Return to Transcripts main page


Coronavirus Headlines Around The U.S.; Dr. Rachel Levine, PA Physician General, Discusses Disagreement With Opening Economy Too Soon Which Can Cost Lives; Dr. Rob Davidson Discusses When Rural U.S. Gets Hit With Virus, Smaller Hospitals May Not Be Ready. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired April 14, 2020 - 13:30   ET



SUSAN RICE, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: I hope the president does not declare prematurely mission accomplished and try to celebrate his success when we've already lost more than 23,000 lives in barely two months, lives that many of which necessarily did not need to be loss.


RICE: And our economy is in the tank. It is a very, very tragic situation that could have been lessened with responsible and effective leadership. And sadly, that's not what we have the moment.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Ambassador Rice, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

RICE: Thank you.

COOPER: Coming up, grocery stores, pharmacies and professional wrestling? Why Florida's governor is characterizing WWE as an essential business.

Plus, about a month after defying the ban on large gatherings, a Virginia pastor has died from coronavirus. That's ahead as our special coverage continues.



COOPER: As the coronavirus pandemic crushes the economy, earnings season is officially under way in the U.S. One of America's largest bank, JPMorgan Chase, is feeling the impact. Reporting profits are down nearly 70 percent.

This, as Florida's governor, Ron DeSantis, is declaring WWE is an essential business allowing the wrestling program to return to television. Officials say the WWE is critical to Florida's economy. And now in the same category as grocery stores, hospitals and banks.

For more coronavirus headlines around the country, let's go to our CNN colleagues.


ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I am Rosa Flores, in Homestead, Florida, where farmers in Florida have to destroy their crops. This farmer's family has worked this land since 1948. He says the COVID-19 nightmare started a few weeks ago when restaurants and schools started closing and supply chains got severed. Since then, he had to destroy about 70 percent of his acreage. He says it's been a nightmare. No, he does not have insurance. Yes, some of it is going into food banks but there's too much excess.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I am Tom Foreman, in Bethesda, Maryland. Just across the river in Virginia, Bishop Gerald Glenn has died. Less than a month ago, he stood at the pulpit at the New Deliverance Evangelistic Church in defiance of CDC rules against such gatherings and said he believe that God was stronger than the virus. Later on, his family announced that he contracted the virus, as did his wife and he has, indeed, passed away.

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I am Dianne Gallagher, in Atlanta, where construction on a temporary hospital inside the Georgia World Congress Center has begun. The governor tweeted out photos of the process saying they expect to be ready by the end of the week. The state says it does not need those beds but it is preparing for a surge of coronavirus patients. Georgia is predicted to peak in about two weeks.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I am Stephanie Elam, in Los Angeles. A group of California pastors is suing California Governor Gavin Newsom because of restrictions he put in place related to coronavirus pandemic. They say it is keeping worshipers from their churches and they argue it's a gross abuse of power. They also believe this is fundamentally violating their rights underneath the California and U.S. Constitutions.


COOPER: Quick reports form our correspondents around the country.

Coming up next, I will speak to Pennsylvania's health secretary about when she thinks the country may be reopened again.

You are watching CNN's live special coverage.



COOPER: Governors of New York and California are spearheading a coalition of states to reopening amid this pandemic. They're working in tandem with neighboring state to ease restrictions in the coming weeks. Governors representing east and west coast regions said they'll let science not politics determine when to resume to normal life. And they're making a system for testing and tracking a top goal.

With me now is Dr. Rachel Levine, the secretary of health for the state of Pennsylvania.

Thank you for being with us.

Your governor, Tom Wolf, is part of the coalition. What do you think needs to be done in order to make it possible from a science standpoint or a health standpoint?

DR. RACHEL LEVINE, PENNSYLVANIA PHYSICIAN GENERAL: I think it is important to have a dat-a-driven process in terms of reopening the economy and letting businesses thrive again. If we do this too fast, we'll see a resurgence of the virus. It has to be progressive and data-driven.

COOPER: There has been some estimates of the number of people who would need to essentially be hired nationwide to do contact tracing in all these states, some estimates are as high as 100,000 people.

I am wondering if you think that's extensive contact tracing and not leaving it up to the positive individual or survivor or COVID-19 to inform those who they've bene in contacted with but have people make those contacts. Do you think that's accurate?

LEVINE: We are trying to use learn to technology to be able to do that. I think it is going to be hard to hire that many people to do that type of public health work. We are hoping with remote checking and other types of data-driven methods that we can do that contact tracing.

COOPER: Connecticut governor says he won't move to reopen until May 20th. Is there a date Pennsylvania is looking at?

LEVINE: There's no specific date. Dr. Fauci says the virus determines the timetable. We don't determine the timetable.

We are watching our data closely. When the data indicates that we can start to reopen, we'll do that. It is not going to be one grand reopening. We'll have to do it in a progressive, data-driven way.


