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Coronavirus Survivor Shares Story of Recovery with CNN; U.K. Company Works on a $1.20 Home Antibody Test; Healthcare Workers Head to New York City to Help in COVID-19 Pandemic. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired April 17, 2020 - 07:30   ET






The deeper the breath is I take, the more it actually hurts.



JOHN BERMAN, CO-ANCHOR, NEW DAY: Oh, man, I've got to say, that's horrifying. You can see the struggle to breathe there. You wrote it was like being underwater.

HARTELIUS: Yes, that's the analogy I keep giving to people. That it felt like I had been underwater too long, and I came up, gasping for air. And just when I thought I was catching my breath again, I got pulled under water. And what you just saw there, that was happening, you know, maybe once an hour or every couple of hours. And it kept coming and going.

And that's why I kept telling myself, OK, I'm getting better. You know, sometimes, I might go a few hours without it happening. And then, over the course of day, 5 and 6, started happening more and more until it was just like that all the time. And the night before I went to the hospital, I was basically like that all night. Never slept because I couldn't fall asleep, and I was afraid if I did fall asleep, I was worried I might stop breathing.

And that's -- I made up my mind probably at about 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning, I needed to be in the hospital and called 9-1-1, it was probably about 7:00 a.m. by the time we called 9-1-1.

BERMAN: Can we play that again? I just want to play that again so people can see how hard it was for you, impossible in fact to get a full breath. So, let's play that again.


HARTELIUS: It feels like I can't breathe.


The deeper the breath is I take, the more it actually hurts.



BERMAN: You know, one of the most chilling things you wrote, Jason, was, you wrote, "if you were asked the question, you know, are you confident that you will live through this?" You couldn't give an honest answer.

HARTELIUS: Yes, I sat in the hospital room and you're there by yourself. It is a very lonely experience. The nurses and doctors really limited their time in the room. And I got out of bed at one point, I was on day two when I was strong enough to get out of bed, and I stared out at the window for a while and kind of had a little conversation with myself. Are you going to make it out of here?

And I said, I think so, but I'm also watching the TV in the hospital and seeing all these stories about people who were totally healthy, and the next day they're in the hospital, and the next day they're dead. And I'm saying, who knows, I could -- it could take a bad turn an hour from now. You never know, and that was -- that was kind of a, you know, a gut check moment, it really hits you.

BERMAN: We can hear you by the way. The breaths aren't 100 percent free. I mean, I can still hear the breath being something you have to work on a little bit right there. Ultimately, you didn't need to be intubated, but you did get oxygen. What got you better?

HARTELIUS: The oxygen and they also gave me a drug called Levaquin which they said they were hoping -- I had pneumonia, both upper and lower lungs, both sides. So they gave me Levaquin to try to help fight the pneumonia and the oxygen. So, I was terrified walking out of my house. The EMTs asked if I was able to get to the ambulance on my own so they didn't have to get into our house which was full of germs at this point.

And I told them yes, I got halfway down the stairs, and I had to take a break. Finally got out to the ambulance, and they put oxygen up my nose right away, and it was -- the ambulance ride was actually relaxing because I could breathe for the first time in days. When we got to the hospital, you know, I took it out, they wheeled me in, and again, I could instantly feel it coming back on.

BERMAN: Yes --

HARTELIUS: So, it was three days of oxygen really made the difference. By kind of end of day two of my three days in the hospital, they told me my vital signs were strong enough --

BERMAN: Right -- HARTELIUS: That I probably didn't need the oxygen. But I said I feel

better with it in, so I left it in until day three, and woke up day three in the hospital with no fever.

BERMAN: Right --

HARTELIUS: And breathing was nowhere close to normal, but it was a lot better, it was manageable.

BERMAN: Good, well, look, you're one of the lucky ones. We're glad that worked for you and you didn't need to be intubated. So people should know, you're a freelance sports producer. You're a guy right now whose economic livelihood has been put on hold like so many people because sports are shut down. There's no sports to film. How --


BERMAN: Should people approach, given what you've been through and given how badly I know you want to get back to work. What do you think people need to know about this virus before they start opening things back up again?

HARTELIUS: So, the first thing I'll say there is, I was at work for -- I'm guessing about a week carrying the virus, and somehow nobody I worked with got sick, which was a miracle. We had cleaning crews everywhere wiping up everything we touched. They did an amazing job and that probably -- that could very well saved lives. So that's what I keep telling people. You may say you're fine.

You may say you're low risk. You know what? You might get it, not know it, go back to work thinking you're fine. Never have any symptoms. You could give it to people you work with who could get very sick or die. And that's what I want -- I want people to kind of understand. That's why I put that video out there. I kind of -- I thought long and hard, do I really want to put this out there.

