Return to Transcripts main page


Johns Hopkins: 939,000+ Cases Globally, 47,000+ Deaths; Backlog in Processing Tests; Trump Warns of Many Painful Days to Come; Grocery Rush Leaves Bare Shelves for Low-Income Families. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired April 2, 2020 - 05:00   ET



ROBYN CURNOW, CNN ANCHOR: Hi. Welcome to our viewers joining us here in the United States and all around the world. You are watching CNN. I'm Robyn Curnow here in Atlanta.

So, just ahead on the show, doctors are overwhelmed. Medical supplies are in short supply and more states are under stay-at-home orders as cases of coronavirus skyrocketing here in the U.S.

And the number of Americans being tested also keeps growing, but CNN has discovered a major delay in getting results.

And also, we are live in Guam where the situation aboard a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier is deteriorating by the hour.


CURNOW: Well, thanks for joining me at this hour.

And, of course, we continue to watch the rapid increase in the amount of people infected with the coronavirus. The numbers have rapidly risen. We know a million people around the world have tested positive. Globally, more than 47,000 people have died so far. Now, that's according to Johns Hopkins University, a figure that is expected to go far, far higher in the coming weeks.

So the U.S. has some of the sharpest daily increases anywhere as you can see from this graph, and it is certainly taking a heavy toll on medical professionals.

Dr. Frank Gabrin was an emergency room physician in New Jersey who knew the dangers he faced yet he refused to quit treating those who needed him. A week ago, he contracted coronavirus and then on Tuesday, he died in his husband's arms. A friend of the doctor tells CNN he only died because he lacked the proper equipment to protect himself.

And as these new infections and deaths increase across the U.S., more states are finally taking action, but it may be too little too late and ultimately futile without a clear nationwide policy from the White House -- as Nick Watt now reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Florida has finally relented and issued a stay-at-home order.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: I think even though there are a lot of places in Florida that have very low infection rates, it makes sense to make this move now.

WATT: Nearly 7,000 cases statewide, nearly doubling since the weekend.

In New York, nearly 8,000 new cases in a single day. The governor just closed all the playgrounds in New York City.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: I say to my fellow governors and elected officials all across this country, look at us today. See yourself tomorrow.

WATT: This nurse is in Georgia.

CARLEY RICE, CRITICAL CARE NURSE: I didn't ever think that I would see this amount of deaths all at one time.

WATT: Sunday nationwide, at least 383 died. Monday, 575. Yesterday, 830, was our deadliest day. Today, we've already passed that number.

Current projections: at least 100,000 of us could perish.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our most recent modeling suggests that with strong mitigation, the range is still -- it's still heartbreaking.

WATT: And some say inaccurate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This model assumes like Wuhan, we're going to shut down all 50 states. That's not going to happen.

WATT: Take Louisiana, right now a hot spot and running low on supplies.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Date for running out of beds is going to be around April 10th.

WATT: They have a stay at home order but other states do not.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Why the president doesn't take action, you're just going to have to ask him about that.

WATT: Soon, we could all be told to wear masks.

JEROME ADAMS, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: We've always said, we're going to learn more, we're going to adjust. And we've learned that there's a fair amount of asymptomatic spread. And so, we've asked the CDC to take another look at whether or not having more people wear a mask will prevent transmission of the disease to other people.

WATT: Sandy Rutter, a breast cancer survivor and single mother, has died, living six kids behind who could not hug her goodbye.

ELIJAH ROSS-RUTTER, MOTHER DIED OF COVID-19: They took a walkie- talkie and they placed the walkie-talkie right by her bedside on the pillow. I told her I loved her. I told her everything is going to be all right with the kids. You know, like us older siblings, we're going to -- we're going to make sure everything is okay with them and that they will grow up to be some adults that my mom would want them to be.

WATT (on camera): Here in California, the governor had a message for other governors who had not yet implemented a stay-at-home order.


His message: what are you waiting for?

Here in Los Angeles, behind me, this is an RV park that is now being set aside for people to self-isolate or self-quarantine if they don't have a home or if they just don't want to infect other people inside their home.

Nick Watt, CNN, Los Angeles.


CURNOW: Thanks, Nick, for that report.

So, President Trump is offering Americans a more somber look at the coronavirus than he has in the past.

This dark shift in tone comes after new doctors are projecting up to 240,000 deaths from that virus in the months to come as you heard Nick there reporting.

Well, Kaitlan Collins has more on that from Washington -- Kaitlan.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As he warned of challenging time ahead, President Trump came to grips with a reality he's denied for months.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is going to be a painful -- very, very painful two weeks.

