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Cuomo Prime Time

New Jersey Governor On Coronavirus Crusade; New York's 9-1-1 System Overwhelmed With Coronavirus Calls; Chris Cuomo On His Coronavirus Battle. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired April 01, 2020 - 21:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, ANDERSON COOPER 360: His talent was you couldn't - you couldn't hide it. It was - it was evident early on.

When he was just 12, he became the youngest member of The Philadelphia Brass, a professional quintet. He recorded nearly 20 albums during his career. The Washington Post profiled him back in 1987. They called him one of the best jazz trumpeters in the world. Wallace Roney was 59 years old.

And Rabbi Romi Cohn was also known as "Romi." He survived the Holocaust. He also helped save dozens of others from slaughter.

Romi Cohn was born in what's now Slovakia. He lost his mom, two sisters, and two brothers during the Holocaust. And when he was just 16 years old, he joined an underground resistance. He helped as many as 56 families escape the Nazis, they say.

He later settled in New York and got married, didn't have kids of his own, but he was deeply involved with his community in Staten Island. Rabbi Romi Cohn was 91 years old.

Our thoughts are with all the families impacted by this pandemic.

The news continues right now. Want to hand it back to Chris for CUOMO PRIME TIME. Chris?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST, CUOMO PRIME TIME: Anderson, thank you so much, always a pleasure to watch your show. And now it's my turn.

I'm Chris Cuomo. Welcome to PRIME TIME.

I'm doing this show, as you know, in my basement, in COVID containment, and I'm going to share some insights that I've learned into what this virus is like in terms of fighting it.

But the most important point for us to discuss tonight is that it is crazy that anything less than a 100 percent of this country is under a stay-home order.

Are we really just going to wait for one community after the other to fall the same way, just keep repeating the same mistakes? You do not need a 102 fever to get hot about what we learned today. Our death toll has doubled in just three days' time.

This is the best and only chance we have to mitigate the effects of the virus, not mitigate the political fallout in Red states. There is only one choice, self-isolation.

All of us, together as ever as one, let's get after it.




CUOMO: Anybody who's ever seen me spar will tell you my first round is never my best, and this has proven no different with Coronavirus. Now I know what I'm up against.

I'll talk to you later in the show about the night I had last night, never had anything like - I've never experienced any kind of fever like what I have going on all the time, and the body aches, and the tremors, and the concern about not being able to do anything about it.

I totally get why so many are so scared all over this country, and I've been now relaying messages, and understanding with different doctors and in places about how so many people think they have something else, but it's probably this.

Again, testing, awareness, we're letting ourselves be beaten by something that we don't have to.

Now, on a personal note for me, my biggest fear was passing this on to Cristina and the kids. And even though I feel way worse than I did yesterday, in terms of symptoms, it's been a great day. They're negative. And that is the best thing I could have ever heard.

Now, it doesn't mean that they can't be positive at some point in the future that they can't still be contaminated. You know, I'm down in the basement. We're doing it super strict here. It's not easy. It is necessary, and that's enough. So, my greatest worry is obviously my family, just like yours.

And in understanding my own dynamic here, how you feel powerless, and it's so worrisome what can happen, it's totally opened a different window for me in my heart for all those who have had to watch their loved ones slip away, and go into the hospital, where they can't visit, and have them in places where they can't say goodbye.

I mean the dislocation that is being caused by this is so frightening, why wouldn't we do everything, every possible thing to avoid it, even if it's just one less case?

We also want to talk to you tonight about the front-lines of the war, and how we're losing people there that it's not just about what you do for yourself and your family, it's keeping those people safe.

Now, in terms of not seeing enough, it's good news that the Governor of Florida has just come to his senses, and has a statewide stay-at- home order there.

I got to tell you, it's no small irony that he doesn't want people from the Cruise ship in Florida, but he allowed Spring Breakers to go home all over the place, all over this country, and now we're hearing about people getting sick in communities that wouldn't have had exposure otherwise.

We need consistency. Why would the federal government let Florida wait? Why would they let the Governor of Tennessee question whether social distancing really works? Are you kidding? We have to be better than this at this point. It just doesn't make sense.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, our Chief is back, my brother and North Star for many of us, during this time.

You were right when you told me that I would see a different side of this once the virus took root, and that certainly came last night. Thank you for teaching me the word "Rigors." I now understand it better than I ever thought I would.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Chris, yes, you mean, look, can I - I just want to say, and I know this is not what the segment's about, you - first of all, I'm happy to see you.

We spoke last night after the show. You had these rigors. I'm just going to say it's so bad that I think you chipped a tooth. I mean this--


GUPTA: --this was significant for you, Chris and - and I'm just going to say as well, you know, we talk a lot about abdication of duty.

