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White House Releases Models Showing Projected Death of 100,000 to 240,000 People Due to Coronavirus; Not All States in U.S. Enacting Stay-at-Home Orders Due to Coronavirus Spread; White House Projects 100,000 to 240,000 Americans Could Die. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired April 1, 2020 - 08:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To 200,000 deaths, which is still way too much.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Eighty percent of the people in America are under these kinds of orders. I don't know why other governors haven't taken these steps.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The task force has not recommended that to me. If they do, obviously that would be something that would carry a lot of weight with me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everyone requires oxygen. Everyone is borderline critical. According to our institutional protocols, we cannot work unless they have a certain reason.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now is the time whenever you're having an effect not to take your foot off the accelerator.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is your NEW DAY. It is Wednesday, April 1st, 8:00 now in the east.

This morning we have some new projections for you. These are the models the White House is using to predict how long the coronavirus will last and how many Americans will be killed by the time it's over. According to latest models, even with strict social distancing, 100,000 to 240,000 Americans are projected to die from coronavirus in the coming weeks. Without strict social distancing, that number could be much, much higher.

So, this morning, is there anything we can still do to bring down the death toll before there is a treatment or a vaccine? At the moment, all 50 states have a different answer to that.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: So this morning the death toll in the U.S. stands at nearly 3,900. On Tuesday, another single day record was set for fatalities, just like on Monday and just like on Sunday. There are more than 185,000 known cases in the U.S. Governors in at least three states are warning they're close to running out of ventilators and are not getting the support they want from the federal government. We'll speak to one of those governors shortly. They say they're bidding against each other and FEMA for desperately needed equipment.

President Trump continues to downplay these concerns, insisting he's holding back 10,000 ventilators for the upcoming surge. The director of the CDC says that as many as 25 percent of those infected may not show any symptoms but can still spread the virus. This is very important, and it may be why Dr. Anthony Fauci says he is leaning toward recommending Americans wear homemade masks.

Joining us now, CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Dr. Leana Wen, emergency room physician and former Baltimore City Health Commissioner. Sanjay, I want to start with you with these projections, at 100,000 to 200,000 people, Dr. Fauci says we can't anticipate that that many die. We don't have to accept it, but we should anticipate it. That is a big number. And when you look at it, and you look at the projections, you suggest it might be an optimistic number because of how these numbers are put together.

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. Look, these are models, and I think the people who are making these models said, look, this is the basement now in terms of the projections. There's numbers that we've heard that are potentially much higher than this as well. They say if all these social distancing mechanisms are in place, and they're in place across the country, and they stay in place until the end of May, then we can look at these pretty tragic numbers of deaths, 100,000 to 240,000 people.

But there is a lot of ifs in there, John, and I think that's the big concern. We didn't start these social distancing policies early. We started these in the first, second week of March. Now they're extended obviously until the end of April, so they're not necessarily long enough. And there are still a lot of places around the country that aren't really enacting these sorts of policies.

Eighty percent, I guess, of the country right now is under some sort of lockdown, but this is one of those things where if we're not all in it together, it does have an impact on the people who are. So we'll see what happens. Over the next couple of days, the model says by the end of this week, the entire country, all these other states have to get on the same program, otherwise the model starts to fall apart.

CAMEROTA: So let's look at where we are right now, Dr. Wen, because as Sanjay points out, it's not the entire country that is on these sort of shutdown orders. Twenty states right now still do not have statewide stay at home orders, I believe we have a map of where they are. And their rational is they don't have many cases. So they don't want to shut down their entire state. I certainly understand that rational, but if we are not as a nation shut down, then what are the projections look like?

DR. LEANA WEN, EMERGENCY ROOM PHYSICIAN: That's exactly right. We have those projections too, and they show that we could have 1 million, 2 million. These are unimaginable numbers. But I think they're even more unimaginable if we think that there are actually things that we can do today in order to change that.


And we look back in time and wonder if we did everything, what -- how many more deaths could we have prevented. You mention these other places, Alisyn, that don't seem to have these high numbers yet, but we don't know that that's accurate because of lack of testing. And we also know that the earlier these social distancing interventions are implemented, the better it's going to be to change that curve.

