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Doctor Working on Treatment Using Blood From Recovered Patients; Dire Warning From Coast to Coast: CA Projects 25.5M People Will be Infected; NYC: Out of Medical Supplies in 2-3 Weeks; NYC Mayor Expects to Run Out of Medical Supplies in 2-3 Weeks; Mayor Bill de Blasio (D-NY) Discusses About Their Medical Supplies Running Out in 2- 3 Weeks Time. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired March 19, 2020 - 19:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: The important thing to remember is this, we are all in this together.

Thanks very much for watching. Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next breaking news, the Governor of California warning nearly 60 percent of his state, 25.5 million people will be infected with coronavirus over eight weeks. This as New York City warns it's about to run out of medical supplies.

Plus, Trump calling an anti-malaria drug a game changer for the coronavirus. The FDA though says not so fast.

And an Ohio father of four has been in the hospital of coronavirus for 11 days. He has a message for anyone who's not taking this seriously. He's my guest.

Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, dire warnings from coast to coast. The Governor of California saying tonight that he expects about 56 percent of his state, 25.5 million people to be infected with coronavirus, his words 'over an eight week period'.

Governor Gavin Newsom asking President Trump to send a Navy hospital ship to the Port of Los Angeles to help care for the sick. And in New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio says his city will run out of medical supplies in two to three weeks. Mayor de Blasio says he needs 50 million surgical masks, 25 million each of facemask, globes, surgical gowns and his list goes on. He'll be on later this hour.

And the State Department now telling Americans overseas to get home now. All Americans overseas must return to the U.S. immediately or they could be stuck there indefinitely. Indefinitely is the State Department's word.

This as Italy formally passes China in its death toll from the coronavirus and the world is rushing for a treatment. President Trump today saying two existing drugs are being used in the fight against coronavirus. One is already approved and very well-known as an anti malaria drug. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Those are two that are out now, essentially approved for prescribe use. And I think it's going to be very exciting, I think it could be a game changer.


BURNETT: Now, the FDA Commissioner was at that press conference also. He did make it clear doctors could use those drugs to try to fight coronavirus, but he also made it clear their effectiveness against the virus is not known and there will be formal trials.


DR. STEPHEN HAHN, COMMISSIONER OF FOOD AND DRUGS: The FDA is committed to continuing to provide regulatory flexibility and guidance. But let me make one thing clear, FDA's responsibility to the American people is to ensure that products are safe and effective.

We need to actually know about the safety and the effectiveness, and that's done through the clinical trial process.


BURNETT: Erica Hill is OUTFRONT in New York City's Times Square. Erica, tonight, the dire warning from this city's mayor in terms of just how desperately short they are and just the sheer numbers of these are sort of hard to comprehend what that would mean in terms of ill people. That's putting a lot of people on edge.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR AND NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is. As you point out, Erin, it's tough to wrap your head around. Here in New York City tonight, there are 3,615 confirmed cases and the mayor stressing today that those should all be thought of not it's numbers, but as people with families were being affected.

And as he warned about the spread, what he said is there are stores of medical supplies in this city's hospital system, but they will not last beyond the end of this month.


HILL (voice-over): A stark warning from the nation's largest city.


MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D-NY): We are two weeks or three weeks away from running out of the supplies we need most for our hospitals. The only way those supplies can be provided in time is through the full mobilization of the United States military.

At this point, there has never been a greater no brainer in the history of the Republic.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HILL (voice-over): Just weeks away from running out of crucial medical

supplies. Urgently needed, 3 million N95 masks, 50 million surgical masks, 15,000 ventilators and 25 million gowns, gloves and coveralls.


DE BLASIO: They may sound like daunting numbers at first, but given the extraordinary production capacity of this country, they are very much achievable if our nation is put in a war footing.


HILL (voice-over): This comes on the heels of alarming recommendations from the CDC for health care workers, reuse masks to preserve the supply or as a last resort, don a bandana instead.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Docs across the country are starting to get sick and docs and nurses are worried about what this means for us and for our patients. The President may say that things are being produced, but they sure as heck are not showing up in my state.


HILL (voice-over): As testing and the number of confirmed cases increases, officials caution the number of Americans tested is still low and we don't know the full scope of the spread.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Massive social distancing is what's needed to slow the spread of this disease.


