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Global Coronavirus Anxiety As U.S Death Toll Nears 10,000; Michigan Governor Says, Only Three-Day Supply Of Masks At Some Hospitals; Iowa Governor Orders Businesses To Close, As State Marks Deadliest Day. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired April 6, 2020 - 13:00   ET




ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello. I am Anderson Cooper. You are watching CNN's special coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.

As the nation begins what the White House says are an extraordinarily important few weeks, the U.S. surgeon general has this stark warning, what lies ahead could be, for many, like Pearl Harbor or the September 11 attacks.

As of today, the number of Americans killed by the virus is closing on 10,000, which would be three times as many people, of course, who died on 9/11. More than 300,000 cases had been reported.

Here in New York, still the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, some positive news from the governor. The state posting a first drop in daily deaths yesterday. That could be the start of a promising trend.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): Number of deaths are up once again. Number of people we lost, number of New Yorkers, 4,758, which is up from up 159 but which is effectively flat for two days. While none of this is good news, the flattening -- possible flattening of the curve is better than the increases that we have seen.


COOPER: CNN's Shimon Prokupecz at the Javits Center in Manhattan, the convention center that's being outfitted with 2,500 beds.

Shimon, the governor also knows a change for the Comfort, the ship, which is docked near Javits, saying that he would like them to start taking COVID patients as soon as possible.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, he did, Anderson. And remember, you and I talked last on Friday where we were talking about this, the fact that that ship that is here docked on the west side highway, actually not far from the Javits Center behind me, that ship is now going to likely take COVID patients. The governor is saying that he's going to speak to the president this afternoon about it. Remember initially, they said they were not going to take COVID patients. That is now likely going to change.

Over the weekend, the president gave some indications that he would be willing to do that, that he would tell the military to go ahead and open the ship up to COVID patients. The reason for this, of course, Anderson is the strain on hospitals. There are some 17,000 patients across the state that are hospitalized because of the coronavirus. And in order to ease the stress on these hospitals, they need more beds.

So you're going to have the Javits Center here, which is going to take 2,500 and now, not far from here, you are going to have another thousand at the ship which is going to relief a lot of the stress and the pressure that the hospitals are facing.

The other key stat here, I think, and some other perhaps hopeful news here from the governor is that the number of patients in intensive care units across the state is starting to decrease and that they see a downward trend. And that is very important and key because those, of course, are the patients that need the most care. In a lot of cases, those are the patients that need ventilators.

So there are sign that things are flattening out perhaps. The governor is saying, it could be that we are headed in the right direction. Of course, he is warning everyone, you still have to do what you need do, and that is the social distancing, people need to stay home, you can't have a false self-security. There is some concern around that.

And he said, if aren't going to listen, they're going to start fining people. In fact, he said he's increasing the fine. He wants to increase it to a thousand dollars instead of the $500 that it was initially.

So a lot of things still going on and, of course, the governor making it really key and very important that people need to continue to do what they are doing so that we could see the numbers continue to flying out, continue to go down, Anderson.

COOPER: Yes, it's still a long road ahead. Shimon Prokupecz, I appreciate it. Thanks very much.

We're going to turn now to a medical expert. Dr. Peter Hotez is a Professor and Dean of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. He's also the co-director of the Center for Vaccine Development at Texas Children's Hospital. Doctor, thanks for being with us.

The White House task force has used some of its gravest words for this week, surgeon general referencing it as a 9/11 or a Pearl Harbor moment. Response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx is directing people to stay at home, suggesting not to even going to the pharmacy or the grocery store, if they can avoid it. What's changed from last week, do you think?

DR. PETER HOTEZ, PROFESSOR AND DEAN OF TROPICAL MEDICINE, BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: Well, I think a lot of it has to do with what the models are telling us, especially if you look at the institute for health metrics and (INAUDIBLE) model. It's saying that over the next ten days, we're going to reach our peak and the peak is pretty scary. We're looking at roughly 3,000 Americans dying. And to give you a sense of perspective, that would mean that COVID-19 would become a single leading killer in the United States.


