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Coronavirus Cases Explode in Louisiana Following Mardi Gras; Trump's Trade Adviser, Peter Navarro, Discusses The Medical Supply Chain and Where Things Stand; Military Souse Gives Birth Isolated from Husband, Family. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired March 26, 2020 - 13:30   ET



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: An explosion of coronavirus cases in Louisiana. An additional 510 positive cases and 18 deaths just since yesterday.

The governor said the outbreak in Louisiana is the worst in the world in terms of trajectory. One New Orleans official telling CNN this is the disaster that defines our generation.

New Orleans is the epicenter in the state and some health officials say last month's Mardi Gras is to blame.

Dianne Gallagher, our CNN national correspondent, has been following this story for us.

Dianne, one medical expert was quoted as saying the greatest free party in the world was a perfect incubator.

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's kind of what they are looking at, Brianna, are those incubation periods. And the very first positive case in Louisiana was a person tested positive in the New Orleans area 13 days after Fat Tuesday. Since then, they have been placed other people with positives that were in New Orleans for Mardi Gras.

Now, these are serious. But it is something that's starting to grow among health officials and elected officials in Louisiana. Take a listen.


COLLIN ARNOLD, DIRECTOR, NEW ORLEANS OFFICE OF NATIONAL SECURITY & EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS: We had over a million and a half people in the city including international visitors all attending parade daily. I think that's obviously probably an issue for what we have seen in New Orleans.


GALLAGHER: New Orleans is seeing a lot of these cases right now. Almost half or a little more half of the deaths in Louisiana are from where Orleans Parish, where New Orleans is. According to the governor there, this is where we are seeing the

biggest issues when it comes to medical shortages as well. They need about a thousand ventilators, though, they're starting to get them in, but just to keep up with the patients that are in the area.

Now they're bringing homeless individuals who live in New Orleans into hotels right now. They're trying to get them off the streets.

There's a stay-at-home order in effect for about a week now. The attempt to get people to take it seriously.

Food banks are running out of food. This is starting to happen across the entire state, Brianna, not just in New Orleans, even though that's where it's concentrated.

There are retirement centers where there's cluster outbreaks of COVID- 19 where they are attempting to tell people to stay away from each other and the basics we have been telling you for weeks.

They're trying to keep medical professionals prepared here by bringing in more PPE and ICU beds. The biggest health care in Louisiana said there were 200 ICU beds about two weeks ago. They are starting to get ICU beds. They're moving the floors so they can get people away from those who might be affected by the virus and the spread even more.

I will tell you, to help with that food bank there, New Orleans Saints quarterback, Drew Brees, announced he's donating $5 million to assist with the health care and several food bank organizations across the state. The governor is thanking him on Twitter.

But he's also pointing out, the governor, that need federal help as well, not just those of their citizens.

KEILAR: We'll be asking that of the White House adviser.

Dianne Gallagher, thank you so much.

Are states getting closer to get what they need as more patients are coming to hospitals? You heard it from Louisiana, they are not. I will speak to the White House adviser in charge of the supply chain. We'll ask him where things stand.

We'll be right back.



KEILAR: As the Senate unanimously passes the biggest stimulus in U.S. history, another record is showing the stunning economic impact of the coronavirus. Last week, more than 3.2 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits. This is a huge jump from less than 300,000 jobless class last week. It is the most since the government began keeping track of this back in the 1960s.

With me is White House trade advisor, Peter Navarro. Welcome Peter. I am not going to ask you about that. I watched your

FOX interview earlier and I know you are only talking about the supply chain because I know you are leading efforts on that with FEMA.

I want to make sure we spend our time wisely here because masks, gloves, ventilators, all of these things, getting them out to hospitals and health care workers, it is a huge issue right now.

So first, let's listen --


KEILAR: -- to what doctors across the country are saying, including two from the hardest-hit areas of New York and Louisiana.


DR. MICHELLE GONG, CLINICAL CARE CHIEF, MONTEFIORE MEDICAL CENTER: Right now, we are having a large demand in terms of respiratory failure and need for ventilating these patients. My team and I are working tirelessly to think outside the box to see how we can come up with solutions to meet the needs of the patient.

DR. REBEKAH GEE, FORMER LOUISIANA SECRETARY OF HEALTH: Shame on the federal government and others who can help us, if we don't get this in time, we have time to prepare. But we need to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

And we think, given that the need for ventilators nearly doubled yesterday. And New Orleans were using half our ventilators already. But unless we get additional supplies, we won't be able to care for everyone who needs it.

DR. JEANNE MARRAZZO, INFECTIOUS DISEASE DIRECTOR, UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA, BIRMINGHAM: We have to decide whether people using those procedures get the best kind of masks or not. We're having to decide whether or not people in the E.R.s even have access to masks. That is insane.