HILL (voice-over): The opposite playing out on crowded Florida beaches.


SEN. RICK SCOTT (R-FL): UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take some personal responsibility here. Don't infect other people. Don't take a chance that you're going to be the one that's going to cause your grandparent or your parents or another friend from school to get sick.


HILL (voice-over): In Miami-Dade County, all beaches and parks closed this morning. Further north in Clearwater, they're scheduled to stay open through the weekend. As much of the country adjust to this new way of living, it's already having a major impact on the economy.


instead of working the full shift that we work every shift each, so everybody could work so they could take a paycheck at home at the end of the week.


HILL (voice-over): Jobless claims for the last week, spiking to 281,000, the highest level in two and a half years. The President today brushing off concerns about widespread lasting unemployment.


TRUMP: One of the elements that is being worked on very much so in The Hill is to keep the jobs going so that when we do get rid of the virus, we're going to be able to just really, I think, go like a rocket. I think the economy is going to be fantastic.


HILL: In the meantime, Erin, we're learning tonight that a second regional carrier says it will now have to cease operations due to declining demand because of coronavirus. That airline flew regional flights for both Delta and American coupled with the other regional air carrier. Some 2,700 employees, Erin, looking at losing their jobs.

BURNETT: Erica, thank you very much.

And next, Dr. Richard Besser, he is former CDC Acting Director during the Obama administration. I appreciate your time, Doctor.

So I want to start with what the President said today. He talked about two existing drugs that could be potential treatments. One an-anti malarial, one to treat the Ebola virus. How hopeful are you that one of these drugs may work?

DR. RICHARD BESSER, FORMER ACTING CDC DIRECTOR UNDER OBAMA: Well, I think it's over is important to remain hopeful because it's possible that they may work, but I think it's also a good idea to under promise and hopefully over deliver. With something like this, we have drugs that are already licensed, you can get them tried in people much faster. We know what the side effects are.

But viral infections are tricky. With the influenza, we have drugs like Tamiflu. They can shorten the illness. But for most viral infections apart from HIV, we've had a real hard time developing drugs that shorten the course. So I wouldn't count on drugs as the magic bullet here.

BURNETT: Right. So then obviously that's the bullet people are hoping for because a vaccine obviously would take longer than a drug approved for something else already on the market. So to that effect, you get to the shutdown of the country and the economy and the State Department tonight. As you know, Doctor, telling Americans abroad, they've got to come home or they could be stuck indefinitely. America and other countries are closing borders. Schools across the

United States are closed. San Francisco has a shelter-in-place order in place now. I mean, when will we know if any of this works for people who are desperately seeking an answer to that question?

BESSER: I think that's a critically important question. I mean, one thing to remember is that most people who get this infection are going to do fine. The vast majority will have mild symptoms or no symptoms. We're taking these steps to try and protect those who are at greater risk the elderly, those with multiple medical problems.

And with the pandemic, although it says that the disease will spread around the entire world. It doesn't do it all at once. So learning from what worked in China, what worked in Italy, what worked in the U.S., you will see things in Seattle that are being tried. We need to learn to see what was effective and what wasn't.

Because the measures we're asking communities to take, shutting down schools, people staying home, people not having the income to put food on the table or pay rent, these disrupt society want to make sure that what we're asking people to do is truly making a difference.

BURNETT: So you've got tonight, the Governor of California saying 56 percent of his population 25 and a half million people are going to be infected over an eight week period. The Mayor of New York saying they're going to run out of medical supplies in a couple of weeks, two to three, 50 million surgical masks. They need 25 million of facemask, gloves, surgical gowns, 15,000, ventilators. How could this be for the situation in New York first?

BESSER: Well, I mean, there's an enormous need for supplies. I oversaw the Strategic National Stockpile, which is a collection of medical supplies, billions of dollars worth of medical supplies to be used during an emergency. But it's not designed for an emergency that's occurring over the entire country at the same time.

So the idea of ramping up production is an important one. The idea of trying to slow this down so that we can maintain some capacity to treat those who truly need it.


