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U.S Death Toll Nears 50,000, States Begin To Reopen; Florida Has Only Paid 17 Percent Of Unemployment Claims Filed. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired April 24, 2020 - 07:00   ET



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN NEW DAY: So, today marks a milestone, a sad milestone in the coronavirus pandemic. New Day continues right now.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEW DAY: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is New Day, and I will talk now.

In the next two hours, while we're on the air, the death toll in the United States from coronavirus will likely hit 50,000 people. That's more Americans that died in the Vietnam War, Korean War. Almost 3,200 Americans were added to this death toll yesterday.

Meanwhile, a milestone of different sorts today. In Georgia, gyms, hair salons, nail salons, bowling alleys, massage and tattoo parlors, they can reopen their doors today. Theaters and restaurants can reopen on Monday. The big question this morning, how many people will use them? We're on the ground waiting to see.

Now, it is important to note that the death toll in Georgia is expected to double within two weeks.

CAMEROTA: And this morning, John, public health officials are having to put out warnings against some outrageous suggestions made by President Trump. He publicly wondered at his press briefing if regular household disinfectants, like bleach, which can, of course, kill the virus on surfaces, could also help cure coronavirus inside people.


DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: The disinfectant where it knocks it out in a minute, one minute, and is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside or almost a cleaning, as you see gets in the lungs and does a tremendous number on the lungs. It would be interesting to check that. You're going to have to use medical doctors. But it sounds interesting to me.


CAMEROTA: Okay. The parent company of Lysol just released this statement moments ago. Quote, under no circumstance should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body through injection, ingestion or any other route. In short, what the president was musing about there, which he thought sounded interesting, can kill you. Do not do that.

Okay. Joining us now is Dr. Ashish Jha, he's the Director of Harvard Global Health Institute, and Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, she is the Director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Alabama in Birmingham.

Dr. Marrazzo, I don't know where to begin. I mean, the fact that the president thinks it sounds interesting that maybe if Lysol or bleach or disinfectant works on a surface, maybe it would work inside you. I mean, this is beyond snake oil. This is so dangerous. And the reason it's dangerous is because that some people actually believe what the president of the United States says and some people try it.

DR. JEANNE MARRAZZO, DIRECTOR, DIVISION OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES AT UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA IN BIRMINGHAM: Yes. Good morning, Alisyn. I agree, it's a very worrisome concept. There is a reason that there's an entire field of chemical pneumonias. Basically, we know that people who inhale these kinds of compounds can experience significant lung damage and actually anybody who has cleaned their own bathroom knows that the smell of bleach can be really disturbing. And it's not something that you want to be exposed to over a long period of time.

I do think that it does speak to desperation. I mean, we are seeing still a lot of people die. John just mentioned that we anticipate that the death toll in Georgia is going to double in a couple of weeks. That is really frightening, particularly in the concept of reopening that state.

BERMAN: The desperation is one thing. Danger is another though. And I just wake up this morning feeling like it's come to this, that the maker of Lysol has got to put out a statement saying, don't listen to the president of the United States. I mean, honestly, what's next? The surgeon general warning, saying that these words may hurt or kill you.

And, Dr. Jha, again, the part that makes me insane isn't just that it's dangerous, it's that it's time wasted. It's time wasted by him, it's time wasted by the doctors, like Dr. Birx, who has to answer for it and cover it up and fluff him somehow when he asks her, oh, that could be interesting.


It's time wasted instead concentrating on testing or things that we know will help here.

DR. ASHISH JHA, DIRECTOR, HARVARD GLOBAL HEALTH INSTITUTE: Yes. So, good morning, John. That's exactly right. This is a distraction. The big message I have for your viewers is get your advice from a medical doctor. That's the best place to get medical advice, not from political leaders.

And the point is now we're spending all of our time talking about how -- what we should be doing with Lysol as opposed to talking about how we safely reopen the country, how we maintain social distancing in a smart way, how we do testing, how we make progress on vaccines and therapies, that's what we should be talking about. And we keep getting distracted by these issues. And it's incredibly frustrating because, as you said, thousands of Americans are dying and I'd like us to focus on the issue at hand, which is the virus and the scientific approach to defeating the virus.

