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New York to Exhaust Equipment Supplies This Week; Interview with Pandemic Expert Theresa MacPhail; Reports From Medical Workers. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired April 3, 2020 - 14:00   ET




ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, RIGHT NOW: I'm Anderson Cooper, this is CNN's continuing coverage of the global virus pandemic. Right now, the number of cases in the United States has risen above 257,000; deaths have topped 6,500.

In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo is calling on all people to rally around his state to help fill the gaps in medical equipment -- he says they're running out, with only a few days of supplies left and no more help expected from the federal government.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): In truth, I don't believe the federal stockpile has enough to help all the states. Because you can't buy the material at this point.

The burn rate is about 300 ventilators per day. If you find 300 excess ventilators, you've found another day.


COOPER: Today, federal help for small businesses begins. It's part of the $2 trillion relief package, but banks are warning that the rollout could be rocky because of a lack of guidance from the government.

There are waves of equipment shortages at hospitals across the country, and the needs rise as the cases continue to rise from city to city. Our Nick Watt is in Santa Monica, California this week. L.A.'s mayor said all people should wear masks when they go outside. Today it's being ordered for the LAPD. Nick, what's the latest?

NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That is right, Anderson. Some officers, already out on the streets, wearing those masks. And the LAPD says it is for the protection of the officers, but also the public. If an officer has the virus and he or she is wearing a mask, then hopefully they will not be passing it on. You can also see some stores here, Anderson, boarded up for the long haul.

Meanwhile, back where you are, 100,000 cases now in New York State, and the mayor of New York City -- listen, this past week was bad, the mayor of New York City is saying next week will be even tougher.


UMESH GIDWANI, MOUNT SINAI HOSPITAL: One patient expired. It's very hard to lose a patient that you've been fighting for.

WATT (voice-over): And many more will be lost in New York, some perhaps needlessly. The city might run out of ventilators by early next week, so the governor is going to commandeer them from places that don't need them right now.

CUOMO: 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.

WATT (voice-over): Morgue overflow trailers are now available to any New York City hospital that needs one.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now you can see there's patients everywhere because of this. Makes it very hard to work, and we're trying our best to treat everyone that we can.

WATT (voice-over): There are now more than one million confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide, according to John Hopkins University. And nearly a quarter of them are here in the U.S., where this no national stay-at-home order and some states still holding out.

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

WATT (voice-over): Mayors of our two most populated cities, now telling us to wear masks outside.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think they're going to be coming out with regulations on that. If people wanted to wear them, they can. If people wanted to use scarves -- which they have, many people have them -- they can. In many cases, the scarf is better, it's thicker.

WATT (voice-over): Social distancing, they say, is still our best tool. But:

DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASKFORCE COORDINATOR: I can tell by the curve and as it is today, that not every American is following it.

WATT (voice-over): Some good news, technicians, now being trained on a new 15-minute coronavirus test in Detroit. And some heartwarming news? New York City firefighters, saluting staff at Elmhurst Hospital during their shift change.


WATT: And one more piece of good news, Anderson? United Airlines is now working with the New York Mayor's Office to offer free round-trip flights for any medical personnel around the country who want to fly to New York to help on the frontline -- Anderson.

COOPER: Wow. Nick Watt, appreciate it. Thanks very much.

It has been weeks now that we've heard governors, health workers, first responders and local officials plead for more protective gear, medical equipment and tests for those on the frontlines of this pandemic.


It's now gotten to the point that my next guest, a pandemic expert, felt compelled to walk back her public comments from late February, when she expressed her confidence that the U.S. could handle the coronavirus. Joining me now is medical anthropologist Theresa MacPhail of the Stevens Institute of Technology. She wrote the book, "The Viral Network: A Pathology of the H1N1 Influenza Pandemic. "

Theresa, thanks for joining me. Before I ask about the U.S. response, I understand you think you have the virus. You went to the E.R.; have you been tested?

THERESA MACPHAIL, AUTHOR, THE VIRAL NETWORK: A PATHOLOGY OF THE H1N1 INFLUENZA PANDEMIC: I have not been tested. I came down with something on the first of March, and I went to the E.R. with high fever, dry cough, sore throat, chest tightness on March 9th, and they didn't have -- they still weren't testing people who had no direct contact with a positive patient or international travel. So I have yet to be tested.

COOPER: Well, I hope you are -- feel all right and recover. There are certainly a lot of aspects to this pandemic. What specifically do you feel like you got wrong? You assumed the response from whom would be better?

MACPHAIL: I initially assumed -- so I did an interview in February, I have worked with the Centers for Disease Control during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic inside their Global Disease Detection Unit, and I initially expected that the coordination of the CDC would be stronger than it is right now.