We need to make sure that we're keeping people out of healthcare facilities who don't need to be there and we have 28 million people without health insurance. And so telling them to call their doctor first is a bit of a hollow recommendation if they don't have a doctor to call.

BURNETT: And one question before we go, the 56 percent forecast from the governor of California, he's saying over an eight week period, does that make sense to you?

BESSER: Well, I think it's hard to say there's a lot of different models out there. A lot depends on what we do and a lot depends on whether we give people the tools they need to be able to do the things that are recommended. And that means for a lot of people putting money in their pockets not just once, but every month so they can afford to do the things and stay home and keep other people safe.

BURNETT: All right. Doctor, thank you very much. I appreciate your time.

BESSER: My pleasure, Erin.

BURNETT: And next, President Trump calls an anti-malaria drug a game changer for the coronavirus, so is it? Sanjay Gupta is next.

Plus, an Ohio man with coronavirus has been in the hospital for nearly two weeks just told by his doctor that he's out of the woods and he's going to join me next.

And the Mayor of New York City sounding that alarm tonight, Mayor Bill de Blasio will be my guest.



BURNETT: Tonight, Florida beaches are still crowded despite the coronavirus pandemic. This is what it looked like today on the shores from the Daytona Beach all the way down to Cocoa Beach, Florida. Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida refusing to close beaches statewide, but some local leaders like the Mayor of Miami Beach are overruling him.


And issuing their own orders for closure.

OUTFRONT now, someone who has a message for those who are not heeding those warnings who perhaps are filling those beaches, Kevin Harris. He is 55 years old from Ohio battling coronavirus right now in the hospital.

And Kevin, you have been in that hospital for nearly two weeks, how did this start for you?

KEVIN HARRIS, HOSPITALIZED WITH CORONAVIRUS: Well, about two weeks ago, it started with a little tickle in my throat. I'm kind of a time fanatic, so I looked at my watch at exactly eight o'clock on Monday night and I was telling my friend, I got something stuck in my throat, it won't come out my throat. And it kind of just kept going.

And about two hours later, at 10 o'clock, I had a cough and now I'm telling him, dude, I went from a tickle to a cough in two hours, I'm getting a flu. And the next morning I lay down or I woke up from sleeping all night and I woke up with body aches and what I thought was the flu.

BURNETT: And then what made you end up going to the hospital, Kevin?

HARRIS: Well, initially the next day I had a doctor's appointment just for a checkup and I went in and they looked at me, no tests, no nothing. They said you got the flu and they gave me Tamiflu. So I left the doctor's office, went to the CVS pharmacy and the girls there, they usually go inside and pick all their medication up, but I told him I said, look, I'm so sick, whatever kind of flu I got, you guys don't need to get it and I got my Tamiflu through the window.

So I go home and three days later, they're telling me I'm supposed to feel better on a Tamiflu, but I feel 10 times worse. So I called a friend of mine and his wife came over. Actually, see, I wanted to take a shower because I hadn't been in shower in six days. And she comes over and I'm passed out in the shower.

And basically, she came in, she got me dressed, she told me you have pneumonia and she took me to the hospital.

BURNETT: I mean, look, it's incredible. It's incredibly lucky that you got there. And now as I said, you've been there for nearly two weeks and what are doctors telling you about where you are now? Just to make it clear, you're now looking at two weeks plus the five plus days that you're talking about. I mean, this has been a very, very long period of time that you've had this and have been in incredibly difficult straits. So what are they telling you now?

HARRIS: Well, now they're telling me I'm going to make it. But to be quite frank with you, several doctors told me for four days when I first got here, you don't have the coronavirus but we have to test you and we have to treat you like you have it.

Well, some staff members did treat me like I had it. Other staff members were just consistently stuck with the fact that you have pneumonia, we've never seen this kind before but you don't have the coronavirus. It's highly unlikely. You haven't been anywhere, which I hadn't. I do these things where I spent a lot of time alone and I hadn't seen anybody else for like 10 days before I actually got sick.

So they're telling me you're going to be fine. As soon as the cultures come back, we're going to know what kind of pneumonia it is and we're going to treat it, but you don't have the coronavirus. You don't have the same signs. You don't have the same symptoms. You don't have half of what you should have if it was the coronavirus.