I don't want to abdicate my duty when I - I know you're a warrior. But you're allowed to take a day off, you know and - and yes, I mean, say you feel worse today. I'm glad you don't have the tightness in the chest still because I was worried about that.

But Chris, man, you know, we love you, we think about you, and it's OK to - to, you know, I know you're dreaming about this stuff. You're fully engaged. But it's OK to take a day off.

CUOMO: You're totally right. You got to take care of yourself first. You can't take care of anybody else.

I also followed your advice. I got this. In fact, people have been sending me these things. They heard you talk about oxygen, blood oxygen sensor. You put - you got to make sure your hand's warm, by the way.

Oops, sorry, that's Andrew. I'll talk to him later. Pest!

The - you have to make sure you have a warm hand, and you put this on, and it tells you your blood oxygen level, and I'll tell you what. This is a great gift to people who are fighting COVID because it lets

you know that oh you know what, my chest situation is still good. It's got to be above about 94, 95, 96 to 100 is - is normal when you're healthy.

I got so many of these that the first like 20 people or so who go on to my social media, give me your address, and I'll send you the extra ones that I have because if you have COVID, it's a great thing to have at home.

I want to ask you something, Sanjay.

GUPTA: It's a--

CUOMO: I'll - I'll take care of myself. But when you heard the President today--

GUPTA: Please do.

CUOMO: --and you hear these guys saying "Yes, you know, every state's different, Sanjay, you know. You got to give them a break. You know, you got to let them figure it out for themselves. You know, every situation's different. A lot of them don't have the cases."

I mean is anywhere really different or is it just time that is different?

GUPTA: No. Nowhere is different. I mean, Chris, you know, this - this is a virus. We've been saying this. I think you and I've had this conversation for more than two months now.

It's a virus. It doesn't respect boundaries or borders. It can travel from County to County, State to State, region to region. I mean that's the thing. You know, when we say, we're all in this together, that means, you know, how I behave affects you and - and how you behave affects me.

And - and, you know, we're here in Georgia right now. And, you know, we still - it's been announced but it's still not in effect, this - this stay-at-home order. We lost weeks. We lost weeks. There's thousands of people who have the illness.

And you know what? We don't actually know the number. We have no idea what the number actually is, as we've seen over and over again. We're wildly underestimating.

The problem with something like this is by the time you see it, it's too late. You know, there's other metaphors. But by the time you see this, it's too late. And - and there was plenty of warning here.

I mean, Chris, you're - you're a warrior. You always call yourself a warrior. I'm not a - I'm not a warrior. I'm not a fighter. I'm a soft- spoken mild-mannered guy.

But this one's made me kind of angry because it didn't have to happen what is happening right now. Some of it had to happen because the virus is here. That's an act of Mother Nature that was going to happen.

But in terms of the impact now, the places that are having the worst results, in terms of fatality rates, all of that are places that had the virus affect them.

But what drove up those fatality rates was a strain on the medical system. They weren't ready, even though they could see what was happening in other places around the world.

So yes, I mean long answer, we - we need to have a national, you know, stay-at-home order. That's what they've done in countries, who've finally started to turn this around. We're not there yet.

CUOMO: We're not there yet. And we keep making excuses.

That's the scariest part for me is when you see somebody that knows they made a mistake, and they don't really own it, and they're only kind of making up for it, you know that mistake is going to be repeated. There is zero question.

We'll have the Governor of New Jersey on next. You hear my brother, the Governor of New York, say this all the time. They are still fighting for PPE with one another.

They don't want to. They're not trying to hurt each other. But there's such a small supply, they're bidding it. The federal government should have stopped that a long time ago, and created stability for them.

Testing, to hear Dr. Birx today say, "Hey, you know, these ELISA tests, these are easy. You know, we can test workers. We can work it up in no time." We ask, you know, what? "Where has it been for months then, if it's so easy?"

And to hear them have a COVID Conference today, you know, I'm all bundled up, I'm ready to watch the conference, see my man Sanjay after it, and they start talking about drug interdiction? Now?

That - that's a relevant part of our COVID thing is that people are trying to sneak drugs in to country now, and that's what they're doing? I mean, what is that about to you?

GUPTA: I think they just tried to take advantage of the national attention on this issue, and maybe tried to, you know, move the ball a little bit, which is - which is sad because this is - this is a big deal.

I mean, to try and minimize it in some way like that, I mean I - there's some things I figure now, and I keep a journal every night, there's some things I sort of figure that I may never understand about how some of these decisions are made.


