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Cruise Ships Stuck at Sea; Captain Tells Passengers on Cruise Ship with Coronavirus Cases to Prepare to Disembark in Florida; Russia Sends Plane Full of Supplies of Protective Gear, Ventilators to The U.S.; Lupus Patients Concerned with Shortage Now of Hydroxychloroquine. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired April 2, 2020 - 15:30   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: -- plus cruise ships within infected passengers are still stranded at sea, I'll talk to a woman stuck on one of those ships, next.


BALDWIN: Breaking news now. The model cited by the White House projecting some 80,000 deaths in the United States by August is now being changed and revised upward.


Now predicting there could be almost 94,000 deaths by the month of August and that is with strong social distancing measures.

For days, cruise ships were -- with confined coronavirus cases, one ship with four deaths have been looming near Florida's shore pleading with the state to allow passengers to disembark. The Mayor of Fort Lauderdale just announcing an agreement has been reached for the ships to dock at Port Everglades.

With me now CNN's Rosa Flores. And Rosa, the captain on one of the cruises told people to prepare to disembark?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You're absolutely right. And I have the message here, Brooke. We're going to try something a little technically different. I mean play it for you.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have just received clearance for both ships to proceed into Port Everglades.


FLORES: This captain goes on to say, Brooke, that it's great news that this has been a very long journey, as you might imagine it's been hell on this ship for these passengers because they've been in limbo. But he says that they have to abide by social distancing rules as they're disembarking.

He also went on to say that individuals should not be on balconies. They should not be in open spaces because they want to make sure that this operation goes well. He says he doesn't want anyone on this ship to jeopardize that so that people can start and hear this, their journey home. Which is of course what they've been waiting for.

Brooke, what we know about how this is going to happen from Broward County Commissioners is that individuals who are healthy, who are able to get off this ship will be able to get off the ship. They're going to go home. Individuals who are displaying symptoms or are sick will be quarantined on the ship. And a small portion of individuals who are critically ill will be taken to hospitals and we understand that there are hospital beds waiting for them so that's not going to be an issue.

Now in order for community spread to be under control, which was one of the big concerns for a lot of the local leaders here, what's going to happen is the individuals who were able to head to the airport, they're going to be doing that in private buses, Brooke, and they are going to go directly to the airport. No stops, no lingering at the airport. They're going to get on chartered planes and head home.

BALDWIN: OK, Rosa, thank you.

Joining me now, Laura Gabaroni who was a passenger on the Zaandam cruise has since been transferred with her husband to its sister ship, the Rotterdam. Laura, first and foremost, how are you and your husband? Are you feeling OK?

LAURA GABARONI, CRUISE SHIP PASSENGER (via telephone): We're fine health wise, yes. We've both have been healthy the whole time.

BALDWIN: Has this been hell for you?

GABARONI: It's been a trying time. Since the 22nd of March we have both been quarantined to our room. Cannot leave the room for any reason. Cannot see anybody. Have no exposure to anyone, crew or passenger. Had the meals delivered once a day, pull the tray in, disinfect everything, wearing a mask. We eat then we take everything out and disinfect everything again, again wearing a mask. We haven't seen other people. So, it's been a trying time. Just locked in a room.

BALDWIN: I will take your word for it. I know that you had been on the Zaandam where at least four people had died on board that ship and people tested positive for coronavirus. What were you told by cruise officials? What precautions, you alluded to some there. But what else have you done just to stay healthy in quarantine?

GABARONI: Well, we stayed -- to stay healthy in terms of our physical health we just observed all the rules we knew when he to observe. Wearing masks, washing our hands, disinfecting anything that came in the room and limiting what came in the room. So, just like not taking our garbage out because we didn't want the garbage can out there. What's been more challenging is to stay OK mentally and to keep ourselves busy with just a small few meters of space.

BALDWIN: What's been the most frightening part?

GABARONI: It's been devastating to know that some of our fellow passengers didn't make it. It was frightening when the announcement first went out that there were cases on board, and that we would have to remain in quarantine. Obviously, there's a lot of uncertainty at that point. And to this day because we have been in quarantine, we don't know who is OK or not OK, of anyone we encountered during the first part of the cruise.