I said, "OK." And then, two days later, I got two doctors sitting in front of me, one of them with tears in her eyes. And I'm like, "What's going on?" And they said, "We don't understand it, but you have the coronavirus." I'm like, "You just told me for three days, I don't have the virus." They said, "Well, we don't know what to do." I said, "Well, what's next?"

And they basically said pray. Like how do doctors tell you to pray, what are you going to do to fix me. "There's nothing we can do. We have no treatment. There's nothing we can give you. It's your body. Your body has to fight it."

And they left the room and I'm sitting there thinking, I'm getting ready to die. We'll just yesterday, the fevers been gone for three and a half, almost four days now and yesterday they told me, the doctor, the one doctor promised me he tell me when I was out of the woods. And he said, "You're out of the woods." He said, "The only problem is we have no clue why you got better. We have no clue what kind of pneumonia you had." He's like, "There's absolutely no reason whatsoever for you to be sitting here."

BURNETT: It is an incredible story and incredible for people to hear people on the frontlines what those doctors are doing, something they've never seen before and they did everything that they absolutely could for you, Kevin. What do you say to - and look, let's be honest, most people - many people are following what the government says now. You see empty roads. You see empty subways.


You see it across the country, but we don't see it everywhere. I don't know if you've seen the pictures. I'll show them again to people, spring breakers crowning the shores in Florida. Many of those beaches still open. It's packed. What do you say? What is your message to people who don't take this seriously?

HARRIS: In the beginning I was a little angry because I felt like I'm here dying and they're not taking it seriously. I'm as black as they come, we can get this and it just amazes me how everybody is out there celebrating St. Patrick's Day.

They're calling me the doomsday guy. A lot of think that you guys are paying me to do these interviews and they're doubting me. And instead of me getting angry like I had been, I'm telling people, I hope to God you're right. I hope you don't get it and nobody that you know get it because I don't have the sniffles version. I don't have the sore throat. I don't have the little body ache.

I had the version of this that kills you and there was absolutely nothing they could do about it. It's by the grace of God and the prayers of all the people that have been praying for me. And I swear, if it wasn't for Jehovah God and my faith in him and Jesus Christ, I'd be gone already.

These people have to take this serious. I know you're going to be inconvenienced for a while with social distancing. However, do you want to be socially dead six months from now? The same people that are going to miss you for a couple of months are going to miss you forever when you didn't take this seriously.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Kevin, I appreciate your time. And I am so glad that you now have been told you're out of the woods. And we're all hoping for, at this point, a very speedy recovery after such a long and grueling and terrible experience for you. Thank you.

HARRIS: And thank you, Erin, I really appreciate you giving me the opportunity to let people know that this is deathly serious.

BURNETT: OUTFRONT next, New York City's Mayor. He says New York will run out of medical supplies in a matter of weeks and Mayor de Blasio is my guest.

Plus, a doctor who is working on a possible treatment for the coronavirus, using blood from patients who have already recovered. Will it work? This is a new therapy. The doctor is OUTFRONT.



BURNETT: Breaking news, a dire warning from the Mayor of New York City. The city is just a few weeks away from running out of supplies to fight the coronavirus.


DE BLASIO: I said very clearly that for the month of March we have the supplies that we need. The city has very strong reserves of the kind of supplies that I talked about. It is going into April that I'm worried about.


BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. And Mayor de Blasio, I appreciate your time, sir. I mean, the numbers that we were sharing earlier in the program that you had put out that you need 50 million masks, 25 million each have many other supplies that medical personnel need. Obviously, they need to use many of each of these per day, but the numbers are staggering and frankly Mayor, they sound frightening.

DE BLASIO: Erin, it is. I mean, we have to be sober about this. You're talking about saving 8.6 million people. Thousand new cases in a day. We've got to be honest about the sheer extent of this problem and where is the federal government? Where is the military? Why won't the president give the order to mobilize our military to guarantee that these products are being produced through the defense production act and get them to the American front in this war, which is New York.

BURNETT: So you're saying you're just not going to have enough of these by April, which, if I'm correct, is exactly when you expect to see a surge of patients. So are you saying these patients will not be able to get treatment?

