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Arizona Hospitals Stretched to Capacity; Unemployment Numbers Released; Georgia's Numbers Rise; Kim Kardashian West Addresses Mental Health. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired July 23, 2020 - 08:30   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: This morning, Arizona is in the midst of the pandemic crisis. More than 150,000 cases reported statewide. That state is expected to cross 3,000 deaths today. The state's positivity rate yesterday was 30.5 percent. Frontline hospital workers are struggling to keep up with these surging numbers and dwindling resources.

Joining us now is Dr. Frank LoVecchio. He's an emergency room physician and professor at the University of Arizona College of Medicine.

Dr. LoVecchio, thank you so much for being with us.

I had a chance to speak with you the other night and I was shocked, frankly, blown away, by what you were saying. You work in a number of hospitals. Just tell us what it's been like.

DR. FRANK LOVECCHIO, EMERGENCY PHYSICIAN AND PUBLIC HEALTH DOCTOR: Well, it's been extremely busy. The great majority of the patients that come in have corona or corona-like complaints. They have respiratory complaints, gastrointestinal complaints.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Let's see if we can get Dr. LoVecchio -- OK.


CAMEROTA: Oh, hi, we got you. Keep going.


Many of them just want a test and we're overwhelmed with regards to testing. Even on the websites, these labs will tell us that there's a nine-day wait for testing. Kind of ridiculous when you think about it. We isolate people for ten days, or quarantine them for ten days, you know, the nine days are not great.

We're putting people on respirators as little as possible, yet our respirator use is almost at an all-time high.

CAMEROTA: That's -- that is just such a nightmarish scenario that you're describing.

And, Dr. LoVecchio, this is obviously personally, how could it not be, but is your daughter still waiting for results of a Covid test?

LOVECCHIO: My daughter got an elective test almost two weeks ago --

CAMEROTA: This is tough. The technology is making it --

LOVECCHIO: That happens. It happens to all of it.

CAMEROTA: Sorry, Dr. LoVecchio, we missed that. Did she get her results or no two -- from two week ago?

LOVECCHIO: No, she did not get her results. My daughter has been waiting almost two weeks. This Friday it will be two weeks that she's been waiting for a test. And that's a common scenario.

CAMEROTA: What is the problem?

LOVECCHIO: It's already been over ten days.

CAMEROTA: But why -- like why can't she get it? Why -- I mean you said nine days people are waiting on average. What's the problem? There's not enough swabs? What's happening?

LOVECCHIO: There -- there's multiple problems. Every day is a new day. Sometimes there's no swabs. Sometimes there's no reagent. Sometimes the lab is backed up. Sometimes it's the 4th of July weekend.

Our country did not prioritize testing. Our country did not streamline this. Other countries that streamlined testing did a little bit better. And, you know, this is a time that we have to listen to the experts, try to get better testing, listen to the experts and, you know, stay away from ideology and politics. This is a time to kind of treat people, treat patients, treat the Americans.

BERMAN: I understand, Doctor, that you're rationing testing in the ER, or you've had to?

LOVECCHIO: If you came into the ER and had a cough and, you know, looked otherwise well and were -- and I said you can probably go home, more likely than not, most likely, today, I would not get a test on you.

If you're on death's doorstep and it was obvious that you had coronavirus, we probably would not get a test on you. And -- and one of the reasons why is you have to -- it's not changing what we do. I would still tell you to quarantine if you were stable and I would still admit you to the hospital if you were very, very sick.

Some patients are getting discharged before their test is back. Kind of outstanding.

CAMEROTA: Just incredible. Incredible.

And, Dr. LoVecchio, I mean, we're going to have you back. I know that we're plagued with a few audio issues. But you are on the front lines and everything that you tell us, I can see why John was so interested in talking to you again because it's really vivid what you're experiencing.

So, you know, hang in there and we will talk to you again soon.

LOVECCHIO: OK. Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Thank you.

BERMAN: So as Congress debates the next round of stimulus, we have a new snapshot of America's unemployment crisis. That's next.



