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Biden to Unveil New Six-Point Plan to Fight Covid-19; Kentucky Battles Record Surge in New Covid-19 Cases; Lawsuit Filed Over Nursing Home Resident Deaths; IOC Suspends North Korea Until End of 2022; Records Fall at the U.S. Open. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired September 09, 2021 - 04:30   ET




COURTNEY HOLLINGSWORTH, COVID ICU RN, ST. CLAIRE HEALTHCARE: We're in a war with this virus. And I think what we have to understand is we're not at a war with each other.


KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR: As new cases and hospitalizations soar, the state may soon be forced to choose which patients receive medical care and which won't. We'll bring you that story coming up. Stay with us.


BRUNHUBER: More now on our top story. President Joe Biden's developing a strategy to slow the spread of the delta variant and pull the United States out of the pandemic. In the coming hours he will present his new six-point plan that includes increased vaccinations and keeping schools open. The plan comes as the Centers for Disease Control reports a new average of more than 150,000 cases a day in the U.S. over the past week.

Although the president's plan includes keeping schools open safely, cases among children are rising since schools started reopening last month. In Mississippi, nearly 19,000 students have tested positive for the virus since August, but things are getting better. Health officials say quarantine numbers that had been skyrocketing are finally seeing a slight downward trend.

And many other states are feeling relentless pressure on their health care systems. In some states military personnel have been called into help. Idaho has approved rationing of health care in some parts of state. It's a decision Kentucky may also have to make, as the governor says, more people are testing positive than ever before. It's already pushing hospitals to the brink. CNN's Miguel Marquez reports.



MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Vera Middleton was so sick, doctors considered putting her on a ventilator she refused, opting instead to pray.

VERA MIDDLETON, COVID-19 PATIENT: God has brought me where I am right now. And I praise him from now on.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): She's getting everything but the ventilator and improving, the 66-year-old great grandmother from the small town of Olive Hill, Kentucky says she and her husband talked about getting vaccinated but decided against it.

MARQUEZ: Do you have any idea where you got COVID?

MIDDLETON: Yes, my granddaughter had gotten sick and it just went through went through one and you know everybody seem like at the house.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Kentucky seeing its biggest COVID-19 surge yet, cases and hospitalizations spiking sharply to levels never seen before. Deaths too on the rise, hospitals everywhere just trying to keep up.

JOELLE CRAFT, COVID ICU NURSE, ST. CLAIRE HEALTHCARE: It's defeating to put another person on the ventilator. It's defeating to watch a healthcare provider that I care about, or myself stand at the bedside when someone dies alone. It's also the feeling to watch somebody else get put in body bag.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): More heads, St. Claire Regional Medical Center is the biggest facility providing health care to 11 counties in rural Northeastern Kentucky. It can't expand capacity fast enough.

COURTNEY HOLLINGSWORTH, COVID ICU RN, ST. CLAIRE HEALTHCARE: It's like we're at a war with this virus. And I think what we have to understand is we're not at war with each other. Whether, you know, your beliefs and those things. It's truly a war with this virus.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): The National Guard is helping here. A federal disaster Medical Assistance Team is also on hand. And still, they need more.

DONALD LLOYD, CEO, ST. CLAIRE HEALTHCARE: We right now, based upon our number of staff beds, we're running about 130 percent above capacity.

MARQUEZ: Hundred and thirty percent above capacity, that and that's ICU beds, regular COVID units, regular patients, emergency departments, everything across the board?

LLOYD: That's correct.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): The hospital has created yet another COVID ICU but doesn't have the staff to open it.

MARQUEZ: So if this opened today, how quickly would these beds be filled?

LLOYD: Within the hour? We could fill it within the hour. MARQUEZ (voice-over): St. Claire is trying to keep those with COVID out of the hospital by providing monoclonal antibody treatments at home.


MARQUEZ (voice-over): Madison Owens was fully vaccinated and still picked up the virus.

OWENS: It spreads like wildfire. Pretty, it's easy to get and it doesn't matter who vaccinated or not. Everybody's getting it.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): A nursing student, the 21-year-old believes she picked it up at a funeral.

OWENS: My great grandmother passed away and we all went to a funeral and then one by one we all started going down.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): The in-home treatment takes about two hours.

MARQUEZ: In a perfect world, how many could you do in a day?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We could probably start in the morning and keep going continuously to be honest.

MARQUEZ: Twenty four hours?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, we have that many orders.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): To try and keep up with demand St. Claire plans to turn a tent in its parking lot into a monoclonal antibody treatment unit.

JENNIFER HARDIN, DIRECTOR, HOME HEALTHCARE SERVICES, ST. CLAIRE HEALTHCARE: I just worry that we're not going to have the staffing capacity to meet the demand.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Hospitals across the bluegrass state so full with COVID-19 patients, almost the entire system stretched to the limit.