BALDWIN: And I know you got on that original ship in early March. And just for everyone watching, listening to our conversation and wondering, why did you and your husband get on a cruise in the first place when cases of COVID had already been spreading. What's your response?

GABARONI: We boarded the boat on March 7th in Buenos Aires, Argentina. There was only like three cases of COVID in Argentina and a couple in Chile.


So South America really seemed like the only safe place to vacation. And that very same day that we boarded the boat was the day our own government was telling Americans that it was still safe to travel. So, we trusted that. We had this cruise and we decided to take it.

BALDWIN: When -- Laura, when are you being told you'll be able to get off this ship?

GABARONI: We have been told to be prepared to go through the health screening and disembark whenever we get to the port. I'm not sure how the process is going to work but I understand it's quite intricate and thorough. But today, hopefully.

BALDWIN: Today hopefully and the next little bit for you and your husband. Laura, I appreciate you. Stay well.

The United States is getting help battling coronavirus from an unlikely source, Russia. A plane full of medical supplies including protective gear and ventilators arriving in New York yesterday just days after Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Trump had a phone call about the pandemic.

But as CNN's Matthew Chance reports good karma might not be Putin's only motive for sending aid.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You know it's getting bad when even Russia sends in urgent medical aid. This giant plane load of essential supplies from Moscow including testing and protective gear is a humanitarian gesture, says the Kremlin, one for which New York air traffic control at least seemed grateful. AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLER: Romeo, Foxtrot, Foxtrot, 8460, we sincerely

thank you for all the assistance you are bringing in. Contact Kennedy Tower one one nine o point one. Have a good day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One one nine o one, you're welcome in fact.

CHANCE: But help like this is rarely free. In this case it seems the U.S. government paid for part of it, the Kremlin says at least half was donated by Russia. The question is, what does it get in return?

It's odd because Russia is currently struggling itself with the coronavirus pandemic. The streets of the capital deserted amid an enforced lockdown. And while official casualty figures are relatively low the Kremlin is slowly admitting their problem is far from under control. In fact, the Russian President has just appeared on state television extending the national lockdown through April.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): The threat still remains. According to virologists the peak of the epidemic in the world has not yet been passed including in our country.

CHANCE: Hardly the time say critics to be sending much needed medical resources abroad.

But Moscow may have other considerations. It wants painful American sanctions lifted imposed for its meddling in the U.S. election. And its military interventions in Syria and Ukraine. Humanitarian aid to the U.S. could obscure its misbehavior elsewhere. But even if it doesn't, this potent image of Russia helping one of the world's most powerful countries may be the Kremlin's richest reward.

CHANCE (on camera): We shouldn't ignore how potentially life-saving this medical airlift from Russia may prove to be, particularly to New Yorkers. But it's the messaging that's undoubtedly most important to the Kremlin not the least because it fits a popular Putin narrative that Russia is more in control, less chaotic, simply better than its rivals in the United States. Back to you.


BALDWIN: Matthew, thank you. It is a drug the President says could be a game changer for the coronavirus but for some Americans with chronic illnesses it is already crucial. I'll talk to one woman who's worried she won't be able to get the treatment she needs, next.



BALDWIN: President Trump has lauded this drug, hydroxychloroquine as a possible game changer for treating coronavirus and trials are taking place right now around the world. But the drug has already proven effective to treat other medical conditions. And people who rely on hydroxychloroquine to survive say they are terrified about what this global shortage might mean for their health. And that includes my guest who has been on hydroxychloroquine for

years to treat lupus. Kayla Ramsey-Aquino is with me now. And Kayla, thank you so much for being on. I welcome you.

And you know, just for people to understand your situation, you are already immune compromised, right, because of your lupus. And now with COVID, I read something you told our producers you might as well put a target on my back. Tell me what you mean by that and how essential this drug is for you?

KAYLA RAMSEY-AQUINO, LUPUS PATIENT WHO USES HYDROXYCHLOROQUINE (via Cisco Webex): Hi, Brooke. Thanks for having me. So, what I mean by that, being immune compromised with lupus is an autoimmune disorder where basically my -- the immune system is fighting the good tissues that protect the major organs. So, in that sense my body is basically attacking itself. And that makes me more susceptible to infections and viruses like COVID.

