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Medical Shortages Worsen at Hospitals; New Reports that Coronavirus May Transmit Through Breathing; Interview with FDNY Paramedic with Coronavirus. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired April 2, 2020 - 14:00   ET



DENNIS BONNEN (R), SPEAKER, TEXAS HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: -- 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.


TEXT: Univ. of Texas Students Test Positive for Coronavirus: 44 of 70 students infected; Several returned home on commercial flights; Being monitored by state public health officials

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, RIGHT NOW: Well, 44 of the 70 students who were on that plane tested positive, several more who returned home on commercial airlines are being monitored by state health officials. Texas has nearly 5,000 cases, nearly 70 deaths so far.

Want to reset CNN's continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. In these unprecedented times, we're experiencing even more record- breaking developments as the world tries to contain the virus. More than 300 million people in the U.S. are right now living under some kind of government order to restrict movements. Just 12 states do not have a stay-at-home or statewide stay-at-home order. That goes against all scientific advice.

6.6 million people filed for unemployment in the last week, and the number of deaths has surpassed 50,000 worldwide. That includes 5,000 here in the U.S. And as the numbers of dead and sick mount, so do the strain and stress of medical workers. Listen to these nurses from a hospital in the Bronx, one of whom tested positive for the virus.


BENNY MATTHEW, E.R. NURSE WHO TESTED POSITIVE FOR CORONAVIRUS: A few days ago, I was tested positive for COVID-19. And I'm (INAUDIBLE) to back work now. They don't care. If you can move your hands, if you can walk, if you can talk, come back and work for and make people sicker. It is outrageous and we need to stand for -- stand against these outrageous actions from hospital administrators, our politicians and all the health care agencies.

LAURA UCIK, REGISTERED NURSE: Every day when I go to work, I feel like a sheep going to slaughter. My colleagues and I are writing our last will and testament. I am 28 years old. We fear that we may not survive this pandemic, and yet we show up every day to this hospital, to take care of our community.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We don't ask our service men and women to go to war without means to protect themselves, our policemen to work without bulletproof vests. So why -- why are we asking nurses to enter rooms with reused masks because we don't have enough supplies? Then I say, make the supplies.

JUDY SHERIDAN-GONZALEZ, REGISTERED NURSE: We are dying, we are getting sick. It doesn't matter how many ventilators we get, if we are dead and cannot run the ventilators. If respiratory therapists, if doctors, if nurses, if frontline caregivers are sick, are dying, there won't be anyone left to take care of the public.

We are demanding to invoke the Defense Production Act so that all of our factories can be spinning out PPE for us, ventilators for us, materials that we need to save people from this pandemic that will only get worse.


COOPER: Also today, we are given even more reasons to admire the bravery and the sacrifice of health care workers and first responders. There's new research, shows just how contagious the virus is. Erica Hill is in New York with more on that, plus the latest on what states are facing in this crisis -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR AND NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Anderson. I can tell you, one E.R. doctor that I spoke with earlier today said it just keeps getting worse, every single day. Here in New York City, Sunday is being referred to as crunch time, that's crunch day. They're concerned about running out of supplies before then. In the meantime, those are concerns that are being echoed across the country.


HILL (voice-over): Nearly 90 percent of the country today, ordered to stay home. But an exemption in some states for religious services is raising concern among experts and some faith leaders.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The last thing we would want to do is to put people in danger, and to gather our people and maybe create a scenario where people got sick --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any collection (ph) of people is a high risk factor for transmission of this virus --

HILL (voice-over): And there is new information about transmission, experts telling the White House, "currently available research supports the possibility that coronavirus could be spread... directly by patients' exhalation." In other words, it's not just sneezing or coughing, but simply talking or breathing. This, as more officials recommend wearing homemade masks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 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.

HILL (voice-over): Laredo, Texas, threatening residents with $1,000 fine if they don't wear one in public. As New York City's mayor warns, they may run out of medical masks and other critical supplies by Sunday.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): 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.

HILL (voice-over): In Detroit, at least one hospital is already at capacity as the city's convention center is transformed into a temporary facility with a thousand beds.


Early data shows anti-malaria drugs could help treat the virus, a potential bright spot amid other devastating numbers, including record-setting unemployment claims. And new warnings from those closest to the disease.

NICOLE BUCHANAN, WIDOW: I need everybody to know that this is serious. People think that it's just going to affect people with underlying health issues, old people, but it doesn't.

HILL (voice-over): Nicole Buchanan's husband Conrad was just 39 when he died from coronavirus complications.


