Return to Transcripts main page

ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

U.S. Coronavirus Death Toll Tops 12,700; CDC Director: U.S. Death Toll Could Be "Much Lower" Than Predicted If Americans Stick With Social Distancing; Pres. Trump Says He Will Put A "Very Powerful Hold" On WHO Funding, Then Says He's Only Considering the Move; U.S. Reports Highest Single-Day Death Toll: 1,736; Adjusted Coronavirus Model Predicts Fewer People In U.S. Will Need Hospitals, But Nearly 82,000 Will Still Die By August; Trump Removes Independent Watchdog Tasked With Overseeing Coronavirus Emergency Funds; NYC Reports 806 New Coronavirus Deaths, 5,825 New Cases. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired April 7, 2020 - 20:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[20:00:00]

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Erin, thanks very much. New York state today saw its biggest jump in COVID-related deaths. The virus is disproportionately killing black Americans. The president expressed his concern today over that fact and we'll talk more about why this is happening to black Americans.

There was potentially some good news. The director of the CDC is saying because of ongoing social distancing efforts, we may see fewer fatalities than some recent modeling projected. Here's what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CIP)

DR. ROBERT REDFIELD, DIRECTOR, CDC: Even those models that were done, they assume that only 50 percent of the American public would pay attention to the recommendations. In fact, what we're seeing is large majority of the American public are taking the social distancing recommendations to heart. I think that's a direct consequence why you're seeing the numbers are going to be much, much, much lower than would have been predicted by the models.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: The president continued to use what's supposed to be a factual briefing by the coronavirus task force to rewrite the history of his administration's response. Today he focused on a new target, the World Health Organization. Perhaps out of legitimate concerns or perhaps as a way to provide cover for his own actions. The president is now saying that the WHO missed the pandemic.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: World Health Organization because they really are -- they called it wrong. They called it wrong. They really - they missed the call. They could have called it months earlier. They would have known. And they should have known, and they probably did know, so we'll be looking into that very carefully.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Not surprisingly, that is the exact opposite of what the president tweeted back in late February when he told Americans the coronavirus was under control. Quoting from the president's tweet, "The coronavirus is very much under control in the USA. We are in contact with everyone at all relevant countries. CDC and World Health have been working hard and very smart. Stock markets starting to look very good to me."

The World Health Organization is certainly an easy target. They have repeatedly defended China's numbers and the regime's transparency despite obvious concerns we've been reporting on. The president, by focusing on the WHO, is following the lead of a number of other Republican politicians and media outlets.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MARTHA MCSALLY (R), ARIZONA: The WHO needs to stop covering for them. I think Dr. Tedros needs to step down. We need to take some action to address this issue. It's just - it's irresponsible. It's unconscionable what they've done here.

SEN. RICK SCOTT (R), FLORIDA: Not only do I not want to fund the WHO, I want - first, let's get the information. I can't imagine it's going to get better than what we already know. But why are we funding organizations that are lying to us? They just work for China, communist China.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Also today, the president suggested that he would withhold any American funding of the WHO. He then moments later claimed that he never said that. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We're going to put a hold on money spent to the WHO. We're going to put a very powerful hold on it and we're going to see. It's a great thing if it works, but when they call every shot wrong, that's no good. I'm not saying I'm going to do it, but we're going to look at it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: The president also today continued to spread falsehood about voter fraud as a reason not to have wider vote by mail efforts in the general election. Many Wisconsin voters are having to stand in line to vote today because of the two separate court decisions by its state and US supreme courts that prevented Wisconsin from moving its election day, also extending the deadline to receive mail-in ballots. Never mind the hypocrisy pointed out to the president he himself voted by mail-in ballot. This is what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You were highly critical of mail-in voting, mail- in ballots for voting --

TRUMP: I think mail-in voting is horrible.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- a few minutes ago, but you voted by mail.

TRUMP: It's corrupt. I think that mail-in voting is a terrible thing. I think if you vote, you should go. And even the concept of early voting is not the greatest because a lot of things happen. But it's okay. But you should go and you should vote. I think you should go and you should vote.

You look at what they do where they grab thousands of mail-in ballots and they dump it. I'll tell you what. I don't have to tell you. You can look at the statistics. There's a lot of dishonesty going along with mail-in voting, mail-in ballots.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: He voted by mail in Florida. This is not a new talking point for the president. He, of course, has repeatedly from the earliest days of his administration pushed false conspiracy theories about voter fraud. They're not backed up by any reputable data.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: They even want to try to rig the election at the polling booths.

