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Doctor Goes Back to Work After 10 Days in IU; New Zealand Has Only One Confirmed Case of Coronavirus Death After Lockdown; Domestic Violence Websites and Call Centers See Surge. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired April 8, 2020 - 15:30   ET



DR. TOMER SINGER, MEDICAL DIRECTOR, SHADY GROVE FERTILITY NEW YORK: -- therapy treatment so it's very important to remember that infertility is a disease that 15 percent of patients are suffering from infertility. And just to put fertility treatment on hold for 3 months, 6 months, we don't know how long, that puts even more pressure and more anxiety, and I think that we need to pay attention.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: That is like tragedy compounding tragedy when you put the perspective of what people are already going through with infertility and then having be told it needs to be on hold for an undetermined amount of time before they can continue on this their fight. That is cruel and unusual punishment in and of itself.

We've also heard, doctor, so many people say that it is helpful to hear about the experience of those who have survived COVID-19. You were in the ICU as you mentioned. How do you describe what that experience was like?

SINGER: So, it's a scary experience. You know, in medical school they tell us that there is something called ICU delirium but that's a real thing. You know, you're with fluorescent light and the machines are beeping, you get IV antibiotics on one hand, you get fluid on the other. They're coming with different, you know, medication regimen, chloroquine which I was prescribed right from the get-go, and you see the staff being very nervous and very compassionate at the same time. It is a new thing.

They're trying to figure out how to put their PPEs, how to examine me and, you know, some of the employees were my colleagues. I was there, you know, as a staff member, I was the vice chairman of Lennox Hill just six months ago. And you see that on one hand they want to do the best job, on the other hand they're really concerned. So, it is a humbling experience.

On the one hand they had time to do all their research because I was one of the first patient in the hospital and the first one in the ICU. On the other hand, you see that they're learning and, in a way, you're helping them learn what' the right treatment and your part of the treatment. So being a doctor and being a patient is a unique situation. I have utmost respect to my colleagues. One of the nurses who took care of me had a baby with me just a year and a half ago and suddenly she's my doctor. So that was a very humbling experience.

BOLDUAN: That's amazing. Would you say as a physician you are changed because of the experience that you went through?

SINGER: No doubt. I think that things are going to change, forever are going to change. And I think that being, you know, a physician and being dependent on some of my colleagues and nurses and the wonderful job that they did, puts things in perspective, what's really important, my wife, my three kids, my colleagues and just to be able to go back home and be with my family after two scary weeks in the hospital is definitely humbling.

Every patient I've been talking to since I explained my -- you know, my experience and understand what they're going through, even though I dealt with the life-threatening event with oxygen and corona and pneumonia, they're struggling with infertility but I think there is a lot of similarities. You're hoping to get through it and to get to where you hope to (INAUDIBLE) the child or whatever is to be back with the family.

BOLDUAN: Did you think at any moment you're going to die?

SINGER: Yes. Five days into the admission, my oxygen saturation really went down. The ICU attendant came to me and was talking to me about intubation and what it means and there's less than 50 percent survival once they put the tube. Yes, that was a scary moment, no question about it. I spoke to my wife, my kids. And in case I'm not going to be coming out of it. But that was probably the most powerful moment in my admission.

BOLDUAN: Doctor Singer, thank you so much for what do you. Thank you for coming in and talking to me.

SINGER: Thank you, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Coming up, how one country seems to have already dramatically flattened the curve. Why are many looking to New Zealand now to find out what went right? We'll be back.



BOLDUAN: Looking across the country, Chicago is turning a warehouse into a temporary morgue for a potential surge of coronavirus deaths.

Let's check in with our reporters across the country. Starting with CNN's Ryan Nobles and a huge political headline in the midst of this pandemic.


RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Ryan Nobles in Burke, Virginia, and Bernie Sanders campaign for President has come to an end. More than a year after Sanders launched his second bid for the White House. Sanders telling supporters today that he is suspending his campaign because he does not believe he has a viable path to beating Joe Biden.

Now Sanders did say that he would ultimately support Joe Biden but said that he would remain on the ballot through the convention to collect delegates and exert influence over the Democratic Party platform when the convention rolls around later this summer. And Sanders has said from the beginning that he would support the Democratic nominee and that's what he plans to do after exiting the race today.



OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Omar Jimenez in Chicago, where officials are on the verge of getting operational a refrigerated warehouse to potentially store bodies in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

Day one they say they'll be able to receive about 400 bodies but by the time it's said and done they say their capacity will be over 1,500. It is a place they say they hope they don't have to use but the reality is, it's a place they are preparing to use.


BOLDUAN: So much for that. Go hard, go early.


That is the message from one world leader who has, it appears, managed to flatten the curve, get a handle on the coronavirus and do so with only one death so far. What New Zealand's Prime Minister has done. Could it be a lesson for rest of the world?

CNN's Ivan Watson has more.


IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the midst of a deadly pandemic sweeping the globe, the leader of New Zealand sounds a note of optimism.

JACINDA ARDERN, PRIME MINISTER, NEW ZEALAND: -- that I remain cautiously optimistic that we're starting to turn a corner.

WATSON: Since the beginning of the outbreak, New Zealand has identified more than 1,200 coronavirus cases and suffered just one death.

(on camera): Do you think New Zealand has lessens to offer other countries with how it has dealt with this crisis?

SIOUXSIE WILES, MICROBIOLOGIST, UNIVERSITY OF AUCKLAND: I think the go hard, go early is the lesson. But obviously we're not out of the woods yet. WATSON (voice-over): New Zealand identified its first case of

coronavirus on February 28th, less than three weeks later Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced New Zealand would become one of the first democracies to shut its borders.

ARDERN: From 11:59 p.m. tonight we will close our border to any nonresidents and citizens attempting to travel here.

WATSON: The ban on foreign visitors a dramatic move for an island nation whose economy depends on tourism.

ARDERN: So please take it seriously. This is about saving lives.

WATSON: Two days later a rare address from the Prime Minister's office, not seen in New Zealand in decades outlining a response plan. Just four days after that, Ardern imposed a state of emergency and announced a nationwide shut down.

ARDERN: So we head into the next four weeks, stay at home. It will break the chain of transmission and it will save lives.

WATSON: Enforcement hasn't been easy. Police received tens of thousands of reports of people ignoring the lockdown, including these surfers. But the most egregious case came from the country's health minister.


WATSON: Ardern demoted but did not fire him after he drove his family to the beach for a walk.

CLARK: I'm an idiot. If I'm being frank and I understand why people will be angry with me.

WATSON: Ardern was thrust into the international spotlight last year when an Australian gunman massacred Muslims in the city of Christchurch. 72 hours after the deadliest mass shooting in New Zealand's history, Ardern announced a ban on semi-automatic weapons. While also consoling a traumatized nation.

ARDERN: Evening everyone.

WATSON: In this latest crisis, the 39-year-old has shown her softer side. Broadcasting live on Facebook in a sweatshirt and sending a message to children that despite the lockdown, the Easter bunny is still in essential worker.

ARDERN: And if the Easter bunny doesn't make it to your household, then we have to understand that it's a bit difficult at moment for the bunny to perhaps get everywhere.

WATSON: It is far too early to say whether New Zealand's strategy will succeed but there may be some lessons here for other countries grappling with coronavirus.

(END VIDEOTAPE) WATSON: And Kate, that's the whole point here with a global pandemic. As we can look at different countries, see what's worked and what hasn't worked. Clearly New Zealand seems to be on the right track for the moment.

The city I'm in currently, Hong Kong, which has a population close to the size of New York City which is right next to mainland China and has a very high population density, it's been basically under lockdown since the end of January, and it is only had four deaths and less than a thousand confirmed cases.

And it just makes you wonder if some of these strategies perhaps had been adopted in the U.S. earlier, how many lives could have been saved?

BOLDUAN: Well, it definitely makes you wonder. Ivan, thank you so much. Great reporting.

Coming up, as Americans are told to stay home, a disturbing trend. Traffic on domestic violence assistance websites are seeing a surge. What does this mean? what are cities doing to help? We'll be back.



BOLDUAN: Since the outbreak hit, the State of New York has been under a stay-at-home order. Officials are reporting visits to New York's domestic violence resource site, NYC Hope, the visits have more than doubled. Add to that, in New York City, like many other places, city offices were victims of abuse can physically visit to get assistance, they're closed. This is putting a spotlight on a troubling consequence of the fight against the virus, forcing people to stay home when home might be the most dangerous place for them.

Joining right now is Ariel Zwang. She's CEO of Safe Horizon, a nonprofit that run's New York City's domestic violence hotline. It's the largest provider of services to victims of crime and abuse in the country.

