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Healthcare Officials Warn Americans to Brace for the Worst and Saddest Week of Their Lives; Georgia Gov. Re-Opens Beaches; Captain of USS Theodore Roosevelt Tested Positive After Warning of Virus on Ship. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired April 6, 2020 - 7:30   ET



DR. JULIE JOHN, INTENSIVE CARE DOCTOR WITH CORONAVIRUS: to say goodbye in the form of a video.

JOHN BERMAN, NEW DAY HOST: You made a video to say goodbye to your kids. Tell me about that.

JOHN: I was so short of breath. I couldn't breathe, and I just wanted to tell my kids that they were the most important thing in the world to me and mommy was a doctor but I never stopped caring about them. And you know, things like treat the world good, it's been great to us, and I love you and I want to be there, but I can't. But be amazing, be nice, and then I just - that's the most important thing, right? When you're - when you can't breathe, I thought of my children and how I can say goodbye in the best way, and that was a video that they would get in five years.

BERMAN: I suppose the nice thing is that you can give them that positive message about changing the world personally. Now, personally one month from now or one year from now as you are recovering, which is a blessing and we're all so thankful for that, dealing with your kids, you have a 6-year-old and an 8-year-old. I know it has been one of the most draining things. You haven't been able to be with them. You have been FaceTiming with them, and I understand one of your children - and they know. I mean, they know you're a doctor, and they know what you're going through. Flat out asked you, "Mommy, are you going to die like your patients?" That must have been horrible.

JOHN: It's heartbreaking. Physicians, healthcare workers, anybody who is on the frontline doing whatever you do, when we go to work and there is feelings that we're going to come home with coronavirus - I spoke to my daughter. I spoke to my son, and my daughter says, "Mommy, like, are you going to be like those patients that you treat who are dying?" And I - and yesterday I showed them the video and my daughter said, "Oh, but you're alive and you made this video?" I was like, yes, by God's grace I'm alive, but the fear - the fear that I might get sick, the fear I might get worse, like I'm not Dr. John anymore. I'm a patient, and I'm a mom and a mom who's very scared of this still.

BERMAN: When are you going to be able to hug your kids again?

JOHN: Unfortunately I started coughing a lot more on day 14, so my wonderful primary care physician, I will be quarantined for another 7 to 14 days. Unfortunately so, my kids are hugging the air as I walk eight feet away from them, so God willing in two weeks.

BERMAN: How are you getting through this? I mean, how are you getting - in addition to trying to walk when you can and taking care of yourself, obviously you're a doctor. How are you getting through this physically and emotionally?

JOHN: My - interestingly there is something that we do to patients in the critical care unit called proning them where they lie on their stomach, and we're trying to redistribute their ventilation for fusion mismatch (ph) to oxygenate. So I called my colleague and I've been lying on my stomach for 18 hours a day. I do not recommend you do this at home, but I did what I would practice in the critical care unit at home, and it's physically exhausting. I don't know when I sleep, when I wake up, but by God's grace it's been working. And my saturations every time I prone have increased from almost 84 to 95 percent. So - and how am I dealing with it emotionally? My faith, my community, my friends, my family, my 66-year-old mother who's my strength in my house, and my kids who FaceTime and send me messages and I get to see them for an hour a day at most.

BERMAN: But I'm sure that hour means everything. You are a lucky, lucky mother to have the loves of those children, to have the love of your own mother, to have the love of your community. We are behind you. We look forward to that moment two weeks from now when you get to hug your children. That's going to be an amazing hug.

JOHN: Thank you so much.

BERMAN: Thank you for being with us this morning. Lie down, get better.

JOHN: Thank you.

BERMAN: So this morning, hospitals in Detroit are overwhelmed with coronavirus patients. We're going to speak to the head of the area's biggest hospital system next.



BERMAN: Top health officials in the U.S. are warning Americans that this is going to be the hardest and saddest week of their lives. We have reporters across the country covering the latest for you.


BRIAN SELTZER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: I'm Brian Seltzer in New York City where virtual learning is hitting a couple of snags. The city's Schools Commissioner, Richard Carranza, is telling teachers not to use the popular video conferencing app, Zoom, due to privacy and security concerns. Zoom bombing is on the rise. This is when hackers break into seemingly private chat rooms and wreak havoc. There's concerns about how students can be affected, but some teachers are also weary of moving suddenly from one online-learning platform to another. The Schools Chancellor says this will be a gradual change.

