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Pressure Grows For Nationwide Shutdown As Cases Surge; 1,200+ Passengers Heading Home After Virus-Stricken Cruises Dock; Detroit Hospitals Running Low On ICU Beds, Medical Supplies. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired April 3, 2020 - 10:00   ET




JIM SCIUTTO, CNN NEWSROOM: A good Friday morning to you. We've all made it to Friday. I'm Jim Sciutto.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN NEWSROOM: What a week it's been. I'm Poppy Harlow. We're glad you're with us this morning.

Americans want to know what should they do? Should they wear masks when they go outside? As pressure grows for a nationwide lockdown and the CDC is set to release new guidelines on exactly that, wearing masks.

The nation's top infectious disease expert, Anthony Fauci, says, masks should, in no way, replace social distancing.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: The better part of valor is that when you're out and can't maintain that six-foot distance, to wear some sort of facial covering. So this is an addendum and an addition to the physical separation, not as a substitute for it.


HARLOW: Also this morning, a senior federal health official says the CDC is recommending communities be evaluated for four straight weeks before they return to some aspects of community life. Right now, more than 6,000 Americans have died from the coronavirus.

SCIUTTO: In New York, top officials say that the state could run out of ventilators in just six days. Patients overwhelming New York City's hospitals, forcing the Javits Convention Center now to take in those infected with the virus, and also sparking questions about why that Navy hospital ship, the Comfort, hasn't taken in more patients, just 20 so far to help relieve all those packed hospitals.

First, let's bring in CNN's Brynn Gingras in New York City. Brynn, only six days before this moment that folks have been concerned about for some time when the city runs out of ventilators so key to treating the most impacted from this. What's going to happen to prevent that?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, state and local officials, Jim, are saying it's life or death at this point. Basically, they are asking for the federal government to get involved, get more ventilators to this area, because this isn't a joke anymore. The need is serious. It's coming faster than they can count.

If you ask the city, that deadline is coming even sooner. The mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio, was on new day this morning and said Sunday is really the time when we run out of ventilators. He doesn't know what to expect of Monday and Tuesday. I want you to listen more to what he said.


MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D-NEW YORK CITY, NY): If there is not action by the president and the military literally in a matter of days to put into motion this vast mobilization, then you're going to see first hundreds, and later thousands of Americans die who did not need to die. I can get to Sunday when it comes to ventilators.

Monday, Tuesday, I'm not sure about yet. That's the blunt truth.


GINGRAS: And that is a scary reality. And it's really not just the ventilators. Obviously, that is a key piece of equipment, but there is other equipment that is still lacking and what is needed for these frontline healthcare workers, the N95 masks. And, honestly just in general, they say, personnel, they need more people. Even though they've gotten so many volunteers, they need more people to flood this area because so many people on the frontlines are getting sick themselves.

Behind me, you guys mentioned the Javits Center. It has now been converted. Remember, it was here with makeshift beds, and the idea was to have non-COVID-19 patients. But because the hospital system is so swelled with COVID patients, they had to now convert this to COVID patients as well. 2,500 beds are available now here behind me at the Javits Center ran by the Army.

And then the Comfort, you guys also mentioned that. Really, quickly, we're hearing from sources down my colleague, Ryan Brown, saying that, essentially, that is being a fine-tuned process. Yes, at this point, the latest count was 20 people are being treated, non-COVID patients, but we're hearing, again, that officials are really trying to work with the hospitals to get more patients on board. And even the mayor says he expects that will be happening very soon. Guys?

SCIUTTO: Yes, as with Brooklyn borough, the president says, with a slow 9/11. Brynn Gingras, thanks very much.

Joining us now, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, he is, of course, CNN Chief Medical Correspondent. Sanjay, so great to have you on. I know our viewers' ears perk up when you come on the air because they have so many questions. I want to start with masks because this is now being bandied about as a national recommendation. I know that Dr. Fauci says this should not replace social distance, seen as an addendum to it. If it is helpful, do you believe this is something Americans should be doing now?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think so, Jim, and this is after a lot of, I think, consideration.


I think there are two things to sort of keep in mind here. First of all, as Dr. Fauci said, that this shouldn't be in lieu of social distancing. People should still stay home, obviously, and not be lulled into a false sense of security, and it shouldn't be the hospital grade masks.

