or talking. And our basically, our answer is the evidence seems to say, yes, that it could be spread when you're talking to someone, and maybe even when you're breathing just in that space.

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This isn't quite what the CDC has been telling us. The CDC has been talking about, spread by coughs and spread sneezes. Well, this is very different, especially because the doctor that I talked to, and this is the one who wrote the letter to the White House, said, look, it is possible that these little aerosolized particles could linger in the air and it is possible that someone could walk by and catch it that way.

And so since there are so many unknowns, this doctor told me, he said, look, the next time I go grocery shopping, I will be wearing a mask, not a surgical mask because we should leave those for the clinicians, and this doctor is not a clinician at this point, but he said, I'll be wearing bandana or something like that as an effort to keep my germs to myself. Anderson?

COOPER: And I know -- I mean, the president said wearing a scarf, it's obviously not the same as wearing a mask that has filters and stuff, but is that effective?

COHEN: Look, the gold standard is an N95 mask, it fits snuggly to you. Second to that would be surgical mask, as you know, when we see them, they have like little spaces on the side where things could get out. And, definitely, a distance third would be something like a scarf or a bandana. We don't know.

And doctors I talked to disagree on this, Anderson. One doctor will say, yes, I think that could be helpful, and other will say, yes, maybe a little bit helpful. We don't know. But at this point, it is the best bet for many people.

COOPER: Yes, I mean, just finding a mask.

I also understand you have new reporting on an anti-malaria drug, which we have been hearing a lot about as a possible treatment.

COHEN: Yes. So President Trump has been enthusiastic about this is drug called hydroxychloroquine. He's even said, we should have an idea within days if it works or not. Well, I've talked to the doctors who are doing the trials and there is no way that we are going to know within days. It will be weeks or even months.

The biggest clinical trial that is going on, which is one that is jointly between the University of Washington and NYU in New York City, the results of that one, I'm told, will likely not ready until the summer, until June at the earliest. So we're not going to know the answers as soon as President Trump says. Of course, everyone hopes that this drug will work and there is a lot of enthusiasm for it, but we have to say over and over again, to channel Anthony Fauci, we have to study it until we know the answer.

COOPER: All right. Elizabeth Cohen, thanks very much.

Dr. Jake Deutsch is an emergency medicine physician, the Founder of Cure Urgent Care. Last week, he announced on Instagram that both he and his partner are now recovering from the coronavirus. Both partner had mild symptoms. Dr. Deutsch, who developed pneumonia, he joins me now.

Dr. Deutsch, first of all, how are you doing? Your symptoms lasted for two weeks. What made you decide to get tested?

DR. JAKE DEUTSCH, EMERGENCY MEDICINE PHYSICIAN: What made decide to get tested, I had flu-like symptoms. We were seeing tons of patients that were sick that had flu-like illnesses that were testing negative for flu. And this was long before any reported cases of corona in the United States and any testing.

So when I started to get sick around March 13th, my office was able to pivot and quickly be able to work with some private laboratories to get testing available. So I was in a unique position to able to test myself and came back positive after fours, kind of knew that that was inevitable with all of the new cases that were starting to be diagnosed.

And it was a really unique situation of being both the patient and the doctor, because we are seeing in my offices of hundreds of patients a day that are all corona related. And we're testing people and we're taking care of primary providers, people that are on the frontlines, nurses and police officers and MTA worker, and keeping them informed and testing them because they have no other resources.

But my own experience was surprising because everybody says it's like a mild flu. And I actually had thought to myself when people started getting sick, I want to get this done and over with so that I could get back to work and help people.

And I actually went through one of the more severe expressions of the virus and had, at day seven, gotten much worse. I had to check myself into the hospital at Mt. Sinai and to get -- I got a chest X-ray, I saw the pneumonia before they even took away the (INAUDIBLE) device, and really had a very severe condition. And, luckily, I was able to maintain treating myself at home. I actually did start myself on hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin. And after two days, my X-ray showed improvements.

And I definitely was on the spectrum of more severe disease and luckily it was not hypoxic, having low oxygen. But I simultaneously dealt with my father who also was very ill in Las Vegas, he had been in New York, he tested positive for corona. He needed to be in the ICU, needed to be on a ventilator.

[13:10:01] And from the grace of God, yesterday, he was able to come off.

