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CNN/Facebook Global Town Hall; 41 Deaths, 1,600 Plus Confirmed Coronavirus Cases in U.S.; CDC Director: "Europe is the New China" for Coronavirus Outbreak; Answers to your Coronavirus Questions. Aired 10- 11p ET
Aired March 12, 2020 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Hey, and welcome to the CNN FACEBOOK GLOBAL TOWN HALL that's being seen around the world on CNN, CNN International, CNN en Espanol, CNN.com, HLN, and Facebook.com. I'm Anderson Cooper.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: And I'm Dr. Sanjay Gupta. These next two hours are all about getting you the facts and answering your questions. So, you can send them to us now. Go to CNN's Facebook page and leave a comment on the top. Post your question. You can also go to CNN's Instagram page and leave a question in our story.
COOPER: We're also going to be taking people's questions live from across the country and around the world. What we won't do is take questions from people here in the studio. As you can see, this time last week, we gathered here in this room, these seats were filled. Tonight, they sit empty because health officials are now warning against large gatherings.
It's an example, now one of many, of how rapidly we are all adapting and will have to adapt and how the coronavirus is changing our lives, at work, at home, at school, how we travel, how we're entertained. Nearly every element of our daily life has been altered or may soon be.
GUPTA: Yes, but one thing this outbreak won't stop is our continued reporting on it. So while the seats here may be empty, our town hall is going to go on. We are going to spend the next two hours talking to experts and answering questions that you've been submitting to us, so many of them, as well, through Facebook and Instagram, who we're going to partner with tonight on this.
We're also going to check in with our reporters from around the globe about what they're seeing right now and how it's different from country to country and how that might inform what comes next here.
COOPER: And if you watched last week, it's a big difference just from last week to tonight. We started last week's town hall with a bit of a reality check on what we know and what we don't know about the virus as of right now, so we want to do the same thing again with Dr. Gupta right now.
What is the biggest thing that we do not know right now and the one that -- most important thing that we do know?
GUPTA: I think -- unfortunately, the thing that we don't know still, especially when it comes to the United States, is just the extent of how widespread this coronavirus is.
COOPER: Because we don't have the test, we don't know how big this really is.
GUPTA: We really don't. And, you know, we've been saying this for weeks now. It remains a consistent concern, I know one that we're going to talk about tonight.
COOPER: Yes. And just in terms of what we do know...
GUPTA: You know, I think what's interesting is, people are hearing about these social distancing mechanisms and, you know, how much their lives are going to change, just like you mentioned. What we do know from pandemics past is that these can work. I mean, some pretty awful pandemics in the past have been really mitigated and even stopped because of these social distancing -- and so we're going to explain why that is tonight.
COOPER: Yes. Let's take a look at where we are right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Grim announcement just moments ago from the World Health Organization.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The WHO has now declared that this outbreak is a pandemic.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Here is what we're seeing in the U.S. right now, a dramatic rise in the number of cases in just a week-and-a-half.
COOPER (voice-over): There are now more than 1,500 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the U.S. across at least 46 states. One week ago, at our last town hall, there were just 205 cases in 17 states. And those are just the cases we know about. The virus shows no sign of slowing down. And despite assurances from the administration, current testing is inadequate.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGIES AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: The system does not -- is not really geared to what we need right now, what you are asking for. That is a failing.
COOPER: New York state now has the largest number of cases in the country. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has set up a one-mile containment zone in New Rochelle, where schools and houses of worship will be closed for at least two weeks. The National Guard have been sent in to help clean public spaces within the zone.
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): It is a dramatic action, but it is the largest cluster in the country. And this is literally a matter of life and death. COOPER: All across the country, large gatherings are being limited,
events cancelled, schools closed. In just one week, the virus has spread to at least 20 more countries across the globe. There are more than 25,000 new cases, more than 1,000 more deaths.
FAUCI: Bottom line, it's going to get worse.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, according to the New York State Department of Health, there are now 148 cases in Westchester County, one of the biggest case clusters in the United States, with the community of New Rochelle at the center of the outbreak. Today, it became the first -- the country's first coronavirus containment zone.
CNN's Erica Hill is there for us right now. Erica, the National Guard has been called in. What are they doing? What's the role they're going to be playing there?
ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So they are here, Anderson, largely for logistical and operational purposes.
And I spoke with the mayor earlier tonight, and he said that's what they really want to stress. They are not here to keep anybody out of that containment zone. That area is not on lockdown. It is not a quarantine zone. People are free to move in and out, but as you said, houses of worship and schools are closed and large gatherings have been discouraged.
So part of what they will be doing is, in terms of those logistics, is actually helping to get food to people. The mayor told me that there are thousands of children within this school district who are food insecure, and they are very much concerned about them over these next couple of weeks as the schools are closed here through March 25th. So the National Guard will not only help set up distribution centers, but if need be, Anderson, will be delivering food to those children and their families.
COOPER: So just to be clear, they're not imposing any kind of a lockdown or policing?
HILL: No, you're right. They're not. You can drive in and out. I was driving around earlier today, just to see what was open. No one stopped me. There wasn't a large National Guard or police presence. Again, they're not here for a lockdown. And the area is not under a full quarantine.
