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Backlog Of 160,000 Coronavirus Tests In Just One Lab; Italian Filmmaker Documents The Virus Up Close; Sailors From USS Theodore Roosevelt To Quarantine In Guam. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired April 2, 2020 - 05:30   ET




ROBYN CURNOW, CNN ANCHOR: So right now, in the midst of this coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. is the hardest-hit country in the world with more than 216,000 confirmed cases. The death toll in the U.S. has surpassed 5,100 and it includes a 6-week-old baby in Connecticut.

The top U.S. health expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, says he might recommend everyone wear face masks as long as health care workers have enough.

And at the moment, nearly 90 percent of Americans are now facing stay- at-home orders, but the U.S. President Donald Trump explains why he doesn't think a national order is necessary.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There are some states that are different. There are some states that don't have much of a problem. There are some -- well, they don't have the problem. They don't have thousands of people that are positive -- with thousands of people that even think they might have it or hundreds of people in some cases.


CURNOW: So while the Trump administration continues to talk up the availability of coronavirus tests, CNN has uncovered disturbing evidence of a huge backlog delaying tens of thousands of results.

Here's Drew Griffin with that report -- Drew.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This was just two weeks ago.

TRUMP: Today we are announcing a new partnership with the private sector to vastly increase and accelerate our capacity to test for the coronavirus.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Big commercial labs coming to the rescue of a floundering coronavirus testing plan within a week of the president's major Rose Garden announcement. Internal documents obtained by CNN from one of the nation's largest clinical laboratories expose huge backlogs -- results delayed up to 10 days and demand outstripping the labs' ability to process tests.

Data from those documents show on March 25th, last Wednesday, Quest Diagnostics had 160,000 tests on backlog. Half of its total orders were waiting to be processed. And according to Quest data obtained by CNN, that backlog appeared to be growing by the day.

Quest told CNN it can now do 30,000 tests a day and recently "Our capacity has exceeded our demand, allowing us to reduce the backlog."

Illinois Gov. Jay Pritzker said the federal government has failed to produce millions of tests promised by the president and now commercial labs can't process all the ones they do have.

GOV. JAY PRITZKER (D), ILLINOIS: In fact, their federal testing is slowed down because they throw it all at LabCorp and Quest, and they've got a huge backlog. Those tests are coming back in four to 10 days.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): It's the latest in a series of problems that is crippling coronavirus testing in the United States. Two months into the crisis and testing is still limited only to the sickest individuals in most places, limiting health experts in knowing exactly where the virus is spreading.

DR. CAROLINE BUCKEE, HARVARD T.H. CHAN SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: Right now, I don't think that we're at capacity for testing, so we just don't know how big the epidemic is or how big it's going to get.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Because of the backlog at Quest and other commercial labs, states and hospital systems tell CNN they have bypassed the logjam by starting to conduct their own in-house tests, which can turn around results in hours rather than days.

Louisiana has turned to its state lab to more quickly turn around the tests, but that's only for the most critical patients. All the rest go to the backlog.

DR. JOSEPH KANTER, EMERGENCY ROOM DOCTOR: It's gotten better, no question about that, but it is still a problem. The commercial labs have been challenging.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): The delays in getting test results back are straining limited supplies of personal protective equipment. Patients suspected of COVID-19 must be treated as if they are infected, requiring hospital workers to burn through gear waiting for results -- in some cases, only to find out days later they didn't need to.

KANTER: There's a direct relationship between the speed at which we can get results back for hospitalized patients and the amount of PPE that is going to be expended from their care.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): The result of the limited testing and now, huge backlogs is most of us are not going to get a test even if we are sick. And, yes, that even includes nurses on the front lines.

MEGAN SCHLANSER, NURSE, METRO DETROIT, MICHIGAN: We're not getting tested as health care providers. We are -- you know, I've had a couple of friends who have said I feel like I'm getting sick and Employee Health will say, you know, we don't have enough tests. You haven't fit all the criteria that we have in place so you're not getting tested.


GRIFFIN (on camera): And even as testing improves, experts are telling us the 100,000-tests-a-day milestone announced by the administration yesterday still is nowhere near what they say we need to get ahead of this pandemic.

Drew Griffin, CNN, Atlanta.


CURNOW: Thanks, Drew, for that -- startling.

So let's go to Italy now. Italy, so far, has the highest death toll in the world -- more than 13,000 people. Well, now it's extending the national lockdown that began nearly a month ago until April the 13th. The prime minister says the measures taken so far have been working.

So, although this virus is invisible, nobody is invincible to it, and that's what filmmaker Olmo Parenti wants the world to see. He went inside one of Milan's major hospitals fighting the coronavirus in Italy and captured the painful reality of what it's like for those with the disease. Take a look.




CURNOW: Olmo Parenti joins me now live from Milan. Hi, good to see you.

I know you have been also under lock and key for many weeks now and certainly, your videos, your images are very painful to watch. And also, a warning to the U.S., for example, of what is coming and what is here.

