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Large Influx of Unemployment Claims Expected in U.S.; New Study Indicates Coronavirus in New York May have Originated in Europe; New York Suffers Highest One-Day Death Toll Again; Growing Confusion Over Who's In Charge of Distributing Supplies. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired April 9, 2020 - 08:00   ET



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Chef and restaurant owner has set up a cooking station along State Road 32 in Crawfordsville. So far he served, he says, hundreds of grilled hotdogs and shrimp skewers.


ISAAC WELIVER, CHEF AND RESTAURANT OWNER: Without them, our society comes to a grinding halt. What we don't realize is it seems like magic that there's always food on our shelves, but this is how it gets there.


CAMEROTA: Local businesses are also pitching in as part of project Feed the Fam. They're making meals for families in need, firefighters, police, and healthcare workers. So to find out ways that you can help your community during this pandemic, you can go to

And NEW DAY continues right now.

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

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is New Day. The thousands year tradition of shaking hands might be over for good. That's just one small symbol of how different our society will be when we reopen. And this morning, we have new information on the debate over exactly how and when to make that happen. The Trump administration is targeting early May. Now, we're clearly not there yet. Just yesterday more than 33,000 new cases were reported, the highest number of deaths yet in this country. The peak, some analysts predict, could come on Easter Sunday.

Overnight, the CDC published new guidelines saying essential employees can go back to work even if they have been exposed as long as they take precautions and don't feel sick. It was Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, who said overnight that he believes must stop shaking hands permanently. And speaking of traditions lasting thousands of years, this was

Passover in the social distancing era. So many seders like this across the country and around the world, and in some ways more poignant than other years. It is a symbol that traditions will live on, that heritage will live on, that families and loved ones can come together no matter what. That is Passover.

CAMEROTA: Think about how much technology has changed our lives as well as this pandemic. The economic news continues to be dire. Economists predict that when we see the jobless claims about half an hour from now, the numbers will again be staggering. They think between 5 million and 7 million Americans lost their jobs and filed for unemployment last week. That would mean that total job losses because of coronavirus are more than 15 million people. So we'll bring you the actual numbers as soon as we have them.

There is also new focus on prisons. Overnight, more than 100 inmates at a Washington state prison staged a demonstration after six prisoners there tested positive. In Chicago, more than 400 people connected to one jail have now tested positive, making that the largest known source of coronavirus infections in the United States.

So what are the next hot spots? Well, the White House task force believes it will be Washington D.C., Baltimore, and Philadelphia.

BERMAN: Joining us now, CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Dr. Vivek Murthy, former U.S. surgeon general. And Sanjay, let me start with you, because there are two sort of what seem to be contradicting messages this morning. Number one, the highest number of deaths over a 24-hour period reported to date, but, number two, word from our White House team that the administration, the president's advisers looking for ways to open the country on May 1st. Is the country ready for that?

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it doesn't appear so. The same models that the White House has been using for quite some time are really based on the idea that the country would be in shutdown until sort of the first week of June. And the numbers are still obviously -- they have gone down a bit, but they're still significantly high, tens of thousands of people dying from this. So I don't think so.

I think one of the larger concerns just more practically speaking is that the images we see in -- the numbers that we see are really reflecting a couple of weeks ago. So what we'll see a couple of weeks from now reflects behavior right now. And I get the sense, John, I don't know if you do as well, that because people are seeing these numbers go down, which is a good thing, that maybe people are starting to ease up a little bit, even on a holiday weekend like the one coming up here. But how people behave these next several days, you'll see the impact of that a couple of weeks from now.

And I worry -- I hope not, but I worry that the numbers may start to go back up a little bit in terms of infections, hospitalizations, and, sadly, deaths. So it's not time to do that. I think everybody knows that. The public health officials have been saying that for some time. We'll just have to see what happens.

CAMEROTA: Dr. Murthy, the American Enterprise Institute, a small group of doctors and health security experts, have put out this four- point checklist for what they think states would have to accomplish before they could be open for business again.


I just want to bounce these off of you, because I don't know of a state that could do this right now, but perhaps you do. So what they would have to do, they say, is number one, hospitals there would have to safely be able to treat patients without being in crisis mode. Number two, a state would be able to -- have to be able to test everyone with symptoms. Number three, they would have to be able to do the contact tracing that you both have talked about as being so important, and they would have to see a sustained reduction in cases for at least 14 days. So not a plateau, a reduction in cases. Is in anywhere in the country that is close to being able to do that?

