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Coronavirus Update from around the Country; Bodies Found at New Jersey Nursing Home; Testing to Reopen the Economy; Winter Weather Outlook; Life in America Radically Different; Iranian Boats Come Close to U.S. Warships. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired April 16, 2020 - 06:30   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: With coronavirus and there have now been nearly 640,000 confirmed cases in the U.S.

We have reporters across the country bringing you the latest developments.


STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Stephanie Elam in Los Angeles.

A woman is suing Life Care Center of Kirkland. That's the facility at the heart of the coronavirus outbreak in Washington state. Her suit alleges that the facility's neglect and negligence led to the death of her mother due to Covid-19. Her suit also alleges that the facility was aware of a respiratory outbreak in February but was late in notifying county officials.

For its part, Life Care Center says that they do not comment on pending legal cases.

The woman who's filing the suit says that she received a voice mail on March 3rd telling her that her mother would likely not make it and then on March 4th received another voice mail telling her that her mother had died.


Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker says his state is in the surge. And also today announced that there is new funding specifically aimed at long-term care facilities and the elderly. The governor announcing $130 million in new funding, saying it will be intensely focused on mitigating the spread of Covid-19 in those long-term care facilities and also protecting the most vulnerable patients. That money will be used for staffing, for updating some of these facilities to Covid-19- only facilities and also will be used for equipment.


There are 1,168 confirmed coronavirus cases in the state of South Dakota. More than half of those, 644 of them, come from either employees or those who have had close contact with the Smithfield Foods pork processing plant in Sioux Falls. The governor says that they have a CDC team now on hand to help them with the situation. And that team is going to be touring that plant on Thursday. They're going to give the state, local and Smithfield leaders a checklist of things that must be accomplished before they can reopen that plant.


Nearly a dozen African-American pastors from across the country are demanding equal access and treatment from the Trump administration's coronavirus response. With numerous reports of black Americans dying from Covid-19 at disproportionate rates, some pastors spoke emotionally about their congregants dying of Covid-19 after being denied testing multiple times. The group is calling for testing, treatment and protective gear to be readily available in black and poor communities and calling on the federal government to begin tracking demographic data. The U.S. surgeon general, Jerome Adams, has suggested that the government may begin doing just that.


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Our thanks to all of our correspondents for letting us know what's happening around the country.

Also new this morning, an anonymous tip leading police in New Jersey to make a horrible discovery. Seventeen bodies piled up at a nursing home.

CNN's Shimon Prokupecz is live outside the nursing home in Andover, New Jersey, with details.

What happened, Shimon?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, just really sad and just another indication here of how this virus, this deadly virus, has ravaged so many nursing homes across the nation. The latest here in New Jersey, where in Sussex County, which is about 50 miles outside of New York City, the police here receiving this anonymous tip, as you said, Alisyn, which ultimately led them to the discovery of these 17 bodies inside a makeshift morgue.

The police saying that what happened here was that the nursing home was just overwhelmed. As people started to die, they needed a place to store the body. And so they have a makeshift morgue here at this facility that can hold only four bodies. It became so overwhelming that they put all of these 17 bodies into this one area and the police were called. They got this anonymous tip. They came here. And that is when they found those 17 bodies.

They did take -- they did remove 13 of the bodies. There are still four bodies here. They've also brought a refrigerator here, a refrigerated truck to help the nursing home.

According to a local congressman, Alisyn, some 68 people have died -- 68 deaths have been linked to this nursing home. It's a subacute facility treating some of the very ill elderly people with serious needs. And, of course, as I said, this is just awful and sad and just another indication of how deadly this virus has been for some of the most vulnerable across the country.


CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh, Shimon, it's a horrible story.

PROKUPECZ: Horrible.

CAMEROTA: And just -- that's just one nursing home.


CAMEROTA: I mean we've just heard about the challenges at so many across the country.

Thank you very much for that reporting.


CAMEROTA: So we all know widespread testing is critical to reopening the country.


How close are we to that? That's next.


BERMAN: This morning, business leaders warning President Trump that testing for coronavirus will need to be widely available before Americans can go back to work, before they're comfortable going back to work. Commercial labs are increasing their capacity, but there's still major issues with supplies and accessibility.

CNN's senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen explains.


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): With the country shutting down, one thing that could help bring it back to life is this test. It tells you whether you've had Covid-19 and developed antibodies. If so, you could be immune.

DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE: So these are the kinds of tests that we know will be critical in the future.

COHEN: On Wednesday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the second and third antibody test for the United States, especially helpful for doctors and nurses.

BIRX: I think really being able to tell them -- the peace of mind that would come from knowing you already 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.

COHEN: The concern now, getting those tests out and distributed to hospitals and doctors' offices.