[20:05:00]

And believe me, there's a lot going on. People that have died ten years ago are still voting. Illegal immigrants are voting. So many cities are corrupt and voter fraud is very, very common.

All you have to do is go around, take a look what's happened over the years and you'll see. There are a lot of people, a lot of people, my opinion and based on proof, that try and get in illegally and actually vote illegally.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: I know maybe nobody cares that he's just -- continues to lie, but we're pointing it out, he's continuing to lie.

This all comes on what may be the deadliest week in the pandemic so far. Today we hit the highest number of deaths in the U.S., 1,736.

For more on the pandemic let's go to Nick Watt in Los Angeles. So, Nick, let's talk about the latest just from hot spots around the U.S.

NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, today we heard from the mayor of Boston. They are suffering a spike right now. You know, fully one-third of their confirmed cases have come just within the past three days. There's now an overnight curfew in the city. Down in New Jersey, about a month ago, they had 11 confirmed cases.

Tonight that is nearly 45,000, and the governor thinks the people have been getting too close in the state parks, so he just closed them all.

But the epicenter, Anderson, is still neighboring New York.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WATT (voice-over): Today in New York City, more than 800 deaths reported. That's triple yesterday's total. But here on the front line, the new case count in the state appears to be flattening.

DR. RODRIGO KONG, STATEN ISLAND UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL: For the past couple of days, discharging more patients than we are admitting. But this is actually the time when we should redouble our efforts.

WATT (voice-over): The battle is not over. The war goes on. The N.Y.P.D. just announced a 13th member has now died from the virus, and more than 500 New York Fire Department personnel have it.

LT. ANTHONY ALMOJERA, NEW YORK FIRE DEPARTMENT, EMS: And I'm still getting EMTS and medics call because they're upset they -- they're upset they got sick because they're not out here. You know, that's -- I mean, I don't know what to say. I mean, that's -- that's -- that's who is taking care of you.

WATT (voice over): Nationwide numbers still rising.

DR. ASHISH JA, DIRECTOR, HARVARD GLOBAL HEALTH INSTITUTE: A lot of the other parts of the country are not anywhere near flattening the curve. They're still rising exponentially.

WATT (voice-over): Michigan one of few states keeping racial data. The black population there is around 14 percent. Yet 40 percent of coronavirus deaths are in that black population.

REP. TYRONE CARTER (D), MICHIGAN: There is still a huge gap between races when it comes to health care. And this is magnifying it.

WATT (voice-over): In Chicago, black people makeup 30 percent of the population, but 72 percent of COVID deaths. In Louisiana, similar numbers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're dying more because they have -- their bodies, our bodies have borne the burden of chronic disinvestment, active neglect in our communities. All of those insults on our bodies have given us more of these so-called preexisting conditions. So once we're infected, we have more severe outcomes.

WATT (voice-over): The administration is now looking to a light at the end of this tunnel.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Normal is going to be a different normal whenever we do reopen. We know once we get a vaccine, we can get more back to the way we treat flu season. WATT (voice-over): They're watching how other countries gradually reopen. Just hours ago, severe lockdown restrictions were lifted in Wuhan. People are now allowed to leave.

And four months after the first case in that city, China now claiming a whole day without a single COVID-19 death nationwide. Our latest daily death toll Monday, 1,332 Americans reported dead.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: How about California, what's been going on?

WATT: Well, some encouraging signs out here, Anderson. The governor says that the curve is bending, but stretching, so our peak is probably going to be in May sometime.

And, you know, here in L.A. County, they've designated this stay-at- home week. We're told not to even go to the grocery store if we can avoid it because we're a few weeks out from that peak. The hope is to keep that peak as low as possible.

Meantime, California is now shipping ventilators to other states. New York, Nevada, Maryland, D.C., places that need them now.

But the governor is making it clear these ventilators, it's a loan. It's not a gift, it's a loan because at some point he says -- we hope not, but California might need them back -- Anderson.

COOPER: Nick Watt, appreciate it. Nick, thanks very much. Stay safe.

Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us now. Sanjay, obviously, New York remains the biggest hot spot, Governor Cuomo saying the number of hospitalizations has plateaued, though the city has just seen its largest one-day increase in deaths. I'm wondering what you make of those two developments.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think both those things could be happening simultaneously.