So I am definitely in a very unique situation of being a patient, being a provider, dealing with family members that were critically ill. This is a testament --

COOPER: Let me ask you, what is your advice to what you've been through now yourself? You know the symptoms. You know what it feels like. What's your advice to people who are feeling sick at home, trying to figure out at what stage do I need to actually go to a hospital?

DEUTSCH: So that's really a critical question, Anderson, and that's what we are doing, I think, that's most effective in my practice. We are not on the frontlines in the the critical care setting but we're in secondary lines, and taking care of many people and helping them navigate, that you don't need to go to the hospital.

I am practicing medicine. All of us are practicing medicine in an unprecedented time. And trying to decide, all right, somebody's oxygen is not great but they have a little bit of a pneumonia, I think that they'll do okay, that's a really hard call for me as a clinician to make. And I have been practicing medicine for over 20 years.

So for people that are at home and trying to navigate that themselves, I think that this can be incredibly difficult and certainly the best advice that I can give is look at your symptoms. If you don't have fever anymore, that's a good sign. If your symptoms seem to be resolving after three days, you are in the window of probably getting better.

But if you are having more severe symptoms, the difficulty of breathing, the pain in your chest, so weak that you can't move, and it's getting past the seven-day mark, that's may be a sign that you need to get some medical help.

But the amazing part of what's happening in medicine is we have resources like telemedicine now that is becoming very -- people can access. And I think that those are the types of resources that we really should be relying on in order to make sure people aren't just going to the hospital.

In New York City, it's a very difficult environment because a lot of people had a knee-jerk reaction to go to the hospital. There is education barriers, there is language barriers. And we need to really make sure that people know that those resources are only for the sickness.

COOPER: Yes. I mean, it's really a last resort, obviously. You want to try to talk to a doctor on the phone or you're having access to a doctor talk to them on the phone or get whatever advice you can before you actually -- you want to try stay out of the hospital, I would assume, as much as possible.

DEUTSCH: Absolutely. I mean, I practice emergency medicine in the hospital for over 15 years. I was a patient in the E.R. And I have to say, I have never felt so uncomfortable in that environment. That's my home. That's where I feel like second nature. And the energy there, the uncertainty, the stress levels are just astronomical right now.

So the support that those people need is not only the personal protective equipment but it's the emotional support. It's the time to rest. It's all of the other elements that we are not talking about, to eat, to be able to go home, to have some sense of normalcy, because what they are dealing with, it's not normal. And even in my practice, we are not dealing with the most critically ill, the level of stress for all of the providers, for people that are interacting with these patients that we know are sick is unprecedented.

So we need to really work on respecting that and giving some sort of relief for the healthcare providers that are in that situation.

COOPER: Yes. Dr. Deutsch, I appreciate all you're doing. And I'm glad you got better and your partner and your dad as well.

DEUTSCH: Thanks, Anderson.

COOPER: I wish you the best.

Dr. Fauci is forced to beef up security, as death threats against him have increased. It's unbelievable.

Plus, Los Angeles becomes the first city to ask people to wear masks while in public.

And a cluster emergence inside a veteran's nursing home, now its response is under investigation. I'm going to speak with a woman who just lost her husband there.

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COOPER: The coronavirus is taking a devastating toll in a nursing home for veterans in Massachusetts. More than a dozen veterans have died at Holyoke Soldiers' Home. Six of them tested positive for the virus.

CNN's Jason Carroll explains why Holyoke's superintendent is receiving some blame. Jason?

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I spoke to a caregiver at the Soldiers' Home who says he started noticing veterans getting sick weeks ago. That same worker says he was reprimanded after wearing personal protective equipment. The caregiver also accused his superiors of downplaying the seriousness of the outbreak.

The superintendent of the Soldiers' Home has been placed on administrative leave. That superintendent told the Boston Globe that he never concealed the outbreak.

The governor has hired an outside attorney to investigate what happened. Meanwhile, that caregiver says the veterans deserve better and he says, so do the workers who care for them. Anderson?

COOPER: Jason, thanks. Among the veterans who died at Holyoke from coronavirus is long-time broadcaster and journalist Richard Cowden. Richard's widow, Patricia Cowden, joins me now.

Patricia, I am so sorry for your loss. I want to talk to you about what Richard and what he was like. But can you just tell me how you learned that there was a case of coronavirus at the home?

