Return to Transcripts main page


Member of White House Coronavirus Task Force Suggests Stay-at- home Order Should be Nationwide; New Report Indicates Coronavirus Can Be Spread through Breathing and Talking; Americans Out of Work, Now Reliant on Food Banks. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired April 3, 2020 - 08:00   ET


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ventilators we get if we are dead.


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

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning, everyone. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY.

The top infectious disease expert in the country, Dr. Anthony Fauci tells CNN that the entire nation should be under stay-at-home orders, but 10 states still have not issued them. President Trump is still resisting issuing a nationwide order. We're also facing what looks like an emerging reality that it will be months, not weeks, before life in America can begin to return to normal.

CNN has learned that the CDC is recommending guidelines for what different towns and cities should look for in their communities before they begin to relax any social distancing. The White House says a decision will be made soon about whether all Americans should be wearing homemade masks or face coverings whenever they go outside. And this is because scientific panel now warns that coronavirus can be spread not just by sneezing or coughing, but also by talking and even by breathing, John.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: So here in New York, Governor Cuomo is warning that hospitals will run out of ventilators in six days. The state has purchased 17,000 ventilators from China, but they have not been delivered yet. There are new questions about the 1,000 bed Navy hospital ship docked in New York Harbor, the Comfort. It has 1,000 beds, but they're largely empty. CNN has learned that it only has 20 patients on board because of red tape, largely. One of New York's leading medical officials calls the situation, quote, a joke.

CAMEROTA: So we have a lot of new information to go through this morning and to bring our viewers, so let's bring in Dr. Sanjay Gupta, he's our CNN chief medical correspondent, and Dr. Vivek Murthy. He is the former United States surgeon general and author of the book "Together, The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World". It is great to have both of you. Sanjay, I want to start with the CNN town hall last night, because Dr. Fauci said something that got a lot of people's attention. He said he didn't understand why the entire country is not at a stay-at-home order this morning. Let me play for you, if I can, what he told our viewers last night.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I don't understand why that's not happening. As you said, the tension between federally mandated versus states rights to do what they want is something I don't want to get into, but 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.


CAMEROTA: Sanjay, I think that one of the points you've been making on our air and last night at the town hall is that this isn't just for convenience, OK, everybody should all be under one order. This is what the models are based on, the models that you are looking at that tell us how many people are going to die, how long we're going to be in this situation, are based on everyone staying home, and 10 states this morning do not have those orders.

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And there is a couple of other states which have the orders but they haven't been implemented yet. You're absolutely right. Some of these numbers that people are hearing in terms of possible deaths, it is pretty tragic obviously to suddenly sort of look at these types of projections, but, Alisyn, they're based on by today that every state in the country is under stay-at-home orders, and that they're very diligent about this, and that it also extends until the end of May. Right now we're looking, obviously, at the end of April. Dr. Fauci and others have said they will reevaluate at that time, that is a general sort of approach that they have been taking, let's see how it goes for a period of time and re-evaluate.

The other thing is, another thing Dr. Fauci mentioned last night and has mentioned before, now we're more than two weeks since that first stay-at-home order was placed -- recommendation was made nationally. We are starting to see some of the impact, the positive impact of those social distancing measures now. So it works in the places where it is being done. It's still not being applied uniformly, the models are all based on it. And I think that was as clear as I heard Dr. Fauci say it. We need to be under a national stay-at-home order.

BERMAN: And Sanjay, I was watching your face as you were listening to Dr. Fauci say it. The other part of it that was interesting and notable, is he said I don't understand why we're not. That was a rare moment of public frustration with Dr. Fauci, and a split from the official administration position. I did think that was notable.

GUPTA: Very much so, John. It has been fascinating to sort of watch him deftly navigate that line, but I think he has been more forth right, I think, on this. And I said that to him afterwards. I said that was the clearest I think you've been on this. And he sort of acknowledged that it is time, it is necessary, we're running out of time a little bit here. And now there is a few states around the country which have the ability perhaps to torpedo some of the efforts that have been done in places that have been really good about this and really forthright about it.


