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New Orleans Health Department Finds Five Dead in Multiple Senior Residences; U.S Surpasses 40 Million Total COVID-19 Cases. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired September 07, 2021 - 10:00   ET



ERICA HILL, CNN NEWSROOM: And all of this as a heat advisory has been issued to parts of the state today. Temperatures there are expected to soar. Hundreds of thousands are still without power. We're going to catch up on that in just a minute.

As we mentioned, we're just seeing Marine One there waiting for the president who, again, will, in a short few moments, be making his way north heading to New York and New Jersey, his first stop this morning, to look at some of that damage from the remnants of Ida in the northeast, Hillsborough Township in New Jersey. From there, he'll tour the town of Manville, New Jersey.

CNN National Correspondent Athena Jones is there. So, Athena, what are you hearing from residents there in Manville? What do they want to hear from the president today?

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Erica. Well, they want help. They want to hear a commitment, a prolonged commitment. Because as you can see from the damage behind me, in this house, we spoke to the homeowner here, the water went up about eight feet, certainly above my head, above most people's heads and it flooded the entire basement. They had to evacuate. So, this is the kind of damage the president is going to be seeing firsthand. And it shows you why the road to recovery is going to be so long.

Of course, we've heard the president say he will have -- the federal government will have a long-term commitment. We've also hear the state leadership say the same thing. And so this is one of the hardest hit parts of New Jersey. New Jersey is a state that lost at least 27 people during the flooding last week.

The president, as you mentioned, is going to be stopping first in nearby Hillsborough Township. It's down the road. He'll have a briefing there around 12:15, then he'll come here to Manville to tour a neighborhood before moving on to Queens.

Of course, the president has already approved disaster relief, approve a major disaster declaration for six counties here in New Jersey. Governor Phil Murphy is saying that is wonderful but there are 15 counties in the New Jersey. He's going to be talking with the president about perhaps getting disaster relief to more people in more counties. Here is some of what Governor Phil Murphy had to say this morning on New Day.


GOV. PHIL MURPHY (D-NJ): I think the message has to be, number one, as he's been saying, we're going to be with you as you get back on your feet, as long as that journey may take. Both the state government and the federal government will be by your side. And, secondly, if never before, the argument is overwhelmingly compelling for Congress to act on climate resiliency infrastructure.


JONES: And so you heard that a lot of talk about the need for infrastructure improvements to help avoid this happening again and also better warning systems, so people realize really what is a flash flood, how quickly it can put you in terrible danger.

But, again, going back to where we are now, there is going to need to be a lot of money and consistent help for repairs. And some of that federal disaster relief allows individuals and businesses to apply for relief to get grants, for instance, for temporary housing, grants for home repairs, low cost loans to cover uninsured property losses. So, very important support to have.

We know also from the White House that part of the president's message is going to be about the impacts of climate change. He's going to say that one in three Americans has been impacted by weather just in the last few months and that no one is immune from climate change. There are incredibly dire economic impacts from climate change. And so that is why we need to see more investment in infrastructure. Precisely the kind of infrastructure investments and improvements that are part of his agenda, part of this bill they're trying to get through Congress. And that is certainly going to be one of the main focuses here.

We also expect the president to be --

HILL: Athena, thank you for that. I'm going to interrupt you for a moment, Athena. We see the president here making his way to Air Force One. We also just got some comments a short time ago that the president made before making his way there.

JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: Is the sun going to come out tomorrow?


BIDEN: Do I plan to meet them? Well, they're all over the country. And I'll be -- I'm sure I'll be seeing some of them.

HILL: So, brief comments there from President Biden as he left the White House just a short time ago. Again, we just saw him arriving at Joint Base Andrews. The one question that we could hear him take, one of the reporters asking if he planned to meet with Afghan refugees, his response noting that they are going to be all over the country. He's sure he will see some of them. I didn't hear a question about his plans today but, again, we do know that he is about to be wheels up to make his way to New Jersey and New York State to survey some of the damage left behind by the remnants of Ida. Again, more than 50 deaths across six states in the northeast and we'll continue to update you on the president's visit.

Meantime, we're also keeping a close watch on Louisiana. This morning, residents evacuated from several senior living facilities in New Orleans. That is after investigators said at least five people were found dead in senior living complexes during post-storm wellness checks across that city.


