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Nurse Comes out of Retirement to Help; Wisconsin Holds Primary Today; Coronavirus Across the Nation; Answers to Your Coronavirus Questions. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired April 7, 2020 - 08:30   ET



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: The need for doctors and nurses has inspired some retirees across the country to go back to work, rejoining the front lines now in the fight against coronavirus.

Joining us now is Juliana Morawski. She's a retired nurse. She is currently volunteering for the McHenry County Health Department in Illinois.

Nurse Moravsky, it's great to talk to you. You were retired. You were out of this racket. Why did you answer the call to come back?

JULIANA MORAWSKI, RETIRED ER NURSE: Well, like every emergency department or emergency services person, action is better than inaction.

CAMEROTA: But do you worry about your own health in going back?

MORAWSKI: You know, you'd be -- it would be foolish not to be concerned about it, but I don't want to have worry or fear rule my life. So I'm cautious, but I'm not worried.

CAMEROTA: Look, it sounds like you're just not built that way. You were an ER nurse for 30 years, OK. That's -- you are different than the rest of us. You are somebody who doesn't run from stress and danger and hard situations. You dive in to it. And we applaud you for doing that.

But is this time around different than what you used to have to contend with during those 30 years? Is there anything else you can liken this to?

MORAWSKI: No, actually not. The thing that's different about it now is because we're all under, not only duress, but we're under threat more than any other time I can remember in emergency medicine. I'm not a first responder, so I don't run into fires, but I've never seen emergency departments or nursing or any of the services actually in general under so much threat. And, you know, it's a family. So when family is threatened, you try to step up as much as you can.

CAMEROTA: When you say you're under threat, what feels most threatening?

MORAWSKI: I would say the virus itself. The load of patients. They're, you know, suddenly we're getting -- they're getting inundated. And the -- unfortunately, the lack of equipment that's, you know, out there for folks.

That is a huge issue. And it's kind of like everybody lionizes the emergency responders and first responders as essential workers and we -- and we are, along with everyone else that's working as an essential worker. But we're not martyrs. And I think it's very difficult for those of us who have worked this many years to actually have -- feel threat from our own environment also. Does that make sense?

CAMEROTA: It makes perfect sense. And that's why I wonder how it is that you do it.

So when you show up every day, do you have the protective gowns and gloves and masks and everything that you need and do your colleagues?

MORAWSKI: Well, you know, I'm not working in the ER now, I'm working at the Department of Health just answering phones. I hope -- I will go back to the ER if needed when the crush comes here in the Chicagoland area. I certainly hope I will -- can.

It seems here that they are -- from what I -- speaking with colleagues, it seems that they're doing OK here, but it's like New York, when the crush comes, are you going to have enough? We have never worn the same mask for -- between patients for the whole day, ever. I mean that's just so against every rule of infectious -- infection control. You know you get really concerned about folks getting contaminated, getting injured or ill or dying.

CAMEROTA: You know, I've been talking to some of the doctors in New Jersey and they say that, yes, there's a couple of different responses to being called back into duty or having to do a different duty. You know, some are surgeons. They've never been in the ER, but now they have to go into a Covid unit and help out because, like you, it's all hands on deck.

And so there's often camaraderie of feeling that you're all in this together, and I -- and I want to know if you're feeling that. But there's also anxiety because people are playing different roles, as you are, than you used to.

MORAWSKI: Absolutely. I mean I couldn't agree more. There's that camaraderie, which is overwhelming at times, you know. You want to be in the thick of it. You want to help. You want to make sure that you are alleviating some of the stress on other folks and helping.


But then the stress of being -- for example, for me, doing what I'm doing now is difficult because I want to be in the thick of it. I don't -- you know, I'm not used to kind of sitting around and doing what I consider less than I'm capable of. And I'm sure the surgeons are having trouble with going into the Covid units. They're -- this is completely out of their realm of, you know, their usual practice.

And it's difficult because if you're not used to, for example, walking into a Covid unit, if you're a surgeon, or a family practice doctor, there's a lot to be learned as far as taking on and putting off the PPE. That takes time. And it takes time to understand that you have to have it on when you go in, even if there's a dire emergency in the room.

I read a comment from a nurse that worked in the Ebola outbreak and she said, you know, there is no emergency in a pandemic. So, in other words, put your stuff on before you get in that room. And that's a difficult lesson to learn for any emergency responder or any person in medicine or nursing or I would imagine the first responders also.

CAMEROTA: For sure.

Well, we appreciate you diving back in and helping out the hospital, however you can. Nurse Juliana Morawski, thank you very much.

MORAWSKI: Thank you very much. Stay healthy.

CAMEROTA: Thank you. You too.