So I think he's frustrated, certainly, by it. He doesn't typically come off that way, as you know, John, publicly, at least. But I think he really acknowledges that, look, everyone is really worried about the numbers here, the projections, and understandably so. But these are actually a best-case scenario sort of situation if we are actually doing all these things, which we are still not. Countries that had a lot of success, the most success from these social distancing policies, these stay-at-home policies are countries that did it nationally. Acknowledging, of course, the United States is bigger than some of those countries for sure, but this is a virus. The virus is spreading in all of these communities.

INGRAHAM: And so, Dr. Murphy, at the end of this week, it has been a very hard week, we have gotten lots of bad medical news, lots of bad economic news, and we're told by the White House and others that we're just really on the cusp of another couple of very hard weeks they're telling us to prepare for. And so what are you looking at today?

DR. VIVEK MURTHY, FORMER U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: Well, you're right, Alisyn, it has been a really tough few weeks for people, not only because they're seeing the death toll rise and the number of cases increase, but also because they're having to stay-at-home and turn their lives upside down. I hear from parents every day who are home schooling their kids while trying to telework, elderly people who are worried about going out. I think it is really important in these circumstances to be open and honest with people about what we're expecting, and what public health experts have been saying for some months now is that this is a serious crisis. And that earlier we act to safeguard communities by staying at home, by taking some of these measures for hygiene, like washing our hands regularly, the earlier we're going to be able to tamp down the peak of this virus.

Unfortunately, what has happened is that we have been late at several critical steps in this process. We have been late to recognize and act on the pandemic. We have also been late to ensure that we're getting testing everywhere, to get personal protective equipment to the clinicians who need it. And what we really need to do is we need to ensure that we act as quickly as possible. I'm deeply concerned that there are states that are still not providing stay-at-home orders and that there are home states, like my own home state of Florida, for example, which issued a stay-at-home order but has carveouts for religious gatherings. And so I think unless we get really aggressive and consistent and unified in our safety approaches, we are unfortunately going to see some people suffer for a prolonged period of time. That's not necessary. We can take steps to remediate that, but we have got to act quickly, and every state in the country needs a stay-at-home order right now.

BERMAN: Sanjay, I want some perspective on something we learn that the White House had been told or says they learned over the last 24 hours, and this was from a panel of researchers, that they were given evidence that coronavirus can be passed through breathing or talking and not just by coughing or sneezing. When it was presented, it was presented as if it were something new. But is it really new? What is the significance of this, and how does this form the public health discussion?

GUPTA: That's good insight, John. My colleague Elizabeth Cohen, she got a hold of this letter that was sent to the White House that basically said, look, we now have evidence this can be spread through breathing or talking. And that was, I think, for a lot of people that seems surprising to them.

But I think you're absolutely right, John. We have been saying for some time, really since I think beginning of February, there was a paper even earlier than that, this virus could be asymptomatically. What that means is that if you're not coughing, you're not sneezing, you can still spread it. I think maybe sort of inherent in that was that, well, if you're not coughing and sneezing and still spreading it, how are you spreading it? And the reality is that the virus was in your -- back of your throat, in your nose. So just through daily activities such as talking and breathing you could be spreading it.

So I think in some ways, I think to your point, John, we have known this for some time, for a couple of months that this was possible. But I think it was more just clearly spelled out for people that this was an asymptomatic sort of issue, and the asymptomatic spread was through breathing and talking.

CAMEROTA: Dr. Murthy, I want to bring up a sensitive subject, and one that is hard to talk about, but doctors, I know, are having these conversations, and that is the issue of ventilators. For so many weeks now we've heard there is about to be a shortage, the peak is coming, we need ventilators, we need more ventilators to be built, we're trying to buy them, governors are trying to outbid each other and buy them from whatever they can. And then we sometimes hear these really upsetting statistics that still a majority of people who get the ventilators, if they have coronavirus, still don't make it. And so is it time to rethink who gets the ventilators, and whether this scramble for ventilators is where we should be putting our energy?


MURTHY: This is very disturbing, Alisyn. When I talk to doctors who are on the front lines, doctors who have been through major disasters in the past, including 9/11 and major accidents like train derailments and bombings, they tell me that they're more worried now than in any of those circumstances, because they're worried we don't have the tools that we need in order to provide people the care that they deserve, and also in order to protect our healthcare workers.

