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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson Moved to Intensive Care; Science vs. Opinion Debates Raging in Trump White House?; Over 10,000 Now Dead From Coronavirus in United States. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired April 6, 2020 - 15:00   ET

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


[15:00:04]

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. Thank you so much for joining me.

The week that everyone has been preparing for and, honestly, dreading is upon us, the projections that the first hot spots in the nation will be hitting the apex of the outbreak.

Right now, there are more than 10,000 deaths in the United States from coronavirus. And as every data point seems to go up by the hour, and so many numbers and all of them are on the rise, stop and think about this one, more than 10,000 dead, every one of them a friend, a family member, a devastating loss.

And then there is this, the nation's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, saying just yesterday that the country is -- quote -- "struggling" to get it under control. He's talking about the coronavirus.

A top Health and Human Services official warning today New York, New Jersey and Michigan will all see the worst of the pandemic this week, the most hospitalizations, more deaths.

White House advisers are so concerned, they're now asking that this week you shouldn't even go to the pharmacy. You shouldn't even go to the grocery store. But maybe, just maybe -- and I emphasize this -- a glimmer, glimmer of hope today.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo saying that the number of deaths in the country's epicenter were flat overnight, the number of hospitalizations in New York down, the number of people in ICU down, but he warns that in no way means that it is time to let up, quite the opposite. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): You don't have the right to risk someone else's life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio warns they could run out of ventilators in just 48 hours.

CNN's Erica Hill, she's here in the city, of course.

Erica, what is the latest that you're hearing?

ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So, we also -- Governor Cuomo brought up ventilators as well. He was asked about ventilators at that press conference today.

And what he said is that he couldn't give the exact number of ventilators in the state stockpile, but he said 802 had been transferred to New York City for the city's 11 public hospital. He says, as of this moment, any hospital within the state has what they need.

And part of that, Kate, is because he said they have moved thousands and thousands around. We first heard about the strategy from the governor last week, this flex surge strategy, where they're taking stock essentially every night from hospitals around the state to figure out who needs what and how they can move things around to meet those needs.

So he said, at the moment, they are doing well, but, as you know, Kate, he was cautiously optimistic in terms of those numbers, but a lot of it depends on what happens in the coming days.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely.

And, Erica, Governor Cuomo also said that he's going to ask the president to allow the Navy medical ship the Comfort that is in New York City to start taking COVID patients.

What impact do they think that will have?

HILL: So, he said this could have a massive impact. So just behind me is the Javits Center, some 2,500 beds in there. And that, as you know, has been converted to a COVID-only facility.

At last count this morning, we knew of three dozen patients or so who were being treated here behind me. Now, on the Comfort, the hospital ship that is just a couple of blocks away from us in the Hudson River, there were 40 patients, but all non-COVID.

So the governor said that in converting those 1,000 beds, this would really free up, keep in mind, 3,500 beds to send patients to. In terms of what's going to happen, he said he would ask the president, as you noted, a Navy spokesperson telling CNN that they have essentially not had any updates yet, but if they are asked to take COVID-19-positive patients, that they do have plans in place so they could figure out and limit the risk for all the staff on board that ship, Kate.

BOLDUAN: When the needs change, they need to be flexible and agile to change and adjust to those needs. Let's see if it's happening today. Thank you so much. Good to see you, Erica. I really appreciate it.

So, at the White House, a class behind the scenes is now spilling over to national television. After top trade adviser Peter Navarro privately disagreed with Dr. Anthony Fauci over whether President Trump should be pushing an anti-malarial drug to treat coronavirus, Navarro is now publicly questioning Fauci's medical opinions.

CNN White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins, she's joining me now. She has more on this.

So, Kaitlan, what are you learning about this disagreement? And what is Navarro saying about it now?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, he's saying a lot.

This disagreement broke out on Saturday in that meeting they had before the president came out at the briefing and said he may take hydroxychloroquine himself, if it came down to it, after discussing it with his doctors, though people we have spoken with don't actually think the president is going to take it.

But, during that meeting, Peter Navarro, who we should note is not formally on the task force, but has since created a role for himself in these meetings, brought a stack of papers. He was saying it was -- essentially a mountain to prove that hydroxychloroquine can -- chloroquine -- can actually work in this city.