You know, I'm a scientist. I like to figure things out. There are some things I may never understand as to how some of these decisions have happened here. One thing that I'm really, you know, we talk about this getting bad, right? We talk about this curve accelerating.

Chris, these healthcare workers, you know, some of them are - they're the ones who are exposed the most to this virus. They're the ones who can't keep social distance, and hospitals are right next to each other.

They're the ones like you that are going home to their families, and worried about infecting them. Those numbers are going to go up as well. And then, who's going to take care of the patients?

You can see, you know, I think we're going to - we're going to keep our healthcare system together because we have this amazing ingenuity in the United States.

But we are - we're going to tax it, challenge it, strain it, probably like we've never seen before. I've never seen this before in my lifetime. I hope to never see it again. I've been a doctor for a long time, never seen anything like this.

And I keep thinking, two months ago, Chris, where we - 2.5 months ago, we were sitting talking about this, saying, "All right, here - here's the deal. Here's what's coming. Here's how many ventilators are necessary.

Here's how many masks. This is what happens. Doctors have been - nurses have to take care of these patients. They have to wear PPE each time. All of that has to be addressed."

And then, here we are talking about it, knowing at this point, it's - it's really behind the curve.

I mean maybe it's just not worth looking in the rearview mirror anymore. We got to look forward. But there's - there's got to be some lessons learned here, so it doesn't happen again.

CUOMO: Well, one, if you don't, you know, learn the lessons then even with Dr. Anthony Fauci saying that we'll be ready for the next wave, it's hard to understand how because they're saying they have tests for everybody who wants them right now.

Sanjay, I know you get this all the time. I'm new to this kind of like, you know, medical advocacy thing, you know, because I'm sick, so people are now like reaching out.

There are so many people in this country who can't get tested or haven't gotten results. And they've had what clearly sounds like Coronavirus for 10, 12, 14 days. I mean we are nowhere close to being able to understand what we have to deal with in this country. So, your only chance is self-isolation, and to deal with capacity.

And these hospitals, I mean, you know, we use all of this, you know, this prayerful language for them. But what good is prayer if you're not doing the things that you can do in this world, and in this life, to make those right things happen for them?

What good is it to say you're praying for them, and they're angels on earth, if you're not doing everything in your power to help them, what good is the prayer?

GUPTA: I know. I mean, you know, the - the situation now, Chris, is that unless you're - you're seriously or even critically ill, you're probably not going to really be at the hospital, I mean, because they got enough serious and critically ill patients over there.

So, you know, again, you know, I know this is not about you, although everyone is seeing you, and - and I know that you feel worse today than you did yesterday, and you're going to have a few rough days, you know, there's no question.

But, in the past, you probably would have gone to the doctor, you know, maybe even gone to the hospital.


GUPTA: All the people who are sicker would go to the hospital. That's not an option right now. I mean that - that's the situation we're in.

So, a lot of these people are really having to rough it out at home, and they're - and they're scared. I hear from them a lot. I hear from their families a lot. You know how many emails I get every day?

A family member says, "Hey, my loved one is really sick." I mean they're--


GUPTA: --they're asking me for advice via social media, via text message. I don't know what to do for - for some of these folks. I would tell them typically, "Hey, call your doctor. It's time to go to the hospital. Time to go see a doctor."

CUOMO: That's right.

GUPTA: They can't do that right now, so, and that's going to be the situation for a while.

Thankfully, I will say, because, you know, I don't want this to be doom and gloom, most people will recover from this. But, you know, we - we tend to look at things, either in terms of life or death, and how many people have died, and I understand that.

Lot of people are going to get very sick, super sick from this for a while, and they're going to have to rough it out at home for - because of what's happening in this country right now.

I mean that - may be that - the safest place for them, there's no particular therapeutic for them in the hospital.

But - but, you know, man, just the - the emotional toll, on top of the physical toll, for the patient, and then their families, is - is going to be - it's going to be tough. It's something that most people have never experienced in this country.

CUOMO: I'm seeing it firsthand, you know, how powerless your loved ones feel that they can't help you because, you know, there is no really easy pill popping here that gets you through it, and you can't be near them.

And, you know, my wife's got a mask on, and gloves, you know, we're doing tray exchanges at the top of the stairs. I mean, you know, this is spooky. You know, Don came by today with his fiance, looking at me like I'm in a zoo, you know, behind a glass door.

I mean this - this is a weird existence, and I'm ridiculously blessed. I got people who love me and care about me that can give me things, you know.

GUPTA: Lot of people.

CUOMO: I'll tell you what. This is going to be hard. And I know now I have to be looking at an 8-, 10-day fight. And I'm - so, I'm ready for it now. Now I understand what it is.