The investigations found ten facilities were actually unsafe for residents after Hurricane Ida had slammed into Louisiana.

CNN Correspondent Adrienne Broaddus joining us now on the scene from New Orleans. So, Adrienne, we are also -- you're hearing those reports in addition today. There are these soaring temperatures, there are and heat warnings in some areas of the state, a continued lack of power, limited water. It is a real struggle this morning in the state of Louisiana.

ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Erica, a struggle indeed. And the push to restore power continues. We were here overnight and before sunrise this morning. And I want to show you something. If you take a look over here, we're in the central business district and we're on Canal Street. This entire stretch of canal where you see the tracks was filled with utility crews. They took off a short time ago and they continue that battle, that battle to restore power.

Now, power is back up in this area. But as you can see, businesses like this camera shop are closed. The neighboring coffee shop is also closed. We've seen people this morning come up, look inside because the lights on, it is almost tempting. People think, oh, I can get some water, I can get some coffee, the lights are back on. But, no, the businesses are closed.

And you talked about the heat. There is a heat advisory today and temperatures with that heat index could reach nearly 105 degrees. And heat is a big struggle for especially those in our most vulnerable communities.

The lieutenant governor says he is vowing changes after what happened about 75 miles in -- 75 miles from here in Independence, New Orleans. Listen in to what he had to say.


LT. GOV. BILLY NUNGESSER (R-LA): I think over 50 calls to 911, the alarming relatives of those people cries for help and to pack that many people into one warehouse is just unthinkable. And how can this happen after we've gone through Katrina and had those desks (ph) in the nursing homes in and set things in place so this would never happen again? It is just unthinkable. It is embarrassing. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BROADDUS: Seven people died. More than 800 people were transported to that warehouse facility. And a spokesperson with the Louisiana Department of Health said there were reports people left on the floor on mattresses. They didn't have food, water, and on top of all of that, throughout the building, it smelled like feces. Erica?

HILL: It's such a difficult scene that you paint there. Adrienne Broaddus, I appreciate it, thank you.

I want to get this to you as well. Just into CNN, the Louisiana Department of Health says four people have died of carbon monoxide poisoning. 141 have been treated for inhalation of the gas since Hurricane Ida hit. The Department of Health is urging residents to use portable generators safely.

I want to bring in Gordon Dove who is President of Terrebonne Parish in Louisiana. That is one of the hardest hit areas. Thank you for the time to be with us.

I know that your parish, as I understand it, still being powered entirely by generators. Have you had any calls of carbon monoxide poisoning within your parish?

GORDON DOVE, PRESIDENT, TERREBONE PARISH, LOUISIANA (voice over): No, we haven't, but we have been warning residents about carbon monoxide poisoning as well as filling generators up with gasoline and they're still hot, which can catch fire.

HILL: Good to hear that the warnings seem to continue to go out and no reports at this point. I know you told local media 80 percent of the homes have roof damage, about 10 percent in the parish unsafe to live in. I mean, it just -- how is the community doing this morning? This is a massive effort and I know these are communities that reach out and help one another. But when nearly everyone is in need, that is a massive undertaking.

DOVE (voice over): Yes. You know, the resiliency of Terrebonne Parish in Louisiana, I mean, they're cleaning up, they're moving forward with their lives. Cops (ph) were quick to get down here and the people that had shingle damages, a lot of the homes have shingle damages, like you said, about 10 percent of those homes will be torn down. And a lot of that is to the south what we call the bayous. And those that will be rebuilt and a majority of the homes have shingles and some homes have extensive damages that could be rebuilt.

HILL: You mentioned how resilient your community is. Not the first time, as our viewers know and you know all too well that you have been tested by Mother Nature. No deaths in Terrebonne Parish, and as we look at pictures of damage, that in itself is really remarkable and something to be grateful for. What do you think comes next given how much reconstruction is needed?

[10:10:00] DOVE (voice over): Well, you said something, there were zero fatalities, thank God. And, you know, I got on every news media I could and warned people to get out of trailers and manufactured homes because they basically exploded when the hurricane, a lot of the mobile homes I saw would have been killed, but thank goodness they left out of there. And so with no fatalities, we're going to move on. We have a lot of companies down here. We have cleanup coming. We have prepositioned contracts with companies to clean up the limbs and what have you and working with John Bel Edwards within (INAUDIBLE) have others coming along well.

