Return to Transcripts main page


6.6 File For Unemployment Jobless Claims Surge For Third Week; States Ramp Up Restrictions To Prevent Spread Of Virus; Policy Report Lays Out Road Map To Reopening U.S.; Detroit Hospital Workers: Patients Are Dying In The ER Hallways; USS Roosevelt Sailor Found Unresponsive, Transferred To ICU. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired April 9, 2020 - 14:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Wow. Scott McLean, appreciate it. Thanks very much.

You're watching CNN special coverage of the coronavirus outbreak. I'm Anderson Cooper.

Moments ago, the U.S. death toll from coronavirus passing 15,000 people. That's nearly the entire country remains under stay-at-home orders. This as officials continue their efforts to contain the pandemic. For those maybe thinking that social distancing will soon be a thing of the past, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, whose state is projected to reach a peak in coronavirus death today, offered this warning earlier.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): Remember, the 1918 Spanish Flu came in three waves. We're on the first wave. Everybody is assuming, well, once we get through this, we're done. I wouldn't be so quick to assume that. This virus has been ahead of us from day one. We've underestimated the enemy and that is always dangerous, my friends. And we should not do that again.


COOPER: CNN's Erica Hill joins us with a look at the hard-hit areas today, what cities might be next, and the impact on the U.S. economy. Erica?

ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Anderson, and it does often come back to New York. We start in New York, because so much of what we're seeing and learning here in New York is being looked at by other cities around the country. You mentioned that the governor talking about some bright spots, he talked about how hospitalizations are down. He talked about how ICU admissions are down. But the death toll for the third day in a row here in New York State, Anderson, hit a single day record, and those are not the kind of numbers that anyone wants to see.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) HILL (voice-over): Empty streets, shuttered businesses, lives on hold.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are a lot of people like me, who are just wondering how long this is going to be. What are you going to do?

HILL: Nearly every corner of the economy and the country impacted. State Labor Department's overwhelmed.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: This is a collapse, really in the American job market. You've never seen this many jobs gone so quickly.

HILL: The city of Philadelphia singled out as a potential new hotspot, expressing optimism that its measures are working.

DR. THOMAS FARLEY, PHILADELPHIA HEALTH COMMISSIONER: We're not outwards by any means. But I'm hopeful that the social distancing steps we put in place a few weeks ago are showing some signs of working.

HILL: As hospitalizations in New York decline, Governor Andrew Cuomo stressing the numbers today are a result of past action, not a license to let up.

CUOMO: The flattening of the curve last night happened because of what we did yesterday. If we stop acting the way we're acting, you will see those numbers go up.

HILL: New Jersey tightening statewide measures face coverings for all customers and employees at essential businesses like grocery stores and pharmacies. Strict limits on capacity and gatherings. Nevada, limiting the size of religious gatherings, as Americans celebrate Passover and soon, Easter.

The governor of Kansas doing the same only to be overruled by the state's legislative coordinating council, which claimed her executive order went too far by quote, "Singling out one entity and limiting the free exercise of religion."

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are calling on every American in every state first to listen to your state and local authorities. But right after that, to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people, and know that in so doing, will hasten the day, will hasten the day that we put the coronavirus in the past and we reopen our country.

HILL: The White House Task Force already working on a plan for that reopening, possibly in a matter of weeks, as experts and those on the front lines urge caution.

DR. WILLIAM SCHAFFNER, PROFESSOR OF PREVENTIVE MEDICINE, VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY: I'm concerned that we're setting dates and not listening to the virus. The virus is going to tell us when it's safe to open up again.

SIMONE HANNAH-CLARK, ICU NURSE, MOUNT SINAI HOSPITAL: Everyone has to stay home and treat themselves like they are possibly have COVID-19.


HILL: Anderson, as you know, the key to that reopening we're hearing from so many people, including Governor Cuomo, who's been talking about this all week, is that antibody testing. And that, of course, we need to be rolled out on a large scale to figure out who can go back to work. And there's also the issue of testing, in general, for folks who still need it around the country.

COOPER: Yes. And that system so in place. Erica Hill, appreciate it. Thank you.

The Trump administration working on a plan to open up the economies as Erica was talking about by May, possibly.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It would be nice to be able to open with a big bang and open up our country or certainly most of our country. And I think we're going to do that soon. You look at what's happening, I would say we're ahead of schedule.


COOPER: The nation's leading infectious disease expert described a return to normal life not as a singular event or a big bang but more of a process over stages.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: When you say get back to normal, it's not going to be a light switch that you turn on and off. It's going to be differential and gradual depending upon where you are and where the burden of infection is.


