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Update On Coronavirus Update Around The World; Interview With Former HHS Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius; Pregnant Woman Diagnosed With Coronavirus Put In Coma For Birth Of Baby. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired April 15, 2020 - 14:30   ET




ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: The number of coronavirus cases earlier today topped two million worldwide. But just in the last how hour, the German Chancellor on paths to reopening. Angela Merkel says the economy will start reopening Monday April 20th. She's keeping a ban on large public events until August 31st and asking people to wear face masks in public.

More now from CNN correspondents around the world.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Matthew Chance with the news that Russia recorded its highest daily jump in COVID-19 infections. More than 3,300 new cases in just 24 hours.

This, is as the Kremlin has electronic passes that critics say it erodes privacy the name of public health.

It was last month, remember, that President Putin insisted the COVID- 19 crisis in his country was under control. Now the Russian leader has changed his tone, admitting the peak of the pandemic in Russia has not yet been reached.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Will Ripley, in Tokyo, where a panel of government experts is warning, without social distancing measures, 400,000 people could die of coronavirus in this country in the coming months, largely due to a lack of ventilators and a shortage of ICU beds.

U.S. forces, Japan, expanded the emergency for the entire country. Previously, it was in effect for the region which includes Tokyo but now all of Japan is a public health emergency by armed forces, which gives more authority to enforce social distancing measures and travel restrictions in effect for more than 50,000 U.S. troops and all the people working on military bases here in Japan.

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Scott McLean, in Madrid, where some non-essential workers are back on the job despite E.U. guidance suggesting the country should only ease restrictions if they see a sustained decrease in cases, a stable health care system, and are doing widespread testing.

A public health expert we spoke with said the state has fallen short on all three measures, including using hotels as hospital wards and struggled to ramp up the testing capacity.

The Spanish governor says it has boosted testing, which is why it saw a spike of 5,000 new cases today after a week of decline.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Ben Wedeman, in Rome, where the government is moving ahead cautiously with plans to revive the economy.

Tuesday, some shops, businesses and factories were allowed to reopen, but these first tentative steps could be halted if the number of new coronavirus cases starts to rise again.

The need to salvage the economy was made starkly clear this week when the International Monetary Fund warned that Italy's gross domestic product could fall by more than 9 percent this year because of the virus.


COOPER: Well, in the middle of the worst global pandemic in decades, President Trump has taken the step of halting funding to the World Health Organization while a review is conducted, he says.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today, I'm instructing my administration to halt funding of the World Health Organization while a review is conducted to assess the World Health Organization's role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus. Everybody knows what's going on there.


COOPER: Bill Gates taking to Twitter calling the decision dangerous, saying the world needs WHO now more than ever.

The United States and the Gates Foundation were the two largest contributors to the World Health Organization last year.

Joining us is former secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius.

Kathleen, thanks for being with us.

First of all, I want to get your opinion on halting the funding to the WHO.

KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, FORMER SECRETARY, U.S. HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES DEPARTMENT: I agree with Bill Gates that it's a very dangerous and misguided move at this time. You know, when I became secretary in 2009, the first person I talked

to in the office, my first day, was Margaret Chan, then the head of the World Health Organization. And my first trip two weeks later was to Geneva to attend the World Health Assembly.

In a pandemic, we need collaboration and cooperation. We need to share information, share scientific breakthroughs.

Countries all over the world are dealing with this. And the World Health Organization is a central lifeline not only to developed countries but it will be essential in developing countries to make sure that we don't see millions of deaths.

So this is a terrible time for the United States to threaten funding, to pull out, to withdraw from global cooperation.

COOPER: We learned from "New York Times" reporting that your predecessor, Alex Azar, warned the president about COVID on more than one occasion and seems to have been sidelined, barely visible.

Do you believe Secretary Azar has been vocal enough?

SEBELIUS: It's hard for me to figure out what's going on inside. There's no question that the security forces in the United States, the national defense groups, were warning very early in December about a pandemic coming. They were monitoring what was going on in China. That happens all the time.

The fact that they weren't transparent seems obvious but our folks said, they were on top of this. They were ignored. Looks like Secretary Azar tried a number of times to get the president's attention but couldn't do that.

