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Emergency Rooms Across U.S. Pushed To The Limit; Restaurant Industry Hit Hard By Virus Spread. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired April 5, 2020 - 00:00   ET



MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm Michael Holmes.

Well, the U.S. is struggling to get ahead of the coronavirus epidemic. tearing through the country. More than 8,400 people have now died here and that number rising quickly, President Trump says it is about to get much worse.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This will be probably the toughest week between this week and next week. Then there'll be a lot of death unfortunately, but a lot less death than if this wasn't done but there will be death.


HOLMES: In the White House, Coronavirus Task Force says these next two weeks are crucial to flatten the curve urging everyone to stay home even avoiding the grocery store and pharmacy as much as humanly possible. Dr. Anthony Fauci says social distancing is the most important tool and remains that way.

Despite that, the President is still refusing to issue a national stay at home order, and eight states still don't have them. Meanwhile, state leaders are warning of dire medical supplies shortages. The Governor of Illinois says they don't have enough test to see how many people even have the virus. He says the lack of a federal plan is creating quote the Wild West out here.

We are covering this from all angles for you. Ed Lavandera is in one of the virus hotspots New Orleans, in New York Evan McMorris-Santoro is outside of pop up COVID-19 Hospital. Ryan Young takes a look at doctors' diaries in Chicago. In Orange, California Paul Vercammen checks in with a recovering patient who donated plasma to a person with the virus, and Kyung Lah examines the economic fallout from the virus in L.A. We've also got Nick Paton Walsh in London with a look at how testing is measuring up. Will Ripley in Tokyo with reaction to Dr. Fauci's comments about wet markets where wild animals are sold. And Jeremy Diamond following all of the developments for us in Washington.

And that is where we begin with the White House Coronavirus Task Force, Jeremy Diamond tells us what the President and his advisors are doing.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well as the United States marked a record on Saturday for the single most coronavirus deaths reported in a single day, President Trump warns of the grim reality to come. And that reality is that things are about to get a lot worse. So the President warning that this will be a horrendous time for the country saying that there is going to be a lot of deaths in the coming weeks specifically this next week to come.

But the President even as he said that in the next breath, we heard him also talking about the extent to which he would like to see the country begin to reopen. This has been a singular focus for the President, particularly as he looks at the economy in every election year. So the President once again sending some mixed messaging.

I did get a chance to ask the President on Saturday, though, about this issue of ventilator shortages. Ventilator manufacturers have been ramping up production, sometimes in cooperation with auto manufacturers. But even as they do that, there is still likely to be a shortage of ventilators, that at least according to the models. And so I asked the President about that.


Ventilator manufacturers are doubling, tripling, even quadrupling their production, in some cases.

TRUMP: That's true.

DIAMOND: And yet medical experts in some of these manufacturers are predicting that there will still be shortages of tens of thousands of ventilators, is it time for you to level with the American public that there likely will be shortages of ventilators in some cases.

TRUMP: It could be. I mean, it could be you have shortages and it could also be that you have some that have way overestimated the number of ventilators they need. We think that, you know, we have a good -- a good amount ready to move. I mean, literally like an army, they're ready to move to any hotspot. But some of the ones that you're talking about always a nasty question from CNN. But some of the ones, yes, because I think that, frankly, you know, because you know what, you've asked that question about ten times over the course of about a month.

Look, we're mobilized and ready to go. We have a lot of ventilators ready to go. And if we had given them all out, we wouldn't and you wouldn't be overstocked in many areas.


DIAMOND: And you see the President there conceding that indeed, there could be a shortage of ventilators in parts of the country that as the Coronavirus Task Force coordinator, Dr. Debbie Birx said that the apex of this coronavirus pandemic in several hotspots in the United States is expected to hit in the next six to seven days. And so even as you see ventilator manufacturers ramping up production that is a question of weeks and months, not a matter of days. But the President also faced questions on another front and that is why he is not urging governors, these eight Republican governors in the United States who so far have refused to issue stay at home orders. So the President is saying that it's not his role to direct governors, but at the same time suggesting that he might change his tune if indeed there is a significant outbreak in one of those states.


Of course, what we do know is that because of that asymptomatic spread, once you do see an outbreak, in many cases, it's already too late. Jeremy diamond, CNN, the White House.