Meanwhile, the CEO of Zoom, Eric Yuan, tells me he is working overtime to fix these security concerns and working directly with New York City schools to resolve the matter.

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Natasha Chen in Atlanta. Georgia Governor, Brian Kemp, issued a stay-at-home order last week which supersedes orders by cities and counties. On the coast, that means he reopened beaches, which were previously closed in places like Tybee Island. The Mayor of Tybee Island called the governor's mandate reckless.


But the governor says this was done with advice of health officials and sent state resources to patrol the area. With dueling orders, restaurant and short-term rental owners shared mixed reactions with us, but at least one group of property managers is siding with the city, saying the won't book any guests through April.

RYAN BROWNE, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: The captain of the aircraft carrier, USS Theodore Roosevelt, has contracted the coronavirus after warning about its spread on his ship, something that lead to his being fired, according to the "New York Times."

Now, the captain had sent out an urgent warning, but because it was disseminated too widely, the Navy decided to fire him for creating a firestorm and showing, what the Navy said, was extremely poor judgment.

Now, the Navy has struggled to evacuate the ship, something the captain had called for prior to his ouster, and has only evacuated two-thirds of the sailors that the Navy had scheduled to evacuate by Friday.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Ryan Young in Detroit, and this weeks all about improving infrastructure here in the Detroit area. In fact, the TCF Center hopefully will have its new field hospital with 1,000 extra bed spaces open up this week.

But the critical need here is really being seen throughout the area, as hospitals and their ICU beds are in short supply. The numbers continue to grow, they're hoping to flatten the curve by keeping everyone inside.


CAMEROTA: OK, so let's get more right now on the situation in Detroit. Joining us now is Bob Riney. He's the President of Healthcare Operations and Chief Operating Office of the Henry Ford Health System in Michigan.

Mr. Riney, it's great to have you here. Detroit, of course, is considered a hotspot and we know that at your hospitals you were saying that you were -- on April 1, so several days ago, you were saying you were reaching capacity. So, where are this morning? BOB RINEY, PRESIDENT OF HEALTHCARE OPERATIONS AND CEO OF HENRY FORD HEALTH SYSTEM: Well, good morning, and every morning when I wake up, about 5:00 am, the first thing I look at is our count. And we are, once again, continuing to grow in the number of admissions, and particularly the number of ICU required beds being occupied.

So, everyday it's a little bit of a struggle. We are successfully discharging a lot of people that we are helping bring them back to health, which is the good news in all of this. But, of course, we continue to have high volumes in our emergency rooms and we continue to fill those beds the minute they open back up.

CAMEROTA: And so, would you say you are now operating at capacity?

RINEY: I would describe it as very tenuous. We have a few beds here and there, as we are able to discharge some patients, but as we look at what potentially could be the week -- a week ahead, we are very, very worried about, in particular, our intensive care capacity.

We have moved regular practice units and turned them into quasi intensive care units all over the health system. But, the clinical talent required to support that level of intense care is something we are working on and trying to just fill from every angle we can.

CAMEROTA: We can only imagine how challenging that is. So, what's the plan? I mean, what is the plan to get you the supplies and the personnel that you need?

RINEY: Well, the first thing we're doing is -- is just leveraging our incredible team spirit at Henry Ford Health System and we literally have employees that -- we have a doctor that is the division head of ear, nose and throat, he's nationally known, and yesterday he worked a long shift serving patients and when he got done, he got out of the PPE equipment, put a new set of PPE equipment on and went to clean patient rooms in one of our hospitals for another eight hours, because we were very short of environmental services.

So, we're leveraging our incredible team work. We're also redeploying nurses, we're calling retired clinical staff back and we're doing all the things, quite frankly, a lot of other health systems are doing and hoping that we'll continue to keep up with demand.

CAMEROTA: Oh my gosh, these people are angels. I mean, the idea that after he's exhausted he would go and clean the rooms. That's just an incredible antidote to share.

And so, do you have a sense of when the peak will be in Detroit?

RINEY: Well, predictive modeling is predictive modeling, you know, it's based on a series of assumptions. But, most the models show that we will peak this coming week and perhaps into the week after. And we are very, very hopeful that we will then see a nice decline afterwards. Of course, we don't know, but we are certainly hoping.

I will share with you, that this Henry Ford Hospital's been around for over 100 years and we've pulled a newsletter from 1919 and 1920, during the last major epidemic that this country faced. And the end of that article says the epidemic ended from the world as abruptly as it began.

And boy, I look at that every day and say, let's so hope that history repeats itself in that regard.

