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U.S. Death Toll Reaches Grim New Milestone; Nearly Half Of The U.S. Deaths Are In New York; Esper: Pentagon Sending NY 1,100-Plus Additional Military Medical Staff; Soon: Queen Elizabeth To Address Crisis In Rare Televised Speech; CNN Goes Inside Seattle ICU Treating Coronavirus Patients. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired April 5, 2020 - 13:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[13:00:30]

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Hello everyone. Thank you so much for joining me this Palm Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

We begin with the grim new outlook on the coronavirus outbreak and a dire warning from the White House. This morning the U.S. surgeon general compared this coming week to some of America's greatest tragedies and told Americans to be prepared as the death toll continues to rise.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VICE ADM. JEROME ADAMS, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: This is going to be the hardest and the saddest week of most American's lives, quite frankly. This is going to be our Pearl Harbor moment. Our 9/11 moment. Only it's not going to be localized. It's going to be happening all over the country. And I want America to understand that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: The prediction comes as the number of confirmed cases in the U.S. rises to over 321,000. More than 9,100 people have died so far with over 1,300 deaths reported on Saturday alone.

And states are struggling this morning. Louisiana's governor said his state could run out of ventilators by the end of the week.

In New Orleans, the coroner's office and mortuaries have reached their limits. And New York continues to be one of the hardest hit. Nearly half of all deaths in the country have happened in New York. This morning, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said hospitalizations are down but the challenge to save lives is getting harder.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): We're running short on supplies all across the board. Hospitals are accustomed to dealing with 60-day supply, 90- day supply. We're talking about two or three or four days supply, which makes the entire hospital system uncomfortable, which I also understand because we're literally going day-to-day with our supplies, with our staff, et cetera. (END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: All right. Let's go straight to New York now for more. CNN's Jason Carroll is there.

Jason, the governor also said his state could be nearly apex of the virus but stressed that that won't be clear until a few days from now. What does the state have right now?

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you heard him there. I mean, obviously the governor has made it very clear over the past few days that there is a need for supplies. A need for ventilators.

First of all, I want to start with some of the numbers here because he'd also talked about that, Fredricka. He gave us some updated numbers. He's now says the state has more than 122,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 4,159 deaths. So, the numbers continue to be staggering.

He also talked about the apex. According to all group, all of the research, the apex should be within the next few days or so from now. That's why he says now more than ever it is essential to get it in those supplies to bring in those ventilators. He says he knows for every ventilator is in the state. He says there are not enough in the federal stockpile. He says, now is the time to bring them here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: 140,000 beds was the worst case. But 110,000 was more of a moderate case. I don't -- look, I hope we're somewhere near the apex, right? Or we're somewhere near the plateau. So, I would hope that we don't need anywhere near that number of beds. That's the good news. The bad news is the number of beds doesn't really matter anymore. We have the beds. It's the ventilators. And then it's the staff. That's the problem.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARROLL: In terms of the beds, a lot of talk about the Javits Center, the convention center that's been set up here. The Javits Center, Fredricka, as you know, it will be able to handle some 2,500 COVID patients when it's up and running. The priority to get it up and running as soon as possible.

Once again, the real key here is about the ventilators and the need to bring them now. The governor says he's just following logic. Bring the ventilators where you have the need. Once the need is finished, you move the ventilators on to where the need arises next. Fredricka?

WHITFIELD: All right. That is the plan thus far. Jason Carroll, thank you so much.

So, as New York continues to struggle with a dwindling number of medical supplies and health workers. So, they are also facing this growing crisis. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio is calling for a national enlistment effort for medical personnel across the country to bring more health care professionals to New York.

[13:05:11]

Today, Defense Secretary Mark Esper told CNN that help is on the way. Esper says the Pentagon is sending an additional 1,100 military personnel to help New York cope with the outbreak.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARK ESPER, DEFENSE SECRETARY: Now, with regard to the mayor's statement. I've had several conversations with the mayor. We've been working very closely. As you know, we have over a thousand doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals deployed now around the United States in several cities. Many of them are in New York City.

The mayor and I talked as recently as Thursday. I spoke to the governor on Friday. What we plan on doing now is deploying over 1,100 additional doctors and nurses and other medical professionals to New York. The bulk of them will go to the Javits Center. And then as of late yesterday, we agreed to deploy a few hundred of them to 11 New York City hospitals that are also seeing a deficiency when it comes to medical staff.