Meanwhile, more concerns about Hydroxychloroquine, a malaria drug much touted by President Trump to use against Covid-19.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think it could be a game changer.


And maybe not. And maybe not. But I think it could be -- based on what I see, it could be a game changer. Very powerful.

COHEN: But a new French study of 181 coronavirus patients suggests that Hydroxychloroquine doesn't work against coronavirus and the patients who took it had a higher risk of developing heart problems. The study has yet to be peer reviewed but doctors in Sweden and Brazil say they've seen heart problems too and are issuing warnings about the drug.

The ultimate weapon against coronavirus would be a vaccine, but it will take many months or even more than a year to get a vaccine on the market. So, until then, social distancing is the best we can do.

Elizabeth Cohen, CNN reporting.


CAMEROTA: Our thanks to Elizabeth there.

Let's talk about the weather because much of the country will feel more like winter than spring for the next few days. Temperatures could be well below average and we could see snow.

CNN meteorologist Chad Myers has our forecast.

Really, Chad?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Absolutely. Snow in Chicago. Snowing right now in Denver. And there will be snow in the Poconos and the Adirondacks. It is cold out there for sure. Bundle up if you have to go outside.

This weather is brought to you by Boost, the nutrition you need, the taste you deserve.

So let's get right to it. There's just this cold front that's been running across North America and it will be with us for the next couple of days. Winter storm warnings for just west of Denver. Winter storm warnings not that far west of Chicago. So there will be some slippery conditions out there.

Here's your Friday morning forecast. It will be snowing in Chicago tomorrow morning. And there will be snow not that far from New York City by Saturday overnight. So we'll keep watching that.

The next storm system we're watching will be Saturday afternoon and Sunday for more severe weather across parts of the south.

There's the band of snow all the way across the northern tier. In that purple, four to eight inches of snow. All the way from about Scranton back toward Wilkes-Barre and even on up into the Adirondacks.

Now, it does warm up. This isn't the end of spring. Temperatures will be back to around 50 with sunshine by the weekend.


CAMEROTA: All right. I mean I'm ready for 70.

MYERS: I know.

CAMEROTA: But, OK, Chad, thank you very much for that update.

MYERS: You bet.

CAMEROTA: Our next guest says Americans need to stop thinking that life will return to normal any time soon. He's a science reporter at "The Atlantic" and he's looked at other pandemics and he tells us what we should expect this summer.



CAMEROTA: Governors across the country are trying to come up with plans for restarting the economy, but our next guest says we are far from out of the woods. He's taken a look at what this summer might look like.

Joining us now is a staff writer covering science for "The Atlantic," Ed Yong. He is the author of the new article, "Our Pandemic Summer."

Ed, great to see you.

What do you mean our pandemic summer?

ED YONG, STAFF WRITER, "THE ATLANTIC": So I think everyone is hoping that within the next few months or so this pandemic is going to be over and that things can return to normal. Everyone is asking when -- when can we get on with our regular lives? And I think the problem with that is that the virus is still going to be with us. If restrictions lift, and the country reopens, we're just going to get another surge in the future. And that's going to continue to be the case until such time as we get a vaccine.

So this isn't going to be over in just a couple of weeks or even a couple of months, but it will roll on through the summer and through the year. And we need to be prepared for that, medically, physically and mentally. CAMEROTA: You say, as we know, that one of the keys to reopening would

be widespread testing and the scientists you've talked to say we don't even have the capacity to manufacture widespread testing. Not only are we not doing it, we can't even create the tests fast enough right now. And you say that the most crucial piece of missing information in terms of being able to reopen is what proportion of our population has actually been infected. Why do we need to know what proportion?

YONG: Depending on whether it's very low, say 1 percent, or a bit higher, say about 20 percent, it changes our options. It changes the number -- the proportion of individuals who are still susceptible to the virus. It changes our understanding of how transmissible and lethal the virus is.

But it's important to understand that across that entire range, it doesn't change the fact that things like mass gatherings may be a bad idea and that in the summer we should not expect to see the return of things like large sporting events full of packed, crowded stadiums and -- or like large outdoor July the 4th parties. We need to understand that the new normal we're going toward is going to look quite different to the old one that we're used to.

CAMEROTA: In fact, we've heard that from the mayor of Los Angeles, who has said that -- not to expect any concerts, sporting events, large gatherings like that for a year.

But, you do say -- you've put together -- well, what I gleaned from your article were sort of five steps to how we could restart going back to normal. To what it could look like as we reopen the economy. So let me just tick through some of them for you. Here's -- here are the steps that you think we could at some point soon see.

Number one, stay at home orders might lift first, which would allow family and friends to reunite. That would be so welcome and so wonderful to even just be able to get together, you know, with grandparents and with neighbors, you know, in a small setting. And then you say, small businesses could reopen with limitations. Like what?

