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Trump: County Will Re-Open "Sooner Than People Think"; NY Governor Cuomo Gives Update on Coronavirus Response. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired April 7, 2020 - 11:00   ET



JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: That's the key, folks. All of the experts have been saying that persistently from the beginning.

Mayor Marty Walsh, we wish you, the good people of Boston, all the best of luck.

MAYOR MARTY WALSH (D-BOSTON-MA): Thank you very much.

SCIUTTO: Our thanks to all of you for joining us. I'm Jim Sciutto.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Poppy Harlow. We'll see you back here tomorrow morning.

"NEWSROOM" with John King is next.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Hello to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm John King, in Washington. And this is CNN's continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.

We will hear in just moments from the New York governor, Andrew Cuomo. His state is hardest hit here in the U.S. The big question is whether some encouraging trends in the recent numbers continue.

Across the globe today, high anxiety. French officials say their country yet to hit the coronavirus peak. In Spain, they hope their cases are a blip. Suddenly turning again in the wrong direction. The British prime minister, hospitalized for the coronavirus, now stable and reportedly said to be in good spirits.

You see the numbers both globally and in the United States up on your screen there.

Nearly 370,000 cases in the United States, more than 11,000 deaths. It is just Tuesday in what White House officials say is likely to be America's hardest week of this crisis. Yet the president is publicly agitating to get Americans out of the house and back to work. Sooner than people think is the president's timetable.

Federal social distancing guidelines are in place until the end of the month, end of April, and most experts say they would need to extend through May if the United States wants to keep the death toll in the ballpark of 100,000, maybe below that number.

But the surgeon general, who just days ago called the coronavirus this generation's Pearl Harbor moment, today is adopting the president's tone.


JEROME ADAMS, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: Over 90 percent of the country is actually doing the right thing right now.

I want the American people to know there's a light at the end of this tunnel. And we feel confident that if we keep doing the right thing for the rest of this month, we can slowly start to reopen in some places.


KING: Here with me to share their reporting and their expertise today, our chief political correspondent, Dana Bash, and our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Apologies to both if I need to interrupt if Governor Cuomo comes out.

Sanjay, I want to start with you.

The president saying sooner than you think. The surgeon general there, instead of being it stark and sober on Sunday, said, hey, light at the end of the tunnel. The model is getting better. Explain.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, John, I just want to make this point that a few things can be true at the same time, right? There could be evidence of light at the end of the tunnel, but it's still a long tunnel, a significant tunnel.

And I worry a little bit as I show you these numbers, John, these modeling numbers which the White House has really been touting. These are the ones coming from the University of Washington.

That people I'm talking to around the country are sometimes looking at this and saying, hey, look, we can ease up. Things are getting better. I don't think that's what anybody intended when they look at these numbers.

Let me talk you through it quickly. Projected deaths -- I'm sorry, if you could put those up again. Projected deaths this week now 81,000 --


KING: I'm sorry, Sanjay. I'm sorry again. I'm sorry again. It's your bad luck this week.

I need to interrupt with Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo.

GUPTA: No worries.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): I'm technically a doctor also, but not really. (INAUDIBLE) -- and Robert Mika (ph), doctor of the budget.

Let's talk about today's numbers and where we are today. Total number of newly hospitalized is up from yesterday. But when you look at the three-day averaging of these numbers, the three-day average is down, which is good news. This is a three-day hospitalization rate.

We tend not to look at any one day. Day to day it's up somewhat, but if you look at the three-day average, it's moving down which is good news.

We talk about the apex, and as the apex is at a plateau, and right now, we are projecting we are reaching a plateau in the total number of hospitalizations. And you see the growth, and you see it starting to flatten. Again, this is a projection. It still depends on what we do. And what we do will affect those numbers.

This is not an act of God that we're looking at. It's an act of what society actually does.

Change in the number of daily ICU admissions is way down, and that's good news. The daily intubation numbers are down and that's good news. The discharge rate is right about where it was.

