Return to Transcripts main page


Texas Man's Amazing Coronavirus Survival Story; Trump On White House Adviser's Fauci Attack: He Should Not Have Done That; Update On Coronavirus Response Across The Country. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired July 15, 2020 - 13:30   ET




BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Now to one Texas man's amazing coronavirus survival story. Frank Arredondo is a pharmacist in the Rio Grande valley area of Texas. He was one of the first patients to become infected in his region. And he spent 10 harrowing days on a ventilator.

At one point, his oxygen levels dropped below 80 percent. He suffered wild hallucinations.

And his wife, a nurse, not only cared for him, but documented his miraculous journey to recovery.

And Frank Arredondo joins me, as well as his wife, Tyra Greene.

Thank you so much both for being here.

And tell us how you're feeling, Frank.

FRANK ARREDONDO, PHARMACIST WHO BECAME INFECTED WITH COVID-19: At this point, I'm feeling remarkably great. Still have lingering issues, secondary to possibly COVID toes when I started to experience a couple days after being discharged.


KEILAR: OK, COVID toes. Your experience in some sort of almost vascular inflammation or something?

ARREDONDO: Yes. The coronavirus, amongst other things, tends to stimulate the clotting factors. You've probably heard that kids experience some form of Kawasaki Syndrome. They get it in their fingertips and their hands. Adults and some younger folks actually get those small clots stuck in the smallest portions of the body, which are the capillaries, and at the bottom of the feet.

KEILAR: Because this is what we're hearing from so many experts. Seeing a lot of blood clots. You're experiencing that.

Frank, you were actually -- already on alert about getting the coronavirus, because you say that your 15-year-olds were cavalier about it.

But tell us when you first suspected that you had contracted the virus. What were you feeling?

ARREDONDO: You're right. Before I actually contracted what I thought were the symptoms, I, like most folks, out in the country, and the world for that matter, I was very concerned.

But it was one day at end of march, March 26th, 27th, I came home from work and I just -- fell, collapsed into my bed and I couldn't get out the next couple of days. My wife figured out within day or two I probably had the COVID virus.

KEILAR: And, Tyra, you documented everything. What did you, you know -- kind of from afar, but what did you document as you saw your husband going through this?

TYRA GREENE, WIFE OF FRANK ARREDONDO: Well, actually, the documenting didn't really start until Frank was admitted to the hospital.

Basically, I started the journal more of, because we had Frank on many, many prayer chains and friends and family were just inquiring daily on his health condition.

And I knew that I was not going to be able to remember all of this, because the doctors were very detailed with me in regard to his treatment. Medications, especially once he went on the ventilator. Just everything in a was going on and I needed to be able to repeat that information.

For me, that was the easiest way to do, I started writing a journal, which I didn't know would turn out to be what it is now. And have got -- just so much information and detailed information.

But I'm so thankful that I kept it because that's really the only way that Frank was able to understand what he was dealing with and going through during this time in the hospital.

KEILAR: Frank, that included hallucinations. And also tell us about what, what doctors had to do with your hands when you were in the hospital?

ARREDONDO: Well -- while I was on the ventilator -- I don't know if you're referring to when I -- sometime during the course of being on the ventilator, I had actually woken up because they were switches sedatives.

The first one tended to -- they try not to keep patients on it more than three days. And because it tends to be very addicting.

In the process switching me over, I -- I apparently tried taking out the tubes out of my mouth. And at the same time, they were clogged. They were able to clear out my lungs with shooting normal saline in there and cleaned things up.

When I was actually lucid, the one thing I can remember is waking up and hearing the ventilator breathing for me. It sounds like Darth Vader from "Star Wars."

I could look out the window, realized I couldn't move. Looked down to my hands and couldn't even move my feet and I realized I was awake on the ventilator and couldn't move.

But right away, I heard somebody says, "He's awake," and then sedative kicked back in at that point. I don't remember anything around that.

KEILAR: You had hallucinations, is that right? Can you tell us about that?

ARREDONDO: Sure. I -- I think when people think about hallucinations, they think of psychedelic dreams or disjointed thoughts. But for me, I felt it was just like I'm having a conversation with you, or with anyone else. It seemed very, very real.

I had -- at the time, I believed I was not in a hospital room but in a hospital, that, in fact, the doctors were flying me over to another country to some experimental treatment.


And then, at one point, I think I had fallen out of favor with the doctors. So the nurses and one of the doctors were plotting to kill me.

I had, in fact, had been kidnapped, taken down to Mexico. And I was -- I was being hunted by Mexican cartel, Mexican police. I had a Texas Ranger after me. I had drummed up murder charges against me.

And it all seemed very real. And, in fact, there was even high-tech ways of going after me. And, in fact, there were points, times where I was in my -- in my hospital bed -- this is maybe a day or so off the ventilator.

But I could see things. And the only way I could go after them was to try to break them apart with my hands.

And meanwhile, the nurses, I'm sure, are looking at this patient, myself, in the room, and see the patient swatting, swings his arms in the room and I'm sure just shaking their head.

KEILAR: It's, I mean, sounds traumatic, honestly, as you describe it.

But so important Frank you're sharing this story and, Tyra, you're sharing the story. We're so glad to see you together and, Frank, you healthy.

And I thank you both for coming on.

GREENE: Thank you.

KEILAR: Thank you. We appreciate you taking an interest in our story.

GREENE: Yes. Thank you so much.

KEILAR: Thanks for sharing it.

Dr. Anthony Fauci speaking right now as the White House attacks him. We'll take his comments next.

Plus, clusters are popping up along the coast of Georgia and officials ARE blaming beach vacations.

