Return to Transcripts main page


Nursing Homes in New Jersey And California Reporting Clusters of Cases; Food Banks Struggle to Replenish Shelves as Demand Spikes; Remembering 13-Year-Old Medical Inspiration Charlotte Figi. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired April 9, 2020 - 15:30   ET



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: -- kind of being forgotten is obviously hospitals need to be getting PPEs but nursing homes --


BOLDUAN: -- they do as well.

PARKINSON: Yes, we feel like we've been forgotten. I mean I think it's great the way we've rallied around hospitals. We adore the hospital workers. They're heroes and we completely support that. But the front lines are in nursing homes. The people that are going to hospitals are coming from nursing homes. So, if we don't stop it in nursing homes, we're not going to stop it in hospitals and so far, the country just hasn't figured it out.

BOLDUAN: You know, on Tuesday Los Angeles County's Public Health Director told families that in their view it would be perfectly appropriate to pull relatives out of long-term care facilities to keep them safe at this point. Do you agree with that?

PARKINSON: In the overwhelming number of cases that would be a huge mistake. The average resident in our facilities is about 85 years old. Has many activities of daily life that they can't do. They can't feed themselves. They can't transfer themselves to the restroom. Most of them are in wheelchairs. Over half of them have dementia. They simply can't be isolated at home. They are in a safe environment in a long- term care facility if the equipment is there to take care of them adequately.

So, I would just say the vast majority of cases bringing those folks into the general population would be very dangerous right now and I'd be quite certain in that comment if we could get the testing and equipment that we need. The nursing home would be with safest place for them.

BOLDUAN: The alarm needs to be sounded here. The nursing homes have been -- that was the source of one of the first clusters was at a nursing home in Seattle. That's why you and I were talking originally. They need a flood of protective gear just like the hospitals do. It is really unacceptable because this is such a vulnerable population.

I need to lean on another part of your resume if you could and quite a turn. You're also a former Governor of Kansas. The Democratic Governor there like many other governors put limits to religious gatherings as part of her stay-at-home order. Just yesterday Republican legislative leaders there revoked that order. Obviously, and it's days before Easter. What's your reaction to that?

PARKINSON: Well, I support Governor Kelly 100 percent on this. We need governors to overreact right now not underreact. And I think what when we look back on the history of this we will see that governors like Governor Kelly, Governor Hogan, Governor Newsom, the one that shut their states down before it was obvious, when there were very few number of cases in their states.

I think they will be real the heroes because they will have saved lives not just across the state also in nursing homes and throughout the entire communities. I know it gets tricky, anytime religion is involved, but, you know, Easter is about sacrifice and life. And we have a chance this Sunday to not just celebrate Easter we have a chance to live it by all of us making our own sacrifice, creating life and I encourage everyone to stay home and do that.

BOLDUAN: Yes, and Passover is upon us at this very moment as well. Thank you so much for being here. Thank you for what you're doing.

PARKINSON: Thank you very much.

BOLDUAN: Coming up, the largest known source of coronavirus infections in the U.S. right now is behind bars. That's ahead.

Plus, a sailor from the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt was found unconscious after testing positive for the coronavirus. We're going to check in with our reporters all across the country, next.



BOLDUAN: Let's check in with out reporters across the country right now.

Hospital workers in Detroit are describing being completely overwhelmed and a Chicago jail is now the largest known source of coronavirus cases in the country. Let's start with CNN's Ryan Brown though with a troubling development about one of the sailors aboard the U.S.S. Roosevelt.


RYAN BROWNE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, I'm Ryan Browne at the Pentagon. The number of coronavirus cases on the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt continue to grow with the number of sailors attached to that aircraft carrier with the coronavirus surpassing 400 on Thursday. Now some 97 percent of the crew have been tested but some 1,000 of those test results are still pending. Now one sailor from the Roosevelt was recently admitted to intensive care unit on a hospital on Guam the first such hospitalization in that case.

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Omar Jimenez in Chicago. Cook County jail here, the largest single site jail in the country is now the largest known source of coronavirus infections in the country outside of medical facilities.

It was just over two weeks ago we were reporting the first two confirmed cases here. Now we have more than 400 positive cases. More than 250 detainees, including 22 that have been hospitalized and 150 staff members. Various officials have described the potential for spread in this jail like a petri dish or the government form of a cruise ship and Cook County jail is now proof.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Ryan Young in Detroit. And we're looking at the critical care needs of the state and the city. In fact, 959 people have lost their lives to COVID-19, but the story now is also shifting to the hospitals in this area and fact that some of them are at their breaking point.