When you don't have tools, particularly like ventilators, then you're forced to make really difficult wartime decisions about whose life you save, and no doctor or nurse wants to play God in that respect. They want to be able to get everyone the help that they need. We're also hearing from doctors around the country who are trying to figure out how to split ventilators between two patients, three patients, even four patients. These are things they haven't done before, but they're doing this out of desperation.

And that's why it is so essential right now that as we struggle with the shortage of materials, whether it is ventilators or masks or gloves, we really need a coordinated federal effort to both procure the items that we need and distribute them to the places of greatest need. If you listen carefully to what Governor Cuomo was saying in his briefing yesterday, he said the approach they're taking in New York is to identify where every ventilator is, to identify the needs in this state, and to rapidly figure out how to move ventilators to where they're needed at that moment, recognizing they're going to have to keep them moving as the need shifts.

We really need to be doing that as an entire country, and the only one who can do that is the federal government. So that's why we have to recognize there are times when we're 50 states and there are times when we're one nation, and this is one of those moments where as a single nation we need leadership, we need the government to step up and coordinate. And lives literally depend on it. And that's why you hear public health experts stressing the importance of coordination and delivery, because every day we go without getting people the materials they need, it puts people's lives at risk, and sadly we are losing people every day as a result.

BERMAN: Dr. Murthy, Dr. Gupta, I know you're going to come back and speak to us a little bit later. Thanks so much for being with us.

One of the first congressmen to test positive for coronavirus is now talking about his battle to overcome it. He joins us live next.



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: More than 10 million Americans filed unemployment claims in the last two weeks, as this pandemic cripples the U.S. economy. Many of them are now in need, lining up at food banks across the country.

CNN's Miguel Marquez has their stories.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Next person, come on down.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The lines never longer, the need never greater. The coronavirus switching the economy off like a light, putting millions out of work overnight.

(on camera): Are you stressed? Are you afraid? Are you confused?

CHARLES BEAVER, LOST JOB TWO WEEKS AGO: Not sure. Not sure of when this will end. Just not sure.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Last month, Charles Beaver was a baggage handler at JFK. His last paycheck, come and gone. Five members in his house help pay the mortgage, four of them lost their jobs. How long can you hold out?

BEAVER: Right now, all the reserves are done. That's what we just living on basic, because if we had more reserves, he would have gone to the shop and not be here.

MARQUEZ: He's one of millions of Americans living paycheck to paycheck. He's waiting for unemployment benefits to kick in, he's never been unemployed. He's never had to stand in line for food assistance.

MELONY SAMUELS, THE CAMPAIGN AGAINST HUNGER: We are flabbergasted about what is going on.

MARQUEZ: Melony Samuels founded The Campaign Against Hunger, in a normal year, they serve some 3 million meals to New Yorkers. In the last week, they served nearly 250,000 meals.

At that rate, 2020 will see the organization serve more than 10 million.

SAMUELS: You know what? We all have to roll up our sleeves. We have to do what we can.

MARQUEZ: The entire country will have to roll up its sleeves, food insecurity has spiked as the economy plummets.

From Central Ohio to Louisiana, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles to Broward County, Florida, massive lines for food as the recently unemployed and those already on the edge scramble to stock up.

Food banks nationwide overwhelmed and running short. To bridge that gap, everyone will have to pitch in. Nick's Lobster House in Brooklyn doing its part, keeping most of its staff employed and providing thousands of meals to first responders and hospital workers.

DIMITRIOS KAROUSIS, GM, NICK'S LOBSTER HOUSE: We got to go day by day, you know. A lot of people are home, not working, not making a paycheck.

MARQUEZ: Some of those meals prepared now delivered by The Campaign Against Hunger. COVID-19 has overwhelmed charities and changed the way they do everything.

SAMUEL: It is complicated because it is very hard to see your neighbor and can't even go close. We have to change our entire system.

MARQUEZ: For Americans, everywhere, not since 9/11 has such widespread uncertainty prevailed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a prolonged 9/11 and it is going to take place anywhere from two, three, four months and that's a long time to sustain anxiety.

MARQUEZ: Samuels and her Campaign Against Hunger have fed New York's neediest for 21 years. SAMUELS: We're New Yorkers. We're strong and we can make it. But we

have to unite. And still keep the social distancing.

MARQUEZ (on camera): Right. Unite but apart.

