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U.S Leads The World In Confirmed Coronavirus Cases; New Coronavirus Hotspots Emerge Across The U.S.; New York City Nurse Dies Of Coronavirus After Treating Patients. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired March 27, 2020 - 07:00   ET


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN NEW DAY: Four Boston hospitals have tested positive for coronavirus.


And overnight, the New York Police Department reported its first death. And this morning, more than 10 percent of the police force is out sick, John. And, I mean, if first responders and emergency workers can't help, then we're all sunk.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEW DAY: And that's a source of major concern this morning.

Now, it is worth noting that despite all the pleas we're hearing from mayors and governors, the president says he does not think that they require all the ventilators and equipment that they're requesting. In just a few hours, the House will vote on a $2 trillion rescue deal to get American workers and businesses much needed help in this crisis.

We want to begin our coverage though with Brynn Gingras. She's live at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens here in New York, Four deaths over the last 24 hours, Brynn. A 40 percent increase in New York hospitals in just 24 hours. That's a big number.

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is. And, remember, John, a large percentage of those are actually needing the ICU beds, those ventilators. We know that this hospital alone has been resupplied with ventilators four times in the last ten days. The state has authorized every hospital to be able to split ventilators. I mean, that is the kind of demand that we are now seeing on the frontlines here in New York.

Now, of course, we are hearing other cities now seeing what New York was seeing last week, places like Chicago and Detroit and New Orleans, essentially a surge in hospitals, they're becoming overwhelmed, the fact that the number of cases are going up. And, of course, you know this, John. We've been hearing this, next week is expected to be even worse.


GINGRAS: New video inside Elmhurst Hospital in the middle of New York City's outbreak. This footage published by The New York Times shows an E.R. crowded with patients that doctors says are suffering from coronavirus. Doctors are struggling to keep up.

DR. COLLEEN SMITH, ELMHURST HOSPITAL: From our perspective, everything is not fine. I don't have the support that I need and even just the materials that I need physically to take care of my patients. And it's America, and we're supposed to be a first-world country.

GINGRAS: The number of hospitalized patients in New York skyrocketing 40 percent in one day, according to Governor Andrew Cuomo. But some help is on the way. The U.S. Comfort naval hospital ship sets course for there tomorrow to ease overcrowded hospitals. Cuomo says the state has enough personal protective equipment for now, but there's one critical shortage.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): Ventilators, ventilators, ventilators, we need more. We have approved the technology that allows one ventilators to serve two patients.

GINGRAS: Across the U.S., leaders fear their cities and states could be next. Cases in Michigan growing nearly tenfold in just one week, and the governor says she's struggling to find enough medical supplies.

GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D-MI): We've gotten a shipment from the federal government's strategic national stockpile. The allotment of PPE, the personal protection equipment, allocated for one of our hospitals was not enough to cover a full shift, not even a full day.

GINGRAS: One Chicago hospital filling its lobby with hospital beds in preparation for a possible surge.

DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: We are concerned about certain counties that look like they're having a more rapid increase.

GINGRAS: Meanwhile, President Trump is once again suggesting social distancing guidelines may soon be relaxed.

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: A lot of progress is made but we got to go back to work. We may take sections of our country. We may take large sections of our country that aren't so seriously affected.

GINGRAS: Dr. Anthony Fauci says Trump was trying to give people some hope, but --

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: He's listening to us when we say we really got to reevaluate it in real-time and any decision we make has to be based on the data.


GINGRAS: Now, guys we showed you the line at 6:00 it was forming. Now, an hour later, it's beginning to snake with people through those the barricades, again, just showing you the demand that is on this hospital constantly every day. Now, we reached out to Elmhurst Hospital to get comment about that New York Times video. We haven't heard back. I do want to give you a little perspective we've been seeing here on the ground here, guys. We've been talking to nurses and doctors who are coming out of the hospital after a long shift. One nurse described to me, John, this is a constant state of paranoia.

And I know you've heard this from other health professionals, but she says that she's not so much worried about getting sick herself but that she's going to pass on this virus to other patients. John?

BERMAN: So much pressure on the people on the frontlines. They're handling it incredibly well. But it never abates in these situations. And I can't get over those lines of people behind you, Brynn, every hour of every day. Brynn Gingras here in New York, thank you very much.

Joining me now is Dr. Damian Caraballo. He is a Tampa-based emergency room physician and a member of Physicians for Patient Protection. Also with us Dr. Rochelle Walensky. She's Chief of Infectious Diseases at Mass General Hospital and a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.


Dr. Walensky, I want to start where Brynn left off here in New York with these medical workers who were concerned for their own wellbeing. There is news overnight from Boston where more than 150 medical workers in four hospitals, including yours, have tested positive for coronavirus.