DE BLASIO: Erin, we're going to do everything we can to treat every patient. We're expanding our medical capacity constantly. We're going to create new ICUs everywhere we can. New hospital beds in hotels or any other kind of facility we can get our hands on.

We're recruiting thousands of medical personnel out of retirement. We're doing everything we can to get the personnel and the space and we're going to be doing every form of freeing up capacity. We cancelled elective surgery. We're discharging people to be discharged from hospitals.

But you know what? If you don't have the surgical mask, if you don't have the ventilators, at a certain point, our doctors, our nurses, they can't do their job and we have been pleading for weeks with the federal government to step in. We're now by far the epicenter of this crisis here in New York State. What does it take to get some attention? What does it take for our

president - Erin, he's from New York and he's betraying the city he comes from. Because all he has to do is order the military to - active duty - to fight this war, to fight this challenge, this enemy and he's not doing it.

Even though he activated the Defense Production Act, not a single factory that I know of has been mandated to go on 24/7 production of ventilators and surgical masks.

BURNETT: And have you been told that they could do that at this point and you would get everything you needed? I mean, is it still possible that that order could be given and you would get what you need in time? Are you sure that?

DE BLASIO: there is no question in my mind? No question in my mind if that order were given now, that the production is out there in the United States of America to at least give us the supply to keep us going. It may not come all in one shipment, but at least get it going.

And there's no question in my mind that the military has the ability, the logistical extraordinary ability to move vast amounts of material from one part of the country to another. And if we just got regular supplies, we could keep going.

But it's clear, I know for a fact, I have talked to the top health officials in this city and they're saying there's a point in the first week or second week of April, when they're just going to literally run out of the things they need to save lives. It's as simple as that, Erin.


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: So, you talk about space. The Javits Convention Center, for people who aren't familiar with New York, three floors, six blocks, that has been talked about as a possible hospital. Is that -- is that real? Are you looking at that?

DE BLASIO: We're looking at everything, Erin. Now, the best locations are the ones that are near existing hospital and have the kind of physical layout that they can be converted to hospital wards or to hospital rooms with beds and all.

BURNETT: Like hotels.

DE BLASIO: That might be a great location. We're looking at that. What's that?

BURNETT: Like hotels?

DE BLASIO: Yes, hotel -- actually, a hotel near an existing hospital is great because what you'll do is take any cases of whatever disease that can be moved out of the hospital or the coronavirus issues that are less urgent, you can put them there. You can put in nurses and doctors, et cetera. But the hospitals will be the ICUs for the really serious patients. We

know who they are. They're older folks with pre-existing serious medical conditions. This is who's dying all over the world.

We want to save as many as we possibly can, but we can only do that if we have the combination of space and the personnel and the supplies. Guess what, we can't make the supplies out of thin air.

BURNETT: So, before we go, earlier --

DE BLASIO: A lot of people want to help.

BURNETT: Yes, earlier today, Governor Cuomo said that fear is more contagious than the virus right now. That was the quote -- fear is more contagious than the virus right now.

Would you agree with him on that?

DE BLASIO: Yes, I think he's right to raise it because even though I think we're obligated, Erin, to tell people the blunt truth and to tell our federal government that they must intervene, Franklin Roosevelt said it, the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. We've got to not be afraid or panicky. We've got to be purposeful that there's still time to fight back but we can't do it alone.

BURNETT: All right. Mayor De Blasio, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much tonight, sir.

DE BLASIO: Thank you, Erin.

BURNETT: And next, the president calls an anti-malaria drug a game changer for coronavirus. Is it? Dr. Sanjay Gupta will join me with some answers.

And China reporting zero new domestic coronavirus cases in one day. Is this a real turning point, something to look for? We're live in Shanghai.



BURNETT: Tonight, a potential milestone in China's efforts to stop the coronavirus. There were no new domestic cases reported in China on Wednesday. It's a stunning thing and it is the first day that that has happened since the pandemic began.

President Trump though says he is skeptical as to whether that's true.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As far as believing what they're putting out now, I hope it's true. Who knows, but I hope it's true. I really do.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: So what is the real situation on the ground in China? It's really one of the most important questions in the whole world.

David Culver is OUTFRONT.


DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As medical personnel prepare to move out, Chinese state media stay doctors and nurses in Hubei province are beginning to scale back their life-saving efforts at the epicenter of the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Now, we are returning home so I'm really excited as we won the victory over the epidemic, this medical worker said.

With the epidemic spreading in the U.S., health experts here warn even with an increase in the number of patients recovered and a drop in daily reported cases, this is not a mission accomplished. Wuhan health officials will only consider lifting lockdown restrictions after 14 consecutive days without any new cases reported.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The single biggest danger is complacency and this was something we talked about in China a fair bit, that people drop their guard against this disease.

CULVER: In the past two weeks, officials reported nearly half of the new cases in mainland China came from abroad. In Hong Kong, more than 90 percent of new cases are imported. Chinese officials are now heavily focused on external threats. At Beijing Capital International Airport, China's CDC conducting strict screenings for international arrivals. Passengers bused to this exhibition hall turned transit center.

Health evaluations conducted at individual booths set up to represent each province. Most every traveler entering Beijing from overseas is now required to be quarantined at designated government facilities for at least 14 days.

For those of us traveling within mainland China, big data is helping the government track us and trace potential exposures. We each have a QR code assigned to our smart phone numbers. It allows us to access into some hotels, malls, grocery stores, even restaurant chains.

Green means you're clear and OK to enter. Yellow indicates you've potentially been in contact with a confirmed case and should self- isolate at home. Red means forced quarantine.

On the streets of Shang Do (ph), images reminiscent of Robocop. Police scan body temperatures as people stroll by.

Across the country, officials say various command centers have been set up to monitor the health information of more than 300 million people. Here privacy, it seems, once again taking a back seat to national health security. But even as Chinese media proudly shows China's medical personnel

helping other countries, sending supplies and teams like this one to Italy, uncertainty remains on the home front.

In Shanghai, two months into this outbreak, people slowly venturing out of self-isolation and into the spring-like weather. Some public parks reopened. Life cautiously resume.

The waters are calm for now, but as lockdown restrictions ease, concerns grow for a potential second wave of infections.


CULVER: And, Erin, it is worth pointing out here, for example, in Shanghai, a city of 24-plus million people, you do start to see things coming back to life little by little, but even the folks that you interact with are cautiously optimistic and at the same time hesitant to return to normal all in one instance. I mean, they believe this is going to take time.

However, there is a political back-and-forth going on, and we stress how the state media here is putting out a certain image. They want to show China resuming life, but at the same time, they're also having a back-and-forth when it comes to trying to counter some of the early cover-up allegations.


In fact, even just today they had to issue an apology to Wuhan police to one of the early whistle-blowers, Dr. Li Wenliang, who we featured early on and who lost his life to coronavirus.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much. Just an incredible piece for everyone around the world to get a sense of what is happening there. Thank you, from Shanghai.

And next, Dr. Sanjay Gupta on whether the new anti-malarial drug -- well, it's an anti-malarial drug, the president talked about it today, whether it could be a game changer for coronavirus.

Plus, one way Americans are finding comfort during this crisis, celebrating Christmas in March? Well, Jeanne has the story.


BURNETT: Tonight, President Trump at the daily coronavirus briefing earlier trying to calm an anxious nation and touting his administration's efforts to get potential coronavirus treatments to patients.



TRUMP: It's a really good promise. We have a couple that we're in really good shape on. And that's for immediate delivery. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: There are several clinical trials under way for treatment but how soon could one be made available to the public?

Sanjay Gupta is OUTFRONT.


TRUMP: It's a medical war. We have to win this war. It's very important.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): And to win in the future, the Trump administration is looking to the past.

TRUMP: We're also reviewing drugs that are approved abroad or drugs approved here for other uses.

GUPTA: It's called repurposing, using a treatment targeted for one disease to treat another, like the 86-year-old anti-malarial drug chloroquine.

TRUMP: It's shown very encouraging, very, very encouraging early results. And we're going to be able to make that drug available almost immediately.

GUPTA: In a statement, pharmaceutical company Bayer who developed the drug announced that it's donating 3 million tablets to the U.S. clinical trial efforts. They said new data from initial preclinical and evolving clinical research conducted in China, while limited, shows potential.

