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Interview With Celebrity Chef Jose Andres; FEMA and States Battling Over Medical Supplies?; Health Care Workers at Risk. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired April 7, 2020 - 16:30   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: New numbers showing just how much doctors and nurses are putting their own lives at risk to save the rest of us; 2,200 staff members from Michigan's two largest hospital systems have coronavirus or symptoms of it.

That's about 2 percent of their staff. And some are recovering and returning to work to try to continue to help more people, including my next guest.

Dr. Barron Lerner of NYU Langone Medical Center, who recovered from coronavirus.

How are you feeling, Doctor?

DR. BARRON LERNER, NYU LANGONE MEDICAL CENTER: I'm feeling much better. Thank you.

TAPPER: And how long did the illness take you out? A couple weeks, three weeks?

LERNER: Oh, well, it depends on your definition of that.

To some degree, it's been three weeks , and I'm still more fatigued than I usually am. But I was back to work within a week. Fortunately, I just had a fever and bad body aches the first 24 hours, 36 hours, and then mostly fatigue after that.

So my hospital wanted me back pretty quickly.

TAPPER: It's amazing what we consider lucky these days. But I guess it's lucky that it didn't get more serious for you.

If somebody doesn't have access to a test, where they can test negative and show -- demonstrate that they don't have it anymore, how can somebody who has survived coronavirus know whether he or she is contagious anymore?

LERNER: Well, we're still learning a lot about this.

The guess about contagion is, if you have a fever, and whether or not you test positive, seven to 14 days of self-quarantine is reasonable. That's probably -- 14 is probably overkill, but we're trying to err on the side of caution.

So I think anybody who thinks they have it, whether or not they were tested, and, frankly, even if their test comes back negative should really sell of quarantine for seven to 14 days before they interact with other people.

TAPPER: So you're now seeing patients, not in the hospital, but on an outpatient basis.

Are most of these coronavirus patients?

LERNER: Well, it's a mix. It's amazing how this has really scattered throughout the population.

So, among the things I'm doing is what we call televisits. So I'm calling patients on the phone to see how they are. Lots of them are fine. We're urging them to stay in their apartments and things. And then others tell me the story, well, I think I had it.

And I said, well, what happened? And then they describe it. And, sure enough, a couple weeks before, they had a fever, they didn't feel so good, and they didn't get tested because you don't necessarily really need to be tested if you're feeling OK.

And so some of them had it, and are in the community, and maybe eventually they will get an antibody test that might be able to confirm that.


TAPPER: As more doctors and nurses and health care workers become infected -- and, certainly, EMS and police and fire personnel, that's an issue in New York too.

Are you concerned that we could get to a point where there will not be enough people on the front line, whether EMS or nurses and doctors, to help treat patients?

LERNER: Oh, it's a real concern.

I think the -- especially the folks, the EMS folks and people in ICUs who are in contact with patients, even with the best protective gear, you're definitely at risk.

So I guess the hope is, you get supplemental people. So, for example, lots of people from around the country have been coming to New York to help out. And then one of the advantages is, folks like me, since I have had it and I'm back at work and perhaps am immune, we get back into the flow, and start staffing if other people get out.

So it's not really what you imagine in a normal medical system, that you have sort of got a rotating group of medical people. But, in this case, I think the folks who have recovered and are immune would be glad to take the spots of those who need to go out sick.

TAPPER: And after going through the recovery yourself, what's your advice to your patients? What do you say to them when they come to you, and they have tested positive or they have the symptoms for COVID-19?

LERNER: Look, the main thing I'm saying is, is the public health advice.

So, if they think they have it or they have tested positive, find a place in their apartment or house -- it's easier in a house -- to stay separate from everybody else, if they haven't gotten it. Have the folks who live with you give you food, but try not to interact with them. And try to stay inside as much as possible.

It's really good advice. And it works. I can tell, like, at least anecdotally, my wife was here the whole time that I had the fever, tested positive and tried to self-quarantine. And maybe we were just lucky, but she was able to stay healthy to this point.

So, if you follow the rules, I think you can generally stay uninfected, even if you're around someone who's infected.

TAPPER: Well, we're so glad you're feeling better, Dr. Barron Lerner, back on the front lines now of this.

Thank you so much.

LERNER: My pleasure.

TAPPER: States have been trying to secure badly needed supplies, only to see the federal government swoop in and take them away.

The battle between the states and FEMA -- that's next.



TAPPER: For weeks, the Trump administration has instructed governors of states to get their own masks and gloves and ventilators.

But cities and states say that they are seeing their supplies get confiscated by the Trump administration, or, more specifically, by FEMA.

CNN's Leyla Santiago joins us live to try to understand what's going on here.

Leyla, what is going on here?

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: All right, Jake, so let me explain to you how the supplies are coming in.

The bulk of these supplies are coming in from flights overseas. And when they come in, they're secured by a private company. FEMA charters it and tells the company half of it goes back into the private company -- into the private market, and half of it must go to these critical hot spots, although FEMA is not giving much of an indication as to exactly what critical hot spots are receiving what.

But for those that go back into the private market, it's a place where a lot of governors have expressed frustrations about being able to get their hands on supplies.