DR. CORY YODER, FAMILY MEDICINE, ST. CLAIRE HEALTHCARE: So, I get really fearful when we need beds for folks who their diabetes is out of control. And they need an insulin drip or, you know, they have regular community acquired pneumonia. We might not have a bed for them. If you come in and have a heart attack and you need to ICU bed, we probably won't have a bed for you.

MARQUEZ: So, St. Claire Healthcare crunches its own numbers and they believe they have about three more weeks of rising cases and hospitalizations before they start to see the numbers decline. And the woman we met at the beginning of the story, Vera Middleton, she is getting better. She's expected to go home soon and she said as soon as possible, she will get vaccinated. She'll encourage her family do the same and maybe a few friends in Olive Hill. Back to you.


BRUNHUBER: Ahead on CNN NEWSROOM, some nursing home evacuations during hurricane Ida turned deadly and now some of the residents' families are taking the case to court. Stay with us.



BRUNHUBER: The death toll from hurricane Ida in Louisiana has risen to 26 people. The state health department says nine of those deaths were caused by excessive heat during extended power outages. There are still widespread outages in Louisiana 11 days after the hurricane made landfall there.

And there are new details in the case of Louisiana nursing home residents sent to a warehouse facility during hurricane Ida, seven of those residents died. Now several family members have filed a class action lawsuit. They are suing the nursing homes involved and the executive in charge. There are also chilling new descriptions of the conditions inside that warehouse. CNN's Brian Todd has firsthand accounts from patients and nurses.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The horrific accounts keep pouring in of overcrowded conditions inside this warehouse where some 850 elderly patients were taken from nursing homes around Louisiana to ride out Hurricane Ida.

BRIDGET EDMONDS, ELDERLY WOMAN EVACUATED TO WAREHOUSE: It was just horrible. I just don't want to think about it truthfully.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: So, you watched people die there?

EDMONDS: Yeah, at least four of them that I know of.

TODD: Bridget Edmonds, an elderly woman evacuated to this warehouse in Independence, Louisiana from a nursing home spoke to CNN-Affiliate WVUE. Edmonds' sister gives her own jarring description of conditions inside.

CILLEN MEISTER, SISTER OF EVACUATED NURSING HOME RESIDENT: They didn't have adequate staff. She said that the bathrooms were overflowing. People couldn't go to the bathroom and people were using the corners of the warehouse to go to the bathroom.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This man has asked to be changed. Since early in the morning to be changed, and here we go, it's 4:21 and still yet he's yet to be changed.

TODD (voice-over): Video filmed by an anonymous person inside given to WVUE shows crowded conditions. A man told that station they were, quote, packed in like sardines.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were placed on beds that weren't even beds. There were just mattresses on the floor and there were insects crawling all over the place. There were roaches, spiders, ants crawling all over the place. The heat in there was just -- just not good.

TODD (voice-over): We interviewed Independence Police Chief Frank Edwards, who told his officers tried to help people at the warehouse before, during and after the storm.

FRANK EDWARDS, INDEPENDENCE, LOUISIANA POLICE CHIEF: During the storm, the wind was blowing hard. It was blowing rain. Water got into the facility, not from rising water but from water going sideways and under the doors. So, the floors were wet.


TODD (voice-over): At least seven nursing home residents died after being evacuated to this warehouse. State officials say five of them are considered storm-related deaths. The Louisiana Department of Health has revoked the licenses of all seven nursing homes they came from, which are all owned by the same person, Bob Dean, who CNN has confirmed also owns the warehouse.

Two nurses who tended to patients at the warehouse spoke to CNN. Nurse Natalie Henderson saying the conditions were, quote, nasty, very unsanitary. She also spoke to CBS.

NATALIE HENDERSON, NURSE WHO WAS INSIDE WAREHOUSE: The whole place is reeking of urine and feces. On top of them trying to eat, they're begging for water.

TODD (voice-over): Another anonymous nurse tells CNN, quote, they told us we were going to sister facilities out of town. They at no time told us they were going to a warehouse.

MEISTER: Oh, I'm furious right now. Somebody needs to be held accountable and the state needs to do something to control this during a hurricane. We -- the hurricanes are not new to us.

TODD: We reached out several times to Bob Dean, the owner of the nursing homes and this warehouse facility for comment and any explanation for what happened here. He didn't respond to us. But he did tell CNN affiliate WDUE, quote, we did really good of taking care of people.

Brian Todd, CNN, Independence, Louisiana.


BRUNHUBER: The Biden administration has new plans to lower carbon emissions. The U.S. Department of Energy says that by 2035, solar power could provide 40 percent of U.S. electricity and employ more than 1 million people. The agency says it could all be done without raising energy costs for consumers. But reaching those goals may depend on Congress passing Mr. Biden's $3.5 trillion spending bill. Congressional Democrats are negotiating that bill right now. North Korea is now paying the price for dropping out of the Tokyo

Olympics, why the country won't be allowed to compete in next year's winter games. We'll explain that live in Seoul after the break. Stay with us.



