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U.S Coronavirus Death Toll Nears 15,000; Chicago Jail Now Largest Known Source Of U.S Virus Infection; 6.6 Million Americans Filed Jobless Claims Last Week. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired April 9, 2020 - 13:00   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Before we leave you this hour, an eye-popping number from the airline industry, as it takes a pummel from the coronavirus pandemic. The number of people traveling by plane down by about 96 percent. A major industry group says, U.S. Airlines currently have about 30 percent of the U.S. fleet sitting idle. The president will give a brief today on an airline bailout plan.

Thanks for joining us today. I'll see back here tomorrow. Anderson Cooper picks up our coverage right now.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: I'm Anderson Cooper, you are watching CNN's special coverage, the coronavirus pandemic. Thanks for being with me.

Here are the latest numbers on the outbreak. More than 400,000 Americans have now tested positive for COVID-19. That's more than Italy, Spain and France combined. Nearly 15,000 people have died thus far and the death toll is a sober reminder that even as the U.S. begins to show signs of a turnaround in the fight against the virus, those numbers say scientists will continue to rise.

And as so many Americans wondering when they'll be able to return the lives they once knew, Dr. Anthony Fauci says those annual summer rituals, like vacations and family gatherings, may still be a possibility.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: It can be in the cards and I say that with some caution. Because, as I said, when we do that, when we pull back and try to open up the country, as we often use that terminology, we have to be prepared that when the infection starts to reel their heads again, that we have in place of a very aggressive and effective way to identify, isolate, contact trace and make sure we don't have those spikes that we see now.


COOPER: The problem, of course, is we do not, according to all the experts, have that system in place state by state at this point.

CNN's Athena Jones is with me now. Athena, this morning, New York's governor, Cuomo, is again urging residents not to get complacent. He announced new updates on COVID-19 deaths.

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Anderson, that's right. For the third day in a row, New York is posting its highest single day death toll, 799 people dying on Wednesday. And even though the governor says every day when he announces these numbers, this is what we should expect. We should expect to see deaths take a while to drop because they're a lagging indicator. It's still hard to see those numbers.

Listen to what the governor said about that just now.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): We are talking about 799 lives, the highest number ever. It's gotten to the point, frankly, that we are going to go to bring in additional funeral directors to deal with the number of people who have passed.

If you ever told me that as governor, I would have to take these actions, I couldn't even contemplate where we are now.


JONES: And so, you can hear the emotion in the governor's voice. This is something you hear him talking about day-to-day how surprising all of this is. But it doesn't mean that New York is not headed in the right direction. At least other numbers are indicating that the state is headed in the right direction. And that is to say the net increase and hospitalization, we saw the lowest rise in hospitalizations since the beginning of this whole epidemic. There were 200 yesterday compared to 585 the day before. So that's clearly going in the right direction.

ICU admissions are falling. Not as many people need intensive care beds. Those numbers are falling to the lowest numbers since they had since March 19th. And the three-day average of daily intubation, the number of people who are being put on these breathing machines, needing this kind of life support, that is also falling. So these are all good signs.

But as the governor has said, look, someone who may be hospitalized for two or three weeks and then passed away, and that's why we're going to likely continue to see these high numbers of deaths even though if there is progress being made in other parts of this. Anderson?

COOPER: Sobering statistics. Athena Jones, I appreciate it, thanks very much.

Joining me now is Dr. Syra Madad. She's a special pathogens expert here in New York City. She was also featured in a Netflix docuseries, Pandemics, How to Prevent an Outbreak. Dr. Madad, thank you so much for being with us.

Athena was just talking about the number of people in New York being hospitalized, that that is -- it's a lower number than it has been up to now. What are you seeing in hospitals here?

DR. SYRA MADAD, SPECIAL PATHOGENS EXPERT: Well, that number certainly only promising and obviously we are seeing from a hospital standpoint the number of cases is, overall, decreasing, but at the same time as you know the governor mentioned the number are increasing, and that lag, it's because the people that are being hospitalized today were infected weeks ago and the obviously intubated and on ventilators. And then, unfortunately, that's what's contributing to the death that we're seeing.

But I think it's also important to note that there is an amazing amount of progress being made around the state.


You are seeing obviously numbers drop, but what you're also seeing is a lot additional work happening behind the scenes. You are seeing a lot of makeshift hospitals rise up. You're seeing hospital capacity increasing to an amount that we never expected. So to give you an example, you're seeing some hospitals that have originally starting off with 30 ICU beds, quadrupling the number of ICU beds that they know actually have.