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But that is something that Dr. Fauci has been pushing back on multiple times, saying that there's just not enough scientific data to really make that judgment yet, and that's why these trials must go on.

But, today, Navarro was on our air. And he was asked about this disagreement he had with Dr. Fauci, who we should note does have a medical degree, while Peter Navarro has a Ph.D., not a medical degree. And this is what he said about what happened:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PETER NAVARRO, DIRECTOR, WHITE HOUSE OFFICE OF TRADE AND MANUFACTURING POLICY: Doctors disagree about things all the time. My qualifications in terms of looking at the science is that I'm a social scientist.

I have a Ph.D. And I understand how to read statistical studies, whether it's in medicine, the law, economics or whatever.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: So no denial from Navarro about this disagreement that you saw between the two of them.

And, of course, the question ultimately is going to be which adviser is the president listening to in the end, because Dr. Fauci has made it clear repeatedly that he and the president have differed publicly on what they're saying about this, which one is urging caution, which one is the one promoting it, of course.

BOLDUAN: Yes.

And, Kaitlan, considering how much President Trump has been talking about this one drug treatment, people may be shocked, because I was, to know that there are more than 300 different trials that are happening right now for possible treatments here in the United States and around the world.

Are you hearing anything about why the president is pushing only this one potential treatment?

COLLINS: Well, he's sensitive to criticism that they were too slow to test, now their response that's happening right now.

So the president has zeroed in on this. And -- but, of course, you noted that -- or, as we have noted, the FDA has recently approved an emergency use of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine. They're putting it in the national stockpile as we speak, 29 million doses, the president says.

So he's focusing on this because he believes it's the most feasible, the one that could happen soon, though medical experts are saying they are just not there yet. They don't want him to go too far in promoting it.

BOLDUAN: Yes. Kaitlan, thank you.

All right, joining me right now is Dr. Megan Ranney. She's an emergency room physician and associate professor of health services at Brown University.

Doctor, thanks for coming in.

You have heard the president promoting this one treatment, I mean, saying last night -- the way the president put it last night was, what do you have to lose, essentially saying that to, I guess, physicians and patients.

But on the other hand, you have physicians like the American College of Physicians who put out a warning last week.

And I want to read for our viewers part of the warning, when they say: "Given these serious potential adverse effects" -- they are talking about side effects -- "the hasty and inappropriate interpretation of the literature by public leaders has potential to do serious harm."

Where are you on this?

DR. MEGAN RANNEY, RHODE ISLAND HOSPITAL: So I agree with the statements of the American College of Physicians, the American Medical Association, and many other organizations, as well as Dr. Fauci. Now, chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine may work, but the data just

isn't there yet. It is a safe drug for most people. And we use it for a lot of conditions, like lupus, like rheumatoid arthritis, like malaria.

But it also has some very serious side effects. These are rare, but they're real, and they can be life-threatening. So to prescribe this as if it were water for everyone, without paying attention to the fact that it may actually not do any good and it may cause real harm, is simply not appropriate at this time.

I also worry, like you mentioned, that it is going to take attention away from the really important clinical trials that are going on for other medications that have also tremendous promise, maybe even more promise, than hydroxychloroquine.

BOLDUAN: I have heard that concern from more than one physician of, yes, let's all hope that this one is the silver bullet, but don't lose the forest for the trees here. You have to be looking at a wide range.

Look at the past of all sorts of drug trials for all sorts of ailments previously. It takes a huge amount of research to really find the one that works, and it might -- and there might be multiple treatments that work, depending on the circumstances of the patient.

If we could take just like a broader -- a momentary broader view, as I had started off the show, we are told that this week and next are likely to be the worst of it for the country. The surgeon general, he has been calling this week potentially a Pearl Harbor moment for the country.

But then today we heard Governor Cuomo say that he is seeing some potential good data coming in, that the death rate isn't essentially jumping again. Can both of these things be happening at the same time?

RANNEY: They absolutely can both be happening at the same time.

So the fact that the death rate is not jumping again in New York City is great, but there are still going to continue to be a large number of deaths every single day in the larger New York area, as well as Connecticut and New Jersey.

Moreover, we're starting to see new hot spots arise, right, Detroit, New Orleans, and elsewhere across the country. What we're seeing right now is the result of what we did two-and-a-half weeks ago.