You know, and essentially looks like I'm dying. Do I want that out there in the world, and I said, you know what? If it helps people realize, this is more serious than I thought, and I've gotten a lot of feedback from people saying that I wasn't taking it seriously until I saw that video.


So, I think the thing is, just be patient. I'm unemployed right now like everybody else, normally, I'd be working next week to the NFL draft, that's not happening. Who knows when I'm going to work again. But after what I went through, after everything I went through and after seeing all the experts give their opinions that have no idea, the doctors, they've never had this, trust me --

BERMAN: Yes --

HARTELIUS: You want -- you don't want to rush back into this.

BERMAN: All right, listen, take care of yourself. That's first and foremost. We appreciate you being with us, take it slow, get better, thanks so much.

HARTELIUS: Thanks for having me.

BERMAN: Alisyn?

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CO-ANCHOR, NEW DAY: I for one, I'm not going to forget that video for a long time. I'm really glad that all of us got to see what his experience was like. We want to take a moment now to remember some of the 33,000 Americans who have been lost to coronavirus. Robert Cardona was a detective with the New York City Police Department for 19 years. He survived cancer-related to 9/11 which came in his just third month on the force.

Cardona leaves behind an 8-year-old son, 27 members of the NYPD have now died from the virus. And there was this inseparable mother- daughter duo, Carolina Tovar and Letty Ramirez, and they both died from coronavirus on the same day. Tovar was 86 years old, Ramirez was 54. For decades, they were at each other's side, Letty guided Carolina through her weekly dialysis.

In March, both went to the emergency room with trouble breathing, and days later they died within hours of each other. Letty Ramirez leaves behind three kids, a husband who is also battling coronavirus. And a beloved eye doctor, Jay Galspe(ph) was 69 years old. He was born in Milwaukee, he moved to New York where he practiced for decades. He was an avid coin collector, he also enjoyed golfing and the New York philharmonic. Galspe's(ph) survived by his wife Joanne, his son, granddaughter and his mom. We'll be right back.



BERMAN: This morning, one of the keys to battling the pandemic is testing. There are two kinds, figuring out who has coronavirus and might be contagious, that's one type of test, the other is to figure out who had it and might have immunity. Those are antibody tests. And one British company says it has an antibody test that could cost just a little more than a dollar. CNN's Nick Paton Walsh live in London. Nick, this sounds extraordinary.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Yes, this is a global race really for something that everybody, particularly the U.S. wants to get their hands on. These tests that essentially mean, you might well have some short-term immunity from the disease, and therefore can get back to work. There have been a lot of bids to flood the market with tests that haven't necessarily meant high standards.

But this British company has spent a lot of time validating their tests and is pretty comfortable they can get European self- certification in the next few days. Here's what we saw.


WALSH (voice-over): We know little about the virus that's emptied our world, but cling to one hope, that if you've had it, you might be immune for a short while at least.

(on camera): In deserted cities like London, around the world, the question is, is there an antibody test out there that's reliable enough to tell if you have the disease and then might be safe to go back to work?

(voice-over): It's a messy global race to an antibody test with possibly one British solution. A company, Mologic, saying they have a quick test, and after lengthy validation by independent scientists will in days have a European self-certification. They do hope to do hundreds of thousands in a laboratory this month, and within weeks, make 10 minutes home testing kits.

Professor Sanjeev Krishna has been validating these tests at St. George's Hospital, London.

SANJEEV KRISHNA, PROFESSOR OF MEDICINE, ST. GEORGE'S: I'm very pleased with the results that we've seen so far. We have done quite a lot of work to ensure that the test does detect antibodies in those people who have definitely had the virus. And we're now expanding those studies to look at and see how specific the test is.

WALSH: By specific, he means the important part, to be sure the test doesn't mistake other viruses or health problems for coronavirus. This is a prototype version of the test for use by doctors or healthcare workers in hospital.

KRISHNA: And who is at a greater risk than a healthcare worker taking care of patients with COVID-19.

WALSH: Yes, they hope to soon make a version for the home. This is Sanjeev's kitchen. For everyone, for as little as $1.20.

KRISHNA: Collect your blood.

WALSH: This test contains tiny traces of the virus and shows a line where the antibodies in your blood react with them. Mologic hope all their validating gives them an urge in the crowded market, and even approval from the W.H.O. or FDA soon for the final goal of mass, cheap home tests. Krishna tests negative by the way.

JOE FITCHETT, MEDICAL DIRECTOR, MOLOGIC: So, the tests comes out to be exceptionally accurate, it takes 10 minutes, and they can be sent in the post --


FITCHETT: Of course, (INAUDIBLE). But the way we're approaching it at the moment is, we have a well-functioning laboratory antibody tests, that is robust, that is validating this week, and we can scale manufacturing to high numbers. We want to see light at the end of the tunnel. But we need to make sure that it's not a headlight, and that it is some light. And we'll keep working on ensuring to get a good reliable test and does more benefit than harm.

