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Update on Coronavirus from Around the Country; Louisiana "Warning": Rise in Cases and Deaths after Test Logjam; Record 6.6 Million Americans File for Unemployment; Pelosi Is Talking a Phase Four Stimulus But Some Republicans Recommend Waiting; Dr. LaMont Smith Discusses a Cluster of Virus Cases "Hitting Like a Bomb" Following 2 Funerals in Albany, GA; Texas Lawmakers Has Blunt Message to Spring Breakers: "Quit Being an Ass". Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired April 2, 2020 - 13:30   ET




ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Right now, nearly 91 percent of Americans are told to stay home as coronavirus deaths climb past 5,000 in the United States.

We'll get a quick update from our correspondents around the country, starting with Evan Perez, in Washington.


EVAN PEREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Evan Perez, in Washington. Dr. Anthony Fauci has become one of the faces of the government response of the coronavirus pandemic. As a result of that, it appears he's getting some increased threats.

The Health and Human Services Department has assigned additional security to protect Dr. Fauci. The inspector general for HHS reached out to the Marshall Service, which has now deputized HHS officers to protect Dr. Fauci. We know the Metropolitan Police in Washington has increased its protection also.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I am Ryan Young, in Detroit. There's a dynamic shift of what's going on in the health care system here. There's an influx of patients going into the hospital. Now a shortage of ICU beds.

Combine that with the fact that there are several health care workers who had to stay home for quarantining. That has had a ripple effect throughout the system. At the TCF Center, they're still trying to get that thousand-bed field hospital up and running. They hope to have that going next week.

On top of that, new dynamic testing is coming to the city. They'll send tests to first responders first to get them back out on the streets. Hopefully, that'll have an impact, too.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I am Stephanie Elam, in Los Angeles, where Mayor Eric Garcetti is recommending that people to wear a face cover when they go out for their runs. Something that's homemade, he says, might actually stop the spread of those respiratory droplets, thus, infecting others with coronavirus.

He made it clear that he does not want people to go after those medical masks, like N-95s, but rather a scarf or bandana that could help. He pointed out to other countries that have done this and slowed the spread of coronavirus there.


COOPER: Breaking news out of Louisiana. The state is reporting a dramatic uptick in numbers, an update the governor warned citizens about, telling them on the radio this morning to brace themselves.

I want to go to Ed Lavandera, who is reporting from New Orleans.

Ed, how many cases are we talking about and why is this uptick update in question, testing?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Anderson. These numbers just coming out in the state of Louisiana. More than 2,700 new cases being added to the record now. That means more than 9,150 cases of coronavirus in the state.

It was so jarring, in the words of the governor, they went on the local radio here in New Orleans and wanted to brace the people for the numbers they'll see and get ahead of an explanation for what they think is going on here.

The governor says that private testing that had been done here in the state there has been a logjam of results coming back from those cases and taking some time.

The governor says he believes this giant increase in numbers we are seeing today is part of that logjam beginning to break up and get those results back. He says some of these testing could be results from tests that were done four or five days ago and we are getting a sense of.

What that means in the hospital, as well, as people are waiting around for these results, beds are tied up, they don't know what to do with these patients. Testing really becoming an issue.

But this is a 42 percent increase in the number of overall coronavirus cases here in the states. And the death toll jumped more than 310.

The vast majority of these cases, Anderson, almost 60 percent are in all, is in the New Orleans area alone -- Anderson?

COOPER: Are there stay-at-home orders in New Orleans and statewide?


LAVANDERA: Yes. That's the other thing state officials and everyone is harping on here. The stay-at-home orders have been extended through the end of April. This is all the way to May 1st at this point.

They're saying clearly state officials here don't feel they have a full grasp of how why widespread coronavirus infection is going throughout the state.

The number-one thing everyone is saying that can be done at this point is to take these orders seriously. Officials here have been saying it will get worse before it gets better. It could be two or three weeks away from the peak here. The only way to get a handle of what's happening here is for people to shelter as much as possible.

COOPER: Ed Lavandera, thank you very much.

All scientists are in agreement on this, the need for a nationwide -- essentially every state have stay-at-home order. And that's not the case currently.