So what are they doing? Well, you have some states that are relying on others. Governor Gavin Newsom in California announcing that he is going to be sharing ventilators. You have other states that are hoping they can go through the private market.

And then you have some states that are just finding other means. I spoke to one local government in Connecticut that says their firefighters, because they can't get sanitizer, are now actually using a machine with U.V., ultraviolet, light to sanitize their equipment -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Leyla Santiago, thank you so much.

While states are searching for the equipment that they need, especially in hard-hit Michigan, Detroit's most famous industry is trying to step up to help.

CNN's Ryan Young brings us now to the assembly line that's gone from making cars to cranking out personal protective equipment for health care workers.


RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With many states desperate for lifesaving equipment...

GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D-MI): We are running dangerously low on PPE.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): The whole system is over capacity.

YOUNG: And the projected peak of the coronavirus crisis still looming ahead.

ADRIAN PRICE, FORD MOTOR COMPANY: You can hear that bell in the background?

YOUNG (on camera): Yes.

PRICE: That's another box of face shields produced.

YOUNG (voice-over): Automakers are shifting gears.

PRICE: OK, there's another box being produced.

YOUNG: To help hospitals fight an uphill battle.

PRICE: Only about 10 days ago, we started doing this. And now we have ramped up to the point where we have already shipped 1.1 million face shields.

YOUNG: Ford Motor Company in Detroit turning its former vehicle production line into a PPE powerhouse, shipping box after box to front-line workers.

PRICE: Two hundred and fifty go in a box.

YOUNG (on camera): Wow.

(voice-over): But while hundreds of thousands of simple face coverings are already being distributed, mass production of complex ventilators is a bigger challenge.

General Motors, Toyota and Tesla are all hoping to transform what they have into what doctors so desperately need. Ford says it's still two weeks away from producing hospital-quality ventilators. GM is on a similar timeline, partnering with medical manufacturer Ventec to train its Indiana staff.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maintain six feet between individuals.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The final touch, the crank.

YOUNG: Automakers are revamping their production at a level not seen since World War II, this as President Trump has invoked the war era Defense Protection Act to ensure companies do their part.

But workers here say they don't need to be asked.

PRICE: A numbers of the people here are fighting for their own families.

Rod Kreimes' son Justin is a member of the Chicago Fire Department.

JUSTIN KREIMES, CHICAGO FIRE DEPARTMENT: We could potentially have firsthand contact with a COVID patient.

YOUNG: When he told his dad his team needed protective gear, Rod was happy to help.

ROD KREIMES, FATHER OF JUSTIN: I'm proud. I'm very proud of everything we're doing. And I'm more proud that you're getting one.

J. KREIMES: Well, it's an honor to receive a piece of lifesaving equipment from anyone, but it's that much more of an honor to receive it from my own father.

R. KREIMES: Yes. Well, make sure you use it.



YOUNG: Jake, pretty cool to see that dad being able to help out his son.

But I want to tell you something. Every worker that we talked to had this pride, American pride. They were happy to put their hands into need, so they can help everyone who needed that PPE out there, especially as they know it's something that is in short supply.

TAPPER: It's great to see the American people rising to this challenge.

Ryan, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

From a baseball stadium to a community kitchen, I'm going to talk to chef Jose Andres about his efforts to distribute thousands of free meals to those in need amid this horrific pandemic.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: Amid this pandemic, one famous chef is trying to make sure that those in need remain fed.

Today, chef Jose Andres and his charity, World Central Kitchen, teamed up with Nationals Park to distribute thousands of meals inside the baseball stadium. He says the worst is yet to come, and they want to feed anybody who will be in need in the next few days.

And chef Jose Andres joins us now.

Jose, it's such an such an honor talking to somebody who always rises in moments like these to help people.

Your charity, World Central Kitchen, has been distributing meals in low-income neighborhoods battling coronavirus for four weeks. Tell us what you have been seeing on the front lines there.

JOSE ANDRES, FOUNDER, WORLD CENTRAL KITCHEN: Well, my role has been mainly to be in Washington, D.C., but we are right now operating in more than 25 cities, East/West Coast.

And what we see is things like there's more homeless in the streets. Why? Because now you have traditional NGOs that maybe they are not providing the same services because there's not so many volunteers.

So we need to be taking care of that homeless population, not only bringing them food, but making sure we are able to bring them sanitizer and trying to tell them that they need to keep distance from each other, so we will not have pockets of homeless getting sick.

We're bringing food to elderly that, all of a sudden, when they need the extra support. Well, in elderly homes or -- well, one by one, we have been partnering with many of their delivery companies to make sure that, if anybody is at home, and they don't have money to be calling in, we're going to be able to be providing them those meals.

So what we see is that, if we are not careful, we may have a humanitarian crisis, as many people are losing their jobs, And as many NGOs are not able to be providing services that normally they provide.

So we're here to cover the blind spots and getting ready in case the worst comes.

TAPPER: And you note an urgent issue here, which is that a lot of the traditional soup kitchens and people who provide food to those who are food-insecure or homeless or have issues along those lines, a lot of them are volunteer-run, and don't have volunteers right now because everybody's adhering to the guidelines.