Right now, it's still heart diseases and cancer. The numbers are around 1,600 Americans die every day from either heart disease or cancer. COVID is about to overtake that and that's where we'll be at, so that's why the dire predictions.

Now is crunch time when we're expecting the peak to occur across most of America in the next ten days and hopefully that it will start to go down with the caveat that this is a model that's based on incomplete (ph) assumptions.

COOPER: Yes. I mean, the first White House guidance to not gather in groups of ten or more came out on March 16th. It's been exactly three weeks since then. I'm wondering just kind of how you assess this pandemic in the United States today. Is it following the modelling that -- there is a lot of different models, but has it been following kind of predictions, is it worse or better?

HOTEZ: Well, one of the problems is the model keeps changing. And it's -- and there's a good reason for it. We are learning new information. This is a virus we didn't even know existed a few months ago. And so we're learning more about, for instance, the number of people without any symptoms that are transmitting the virus.

That's far higher than we initially thought. And that means this term that we've been throwing around called the reproductive number, meaning there's more transmission going on, we're also now getting a better sense of the differences in case fatality rates. It's been much higher, for instance, in places like New Orleans or Detroit, where there's greater poverty, underlying diabetes and hypertension.

So all of this is is -- so the model is very dynamic. It's not very one model that's put out there and then we follow it. It is changing daily to better incorporate the new numbers. And I know it's very frustrating for a lot of people but that's the reality of dealing with with a new pathogen.

COOPER: Even the governor, Governor Cuomo said the number of daily deaths have been effectively flat for two days and today is back up, obviously, any kind of flattening is something you want to see. Why do you think it would go back up after being flat for two days?

HOTEZ: Well, it would go back up because the epidemic is still raging, right? We still are kind of -- think of it like the eye of a hurricane, that we're seeing the eye perhaps now but there's still a lot more to come. And if we start relaxing social distancing, those numbers are going to go back up.

And we're going to see this problem really play out, I think, as we move into May and there is going to be a lot of pressure to open things up. And then we're going to have to be dealing with a very complicated situation over the next year or two years, potentially as it comes back and how we actually figure out what parts of the economy to open up, what areas of the country to open up.

The way I like to think of this is the flu pandemic of 1918. People often forget that Woodrow Wilson got sick at the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, a full year after it had started and the flu lasted for at least another year after that.

So we are going to need a very important and independent thinking task force to help us think over the next couple of years, maybe bring in something like the National Academy of Science, this National Academy of Medicines and help think through this because it's a very charged time the next few months, right? It's going to be at the height of the election. So having an independent committee, I think, is going to be very important and independent committee of experts to really assess this.

COOPER: Who would do something like that though? Obviously, the White House wants to keep a grip on the coronavirus task force. We don't hear independent briefings from the CDC or other organizations. I mean, do you see any evidence that there is any move to have an independent committee?

HOTEZ: I think we're going to have to go that route. I mean, look, this member of the National Academy of Medicine, and this is why this organization was set up to provide independent, unbiased advice to the White House and to the government without interference. And we're going to need them because there is so much complexity going on. And if everything is constantly biased on either side of the political spectrum. It's going to make Americans lose conference in that type of expertise.

COOPER: Yes. Dr. Peter Hotez, thanks very much. I appreciate it.

Coming up, the Governor of Michigan warning that the Beaumont Health System in Detroit is just days away from running out of critical N95 masks. We'll talk to the head of Beaumont Health, next.

Plus, most of the nation is under a stay-at-home order, some states are holding out. We'll try to figure out why those states are, what they are looking at and whether this is setting a confusing message.

And later, people in China are packing to popular tourist sites as the country comes out of lockdown. Health experts worried the risk, however, that remains high.



COOPER: The governor of Louisiana tells CNN his state is expected to run out of ventilators this week. With the state's cases now surpassing 1,300, we're learning that Louisiana may have passed some peaks in infections, according to a COVID-19 model, though it's too early to say for sure.

The state did see its first significant daily drop in new cases on Sunday. Our CNN correspondents are stationed in some of the hardest hit spots across the country. Here is a quick rundown from a number of them.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I am Ed Lavandera in New Orleans. The state of Louisiana is bracing for what could be the most difficult week in the coronavirus pandemic. State and health officials here say this will be the week that puts the heaviest strain on hospitals and nursing and doctor staffing all across the state.


