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Pressure Grows for Nationwide Shutdown as Deaths Top 6,000; NY Governor Warns Time Running Out for Finding Medical Equipment; NY Governor Cuomo Gives Update on Coronavirus Response. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired April 3, 2020 - 11:00   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. Thank you so much for joining me once again.

Today, it seems the country has a choice. Lean in and follow the strictest stay-at-home guidelines or don't. A choice maybe not easy and maybe not simple, but the top experts in the country say it's the single choice that is going to decide how bad this really gets. Or put it another way, how soon the country starts getting better.

Forty states have some sort of statewide stay-at-home orders, leaving 10 states that still don't, leaving Dr. Anthony Fauci dumbfounded.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY & INFECTIOUS DISEASES: If you look at what's going on in this country, I just don't understand why we're not doing that.


BOLDUAN: Here's how Ambassador Birx put it from the White House podium.


DEBORAH BIRX, COORDINATOR, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE: We're only as strong as every community, every county, every state, every American following the guidelines to a "T." And I can tell, by the curve, and as it is today, that not every American is following it.


BOLDUAN: But is it more than that now? Governors saying they don't understand why, if this is so crucial, such a crucial question, such a crucial choice, why the president and his team hasn't ordered this on a national scale.


GOV. J.B. PRITZKER (D-IL): I'm honestly upset about the lack of early action on a national basis. This will go down in history as a profound failure of our national government.


BOLDUAN: Today the White House is expected to issue new guidelines about whether people should wear face coverings when they go outside.

In New York, which remains the epicenter of the national outbreak, Governor Andrew Cuomo, he warns time is rapidly running out to find critical supplies, including, of course, ventilators.

And we are waiting for Governor Cuomo. He could be speaking any moment now with his daily briefing updates to come. When he begins, we'll bring that to you.

Let's start in New York. Brynn Gingras is standing by.

Brynn, officials are calling this a critical weekend. What are you hearing about these supply shortages?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's really not about preparing anymore, right, Kate? This is what Dr. Anthony Fauci said that the time is now, that there needs to be some action on everybody's part.

When it comes to the shortages, the governor has said the state stockpile of ventilators, just speaking about ventilators, will run out in six days. Basically, because the number of people coming in needing to be intubated is at a point where it can't sustain the number of ventilators we have.

It's even a worse predicament in the city. The mayor said that D-Day is Sunday, and by Monday and Tuesday, he doesn't know how to get more ventilators here to the city.

It's a critical, critical time. I want you to hear more from the mayor when he spoke on "NEW DAY."


MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO, (D), NEW YORK CITY: There's no plan. There's no order that's been given by the commander-in-chief. The nation is in a peacetime stance while we're actually in the middle of a war.

And if they don't do something different in the next few days, they're going to lose the window. If there's not action by the president and the military literally in a matter of days to put in motion this vast mobilization, then you're going to see, first, hundreds, and later, thousands of Americans die who did not need to die.


GINGRAS: Life-or-death situation. Not just the ventilators --


BOLDUAN: Brynn, Brynn, I'm going to jump in.

We're jumping over to Albany. Governor Andrew Cuomo beginning his update.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): -- this seal of the state of New York, the legislature passed the modification to the seal. You see in the middle of the seal, two words, "Excelsior," state model. "Ever Upwards," "Aspirational." We can be better. We can lift ourselves. "Excelsior." And we added "E Pluribus Unum," which is actually more appropriate today than when we started this process. "E Pluribus Unum," out of many, one. Out of many, one.

It was our founding fathers' fundamental belief for this nation. Adams spoke to it. Madison spoke to it. Jefferson spoke to it. Although they had a lot of different opinions while they were doing the Constitution, the one thing they agreed with was "E Pluribus Unum," out of many, one. It was good advice then, it's even better advice today.

The curve continues to go up. The number of tests has reached a new high. We did over 21,000 tests. Thank you to our great Health Department. We have over 10,000 new cases. And 102,000 total tested positive, 14,000 hospitalized, 3,700 ICU patients, 8,800 patients discharged. That's good news.


The number of deaths, highest single increase in the number of deaths since we started, 2,300 to 2,900 deaths. You see the totality for New York State, 102,000. New Jersey, California.

Remember when this started, New York had airports that were designated entry zones. This is an international destination, international hub. We have people coming from across the world sooner and at a higher rate than anyone else.