But I think the thinking inflection has changed because when we think about asymptomatic spread, we've been saying all along that you should behave like you have the virus even if you don't have symptoms. So if you wear a mask, a cloth mask, out in public, it's not so much to protect you from getting the virus, it's to protect other people from you, giving them the virus. So it's decreasing the amount of virus that you're putting into the environment.

I think it's interesting, the balance has been unlike public health in the economy, which is often seen as the balance. For the mask, I think it's public health and perception. Culturally, we haven't really recommended something like this in the United States. And the perception is, is America sick as a result of people wearing masks out in public? But I think we're probably there because anything to decrease the virus out in the atmosphere and the community, I think, is really important.

HARLOW: Sanjay, you know, we all know that Dr. Fauci chooses his words very carefully. So when he was passionate last night, saying to you and Anderson in the town hall that he does not understand why every state has not ordered stay-at-home mandates, essentially, except for essential outings, it was really telling.

GUPTA: It was, Poppy, absolutely. I mean, I think that was the clearest he's been on this. And, obviously, look, it's at odds still from what you hear from the president and others who say, look, maybe it's not necessary in these states where you have lower numbers. Dr. Fauci was very clear. He said every state should have a stay-at-home order.

All the models, as grim as they may be in terms of the projected number of people who will get sick and even die from this are based on the fact that the entire country has a stay-at-home order. It's also based, incidentally, on the fact that those stay-at-home orders last until the end of May, not just the end of April. But it's jarring to look at these number of deaths. But it may be even, I dare say, and I hate to say it, but it may be even worse than that because the models suggest that by the end of the day today, by the end of this Week, we have to be, as a country, under these stay-at-home orders,

and it's not clear. I mean, even where I live in Georgia, the governor is coming out yesterday and saying, I just was told over the last 24 hours that this can spread asymptomatically. We've been talking about this with you guys since the beginning of February. My kids who are in grade school in this state have known this. They've talked about it in their own school and the governor comes out and says, I just found out about this? I mean, this is a real problem and highly irresponsible. Because, I mean, lives are at stake here, and the CDC is right down the road. I can go on and on, but this has to happen. Everyone who is in the public health world has said this now.

HARLOW: Yes, no question. Sanjay, thank you very, very much for all you're doing, you and your whole team.

As these coronavirus cases fill up hospitals across the country, doctors are being forced to cancel non-emergency surgeries and procedures.

SCIUTTO: some patients, in effect, having their care rationed as healthcare workers turn their focus on the pandemic. We've heard about this in so many communities, hospitals around the country. CNN's Elizabeth Cohen joins us now with more.

Elizabeth, so how do doctors and nurses make that call? This is a difficult call, and for some patients, it's a life or death call.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Jim. What I'm hearing from doctors is sometimes there is a very blurry line about what needs to happen now and what can be put off. One surgeon in New York City saying he's had to make decisions that he's never had to make before. This is a surgeon who operates on tiny babies.

And these decisions are being made and contemplated not just in New York City but in other places in the country.


COHEN: Marlee Baxter was born with half a heart and had three open heart surgeries before her second birthday.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, I love that smile so much. Yes, I do, so much.

COHEN: Today, Marlee is three years old. And recently her mom, Jolene, realized she's not getting enough oxygen.

This number is very low. Marlee's doctors ordered a heart catheterization to figure out what's wrong.

Has she had that heart catheterization?

JOLENE BAXTER, MARLEE'S MOTHER: No, she has not. The hospital called and canceled.

COHEN: Because of coronavirus in dozens of states, governors have ordered temporary stops on non-emergency procedures, leaving patients like Marlee, who lives in Oklahoma, without the care they need.


Has the hospital given you any word for when she'll be able to have it?

BAXTER: None at all. I haven't heard from them at all.

It is very frightening.

COHEN: With so many medical resources being diverted to coronavirus, doctors are having to make choices about who gets care and who does not.

CNN obtained this letter from the head of the Pediatric Heart Surgery Program at Columbia University. We have had to ration care, he wrote. We have had to make decisions that I personally have never had to contemplate before. So many patients now not getting the care they need.