And I just want to say, too, we need people to do their part, social distancing as a part of it. We also need the federal government to do a lot more too, because that rationing of ventilators, the rationing of supplies, that's also going to be what leads to unnecessary deaths. And every day that we waste is one more day that we could have been saving people instead.

BERMAN: It is interesting, Sanjay, because Dr. Wen just brought up one of the more uncomfortable questions that was posed at this briefing yesterday, had we done more and had we done it earlier, could these projected deaths have been prevented? Dr. Birx wouldn't really weigh in. Dr. Fauci did, more or less. He said we can't know for sure because we don't know if the virus was in the background. But if it was, the answer is yes, then maybe had we acted sooner, lives could have been saved.

And I don't want to be backwards-looking here, because I know as you face this every day, the goal is to save lives going forward, but that does inform how this country needs to address things going forward, doesn't it?

GUPTA: It really does. And Jim Acosta, who asked the question, he and I were emailing back and forth about that, it is uncomfortable. And you're right, we do need to be thinking about going forward. But we did not enact some of these policies until March, and there was some things that were done initially in terms of the travel ban from China, which probably made sense, quarantines that were enacted, things that hadn't been done in this country in decades, that was probably helpful.

But the idea that after that, those six weeks after that, was there something more that should have been done, could that have affected the modeling? I think Dr. Fauci, I listened very closely, he basically conceded that point. It's hard to know for sure because there wasn't adequate testing, but it was pretty clear the virus was circulating. First patients were -- first patient in this country in the middle of January, and then you get pretty good evidence that in Washington state the virus had been circulating for several weeks, right away, and that was probably happening in many cities across the country, especially those with big international airports. So, again, who knows, maybe in retrospect we'll be able to go back and look at that data.

One thing I do want to point out, though, is that as part of that modeling, as well, John, we talk about deaths and survival, but the modeling also really talks about just significant illness, that people who will get sick from this. They will recover, they won't die from this, but there is going to be a significant amount of illness. People staying on these machines, these breathing machines, ventilators for a couple of weeks at a time. And so that's another strain on the medical system, not just the number of ventilators, but the amount of time that these ventilators are needed in various places, the amount of times these ICU beds are needed. We're short in just about every area that you measure right now.

CAMEROTA: Dr. Wen, even people who are not sick want to know, particularly in the hardest hit states, how long they're going to be in these stay at home situations where you can't interact with other people, can't go to work, all of that stuff. And I understand there are rolling peaks that the model shows. It won't be at one peak across the country, at one time. I think we have the University of Washington model that we could put up. But is there a sense when you look at this model of when the country could be out of the woods?

WEN: It's hard to say, although most people would speculate that we need at least eight to 10 weeks of social distancing for this to work at all. And I think it is also important to mention that the longer we have this piecemeal approach, the longer it will take for all of us to get back to normal. And so the sooner that we can have something that is national, because we know that as you were saying, Alisyn, we will have this rolling spectrum of outbreaks. But the sooner we can get everything under control and have a national coordinated response, the better it is. And in the meantime, we should all continue to do our part and remember that washing our hands well, staying at home, these are the single most important things that we can do to change the trajectory and reduce the spread of this disease.

GUPTA: And be willing to do it maybe for longer than you think right now, at least be ready for that.

Sanjay, also in the last 24 hours, every time we wake up, there is a new study or there's new information or new recommendations. The CDC now saying that up to 25 percent of people are asymptomatic, people with coronavirus are asymptomatic. That's interesting. I was looking at studies coming out of Europe that were published overnight, saying that the social distancing measures that were taken there, in some cases early, saved perhaps tens of thousands of lives. A lot of new data points this morning.


GUPTA: Yes. I thought that was very interesting. They looked at 11 European countries. And everyone asks the question, look, is this social distancing stuff, is it working? How do I know if it is working or not? Well, you look throughout history, but you also look now throughout the world, and what they saw was in these 11 European countries, I think 59,000 lives, by their calculations, were saved as a result of those social distancing mechanisms going into place. Even Italy, which has been a country that's had a significant, obviously, number of fatalities and a significant fatality rate, they did go into lockdown once they realized how things were spiraling over there, and that probably made a huge impact.