GUPTA: You know, one thing, I was over there -- this is Sanjay, Erica -- I was over there earlier today. It's worth pointing out that there was one case there last weekend, March 6th, and now over 148 cases. But I keep hearing, as we've talked about, we don't really know how many cases there are. Is there more testing there, where you are now?
HILL: There is more testing that is going to start happening here. So there's a satellite testing facility that's been set up in New Rochelle, and that's going to hope tomorrow. That is, though, by appointment only. Appointments -- preference in those appointments is being given to people who've been under quarantine.
But the mayor told me today they've been doing informational robocalls every day throughout the community, and today that robocall really stressed to folks they cannot just show up at that drive-through testing site. They will not be able to get a test. They have to first go through their doctor.
But he said what this will facilitate is that the testing can be done sooner. Earlier, they had to take the swab here and then send it all the way up north to Albany. This way, they can do it and get the results in a much quicker fashion.
COOPER: All right, Erica Hill. Thanks very much.
We have some virus-related breaking news right now, comes from Canada. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's wife, Sophie Trudeau, has tested positive for the novel coronavirus. That's according to a statement from the prime minister's office. She's said to be feeling well and will remain in isolation. Prime Minister Trudeau has no symptoms but will be in isolation for 14 days. According to the statement, he's not being tested at this time.
Now, Europe, the week, the director of the CDC said the epicenter, the "New China is Europe." That's a quote. The worst known outbreak right now is in Italy. Two weeks ago, Italy had 400 confirmed cases. Last week, 3,000, and about 100 people died. This week, according to the Italian government, more than 15,000 people now have tested positive and more than a thousand are dead.
CNN's Ben Wedeman is in Bologna for us tonight. Explain this nationwide lockdown. What is it like for people? Can they leave their apartment? If so, when? What's it like -- what's life like in a lockdown?
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's fairly eerie here in Bologna, where we arrived just a few days ago, and the streets were full of people, full of traffic. Now you go out to the main square, the piazza, which is just up the street from where we are, it's empty. There's some police there. But by and large, it just has completely transformed ordinary life in this city.
Now, you can go out. You can go out for a jog or a walk, walk your dog, take your children for a walk. But you have to keep a distance from other people. You cannot -- kids cannot go out and play a game of soccer, for instance. No public assembly is allowed.
Shops -- some shops are open. You can go buy -- go to the supermarket. You can go to a fresh produce store. You can go to the pharmacy. Even computer repair shops are open. But everything else, Anderson, is closed.
Also closed, in Rome today, it was announced that churches would be closed, even for individuals going in for private prayer. This is the first time that has happened ever -- not during World War II, not during the Black Plague, not even the sack of Rome in 455 AD.
COOPER: That's incredible.
GUPTA: You know, Ben, I had a question. I was watching reports about the medical system and just the pressure on the medical system. So important, because we're worried about that happening, obviously, here in the United States. How are things now? How do you describe that pressure? Are they able to take care of patients?
WEDEMAN: The pressure is intense. You know, you talk to doctors, they talk about a wave of patients, a tsunami of patients, a bomb hitting the national health service. Now, keep in mind, as you know, Sanjay, the outbreak is focused in Northern Italy. That's the richest part of the country. It has the best public health system in Europe by far. And they are struggling.
They have added hundreds of new intensive care units, but nonetheless, they are being overwhelmed. You know, the doctors are working long shifts. When they put on these all-encompassing hazmat suits, they are sweating pounds of sweat through their shift. And it is -- we heard, for instance, the prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, a few days ago warning the numbers are going to continue to rise and put continuing pressure on the public health system.
Now, the Italian media is reporting that he warned in a closed-door cabinet session that the number of cases in Italy could hit 100,000. At the moment today, the latest figures were 15,000. And the worry is that this health system, which is good -- I've been in it myself, I've been treated by it, it is excellent -- but the numbers are something nobody was prepared for. We understand that China is going to donate 20,000 medical suits, 10,000 ventilators. So it's desperately in need of help, and it is struggling at the moment to deal with the number of patients.
COOPER: I know a lot of doctors here are looking at what's happening there with great concern. Ben Wedeman, appreciate all your reporting. For you and your team, stay safe.
GUPTA: Thanks, Ben.
COOPER: In China, some possible good news. Health officials there are claiming they are seeing a decline in the number of new cases. Two weeks ago, for example, 78,000 cases, more than 2,700 deaths. A week ago, 80,000 cases, 3,000 deaths. Today, nearly 81,000 cases, with death toll climbing to nearly 3,200.
CNN's David Culver joins us now in Shanghai. David, what are officials in China attributing to what they say is this leveling off of new cases? DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, it's interesting listening
to Ben reporting there in Italy and the fact that where this started, they are now sending help out to the world. The epicenter of all of this here in China is now under control to such an extent that they feel like they can help other countries like Italy.
It is a significant turnaround, especially when you look at the daily number of reported cases. I mean, we're talking about single digits now. Just go back a few weeks, we were talking about in the hundreds, even in the thousands.
What we need to stress, though, is it did not start out this. Early on -- go back seven weeks, when we were in Wuhan, they had allegations of cover-up, allegations of underreporting, they had, really, only 200 tests a day for a city population of 11 million.