HOLMES: Let's turn to Louisiana now and horrific word from the mayor of New Orleans. The city's mortuaries have already reached their limit and cannot accommodate even pick up more bodies. The mayor has asked the federal government for additional refrigeration to store the dead. This comes as the case count went up by more than 2,000 in Louisiana on Saturday alone. CNN's Ed Lavandera is in New Orleans with more.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The State of Louisiana is bracing for what could be a very difficult week. These are the coming days, where the governor of this state and medical officials have been warning that the onslaught of coronavirus cases here in this state could begin to tax hospitals across the state, with a shortage of beds, ventilators, medical equipment that they so desperately need.

The latest numbers we have is that there are nearly 12,500 cases of coronavirus in the state, just over 400 deaths as well. And the numbers that these state officials and medical officials look at the most is the number of beds and ventilators being used. And that continues on an upward trend as well.

To prepare for all of this, medical teams here have unveiled and say that the makeshift hospital at the New Orleans Convention Center, it will be up and ready to go by Monday morning and will be accepting its first patients.

That thousand-bed hospital unit set up there will treat coronavirus patients but not necessarily the ones that need the most acute and serious attention. These are people who are not quite ready to go home, still need around the clock medical attention.

The first patients will be arriving there and the hope is that will alleviate pressure on the hospitals, especially here in the New Orleans area. This is the area that has seen by far the most cases in this state. And it has become so dire here, this is what the mayor has said here in recent days of just how dire the situation is in this city.


LATOYA CANTRELL, NEW ORLEANS MAYOR: Our coroner's office is at capacity as it relates to our dead bodies of our loved ones. Mortuaries cannot even go pick them up or store because they're out of capacity.

I've had to ask the federal government for additional refrigeration so that we can take care of our people while they're resting in God's peace but not resting well, because they haven't been laid to rest as they deserve.


LAVANDERA: Medical and state officials here say they have been basing a lot of their projections as to what might happen in these hospitals on the scientific models and all data that is coming in to these teams.

And one of the grim predictions that they are looking at in these numbers is the projected death toll, the death toll that could be reached here in the State of Louisiana. And that total they're seeing right now is just over 1,800. And that is the same number of people that died here during Hurricane Katrina 15 years ago.

Ed Lavandera, CNN, New Orleans.

HOLMES: And joining me now in Atlanta, CNN medical analyst, Dr. Saju Mathew good to see you doctor. You are a primary care physician, a public health specialist so perfect for this. I mean every day, we're hearing stories of, you know, the carriage really of healthcare workers, the risks that they are facing themselves, the exhaustion, the tears, the hard decisions, speak to the levels of stress being faced by those on the front lines.

SAJU MATHEW, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: You know, Michael, good day to you and good day to all our viewers across the world. You know, I'm not even sure, Michael, I can really give you a pulse of what's going on in the emergency rooms and in the ICU settings all over the United States.

You know, I happen to be a part of this chat line with the emergency room doctors and I'm telling you, it is extremely painful. It's literally like walking into a war zone and you don't have the ammunition or if you have the ammunition, it's failing. You don't have enough ventilators. You don't have enough personal protective equipment. You don't have enough masks.

So how are our frontline health care providers supposed to take care of patients that are literally dying when we don't have enough equipment and the means to do it.

HOLMES: How worried are you about the shortages of that sort of equipment, that protective equipment, and especially when it comes to the health of doctors, nurses, EMTs, all of those who are dealing with infected patients. I mean there is the risk of potential attrition obviously.


MATHEW: Absolutely. I'm extremely worried. And, you know, I think this will be an understatement, Michael, if I told you that I don't think about it literally every minute of the day. It's just a very painful situation because we're in the beginning, if you will, of the pandemic. We're just at the very beginning of climbing up that curve.

We're not even able to talk about flattening the curve right now and hundreds of people are dying in New York. So it is extremely frustrating because it's not like, you know, my fellow physicians and health care providers can just decide to not go to work the next morning, they're scared. I have physicians that are writing their wills, they're 28 and 29 years old, talking to their family members of if something should happen to me, you know, I want to be a DNR, I do not want to be resuscitated. Give the ventilator to a patient that might needed it. It's pretty painful, Michael.

