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Gov. DeSantis Speaks As Coronavirus Cases Surge In Florida; CNN's Richard Quest Describes His Experience With Coronavirus As Causing Confusion And Damage to Each Organ it Touches. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired July 7, 2020 - 12:30   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: Let's go to Florida now where Governor Ron DeSantis is giving an update on the coronavirus outbreak there. Let's go there.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): You have situations where either somebody who's in a long term care facility is in the hospital but it's stable and really doesn't require fortunately additional hospitalization.

You also have instances and because we've been testing a lot in nursing homes, where somebody will be identified as positive, but they're medically stable. And so if you're in a long term care facility where you're not able to appropriately isolate them, leaving them in that facility runs a risk of having spread throughout the facility, infecting other staff and residents.

And so, we are requiring those facilities and have been for some time to transfer a COVID positive resident to a facility where isolation can be done that has initially was hospitals and so you have a lot of hospital, hospitals are boarding or have been boarding a lot of these long term care residents.

But we in April said, OK, obviously, we need to isolate. There may be ways to do it that make more sense. And so, Secretary Mayhew really led the effort to establish skilled nursing facilities, specifically for COVID positive long term care residents. And this serves both as a step up from a long term care facility that may not have the ability to appropriately isolate a COVID positive resident, but also a step down from a hospital setting where you may have somebody who's COVID positive, but they are medically stable and don't require that level of medical attention.

And so having this is really an important tool, as we look at handling what's going on with COVID-19. And if you look more -- if you did an honest accounting like in Florida, anyone who's a resident of a long term care facility, whether they, if they die with corona in their facility, in hospice, in a hospital, that all counts as a fatality.

If you did that uniformly across the states, you'd have a majority of the COVID related fatalities would be amongst long term care residents. And so this is where kind of the tip of the sphere where the most danger is from this virus. And this has been something that we've been constantly focusing on since March. And this is another status in that direction.

So right now, or at least it's been for probably the last couple months, you have anywhere from 250 to 450 medically stable COVID-19 positive long term care facilities in hospitals. Now that we have these 12 facilities, you're starting to see more and more admissions where this could serve as that step down from the hospital. And you're also seeing admissions where it could serve as a stepped up -- step up from a long term care facility.

Exclusively caring for medically stable COVID patients does serve that dual function both stepping up and stepping down. So the Avanti Group began operating this care center at the beginning of July. They've already admitted 18 patients. And they do have more on the way. They can currently staff up to 70 beds. And we think within the next few weeks, they will have staff 150 beds for COVID positive, residents of long term care facilities.


This is very important. So in South Florida, you now have the Miami Care Center. You have a facility and Broward. That's COVID only. And then you have to in Palm Beach County that are COVID only. So that's a pretty significant number of beds to be able to care for people who are COVID positive. But care for them in a way that they're not spreading it to other vulnerable seniors in these long term care facilities.

You know, one trend that we've been seeing, and I think that a Jackson can validate it is, you know, as we've seen more traffic into the hospitals in the in the past few weeks, we're seeing a smaller number of residents of long term care facilities admitted.

And so, you know, look, we obviously would like this not to be here, not to have anyone admitted, but those residents at the long term care facilities and when they're admitted, you know, they have a much, much higher rate of mortality. And so to see that decline, you know, is something that's very, very positive.

Now, we've done the testing of the residents and the staff from April through the beginning of June. We've now have a rule in place per Secretary Mayhew, that all staff members of long term care facilities need to be tested every two weeks. That's like 180, 190,000 people. So those tests are being administered as we speak. They've been distributed, I think about 10 days ago.

You're going to start getting more and more of those results come in. The first round we did this, the positivity rate for members of the staff of long term care facilities about 3 percent. We anticipated being higher, just because these folks are going to be reflections of the community. So if you have a higher positivity rate in Dade or Hillsborough, some of these places, those staff members are probably not going to be immune to that. So we anticipate seeing a higher positivity rate but by doing the testing allows us to isolate the staff member so that they don't spread it to the residents. So all in all, I don't think any other state in the country has done what we've done to protect the vulnerable here in the state of Florida. This is another big step in that direction. And I think it's going to be a really important tool to help protect vulnerable folks, particularly at the time at hand.

But we're, this is just one thing that we're doing. We want to do more to be able to help with that. And so, per Secretary Mayhew, she's been working with hospitals to ensure that they have the capacity and staffing necessary to be able to handle not just the needs of COVID but also other needs. And, you know, we are seeing more traffic in emergency departments for non-COVID.

That's not necessarily a bad thing, because what happened was, in March and April, you saw a decline in people showing up for heart stroke and some of these key sources of mortality, people didn't just all of a sudden stop having heart attacks, there people were not as comfortable seeking medical care then.

