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Interview with Woman Who Lost Daughter to Coronavirus; New Lower Estimates of Deaths Due to Coronavirus Spread Released; Gov. Phil Murphy (D-NJ) is Interviewed About the Coronavirus Pandemic. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired April 8, 2020 - 08:00   ET


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: I know that you're there with her own service dog. I know that you have Leilani's dog with you, who is there to help her. It's just, it's beautiful what she did despite her disability.

ZENOBIA SHEPHERD, LOST HER 27-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER TO CORONAVIRUS: This is angel. Angel was her service dog. Leilani was her mommy, and she has been so confused. She's been so nervous and depressed because she misses her mommy.

CAMEROTA: I know that --

SHEPHERD: She misses her mommy.

CAMEROTA: Of course she does. Of course she does. And of course you miss your daughter. We feel it. This is not supposed to be happening. She's too young and her heart was too big of wanting to help people through this. And, of course, she should have been protected. I know that when she got to the hospital, she was given that experimental drug that we hear so much about, the hydroxychloroquine, but it didn't help.

SHEPHERD: Yes. It didn't help. They gave her -- they gave it to her over and over again, and they were getting ready to transfer her. The doctor told me, he says, well, there is one other hope we have, one other hope. We're going to -- we're going to transfer her to Inova Fairfax where they have a process called Echo. What is it that they do?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the Echo, what it does is it takes the blood out the body and you put it into like a dialysis filter. And it actually puts oxygen in the blood and then pump it back into the body, so it is like a false alarm to get the body a chance to try to fight to stay alive. But as soon as they took her off of the system at Walter Reed --

SHEPHERD: Trying to transfer her.


SHEPHERD: It was over. It was over. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. But the good thing that Leilani did is she

actually getting anybody, they have passwords on their phones, she took her password off of her phone, she made a video saying goodbye to us and wished everybody the best. And after that they put the tube down her and she had passed away. So when I was going through her stuff, and when I got home, just I know this phone is locked. Opened the phone up, it wasn't locked, and played with her phone and got to the video. And she was -- she told us bye, her sisters, Angel, bye, and all her friends. She told them see her on the other side.

SHEPHERD: She said, she said, I never worked at - again, so 27 years old, vulnerable, just wanting to give back to society. Just wanting to give back to society. Now her little sisters are going to miss her so much.

CAMEROTA: Of course, they are. And how incredible that she had the presence of mind, though she was sick, to be able to say goodbye to you on that video. That is incredible, and incredibly powerful and really profound. I know you guys are struggling with her funeral costs. We want to put up the GoFundMe page that you all have here. We know that you need help. We are sure that our viewers will be able to reach deep and try to help you guys. So here it is, Leilani Butterfly Celebration of Life Fund.

Zenobia, we feel your heart break. Charles, thank you, both, for sharing the story of Leilani with us. She sounds like a really incredible person.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very much.

SHEPHERD: Please put the words out. Let people know, protect the seniors and protect those that are vulnerable, class, the vulnerable class. We have got to look out for the people with disabilities. We have got to -- we got to take this serious. It is no time to cut back on the supplies and the resources. We need more to help. Grocery stores are where everybody goes.

CAMEROTA: You're so right. We all are relying on grocery stores and our clerks there. And I think that Leilani's life just shows the risk that they are taking to serve all of us, and so you have done a great job of getting that message out. Thank you, both, very much.

SHEPHERD: Thank you. Thank you so much. I always miss my baby, forever. Forever. Forever. Forever. Forever.

CAMEROTA: We'll check back with you.

SHEPHERD: She's gone. I know she's in heaven. She's reaching out, reaching out, pulling anybody in and welcoming them and making them feel better, because that's how she is. She loves everybody. She loves everybody.


CAMEROTA: Heaven does have another angel, and we hear that too. And so we'll check back with you. I'll put the GoFundMe page on my Facebook as well today. We'll call you guys in a few hours and check in. Thank you, both.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very much.

SHEPHERD: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: We have a big update on the projected human toll in the United States from coronavirus. NEW DAY continues right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, welcome back to NEW DAY. We just watched an incredibly powerful interview with the parents of a young woman who died at a grocery store, died from coronavirus, and it's a reminder, Alisyn, that for all the numbers that we hear, for the thousands of people dying every day, for the projections about how many people will die, the most important number to you or your family is one. That one person you know, that one person you love who has passed away. And the death of Leilani has affected that family in such a profound way. And I think we all need to think of that number, one, when we're thinking about this pandemic right now.