HOLMES: It's just, I mean, it is unimaginable really. I did want to ask you about the President on Saturday. I mean, pushing and pushing and pushing this drug, hydroxychloroquine, which is used for malaria and lupus, of course. But the President was basically on a sales pitch in that briefing. It was extraordinary, you know, quite, what do you have to lose? People should take it, try it, try it, take it. What did you make of all of that coming from a layman?

MATHEW: You know, I'm a physician. I'm a scientist. I'm a public health specialist. You know, I believe in clinical trials and making sure that these medications are truly put to the test to make sure they're safe. You know, Michael, I was born and raised in West Africa to East Indian parents. I have actually taken that drug for preventing malaria, which is, you know, fairly common in West Africa where I grew up.

So yes, this medication has been on the market for a long time. And yes, we do know the side effects. And we know the benefits like you mentioned that you use to treat rheumatoid arthritis and lupus and malaria. But the problem is we don't have enough clinical trials to really assess the safety in COVID-19. So it would be very difficult for me and my physician colleagues to say, take the medicine, try it, because we don't really have the scientific proof.

And you've got to remember, there could be a lot of side effects like heart problems and heart arrhythmias in certain patients that take this medicine, in addition to azithromycin.

HOLMES: Yes, yes, exactly. It was it was a curious performance. The insistence on it was extraordinary. I did want to also ask you, your thoughts on the FDA's plan to have people who've recovered from the virus, donate plasma to people currently suffering from the virus. I do want to play some sound now from the FDA Commissioner.


STEPHEN HAHN, FDA COMMISSIONER: We've allowed academic centers and other laboratories and hospitals around the country to do this on a compassionate use basis. What we did was, we pulled this together and what's called an expanded access program and run it through the Red Cross because they've got the greatest system and capacity for doing this. And this allows us to scale up so that when people get sick, we can actually have these donated plasma packs given to the patients who are sick.

HOLMES: Well, what's your thought, I mean how promising is that avenue?

MATHEW: You know, we don't really know how promising that can be. I mean, I'll tell you what is promising though, Michael, is that, you know, we're talking about certain things that are going through the pipeline right now, one of which is, you know, withdrawing the plasma or drawing the blood of a patient who has recovered and checking your antibody levels and see if maybe that could be given into a COVID patient to make sure that they recover.

So there are some promising, you know, research or research ideas that are going on that front, but it's still all very new that this is an evolving story and a virus that we're not familiar with at all.

HOLMES: Yes, we keep coming back to it and then there was some more articles on this, in "The New York Times" and "Washington Post" today. But I mean how infuriating is that that precisely the situation we're in was predicted. I mean, CNN counted 10 different government reports from 2003 to 2015. There was another one in 2017 another one just last year, the current Health and Human Services boss, Alex Azar said last year was a threat that worried him most. And yet, here we are, I mean, it doesn't help in the present. But how frustrating is that looking back?

MATHEW: You know, extremely frustrating, you know, if you realize that, yes, maybe you had a chance to get a head start, you know, we're late in the game here. But, you know, ultimately what I want to be also is a voice of hope, you know, we're in the middle of this pandemic, and we have to just deal with it and move forward. And if we all can just sort of stick together like Dr. Fauci mentioned, we really need to make sure that all states really have a hands down shelter in place type program, so that people are not doing it in sort of a patchwork. The only way to decrease the number of new infections and fatalities, Michael, is to do this together.


HOLMES: Yes, yes, exactly. Still eight states not doing that, all Republican states and no guidance from the President to make them do it. Dr. Saju Mathew, we've got to leave it there. I appreciate it. Thank you so much.

MATHEW: Thank you, Michael.

HOLMES: And as Dr. Mathew mentioned in that interview, the FDA is allowing people who have recovered from the coronavirus to donate their plasma that is filled with potent antibodies. CNNs Paul Vercammen has the story of one COVID-19 survivor, who is doing that right now, hoping to help others get well.

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The antibody-rich plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients is valuable to hospitals because they can use it to treat current patients who are in dire straits. Here at St. Joseph's Hospital in Orange, one of the only in the West, they found their man, Jason Garcia, 36 years old, recovered from COVID-19. Garcia was going through some tough times of his own. He had been isolated from his family inside his house. He couldn't even pick up his 11-month-old daughter. He was getting served food underneath the door.