You can get answers to your questions tonight. Dr. Sanjay Gupta and I are having another CNN town hall of "CORONAVIRUS: FACTS AND FEARS." I think this is our fifth one. It is live at 8:00 p.m. Eastern. So many -- we'll have the governor, Governor Andrew Cuomo and Dr. Anthony Fauci will be joining us.

So many people are struggling with job losses, layoffs, furloughs. Historic unemployment numbers today. Find out what to expect in the coming weeks.

Plus, an update on our colleague, Chris Cuomo, who tested positive, according to his brother's news conference today. More on that ahead.



COOPER: The economic fallout from the measures to suppress the coronavirus outbreak is unprecedented. Today, we learned 6.6 million people filed for first-time unemployment benefits just in the last week. It's worse than the more dire forecasts.

That adds to 3.3 million claims in the previous period. Certainly a heartbreaking situation for employees and employers.

Singer Zac Brown told us how hard it was to cancel his band's current tour because of the impact on his crew.


ZAC BROWN, MUSICIAN: I absolutely adore all the people that work with us. This is the first time I am not able to provide for them and not able to provide them for employment and to keep them on.


COOPER: Business anchor, Julia Chatterley, is joining me now.

Help us break down today's numbers and talk about big picture what they mean.

JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS ANCHOR: Anderson, the comment that Zac made resonates with me. That's the decisions being made on daily basis by millions of small- and medium-sized enterprises across the country because of the measures that are put in place.

And the result is the data and statistics that you were just giving there, we have seen 10 million people in the space of two weeks filing for unemployment benefits. These numbers are unimaginable just a week ago.

We are seeing it spreading across sectors, too, and in areas where there's no option. People can't go home and do their jobs from there. It is in warehousing and the health care sector and transport, too.

The fear is we are going to continue to see this every Thursday. Because if you look at where the numbers are accelerating, Pennsylvania, Ohio, for example, these are some of the states that implemented the stay-at-home order and closures of business early on. We know this is a catch up being done here.

And some of the estimates, and they're not the highest, are saying another 10 million people could lose their job.

The hope, and the way the White House put is today, is that stimulus, support is coming. But, Anderson, it is not coming yet and people continue to lose their jobs.

COOPER: And really, until the virus is controlled and until there is a higher level of control, it is not -- you know, that's the underlying problem that's causing all this.

You know what? I talked to Speaker Pelosi yesterday. They're talking about a phase four stimulus. Some Republicans say let's wait and see how things play out over the next couple of weeks with the current stimulus and we'll reassess. Speaker Pelosi thinks time is of the essence.

CHATTERLEY: Agree. What I am hearing is that, certainly from the Senate Republicans, they want to give it a few weeks at least. They want to see what the impact is and what the demand on some of these loans are, just see what happens when the money gets out to people.

There's a few problems with that. The risk is the money takes time and checks can take months, his history is any gage. I am losing track of the number of conversations where people are saying to me more support is needed.

I will give you statistic here. The average rent in the United States on a monthly basis is $850. In some city, it is sky high and multiple times that. Comparing it to a $1,200 check. It is not enough.

A lot of people are looking at this and say the Senate needs to act and it needs to act really fast to provide more financial support to individuals and get that money to businesses quicker.

COOPER: Julia Chatterley, I appreciate it. Thanks very much, Julia.

CHATTERLEY: Thank you.

COOPER: Days after two funerals in one small town, a cluster spread rapidly. We'll speak with a doctor who was there.


And a Texas lawmaker has a blunt message for 44 spring breakers who tested positive after a trip to Mexico.


COOPER: In the state of Georgia, you would expect Atlanta to be a hot spot of the coronavirus, and it is, but officials are also worried about Albany, Georgia, home to about 75,000 people. The south Georgia town is seeing a surprising number of cases.

CNN's Dianne Gallagher has more on the reasons why.

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, to give an idea of how this virus does not discriminate, look no further than Albany, Georgia, not a big city. Right now, nearly a quarter of the deaths in the entire states of Georgia come from this small community here.


