Return to Transcripts main page
Experts Indicate Coronavirus Pandemic Possibly Leveling Off in U.S.; President Trump Comments on His Future Decision to Reopen U.S. Economy; New York Continues to Have Largest Number of Coronavirus Cases in U.S.; Rep. Kim Schrier (D-WA) Interviewed on Washington States Response to Coronavirus Pandemic; Interview with Nurse Practitioner Recovering from COVID-19; New York City Schools Will Be Closed for Remainder of School Year; Kansas Supreme Court Hearing Case on Governor's Order to Restrict Religious Gatherings; Science Writer Examines Possibility of Multiple Peaks of Coronavirus Pandemic in U.S.; U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Half-Brother Criticizes Treatment Prime Minister Received for Coronavirus Infection; U.S. Developing Antibody Testing for Coronavirus. Aired 10-11a ET.
Aired April 11, 2020 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning those of you who are in the U.S. as well as around the world. It is Saturday, April 11th. I'm Christi Paul.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell, and you are in the CNN Newsroom.
As you start this Saturday morning, the number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., it really is a staggering number. Right now more than a half million people have been diagnosed with the coronavirus. And on Friday, the single day, just Friday alone, the virus killed 2,074 Americans.
PAUL: We do want to tell you, there are some encouraging signs, though. The White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator said the outbreak may be leveling off a little bit here. And Dr. Chris Murray, who makes models for that group, says the U.S. does seem to be getting close to a peak, though he's warning the slope of that curve afterwards will be very slow.
BLACKWELL: So across the country this weekend, of course families are trying to find new ways to celebrate Easter and Passover. Social distancing is being enforced at most churches and places of worship. And experts say that following the guidelines, that that's helping.
PAUL: At the White House, President Trump is taking a slightly more cautious approach to reopening the economy, noting nothing will happen until he is certain the country will be healthy. And we just learned that New York City public schools will remain closed until the end of the school year.
BLACKWELL: We have got a reporter standing by to cover all angles of this. Kristen Holmes is at the White House, Ryan Young is in Detroit. We're going to start in Washington where President Trump is weighing the pros and cons of restarting the economy. Kristen, talk to us about how he says he's going to make this decision.
KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Look, Christi, there's a lot of questions here as to whether or not this is actually his decision to make. You have to keep in mind, despite multiple calls for him to issue some kind of nationwide lockdown, he never did and he put that on the governors.
Now, of course, it is those governors who will be the ones who can lift any sort of lockdown, or stay home order, that they actually put in place.
But there is one caveat here, which of course is the fact that President Trump is a powerful man. He is the president of the United States, and there is a chance that these governors will feel pressure, particularly Republicans feeling pressure if President Trump decides to reopen the economy, to loosen restrictions. They may follow suit, even in states that haven't yet seen their peak. I talked to one state official who said they weren't sure what they were going to do if he decided he was going to open the government. He said it would require a lot of tap dancing on his part.
I do want to note, President Trump has not made any sort of decision yet. Here's what he said about this yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I would love to open it. I've not determined anything. The facts are going to determine what I do. But we do want to get the country open, so important.
The states can do things if they want. I can override it if I want.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: And the most important thing here to also note is that we have heard from several of these large states like New York and California who say they won't be opening earlier than necessary. So unclear what that would look like for a nationwide opening of the economy.
BLACKWELL: Kristen Holmes for us there at the White House. Kristen, thank you.
Some encouraging news out of New York. Governor Andrew Cuomo says that there's been a decline in hospitalization there. He says that -- he's optimistic that his state is flattening its curve, but there are still lots of concerns.
PAUL: It's been for weeks, New York is by far the hardest hit area. There are now, think about this, more cases in that state alone than any other country in the world. And now New York Mayor Bill de Blasio says that Hart Island may be used as a burial site for unclaimed coronavirus victims. There will be no mass burials he says, and he also says, quote, everything will be individual, every body treated with dignity, unquote.
BLACKWELL: Let's go to Michigan now, where more than 22,000 people have tested positive for COVID-19.
PAUL: Yes, and starting today residents in that state are going to be under an extended stay-at-home order, which means the governor says no traveling to vacation homes or the homes of friends or family member's homes even in that state. CNN's Ryan Young has the very latest for us from Detroit. Ryan, good morning to you. Help us understand what's happening there this morning.
RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You can understand the push. The reason why is Thursday to Friday we had the largest day of deaths here in the state, 205 between Thursday and Friday. That's hit a lot of people hard. In fact, we talked to a funeral home director who was basically telling us there's not a person he knows in Detroit who hasn't lost someone. And you put that in perspective.
So if you go to a store here they have the six foot distancing between each other, by square footage inside the store, that's how many people can be inside the store, so that's one of the things to try to do, because social distancing is working.
But we want to show you something that's very grim. We saw the extra trailers that were brought in at the medical examiners' office. They're worried about getting to capacity. But just look at these three trailers, and then think of this -- every hospital has had to add a trailer, we also know that funeral homes have had to add trailers as well. So when you combine all that, you can see that people are getting ready for an influx of people. We know ICU beds are also in short supply. But when you talk about the inequities throughout this community, you know that pastors and leaders have been trying to get the word out to their communities about staying inside. In fact, listen to this one reverend that we talked to recently.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REVEREND CHARLES C. ADAMS, HARTFORD MEMORIAL BAPTIST CHURCH: The virus and the nation's response has revealed the inequities that we have been complaining about for years. And now it is clear that this is a matter of life and death. Access to health care is a matter of life and death. Access to nutrition is a matter of life and death. Access to economic opportunity is a matter of life and death.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
YOUNG: We know some hospitals in this area have had an influx that they've been having trouble absorbing. And we know that behind us the TCF Center, they had 25 patients come there yesterday, supposedly going to add more today. We've seen National Guard also surge into the area. So we should see more capacity in the next few days. That should help out with the health staff all across the city and state. Guys?
PAUL: Ryan Young, thank you so much, really appreciate the reporting. BLACKWELL: With me now, Democratic Representative Kim Schrier of
Washington state. She is one of 17 physicians currently in Congress. Congresswoman Schrier, thanks so much for being with us.
REP. KIM SCHRIER (D-WA): Thank you, Victor.
So let's start here. Much of the conversation Friday heading into the weekend was about how to and when to get the economy going again, get people back to work. The experts say that massive testing and tracking will be required. We get that the U.S. was off to a fumbly start in February and a portion of March, but how can Congress get this country ahead of the ball so that this can be accelerated to get people back to work?
SCHRIER: Well, Victor, you're absolutely right that if we just go back to life as normal, predictions here in Washington state, we were the first hit, and our governor and public health departments were so great that they put into effect really good measures early. We are seeing our curve flatten, but they're predicting on June 1st only two percent of our population will have had this, which means we are just as naked now as we were a couple months ago, and if we go back to life as normal we will just get another peak.
And so really going back depends on having robust testing, see who's safe, see who's not, immediately test, isolate, and quarantine contacts of anybody who tests positive. And I have to tell you that Congress has done everything we can do. We are constantly asking the administration to enact the Defense Production Act and step up our number of swabs and tests. We put money in that big bill to do just that. And some things are just in the administration's hands.
BLACKWELL: So let me ask you which test now? Because we heard from the point person from the administration that there could be tens of millions of these antibody tests available, he believes in May. Should that be the focus? Less focus on who has COVID-19, and more of a focus on who had it?
SCHRIER: They're really practically one in the same. So one test who has it now, and that informs who gets isolated and quarantined so that we don't have another peak. The other is, who has already been exposed and infected who we didn't even know about. We know that there have been asymptomatic or really mild cases, and hopefully those people are immune. I should note that with many, with most diseases, once you have antibodies, you are immune to that disease, but we don't have proof of that with this one. And so we will need to be careful to not assume too much, to not assume that once you have been infected that you are immune, at least for this season.
BLACKWELL: Let's talk about potentially the next relief bill, effort for here. And there's some pushback from Republicans about moving on too quickly. Let me put up a tweet from Senator John Cornyn in which he says "The ink barely dry on the $2.2 trillion CARES Act, money largely not yet out the door, except for paycheck protection, and Schumer and Pelosi to seek more spending for spending's sake. We need to make sure what we have already done works as intended, then move to fill in the gaps." How about that, is it too soon to move on to this fourth bill to respond?