DR. ASHISH JHA, HARVARD T.H. CHAN SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: For a lot of patients, these are crucial surgeries, procedures, tests that they need, people with chronic disease, people often with an acute illness that needs to be managed. We have to make sure we don't lose track of the tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of Americans who are suffering silently because of the impact of COVID on our healthcare system.

COHEN: Back at Marlee's house, she and her mom are making masks for nurses as they wait for the pandemic to end.

BAXTER: I'm sitting here just wondering when are we going to get this done and just pray that she stays healthy until we get it done.


COHEN: Now, I've also spoken with a woman in Minnesota who has a pacemaker, and she says she can tell from the irregular heartbeat she's having that it's time to think about whether the battery is wearing out. She thinks the battery might be wearing out. Her doctor scheduled tests and then canceled them. She also is waiting for the end of this pandemic to get the care that she needs. Jim, Poppy?

SCIUTTO: The effects of this, the health effects of this expand far beyond just the coronavirus patients. Elizabeth Cohen, thanks very much.

Still to come this hour, Florida officials negotiate a deal allowing hundreds of passengers to finally get off a pair of cruise ships with many coronavirus patients. What are the terms?

Plus, we go to Michigan, where deaths are soaring and there may be a rapid test there that could give results in just minutes. We're going to be live, see what a difference this could make. Let us

HARLOW: Also the jobs report shows this morning shows More than 700,000 jobs lost alone in march. That do now begin to reflect the worst of it though.



HARLOW: Nearing the end of a nightmare but still so much uncertainty ahead after days of just questions. Hundreds of passengers are finally leaving two coronavirus-stricken cruise ships and heading home.

SCIUTTO: It's taking some time though. Ships docked yesterday in Ft. Lauderdale finally, this after the cruise line negotiated a deal with Florida officials.

Rosa Flores, she is live from Ft. Lauderdale

Rosa, so part of this deal includes very strict protocols for getting these passengers home. I mean, it's like a military operation. Tell us what's happening.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, we have video of some of the strict measures. We have aerials from the airport showing buses on a tarmac. This is by no mistake. The passengers were not allowed inside the terminal of the airport. They were taken off this ship wearing masks. They were screened twice. They were put on buses, they're going to load onto planes and and head home to finally bring this nightmare to end for these passengers.

Only 12 passengers will be able to leave. That's because they are healthy and fit to fly. There are about 40 other passengers who are Floridians, they received private transport to their homes and will be quarantining in their homes for 14 days.

14 other individuals were taken to local hospitals. That included 13 passengers and one crew. And 26 passengers will actually stay onboard, because they are sick, they are exhibiting symptoms. And also all of the crew members were told, according to authorities here, that they will stay on board as well. So not everybody gets to go home, Jim and Poppy.

But I'm going to leave you with this short story. My producer and I have been talking to some of these passengers and some of their family members. There was a couple on board who is disembarking and is going home. And normally you want your honeymoon to last as long as possible, they're glad that their honeymoon is over.

HARLOW: Man, what they can tell their kids someday, I suppose, looking back on it all.

SCIUTTO: That's one way to extend a honeymoon. Rosa Flores, thanks very much.

Well, listen, this is not just a New York problem, clearly a national problem. And while New York may have the most number of deaths from the pandemic to date, people in the City of New Orleans are dying at a higher rate, actually, than anywhere else in the country. HARLOW: Oh, wow. Officials say the pandemic is amplifying existing healthcare disparities, especially across Louisiana. That's making a bad situation even worse.

Let's go back to our Ed Lavandera who joins us again this morning in New Orleans. So, Ed, talk about what they think is the reason why more people are actually dying from this that contracted there?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, here, you have a vast economic disparity across the region, in particular the New Orleans area as well. So that is one of those things, access to healthcare, and those sorts of issues.

According to the United Health Foundation, the State of Louisiana ranks 49th in the United States in overall health with extraordinarily high levels of obesity and kidney failure, those types of underlying issues which really complicate treatment if you come down with the coronavirus infection.