CAMEROTA: Yes. And, John, we talk about all of the healthcare workers on the front lines and the E.R., and of course they deserve our awe and applause as well. But everybody is relying on their grocery stores right now, and you can't do without them. And I thought that her mom made that point really powerfully.

BERMAN: Right. Again, and one death that didn't need to happen is too many. However, many thousands ultimately die from this.

So this morning there is a new projection of the total Americans who could die from coronavirus. The University of Washington now estimates 60,000 people could be dead by August. That is lower than the projection we were hearing from the White House last week of 100,000 to 240,000.

I want to bring in Dr. Sanjay Gupta now, and also Dr. Rochelle Walensky from Mass General Hospital in Boston. Sanjay, first, I just want your reaction to what we just heard, the story of that young woman who worked at a grocery store, what her family is going through, it is a reminder that the front lines here aren't always necessarily in an ambulance or in a hospital.

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right, John. And we see these numbers on the screen right now, and we're going to do this modeling segment, and it is really hard to talk about things in such generalities. You hear these stories from people like Leilani's family, and I -- we did this segment yesterday about the disproportionate impact on certain segments of the population. To your point, John, front line workers who are making the country run right now, whether it be in grocery stores or pharmacies or food delivery or whatever it may be, they are putting themselves at risk. It is just the case.

And we hear lots of different stories, but it is hard, I guess, to talk about these general models and general numbers. It's always just worth reminding people. It was just quite striking, as a parent as well, to see that pain. And you wonder if her mom's pain will ever go away. I don't think it will ever go away. But I do -- you just want to send them a lot of love, a lot of energy.

CAMEROTA: I think that your point is well taken, Sanjay, in terms of which communities are being hit hardest. Dr. Walensky, we just heard her mom say that they weren't equipped with the right protective gear. She felt strongly about showing up to her job and protecting the elderly who were coming in. But it's not just at hospitals where, obviously, you have to have the right protective gear, that she didn't have enough hand sanitizer and masks and everything else.

And it is just a reminder for all of us not to be careless obviously. Some of us do forget to hand sanitize every minute or so or whatever this takes at the moment, and she was -- it sounds like she was in the thick of it.

DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CHIEF OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES, MASSACHUSETTS GENERAL HOSPITAL: Right. Good morning, John and Alisyn. I want to remind people how quickly this pandemic has turned, at least in this country, and others as well, from a disease of people who had resources, who were traveling on airplanes and on cruise ships, to ones who often didn't. So a lot of what we're seeing now, and I think you started to discuss this, is people in more vulnerable communities, crowded communities, less access to healthcare, less ability to socially distance because they live seven in a small apartment, and less ability to really stop working because they rely on a paycheck, and in fact, more ability and bigger hearts to really want to give back to others.

BERMAN: So, Sanjay, let's dig in a little bit to the numbers that were released just a few hours ago. This is out of Washington. This is that model that people are looking at more than any others. And the projection of total deaths has been revised downward. Why, and what does that tell you?


GUPTA: Well, I think that the -- they're starting it look at other data coming in from places, other countries around the world besides China. I think generally when you talk to the people who were creating these models initially, they said here's what happened in China, those were pretty stringent stay at home orders, lockdown orders. If we don't do the exact same thing here, here's what the numbers are going to look like.

I think that generally that remains the case, but I think what they have seen now is some evidence of success in other countries that have had significant stay at home orders, but maybe not as stringent as what we saw in China.

Also, a lot of what you see in terms of these tragic death tolls is not just from the virus itself. The virus is a bad virus obviously. But it is the strain on the medical system that really drives -- causes the difference in fatality rates between countries. The United States, as you had the mayor on earlier, maybe redlining, as they put it, with regard to medical supplies. But they're keeping up so far. So if that continues, that would obviously bring down these death projections as well.

So people get infected, a smaller percentage get hospitalized, a smaller percentage die. If the hospitalization rates go down and they're able to keep up, that should drive down the death rates.