So we wasted a whole lot of time and we're still way behind testing and figuring out a tracing system which would allow our economy to reopen.


Saving lives is paramount. Saving jobs is important. We can't save jobs until we get a handle on how to save lives.

COOPER: The testing situation, which you referenced, it's extraordinary, the problems we've seen repeatedly putting out a test that didn't work.

What do you make of where we are now and how do you explain -- is this just the way things are when you need so many tests and reagents and swabs or did it have to end up being this way?

SEBELIUS: I don't think it had to end up being this way at all. We never took testing seriously at the outset. That's the first thing you do when a novel virus pandemic begins to appear. You've got to test, test broadly, follow the disease, figure out who's getting it and where it's going. We never did any of that. And, Anderson, I went back and listened once again to the president's remarkable interview at CDC when he visited in early March and, at that point, he suggested that passengers on a cruise ship, which had not been allowed to disembark should stay on the ship because he didn't want his numbers to go down.

It was the first time I thought, we may intentionally not want more testing because numbers will always go up if you know where the disease is, if you know how much there's. So we've been behind this from the outset.

The only group in the United States is the federal government who could give purchasing power leverage, material power, tests out and about early on but make sure we had the supplies. That still hasn't.

I'm sitting in a state where our Department of Health here in Kansas still says we have not nearly tested enough people. We're way behind where we should be.

So this very premature conversation about opening up something at a point where we have no idea who's asymptomatic, how much disease there's, and what this really looks like. I think is very, very dangerous.

COOPER: You said this -- I just want to follow up on something you just said. Do you think the president really might not have wanted widespread testing early on because he didn't want there to be this big numbers on his watch?

SEBELIUS: I'm just quoting him. It was the first time I thought, I'm not a big conspiracy theorist. I don't really see behind shadows, behind corners, but listening to the president. And I went back and wanted to make sure I heard it correctly.

When the president of the United States very specifically talked about, I think at that point, we had about 250 confirmed cases and he very specifically said, I don't want my numbers, not human beings, not lives, not patients, I don't want my numbers to go up. And it's not my fault that people on the ship, you know, it's not their fault but it's not my fault. I don't want my numbers to go up.

It occurred to me for the first time, we might have a situation where he was really kind of slow-walking testing, slow-walking the federal government demanding that we get the supplies needed, we push out the tests, we test broadly in an area like Seattle at that point where there had been an outbreak.

But we didn't do any community testing. We were testing people and still basically testing people on the way to the hospital. People who are already very sick, we don't really know, still, what the population testing looks like.

And as Dr. Fauci said clearly yesterday, until we have testing way ramped up and until we have tracing, an ability to then follow the disease once somebody confirmed and figured out who they had contact with, it's too early to talk about opening up the economy. COOPER: Just briefly, finally, I can't get a straight answer from a

lot of people I've asked this about. Ahead of the CDC a while ago about how many people it will actually take to really do contact tracing the way it should be done. I mean, I've heard figures of 100,000. The governor of New York said they're going to need an army of people doing this in New York.

Do you have a sense?

SEBELIUS: I don't have a sense. I think, again, it starts with data. It starts with the epidemiology. If we had some idea how many people were asymptomatic and actually wandering around, that would give us some notion of then what kind we needed for contact tracing.


We know who's really, really sick. We don't have any idea if it's 10 percent, 15 percent, 20 percent of the population who is asymptomatic. And we still need to know who their contacts are because they are spreading, actively spreading the virus.

And until we know the asymptomatic patients, we can't possibly imagine how many folks are needed. But that's a really important number to get, before we start saying to people, go into a restaurant, that's fine, go back to work, go about your lives, knowing that the disease is very actively spreading.

COOPER: Secretary Kathleen Sibelius, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much.

SEBELIUS: Good to talk to you.

COOPER: Still ahead, imagine being 34 weeks pregnant, diagnosed with coronavirus, and then put into a medically induced coma, missing the birth of your own baby. That's the reality for a new mom who joins us next and shares her incredible story of delivery and recovery.



COOPER: One mom in Vancouver, Washington, was 34 weeks pregnant when a cough led her to get tested for the coronavirus. It was positive. She went to the hospital. Three days later, as her condition worsened, doctors put her in a medically induced coma and on a ventilator.