Total hospitalization, 1,400. That's also a new high. Daily ICU admissions is down a little bit. But you had more deaths. You have more people coming into hospitals than any other time, also people going out, which is the ebb and flow coming in and out of the hospital system.

The hot spots we now track on a nightly basis how many people go into what facility, so we can track the increase of what's happening. Certain communities, frankly, more in New York City than other communities.

But you also see an increase on Long Island, which is something we're concerned about. Long Island does not have as elaborate a health care system as New York City. We don't have as many resources on Long Island and we see an increasing number of cases on Long Island, and that has us very concerned.

Supplies. PPE is in short supply as they are, of course, across the country. We need companies to make the materials. It is unbelievable to me that in New York State, in the United States of America, we can't make these materials and that we are all shopping China to try to get these materials, and we're all competing against each other.

These are not complex materials. We will work with New York manufacturers. We'll finance the transition necessary to make these materials.

We talk about them as if they're very complicated. This is an N-95 mask. This is it. It was 70 cents before this started. It's now as high as $7. But this is all that an N-95 mask is. It's fabric. It's material. The FDA has the specifications. And then it's two pieces of elastic cord. It can't be that we can't make these.

This is a gown. We call them gowns. This is a gown. It's -- there's nothing sophisticated about the manufacturing of this garment. There's sophisticated about the material. It can't be that companies in this country and in this state can't transition to make those supplies quickly.

Again, I understand if there's a financial burden. We will address that, and we will work with you. So please contact us.

Javits is going to be converted to a COVID facility. The original plan was to use Javits -- Javits is the state convention center. It was retrofitted by the Army Corps of Engineers to hold 125 people.

The original plan was it would not take COVID-positive patients. It would take non-COVID patients, and it would be an overflow for hospitals. As it turned out, we don't have non-COVID people to any great extent in the hospitals.

Hospitals have now turned into, effectively, ICU hospitals for COVID patients. So we wanted to convert Javits from non-COVID to COVID. The -- it's federally run.


Frankly, the federal agencies were not eager to do that. FEMA was not eager to do that. I called the president. I spoke to him about it yesterday morning. That afternoon, yesterday afternoon, the president called me back. Said he spoke to the task force and they would grant the request to transition the Javits Center to COVID only. That adds 2,500 beds.

So that is a very big deal. And I thank the president for doing it. He did it despite the fact that the federal agencies were not eager to do it, and he did it quickly. So I thank him for that. It's a big deal for us.

We're still challenging -- we still have the challenge of ventilators. We don't have enough, period. The situation is very simple now. People come in. They're almost all COVID people.

Ironically, the number of non-COVID cases has dropped because so many things are shut down that you don't have the same number of automobile accidents or people getting hit by cars. You don't have the same crime rate. So you don't have the same number of trauma cases coming into a hospital.

They are COVID cases, and many of them go right to the ICU. In the ICU, you need a ventilator. If you don't have a ventilator, the process stops. And we don't have enough ventilators.

We're doing everything possible, splitting of ventilators, using bi- pap machines. We're talking to the federal government about using what we can from the federal stockpile. But in truth, I don't think the federal stockpile has enough to help all the states.

Because you can't buy the material at this point. We're still trying to buy from China. We're working with Alibaba, which has been very helpful to us. I spoke to Jack Maw (ph) and Mike Evans, who is the president, and they have been very gracious trying to get us source material from China.

But we're going to have to redeploy ventilators from across the system. In other words, there are hospitals that have ventilators, there are hospitals that have PPE equipment, there are private sector companies that have PPE equipment that they are not using that we're going to need to redeploy to the places in the hospitals where we need them.

I had a conversation with a hospital administrator yesterday. I understand they don't want to give up their ventilators. Ventilators are expensive pieces of equipment. I understand that, even if they're not using them, they are reluctant to see them go out the door.

The theory is if they -- if the government gets them, they'll never get them back. I understand that. But I don't have an option, and I'm not going to get into a situation where we know we are running out of ventilators and we've got people dying because there are no ventilators, but there are hospitals in other parts of the state that have ventilators that they're not using.

I'm just not going to allow us to go there. I think it would be wholly irresponsible.

I'm going to sign an executive order that says the state can take ventilators and PPE from institutions that don't need them now and redeploy them to other parts of the state and other hospitals that do need them. Those institutions will either get their ventilator back or they will be reimbursed and paid for their ventilator so they can buy a new ventilator.