[20:10:00]

It can make sense. Obviously it's tragic that the deaths continue to go up. What you're looking for, I think, in that regard is the pace at which these numbers are increasing.

And keep in mind that whatever we're seeing right now in some ways, as a doctor described to me earlier today, is sort of like a Polaroid picture. At the time you take the picture, it takes a while to develop. So we're seeing a sort of lagged picture from two or three weeks behind.

At first, someone has a confirmed infection and then a small percentage of those people will need to go to the hospital. And then a smaller percentage may end up succumbing to the illness. So if hospitalizations are going down now, that could suggest that we should see a decrease in deaths, thankfully, later on, within a couple weeks or so.

COOPER: We're going to get more into the models or projections of the virus in a few minutes. There does seem to be some indication at the head of the CDC that the number of deaths could ultimately be lower than what the White House had said just recently of anywhere from 100,000 to 240,000. And we know -- and even when they said that, they said the models, as more data comes in, are liable to change.

GUPTA: You know, I heard Dr. Redfield's comments about this. There are lots of different models out there as you know, Anderson. So I wasn't sure which one he was referring to specifically because he said the models that he was looking at were predicated on 50 percent of the country sort of being on stay-at-home orders and if it's more than that the numbers should come down.

I think all the models you and I have looked at have really been based on much more strict stay-at-home orders. In fact, the whole country. And that's how they got to this 100,000 number. So I'm not exactly sure which numbers he was referring to, but, you know, the models, Anderson, really have been -- there's all sorts of different models.

And as they say, the saying goes, all models are wrong, but some are useful. And I think that's what we're sort of looking at here, trying to draw the best information now out of these models. I think the models out of the University of Washington -- we're going to talk to Chris Murray later on -- basically suggest you have to keep the stay- at-home orders until the end of May in order to be able to get to the -- to this number, which is still jarring. But close to 100,000 people dying versus a higher number than that.

COOPER: Yeah, I mean all the models back up the scientific advice, which is staying at home is critically important. Social distancing is critically important. We have to talk about the disproportionate impact this virus is having among black Americans, people of color.

Obviously there are long-standing inequalities. The way the medical establishment -- you know, what happens to a black American when they go into a hospital. They are treated differently statistically than others. We've seen this for a very long period of time. Access to medical care, you know, preexisting conditions like diabetes, heart disease. There are a lot of inequalities in the system that an event like this bring to the fore.

GUPTA: Yeah, and I think taking it even a step earlier than that, the reason that blacks have so many more pre-existing conditions is because of structural inequalities as well. You know, access to health care is one thing, but living in areas where there may be socioeconomic disadvantages, you live in food deserts, you can't get healthy foods, you know, basic things like that make it very challenging to not develop some of these pre-existing conditions.

And then, you know, in the midst of all this, there's been inadequate testing. The testing has been even more disproportionate when it comes to blacks. And I think that the -- you know, when you really look at the types of jobs. You know, blacks are much more likely to have these front-line essential sort of jobs. You know, jobs, frankly, that are keeping the country running. You know, transportation, food, you know, delivery and logistics and all these types of things. But those are also jobs that are higher risk right now.

So there's all these different factors that play into this. But I was -- despite that, knowing that -- and you and I have covered these types of stories -- I was still stunned by the numbers. Cities that have an African-American population of 30 percent, and yet 72 percent of the deaths from COVID are among blacks. I mean, this is a really significant manifestation of these long-standing structural inequalities.

And something has to be done about it because, Anderson, we may run into a situation -- hopefully not, but maybe we will -- where, you know, some of these precious resources may be rationed. And I hope these structural inequalities don't persist into that rationing as well, Anderson.

COOPER: Yeah. Sanjay, stay with us. I want to bring in Jim Acosta at the White House and CNN's chief political analyst Gloria Borger. Gloria, the president continues to say things that are untrue at the podium day after day. He clearly is now focusing on the world health organization. And that's something he's sort of taking the lead from a lot of media folks in conservative media and other politicians.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: He is, and from Republican politicians as you pointed out earlier. This is a president, as we all know by now, and we should be used to it, who likes to distract.

[20:15:00]

And what he is doing now is trying to rewrite history as we are living it and in finding a - a new enemy in the WHO it's quite convenient for him.