OLMO PARENTI, ITALIAN FILMMAKER: Yes. I mean, that's why we decided to do it. You know, a lot of images from ICUs and hospitals have been circulating already in Italy and we were given the chance to go inside a hospital and we thought it might be helpful to send some of the images that we're seeing here over there, as we know that you guys might be a few days behind us in the progression of the virus.

We want to be helpful. We underestimated the whole problem in the beginning of the pandemic and so we're trying to do our part in letting people know that this is a serious issue and we shouldn't take it lightly. CURNOW: Just talk us through how you shot it. I mean, you've got all of these close-ups, which we've just played. But at the same time, you were still living by social distancing. So talk us through your filmmaking here.

PARENTI: Yes. So, a lot of the images that we'd seen on T.V. tended to show the larger picture. It tended to show the climate within the hospital -- people rushing left to right. But by going in there we realized that the experience that you lived by being inside the ICU and inside the hospital was very different from the experience that you were having as a viewer, seeing the larger picture.

What I realized was that it was much more scary and scarring for me to see all the little things that you wouldn't see on television. Seeing somebody's foot shivering because they have a high fever. Seeing somebody panting even while they're asleep. Seeing a hand that has no life just sitting on a bed or just in general, seeing people that are hungry for air.

And so, I thought that in order to make something that wasn't just like every other piece of video that's come out of a hospital, it would have been interesting to find a way to make people live the same type of experience that I was living by being there. And so, we brought a telephoto lens, which is -- which is a lens that allows you to get really close to things while still standing far away.

The video is -- you know, it's named coronavirus from three away or one meter, but we were actually farther than that. And so, with this lens we managed to get really close to parts of the bodies of the people that are being treated inside the hospital and hopefully, to give you the same type of experience that I had by going in there.

CURNOW: And in many ways, what you're doing -- perhaps also, when you look at those images -- is a view of the nurses and the doctors. You know, that close-up that they get feeling for a pulse, touching somebody even if they're in a glove, trying to hold somebody's hand when they're dying. Trying to help them with the ventilator and intubating. You're very much also giving the close-up that many of these doctors and nurses are getting.

How are they coping? What did you see in terms of how the medical -- the medical profession was --

PARENTI: Yes, I actually spoke to a lot of them.


PARENTI: I actually spoke to a lot of them and one thing that I -- that I asked them was do you get used to this? As you see patients feeling this sick every day and you see people dying every day, is this something you get used to?

What everybody says is that you never get used to just seeing somebody not being able to breathe -- not being able to live to their fullest ability. It's just something that -- it's so necessary. It's so necessary to be there and it's so necessary to get past the pain that these people are experiencing to make them feel better -- that, you know, they -- that they sort of forget everything else.

CURNOW: But that --

PARENTI: All these people are true heroes. I mean, they go in there, they layer-up with three layers of clothing, three layers of gloves, three face masks, and they don't take them off for eight-10 hours. They can't drink, they can't eat. They can't even go to the bathroom. So they're really doing an incredibly important job and I think that it's not (INAUDIBLE).

CURNOW: No, it's extraordinary.

And the day you were there at the hospital, the death toll in Italy had risen by 743, I understand, just in that 24 hours that you were. And it's not just the old people that were dying, although many of them were. I mean, give us a sense of who the patients were.

PARENTI: I would be -- I would be a liar if I told you that there weren't a lot of old people inside the hospital, but I would also be a liar if I told you that I didn't see 30-40-year-olds who were truly scared. I mean, the patients that we saw in there, some of them were conscious, some of them were unconscious.

The younger patients were the ones that scarred me the most because you could see fear in their eyes. I saw patients with teary eyes looking at me. And I'm talking about people who were probably between their early 30s TO early 40s. People who -- you know, their hair was black -- like they seemed just regular people that might just be a few years older than me.

And that was really scary because we've been told so often that this is -- this is a disease that affects mostly old people. But when you saw the desperation in these people's eyes and --

CURNOW: ok, thank you.

PARENTI: And I don't know, it was very tough.

CURNOW: Tough --

PARENTI: I don't know what else to add.


PARENTI: They were patients literally from any social class and any age.

CURNOW: It cuts across -- it cuts across all social classes and races and age groups.

Olmo Parenti, thank you for your work and thanks so much for talking to us there live from Milan. Stay safe as well.

So you're watching CNN. Still to come, a deteriorating situation onboard this U.S. Navy ship. It has the captain issuing a plea. We go to Guam -- that's next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


CURNOW: So, sailors aboard a U.S. aircraft carrier hit with the coronavirus outbreak are now heading for quarantine in hotel rooms in Guam. The Navy's acting secretary says 93 sailors from the USS Theodore Roosevelt have tested positive for the virus and about 1,000 other sailors have been evacuated from the ship and moved ashore.

Well, journalist Mindy Aguon is outside one of the hotels in Guam where sailors who tested negative for the coronavirus will be quarantined. So what's the latest there? Hi, Mindy, good to see you.

MINDY AGUON, JOURNALIST: Hi -- good evening, Robyn.

