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Health Care Providers Innovating Ways to Reduce Spread of COVID-19 Infection in Hospitals; Cruise Ships with Individuals that have Tested Positive for COVID-19 Wait Outside Florida for Permission to Dock; Gov. Steve Bullock (D-MT) is Interviewed About the Coronavirus Pandemic and His Response to It. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired April 2, 2020 - 08:00   ET



DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That don't have much of a problem. You have to give a little bit of flexibility.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a New York problem today. Tomorrow, it's a Kansas problem and a Texas problem.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: 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 that we need after we put people on a ventilator. We need to increase that output immediately.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are you waiting for? What more evidence do you need? We'll never regret overcompensating at the moment.


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

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, and welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. Just step back, this morning, as we sit here on Thursday, and think about how much this country has been transformed. Just one month ago there were fewer than 100 confirmed cases of coronavirus here. Now, nearly 90 percent of the country is under some kind of a stay at home order, 5,000 people have died. And we're going to get a report later this morning that could show that up to 6 million Americans filed for unemployment last week. That's coming in just 30 minutes.

So as we sit here, the president still has not issued a national stay at home order. Five more states did add or expand theirs, including Florida. Eleven states still have not imposed statewide orders. The message from California's governor is, what are you waiting for? The death toll as of this morning here has doubled in just the last three days. ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Also, new this morning, John, the

nation's stockpile of much needed protective equipment is nearly depleted. President Trump says the supplies are being sent directly to hospitals, but governors across the country are reporting critical shortages still. New York City's mayor says the city has enough surgical masks to last only until this coming Sunday, and then they will face a dangerous shortage.

There are also new questions about the national ventilator stockpile. "The New York Times" reports that more than 2,000 breathing machines are unavailable because they're broken or they're not functioning, basically they have not been maintained.

Overnight, Los Angeles, the second largest city in the country, became the first to urge its residents to wear homemade masks in public.

There are also developments on the medical front in terms of clinical trials of possible treatments in the future for coronavirus.

So we want to get to all of that. Joining us now, we have CNN medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and Dr. Peter Hotez, he is the Dean at National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. Great to see both of you.

Sanjay, let's just start with lack of supplies. That's what's urgent right now. And so we have been hearing about this obviously for days, governors, mayors, have been trying to sound the alarm as have hospitals. You have noticed hospitals kind of resorting to being inventive and trying to -- out of necessity is the mother of invention, and that's what they're resorting to in hospitals.

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, no question. I talked to so many colleagues around the country who are saying, look, we have to start to innovate here. The big concern, personal protective equipment, how do we continue to take care of patients and also protect ourselves, make sure that we don't get infected, make sure that we can continue to work.

I'll show you a couple of examples here. Some of these are simple examples, anything you can do to reduce the exposure to patients within the room, so putting monitors, for example, I don't know if we have these pictures or not, but if we do, we can put them up, monitors outside the hallway. So typically you'd go inside the patient's rooms and actually assess them within the room. Here you're keeping monitors and all that sort of stuff outside. You can still assess the patient through the glass as best as possible. Just simple things like putting your phone in a Ziploc bag, which may have applications not just for the hospital, but for everybody. You want to try and reduce, again, the idea that your phone becomes a cesspool.

This image here, take a close look at this. This is really interesting. So the time when someone is actually removing a breathing tube from somebody is perhaps one of the most dangerous times when it comes to spreading the virus. People, patients will cough, they will aerosolize that virus, and the team that is there can get a huge viral dose. So they put this mask on the patient before they remove the breathing tube, they remove the breathing tube through the mask and then that reduces exposure.

Just simple examples of what is being done. I know those seem simple to people who don't work in hospitals, but that last one in particular, as was described to me, is sort of an Apollo 13 sort of move because there's so many people who are getting exposed this way. That's what people are resorting to.

BERMAN: It is a big deal. Any improvement you can make is a big deal and might save lives in this situation. Dr. Hotez, Florida is the latest state to join the stay at home order. It is a big deal, now 90 percent of the country is under some kind of stay at home order.


But Florida and some other states, they have exceptions, including for religious gatherings. How dangerous is that to have that kind of an exception?