SCHRIER: It is not too soon. We are hearing from hospitals, doctors' offices, who are in danger of closing because they stopped all elective procedures. They are very much in debt, they're paying their staff, or in some cases furloughing staff, and they're going to need help. We're also hearing from small cities, towns, counties, that they are going to run out of money as soon as next month because they are not getting their usual sources of income. And so we already know that the need will be tremendous. We knew that that third big $2.2 trillion bill was just a down payment. And frankly, we need to do whatever it takes to rescue the country.
BLACKWELL: Speaking of rescues, you've sponsored a bill for rural hospitals, your district, east of Seattle, east of Tacoma, and a large rural area with some smaller hospitals, to get $1,000, if I understand this correctly, we have got a couple of the principles up, put on the screen, $1,000 per patient per day of the period -- the first four months -- first quarter of 2019 to kind of fill for the missing patients that they would have had while waiting for the surge. Am I getting that right?
SCHRIER: So it's actually slightly different. So it's for patients who are in right now, an extra $1,000 per patient per day. And that is basically making up for the fact that most of the patients who are in now, if they're even in, are lower reimbursement patients, Medicaid, Medicare. And then to take the revenue from 2019 for the first quarter and basically say, whatever that was, we're going to give you that amount for this year.
You have to remember, just in case that is sounding too generous to people out there, our rural hospitals are critical access hospitals, they're always hanging on by a thread or under water. And now we've asked them to stop all elective procedures, and in many of these rural communities they haven't quite yet been touched by coronavirus, and yet once they are, they are incredibly vulnerable. And so we're basically asking them to sit, to not do anything, and to wait for a tsunami, and that means they are losing money, they're bleeding money, and they need extra help.
BLACKWELL: Representative Kim Schrier pointing out that small hospitals are often in a precarious position, even if there is no major crisis like what we're seeing. Congresswoman, thanks so much for your time this morning.
SCHRIER: Thank you, good day.
PAUL: We have some breaking news for you that all New York City public schools will be shut now until the end of the school year. More on that announcement that was just made.
Also, a healthy young nurse practitioner spent 10 days in the ICU fighting the coronavirus. He is recovering, I'm happy to tell you, but he says at one point he didn't think he'd make it. He's with us next. Stay close. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
PAUL: By simply doing their job, health care workers are putting themselves at risk. But antibody testing could provide some vital information for these frontline workers.
BLACKWELL: So the result could help scientists learn if a person has developed an immunity to COVID-19 or was previously infected. Dr. Anthony Fauci predicts a large number of these tests could be available within the next week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Yes, actually at the last Task Force meeting the individuals responsible for both developing, validating, and getting the tests out are saying -- and I'm certain that that's going to happen, that within a period of a week or so we're going to have a rather large number of tests that are available.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: With us now, nurse practitioner Lequawn James, 29 years old, bodybuilder, spent 10 days in an intensive care unit fighting the coronavirus. Lequawn, first we're glad that you are out of that unit and well enough to speak with us. Thanks for being with us. You tell our producers that you didn't think you were going to make it. Tell us the story.
LEQUAWN JAMES, NURSE PRACTITIONER RECOVERING FROM COVID-19: Well, that all started in the E.R., where I had a 104 grade temperature. I was freezing. And then it wasn't until the second day that I progressively got worse. So I was diagnosed with -- at first they thought it was bacterial pneumonia, so I was getting fluids and IV antibiotics, and also getting Tylenol around the clock. But nothing seemed to check the fever.
And so overnight they did another chest x-ray, and my pneumonia had gotten severely worse. My breathing had gotten bad. I had to be put on oxygen and later a mask, and then I still had 104 grade fever. And even before that, it only got down to about 103, and then it spiked right back up to 104. So I was on the regular nursing floor there for about two to three days, and I just progressively got worse. Even just to stand up, it took an act of Congress for me just to stand up, and I couldn't even walk to the bathroom without oxygen.
JAMES: I could, you know, do lots of cardio and lots of vigorous exercise without a problem. So to see yourself not to be able to walk four feet without oxygen, it was just mind blowing to me. So after that, I got more severe, and I found out that I couldn't be on the floor with an oxygen mask. And that was the only thing that I was OK with. But my breathing still wasn't that good.
And so that next morning, with the fever, I found out I had an enlarged heart, and the pneumonia had gotten worse, and then I also developed migraines, and still had a fever. That's when the ICU got involved.