We are a country that has had, you know, lots of opportunity to make sure this doesn't happen. And the absence, frankly, of a national commitment and leadership to not have people in garbage bags at a New York hospital really, frankly, is stunning.


KEILAR: Peter, look, we know you are working with the private sector. It is heartening to see Haynes making thick fabric so apparel workers can make that into non-surgical masks. G.M. is partnering with Ventek (ph). All of that is good news.

But why do you have prisons competing with the postal service and hospitals and Kentucky and competing with Illinois and Louisiana FEMA., the V.A., in order to get a lot of these supplies. The federal government is not stepping to coordinate the purchase and allocation of this?

NAVARRO: I reject that theory that we're not stepping in or stepping up. What I do is not just work with the full power of private enterprise but, hourly, I am working with HHS and FEMA, which have a partnership to make sure that we are surging the protective equipment we need for health care professionals and ventilators in real time.

And it is a triple track in terms of the kinds of things we are doing. We got HHS working to get as much into the stockpile and out of the stockpile as possible.

We got FEMA efforts going on to distribute things and also require new materials, both in the U.S. and around the world.

My office is also helping to coordinate with the power of private enterprise to mobilize and repurpose factories around the country to get what we need.

And we certainly have been working very hard to surge equipment and equipment to New York, to New Orleans, to Detroit, to Chicago, to Seattle, to California. I personally helped direct shipments there over the last several weeks.

There will be pictures of people that you're citing or whatever with garbage bags or whatever, but that's going to be the exception.

KEILAR: Look, no, --


NAVARRO: We're doing everything we can to --


KEILAR: I am telling you --


KEILAR: Let me say one last thing.


NAVARRO: Hang on.


KEILAR: It is very easy to find out accounts

NAVARRO: Hold on just one second.

KEILAR: -- from all of these states.

NAVARRO: Let me just say one more thing, Brianna. That's all I ask. Give me 20 seconds, Brianna, 20 seconds.

Let's not sensationalize this crisis at a time where we create more anxiety or panic behavior with people. So, please, as you report this crisis, please keep in mind that, to the extent that it is done, it makes our job here harder and it makes the health care professionals' job harder, please.

Ask me your question.

KEILAR: I am not sensationalizing anything. I am trafficking in facts here because governors are saying that their states are calling up these suppliers and FEMA's already purchased everything. So they are sort of siloed from things being allocated and coordinated.

And they're trying and spending all of this time and energy trying to acquire some of these things and they can't get it. There's no way they're able to get anything more. We've seen that in New York and other states as well. We have seen it in the prison system as well.

I want to ask you about lower-tech ventilators. You talked about some of these factories -


KEILAR: No, Peter, you've talked to some of these factories


KEILAR: No, Peter, I need to ask you, this is important. These factories you talked about that are going to be making ventilators that normally don't. There are lower-tech ventilators. This is something that can be used for patients like the oscillator. That's a company that had a thousand of them and they have not been contacted for those to be bought so they can make more.

Are you doing your best to get these lower-tech ventilators, to get ventilators from plastic surgeons, from out-patient surgery centers where they have these and not being used because of elective surgeries being off?

NAVARRO: The short answer is yes. We are getting calls pouring in everyday and we are moving gloves and suits and face masks and respirators and all sorts of things.

If you have something, Brianna, forward to my office and I will be happy to get on. We'll turn things around in an hour and get things on plane in less than a day.

KEILAR: All right, all this stuff is in like the "New York Times" and the "Washington Post," which I will say that. Which I know may not be distributed there at the White House right now.


KEILAR: But it's important to read.


KEILAR: Let's talk about price gouging. I know there's something going on, on that front. For instance, a premiere health company told the "Washington Post," I believe, that masks you normally get for 30 cents now they're going for three bucks to 15 bucks. How quickly can you stop it from happening?


NAVARRO: We're going to -- we're going to -- last night, Health and Human Services published the last thing we need is to go out, lock and load and crack down on hoarders and price gougers. That was a list of 15 types of different equipment, including face masks and ventilators that will be subject to the executive order the president signed, several days ago, with Attorney General Barr present.

And before that, the president signed the Defense Production Act. So those three things, all together, are a package. And I personally been working with the White House counsel and the Department of Justice to get law enforcement teams out there to crack down on hoarders.

I have a simple message to anybody who has got large quantities of anything that the American people need right now. If you are sitting on that and trying to charge high prices, we'll come and get you.

My advice is, get it out in the market at a fair price, and get it out today.

This behavior will not be tolerated. If you sell it at a high price today, we'll find you when this is all done. Stop hoarding. The American people - this is not a time for profiteering.

President Trump will not tolerate that and Attorney General Barr will not tolerate that.