What's interesting, Jake, is we are -- we will soon be taking over the Javits Center a 2,500-bed capacity to show you how all in we are. The United States military will soon be running the largest hospital in the United States. That shows you our commitment.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: CNN Pentagon reporter Ryan Browne joining me right now. So, Ryan, you know who are among these doctors, nurses, medical workers the Pentagon is sending to New York?

RYAN BROWNE, CNN PENTAGON REPORTER: Well, that's right, Fred. The Pentagon is sending some 1,000 military personnel. And it's a mix. It's Navy and Air Force personnel, reservists in active duty, there are doctors, there are nurses, there are other specialists involved in this.

And as the secretary said, they will be deployed - a lot of them will be deployed. About 300 will be sent to the Javits Center. That will kind of be the largest contingent. But there will also -- the remainder will be dispersed across 11 hospitals in New York City. But this is all a bit of a shift from the military.

Initially, the military offered medical support primarily to treat non-coronavirus patients. They were looking to help alleviate the burden of some of those local hospitals. You saw it with the hospital shift USNS Comfort. So, it was going to take patients that were not suffering from the coronavirus pandemic to help alleviate that. That is -- now it's changed. The military now taking a direct role in combatting the coronavirus. Sending medical personnel into some of the hospitals where they're seeing some of the largest numbers of coronavirus patients.

WHITFIELD: All right. Ryan Browne, we'll check back with you. Thank you so much.

Joining me right now, a CNN Medical Analyst and Deputy-in-Chief for Quality and Safety at Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York, Dr. Kent Sepkowitz.

Doctor, good to see you.

DR. KENT SEPKOWITZ, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Nice to see you.

WHITFIELD: So, give me an idea how helpful might it be for this military medical personnel to assist in New York, whether it be at the Javits Center or even as you know the secretary said about a thousand personnel will actually assist in New York hospitals, as well.

SEPKOWITZ: Yes. It's a help, no question about it. The biggest problem right the second, I think is, exhaustion of the nurses, of the respiratory therapists, of the doctors, of the people who clean the rooms. There's both physical exhaustion and emotional exhaustion. So, this will help. It's breaking people who haven't been in the midst of it. Breaking them in is always a challenge but this is good news for sure.

WHITFIELD: When you hear the surgeon general say this coming week is going to be like 9/11, Pearl Harbor. That this week could be very severe. And you heard the president say there will be -- I'm quoting him - you know "a lot of deaths."

How does that poise medical teams for this coming week?

SEPKOWITZ: I think the people who have been working frontlines on this know this to be true two weeks ago. The acknowledgment is very important nationally though. This is not just a New York problem. My one concern is that I don't want this tragedy to become a statistic. As Joseph Stalin famously said, one death is a tragedy. A million is a statistic.

We don't want us to be playing the numbers game. It's only 3,000 today. It's only 1,000 tomorrow. These are individual tragedies that are horrendous. And I think we have to remind ourselves to not play the numbers game so much. This is terrible everywhere.

WHITFIELD: It is terrible everywhere. What are your greatest concerns, biggest fears right now?

SEPKOWITZ: I think the stories of the urban parts of America. Detroit, New Orleans, New York, that story is familiar.

[13:10:01]

I continue to worry about less populated areas. I've written about a county in Arkansas with a big outbreak. The Navajo, an Indian reservation in Arizona, we're writing a story about. There's outbreaks elsewhere in places that no one is thinking about. That lack of the type of high-tech solutions and treatments for this. So, I think that the next scary part of this is going to be as this ramifies across smaller towns that are not just never going to have personnel or equipment that's adequate.

WHITFIELD: Is there a national plan that you see could allay those fears or assist in those areas that you just mentioned?

SEPKOWITZ: I wish I could say yes. I think we're all aware that this is hard to do in real time under the best circumstances. I know this is an emergency. It's very hard to be organized and adjust and prioritize. I wish I could say that I have confidence that we have a national plan that is clearly being executed.

WHITFIELD: All right. Dr. Kent Sepkowitz, thank you so much. I appreciate it.

SEPKOWITZ: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right. Next, a grim warning from the White House. More on that. President Trump says there will be, I'm quoting him, "a lot of death" in the coming weeks. This, as the president pushes Americans to try a new drug meant for malaria and lupus. But does the science back up all of that? We're live next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:15:59]

WHITFIELD: President Trump is predicting a tough week ahead in the fight against the coronavirus. He told reporters during Saturday's task force briefing that during the next two weeks, I'm quoting now, there will be "a lot of death."