And it's not just a matter of bed itself, it's increasing the staffing and the supplies that go along with it. So a lot of great progress has been made.

COOPER: Let me ask you. We heard Dr. Fauci earlier there talk about this summer and how we come out of this. And one of the things he talks about constantly is the need for in every state a really aggressive testing program and the ability to do contact tracing. When he talks about it, and when you actually listen, he's talking about it as an aspirational thing, like that needs to happen, it needs to be in place.

Everybody I've talked to says that is not currently -- we are not currently set up to have such a system in place. What's it going to take for us to get to that point because, clearly, there is a lot of pressure and understandable pressure from folks who want the economy to get back firing in all cylinders?

MADAD: So, what's actually going to get us is something not the late person actually may think of, we can increase testing capacity in the New York State. We are doing more testing per capita than any other states in the nation. But what's really going to be a bottleneck is the supply chain, so it's the reagents that you need to actually do the testing. It's those small, little pipettes that you need for actual conducting of a testing. That's what's really going to get us and that's really what's going to be the bottleneck, is that whole supply chain aspect.

And as we know, this is not a New York State issue. It's a national issue. And we need to make sure that our supply chain can keep up with the volume of what we are seeing across the nation.

COOPER: Also, public health departments have been underfunded for a long time in this country. And sort of do contact tracing, it's really usually the public health departments. A lot of times, they just now leave it up to the families. They call the person and so, okay, get in contact with everybody, you were in contact with and let them know you've tested positive for whatever it may be.

What Dr. Fauci is talking about is a more aggressive contact tracing that we have seen in other countries. That we are not set up for.

MADAD: So, contact tracing is really the bread and butter of public health. And right now, with the high volume of case that we have, it's very difficult to obviously do the contact tracing. What we hope to aim for from a public health standpoint is once the cases are manageable, they're at a level where public health can then go out and do contact tracing, so identifying cases, isolate them and then do a lot of contact tracing. That's really the golden standard. That's what we are hoping to achieve.

So, it's going to be a constant game whack-a-mole. So as soon as you see something flaring up, they're going to do contact tracing and the whole nine yards. But in order for them to actually do that, we need to have manageable case. But right now, it's not manageable. You've seen thousands and thousands of cases. And then from a public health standpoint, you need to have staff to able to do these services. And as you've mentioned, public health and healthcare delivery has been taking massive budget cuts from the get-go. And this is where the rubber meets the road. And it's very, very unfortunate.

And so one of things I hope that comes out of this whole pandemic is we invest more in public health and healthcare security.

COOPER: Dr. Syra Mada, I appreciate it. Thanks very much for all you're doing.

As New York see signs of stabilization, other places in the northeast are showing some signs they could be the next hot spot for this virus. White House officials are looking at Philadelphia, Baltimore Washington D.C.

CNN's Suzanne Malveaux is in Washington. I want to start with CNN's Alex Marquardt in Philadelphia.

Alex, how are local leaders there responding to federal concerns over their city? What's the situation there?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, they're appreciative of the concern. They say the concern is good because the concern shines a light on what is a very serious problem here in Philadelphia and in Pennsylvania.

Concern also translate to much needed federal aid that Vice President Mike Pence, of course, the head of the coronavirus task force, has told the governor of Pennsylvania, is coming.

Anderson, at the same time, there is daylight between what federal officials are saying and local authorities here on the ground are saying. Dr. Deborah Birx, who, of course, is one of the top experts on the task force, is saying that there are some 1,400 new cases of coronavirus in the Philadelphia metropolitan area every single day.

We spoke with the mayor's office just a short time ago who told us, and this is a quote, we don't know what data they were looking at that gave them that immediate concern, that concern, of course, that Philadelphia will be one of the next hot spots.

Now, the health commissioner, Thomas Farley, has also said that the data that the federal officials are looking at is outdated. He says that the number of daily positive cases are slowing and that things are looking better.


At the same time, Anderson, Farley speak to CNN earlier saying that there are major gaps in the healthcare system here. Take a listen.


DR. THOMAS FARLEY, PHILADELPHIA HEALTH COMMISSIONER: We're having problems with personal protective equipment for our healthcare workers. The healthcare system could come under strain. We've put in place a lot of safe guards. So at the moment, it's looking like we can manage the surge, but it has been tough to prepare for that point. So, by no means, over this.


MARQUARDT: By no means, over this, by no means, out of the woods, a very cautious optimism there from Philadelphia's health commissioner.