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And, remember, there were all those kids off in spring break in Fort Lauderdale and Miami two-and-a-half weeks ago. We're starting to see that appear and spread across the country.

So really, we're going to see both at the same time, the areas that have put strict social distancing or physical distancing in place. We will hopefully start to see a flattening of the curve in those areas. But other areas that were later to the bandwagon, we're going to keep seeing numbers go up.

And I just hope that most of the country can keep that physical distancing in place to save lives across the country.

BOLDUAN: And real quick, Doctor, I mean, I heard Governor Cuomo talk today about how front-line health care workers, they can't continue to -- they're going to do everything they have to, but they can't sustain at this level.

You're up against the red line. He kind of made it an analogy to a car -- like a machine and a car. On a personal level, when you're talking about being at the apex and what this week and next week could mean, what does it look like to you on a personal level?

RANNEY: So, on a personal level, as an emergency physician, as a colleague with many friends in New York City, this is the most distressing, anxiety-producing and exhausting thing that most of us have ever been through.

Katrina, 9/11 pale in comparison. Just the physical act of donning and doffing that protective equipment, the fact that we don't have adequate amounts is exhausting. Taking care of dying patient after dying patient, not having adequate science to inform how we care for these patients, that is also exhausting.

And then the position that some of my colleagues are being put in, where they simply don't have the resources to take care of patients, that hurts us at our core. It's not something that most of us in the United States have ever had to do before in medical care.

A number of my own colleagues here in Rhode Island have traveled down to New York to try to provide respite or relief to our New York friends. But there are just -- the ramifications and the long-term effects of this on the health care profession are going to be broad and long.

BOLDUAN: Doctor, thank you so much for coming in. Really appreciate it.

RANNEY: Thank you for having me.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us: Some Americans might be seeing their stimulus checks this week coming from the federal government.

When might yours arrive? We're going to lay that out next.

Plus, an exclusive look inside a hospital overwhelmed with coronavirus patients. So many have died so quickly, the hospital now has trucks parked outside to take care of the bodies.

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BOLDUAN: We need to check in on another major hot spot in the coronavirus outbreak, Louisiana. The state reporting now more than 14,000 positive cases and 500 deaths. The governor there is also now warning that they could run out of ventilators by the end of this week. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. JOHN BEL EDWARDS (D-LA): 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: CNN's Ed Lavandera is live from New Orleans for us.

Ed, how is the state dealing with this really scary situation that the governor is warning of here?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we have heard for the last several weeks that state officials here have been preparing and warning about these dire situations that could be coming to the hospitals, and they have been gearing up for that in terms of rationing the amount of personal protective equipment that nursing staff and medical teams have on the ground here.

So that is definitely a great deal of concern, but we know that they are being taxed. In fact, listen to the way the mayor talked about -- here in recent days about the kinds of things they're facing here in New Orleans.

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MAYOR LATOYA CANTRELL (D), NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA: Our coroner's offices that capacity as 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 have 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.

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LAVANDERA: And the corner nearby in neighboring Jefferson Parish just told us a little while ago that they're also at capacity in terms of their coroner's office, that they're using a refrigerated trailer to store more bodies, and that they have been told that more refrigeration capability will be on the way here to this region around New Orleans as well.

So, a great deal of stress, as these medical teams here in Louisiana, Kate, continue to process new information and new modeling that we hope to have better clearance and better understanding of here that shows that perhaps they might have passed the peak of the stress on the ventilators and equipment and hospital beds situation.

But we're still trying to get more information and clarity on what all this means going into this week ahead -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Here's hoping for that. Let's -- it doesn't mean anyone can let down their guard, as we well now.

Ed, thank you so much.

We do have some breaking news that is coming in. The U.K. prime minister, Boris Johnson, he's now, we're told, in intensive care after being diagnosed with coronavirus. We're just getting this coming in. We're going to take you live there with the news right after this.

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BOLDUAN: All right, we do have breaking news coming in.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been transferred to the intensive care unit, after testing positive for coronavirus and heading into the hospital.

CNN's Bianca Nobilo joins me now with the details on this

Bianca, what are you learning here?

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BIANCA NOBILO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, this hour, we have learned that Boris Johnson has been transferred to the ICU.