What changed was when the central government stepped in. They pushed out the local government. They said, we're taking control. It became a military-like operation. They began ramping up production of face masks. They began opening these field hospitals.
Our daily lives changed drastically. I look on social media and I see folks in the states and in Europe, and it's kind of jarring, for me to be quite honest, to see people out in fitness centers, to see them still going out in social settings, because here it was just about overnight where churches were closed, fitness centers were closed, restaurants were closed, everything came to a halt. And it has not been perfect, but the numbers are showing that it seems to have been at least effective for now.
GUPTA: I've got to say, it's just remarkable that China now donating some equipment to places like Italy. You know, obviously, people are going to hear this, David, and it gives some hope maybe here in the United States that we're going to come through this and hopefully get back to a normal way of life. What do you think, having been over there for so long? Should we be hopeful based on what you're seeing in China?
CULVER: And, Sanjay, I feel the anxiety from my family and friends. I see it coming in my Instagram and Facebook messages. People are flooding me, people just wanting to cling onto something positive. And I get that.
We are seeing signs of coming back to life here. Just today, the parks are reopening in Shanghai. Restaurants have given the all-clear to have as many people as they need party wise to come in and book a table. Tourist attractions are starting to reopen. Shanghai Disney opening shops, opening some of their restaurants, not yet the park, but little by little, it's coming back online.
Sanjay, though, you used a word in your Facebook Live a couple of hours ago that stood out to me. It's humility. And while people are getting back to this new normal, they're doing so with this sense of humility, humility of knowing what they do not know, and that is still a lot. They're very cautious as to those social settings. So even though things seem to be under control, they're very wary of who they're in touch with, how close they're getting to people. Sanitizing is still an hourly thing, if not, every half-hour people are doing it.
And so, they're incredibly mindful of this new way of life. And, you know, I go back to how we were acting seven weeks ago, and, Sanjay, I'm surprised you haven't blocked my e-mails yet, because you've guided me through a lot of this. And your advice is something that we have stuck to quite religiously here.
We don't step out of our hotel without having a strategic plan of action. Every day is planned to the minute as far as where we're going to go, where we're going to eat, who we're going to be in touch with. And if we can avoid that exposure, we'd do it. It's about taking these risk assessments.
GUPTA: It's incredible.
COOPER: David Culver, appreciate all your reporting from you and your team. It has been extraordinary.
Joining us now, very pleased to have Joining us now, very pleased to have Dr. Anthony Fauci, a member of the president's Coronavirus Task Force, director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases. He testified before Congress today.
Dr. Fauci, first of all, we very much appreciate you being here given how busy you are fighting this pandemic. You are the front line and we just appreciate it. And we have a lot of questions from people all around the world for you. Before we get to that, I do want to get some facts on the table.
And I don't want to put you in a difficult spot given you're working with the Coronavirus Task Force and the administration, but there has been misinformation out there. And I just want to try to get -- separate facts from what is true and what's not true. The president has said over the last two weeks a number of things. And, again, I don't want to put you on the spot, but he has said that the virus is very well under control in this country. Is that true or false?
FAUCI: Well, I don't want to say true/false. I can just tell you what's going on. We're having an acceleration of cases, as you just delineated with Sanjay. It's obvious what's going on. When you look at outbreaks of this sort, you have this for a while and then it does that. You just described the very unfortunate situation in Italy which went up like this.
What we hope to do with both containment and mitigation is to get this peak to actually flatten out. I don't think we're at all going to get away with not a lot more cases. We will have a lot more cases. The question is, are we going to blunt that peak? And the things we're doing by preventing infections from coming outside in with the travel restrictions, which are totally appropriate and I think are very helpful as well as doing containment and mitigation from within, the things that you've described that people are doing according to the recommendations and guidelines of the CDC.
So, that's the hope. But it's going to go up. As I said today at the hearing, it's definitely going to get worse before it gets better.
COOPER: In a public -- in a pandemic, facts can save lives. Misinformation can cost lives. Who should people -- watching tonight, who should people listen to in the government for factual information they can use? I mean, the Coronavirus Task Force didn't have a briefing today. You were testifying today. You have given out factual information. Is it the Coronavirus Task Force? Is it the president? Who should we listen to?
FAUCI: Well, I think you look at the scientific data and the scientific data are almost always presented by people in public health, scientists, physician, and others. So, I mean, I've been trying as best as I can to be out there as often as I can. You can hear from my voice that that has been a lot. And that's what we're trying to do. We're trying to get information, policy, and guidelines out that are based on fundamental facts, evidence, and data.
GUPTA: And, Dr. Fauci, I want to echo what Anderson said as well. Thank you very much for your service. People may not know this, Dr. Fauci is 79 years old and, I mean, you have the energy I think many of us emulate. Let me ask one more question though about this testing. I know you've talked a lot about it, but I think, you know, Dr. Fauci, there was a test.
It was being distributed around the world. WHO was using this test, I believe it was created in Germany, in Berlin, and it was being used, and yet we did not use it in this country even as a stopgap measure, even as we prepared to make our own test. And as a result, we got behind. That's a problem. And I'm just wondering, was that a mistake? Should we have used that test? Why didn't we?