The bad news is 5,489 New Yorkers have lost their lives to this virus. That is up from 4,758. That is the largest single-day increase.


We talk about numbers, but that's 731 people who we lost. Behind every one of those numbers is an individual, is a family, is a mother, is a father, is a sister, is a brother.

So a lot of pain again today for many New Yorkers. And they're in our thoughts and prayers. Many people across this country.

Why the discrepancy or the discordancy number of deaths up, number of hospitalizations dropping? The number of deaths, number of losses is a lagging indicator to the number of hospitalizations, right?

What happens as a person goes into the hospital? If they're treated, most of them are then released. They're discharged. Some stay, some get put on a ventilator. The longer you are on a ventilator, the less likely that you will ever come off that ventilator.

And that's why you're seeing the number of deaths increase, because these are people who came in at the peak. They were not successfully treated. They're on a ventilator. The longer you're on a ventilator, the less likely you come off the ventilator.

New York is still the most heavily impacted state in the nation. New Jersey, which is on the curve a little bit behind New York, is suffering.

And, again, our thoughts and prayers are with them. I spoke to Governor Murphy of New Jersey today and we talked through the situation and we're working on joint strategies. But our heart goes out to all of our neighbors in New Jersey.

Michigan, California, Louisiana.

In terms of how we're operating, how we're managing the situation, as we know, the hospital system basically has -- is a three-legged stool. It relies on number of beds, number of staff and the equipment.

Number of beds, we have started with a system of about 53,000 beds statewide. We're up to about 90,000 available beds, so we have more than enough beds available.

Staff has been a problem. Health care staff is getting sick, they're overworked, they're stressed, they're under great emotional stress.

You know, think about these health care workers. You're working in a hospital, in an emergency room that's overwhelmed. You're worried about your own health. You then go home. You're worried about bringing a virus home if you're infected. At home is under stress, as every home is under stress.

About 7,000 new staff have been hired from the pool that we have identified. These are retired health care workers who came forward. These are people from across the country who came forward.

The state has a pool of potential employees. The hospitals hire from that pool and they've hired about 7,000 to date.

Equipment, that's the protective equipment, ventilators where we are stretching and moving, but every hospital has what they need to date.

And then we balance the patient load among all hospitals, so no single hospital or system gets overburdened. And that's a daily adjustment, which takes tremendous cooperation among all of the health care institutions. I thank them very much for what they're doing.

Then we have the overload relief, which is the Javits Center, 2500 beds, and the U.S. Navy ship "Comfort."

The U.S. Navy ship "Comfort" had a 1,000-bed capacity. It was initially for non-COVID patients. What wound up happening is we don't really have non-COVID patients. We closed down society. There's fewer traffic accidents. Crime is down.

So the original plan, which was the "Comfort" would take non-COVID patients from the hospitals didn't really work because the hospitals didn't have non-COVID cases.


I called the president yesterday morning, asked him to speak to the Department of Defense to see if they would change it to COVID. The president, to his credit, moved expeditiously. He called me back yesterday afternoon, said they would make the "Comfort" non-COVID.

When they make that transition, the capacity of the ship comes down from 1,000 to 500 beds because COVID patients require a greater treatment area, more space, therefore, the capacity of the ship came down from 1,000 to 500. It's still an enormous benefit.

Between Javits and the "Comfort", that's 3,000 beds, which is a welcome overload relief to the hospital system, which is already extraordinarily stressed.

But I spoke to General O'Shaughnessy today, who we spoke to, the "Comfort" and Javits. The Department of Defense has been fantastic. And the number of medical personnel they've sent up here and how quickly they've sent up here -- and this is a tough assignment to run facilities this large and to come up to speed and to be handling this many COVID patients in a new startup emergency facility.

This is a really difficult undertaking. And they have been -- they've really been fantastic, and I want to thank them all. And I want to thank the president for moving as quickly as he did.