So we've been stressing and I think every hospital that we've talked to stresses, you know, look, we're open for business, if you have heart, if you have stroke, come in and get the medical attention you need because if you put off the heart, that it tends to get worse. And we were in the villages yesterday talking to some of the ED Doc's. And they were saying that some of the patients now that are presenting for things like heart and stroke are presenting more severely because these symptoms started previously, and they just didn't go into the hospital.

So we definitely want that to happen. And we view that as is very important. I mean, this virus is one part of health. There's a whole host of other things that we've also got to be concerned with. What we've done, the second announcement is we have at the state with ACA approved the temporary increase of 47 beds for Jackson's nursing home license. So that'll take them from 180 to 227.

That'll be a force multiplier in terms of their ability to care for COVID positive nursing home residents. So this increase of 47 beds has allowed Jackson to use a form of rehab facility adjacent to the Jackson Memorial to discharge patients from its hospital to a more appropriate level of care and obviously, ensuring that you have adequate hospital capacity. So we think that that's something that's very, very important.

The final thing that we're pleased to announce today is, you know, speaking with a lot of folks in these hospitals, you know, if you look at the census, you know, you've got, you know, you've got a I think it's been about 25 percent of the beds have been available statewide. That's been pretty consistent.

You know, Dade has a lot of beds available still. But this is the low season typically for hospitals in terms of their staffing. Usually the higher season is flu season. So they're looking at ways to utilize staff and particularly at a place like Jackson where they have folks come in for things totally unrelated to COVID. They get into a car accident. They have heart problems. They have -- everybody who's coming in is getting swabbed, and they're getting tested for COVID.


Well, I think the rate, you guys are seeing 30 to 40 percent are testing positive, now they're asymptomatic. They're not -- they're kind of incidental COVID positives in the hospital, they would not need to be hospitalized for COVID absent the other conditions. But what happens is if you're in and yet you broke your leg and you're an asymptomatic, COVID patient, they still have to put protocols in place to be able to isolate and make sure that that doesn't spread to other parts of the facility.

So that requires just more manpower. What the ratio if it's not COVID, what's the difference in the ratio that you would have to have?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's usually, right now it's one to four on COVID patients, usually it's one to six.

DESANTIS: Yes. So that you see kind of there, so there's beds available. But if you're having patients come in test positive, you know, for broken leg, they still have to do this one to four. So we are -- when the Vice President was down with Secretary Azar, we were in Tampa on Thursday. Some of the some of the hospital folks there were saying, look, we have beds, we just want to make sure we have enough folks staffing.

And they obviously, there's certain things they do to try to bring in staff as well. So HHS, their work and we submitted a request for them to be able to send folks to Florida, particularly to South Florida. At the same time, you know, the state we want to do our part, you know, we don't want to rely just on the federal government.

So today after talking with Carlos Migoya after talking with other folks down here in Dade County, the state, we are going to be diverting some of our contract personnel to Jackson. So we're sending starting tomorrow 100 contract personnel, medical personnel, mostly nurses, to be able to augment their operations.

And I think that that'll be something that'll be very useful for them, you know, as they continue to deal with not only just COVID patients, but also non-COVID patients. And so we're happy to be able to be supportive. And we are standing by to be able to do more as the circumstances warrant.

I did speak with the Vice President last night. Our request was put in at the end of last week, and is being processed. And so we do anticipate seeing some folks as well from there. But in the meantime, I think that this will be something that's very, very helpful for Jackson. And obviously, we're working with other areas of the state.

I mean, I think Dade is of course seeing the highest positivity and, and I think the outbreak here is different than somewhere -- some of the other places, but certainly there's other areas as well that are going to want support and we want to be there to be able to support them.

So I'm excited that this come to fruition here at this Miami Care Center. I think this is the right thing to do for our seniors in long term care facilities. And, you know, we just continue to stress that, you know, if you are in those vulnerable groups, if you're 65 and up, if you have certain underlying significant medical conditions, be very careful about avoiding crowds, avoiding close contact with people who are not in your household.

You know, we're seeing positivity in Miami-Dade, some of the other places maybe not as high, but higher than they would be. So now is the time to really continue to be very cautious and continue to limit that close contact, so that you can, you know, avoid being infected while this virus is out. And I know Mayor Gimenez and I were talking about I mean, a lot of this is being driven by younger people.

And they, look, they're just much less at risk. You look at the statistics, you know, if you're under 40, and you don't have a significant underlying condition, you know, the fatality rate is incredibly, incredibly low, which is a good thing. At the same time, you know, those folks interact with people who may be in vulnerable groups. And so that's definitely a concern, not only with staff in a nursing home, but just things like multigenerational living, visiting parents and grandparents. You know, now is the time to exercise that caution.

