Return to Transcripts main page


At Least 43 States Partially Reopening By This Weekend Despite Continued Spread Of Virus; Pres. Trump Reverses Course, Says Fauci And Birx Will Continue On WH Coronavirus Task Force; Former U.S. Ambassador To U.N. On U.S. Response To Virus; Nurse Gives Birth Minutes After COVID-19-Related Heart Attack; Minnesota Hog Farmer Facing Terrible Dilemma Due To Supply Chain Issues Caused By COVID-19. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired May 6, 2020 - 20:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: And good everybody, 43 states expected to be reopened to some degree by this weekend. 43 states. I want to show you a map right now compiled by CNN of where we are as a country in terms of reopening and in terms of the virus itself.

There you see the map. The darker states, those are states where the numbers of coronavirus cases are actually going down. The orange and the lighter color there where they are either going up or about the same. You can see the vast majority of states, the numbers are still going up or about the same.

I want to check in with CNN's Nick Watt in Los Angeles for a roundup of the latest. Nick?

NICK WATT, CNN HOST: Well, Anderson, good news. We just heard for the 10 million people here in Los Angeles County, it will start reopening on Friday. We're told that among the first things to open are going to be some trails, some golf courses, some nonessential businesses including florists and car dealerships. But we are being warned that it will be slow, and not all the news out of California this afternoon is good.

We've also heard from the governor who says that across this country, we are going to be seeing depression-era unemployment numbers. He says that over the past three days alone, California has paid out more than $2 billion in unemployment benefits. Whatever we do, however we do it, we are going to be feeling some pain for some time to come.


WATT (voice-over): The New York city subway closed overnight, first time in over 100 years, to clean the cars.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO, (D) NEW YORK: We have turned the corner, and we're on the decline. You take New York out of the national numbers, the numbers for the rest of the nation are going up. What we're doing here shows results. WATT (voice-over): Across the country as a whole, the new case count

is not falling. Hovering somewhere over 20,000 every single day.

SCOTT GOTTLIEB, FORMER FDA COMMISSIONER: I think that we need to understand this may be the new normal, we may not be able to get transmission down much more. I hope we can.

WATT (voice-over): But many places reopening anyway. Hot spots now growing in cities like Dallas. Some more rural flare-ups, too, like those in Nebraska and Minnesota, but better testing might just play into all this.

MAYOR, DAVID KLEIS, ST. CLOUD, MN: I don't think there is anyone that didn't know there were more cases out there, they just weren't known because the testing was so low.

WATT (voice-over): A former CDC director told lawmakers today that the U.S. death toll will exceed 100,000.

DR THOMAS FRIEDEN, INFECTIOUS DISEASE AND PUBLIC HEALTH PHYSICIAN: As bad as this has been, it's just the beginning.

WATT (voice-over): Airlines now hoping we'll get back in the air. Average passengers per plane is up to 23 from 17 last week. All but these seven states are now taking steps to get back in business. On Monday, restaurants could open in Florida. On Tuesday cops in Jacksonville had to break up a tailgate party at a taco stand.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The risk of the coronavirus is a scam.

WATT (voice-over): One company working on creating therapeutics using blood from the recovered now says it might have something on the market by the end of the summer.

DR GEORGE YANCOPOULOS, REGENERON: We can clone out the best of antibodies from recovered humans. We selected the best ones to create an antibody cocktail as we call it.

WATT (voice-over): And who is this coronavirus infecting? Well, around 90 percent of positives in San Francisco's mission district are people unable to work from home, according to a new study, 95 percent of them Latin-ex. Another new study finds that black Americans are 13.4 percent of the population, but counties with higher black populations are home to nearly 60 percent of all COVID-19 deaths.

MAYOR, LORI LIGHTFOOT, CHICAGO, ILLINOIS: We're still seeing a disproportionate number of black Chicago as people who are dying as a result of COVID-19.


COOPER: And yet when it comes to travel, I understand that two big companies have announced new cleaning procedures.

WATT: That's right, we heard from Marriott hotels today in Southwest and they are both using what's called electro static misting. It basically adds a positive charge to the disinfectant as it's being sprayed out, and that helps the disinfectant sort of coat and stick to whatever surface you're spraying it on. Listen, these companies realize that they can reopen, but unless consumers are confident, then they're not going to come back. Anderson?

COOPER: Yes, Nick Watt, appreciate it. My next guest testified on Capitol Hill today about whether any of the states are actually meeting the very guidelines that the White House itself put out, even though President Trump is now encouraging many of these states to reopen, insisting that -- that they reopen.