Some Arizona schools using power breezers to spray disinfect? We'll talk about how this works.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Big change for me. Look, they're all on the same team. We're all on the same team, including Dr. Fauci. I have a very good relationship with Dr. Fauci. And we're all on the same team.

We want to get rid of this mess that China sent us. So everybody's working in the same line and we're doing very well. We're doing well in a lot of ways and our country's coming back very strong.

When you look at those job numbers, we've never had her job numbers like we have right now. So it's coming back very strong. OK?


TRUMP: Well, he made a statement representing himself. He shouldn't be doing that.

No. I have a very good relationship with Anthony.

Thank you very much. Thank you.


KEILAR: All right. That was President Trump there on the White House, leaving the White House, we should say, talking about Dr. Anthony Fauci, whom one of his top aides really went after in an op-ed.

I want to get reaction now from CNN chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, as well as CNN Medical Analyst and Doctor, Amy Compton- Phillips.

Gloria, to you first.

He's trying to say everything's kumbaya but a lot of data points suggest otherwise between the president, his team and Dr. Fauci.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. Sure. You know, this is a president who is trying to have it both ways here.

On one hand, he tweets, retweets a tweet saying the Centers for Disease Control is lying. On the other hand, we're all on the same team. His economic adviser, Peter Navarro, writes a public op-ed dinging

Tony Fauci, dumping on Tony Fauci. And the president says, oh, no, no, no, he shouldn't be doing that. We're on the same team.

His White House staff, on subterranean leaks to reporters, about Tony Fauci. No, no, no, no, no. We're on the same team.

So the president here is trying to sort of play the good guy, saying, oh, no, that's not me. It's them. We're all on the same team. We want to get rid of COVID for Americans.

When, in fact, the truth is that this administration is split between the science and the president. And his political advisers and the scientists are saying, you know, you've got to take things slower. There's going to be disagreement over school openings.

And the president is, of course, trying to say, no, no, no, I'm leading them all in one direction, which is not the truth.

KEILAR: Let's just be honest, if -- if -- Peter Navarro had done something the president didn't like, he'd be fired. Right? He just would be.

BORGER: Right. Exactly.

KEILAR: The president is endorsing what Peter Navarro said here.

Doctor, what do you think about these attacks on Dr. Fauci and the fact they are clearly be left to stand?

DR. AMY COMPTON-PHILLIPS, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Yes. I think it is exactly what we don't want to see. That attacking Dr. Fauci is essentially attacking science and attacking the CDC.

And it's attacking the infrastructure that says we know how to open safely, but we don't want to do it, because we want to go faster for the economy.

So it is a surrogate to attack Dr. Fauci, because they're somehow trying to discredit the voices of reason and the subject matter experts that are telling us how we can actually get the economy going in a way that protects the populous at the same time.


KEILAR: Dr. Compton-Phillips, Gloria, thank you so much to both to you for your insight.

Speaking of Dr. Fauci, he spoke moments ago. He was saying, in part, that when the U.S. opened back up, the, quote, "inevitable happened." We'll have more form him next.


KEILAR: Thirty-seven bars and taverns are filing a lawsuit over Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak's order to revert back to phase one restrictions for bars in high-risk areas.


According to the governor, OSHA inspectors found less than half the bars in Nevada have been in compliance with coronavirus restrictions. Phase-one restrictions prohibit on-site service for bars but it allowed for curb side pickup and delivery.

We have more from my CNN colleagues across the country.


DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Dianne Gallagher, in Atlanta. The state of Georgia opened beaches back in April. But now, officials on the coastline say an increase in visitors are causing the COVID-19 numbers to explode.

A commissioner from Glynn County, home to the popular St. Simons Island, tells CNN they've seen an increase in visitors out numbering even the resident, from Memorial Day to July Fourth. And he says that coincides with the increase in COVID-19-positive numbers they're experiencing in these much smaller counties.

EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Evan McMorris Santoro, in a math classroom at a middle school. The governor of Arizona has tied school funding to reopening.

If districts don't want their budgets cut severely, they have to figure out a way to get some students back in the class in the fall. In this district, that means socially-distant classrooms.

And also the power brazier machines, usually found at NFL sidelines, now be converted to spray disinfectant when students aren't here.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Ed Lavandera, in Dallas. Another record-breaking day in the state as health officials report more than 10,700 new coronavirus cases. That is a single-day record since this pandemic started.

And the positive infection rate now close to 17 percent. That has roughly quadrupled in just the last month and a half.

And that is forcing a number of school districts across the state to begin announcing that they will not begin the school year next months in person and going to online classes. More of those announcements could be expected as well.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: I'm Andy Scholes, in Milton, Georgia. NASCAR is racing under the lights tonight in Bristol, Tennessee and it'll be in front of the biggest U.S. sports crowd since mid-March. Up to 30,000 fans expected to turn out for the annual all-star race. The track normally holds up to 160,000.

Organizers say seats will be assigned and positioned six feet apart for proper social distancing. Fans are required to wear masks unless they're in their seat. And according to the speedway, by buying a ticket, fans assume all risk of exposure to COVID-19 and agree to release the track from any claim that might result.

CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN BUSINESS & POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Brianna. Walmart now joins other national retailers that have recently implemented a national mask mandate.

Retailers were initially reluctant to do this across-the-board requirement because masks have become so controversial. And it's difficult to enforce these mask policies if consumers and customers walking into the stores do not want to wear them.

But the rising number of coronavirus cases around the country has really forced their hand here -- Brianna?


KEILAR: Thank you so much to our reporters across the nation with those stories.

Dr. Fauci talking about his relationship with the president. We'll have that next.