So we've at the state have advised from really March that if you are in those vulnerable groups to avoid crowds and limit the contact with people outside your household, and now, especially understanding that that 20 to 30 year old cohort, you're seeing more and more infections in that age group. There probably were already always happening to a certain extent, but I think the transmission rate has increased over the last month.

So it's very important to be to be careful and to continue to exercise caution. And I think we've seen particularly the older folks have done a really good job of being very cautious, you know, as this thing has continued to affect folks, you know, in the community. So I want to thank everyone for coming.


We're going to pass it along to some of the other folks, and then we'll probably have a discussion before we take some questions. So mayor, you want to chime in?

MAYOR CARLOS GIMENEZ (R) MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, FLORIDA: Thank you Governor. And I'm just here to thank you and the Lieutenant Governor as also Secretary Mayhew.

DESANTIS: Did you turned your mic on?

GIMENEZ: I don't know how to turn it on.

DESANTIS: To just -- I think there's a button.

GIMENEZ: OK. Is there a button here?

DESANTIS: I think so, on the top maybe or bottom. There you go.

GIMENEZ: Can you hear me now? Can you hear me now?


GIMENEZ: OK. Good, all right. Thanks.

I'm here just to thank you, Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Secretary Mayhew for the incredible support you've given us here in Miami-Dade, this new facility that's open now is going to be a tremendous help to us here in Miami-Dade. We've had, you know, you've seen the surge of people that we have in the hospitals in the ICU is and also the use of ventilators here.

And this is going to be a tremendous help to our capacity here to the residents of Miami-Dade. I also want to congratulate you, thank you for the personnel that you that you shipped to Jackson, 100 additional nurses that are critically needed in order to open up even more capacity in our health care system here in Miami-Dade.

And also your continuing efforts to help us with the federal government. And so, again, I'm here to show gratitude for all the things that you've all done. We talk with each other every single day. We are, you know, we are the county with the most cases, unfortunately. And I'm very happy to have your support and the Lieutenant Governor and Secretary Mayhew's support.

So thank you very much again for being here. And I know that I'll be asking for more as the day goes by. But also your message that we all have to be careful. It's our responsibility to keep each other safe. It's our responsibility to follow the rules. And if we all follow the rules, we can start to tap down, we can start to drive down the positivity rate that we have here in Miami-Dade County.

We continue to have a positivity rate of above 20 percent, whereas two weeks ago, we're down at 8 percent, and so it's up to every one of us. Including especially we need to look at our younger population that we know had a tremendous spike in their positivity rate, which in turn has infected other people in Miami-Dade.

So my messages, thank you, but also every one of us needs to participate and be good citizens, follow the rules, and we can beat COVID-19. Thank you. Thank you Governor.

DESANTIS: Absolutely. And, you know, we've -- I mean, really over the last month and a half really have increased testing even more in Miami-Dade. I mean, you guys obviously have more cases, positivity rates, not where we want it to be. But we're also testing at a very high clip.

We have, of course the main centers that we had had from the beginning Marlins and Hard Rock, but then the Miami Beach site, and then we have some of the lockup and then some of the retail popped up at like Simon mall and everything. And so people are taking advantage of that, which is a good thing. We're happy to support the efforts with expansion of testing.

All right, Secretary Mayhew --

GIMENEZ: I could say in Spanish, I'd like to --

DESANTIS: Oh, yes, yes, go ahead.


BOLDUAN: All right, you've been listening to the Florida Governor Ron DeSantis as well as the Mayor of Miami-Dade County right there giving an update on the -- what is happening on the ground in Florida, acknowledging that Miami-Dade County is the hardest hit South Florida just seeing a surge of cases, hospitalization rates, ICU beds being used up.

Let me bring in -- let me bring back and CNN medical analyst, Dr. Celine Gounder on this. Doctor, one thing that the governor was announcing is that the state's sending 100 medical personnel mostly nurses, he said, to try to help it one of the largest hospital systems down there in South Florida, Jackson Memorial, because of just the influx of what they're seeing coming in. I mean, can you just give me your assessment of where things stand in South Florida and the numbers that you're seeing?

DR. CELINE GOUNDER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Well, to me, Kate, this looks like New York City all over again. This is exactly what we had to do. We had to bring in traveling nurses from all over the country. In fact, we still have some in the hospital right now because we simply could not contend with the number of patients that we were seeing, especially in the ICUs, where very often it's one nurse to one or two patients. It's a very intensive level of care. That's why it's called an ICU. And you really need the staffing for that.

BOLDUAN: Yes, that's right. And also he was talking about nursing homes and that they're opening up special facilities and other kind of a specified facility where they will can -- they can put nursing home residents who have tested positive for COVID.