And we spoke with one emergency official here in Louisiana this week who said that the mortality rate here in this area of New Orleans is about 5 percent, much higher than what you're seeing in other parts of the country. So that's one of those troubling aspects of all of this. And it's why health and state officials here are really sounding the alarm of just how much precaution people need to take. Because the likelihood of becoming -- being put in a much more serious and dangerous situation if you contract the infection here in the New Orleans area is much higher.

The number of overall cases here as skyrocketed to more than 9,100. State officials say that that is largely due in part to a breakup of the log jam of testing that has taken a long time to get back, so those aren't necessarily all brand new cases but are cases that perhaps have taken four or five days to get the results back from. Jim and Poppy?

HARLOW: Wow. Ed, thank you for that important update in New Orleans.

To Michigan, where the governor says they may not see a peak in cases until May, Detroit, as you know, is facing a critical supply shortage right now. This as the city becomes the very first one to use this rapid 15-minute coronavirus test. We'll take you there next.



HARLOW: Hospitals in Detroit are running out of beds, this as Michigan's governor says coronavirus cases in her state may not peak until May.

Let's go to our Ryan Young. He joins us on the ground in Detroit with the latest. It gets worse by the day there. RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Poppy, it's been a tough week. You can really feel people's pain and anxiety about this. We've met a lot of people who are dealing with financial instability, and you can understand why they are so nervous about what might happen next. And those ICU beds are getting short.

There is a bit of positive news though. The city was able to purchase some of those Abbott testing kits, those fast kits. They even put them into play just yesterday, especially with the first responders who have been hit quite hard in this city. So they're trying to go through the testing, still trying to get those numbers.

But there's something else that we sort of figured out as we were talking to healthcare professionals and also religious leaders, the fact that people can now not bury their loved ones in the way they want to. In fact, we talked to Bishop Charles Ellis, and he leads one of the largest churches here in the city.

You may remember his name because he helped bury Aretha Franklin, Rosa Parks and John Conyers. But the whole idea here is how do you tell your members that you can't gather for someone they love? In fact, take a listen to what he was telling us yesterday about these difficult choices.


CHARLES H. ELLIS III, SENIOR PASTOR, GREATER GRACE TEMPLE: We had a very special individual at the church who probably has been a deacon for some 60-some odd years at the church, was going to reach his 79th birthday this year. He made his transition on last week when navigating huge family, navigating through how do you pick ten people. He has brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, the list goes on and on.


YOUNG: Poppy, we were talking to people who lost their loved ones. And the idea that they can now not go there, not only to see them at the end but now not to have a funeral, this is taking another emotional toll.

And, in fact, when you talk to people in this community, now, everyone seems to know someone who has it. They can't go to the hospital to visit them, to say goodbye. They're making phone calls, or using Facetime. But at the end the real problem with this is when you lose a mother or a father and the fact that you can't gather as a family if you have all your loved ones is really ravaging someone's mental capacity. One person told me, look, this is just too much. It's too much to have this invisible enemy, and then on top of that, not to be able to say goodbye properly. Really tough words at this point, and the deaths are starting to add up.

HARLOW: It just happened a few weeks ago to a good, good friend of mine. Her father died, and they couldn't have a big funeral. Ryan, thank you for bringing that to our attention. Jim?

SCIUTTO: Chicago, another major city facing this crisis. The city now converting a convention center there into a makeshift hospital. It will ultimately have 3,000 beds. Just one step you're seeing around the country.

Joining us now, Dr. Allison Arwady, she's commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health. Doctor, thank you so much for joining us this morning.

I want to ask you a question. Where is Chicago now on the curve, as it were? You hear New York talk about the next week or two being in the peak of cases. Chicago is a little behind New York. Are you expecting a peak later this month?

DR. ALLISON ARWADY, COMMISSIONER, CHICAGO DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH: Yes, we are. We're standing at about 3,500 cases in Chicago residents and 43 deaths, we're at about 7,700 across the state and we're definitely on the upward trajectory. Where we were seeing a doubling every two or three days, maybe we're seeing a doubling every four days, but we need to make a lot more progress. You think about 3,500 cases doubling every four days, that would be another 875 cases a day.

So we are continuing to work aggressively to pull that curve down while we're working to stay ahead and think about expanding our healthcare system, doing everything we can to keep patients out --