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

CAMEROTA: We have breaking news on the economy right now.

More Americans filed for unemployment claims last week than the week before. In other words, claims are going up.

CNN chief business correspondent Christine Romans joins us now with the breaking details.

What are the numbers, Christine?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: And this is what it looks like when you see a recovery, reopenings that start to fizzle because of those hot spots in the southeast for the virus and quarantines in the northeast, 1.416 million new unemployment claims. That brings 18 weeks of claims to more than 52 million people filing for the first time for unemployment benefits. And when you look at that chart over the past 18 weeks, you're so right, Alisyn, to point out that growing is not what we wanted to see. These are huge numbers. And we wanted to see that trend continuing to go down, but we did not.

Also, last week's numbers were revised up just a little bit here. And this comes as millions of Americans, up to maybe 25 million people are going to lose their extra $600 a week in unemployment benefits just in a matter of days. So millions of people will have thousands of dollars less a month from these unemployment benefits here going forward. So it's kind of a critical moment here.

But, again, the continuing claims, it's a number that we watched that shows if there's a little bit of rehiring, that did fall a little bit, a decrease of about a million. So on the one hand there's a -- kind of a positive sign of a decrease in the continued jobless claims. These are people who have been filing -- have claims for at least a couple of weeks. But for the week you saw unemployment claims rise again. So that's a troubling development.

CAMEROTA: It is a troubling development and I know you also have news about the airlines. And I just am so confused about this, Christine. I mean if American Airlines is losing $2 billion, and reporting a $2 billion loss --


CAMEROTA: Once this is all over, where will the airlines be?

ROMANS: You know, these airlines have spent years developing these big networks, right, as -- as people travel more and business travel has essentially stopped. So they have to look and think about what they're going to look like on the other side.


For the right now, they're just trying to slow down their cash burn. I mean United Airlines, for example, is burning $40 million a day. They hope to improve that to $25 million by the third quarter. But that's still burning $25 million a day. The Southwest CEO, the United CEO both have said that they don't expect to even begin improving here until there's a vaccine.

And this is just a real stark reminder of how this pandemic has shut down, you know, the status quo around the world. You've got tens of thousands of jobs at risk here for these frontline airline workers and they've already signaled that they will be cutting jobs, they will be furloughing people in the fall once federal aid runs out. So, watch this space. The airline space is in real trouble here right now.

CAMEROTA: Christine, thank you very much for all of the breaking news there.

ROMANS: You're welcome.


BERMAN: I have to say, these jobless claims may be a key moment. If that trend keeps on increasing, there could be real, real problems ahead.

Coronavirus numbers in Georgia just keep getting worse. Hospitalizations, confirmed cases all headed in the wrong direction. Now critics are saying the way state health officials interpreted data may have led to a false belief that things were getting better when they weren't.

CNN's Nick Valencia live in Atlanta with more on this.

Nick, explain.


We spent days looking over the data for Georgia, and one of the only bright spots that we could find is in the mortality rate, which seems to be steady at this point. Optimists might even say it's showing a decline.

But as you mentioned, from weekly averages, to new daily cases, to hospitalizations, the numbers in Georgia are on the rise. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VALENCIA (voice over): If Georgians still had any doubt about the worsening pandemic in the state, recent Covid-19 numbers are reason to worry. New daily cases have doubled and the hospitalizations tripled in the last month alone.

DR. KATHLEEN TOOMEY, GEORGIA PUBLIC HEALTH COMMISSIONER: We are seeing an increase in Covid in the -- in communities throughout the state.

VALENCIA: Georgia is shattering single-day records with around 3,000 new cases reported almost every day in the last week. But the state's leaders have turned to bickering and finger pointing amid the growing crisis.

GOV. BRIAN KEMP (R-GA): If you look at when it started, I think there's several reasons for that. Number one was the demonstrations. Number two, because of the demonstrations, that sent a message to people that, hey, it's all right to get out again.

MAYOR VAN JOHNSON, SAVANNAH, GEORGIA: So I think the problem is here is that Georgia has been acting somewhat psychotic.