Anderson, we just got new numbers in. Every county in Pennsylvania has been affected. There are some 5,029 confirmed cases in Philadelphia County, which is the worst infected, 86 deaths. Most of those being tested and treated are being done so by the Temple University medical facilities, like the hospital right here, Temple ramping up their facilities as they prepare for these numbers to get worse. Anderson?

COOPER: And, Alex, so the federal government say 1,400 new cases a day, what is -- are Philadelphia officials, are Pennsylvania officials saying what their number is?

MARQUARDT: They're not putting a number on it specifically. But what they're cautioning is that it's not plateauing, but it's not growing in a way that they're saying the federal officials are. What they are saying it is slightly slowing. So that gives them reasons for some cautious optimism. And that's why Farley, the health commissioner, is saying that, for now, things are looking better. Anderson?

COOPER: Okay. Suzanne Malveaux, you're outside Howard University Hospital in Washington. What's the situation there?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, we're right at the front entrance here under and (INAUDIBLE) and our cameras turned away from the entrance to respect the privacy of the patients, of course, also dealing with some high winds here and thunderstorms throughout the day. But we just heard from the mayor of D.C. and there are some new numbers, some dramatic increases so, of course, there is a lot of concerns here at the DMV, as we like to call it here, those who are familiar with the area, D.C., Maryland and Virginia areas. Some of those numbers have more than 11,000 cases so far for the region. We are talking about Maryland, 5,029 cases, Virginia, 3,645, and a new higher number for today in Washington, D.C., 1,523 cases.

We have heard from the governors of Maryland and Virginia, the governor of Maryland is saying they're going to have strike teams to deal with nursing homes and group facilities when it hits those areas. Also Virginia's governor putting off the preliminary congressional primary races for another couple of weeks. And then mayor offering those new numbers today, warning people to be careful.

I had a chance to talk with Howard University hospital officials, the president of the Howard University, Wayne Frederick, who talked about the critical weeks ahead and how they're preparing, who the mayor has asked them for the dire health necessary, as well as the doctor who is dealing now with COVID-19 patients. Take a listen.


DR. WAYNE FREDERICK, PRESIDENT, HOWARD UNIVERSITY: So, the D.C. Department of Health has been very good about giving us information to the mayor's office. And what they are looking at is a potential surge that's going to occur anywhere between the next two to six weeks. A wide range, and that means it will require at least a thousand beds in the city and that's what we are preparing for.

DR. SHELLY MCDONALD-PINKETT, CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER, HOWARD UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL: So, it's not only the shortness of breath because of the virus but worsening of diabetes, worsening of high blood pressure. So, we expect that we might see people come into this triage area who need more treatment and some place supportive care for COVID positive.


MALVEAUX: Anderson, what Dr. Pinkett is talking about specifically is Howard University Hospital's mission to serve the underserved. And there are some communities, predominantly African American communities, poor communities who will need that extra help who are dealing with those health disparities and who will also be dealing with this deadly virus. Anderson.

COOPER: Suzanne Malveaux, I appreciate it. Suzanne, thanks very much, and also Alex Marquardt.

Coming up, one jail in Chicago now thought to be the hottest spot in the country for the virus. What authorities are doing to stop the number of infections.

Plus, why some scientists think a vaccine that's more than 100 years old could help fight this current pandemic.


COOPER: Right now, in Illinois, officials are facing a grim crisis that's continuing to worsen by the hour on one of its state penitentiaries. Cook County Jail is now the largest known source of COVID-19 infections in the country, this as the death toll steadily rises across the state, 462 fatalities among the more than 15,000 cases at this hour.

CNN's Omar Jimenez is in Chicago for us. Omar, so what are officials doing there to try to slow this outbreak down, because it's among inmates and also guards?

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Anderson. There are a lot of factors at play when it comes to this jail specifically. And one of the the biggest factors is proximity, just trying to keep jail detainees either away from each other and away from staff members, which as you can imagine, social distancing is not the easiest thing to do in a jail.

I've had various officials describe basically the potential for spread inside one of these places as a government equivalent of a cruise ship and essentially a Petri dish. And we have seen that play out firsthand.

Despite efforts from the jail to even release potential low-level offenders or non-violent offenders, they even created a quarantine boot camp to keep those that are infected separate. But it was just over two weeks ago we were reporting the first two confirmed cases at this jail. That number is now over 400, more than 250 detainees infected, 150, excuse me, employees infected, again, just in a matter of weeks, Anderson.