It is maddening to have a fever all the time. I've never had that in my life. I'm not a fever person. So to be like right now I think I was at like 101.5 or something like that, you know, to have that all day long, I totally get why it's making people dehydrated, and it's making them really very upset.


CUOMO: I totally get it.


The only thing I have to correct you on, Doc, before I let you go, listen, my obvious manifestations of - of strength are a cry for help. I have seen you in so many places around this world, show that most profound kind of strength and sensitivity that any man or woman could ever wish to exhibit in life.

You are the best of us for a reason. You give us the truth. You literally save lives for people, and you do it with a gentility that is probably the best medicine that there is. That's why I love you.

GUPTA: Right.

CUOMO: Not because you're a great doctor. You're a great person. Thank you for being a friend to me. I promise I'm using my - my O2 thing. And, you know, I got - I got my pajamas on under this. I'm doing well.

GUPTA: You're a good man, Chris. And, you know, I'm going to call you at 10:02. We'll chat then.

CUOMO: I'll be there.

GUPTA: I'll - house call.

CUOMO: I'll be--

GUPTA: House call. CUOMO: I'll be there. Hopefully, I'll save some of my teeth. These cost a lot of money. Sanjay, I'll check back with you in a little bit.


CUOMO: All right, so, look--

GUPTA: You got it.

CUOMO: --in terms of cases, New York does remain the nation's most infected state. The second most really is not going to be that big a coincidence, right? It's right next door, in New Jersey.

But the reason we really wanted to give Governor Phil Murphy the platform tonight is to talk about this one part of his State that is seeing a surge in cases. And why is there a surge? And what is the reality of his ability to fight the need in his state?

We've got to have straight-talk right now, we don't have the time for BS, next.









CUOMO: The reason I keep telling you not to focus on the numbers is because they're almost pointless right now.

They will be exponential in jumps up, cases, deaths, more all the time, doubling rates, doubling rates, why, because until all of us are self-isolating, long enough, to get ahead of the spread, this is the reality. And until testing gets anywhere near the place it needs to be, we will never be in front of the spread.

So, don't get caught up in the numbers. It'll make you crazy. It'll make you depressed. Instead, focus on the efforts to get us where we need to be.

This President and Vice President can keep saying how much they're testing, but it's not enough, it's not even close, and they know it.

And they can say that anyone who wants a test can get one, and they know that's BS, because you and I both know that we know people in our lives who can't get tested. And when they do get tested, they can't get results, until they're already over the illness.

Now, a place that is dealing with this in real-time is New Jersey on a large level. Their Governor is having to make these hard decisions, and he's having to do them at a disadvantage. Let's bring in New Jersey Governor, Phil Murphy.

Guv, thank you for joining us.

GOV. PHIL MURPHY (D-NJ): Chris, it's great to be with you. And I want you to know that your 9 million member cousins in New Jersey are all praying for you.

CUOMO: Listen, I love it. I love them. People have been amazing. And it just shows we have great capacity to beat this virus because of the way we care about each other, if we do the right things.

Now, the Northern part of your State is getting slapped hard. Why? Do you think it's just the closest part to New York or is there something else going on there?

MURPHY: I think it's overwhelmingly it's part of the Metro New York reality.

And your - your brother is managing so brilliantly, which you look at Bergen County, which has been slammed the hardest, both in terms of positive cases and, I agree with you, in terms of the testing reality but, more importantly, the lives, the precious lives lost.

Essex County, of course, Newark being the county seat there, Hudson County right on the river, those three counties lead the way both in positive tests, illnesses and, sadly, fatalities. And it is part of the New York, the Metro New York reality without question.

CUOMO: Governor, the President once again suggested today, "You know, these governors, you'd be shocked at what they ask you for. It's like you can't believe they can even use the amounts that they're asking for. They just ask. It's never enough."

Are you anywhere near over-capacity with absolutely anything that you need to fight the virus?

MURPHY: I mean the stark answer, Chris, is no, and that doesn't mean that we don't have open lines, and it doesn't mean that we haven't gotten support because that we have. The lines are open, and we've gotten support.

But we're still way short on what we're going to need for ventilators. We've made progress, but we're way short. We're way short on personal protective equipment. Again, we have stepped in. We've never been in this business before.

New Jersey, the State of New Jersey's bought almost 10 million pieces ourselves to distribute to our healthcare system.

We're way short on beds although the Army Corps is helping mightily. I'm going to tour our first pop-up field hospital tomorrow morning. And we're - we're short on manpower. Our heroic healthcare workers need - need help from the bullpen. So, we put out a call to arms.

The good news is we've had over 6,000 people say they want to volunteer to come in, and help. But we have a long way to go on all the above.