VALENCIA: In April, when state health officials believed numbers had plateaued and Georgia became one of the first states to reopen, public health experts warned the consequences could be dire. On May 21st, nearly one month after reopening the state, Governor Brian Kemp was cautiously optimistic.

KEMP: I'm proud of what we accomplished over the last several weeks, but we cannot rest on our laurels.

VALENCIA: In the two months since that press conference, things have only gotten worse.

DR. THOMAS TSAI, HARVARD T.H. CHAN SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: Since this perfect storm of factors of under testing, early reopening and lack of enforcement of masking and physical distancing policies that's really compounded the pandemic that's playing out in Georgia.

VALENCIA: Harvard Professor Dr. Thomas Tsai says the way in which Georgia state health officials interpreted data may have given a false sense of confidence, poorly informing policy decisions, like reopening, earlier than recommended.

Georgia's health department back dated its numbers of new Covid cases to the onset of symptoms. The Georgia Department of Health defended the practice to CNN calling it the traditional way to look at data during an outbreak. Adding that Georgia has been reporting this data the same way since the beginning of the pandemic. While it says less about when infections are occurring, presenting data by date of report is important to have the most current understanding of the case burden we are facing each day.

But Harvard researchers say back dating the cases created unforced errors and painted a rosier picture than reality. TSAI: So, essentially, results potentially in the decline of cases in every single week because of positive cases keeps getting back dated to when the symptoms first began.

VALENCIA (on camera): CNN asked Governor Kemp to respond to any questions about potential mistakes made in the early decision making. Kemp declined an interview. But as for how things stand now, Kemp's office admits that current graphs don't look complimentary. They asked for any other questions we had to be directed towards the state health department.

VALENCIA (voice over): Tuesday night, Governor Kemp launched a new campaign encouraging Georgians to wear masks, but public health experts warn it might take more than that.

TSAI: Well, you basically need to go back to flattening the curve and getting your arms around the pandemic, which includes wearing masks, following the best guidelines around physical distancing. And in cases where the pandemic is getting out of control, a local shutdown.


VALENCIA: And state and local leaders are sending mixed messages to Georgians. We know that wearing a mask helps stop the spread of the virus. For some reason, though, it's still a topic of political debate here. Governor Kemp has sued Atlanta's mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms, over a mask mandate. Though, overnight, they're showing signs of being able to settle that lawsuit out of court.


Just very quickly here, John, Kemp has said he doesn't think Georgians need a mask mandate to do the right thing. Though judging from that piece, some might argue. That still remains to be seen.


BERMAN: Yes, indeed it does.

And, Nick, you've been doing great work down there. Thank you so much for your reporting. Appreciate it.

VALENCIA: Thanks, John.

BERMAN: So new questions this morning about Kanye West's mental health after this tweet storm and so-called campaign rally. A new post from his wife, Kim Kardashian, about some issues many people may be struggling with during the pandemic.



KANYE WEST, HIP HOP ARTIST: I almost killed my daughter. I almost killed my daughter.


CAMEROTA: That was rapper Kanye West really struggling and breaking down at his first so-called political rally earlier this week.


His wife, Kim Kardashian West, addressed his mental health in an Instagram post. She wrote, as many of you know, Kanye has bipolar disorder. Anyone who has this or has a loved one in their life who does knows how incredibly complicated an painful it is to understand. I've never spoken publicly about how this has affected us at home because I'm very protective of our children and Kanye's right to privacy when it comes to his health. But, today, I feel like I should comment on it because of the stigma and misconceptions about mental health.

Joining us now is Dr. John Draper. He is the executive director of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Dr. Draper, it's great to have you. We always appreciate you coming on NEW DAY.

And we had spoken in the past about how valuable it can be for people, high profile people, to speak out about mental illness because it does, I think, allow people to suffer less in shame and to relieve the stigma.

What did you think about how she addressed it?