BLACKWELL: And we see, I just want to point out that we saw all those videos, Christi, of him lifting. So this was a man who watches what he eats, lives well, and this was not initially the profile of someone that we were told who was vulnerable to COVID-19.
PAUL: Which I think is why you're making this point, Laquawn, because you were so healthy. You had no underlying conditions. Clearly you were taking good care of yourself. I want to fast forward, real quickly, to the fact that you are now back at work, as I understand it, correct me if I'm wrong, but if that is true, how do you feel now going back to work? Do you have any fears about being around people who are sick?
JAMES: I actually feel pretty good. I wear my mask the whole time I'm with a patient, and I make them wear a mask as well, just to protect both of us. And if I don't have to be too close to them, then I try not to be. But I still try to provide passionate care without them knowing I'm still trying to practice some social distancing. But we both wear mask. I wear an N95 mask and I put a regular surgical mask on them. So I've had about two weeks to kind of figure out how I was going to do it and still provide passionate care to my patients, because I'm guilty of being a hugger, but it's hard to do that right now with things going on.
PAUL: Lequawn, I'm with you there. I'm a hugger, too. It's hard to get into that mode of not being able to do so. I'm sorry we've run out of time, but we thank you so much for the work you do, and we're grateful you look so healthy now. Please take good care of yourself, and, again, pass along our thanks to all of the colleagues that you work with, because you are the ones who are making everything tick and work, and you're saving lives at the end of the day. It's important work.
BLACKWELL: Thank you, Lequawn.
JAMES: You have a good day. Thanks for having me.
BLACKWELL: Thank you.
We just got this in. We learned that schools in New York will not reopen until the next academic year.
PAUL: CNN's Cristina Alesci has more for us on this. So I know this just came out, Cristina. What else are you hearing?
CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN BUSINESS AND POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: We're hearing the mayor, Bill De Blasio, is essentially saying in order to keep educators and students safe, the schools will be closed throughout the rest of the school year with the aim of reopening in September. Guys, this is just another indication that the fear factor in New York
is still high, despite the talk that we've been hearing from Washington and other places that we can see through the other side of this. Clearly, in New York, the New Yorkers here are feeling this in their daily lives. Everyone here in New York either knows someone that's been impacted directly by the virus or is worried about a family member who is working on the front lines as a doctor or nurse. This is impacting the very way of life in this very big and special city.
And there's real justification for that fear. It is because we are approaching 78, 100 deaths -- we're approaching triple the amount of lives lost on 9/11, which is a very psychological turning point for a lot of New Yorkers. And look, in some cases, in some ways New York is very similar to other parts of the country in what's happening here. We see the racial health care disparity in terms of the numbers of blacks and Latinos that are being killed by this virus at double the rate of whites. We are seeing high amounts of anxiety about how you reopen and restart normal life without causing a spike in infections or a spike in deaths. So lots of things moving here in New York. And we're going to hear from the governor probably just in a few moments, in the next hour or two, guys, with more.
PAUL: Cristina Alesci, thank you for keeping us apprised of what's happening there this morning. Take good care.
BLACKWELL: So considering what we're seeing in New York and communities across the country, the question is, when is it safe to go back to work, to try to get back to normalcy? Is it a good idea to wear a mask in public? The questions, a sample of the debates playing out across the U.S. right now.
Coming up we're going to speak with someone who for weeks now has been reporting on how those decisions are being made, and try to make sense of where we are now.
BLACKWELL: This is a live look of the Supreme Court in Kansas hearing a lawsuit brought by the state's governor, Laura Kelly, over her order banning religious services of 10 or more people. Here's the history, the Democratic governor filed the lawsuit Thursday after Republican dominated legislative panel overturned her order. Currently there are 1,178 cases of coronavirus in the state and 50 deaths. According to the state's secretary of health, three of the Kansas' coronavirus clusters were tied to church gatherings.
Let's go back to that screen of the video there. This is a first we're hearing from the court, the public information officer. You can see the state supreme justices in their robes, in their homes across the top two rows, and the bottom row you can see the attorneys participating in a video conference. This is a first that this is happening. They're going to decide right before Easter to determine if the governor's ban on groups of 10 or more, including churches, will stand. We'll keep you updated on the decision here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I would love to open it. I've not determined anything. The facts are going to determine what I do. But we do want to get the country open, so important.