CUOMO: As a Governor of a major state, with major challenges, what do you say to a Governor of Tennessee who says, "You know, I'm not sure about this social distancing. You know, the research is kind of back and forth about whether it works. I don't think we need to do anything right now."

MURPHY: You know, I don't know the specifics in Tennessee. But I'd say two things, Chris.

I think if you base your decisions, as we have, we started meeting on this in January, so we were about as early as anybody, if you base your decisions on science, data, fact, health and medical inputs, the conclusions are quite easy to come to, in terms of shutting yourself down, bending that curve, social distancing. There seems to me to be no other alternative.

Secondly, as your brother has eloquently said, I've used the phrase, we're the canary in the coal mine, and I say this not with any amount of joy, but with a very heavy heart. This is coming to you wherever you are. It's just a question of when.

So, the faster you get out ahead of it, shut yourself down, do what we've been doing, what New York's been doing, other states, literally, break the back of that curve, flatten it as aggressively as possible. Until we all do that, this is going to be a reality everywhere.


CUOMO: How long you think you're looking at? How long do you think we're having this conversation? Two, five, eight weeks?

MURPHY: I think, Chris, I've said this, deep into May. I don't see any other way around that.

We're starting to, you know, we got hospitals on the North, in particular, Bergen County that are starting to divert, meaning that we've got it - you got to go to plan B. That's already happening. We're going to get up at a very high level, and we're going to stay there.

Please God, the social distancing works. And if people are looking for one message, if you're a watcher from Jersey, it's simple. Stay home until further notice.

CUOMO: It's not an April Fools' joke. The only fools are people that don't heed the warning.

Governor Phil Murphy, thank you for being ahead of this. Thank you for being a leader. And thank you for knowing that if we can get out the information we're always here.

MURPHY: God bless you, Chris. Thanks for having me.

CUOMO: You as well.

All right, now, one of the things that just happened in the Governor's State is he just lost one of his front-line heroes, an ER doctor, who courageously worked until the virus got him.

I want to introduce you to their husband and close friend, so that you can understand what this doctor did for us, what he had to deal with, and what kind of struggle he took on for everybody else. You hear their story and then you tell me we don't need to do better.









CUOMO: Tonight, I want you to take the time to remember a very special man. His name is Dr. Frank Gabrin.

Now, Frank was an ER doctor, and two-time cancer survivor, so he knew how to fight, and he spent his final days, tending to patients in a New Jersey hospital.

When he was there, he knew he was compromised, he knew he was exposed, and he caught the virus himself. He died within a week, passing away on Tuesday in his husband's arms, before help could arrive.

Dr. Gabrin's husband, Arnold Vargas, is with us, along with their close friend, Debra Vaselech.

And I'm happy to have you both here. Obviously, these circumstances are not the way that I would want to meet anybody, let alone the husband and friend of a hero. I know you are heartbroken. But what do you want people to know about your husband, and why he put himself in such jeopardy for people he didn't even know?

ARNOLD VARGAS, LOST HIS HUSBAND, DR. FRANK GABRIN, TO CORONAVIRUS: He was a person that he loved to do help people. He just wanted to help people. He wanted to--

CUOMO: I know you're heartbroken. I know you're heartbroken. But you know what? People need to see what is being taken from us from this virus. Your husband had already fought through the battles he was supposed to

fight. He beat cancer twice. And he was trying to help everybody else. And people have to know how far our heroes are willing to go because your heartbreak will never be over.

But we can do things to make sure that other doctors don't have to deal with it, Debra, and I'm sure that if the Doctor were here, Dr. Gabrin would be saying, "You can't put people in this situation. We've got to care more about the people we call our heroes, Debra."

DEBRA VASELECH LYONS, FRIEND OF DR. FRANK GABRIN: Absolutely. Frank - Frank put people first, whether it was his co-workers, or the patient.

He felt that if he became a healthcare worker, if you were a doctor, or a nurse, you did it because you cared, and you wanted to make a difference. You were there for a reason. You had made that decision long before.

So, he always worked to make the lives of the people he worked with as good as he could. He made sure that they felt good. He taught them how to get satisfaction with compassion.

And even as this was coming on, he was finding ways to make it work, and he was still - the last thing he wanted, the last post that he had - had actually made was talking about how important it was for us to have compassion, kindness, and care for each other.

He didn't expect this to happen as it was coming up, Chris. He really didn't. He was - he was working hard. We were talking every day. I was saying, "How is it going?" He said "It's busy, but it's manageable."

And it went from manageable to unmanageable overnight. And - and I think that's what happened. And - and even then, he looked for ways to make it work, even when he knew he was compromised.