And let me point out the WHO has not been perfect here but he can say, "Aha, they are the tools of the Chinese" which is of course, another convenient and policy enemy and they are in cahoots, as he put it, and therefore, he was not getting great information and that's a way of also saying, "Well, you know, while I was giving you bad information, it really - it really wasn't my fault".

I mean today, Anderson, he called himself a cheerleader and he keeps saying that and I couldn't help but you think, you know, real leaders aren't cheerleaders. Real leaders tell the country the truth and that is not what the president was doing and now he has a way to blame it on the World Health Organization.

COOPER: Yeah, I mean, true leaders aren't calling plays, coachers do that and that's really what you want somebody doing - -

BORGER: Right, exactly.

COOPER: - - in a situation like that. I mean, there is a role for cheerleaders and it's great to have them in the game and making people feel good but when you want actually stuff done, you need coaches and you need players, you need people fighting this - - BORGER: Players.

COOPER: - - which are - we have plenty of that. Jim, the - these memos from Peter Navarro, one in late January, one into the White House - one in the White House about Coronavirus, saying it could evolve into a "full blown pandemic". I just want to play what the President said today when he was asked if he saw those memos. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I didn't see them but I heard he wrote some memos talking about pandemic. I didn't see them, I didn't look for them either but that was about the same time as I felt that we should do it - we - that was about the same time that I closed it down.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: I mean, he - he keeps referring to closing down flights from, you know, from Wuhan, you know, this has been looked at - many thousands of people came in on flights for weeks after he allegedly shut everything down.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right, well the President was saying he didn't know about this Peter Navarro memo but that he was essentially following some of the advice I - I guess baked into that memo when he said he shutting down these flights coming in from China but Anderson, beyond that, there was another Peter Navarro memo that came on February 23rd and it says "there's an increasing probability of a full-blown COVID-19 pandemic that could infect as many as 100 million Americans with a loss of life as many as 1.2 million souls".

It was at that time, Anderson, that the President downplaying the potential for loss of life in this country and we can play a montage of that right here. Here - he's what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We have it very much under control in this country. Very interestingly, we've had no deaths, we've had a - I mean, you know, we've had a great practice - we've had - we had 12 at one point and now they've gotten very much better. Many of them are fully recovered.

The Coronavirus which is - very well under control in our country. We have very few people with it. The people are getting better, they're all getting better. There's a very good chance you're not going to die.

Of the 15 people, "the original 15" as I call them, eight of them have returned to their homes, to stay in their homes under fully recovered.

It's going to disappear.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: I mean, that's - those are that - - ACOSTA: Yeah, yeah - -

COOPER: - - all the - those statements are all, you know, towards the end of February, that's - you know, scientists are - are already referring to, you know, February as the lost month for this administration when essentially you know he had this happy talk while the virus was already here.

ACOSTA: That's right, Anderson, and - and we've catalogued this for - for many weeks now as the President was making these kinds of comments, downplaying the pandemic, putting out these rosy scenarios, that it would be over by April. But Anderson, it - it is worth noting that as the President has been demonizing the World Health Organization today, the - the White House was relying on the World Health Organization from time to time, you know, saying that the World Health Organization was putting out reliable information.

The President cited the World Health Organization in his address to the nation on March 11th and so the President was asked about this during the briefing and he said, as Gloria was just saying a few moments ago, when he was pressed on some of these comments that he's made, he said he just wanted to be a cheerleader for the country. The problem, Anderson, is that cheerleaders sit on the sidelines. He was not being a cheerleader throughout most of this, he was being a mis- leader and I think this Navarro memo question has not been put to rest.

The President said, well, he didn't see the memos, he wasn't looking for the memos but we haven't gotten to the answer as to whether or not he was briefed on the memos, whether senior White House officials knew about the memos, people like Mike Mulvaney and so on. And so these memos still raise lots of questions and the President didn't put them to rest.

[20:20:00]

COOPER: Yes, and look, the WHO has long-standing problems, huge bureaucracy, lot of reasons. And certainly their attitude toward china. They pretend Taiwan doesn't even exist and ignore Taiwan's response to the coronavirus which seems to have been very effective. There are a lot of reasons to criticize them, but it's just interesting that the president has really jumped on top of this.