But the bottom line of it all is that we see looking for differential and gradual depending upon where you are, and where the burden of infection is, but the bottom line of it all is that we see looking forward, it is very likely that we will progress towards the steps, towards normalization as we get to the end of these 30 days.


COOPER: So, from a medical standpoint, a scientific standpoint, what would it take to get back to the life that we all miss so much? To help answer that, I have with me former FDA Commissioner, Dr. Mark McClellan, who's now the director of the Duke-Robert J. Margolis, MD, Center for Health Policy.

Dr. McClellan, thanks for being with it. You just co-wrote an extensive report laying out a multi-phase plan to try to reopen the country. Plus, you're working with Congress on what's needed to get the majority of Americans working again. What are your recommendations, your main ones?

DR. MARK MCCLELLAN, DIRECTOR, DUKE ROBERT J. MARGOLIS MD CENTER FOR HEALTH POLICY: Well, Anderson, the main recommendations relate to what needs to be in place to safely reopen, so we want to find a date but to get a date that will count, that will be the standard In the face of potential risk for new infections, there's several things that we need to do first.

You mentioned on your previous segment, the importance of testing. One type of testing is for people who have been exposed to the virus and who are immune. Unfortunately, from the standpoint of immunity, most people still have not been exposed. So we still have a lot of people who are susceptible. So another key part of being safe in reopening is having lots of testing available so that if someone has symptoms, or if someone is working in a place that has a high risk of transmission, like a nursing home, we have the tests in place that could detect that before it gets to be a big problem.

We never want to go through what we've what we're just going through now with this big surge in cases that straining our whole healthcare system.

COOPER: I mean, just from what you've just said, it's clear, we are a long way from that, again, whether or not our political leaders choose to listen to the science or not, but if the ideal is his extensive testing, not only antibody testing, but also the ability to test, you know, if somebody in your office has a cough, they can get an immediate test and get immediate results because waiting two or three days is not going to cut it, because in that time someone's going to be exposing others.

MCCLELLAN: Yes. We do have to get that in place. But I think we can do it in a matter of weeks, our testing capacity in this country has gone way up, there have been lots of innovations and tests that can be done at the point of care with results that are available in a matter of minutes. So the testing capacity is up.

What we need to work out is getting those tests everywhere in the country that they're needed, and then linking those test results to the next step. So there's someone does test positive, we can quickly trace the contacts that they've had, and do further testing and isolation so that we never get to the point where there's a big outbreak, like what we're experiencing right now.

COOPER: Well, let me ask you about that contact tracing because it does seem that, you know, public health departments have been underfunded for a long period of time for, you know, going back many administrations, and there's just not the personnel right now or the, you know, efforts put into contact tracing, it's usually left up to the person who's tested positive for something to, you know, contact the people they've been in contact with. Is that system adequate currently?

MCCLELLAN: I think people acting alone is not going to be adequate for making Americans confident that they can go back out safely for making businesses feel like they can hire more people back and make new investments because there's just too much risk that we could have another wave.

What will work is investments right now over the coming weeks to build up that testing capacity, to train new workers who can help the public health departments with the contact tracing, places like Massachusetts are already piloting programs like this, so it can be done. It can be done in a matter of weeks. It's just really critical as a foundation for a safe reopening.

COOPER: The -- some experts are looking at antibody testing as a way to get people back to work. I understand you're cautious about that.

MCCLELLAN: I think it's an important part of our recovery. But we first need to make sure those antibody tests are really reliable. If we're telling people they can go back and potentially be exposed to the virus again, in high risk settings and potentially transmit it, those tests need to work well. So we have some more research to do.

Again, I think it can be done quickly with a concerted effort supported by the federal government. But the other issue is that most people, despite everything that Americans are seeing right now, most people have not been exposed to the virus.

Even in places like China that have been the epicenter of the original infection, the vast majority of people do not have immunity. So you can't count on that to help hat support a safe reopening.

COOPER: And this is something that's done state by state. So I mean, you know, we've already seen conflicts, you know, what the federal government's role is, what the state's role is. Is this going to be kind of a piecemeal, then up to Governor's to figure out, you know, as you said, there's a pilot program, Massachusetts that I -- when I read about it, I think they've hired as many as like 1,000 people to try to do contact tracing. I mean, that's a big undertaking. Is this something that the federal government needs to kind of insist the states do or how is that going to work?