And one early study from France looked at a derivative of the drug in 20 coronavirus patients.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But that's still -- it's still not ready for primetime. We still need substantially larger studies.

GUPTA: It's believed that these drugs might work by making it more challenging for the virus to bind to cells, but those bindings have mostly come from the laboratory.

DR. JANET DIAZ, HEALTH EMERGENCIES PROGRAMME, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: For chloroquine, I -- there is no proof that that is -- that that is an effective treatment at this time. You know, we recommend that therapeutics be tested under ethically approved clinical trials to show efficacy and safety.

GUPTA: Trials will follow some 10,000 participants over five months to see just how effective the drug is. And at the same time, other scientists are looking at the other anti-viral drug, remdesivir, which is believed to block the virus' ability to reproduce.

TRUMP: That's a drug used for other purposes that's been out and has had very good results for other purposes, but it seems to have a very good result having to do with this virus. GUPTA: That still has to be proven. Its manufacturer, Gilead, is

product conducting trials with approximately 1,000 patients around the world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will collect the data and make the absolute right decisions based upon those data about the safety and efficacy of treatment.

GUPTA: That's important because just yesterday, another trial using two HIV drugs that initially showed promise were found to be ineffective, and everyone is hoping the results this time will be different.

TRUMP: Those are two that are out now, essentially approved for prescribed use and I think it's going to be very exciting. I think it could be a game-changer and maybe not, and maybe not, but I think it could be based on what I see. It could be a game changer.


BURNETT: So he says a game changer, Sanjay, and obviously I know someone being treated with it now and our guest earlier in the program had been treated with it, but it's unclear at this point.

I mean, could it really be a game changer?

GUPTA: We don't know and I think it's just difficult to use that sort of language because there are a lot of people who are really depending on it and you want to be hopeful on this sort of thing but you got to study it, Erin. You know, that's the thing.

I mean, this other trial that I mentioned was very interesting and promising HIV drugs, that there was a lot of enthusiasm around. That trial started just one week after the first patient was diagnosed in China but they just found out. It was just published yesterday that that was into the found to be any more effective than just standard treatment.

So we got to do the trials because we want to make sure that what you're giving works and also you're not missing out on another option.

BURNETT: Right, right. You don't want to put your eggs in one basket. People who are getting it now, in one of the patients he had been treated with all of them, the anti-Ebola drug and the anti-malaria drug. It's unclear if one or none worked.

The president also said this today, Sanjay. Let me play this.


TRUMP: They've gone through the approval process. It's been approved and they took it down from many, many months to immediate.


BURNETT: So what is the actual -- what's actually happening here? Obviously people are getting it prescribed off label but as you point out, they're still trials.

GUPTA: Yes. So, this is -- it's interesting, this is a drug that is approved but not for a coronavirus infection. It's approved for malaria, and then there's a derivative of the drug that's used for autoimmune diseases, but there was no sort of recent approval process for coronavirus. That's what it's got to go through these trials first.

So, this is more the idea that maybe you would repurpose the drug eventually, but again, you got to prove that it's going to be effective here.


It's got good safety data, pretty good safety data, so that's going to be helpful, but the efficacy, how well it works, that's still got to be shown.

BURNETT: Right, right. So to imply it's going to change things, it sounds like it's way too early to make any such claim. Thank you. Thank you, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

And, of course, Sanjay's town hall coming up in just a few minutes. So, stay with us. It starts at 8:00.

Across the country now, doctors meantime are working to provide any glimmer of hope they can, right? This is a race against time. Among them a researcher at Johns Hopkins University who is looking at using the blood of patients recovering from coronavirus to help slow or cure the disease. It's convalescent serum.

OUTFRONT now, Dr. Arturo Casadevall, the chair of molecular microbiology and immunology at Johns Hopkins University.

And, Doctor, I appreciate your time.

So, you know, in English for us to understand, what exactly is this? How does the process work?


So what happens is that when you recover from coronavirus, people who recover often have viral antibodies in their blood that will kill the virus. So people who recover can potentially donate their blood or -- we really call it plasma because it's only the liquid in the blood that contains the antibodies. And then that material can be used to treat other patients because you are giving them the antibodies that kill the virus.