Now, I know that the 40-plus people at your hospital, they may have gotten it somewhere else. They're out there in the community as well and it's spreading. But it does pose challenges and risks for the efforts you're trying to get through in Boston. Explain.


Yes, we have heard news that we have about 41 people in our hospital who have tested positive for the coronavirus. I want to remind people that, to me, this is a reflection of all of the diseases that's happening in the community.

We have about 27,000 employees at Mass General Hospital. And only about half of them, probably less than half of them, are really in patient-facing physicians, providers, nurses, technicians.

So, to me, this reflects potentially, as you suggest, people contracting it at work. But I think more likely that there's really a lot of disease ongoing in the community.

I will say I'm proud that Mass General was one of the hospitals that decided on Sunday, actually, to implement an all healthcare workers wear a mask policy, and I think we saw this coming. And I think that this will do a lot to turn the tide and make sure that certainly that people might be getting it in the community but they're not getting at work and they're certainly not giving it to other patients.

BERMAN: The fact of matter is though, Dr. Carballo, wherever they're getting, we need them, we need you on the frontlines. We need you not to be testing positive so you can treat the people who are.

Last time we spoke to you, you actually were in self-quarantine because of exposure to people who have been positive. You've since been tested, I understand, correct? And you were negative. Are you back treating patients?

DR. DAMIAN CARBALLO, EMERGENCY ROOM PHYSICIAN: Yes, I was negative and I'm back treating patients. So thank God, it came back negative. I'm glad to be back in the E.D. seeing patients. As Dr. Walensky was saying, it's very important that we have masks and that everybody is being careful when they see patients.

One key thing is we need healthcare workers. It took me seven days to get my results back, which is unacceptable for healthcare workers. We need to be able to test quicker. And when they're negative and they're asymptomatic, they need to be able to get back as soon as possible.

Just the other day when I worked, I had an ambulance come in with paramedics and none of them were wearing masks in a code, which is a cardiac arrest. And they told us they only get a certain amount of masks per shift. I told them, you got to wear a mask for every patient, and that's really what we need. Everybody needs to be smart and use common sense on this and use a mask. Assume everybody has COVID until proven otherwise.

BERMAN: Look, I got a text five minutes ago from a relative wondering where to get masks, because they need them as frontline healthcare workers. This isn't made up. You see it with your own eyes, which is why I want to play you some sound from Dr. Birx who was helping to run the national response to this last night from the White House. Listen to what she says.


BIRX: To wake up this morning and look at people talking about creating DNR situations, do not resuscitate situations for patients, there is no situation in the United States right now that warrants that kind of discussion.

To make the implication that when they need a hospital bed, it's not going to be there, or when they need that ventilator, it's not going to be there. We don't have an evidence of that right now.


BERMAN: I'm wondering, Dr. Walensky, if the important words she used there were right now? Right now, these hospitals have enough ventilators, they have the equipment to treat the patients. But your concern, I imagine, is going forward. And you say you are beginning to have discussions about hard resource allocation. What does this all mean and what are your concerns about going forward, as I know, you've noted the number of cases you're seeing doubling every two days? WALENSKY: Exactly, yes. We are seeing cases doubling every two to three days. We are seeing and watching carefully on what's going on in New York. And we anticipate we one day may be in a place where we won't have all of the resources that we need. And we want to make sure we're really thoughtful should that happen that we are making discussions -- making decisions in an equitable fashion, that we're using our palliative care resources, our ethics resources. And making sure that, should we get there, we're making the right decisions at the time. They will be difficult ones, there is no question.

BERMAN: And, Dr. Carballo, you describe this a little bit as the calm before the storm. But in this case, it's a storm you're pretty certain it's coming, correct?

CARBALLO: Absolutely. What we're seeing in Florida before, it was the calm before the storm. We saw about a 30 percent drop in our E.R. volume. Right now, we're starting to see, as a Floridian, I call it the bands of the hurricane. We're seeing some more COVID patients.


Not all of them are sick. Some of them we are sending home. But definitely the people we see in the emergency department are a lot sicker. We did have one, we had it to intubate the other day. I've ready mortality rates, once you get intubated or put on a ventilator, are as high as 80 percent.

And an interesting thing that I think people didn't take it into account before when we told you to social distance, it was to protect elderly people and people who are vulnerable. But we're actually seeing admission rates as high 40 percent and people under 54 percent.

So when we say that, it's for people -- it's for everyone to avoid getting in the hospital.

BERMAN: You know, it's striking to me that you two are speaking the exact same language from a hospital in Tampa and from Boston. Because, Dr. Walensky, I know that you are concerned about the number of younger people, young than 45 coming in. And, yes, the mortality rates might be lower but you have some grim projections about what that could mean going forward.