CAMEROTA: So Dr. Walensky, we talked for days about these rolling peaks, what might be moving across the country. If New York is plateauing, and it is too early to declare that, as the mayor told us, but if that is happening, this was a big hot spot, all eyes on New York. I know you've been grappling with what is happening in Massachusetts, where is the next peak that we should be looking for?

WALENSKY: Well, I want to convey some optimism here as we start to see the numbers plateau, or we hope we're seeing the numbers plateau. But I want to also convey the need to be completely and entirely vigilant through this process. If you're standing on a battlefield with casualties behind you, you might be optimistic if the firing is less intense, but you're not ready to declare victory.

So I would say there are still people coming in the door. Maybe they're coming in at a slower pace. But we're not really ready to let our guard down. And I would say if some of the surge planning in New York is anything like what we're looking at in Massachusetts, the New York hospitals are still filled with places that have outpatient nurses staffing inpatients, they're using O.R. ventilators for ICU ventilators. And so I really think we need to continue the vigilance and really watch for a steady decline, a steep decline, before we're ready to declare any victory.

BERMAN: Before we declare any victory, which is why, Sanjay, I do want to show you a picture from yesterday. This was in Wisconsin where people did vote in an election that was held yesterday. We can throw it up on the screen just so people can see. I guess people are spaced out there, there are people wearing masks. But I'm not asking you to weigh in about voter rights or anything like that, just as a doctor, when you see pictures of people lined up anywhere right now in America, what is your reaction?

GUPTA: My reaction is that no matter how judicious they are, and they're trying to be judicious, the masks and the physical distance, it is very hard to also not potentially spread the virus. It is a contagious virus. One person spreads it to two or three people. You're touching surfaces, despite your best efforts, you may congregate to some extent. So it is a new world, I think, for a lot of people. They're seeing this for first time. I think they're still grappling with it.

But I think the science is pretty clear, and situations like that may unnecessarily put people at risk. It's going to be a balance, as you're alluding to, John, ultimately. But I think right now from a medical standpoint, there is no question what needs to be done. People need to stay home unless it is something essential, and doing the frontline work that we were just talking about.

CAMEROTA: So Dr. Walensky, I really appreciate your admonition that nobody should exhale now, and we don't know what is happening in New York, and certainly if you look at the hospitals, those are not giving us yet a sign of anybody being able to rest on their laurels. But what are you looking at today and this week?

WALENSKY: Yes, I am watching those numbers, as is everybody else. Certainly, I would love to see this plateau. I know it has been said, but I think it merits repeating that we are going to see death rates continue to be higher than that plateau. So we know that the death rates will lag behind the incoming into the hospital by about two weeks.


So, it may very well be discordant that the death rates are high and the patients coming into the hospital will steady out. If we are able to get those to plateau, it would really be great to see the steep decline that we're hoping that social distancing has allowed to happen.

And I would say, you know, in response to some of the modeling, we didn't know in the models whether the social distancing would work. We didn't know how many people would comply, we didn't know how many states would enact. So I think that some of the models can revisit their assumptions and put in better social distancing numbers and that may be one of the impacts of this as well.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Dr. Walensky, Dr. Gupta, thank you for being with us this morning.

Sanjay, we'll check back in with you in just a little bit.

New York and New Jersey account for more than half of all coronavirus deaths in the U.S. New Jersey's governor joins us next.


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: New Jersey just had its deadliest day yet of the coronavirus, 232 people lost their lives. Governor Phil Murphy closing state and county parks to try to fully flatten the curve, and he has this message for people violating social distancing rules. Quote: To all the jackasses out there who we now have to carry, get with the program.


We know who you are and we will not relent until we have 100 percent compliance.

Joining us now is New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy.

Governor Murphy, great to see you. I know you've had a rough day with the deadliest day so far. I know it will be another busy day.

But about those jackasses, who are they and what are you going to do to them?

GOV. PHIL MURPHY (D), NEW JERSEY: Good to be with you.

Listen, the great news, Alisyn, is overwhelmingly New Jersey is complying, and that's -- that's an important point I have to make. And, secondly, if you're watching from Jersey, please stay home. Don't go out of your house. Don't go out unless you absolutely have to.

The very small fraction of people who are not complying and not cooperating, it's a mix. It's up and down the state. It's folks who I think see this as something abstract. They don't think it could touch them and the problem is we now know enough to know it can touch anybody.