CNN's Sarah Westwood is at the White House. So, Sara, what exactly is the president bracing people for?

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Fred, President Trump and other top administration officials are setting expectations for what could be a very difficult couple of weeks ahead for the coronavirus outbreak.

For example, you heard the surgeon general, Dr. Jerome Adams, this morning on the Sunday shows saying that these next couple of weeks could be a Pearl Harbor moment, a 9/11 moment in terms of the devastation.

And the nation's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, also said on the Sunday shows this morning that the U.S. is struggling still to contain the coronavirus despite the mitigation efforts that we have seen from the administration so far.

The president's somber tone yesterday was a real shift from where we saw him about a week or so ago when the president was saying that he saw, perhaps, a light at the end of the tunnel. That he didn't want the cure to be worse than the disease. He was talking of course about the economic fallout. Then the president throughout this week has been citing models that predicted potentially hundreds of thousands of deaths even with mitigation efforts. And now the administration is really turning to its efforts in these hotspots like New York City, like Louisiana confronting what could be shortages of key supplies. Ventilators, for example, are becoming a serious problem in New York City. We've heard White House officials talk about taking supplies from other parts of the country that haven't yet hit by coronavirus and moving them into those hotspots in the days ahead. Fred?

WHITFIELD: And then, Sarah, you know, the consequence of coronavirus, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin today about the airline industry. Elaborate on what other items they said.

WESTWOOD: That's right, Fred. Pelosi and Schumer are concerned about the part of this Phase 3 stimulus bill that Congress recently passed. That has to deal with the airline bailout. They wrote in this letter to the Treasury secretary that it is not in the interest of anyone, especially not the U.S. economy, and especially not those workers of the industry for the airline companies to declare bankruptcy.

And what they're worried about is that the administration could impose too many restrictions on taking that bailout money, which is meant to keep people on the payroll to have people still getting their paychecks who work for these airline companies while so many of these planes are parked.

They don't want the restrictions to be so severe that the airline companies try to go on their own and are dissuaded from taking the bailout money. So, they were encouraging Mnuchin not to drag out these negotiations and not to be too strict about what the companies can and cannot do as they take those billions of dollars in what is essentially bailout money, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Sara Westwood at the White House. Thank you so much.

Let's bring in a physician and assistant professor at George Washington University Hospital, Dr. James Philips. Doctor, good to see you.

DR. JAMES PHILLIPS, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Hi. Good afternoon.

WHITFIELD: So, what is your outlook and frame of mind today?

PHILLIPS: It changes day-to-day, right? So as a physician who works in Washington, D.C., we know that we're on the upslope of the pandemic and there's some suggestion that this week and next week is going to be very difficult here. So, there's a solid mix of worry as a physician, as a parent, as a husband. And then the frustration of staying home but knowing it's maybe the most important thing I can do.

WHITFIELD: So, we've seen a number, you know, of, death spikes in recent days. The president is warning much more in the coming week. We have more than 1,300 on Saturday alone. And the president, you know, had some very dire, you know, words. He had some sobering words saying there will be "a lot of death." So how do you brace yourself for that kind of warning?

[13:20:00]

PHILLIPS: We compartmentalize. That's what we do as physicians and nurses do. Particularly those of us who are in the fields where we see patients die. We compartmentalize and we tuck it away. We look at it as a number in order to keep it clinical. So, it doesn't affect you too deeply in that moment. It's not the best psychological choice but it is the way that we function.

And so, when we look at those - when we look at those numbers, we try not to think of the tragedy right now. That's when we're at home. Whenever we go into work, it's every individual patient at a time and managing an apartment, managing an ICU, that's a more granular level and that's when the emotion really starts to flow.

WHITFIELD: You really are describing your own personal survival skills there.

So, Dr. Anthony Fauci, you know the leading infectious disease expert in this country, said this today about getting this disease under control. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I will not say we have it under control. That would be a false statement. We are struggling to get it under control. And that's the issue that's at hand right now. The thing that is important is that what you see is increases in new cases which then start to flatten out.

