New York, 2 states hire COVID-19 'contact tracers'

Called "disease detectives," they will track down and isolate people who test positive for novel coronavirus.
6:10 | 04/22/20

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Transcript for New York, 2 states hire COVID-19 'contact tracers'
Good evening. It's great to have you with us on a Wednesday night. Amid the growing debate about reopening the country too early. The new data just out on who is most vulnerable. We've reported so much on the lungs this week, on the heart. Now kidneys and other parts of the body being targeted. President trump speaking just moments ago as the death toll mounts. More than 46,000 lives lost in the U.S. With so much talk about reaching a plateau in New York, the reality for doctors and nurses still working so hard on the front lines. This E.R. Overflowing. The medical team racing to revive patients. Governor Cuomo saying this is no time to act stupidly. New Jersey's death toll topping 5,000. Massachusetts surging past 2,000. Nearly doubling in just a week. Again, the long lines for food. The Pittsburgh airport right there. In Florida tonight, news of one veteran, a father waiting in line for hours only to learn there was no food left. He got into a second line, and heard the same thing again. Ways Americans can help. And the doctor at the department of health and human services, part of the team working to get a vaccine. Saying he's been removed from his post after speaking out. Whit Johnson leads us off from New York. Reporter: Tonight, even as New York descends from its peak, the number of patients flooding hospitals is still shockingly high. Overnight, more than 1,300 new admissions. A tough week in the E.R. Is the associated press given access into St. Joseph's medical center in Yonkers. A nurse frantically pumping a man's chest. The medical team in full protective gear standing back, arms up until that jolt to the he's revived and put on a ventilator. We do this all day every day for the last month, multiple times a day. Reporter: Dr. Anthony Leno says it's a daily struggle between life and death. It's been a nightmare. We have a volume of sick people like you can't believe. In one shift, I pronounced six people dead. Reporter: New York hit the hardest of any state. But finally coming down the mountain. We're in a relatively good place. Better to be going down than to be going up. Reporter: In Manhattan, police officers cheering for a stream of volunteer health workers from other states now heading home. Governor Cuomo announcing he's now building another army, joining with the governors of New Jersey and Connecticut to hire so called contact tracers, disease detectives to track down and isolate people who test positive for covid-19. We will literally need thousands. We have to put together a significant operation because the numbers get very big very quickly here. Reporter: Tonight, in three southern states, a roaring debate about whether plans to reopen are moving too fast. In Georgia, where places like gyms and bowling alleys could open their doors on Friday, some big city mayors are pushing back. There's nothing essential about going to a bowling alley in the middle of a pandemic. Reporter: Governor Brian Kemp defending his plan. Listen, if people don't want to go, they don't have to. Reporter: Dr. Deborah birx of the coronavirus task force in the uncomfortable position of answering questions about whether Georgia's plan makes sense. So if there's a way that people can social distance and do those things, then they can do those things. I don't know how, but people are very creative. Reporter: Hard choices for Atlanta barber shop owner John Douglas, who's decided he's not ready to reopen. I was excited, but then I had to just sit back, calm down, and relax, and just realize it's probably not the right time. Reporter: Ford fry is eager to get his 12 Atlanta restaurants back in business but says the risk is too high. The climate was that no one's ready to go out yet. Reporter: But in south Carolina, Catherine gouge was thrilled to reopen her boutique. We're excited to be open again. We're excited to have some other options of how we can allow people to shop. Reporter: Out west, the mayor of Las Vegas raising eyebrows with her plan. So for a restaurant to be open or a small boutique to be open, they better figure it out. That's their job. That's not the mayor's job. Reporter: California's governor Gavin Newsom firmly closing the door on reopening large sectors of the economy. We are not prepared to do that today. Reporter: And today California revealing startling new information about the spread of the virus in the U.S. Authorities have determined two people in Santa Clara died in their homes on February 6th and 17th, weeks before the first reported American death. Neither person had traveled overseas, raising new questions about just how long the virus has been on our shores. We've actually directed beyond just Santa Clara to go back as far as December to request coroners' autopsy to dig even deeper. The governor there. Whit, the president making news just moments ago, acknowledging he's talked with Georgia's governor. The president said he talked about cautioning the governor against opening too quickly here. And you've also got news tonight from governor Cuomo? Reporter: Yeah, David. President trump said he disagrees strongly with what Georgia was doing, moving forward without meeting the task force guidelines. Meantime, governor Cuomo says he wants to double the testing capacity in this state. It's at 20,000 now. He wants it to be 40,000, and he said that president trump in their meeting at the white house yesterday agreed to use the powers of the federal government to help get labs the testing supplies they need. David? Whit, thank you. As we reported at the top, a doctor at the department of

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