According to this -- my next guest, none of these states have fully met the guidelines that The White House Coronavirus Task Force actually set out for reopening. Here, I want to have you listen to what my next guest said today on Capitol Hill. This is what Caitlin Rivers said.


REP. ROSA DELAURO (D), CHAIR, HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS SUBCOMMITTEE ON LABOR, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, EDUCATION, AND RELATED AGENCIES: To the best of your knowledge, is there a single state that has met the necessary parameters to ease restrictions?



RIVERS: -- in order to safely reopen, and not all states have adopted these criteria, but I'll review them, just as a starting point.


RIVERS: The first is to see the number of new cases decline for at least two weeks. And some states have met that criteria, but there are three other criteria, and they -- we suggest they should all be met.


RIVERS: The other is enough public health capacity to conduct contact tracing on all new cases, enough diagnostic testing to test everybody with COVID-like symptoms, not just those people with severe illness, and enough health care system capacity to treat everyone safely.


RIVERS: To my knowledge, there are no states that meet all four of those criteria.


COOPER: And joining me now is Caitlin Rivers, the senior associate at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and also an assistant professor at the university's Department of Environmental Health and Engineering. Also joining us is Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Professor Rivers, I mean, no states has met all the criteria at -- at this stage?

RIVERS: It's true that all states are in different places of their epidemic. There are some states that have begun to see a decline. We heard from Governor Cuomo in the opening clip that New York has really turned the corner, which is great news. But there are other places that are still really seeing an acceleration of their outbreak.

We've also seen that some states don't have enough testing capacity to treat -- test everyone with COVID-like symptoms, and states are really also still working on expanding their contact tracing capability in order to be able to manage cases and their close contacts, which is quite a labor-intensive process. The good news, in addition to some states turning the corner, is that health care capacity has really been one of the -- the leading indicators. We've had more success treating everybody who needs treatment with COVID-like symptoms than the other three criteria.

COOPER: Sanjay, you know, the map that we showed earlier, that CNN compiled, where you see where all the states are, I mean, it is surprising the number of states which still have either kind of the same numbers of -- of cases or actually cases going up. And yet those are some of the very states that are looking at reopening.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, there's -- there's no question. And we just looked at the data again, just over the last couple of hours, and -- and many of these states, even some of the ones that have been going down, if you look carefully, even they have had some upticks recently. So, if you -- if you sort of compile that data, it's not even clear that they meet the most basic criteria, which is to have this 14-day downward trend.

And -- and keep in mind, Anderson, as we've talked about, as states reopen between the time that people might get exposed as a result of this reopening and the time that they may then subsequently be tested for the virus, you know, a couple weeks could go by.

So, we may not see the impact of this for some time. And I think there's going to be a period of time people say, "Hey, look, we -- we reopened, everything's fine or it hasn't changed much. We're -- We're good." But you've got to sort of wait because of -- we know how the -- the trend sort of -- the -- the time lag there.

COOPER: Yes, I mean, Professor Rivers, you know, you can look at Georgia, which, you know, as we all know, the governor there reopened, you know, on a Friday. It was certain businesses like beauty salons and the -- and the like. Monday, there were restaurants and -- and movie theaters. And yet their numbers seem just about the same. Do you read anything -- does that tell you anything, or is it also just, there's a -- as Sanjay said, there's this couple-week lag?

RIVERS: There will be a couple-week lag. I don't think we will be able to fully assess the impact of reopening for more on the order of three to four weeks, if not months. And for states that are looking to reopen, I think it's important to lead with public health risk assessments. And so, we have suggested that it should be low-risk activities that are the first that are reintroduced into the community.

Things that are outside are a great place to start. We know that being outdoors is great for mental health. It's great to get fresh air, especially after we've all been inside for several weeks now. And so, starting with the low-risk reopening activities is preferred over diving in into high-contact settings.

COOPER: So that would be, what, opening up parks and -- and, I mean, just out -- other outdoor spaces or creating --

RIVERS: That's right.

COOPER: -- even maybe creating more outdoor spaces?

RIVERS: That's right. Some states have chosen to close their outdoor areas, their parks, their play grounds and so on. Those would be good options to reopen. You do want to be careful about high-contact surfaces and also outdoor spaces that are shared, like restrooms at beaches, for example.

Those might be more risky than just being in the out-of-doors. But as we do start to think about reopening, it's those outdoor spaces that I think would be a great first step.

COOPER: You know, Professor Rivers, Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, said today that it's simply nonsensical to suggest that every American needs to be tested in order for the country to reopen.