BRUNHUBER: North Koreans are marking the anniversary of their country's founding 73 years ago. So, a night time military parade to celebrate the occasion wasn't unusual, but this parade was noticeably different. Besides the battalions of marching troops, the procession also featured farm equipment, fire engines and large groups of people in hazmat suits. Leader Kim Jung-un appeared on the reviewing stand at midnight local time but apparently didn't speak.

Meanwhile, North Korea's no-show at the Tokyo Olympics has led to the country being banned from the Beijing Winter Games this February. The International Olympic Committee says that it suspended North Korea from Olympic competition until the end of next year. The IOC adds that it warned Pyongyang this would happen if North Korea pulled out of the Tokyo games. CNN's Paula Hancocks is monitoring all of this for us in Seoul. Paula, so take us through this decision and what brought it on.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kim, this was something that the IOC and in his press conference, the head of the IOC, Thomas Bach, made very clear that they had told North Korea that there would be consequences and these would be the consequences if they did not participate in the Tokyo Olympic Games.

Now, earlier in the year North Korea had said that they wouldn't participate because they wanted to protect their athletes from COVID- 19. North Korea effectively shut its borders back in January of 2020 trying to keep the pandemic out. Clearly aware that such a pandemic would not be able to be dealt with very well within the country given the very weak health infrastructure that it has there.

But what the IOC is saying is that they tried to work with North Korea. They say that they gave alternatives. They even say that they offered some vaccines for athletes, but that they were, quote, systemically rejected. They also said that they gave them a fair opportunity to be heard.

So, the way it stands at this point is North Korea will not be allowed to participate in Olympic events until the end of 2022. But they do say that if individual North Korean athletes qualify for the Beijing Winter Olympics, then they would look at that and take each decision on a case-by-case basis. Now we also know that this is not the first time North Korea has boycotted the games. They boycotted the '88 games back when they were being held here in Seoul in South Korea.

Now, we don't know that this isn't the first time that North Korea has boycotted the games. They boycotted the '88 games back when they were being held here in Seoul, in South Korea. Now we don't know whether this will be permanent. We also heard Thomas

Bach saying that they reserve the right to change their decision or make that duration slightly different for the ban. And certainly, there is likely to be some lobbying on behalf of North Korea most likely from South Korea as they have made no secret of the fact that they would like to start negotiations once again with North Korea. Sports diplomacy has worked for them in the past.

The Pyeongchang Winter Olympics was where North and South Korea were talking, where in fact they had a joint Olympic team. And there were definitely officials within the Moon Jae-in administration that were hoping that that could be replicated in some sort of form in Beijing. But up until this point, we haven't heard any kind of reaction from North Korea, but certainly it's likely there will be some lobbying going on behind the scenes -- Kim.

BRUNHUBER: Yes, interesting story to follow. All right, thanks so much, Paula Hancocks in Seoul.

Records are falling at the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament. Plus, the Baseball Hall of Fame has a new member. Here's Patrick Snell with a minute in sports.


PATRICK SNELL, CNN WORLD SPORT: Kim, many thanks. Well, Serbian tennis great Novak Djokovic remaining on track to win a man's record 21st grand slam title in a match that would finish in the early hours of Thursday morning in New York City. The top ranked Djokovic beating the Italian player Matteo Berrettini in four sets after dropping the first. He'll face Germany's Alexander Zverev next in the semis. The man who beat him recently at the Tokyo applications.


British teenager Emma Raducanu continuing her dream run of Flushing Meadows after beating the Swiss player Belinda Bencic, the current world number 150. Now the only third woman in fact ranked outside the top 100 to reach the semis at the U.S. open. Show play Maria Sakkari of Greece next.

European football champion Italy doing what no national team has ever done before, now first in the world to go 37 matches in a row without defeat after beating Lithuania 5-nil in FIFA World Cup qualifying ahead of next year's tournament in Qatar.

And here in the United States, New York Yankees legend Derek Jeter enshrined into the National Baseball Hall of Fame this a year after the original induction ceremony was postponed due to the Covid-19 global pandemic. And with that, Kim, it's right back to you.


BRUNHUBER: A courageous 4-year-old dog in South Korea is getting the ultimate reward for being man's best friend. Have a look. This pup has been named the country's first honorary rescue dog after saving his owner's life. Police say the 90-year-old woman with dementia went missing for nearly 2 days. She was found in a rice field after a search team picked up on the little dogs thermal reading. The loyal canine stayed by her the entire time keeping her more. One local leader said it was an unbelievable miracle that moved everyone during these difficult times of COVID. Yes, you can understand why. What a great story.

I'm Kim Brunhuber at CNN Center in Atlanta. Thank you so much for joining us. "EARLY START" with Laura Jarrett is next. Stay with us.