DR. VIVEK MURTHY, FORMER U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: Alisyn, the simple answer is no. And these are critical criteria to meet before we reopen. Much of the attention has been on us having to see a decline in cases, but there are two points that are important to make here. One is that you need to see not just a reduction in cases, but you need to see the number of new cases getting close to or near to zero.

The other thing is, when you look at the infrastructure that we have to have in place, I think of them as the three t's. We need to be able to test, trace, and treat. And right now, if you look at the country, we are still trying to ramp up the amount of testing that we have. We're doing about 150,000 tests a day. We need to be doing a whole lot more.

But it is not just the number of tests. It is how widely they're distributed and how easily they're accessible, and also how quick the turnaround is. And we're still hearing people having to wait three, four, five days for test results. The tracing is also critical. Once a case pops up, we have to be able to identify with tracing but then contain it. That's where the tracing of quarantines comes in.

And finally, the treatment is important as well. My concern is that we are behind when it comes to those three t's. And what the American people have done is given us -- they made extraordinary sacrifices to buy us time. Question is, are we using that time to prepare to get ready to open.

BERMAN: And Sanjay, I want to finish this part of the discussion by playing sounds from the attorney general of the United States, William Barr, proving that a J.D. is not an M.D., OK. He talks about social distancing and how he would like to open the country up, I think, as soon potentially as May 1st. But I want you to listen to how he phrases it.


WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I think when this period of time is at the end of April expires, I think we have to allow people to adapt more than we have. And not just tell people to go home and hide under the bed, but allow them to use other ways, social distancing and other means, to protect themselves.


BERMAN: Not just tell people to go home and hide under the bed as if it is some kind of weakness as opposed to, I think, a show of strength by the American people that we have aggressively taken this pandemic on with proactive action.

GUPTA: Yes. I think Vivek said it. The sacrifices of people right now, it is significant. But we're not sending people off to war, but this has been a huge disruption in their lives. And there is plenty of evidence that it makes a difference.

But practically speaking, the models are -- models are just models, for sure. But one thing the models do agree on is that the social distancing in order to be able to reduce the number of infections but also the hospitalizations and deaths is really based on this idea that at least until the end of May that these stay at home sort of orders need to stay in place.

Everyone wishes that that could be shorter, I think, but we have evidence within the United States that it is working. There is evidence from other countries that it's working. And there is evidence that if you sort of let go, you do stand to erase the benefits. And, again, how we behave the next few days, which I know is crucial, it's a holiday weekend, people want to get together, but how we behave now, we're not going to see the detrimental impact of that for a couple few weeks. So let's just keep that in the back of the mind as well.

CAMEROTA: That is a really good reminder. But Dr. Murthy, about your three t's, which I think are much easier to get your heads around than the ones that -- how I was spelling it out to you, but in terms of testing, tracing, and treatment, do you have a realistic timeline for when Americans could possibly see those things and we could reopen?

MURTHY: I think what is going to happen, Alisyn, is we're going to go back in stages, and it will take, I think, well beyond the end of April for us to, number one, build the infrastructure that we need. But number two, have clarity and convey clarity to the American people about what a phased return to society looks like. There is not going to be a flip of the switch where we suddenly go back to how life was two months ago. We will likely still need to observe physical distancing and stay six feet apart from people, but we still need to avoid physical contact and wear masks in public as well as observe hand washing hygiene.


And so there will be changes to how we live our lives. But that's why I think what is so important right now, absolutely critical, is that we approach this period of rebuilding the way we might conceive of a Marshall Plan for domestic health infrastructure. What this has revealed is that our public health infrastructure and in some cases even our medical infrastructure is not set up to handle a pandemic like this. And this is our opportunity to rebuild so that we cannot only do better this time around, but also prepare for the next pandemic.

BERMAN: Sanjay, quickly, I want to get your take on a couple of new studies that came out of the New York City area, which traced the genome of the virus here in the New York area, and found, both these studies, that the coronavirus arrived in New York likely in mid- February and largely from Europe, not from China. What is the significance of this?

GUPTA: I found this really fascinating. I've been following this story along for a little while, because they did the same sort of phylogenetic analysis, it's called, in Washington state when the first patient was diagnosed there. Patient was diagnosed in the United States, patients diagnosed in Italy, shortly thereafter these countries, the travel bans were put in place.