Again, no one is suggesting that naturally every single American has to be tested in order to reopen, that's sort of a false premise, but I'm wondering what is your perspective on testing? You spoke about the need for more testing today at the hearing.

RIVERS: That's right. Last week the United States ran about 1.6 million tests which is a huge improvement over what we saw in March and even in early April, but it's still not to the level that many experts recommend. Recommendations start at 3.5 million tests per week and go up from there.

So, there is a gap to close. And I think our first priority should be putting together a plan and identifying how we will get from here to there. I think understanding what the time line is and what our expected future capacities will be is really important for helping to guide our next moves, and so, that's one of the recommendations I made at the hearing today.

COOPER: Sanjay, I mean, is the federal government still -- you know what, are they still doing anything about -- I mean, what are they doing about testing? The president obviously was talking about -- and the vice president was talking about, you know, doing away with the coronavirus task force. Now, seems to have, kind of, backtracked on that because he says he

discovered how popular it is, which is an odd thing that that's the thing that might save the coronavirus task force. But are they still trying to raise the amount of testing in the U.S.?

GUPTA: Well, I think they are. I mean, you know, it's interesting because we do hear different things. At some point, I think, President Trump said, "You know, I'm not sure that it's that important anyway, testing." And it clearly is important.

I mean, the specific numbers of tests that need to be done. I mean, there's all sorts of different proposals on that. Some say, you know, it's not really even about the number of tests, it's when you start to get a certain amount of negatives. When you start getting 10 percent of the tests coming back as positive you're starting to get a sense that you're testing enough.

But it's also the idea of point of location testing. You know, when we interviewed Bill Gates the other day, he was talking about kiosks and things like that, and even at-home testing. You know, we're not there yet. Other countries around the world have had this kiosk testing, but it's just feeling comfortable.

I think, ultimately, it's -- as people start to go back to work, can they feel comfortable that they can get tested, show that they're negative, have some confidence the people around them are not harboring the virus in their bodies as well.

How do you get to that point, I think, is the real question. And, clearly, it's more testing. Exactly how much more, we don't know, but it's a lot more than we're doing now.

COOPER: And professor, Kayleigh McEnany also said today that if we tested every single American in the country, that we'd -- "We'd have to re-test them an hour later and an hour later after that because at any moment you could theoretically contract the virus." Is that a fair point? Sort of - I mean, I guess the argument is, well, what's the point of testing people if an hour later they could suddenly get exposed?

RIVERS: It's true that the molecular test, the kind that you would get at the doctor's office to see whether you have an active infection are really only valid right now, because it's true that you could go on to be infected or you could be incubating the virus and you don't have enough of it yet for the test to pick up.

That doesn't mean that testing doesn't matter though, it just means that you have a result for today. And so, I think these strategies that require universal testing should take that into consideration. Testing everybody once is not going to get us there.

You would need to design a more comprehensive strategy for how you would use that to intervene on transmission. This is why we talk so much about contact tracing. With contact tracing, when someone gets a positive diagnosis, the people that they have been in close contact with are alerted to their exposure and asked to stay home. And it's actually that staying home that is the intervention. It's not

the testing, it's the staying away from other people. And so, those two things really need to be linked.

COOPER: It's a really interesting point, Sanjay, and you referenced Bill Gates. The other thing he was talking about last week on the -- our town hall was that, you know, the White House number of 200,000 tests are available. He was saying that's really a bogus number because the wait time on a number of those tests is so long that it's kind of irrelevant.

By the time you get it, you've already -- you get the results, you've exposed yourself potentially to any number of other people. So, sort of, just a general number of tests, it may look good on paper but it doesn't really work in real life.

GUPTA: Yes, I know, I think it's a really fair point. I mean, unless people sort of protectively or prophylactically isolate themselves while awaiting their results, they could go on to potentially expose other people.

And we also know that, you know, you can -- you can still be contagious even before you would develop any symptoms. Some -- maybe even more contagious before you develop symptoms, some of the studies have shown.

So, that's a big issue. Another issue that came up is that some of these tests have a significant false-negative rate, up to 15 percent false-negative. So, people think that they are negative for the virus, "I'm good, I'm clear, I'll do whatever".


But in fact, you know, in some of these tests 15 percent of the time, that's not an accurate result. So these are problems that got to be fixed. They got to be quick tests, they got to be accurate tests, and they have to be widely available.

COOPER: Professor Rivers, the former CDC director, Tom Frieden, who testified alongside you just - just today, said - said that we're just at the beginning of the pandemic. And I spoke to - to Laurie Garrett last night in the program, a journalist. And she's been warning of a pandemic like this for decades.