And I also thought that our testing capacity would be up and running to allow us a shot at, if not containment, at least to mitigate the circumstances so that we wouldn't be where we are today. I thought there would be a lot more progression than there was, especially on the testing front.

COOPER: Why do you think it is like it is? I mean, where is the -- from your vantage point, where's the stumbling block?

MACPHAIL: It seems to have been in the early days. I think what happened possibly is the same thing that happened to me, which was overconfidence. In 2009, the system actually worked fairly well. There was an initial hiccup where we didn't pick up the early cases coming out of Mexico during that pandemic, but once we knew that there was a problem, everything shifted into gear.

So I think what happened this time was something very similar, that we misread the signals coming out of China and we overestimated our own readiness. And I think a lot of us didn't realize what 10 years or over a decade of underfunding of public health systems, understaffing and a lack of extra equipment like the PPE equipment shortages we're seeing, what that effect was going to be during the early days of this.

I also think that the testing, there was a hiccup there. The initial tests, the test kits that were sent out by the CDC weren't functional --

COOPER: Right.

MACPHAIL: -- and I think we lost a good amount of time there, and there wasn't really -- there's not really a backup plan for when the CDC testing kits don't work. Usually by the time they send the kits out, they're foolproof. And this time, as we know, they weren't.

COOPER: I haven't talked to any scientists who does not believe that there shouldn't be a nationwide stay-at-home order. Does it make any scientific sense to you that every state is sort of just doing what they want and a number of states have no such order in place?

MACPHAIL: No, it doesn't make any sense. And I think that's where the lack of the centralized authority, that the role that the CDC usually plays in an outbreak, we're really seeing a lack of that coordination now. Because in 2009, states were really paying attention to the CDC advice, and the CDC was able to orchestrate more of a unified national response.

And we're seeing states just interpret the information in their own way and enacting their own policies, which is really disastrous for a national-level response.

COOPER: Yes. Theresa MacPhail, appreciate talking to you. Thank you very much.

Coming up next, an inside look at what daily life is like for health care workers treating virus patients. I'll speak to a nurse on the frontlines, as well as a New Jersey fire chief who just had to bury one of his firefighters who was killed by the virus at 33 years old.


I'll be joined live by Senator Bernie Sanders also, who's proposing a new plan that he says would guarantee paychecks for every worker who's lost their job in the crisis.


COOPER: Doctors, nurses and staff at hospitals all across the country are willingly putting their health and lives at risk in this pandemic. Because of hospital guidelines we can't film them, so we have asked them to record themselves as they fight the virus. A doctor at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York takes us through his day.


GIDWANI: We are going to walk around the unit to see the work of the day, as the people toil in the frontlines. This is our ICU --

They're getting ready to do a tracheostomy on a patient. They're using PPEs called PAPRs because they're going to do the surgical procedure.

How's your day been? Tell me some of the ups and some of the downs.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's been busy, lots of patients. I'd say one of the ups is we were able to transfer a patient off the unit, it's the first patient that I've been directly helping take care of who we successfully extubated and who was able to go to a step-down unit, so I found that very encouraging.

We had another patient that, you know, has been progressively worsening and had to had the tough conversation with the family.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is our E.D. You can see all the rooms are filled. Usually these halls are very neat and empty. And now you can see there's patients everywhere because of this.


GIDWANI: The day is coming to an end, at least the 12-hour shift of the day shift is coming to an end.

Soon I'm going to change back into my street clothes, and have a quick shower. Hopefully scrub the coronavirus off my body, if not off my soul.


COOPER: Well, it's not just shortages of everything from protective masks to gowns and ICU beds that health care workers are dealing with, it's also a lack of clear messaging from the CDC.

Den Snell is an ICU nurse in Burlington, Vermont. Vermont has more than 330 confirmed virus cases. She's also the president of AFT Vermont, which represents more than 3,500 nurses.

Thanks so much for being with us. Talk to me about the issues that you have been having with the CDC, what kind of guidance you've been getting especially regarding PPE.

DEB SNELL, ICU NURSE: Well, the guidance has been pretty sketchy. It's very confusing. I mean, even as a nurse in an ICU, trying to follow their guidelines. So I can't even imagine how confusing it is for the public right now.

We, currently in the ICU, we're wearing our N95 masks. But even in our own hospital, we're working on a policy to see whether everyone should be wearing masks, just like the new recommendations for the public.

COOPER: What do you need right now? I mean, do you have -- how are you supplied at your hospital?