COLLINS: The president somberly acknowledge the potential for a staggering death toll that his team of experts has warned about for weeks. He said if he took no action, a move no public health experts have suggested, millions have died instead of the hundreds of thousands that could now.

On CNN, the vice president followed Trump's lead and said he took it seriously all along.

PENCE: I don't believe the president has ever belittled the threat of the coronavirus.

COLLINS: But in late February, the president said this about the coronavirus cases.

TRUMP: When you have 15 people. And the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero, that's a pretty good job we've done.

COLLINS: In fact, the stark numbers calls the president to reverse many of his own arguments including this one.

TRUMP: The flu in our country kills from 25,000 people to 69,000 people a year. That was shocking to me. We'll lose thousands and thousands of people a year to the flu. We don't turn the country off. I mean, every year --

COLLINS: Trump now concedes the coronavirus is not like the flu.

TRUMP: But it's not the flu. It's vicious.

COLLINS: Though, last month, the surgeon general urged Americans to stop buying masks, most members of the president's task force now think the public should start wearing them. But there are concerns about a run on an already short national supply.

DR. JEROME ADAMS, SURGEON GENERAL: If you're going to wear a face covering, please save the N95 masks for health care workers who need them.

COLLINS: The vice president visited a Walmart distribution center in Virginia. It's one of several retailers that the president invited on stage last night as they announced that the federal government would team up with drive thru testing sites.

TRUMP: The goal is for individuals to be able to drive up and be swabbed without having to leave your car.

COLLINS: That announcement hasn't come close to being fulfilled. The Department of Health and Human Services confirmed that there are currently only five locations in these stores in the entire country offering drive-thru testing and none are available to the general public.

PENCE: Today, with this historic public-private partnership, we have laid the foundation to meet that need.


CURNOW: Well, CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta interviewed one of the most high profile figure information the White House about why the coronavirus affects some people more than others. And here's a potion of his conversation with Dr. Anthony Fauci.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NIAID DIRECTOR: 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 so 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, Sanjay, that we're missing from a pathogenesis standpoint. And I 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.


CURNOW: Now, the U.K. recorded its highest number of coronavirus cases. On Wednesday, more than 563 died from the virus in 24 hours alone. And as these cases surged, the British government says they are looking seriously into an increase in testing capacity. Take a listen.


BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: We're also massively increasing testing. And I want to say a special word about testing because it is so important. And as I've said for weeks and weeks, this is the way through. This is how we will unlock the coronavirus puzzle. This is how we will defeat it in the end.

And what we need to do is massively ramp up, not just test, so that you can know whether you had the disease in the past, a certain antibody test because that will enable you to go to work in the confidence that you can't be infected or infectious.


CURNOW: So, that's Boris Johnson, the prime minister, who has been suffering from coronavirus. It must be said.

So, Sterghios Moschos is the associate professor in cellular and molecular sciences.


He joins me now via Skype.

Hi, sir. Good to see you.

You're an expert. You know the inside of a virus. You've heard Boris Johnson there. You've heard the American response.

What needs to be done right now to fight this?

STERGHIOS MOSCHOS, MOLECULAR VIROLOGIST, NORTHUMBRIA UNIVERSITY: So the evidence from past epidemics in the last ten years is quite convincing. We need to contain the movement of people and many countries are putting this into effect. But we need to be as harsh as possible to stop people from moving.

They only need the minimal services out there. We need to go out and start testing as much as possible to find people who have the virus right now. We need to sustain after that first round is out the testing of new people with new symptoms to make sure that we identify hot spots and contain follow-up basically outbreaks.

This will help stop the outbreak and we won't need a vaccine. We won't need any type of follow-up on long-term disruption. It's going to be hard. It's going to be harsh for a few weeks, but at the end of it, we can actually stop the virus from propagating.

We've seen this happen in China. We've seen it in Korea. It is possible.

CURNOW: And you're talking about social distancing here. I think we've got some numbers in terms of how many people's lives have been saved. You know, around 60,000 was one estimate saved by social distancing, and this is from Imperial College London.


CURNOW: I think that's just probably a drop in the ocean, isn't it?

MOSCHOS: I think there's a lot of hard thinking that has to take place at the end of this about how fast we need to be acting about these outbreaks in the future and how relaxed we can be about implementing the correct measures.

There's also another thought that needs to be taken into account. We are not that different to some of these countries that were the epicenters in the early days. They are actually advanced. They are not as advanced as us in some respects, but in other respects, they have got pretty much everything we have.