But the idea that patients did go from -- passengers did go from China to Europe, they were there, and then passengers came from Europe to the United States in the intermediary time I think is interesting. The United States imposed a travel ban from China. That was probably effective, that was a good thing. The travel ban from Europe, what happened is it was already seeding over in Europe even though Europe did put a travel ban in place as well, there was already seeding there, and now patients are coming over to the United States.

It means two things, really, and again, we have been following this for some time. We are at a very different world now than when we had our last major pandemic. Lots of things have changed, including global travel. People travel quickly, they can circumnavigate the globe many, many times before anyone even realizes something is happening in a particular area. But I think what it might mean is that if a novel coronavirus or even an unusual pulmonary pneumonia, pulmonary infection, is found in a particular area, it's really a question of locking down that area as quickly as possible. That's what needs to be done.

They did that. I think it is going to be a question, this came up yesterday on the program as well, did they do it fast enough? Clearly, they acted in China faster and were more transparent than during SARS back in 2003. But if it's true that the virus was circulating much more robustly and earlier than we realized, I don't know the travel bans maybe had the impact that we wanted. They still needed to be done, but maybe not the impact that we wanted.

CAMEROTA: Doctors, thank you, both. And be sure to watch Sanjay and Anderson Cooper for a new global town hall tonight at 8:00 eastern. Their special guest will be Magic Johnson. So tune in for that.

Also, you can download and listen to Sanjay's wildly popular coronavirus podcast, "Fact Versus Fiction."

So, new this morning, there is new information on how New York city is doing against the coronavirus. We have that next.



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: The state of New York suffered its highest one day death toll again yesterday. More than 4,200 people have died in New York City. That's the epicenter of this pandemic.

Minority communities are by far the most affected in America's largest city. Thirty-four percent of the virus-related deaths in this city were Latinos, 28 percent were black.

Joining us now is New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson.

Speaker Johnson, it's great to have you here.

And so, I think it's very hard for New Yorkers as well as all Americans to know how optimistic or pessimistic to feel today when you hear that maybe the curve is flattening in New York, but deaths are spiking. Where are you on the spectrum of optimism to pessimism?

COREY JOHNSON, NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL SPEAKER: Well, you just heard in your great interview with the two doctors, Dr. Gupta and Dr. Murphy, about the indicator we're seeing and the question if we flatten the curve or not, it's hard to say in New York because it's a moving target, but there have been good signs.

Over the past few days, the hospitalization rate is slowing, which is encouraging. We were expecting to see 300 or more additional people a day that needed a ventilator. The number was decreased down to about 100 people, which is still a lot of people. But that's a good sign.

But we are seeing some good signs in the numbers as it relates to the number of folks that are being admitted to emergency rooms with coronavirus-like symptoms but that could be because E.R.s are swamped and they're turning people away who aren't in dire need right now.

So, I think it's important for us to remain cautious, but also it's important to be hopeful, and the hopeful sign is that the social distancing measures are working, which should collectively encourage New Yorkers that they are making a difference, they are doing the right thing, we need to continue to flatten that curve so that we can take the pressure off of our healthcare heroes. That's the most important thing right now.

CAMEROTA: I want to ask you about the people who are most vulnerable and about communities of color. And we'll get to that in one second. But yesterday, we had a really heart breaking story on here, it was a 27-year-old woman named Leilani Jordan. She is from Maryland. And she is a grocery store -- she was a grocery store clerk. She lost her life to COVID-19.

And we found out she had cerebral palsy. So, she was disabled, a person of color, she was also disabled.

And "The New York Times" has this new report out basically showing that in New York City, the same thing is happening. That the disabled -- homes for the disabled are having a much higher spike of this than just the general population.

And so, do you have any thoughts on what to do about that?

COREY JOHNSON, NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL SPEAKER: Well, I want to send my love to her family and to the families of everyone that we've lost across the country who are in deep mourning right now and are not able to have the typical funeral or ceremony to celebrate their loved one's life because of social distancing, which has made these deaths even more painful for folks that are grieving.


But on that issue, Alisyn, I would say that we know and what we have seen what has been laid to bear in front of all of us, when it comes to race, when it comes to poverty, when it comes to the social safety net is the gaping holes that exist in our social safety net of the United States of America and especially here in New York City.

You had an interview earlier with Reverend Barber that you talked about the racial disparities as it related to the number of people who are dying from COVID-19 and in New York City, we know that there is systemic and endemic racism that exists, and it's important to say that.

We know that a lot of these essential workers, a majority of them, on the front lines, these grocery store workers, these train conductors, these nurses, they're people of color. And a lot of them do not walk to work. They have to get on the subway and bus to go to work. And then they're exposed when they're going to work.