FAUCI: Well, you know, Sanjay, I'm not sure that it was a mistake. But certainly, you know, if you look back and Monday morning quarterback it would have been nice to have had a backup. But what the CDC has done over many, many years when we have things like this is to develop their own test, which is always really a good test, and to roll it out in a way that we call a public health-directed, where they give it to departments of public health.
You have a physician-patient relationship. They come in. They order the test. They get the test. It was not designed for the kind of mass distribution that we need now that we've seen in other countries. That's behind us. Looking forward, we're going very much in that direction, Sanjay, very much so.
And I think really within a relatively short period of time, you know, a week or maybe even less, we're going to start to see the ratcheting up of the availability of test. So, you know, rather than go back and play Monday morning quarterback, let's just direct where we're going.
COOPER: Dr. Fauci, just one more question before we get a break and then we'll get questions from people around the world.
I've been talking to a number of doctors just off the record, phone conversations not on air, who are working front lines in hospitals. And everything they are saying to me is you need to be shouting this from the mountain tops. You need to be raising as many red flags as possible because what we are seeing is truly worrisome.
What we see in Italy where doctors are putting out guidelines about catastrophe medicine, who should, you know, get actual treatment if you only have so many ventilators, who gets to get a ventilator, and who gets put in the hallway and not treated. And those are incredibly difficult decisions.
What is the situation in hospitals? How concerned are you about doctors getting sick? I know doctors who have -- already feel like they're coming down with this thing. I talked to one today. Both he and his wife feel that. What is -- how concerned are you about the front line and it holding?
FAUCI: Well, you know, very good question. Of course, I have concerns about things. And I think just hearkening back to what I said a moment ago. If we get into that really, really sharp peak where Italy was and is right now, so unfortunate because so many of my friends and colleagues are right there in those cities doing that, then we might have the same problem.
What we were trying very hard to do by the containment and mitigation, by the travel bans, by the travel restrictions is to never let it get that high. If we can keep it down to a little hump, there will be pain. There will be suffering. There will be some death. But the system might not get overwhelmed.
If we fail in blunting it and it goes way, way up, then we're going to have problems that are very serious. I hope we never get there. And the reason we're putting a full-court press on containment mitigation restrictions is we're trying to avoid that peak that occurs in other countries.
COOPER: We're going pick this up after a quick break. Our CNN FACEBOOK GLOBAL TOWNHALL continues in a moment.
COOPER: We're back with the CNN FACEBOOK GLOBAL TOWNHALL. Dr. Fauci, a member of the White House task force, is with us, along with CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
And just in the last few minutes, more breaking news. The United States Military Academy, West Point, just announced it is delaying the return of cadets from spring break. That's the latest on the long string of closings lately, and almost certainly not the last.
Now let's get some questions that we've gotten from people around the world. Dr. Fauci, this is Paul Robinson (ph). He's in Hanover, New Hampshire.
Paul, go ahead with your question.
Seem to have a problem getting -- Paul, go ahead with your question.
PAUL ROBINSON (ph): OK. Sorry. You cut out.
So, my question is, if you think you're infected, you're symptomatic, fever, cough, headache, and so you self-quarantine, how soon before you can return to social situations? Is it safe to say that when you're no longer symptomatic then you're no longer potentially shedding the virus?
COOPER: Dr. Fauci?
FAUCI: No, that's not correct at all. That's a very good question. You can get infected, become symptomatic, resolve the symptoms, feel well, and still shed virus. You can go back to your normal life when you have two consecutive tests for the coronavirus that are negative separated by 24 hours. That's an excellent question. Just because you feel better or feel well does not mean that you're not shedding virus.
COOPER: And, Dr. Fauci, how certain are scientists about this 15-day quarantine period that -- I mean, I've seen online some reports of cases in China where people may have had it for more than 15 days or been asymptomatic but carried the virus and may be infecting people past 15 days?
FAUCI: You know, it's pretty certain about that, Anderson.
COOPER: OK, good.
FAUCI: And if you look now, as we get more and more data, the median incubation period is 5 to 5.2 days. But the brackets and the range are pretty tight, between 2 and 14 days. Whenever you have biology, there's always going to be the out of the way exception. But for the most part I think the operating definition of 2 to 14 with the median about 5 is accurate.
COOPER: Dr. Fauci, we have a text question. This is from Stephanie Beecher from Columbus, Georgia. It came to us online from her. She says, "what supplies should I get in case my community locks down from coronavirus outbreak?"
FAUCI: Well, you know, people in their homes, even beyond coronavirus, should always -- particularly people who require medications should have some degree of stocking up of things in case there's any kind of a disaster, a natural disaster. But specifically for coronavirus, if you're going to be confined to a place where you can't have access to things, I think the standard things: you know, bottled water, making sure that if you're on medications, which I have to emphasize is one of the most important things, make sure you have your medications that'll take you through a period longer than what you usually do to get refills and things like that.
But canned foods, water, particularly bottled water, that you have that available to you.
GUPTA: You know, one of the things, Dr. Fauci that kept coming up, and we asked people to get extra medications, for example, people kept saying, look, my insurance doesn't cover me getting extra medications, I can only get a certain number of days' worth. Is that something that's being addressed? Because that's a really -- it seems like a practical concern for people who are trying to stock up.