DR. PETER HOTEZ, DEAN, NATIONAL SCHOOL OF TROPICAL MEDICINE AT BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: Well, remember, the virus doesn't, the SARS COVID-2 virus doesn't distinguish what is a religious gathering or what's a different type of gathering, it is a music venue, any group of people is a high risk factor for transmission of this virus. We actually have new data now, new information that was just put up on med archive suggesting that this virus may be actually more transmissible than we realized because of so many asymptomatic people, people without symptoms, transmitting the virus. In some estimates, I don't know if this will really pan out, but some estimates are saying it's as transmissible as measles, which is probably the most transmissible virus agent we know.

So the point is now we're starting to enter crunch time. The models coming out for health metrics and evaluation are saying around April 16th is peak time in the United States. This is not the time to mess around. This is the time when we really have to implement aggressive social distancing, which may be our last window of chance or opportunity to do something to mitigate against this virus. And if we still start trying to play fancy and do things like allow certain types of gatherings, it is just not going to work. This thing will come crashing down on us. So we really need to be very aggressive right now.

CAMEROTA: And, Sanjay, to be clear, all we have right now in our arsenal is social distancing. All we have right now are ourselves and our own responsible behavior and staying away from people. That's what we have, that's what may be able to flatten the curve. We have seen it other places. But on the horizon, not to give people false hope, but it is happening, I'm reading all sorts of different news bulletins today that doctors are working overtime to try to come up with some sort of future treatment. And so what are you seeing on the horizon that is of interest this morning?

GUPTA: Well, as you can imagine, so many labs all over the world are looking at any kind of therapeutic, any kind of treatment that might work. And I'll give you an example. There has been a lot of discussion, as you know, around chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine. These are these malaria drugs, possibly combined with a Z-Pak, to see if they might have any kind of benefit at all. The first study is really small. There is now a more of a controlled study, still very small study, coming out of China. And let me just preface as you look at these numbers that in any other circumstance, Alisyn, we probably wouldn't even report this on CNN at all, that's how small it is.

But take a look here. So they basically gave half the group the drug, the other half the group they did not get the medication. These were patients with mild illness, for 25 out of 31 patients on the drug, their pneumonia improved as compared to 17 out of 31 that were not on the drug. There were four patients total out of those total of 62 patients that became seriously ill, went from mild to serious illness, and all of them were patients who were not receiving the drug.

Again, very early sort of data. They were concerned about the drug, so they didn't have any patients who had heart rhythm problems or liver problems or kidney problems. If you had those you were excluded from the study, you couldn't receive the drug. So now it needs to be confirmed. It needs to be trialed on larger populations, and it just takes time.

But as you mentioned, Alisyn, there are really no other options right now. So that's why I think even small studies like this are going to generate some enthusiasm in the medical community. Nobody is suggesting to giving this willy-nilly, but it is generating a little bit of enthusiasm.

BERMAN: Dr. Hotez, all this is right in your wheel house, too, and you're very focused on figuring out ways to treat this and test and whatnot. And you've been involved in some of these plasma studies for antibodies. What have you heard lately?

HOTEZ: Well, so there is a few things to talk about. I agree with Dr. Gupta, Sanjay, about hydroxychloroquine. By the way, there is another small study just out now from Shanghai suggesting that patients are still progressing despite hydroxychloroquine. So it may be that we're not getting the dose right. There's a lot of studies to work this out still. So I'm a bit still on the fence of hydroxychloroquine, but hoping that something comes through.

A couple of new things that have come along. There is there a new study reported, now using a monoclonal antibody to a part of the immune system called Interleukin 6, IL-6. And I was excited about this, because with previous SARS, SARS 1 back in 2003, Interleukin 6 was shown to have an important role in causing severe lung disease, and it's turning out that may be true of this one as well. So by giving a monoclonal antibody to this IL-6 it may offer some hope to people with severe illness because there's an overreaction of the immune system.


Both the initial virus infection, which is causing damage, then and inflammatory response, this monoclonal antibody may target the second piece. So that is looking potentially promising. Also, when we -- and that also influences how we develop vaccines to kind of move away from that IL-6 response, which can be so damaging, so that's also helpful.

And then the plasma antibody therapy is now gearing up across multiple medical centers, and we're on the phone all the time talking with colleagues about how to gear this up for different hospitals who want to do it.

CAMEROTA: It is so impressive, honestly, to see all the medical centers and to see you guys on the front lines and all the doctors who are just working overtime to try to get the gears in motion and do this on a fast track, and we really appreciate that. And we appreciate your dose of reality that we're just not there yet. But thank you for the status report on what everybody is working on. Dr. Hotez, Dr. Gupta, we appreciate that.