But the end result of that, you don't see four days, if not weeks down the pike. Because as the cases go down, then you get less hospitalizations, less intensive care, and less death. So even though you're getting an - a really improvement in that the number of new cases are starting to flatten, the deaths will lag by you know one or two weeks or more.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: I mean, those are very enlightening words. You know you want Dr. Fauci -- I think all of us want Dr. Fauci to be able to say you know there's a better read, a better handle on this virus now. Three -- you know, at least over the last three weeks. He's not able to say that.

Is there, I guess, an explanation that you might have as to why. What is missing? What information is missing for the medical or research community to be able to say we know where this thing is going. We know, you know, how it will, you know, lose its strength and dissipate.

PHILLIPS: Right. Well, we can look at two things. We can look at historical outbreaks. You look at things like the major flu pandemics that happened over the last century, which is more than just the 1918th. There was one in the '50s, one in the '60s. We look at SARS and MERS and some things like that. But also, the modeling that you hear so much about. Particularly Dr. Birx talks about the modeling. So, we can rely on those numbers to a degree that help us to understand where things are going.

But what is difficult with those modeling is those models as they tend to look at the country as a whole. And our country is enormous. And there are so many different areas with different population densities and different health of people. So, it's difficult to look at those models and know exactly how that's going to affect me locally.

You know all disasters are local, right? So, what is going to happen in D.C. is not what's happening in New York, we hope, and probably not what is going to happen in Stillwater, Oklahoma. So, it's difficult to look at the numbers we've got and really know how it's going to affect us you know.

But here in Washington, D.C., just yesterday there was an open seafood market down on the warf. It was packed full of people. So while we think we've got a good handle on things in some parts of the city, we see pictures like that that tell us that people even with our mayors sort of good management and have good advice to people, there's still people that disregard that and participate this irresponsible behaviors that are going to continue to change things.

So, it's really difficult to predict. We can look at those models which look very grim over the next two weeks. And we just have to try to prepare ourselves for that psychologically.

WHITFIELD: And then, what about these discussions about, you know, say the drug Hydroxychloroquine and its effectiveness in fighting this disease. Yesterday, the president said try it. You know, do you think its use should be more widespread as opposed to just the, you know, few test cases that there are right now?

PHILLIPS: I'm a physician. I'm a scientist. And my job is to do no harm and to provide the best advice I can provide to my patients. And in order to do that, we have to know the information and the safety of these medicines when they're being used for this particular purpose.

There are ongoing studies around the world right now to look at this. And those doctors and scientists are working hard to get us the right information and the right sort of information about safety, dozing. When do you dose it? We don't know those things.

It's completely irresponsible to come out and encourage people to do things that are not medically sound. And I'm afraid, you know, we have already seen one person die in Arizona from misinterpreting that information and drinking fish tank cleaner in the form of chloroquine phosphate.

[13:25:03]

So, people need the right information at the right time. But it has to be vetted scientifically. So, the only person that should ever be at that microphone giving out medical advice is somebody with a medical license.

WHITFIELD: Dr. James Phillips, thank you so much.

PHILLIPS: My pleasure. Thanks for having me on.

WHITFIELD: Absolutely.

Still ahead, a growing crisis in Louisiana. The state could run out of life-saving equipment by the end of this week. The governor of Louisiana talks to CNN, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:29:55]

WHITFIELD: The mayor of New Orleans says its coroner's office and mortuaries have run out of space because of the coronavirus. The grim news coming as the governor of Louisiana says the state could run out of life-saving medical equipment in just days. Listen to what Gov. John Bel Edwards told CNN's Jake Tapper about the crisis on "State of the Union" this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: New Orleans could reach 2,500 new hospitalizations per day at its peak around the end of April. You said on Friday that you could theoretically run out of ventilators on Tuesday. Is Louisiana really just 48 hours away from Louisianans dying from coronavirus because you don't have enough ventilators?

GOV. JOHN BEL EDWARDS (D-LA): Well, obviously, we already have Louisianans dying. Like every other state, we're modeling the growth of coronavirus cases and how many are going to need hospitalization, how many are going to need acute care beds, ICU beds, ventilators. And every day we get new information that informs our modeling. We now think it's probably around the 9th of April before we exceed our ventilator capacity based on the current number on hand. And that we're a couple of days behind that on ICU bed capacity being exceeded.

So, as we achieve success and slowing the rate of spread, we also push out that date and critically important is the number of people who will present to the hospital and not be able to get a vent or a bed is a smaller number.