KEILAR: Have you warn the president how much bigger your job and the problems of the supply chain get if restricted measures are relaxed too soon?

NAVARRO: We talked every day as a team. We're aware of the chessboard. And the president is trying to balance all the competing needs, the public health care crisis as well as the economic issue.

Please remember, please remember two things. President Trump was the first world leader to take definitive action early when he pulled down those China flights on January 29th.

And I'd say to you, with a heavy heart here, that the Chinese Communist Party cost this country and the rest of the world six weeks of preparation because they did not tell us early to mid-December that there was a crisis of human-to-human transmission with a new novel coronavirus. That has set the world back six weeks.

So we are dealing with this issue every day. We have a full force of the federal government. We have a full power --


KEILAR: But, Peter, in fairness, the government was clearly ill prepared for this.

NAVARRO: -- thank the American people for their cooperation.

KEILAR: The government was clearly ill prepared for this. This is not something that -- you know, these viruses happen and how awful they are, but they are things that happen.

Your government knew in the summer when it did a drill, if this happened, this would be a problem. And there was a lack of preparation, which was why we have you on to talk about the supply chain.


KEILAR: -- looks like the U.S. is going to be about 200,000 ventilators and what experts are saying there could be a million needed. Are you going to be able to meet that demand?

NAVARRO: So first of all --


KEILAR: And are you aware, is the president aware that relaxing restricted --measures


KEILAR: -- is going to mean that you need --


NAVARRO: Let me bring you up on the history here of what we inherited. In '09, when the Obama administration had he H1N1 flu crisis, that should have been a wake-up --


KEILAR: Peter, why are you wasting your time on this and not solving the problem --

NAVARRO: Hang on.

KEILAR: -- that you have. Peter, why are you even --


KEILAR: -- talking about this?

NAVARRO: You made the claim of not being prepared.

KEILAR: I did not.

NAVARRO: I am trying -- run the tape.


NAVARRO: You just said that. I'm trying to response to that.


KEILAR: I am asking you, are we able to get to a million ventilators.


NAVARRO: I am trying to respond and you keep like interrupting me. It's like --


NAVARRO: Let's have this conversation.

KEILAR: -- ventilators.

NAVARRO: You keep on talking in my ear and you won't let me talk. May I speak, please?


KEILAR: Will you answer the question? Can you get to a million ventilators?

NAVARRO: The question -- that was not the question. You started by saying this administration was ill prepared.

Let me explain something to the American people. This whole stockpile, which was engineered for basically a 100-year flood, and we got here with the coronavirus a 500 years flood. That's the problem.

We have woken up to the fact that we did not have adequate material in our stockpiles. And more importantly, all of our supply chain is spread out over the world at a time when 10 out of top 20 countries providing us with pharmaceuticals are imposing export restrictions.

So we are running as fast as we can to get the people of America what they need. We are surging incredible amounts of materials into places like New York as we speak.

We are having the most rapid industrial mobilization since World War II. We are doing the best we can.

But don't tell me that we were ill prepared for this because we inherited a system of testing and we inherited of stockpiles that was woefully inadequate for this. And there was plenty of people, two of the last two administrations, who had wake up calls, and they went back to sleep.

That's not what we are doing. We're going to fight this virus.


NAVARRO: And after it's over, we're going --

(CROSSTALK) NAVARRO: -- to be stronger and better prepared.


KEILAR: Peter, you're wasting everyone's time. You're wasting everyone's time with this. It's 2020. The president was elected in 2016. Can you get to a million ventilators?

NAVARRO: First of all, that number is way, way, way out of proportion.

KEILAR: What can you get to?

NAVARRO: We're going to do our best to get the ventilators we need as quickly as possible. And we have G.M. and Ford repurposing factories.


KEILAR: Do you have -- like, do you have -


KEILAR: I'm trying to get a projection of how many --


KEILAR: you can get to.

NAVARRO: -- sending us ventilators.

This is the kind of thing, Brianna. Oh, we need a million ventilators. We can't possibly get it. That's like, wildly over what we would need. We are ramping up production. And we're --


KEILAR: That's from the society of critical care medicine, Peter.


KEILAR: Peter, that's from the society of critical care medicine. They said, I mean, that's the ceiling but they say that's a possibility. You have to know that.


KEILAR: You're the person in charge of the ventilators.


NAVARRO: That's a ceiling and that's a possibility. That's like the worst of the worst of the worst case, OK? Again --


NAVARRO: This kind of stuff.


KEILAR: These are -


KEILAR: Peter -


NAVARRO: Hand on. I'll give you the numbers.


KEILAR: Peter, if you think that speaking in facts and truth is frightening to people.


NAVARRO: You have a problem.

NAVARRO: Why do you keep shouting in my ear? I don't understand. I'm trying to --


KEILAR: You're not answering.