CAMEROTA: Right. I mean, the problem is -- Dr. Marrazzo, is that Americans do take the words of the president of the United States seriously, any president of the United States. They believe that those carry weight and those carry more weight than your neighbor. And the reason that I bring this up is because we already know that people have taken his past words seriously to deadly consequences.

There was an Arizona couple that had heard about chloroquine, and they were trying to protect themselves. And the wife realized that she had chloroquine or what she thought was lying around the house because it cleaned their fish tanks and they took it, and the husband died.

And so to pretend that, well, he was just musing or to hope, I guess, that he was just musing, these actually carry consequences, what you say from the podium in the White House. And so I hear you. I mean, I don't want to take time this morning discussing it either, but there could be consequences.

MARRAZZO: Yes, I agree. I mean, it is a distraction in a scientific and public health sense, nut we do have to deal with it. We really have to counter what I agree are incredibly dangerous words, and people do take words seriously. This, I think, is a really important reminder that we really need strong national leadership at this time. People are really hungry for the kind of information that they need to keep themselves safe.

So I could not agree with you more. I would rather be talking about the kinds of things that we should be talking about, which is safe reopening and getting people back to work in a way that makes sense.

BERMAN: All right. I'm going to play one more moment of this before I do what I think we all want to do, which is to move on to things that will save lives. This is the exchange between President Trump and Dr. Deborah Birx yesterday at the news conference where he was looking for some kind of affirmation on this.


TRUMP: Deborah, have you ever heard of that, the heat and the light relative to certain viruses, yes, but relative to this virus?

DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE RESPONSE COORDINATOR: Not as a treatment. I mean, certainly fever is a good thing when you have a fever. It helps your body respond. But not as -- I have not seen heat or --

TRUMP: I think it's a great thing to look at.


BERMAN: All right, not as a treatment. Leave it there. Let's save lives this morning instead of what the president was doing yesterday, Dr. Jha, if we can.

There's a new study out of China, which is interesting, which reports this morning that they say they have successfully cloned antibodies to the coronavirus. Why might that be important? How could that be used in production or mass production possibly of a vaccine?

JHA: Yes. I think it would be actually really powerful as a therapy. So the idea is we believe, and there's some evidence, that convalescent plasma, taking plasma from people who have gotten sick and have recovered and giving to people who are acutely ill could be helpful. And that's because once you've recovered, you should have the antibodies. you should have the antibodies. But we don't know which antibodies are neutralizing, which antibodies actually work to deal with the virus.

And so this study, I think is very promising. Because if we can identify which antibodies are working and then we can create large samples of them, we don't have to go out getting large amounts of plasma from recovered patients. We can just give this as therapy.

So, again, let's not like get overly excited. I'm not convinced that this is going to work but I'm optimistic that this is scientifically a pretty good way to think about this and could end up being a really important therapy.

CAMEROTA: Dr. Marrazzo, let's talk about what's happening just a couple of hours from now in Georgia. So businesses there will be allowed to reopen, some businesses. We have talked about them, hair and nail salons, tattoo parlors, et cetera. And at the moment, the models show without any reopening, these models were taken before Georgia reopens, that at the moment, 881 people in Georgia have died as of today, without any reopening.


In two weeks, the model shows that that number will double. By June, that number would be more than 2,000 people.

So we have no idea how many businesses will feel comfortable opening or how many customers will feel comfortable going to those businesses. But what do you imagine will happen over the next few weeks or month in Georgia?

MARRAZZO: Well, to say it's worrisome is an understatement. The plan, as outlined, flies against what was outlined in actually the sensible plan that the presidential task force released last week. And it said, remember, that you really want to see things declining, the rate of new infections declining for about two weeks before you start to reopen things. You want to be sure you have adequate personal protective equipment so that you can deal with an outbreak if it does happen and you want to be sure you have adequate diagnostic testing so that you can go out there and find what's happening if you do see a resurging.

I am not persuaded or I haven't seen enough evidence to say that Georgia is in that position. You just mentioned that we're anticipating seeing an increase in deaths or sustained deaths. That, again, goes very much against what we would recommend when we think about reopening places.

So it's a big gamble and it makes me very anxious.