So, we're encouraging everyone in Louisiana to take social distancing, the stay-at-home order very seriously because that's how we're going to save people's lives at the end of the day. And whatever time we can buy ourselves, that gives us additional time to serve our medical capacity which is what we are doing right now as we source the ventilators from the - national stockpile and from around the world. And we're standing at beds at the Morial Convention Center as you know this.

This is a tough emergency. It's not different here than it is elsewhere. It's a little more acute, I think, than some places. But this is a tough emergency, Jake. TAPPER: Well, Governor, so what day do you anticipate you will run out of ventilators and people will not be able to get them, if they need them to live.

EDWARDS: Well, the current date based on modeling is the 9th of April. And then the bed capacity would be exceeded on about the 11th of April. And as I said, we continue to update our modeling every day based on the new cases in that region in the New Orleans Jefferson Parish region. And so, we hope we can continue a downward trend on the rate of transmission of new cases. That buys us a little more time. And as I mentioned, that brings a fewer number of people will present on any given day and not be given the opportunity to access a bed or a ventilator, should they need them.

TAPPER: All right. But that's Thursday. That's still stunning. I want to ask you.

EDWARDS: Yes.

TAPPER: President Trump said on Friday -

EDWARDS: Oh, no. This is serious.

TAPPER: Yes. President Trump said of Friday that his team spoke with the CEOs of the two largest health systems in New Orleans and, quote, "they said they feel that they currently have enough ventilators." I don't know if the word currently is doing a lot of work there. But he seemed to be downplaying the idea that ventilators are a problem. You're saying they're definitely a problem?

EDWARDS: They're a problem. And I do believe that those CEOs were talking about the current capacity. They have the ventilators that they need for the patients that they have now.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: (INAUDIBLE)

EDWARDS: And I will tell you, it was the same day, a decision was - yes. But a decision was made the same day in Washington by the task force to send 200 more ventilators from the strategic national stockpile. They did arrive yesterday, by the way.

So, I don't have any problem with what the CEOs were saying. But as we look out into the future, we definitely see that we will exceed our ventilator capacity, at some point. We're trying to push it as far to the future as possible. But all of our modeling, even under the best- case scenario show that we will do that.

And again, we're modelling for the entire population in Louisiana and specifically the New Orleans region. I think those hospital CEOs were looking at their particular hospital and what they could do inside the walls of their hospital and not necessarily for the entire population. But they were talking about currently. And I think that's the difference. TAPPER: "The Washington Post" reported that on February 9th, that's more than two weeks before Mardi Gras, a group of governors came to Washington, D.C. They had a White House gala there and there they also met privately with Dr. Fauci and with the CDC director Dr. Redfield. Even though the president was publicly downplaying the outbreak, those experts, Fauci and Redfield, gave governors the same dire warning that they're giving now. I know you were in Washington for the gala. Did you meet with Fauci and Redfield?

[13:35:00]

EDWARDS: Well, they actually spoke to a governors-only meeting. And so, all the governors who chose to attend that particular meeting were there. We had a briefing from them. And we spoke generally about the novel coronavirus. I would say it is not accurate to say that they gave the same sort of information that they're providing right now.

I mean, they have learned an awful lot about this virus, about the disease it causes, and the rate of spread, and how to best stop it, and so forth. We didn't get into anywhere near this level of detail back in February when we were there for the National Governors Association meeting. That just didn't happen.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: Governor Edwards is urging residents to stay home saying the New Orleans area is on course to require 2,500 new hospitalizations per day by mid-May, if people ignore social distancing guidelines.

All right. Coming up, a rare Royal Address with Queen Elizabeth is expected to say in today's televised message. Live to Windsor Castle, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:40:09]

WHITFIELD: All right. Soon Queen Elizabeth II is expected to address the coronavirus pandemic in a rare televised speech. This as the UK reports more than 5,900 new cases in more than 600 new deaths.

CNN Royal Correspondent, Max Foster joining me now from Windsor where the queen pre-recorded the address.

So, Max, what is the message in her address?

MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's very rare, as you say. It only happened three or four times before. And it's interesting that the government has asked the queen to step in at this point. This is her as head of nation as one of her less formal roles where she represents continuity and unity. And it's clear that the prime minister and the government feel that's needed in the UK right now. They're also concerned about the level calm in society.