They suggested to induce labor to give her more space to breathe. Her husband gave permission and the baby girl was born April 1st. That is not the end of the story.

Angela Primachenko joins us now.

Thanks so much for being with us.

ANGELA PRIMACHENKO, GAVE BIRTH WHILE IN COMA AFTER DIAGNOSED WITH CORONAVIRUS: Hi. COOPER: You were sick. You remained in a medically induced coma for

days after birth. I understand doctors say they almost lost you.

PRIMACHENKO: Yes, my husband told me, he's like, I wasn't sure if I should plan for a miracle or a funeral.


You were finally able to be taken off the medication and the ventilator. What was it like when you woke up?

PRIMACHENKO: Well, I was drowsy for a while. And I was very, very confused. And the medication that they gave me made me hallucinate for a long time so a long time I was very confused.

I think it took -- I don't know how long for it to kick in. I think it is still kicking in. Last night, I was laying in bed and I'm like, what happened. I can't believe this happened to me.

COOPER: It is just incredible.

How is your baby doing?

PRIMACHENKO: She's doing amazing. I still haven't been able to see her. But she's doing great. Everything is completely healthy. She tested negative for COVID. She's healthy as could be. She's a preemie so these learning how to latch on the bottle and that is the only season she's in the NICU right now.

COOPER: She's beautiful. What is her name.

PRIMACHENKO: Her name is Ava, which is breath of life because we wanted that name before any of this happened. It is so amazing that is what we ended up naming her.

COOPER: That is incredible. This is just incredible.

You're a respiratory therapist at the hospital where you were treated. You hadn't been working. When you were told you were being put on a ventilator, were you conscious, because I imagine as a respiratory therapist you know the risks associated with that, what that might mean.

PRIMACHENKO: Well, once I started getting really sort of breath, at first, I thought maybes it just any pregnant, big belly and I probably have some respiratory infection or something.

But then once I got in the hospital and I'm like really struggling to breathe, I'm like, man, I'm sure I'm going to end up on a vent and that is a weird thought because I can't catch my breath. I don't have any other option. That was definitely weird to realize that.

COOPER: I can't stop looking at the pictures of your daughter. She's so beautiful.

PRIMACHENKO: Thank you. COOPER: When do you think you might be able to finally hold her? I

guess you have to test negative, is that right?

PRIMACHENKO: Yes, so I have to test negative twice within 24 hours. That is currently what the CDC recommends. But because this is so new, they don't know what to do.

But I tested a few days ago. I'm waiting for the results for that. And testing again today. So hopefully, today it will be negative, finally out of my system. And then the one from yesterday will be negative. And then maybe I could see her today or tomorrow or until I get a negative.

Because this is so new. it's hard for them to tell me --


COOPER: I want you to be able to hold your baby so badly.




PRIMACHENKO: It actually doesn't feel like I have another baby because I woke up and she's gone and it has been two weeks.

COOPER: Right. It has got to be surreal. I can't even imagine all of the emotions floating around in your head. Oh, my gosh.


COOPER: Thank god it worked out and I'm so --


PRIMACHENKO: I'm so thankful to god.

COOPER: Yes. Yes.

Well, thank you so much for talking to us. I wish you the best. And I want to follow up with you because I just can't wait to see you once you finally get to hold Ava.

Thank you so much.

PRIMACHENKO: Yes, thank you. Have a great day.

COOPER: You, too, Angela Primachenko.

New research that people with coronavirus are most contagious before they show symptoms. I'll have a report on that.


Plus, the team is work on a vaccine reveal when they think one may be available to the public.


COOPER: Pretty striking scene this afternoon in Lansing, Michigan. You could see the protesters taking action after Governor Whitmer increased the stay home and stay safe order that demand social distancing in order that protesters were clearly not following.

Thousands of cars in addition to people descended on the capital today in protest. At last count, they have the fourth-most cases in the country with just over 27,000 and deaths nearing 1,800.

That is it for me.

Our special coverage continues with Brianna Keilar. I'll see you later tonight.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Welcome to CNN continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I'm Brianna Keilar, in Washington.