FAUCI: Yes, that's a great question, Sanjay. As a matter of fact, the other day I mistakenly asked for a refill because I got the date wrong, and they said, I can't give it to you. I wasn't trying to stock up, I was just -- I just made a mistake. And they said the insurance wouldn't pay for it.
I mean, we're looking at relieving a lot of regulations and other things to make it easier for people to cope with this. You know, I don't want to be saying it absolutely should be done, but really somebody should look at that.
COOPER: Yes, because now I had the same situation. I ended up just paying cash for a two-month supply. But, you know, I'm lucky that I was able to do that, not -- you know, it would be great if the insurance companies gave a break on that.
I've got another question. This one is from, let's see, Stephanie -- oh, Stephanie Robinson in Newton, Massachusetts. She's a professor at Harvard Law School.
Stephanie, what's your question?
STEPHANIE ROBINSON, PROFESSOR, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL: Well, I'm wondering if you can be a bit more specific about what constitutes a pre- existing health condition that would have someone be at greater risk, regarding the severity, of course, and the possible fatality of COVID- 19.
So, for example, asthma. We know that we have 25 million people or more who are impacted by this disease. Is this the type of disease that you're talking about would have -- cause more complications?
FAUCI: Yes. I mean, asthma -- obviously, there are different degrees of asthma. I mean, if someone who, whenever they get an upper respiratory infection, it really dramatically exacerbates their asthma, I think you would say that that person would be at a higher risk.
The classical ones are things like chronic congestive heart failure, chronic pulmonary disease, diabetes, and anybody who really is on any immunosuppressive regimen, be that for cancer chemotherapy, autoimmune diseases, and also the elderly.
Now, among that group, the elderly plus that is even more at risk. And if you look at the serious complications and ultimately the case fatality rate is very heavily weighted to those individuals.
COOPER: Dr. Fauci, you've worked a lot on HIV over the years. If somebody's HIV positive but undetectable and otherwise healthy, is that a -- a factor that they should take into account, that makes them at greater risk?
FAUCI: You know, I mean, obviously, we've been -- I've been taking care of thousands of patients with HIV over the years. Today if somebody has a normal or close to normal CD4 count, has got an undetectable viral load on any retroviral therapies, they could possibly be at slightly greater risk, but I don't think it is anywhere near the risk of somebody who really has a compromised pulmonary function, compromised kidney function, diabetes and things like that.
COOPER: There's another question from Ingrid from Maryland. It was submitted online. She wants to know, "If airplanes have such superior air filtration systems as reported, then why the advisory for those aged 60-plus not to travel by plane? And how come public transport is still OK?"
FAUCI: That's a good question. I think we need to look at every aspect of it. You know, and as we say, the CDC's got some guidelines out about, you know, a low, intermediate, high kinds of mitigation that you might do.
I mean, if it isn't public transportation involved, again, we need to seriously look at it. Everything needs to be on the table, Anderson, right now. This is a serious situation.
GUPTAL: Can I just ask again -- and, again I'd pointed out you're 79 years old. I hope that was OK that I told people your age. Are you -- are you traveling on planes?
Are you -- I mean, you're a busy guy, are you out there?
FAUCI: You know, I'm not out there, Anderson. I haven't even been confronted with that possibility. I've been completely locked in and responding right here. I've cancelled virtually everything that I was going to be doing purely because I'm literally locked into this 19 hours a day, anywhere from the department down to the White House to the kinds of response being in the media.
So I'm not going anywhere for a number of reasons. And also, many of the things I would have done have been cancelled anyway.
GUPTA: Would you -- would you, though, get on a plane?
FAUCI: Would I get on a plane right now?
FAUCI: You know, it depends on what -- what the issue was. I mean, if I had to do something that was absolutely important -- as you know, Sanjay, you know me. I'm a pretty healthy guy for 79.
So, yes, I mean, I might take a second thought. I wouldn't do anything that's unnecessary. I certainly wouldn't get on a plane for a pleasure trip. It would have to be something that was really urgent. My job is the public health. If it had to do with the public health and I needed to do something for the public health, I might do that because I'm quite healthy. However, if it was just for fun, no way I would do it.
COOPER: We've got a lot of questions that we -- the next questioner has. Emily Mitchell, Salt Lake City.
Emily, what's your question?
EMILY MITCHELL, MOTHER: Hi, Anderson. Thanks for having me. My question is regarding the mail. I'm a stay-at-home mom and I do a lot of online shopping. So I'm curious how long coronavirus lives on surfaces and how we should be handling the mail?
COOPER: We got a ton of these, Dr. Fauci, mail, also money, currency.
FAUCI: Yes. You know, there was a paper that was either submitted or already published from one of our people who looked at the -- the detection of viable virus on a variety of substances, stainless steel, polypropylene, cardboard, cloth and things like that. You know, for the most part, the titration of it and the titer of it on surfaces is probably measured in a couple of hours.
I would think something that goes through the mail, by the time it gets to you, that's it. And even if it is on there, would it be high enough of a concentration to actually be transmitted?