But once Garcia recovered, they found that they could use him here. He donated his A-positive blood to one person at this hospital, who is undergoing some very tough times. They say that patient turned around. Then blood went to a second patient; it will go to a third and Garcia is ecstatic.


JASON GARCIA, RECOVERED COVID-19 PATIENT: It felt amazing. It felt good. I'm glad that, you know, the nightmare of testing positive and the fear, the dread to, you know, know that I recovered and now that this bad thing can now, potentially, you know, my antibodies are there to give to other people and potentially, you know, help them fight the fight that they are having problems with, you know, and pretty much help them fight the fight of their lives and survive. So I'm glad that this turned out to be a positive thing.


VERCAMMEN: So using the blood from somebody who has survived the disease is a long-time strategy. And now the FDA has approved two trials of treatments from COVID-19 survivors like Jason.

And this is going to be developed in other areas around the country no doubt. Reporting from Orange, California, I'm Paul Vercammen. Now, back to you.

HOLMES: Thank you Paul. Now jobless numbers sore in the U.S. as more and more businesses close their doors. How millions of suddenly unemployed workers are struggling to make ends meet? We'll have that and more when we come back.



HOLMES: Welcome back just days after extending national social distancing guidelines, U.S. President Donald Trump once again suggesting that the country should get back to work soon. He says he's considering putting together a separate Coronavirus Task Force focused on reopening the economy. That economy is going through a devastating period of course with a staggering 6.6 million Americans filing for unemployment in the last week alone.

Now that doesn't even include the millions of workers in the so called gig economy. Federal financial aid is on the way but many fears it will come too late and it's going to be difficult to get to everyone. Here's our Kyung Lah with some of the stories.


ANTONIEO WILLIAMS, LFYT DRIVER: The average worker, what are we going to do?

By the time we get them, they're not going to be any help.

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Newark, New Jersey, Lyft driver Antonieo Williams says it's too late for Washington stimulus checks. He is down to his last $65.

WILLIAMS: Currently unemployed. There is no rides. I don't know how to feel right now. I'm definitely lost. I want to be mad, but I can't demand at anybody. There's nobody to be mad at.

(voice-over): The calls and the cash flow have simply stop for Williams and millions more who are living in the gig economy, the workforce that relies on booking appointments, or gigs for their income.

TY MAYBERRY, ACTOR: If they could be out every day, working and constantly thinking about where that next job is going to come. So, something like this, they are unable to get out there and work. It's making us realize just how fragile -- how fragile this is.

(voice-over): In Los Angeles, actor Ty Mayberry is used to gig, after gig, after gig. But now, the married father of twins is experiencing a frightening new scene.

MAYBERRY: I do wake up without any auditions in my e-mail, without my manager calling, without my agent calling. And it's kind of a shock to the system.

(voice-over): And a shock to the U.S. economy. According to a 2018 research poll, nearly a quarter of the American workforce relies on gigs for their income. Now, all but gone.

Employers that are still busy, from supermarkets, to drugstores and online retailers, have stepped up their hiring efforts, but it's not nearly enough to absorb the 10 million unemployment claims made last month.

AMERICA GONZALEZ, HOUSEKEEPER: We are like kind of low on the jobs.

(voice-over): America Gonzalez and her son Jayson used to clean 10 to 15 homes a week in Houston, Texas.

JAYSON GREY, HOUSEKEEPER: We've seen probably like a 50 percent drop. And that is a very drastic drop, actually. It feels like we are in the desert. It feels like really, really tough.

(voice-over): While they are grateful for the few clients that continue to support them, they have had to speak frankly about what might come next.

GREY: The thing we agree on is that if worse is to come and you know, we cannot pay stuff and we end up being without a home or a car, then we're still going to be OK.

STEVEN MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY: Within two weeks, the first money will be in people's account.

(voice-over): Two more weeks in Washington's best scenario is longer than many can afford to wait.

WILLIAMS: What about people like us right now, you know, we're just waiting.

(voice-over): Kyung Lah, CNN, Los Angeles.