We've learned 1,400 ventilators are in use in the state, 1,200 are being used in the city of Detroit. But there's also a hospital called Sinai Grace. We learned there that some of the workers there are very upset about the conditions there. In fact, on Sunday there was a walk out by nursing staff because they were so upset by what they were seeing. The hospital for its part says they started surging in healthcare workers to try to fix things in that area.


But we're still getting information from the workers there that they think that patients are not getting the type of care they deserve.


BOLDUAN: Thank you guys, all so much.

So, with 16.8 million Americans filing unemployment claims since last month. That also means across the country hundreds upon hundreds are lining up every day. Just look at these lines. Pennsylvania, Ohio, many other places waiting hours for food and supplies at food banks. At the same time, food banks are reporting dwindling supplies, donations and volunteers.

Joining me now is Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, she's the CEO of Feeding America which runs a network of 200 food banks in 60,000 food pantries and meal programs nationwide. Thank you for being here.

It's impossible to not be struck by that video when you can see cars lining up on highways to get to one of your food banks. How do you describe what you have all seen over the past month?

CLAIRE BABINEAUX-FONTENOT, CEO, FEEDING AMERICA (via Cisco Webex): Really, along with this pandemic, not only comes a health crisis but a food crisis as well. We're seeing a perfect storm as you mentioned in the lead in, we have significant increase in demand. On average across our network about 65 percent additional demand. And at the same time we're seeing challenges around getting the food that people need to this increasingly growing crowd of people. So, it's quite challenging right now.

BOLDUAN: In general, what are you hearing from people? I mean what is -- where is the level of need right now?

BABINEAUX-FONTENOT: Well, unlike in a natural disaster, where you'll have one geography that experiences need, this need is being experienced across the United States. So as an example, we have in normal times over 20 million children who rely upon free or reduced lunches and meals at school. Well, with the schools closed those children now don't have consistent access to nutritious food.

And even with that, prior to the crisis there were about 11 million kids who still were living in food insecure families where they didn't have enough access. So, we're seeing tens of millions of children who really need us now because they don't have consistent access to food.

We're also seeing a growing number of people who are recently unemployed. So, when you see those unemployment rates going up, the Federal Reserve Bank has suggested that the average American before the crisis had somewhere around $400 of cash available to address a crisis. So, it's a perfect combination of factors that are really weighing on a lot of people in the country right now.

BOLDUAN: And look, with the nature of this crisis, food banks are also seeing a drop in donations, they're also seeing a decrease in volunteers as people are staying home and aren't showing up to help. There are so many people hurting, but there are also so many people who want to help. How can they do that for you, for Feeding America right now?

BABINEAUX-FONTENOT: Well, I think the best way that they can -- and thank you so much for asking that question, because I can only imagine what it's like to be out there want to help and not feel that you can. There are ways that people can help. And there are people who are helping right now. So, my first thing that I encourage people to do is go to

There you will find opportunities to provide food and funds directly into local communities. Also, on that website you can find a community that you care the most about. By just typing in your zip code and you find your food bank that serves your community, and then you can go into their websites and ask do you need people, do you need funds, do you need food? And you can get in your community and really help.

BOLDUAN: Claire, thank you for what you do on a daily basis, and thank you for all, everyone on your team for what you're doing in this crisis. Appreciate it.

BABINEAUX-FONTENOT: Thank you so much for giving us this opportunity to share.

BOLDUAN: Thank you. Coming up an emotional tribute from Dr. Sanjay Gupta about a girl who inspired a movement and changed the world.



BOLDUAN: We'll wrap up today honoring another life lost. A 13-year- old whose life and health battle were an inspiration to so many. Dr. Sanjay Gupta first introduced us to Charlotte Figi, this amazing girl back in 2013. She passed away Tuesday. Here's her story.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For the last 20 years, I have straddled the world of medicine and journalism and in both professions, I am always reminded, stay objective, do your best work. But don't get too close.

But with little Charlotte Figi that was impossible. She just had this way about her. That smile, that giggle, that just got you and captured your heart.

(on camera): Remember me?

(voice-over): That was June, 2019, the last time I saw Charlotte and she was doing great.