I can't do anything more than that. But I'm not going to be in a position where people are dying and we have several hundred ventilators in our own state somewhere else.

I apologize for the hardship to those institutions. Ultimately, there's no hardship. If you don't get the ventilator back, I give you my personal word, I will pay you for the ventilator. But I'm not going to let people die because we didn't redistribute ventilators.


The National Guard are going to be deployed to pick up these ventilators, which are all across the state, and deploy them to places where we need them.

State budget passed last night 3:00 a.m., as you know. The state budget was extraordinary. First, it passed a lot of major policy initiatives that we should all be very proud of: the nation's first domestic terrorism law, it improved bail reform, it addressed this child vaping scourge that is going across this nation.

We banned fentanyl, banned against repeat subway sex offenders, campaign finance reform, paid sick leave, middle-class tax cut, a very aggressive airport construction program, and accessible renewable energy siting.

I understand we're all consumed with the coronavirus situation, but you have to be able to walk and chew gum. We have to move forward at the same time.

And that's why passing the budget and these pieces of legislation were so important, because these issues are still important. And child vaping, et cetera, surrogacy, these are major issues for people. They passed last night and congratulations.

The budget was difficult because the state has no money. And how do you do a budget when you can't really forecast revenues? And we came up with a somewhat novel budget that actually is calibrated to future revenues or losses.

So we really start with an assumption. And then what we're saying is when we see how much revenue the state makes, how fast the economy comes back, what the expenses are, we'll calibrate accordingly.

We are heavily reliant on the federal aid legislation that gets passed. The federal government has passed a couple pieces of legislation. They're planning to pass another piece of legislation. It's very important that whatever legislation they pass helps state and local governments.

When you deprive a state government, all you are actually achieving is that that state government has to turn around and not fund the programs that were dependent on that state government. We fund education. We fund health care.

I spoke to Speaker Pelosi today. She's working on the program for the next piece of legislation. She understands fully the need of state governments. She understands fully the need of local governments. She understands my position on how New York was shortchanged in the past bill. And she said she's going to do everything she can do to help New York.

I've worked with the speaker many times. I've known her for 30 years, and I believe her. And her credibility and her competence is unparalleled, in my opinion. So I'll be working with the speaker and the rest of the congressional delegation going forward. But we need federal assistance. Depending on how much federal

assistance we get will be that calibration of the budget going forward.

Coronavirus response in general. There's a lot of conversations about how we should respond to this governmentally or from an intergovernmental perspective.

People want to say, well, this is a state's rights question versus federal interference. Who should decide what's done on a state level? There's no governor who is arguing that they're state's rights are being trampled, right? It's not a state's rights issue. No one is standing up saying the federal government is trampling my rights.

I've said that on other occasions, but no governor, Democrat or Republican, is saying that here. Every state is saying the same thing. I need help. I need assistance. So I don't consider this a situation where the federal government is interfering with the state's rights. This is a situation that is a, by definition, a national disaster emergency situation where the states need and welcome the federal assistance.


I've done -- I was in the federal government, as you know. I worked on scores of federal emergencies. The only operational model that I see that could potentially work here at this stage where we are today with the realities we're facing, where no state can get the supplies they need. No state can get the PPE they need. No state can get the ventilators they need. The market has literally collapsed.

The only operational model that I see is you have curves -- we've been talking about our curve -- you have curves in different parts of the country. And those curves occur at different times. It depends on when the outbreak started in that region, how quickly it spread, so you have different curves in different parts of the country occurring at different times.

I think the only practical solution at this point is focus on the emergency that is in front of you. Focus on the emergency at the place and time that is in front of you. And then redeploy to the next situation.

So New York is the tip of the spear, so to speak. We have the high numbers. We have the first major encounter. Deploy resources so New York. We'll hit that curve. We'll be at the top of the curve. And 17 days, 21 days, we're on the other side of the curve and we're coming down.

Then I don't need the ventilators that we've amassed and split and the bi-pap machines. We can redeploy what we have, personnel equipment, to whatever locality is next.

Now, it's not a perfect sequential timing, but if you look at the projected curves, when it's going to hit Michigan, when it's going to hit Illinois, when it's going to hit Florida, you'll see that there's a timing sequence to it.