HOLMES: Now he'll come soon enough also for those in the restaurant industry, as you might imagine now the dining out is a thing of the past across much of the world. Hugh Acheson knows that better than anyone. He's an award winning chef and owner of several restaurants here in the U.S. State of Georgia. He joins me now from the City of Athens. Good to see you.


Now, you're a successful restauranter, several restaurants. You were featured in an article in Atlanta Magazine, it struck me in that article when you said you had $26 in your checking account. Do you think there's an assumption someone like you would have plenty of cushion?

HUGH ACHESON, CHEF AND RESTAURANT OWNER: Yes. There's always that assumption, but it's a very low margin business and we make up a huge amount of the GDP and employ a lot of people but it's not one that's going to make me retire early.

HOLMES: You -- do you think people realize the costs involved? I mean, I certainly didn't because in that article you mentioned you talked about 16,000 in rent next month at Empire State one of your restaurants and payroll costs of 44,000 every two weeks. As you say, a fine margin agent, do you think people understand just how expensive it is to run that?

ACHESON: I think they are beginning to. But again, what we provide in this world is nourishment. And the most painful thing about laying off 120 people is I don't get to be the employer. I don't get to do the fulfill the contract that I promised to these people who work so diligently and so professionally for me every day and rise to their best and be the employer of I want to be because the rugs booted and pulled out from out of industry.

HOLMES: Yes, in fact, I was going to read a quote from the article because you do say and it's a powerful quote you said my real worry is for all the people that I promised in life to provide for and can't. That's very hard because I want to be remembered as a good employer, a good human, and a good dad. Awards and accolades don't mean and, we'll Just leave the word at the moment. I mean, how tough has that been for you? Don't just for you, your family but those who depend on you for their livelihood, for their food, do you worry about their financial as well as their emotional well-being?

ACHESON: Yes, every moment of every day that's what I worry about right now. I'm also sitting in a room with no pants on. So these are the times that we live in.

HOLMES: It is for many. There are government initiatives out there to help small business. I'm wondering if you think it's enough, given what's going to corporations. I mean, what impact is it going to have?

ACHESON: We just have to realize that there is a threading to get together that makes a really strong fabric in this country, which small business and when we pull that apart and fray it and provide them with nothing, we fall apart and we've seen that the unemployment rolls this week.

And we -- this is not a bailout. This is an investment in the CARES Act, and PPP into the restaurant business and the hospitality industry in small business overall, to support it, to bring it back, to invest in it because it is a mainstay of this economy and this culture that we have.

It's so important that we have restaurants right now. Most of all, I'm just worried about all sorts of things right now, but mostly about undocumented workers in this country, which are very much tied to our industry in a lot of ways that they will have anything to fall back on. So we just have to make a lot of headway in a lot of different areas.

HOLMES: You know, I will say, I've been contributing to a GoFundMe page for a couple of restaurants in my neighborhood that I frequent. I mean, what can people do to help?

ACHESON: You know, that's an interesting quandary. I mean, you can buy a gift certificate to a local restaurant, use it later though. Don't use it when they first open up because they need that cash flow for the next little while. You can get to a GoFundMe page to help their employees and their backup and the backbone of what they do.

I'm not worried about myself, I'm going to figure this out. I hustle in life every day and happily do so for good. But it's most important that I support my people right now. And it's most important that the general public and my consumers try and support what they love and what we give.

So anyway, which way you could find it, find good to go places go and get to go but trust your radar on what's sanitarium, what's safe, and who's doing a great job.

HOLMES: I wanted to ask you, do you think the industry will be fundamentally changed after this passes? I mean, the President said everything is going to bounce back. And we'll be better than ever, perhaps that's a little optimistic. Do you see fundamental change will some of these restaurants be gone forever?


ACHESON: The President though he's owns hotels, I don't know if he really has a real finger on the pulse of what's going on


to put that very nicely. I don't know.

I mean, Tom Colicchio is a very respected chef and good friend of mine says, you know, before the bailouts or the investment through the CARES Act, 75 percent of restaurants probably won't come back. I would now say we're going back to maybe a third of restaurants won't come back.

But this has been -- we have to realize that we were the first, we were the first line of defense against a war and we got knocked over faster than anything. And we put up a good fight every day. This is what we do. But we didn't win this one.