We're working on a tri-state cooperative. And I spoke to Governor Murphy from New Jersey, I spoke to the Governor Ned Lamont from the state of Connecticut. We coordinated the shutting down, if you will, when we did schools, businesses, et cetera because this really operates as a tri-state area.

A lot of people who live in New Jersey work in New York or live in New York, work in New Jersey or Connecticut. So we talk about the tri- state area, which is true. And we try to operate to the best we can as that regional collaboration. And that has been working well for us on schools, on the economy, on health care issues.

We have to start planning restarting life. We're not there yet. But this is not a light switch that we can just flick one day and everything goes back to normal. We're going to have to restart that economy. We're going to have to restart a lot of systems that we shut down abruptly. And we need to start to plan for that.

I spoke to the governors, Governor Murphy and Governor Lamont, about coming up with a regional metropolitan and tri-state approach to do just that. When we get to that point, which we're not at, but how do we restart our economy and get everything up and running as quickly as possible?

My personal opinion, it's going to come down to how good we are with testing. You're not going to end the infection and end the virus before you start restarting life. I don't think you have that luxury. How do you start the economy back up? How do you start getting back to work as quickly as possible?

It's going to come down to testing. You're going to have to know who had the virus, who resolved the virus, who never had it. And that's going to be testing. And that is an entirely new field that we're just developing now, right?

New York state developed, the Department of Health developed an antibody testing regimen that the Department of Health has approved for use in New York State. That has to be brought to scale. And the Department of Health is going to be working with the FDA to do just that. This tests the blood to determine whether or not you have the

antibodies, which means you had the virus and resolved the virus. That's why you would have the antibodies for the virus. That would mean you're no longer contagious, and you can't catch the virus because you have the antibodies in your system, which means you can get to work, you can go back to school, you can do whatever you want.

But you have to have that testing, and you have to have that testing on a scale, right? You have 19 million people in the state of New York. Just think of how many people you would need to be able to test and test quickly. So the antibody testing is part of that.

Also rapid testing to determine whether or not you have the virus now exists. They have, quote, unquote, "15-minute tests" that are commercially available. But, again, they have to be brought to scale. No private company has the capacity to bring those to scale.


I was speaking with Governor Murphy and Governor Lamont. We are interested in working with private companies that can actually bring this testing capacity to scale and to scale quickly.

Because, again, if you have the antibody testing, that's part. If you can then test if a person is positive for the virus and you can do it that day, and you can get those results in 15 minutes, that's also another way to get back to life and do it quickly.

So we're very interested in that in New York, so is New Jersey, so is Connecticut. There are private companies that have these tests. Again, it's all up to scale.

We're starting them in the state of New York but we only have about a 50,000-person testing capacity, which is nice, but it's not of a scale that's actually going to make a large difference.

So private companies that are interested in getting to this space and coming to scale quickly, we're interested in those companies. And we're interested in investing in those companies. And they should contact us at Empire State Development Corporation.

Also restarting life, the state budget, not just the state but every state budget has been decimated by the situation. You shut down the economy, people aren't working, they're not paying income taxes, businesses aren't operating. So our budget just collapsed, right? Our revenues just collapsed.

You want to restart the economy. You have to help restart the local governments. And that's going to be a federal act. I don't have the capacity as a governor, no governor does, to generate revenue in a positive way from an economy that's not operating. That is going to be a federal stimulus bill. There's no other way to do this.

And it has to be a stimulus bill that actually understands you have state and local governments that have to be brought up to speed and functioning if you want to facilitate this restarting of the economy. The federal government passed some legislation. As I've said at the

time, it was woefully inadequate from New York's point of view. We then have had some time to actually study the legislation. It actually gets worse when you read it, and it's not even what was represented to us initially.

So I'm sending out to the congressional delegation today a letter saying the past legislation did good for the nation. I have no doubt gave aid to a lot of people and places that needed it. But it was not fair to New York, and that has to be remedied in any legislation that goes forward.