COOPER: Pennsylvania's cases have plateaued thanks to social distancing. How concerned are you about reigniting the spread if the measure is lifted too soon?

LEVINE: That's the concern. We have been able to flatten the curse with social distancing. That's why we need to start region by region and business by business in terms of reopening and watching all the time of all any new outbreak.

COOPER: Dr. Rachel Levine, appreciate your time. Thank you very much.

LEVINE: Thank you.

COOPER: Coming up next, an E.R. doctor says the rural America is about get hit hard with coronavirus and smaller hospitals may not be ready for it. He joins me live to explain why. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


COOPER: Despite some areas in the country beginning able to flatten the curve of the coronavirus cases, one E.R. doctor in a rural hospital says he's more concerned than ever because of limited resources, staffing and testing.

Dr. Rob Davidson joins me.

Dr. Davidson, you took to Twitter to express your concerns. What is it you are most worried about now?

DR. ROB DAVIDSON, EMERGENCY ROOM PHYSICIAN: I'm most concerned that, in my area, even in all of west Michigan, we are not at a peak. We are not at a plateau. We are on the upswing now of the number of cases.

So while all the attention rightfully has been on New York City, that whole general area, in southwest Michigan, Louisiana, these hot spots with such severe tragedy, the spotlight has not been on places like where I work, communities that I work in.

And if we start to relax the measures that have kept us at bay thus far and kept my rural hospital functioning, I'm concerned what was the point of all of this damage to our economy if we go right back to square one? I feel like we could become overwhelmed.

COOPER: One of the things you said in your tweet, which I found kind of startling, you said, at night, there's one doctor, often you, and one respiratory therapist. Obviously if cases increased, that would be a large concern.

DAVIDSON: Absolutely. I mean, I work at a critical access hospital. We have 1,350 of those across this country. Essentially, the federal government says for these hospitals you need to exist, because you are in a community that has minimal access to health care otherwise.

So, you know, we get help from the federal government to stay afloat, but we have limited resources.

So from 11 p.m. until 7:00 a.m., there's one health care provider in the entire hospital. That's me. And yes, that one respiratory therapist.

Now, there are surge provisions, but, again, as we've seen in New York City, Detroit, as doctors and nurses and other staff get sick from COVID-19 I'm just concerned where will we get those members to take care of all of those patients.

COOPER: What is testing like in your hospital, in your area?

DAVIDSON: I think we spoke last week. Actually, we have widened our testing criteria. Now, if you're over 65, if you have diabetes and a few underlying conditions. It is still the case -- and my wife is a family doctor doing phone

screenings for the state -- there's still a case that more than half, well over half the people who have classic symptoms are not able to get testing simply because of the lack of. It may be the tests, it may be supplies, swabs, reagents, what have you.

I think more than ever that's why we need the Defense Production Act fully implemented to get testing supplies where they are needed. If we reopen on a whim or a gut by the president or someone else, I feel like, what has all this economic misery, people suffering what's the point? We'll go back to where we were.

COOPER: I remember, when I spoke to you last week, you talked about testing, and how many people can't get tested, because they don't meet the criteria. Has that improved at all since we last spoke?

DAVIDSON: Again, we have widened. And pretty much our criteria comes down from the CDC through the state. Then we use that regionally, use those criteria.

And it's expanded a bit, right? It used to be age wasn't a factor. It was simply if you were sick enough, third trimester pregnancy or heath care worker. Now if you're over 65, you can get tested. If you're pregnant at any age, can you get tested.

But we're talking the average 50-year-old without underlying disease who ha class symptoms and who isn't sick enough to get admitted, they're being told to go home, isolate, assume you have it.

I don't know how we do contact tracing when we are utilizing the clinical suspicion of me or others as an indicator of someone being positive, let alone testing asymptomatic people.

There was a study in New York of women coming in for labor, so 14 percent with no symptoms whatsoever tested positive for the virus. Is that ubiquitous? What do we do about those people? We can't test them.

COOPER: Dr. Rob Davidson, good talking with you again. I'm sorry that it has not -- or that it is pretty much a similar situation as we spoke of last week. We'll continue to check in with you. I appreciate it.

Still ahead, scientists say Americans may have to endorse social distancing until 2022. We'll take a look at what is behind their argument.


Also, why so many Italians are still testing positive weeks after showing symptoMs. We'll take you to Italy. The mystery raising more concerns about the U.S. opening too soon.


COOPER: It's the top of the hour. I'm Anderson Cooper. Thanks for joining us. We're following two headlines on the global coronavirus pandemic. In a

new interview today, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, saying a May 1st reopening is, quote, "a bit overly optimistic," end quote, for some parts of the country.


It comes as a group of Harvard researchers are warning people may have to undergo social distancing restrictions through 2022, unless a vaccine becoming available soon.