CAMEROTA: So voters are heading to the polls in the middle of this pandemic. The latest battle over today's primary in Wisconsin. What a court battle has said.



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Wisconsin voters actually heading to the polls this morning after the Supreme Court overruled the government's attempt to postpone today's primary.

CNN's Omar Jimenez live in Milwaukee with the latest on this.

It's remarkable, in this time of social distancing, to hear and see behind you people going to the polls.


And this came after a lot of debate, especially over the course of the past 24 hours. The polls here in Wisconsin are open and there are people literally lined up at this polling location here, one of five locations in Milwaukee. Before polls opened, they were lined up along the side of this high school here and around the corner and up a little bit of the block nearby.

So, I mentioned there was a complicated debate to get to here. Let's just start with absentee ballots, for example.

So, last week, there was a federal court order extending the amount of time that these absentee ballots could be accepted through April 13th. But then yesterday the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that those absentee ballots must be postmarked by today and received by April 13th.

And the reason that's important is there are over a million absentee ballots requested here in Wisconsin so far. Thousands of them have been requested, but they won't be received in time to be postmarked by today. Which means, voters essentially have to choose between potentially risking their safety and coming out to vote in person, or not voting at all. And that's just the absentee ballot portion of this.

Then there's the politics. Democratic Governor Tony Evers wanted to delay this election, did not want it to happen today. So he tried to go through his Republican-led legislature, but they struck him down. So, yesterday, he issued an executive order delaying this election to June 9th. That was immediately appealed by the Republican-led legislature to the Republican-led state supreme court, who voted to keep the election happening today.

So after that pair of losses, Governor Tony Evers issued a statement last night, reading, tomorrow -- today -- in Wisconsin, thousands will wake up and have to choose between exercising their right to vote and staying healthy and safe. In this time of historic crisis, it's a shame that two branches of government in this state chose to pass the buck instead of taking responsibility for the health and safety of the people we were elected to serve.

And while Wisconsin isn't necessarily a coronavirus hot spot compared to some of the other states we have seen, we have seen how quickly these situations can change and only time will tell as to whether in person voting today will play a factor in any rising numbers.


CAMEROTA: Thank you very much, Omar.

So, the U.S. Navy says a crew member of the hospital ship docked in New York is being isolated after testing positive for coronavirus. The crew of the Comfort is also getting ready to receive other coronavirus patients for the first time. That and more from our reporters across the country.


ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Erica Hill in New York, where the Navy hospital ship Comfort will soon begin receiving patients from both New York and New Jersey. New Jersey now has the second highest number of cases in the nation, more than 41,000. The state's governor saying today that while they are flattening the curve, now is not time to take your foot off the gas, noting there is still at least a week and a half to go until they hit that critical apex.


That's the TCF center behind me. And right now Army Corps of Engineers workers are working on the inside to try to get the buildout for a field hospital. A thousand beds will be put into that facility. We got a firsthand look on the inside. We saw a triage center, a facility for pharmaceuticals, and we saw the bed space that's going to be in there to help the overflow of patients from the hospitals here in the Detroit area.

We also know the state has picked a second site with a thousand person buildout that they're planning there as well. That's because of the overflow of ICU patients all across this state. They're starting to focus down and get ready for this next peak that they're expecting.


About 24,000 Americans abroad are still seeking assistance from the U.S. government to get back home. Now, these are Americans who are stuck in countries that either closed down their international air space or closed their borders as the coronavirus pandemic took root worldwide.

And the State Department has already helped about 45,000 Americans get back to the United States.


And that assistance will continue, but it won't continue for forever. State Department officials say that in the coming weeks, they're preparing to terminate that assistance. So if Americans want to get home, they need to seek assistance to do so now.


BERMAN: Thanks to all of our reporters spread out across the country.

So many developments on the pandemic each hour. Here's what to watch today.


ON SCREEN TEXT: TBA, New York Governor Cuomo briefing.

3:00 p.m. ET, Trump gives small business relief update.

5:00 p.m. ET, White House task force briefing.


BERMAN: So you have many questions about the coronavirus pandemic. Dr. Sanjay Gupta has answers, next.



BERMAN: All right, we've been asking you to send in your questions about coronavirus. You have obliged. And CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta back to answer some of them.

So Alisyn wanted to start with meat today. So let me ask this question from Syed.

CAMEROTA: Every day, Sanjay.


BERMAN: He writes, is it safe to buy meat or fish from a supermarket or any meat shop? Even though we wash it before cooking, my concern is that the coronavirus may have contaminated the meat or fish.

GUPTA: Yes, so this is a -- you know, it's a common question. And I think there's two important points. This is not a foodborne illness, which means this virus is not something that if it gets in your food, and then you eat that food, you're going to get the virus that way, because, you know, your stomach acid breaks this virus up.