The thing that really strikes me as we have been talking about this for so long is that people should remember that there is a significant incubation period with this, which means that from the time that you're exposed to the time that you develop symptoms can be a couple of weeks. That's why we keep talking about these weeks, these timeframes. There's a lot of people who are watching at home saying, look, I'm totally good. This is fine. It's not affecting me at all, and I hope -- I really do hope that it stays that way. But you've got to be vigilant right now because an exposure, 10, 11 days ago for people who are watching right now, could lead to symptoms, even in the next few days. So stay on top of it. I think that's the lesson learned when you look at these stay-at-home measures all over the world.

CAMEROTA: Sanjay, I just want to stick with you for one more second, because so many people are asking about our friend Chris Cuomo. He announced yesterday that he has tested positive for coronavirus. What should people know about this?

GUPTA: Well, I talked to Chris on the program, and we talked on the phone quite a bit last night. I think Chris is doing OK. But Alisyn, this virus makes people pretty sick. I guess that goes without saying at this point. But Chris is a young, healthy guy. He's going to recover almost assuredly. But he feels miserable right now. He gets the shivers and the shakes and probably temperature sort of bouncing around. It's a bad virus.

And, again, most people will recover. The vast majority obviously will survive. But it is going to knock him down for a few days, and people who get it are just going to feel crummy for a while. He's got to stay home. There is nothing for him to do at the hospital. The hospital, if he calls there, they're going to say just stay home, which is going to be the advice that most people get right now. The only people that really probably should be going to hospitals are people who have significant or worsening shortness of breath, who have real pain in their chest, who are losing their sensorium because they feel like they're not getting enough oxygenation, things like that. Those are serious problems, obviously. But most people, even with pretty significant illness, are going to be asked to stay at home.

CAMEROTA: Yes, and just one more quick question. Dr. Wen, just on a personal note, one more quick question. You are moments away from giving birth. I don't know if our viewers know this. And in fact, last night you had a little bit of a false alarm. And so how are you feeling today?

WEN: I feel fine. I feel ready to give birth. And I think it just say reminder that healthcare continues to happen in the middle of a pandemic. People still have ongoing issues. They give birth, they may also have strokes or have diabetes and need care, and it's a time of uncertainty for us. We can do our best to prepare, and I think we should, and come up with plans and think about who can care for us, how do we take -- who can take over for our care responsibilities of young children or older parents, but also be prepared for those plans to change, because it is a time of uncertainty. And part of the work that we have to do, all of us, is to embrace that uncertainty and the challenging times that are ahead for all of us.

CAMEROTA: We really appreciate you showing up this morning and helping all of our viewers understand this particularly given your impending situation. We look forward to good news from you soon.

WEN: Thank you.

BERMAN: So quick programming note, Wolf Blitzer will interview Vice President Mike Pence live on CNN. That happens at 11:30 a.m. this morning.

So those models that the White House showed Americans overnight, a lot of data and some assumptions used to project the death toll. We're going to speak to one of the experts behind it all, next.



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Federal officials are using models from the University of Washington's Institute for Health and Metrics and Evaluation to project that 100,000 to 250,000 Americans could die of coronavirus. And that's the best case scenario if social distancing continues.

Joining us now is professor Ali Mckdad. He is one of the key researchers involved in forming that model.

Professor Mckdad, great to have you here.

I've been looking at your models as the White House has been. I mean, the White House showed your models and that helped inform them inform the country of what to expect.

So let's just start with the beginning of how many deaths we may be looking at over the next several weeks. Tell us about the model, what we need to know and how you came up with these numbers.

ALI MCKDAD, PROFESSOR OF HEALTH METRICS SCIENCES, UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON: Well, the models started by request from our university medical hospitals asking us to do these projections, tell them how much they need in terms of ventilators, ICUs and beds to be better prepared for the surge. And remember, in Seattle, we have the first case and we have the first tests.

So, we want it to be prepared, our own hospital. And we did it for our own count, where we are as to what.

And these models assume that every state, seven days from now, will implement these distancing metrics which are stay at home, closure of schools and closure of nonessential businesses. We are projecting right now about 93 -- 93,000 deaths by August in this country. If status will remain as is, it could go higher if people do not adhere to the stay at home orders and it could go down, of course, if people do stay at home and they apply the social distance distancing in their daily life because we know they work and we know it reduces the burden of COVID-19.