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Well, we wish you luck and I hope you do bounce back. I get the sense that you will and we're thinking of your employers, and if people can contribute gift certificates, there are GoFundMe pages. Get the takeout. Hugh Acheson, appreciate it. Thanks so much.

ACHESON: Thank you Michael.

HOLMES: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. We'll be right back.


HOLMES: Welcome back to our view is here in the United States and all around the world. I'm Michael Holmes. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

More than 113,000 coronavirus cases are reported in New York State with more than 3,500 deaths. Hospitals overwhelmed and the virus isn't even at the peak yet. CNN Evan McMorris-Santoro looks at how the state is coping.


EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Another day of preparing for the worst here in New York, the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States.

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the Jacob Javits Center next to me, a massive convention center will be converted into a field hospital, specifically for coronavirus patients, 2,500 beds specifically to help with the pandemic.


[00:35:17] GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): It's going to be very staff intensive, very equipment intensive but the theory there is, to the best we can, relieve the entire hospital system downstate by bringing those COVID- 19 patients to Javits and from the intake to the treatment.

And it's going to be very difficult to run that large a facility. But if that works and if that works well, that changes the numbers dramatically.


MCMORRIS-SANTORO: In other news, the governor accepted 1,000 ventilators from the government of China as well as another load of supplies from that country.

Other states in the United States, Oregon, sending 140 ventilators to this state for -- to a governor and to a mayor, who still say they need more material and more personnel to be able to handle the apex of this virus, which they expect to come in a week or maybe a little more. Evan McMorris-Santoro, CNN, New York.


HOLMES: Now on the front lines of the pandemic, the healthcare workers of course, even though they deal with life and death situations every day, this crisis is unprecedented and they have had to push fears for their own safety aside, CNN's Ryan Young talked with some of those workers in Chicago.


DR. MEETA SHAH, RUSH UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER: It's just amazing to me how quickly people turn. They come in and suddenly they looked OK, and then they don't.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: At Chicago's Rush University Medical Center, doctors and nurses come to work to fight COVID-19.

SHAH: I'm seeing all of the beds lined up in the hallway waiting to be used. That's not anxiety provoking at all.

YOUNG (voice-over): The work starts right as they walk in the door.

SHAH: The patient was hypoxic. So they were trying to get her oxygen saturation improved and get her stabilized quickly. This is kind of what happens when a patient comes in. You try to minimize the number of people in the room right now. So you can see there is probably only three or four people in there.

Only the key people and they will try to get her stabilized so she doesn't need to get intubated and put on a ventilator.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The stress level is definitely high. Hundred percent difficulty sleeping at night. I think it's important to note that this affects the young and the old. No one is immune to this at all. SHAH: This is our decon area. See, don't enter unless. We are taking care of our PUIs, which our Persons Under Investigation.

(voice-over): The sick many times show up in denial of their symptoms not wanting to be sick, unsure, afraid of what could be next.

DOUG KRYSAN, PHYSICIAN ASSISTANT: Some people turn around and leave, actually. Or it can be an anxiety-inducing experience, I think, when people come in and they are, you know, maybe they haven't been in the medical system for a while or they don't know the state of things now. And they see us in full personal protective equipment and our masks and the tents set up.

SHAH: You can see we have a patient who has come in who is known COVID positive and is feeling very short of breath.

(voice-over): Despite the risk to themselves, those here believe in an oath to help save lives.

LEAH SIEGEL, NURSE PRACTITIONER: I think something that's going to stick with me through all of this is just kind of the initiative people are taking and the ingenuity people are exhibiting, just like figuring this out as we go.

KRYSAN: I think every health care professional gets into this field because they want to help people. So being able to be somebody who can make a difference in this time is also something that I think is empowering.

(voice-over): Ryan Young, CNN, Chicago.



HOLMES: Now the government's change of heart and the sudden rush for coronavirus testing in the United Kingdom with the deadliest weeks still expected ahead. Can enough health care workers get tested for the virus in time. We'll have more after the break.


HOLMES: Welcome back, a rare event for an extraordinary time. Queen Elizabeth to address Britain's about the coronavirus crisis. The televised speech will be broadcast Sunday night, 8:00 London time. Messages from the Queen aside from her annual Christmas Day broadcasts are reserved for historic moments and of course the pandemic definitely qualifies as that.