DR. JOHN DRAPER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NATIONAL SUICIDE PREVENTION LIFELINE: I thought she did a fantastic job, Alisyn. I -- one of the things we're not really talking a lot about -- I think we talk a lot about how the pandemic is affecting people with pre-existing health conditions. We're not really talking about how the pandemic is affecting people with pre-existing mental health conditions.

And when you combine the kinds of stressors that are unique to this pandemic, things like -- like a lot of losses, you know, a loss of control, but it could be very much a loss of a loved one, or a loss of a job or financial security, along with social disconnection. And -- and the fact that there is both a loss of control, a loss of certainty, and it's an enduring thing that continues. We don't really see necessarily the end of it. All of those, you add those stresses on top of somebody who already has anxiety, depression, a mood disorder, a thought disorder, that's going to make things a lot harder for those people.

BERMAN: You know what I'm seeing now, I'm wondering if you can shed some light on this, is we're entering a new phase when it comes to people's anxiety over the pandemic. It was one thing at the beginning where everyone got around shutting down. They understood this was a crisis. But once they began to feel like things were letting up, they let themselves believe that things were going to change for the better for good. Now I think people are realizing, when fall comes, they may not be able to get outside. They may not be able to have long visits with friends and family. It may be more isolating and it feels to me, at least to people I'm close to, that that's weighing on them in ways that it just hasn't before.

DRAPER: Again, I think it's both, that lack of certainty, not knowing when this is going to end, and that lack of control. What can I do within the range of my experience, the people around me, to make things different? And that is the important question to ask is what can we do about this situation and who can we connect with during this difficult time that can help us really get through it, because it's really not about recovering from something that just happened, it's about successfully enduring it.

And, again, without the messages of, here's when it's going to end, we have to find -- we have to ask ourselves, what can I do today, what's within my control now, to manage the situation where I can feel better.

CAMEROTA: We have some new stats just in terms of how much of a toll this pandemic is taking on our mental health. And so in January of -- from January to June of 2019, OK, so last year, one in 12 adults said that they had symptoms of an anxiety disorder. Now it's one in three. In terms of depression, it was one in 15 adults back then. Now it's one in four.

And, Dr. Draper, you've just spelled out I think so well why. I mean all of the different levels of uncertainty and the things that can make us sad or anxious. And so I know you say it's important to reach out. What should people do right now, today, if they feel like they're suffering?

DRAPER: There's a number of things people can do even though we forget that there's -- that we're so focused on perhaps what we've lost or what we -- we can't do, used to be able to do, that we forget about what we can do now. The most important things is stay in the present because we can't do anything about the future right now.

We also need to stay connected. We talked a lot about social distancing, which is not my favorite word. It's really physical distancing but staying socially connected. We've got to stay socially connected. That is very important. So who in our lives help us feel safe, secure, cared about, valued.

The other thing that's really important, as I was mentioning before, is to stay focused on the things that -- that are within our control. Things that can help us move forward. So things like how are not only we maintaining our social health and staying connected to others, but also how are we taking care of our physical health? How are we, you know, addressing our diet or exercise or sleep? How are we affecting our intellectual health? What can we do around that? What are we learning? How do we help ourselves still grow -- growing in this -- this stagnant time?


Emotionally health. What are we doing to help us -- ourselves feel better and stay calm during this time? As well as spiritual health. What can we do that has meaning to us or helps us feel connected to something larger to ourselves? There's a lot of -- a lot of community movements now that are incredibly important, in fact, revolutionary in many ways that are connecting people that help them get outside of themselves and feel like there's a hopeful tomorrow.

We also can stay focused on things that might assist us occupationally. If we've lost our job, how can we focus on getting a new one or how can we grow in our current job. So there's a number of ways that we can do things now, today, while we are waiting for a more hopeful future.

CAMEROTA: Those are just such great pearls of wisdom there. I mean when it's depressed, it's hard to be proactive, but you must be proactive because that is what helps you put one foot in front of the other.

Dr. John Draper, thank you so much. We always appreciate your wisdom here.

And we just want to say, if anyone you know is struggling or if you are, there is help out there. You can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

CNN's coverage continues after this.