And we know that she'll be thanking those who are following the official guidance to stay at home to protect the vulnerable. Some concern that people are increasingly going outside and creating a risk of spreading this virus by gathering in groups. So, I was told by our producer today that people are out in parks today in London, a very concerning sign. Getting together.

Some of the other specific things, I can tell you, she's going to say speaking to at home and what I know is increasingly challenging time. A time of disruption. She'll talk about the financial difficulty many people are in and the enormous changes to the daily life of us all. So, trying to empathize with people out there. She's also in isolation, currently here in lockdown at Windsor Castle.

And then, she talks about how she hopes in the years to come everyone will be able to take pride in how they responded to this challenge. So, she's really appealing to the public to unify and do the best by the nation. Fred?

WHITFIELD: It sounds like letting them know that it is, you know, going to be a lengthy journey, potentially. So now what about any potential update on the queen's eldest son, Prince Charles, who had tested positive for coronavirus.

FOSTER: So he was in isolation for seven days. He's now out of isolation. Indeed, had his own public speech on Friday which was from his home in Scotland on video and he looked well, indeed. So that was really a moment as well to show that you can recover from this. Even if you're in your 70s. He's a very fit person so he's well. So, that was important message going out.

I think one of the messages that people are looking for today will also be visual, Fred, because they want to see how the queen is. We haven't been told whether or not she's been tested. We want to know that she's well. And we know that when this was filmed, only a camera man was allowed in the room in full PPE. And he was a distance, as well. So, all medical conditions taken into account, as well when filming this broadcast. It was pre-recorded but will be played out live. No one has seen it apart from palace staff and the BBC.

WHITFIELD: All right. Max Foster, we look forward to that and your continued reporting on it. Thank you so much.

All right. Here in the U.S., while most people are at home because of stay at home orders, doctors and nurses and hospitals are working hard to keep people alive. Straight ahead, an inside look at one of the frontlines.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:47:29]

WHITFIELD: All right. Make sure you catch a CNN special report tonight. CNN's Miguel Marquez takes you inside an emergency room where doctors are on the frontlines in the battle against coronavirus. Miguel Marquez is joining me right now. So, Miguel, this is a rare inside look and what are you hoping people will learn from it? MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Well, look, so we went to SUNY Downstate in Brooklyn, near Prospect Park there. And, look, the doctors there and administrators there, they want the world to see what they're dealing with and they want, especially people in the rest of the U.S. to know what is coming their way.

This is the second emergency room, and the second hospital (INAUDIBLE) into this week. And in both cases, it is just shocking to see the number of patients that they're already dealing with. I mean, we hear these numbers. It's a very statistical sort of game and while it is -- today in New York City it's a beautiful spring day. What they are fighting there is an all-out war against coronavirus.

So, we will have that tonight. A full hour at 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time on just what those doctors at SUNY Downstate are dealing with and are they prepared. You know they are mentally prepared. This is what they studied for. This is what they work for. And now it is on. And while they are -- they believe they're ready, there are certainly a lot of questions before we get there.

WHITFIELD: Yes. Perhaps you heard my conversation with Dr. Philips earlier in that mental preparedness. He talks about you know how they have to compartmentalize you know to deal with what it is that they are dealing with.

So, how about the protections, if you're able to reveal the kind of protections you all had to take in order to do this kind of, you know, firsthand look.

MARQUEZ: So, we as journalists had really good protection. We had the proper tie-back sort of body suits. The jumpers with the - from the head all the way down to the feet, basically, covered. It resists microbes. We had goggles. We had N95 masks. We had gloves. And then you know putting it on and then certainly taking it off. It's sort of the tricks. You want to make sure that you stay completely sterile while you're doing all of that.

At SUNY Downstate, they certainly had all the protective gear they need. You know, we talked to the president, Wayne Riley, and he said, look, we have what we need today. I'm not sure what we have what we need for next week. And that's what a lot of these hospitals are dealing with is looking for a week or so down the way.

[13:50:02]

There's 225 beds right now at this hospital. That takes about 2,000 people total to run. So, you multiply that out by the amount of PPE you need every single day and it is staggering. SUNY Downstate is also becoming one of three COVID-only or coronavirus-only hospitals in the state of New York. They are in the process of making that transition.

And it is -- it has every feel of field hospital essentially. These parts of it as they try to ramp up and get that hospital ready. They've even opened a hospital that was closed in Bay Ridge that will start taking patients as well. It is all-hands on deck. And they prepared to do everything they can for what they believe is that quest coming in the next two, three weeks or so. Fredricka?