CAMEROTA: OK, hold on, because that's really important. This is -- you're saying the status quo, we get -- we get 100 -- virtually 100,000 deaths, 93,000-plus, if nationwide there is a stay at home order issued in the next week.

Is that correct?

MCKDAD: True. Seven days from now, if every state will issue such an order, and for issue an order for businesses that are not essential to close, we are looking at a picture of 93,000 to 100,000 deaths right now. If we don't --

CAMEROTA: OK, and if they don't -- if they don't, right now at the moment, we have a map that shows 20 states still do not have statewide stay-at-home orders. So, if they don't, what do your projections say in terms of the death toll?

MCKDAD: These numbers will go up and we have seen that before in the states that we started early doing this for our own state. We have seen when our state implemented these measures, the numbers went down. So, these measures worked, it is very important. Some of these states that haven't implemented the measures are of great concern.

For example, if you take Florida, where we know that we have an older population in Florida, so that's a big concern that a state like Florida should implement such a measure.

CAMEROTA: OK. You also have a model for when there could be the peak. I want to show people this, because somehow I believe that you all have crunched the numbers and figured out that the projected peak resource used, when we need the most hospital beds, and equipment, April 16th, is that right?

MCKDAD: Yes. That's for the country, of course. But states have a different peak, depending when the virus started circulating in that state.

CAMEROTA: OK. And so, I mean, understood. So that's just for the places that are seeing the outbreak.

When you were saying there are some states of great concern to you, such as Florida, if in the next seven days, they don't issue a state wide order, do you have some sort of number of what it will look like in this country?

MCKDAD: We will update our numbers on the daily basis. So we will take into account what states are doing. And we will update our numbers in terms of what states have right now, beds or ICU, because we're projecting how many of these we will need.

And it is very important for us to update these numbers because the virus is changing, there are more diagnosis of cases right now and there are states are taking action of some states are not until now. And most important is how much people are adhering to these messages once they are told to stay at home. Are they staying at home? And for us, we know for sure that if people do stay at home, all of

us, two weeks, we will reduce the number of deaths, we will, of course, reduce the demand on our hospitals and our physicians. And if we delay that spike in the curve, we're giving our hospital and our medical institution more time to be ready for it.

So, it's very important for all of us to do our part. And this one, this pandemic was so interconnected, all of us, we're now talking about we need medical assistance to be able to respond to the need of people who get sick and come to the hospital, we want a good public health system in order to did a case investigation, find out who got infected, make sure the people that they came in contact with was stay at home and they are tested.

And the third one, such a pandemic, we as population need to do our part. Stay at home, because we need to reduce the pressure on our hospitals, and to reduce mortality in our own community.

CAMEROTA: Yes, we hear you, we hear your warning, you know best, you are the person who is doing these models.

Professor Ali Mckdad, thank you very much for the warning and for all the information. As you say, it's fluid, it changes every day, so we continue to check your website for what the models look like. Thank you very much for being here.

MCKDAD: Thank you. Have a good morning.

CAMEROTA: Thank you. You as well. Thank you very much.

Doctors are still pleading for help across the country in terms of equipment that they need. What is the problem?



BERMAN: This morning, healthcare worker on the front lines are demanding more protective gear. A shortage has hospitals and coronavirus hot spots rationing that gear that keeps these healthcare workers safe.

Joining me now is Dr. Cornelia Griggs, pediatric surgery fellow at Columbia University.

And, Dr. Griggs, thanks so much for being with us this morning.

I'm sure your patients and the children you work with think of you as an angel. But for many Americans now, they think of you as someone who posted this picture which has really gone viral, where you wrote: My babies are too young to read this now, and they barely recognize me in my gear, but if they lose me to COVID, I want them to know mommy tried really hard to do her job.


So I posted that when I was on call this weekend, and I think like a lot of doctors, nurses and healthcare workers in New York City, it was a really long and exhausting weekend on call. And I posted that message from really raw, honest and emotional place. And I think it struck a nerve because it reflected what a lot of healthcare workers, especially in New York.