So, although it's important -- I don't want to downplay the recommendations of wiping down the kinds of things that you could easily wipe down, you know, door knobs, screens and things like that, I think if you start thinking about money and mail and things like that, you could -- you could almost, sort of, immobilize yourself, which I don't think is a good idea.
COOPER: Yes. Dr. Fauci, we really appreciate your time. I know your work is extraordinary, and we really appreciate you dedicating all your efforts and giving us some time tonight. Thank you.
GUPTA: Thank you.
FAUCI: Good to be with you guys.
COOPER: For more information, we have more information on our CNN Facebook -- Facebook page. Also, our FACEBOOK GLOBAL TOWN HALL continues in just a moment. Up next, more on the coronavirus testing. We'll talk with a doctor who is part of a team creating a new test that could give results within hours. We'll be right back.
COOPER: And welcome back to our CNN/FACEBOOK GLOBAL TOWN HALL. Joining us here is Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency room physician and former health commissioner from Baltimore, Maryland. She's also going to answer viewer questions in a moment.
But first, as we've been discussing, one of the overriding issues is testing for the coronavirus. And even when tests are available, it can take days for the results.
Dr. Jana Broadhurst at the University of Nebraska Medical Center has taken the lead on developing a test that delivers much faster results. And she joins us now.
Welcome, Dr. Broadhurst.
GUPTA: Welcome, Dr. Broadhurst.
DR. JANA BROADHURST, DIRECTOR, NEBRASKA BIOCONTAINMENT UNIT CLINICAL LABORATORY: Thank you.
GUPTA: You know, this is obviously a very important issue. You've been able to, with your colleagues, develop a test that can give results back within hours. Typically, it's taking days. Just curious, how did you do it? Why was there a need to do it by this university?
BROADHURST: Yes, thank you. It's a pleasure to join you in this discussion.
So, really, you know, here at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, we -- we take on an important role in leading our efforts nationally for biocontainment care. So when we heard that this outbreak was emerging, in the early weeks of -- of the outbreak, we knew that it was -- the time was then to begin developing our capability to support laboratory testing for individuals who might come under our care.
So this process began very early for us here, as we prepared to receive Americans who were -- who were being brought back home, first from China and then from the cruise ship off the coast of Japan.
So our -- our ability to do this testing really relied on the global sharing of knowledge of the virus, as it became available, from the very early days of the outbreak. And we as part of the global scientific community were able to utilize that knowledge to develop our in-house testing capability and be prepared for the time when we would receive Americans from abroad and now to -- to be able to diagnose our own patients and community members here at our own institution.
COOPER: So how -- how quickly can you now get results?
I mean, if somebody comes to you and needs a test, how quickly can you get them results?
BROADHURST: It takes about four to six hours for us to give a result. If somebody comes into our emergency department and we collect a sample, it gets to our lab and it's about four to six hours from then.
COOPER: And it -- I mean, because I know it takes days, even now, for most people getting these tests. Was it a really difficult thing to figure out how to speed up this process?
I mean, without getting too much in the weeds of -- was it really tough?
BROADHURST: Yes, sure. So, really, the biggest difference in that turnaround time to getting the result is having the ability to do that testing here in our own clinical laboratory.
So it's certainly, you know, a big effort to bring up a test and validate it and have that assurance that it's an accurate test. But we were able to stand up that ability here in our own laboratory.
So the big difference in that turnaround time is really that that sample is just going next door to our own lab.
GUPTA: So, I mean, it sounds like what you're saying, then, Doctor, is that the other tests have to be -- they have to be mailed, I guess, to whatever lab, then ultimately mailed back or -- that -- is that the big difference, then, in terms of why your test is so much quicker?
COOPER: And is this something that other -- I mean, you -- that others doctors can do as well? Because that would obviously help a lot of people nationwide.
BROADHURST: Absolutely. So there's -- there's a tremendous effort happening right now in clinical laboratories across the country, at other particularly large academic medical centers, to bring this type of in-house testing capability for COVID-19 to their patients and communities.
It is -- it is a difficult process and requires several steps to get through regulatory approval to perform that testing. But that effort is -- is going on in force across the country.
COOPER: Dr. Broadhurst, thank you so much for -- for your team's effort. Really appreciate you coming on tonight. Thanks. I wish you the best. Keep doing what you're doing.
BROADHURST: Thank you.
COOPER: Dr. Wen, I mean, the idea of any kind of solution to make something faster would be a great thing. I mean, it is, I think, still very concerning for a lot of doctors and patients that -- just the lack of testing nationwide?
DR. LEANA S. WEN, FORMER HEALTH COMMISSIONER, CITY OF BALTIMORE: Sure, definitely. And the need for point of care testing, having that testing result back immediately is so important because you can imagine if you're waiting two to three days for a test. What are you supposed to do? What is the patient supposed to do?
COOPER: Right, and you might have interactions with other people in that -- in that interim phase.
WEN: That's exactly right. And I think patients also get very worried, and it just -- it makes a lot of sense and is critical for clinical decision-making to have the test at the time that you need and for everyone that you need it for.
COOPER: We've got questions from a lot of folks for you. This is a question from Scott Lehane (ph) in Ontario, Canada. Scott?