WHITFIELD: Wow! All of them amazing heroes. We look forward to seeing more of it. Miguel Marquez, thank you so much for bringing it to us. You don't miss the CNN's special report "Inside the E.R.: The Incredible Fight against Coronavirus." It airs tonight, 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

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WHITFIELD: Washington State was hit hardest first by coronavirus. Hospitals there remain on the frontline. CNN's Sara Sidner reports from Seattle on the emotional and physical tolls.

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DR. JOHN LYNCH, HARBORVIEW/UW MEDICINE INFECTIOUS DISEASE CONTROL: It's changed how we run.

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Nurses and doctors at Seattle's Harborview Medical Center suit up. To go to battle with coronavirus, they have to go through an exhausted dressing regimen. Hoods, and tubes, and masks, and gowns just to enter a patient's room.

LYNCH: We think the greatest risk actually for health care workers is when they remove things, that they contaminate themselves.

SIDNER: They have a checklist and a spotter helping with every step. They also have to adapt to new realities and shortages.

LYNCH: So, these are what you call (INAUDIBLE). So these are the hoods that hook up to these machines that filter air.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And that's the hose. Hook it up to the back of the hood.

LYNCH: They do get cleaned inside and out so they can be re-used because the way they were built was for one-time use, but that's not the way -- if we did that we would already be out.

SIDNER (on camera): Wow.

(voice-over): They have completely revamped two intensive care units.

LYNCH: So this whole unit was meant to be for people with brain injuries and strokes and so forth. And so now we have to move all of them someplace else because we have to continue that care..

SIDNER (on camera): So, all the people with brain injuries were moved and this was turned into a COVID-19 ICU unit?

LYNCH: Correct.

SIDNER (voice-over): All to try and help coronavirus patients live, isolate them from others and keep the staff safe, too. (on camera): So I am not wearing the full personal protection equipment, because in these rooms where the actual COVID-19 patients are, these are considered negative pressure rooms. That means that we are considered in a safe space, not wearing full personal protection. Patients are being cared for, but we don't need to wear the full apparatus, unless you're a doctor or nurse who has to go into the room to care for the patient.

(voice-over): Inside the rooms, patients are hooked up to a shocking number of tubes. Using those precious ventilators, the only thing keeping them breathing.

LYNCH: So for the ICU patients, they tend to stay. They get very sick and stay sick very long. So we need them to require a ventilator for weeks at a time. And that's really the big issue.

SIDNER (voice-over): Across just there for hospitals 60 coronavirus patients were hospitalized last week. Already this week it's at least 100. For each one a delicate dance to keep staff healthy and patients alive.

(on camera): It is -- just coming in here and seeing those -- the work that's being done and seeing the patients being cared for, it's stressful. It's -- I'm scared for their families as well, and so as you walk through, and you see the hard work being done and people doing everything they need to take care of patients. It's awe- inspiring considering that fact that they too could be putting themselves in harm's way.

(voice-over): Outside the hospital, a large tent has been erected to assess and test potential coronavirus patients and this is happening before the anticipated surge here.

(on camera): I feel dread and I feel fear and I'm not working on the frontline. What are you feeling as you're dealing with all these COVID-19 patients?

ARIEL ROGOZINKSI, REGISTERED NURSE, HARBORVIEW/UW MEDICAL CENTER: It's certainly a sense of anxiety because we you know right now we're kind of wondering what it's going to be like when that heat comes and when people are you know flooding in.

SIDNER (voice-over): While the number of new infections in Washington seems to be slowing down, there's a growing sense they haven't seen the worst of it yet.

LYNCH: What they do every day is heroic. Going and taking care of patients without protection is not acceptable.

SIDNER (voice-over): Sara Sidner, CNN, Seattle.

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WHITFIELD: Wow! Amazing inside look.

Firefighters in Florida surprised one of their own who is recovering from the coronavirus. On Friday morning, a crew with Miami-Dade fire rescue drove to the hospital in their fire truck. Raised the ladder to the hospital's fourth floor window and then held up "get well soon" cards, and a sign that read "your new fire house." While gasping for air he recorded a video to thank his colleagues.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And they're all going to come up and say hi. This is love. This is love. This is the only kind of love you can get from the brother and sisterhood at the firehouse.

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