BERMAN: And of course, be sure to join Sanjay and Anderson Cooper for a live CNN global town hall, "Coronavirus, Facts and Fears," tonight at 8:00 eastern on CNN.

CAMEROTA: So John, there are these two stricken cruise ships, and they are off the Florida coast this morning. They are still awaiting clearance from the United States authorities to dock. Eight people on board have tested positive for coronavirus. More than that are showing symptoms. But four people have died on board. Florida's governor says he does have a solution for the ships in limbo. So CNN's Rosa Flores is live at Port Everglades near Fort Lauderdale with more. What's the solution?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alisyn, we just heard from the port and from the cruise line, and there is no deal yet to allow the ship to dock. And then a heartbreaking image, we also have been talking to passengers and the family members of passengers, and here is the situation on the ship. The captain told passengers on the Rotterdam, the sister ship, to pack their bags, to get ready, to have at least two days worth of clothes and handbags. So right now as we're speaking, these individuals are sitting in their cabins with their bags packed, hoping that Florida will open its arms to them and that the ship will be able to dock.

Meanwhile, the cruise line has been talking to authorities here, talking to the CDC in a statement, saying, quote, we are hopeful that we will be able to disembark guests at Port Everglades, which is currently being evaluated by local authorities. In addition, we are evaluating other options. Our goal is to get guests safely home as soon as possible and are working diligently to make this happen.

All this while Governor Ron DeSantis changed his tune, telling FOX News yesterday that when he found out that there were Americans and Floridians on board, he figured that there could be a solution. He wants to take the Floridians into the state, allow them to disembark, which raises the obvious question, what about everybody else? We know that there is at least 11 Americans, 247 Canadians, and other individuals we don't know the nationalities to.

Here's the situation on the ship. It has gotten worse. We know that four people have died. Eight individuals have tested positive for COVID-19, 233 people are exhibiting flu-like symptoms, 45 are too ill to be able to travel, according to the cruise line, and at least -- excuse me, less than 10 people need critical care on shore. That's what the cruise line said.

All of this is happening as Governor Ron DeSantis makes an about-face and issues a state wide order, stay at home order. This after what he says was his observation of President Donald Trump's demeanor at the White House during a press conference when he announced and extended the 30-day social distancing guidance. That's when the governor said he realized that things were not going to be normal again, and he decided to go ahead and issue that statewide order that impacts 21 million Floridians.

But not without controversy, because there is an exception in that order that allows church services to go on, which, of course, Alisyn and John, that is the issue and the controversy here, because that is how this virus spreads, by people coming together in tight spaces.

CAMEROTA: Understood, Rosa, thank you very much for the update from Florida. Obviously, that's a state we'll be watching all day.

Many states say they still do not have enough supplies, they don't have enough test kits, they don't have enough ventilators. Montana's governor brought that up with President Trump. We'll see what has happened since then, next.



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: One of the country's largest commercial labs says its backlog of coronavirus tests has grown so big, that some results will be delayed by as much as ten days. Several governors are still pleading for testing kits. "The New York Times" published audio of Montana Governor Steve Bullock pressing President Trump for help earlier this week.


GOV. STEVE BULLOCK (D-MT): Literally, we are one day away, if we don't get test kits from the CDC, that we won't be able to do testing in Montana.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Tony, you can it if you want, but I haven't heard about testing in weeks. We've tested more than any other nation in the world. We've got a great tests and we're coming out with another one tomorrow where, you know, almost instantaneous testing. But I haven't heard about testing being a problem.


CAMEROTA: The governor of Montana, Steve Bullock, joins us now.

Good morning, Governor.

BULLOCK: Good morning, Alisyn. How are you? CAMEROTA: I'm doing well.

So give us an update after that phone call. On that phone call with President Trump, you said Montana was one day away from not having test kits. So, has -- what's changed since then?

BULLOCK: Well, you know, and Montana is not unique. There is a bunch of states all across this country really do need both testing kits and the supplies, and reagents, the swabs. While we do have sufficient test kits, the issue is also those associated materials along the way. The reagents to make sure that we can continue to run those tests.


And it's one of those where in all honesty, like we have taken aggressive actions in Montana. I would love to be able to contact- trace every individual who is sick. We haven't run into where I shut down testing yet and I sure as heck don't want to.

CAMEROTA: So, to be clear, you do have enough tests now. Did you get more from the federal government?

BULLOCK: Up until last week, the most that we could get from the CDC at any one time was 600 tests. And we'd have to place that order before we could get additional tests. Now, at this point, we've got about 1,500 extras. So that lasts us maybe a day or two, if trends stay the same.