PATRICIA COWDEN, HUSBAND DIED FROM CORONAVIRUS AT HOLYOKE SOLDIERS' HOME: Yes. I think it was about two weeks before Richard died, I got a call from the Soldiers' Home. They always called me and told me anything that was going on.

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And they said there was a case and it was in his unit. That scared.

So I visited him once and then the next time I went to visit him, which was like a day later, we couldn't go in. They had it sealed. The people who take care of the veterans, they just do a wonderful job.

COOPER: It's stunning that one of the workers was told not to wear personal protective equipment. And I know Richard couldn't walk. He had been suffering from Lewy body dementia for more than a decade. They did allow you to be with him at the end, didn't they?

COWDEN: They did. I had gloves, two masks and one of those plastic shields that goes over your face, and a gown. I was very, very protected and I was able to be with him. I was actually holding his hand when he passed. And that helped me very much. The idea of him dying alone was one of the things that was bothering me the most.

I understand the concern of that worker. But at the time that the administrator was making those decisions, nobody really knew what was going on. And I know he's not careless because when the flu was going around, anybody who didn't have a flu shot had to wear a mask. So we were being careful then.

He may have been listening to broadcasts saying that there was nothing to it, that there was nothing to worry about, that it would just go away.

COOPER: You think the administrator was listening to those who kind of were downplaying the virus?

COWDEN: Yes. And he's a military person. The commander in chief was saying it was nothing.

COOPER: The --

COWDEN: Anyway, I don't want to add anger my other feelings, so I just can't be mad about it. I just think there is a lot of confusion, too much confusion for something so serious.

COOPER: Tell me about Richard. He sounds like just an extraordinary man with incredible -- what an incredible life he led.

COWDEN: Yes, he led an interesting life, and you had the only the half of it. He held many different jobs. Mostly, he was a broadcaster. He was in the Merchant Marines and went to Vietnam and talks about swimming from boat to the shore holding his clothes up in the air through snakes, and he was terrified of snakes. So I don't know how he did that.

COOPER: Wow.

COWDEN: Anyway, he was a West Coast Correspondent for All Things Considered. He said he was the first one and I had no way of knowing that for sure but I assume he was right. And he was the executive producer for a public television in Syracuse and an online (ph) personality there, good interview. You will like it. He did radio in San Francisco. That was with All Things Considered.

COOPER: How did you two meet?

COWDEN: We had friends in common and we just did a lot with this group of people that sort of gradually realized that we were interested in each other. I think we both realized that. I was interested first, I think, and he needed rides so I offering him rides, and it became reciprocal.

COOPER: How long were you together?

COWDEN: 38 years. 38 years, we are married, 39, we were together.

COOPER: Patricia, I am so sorry for your loss, to be going through having a husband with dementia is difficult enough and then to have this. How are you holding up?

COWDEN: Sometimes I am holding up very well and sometimes I am not holding up well at all. There are so many different feelings. There is a feeling that at least he's free of Lewy body dementia. It was a horrible thing. And I am mourning him even though for the past 15 years I've been mourning little parts of him as each one fell away.

I'm remembering -- in fact, I sent you guys some pictures and that made me remember a lot of our life together. We did a lot of nice things. We probably kayaked in every bay in the West Coast. We did Monterey Bay and San Francisco Bay. And then over here, we did Buzzards Bay.

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Yes, we just did a lot.

COOPER: I heard something you said that, and I don't remember the exact quote that you said, but I think you told one of our producers that he had this long illness and it obviously taken a toll. But that part of the reason you think it went so long is that there were so much of him to lose, which I thought was kind of a lovely way of saying it.

COWDEN: I do feel like that. He was so smart, so brilliant. And I feel like he had more to take away.

COOPER: Yes.

COWDEN: It was just an awful a lot to him. I took good care of him too.

COOPER: I bet you did.

COWDEN: So he was going to the hospital (ph) a very long time.

COOPER: Well, Patricia, I am so sorry for your loss and I know those words sounds like such a cliche, but my heart goes out to you. And I wish you peace and strength in the days ahead.

COWDEN: Thank you so much.

COOPER: Patricia Cowden, her husband, Richard Cowden.

New trouble at a Michigan hospital, they've already run out of ICU and more and more healthcare workers home sick.

Disturbing new numbers also out at New Orleans. What's behind the dramatic uptick in cases, we'll look at that. We'll be right back.

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