More than 43,000 confirmed infections in the U.K. as of Saturday with more than 4,300 deaths. And health officials say it is too soon to say when the outbreak will peak. The pregnant partner of Prime Minister Boris Johnson says she is showing symptoms of the disease.

Carrie Symonds says she is on the mend although she says she hasn't been tested for the virus. Mr. Johnson is positive and continues to self-isolate. And the U.K. has had a pretty big about face when it comes to testing for the virus but where it can expose health workers get one.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh explores the options.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is no longer needed for us to identify every case.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For the U.K., testing was not a priority a month ago. Yet now it is.

BORIS JOHNSON, U.K. PRIME MINISTER: Because it is so important.

(voice-over): Why now?

(on camera): The U.K.'s sudden rush to testing perhaps explained by a rapid health care testing center. Behind me here, nearly a tenth of health care workers aren't turning up to work because they are not sure if they have the disease. And that is a question that's increasingly difficult for Britons to answer in general.

Here in Cambridge is a gold standard, Samba 2 and yes, it is named after the dance, results in 90 minutes and it's easy to test and process.

HELEN LEE, CEO, DIAGNOSTICS FOR THE REAL WORLD: I can teach it to you if you know how to cook, you know how to do Samba, which leaves half of the men out.

(voice-over): One line means negative. Two, a slight infection. Three, a bad one.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you are negative.

(voice-over): Kickstarted by $3 million from a wealthy donor. The company says it costs $24,000 a machine and $38 a test. But they can't make enough of them to ensure its 99 percent accuracy fast enough. The U.K. Health Service wants a lot, now, they say. Health workers, officials everyone all want a test but that's just not possible.


LEE: It's really, I said, like a worldwide tsunami and you don't have the life jacket for the whole world.

(voice-over): And here in a cramped, airless office in Old Street, London a life jacket for sale. Rightangled used to do health DNA testing and is now repurposing kits to test the coronavirus for about $250 less if you are a health care worker, you receive it at home and express mail it to their lab. The results come about three days later.

ABDULLAH SABYAH, CEO, RIGHTANGLED: We are talking thousands in the period of time of one week since we launched.

(voice-over): So it's something in the region of 200,000 pounds at least worth of inventory coming to you at the moment?

SABYAH: Well, it's not all coming from individuals.

(voice-over): Right, OK.

SABYAH: We're talking about bulk orders coming from private clinics.

(on camera): So you open this straightforward, sterile, bind there, put it in your mouth, back of the throat?

SABYAH: At the back of your throat and gag. And keep doing this for a minute.

(voice-over): It's cramped here, not ideal. They declined to name the lab they use, yet say it has government approval. But no home testing method does yet, U.K. officials told CNN, we don't have confidence in their reliability they told us.

(on camera): So what would you say to anyone who looks at what you are doing here and was torn between deciding whether you are a good Samaritan offering a service in whole or whether you are making money out of a crisis, what would you say to them?

SABYAH: We say we are simply offering a service at a very reduced price from what other providers are doing.

(voice-over): The U.K. behind in a global race to test with still no mass solution at hand.


HOLMES: Nick Paton Walsh, reporting there. Will face masks getting hard to find? Some people making their own but what if you can't saw? Well, don't worry we have a solution for you. Esco World Sciences has an online tutorial showing how to make them from paper towels.

You'll need some rubber bands and a stapler as well, you folded in, turn the edges in, insert the rubber bands, staple them, and then adjust the mask to your face. It's unlikely to offer full protection but it will discourage you from touching your face and as they say it's better than nothing.

We'll take a short break here on CNN NEWSROOM. When we come back she was so sick, her family was called in to say their last goodbyes. But now this 90-year-old has recovered from coronavirus. Next, her message for all of us.



HOLMES: Here are Some indelible -- intelligible images of the crisis from people all around the world coming out to applaud the doctors and the nurses and the many other health care professionals who are on those front lines putting themselves at risk to save us. And we want to take a moment now to tell you about a few of the lives lost to coronavirus. New Jersey's Kim King-Smith died Tuesday at age 53. She is the first university hospital Newark employee killed by the virus. The hospital CEO said the night shift EKG technician had one of the most positive attitudes of any employee, Governor Phil Murphy calling her superhero.