WALENSKY: Right. You know, I think a lot of the messaging early on was these are the categories of people who might be highest risk for mortality. And I think that was all true. What I think we were missing in the messaging is that there are a lot of people out there who are going to get the disease. And if we take just the 7 million people in Massachusetts and we assume about 40 percent of them will likely get the disease before summertime, you assume about 40 to 50 percent of them are in an age bracket of under 50.

And then you look at the mortality rate, we could see up to 6,000 young people succumbing to this disease. And we are seeing a lot of young people in our ICUs. So I think this is really just a numbers game. And that, really, as Dr. Carballo says, we're seeing a lot of young people walk through the doors. BERMAN: And, Dr. Walensky, just to be clear on this, another thing you point out is that there are more people being tested right now. Not enough and not enough place, but there are more people being tested. If you come back negative, you don't have it, that's not some kind of get out of jail free card, is it?

WALENSKY: Right, no. I really want to emphasize that. Because I think with more testing going on, we are still -- we are in a stay-at-home advisory in Massachusetts, there will be more testing. We are looking at how we can blanket more testing, offering it to more people, offering it to people who may be early in their symptoms who might be fine at home, offering it to people who just potentially want to know.

When we do that, I worry a lot that we will be isolating the people who test positive, and I think that's important. But the people who test negative will decide that they no longer need to work towards that stay-at-home advisory.

And I want to emphasize that, you know, the test works pretty well. It's really quite good if you test positive. It's not as good, quite honestly, if you test negative. And so people could develop symptoms the next day, people with severe disease who are not -- whose disease has progressed from the nasal pharynx to their lungs may test negative. So I want to be cautious on how we interpret the negative test.

BERMAN: Dr. Carballo, I just want to get one last question to you, which is what is your message to some people out there saying they're not sure if they believe the requests being made by governors, mayors and hospitals, the pleas being made for more equipment? What's your message to them, Dr. Carballo?

CARBALLO: Well, just like I said, nobody is immune from this disease. Like I said, we're seeing young people. If you have a one in a thousand chance of dying from a disease because you're not social distancing, why even take that chance? We need people to stay at home.

Our colleagues in Italy are overwhelmed. New York City, from the colleagues I talk to, it sounds like a war zone and it's just horrific what is happening there. What happens in New York can happen in any city, anyplace in America in the next upcoming weeks. We need to social distance.

I saw a study out of the University of Pennsylvania that said they're predicting up to 950,000 ICU admissions. We only have 180,000 ventilators in the United States and we only have about the capacity to see 100,000 ICU patients in the United States. This is serious and it needs to be taken serious.

BERMAN: And to be clear, it's the concern about where it might be one week and two weeks if it continues to grow at the rates we're seeing now.

Dr. Walensky, Dr. Carballo, thank you both very much for helping us understand what's going on. Not in New York. These are different places. These are the places aren't yet as bad, frankly, as where I'm sitting right now. So, thank you.

Be sure to join us tonight. Joe Biden will be with Anderson Cooper for a CNN Democratic presidential town hall. They're going to talk about the pandemic, talk about the federal response, talk about all of it. Tune in tonight at 8:00 P.M. Eastern only on CNN.

In the meantime, a New York City nurse lost his life fighting on the frontlines of this pandemic. His sister remembers him, next.



CAMEROTA: We do have breaking news right now, because British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has just announced that he has tested positive for coronavirus. He has just put out this tweet. He says, over the last 24 hours, I have developed mild symptoms and tested positive for coronavirus. I am now self-isolating. But I'll continue to lead the government's response via video conference as we fight this virus. Together we will beat this. #stayhomesavelives.

As we understand, he says he's having mild symptom. I believe he's 55 years old. He is now self-isolating, he says. We will keep you posted as soon as we know any more information about British Prime Minister Boris Johnson testing positive for coronavirus.

In the meantime, healthcare workers, of course, are sounding this alarm about a lack of protective gear as more of them are testing positive for coronavirus and getting sick.

Assistant Nursing Manager Kious Kelly was on the frontlines of the fight at New York City's Mount Sinai West Hospital when he contracted coronavirus just two weeks ago. Kious died earlier this week.

Joining us now is Kious' sister, now to Marya Sherron.

Marya, we're so sorry for your loss. When we see pictures of your brother, I mean, he's just as healthy and he looks young and vibrant and he's always smiling.


He seems like he loved his job. The hospital said that they had a hero with him and that he was so compassionate. I mean, look at these pictures of how much he enjoyed his work.

And this just all seems to have happened so fast, Marya. He was only 48 years old. Do you understand how this -- what happened?