MCCLELLAN: We do think the federal government needs to provide some significant and hopefully very quick support to enable the states to take these steps. The states are struggling right now. They're dealing with the surge. They're just making sure they've got enough ventilators and other protective equipment in place. They have to focus on that, but we need to help them take these steps to make reopening possible in the coming weeks.

And by providing federal support now through the Centers for Disease Control, through the relief that the federal government, through Medicare, and other programs is providing to health care providers, we think we can help the states put this capacity in place. So that when they do reopen, they and the people living in the states can be confident that they are going to be able to go back toward their normal life, it is going to be stepwise, but go back towards their normal life without fear that we're going to see a situation like what we're living through now happen again. COOPER: And just quickly, I mean, you put out these recommendations, the folks who work with it, is there somebody in government working on this now? I mean, do you -- do we know? Is there obviously, you know, the scientists know issue and we've heard there's going to be a second task force about restarting the country, but that's really focusing the economy business. Is there a medical team, a scientific team, planning this out?

MCCLELLAN: Anderson, I think that the White House and the task force is putting together a plan for reopening that hopefully includes these kinds of steps as well as thinking about the economic implications. And there's definitely bipartisan interest in Congress in supporting not just relief to help people get through the really difficult times that they their businesses are facing now, but to strengthen the country, to harden the country so that we don't see this kind of problem happen again. We've seen a lot of receptivity on both sides for these kinds of steps.

COOPER: Yes. I mean, at this point, it's a national security issue moving forward, because we know there's going to be another pandemic down the road someday, if not this reoccurring.

MCCLELLAN: And repeats of this epidemic. Yes, we don't want that.

COOPER: Dr. McClellan, I appreciate all your efforts. Thanks very much. Fascinating.

MCCLELLAN: Thank you very much.

COOPER: There's more than 6 million file jobless claims. The White House now working, as I said, on the second coronavirus task force focus on rebuilding the economy. We'll have some details on that.

Plus, new cases are expected to peak today in Michigan right now. Emergency rooms are overwhelmed that -- so overwhelmed that workers at one hospital there say people are dying in the hallways before help can arrive.

Also, models predicting the number of deaths from the coronavirus nationwide are going to peak just three days from now on Easter Sunday, saying the decimal peak with governors across the country are urging the faithful.



COOPER: In the city of Detroit, hospital workers are pinning a dire picture telling CNN, some patients have died in hallways of the ER before help can arrive. This as the death toll continues to take higher across the state. Michigan currently accounts for the third highest number of Coronavirus related deaths and infections in the country.

Our Ryan Young is in Detroit. Ryan, what more are you learning about the -- this hospital in Detroit? RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Anderson, these numbers are tough to deal with when you think about 959 people have lost their lives so far to the coronavirus here in Michigan. But when you think about this hospital, Sinai-Grace. That's where we started hearing from some of the health care professionals there who were talking to us about what they were seeing, in fact, having patients in the hallway who were sick, ventilators in the hallway, extension cords running to life saving machines in the hallways as well.

And then they also give us the information about people losing their lives in the hallway. Now, the hospitals pushing back and saying, look, we've done we're doing the best we can right now. And we've actually started surging staff into place.

But look at this video from Sunday. This is from nurses who actually had to sit in on Sunday, they were upset about the staffing levels there. And some nurses were like, we don't want to work under these conditions. Some of them left and they had to bring in more nurses to help them out.

But to give you the idea of how dire it is in the city of Detroit right now when it comes to ventilators, there's 1,400 ventilators being used across the state of Michigan 1,200 of those ventilators are being used here in the city of Detroit.

And another stat that we kind of figured out, all these data points might be off just a little bit because so many people are dying. Sometimes when they're marking the forms, they're not even marking race. So is it higher than 40 percent African-Americans who died in the state? Or is there a different data point? This is something that we've all started to learn.

One last thing to throw at you, Anderson, the PPE use, the state of Michigan also started putting up a list of PPE. How much is left? One point the governor said there was only two days left. The hospital says no, we have more. It might be somewhere in the middle. Now they're listening to day to day total of how much PPE is left in the state?

It's a sort of cornucopia of all these issues coming together at the same time. It's not good for the patients, obviously, at some of these places. Other hospital workers are saying, look, we're trying to step up as much as we can to make sure everyone is safe.

COOPER: Ryan Young, thanks.

I think we didn't show the video that Ryan was talking about. We actually showed -- end up showing a video of a convention center in Detroit that they have set up in order to take extra patients if needed. I think we showed you that video.