She said her best case scenario is 36 months, and that was a best case scenario involving a lot of things going right in terms of the search for a vaccine and social distancing. How long a time frame are you looking at?

RIVERS: We've heard from Dr. Fauci that 12 to 18 months is the time frame that the administration is considering for a vaccine. That is faster than you would normally expect a vaccine, but we've never had so much motivation before. And by that, I mean we've never had - faced such a crisis that required us to call on all of our resources.

And so I think 12 to 18 months is the number that we should keep in mind. That being said, I don't think we're all going to have to stay home for 12 to 18 months. I think there will be a period where we are able to shift from everyone having to stay home to slow the spread, into these case based interventions, these contact tracing and quarantine that you hear so much about.

So how our lives look over the next 12 to 18 months - it will change. We will start to reintroduce more activities into the community. But we're not going to have - until we have a vaccine, our lives will look different than they did before.

COOPER: Right. 12 to 18 months, according to Laurie Garrett also. Doesn't that mean - you - you may have a vaccine by then, but have you - are you able to produce it in the billions of amounts that will be necessary? And also does the company that makes that vaccine, or does the patent - you know, do they ignore - do they not care about a patent, and they just give this out to the world, and lose all the money that they've potentially invested in it?

RIVERS: It's true that identifying a safe and effective vaccine is really the first step. You also need to look at manufacturing, distribution. The good news is that these are things that we can be planning for and investing in now.

We don't know which final product, which vaccine, is going to be the winner, and that makes it a little bit more difficult to plan around. But we can start to identify what are those opportunities to shorten that time line, to scale up our capacities, so that when there is a product available, we have what we need in order to get it to people as quickly as possible.

COOPER: Professor Rivers, I appreciate it. Sanjay, thanks so much. Just a reminder, tomorrow is our tenth consecutive Coronavirus Town Hall. Sanjay and I are gathering together for this Coronavirus Town Hall Facts and Fears. Two hours. The latest on the virus, the science, answers to your questions.

Joining us will be award winning journalist that we just talked about, Laurie Garrett, author of The Coming Plague. Spike Lee, who is going to premiere a new short film about New York, calls it a valentine to New York City. That's tomorrow night starting at 8pm Eastern.

Still to come tonight, a lot more. A live report from the White House on the President's decision to backtrack on getting rid of the White House task force. His reason for doing so perhaps more surprising than the reversal itself as I referenced earlier.

Also Gary Tuchman visiting a hog farm in - in Minnesota. The dilemma they're facing because of the supply chain issue on the - the food supply caused by the pandemic. That's ahead.



COOPER: Tonight we're talking about the push coming from the White House to reopen the economy, something that, yesterday, many believed the coronavirus task force might not have been around to see much longer in order to give guidance. President Trump and the Vice President both had indicated the group might be disbanded.

There was a lot of outcry yesterday about that, and instead today President Trump backed away from that idea. Joining us from the White House is Jim Acosta.

So Jim, what happened? Because first it was winding down. The Vice President said it. The President indicated it. Now the President says it's back on again. And his reasoning was kind of surprising for - for why - what he said about it. Explain.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. Surprising, and not so surprising, Anderson. Let me try to explain. Yesterday the President was saying we're ready to move on to other things. We're moving to other phases of reopening the country, and basically indicating they were going to wind down the work of this task force.

And then suddenly today, the President tweeted, it's going to stay around indefinitely, and then told reporters earlier in the day that he likes to keep it around because it's ended up as being something popular that his administration is doing. And here's what he had to say.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I guess if you think, we're always winding it down. But, you know, it's a question of what - what the end point is - is. But I think it is a change a little bit. I thought we could wind it down sooner. But I had no idea how popular the task force is, until actually yesterday, when I started talking about winding it down.

I'd get calls from very respected people saying, "I think it would be better to keep it going. It's done such a good job. It's a respected task force. It's a -." I - I knew it myself. I didn't know whether or not it was appreciated by the public.


ACOSTA: And Anderson, the President went on to say that Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx, they're going to be staying on the task force. And I talked to an administration official who's familiar with some of the meetings that are going on, these task force meetings.

And this official said, you know, look, yes. In the past, Dr. Fauci has rankled people inside the White House, including the President, because he is so blunt spoken, and will say things that contradict the President from time to time.

But that now aides to the President, even the President himself, have come to this realization that Dr. Fauci is going to say what he wants to say, and speak his mind. And for now they've made their peace with that.