The states can do things if they want. I can override it if I want.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: As we saw that in Kansas, the president is considering a broader question, flexing about the authority about reopening the economy. He says that he is looking at a date, but nothing will happen until he's certain that Americans are healthy again.
So let's bring in criminal defense and constitutional attorney Page Pate. Page, good morning to you. Thanks for being with us on short notice.
PAGE PATE, CRIMINAL DEFENSE AND CONSTITUTIONAL ATTORNEY: Absolutely. Good morning.
BLACKWELL: Folks at home don't know this, but I asked if you could join us just a couple hours ago to ask you about this constitutional question. The president says that it is the hardest decision he will have to make. Is it his to make?
PATE: No, it's not, Victor. In the United States, each governor will have authority to determine what happens in that particular state as far as the restrictions that have been put in place. The president, being in charge of the federal government, certainly does have some responsibilities. He can enact a travel ban, as he's done. He can control the borders, as he's done. But as far as specific state restrictions, if one governor wants to be more restrictive than another, the president cannot come in and override that. It is a local decision.
BLACKWELL: So when he says, and that's the first section of it, that the president says it is a decision he will have to make, then he says the governor can do some things but he can override them. You're telling us that the Constitution and the interpretation from the U.S. Supreme Court gives him no authority to override the decision of these governors?
PATE: That's right, Victor. Let's understand that we've not been in a situation like this before. So if we have a governor enact a particular restriction that is more restrictive than the president wants, of course the president can suggest that the governor not do that. And there's certain governors around the country who will follow the president's suggestion whatever he wants to do.
But as far as coming in and telling a specific governor you have got to reopen your schools, you have to allow businesses to reopen -- a president can only do that if the state restriction interferes with interstate commerce. That will probably be the federal government's argument, saying look, I understand what you want to do in New York, but it's affecting the rest of the country. We've never seen this play out in the courts before. But if you look at the Constitution, the president's responsibilities and authority ends with the federal government. He cannot control the individual states as far as specific local restrictions.
BLACKWELL: Page Pate, I appreciate you answering the early call to offer some clarity on this topic. Thanks so much for being with us.
PATE: Thank you, Victor.
PAUL: Health experts say there are signs social distancing measures are having an impact. So now the big question is, when can we start planning how to get back to a normal life? Our next guest has thought an awful lot about what an endgame for this pandemic could look like. Two weeks ago, he was already reporting on this debate for "The Atlantic," writing, quote, "If the current round of social distancing measures work, the pandemic may ebb enough for thing to return to a semblance of normalcy." As one Harvard expert told him, though, "We need to be prepared to do multiple periods of social distancing."
Ed Yong with us now, he's a science writer for "The Atlantic." And thank you so much for being with us. We appreciate it. You wrote a piece in "The Atlantic" that examined three different endings, and everybody has got their image of what that might look like, but you called the best option a protracted case of whack-a-mole with the virus. What does that mean?
ED YONG, SCIENCE WRITER, "THE ATLANTIC": It means that as soon as we lift restrictions, and if we do it too quickly, the virus will likely resurge and bounce back, as it is already doing in many of the east Asian countries that already seem to have had it under some measure of control. So this is not going to go away at the end of the spring. COVID-19 is a problem that is going to be with us for much of the year, maybe even the next one. And we need to steel ourselves for a lengthy battle against it. And that may involve multiple periods of social distancing. If we're clever about it, those periods in the future will be less of an upheaval than this one we're currently facing. But we do need to plan for the long term. And my concern is that there are few signs that the United States is doing that right now.
PAUL: OK, so you also spoke about the confusion regarding the effectiveness of masks, which we've had an awful lot of questions about on social media. You talked to an Harvard epidemiologist who told you this, "we're trying to build the plane while we're flying it. We're having to make decisions with quite massive consequences in the absence of secure data. It's a nightmare for your average cautious public-health professional." It's a frightening scenario that he paints.