Santa Rosa California Police Officer Mary Lou Armer was known for treating domestic violence victims with utmost respect and for her Filipino home cooking. She was admired in the Department for rising from evidence technician to detective. The Police Chief Ray Navarro says Armer's, death hit the Department hard and her passing was noted with sadness by Governor Gavin Newsom as well. She was just 43 years old.

Now older people as we know are especially vulnerable to the coronavirus but here is a story now have a 90-year-old woman from the Life Care Center in Washington who contracted COVID-19. She was near death. But she bounced back and return to good health. And now she has a message for everyone.

CNN's Sara Sidner shares her remarkable story of recovery.


GENEVA WOOD, CORONAVIRUS SURVIVOR: I just didn't have any energy, just wanted to be left alone.

SARA SINDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ninety-year-old Geneva Wood was sure she was taking her last breaths.

WOOD: I said to the doctor, this is the end I'm not going to make it and I want to see my family.

(voice-over): Doctors called her family in to say their final goodbyes.

CAMI NEIDIGH, DAUGHTER OF CORONAVIRUS SURVIVOR: They called and said that her lungs were filling with fluid and her oxygen levels were all over the place, fluctuating, and they didn't think that she was going to make it.

(voice-over): Wood had just survived a stroke. But for rehab, she was sent to a nursing home.

WOOD: I couldn't talk. I couldn't walk. I couldn't do anything for myself. All I can do was jabber. And they taught me to live again.

(voice-over): And suddenly she was dying, not from a stroke, but from contracting COVID-19 there. It turned out, Wood's nursing home was the first place in America to have a major deadly outbreak of the Novel Coronavirus.

NEIDIGH: She had been fighting so hard, you know, coming back from a stroke to be taken by a virus. It was kind of cruel. (voice-over): The strong willed feisty great grandmother who had survived dozens of flus, the depression, and World War II was a mere shell of herself. And then her 90-year-old body fought back.

WOOD: It's been a das (ph) and it's great to be home. And I love it here. This is one of the things I fought for was to be able to be with my kids. Give them a hug or a kick or whatever they needed.

(on camera): I thought you were going to say a hug or kiss but you tricked me and that was pretty darn funny.


NEIDIGH: Kick, whatever they need, right?

(voice-over): She's back kicking butts enjoying her favorite chair and making her special potato soup.

The fight to save Geneva was worth it her daughter says. And she has a message for politicians like Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, who said the elderly should be sacrificed for the economy.

LT. GOV. DAN PATRICK (R-TX): We'll take care of ourselves but don't sacrifice the country.

(on camera): What do you make it now?

NEIDIGH: I guess maybe let him -- let his mother have the virus and see what he would do for her. I mean, you know, if he wants to get rid of the elderly, you know, he's probably old enough to get that flu or the virus and see how it feels.

(voice-over): Her mom has a message for everybody else. Fight the virus with everything you've got.

WOOD: I'm corona-free and I had been given all clear unless you do what you're throws to do and don't take chances and keep fighting.

Sara Sidner, CNN.


HOLMES: Good for her some positive news to end the program on. Thanks for watching CNN NEWSROOM and spending part of your day with me. I'm Michael Holmes. Stay with us, I'll see you in an hour for more news right here on CNN.



RICHARD QUEST, CNN ANCHOR: Part of taking care of the mental health is taking care of the physical. But the gyms are closed you're saying. And what can I do at home with this lots around me? Enter Jeff Cavaliere.

I suffer the view that says I'm going to miss a month of workouts. I might as well just eat ice cream.

JEFF CAVALIERE, ATHLEAN-X CREATOR & PHYSICAL THERAPIST: I always say the first place to look is the kitchen and not the ice cream that you're talking about. The kitchen tables are a great way to do different types of rows, wider rows, underhand chin curls, there's a lot of stuff here to do -- just like that and then work your triceps pushing that back up.

Corner in the kitchen counter, that's a great place to do dips. You can position your body more upright to focus on triceps. Set a time in the day that is going to be your workout time, the more control we can have over our lives when everything around us is out of control and it makes us feel a little bit more capable of handling whatever it is that's happening.