COOPER: I also understand that the City of Chicago is looking for ways, and, I mean, it's grim to even talk about this, but ways to deal with the -- all the people who have died and the bodies that is overwhelming the system.

JIMENEZ: It's a sobering reality. I think a lot of us never thought we would be in a situation to see at this point. And not to mention city officials who have literally prepared and acquired a refrigerated warehouse here in Chicago to deal with the surge in deaths that we have seen. The Chicago -- the medical examiner's office here gave us exclusive access to go inside and see this facility that literally has the potential to store up to more than 2,000 bodies.

And listen to how the chief medical examiner here in Chicago described what they expect to see moving forward.


DR. PONNI ARUNKUMAR, CHIEF MEDICAL EXAMINER, COOK COUNTY: These increases occurring at a rapid pace. So, we expect to see hospital morgues getting filled up and we'll need to use refrigerated trailers to start moving these patients to the center soon.


JIMENEZ: And, specifically, she says they'd expect to see bodies within a matter of days as they went from 10 to 20 a week just two weeks ago to now about 40 a day. Anderson?

COOPER: Omar Jimenez, I appreciate it. Thanks very much. A sad reality in Chicago.

Still ahead, another 6.5 million people filing for unemployment in the past week. We'll take a look at the impact (INAUDIBLE) and the job losses are having now on the economy.



COOPER: The strict social distancing measures put in place across the country to contain the virus also having a devastating effect obviously on the nation's economy. Unemployment number is surging for a third straight week. Last week alone, more than 6 million jobless claims were filed over the past three weeks. Nearly 17 million people have filed for unemployment benefits. And the numbers could be even higher since all the claims can't be processed.

This morning, we're also learning that President Trump is preparing to announce a second task force focused on the economic recovery.

Joining me now is CNN Business Anchor Julia Chatterley and CNN White House Correspondent Kaitlan Collins.

Julia, put this into context for us. Just how big a blow is this to the economy?

JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN BUSINESS ANCHOR, "FIRST MOVE": It's a huge blow. It's a huge blow to workers too. The truth is can't gauge it because we've got no precedent for what we're seeing here. One in ten workers in the United States have either lost their jobs or have been furloughed in the space of three weeks. We could be talking about a 15 percent unemployment rate.

It's across most of the states. It's across all sectors. And to your point, we are not sure we've even got a sense of how many numbers there are because of the challenges of quantifying them.

This hope though in here too, the first is that experts are telling me that half of these workers may have been furloughed, so if we can restart the economy, there will be jobs added back pretty quickly and, of course, all the money that's being thrown at the situation in terms of unemployment benefits, loans to small businesses, the Federal Reserve added $6 billion worth of loans today.

The challenge here is we don't know how long this goes on. So, any workforce that can, one, get that money out to people quicker, and, two, give us some sense of how we get out of this, I think, is critical.

COOPER: And, Kaitlan, the idea of a second task force focusing on restarting the economy certainly seems like a very good idea. What do we know about this?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Basically, there are aides who are already solely focused on the economy, the treasury secretary, of course, Larry Kudlow, the president's top economic adviser. But they want one solely focused on this because they realized just how complicated this is going to be. And so, this is something that they're likely to announce.

They've kind of been close to announcing it all weeks now. So, we should really expect it at any minute. And it would solely be focused on the way that they're going to do that.

And some of them have even appealed to the president saying, even if we can't open the economy completely on May 1, maybe we could focus on putting out economic guidelines about how this transition is going to work.

So we're expecting this group, Anderson, to not only include those administration officials that we've been from but also they're appealing and reaching out to people in the private sector, economic experts who they also think can help with this approach.

So it's going to be something that's really complicated and they're realizing that.

COOPER: It's also complicated because -- and I know the president, I think it was yesterday, I remember the day before that, said that he's going to rely a lot -- I think it was yesterday -- he's going to rely a lot obviously on medical advice about when to -- the advice from scientists, about when to actually restart the economy and ramp up.

But a lot of that depends -- I mean, according to all the scientists -- on testing and getting -- being able to do contact tracing. That's not something, I assume, that the second task force would be looking into how to set up that system, which we don't currently have. I assume that would be the original coronavirus task force, which, if they choose to do that, that would be something that they would focus on.

COLLINS: Yes. So the question is how can they work and complement each other as they're moving forward to that, because they're going to go hand in hand.


If you listen to people, like Dr. Fauci, what they have been talking about, being able to test on a widespread basis. If they are going to send people back to work, that's going to play a part of it.