Do any of the medical professionals you've talked to have some sort of a timeline? At what point in this crisis might they have the data they need to secure to make some decisions? [10:35:11]
YONG: It's really hard to give a specific timeframe. We're learning a lot about this virus very, very quickly. But it will probably be at least a month, if not more, before we can start thinking about how to get back to normal. But one thing is very clear. Absolutely every person I've spoken to who knows their stuff says that this is going to be a long process. It shouldn't be rushed, and that we should not expect everything to snap back to the way it was. Really large mass gatherings like big sporting events, concerts, conferences, those may not be part of our future for the next year, and we need to plan to be psychologically and socially resilient for what's to come.
PAUL: You also write about the aftermath, and say one of the first things that has to be done, and this is on the president's mind is to try to remedy the economy. How much confidence do you have in President Trump's new opening our country council? He said he'll have more information on Tuesday, but any indication of what that means?
YONG: I think the problem is that the administration is still treating this as if we were engaged in a very brief skirmish rather than the protracted siege that we're currently facing. Historically America has gone through cycles of panic and neglect, where a disease hits, we freak out, and then the crisis abates, and complacency settles in. The big risk right now is that we are going to go into the neglect phase before the panic is over, and that will leave is in a very dangerous place if and when the virus is likely to come back.
PAUL: Not only that, but when you talk about aftermath, you also talk about a secondary pandemic, but it's not necessarily the virus. It's the mental illness, the emotional and psychological state we all may be in when this actually starts to dissipate a bit. What do you mean by that?
YONG: So after the physical illness is gone, mental health issues are likely to spike. We're already seeing things like anxiety and people with obsessive-compulsive disorder struggling during the course of this current pandemic. The economic downturn is going to cause problems as well.
And we should not forget that after the surge in cases and deaths, hospitals are going to have to catch up with all the surgeries they have postponed, and all people who sat at home recently with their health problems and got sicker instead of going to hospital. So this is why I say we are in this for the long term. If the case right now is to stay at home to protect health care workers, those health care workers are still going to be facing exhausting conditions well after the deaths and cases have peaked.
PAUL: Ed Yong, science writer at "The Atlantic," some really interesting perspectives there in your piece and I hope people have the chance to read it. Thank you so much, sir.
YONG: Thank you.
BLACKWELL: Boris Johnson's half-brother says the initial coronavirus treatment the prime minister received was a shambles. His words. We're live from London next.
BLACKWELL: Boris Johnson's half-brother is slamming the treatment the prime minister received before he went into the hospital.
PAUL: He's calling it a shambles. CNN international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson joining us now. So Nic, we understand that he's just part of a growing chorus of people criticizing how the nation has handled the outbreak. What are you learning right now?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: What he's saying is very the specific to the prime minister. And he does say that he has not been directly involved in his half-brother's health care, but he said that the fact that his brother was in Number 10 Downing Street and that, in his words, no fully protected doctor gave his brother a health check, a full health check, before he went into hospital, that's what he's calling a shambles.
Downing Street has replied to say the medical care for the prime minister is a private matter. That's their line. They're also saying it would be wrong to assume that the prime minister hadn't had a full health check before going to the hospital. But they're not providing details beyond that at the moment, and, frankly, we don't know very much about precisely how bad the prime minister was when he was taken into hospital, precisely what it was that the doctors determined that he needed to go there. We get now the updates that he is making a recovery, was able to walk in the hospital yesterday.
But the broader concerns here in the U.K. come very much back to the personal protective equipment. The government is taking a lot of heat on that, 19 National Health Service workers have now died as a result of coronavirus, 917 people now have died in the last 24 hours from the virus in the U.K. Again, the government would point to that as a slowing of the rate, of the death rate here, it's down to 10.2 percent, it's steadily been coming down. But the government says even this bending of the curve, it's too soon to say when it will peak.
Again, going back to real big picture health care concerns, the government today said, the health secretary said, 761 million, million, pieces of personal protective equipment, 116 million masks, 127 million aprons have been delivered to as many as 53,000 health care facilities across the country. The scale is monumental.
But the health secretary has taken heat as well. He's in effect implied, it appears, in some of his public statements that health care professionals need to stick to just using the medical and safety equipment that the government says that they should use. Don't use more. Certainly, don't use less. The implication being that perhaps the health care professionals hadn't been handling the stocks properly, and the message from the government is, we only have enough for exactly what we say you need. So yes, it's a -- the health care issue remains a big issue despite the prime minister's personal situation. BLACKWELL: Certainly some similarities between what you're reporting
and what we're hearing here in the U.S. both in the deficiencies and in the response from government. Nic Robertson for us there in London, Nic, thank you.