What are the challenges to you and your distributors to give out this food, when you're also told to keep your distance?

ANDRES: So, that's why we're looking for sometimes small kitchens, like my wife's friends, many weeks ago, we said we're opening community kitchens, which means it's not the traditional restaurant.

All of a sudden, we have very small menus, where, yes, we can sell food to anybody that wants to buy it, but, more important, we can provide free food to anybody in need. That means that we have very small teams, very protected, making sure that nobody goes inside the restaurant, obviously, and that people are able just to order or pay without any contact.

This is very important. At the Nationals, we love it because we can respond to Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C., as maybe we -- maybe we become a hub zone, and we can go up all the way to 50,000 meals a day if we have to be covering different ground.

So it's very important that, in the process of doing this, we protect the people. Remember that World Central Kitchen, we have been feeding coronavirus emergencies all the way since Yokohama, when we sent a team there to help the Japanese government and the Princess Cruise ship.

So we have been gaining experience in how to do it right, protecting our teams, and also protecting the people receiving our meals.


TAPPER: And you have also been outspoken. You believe that every school should reopen the kitchens to make meals for students who need them.

A lot of students, obviously, in the United States are food-insecure, rely on school lunches for their only nutrition of the day.

What do you say to people who are -- who are worried about the health issues that that might create, if those school kitchens were opened?

ANDRES: We need to only think out of the box.

We need to understand that, in certain areas, to keep certain kitchens open is not any different than keeping the supermarkets open. We need to have different ways to be able to feed people.

So it's been a lot of different things. I was on CNN actually talking many weeks ago that, if the schools close, because that money has been pre-approved by the USDA, the Department of Agriculture, that, if any school district will close, they will need to maintain somehow the feeding of those children, without having a lot of close contact.

So, some districts -- I think the California governor was one of the first ones to announce that, that some districts, that families come and pick up the food on the site.

Others, the yellow buses distribute to the same pickup location of those children. I think, if it's done well, if it's done in the right way, we can maintain America fed without spreading the virus.

That's what World Central Kitchen is trying to do, make sure that we have the systems to make sure that food is the solution and doesn't become part of the problem.

TAPPER: Well, it's just incredible, what you do. And every time there is a disaster like this, you always rise to the challenge.

Chef Jose Andres, it's an honor. Thank you so much for stopping by today. We appreciate it.

ANDRES: Thank you.

TAPPER: In our world lead today, today's the first day that the Chinese government has not reported any new coronavirus cases or deaths since the Chinese government first began reporting them.

Of course, there remain many questions over anything that the Chinese government has reported. But that is the current status.

In Europe, French officials are warning they have not reached the peak yet, Paris banning outdoor exercise during daytime hours.

And U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson remains in the intensive care unit.

CNN's Bianca Nobilo joins me now from London.

Bianca, how is Prime Minister Johnson doing?

BIANCA NOBILO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jake, we have been told that he's stable. At the moment, he's not requiring ventilation, but he remains in the intensive care unit, which means that his doctors think that he requires that one-on-one observation and that intensive care.

But it is encouraging that his condition hasn't deteriorated further after that rapid decline over the last 24 hours when we spoke yesterday, Jake.

Now, in terms of the government and who's at the helm, it's the foreign secretary, Dominic Raab. There's been a lot of questions about the extent to which he really does have authority, as he keeps repeating that he's carrying out the prime minister's instructions and following up on Boris Johnson's strategy.

Now, all of this is happening within a context where the nation is shocked that the prime minister himself is suffering so badly from COVID-19. Now, the prime minister might be the country's most prominent patient, but there are over 55,000 people in the United Kingdom now who have tested positive for this.

And Britain has also seen its deadliest day, with 786 deaths recorded -- Jake.

TAPPER: That's brutal.

Bianca Nobilo, thanks so much.

After two months on total lockdown, the original epicenter of coronavirus, Wuhan in China, is lifting restrictions.

CNN's David Culver joins me now from Shanghai.

David, is life going back to normal there?

DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jake, I would characterize it as transitioning to a new normal.

So we have the restrictions easing for outbound travel out of Wuhan. And we know that, as of about five hours ago, crowds of people were already doing so, getting on trains, planning to fly out, or get on the highway and finally be able to leave after 76 days.

I need to point out, though, within the city of Wuhan, for folks who are staying, restrictions are still in place. Those are enforced by, for example, your local community officials. That would be like your HOA or your condo association, enforcing the quarantine, monitoring people going in and out, and still limiting many people to about two hours a day, one person per family, to go out and then go back into their homes.

And the other reality is, people are still hesitant, if not terrified, Jake, because, quite frankly, they're still skeptical about the numbers being so positive. They wonder if it's too good to be true.

TAPPER: They're skeptical of the numbers, but no one would say that publicly, I would assume, given the control of the Chinese government?

CULVER: You're right. No. But they do tell us that. And it's one of the reasons why they're so concerned about venturing out and about.

And they're on their own right trying to maintain some distance from other people and keep away from mass gatherings.

TAPPER: All right, David Culver, thank you so much. I appreciate it.

Our coverage on CNN continues right now.