Return to Transcripts main page


British Prime Minister Boris Johnson In Intensive Care; Senators Call on Trump to Address PPE Shortage; New York Still in Crisis, But Seeing Possible Plateau; Virus Hitting Some African American Communities Hard; European Market Moves Come After Wall Street Rally. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired April 7, 2020 - 05:00   ET


ROBYN CURNOW, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, everyone. Welcome to our viewers just joining us here in the U.S. and all around the world. I'm Robyn Curnow.

And we, of course, following a developing story out of London. The British prime minister remains in intensive care in a London hospital, and that is where we find our Max Foster.

Hi, Max. So, you're getting new details on his condition?

MAX FOSTER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I'm outside the hospital where he's in intensive care. We are getting details he's there overnight. We're getting very few details.

The government has been very careful about restricting information. Not to worry people, but whilst keeping them informed at the same time.

So, those new details, British Cabinet Minister Michael Gove, very close to the prime minister, telling BBC Radio that Mr. Johnson was given oxygen support whilst in ICU, but he isn't on a ventilator. It hasn't escalated his condition to that extent, at least not yet.

The prime minister has been in intensive care since late Monday. That is when his condition did start to get worse, when he came out of general ward.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has been asked to deputize for the prime minister when necessary.

Let's find out what that means. Let's go to Nick Paton Walsh who's in Downing Street where the updates are coming on the prime minister's condition and actually who's in charge.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Well, we're seeing what you would expect this morning, Dominic Raab standing in when necessary for Prime Minister Johnson, arriving here and the chief of medical officer, Chris Whitty, and the health secretary, Matt Hancock. The latter two people who have said they have tested positive for COVID-19 but recovered and now of course face the complicated task of dealing with U.K. policy towards the disease, which will later on early next week most likely involved having to either extend the lockdown on people's restrictions here or somehow curtail it, the former seeming most likely at this point.

The government, too, struggling to give information in a timely fashion, whilst, of course, protecting the medical privacy of Mr. Johnson but also to national security interests. Michael Gove, one of his key cabinet ministers, addressed the fact that, yes, unfortunately, Dominic Raab was addressing the British public from the podium at a daily briefing at about 5:00 in the afternoon, round about the time that Boris Johnson was being moved into the intensive care unit, although Mr. Raab said that Mr. Johnson had spent a comfortable night.

There is a disparity, it seems, obviously, between what happens in the privacy of the hospital ward to what ministers know and then what the public is told as well.

But they were clear this morning to point out that while Mr. Johnson is getting oxygen support, he is not on a ventilator. Were he on a ventilator, that would suggest he needs assistance with his breathing which would be a significant deterioration yet further in his condition.

But make no mistake here at all. We are talking about a very difficult moment for a government. No country on earth wants to say its leader has been admitted to hospital, that suggests the care they provided in their residence wasn't enough ands nobody wants to go the stage further, and except 24 hours, the person in question had to be moved into intensive care unit.

Downing Street when they put the statement out at 7:00 last night were saying he was there as a precaution. Strange to use that phrase. So, he would be close to necessary equipment should, quote, he need to be put on to a ventilator. The mere fact they raised that prospect I think chilling to those doctors who've been studying this disease and sadly, its impact on a man between the ages of 50 and 70.

But an outpouring of support for Boris Johnson nationwide here, often from areas which, because of his polarizing stance on Brexit, you would not normally hear such statements of well-wishing but I think the nation frankly realizing that itself is going into the peak of infections and deaths possibly in the week ahead, but will be doing so too without its key figure of government always with its hands -- his hand on the levers of power, Max.

FOSTER: OK. Nick in Downing Street, thank you.

So, Robyn, the next scheduled update we're expecting around lunchtime so, a couple of hours from now, but obviously, if there's an urgent update, that will come out sooner.

CURNOW: OK, thanks, Max. You've had a busy morning there. So, yes, do update us if you get anymore news about Boris Johnson. But, certainly, really concerning the prime minister in the ICU behind us.

We'll check to you a little bit later on in the show as well. Good to see you, Max.

OK. So, the U.S., as you know, remains the epicenter of the global coronavirus pandemic. In just six weeks, the U.S. death toll went from zero to more than 10,000. And health experts warning that the number is likely to rise much, much higher as the U.S. heads into one of its toughest weeks yet.


On Monday, the U.S. President Donald Trump spent much of the White House coronavirus briefing deflecting any criticism about his administration's shortcomings.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: States are supposed to be doing testing. Hospitals are supposed to be doing testing. You understand that? We're the federal government. Listen, we're the federal government. We're not supposed to stand on street corners doing testing.


CURNOW: Well, the president also seemed at odds with others on his coronavirus task force. While Mr. Trump has been pushing to reopen America, the nation's top infectious disease expert says it could be a while before the U.S. gets back to normal life.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, U.S. NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: If back to normal means acting like there never was a coronavirus problem, I don't think that's going to happen until we do have a situation where you can completely protect the population.