Sanjay, stay with us. Jim, Gloria, thank you very much. Still to come, more on the adjusted model that suggests fewer deaths than predicted just days ago. The director of an institute whose model was cited by the White House officials will join Sanjay and me to discuss what this means for the weeks and months ahead. Later, remembering the victims. I'll speak to the widow, the wife of a man who passed away after he struggled to get both testing and care for the disease.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: We've been talking about the deadly week ahead for the nation, also how the administration and CDC now believe fatalities are lower than estimated. That's certainly good news. On Monday, a model cited by the White House lowered its predictions for fatalities and number of hospital beds used.

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington now projects 81,766 people will be killed over the next four months and will die over the next four months. That's a drop of 12,000 in their prediction. It also expects 121,000 fewer hospital beds being used in that time.

[20:25:00]

Joining us now is the director of the institute Dr. Chris Murray and back with us is also Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Dr. Murray, can you explain the new changes to your model? We had you on before and you've always pointed out as more information comes in, as more data comes in, the numbers will change. Why the lowering now?

DR. CHRIS MURRAY, CHAIR, HEALTH METRICS SCIENCES, UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON: So, two key things we've been able to incorporate with all the influx of new data in the United States. First, we found out a lot more about hospital practice, and so what we're seeing is that hospitals, particularly in New York but elsewhere in the country are admitting fewer people compared to what the original data suggested.

You know, compared to every death that we see they are putting fewer people into the ICU and there is lower ventilator requirements. That's brought down the sort of shortage estimates quite a bit because of that new data influx.

And the other big news is that we're seeing peaks in the epidemic in other places other than China. In Italy, in Spain -- in fact, seven different regions have seen the epidemic peak and come down, and that really informs our models about the impact and the effectiveness of social distancing.

COOPER: Dr. Murray, two questions. Do you know why the White House's numbers had been higher than yours when your model was saying 80,000 a while ago, that's when they came out with the 100,000 to 240,000 figure. Do you know why their numbers have been higher?

And also, what are yours dependent on in terms of people abiding by stay-at-home orders and social distancing, how long in your modeling is that expected to last for?

MURRAY: So in our models we are building in the assumption that social distancing is going to stay in place till we hit the sort of threshold when we think the first wave is essentially over. We use a number, which is point 3 deaths per million people in the U.S.

So basically 60 deaths in the United States in a day would be that threshold and that should come first week of June, and so we're building in the assumption that social distancing is in place until then. We will start to release hopefully later this week or by the weekend what might happen if we take social distancing off before then and we're pretty confident we'll just see a rebound of the epidemic if that's what was to happen.

COOPER: Sanjay, do you have a questions for Dr. Murray? GUPTA: Yeah, I'm curious, you know, so you talk about these earlier

peaks and thank you Dr. Murray, for all this work that you're doing not this. But you see these earlier peaks, people have become accustomed to this term, "flattening of the curve."

If you see the peak earlier, does that also suggest the curve wasn't flattened? Because when it's flattened, it sort of extends out a longer period of time, right?

MURRAY: Yeah, I don't like the expression flattening the curve. That expression comes from models that suggested you really couldn't stop a wave. It really was sort of a worst-case scenario of trying to decrease the burden on the health services.

But the ultimate burden would really be about the same, most people would get infected and there would be huge fatalities in the country. What we're actually seeing now in eight communities, we think it's also happened here in King County and Snohomish county.

We're seeing two peaks and the expectation that what happened in Wuhan, which is that you can bring the epidemic down to a very low level, almost no transmission is possible and we're pretty sure that's what's going to happen as long as we stick to social distancing for the appropriate time.

COOPER: Dr. Murray, we heard from the head of the CDC and we played it at the top of the program. He was saying the numbers are going to be lower than what the, you know, 200,000 figure that the White House had talked about as being on the high end of what might possibly happen.

He seemed to indicate that that modeling or some modeling was based on only 50 percent of Americans really taking part in social distancing. Is that why the White House's numbers were 100,000 to 240,000 while yours were in the 80,000 range?

MURRAY: You know, I don't know. We haven't seen their model.

COOPER: So they haven't shown you how they made their predictions?

MURRAY: No, we haven't seen that at all. And, quite honestly, 50 percent social distancing, we don't think that that would lead to curtailing the epidemic. What really needs to be -- unless I don't understand that metric, but it really needs to be every state because it's going to be very easy once -- if some states, you know, have an epidemic that's still ongoing, other states have controlled it, to have reintroduction of the virus back into the states that have already gone through all the pain to get the epidemic under control.

[20:30:00]

So it's not going to work for the nation if we do it in some work for the nation if we do it in some places and not others.