KEILAR: OK, please.

NAVARRO: Watch. Watch me answer the question.

We've got 43,000 ventilators at least that are coming from Phillips. We work with G.M. and Ventek (ph) and they may be able to produce as many as 80,000 by the end of the year. Ford and G.E. are partnering together. And there's eight other companies on our spreadsheets where we're looking to get them to take up production and take whatever inventory they've got.

We're working really hard on this. And we're surging capacity at the places they need it.

And I think what's important for CNN here is to report this in a sober way, without frightening America, and just having reasonable conversations when somebody from the White House comes on instead of just shouting in our ear.

KEILAR: Peter, I will tell you that one way that I think a lot of people are calming down is when they have information, and even if it's bad news, they know the size of the problem, and they know the government has a plan for it. That's what we're trying to get with you.

You're in charge of the supply chain. That's the most pressing issue right now. NAVARRO: If I may?

KEILAR: I don't know that I actually have too much of a clearer picture having spoken to you today.

NAVARRO: If I may, when you lead with, your administration was woefully unprepared, do not expect me to accept that as fact.

KEILAR: But that's a fact. You said you were.


NAVARRO: It's not a fact.


KEILAR: I just had to --

NAVARRO: It's not a fact, OK? But you should at least let me respond to it. OK? You go, oh, your administration is woefully unprepared, now, how many ventilators do you have? I mean, that's a two-parter, right?

So I'll come on CNN any time. All I ask is a civil dialogue where I have the time to speak and that we deal with the facts.

And I just keep asking CNN -- it's like, this is the crisis of our lives. You will never experience anything like this again in your lifetime. And we need, as a people, to band together and work with this in a unified way, above party, above partisan politics, above ideology, and just solve this problem together.

And if we get on TV and it gets sensationalized and you stir people up, it just leads to bad things. That's my point.

We are working as hard as --

KEILAR: We just

NAVARRO -- we possibly can with the full force of government and the full force of private enterprise. And that's the best we can do right now. We all, as a country, have gotten dealt a bad hand by China.

KEILAR: Peter, that is just a waste of time to say that.

I'm going to leave it there. Peter Navarro.

NAVARRO: Now, hang on --


KEILAR: Trying to get our hands around --


NAVARRO: Why is that a waste of time? KEILAR: We're out of time. We're out of time and that's just



NAVARRO: -- and I'll come back anytime.

KEILAR: Peter Navarro, thank you so much.

NAVARRO: Yes, ma'am.


KEILAR: All around the world, women are giving birth almost alone in the delivery room because family members are not allowed. I'll talk to one new mom about her emotional experience.


KEILAR: As we prepare for what is sure to be a long road of uncertainty, it's important to stop and remember that behind all of the numbers and the data that we are seeing, that you see there on your screen, there are real people with real stories of how they have been impacted by coronavirus.

Megan Westbrook is a military spouse stationed in Italy and she just gave birth several days ago to her newborn son, Charlie.

Hospitals in Italy are at their breaking point. They have been for a while. And for that reason, her husband was not allowed to be part of the birthing process. There were no visitors at all who were allowed in.

And on top of that, she had to have an emergency C-section and then she was moved to a private room where she and her baby sat alone for three days without baby's dad.

Joining us now is Megan Westbrook. She's holding Charlie. You might be able to see the little tippy top of his cute little head there.

Your story, Megan, it really is hitting home for a lot of people because, for those who are welcoming a newborn into the world, this is supposed to be a time where you're surrounded by family and loved ones. That wasn't the case for you.

First off, how are you doing? How is Charlie doing?

MEGAN WESTBROOK, MILITARY SPOUSE AND NEW MOTHER LIVING IN ITALY: We are both doing really, really well, considering the circumstances. He is gaining weight and eating and sleeping. And we're just stuck at home learning how to be a family of four.

KEILAR: Yes, that's quite the uptick, I will tell you.

WESTBROOK: Yes. KEILAR: I wonder, going through this, you learned something a lot of

people might not expect about what this process was like. Tell us about your experience.

WESTBROOK: So from the minute I walked into the hospital by myself with all the luggage, until the minute my husband picked me up, I was alone. I do not speak the language here, as hard as I tried.

And, you know, I was stuck basically. I couldn't leave. I was with the baby and you have to find inner strength in order to get through something like that all by yourself. You don't speak the language. You have translators there, but they are holding the patient, translator, who was holding my hand the whole time, so thank god that they were there. And the mid wives and the doctors were amazing.

But you have to find something within yourself to get through something like that by yourself, and not have --



KEILAR: One of the points you make for people -- there's a lot of people in your situation and they'll be all over the world. But you have made a point that people can do this. You know, this is tough, but you found a silver lining in it in sort of, I guess, staying in with your baby for a few days.