HILL: Just 39 years old, Anderson.

I also want to update you on those cruise ships that we've been keeping an eye on, the Zaandam and the Rotterdam, off the coast of Florida. As we know, there was a lot of back-and-forth about whether they would be allowed into Port Everglades.

There has been an agreement. Some of the sick passengers who are sick will need to stay on the ship; those who are well can come off, they will need to go home. And we did learn a little bit more. We knew that four older passengers had died, we did learn that one had a heart attack, one had an underlying condition, and learning that two had tested positive -- Anderson.

COOPER: Erica Hill, appreciate the updates. Thanks very much.

And as you just heard Erica report, experts telling the White House that just talking or even breathing could contribute to the transmission of the virus. Joining me now is CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

So, Sanjay, I mean, this is disturbing, obviously. Until now, we'd been told that the virus was spread by sneezing or coughing. The chairman of the committee says research is limited. What do you make of this report? SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. My colleague

Elizabeth Cohen got this letter that was sent to the White House about this last night. You know, in some ways, Anderson, you know, it makes perfect sense. We've been talking about asymptomatic spread for some time. And you know, what that really means is that people who don't have symptoms are probably not actively coughing or sneezing, and yet still able to spread this. So it was probably all along, you know, sort of meaning the same thing.

People have the virus in their nose, in their mouth. Again, not causing them to have any illness, but the virus is there and just through normal activities -- talking, breathing even -- it could potentially spread.

It's not clear, still, just how significant that is, you know, how likely it is to happen or how much that's contributing to overall spread in communities, but it's pretty clear it can happen. I mean, we've had evidence of that now for some time.

COOPER: What more do we know about who's getting sick and dying?

GUPTA: You know, this is really interesting, Anderson. We've been talking about this for a while, we know that people who are elderly -- 70s and 80s -- we know people who have pre-existing conditions -- heart disease, diabetes, to name a couple -- are more at risk.

But, Anderson, you know, I mean, you and I have talked to countless people now where they're younger people, they're ending up hospitalized. There's younger people who are even ending up dying from this. And I think it's becoming increasingly clear to the medical community that maybe there's something else at play here, there may be people who are at increased risk for some reason.

You know, I interviewed Dr. Fauci yesterday, two days ago. He said something I found extraordinary. Listen to this.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, IMMUNOLOGIST: This is an unusual disease. I'm fascinated, Sanjay, by what I would call the pathogenesis. You know, you get so many people who do well, and then some people who just, bingo, they're on a respirator, they're on ECMO and they're dead. I mean, the dichotomy between that, there's something there, Sanjay, that we're missing from a pathogenesis standpoint.

And I don't think it's only if you're elderly or if you have underlying conditions. There's something else going on there that hopefully we'll ultimately figure out."


COOPER: That's really interesting.

GUPTA: Anderson, as you can imagine -- yes, I mean, and I think, you know, medical professionals who are taking care of these patients in hospitals, especially these younger ones, trying to figure out, is there something else that ties these patients together, especially the ones who don't fit that profile of being vulnerable, Anderson?

So I think this is going to be a big, big source of -- a big area of research. We've got to figure that out.

COOPER: One treatment proposed by President Trump -- or I mean, that's been out there and that President Trump was very effusive about it -- was a derivative of chloroquine. A small study in China shows it did help speed recovery of mild or moderately ill patients. Is the key here, though, that they were not severely ill patients? Or I mean, do we know much about this?

GUPTA: You know, it's a very early study, Anderson. I've got to tell you, if we weren't in the middle of a pandemic like this, this isn't a study that we would necessarily even report on on CNN because it's so early and it's so small.

But you're right, it was mild patients that received the treatment, and they compared it to other mild patients who did not receive the treatment. Can show the results here. I mean, they did see some improvement, specifically with things like fever and cough.


And, you know, the idea that the patients who received the treatment, their symptoms stopped a day earlier. I think more importantly, the pneumonia improved for 25 out of 31 patients who received the treatment versus 17 out of 31 who did not receive the treatment. And there were patients who became ill in the study, but all the ones who became more severely ill were patients who had not received the treatment.

It's tough to say, Anderson. I mean, look, you know, obviously, with no other options, I think people are going to start placing more emphasis on things. There is a concern about side effects, especially people who have heart rhythm abnormalities, liver problems, kidney problems, those patients weren't enrolled in the study. So there's lots of things to consider here.