CUOMO: And that is a very important part of this. He knew he was compromised and he did it anyway.


CUOMO: Tell us--


CUOMO: --how that informs us about who he was because that's not what people will do ordinarily. People are generally selfish, even doctors. Why would he do that, Debra?

LYONS: Well I would tell you that he would say and - and I think that this is true because I don't think we're seeing that we have selfish healthcare workers right now.

They're doing what they can, even though they're putting themselves, and most importantly, their families at risk as well, including the patients that are not currently compromised. I mean it's a - it's a big thing we're asking them to face with no

tools. It's like asking a soldier to go to the front-line, and giving them nothing, like nothing, to do their job. So, I think with Frank, he would still know that it has to be done.

What's your choice? You - you prepared your whole life for this. You went to school for it. You decided. Being in the front-lines is what each one of these healthcare workers prepared themselves for. They did not expect to have to go in with nothing. And - and I think that's the hardest part.


So, what do you do? What are we asking them to do for us right now and - and what are we asking them to do, and putting their families at risk, as - as Arnold is currently sick?

And yes, I think it's - it's important for us to take a look at that, and to understand that Frank did this, and would want some good to come from his loss, and not for anything, but to make us wake up and pay attention. We need to care for each other, and most importantly, we need to care for the people that need to care for us.

CUOMO: Right. And you can't just say it. You know, you need to act on that. You're so right about our healthcare workers. You know, the reason we heroize them and say that they are not just our first responders, but the angels among us, is that they don't act on the selfish impulses that many of us do.

And for you to say that Arnold is dealing, you know, with this illness, on top of now this loss, you know, the only reason we share these stories is not to bathe people in pain. It's to make them understand the price of an action.

And Arnold, I'm so sorry to have to put you in this kind of situation. But all I can tell you is this. When - when my family lost our father recently, one of the guys who's running for President right now, Joe Biden, called us.

And this isn't about his politics. I don't care about his politics. He said "Someday when your father's face and his names comes to your mind, a smile will come to your lips before tear will come to your eye. And it may take a long time."

But, at some point, Arnold, when you think about your husband, and everything he meant to you, you will smile before you cry.

And I just hope you know that we will do everything we can to honor his service, and make sure that people don't have to be in his situation, and that we will fight to make sure that people get a fair shake to do the job for the rest of us.

I'm very sorry for your loss, Arnold. I really am.

VARGAS: Thank you. Thank you so much.

LYONS: Now, Chris, it's important--

CUOMO: Debra, yes.

LYONS: Arnold and I had talked about this yesterday. And - and I know it's hard.

But I think you need to understand that Frank died in his arms. He died and basically before the paramedics arrived, and the paramedics spent an hour, in front of them, trying to bring him back.

So, and then we have Frank having people posting about how much of an impact they made on his life.

And when Arnold and I talked about doing these interviews, and talking about this, we knew it was because Frank made it very clear that it's not about what happens, it's not about the outcome, you don't get to save every patient, but it's about what you do with the outcome.

And it is important for him to make sure that we make a good outcome, no matter what. And, in this case, he lost his life needlessly because if he had the equipment, he's a professional, he knew how to protect himself, but if he did lose his life, then we need to make sure something good comes from this.

And his message was always "Care for each other. Care for the people in front of you. Your satisfaction comes from getting that care, from feeling another person's pain, and being capable to do something about it."

And the pain that we feel for Frank's loss, our goal is to make sure that everybody takes away whatever other issues they are - there are, and make sure that we take care of each other, and importantly, take care of our healthcare heroes.

CUOMO: Debra Vaselech Lyons, thank you very much. And Arnold, listen, there is no good way to explain what you've had to suffer through. And I am so sorry that you are in so much pain.

And I hope you take some solace over time in how your husband will be remembered, and that at least his last moments with you. To be in your last moments with the people you love the most, there's a grace in that as well.

Arnold, be well. Let us know if there's anything that we can do. We're showing you the doctor right now, Frank Gabrin.

VARGAS: Thank you.

CUOMO: He literally gave his life to help people like you and me. What we do for people like him, so that families don't have to be destroyed just because we're not doing what we know we could.

Arnold, be well and God bless. Debra, thank you and take care of your friend.

VARGAS: Thank you. CUOMO: I know you will.

LYONS: Chris, take care of yourself please.

VARGAS: Thank you so much.

CUOMO: Now, look, nobody wants to have to see people in pain like that. But is it making any more sense for you to ignore that that pain is going on because of how we're handling this? I don't know.


He didn't have to die. He knew what he was doing. He could have been given different equipment. Will we do enough? How can you see that and think that the answer is "Yes, we've done enough?" Can't.