BERMAN: Very interesting to see will be how many people actually go out and use these places today. That is what we are waiting to look for. We've got reporters on the ground in Georgia at this moment.

Dr. Jha, Dr. Marrazzo, thank you so much for being with us this morning.

MARRAZZO: Thank you, stay safe.

BERMAN: Millions of people this morning out of work, numbers we haven't seen since the great depression. We're going to take you to one state overwhelmed by jobless claims. That's next.



CAMEROTA: More than 26 million Americans have lost their jobs during this pandemic. The situation in Florida is particularly bad. More than a million people have applied for benefits but only 17 percent have gotten paid.

CNN's Rosa Flores is live in Miami with more. What's going wrong there, Rosa?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alisyn, the Florida unemployment system has been broken for years. I talked to an expert yesterday who says that the state's own audit has revealed for the past three years serious issues with the unemployment system that have never been fixed.

Now, on top of that, add a pandemic and it's a recipe for disaster.


FLORES: Florida's unemployment system is such a mess, people have taken to the streets to protest.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel that it's like rigged.

FLORES: Even the governor calls his unemployment system a piece of junk.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): The fact that the state paid 77 million for this thing, I mean, it's a jalopy.

FLORES: Since March 15th, more than 1.7 million unemployment claims have been filed. The state say some could be duplicates. But so far, fewer than 117,000 claims have been paid.

ELISE ECKSTEIN, FILING UNEMPLOYMENT CLAIM: Bills have to get paid. And we paid our unemployment and we need it now.

FLORES: Images of the dysfunction went viral earlier this month.

The online and phone systems were so overwhelmed, people in Hialeah desperately waited in line for paper applications.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think this is the way you should treat people.

DESANTIS: The system was overwhelmed. They didn't have the capacity, manpower either and we said we've got to fix this.

FLORES: Governor Ron DeSantis announced he added 100 computer servers, broad call center staffing to 2,000 workers and even waived some of the rules. But the old jalopy just can't keep up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are people like me who are just wondering how long this is going to be.

FLORES: As the weeks drag on, Floridians have joined yet another line, this time for food.

It's maddening, says this Zula Avilan (ph). She filed a claim in early April and hasn't seen a dime. This is her first time seeking assistance, like half of the 4,700 people who call Feeding South Florida daily where Paco Velez is CEO.

PACO VELEZ, CEO FEEDING SOUTH FLORIDA: The sense that what we're getting from our families is a sense of desperation and that they're scared. The fear of the unknown is probably their biggest fear, the unknown of when this is going to end.

FLORES: The same people who sounded the alarm about the broken unemployment system are worried about the governor's upcoming plan to reopen the state.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love my job. But when they call us back to work, are we going to be safe?


FLORES: Now, adding insult to injury, the most benefits that someone in Florida can qualify for is $275 a week. And, John, that's one of the lowest benefits around the country.

BERMAN: All right. Rosa Flores for us in Miami, Rosa, thanks so much.

We want to bring in CNN Chief Business Correspondent Christine Romans. Romans, you say that Florida is the worst place in the developed world to lose your job. And I don't think you're using much hyperbole there.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: I'm not at all. I mean, John, you just look at the aerial pictures of what are modern- day bread lines in Florida where people are sleeping in their cars to keep their spot in line to get food because they're not getting their unemployment checks. And when they do get their unemployment checks, they're so small, as Rosa said.

And the governor and the -- the state last night saying that the extra assistance that's put in the stimulus under the CARES Act, the pandemic, unemployment assistance, it's supposed to give them bigger checks, check back later to see how Florida is going to be able to implement that.

BERMAN: So now that we're several weeks into this, we have some visibility on the places that getting hit the hardest. What are you seeing?

ROMANS: I'm seeing Hawaii over the past five weeks, more than a quarter of Hawaii's labor force has filed for unemployment benefits. Kentucky and Michigan, 24 percent of their active workforce have applied for unemployment benefits in the past five weeks.


Rhode Island, Pennsylvania and Nevada, these are some of the hardest hit points of pain in what has been a decade of job creation wiped out in just five weeks, John.

BERMAN: Any sense of which states are doing maybe better? I don't know what the right word to use is because everyone is suffering.