SAMUELS: Unite but apart. I like that.


MARQUEZ: Look, she still has optimism, but there is a very long way to go. The largest food bank network in the country, Feed America food bank, says -- already says they will fall short by $1.4 billion this year. And the one thing these organizations need besides food and money and everything else are volunteers, a lot of volunteers have gone away because corporate clients have now told their employees to stay home, older Americans who worked for them before now no longer go out, so they're really desperate for volunteers as well.

Back to you, guys.

BERMAN: If you've been to a food bank, you know volunteers are in there, sorting the food, bagging the food, distributing the food and there is just no way, or it is much harder now to get that done.


Check with your local food bank in your town or your county, they desperately need help.

Miguel Marquez, that's terrific story. Thank you very much.

So we're moments away from getting another read on America's struggling economy. The monthly jobs report, the one we're about to get doesn't even begin to tell the full story. That's next.


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: This morning, and every morning, healthcare workers across the country are on the front lines of this pandemic. Because of possible guidelines, we cannot film them, so we asked them to record themselves throughout the day as they struggle to fight this virus.


DR. MATTHEW BAI, MOUNT SINAI QUEENS HOSPITAL: Over the weekend, my wife and I decided it would be safer for our family, for 17-month-old daughter, and my wife, to leave our apartment until this is over since I'm in and out of this high risk environment every day. I don't know how long it's going to be, but this morning when I left the house I said good-bye to my wife and my daughter for who knows how long.


It's going to be several weeks probably before I see them in person again. I'm about to go in and pick up my personal protective equipment for

the day. And start my shift.

DR. UMESH GIDWANI, MOUNT SINAI HOSPITAL: We are going to walk around the unit to see the work of the day as the people toil in the front lines. This is our ICU.

We're getting ready to do a tracheotomy on a patient. We're using PPEs and PAPR because they're going to do the surgical procedure. And it is going to be done at the bedside. Hopefully this patient will do well, has survived for a long time.

Dr. Paher (phg), how are you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm good, how are you?

GIDWANI: How has your day been? Tell me some of the ups and some of the downs?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's been busy, lots of patients. I would say one of the ups is we're able to transfer patient off the unit, first patient that I've been directly helping take care who we successfully extubated and was able to go to another unit. I found that encouraging.

We had another patient progressively worsening and had to have the tough conversation with the family.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is our ED, you can see the rooms are filled, these halls are very empty and now you can see there is patients everywhere because of this. It makes it very hard to work and we're trying our best to treat everyone that we can, all these patients here. Even though we're overflowing and trying our best to still provide them care, which we are doing, the patients have oxygen tanks that they need.

BAI: I don't know if you can see the marks from wearing my PPE all day and my nose say little red from the mask, but that's what we're doing to protect ourselves. It has been a tough day. The ED has been really full and everyone is trying their best to get everyone the treatment they need.

I mean, I'm tired. I want to say that the things I see in the ER are scary. And I'm a little scared for myself.

GIDWANI: It has been a long day. My cap is askew. One patient expired.

It is very hard to lose a patient that you've been fighting for. 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CAMEROTA: John, these are just so -- I'm so grateful that they have taken the time to do these video diaries and give us a window into what it is like in there. But that's not just one day. That's what they have been doing for days on end. That's what they will be doing for days on end. I mean, 15-hour shifts.

I was so struck by that one doctor or nurse who said that she was so happy because they were able to extubate and move down one patient so one patient was giving her hope because so many don't have that outcome.

BERMAN: And that was the first. That was the first patient she successfully took off a ventilator.

The last thing that doctor said there at the end there was he wanted to wash the coronavirus off his body and also off his soul. It gives you a sense of how physically and emotionally demanding this really is.

CAMEROTA: So if you are a healthcare worker out there watching us, if you're on the front lines of this pandemic and want to share your story, we would love to hear it. You can reach out to NEW DAY on Twitter or Facebook. You can also find us both on our own social platforms, I'm @alisyncamerota at Facebook or Instagram, John is @JohnBerman on Twitter.

BERMAN: What are you on Twitter?

CAMEROTA: I'm not on Twitter. I feel that's best for the country and my soul.

Meanwhile, we are moments away from getting the March jobs report. This pandemic has been crippling for the economy as you know. We have all the breaking details, next.