The initial transfer of COVID-19 negative sailors aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt could include between 180 to 500 sailors and the groups will, of course, continue to be moved over the next couple of days. The first group is expected to move here to the Sheraton Guam Resort, which is behind me.

Guam Hotel and Restaurant Association president Mary Rhodes said that this is something that's been unprecedented for Guam. Just yesterday, seven hotels on the island closed their doors, expecting to be closed for the rest of the month because flights into the island have been suspended.

Now, there are a number of conditions that the military is looking for when determining which hotels they're going to select for quarantine. Among them, the hotel must have a capacity of 300 to 400 rooms in a single tower. As you can see behind me, the Sheraton also has -- it has one tower. The goal is to designate up to 4,000 rooms for the sailors.

And discussions with the local hotels and the cost that the military will pay for those rooms is still being negotiated at this hour as we've learned. The final amount, we're told, will include the federal per diem rate and include other associated costs that include laundry, sanitation, trash, biohazard removal -- excuse me -- and disposal, and more.

Now, every hotel that is selected as a quarantine site will include a team from both the Guam Army National Guard, the Department of Defense, and different branches of the military service who will be supporting these hotels and really leading this effort. All of the services with food and beverage, all the way to supply management, and even the front desk will be run by the Department of Defense in coordination with the hotels.

Now, we're told that only back-of-the-house operations of the hotels -- that includes operator service as well as facilities and maintenance -- will be done by the hotel staff. There are going to be really strict procedures in place, obviously, for food and beverage -- Robyn.

CURNOW: OK, thanks so much for that update there. Thanks, Mindy.

So back to a story we were telling you -- excuse me -- telling you about moments ago.

We're learning that Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will self-isolate until Wednesday after his -- next Wednesday after his health minister tested positive for the coronavirus. The health minister's wife also tested positive. And given the health minister's role in policymaking during this whole coronavirus crisis, many other senior Israeli officials are also expected to go into immediate self- quarantine.



CURNOW: We're all in this together, aren't we? So we know, you're stuck at home with nothing to do. You've got some musical talent -- well, you think you do -- and a captive audience. So musicians around the world have had some thought and they've been posting their work online.

Here's Jeanne Moos with some music to get you through self-isolation.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If you're sitting alone on your couch, pants-less perhaps, the governor of New Jersey is not admonishing you.

GOV. PHIL MURPHY (D), NEW JERSEY: No more knucklehead parties or gatherings.

MOOS (voice-over): He and Larry David --

LARRY DAVID, ACTOR-COMEDIAN: I basically want to address the idiots out there.

MOOS (voice-over): -- are trying to reach the congregators ignoring pleas to stay at home.


MOOS (voice-over): New Jersey even recruited "The Situation" from the reality show "JERSEY SHORE" --

SORRENTINO: I just have unbelievable mass appeal.

MOOS (voice-over): -- to convince the fun-loving masses.

SORRENTINO: But the time for parties is over.

MOOS (voice-over): And, Larry David is doing the same thing for California.

DAVID: Nothing good ever happens going out of the house, you know that. There's just trouble out there.

MOOS (voice-over): But even more eyebrow-raising are the musical efforts to encourage social distancing, from a parody of the Vanilla Ice class "Ice Ice Baby" by a guy known as the singing dentist, to this parody of "The Sound of Music".


Do not fear, but please stay here. Stay at home now, everyone.

MOOS (voice-over): The message, it's safer for the von Trapp family to be von Trapped at home --


Don't let COVID virus spread. Isolate yourself at home.

MOOS (voice-over): -- even if the kids keep encroaching on your social distance.

Australian comedian Chris Franklin wrote a little ditty --

CHRIS FRANKLIN, AUSTRALIAN COMEDIAN: The world has caught a virus, so I've written you a poem.


BOB E. KELLY, MUSICIAN (Singing): We need your help to cure it, so stay the (bleep) at home.

MOOS (voice-over): Retiree Bob E. Kelly turned the lyrics into song while self-quarantining at home in the woods of New Hampshire.

Who needs to call people idiots and knuckleheads when you can just sing --

KELLY (Singing): You need to grow a brain cell and stay the (bleep) at home.

MOOS (voice-over): Jeanne Moos, CNN --


Keep two meters clear of me.

MOOS (voice-over): -- New York.


CURNOW: Wherever you are in the world, have a beautiful day. Stay safe and stay at home.

Thanks so much for watching. I'm Robyn Curnow. I'll be back at the same time tomorrow. "NEW DAY" with John and Alisyn is next.



GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D), MICHIGAN: We really should have a national strategy instead of a patchwork of policies, but that's what we're doing.

TRUMP: There are some states that don't have much of a problem. You have to give a little bit of flexibility.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: It's a New York problem today. Tomorrow, it's a Kansas problem and a Texas problem.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH: There's a lot of activity that is centered around a passive transfer of antibodies that could provide not only protection but also treatment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are nationwide shortages of the exact medications we need. After we put people on a ventilator, we need to increase that output immediately.

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D), CALIFORNIA: What are you waiting for? What more evidence do you need? You'll never regret overcompensating at the moment.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Thursday, April second, 6:00 here in New York.