WALSH: Science facing huge hurdles of mass production and accuracy, but also to promise the hope they bring is real.



WALSH: Accuracy is so important. So hundreds of thousands in a laboratory where they can be sure of. That's possibly by the end of this month, and then the real holy grail of all of this, incredibly cheap home testable kits that you and I could possibly use to see if we've had it to give society an idea how widespread this virus has already been, and then calculate who can rejoin the abnormal working life. Alisyn?

CAMEROTA: That would be really helpful, Nick, Nick Paton Walsh, thank you very much for that report. So, Nick just told us about antibody testing. What about the actual tests to see if you currently have coronavirus? Where are those tests? Joining us now is CNN investigative correspondent. Drew Griffin, Drew, I'm so excited to have you on because I know you've been investigating what the problem is with the tests. How is it that three months into this, we don't have enough tests?

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, the biggest problem, Alisyn, is we don't have a national strategy. We don't have a lot of guidance, so you have companies like the one Nick just talked about and other companies, many in the United States who are just trying to flood the market, get their product out there as quickly as possible and with as much volume as possible to do anything.

But what we've left with is this cross-section of all these kinds of different tests that are good and bad in their own rights. The molecular tests are the ones that are going to test for people who are sick right now. Those are the tests most in need. The cotton swab up your nose is the one we've all seen. Those require sending off to a lab or going to your hospital lab. There's a delay in timing.

That's been a problem. The other ones that have just emerged now are the saliva tests which you spit in a tube. That just got emergency use authorization, takes away the need for the swab which has been such a big supply issue. But again, this is just a starting out process where they're trying these things and getting them out on to the market.

And then finally, you have this rapid ID from Abbott. It seems to work pretty darn good. Again, only 600,000 of those tests have been shipped out. We need millions and millions and millions. Then after all of that, Alisyn, you have what we talk about the antibody tests, this is serology, deals with the blood, right? Do I have it? Did I have it? Am I recovered from it and do I have immunity from it?

That last question we really don't know yet. Science yet to determine whether or not --


GRIFFIN: We will have immunity. But these tests are coming out, only four -- CAMEROTA: Yes --

GRIFFIN: In the United States have been given emergency use authorization. Nowhere near the scale. In fact, the first company that actually got emergency use authorization, all of their tests are still stuck in China, they can't get them over here because of red tape. So, it's really a slow process.

CAMEROTA: Yes, Drew, I mean, we've been watching your reporting and I know that you've been breaking it down in terms of all these different tests, and why there isn't sort of a more streamlined process for all of this. Hopefully, we will see them speeding up and ramping up production. Thank you very much for all of your reporting.

Up next, healthcare workers going beyond the call of duty, putting their lives on hold to travel here to New York City to this hotspot to try to help.



CAMEROTA: President Trump continues to send mixed messages on China and the coronavirus. So, what's the truth? John Avlon has our reality check.


JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Raising up to 500 million in funding to the World Health Organization during the middle of a global pandemic, probably would strike most folks as a bad idea. But to team Trump, it's good politics. Distracting and deflecting from their flawed response by focusing blame on China. Now, there's just one problem, President Trump keeps contradicting the message. One day acting like China's cheerleader.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Late last night, I had a very good talk with President Xi. It's a tough situation, I think they're doing a very good job.

AVLON: And the next minute, firing off fund-raising e-mails, calling out China's lies, saying Trump is the only one to hold them accountable. Now, if this Jekyll and Hyde routine doesn't make sense, it's because you're paying attention. So, let's cut through the noise and lay out the facts. Coronavirus was first detected in China in December 2019, the Chinese communist government tried to suppress reports at the outbreak, publishing false assurances that it was all under control, not contagious while punishing doctors and journalists who tried to tell the truth.

This is the opposite of transparent, and yet that's exactly what President Trump called the Chinese response on January 24th. It's one of at least 12 times that Trump talked up China's coronavirus response, according to CNN's "K-FILE". Well, he's mentioned China, the context the coronavirus 52 times alone according to fact-base. It's bizarre because Trump's generally been a hawk on China, slamming

the formerly bipartisan belief that engaging China would lead to liberalization. It hasn't. Here's the thing. China's influence on international organizations like the W.H.O has only grown as the Trump administration has retreated from global leadership. The Trump administration's message is even more muddled because they're playing partisan politics with the pandemic.