MARYA SHERRON, SISTER OF NURSE WHO DIED OF CORONAVIRUS: No, I don't understand. And it did -- everything happened very quickly. He was healthy and he did love his job. And the smile in the pictures that you're seeing, that was him. Yes, we don't know how it happened.

CAMEROTA: Yes, I'm sorry for the delay. I know that he texted you. He was in the ICU and he texted you and he thought he was going to be okay. What did he tell you?

SHERRON: He texted me on Wednesday, March 18th. And that would be the last time that I would hear from him also. But he texted and said that he was in the ICU, that he had the coronavirus and that he -- in the text he said, I can't talk because I choke. He was having difficulty breathing. He said, I'm going to be okay. And he said, please don't tell mom and dad because they'll worry.

He sent me a picture of himself.

CAMEROTA: Yes. And how did he look?

SHERRON: I haven't shared that up until now. You know, he looked drained. It was just a head shot. He just looked tired. He looked extremely tired.


CAMEROTA: Look, I wanted to just get to what I think the message you want to get out is, and that is you're angry, because this didn't have to happen. He was 48 years old. He was healthy. Now, I've read that he did have asthma but he was managing it. Do you think that your brother wasn't well enough protected? I mean, what it is that's causing you to want to speak out?

SHERRON: Yes, thank you for asking that and just getting right to it. No. He was healthy. He was managing his asthma. I am -- anger, I don't know -- I'm disgraced at our -- at the way we're handling this. I have received probably 100 to 200 Facebook posts and text messages and these are from the nurses. And some from his hospital, some from California and some from Massachusetts. And they're sharing what is happening inside of the hospital and we are not getting a picture of that.

CAMEROTA: What is that? What are they sharing with you? What story do you think isn't getting out?

SHERRON: Number one, what they're being asked to do, take your mask home and put it in a Ziploc bag, using the same mask for seven days. And that's an average number that I've gotten. To the most recent communication I got, and this is very, very disturbing, was the idea that the hospital does not have any -- this particular hospital didn't have any more vents. And this nurse was saying that now the hospital had to figure out what to do.

And the thought that they would just -- the quote in the text is that he thinks they're just going to pull the plug on them and make -- to make room for new patients, and that's inhumane to think that. And who makes that call? And at what point?

And, of course, in the back of my mind, which I'm trying not to think about was is that what happened with Kious? Did he -- we don't have medical records. We don't know anything. Was there someone waiting that could have used the vent?

[07:25:00] I hate to say something like that and not know, but it is dire. It is dire. What I'm also hearing nurses that it's only the doctors that have the N75 masks. The nurses, the janitors, the food -- everyone else is wide open.

And the other thing really that, Alisyn, I don't think that we're getting when we say reuse these masks, and I think this was also mentioned in an earlier segment from the doctors, that when you and I go to the doctor and a doctor leaves our room, they take off their gloves, they take off their gown and they take off masks and they throw it away, because the next patient could get infected. So that healthcare provider that has a mask on that they've seen plenty of infected patients and they're coming to you, it's a cesspool. How can it not be?

CAMEROTA: Marya, I want to read the statement from Mount Sinai Hospital. They say, we are deeply saddened by the passing of a beloved member of our nursing staff. The safety of our staff and patients has never been of greater importance. We are taking every precaution possible to protect everyone. But this growing crisis is not abating and has already devastated hundreds of families in New York and turned our frontline professionals into true American heroes. Today, we lost another hero, a compassionate colleague, friend and selfless caregiver.

And, Marya, I hear you. In the absence of information, I know that you are filling in the blanks because you need more information, as do the nurses and doctors out there. And I understand why you're trying to put the pieces together because you haven't gotten enough information. All of this does feel so mysterious.

So, Marya, we thank you for sharing your brother's story with us. Obviously, we will stay in touch with you and just try to find out what happened here as well as to all of the healthcare workers who are making all these sacrifices. Thank you so much for being with us on your day.

SHERRON: Can I add one thing?

CAMEROTA: Yes, quickly.

SHERRON: I just wanted to add that the other thing that I'm hearing is that Cuomo in New York said that the hospitals have what they need. And the question is, do the hospitals have what they need, but they're rationing and not giving the healthcare providers what they have. But the providers themselves do not -- are not saying that they have the PPE. So there's a huge disconnect. And I'm not sure where that rests.

But I think we need to find that out. They're not getting it.

CAMEROTA: We will ask that question, Marya. We will ask that question of every healthcare worker that we have coming on from New York. So thank you for raising our attention to all of this. And, again, we're really, really sorry for your loss.

SHERRON: Thank you very much. CAMEROTA: We'll be right back.