YONG: So, for example, you might see still some social distancing happening.


So if you reopen a restaurant or a coffee shop, you might have fewer tables or people more -- or further spaced apart. If you have offices, you might have shifts so that not everyone is there at the same time or not everyone is packed together as tightly as before. These are some of the things that I think businesses and local level leaders will need to consider as we move forward because we know that the risk of the virus won't have diminished once we get past this first surge.

CAMEROTA: Number three in terms of getting back to work. You say that offices might run on shifts and still rely heavily on teleworking. I mean this is one of the possible long-term byproducts of this. You know, I've heard people theorize that this sort of has kick-started teleworking and it may never go back to the way it was.

YONG: Yes, I'm hoping that we understand that a lot of things that people had asked for or thought might be possible and that institutions are sort of dragging their heels on have suddenly become very feasible. So not just teleworking but better support for child care, for sick pay and that we can start imagining what a better, fairer, more equitable society might look like at the end of this.

People in the disability community, for example, have been calling for exactly these kinds of measures for a long time. And those, of course, have often been ignored. And yet we're seeing that massive social change is possible in the event of a crisis, so why should it not continue to be possible once that crisis starts waning.

CAMEROTA: Number four, you've already touched on this, restaurants and bars could create more space between tables.

Then, number five, schools could restart once researchers determine if children actually spread the virus. Don't we already know that? Don't we already know that they are capable of spreading the virus?

YONG: So I think the extent to which children who are largely spared the physical effects of the virus are contributing to the spread is still an open question among many of the health experts I talked to. And that, I think, goes into the question of whether schools should reopen or not.

But I think I -- in the article, I make this point that we've rushed very quickly to put in all these measures to control the spread of the virus and that was the right thing to do. But we now have an opportunity, as we slowly ease back on these, to actually understand then which of these measures made a substantial difference to slowing the spread of Covid-19 and, therefore, in future pulses, which are going to be most important to put in place at what time.

CAMEROTA: That's really interesting. So a staggered approach gives people, scientists, et cetera, more information.

Ed Yong, from "The Atlantic," thank you very much for sharing your reporting with us.

YONG: Thank you for having me.

CAMEROTA: The U.S. Navy releasing this video on your screen of Iranian warships swarming American vessels in the Persian Gulf. We have the latest on this escalation, next.



BERMAN: Developing this morning, the U.S. Navy releasing this video that they say shows Iranian boats coming dangerously close to American warships in the Persian Gulf.

CNN's Barbara Starr live at the Pentagon with details. That is dramatic video, Barbara.

BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is indeed. Good morning, John.

What the Navy says happened is 11 Iranian small, fast boats began approaching six Navy and Coast Guard ships that were transiting through the Middle East. And for an hour, they moved at fast and dangerous speeds around these boats.

One of these Iranian boats coming within ten yards of one of the ships. I think you can hear a horn there being blown by the U.S. Navy trying to warn them off.

This, the Navy says, was dangerous and harassing.

It's very interesting, when you look at the video, the Iranians had their guns out. They were uncovered. They were on the deck. But very carefully not pointed at the U.S. Navy ships. They perhaps knew better than to point a weapon at the U.S. Navy.

But what concerns the Pentagon right now is this is an example they worry at least of America's adversaries perhaps thinking that the American military is distracted by the coronavirus. In fact, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, has actually publicly warned for several days, don't think America is distracted. That the U.S. military is not. And here is an example. They worry that an adversary like Iran may miscalculate someday.


BERMAN: The timing, very interesting.

Barbara Starr at the Pentagon.

Thank you so much, Barbara.

We're standing by for a new unemployment claims report. It's expected to be devastating.

NEW DAY continues right now.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): The threshold to cross into opening up our economy is through testing, testing, testing.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Business executives basically told the president, before they open, they want to see ramped up testing in the United States.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're not going to running a parking lot in Arkansas where you have a testing center and running that from Washington, D.C.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: People who don't have symptoms, they can still spread it. That's another reason you have to do this more widespread testing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're finding out this virus affects the hearts, the lungs, the kidney. The question is, what part of the body doesn't it affect?

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D) NEW YORK CITY: I think everyone should recognize that those big events should be one of the last things we bring back online.


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

BERMAN: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY.

And this morning the intersection between the economic devastation in this country and the medical reality. Shortly, the government will release new jobless claims which could show record-setting losses which highlights the pressure to reopen parts of the country. President Trump says he will announce new federal guidelines today to relax restrictions in some places by May 1st, but governors and even major business leaders are warning that they're nowhere near being able to reopen.

In a conference call with the president, business leaders told him that testing is still inadequate. It needs to be dramatically increased before people can go back to work.


Polls show that a vast majority of Americans are not comfortable returning to old routines right now. The U.S. is --