The last point, I know it's been a frustrating, 37 days, but it's only been 37 days on the other hand. I know it feels like a lifetime. It's been so disruptive, so abrupt, so frightening, so disorienting, but it's only been 37 days, right? Everything in context and everything in perspective.

I know it's tough to get up every day, and this is like Groundhog Day, living through this bizarre reality that we're in.

It's even more difficult, I think, with the weather changing and you feel the seasons changing and it's getting nicer, and you start to open a new book of possibilities, and now the weather is getting nice and I should be getting outdoors, and I should be doing this and I should be doing this.

I get it. But it's only been 37 days. And I started by saying those numbers of cases, that's not arbitrary. What we do affects the number of cases. Our behavior affects the number of cases. We're generating the cases. They're not descending on us from heaven, right? It's our behavior.

So it's been 37 days. The 1918 pandemic that we talk about peaked in New York for six months. Came through in three waves, and it peaked for six months. And 30,000 people died in New York during that pandemic.

Why? They didn't react the way we did. They didn't know as much as we know today. They didn't have the same drug therapies. But we are changing the curve in that virus growth. You see that plateauing. That's because of what we are doing.


If we don't do what we are doing, that is a much different curve. And that's what happened in the past. So social distancing is working.

Well, you shut down all the businesses. I know. Well, you shut down all the schools. I know. But it is working. That's why you see those numbers coming down. If we were doing the same rate of interaction, those numbers would still be going up.

So to the extent we see a flattening or a possible plateau, that's because of what we are doing, and we have to keep doing it. I know it's hard, but we have to keep doing it. And to the extent it takes an effort, remember at this time it's about

we and it's not about me.

I know what I would like to be doing. I would like to be going -- it's motorcycle weather for me. It's time to get out on the water. It's time to go hiking in the Adirondacks. I get it. It's not about me. It's not about me.

What I do will affect other people. It will affect my family. It will affect other people. It will affect people in those emergency rooms who are killing themselves every day to keep other people safe. I get infected, I will infect them.

So we all talk about society and community and interconnection and interrelation and family and life is bigger than us. Now is the time to live that, right? Now is the time to live that.

So when you feel that need, I have to do this, it's not about me, it's about we and what's good for all of us. And my health is in your hands. And your health is in my hands. And the health of those health care workers and those first responders and all those people who have to show up to work every day to keep society functioning, we are responsible to them also.

So to the extent it's hard, I get it. But maybe if we think about it through a different lens, a broader lens, it will be a little easier.

Let's not get complacent. We have to stay disciplined. We have to stay smart. We have to stay safe. And we do that by staying home. And we will get through this together.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) -- yesterday, it was said that the "Comfort" was used to treat isolations and they said they would be treating a smaller number of patients, but will the ship be able to care for that number of COVID patients safely?

CUOMO: I spoke with General O'Shaughnessy. I spoke to the president. I spoke to the vice president. I spoke to NorthWell, who is helping manage the "Comfort."

When you transition from non-COVID patients to COVID, the capacity of the ship goes from 1,000 beds down to 500 beds, but it can treat 500 COVID patients adequately and safely. And that's what we're transitioning into operation now.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: The antibody test, how long will it take to get that?

CUOMO: Dr. Zucker, can you answer this question?


DR. HOWARD ZUCKER, COMMISSIONER OF HEALTH, NEW YORK STATE: We have a test at Wadsworth Lab that we have developed. We're working to scale that up now. Over the course of the next week we'll be able to figure out how many we'll be able to run. We expect to be able to scale that up not just in our lab but get other labs to do it as well. That's where we have to work with the FDA to get that approved.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: The FDA has already approved some antibody tests. Is there some way the state can work with them or?

ZUCKER: I think antibody tests are -- you have to look at them. Some antibody tests measure the immunoglobulin, MMG. The difference is some suggested there's a new infection occurring and others show the infection has been around for a while.