There are a couple of slivers good news, mixed news in the latest numbers to emerge from Louisiana. More than 1,300 cases now, 447 deaths, that was one of the largest jumps we've seen in the death count here in the state in the last week or so, but fewer people on ventilators. So state and health officials here in Louisiana trying to make sense of these new numbers, trying to figure out where we stand here in Louisiana.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I am Ryan Young in Detroit, where more than half of the positive cases for this state are located in the city. In fact, according John Hopkins University, more than 15,000 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in this state. Sadly, some over 600 people have passed away.

Now, what we have also learned how this has hit the city pretty hard, 180 officers and firefighters, first responders were held on the side in quarantine because they weren't sure about their status. The city bought the Abbot test, which is a fast test, as they're going to test 180 of them. We're told 150 have been able to return to service, 30 more first responders have tested positive.

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I am Dianne Gallagher in Atlanta, Georgia, where the stay-at-home order is not nearly as severe as it now is in Boston, Massachusetts. The Public Health Commission announcing a voluntary curfew beginning tonight and going through at least May 4th, basically telling people to stay at home between the hours of 9:00 P.M. and 6:00 A.M. No grocery shopping, no exercising, nothing unless it is deemed an essential activity related to the pandemic.

The health commission says the date could be extended further if they need to. Right now, they just want people to stay at home to help them flatten the curve.

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I am Omar Jimenez in Chicago. The nation's largest convention center, McCormick Place, is now ready as an alternate care facility for coronavirus patients, at least phase one, 500 beds in total at this point with an eventual goal of 3,000.

Now, it is a place that's ready but it's a place that officials say they hope they don't have to use, this as the state continues to push for more supplies. And as Cook County health chief medical officer says, if a significant impact isn't made, their resources could be overwhelmed by the end of the week.


COOPER: Our correspondents in cities around the country.

A troubling report from the Health and Human Services watchdog. It says, our hospitals are dealing with severe and widespread shortages of needed medical supplies. And it's hampering their ability to test people and keep their staff safe. A short time ago, the governor of Michigan had her own warning.


GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D-MI): We are running dangerously low on PPE. At Beaumont hospital, we have less than three days until N95 masks run out.


COOPER: John Fox is the president and CEO of Beaumont Health, which operates eight hospitals around Detroit and Southeast Michigan, one of the worst hit areas in the country right now. Thanks so much for being with us.

The governor says that you only had enough of N95 masks to last three days in the hospital. What happens then?

JOHN FOX, PRESIDENT AND CEO, BEAUMONT HEALTH: Well, we fortunately have some additional shipments coming in. Ford Motor Company and others have produced some of that. We think we will get it within a few days, so we become a little more optimistic than we were 24 hours on that score.

Frankly, it's a lot of medications that we're worried about now because when you have to intubate patient and get them to relaxed, there are certain medications you use, and those are running short, as our ventilator numbers keep rising.

COOPER: Yes. I mean, a lot of people don't realize. With a ventilator, you essentially have to sedate somebody in order to have them on a ventilator. And I have talked to a number of folks in the hospitals who are concerned about those medications. How -- I mean, is the supply of those medications, is it just a limited supply nationwide?

FOX: It is. I think everyone is constrained. The real key, and the governor of New York has been pounding this, is make sure those medications to the hot spots. We have gone from zero to now over 1,200 COVID patients in our eight hospitals across Southeast Michigan. So we are by far the largest in terms of the COVID load right now. And, again, if we focus the supply on the hot spots, then I think we have a much better chance of pulling through this.

COOPER: You are also raising the alarm of a lack of communication between hospitals and state healthcare officials, and you say it's been leading to delays for patients. Can you just explain what's been happening?

FOX: Well, I mean, part of it is you have -- in some ways, you have a voluntary system. And so when we want to transfer patients out of our E.R.s, some days, we'll have our E.R. so slammed that we'll have a line out of the E.R. out of the street and, frankly, across parking deck. We tell people to stay in their cars.