Why not? Or what is the alternative to now saying, let's help each other. Let's focus on each situation as it develops, and let's move our resources and personnel as it develops.

What is the alternative to the crisis that we see looming nationwide?

You can't -- you do not have enough. The federal government does not have enough material to sit there and say, whatever you need, I can get you. Don't worry, California, don't worry, Michigan, don't worry, New York, don't worry, Florida. They can't. They can't. They have essentially said, I don't have enough in my stockpile to handle all of this.

And then you get into a blame game. Should it have been in the federal stockpile, should states have had stockpile? Forget that. The reality is, how do you handle this operationally unless you go from place to place with the proviso that you say, and then each state has to help every other state as we go along?

There's a simple analogy to this that we live all the time. When we have minor emergencies or disasters, when we have a minor hurricane that's regional in nature or a minor flood, power goes out, what do we do? All the power and utility companies from all across the country descend on that region that needs help. Right?

After a hurricane, power lines are down, you look at the highways, you see all those trucks coming in from different states, right? Arizona trucks, Colorado trucks.

When Florida has a hurricane, what do we do? We get in the trucks and everybody drives down to Florida. Personnel, et cetera. When Puerto Rico got into trouble, what did we do? ConEdison, New

York, Rochester Gas, they all went to Puerto Rico. Go to where there's a crisis. This is that on a macro scale.

New York is in crisis. Help New York. And then pick up, decamp, and then go to the next place as this rolls across the country.


There's not a perfect timing. There will be two parts of the country that hit an apex at the same time. There will be three parts of the country that hit an apex at the same time. But I do not see any operational, practical alternative to dealing with this going forward.

By the way, this is all operational. There's no concept. There's no abstraction. There's no philosophy to this.

This is, a person walks in the door. Do you have a bed? Do you have a staff person? Are they wearing PPE? And do you have a ventilator? And are they all present at that moment when that person walks in that door? That's all this is. That's all this is.

Forget testing, vaccines. That's a separate project. That's not where people are going to die in the near term. People are going to die in the near term because they walk into a

hospital and there's no bed with a ventilator because there's either no bed or no staff or no PPE or no ventilator. That is what's going to happen. And I think this is the only way to avoid it.

And, look, I believe the American people are there. You know, how many times have we seen a disaster across this country and how many Americans just show up to help? I mean, it's in the American DNA to say, we're here to help one another. It is E Pluribus Unum.

I didn't have to put that on the seal. That's just a reminder. Our of many, one. We're a community. We're Americans. We're a family. We're brothers and sisters. There's a commonality.

I'm a New Yorker. You're from California. I know, those are lines on a piece of paper. We are the same. We're the same. And we know that here in New York.

I asked for people to come help New York, health officials, health professionals, 20,000 people volunteered in a matter of days to come help New York in the middle of a pandemic, 20,000 people. Think about that. And 20,000 health professionals said, I'll leave my home and come to your state.

Systematize that volunteerism. Systematize that generosity, that charity and that expertise, and that's how we beat this damn virus as it marches across the country. We just deploy in front of the virus as it works its way across the country.

In any event, when our curve is over, that's what we're going to do. New Yorkers are going to take what we've amassed, we're going to take our equipment, we're going to take our personnel, we're going to take our knowledge, and we will go to any community that needs help.

We're learning things that fortunately no other community had to learn. Because we're first. And because of the intensity of the situation here. When our urgent need is over, we will help any community in this nation that needs it. Because that outpouring has been there for us.

You know, I remember post-9/11, and I remember post-9/11 without asking anyone for anything, the people who showed up in New York just to help -- tradesmen bringing tools, people bringing food, people bringing trays of cookies, whatever. They just showed up. Nobody asked. They just showed up and said, I'm here to help. Or stood on a corner helping people.

That's America at its best. And at this time, when we're dealing with our worst, let's deploy

America at its best. And we know what that is. And that can help us.

Questions, comments?


CUOMO: Dr. Zucker? DR. HOWARD ZUCKER, COMMISSIONER OF HEALTH, NEW YORK STATE: So there's no data to support the effectiveness of the face mask. And I understand usually we'd like to base things on evidence and, unfortunately, in difficult times like this, we have to go with expert opinion.


And right now, there isn't data to suggest whether masks, except for those who are ill and those who are health care workers, and that's why we're reserving those for health care workers.