QUESTION: Thank you for having me. My question is, is it reasonable to expect COVID-19 to die down the summer months? Or is that just wishful thinking?
COOPER: As something the president has sort of said, that this may just disappear?
WEN: I wish that were the case, but at this point, we just don't know. I mean, it's possible, but I don't know that we know for certain either way because --
COOPER: Possible because other viruses in the past have done this?
GUPTA: That's right, yes, including other coronaviruses, right? I mean, even if you look at the SARS coronavirus, it did have sort of its peak -- correct me if I'm wrong, late March, early April, as the weather started to get warmer.
WEN: That's right. But we don't know. And I don't think we can count on this, either. That's why all the measures that we're taking in terms of prevention are so important, because there's no vaccine, there's no treatment. And so what we have is the ability to try to prevent and reduce the rate of transmission.
COOPER: If it did go away in warmer weather, which would be extraordinary -- and let's hope for that -- would it then -- it wouldn't be disappearing from the Earth. It would -- would it still be out there and then come roaring back in the -- in colder weather?
WEN: That's exactly right, and it could also be more prevalent in other parts of the world that have different seasonal patterns to ours. And we know with influenza, for example, it decreased, but then came back when there was colder weather again. So we cannot count on warm weather to try to get rid of COVID-19.
GUPTA: That's right. I think another thing worth pointing out is that we may develop some -- some of what's called herd immunity. As we're exposed to this, we may develop some immunity, which even if it comes back, we may have some protection the next time it does come back, even before a vaccine.
COOPER: This is a question from Lisa Bristow in Wilmington, Delaware. Lisa, what's your question? Go ahead.
QUESTION: Hi, everyone. Thank you for having me. I am a 33-year-old female with an underlying health condition for which the medication I use is immunosuppressant. I'm also currently 27 weeks pregnant. Given that I fall into the highest risk category, what dangers, if any, does coronavirus pose to my unborn child?
WEN: It's a really good question. And it's something that I think about a lot myself, because I'm 37 weeks pregnant now. And the data about pregnancy and COVID-19 is just not there. We have some limited cases in China that looked at pregnant women. And so far, it does look like -- unlike with influenza, where pregnant women are one of the highest risk categories, COVID-19 doesn't impact pregnant women quite the same way.
But that said, pregnancy is a medically vulnerable state. And for the person who just asked the question, she also has an immune condition, as well. And that makes her really vulnerable. And I think just taking extra precautions is a good idea.
COOPER: There's also breast feeding. I mean, if you give birth and you're breast feeding, and you are infected, does that put the infant at risk?
WEN: Well, the one study that has looked at breast feeding so far found that there isn't virus in the breast milk. And, in fact, there may be antibodies there. But it's such a limited study. And we need a lot more information. And so pregnant women should certainly take additional precautions, just like older individuals and others who are more vulnerable, too.
GUPTA: Yes. And people forget, you know, being pregnant, I mean, part of the reason your immune system is sort of diminished is because you're now -- you don't want to have your own immune system attack the unborn child. So that's part of the reason you're a little bit more susceptible.
Now, Lisa, I think whoever just asked the question, she's also on immunosuppressants, so she definitely has to be more careful.
COOPER: We've got another submission, a question, this is online, this is from Joseph in Kentucky. He writes, does normal laundry washing remove the COVID-19 virus from your clothes, towels, linens, et cetera? It's a great question.
WEN: Yes, it does, although I would say that be careful of what's lining your laundry hamper, because you may be throwing things into a basket, but never washing a basket, and so use a disposable liner or something that could be laundered, too, because otherwise you could get the virus out of what you're washing, but it could be...
COOPER: You put it back in the same basket, it could -- it could actually transfer that way.
WEN: That's right.
COOPER: This is -- Justin Aminian is in Irvine, California, with a question. Justin?
QUESTION: Hi, Anderson. Hi, Sanjay. Thanks for having me. Tonight I had a question regarding face masks. I've heard two different sides of the story, one that these masks are ineffective and the other that doctors and nurses across the country are in desperate need of these very same face masks.
Specifically in regards to the N-95 respirators, are these masks effective in preventing the virus? And for Americans across the country who now have these masks, what can they do? And where do we go from here?
COOPER: It's a great question.
WEN: Well, we don't recommend for everyday people, non-health-care workers, to get masks, because we do have a limited supply of these masks and we need for health care workers who are treating patients to have them.
And surgical masks, what people normally wear, they protect other people from you, if you're sick, because you're coughing and sneezing into the mask, but they don't protect you necessarily from having the infection.
And so my strong advice to people is do not hoard surgical masks. Do not hoard N-95 masks, because that's what doctors need.
COOPER: And also, I've been told that, if you have a mask, I mean, the few times I've worn a mask, not in this case -- I wouldn't wear a mask -- but for stories, you end up adjusting it all the time, you end up touching your face, you adjust your glasses, because your glasses sometimes fog up, if it doesn't fit right.
GUPTA: Yes, and, look, if the mask becomes contaminated and you're touching it, and then touching your face, or even in the process of taking off the mask, it sounds counterintuitive, but there's been studies on this that your risk of actually becoming infected counterintuitively goes up when you're wearing one of these masks.