CURNOW: Anthony Fauci there.

So, a group of senators is calling on President Trump to address the national shortage of medical equipment. Eleven senators signed the letter to the president, including both Democrats and Republicans. That's important, isn't it, in this divided time.

Now, we also know New York remains the hardest hit state. Governor Andrew Cuomo says there are, though, hopeful signs that cases are starting to plateau, but it's just too early to say if this trend will hold.

Here's Erica Hill with more on all of that -- Erica.


ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Two hundred fifty beds at the Meadowlands in New Jersey, 2,500 each at Chicago's McCormick Place Exposition Center, and New York's massive Javits Center, where COVID patients began arriving over the weekend.

The Navy hospital ship Comfort to a COVID facility as well. The two facilities acting as relief valves for hospitals as New York's death toll continues to rise though more slowly.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: While none of this is good news, the flattening, possible flattening of the curve is better than the increases that we have seen.

HILL: The CDC today warning the country's death toll could be higher because data is lagging by as much as two weeks.

As a New York City councilman tweets, the city may need to bury victims in parks because morgues and trailers outside hospitals are reaching capacity.

That's not happening at the moment, though, Mark Levine's staff says it is part of the contingency plan, which seemed to catch the governor by surprise.

CUOMO: I've heard a lot of wild rumors but I have not heard anything about the city burying people in parks.

HILL: Around the country, communities adapting and bracing for what the surgeon general cautions will be the hardest and saddest week yet.

VICE ADMIRAL JEROME ADAMS, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: This is going to be our Pearl Harbor moment, our 9/11 moment, only it's not going to be localized, it's going to be happening all over the country.

HILL: In New Orleans, mortuaries and morgues are at capacity. Louisiana's governor says they could run out of ventilators and beds by the end of the week. Officials in New York warn they may have even less time and resources.

DEANNE CRISWELL, COMMISSIONER, NEW YORK CITY EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT DEPARTMENT: The numbers that we're really watching is still the number of hospital admissions, the numbers that are going into the ICU and eventually on ventilators. And we're not seeing a decrease in those numbers yet. Those are the numbers that are really going to strain our health care system.

HILL: Meantime, a new government watchdog report finds, quote, severe widespread shortages of critical supplies across the country adding to the strain. A report says those shortages are making it harder for hospitals to test and protect their staff.

The government adding new travel restrictions for all cruise ship passengers and crew arriving in the U.S., no longer allowed on commercial flights and subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine.

A third passenger from the Coral Princess now docked in Miami has died.

In New Jersey, a mother, ICU doctor, is recovering from the virus anxious to hold the children she wasn't sure she'd see again. Dr. Julie John even made them a good-bye video.

DR. JULIE JOHN, ICU DOCTOR STRICKEN WITH CORONAVIRUS: I just wanted to tell my kids that they are the most important thing in the world to me. 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.

HILL (on camera): As for the Navy hospital ship Comfort which is docked here in New York City, it will not just be patients from New York going to that ship but New Jersey as well. The governor saying he received a call from President Trump, saying that his request for New Jersey patients to be treated on the Comfort had been granted.

Back to you.


CURNOW: OK. Thanks, Erica, for that update. Erica Hill there.

So, Donald Trump has repeatedly said no one could have predicted the coronavirus pandemic could have been so devastating.


But one of his top advisors did just that. In late January, "The New York Times" is reporting the president's trade adviser, Peter Navarro, wrote a memo warning officials the virus could put millions of lives at risk and cost the U.S. trillions of dollars. The memo says the lack of a cure or vaccine would leave Americans defenseless. We'll have more on this a little bit later on in the show.

Meanwhile, a few states across the U.S. are trying to figure out why African-Americans make up a higher percentage of its coronavirus victims. In Louisiana, for example, 70 percent of people who have died from the virus are African-American, yet African-Americans make up 32 percent of the overall population. And in Illinois, 72 percent of people who have died from the coronavirus in Chicago are black though they make up 30 percent of the population there.

Well, Dr. Raj Kalsi is an emergency room physician in Naperville, Illinois, just outside Chicago, and he joins us now.

Doctor, great to have you. Thanks for being on the show.

I know it's a difficult question to answer because a lot of the data isn't out yet, but is there anything you could add to why, in some places, African-Americans are dying more from this virus?

DR. RAJ KALSI, EMERGENCY MEDICINE PHYSICIAN: It's a great question. This whole thing with coronavirus and how it spreads is a great epidemiologic problem and so when we look at these things retrospectively, we look at socioeconomic status, we look at access to health care, we look at genetic predisposition. And we know as scientists, as doctors that certain groups of people are more vulnerable to onuses, and certain illnesses.