But, you know, these are unusual times. I think without -- it goes without saying. So they're going to expand these trials. Recently, it's happening in New York, where you are right now, these trials are getting quite large over there. Hopefully we'll have some data soon. I mean, the data could take a couple -- a few weeks, maybe even a month or so still, but hopefully we'll have some data that proves this out so that something else can be offered.

COOPER: I want to play something that Georgia's governor, Brian Kemp, said about why he waited to issue a statewide stay-at-home order.


GOV. BRIAN KEMP (R), GEORGIA: Finding out that this virus is now transmitting before people see signs, so the -- what we've been telling people, from direct -- this is from the CDC -- for weeks now, that if you start feeling bad, stay home? Those individuals could have been infecting people before they ever felt bad. But we didn't know that until the last 24 hours. And as Dr. Toomey told me, she goes, this is a game-changer for us.


COOPER: I'm -- I'm really kind of stunned by what he said, because we've known that for quite some time, haven't we?

GUPTA: Anderson, this is -- this is inexcusable. I mean, it's just inexcusable.

COOPER: I mean, that -- he can't be on --

GUPTA: To not -- I mean, everyone has been talking --

COOPER: -- he can't be being honest there.

GUPTA: -- about that. My kids who go to school in Georgia knew that a month ago. I mean, I can't even believe that. I mean, look, this is serious. There was a paper written back in early February about this, there was significant evidence of this, even earlier than that, in China that scientists were paying attention to. The scientific community -- I mean, the CDC, who he just referenced, which is in Georgia, talked about this on a public call on February 4th.

We've known this for a long time. To say that we just found out in the last 24 hours and that's why we're doing this? This is just not right. I mean, you know, that's an excuse. I don't know, maybe he really didn't know that, which means someone didn't tell him, although I find that very hard to believe.

I mean, everybody in the country, even grade school students --

COOPER: I mean, it would be --

GUPTA: -- have known this for well over a month.

COOPER: -- I mean, there's no such thing as political malpractice. I don't know if it's criminal, but for him, I mean, of course if the governor of a state has not briefed himself on everything about this virus, that is -- I mean, it's inexcusable.

I still don't understand, there is no scientific rationale for the governors who have yet to actually declare stay-at-home orders for their state. I mean, I don't understand how any governor -- I understand economic concerns and all that, nevertheless, we're -- if we are truly all in this together -- which we are -- it's important that everybody be under the same guidelines, no?

GUPTA: Absolutely, Anderson. It's essential. I mean, no state can be an island in the middle of all this, and you know, what -- if they're not doing this by now, they're affecting and risking my health, they're affecting and risking your health. You know, people they don't even know in places far away, they're -- it's not just about any individual any more, it's about everybody.

I mean, you know, I feel like a broken record. You and I have said this so many times, but we are really dependent on each other in a way that, you know, I've never experienced before. So the fact that this is not happening, it doesn't make sense medically or scientifically. I think everybody gets that by now.

But, Anderson, you know, you and I talked to Bill Gates, we've done tons of interviews about this. It doesn't make sense economically either because we're going to pay a big price --

COOPER: Right.

GUPTA: -- in the longer run. I mean, you know, Georgia's announced it, Florida's announced it. Still not in effect yet, I think it goes into effect, I think, tomorrow --

COOPER: Tomorrow, yes.

GUPTA: -- night. I just --

COOPER: And churches, by the way, are exempt, which --

GUPTA: -- really, really stunned by that.

COOPER: -- I mean, large gatherings, churches are exempt. I mean, you know. I understand the, you know --

GUPTA: I mean, I understand that people --

COOPER: -- political reasons for that and the religious reasons for that, but just scientifically, you know, science is what rules the day in a pandemic. And the science says don't gather in large groups.

GUPTA: You know, look, I mean, I can understand that people want to lean on each other; faith is really important at this time. The science is clear, and I think I'd just say it again, it's not just about you, it's not just about an individual. You do this, and you're going to risk your family's health, you're going to risk your community's health, you're going to risk everyone around you.


So if you're not doing it for yourself, if you think, hey, I'm OK, I'm willing to take the chance? Well, maybe the guy next to you is not willing to take that chance. Maybe your family member's not willing to take that chance.

I mean, I don't know that we can be any more clear on this, Anderson. It just -- it's an important message. I think most people have gotten it, thankfully. But there's too many who still haven't.

And some of those people who haven't are people in power, who could really do a lot of good by really just paying attention to the science, not saying, two months after we've known this, that, oh, I just heard that this can spread asymptomatically, I just head this over the last 24 hours. That --


GUPTA: -- you can't do that. It's just not right, it's not right.