COOPER: I mean, let's translate this into reality, though. I mean, clearly the President, you know, saw how popular the task force was. Jumped onto it. Used it for his own purposes in order to, you know, sort of do campaign style long talks, while Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx would sit on the side, and then they'd be allowed to speak.

The reason it's so popular is because people are literally, in some cases, dying, waiting for facts and scientific information that will save them. And people are tuning in because they want that - that scientific information.


And now for the President to say that he's just surprised how popular it is. It's not a popularity contest. I mean, he's - I know he's talked about the ratings, the virus task force briefings before.

That's the thing that stands out to him as opposed to the virus task force, (a), it is supposedly the hub of the federal government response to a pandemic, which is still ongoing and killing large numbers of people. Kayleigh McEnany, Jim, was also asked -


COOPER: -- about the president saying he doesn't want Dr. Fauci testifying before the house. What did she have to say about that?

ACOSTA: Yes, again, another contradiction here. Yesterday the president was telling reporters that he didn't want Dr. Fauci to testify in front of the house appropriations committee because he didn't want Dr. Fauci to testify in front of what he called Trump haters.

And so today, Kayleigh McEnany, the new White House press secretary said, no, they're not blocking Dr. Fauci from testifying up on Capitol Hill. Yes, they're stopping him from testifying in the house, but they're allowing him to testify in front of the senate. Sort of overlooking the fact that the president had said one day earlier that it was basically for a blatant partisan political reason as to why Dr. Fauci is not going to be testifying in the house.

Anderson, Kayleigh McEnany pledged to the American people last week she is not going to lie at these briefings, but she certainly was spinning in that answer. To say that the president is not blocking Dr. Fauci is just not really in touch with reality.

COOPER: Why does the White House control Dr. Fauci and where he speaks? I mean, I don't understand -- I mean, why aren't the scientists liberated to speak where they want to speak and feel, you know, to speak to democratically elected representatives?

ACOSTA: Anderson, I think one of the reasons why is we saw this earlier this year back in March, Dr. Fauci was testifying in the house and he was asked about how testing was going in this country, and he told the truth. He said that essentially at that point when he testified, testing for the coronavirus had been a failure.

That did not go over well inside the White house, and so I think they're concerned that if it's a democratic-led committee, that they can take Dr. Fauci to places that the White House doesn't want him to go.

The problem is that he's going to be testifying in front of the senate next week in front of the republican-led committee led by Senator Lamar Alexander, but there will be democrats on that committee who are going to be asking the uncomfortable questions. And as we've seen in the past, Dr. Fauci will not hold back. He will say what's on his mind despite what they want him to say inside the White House.

COOPER: Yes, I mean, you'd think republicans also would be asking some uncomfortable questions because there are a lot of questions to be asked. Jim Acosta, Jim, thanks.

ACOSTA: Absolutely.

COOPER: Joining me now Samantha Power a former U.S. ambassador to the U.N., author of the bestselling memoir Education of an Idealist. Ambassador Power, good to see you, thanks for being with us. You've described the U.S. response to this virus is fatality inadequate.

Last month you wrote that if President Trump continues to go at a go- it-alone approach, then the virus will, "Cause a catastrophic loss of life and make it impossible to restore normalcy in the United States for the foreseeable future." Are we on that road now?

SAMANTHA POWER, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UN: The road to catastrophe? Well, certainly I mean the spread of a pandemic is a catastrophe for any family that is touched by it. And you are seeing it move now into developing countries that have nowhere near the wherewithal to handle it. And we know how hard it is in a developed nation like this one, so it's not going well.

There was a funders conference a couple days ago in Europe where President Macron of France, Chancellor Merkel, even recovered Boris Johnson prime minister of the United Kingdom came and made pledges to try pool national resources so as to be able to distribute PPE, distribute masks, gloves, meds, maybe even eventually ventilators to developing countries that have none of this infrastructure, and ultimately when there is a vaccine potentially to be in a position to distribute vaccine.

And the United States didn't even show up. There was not even a junior diplomat in the chair. Madonna gave more resources to that pledging conference than the United States of America.

So, the leadership from the U.S. is not happening. Luckily other countries are starting to step up along with people like Bill Gates who themselves, again, are donating more as foundations or even as individuals than the entire federal government of the United States. But again, it's only going to get worse before it gets better.

COOPER: Yes, I mean, if China develops a vaccine or some other country develops a vaccine, I'm wondering if there is a potential for -- you know, if there is a division between us and the rest of the world on this. We're not participating in the global effort. We're not - through WHO or others in this conference. You know, it seems like it's sort of ignoring the obvious, which is this is a global pandemic and we are all in this together. And what happens in one place affects us as well.