This is an old therapy. It's been around for over 100 years. There is a huge amount of medical experience with it, and it is based on sound biological principles.

But like chloroquine in the previous segment, it is going to have to be tested and subject to randomized trials. And -- even though we are optimistic, we won't know until we know.

BURNETT: So, so, what makes you feel in terms of how you've done this -- I know you say this has been used before -- that this would be effective for coronavirus? Do you have any data points at this point to show -- that make you feel that way?

CASADEVALL: Well, we know that the coronavirus -- people who recover from it -- often have virus-killing antibodies in their blood. The Chinese have used this therapy. We haven't seen the clinical data yet, but the reports coming out of China are encouraging.

And this will provide those who survive the capacity to help the ones who come after them.

BURNETT: So, the FDA commissioner today did discuss what you're talking about, this convalescent serum at the briefing. Here's the brief clip of what he said, Doctor.


DR. STEPHEN HAHN, COMMISSIONER OF FOOD AND DRUGS: It's another thing we're looking at. Over the next couple weeks we'll have more information that we're pushing hard to try to accelerate that. That's in the sort of more medium, short term.


BURNETT: So, he's saying over the next couple of weeks they'll have more information, medium short term. What sort of timing are we looking at for this to be something that could be used broadly on patients?

CASADEVALL: Well, the great thing is that this could potentially be deployed in a matter of weeks. We -- the team that is working on this includes some very dedicated physicians, just submitted today a -- yesterday submitted the institutional review board protocols.

And today an investigational new drug was submitted to the FDA. I want to acknowledge the great efforts of three individuals. Shmuel Shoham, Evan Bloch and Aaron Tobian. They have worked around the clock for the last couple of weeks putting down all these documents.

So once we hear from the regulatory agencies and our institutional review board, we will be able to begin to put this in place.

BURNETT: All right. Well, look, I think we are all hoping and rooting that this will live up to the promise that you talk about. And thank you so very much, Doctor. I appreciate your time.

CASADEVALL: Thank you. Bye-bye.

BURNETT: Bye-bye.

And next, Jeanne on the jolly measures. Jolly, you don't hear or feel much these days. But she will share some with you as you try to raise your spirits. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


BURNETT: Tonight, it's a fact. The coronavirus is on everyone's mind, even that of "Wonder Woman."

Here's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Forget this masked singer. These are the masks inspiring songs these days. Stars like Bono are singing about quarantine, shot from closer to 6 inches than 6 feet.

BONO, SINGER (singing): Yes, there is isolation

MOOS: Pop singer Jojo was warning young people to stay in.

JOJO, POP SINGER (singing): I know you're bored and want to go buckwild, but don't do it.

MOOS: John Legend gave a quarantine concert with his wife Chrissy Teigen in a towel, accompanying John with a rear end assist.

From Yo-Yo Ma playing Bach to Cardi B.

CARDI B, SINGER: Coronavirus, I'm telling you, it's real.

MOOS: Brooklyn DJ and producer set her rap to music with proceeds going to food banks and shelters.

Is it any wonder that Wonder Woman herself Gal Gadot has gotten a bunch of celebrities together to sing --

GAL GADOT, ACTRESS (singing): Imagine there's no heaven --

MOOS: From Jimmy Fallon to Sia.

SIA, MUSICIAN: Imagine all the people --

MOOS: From Will Ferrell, to Mark Ruffalo, Gal Gadot said she was inspired by the trumpeter who played "Imagine" from a balcony in Italy to comfort others stuck at home.

Though some criticized Gadot's version, "imagine no possessions" sung by some of the wealthiest people in the world.

But how about singing "have yourself a merry little quarantine."

Outside Nashville, Brenda Sparks has turned her Christmas lights back on.

BRENDA SPARKS: So we just wanted to bring a little light.

MOOS: Into these dark days.

Others are doing the same.

(on camera): So, is Christmas in March, Christmas all spring going to become a thing?

(voice-over): Might be worth it to deck the halls, if the halls are where you imagine you'll be spending time.

Jeanne Moos, CNN. New York.


BURNETT: And thanks so much for joining us.

CNN's global town hall "CORONAVIRUS: FACTS AND FEARS" with Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Anderson starts right now.