COOPER: Yes. I mean, if that's true, that he just heard that, he just learned that, then he has not been paying attention and he is not doing his job. I mean, that's completely irresponsible and --

GUPTA: To the most important issue that has affected us --


GUPTA: -- probably, you know, certainly in my lifetime. So he's not been paying attention to the most important issue that he'll probably ever run into in his lifetime, certainly as governor, and he says I haven't -- I just found out about this?

COOPER: Yes. Dr. Gupta, thank you.

Sanjay and I are going to be hosting a live global town hall tonight to answer your questions on the virus. Don't miss it, live, 8:00 p.m. Eastern. Dr. Anthony Fauci will join us, answering questions; Governor Cuomo will join us as well.

Coming up next, more than 300 members of New York's fire department have now tested positive. One of them joins me next from her home quarantine.

Plus, two cruise ships, sick passengers on board, now off the coast of Florida. We'll take you there, find out what exactly is going on and if those passengers -- and which of those passengers will be allowed off.

Disturbing scenes from Ecuador, where there are bodies now in the streets as coronavirus overwhelms the health care system.



COOPER: There are approximately 3,000 members of the New York Fire Department out sick today, right now. Of those, more than 300 have tested positive for coronavirus.

Aline Bocanegra Reich is one of those people. She's a paramedic who has coronavirus and is quarantined in her home. Thank you so much for being with us. First of all, how are you feeling?

ALINE BOCANEGRA REICH, FDNY PARAMEDIC IN QUARANTINE: After a very, very long time of feeling horrible, I feel much better today, thank God.

COOPER: I know you have allergies, I think you said you have asthma. This was really tough for you. I mean, this was way worse than you thought it was going to be?

REICH: Honestly, this has always been said that it was going to be a very, very bad virus, it was going to affect the -- you know, your lungs, your lower airways. And it has. I have never been sicker in my whole entire life. I've never feared dying as much as I have now.

COOPER: Wow. And you were sick at home, you have two kids. I understand you have a two-year-old and -- and a four-year-old, I think.


COOPER: I can't imagine, you know, being a mom at the same time as having this.

REICH: Yes, the scariest thing on the whole planet. You try your best because there is no other way to not be around them. They're babies, you have to do everything for them, everything. They want water, they want food. My husband and I were both sick as well, it wasn't just me.

So it was very hard, and it's been very hard. We're still not out of the weeds and honestly, I'm still very scared that my children could contract this.

COOPER: As a paramedic, what sort of personal -- I mean, personal protection did you have, you know, while you were working on the job, until you got sick?

REICH: We had N95s and we had plastic gowns that were supposed to be used for any contact with patients who had a cold or a flu-related symptoms or fevers, cough and fever calls. And gloves, that's basically it.

COOPER: I'm wondering what your message to others out there, who are, you know, at home worried about this, worried about getting it, worried about surviving it?

REICH: Take it seriously. This is not a game, this is not a joke. Unfortunately, there are hundreds and hundreds of my coworkers who are working tirelessly, trying to save 911, which is on the brink of collapse. People are calling for nonsense, people are out in the streets.

There are so many of my coworkers who have fallen ill. Me, my partner, many people from my station, my captain. There's just so many people. And we don't know how it's going to affect them. I know how it affected me, and I promise you that this is life or death. You're putting everyone's life in danger by not staying home.


COOPER: Aline --

REICH: It's getting so out of control.

COOPER: Yes. And you know, as everybody will say, difficult days ahead no doubt, a lot of them. Aline, I appreciate all you do. And my best to your family and I'm glad you're on the other side of this, still recovering.

But to all the paramedics and EMTs and firefighters and police, thank you for what you're doing. Appreciate it. Take care of yourself.

REICH: Thank you so much. I really -- I really want to thank all of our -- our first responders and our women and men of EMS, coming from other states and from here. And trying to save this city, one at a time. We -- our PPE needs are not being met. And the rationing of N95 and gowns and us (ph) risking our lives every single day, it's giant.

People need to understand this. Stay home, stay away from other people's families, don't go to people's houses. It's -- you're killing people, people are dying because there is -- no one knows. People think that, you know, you're going to lay down and rest, and everything's going to be OK, rest. It's not OK. I felt like even more death when I would wake up. This virus is not as simple as rest, rest and fluid. No, it's not the flu.

COOPER: Yes. Aline, I appreciate your -- thank you for your honesty in warning people. It's an important message to get out. I appreciate it.

Some American governors refuse to issue orders to stay at home. The mayor of Toronto is taking big measures, cancelling events into the summer. He joins me, live.