And so, you have this double whammy of these underlying comorbidities that existed in these communities because of that systemic racism on diabetes and heart disease, coupled with now the people that are going to the front lines, these heroes are predominantly people of color. And so, they're being exposed again.

We need a healthcare system which is not a for-profit healthcare system, and we need to plug those holes in our social safety net and fight that systemic racism that has been laid to bear right now.

CAMEROTA: I just want to end on a lighter but still very relevant and important note in New York, as well as around the country, and that's Broadway. So many people, I don't have to tell you, just flood into New York City every year from all corners of the country and the globe because they want to see a Broadway show.

So we've just learned that Broadway will be dark until at least June 7th. That's their new target date.

And I know that you represent that district. And so, are you -- are you optimistic that June 7th, they'll be able to open their doors?

JOHNSON: I don't know if June 7th is going to be the right date. You know, we have to go by what the facts on the ground are at that moment in time. Broadway is so important to New York City. New York City is the

creative capital of the United States and of the world as it relates to actors and musicians and playwrights and visual artists, and these are folks struggling right now. Broadway is such an important part of this city and it's really sad to see these theaters dark, but we know it's the right thing.

And I'll just end with this, because I know we have to go -- it's important for folks to remain hopeful. In this moment of darkness, we have seen unbelievable compassion and kindness from New Yorkers -- making masks, young people going out and doing grocery shopping for their senior neighbors.

We've gone through 9/11, and the sad thing is the other day, we passed the death toll that happened on 9/11. We got through Hurricane Sandy. We got through the Great Recession of 2009.

We will get through this, but we have to remain united. We have to be one New York. We have to look out for one another.

That's how we will get through this. And I believe in this great city, that we'll be able to pull through this. And I really appreciate you having me on this morning.

CAMEROTA: Thank you for being here. City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, we'll talk again. Thank you.

A key question keeps coming up as states try to coordinate with the federal government, who's in charge of the coronavirus response? We take a look, next.



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: This morning, governors across the country speaking out in frustration as they struggle to secure medical supplies. They say the sheer number of federal agencies and players involved in securing and distributing supplies is sowing confusion and hampering their response.

So, who is running the show? The head of FEMA? Jared Kushner?

CNN's Leyla Santiago live in Virginia.

These are very good questions, Leyla.

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And there's a lot of confusion out there regarding those questions, John. I spoke to one Louisiana state official who told me on a regional level they are very engaged with FEMA, but the decisions being made beyond that regional level, he called them not only confusion, but also lacking transparency.


SUSANA MENDOZA (D), ILLINOIS STATE COMPTROLLER: The states have been told you're on your own. It's a Wild, Wild West.

GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D), MICHIGAN: We are running dangerously low on PPE.

GOV. MARK GORDON (R), WYOMING: Those supplies are being diverted by the federal government.

SANTIAGO (voice-over): Nearly a month after President Trump declared COVID-19 a national emergency, states are still sounding the alarm on supply shortages. And there's another frustration mounting amongst states, understanding who's taking charge of the federal response.

FEMA has taken the lead coordinating role but with FEMA's administrator Pete Gaynor largely out of the public view, one congressional aide tells CNN no one really knows who's in charge, who's making decisions.

JARED KUSHNER, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISER: When we were briefing the president earlier, he asked me to come out and talk a little bit.

SANTIAGO: Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner has taken a more senior role in the federal response, at times taking charge unapologetically.

KUSHNER: I got a call from the president. He told me he was wearing from his friends in New York that the New York public hospital system was running low on critical supply.

I called Admiral Polowczyk, made sure we had the inventory, we went to the president today. And earlier today, the president called Mayor de Blasio to inform him that we are going to send a month of supply.

SANTIAGO: In a letter to FEMA's administrator, the House Oversight Committee is now questioning Kushner's involvement, stating in part, it appears Mr. Kushner is unclear about basic facts regarding the purpose of the strategic national stockpile.

Kushner is one of many stepping in to respond to the unprecedented pandemic, including others like Vice President Pence, Rear Admiral Polowczyk and FEMA Administrator Gaynor.

FEMA provided this video showing how they chartered in more than a dozen overseas flights with supplies secured by prior U.S. companies, half of it goes to --

MENDOZA: What's happening we're having to secure, hopefully, if we are able to get our hands on product from China, Australia, whether it's ventilators or PPE and paying six to seven times the price that we would.