POWER: Well, there are many respects in which we're in it together. So, one is that, you know, because of America's supply chains which extend into so many developing countries, including, of course, Bangladesh, China, India, we really do have an economic vested interest in the pandemic not raging in vulnerable, overcrowded communities.

COOPER: That's where a lot of -- that's where a lot of our prescription drugs come from.

POWER: For example, which would come in handy right about now. So, there's that sense of connectivity. And you would think, again, that President Trump would be focusing on that because the return to economic normalcy is a driving imperative for him.

But the other way in which we're connected is we can learn from one another. You know, the staggered spread of this disease allowed us to learn, for example, from Taiwan which knew from the very beginning not to believe China's data, not to believe statements coming out of the Chinese government, and they took some of the quickest preparations and, thus, ended up in a very strong position to combat the pandemic, which they have done.

Hong Kong, too, the authorities there and the citizens paying very little attention to Chinese claims and shutting down travel to Wuhan much quicker than other countries. South Korea's testing, the spot testing that they did, I think, we each had our first case on the same day, and South Korea now has recorded a day without any local cases while we're facing a pandemic that is spiraling in so many communities in the United States.

So there's learning to be done. And then, what you talk about, of course, the vaccine, the pooling of scientific expertise. I think a lot of that collaboration does still go on behind the scenes, but we do want to be in a position where, no matter who the inventor of the vaccine is, that our citizens are in a position to be able to benefit from that vaccine.

We have reason to be confident that our scientists and the investments that we are making in supporting those efforts -- Operation Warp Speed, I think President Trump has called it -- we've every reason to hope that with all the expertise that we have that the United States will fare very well in this concentrated accelerated effort to get a vaccine.

But it is still in our interest for the virus to be wiped out all around the earth, even if we end up in the pole position.

COOPER: Ambassador Power, appreciate your time, thank you very much. Difficult days. POWER: Thank you.

COOPER: Up next, the heart-wrenching story of a pregnant nurse on the front lines who got coronavirus herself and faced terrible complications. My interview with her sister in a moment.



COOPER: One note. Today is National Nurses' Day, a time to celebrate, appreciate those nurses on the front lines helping to battling the coronavirus. There are obviously many stories about their dedication and courage and bravery in the face of this crisis.

But we want to tell you tonight about one pregnant nurse, treating coronavirus patients in Brooklyn, who got the virus herself, and now needs help. She is Sylvia LeRoy. And her baby was delivered prematurely and safely by caesarean section while Sylvia was in a coma. But that by no means is the end of this story, not in the least. Earlier, I spoke to her sister, Shirley Licin.

COOPER: So Shirley, maybe if you - can you just walk us through what - what happened to - to your sister after she contracted COVID-19?

SHIRLEY LICIN, SISTER OF NURSE WHO CONTRACTED COVID-19: Sure. Sylvia picked this up, likely at work. She's on the front lines. She's a nurse at Brookdale Hospital. And she actually had gone into her hospital mid March, because she wasn't feeling well. She was nauseous, she was vomiting. She was also six months pregnant.

So she didn't make much of it. And went to the hospital, had a quick stay. Was sent back home with some antibiotics. And then a couple of days later, she went back into the hospital, really not feeling well with a fever.

And then they did a test for her. She tested positive for COVID. And she rapidly deteriorated in a - in a matter of days. She went to Mount Sinai. The very next day, she was put on a ventilator.

She was doing well. She was able to get into the trial with the Ebola drug remdesivir, and was doing so well. We were so hopeful for her. In the meantime, my dad had contracted COVID. My mom had contracted COVID. Her husband, and her children. My mom developed the pneumonia, and had to go and have her stay at Mount Sinai in the same hospital with Sylvia.

My mom went home. She recovered. My dad had it really mildly. But Sylvia's was the worst. Hers was really, really bad. But after seven days, she came off the ventilator. She had ICU delirium, which seems to be impacting a lot of folks that are coming off of the ventilators.

And she was doing well. She was doing well, Anderson. Sylvia really wanted to FaceTime with me. And I very much regret it, because I thought she needed to rest, and she was supposed to be discharged to go home. And, you know, this was around 11 o'clock in the morning. And then, you know, around 3:20 or 3:30 in the afternoon, I get a call from her attending doctor saying that Sylvia coded. And we were on the phone together, and she was saying that she was so sorry for my sister, and I just - I was frozen on the phone.

And I knew I had to call her husband. I was like, I need to get Jeff on the line. And we were listening while they were administering CPR to her. And after what I can say was the most awful number of seconds or minutes that it took, they said they found a pulse.