What we don't want is a situation whereby they have a hospital four miles away or five miles away where they can be seen within an hour or two but because we are super saturated, we can't get to them for 12 hours. And even then, we may not have room in the end for bringing them in an inpatient.

COOPER: So how do you get that communication to figure out what hospitals have shorter wait times?

FOX: Well, what you have to have is daily reporting by the hospital where this state is hardest hit. And there is a state system that is trying to do this. And then you have -- off of that, you have load balancing so that the goal is to get the patient treated faster in a more timely way, obviously clinically appropriate way and not have to wait. Because with these patients, when they are presenting with their respiratory issues related to COVID-19, there is a shot clock out there where they're going to continue to deteriorate unless they start to get therapy relatively quickly.

COOPER: John Fox, I appreciate all you're doing. Thank you very much.

FOX: Thank you. For your coverage.

COOPER: As the U.S. struggles to get coronavirus under control, deaths have double in one Midwest state. The question is why hasn't the governor of Iowa issued a stay-in-place order statewide.

Also, more attacks on the former Navy commander of sounding the alarm about coronavirus onboard his ship, insults used by the secretary of the Navy this time.



COOPER: The governor of Iowa has ordered a statewide closure of businesses and establishments through the end of April, this coming at the state just saw a big jump in deaths.

On Sunday, Iowa reported 57 percent rise in fatalities, making the single deadliest day so far for the state. More than 90 percent of the U.S. population are under stay-at-home orders, but governors in a handful of states have so far not yet issued a statewide or partial stay-at-home order. Iowa is one of those holdout states. Rob Sullivan is the Chair of the Board of Supervisors for Johnson County, Iowa. Rob, thanks for being with us. So the governor ordered businesses to close today, still hasn't issued a stay-at-home order. Why do you this the governor is resisting this move?

ROB SULLIVAN, JOHNSON COUNTY, IOWA SUPERVISOR: I don't know, to be honest, Anderson. It doesn't make any sense to me.

COOPER: I mean, the science -- if you talk to any scientist, and from Bill Gates to Dr. Fauci, I asked them all about this and they all say, just scientifically, this should be a nationwide thing.

SULLIVAN: Yes, we agree with that. My board has written a letter to the governor requesting her to either issue for stay-in-place, shelter-in-place for the whole state or to do it just for our county or to allow us to do it ourselves, and we have not heard back.

COOPER: So she's not allowing different areas or municipalities to do stay-at-home orders?

SULLIVAN: Our understanding is that Iowa law doesn't really allow that.

COOPER: And, I mean, how concerned are you that the number of cases and deaths is going to rise unless something is put into place?

SULLIVAN: Well, we are tremendously concerned. Obviously, we would like to be able to tell our public that we have done everything we can to protect them, and right now, our hands are tied.

COOPER: Is there widespread testing going on in Iowa? Because, I mean, one of the thing that Dr. Fauci -- I talked to Dr. Fauci about, I think, was last week or maybe it was even two weeks ago, is the importance of -- in states that believe they don't have a big problem at this point or at least their numbers are not as significant as elsewhere to use that as an opportunity to do extensive testing and an extensive contact tracing to keep those numbers low. Is that actually going on in Iowa?

SULLIVAN: Well, we are testing what we can. And our local folks are doing a great job with the contract tracing. But we just don't have the resources. We don't have anywhere near the tests that would be required to really know where we stand.

COOPER: So what businesses -- are all businesses having to close under this new order from the governor?

SULLIVAN: No. She just keeps peicemealing it. Today, she added malls and camp grounds and a variety of other things. But it would sure be a lot easier to do just go ahead and do a blanket statement.

COOPER: What have you been hearing from residents in the county about the lack of stay-at-home orders?

SULLIVAN: Well, we are home to the University of Iowa and a very large teaching hospital. And folks there are really scared. I mean, everybody knows someone who's going to work on the frontlines of this and they simply just don't want to have their loved ones exposed.

COOPER: Yes. Rod Sullivan, I appreciate talking to you and I wish you well in the days ahead. Thank you.

SULLIVAN: Thank you.

COOPER: The acting Navy secretary is now blasting the former commander of the USS Theodore Roosevelt during a speech to the crew ship.