Again, most importantly, folks are complying and staying at home and we need them to continue to do that, particularly with the big religious holidays we have upon us.

CAMEROTA: So, let's talk about that, because I know that you're saying that this Holy Week, and these holidays that people like to be together, of course, everyone likes to break bread and share a meal, for Passover, for Easter. So, is that your biggest concern today?

MURPHY: It's among them. I mean, we're basically, Alisyn, fighting a war with two fronts, and it's actually incredibly challenging, but quite simple to describe.

Over -- over here through social distancing and staying at home, we're trying to crack the back of the curve that leads to a lower amount -- as Sanjay said a few moments ago -- a lower amount of hospitalizations, lower amount of ICU patients, so thank (ph), please, God, a lower amount of fatalities.

Over here, we're frantically building out and we've been at this since January our healthcare capacity -- beds, vents, personal protection equipment, more healthcare workers, and our objective is to get those two lines to cross at a reasonable level. And that's our huge double front war we're fighting right now.

The religious holidays, rightfully, I think, give folks a sense, you know, this is a tradition. Let's get back to doing what we've always been doing. We can't do that, either for Passover or Easter or soon down the road, Ramadan. We've got -- we've got to be by ourselves, social distancing, immediate family at best, at best, through these holidays.

CAMEROTA: And in terms of what you just said, the second wrung there of your biggest fear, the building out capacity, where are you? Do you have everything you need? Do you have enough beds, equipment, et cetera?

MURPHY: No. We don't. But we -- we are trying like heck to stay out ahead of each one of those.

I'm touring, this morning, a big field hospital, field medical station built in Edison, 500 beds. I want to thank the Army Corps and FEMA. We've got part of the USNS Comfort.

We put the call out for more healthcare volunteers. We've gotten sig -- a significant number of ventilators from the strategic stockpile. We need more.

We're sourcing personal protective equipment, literally, around the world. We need more.

So we're frantically -- and we've been on this, trying to stay out ahead of this as best as we can.

CAMEROTA: So, moving from the medical front and all urgency to the economic front and all of the urgency, in terms of the people who are unemployed and who've lost their lives. As you know, yesterday, President Trump ousted the inspector general who was overseeing the $2 trillion in economic stimulus that was -- is about to be distributed.

Does that have an impact on New Jersey, on your state?

MURPHY: I don't know about that particular move, but God knows we need the feds to come in in a big way.

Now, CARES Act is a good first step for the unemployed. And we've got an enormous amount of unemployed folks right now, for small businesses, hospitals, transit systems. But we need direct cash injection into states.

And we need -- you know, we're at the point of attack here. We're the ones who are dealing with the sick, the unemployed, the small businesses. So, we need as liberal an interpretation of those moneys and we're going to need another big slug of money to make sure we can stay above water and continue to serve the folks who need us most.

CAMEROTA: On a brighter note, obviously, we're also seeing people support each other, and do wonderfully positive things, however best they can from a distance.

And there's this video of a nurse from Montclair, New Jersey, who came home from her shift and I'll just pause so that you can hear how her neighborhood reacted when she got out in her -- her scrubs.

I mean, that is a hero's welcome that she is getting.



CAMEROTA: Just an impromptu from the neighborhood of gratitude.

MURPHY: Listen, it chokes me up watching it as I'm sure it does many. Our healthcare workers are our heroes. They need relief from the bullpen and we're trying to get them that.

And, by the way, first responders, you asked earlier, about dealing with the folks who don't comply, those are the folks who are going into harm's way, to all of the above, the essential retail workers, transit workers, warehouse supply chains, we've got heroes up and down our state and across our country and we can never forget they were there for us when we needed them the most.

CAMEROTA: Governor Phil Murphy, we really appreciate you taking time for NEW DAY. Thanks so much for talking.

MURPHY: Thanks for having me, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: There is a new effort now under way to help the African- American community that is being hit so hard, disproportionately hard by coronavirus. More on the #masksforthepeople with W. Kamau Bell, next.


CAMEROTA: OK, take a look at your screen. This is video from Florida, this is just north of Miami. Hundreds of people crowded in line to file for unemployment and risking potential exposure to the virus.

That state's website keeps crashing and the phone lines have been overwhelmed with workers who have lost their jobs.