And, you know, we have electrical transmission this Thursday finally coming into Terrebonne, so we'll be lighting up Terrebonne from Thursday on. And, of course, there is still a lot of poles down and we have three utility companies here aggressively preparing them and getting them underway. And we have a lot of POD, which is Points of Distribution, by the National Board. We have them all over Terrebonne Parish, giving tarps, water, ice and food. So, that's going well.

HILL: Yes. Good to know the help is there and that the power is coming back. Gordon Dove, I appreciate your time. Thank you for joining us this morning.

DOVE (voice over): Thanks for reporting it. Thank you very much.

HILL: Pandemic politics in Kentucky, the governor there calling a coronavirus surge, quote, dire. Right now, lawmakers meeting to consider new requirements.

Plus, new voting restrictions about to become in Texas. What impact could that new law have and what happens next?

And then later, a powerful family at the center of a murder mystery. A prominent lawyer shot after the murder of his wife and son, and now a twist involving money.



HILL: This week, President Biden is expected to deliver a major speech outlining the next steps in the U.S. government's coronavirus pandemic response. Now, this comes as the nation just surpassed 40 million COVID cases. Community spread remains stubbornly high as you can see on the map nearly everywhere. Right now, lawmakers in Kentucky are gathering for a special session to address the rapid rise in cases there.

CNN Senior National Correspondent Miguel Marquez is in Kentucky this morning. So, Miguel, just put this in perspective for us. How bad is the COVID situation there?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's bad. It is as bad as it's ever been. It is worse than it's ever been. Cases are up. Cases are up higher than they were in the winter time. Hospitalizations are climbing rapidly. Deaths are starting to climb as well. And that is that the same old song that we've seen for so long, that the cases go up, the hospitalizations rise and then the deaths follow a short time after that.

They're having a very, very difficult time getting a hold of this even though Kentucky sort of falls in the middle of vaccinations. It is about the total population, about 50 percent of the population here is vaccinated. So they're doing okay compared to other states. But that delta variant is just so contagious. It is making people very, very sick.

We are in Morehead, Kentucky at St. Claire Health Care, where -- this a hospital that is staffed for 75 patients and they have on any given day right now 90 to over 100 patients that they are dealing with. So their staff is way overwhelmed right now.

The National Guard is here helping out. A federal task force is here as well helping out at this hospital. That tent that you see behind me here, that may be opened up so that either to help the emergency room or to give the monoclonal antibody treatment, which is helping some people who have the virus to keep them out of the hospital.

The governor here has called for a special session saying it is worse than it's ever been. And he calls this situation dire. And what they're trying to do more than anything is deal with the students. About a fifth of the schools across the state have had to close down because they have outbreaks in those schools. The governor wanted a mask mandate for those schools and that was not allowed. He wants a much wider mask mandate across the state and courts struck that down. So, they're trying to come up with some sort of plan where they can put those simple -- yes, a mask is a pain if the butt oftentimes, but simple but effective measures in place to keep those cases down.

Erica, back to you.

HILL: Yes, which is so important. All right, we'll look for more of that coming out of that special session, Miguel. Thank you.

Joining us to talk more about the state of all of this, Dr. Saju Mathew, he's a Primary care Physician and Public Health Specialist.

Dr. Matthew, as you see what Miguel laid out for us there in Kentucky, which we know is not alone, that the hospital he's at staffed to handle 75 patients, they have got 90 to 100 on a daily basis, the National Guard, the federal task force helping out and now this special session. As we're looking at this, I mean, what do you think of the legislature taking those steps? What do you think could come out of it?

DR. SAJU MATTHEW, PUBLIC HEALTH SPECIALIST AND PRIMARY CARE PHYSICIAN: Well, I think a lot of good things can come out of it. I mean, Erica, the bottom line, as we all have been talking about, is trying to figure out how we can actually get to a point where we can take care of these surges, take care of these sick patients that are coming into ICUs.