CAMEROTA: Wow, that is really an interesting bit of history, and we hope that it's some sort of harbinger of what's to come to here.


I want to ask you about hydroxychloroquine. Have your -- your doctors been using that on the coronavirus patients in your hospitals?

RINEY: We are one of four health systems that have been awarded a clinical trial under Dr. William O'Neill and we will be doing a test for 3,000 and this will mostly be employees and first responders using the drug, and about 50 percent will get the drug and 50 percent will get placebo. And we are really anxious to see what kind of results and what kind of early indications that testing will show.

CAMEROTA: We're interested to find about that clinical trial. But have -- have your doctors, do you know, already been using it outside of a clinical trial, just on an add -- as needed basis?

RINEY: I'm not aware of that. They might be using it on a limited basis, but we really want this clinical trial to see what we can learn.

CAMEROTA: And -- and Vice President Pence, in fact, announced that your hospital had been chose as one of these clinical trials. So, when does that start?

RINEY: We're actually in the process now. We put out a request for 3,000 volunteers and we've had an overwhelming response of people that are willing to sign up for this clinical trial. So, it's going to start immediately.

CAMEROTA: Bob Riney from the Henry Ford Health System, we really appreciate all the information and the status report this morning. Hang in there.

RINEY: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Thank you. So, cononavirus, of course, is taking a huge toll on first responders, and doctors, as you've heard, and nurses. So, this morning we remember some of those lost.

NYPD Auxiliary Sergeant Angel Leon died Saturday. He is now the 11th member of the New York Police Department to succumb to the virus. Leon survived -- sorry -- served as a member of the NYPD since 1981.

Lisa Ewald who worked on the front lines as a nurse in Detriot has died. She spent two decades at Henry Ford Hospital, the one that you just heard Bob Riney telling us about. She passed away just days shy of 54th birthday. Lisa was described as bubbly and full of energy. Her niece says she was dedicated to healthcare and helping other people.

And in Chicago, the police department is mourning the loss of Marco DiFranco, he was 50-years-old, a 21-year veteran of the department. DiFranco worked on the narcotics section. Mayor Lori Lightfoot says he was held in high esteem by his commander. DiFranco died with his family by his side, he's survived by his wife and two children, age 7 and 10, as well as his brother who also works for the Chicago Police Department.

We'll be right back.



BERMAN: A heated argument broke out in the White House Situation Room over the weekend between two the president's top advisors over whether to promote an anti-Malaria drug to fight coronavirus despite scant evidence over the drug's effectiveness. Joining us now is Jonathan Swan, National Political Reporter of Axios. He was the first to report this story. Jonathan, why don't you just lay out what happened?

JONATHAN SWAN, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, AXIOS: Well, it was an extraordinary scene. Saturday afternoon, the White House Situation Room, the Coronavirus Task Force met the vice president at the head of the table, the senior team arrayed around here, and including Dr. Anthony Fauci, Dr. Deborah Birx, heads at multiple agencies, and around the wall a seated staff including the president's Economic Advisor, Peter Navarro.

The conversation towards the end of the meeting turns to the subject of hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malarial drug that President Trump has been promoting as a potential fix to the coronavirus. Stephen Hahn, the Commissioner of Food and Drugs, was laying out, you know, his perceptions of what's been happening with hydroxychloroquine, and Peter Navarro, the Economic Advisor, stands up and walks over to the table and drops a series of folders onto the table which are a collection of print outs that he's taken from around the world of studies of hydroxychloroquine.

And he says - Peter Navarro says to the room that there is clear therapeutic efficacy. Well, that sets off a heated argument in which Dr. Anthony Fauci pushes back very strongly saying that they shouldn't be talking about it that way because there haven't been any large- scale, randomized control trials. He then describes the evidence as anecdotal, and that sets off Navarro. And what then ensures is what was described to me as the most heated confrontation that's happened so far in any White House Coronavirus Task Force meeting.

They get into an argument. Peter Navarro at one point accuses Fauci of opposing the president's China travel ban, and basically it's a back and forth. The vice president's trying to mediate, and it ends with Jared Kushner saying, Peter, just take yes for an answer because the group agreed that they needed to surge this drug (inaudible).

CAMEROTA: And Jonathan, just for background purposes -- I don't know if you have this reporting - but is this - was this a brewing rift for awhile? I mean, the fact that Peter Navarro had these print outs and folders ready, the fact that he brought up doctor - what he said was Dr. Fauci's lack of support of the travel ban, is this - was this tension that had bubbled up?