So, we're going to have to look back even 2022 to see what were the commonalities and what were the underlying conditions that perhaps they all encompassed. Unfortunately, right now, it's too soon to tell. But we could look at immediate things like access to health care, which is very, very important.

CURNOW: Yes, it certainly is. We know there is a disparity in health care for many across the U.S. and that often is along socioeconomic lines as well, even racial lines. In terms of what you're managing in your E.R., who's coming in and who do you think are already feeling -- who's feeling the brunt of this virus where you are?

KALSI: You know, it's interesting. Before this hit the shores of the U.S., we were all pretty comforted. I'm 40 years old myself. My wife's the same age. And we're all comforted selflessly that this was more of an illness for the elderly, or people with multiple comorbidities, meaning illnesses.

But we're seeing young people, 20, 30, 40-year-olds without any significant problems either come in and get ventilated, come in with severe illness enough to be admitted just with oxygen, or even die from this. I don't know what the data for 2021 is going to show when we look back at everything, but it seems like there's not any great disparity between anybody of any class.

CURNOW: How are you guys doing? I mean, it's obviously been relentless. The death toll keeps on rising. Hospital admissions continue to rise for you?

KALSI: You know, there is -- right now, there is a paucity, there is a lull in terms of our volumes. But we were warned by other states like New York and Seattle that we would see this. There would be a decrease in volume because people would be following social distancing, and we're awaiting our surge in the next four to seven days.

Unfortunately, the people that are coming are extremely sick. It's all COVID, in addition to a little bit of smattering of the traditional ER stuff that we see all the time. But the people that are coming in are extremely sick and sometimes getting ventilated. And on my off days, I'm helping out as much as I can by helping friends and family over text and phone just to help them deal with symptoms that they may have or a family may have because I don't want them having to be exposed to an ER or a hospital. And quite honestly, that's the highest risk place to be at right now?

CURNOW: Why? Why? And while you're describing why, if you could just also describe, what is it -- what's it like in that ER? You're seeing people come in. How sick are they? What do they look like?

And, obviously, you're having to tell family members to stay away. Just describe a normal day or night in the ER that you're dealing with.

KALSI: It's a great question. So, the shift starts with a full roster of rooms to see, and they could be as low acuity as the worried well we call it. People that had a sore throat, people that are otherwise healthy and had a fever and are extremely worried they have COVID, to the extremely sick, people with kidney failure, heart failure that have low oxygen saturations.


And all of them we have to protect ourselves and put on the correct PPE, and that takes so much time because I'm so nervous for my staff and myself. We need to protect ourselves.

So we bounce from room to room to room taking on, taking off this equipment, and for the critically ill that come in, everything comes to a grinding halt. The process of intubating somebody, ventilating them is a multiple hour process. The initial procedure itself just takes minutes but then once they're on a ventilator, we need to manage them with medications for up to an hour, two hours, depending on when the intensive care unit is ready to receive them.

It's highly stressful. There is a lot of anxiety, but I am fortunate to work with the most amazing nurses and health care workers that are just weathering this very, very well.

CURNOW: And you, too. Thanks so much for speaking to us and also for all the work you're doing. Please send the best to all of your team in the E.R. Appreciate it, Dr. Raj. Thanks so much. Good luck.

KALSI: Thank you, Robyn.

CURNOW: Well-done. Thank you.

KALSI: Thank you.

CURNOW: So you're watching CNN. So many heroes out there, aren't there? Wow. So, still to come here on CNN, as I said, global markets, that's another story, isn't it? Follow Wall Street's leading, gaining after weeks of worry. What's behind investor optimism? There's that question.

Plus, we'll take you behind one of New York City's emergency rooms battling coronavirus. You'll want to see this one.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The corridors lined with those suffering from coronavirus. Patients unresponsive, struggling to breathe.


CURNOW: An exclusive CNN report from the front lines of the pandemic. Stay with us. This is CNN.



CURNOW: Welcome back. I'm Robyn Curnow.

So, markets around the world are following Wall Street's lead. U.S. stocks had their best day in two weeks on Monday. Good news for some of you there.

And the U.S. futures indicate those gains will continue into Tuesday. Take a look at these numbers. Green arrows all around the board. Investors showing some optimism that the coronavirus crisis could be stabilizing.

Now, the momentum is even taking the U.K.'s FTSE strongly into the green as well despite news that the British PM's -- prime minister has moved to the intensive care unit with his worsening coronavirus symptoms.

So, let's talk about all of these numbers.

Christine Romans is in New York ahead of the Wall Street -- of Wall Street's open and Anna Stewart is watching the European markets in London.

Good to see you both, ladies.


CURNOW: Christine, to you first. Talk these numbers through for us.