Ariel, thank you for being here. What are you seeing --

ARIEL ZWANG, CEO, SAFE HORIZON (via Cisco Webex): Thank you, Kate.

BOLDUAN: -- hearing on the ground, are you seeing increases?

ZWANG: Well, we're certainly hearing about increased threats, increased uncertainty, and those are all elements of what can make a violent situation worse. Although, as you mentioned, the visits to the website are up, our hotline calls are down by about 20 percent versus last year at this time.

And our concern is that people don't know that we're open for business, that our essential services are operating in person, and that a lot of help is available over the phone and over the web. And we're here to do that.


BOLDUAN: That gets me to -- because this really is a perfect storm, if you will. When the State mandates that you stay at home, that means people in abusive relationships could be essentially required to stay at home with their abusers while there's additional stresses, jobs lost, the economy in the tank. I mean, what is your biggest fear here?

ZWANG: Well, our biggest fear now is the same as our biggest fear always, which is that heaven forbid, someone in a violent situation experiences that violence, is harmed, their children are harmed, and even worse, and we're dealing with a situation where there's terrible loss of life in general, that could result as well.

We know that the primary driver of homicides against women is domestic violence. So, I'm very hopeful that that will not be the case because there are still so many resources available for people to reach out for help, even while they are in this terrible situation.

BOLDUAN: Yes. Do you think the city and the state were prepared for this?

ZWANG: I don't think anyone in society fully expected the magnitude of this. And I will say that we have seen tremendous flexibility in the police, in the courts, in allowing us to serve clients remotely. We're able to get orders of protection remotely. So, we're very pleased with those partnerships and how they are allowing us to help serve victims.

BOLDUAN: I have to tell you, my heart really broke when I read a piece that you wrote for CNN about your concerns for children particularly at this time. For everyone out there, just think of it, schools being closed means fewer eyes on children, those eyes normally able to spot who is struggling and who has been hurt. What are you hearing on that front -- Ariel?

ZWANG: Exactly what you said, Kate, that, you know, those reports of child abuse are way, way down, and that doesn't mean that it's not happening. It means that those doctors and social workers and teachers and just neighbors or anyone who might see a child being maltreated and call it in because that's what they're mandated to do, or that any of us can do as a responsibility to other human beings, that's just happening less.

So, what we're bracing ourselves for and encouraging our government partners to be very much aware of is, once things get back to normal, we expect to see a big spike in requests from both adult and child victims who need our help and hunkered down during this terrible time, but will need help that they can't necessarily get all of which right now.

BOLDUAN: Yes. You touched on it a bit, but can you just describe how you are adjusting in this new reality of social distancing and still trying to provide help? ZWANG: Absolutely. About three-quarters of our staff at Safe Horizon

are operating remotely. And that means they're providing therapy, counseling, groups, helping people navigate an order of protection, helping people's safety plans, a plan for how can I be safer, even in this terrible situation. So about three-quarters of our staff are doing that.

And then the other quarter are on site in essential services, just like, you know, police and fire and other essential services, so is domestic violence shelter, so are our centers where abused kids are treated, so are our homeless youth programs. And those are places that our staff are putting their own health at risk to go in every day and make sure that we're there for victims who need our help.

BOLDUAN: Ariel, thank you so much for coming in to talk about this. And I want to make sure that we put up on the screen for you the National Domestic Violence Hotline and Ariel's organization, the Hotline for Safe Horizon. Thank you so much, Ariel, I really appreciate it.

Coming up for us, even as the projections for the national death toll are down, some states may see more lives lost than initially projected. We'll discuss with Dr. Sanjay Gupta, ahead.



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

And we begin this hour with a warning from the nation's top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci. He says, this will be a, quote, bad week for deaths, unquote.

And moments ago, the death toll in the United States of coronavirus as compiled by Johns Hopkins University surpassed 14,000 deaths, it is specifically 14,262. To give you an idea of how quickly this is spreading and killing, this time last week at the beginning of April, the death toll from coronavirus was about a third of that, 4,500. And health experts say that number is likely an undercount because of the lag in test production and how much the system is currently overwhelmed.

And today yet another grim milestone, coronavirus has now killed more people so far in the United States in just six weeks than the H1N1 pandemic killed in all of 2009.

Dr. Fauci calling this week, quote, sobering. As Dr. Deborah Birx of the White House Coronavirus Task Force explains, there is new concern that Washington, D.C. --