It's just another reminder, I think Dr. Gounder, of just how the virus has just taken off and just been horrific in long term care facilities. And I think that's an important reminder today still, when they are saying that a lot of the cases that they see walking in hospitals now are younger people more younger people are testing positive, but it's older people who are getting so sick from this still.

GOUNDER: Well, I do think these isolation facilities are very logical as is something that unfortunately, in New York State, we could have done better in terms of isolating older people in long term care facilities, keeping them away from others in those facilities.

And so having a place to send people if they're infected, so that they're not infecting others is a very logical thing. Now, as for the younger people, I do think it's important that there's a big if. It's a younger person who does not have underlying medical conditions and we do know that in southern states, you have higher rates of obesity and high blood pressure, which are very much risk factors for severe disease.

BOLDUAN: Yes, exactly. We're keeping an eye on this press conference to see if the governor was going to be taking any questions. We're going to keep an eye on that and we'll be right back.

Dr. Gounder, thank you.



BOLDUAN: We are hearing more and more stories of the long term lasting impacts of coronavirus. My colleague Richard Quest, he was diagnosed with coronavirus back in mid April. And he is writing about his experience in a new piece for that I recommend all of you go and read because he's talking about how still months later he's dealing with the effects of COVID.

And he writes this in part, he writes, the virus is like a tornado. When it lands it swirls through the body causing chaos, confusion, coughs, wreaking damage to each organ it touches. Some won't survive its visit. For those that do, when it has gone, one surveys the damage to the human landscape and realizes it's much greater than first thought.

Richard Quest, he's joining me right now. Richard, I love how you write about this. But I am -- your story, I am hearing more and more, the virus has come and gone, but the effects long lasting. What has it been like for you?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN BUSINESS EDITOR AT LARGE: Well, you have the virus, and as I say, it is like this tornado, that's the best way to describe it. And rips through it, there's chaos, there's confusion, there's everything. And then it goes. And you think, well, that was all over. But about three weeks later, I started coughing again, it's a very specific COVID cough, very short and sharp with long wheezes.

And then that goes away and then it comes back again along with the tiredness. But the thing that worried me most perhaps in a way, I suddenly realized I was becoming extremely clumsy. I go to get a glass off the table at dinner, and I'd knocked the pepper and salt on the way. I'd walk to the kitchen and I tripped over a chair.

And this was happening again and again. I fell over in the street coming back with some shopping. Now, the paving stone was clearly in front of me, you know, that I can't blame anybody else but myself. And what I'm now learning is that they're all -- they don't understand, doctors don't fully understand the inflammation, whether it be in the brain or the organs, the damage that's been done, that's going to take longer to repair.

And that's what I'm going through at the moment, discovering in different ways, Kate, what's going to take longer and how.

BOLDUAN: And it must be frustrating because I spoke with a Broadway actor that said some very similar things just last week, Richard, he was diagnosed over 100 days ago. He still -- he says he has good weeks and some days he has wretched weeks. And he says one of the worst parts is the mind games or the psychological toll is how he's described it, it comes and it goes, you're fine. And then you're not. Is that how you felt?

QUEST: Yes, completely. And you -- the first thing you wonder, has the virus come back? Well, my infectious diseases doctor says, no. All the evidence shows, let's not get into antibody discussions. All the evidence shows at the moment, you don't get it again, certainly not within a short period of time.

So now I'm left with this position of I'm coughing, I'm coughing, and I'm coughing. You know, I went to see a doctor this morning about this clumsiness. We did a load of tests, counting backwards, what times on the clock, you know, remembering words, and he basically said, look, there's nothing really wrong with you. But clearly, your body is not working at 100 percent as you perceive it, and we need to do more tests.

So now there's an entire barrage of MRIs and all sorts of things. And at the end of the day, Kate, what I'm aiming to find out, what everybody who's -- and by the way, I've had dozens of texts and e- mails from people who say they've suffered the same thing or having the same symptoms. I just want to know, when is it going to go away? That's it. Is it? And when is it?

BOLDUAN: Yes. And Adam Perry, that actor I was talking to, he says, one of his doctors described as a pendulum that eventually will come to a stop. But you don't know when. I think it's important what you're saying though, because it kind of -- you can relieve us of this ridiculous perception that either you die from this virus or you're fine. There's a lot in between.

QUEST: There's one thing you hear doctors say. I've heard Fauci say it. I've heard all the NIH, the CDC, I have people on your program this morning say it, and my own doctor said which is unusual. We don't know. Richard, we don't know why it's doing that. Richard, we don't know what the long term inflammation is going to be. We don't know how long your chest and bronchioles going to be like this and respiratory problems, and that's different.


Normally they can tell you X, Y, Z. Now that's simply saying, we don't know. Don't take the risk.