[10:20:06] Let's also not forget that we have specialized care that's being offered in the ICUs. These nurses and these ICU physicians have spent years taking care of patients. So if they are mentally distressed, nurses are walking out of jobs because they are really tired of this pandemic that is playing over and over again mostly in unvaccinated people.

So I think that good things could come out of it. The bottom line though is it is up to you and I, we have to get vaccinated to prevent these surges and people from dying on a daily basis.

HILL: Miguel also laid out for us the mask issues in Kentucky. And, again, it is not just Kentucky. We're seeing this play out in other states. Based on where we're at now, we know that the president this week is set to give a major speech talking about the next phase in this pandemic, where we go, he is expected to specifically address what can be done, perhaps should be done in schools. What do you think needs to change at this point?

MATTHEW: I think that we need to follow all of the rules that we've been talking about for the last 12 to 18 months. I think schools can open safely. But we have to include all parameters, good ventilation, testing, at least two or three times a week, distancing as much as you can, all of the teachers and principals must get vaccinated.

What is really sad, Erica, is even health care providers, and I'm calling out my own colleagues, there are so many of us that can get the vaccine, that should have gotten the vaccine that are not getting the vaccine. So I think that the responsibility falls on 12 years and older, anybody that is eligible to get the vaccine should get the vaccine and protect the children below 12 years of age that cannot be protected at this time.

HILL: I'm going out on a limb here, but I feel like it's a sturdy one. I think the frustration for so many people, and likely yourself included, is that what we all know what needs to be done, right? We know the vaccine works. We also know that for the vaccine hesitant, shaming them generally does not work, does not make them want to go get the shot. Talking to people who they trust does. We know that masks work.

So, in terms of that frustration, we look at where we're at some 18 month into the pandemic and knowing what works and seeing this resistance to it, is there any tool that you can think of that has not been used at this point to help collectively get more people to be a part of this process to conquer this pandemic?

MATTHEW: Yes. I mean, that is a tough question to answer but I'll do my best. I think that it is really all about physicians, especially trusted parties like ourselves taking an extra five minutes. I see 20 patients a day, Erica, and it does take an extra six, seven minutes to ask each patient why they are not getting vaccinated. You cannot shame them. You cannot embarrass them. I find out that most people that are not vaccinated are not necessarily anti-vaxxers. They have just have a lot of questions and concerns. On a daily basis, I convince at least four or five people to get vaccinated. So I think it is the responsibility of people like us to do that, and, ultimately, also giving people some light at the end of the tunnel. If we want to downgrade COVID to a seasonal flu, where 60,000 people, by the way, die from the flu every year, we have to get vaccinated, we have to wear the mask and we have to normalize wearing masks.

So I think it's really going to come down to people taking the time, preachers, teachers, myself, to educate people that listen, this is why you must get vaccinated.

HILL: Dr. Saju Matthew, always good to talk with you. Thank you.

MATTHEW: Thanks, Erica.

HILL: Still ahead, Texas Governor Greg Abbott about to sign new voting restriction into law, adding more pressure on Congress to act on voting rights but can the Senate get anything done?



HILL: After months of partisan battles in Texas, just over an hour from now, Governor Greg Abbott is expected to sign a law, sign into law a major voting restrictions bill. This would drastically overhaul the state's elections.

CNN Senior National Correspondent Ed Lavendera joining us now from Dallas with more. Ed, good morning.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: good morning, Erica. Well, the governor here in Texas is headed to the politically friendly confines of East Texas. It is notable that he's not signing this bill in the major cities, like Houston or Dallas, which essentially many of the provisions in this election bill is targeting some of the measures that were rolled out in those counties in the most recent election.

So, the governor signing that controversial bill out in the city of Tyler, in East Texas, later this morning and here are some of the provisions that this controversial election bill includes. It would restrict early voting hours from 6:00 A.M. to 10:00 P.M. And in Harris County and Houston, they had been doing 24-hour voting, which was rather successful in their eyes. But also it blocks counties from sending unsolicited mail-in voting applications. It creates new protections for partisan poll watchers and it also sets new limits on people who help voters and what they can and can't tell voters.

This is just some of the measures included in this election bill, which critics say is one of the most restrictive in the country. Republicans here in Texas, Erica, say that this bill goes a long way to ensuring the integrity at the ballot box and of the election process.