A sailor on board the USS Roosevelt who tested positive for coronavirus is now in intensive care after being found unconscious. According to a statement released today, the sailor was found unresponsive over a week ago and is now receiving care in an ICU unit in Guam. [14:50:10]

As Wednesday, more than 400 sailors on board who tested positive for the virus. The USS Roosevelt has been at the center of controversy that led to both the resignation of the Navy's Acting Secretary earlier this week and the dismissal of the aircraft carriers' Captain last week.

CNN's Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, joins us now. What more do we know about the sailor in ICU?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know that he was moved there when apparently his buddies, overnight, had checked on him and in the morning did find him, in fact, early hours unresponsive. So he is in the ICU getting medical care.

As far as we know. This is the first of the more than 400 positive cases on Teddy Roosevelt that has now required hospitalization. The Pentagon's been very anxious to say in the days past that none of those tested had -- were in severe cases. Now that is different for this sailor.

What we know is that those who do test positive are checked on twice a day by medical personnel. And they -- many of them are spread out across Guam in hotels, homes, other housing areas. So there's lots of small groups out there and they do rely on the buddy system, Anderson. They check on each other and apparently it was buddies who found this sailor unresponsive.

This now is a situation where the Navy is trying to still make the case that even though more than 400 sailors have tested positive, the ship could still be capable of going to see in a crisis. But now, there are a total of four aircraft carriers in the Navy, where they have had tested positive coronavirus cases.

Thankfully many of them are very small numbers at this point. But even earlier today, top Pentagon officials were saying they can't assume they won't have another Teddy Roosevelt on their hands and they have to start looking ahead months down the road as to how they may change how they operate if this virus is going to stick around and stick with the U.S. military, Anderson?

COOPER: Barbara Starr, and Barbara, appreciate the reporting. Thank you.

Getting more answers to more of your questions at tonight's global townhall, joining me Dr. Sanjay Gupta live with special guest basketball great, Magic Johnson. "Coronavirus: Facts and Fears." It all starts at 8:00 p.m. Eastern. Only on CNN.

In the last three weeks, 16.8 million people file for unemployment, more than 6-1/2 million of those in the last week alone. Take a look at what needs to be done to ease the economic toll.



COOPER: As the U.S. fights the coronavirus with extreme social distancing measures and have paralyzed the U.S. economy, this past week alone, more than 6 million people filed for unemployment benefits in the past three weeks, that number swelled to nearly 17 million jobless claims.

And those numbers may not even show the real picture as the Department of Labor is struggling to process all claims.

Joining me now is Mark Zandi, he's the chief economist at Moody's Analytics.

Mark, what are the numbers tell you about the state of the economy right now?

MARK ZANDI, CHIEF ECONOMIST, MOODY'S ANALYTICS: Oh, Anderson, it's a mess, it's a struggle. 17 million just for context, there's 155 million folks in the labor force. So that's a big chunk of them.

And here's the other thing to consider that if you look at all of the workers who are considered non-essential and those needs to be at home, and also consider those that can't do their job at home, roughly a third of the workforce, it's 50 million people are at some risk of either losing a job. That's what we're seeing now in this data, losing hours, or losing wages or all of the above. And so that just gives you a sense of the -- how cataclysmic all of this has been.

COOPER: The Federal Reserve is taking extraordinary measures, releasing more than $2.3 trillion to help -- to help small businesses and local governments. We know Congress is working on another stimulus bill. I spoke to Speaker Pelosi about that earlier this week.

How much more do you think is needed?

ZANDI: More. Certainly, what the Federal Reserve has been doing and what they did today was very encouraging. That's one of the key reasons why the stock market has been up over the last couple three days because investors see that the Fed is all in. They're going to do everything that is required to make sure that the financial system remains intact, continues to function well and supports the economy.

And as you say lawmakers, Congress, and administration have been very aggressive, but they will likely have to do more, particularly for smaller businesses, particularly really small businesses. The program that they put in place that runs through the Small Business Administration probably won't help many of those companies with fewer than 20 employees.

Just give you -- give you a sense of that, there are 7.8 million business establishments in the country, 4.5 million of them have fewer than four employees. Those are the kind of companies that are going to have a great deal of difficulty using this program. And so there's the -- there's the companies that the next round of support has got to help.

COOPER: Why is it in this round so hard for those company, those size companies?

ZANDI: Well, because they have to go through a bank to the SBA to get, first, a loan. And then if they attest that the money that is going to be used for maintaining their payrolls or other essentials like rent or utilities, it turns into a grant, you know, just drag money.

But the process of doing that is quite complicated. And actually, most of those smaller businesses, fewer than four employees, fewer than 20 employees, really don't have much experience if any experience working with a bank, working with the SBA.