COOPER: Sanjay, do you know why the White House doesn't share the data behind their modeling? SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: No, I don't know. I mean, what we've heard them say is they're looking at lots of different models, of which Dr. Murray's is one of them. But his is the one that they've cited obviously a few times. But we don't know which models they're looking at. And frankly, I also don't know -- all these models are built on assumptions, certain assumptions.

Even more than the model sometimes, I'm not sure which assumptions they're making to sort of feed the model as well. It's a big gray area when you look at these models in terms of the number of possible hospitalizations, the number of possible deaths. It's pretty wide ranging as a result. But again, I think it's Dr. Murray's model is the one which has been most cited by them.

COOPER: Yeah. Dr. Murray, I echo Sanjay, we really appreciate all your efforts and being with us tonight. Thank you.

MURRAY: Thank you.

GUPTA: Thank you.

COOPER: Sanjay, thanks as well. A day after President Trump lashed out when asked about an inspector general's report about problems at U.S. hospitals dealing with the pandemic, he fired another inspector general. We'll have details of that when we continue.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:35:35]

COOPER: President Trump today effectively removed the inspector general who was supposed to have been in charge of overseeing the trillions of taxpayer dollars earmarked for pandemic relief. The man the president removed is Glenn Fine had been the acting I.G. at the pentagon for four years and before that was inspector general of the justice department for 11 years and he'd served Republican administrations and Democratic administrations

As for why the president moved him, the president failed to give a clear reason and says, as he usually does, he has a right to do it, which he certainly does. But he suddenly announced the inspector general for the EPA will now have the pentagon job in addition to being the inspector general for the EPA and thereby removed Mr. Fine from the oversight position.

It was a few days after he fired the intelligence community inspector general Michael Atkinson who listened to the whistle-blower and forwarded the whistle-blower's report to congress. And it was only yesterday the president railed at a new report by the inspector general for the Health and Human Services Department that portrayed widespread problems in U.S. hospitals dealing with the pandemic.

Among the report's findings, which was based on hundreds of interviews of doctors and administrators around the country, quote, "Hospitals reported they were unable to keep up with COVID-19 testing demands because they lacked complete kits and/or the individual components and supplies needed to complete tests." And then there was this from the report: "Hospitals reported that changing and sometimes inconsistent guidance from federal, state and local authorities posed challenges and confused hospitals and the public."

I want to bring in now Florida Congresswoman Donna Shalala who was head of HHS under President Clinton. Congresswoman, you ran HHS eight years. I wonder what you make of the president attack the inspector general report, which when he attacked it, he hadn't read it and didn't know anything about the official behind it. But it was based just on interviews with doctors and hospitals around the country.

REP. DONNA SHALALA (D-FL): You know, he clearly didn't read it. I read the report. It's a very good report. It's consistent with what the media has been reporting around the country about the lack of supplies for hospitals. And it has some very interesting parts of it, of how creative the hospitals have been around the country in trying to get supplies. He should have read it.

It wasn't such a negative report as a guidance. It was a snapshot. They captured the information between March 23rd and 27th, if I remember correctly, and it's just a solid piece of work. It's only -- everybody should read it because it's a solid piece of work that tells us where we were at that point. Some things have improved since then, but let me explain why he's railing against inspector generals.

It is the one appointment he does not control. It's not that he can't nominate them or fire them, but they get to report to the congress directly. The I.G. legislation insists that the inspector generals are independent from the executive in the sense that they can report directly to the congress without going through their cabinet secretaries and without going through the president.

So I'm not surprised that this president, who is a control freak, doesn't like I.G.s because of that legislation. They can go testify. They can report to committees. They can pick up the phone and call a member of congress. And they don't have to clear it through their cabinet officer or through the president.

COOPER: Yeah, I mean the president was suggesting the report was politically motivated. There's no -- excuse me. There is no evidence to suggest that the report had anything to do with politics. Back when the report starts, it says, this is a snapshot and it's really just kind of looking for ways to improve things in the future. It doesn't seem like it's an attack on this administration.

SHALALA: No, in fact, it's written specifically not to be a critique, but rather to give guidance to the Department of Health and Human Services about where we were at that time and where we needed to go. So -- and the language is very specific about that. So I'm very disappointed because it's a solid report, well written, well researched. And it's the kind of thing that you need periodically to tell you -- to give you some guidance on policy.