PAIGE FIGI, MOTHER OF CHARLOTTE: I can't imagine back then imagine she'd be 12 years old and seeing her at 12-years-old and what that would look like. She was dying.


GUPTA: When I first met Charlotte, it was 2013, for our first film on medical marijuana called "Weed".

(on camera): Pitter patter, pitter pat, tip toe, creep crawls in a cave.

(voice-over): We had heard about this amazing 6-year-old from Colorado who had a rare form of epilepsy. She had a seizure every 30 minutes. Everyone potentially fatal. No treatment had worked. And then one day, desperate, her parents gave her a non-psychoactive ingredient from a cannabis plant, called cannabidiol, or CBD.

PAIGE FIGI: This is Charlotte's web. She didn't have a seizure that day and then she didn't have a seizure that night. Right, I thought this is crazy.

GUPTA: And it was at that moment people started to see that marijuana, which had been considered dangerous, could also be a therapy. She changed my mind and opened my eyes to the possibility that this was a legitimate medicine. And in the process, she changed the world.

PAIGE FIGI: Probably the most important thing I'll ever do was to help my own child and then share that information, help others.

GUPTA: Charlotte Figi was the entire CBD movement wrapped up into a sweet little girl with a big smile and an even bigger heart. Her story changed policy about cannabis. States were inspired by the story of Charlotte Figi and made CBD more accessible around the United States to treat epilepsy. And in turn, scientists around the world wanted to study Charlotte's special CBD oil. Research that before Charlotte no one really seemed that interested in doing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was begging researchers and physicians to work with us and help us understand the phenomenon that we were seeing, and they absolutely wouldn't even talk to us. We were laughed out of rooms. Now they begged to research our product.

PAIGE FIGI: (INAUDIBLE) outside and this her (INAUDIBLE).

GUPTA: Charlotte lived her short life to the fullest. And while she was almost this mythical miracle, she was also just a little girl. Who loved to do go tandem biking with her mom and while the last month was not easy, she had symptoms of COVID-19 while never testing positive, she eventually developed pneumonia which once again unleashed her seizures.

Her mother, Paige, says Charlotte was still smiling and happy until the very end when the seizure became more than her fragile little body could handle. Charlotte's life ended just as it began, in her mother's arms, surrounded by family who loved her, cherished her and protected her.

All forever changed by this little girl who forever changed the world and everyone like me who were caught in her glorious orbit. Please rest in peace, Charlie.


BOLDUAN: Sanjay is here with me now. I think that's the fifth time I've seen it now, Sanjay, and it's -- yes, I remember so vividly when you first were on set with me and introduced me and were talking about Charlotte and just what an inspiration she was and how she changed you, your view on CBD and, obviously, far beyond. If she is lost, if she died because, if she died because of coronavirus, I'm sorry, how do you make sense of this -- Sanjay?

GUPTA: I don't think you can ever make sense of it, you know, Kate, you know me well. You know, I have three daughters, they're asking me a lot about Charlotte because they kind of feel like they've grown up with her. You know, they've known her the last seven years. And they were asking me the same thing. Like how can this happen? And, you know, sometimes there's not answers.

But, you know, one thing I want to say, Kate, you know, we talk about being able to do a piece like this and I think it's a real -- I feel really happy to be able to do it, because this is how we remember people and pay tribute and honor their legacy. So, thank you for allowing us to put it on your program today.

I mean, I know Paige is watching, her mom, and Paige is an amazing mom. She gave Charlotte a really good life and I think, you know, the story of Charlotte will be one that will impact the world. But the story of how amazing a parent, Paige was as well, I think sets an example for all of us.

BOLDUAN: Yes, Paige is an inspiration, just right along with Charlotte, along this entire journey that has been her short and wonderful, wonderful life. Thank you, Sanjay.

GUPTA: You got it. Thank you.

BOLDUAN: All right. Sanjay is going to stick around. Because a lot more -- many more questions for him, of course, and the very latest on the coronavirus pandemic after a quick break.



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

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

The global death toll from coronavirus stands at now more than 93,000 at this hour. The lives lost in the United States nearing 16,000 -- 15,938 to be exact. Again, the U.S. with less than 5 percent of the world's population has approximately 17 percent of the reported coronavirus deaths, according to official numbers.

You can see on your screen the huge surge in deaths in the United States this time last week the death toll was at about 5,600. Now it's just under three times that horrific figure from a week ago.

Yesterday, this nation saw its deadliest day yet again from coronavirus, nearly --