It's not just the doctors and nurses that has shown incredible bravery right now. You've got all of these front-liners, paramedics, you know, the EMTs who are out there, getting the first calls for real.

My next guests are getting bombarded. 9-1-1 has turned into COVID-19 should be the number. They never expected this. I want to introduce you to a guy who will tell you that he was there for 9/11, he was there in Iraq. And, right now, he's scared like he's never been before. Next.









CUOMO: So, FEMA just sent some desperately needed help to New York City, 500 EMTs and paramedics, and about 250 ambulances. Now, what do those numbers mean in the scope of the need?

Because remember, you can be really impressed with what resources are being thrown. But what matters? And the only thing that matters is whether or not that number is enough, not how big it is.

Context, 9-1-1 calls are overwhelming the system. Paramedics are going on more than 7,000 runs a day. And it's only going to get worse.

Phil Suarez has been a New York City Paramedic for more than 25 years. He was a Humanitarian Aid Worker in the Iraq war. He knows what 9/11 looked like up close. And now, he is living through this, and he wants to talk to you about it.

Brother, thank you for doing the job, and thank you for joining me.

PHIL SUAREZ, NEW YORK CITY PARAMEDIC: Thank you, Chris, for having me.

CUOMO: Now, 9/11, Iraq War, those - those are scary things that took a toll on us that we never expected. This pandemic is a completely unique animal, and it is straining the system in a way that we've never seen before. How have you experienced that?

SUAREZ: There are unprecedented times. And I guess it's to be determined how it will end, in the end. We're doing the best we can. In my time, in New York City, I've never experienced such a ferocity of call volume demand, and the intensity of - of the system.

From what we hear, we are expecting it to get worse in the next two to three weeks. We hope they're wrong. But we're just trying to get ourselves physically, psychologically ready, just to meet the need.

CUOMO: And it's a double-edged sword, right, because not only do you have to go on a ton of calls, but these calls are unique, in that every time you show up, you are exposed to a problem.

It's almost like every call you go to, you show up, and there's a guy with a weapon there, pointing it at you and you do not have the equipment, and you do not have the PPE that you need, to cycle through the calls the way you need to.

How real is that statement that I just made?

SUAREZ: Well it is - it is a threat because it's - it's an invisible threat. We can't see this virus. We just assume it's everywhere. And so, we take maximum precautions on every patient.

You know, I think EMS were a bit more fortunate than many others, as we are used to working in low resource environments. So, we are, by nature, we are able to adapt to whatever environment is necessary. And sometimes, just, you know, we come in day in and day out, and we just look to do our job, to the best of our abilities.

CUOMO: What do you need?

SUAREZ: What do we need? We need a million things, you know. I think that EMS were handling as best we can. My personal concerns is that, and as what we're seeing, is that EMS workers are starting to go down, just like other healthcare workers.

You know, we're at a two-week three-week period, since we started taking more precautions. And - and so, the ones there - there are many that got infected, and they are going down.


SUAREZ: They're off the fields. And my concern is that, in the next few weeks, leading up to this expected surge is that we are going to lose more players in the field, and those are critical - critical part of the--

CUOMO: The thing is so, you know, it spreads so easily. And I'm sure the calls, you know, what are you seeing most often when you show up and it's a COVID call? Is it someone that just is so freaked out about not being able to breathe that that's what made them call?

SUAREZ: I mean it varies like now they appear to be increasing in intensity, as far as like people are getting a little bit more, they're sicker. Couple weeks ago, it was more fear. It was - they were symptomatic.

Now, we're starting to see those most vulnerable in the population with a higher comorbidities such as heart problems, diabetes, respiratory issues, and those are being - that's what we're seeing mostly now that's heavily affected.

CUOMO: I'll tell you what. If I had heard it in a vacuum, I would have been like, "Yes, you know, lot of these people think they're sicker than they are."

Now that I have this thing, and I know, as you know this already, Phil, it manifests itself in different ways in different people. Some people think they got a lower GI flu, some people think they have a sinus infection.

SUAREZ: Right.

CUOMO: I've got this thing that presents like a fibromyalgia kind of thing, the pain and the tremors, what they call the rigors.

SUAREZ: Right.

CUOMO: Those things.

And I'll tell you, if I couldn't breathe well, last night I would have definitely freaked out, and thought about having to call for help, if I couldn't have breathed through the shivering, and that I thought was never going to end, and the fever.


I totally get why people are sent into a panic here, because you think you may not make it. And their best call is always going to be our best people which you're - of course, you guys.

So, we want to make sure that people understand the need that you guys are going down from this, and that you have to be protected, given the equipment you need, and given the staffing that you can have available, to the extent that we can source it.