So, to sit down and say it's going to be fine here in the West, you know, this is what complacency does. So, let's try and focus now forward. How do we stop more people from falling victim to this disease?

CURNOW: Like I said, you certainly -- you're a molecular scientist, you're a professor and understanding the breadth -- the makeup of viruses. If you were advising the U.S. president, what would you say to him? Because we've heard already that there is not a nationwide federal lockdown. There is piecemeal, little lockdowns in various states to various degrees across the U.S.

If you look at America and the rate of social distancing or lack thereof, what advice would you give to Donald Trump?

MOSCHOS: I would say to him, look at Italy, look at Britain, look at France, look at Spain, and what happened there in a highly developed part of the world where social distancing was not implemented fast enough. It is critical right now that people who have symptoms isolate themselves, them and the family stay at home, use up their savings, ask for help from their families, their friends, the nation, whatever it is, and that the nation itself implements the testing response as fast as possible.

We heard some commercial companies are deploying point of need tests. This is not Ebola. This is a slightly safer virus. We can take it out into the community and test people. Let's get this done as fast as possible. You've got a lot of money in the United States. Use it wisely. CURNOW: I want to show people what it's like to get this test. One of

our correspondents, Sam Kiley, did one of these drive-by tests. As we heard from our reporter, that's not available here. Sam is in the UAE.

And, basically, you just basically stick a long swab up your nose. And why -- why has this been so difficult to roll out in places like America? And more importantly, how can it be ramped up quickly?

MOSCHOS: OK. So there's two parts to this. The swab up the nose actually needs to be quite far back into the nose --

CURNOW: Not the nose, beyond there.

MOSCHOS: Which is back of your nasal cavity really, which is not as pleasant as it sounds. It's actually quite unpleasant.

The second problem is that you need something to test the sample in. Until the last week we've had to ship all those samples, analyze them in a big batch, get the results back to the people and there's a delay in that. Now that we have all of these machines approved by the FDA so we can decentralize the testing, we need to implement these as fast as possible.


So we need the trained nurses out there, the right personal protective equipment, taking the samples carefully and accurately. We need the right kind of equipment on the road to implement that testing. In the U.K. unfortunately, we're going for centralized testing and the logistics of it make some degree of sense. But they not help with quick response and implementation of the containment that is still feasible. Otherwise, the WHO would not say you need to do this right now.

CURNOW: What is the biggest question you want answered about this virus?

MOSCHOS: My personal biggest question is how much of that virus is found in breath? How much is found in your nose? We see there are people with severe lung disease. As Anthony Fauci said, they can pass away fairly quickly.

There are others that seem to have a lot of symptoms up here only, and it's really unclear to what extent that's because you get exposed into the nose and then it sort of moves into your lungs or you gets exposed directly to your lungs. So, the work I'm trying to set up globally at this point in time is the testing of breath so that we can see whether or not the virus is coming out of your lungs as opposed to saliva or other parts of your upper respiratory tract.

If were get to answer that question, that will help us a lot because we will understand a lot more how transmission is happening. And potentially, we may have a better, more reliable way to test those people with deep lung disease without going inside in a highly invasive, highly risky manner, both for the patients and physicians.

CURNOW: OK. Fascinating talking to you, sir. Thank you very much. Sterghios Moschos, thank you very much.

MOSCHOS: You're very welcome.

CURNOW: Appreciate it.

You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

Still to come, grocery stores and food banks feel the strain as more Americans ask for help to put food on the table. We're covering this from all angles.

You're watching CNN. Stay with us.



CURNOW: Welcome back. I'm Robyn Curnow.

So, millions of Americans are losing their jobs and their income, and that means more people are turning to the government for help to put food on their table. Panic buying and rush on basic goods have left many shelves empty, making life particularly for low income families even more difficult.

As Tom Foreman now explains -- Tom.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The rush is on. With a first of the month release of government food assistance funds, some grocery stores are expecting floods of low-income shoppers, desperate to stock up and rattled by reports of shelves empty by more affluent folks.

Antonio Pinchback says he's out of work on aid and he's seen it.

ANTONIO PINCHBACK, FOOD ASSISTANCE RECIPIENT: When you go, all of the cheaper like options are gone. If it's like chicken, or like -- even like ground beef, like all that's gone. Only thing you've got left is salami. You know, I can't afford to eat salami every day.

FOREMAN: The store owner says the shortage has driven prices through the roof too.