ROMANS: Well, that was a big rally yesterday, no question. And I think the New York governor, Andrew Cuomo, saying the past couple of days you had seen a plateau in new cases. That -- that was something that caused a little bit of optimism here, but I would -- I would say caution should -- should rein here. Bear market rallies, as they're called, can be very convincing and can be temporary.

I mean, there's a hope that you're putting -- trying to put some floor here under the market but there's so much risk ahead. I mean, this is a health epidemic that we've never really seen play out. There's no playbook for this.

Janet Yellen, the former fed chief, said we probably already have 12 or 13 percent unemployment in this country. There's pretty -- pretty certain we're in a recession, a deep recession in the U.S. right now. So, there's a lot of risk how this plays out.

ROMANS: (AUDIO GAP) for that.

And, Anna Stewart, to you. Christine certainly speaking the truth there. A lot of risk. Deeply uncertain times, and it's certainly not over any time soon.

ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER: No, we're looking at the European indices, they follow Wall Street's lead in Asia overnight as well, all opening in the green. Xetra DAX up 3.4 percent, most nearly up 4 percent today. So, we are seeing perhaps some investors thinking they might be buying the deep here. Some indications that the pandemic is easing in Europe. But, of course, such early signs. Really too early to tell. You see

the FTSE 100 is also in the green. It is up despite the news about Prime Minister Boris Johnson going into intensive care last night.

However, we did see some reaction on the British pound. That dipped fairly sharply actually on the news, down to $1.22. If you got that up, $1.23. Now, some of that on course, also to do with the U.S. dollar. We some pullback last night as well.

This is the barometer we'll be watching going ahead in terms of political uncertainty in the U.K. This is the key barometer, of course, that we watch throughout. The Brexit drama seesaws (ph) up and down. There will be some concerns about succession with Boris Johnson if his condition continues to deteriorate -- Robyn.

CURNOW: OK. Thanks for that, Anna Stewart, Christine Romans, appreciate it. Have a lovely day.

So, the most senior Vatican official ever convicted of child sex abuse is now a free man. Cardinal George Pell walked out of prison JUST a few hours ago after Australia's high court overruled the conviction. It ruled the jury should have had reasonable doubt as to whether Pell was guilty. He spent more than a year behind bars and he has maintained his innocence throughout, saying he has no ill will towards his accuser.

So, you're watching CNN. Still to come, the latest on the British prime minister as he fights that coronavirus infection. We'll speak to a conservative MP about the situation in London.


DOMINIC RAAB, BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY: The prime minister is in safe hands with a brilliant team at Saint Thomas' Hospital, and the focus of the government will continue to be on making sure, at the prime minister's direction, all the plans for making sure that we can defeat the coronavirus and pull the country through this challenge will be taken forward.




CURNOW: So, in the U.S., New York is certainly being hard hit by this coronavirus pandemic, with nearly 70,000 confirmed cases. Healthcare workers and hospitals are certainly being pushed to their limits.

Well, Miguel Marquez is given exclusive access inside an emergency room to one of them.

Here's Miguel's story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The front line in the fight against coronavirus, the Brooklyn emergency room of SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University. Patient after patient struggling to breathe.

This morning has been brutal.

DR. CYNTHIA BENSON, EMERGENCY ROOM PHYSICIAN: Today is pretty intense. We've had a bunch of people die.

MARQUEZ: As we arrive in the E.R., the latest victim of coronavirus at SUNY Downstate is being wrapped up in the emergency room bay where doctors try to save them.

We visited SUNY Downstate for about three hours, midday Friday. In the short time we were there, in the emergency room alone, six patients coded. In other words, they suffered heart or respiratory failure. Four of them died -- a devastating part of just one day.

BENSON: This is what we train to do. This is what we signed up for, just not in this volume.

MARQUEZ: The corridors in the E.R. here lined with those suffering from coronavirus. Patients unresponsive struggling to breathe.


MARQUEZ: And it's not just in the emergency room where patients struggle to breathe and code.


MARQUEZ: While interviewing doctors in other parts of the hospital --


MARQUEZ: -- nearly constant overhead announcements.


MARQUEZ: -- that another patient has coded.


MARQUEZ: Those announcements for patients already admitted, not those in the E.R.

(on camera) : Can I just say for a second, this --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Code 99, nursing station 62.

MARQUEZ: This is the fifth or sixth code 99.

DR. ROBERT FORONJY, CHIEF OF PULMONARY & CRITICAL CARE MEDICINE, SUNY DOWNSTATE: Code 99 is typically a rare event. We're having I would say 10 code 99s every -- every 12 hours at least. MARQUEZ: Well, we've been here for about 30, 40 minutes and that's

the fifth or sixth one.

FORONJY: And a lot of that, what that represents is calling for a team to put an individual, a patient on a breathing machine.

DR. ROBERT GORE, EMERGENCY ROOM PHYSICIAN: This is definitely a disaster. It's kind of difficult to, for people from the general public who don't work in a hospital.