[20:40:00]

COOPER: When the president was asked about firing the acting inspector general for the Pentagon, Glenn Fine, who was put in charge of overseeing coronavirus, funding, he didn't answer the question -- were you, as a Member of Congress, given any reason for the removal?

SHALALA: No, and I don't think the oversight committees were given a reason. But they will ask. The senate has to approve I.G.s. They're nominated by the president. But they were asked.

And because of this independence of the I.G., this is a particularly grievous step by the president because they are the oversight in the departments, and it's extremely important that we protect their independence.

I had a world-class I.G. who I worked very well with. Some cabinet officers had more trouble with their I.G.s, but I enjoyed the working relationship. And they gave us very good guidance. H.H.S. has a wonderful experience and a wonderful depth in professional -- in a professional office.

I don't know the current I.G. She was very junior when I was secretary, but I'm sure she continues that tradition. And you could tell it from the report. There wasn't a political bone in anyone's body that worked on that report.

COOPER: Congresswoman Shalala, I appreciate your time. Thanks very much.

Also in case you're wondering about -- I coughed. I have no symptoms. I have no reason to be concerned. I sometimes cough late at night with some asthma. Also I coughed into my hand, and I have Purell right here, and I am cleaning my hand right now. I should have coughed into my sleeve. I apologize.

Secretary, thank you -- congresswoman, thank you very much. Coming up, I'm going to talk to an intensive care nurse at one of New York City's hospitals who says going to work is like going to war.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:45:30]

COOPER: As we reported at the top of the broadcast, New York City is reporting more than 800 new deaths, but state-wide the case count does appear to be flattening. At intensive care units across the city, nurses are of course on the front lines.

One of them is Simone Hannah-Clark at Mount Sinai Hospital. She wrote in a recent New York Times op-ed that going to work is like going to war. Here's an excerpt. Quote, "My first task is to help with post- mortem care on a COVID patient we lost. We watched her slowly die the past few days, we did everything we could. It's just me and a nursing colleague in a room, it's a grim affair. We wrap the patient's body, stroking her brow and wishing her well on her next journey. "

Simone joins us now. I was so stunned when I read that. I mean, it was just sort of so tender and intimate and I know there's so much of it going on that it must be hard at times to take moments like that. Can you just talk a little bit about what you're seeing?

SIMONE HANNAH-CLARK, ICU NURSE, MOUNT SINAI HOSPITAL, NYC: Yeah, Hi Anderson. We're used to a certain level of chaos in the ICU, controlled chaos, high acuity in patients we're used to seeing death but this is different, it's you know, more patients coming, they just keep coming.

There's no family around, it's just us. We're the only people in the hospital, no family, people are dying alone. You know, we're donning and donning multiple times a day our PPE. You know, there is a high level of anxiety but everybody is in it all together all doing our best.

COOPER: It must be so scary not just for doctors and nurses, you know, x-ray technicians and all the people who work in the hospital, the people who clean the floors, but also for the patients themselves. As you say, to not have a family member, a loved one by their bedside kind of talking to doctors, helping them through it, it's just got to be -- it's just got to be so terrifying.

HANNAH-CLARK: Yeah. I mean, look, I see the sickest of the sick in the ICU. So a lot of times they are not even conscious, most of the time. But, you know, they can probably still hear us so, you know, I talk to my patients. we all do, to reassure them that, yeah, it must be terrifying because no one should die alone. We're with them.

COOPER: You talk to the patients in the ICU even though they're unconscious?

HANNAH-CLARK: Yes. We talk to them I mean, hearing is always the last things to go, so we-we treat them like they can hear us and you know I've had patients tell me who have woken up from drug-induced comas that they remember my voice and that they heard my voice so I never (INAUDIBLE).

COOPER: It's also a comfort for families to know that, you know, that you take the time to talk to them and speak to them. I'm sure that's comforting for a lot of families.

HANNAH-CLARK: I hope so, yeah. There's not a lot of comfort we can offer them right now. You know, we're being good about updating families every day because that's the only way we can communicate. We sometimes do facetime, but, you know, it's difficult with all the PPE and the converted rooms, negative pressure rooms are very loud they have exhaust fans in them, so you know, it's difficult to hear. We do our best.

COOPER: You describe it as a war zone. and one of the things that so many service members talk about is the disparity between those who serve in their families and the rest of society which there's also often a disconnect that people who don't have a loved one serving overseas or someone who is serving overseas, you know, regular life seems so incongruous to what they're experiencing.