IN SUK PAK, OWNER, BEST WORLD SUPERMARKET: I never ever believed one dozen eggs for almost four dollars right now.

FOREMAN: Everything costs more.

PAK: Much more, not a little bit more. Much more, higher.

FOREMAN: Prices, of course, vary from place to place. And federal officials believe those shortages are now largely under control. But they also expect pressure for food assistance to intensify. Millions of low wage earners are losing their jobs and private free food lines like this one in Pittsburgh can't handle it all.

CHARLESE MCKINNEY, GREATER PITTSBURGH COMMUNITY FOOD BANK: We can really tighten the controls and know what we have so that we have enough to go out for the need.

FOREMAN: In California alone, applications to Cal Fresh which administers federal SNAP funds or food stamps have reportedly jumped dramatically so the USDA is loosening guidelines coast to coast hoping to get more people signed up and fed faster, especially children. And that could help businesses, too, while everyone waits for slower moving stimulus funds to make it into the marketplace and better times.

PINCHBACK: (INAUDIBLE) two jobs right now.

FOREMAN: Do you have much hope that they'll come through in these circumstances?

PINCHBACK: Maybe. I don't really know.

FOREMAN: Prior to the pandemic, the Trump administration was involved in an effort to push a lot of people off the food stamp roles. That legal battle continues. It's a sharp contrast to advocates for low income families would actually like people to stay away from grocery stores for a few days to give those folks a better chance at feeding their families well.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.


CURNOW: Thanks, Tom, for that. Sobering reality for so many people.

So, let's also look at some numbers. Stock markets in the U.S. are hoping to bounce back from Monday's massive declines. Those are the futures all in the positives. Indices had fallen by more than 4 percent, but right now as you can see, green arrows across the board.

In the coming hours, though, the U.S. Labor Department is expected to release the weekly jobless claims report. Some experts believe it will show a record number of people filing for unemployment benefits.

So, let's go straight to New York. Christine Romans is standing by with more on that.

Hi, Christine. Good to see you.

So how sobering are these jobs numbers going to be?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Just devastating. I mean, I think there's pretty much no question these will be record setting numbers. We have seen hundreds of thousands of furloughs in the retail and in the hospitality industry over the past few days and those numbers -- those are people who will then go and file for unemployment benefits. What this number that we'll see in about three hours is, is the number

of people in just one week who went to their state or contacted their state unemployment offices and filed for the first time for jobless claims. And the numbers are anywhere from three to six million are the estimates there. I mean, each state is reporting that their unemployment offices are overwhelmed by the number of people who are filing for unemployment benefits here.

Now, because of this stimulus, this rescue package that the government passed on March 27th, people who filed for those unemployment benefits will get as close as possible to what their pay was before.


There's $250 billion to enhance these unemployment benefits. Once the checks start coming they'll be retroactive to the day you lost your job.

So, the government doing what it can to keep money flowing to people. There's a tough moment we're in where the rent was due yesterday, right? It's the start of the new month. But the stimulus checks haven't come yet. They should hopefully start to get direct deposited in the next few weeks.

Small business loans, there's a lot of money for small businesses. The government is really encouraging people to go out there and apply for this loan so that you can keep your workers on. They'll pay -- the government will pay you to keep your business open and to keep your workers on for the next few months and those applications start today.

And also, there's important news for seniors, Robyn. Seniors on Social Security, there was some confusion there. If you're on Social Security, and you haven't filed a tax return, you're going to have -- file a tax return to get your stimulus check. The Treasury Department has followed the law, the letter of the law, now seniors on Social Security, you don't have to file a tax return, you will be -- your checks will be direct deposited into your bank account for your stimulus check for $1,200.

CURNOW: OK. Thanks so much, Christine Romans, very much. Thanks for that.

So, I do want to give you some breaking news, and developing news coming out of Israel. We know the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided to self-isolate after his health minister and his wife have both tested positive for coronavirus. So we know that Benjamin Netanyahu will self-isolate until next Wednesday. That's according to a statement coming from the prime minister's office. This comes after the Israeli health minister has tested positive for coronavirus, as well as his wife.

We also know, according to this information coming out of Israel that many other senior Israeli officials are expected to go into immediate self-quarantine. Also, Israeli people are saying the head of Mossad is also being considered for self isolation. So, certainly, worrying news coming out of Israel in terms of the senior leadership there and this virus.

You're watching CNN. More coming up. Much more news as the U.S. scrambles to track the spread of the virus, tens of thousands of tests are just waiting to be processed. That's next.