SWAN: Peter - people in the room said it was clear that Peter Navarro had spent a substantial amount of time reading on it and at one point it was the word anecdotal that really set him off I'm told. He points down at the folder and says, "That's science. That's science," he says to Fauci.


Look, the reality is we've seen this play out publically with President Trump's public comments about the drug and Anthony Fauci trying pour cold water on it and walking it back and President Trump doing it again.

And look, it's no secret who President Trump sides with in this. It's Peter Navarro. President Trump is right where Peter Navarro is, not where Dr. Anthony Fauci and other public health experts are.

BERMAN: So much so that last night at the briefing when our Jeremy Diamond tried to get an answer from the top infectious disease doctor in the country, Dr. Anthony Fauci, on this subject, well, the president stepped in. Watch this.


JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: And would you also weigh in on this issue of hydroxychloroquine? What do you think about this and what is the - what is medical evidence?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Can I - can I just answer that question?


DIAMOND: But maybe for the doctor (ph)?

TRUMP: Maybe 15 - 15 times. You don't have to ask the question -


DIAMOND: He's your medical expert, correct?

TRUMP: He's answered that question 15 times.


BERMAN: Wow. Jonathan, he won't even let Dr. Fauci answer the question because he knew what Dr. Fauci would say I imagine.

SWAN: Yes. I mean, Fauci said it publically a number of times. He's reemphasized the point that much more data is required to say that hydroxychloroquine is effective against the coronavirus, that you need to have double-blind, randomized control trials done at large scale, and President Trump has continually said we don't have time to do that. What have you got to lose?

On the flipside of that, you've got groups like the FDA (ph) saying, well, they've cautioned against hospitals and pharmacies buying excessive amounts of the drug because they're worried about shortages for people who need it for what it is actually prescribed for.

CAMEROTA: Right. I mean, there are people who are taking hydroxychloroquine for autoimmune diseases, et cetera. And so, the fact that the president is touting it, people worry that they won't be able to get their actual prescriptions. Is there a supply of hydroxychloroquine in the national stockpile right now?

SWAN: Yes. President Trump says there are 29 million doses of hydroxychloroquine in the strategic national stockpile, and the task force has mostly - most everyone in there has agreed to surge supply to hot spots around the country. And it is true that doctors are using the drug in certain cases for the coronavirus, but it hasn't been proven in a randomized, large-scale trial. The trials that have been done are smaller in China and France. One of them had a control group, but it's a small sample, and it was not a double-blind trial, so the doctors knew what they were prescribing.

BERMAN: And also, it has only been tried in some of these trials on moderately-ill people, not extremely-ill people -


SWAN: That's correct (ph).

BERMAN: -- so it's unclear how it will treat people who might need it the most. Jonathan, it's interesting because one of the questions the president openly asked is what do you have to lose to try it, and as you said the American Medical Association has an answer to that question.

SWAN: Yes. So the AMA has said - has warned about people who require it not getting access to it. There have also been doctors who have warned about side effects. It can cause an irregular heartbeat, and for patients that have underlying heart conditions who have the coronavirus, there is potential risk in it. That's another reason why Dr. Fauci and others have argued for these large-scale trials not only to determine efficacy but to determine safety for coronavirus patients.

CAMEROTA: I mean, obviously Dr. Fauci and Peter Navarro approached this from entirely different ends of the spectrum. Dr. Fauci has been a doctor and he is steeped in the science of how drugs come to market, and then Peter Navarro is looking at the economic side of this. And so, Jonathan, do you have a sense - I mean, since President Trump is at the moment siding with Peter Navarro's world view on this, do you have a sense of Dr. Fauci's future and if this means that he has sort of fallen into some sort of, I don't know, tense relationship with the rest of the task force? SWAN: Well, I'll just say a couple of things there. One is in this particular instance, what was unusual about this confrontation according to people who witnessed it was that Navarro wasn't approaching it from the standpoint of economics. He was doing his own research into the medical and science of this, so he was actually trying to take on Fauci on Fauci's own ground, so that was - that's point number one.

Point number two, as for Fauci, you know, I don't have any reporting that he's on thin ice or anything like that, but Trump's made clear that when he disagrees with him he's just going to overrule him. He is - he is making that very clear publically. It's not like you need private reporting to draw that conclusion.

BERMAN: Jonathan, it's interesting because the president's belief in this seems to be more than just based on science. He seems to be leaning into