It must be the same for you, I mean given what you're seeing on every shift to then leave the hospital and not that regular life has continued for everybody else, but just, you know, to walk down a street where the sun is shining today, and yet there's no indication of what's happening behind those hospital doors.

[20:50:00]

HANNAH-CLARK: Yes, it's surreal, like it's -- the only way to describe it is surreal, yes. You walk through those doors and we don't know what today will bring, you know, what the day will bring but, you know, every day, it's more patients, it's more intense. And we are just knuckling down and putting his heads and just doing what we need to do.

COOPER: Well, thank you. Seems like a -- a -- very small phrase but I -- but thank you and thank you for, not only you, but for -- for the efforts of everybody you work with and -- and I extend that to, you know, the UPS delivery people and the FedEx and the -- you know, folks working at Amazon and -- everybody who's making -- who's in this fight and I really appreciate it and stay strong, thank you.

HANNAH-CLARK: Thank you.

COOPER: That's Simone Hannah-Clark. Up next, one of those who tried for weeks to get tested and get help when he fell sick. We remember a loving husband and a father of five when we continue.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:55:10]

COOPER: Each night, we take time to remember some of those who died during this pandemic and tonight we want to remember Ronaldo Aravana, Sonny to his friends and family. He was a loving husband and attentive father of five children in New Windsor, New York.

He leaves behind his oldest child, Amber leigh who is 21 years old, Jaden, who is 17, Ethan, age 12 and his twins, Lola and Amira, Sonny died on the twins' 10th birthday. Joining me now is his wife Melody, one of her daughters and her mom are also fighting coronavirus.

Melody, thanks for being with you-you're with Amber leigh and Lola and Amira, I'm so sorry for your loss. Tell me about your husband, how did you two meet?

MELODY ARAVANA: My husband loves to tell the story; he tells everyone that I stalked him.

COOPER: You stalked him?

ARAVANA: Yeah. I attended a wedding and he was there, actually, at that wedding and I saw him at that wedding, but we weren't formally introduced until a year later (INAUDIBLE)

COOPER: What was it about him that made you want to follow up? I won't say stalk, but to follow up?

ARAVANA: You could tell he was a good guy and he was very handsome and tall and, you know, just very good-looking and very well-dressed. So, you know that would be the things that attracted me to him. So when I saw him a year later I took the opportunity to go and speak with him.

COOPER: And I understand he was doing some work at a hospital in New York City and that's when he started showing some symptoms?

ARAVANA: No, he started showing symptoms the week after. On March 19th, that's when he started showing symptoms.

COOPER: That's when he started showing symptoms. Was he admitted to the hospital then? Was he able to get tested?

ARAVANA: No, we actually called the COVID hotline and he was on hold for, like, five hours and I was on hold on my phone for like four hours before we get through to anyone and then then (INAUDIBLE) COVID.

COOPER: And how is -- it is Lola who's positive? Amberly is by your side, and so is Amira, is it Lola who is in the back there with the mask on?

ARAVANA Yeah, that's Lola.

COOPER: Hey, Lola. How is she feeling?

ARAVANA: She's actually feeling well --

COOPER: She gave a thumb's up.

ARAVANA: (INAUDIBLE)

COOPER: What else do you want people to know about Sonny?

ARAVANA: I want everyone to know that my husband was a selfless man and that -- that he loved everyone and he cared for everyone and he would give anything for his family and his kids, to strangers.

He volunteered at the boys and girls club to mentor boys, he coached for the AAU team. I want everybody to know he was a great cook. He was the cook in the house, he was amazing and he was the best husband, my soul mate and the best father.

COOPER: Melody, I'm so sorry for your loss and I know it seems overwhelming now and you've got your beautiful kids with you and you are in our thoughts and our prayers and if there's anything we can do for you, please, please let us know.

And I just -- I wish you the best and I hope Lola - I'm glad Lola's feeling better, I hope that continues and I hope your mom gets better. And we'll keep in touch and I just -- I wish you continued strength and peace in the days ahead.

ARAVANA: Thank you so much and thank you for sharing the story of my husband.

COOPER: Yes. I'm sad I didn't get to meet him. But I appreciate you taking the time to tell us about him. He sounds like an amazing guy. And he was very blessed to have - to have you and to have all those, to have all your kids. It's quite a legacy. Thank you so much.

I want to go over to Chris who's standing by for CUOMO PRIME TIME.