And they rushed her off to the operating room to have an emergency c- section. Sylvia was 30 weeks pregnant.

So her baby, Esther, was born. Esther was born. Thankfully, she's doing OK. She was a little blue, so you could tell there wasn't enough time -- or, you know, she didn't have a lot of oxygen. She was a little blue and she was whisked off to the NICU, and then my sister went back on the ventilator, back on life support.

She had sustained eight minutes of no -- you know, no oxygen to breathe. They did an MRI and she suffered an anoxic brain injury. She's not responding.

COOPER: And, of course, all - I mean, you're not able to be with her, to actually see her?

LICIN: No. I mean, in an otherwise non-COVID world, our family would be with her, we would be touching her, we would be talking to her, we would be holding her.

COOPER: And I understand that there's a specific program that might be able to make a difference with Sylvia, to might be able to help her. What is that?

LICIN: Yes. So, I did a lot of research because what we're going through is some issues with insurance. I found out that Sylvia could go to what's called acute rehabilitation for some specialized programs that are only had at a handful of rehab centers across the country.

COOPER: I mean, she's a nurse, her insurance, you say, won't cover that?

LICIN: No. What we've learned from her insurance -- she's part of a union called the 1199, and they have a subsidiary of Cigna called CareAllies who initially only wanted to cover for 30 days of acute rehabilitation for her.

Sylvia needs months and months of rehab. We ran, you know, a story in the "New York Post", and then they just agreed to at least go for 60 days. And we were told that we need to get private insurance because she's not eligible for Medicaid.

We're trying to do workers' compensation because Sylvia picked this up at work, but unfortunately with workers' compensation in New York, cases are just not being approved right now.

COOPER: And workers' compensation isn't being processed at this point. I mean, what do you do? I mean, what do you do?

LICIN: We put a GoFundMe page to see what we can fund for Sylvia. Sylvia has needs that none of us can comprehend. Even a discharge plan, even getting Sylvia into this rehabilitation center where she -- this is her fighting chance.

COOPER: I mean, the idea that somebody is a nurse who's dedicated their lives to helping other people, in a time of need cannot get, you know, the medical attention that she needs is beyond horrific, and unfair, and devastating.


COOPER: Could you just tell me a little bit about Sylvia? I mean, what - did she -- did she love being a nurse? What, is this something that she'd always -- I mean, most -- you know, most nurses are -- I mean, it's a calling.

LICIN: She started at Brookdale Hospital, and years later I asked her, like, "Why don't -- why don't you leave? You can go into private practice, you can do some other things." And she said, "You know, this is a disadvantaged, you know, group of people that live in this area, in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn. If I leave, who else is going to educate them? Who else is going to care for them?"

That's the kind of sister that I have. She deserves a chance. She deserves to have whatever her best actual can be.


COOPER: We're putting the GoFundMe page on the screen and she deserves help and support, and it's -- I hope this helps and we'll continue to follow this, Shirley. I'm so sorry for what you and everybody in your family is going through, it's -- and Sylvia, we wish her the best and wish you the best.

LICIN: Thank you, Anderson, we appreciate it. Thank you so much.

COOPER: It's just an outrageous story. This is a nurse who has dedicated her life -- a pregnant nurse dedicated her life to helping other people. Got coronavirus, and now needs to go to this specialized facility and is unable to because of the insurance she has, and what it will and will not cover, apparently.

It's an incredible story. We reached out to both Cigna and the Nurses Union. Signa told us it was not responsible for making the choices of what's covered. Tonight, the union gave us this statement.


"Our hearts go out to Sylvia LeRoy and her family. While we're not able to discuss the details of individual cases due to confidentiality issues and HIPAA requirements, we can tell you that we are working to ensure that Sylvia gets the care she needs."

Well, we'll continue to follow that and see if that's true. Let's hope it is. Again, if you'd like to help, please go to the GoFundMe page on the screen, " proper-care". I'll be donating as well. We'll Tweet that out and put it on our Facebook and Instagram pages as well.

A lot more ahead tonight, including new details about the food supply chain, what some major meat processing plants are now saying about reopening.


COOPER: The pandemic is impacting the food supply chain, as we've been reporting. Wendy's said today it expects a beef shortage, that's impacting about a thousand of its restaurants, to continue for the foreseeable future. Tyson says it'll open its pork processing plant in Waterloo, Iowa, tomorrow. Still, actions like that may come too late for hog farmers who have not been able to send their pigs to market and now face extremely difficult decisions. Now, Gary Tuchman paid a visit to one of those family farms in Minnesota.



GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Alex Hoehm is a sixth generation farmer. He, his wife, and his father are proud hog farmers, who are getting ready for a traumatizing experience.

ALEX HOEHM, HOG FARMER: I'd never imagined having to - to do this.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): What they are going to do is a result of a closing of American pork plants. There is no place for these pigs to go. Each of these hogs should have been out of here two to three weeks ago, sent to market. But it looks like they never will, so the decision has been made to humanely euthanize most, if not all, of them. And that will happen as early as this week.

All of this Minnesota family's fully grown pigs go to market to one particular pork plant in South Dakota. But the Smithfield facility in Sioux Falls was shut down in the middle of April, with more than 800 employee COVID cases linked to it.

With so many plants closed, and such a backlog of pigs, some of which weigh up to 340 pounds, the Hoehm family is desperate. Before COVID- 19, they would typically send off about 700 hogs every week. They say they now have about 3,500 ready to go, and nowhere to send them.

And these are the family's baby pigs. About 3,000 of them, in an overcrowded nursery barn that usually has around 2,400. The fully grown pigs being euthanized by gunshot will leave room for these little ones as they get bigger, but the babies could face the same fate in a few months. Doc Hoehm is the patriarch of the family.

DOC HOEHM, FARMER: We put down sick pigs, because you feel sorry for them. But have a healthy pig, and have to take a rifle and shoot it, it's unreal.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): The Hoehms and many other hog farmers say they are desperate for federal assistance.

ANDREA HOEHM, HOG FARMER: If we don't get help, I - I truly think that we are looking at bankruptcy. That this is going to be the end of our family farm.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Even if every shut down pork plant opened quickly, with all the employees coming back to work, which is not about to happen, including in South Dakota, where Smithfield reopened Monday with less than one tenth of its original employees, many farmers say there are just way too many hogs backed up in the pipeline.

ALEX HOEHM: And there's just a lot of people that will not survive this.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Does this family see any realistic chance in avoiding financial ruin?

ANDREA HOEHM: No. But I'm surviving solely on hope.


COOPER: And Gary's in Minnesota for us. So Gary, does Washington have plans to help hog farmers?

TUCHMAN: Well, Anderson, the USDA has announced a partial bailout, a plan for farmers, and including pig farmers. But the operative word is partial. According to the National Pork Producers Council, which represents pork producers throughout the United States, this is just a fraction of the amount of money that pig farmers need.

They figure that pig farmers will lose $5 billion this year, that's possible, and there's a desperate need for more money from Washington. Absolutely necessary, they say.

It's also important to point this out. The trade wars that were instituted by the Trump administration two years ago in April 2018. China dramatically raised tariffs for pork. And that devastated many pig farmers here in the United States. Many of them, like the family in our story, still suffer from that as they go into this crisis with COVID.

One more thing I want to mention to you, Anderson. We all know that pigs get slaughtered when they go to the plant. But the people who raise the pigs, the pig farmers, they don't kill pigs. They raise the pigs. And that's why, as you saw in this story, it's so devastating for this family, and the five year old boy you saw in this story. They're not going to tell him. They don't have the heart to tell him what's happening to their pigs - Anderson.

COOPER: Gary Tuchman. Gary, thanks very much. We recorded that interview with Gary earlier. Up next, a special moment for this dad. A volunteer nurse waiting to see his family after helping out in a New York City hospital.



COOPER: As we mentioned before, today is national nurse's day and I wanted to share something with you and our viewers. Last night, we highlighted the work of some of the nurses -- just a small number of the nurses that are helping to save so many lives.

Jim Mullen was one of them, he left his home in Texas in April in order to volunteer in New York city and he hadn't seen his wife, Gena, or his two-year-old -- two and a half-year-old daughter, Gracie, for five weeks. It's the longest they've been apart.

After working 12-hour overnight shifts, Jim is now back in Texas. He's still in quarantine. This is Gracie just last night. It was that taco Tuesday at their house but Jim wasn't there because he's in quarantine and he's waiting out in a hotel just a few miles away from his home. After we aired our segment last night Jim sent us this video of Gracie seeing her dad on television. Let's watch.


GRACIE MULLEN: Daddy! Oh! What is this --


COOPER: I love her excitement. Jim will be reunited with Gracie and Gena on Saturday and we cannot wait for that. Very excited. It's incredible. He volunteered to come to New York to be a nurse. He wasn't even working as a nurse anymore. He had nurse training but he decided, "You know what, I'm going to do this." The news continues right now.