SNELL: Well, my hospital, we seem to be OK. Other hospitals in the state maybe have a 17-, 18-day supply depending on how busy we end up getting. Our cases have gone up like almost like 150 cases in the last five days, so we're increasing.

COOPER: And I know you'll be in the ICU tomorrow. How often -- I mean, how many patients, how many nurses? In terms of just staffing, how are things?

SNELL: We're lucky right now, we're still able to provide one nurse per our COVID patients that are intubated in our ICU. We expect that to change in the coming weeks, and we're going to be trying a new nursing model to see if we can kind of stretch our resources.

COOPER: One of the things I know some doctors and nurses have been doing at hospitals is, they realize that a lot of medical personnel interact with one patient who has COVID, and that actually eats up a lot of the PPE so they're trying to kind of streamline it so that it's just -- it's a much more limited contact between a limited number of medical professionals and a patient.

SNELL: Correct. For a while we had no residents, we're an academic medical center and it was just our attendings that were in our unit. But now that our numbers are ramping up, they're bringing some of the doctors back in.

Our respiratory therapists are still taking several patients at a time, obviously. It's going to be a wait and see what happens in the next few weeks, how our supplies are going to work with what we're expecting to get.

COOPER: Did you ever anticipate the supply problem that we're seeing?

SNELL: No, no. I don't think anyone could have anticipated it. And hearing about what's happening in New York and the ventilators, it's crazy. It's just absolutely crazy.

COOPER: Deb Snell, I appreciate all you're doing. And all the medical professionals, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

SNELL: Great, thank you so much.


COOPER: Coming up next, Senator Bernie Sanders joins me live to talk about the federal response to the crisis and the plan he just released to try to help the unemployed and the uninsured get through it.


COOPER: As the United States and much of the rest of the world closes down, China is cautiously opening back up. Starting next week, travel restrictions will be eased in Wuhan, the epicenter of the pandemic there. The region has been on lockdown for two months now. The province accounted for the majority of cases and deaths in China, but there are still questions over the accuracy of the country's reporting on the virus cases.

Meanwhile, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson shared an update today on the symptoms he's experiencing after testing positive more than a week ago.


BORIS JOHNSON, PRIME MINISTER OF THE UNITED KINGDOM: Although I'm feeling better and I've done my seven days of isolation, alas, I still have one of the symptoms, a minor symptom of -- I still have a temperature, and so in accordance with government advice, I must continue my self-isolation until that symptom itself goes.


COOPER: CNN's Nick Paton Walsh is in London. That's where we begin, with today's look at the crisis around the globe.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: I'm Nick Paton Walsh in London, and behind me is a makeshift mortuary, hastily put up by a government bracing for the worst here. They've also, on this day, Prince Charles, now he's seemingly recovered from his COVID-19- positive test, opened (ph) via video linkup (ph), potential 4,000- capacity popup hospital down on the Thames.

But this is a government bracing for the worst in the next fortnight ahead. They've suddenly changed tack on testing, it wasn't important a month ago, now it's absolutely key and that seems to be because they need to know who amongst their frontline health care workers has the disease, and who has to stay at home and who can continue to assist with the surge in cases that could be happening literally now.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Fred Pleitgen in Berlin, where the German government has actually received some praise for the way that it's handling the coronavirus crisis so far. Around 93 percent of Germans say that they favor the measures that are currently in place for social distancing.

And the German government says, from a very early stage, they started mass testing for COVID-19, and they say that's helped the to identify cases fairly quickly and to keep the death toll low despite the fact that Germany has one of the highest rates of coronavirus confirmed cases.

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Matt Rivers in Mexico City. Further south than us in the country of Ecuador, authorities have confirmed that during the week of March 23rd to March 30th in the center of that country's outbreak in the city of Guayaquil, they collected more than 300 bodies, both from family homes and from the streets as private funeral homes and morgues there have been overrun.

It's unclear what these people died of, authorities are not conducting tests on the dead to see if they had the coronavirus, but authorities now say their number one priority is providing for the, quote, "dignified burials" of those that lost their lives.

BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I'm Barbie Nadeau in Rome, where the situation in Italy remains critical, especially in the north of the country where we've seen a record number of doctors, nurses and other emergency technicians become infected with COVID-19.

We've also seen a generous outpouring of volunteers, doctors and nurses, traveling to the north of the country now, trying to alleviate the pressure on the health care system there.

COOPER: A look around the world.

Also on the frontlines, firefighters. One husband and dad has died from the virus; his fire chief joins me, ahead.

Plus, the president's son-in-law is apparently in the task force now, and he claims the federal stockpile of medical supplies doesn't belong to states. Senator Bernie Sanders joins us, ahead.