ROMANS: Everyone is suffering, I mean, just the volume of numbers here, of layoffs. And, again, we're doing this on purpose to fight the pandemic. There's no playbook for this. We're putting all these people out of work here and on to what should be the new modern-day safety net, right? We're talking about depression level job loss.

But we have a different economy, a different system than the depression. The important thing here is that that safety net works and the money gets flowing and it's been clunky up until now.

BERMAN: It is interesting when you compare what's happening in the United States and the fears about joblessness compared to other countries which are having pandemic issues of their own.

ROMANS: Yes. We do it a certain way. We are a free market economy here, right? And what we do is we allow the businesses to lay off their workers and then the state unemployment benefits and now this federal stimulus money on top of that is meant to be the safety net.

The only problem here, we've had trouble getting the money into the hands of the people who need it and the anxiety of calling 100 times a day to try to get through to your unemployment office, right, to file, to file multiple times and then have to start all over again for unemployment benefits.

For example, in Europe, in the U.K., for example, the government just stepped in and started paying the payroll up to a certain level, not all of it, paying to a certain level. So people are out of work but they still have a job and are still getting paid until this storm passes. And that's a very different way of doing things. BERMAN: Yes. Again, it's not going to happen here. It just won't. But it is interesting to see how it is done differently and how some anxieties are allayed because of it.

There is this new rescue plan, the third wave, as it were, $450 billion roughly. When can people get their hands on this money and would it work?

ROMANS: Okay. So the president is going to sign it, right? And then there's $60 billion in particular in there that has been steered toward these real small lenders that do community development. And, hopefully, that is going to help minority communities and places that are not necessarily as banked as the other players.

Because, look, until now, it's been the big guys, the public companies, it has been people who have already got long lasting lending agreements with their banks. Those are the people who got the money. They've got to do a better job getting it to the little guy. They just have to do a better job.

BERMAN: All right. Christine Romans, great to have you on with us this morning. Thanks so much.

ROMANS: You too.

BERMAN: Doctors and nurses inside a U.K. hospital say they fear a second wave of coronavirus might be near.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I cry at night. I couldn't cry again. It's just very -- I'm scared.


BERMAN: CNN goes inside that hospital to see what's happening on the frontlines, next.



CAMEROTA: Scientists in the U.K. have started human trials of a coronavirus vaccine. But the British government warns that until a vaccine or treatment is effective, social distancing is all they have to control the virus. Doctors and nurses tell CNN that they fear what could happen if restrictions are lifted.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh followed the medical staff at one U.K. hospital for 24 hours and he joins us now. So, Nick, tell us what you heard from them.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Well, behind me, there isn't really a debate about whether getting the economy back on its feet is better than a continued healthcare that could happen if people get infected again. The concern behind me here where they still see people dying most days and recovering too, is that if people find social distancing restrictions are lifted, infection could pick up again and they could see a second wave here in one of the worst affected areas in the United Kingdom.


WALSH: When, if ever, does it end? This vast hospital is in the U.K.'s second worst hotspot, the Midlands and has no easy answers. So while London mends, here, the living and the dying keep coming and they fear the second wave may be near.

We look to numbers for comfort. But in this ICU, the odds are about even with COVID, doctors say. During the 24 hours we were here, two patients died and two got out of ICU as the virus rages through our ordinary world outside, in here, its power is in the quiet it imposes.

Starting here, you not only see the ferocity of this disease but the silence with which it kills and also helplessness of the people suffering.

One doctor wore a body cam during the life-saving procedure of proning, turning a patient on their front to ease breathing.

DR. ROGER TOWNSEND, CONSULTANT, UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL COVENTRY: We don't 100 percent understand why it works. Essentially, what it does is it changes the distribution of air within the chest but also changes the way the blood is distributed within the chest.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're doing really well. You keep going, yes? You're going to have some ice cream when that tube comes out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If people pass away, it's more often because we've come to the conclusion that they're not going survive whatever we do rather than them dying suddenly.

WALSH: The hardest for staff, the isolation means patients dying here without their family nearby.


Masked doctors and nurses are the last people they see alive.

TOWNSEND: I've held a telephone to the ear of a gentleman.