Trying to tie Joe Biden to China in a fact-challenge ads that shows when former Washington State Governor Gary Locke who happens to be of Asian descent. And while Trump praises himself for shutting down travel from China, that came after most carriers shut down flights on their own, and after the virus arrived in the U.S.

Now, all this can lead to whiplash. Check this out, the day after Donald Trump Jr. accused anyone of defending China's covert response of being an authoritarian communist propagandist, his dad did exactly that, saying he had much respect for the Chinese efforts. So, what accounts for Trump's flip-flopping? Some folks point to business deals the Trump family has pursued with China while in office, while others point to the trade war.

But it's notable that many of Trump's statements come after he talks to Chinese leaders. Trump is famously susceptible to flattery, and as a former Bush administration agent specialist says, he's drawn to authoritarian leaders.


Bottom line, there is no reason to take China's word when it comes to the coronavirus. But unfortunately, there's no reason to take Donald Trump's word either. Because his ego and short-term self-interest obscures facts on a daily basis. Overcoming a global pandemic requires working together on a global scale, elevating truth over lies and putting cheap partisan stunts aside. And that's your reality check.


BERMAN: All right, thanks to John for that. So, doctors, nurses, other frontline workers from across the country going beyond the call of duty to volunteer here in New York City, the epicenter of the pandemic. CNN's Brynn Gingras with the latest.


BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Every night, New York City erupts in cheers. A show of gratitude for those continuing to fight COVID-19 on the frontlines. Among the native New Yorkers are thousands of healthcare workers who choose to be here.

(on camera): Is this your first time to New York City?


GINGRAS: This is such an unusual welcome to New York City.

ESPERTI: I'd like to go where I'm needed or where people are needed. That's always been in me.

GINGRAS (voice-over): Jess Esperti; a critical care nurse and former marine, flew from Arizona, leaving behind her children.

ESPERTI: I tell them all the time, if you see someone in need, you help them. You know, you give them all you've got.

GINGRAS: That means little rest and lots of stress for the next month. Esperti is assigned to the Intensive Care Unit at one of the hardest hit hospitals in the city, Elmhurst.

ESPERTI: I haven't seen one non-COVID patient.

GINGRAS: She took a video diary after an especially tough night.

ESPERTI: It's a nightmare. People are dying left and right.

GINGRAS: There's a bond that's formed between all the volunteers.



GINGRAS: Nurses and doctors from across the country who she's never met before, but who together provide normalcy amidst the chaos.

ESPERTI: All of us understand that we don't have time to talk to families, and it helps us to share our families with the other nurses and say, you know, this is me here, but I have this whole group of people back home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A group of 20 heroes are heading from UCSF to New York.

GINGRAS: Among this group also putting their lives on hold to help, Dr. Tomas Diaz. For him, New York is a return home, a chance to help the community where he grew up.

TOMAS DIAZ, VOLUNTEER DOCTOR: I would say in emergency medicine, we're the folks who run towards danger, not away from it. And so, to me, this feels very consistent with sort of why I entered medicine.

GINGRAS: Diaz is assigned to the E.R. at the New York Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan.

DIAZ: I think the providers here understandably, pretty exhausted. And so, the relief that I'm able to provide by taking over a few shifts is I think really helpful.

GINGRAS: So keep up the noise every night.

ESPERTI: Especially when we're missing our loved ones, especially when sometimes we think what we're doing isn't working and we just can't, you know, do it anymore. It's all that support that really literally pushes us through and it's like, well, I can do anything now. GINGRAS: They can hear you. Brynn Gingras, CNN, New York.


BERMAN: These are people who should drink for the next 50 years for free, at least. I mean, no amount of gratitude ever enough for the contribution they are making right now. So, we now have an 18-page federal road map to reopen parts of the country, what does it say? What doesn't it say? NEW DAY continues right now.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The criteria that you can see the gates the federal government has recommended are fairly strict.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're basically operating in the blind if you can't do widespread testing. For these are just arbitrary guidelines.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We'll have to wait to see if any of these governors actually start to implement these practices.

TRUMP: Those states that are in great shape already --


TRUMP: They will be able to go literally tomorrow.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that would be really dangerous. We're ramping up the tests. We've got to see what the infection rate is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Until there's a vaccine, every time things reopen, there will be new infections.


BERMAN: Good morning, everyone, welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world, this is NEW DAY. So can you start to plan to go back to work this morning? It kind of depends, we really don't know. Should you feel safe if you do go back to work? That depends, we really don't know. This morning, there are new federal suggestions, three phases for how to reopen parts of the country.

We will explain what they are, but there are significant gaps here on perhaps the most fundamental issues, standards for testing, plans for testing. Ultimately, it will be the governors who call the shots. CNN has learned that on a conference call yesterday, governors told the president that they're not just lacking tests, but also the basic materials needed.