PAUL: Thanks, Nic.
So researchers say there are still, believe it or not, a lot of people, they say, infected with coronavirus who may not even know it. In fact, some people, they say, may already have immunity to it. Coming up new antibody testing, how this might be, as one doctor called it earlier on the show, a game changer in the fight against COVID-19.
BLACKWELL: Just getting this in from the New York governor's office that we're expecting that daily news conference from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, as we've expected to hear from him every day, their efforts to continue to flatten the curve in the latest numbers of cases and the numbers of deaths out of New York. That's coming in the next hour. So of course, when that happens, we'll bring it to you live.
PAUL: Health officials say they expect antibody tests for the coronavirus to be available soon. Here's why this is important. These tests can tell whether a person has been infected, and if their body has built up immunity.
BLACKWELL: CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta takes a look at what that could mean in the fight against the pandemic.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: According to the Coronavirus Task Force, more than 2 million tests have now been performed in the United States, and yet there are still people who need to be tested, such as health care workers who can't get one. It's part of the reason there's so much interest in a different test, an antibody test. Dr. Fauci told CNN on Friday it's coming soon.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I'm certain that that's going to happen, that within a period of a week or so we're going to have a rather large number of tests that are available.
GUPTA: But what exactly are antibodies? They are proteins in the immune system that develop days after someone has been infected. And it's the antibodies that make someone immune to becoming re-infected. It means two things -- you were previously infected, and you are now likely to be protected, at least for a while. DR. STEPHEN HAHN, FDA COMMISSIONER: We think it'll be a tool to help
us get people back to work. It'll be additional information because, as you know, if you have an antibody, that means you were exposed and have recovered from it. That with the information about diagnosis should help.
GUPTA: That's why public health agencies around the world want these antibody tests, because it could help some people get back to their daily lives.
You remember the swab tests we're familiar with. That tests for the virus itself, specifically its genetic material. Problems are, first of all, at some point after you recover, that test will be negative. And secondly, a lot of people have had trouble getting the diagnostic test in the first place. The antibody test is more definitive. There are only a few reasons you have antibodies in your blood. You have got someone else's antibodies by an injection of their blood, you got a vaccine which teaches your body to make antibodies, or you were infected. The antibody test requires a sample of your blood and this strip, which has proteins from the virus on it. If your blood reacts to that strip, it means you have antibodies in your blood.
DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: I think really being able to tell them -- the peace of mind that would come from knowing you were infected, you have the antibody, you're safe from reinfection 99.9 percent of the time. And so this I think would be very reassuring to our front line health care workers.
GUPTA: Another benefit of antibody testing -- surveillance. In places like Miami-Dade County, Florida, Santa Clara County, California, and Telluride, Colorado, they have already started using antibody tests to get a better sense how many people, many of whom will be surprised to learn, have already been exposed to the virus.
LOU REESE, CHIEF OFFICER, UNITED NEUROSCIENCE: Whoever volunteers is getting tested twice. And the purpose of that is to see whose serum converts and develops the antibodies, meaning, who was actively infected during this period of quarantine.
GUPTA: A CDC spokesperson told CNN the agency has already used these tools to, quote, "Monitor contacts of infected people and to identify individuals who, due to mild infection, may have not known they were infected." Getting the antibody tests up and running, much like the tests to detect the virus itself, have been challenging. In a rush to get these tests to market, the FDA lowered the regulatory standards, and what followed were a lot of unreliable and inaccurate tests.
BIRX: There's a series of antibody tests out there that have not been validated. Some of the tests that may be available on the Internet may have very low sensitivity and specificity and give you a false reassurance that you -- either gives you a false positive or a false negative, implying that you may be protected.
PAUL: And our thanks to Dr. Sanjay Gupta, of course, for that. I know you may be looking for ways to impact your community. You see
people in need, you want to help and you're not sure how. We want to connect you. Visit our website at CNN.com/Impact, and thank you for doing so.
I also want to say happy Easter, happy Passover to all of as you find new ways and creative ways to celebrate this weekend. We are so grateful for you.
BLACKWELL: Still ahead in the next hour, at 11:30, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo will be holding his daily briefing.
We'll bring that to you live. Fredricka Whitfield is up next.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.