Now, we knew that he had been admitted to hospital about 24 hours ago. The prime minister tested positive for coronavirus 10 days ago. He had then been in self-isolation. We'd barely seen him. He'd only emerged once or twice.

Then, yesterday, on the advice of his doctor, because his symptoms were persisting, he was advised to go to hospital for -- quote -- "routine tests." We were not told what those were. We then received word about 15 minutes ago that he'd be moved to the intensive care unit about 7:00 p.m., so about an hour ago, local time.

Now, that's all we have at the moment about the prime minister's condition. There was a lot of concern today when his de facto deputy, Dominic Raab, took the stage to do the press conference from Downing Street. We weren't getting almost any information about the prime minister's condition, no indication of deterioration.

But the language had changed. Last week, they'd refer to the prime minister's symptoms as mild. Today, they were calling them persistent. Clearly, there has been a deterioration. On doctor's advice at St. Thomas' Hospital in London, he's been moved to the intensive care unit.

So as soon as we get more information about that, we will update you. All that we have is that the P.M. is receiving excellent care from the NHS. There were posts on his Twitter account, on his Instagram account today, but we haven't seen the prime minister for some time.

And the doctors are -- the decision was made by the prime minister's medical team because his condition has worsened over the course of the afternoon today. Now, at the lobby briefing, which happens daily about the prime minister and the activities of the U.K. government, it was -- the notion that he was on a ventilator at that point was dispensed with.

There had been some erroneous Russian reports that the prime minister was on a ventilator. The spokesperson took the opportunity to say, no, that's disinformation, that is not true. Then, as we now know, his condition has worsened over the afternoon.

So the prime minister now in intensive care for his persistent coronavirus symptoms, which we now understand to have worsened considerably today -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: And, Bianca, I mean, to this point, correct me if I'm wrong, everything that we have heard is that he has been -- he has been working from the hospital, completely engaged, involved.

One, look, if I -- if someone's telling me that someone here in the States has been put into the ICU, they're no longer really working from the hospital. Are you hearing anything about that?

NOBILO: Yes, we now under understand that Dominic Raab, who is the foreign secretary and also the first secretary of state here in the United Kingdom, is going to deputize for the prime minister.

Now, in the U.K., we don't have the same kind of chain of succession, if you like, as you do in the United States. There's nothing formalized. If there's no deputy prime minister, then it tends to be the first secretary of state. So, Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, will be deputizing.

He led the prime minister's coronavirus war cabinet this morning at 9:15. But, as you mentioned, today, we were told that the prime minister was continuing to lead the country, continuing to be at the helm, and worked from his hospital bed. He was having all of his integral papers and all of his updates delivered to him there.

Now, when our chief medical officer was asked in the press conference inside Downing Street today whether or not it was sensible for somebody who has been suffering from persistent coronavirus symptoms for 10 days of a fever and a cough to keep working from hospital, he said it depends on the individual.

But that was reiterated by the foreign secretary that the prime minister was fully in charge and getting involved where he needs to. So that was the case at 5:00 p.m. local time this afternoon, so just three hours ago, and things have clearly deteriorated markedly since then, as the prime minister has now decided to stand aside for the moment and give that responsibility.

The responsibility to lead this country through this national emergency now goes to Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary. BOLDUAN: Look, and, Bianca, this isn't just any regular citizen. I

mean, this is the prime minister of the United Kingdom.

Have you received a clear answer? You mentioned the question of being put on a ventilator. Have you received a definitive answer if he is now on a ventilator?

NOBILO: No, we haven't.

And, obviously, it's not my place, and I'm not a medical expert, to speculate on the kind of medical condition that he would be in. We do understand, though, that patients who are suffering from coronavirus, if moved to the intensive care unit, are often needing a lot of oxygen support and perhaps ventilation.

But we certainly don't know that for sure. All that we can say is that the prime minister's condition has deteriorated. Obviously, we would expect an update on his condition as soon as they have something. And that has been Downing Street's line this entire time.

They have said, we will update you when there is something to say. Otherwise, stop asking questions, essentially. The prime minister clearly has a lot to get on with and he has his own responsibility to heal.

So, the prime minister receiving care at the moment in the intensive care unit, now Dominic Raab taking over.

It is -- it was curious, actually.