And I promise you, Phil Suarez, as you develop more understandings of what you need, you can come back whenever you want, and let us know.

SUAREZ: Thank you, Chris, thank you so much.

CUOMO: Thank you for doing the job. Thank you for keeping us safe. SUAREZ: We try to do our best every day. And you stay healthy, Chris, wish you the best.

CUOMO: Thank you, brother, appreciate it, appreciate it.

Now, look, again, I'm lucky, and I'm going to keep saying it to you because you have to understand.

I'm doing this show not because I don't want to - I want to make myself sick. I don't want to make myself more sick. I don't know that I could, to be honest. But the - you have to see that you can get through this, OK?

But, at the same time, I'm trying to get you to understand the urgency. I'm doing the show because that's how much it matters. I can't sit on the couch and watch us have this bad information put out here and this false sense of security that's going on.

Now, I want to share you a little bit about what people are suffering through when they have COVID. I had a night last night, I'm telling you, I've had a lot of weird experiences in my life with health and everything else, I've never had anything like what haunted me last night with this virus.

And now that I know I'm in it, I get it. But it gives me perspective on how we have to see people who are in need right now, and we are not there yet. Next.









CUOMO: So, here's what I've learned. I wish I had gotten this virus a month ago. And I'll tell you why. I wish I would have had it then, so I could have told you then this is no joke. We are sleeping on something, and it is a mistake.

And I would have had a different platform to jump on the President playing it as a hoax, and playing politics with this, because that time - one of the reasons we keep going back to that time is because it's so painful that we blew our best chance.

That's why we keep going back to it, especially when the President's inability to own it makes a journalist, makes a conscientious person suspect that he'd do the same thing again. You see what I'm saying? And we can't tolerate it a second time. Literally, I don't know that we survive it.

And if I had gotten it sooner, I would have been able to explain, I think more directly, the vulnerability we face. Because what do we know now a month later? Families are being isolated, separated, devastated.

I mean, to hear, you know, young Vargas just lost his husband. He died in his arms. And, look, we're not doing enough, and you know it. And it is tough for all of us, and it's tough for our leaders.

There is a helplessness even among those who are in control, and it is instructive to see that, even when I see it in my own brother. Listen to this.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): I couldn't protect my own brother. With all he knows, and as smart as he is, he couldn't protect himself.

When he told me he had the Coronavirus, it scared me. It frightened me. Why? Because we still don't know.

We're talking about my little brother. This is my best friend.

And I'm out of control, and there's nobody who can tell me, and Doctor Zucker can't tell me anything, and Tony Fauci can't tell me anything, because nobody really knows.

He did a show last night from his basement. What a gutsy, courageous thing to do.

Kudos to him. My Pop would be proud. I love you little brother. And even though this isn't a flattering picture, I did not pick this picture with your mouth open, but it is suitable in some ways.


CUOMO: He picked it. And what else am I going to do? I'm in the basement.

What am I going to sit around all day and watch that there is not the right information being given still that we're letting states make choices about whether or not they do the only single thing that can make a difference for this country?

Nobody can sit on the sidelines right now, least of all somebody who has been blessed with a platform to talk to you about it. And the irony about my brother joking about how I look is not lost on me, all right, like he's some box of chocolates.

But his heart, not just for me as his brother and family, but for the desperation to protect, that's his job, OK? His job is to protect the people of this state, just like every Governor, just like this President. That's their job. Do everything you can to protect. And it's easy for someone like me. I'm lucky, OK? No matter how my journey goes with Coronavirus, the life I've had, the family I have to take care of me, the ability I have to self-quarantine, and people bringing me food, and a wife, and my kids, thank God didn't have it, look how lucky I got here.

I want you to be thinking about everybody who is not as lucky as I am, who are dealing with the same that I am, and 10 times worse, especially after what I learned last night.

This virus came at me - I've never seen anything like it, OK? So, yes, I've had a - I've had a fever. You've had a fever. But 102, 103, 103- plus that wouldn't quit, and it was like somebody was beating me like a pinata.

And I was shivering so much that Sanjay's right, I chipped my tooth. These are not cheap, OK? And they call them the rigors, like rigors, R-I-G-O-R-S, but rigors.

So, the sun comes up. I'm awake. I was up all night. It was one of - I'm telling you, I was hallucinating. My - my dad was talking to me. I was seeing people from college, people I haven't seen in forever, it was freaky, what I lived through last night. And it may happen again tonight.

Doctor says it may happen like five, eight times. You know, I get it now. And if you match that with chest constriction, and people can't breathe, I totally get why we're losing so many people, and why our hospitals are so crowded.

So, here's the message, don't be me. But more importantly, be better than--