So, the important thing that needs to be said about the hydroxychloroquine, yes, it is an old malaria drug but I feel like with that being said, it's not being mentioned that, yes, it's an old malaria drug but it is a very powerful lupus drug.

BALDWIN: No, I hear you. You need this. No, you need this.


RAMSEY-AQUINO: Yes. I'm sorry.

BALDWIN: No, it's a little bit of the delay.

RAMSEY-AQUINO: It's been used since the 1800s.

BALDWIN: So, when you saw President Trump, you know, step up to that podium and promote hydroxychloroquine as this potential COVID fix, it's my understanding you immediately you started to feel anxious. Talk to me just about, you know, why you were feeling anxious and what you did then to get ahead of this issue?

RAMSEY-AQUINO: Well, yes. When you say anything is a cure especially something like this, with this pandemic, I was naturally one, curious. So, my husband and I did research and found the research on hydroxychloroquine when it comes to the treatment of the COVID-19 virus. And it is very preliminary in the study to say that it's a cure for the COVID-19 virus. So --

BALDWIN: I don't think -- I'm not saying it's a cure, I'm just saying that we saw the President step behind that podium, right, and promote it potentially as this fix and you got nervous, right, because you need this for you lupus and so you called your doctor and said what?

RAMSEY-AQUINO: Oh, absolutely. So, knowing the pandemic and everybody buying toilet paper, I immediately thought ahead and knew I was going to need this. I take this drug every day twice a day for the past 14 years and will likely take it for the rest of my life. So, I have an amazing team here in Philadelphia with Penn Medicine, so

I immediately emailed my doctor and let him know my concerns. And he said that he would try to put in a 90-day script for me. But he's not really optimistic that I will get it filled because of the hysteria surrounding it already with people getting these scripts already sent to pharmacies and the medicine is already on back order.

So he did send it in for me. I did call my regular pharmacy, where they said that they are out, it is on back order. It's on back order from the supplier because of the COVID-19 virus, where it hasn't even been approved to treat that. It hasn't been completely proven that it treats the COVID-19 virus.

But for me, personally and other people that have lupus, we rely on this drug to keep our organs safe. It's kind of like our military so to speak. It protects us. It protects us. So, if that drug is taken away from us, it leaves us open to potentially death when you think about it being already immuno-compromised.

BALDWIN: No, I hear you saying, if you take this twice a day for 14 years, potentially the rest of your lie. I think we're all understanding how crucial this is for you and your survival, just quickly, 20 seconds. Were you able to get your hands on the script?

RAMSEY-AQUINO: I am one of the lucky ones. I did have to go to a different pharmacy and they said that it was shipped. I still don't have it physically in my hands, but I'm hoping and praying that I do get it.

But I have heard multiple stories of lupus patients just like me, where their insurance refuses to fill their prescriptions because of the COVID-19. Pharmacies not having it. Again, it being on back order and without this drug, it can cause so many problems that I can't even begin to describe. It takes --

BALDWIN: I take your word for it. And Kayla, I hope you are able to get that prescription 90 days' worth as soon as possible. And I know you are not the only one in this position in this country. I wish you good health and all the best. And we'll stay in contact with you. Kayla Ramsey-Aquino, thank you so much. I appreciate it. I appreciate your shining a light on this issue.

Also, this just in, President Trump has just announced that he is invoking the Defense Production Act a second time. This time to make the parts needed to build more ventilators, more readily available. The President had previously ordered GM to make those ventilators.

Coming up, Dr. Sanjay Gupta will discuss the stunning claim made by one governor and the new model just in, projecting almost 94,000 deaths here in the U.S. in the matter of months.



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news. JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper and we

begin with breaking news.

Moments ago, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases globally surpassed 1 million and there are 51,000 deaths worldwide. Here in the United States, there are a confirmed 236,000 cases and 5,648 deaths at this hour.

This as we learned of a new projection that 94,000 people may die in the United States by August of the coronavirus. And scientific experts have now informed the White House that research suggests that coronavirus can also be spread from someone infected not just by that individual sneezing or coughing, but also by that individual merely speaking or maybe even just by breathing.

There have been discussions inside the Trump administration over whether to tell the general public to wear masks. And now Los Angeles is advising its residents --