And medical workers, who went through six-months-worth of PPEs in less than a week, they say they think they've been able to track the outbreak to the most communal experience, two funerals that happened, one at the end of February and the other at the beginning of March, as it silently spread throughout their community.

Now, they're all-hands-on-deck. They have testing going on here. They are working around the clock in the hospital, just like all over the rest of the country.

The hospital CEO tells me that they've still not seen that curbed yet. And, Anderson, the worst is still yet to come, they believe.

COOPER: Dianne Gallagher, thank you.

Now more on the coronavirus cluster in Albany, Georgia, someone that is in the midst of it, Dr. LaMont Smith, a critical care doctor.

Dr. Smith, you actually retired. You live in Jacksonville, Florida. But when the call went out for people to retire, doctors and other medical professionals, you drove all the way to Albany to help out. What made you come?

DR. LAMONT SMITH, RETIRED CRITICAL CARE PHYSICIAN: I still have a lot of connections to Albany. I lived there for three years. And I have a lot of affection for the hospital and the work that's being done there and for the people in the community. It's an easy choice for me to say, yes, I'll come back and help. COOPER: It's amazing to think, once they're able to trace how things

spread, to see it spread from this funeral, the impact of just one group of people coming together.

You know, you hear in other states, for instance, in Florida, where you're living now, there tomorrow are going to start the statewide stay-at-home order but the governor is exempting church gatherings, which, again, large numbers of people coming together.

SMITH: And, you know, I think that's probably a mistake, because this is a good example of how one person or a couple of people can impact a whole population of people.

So he's done an excellent job of handling an unexpected situation and that onslaught of critically ill patients that changes the whole dynamic of the hospital.

And as you said, the source was a couple of people who didn't know, who went to a funeral or two funerals, and the result has been catastrophic because we've had to -- we filled all the I ICU beds with COVID patients. Patients are dying every day.

We recently had a report of a patient who was discharged today, which made everybody feel good but, last week, it was very, the impact to me was just unbelievable.

So not prohibiting gatherings, even in church, is a set-up for disaster. You'll see more situations like what happened in Albany happen in other places, unfortunately.

COOPER: It's such an important point that, and such an important thing to remind people of, that you can have it and be asymptomatic, and you're lucky if that's the case, but you can spread it to other people.

SMITH: That's correct. I think of it in terms of three different populations. The one you just mentioned, the people asymptomatic, may carry. A lot of health care workers feel we might fall into that category. So it's important to avoid large gatherings, avoid your own family.

And a lot of us are not even spending time with family for that reason. And if you do that, it kind of cuts down the communication off in terms of communicating the virus.

The second group of people are those mildly symptomatic. And they tend to go to the emergency department. Again, the wrong decision. Best thing is to stay home, treat themselves symptomatically.

Because when you get really sick, when you're really ill, you'll know, and you'll come to the hospital. And unfortunately, the people that get really ill end up in the ICU, like myself and people like me. And at that point, your chance of recovering from this is greatly diminished.

So staying home is really the most effective thing that you can do. COOPER: Dr. LaMont Smith, I'm thankful you didn't stay at home, that

you answered the call and that you came to Albany. And I appreciate all you're doing and all your colleagues are doing. Stay safe.

SMITH: Thank you.

COOPER: Health experts now say the virus can spread by just talking and breathing. Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins me live to discuss that, coming up.


Plus, we've been reporting for weeks that people without symptoms can spread the virus, as we were just talking about. So why is the governor of Georgia saying he just found this out?


COOPER: Texas now joins the list of southern states finally issuing stay-at-home orders. But the state speaker of the House lashed out at dozens of spring breakers in Austin because they ignored social distancing guidelines and chartered a jet to Mexico two weeks ago and now more than half of the students from the University of Texas in Austin have contracted the virus.



DENNIS BONNEN (R), TEXAS HOUSE SPEAKER: Quit being an ass. That's my message. Candidly. Get over yourselves.

Whether you think this is an issue or not, it is. Whether you think it can affect you or not, it does. The reality is, if I'm a college kid who's going to spring break in Mexico, you're affecting a lot of people.

Grow up. I wish their parents would help them grow up.


COOPER: Forty-four of the 70 students tested positive.