It's important to make sure the tests that we are measuring show that individuals have the infection, they aren't developing -- have the infection and still have the infection. So it's important to make sure it's the direct rest. Our test measures the antibodies saying they had the infection and it's resolved.

CUOMO: Did you get that? Neither did I.


CUOMO: One more time. Can you do that one more time?

ZUCKER: Thank you.

So there's many tests out there that companies are making. There are two types of immunoglobulins. There's one that says the infection still there and you're starting to mount a response, which happens with any virus.


And the other, your body also makes an immunoglobulin after your infection is resolved. That's the one you want to measure. Otherwise, you may be measuring something which actually says you still have the infection in your body.

So you want to measure the one that says it's resolved and that's the one we've developed the test for.

Is that better?

CUOMO: Yes, that was good. I almost understood that one.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Earlier today -- this is very provincial -- but --


CUOMO: I'm very provincial.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: I know you're very close to the Jewish community.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Early today, the rabbi passed away from coronavirus in Borough Park and he's going to be buried later today. So this is like a -- ripe for a -- they say stay away, this thing is ripe for a mass gathering.

Is there anything the state police or state government can do to make sure that people are held at bay?

CUOMO: I'm sure -- this is the Borough Park in Brooklyn, right? I'm sure the NYPD will do what they need to do.

I made it clear yesterday that these social distancing regulations are not just pleas, they're regulations. You can be fined for it. We increased the fine to make the point that we're serious. And I'm sure the NYPD will be enforcing it.

But also people have to understand. I understand religious gatherings. I understand the orthodox community, the Jewish Orthodox community. I'm very close to them and I have been for many, many years and my family is very close to them.

But now is not the time for large religious gatherings. I mean, we paid this price already. We've learned this lesson. That was New Rochelle and Westchester.

So please, now is not the time. You do no one a service by making this worse and infecting more people.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: There are reports that communities of color have been particularly hit hard by the virus. Do you have a sense yet if that's the indication in New York? You've been putting out a lot of data, gender, age, updating it daily? Has it been difficult to get those racial breakdowns?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So the hospitals don't actually report the race information directly to the state. So what we end up doing, on the back end, is calling the coroners' offices around the state after the death has been reported. So there has been a lag.

We understand people want that information, we want that information, too, and we'll have it this week.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Is there any sense that there has been that trend where it has infected individuals of color?

ZUCKER: One of the challenges is that some of the communities have challenges with their health in general. They're more apt to have some of the challenges with asthma and diabetes. So any time anyone who has underlying medical conditions ends up with this virus, and any other virus it puts them at risk.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: do you have an updated Web site to show there's progress there?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's progress there, and we'll have that interface up and running by Thursday. We actually worked with Verizon. The problem was the lines were crashing because the volume was so extreme. We've now moved 80 percent of the incoming calls off the Verizon system into call centers. So you should start to see easing up of that today.

We ask your patience while we get this resolved.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: An executive order was made for a redistribution. And I believe that executive order was going to cover other things but still hasn't appeared. Is there a reason for the delay?

CUOMO: No. I'm going to issue an executive order on everything that I've mentioned, the fines, et cetera, today.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What else does that cover? That will cover --

CUOMO: Everything we've discussed to date.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: -- that would be voluntary now. The, quote, unquote, "taking of the ventilators" that the Health Association put out something saying it's going to be a voluntary taking of those ventilators?


CUOMO: Yes, in their own ways -- the hospital tells us what they have, quote, unquote, "available," meaning unused, and they're not going to use it in the unforeseeable future. So it was always, of the equipment that you believe -- you, hospital -- believe is available.


If the state lent 20 percent of the available units, as you define available, that would be 500. And 500 ventilators was a big deal, especially two weeks ago.

Frankly, since then, other things have happened. We have a thousand ventilators from China. California freed up 500 ventilators. Oregon sent 140 ventilators.