There are some viruses that are foodborne, norovirus, for example, that is a good example of one. But not this one.

Now, if you touch it, if you touch the packaging, for example, and then touch your eyes, your nose, or your mouth, you could potentially get it that way, although even that is pretty unlikely. So don't worry so much about the food. This is more of a respiratory virus.

CAMEROTA: I really appreciate that because I was interested in the meat because I was ordering lamb for Easter this weekend and wondering how to do it. You've just made me feel better. Thank you very much.

Moving on.

GUPTA: That's what I'm here for. OK.

CAMEROTA: To Deirdre in Washington, D.C. Disinfectants like Lysol, hydrogen peroxide and alcohol, they're not on the shelves. House bleach is gone too.


CAMEROTA: So with those facts, what is truly effective for cleaning counters and groceries, if she can't use those?

GUPTA: You know, I've just got to say, these questions are such good questions and they're questions that come up in my own household and among my friends all the time. I think everyone's asking these same questions.

Here's something that we learned. I think this is going to be really helpful. The EPA has a -- the EPA website, they have this really interesting chart where you can start to find other products now because so many of the products you just listed are, you know, that's we've run out or they're out of stock at least in your store for now.

But things like vinegar, things like certain types of other chemicals, propylene, bromide I believe was one of them. There are other chemicals out there that are in products, they list the product as well that you can buy, that can actually do some of the same things you're trying to do. So find that -- find that website, look up some of these products because they may be able to address the shortfall that we have, at least for now.

Also, you know, look, just remember soap and water, at least when it comes to your hands and maybe even some of the surfaces. The CDC has a little formula on their website about how to make your own cleaner as well when you're running out of these products. So we're all sort of, you know, having to MacGyver it a bit right now. But soap and water, keep that in your -- in the -- on the -- on the option list as well because that's the easiest one.

BERMAN: And duct tape. That's what MacGyver always has with him, duct tape.

GUPTA: That too. That's right.

BERMAN: I don't know how it's going to clean, but just have duct tape available should you need it.

Sanjay, I'm --

GUPTA: We do brain surgery with duct tape. It was amazing.

BERMAN: I have no doubt that you did.

Listen, I want to skip to the bottom of the list, on the subject (ph) of questions that come up in my house, Sanjay. This comes from Melissa. She writes, what precautions should my family take if we live with someone who is considered an essential worker?

Now, I'm not suggesting I'm essential, but I am coming to work. And this is a question that my family has? What should we be doing?

GUPTA: Yes. And, you know, I just -- I give a lot of gratitude to the essential workers out there because they're going out and doing this work where they may, you know, become exposed and then they've got to go home. And that psychological sort of impact, I think, is really significant.

Look, you know, you -- you -- everyone has to behave like they have the virus. We've been saying that for some time. I think for essential workers who come home, there are some, you know, basic precautions, taking your clothes, throwing those clothes in the laundry, doing that yourself, if you can. Making sure you wash your hands afterward. If you do develop any symptoms at all, obviously staying home, not going out potentially infecting other people.

And to the extent that you can, and I realize this is not easy, I go through this in my own household as well, trying to even isolate yourself within your own house. I'm pretty much living in the basement nowadays. But having your own cutlery and that that sort of stuff I think is important.

Just basically it's a respiratory virus. It's not something that's going to, you know, spread throughout the house. If you can maintain some social distance and not contaminate surfaces that the rest of your family uses, and make sure you clean those surfaces, it goes a long way. I know it's an unseen enemy, so it's hard to sometimes get that across, but it can go a long way.


CAMEROTA: Sanjay, you really do it all, man. From, you know, cooking tips to cleaning tips. You've covered it all.

GUPTA: Don't forget the marriage tips. We did that last week.


CAMEROTA: I know. Today we didn't have any marriage questions for you, but I'm sure tomorrow we will.

Thank you very much, Sanjay.

GUPTA: OK. All right. You got it.

BERMAN: All right, time now for "The Good Stuff."

Nine-year-old Liam Barrett in Henderson, North Carolina, is making thank you cards and delivering them to essential workers at the grocery store and local pharmacy.


LIAM BARRETT: You don't have to be an adult to be thankful. You can do that while you're a kid still. Since the coronavirus is now going around, and it's spreading way more than it used to, I know that it will make their day probably.


BERMAN: OK, he's the best.

Also the best, in Ohio, Kyle West, or mailman Kyle, as he is called, offered to help deliver essentials like milk and toilet paper to seniors. So far the response has been overwhelming.

CAMEROTA: Where's Kyle getting the toilet paper is all I want to know.

Thank you very much for those stories.

CNN's coverage continues, next.