But it's still -- by the same token, so you have three different elements. One is a swab to actually administer the test. Then it's running the test, the reagents, along the way. Haven't been able to get sufficient swabs, expressed real concerns about that, had orders canceled. While we have the test kits, we still need the reagents.

And again, I'm not unique in this. At every -- almost every single state is dealing with this issue as well as PPE.

CAMEROTA: Let's -- let's talk about that PPE, because what we've heard from other governors that we've interviewed is this sort of, you know, having to fight with each other, having to outbid each other, somebody needs masks, somebody needs ventilators, and you're all in the arena, you know, having to -- some people likened it to eBay, outbid each other.

Have you had that experience?

BULLOCK: Absolutely. I mean, when Governor Cuomo was saying that, you know, concern that he was having to pay $4 for N95 mask, I had a purchase orders out for $6 per mask that were even canceled.

You look at the national stockpile, you know, I surveyed -- we survey on a regular basis, all of our hospitals, our first responders. Once we get masks as an example, then we push them out to all of them.

I've had -- about 465,000 masks is the current need. I received 79,000 from the national stockpile in total. I've received almost as many masks from my neighbors to the east in North Dakota as I have from the national stockpile. And, yes, I'm making -- placing those orders on the private side of this, and I've had orders cancelled in the past.

Hopefully, you know, we have pending order requests for about a million masks right now, to get them to us. Then we'll distribute them out to the hospitals and first responders. But I'm not going to believe that we'll have those masks until I see them actually delivered off of a truck.

CAMEROTA: So, to be clear, you have resorted to using the private sector. I mean, that's been one suggestion from the administration. So, you have enlisted the help of private companies that are trying to churn this stuff out.

BULLOCK: Well, that's our only hope because if I can only get 17 percent of my requests through the national stockpile, we have to go the private market. But what we see time and time again, states bidding against one another, a lack of supply, and, like, the administration, they talked about Operation Airbridge, where they're bringing these big planes from supplies overseas. Immediately then, everything that's brought, 80 percent of it is just dumped into the private market. So then governors are competing against one another, and at times the federal government to try to get these supplies.

CAMEROTA: So, Governor, is it your impression, and we've seen this from other governors, that if you call President Trump directly, if you make a direct appeal to President Trump, you can get more supplies. He's responsive and you can get more supplies.

But if you criticize the federal response at all, a la what has happened with Michigan, or New York, or Connecticut, then it's not as easy.

BULLOCK: Yes, Alisyn, I'm not sure. You know, I mean, I've been trying to -- I need to be able to work with everyone. I've been working with many people in the federal government, with the hope that we can get things. I've been working on the private side.

I think that uniformly, though, that's governors, Democrats and Republicans, have said, what we need -- because this is supposed to be a state-managed and federally-supported effort. And what Democrats and Republicans have been saying is the states are managing this, but we're not getting the support from the federal government that we need.

CAMEROTA: Governor, we always appreciate getting the scoop from you. We hope that you get what you need, obviously, as we do for all sorts of states. Thank you very much for giving us the status report this morning.

BULLOCK: Thank you, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: We're bracing for more record-breaking unemployment numbers in America. We have those new numbers for you straight ahead.



CAMEROTA: The coronavirus pandemic made an impact on Americans from coast to coast.

CNN's Martin Savidge shows us.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dispatchers from the front lines of coronavirus.

JOSH WILSON, ENVIRONMENTAL SERVICE WORKER: It has become progressively more busy working in the E.R.

SAVIDGE: Thirty-four-year-old Josh Wilson is not a doctor or a nurse. He's part of an often overlooked and unsung group of healthcare workers.

WILSON: I am a housekeeper, and what we do is we work in infection control.

SAVIDGE: He cleans the rooms of coronavirus patients at a hospital in Plattsburgh, New York. It's hand to hand combat, a mop, cloths, disinfectant, and ultraviolet light. Critical work, not just for patients.

WILSON: We're also looking out for the staff members that are going home to their families, too.

SAVIDGE: But Wilson worries he can take the virus home to his own.

OPAL FOSTER, GRAPHIC DESIGNER: Hi. My name is Opal Foster. This is my son, uh-hmm, Jeremiah Foster.

SAVIDGE: In Rockville, Maryland, coronavirus has already come home to Opal Foster, not the disease but it's fallout.

O. FOSTER: I lost my job about --


O. FOSTER: -- about two weeks ago.