He makes a good point, I think. There's different masks. There's the surgical mask and there's the N-95 mask. Now, surgical masks we're seeing on some of these images here, you can sort of tell by looking at that mask, it's not going to stop viral particles from going around the outside or underneath the mask.
The N-95 mask is a fitted mask. It has to actually be fit tested when you put it on. It's a tough -- I don't know if you've ever worn one -- it's a tough mask to wear. Like, you'd have a hard time walking a block. It's not the kind of mask that you can just wear in your daily life.
We were in the hospital, if we're working with patients that are known to have these infections, these are different masks. The surgical mask the people are wearing, the healthy people, it's not -- it's not, really, I think, providing the benefit that they hope for.
COOPER: This -- I'm also sick of seeing celebrities with their masks on, on private planes Instagramming photos of themselves. Like, you know, if you have the virus, fine. You don't need to Instagram and like show off your mask to people. It's kind of obnoxious. We're all in this together. Let's get real.
Max James is from Wisconsin. He sent in a video question. I should mention that Max is 16 years old. His mom gave him permission to be on TV. So let's take a look, and on Facebook.
QUESTION: Since all the cleaning supplies and hand sanitizer is sold out everywhere, can you make your own? And can you make your own mask?
COOPER: It's a cool question. It is. It's sold out. It's hard to get.
WEN: I know. And I've heard so many stories of people looking for any product that they can use to clean their house and hand sanitizer. People are going all over the place and not getting them.
Do not make your own hand sanitizer, because there's something that's even more effective, which is soap and water. And, I mean, it's much more effective in cleaning your hands, but it's also more effective in cleaning surfaces, too. So if you can't find bleach wipes and...
COOPER: Soap and water is more effective to clean anything?
WEN: Yes, absolutely. So use soap and water. Use liquid soap and water. If you are looking for other things, you can also use dilute bleach. You can use alcohol, isopropyl alcohol that's in your house, if you don't have specific cleaning supplies. But do not make your own hand sanitizer, and don't go out there and try to become your own chemist. Don't use vodka and other recipes, because those are not effective and actually could be dangerous.
COOPER: We have another -- oh, did you have...
GUPTA: I would just say, I mean, you know, it's interesting to me that, I mean, people, they generally know how to wash their hands. It's something we've been taught since we were kids, but I think most people actually don't do it right.
And I mean, it's been a great opportunity to educate people about that, the really -- the interlacing of your hands, making sure that you get the back of the hands. People often forget to wash their thumbs. They forget to get underneath their nails. And I -- you know, I've seen more people actually trying to do this diligently than I think I have ever before.
COOPER: And you're supposed to do it for, what, 20 seconds?
GUPTA: Twenty seconds, yes.
COOPER: Singing "Happy Birthday."
GUPTA: Which I know you remember -- yes.
COOPER: I just remember you saying that years ago, and I always stuck in my mind.
GUPTA: See, I gave you a head start.
COOPER: Yes, I'm very simple. I need basic instructions.
We have another submission online. This one is from Janice in Willow Springs, Illinois. She writes, "If we have no medicine cure for COVID- 19, what are hospitals doing for patients who are admitted for it?"
WEN: It's a great question. And the answer is that it's symptomatic treatment. It's supporting patients through this time when there isn't anything else, really? It's not like there's a cure. There's no antiviral medication yet. Yet. Those are undergoing testing.
But at the moment, the best thing that we can do is to support patients. So if they have pneumonia, if they are not able to breathe on their own, in hospitals, they could get oxygen, they can get ventilation, they can get supportive treatment to get them through that period when the virus is attacking their body.
COOPER: Not everybody who's hospitalized would end up on a ventilator, right?
COOPER: But a significant number of -- I mean, people will, and that's a critical -- you can only get that -- it's critical that they are there for that.
WEN: That's right. So it appears that about 80 percent of people who get the novel coronavirus will have mild symptoms and do not require hospital care. Fifteen percent will require some type of hospital or more acute care. Five percent may require intensive care, ventilation, et cetera.
COOPER: Five percent of the 15, you're saying?
WEN: Total 5 percent.
COOPER: Total, 5 percent total, OK.
WEN: Exactly, in sum.
COOPER: So 20 percent of people will require hospital care. The vast majority of that 20 percent won't require ventilation, but a significant percentage will.
WEN: Correct, correct. But they'll need monitoring, because patients may not know. Right, so, initially they may actually be quite well, but at some point they may not do as well, and then to be in a hospital setting or to have access to that, then they can receive that higher level of care if they should need it.
GUPTA: And, you know, this gets back to what I think we were talking about earlier.
We have some modelling to sort of predict just how many patients are likely to require medical care at all, how many will need to be in an intensive care unit, and how many will need ventilators.
And this really gets back at this issue that I think is at the core of this that we started. We don't have enough of these resources right now for a moderate pandemic. They say you need 200,000 ICU beds. We have about 100,000 ICU beds.
Now, hopefully, not everyone needs it at the same time, which is why this flattening of the curve becomes so important. You can stagger when people actually need the medical care, and hopefully that will help not put such a toll on the medical system.
COOPER: We have more straight ahead, reports from across the country, around the world. We're also going to take more questions from the audience, our global audience, as this CNN Facebook town hall continues.