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Heated Disagreement In White House Over Unproven Drug; U.S. Enters Pivotal Week As Hot Spots Near Peak Infections Day; New York Governor Andrew Cuomo: Possible Flattening Of Curve An Improvement Over Past Days, Any Plateau In Curve Largely Because Of Social Distancing; New York Governor Andrew Cuomo: Asking That Naval Ship Treat Coronavirus Patients. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired April 6, 2020 - 12:00   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST: CNN's Kaitlan Collins is live at the White House for us. Kaitlan I'm going to pick Dr. Fauci over Dr. Navarro.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Well, the question is who does the President pick and who does the President listen to? Because we've seen Navarro become more in power than he has ever actually been inside the White House where frequently he has been sidelined.

But really what officials describe it as a one-sided disagreement between the two where Fauci was kind of surprised that Navarro had brought this stack of paper work into the room trying to say that this hydroxychloroquine could work even though of course it is still being tested and has not proven to treat coronavirus.

And there is a lot of skepticism in the medical community, because they say there is no significant data yet that shows it could work. But of course ultimately the question is the you know the President himself who for two days this weekend in a row pushed this straw saying they didn't really have that long of a time to wait to test it to see how it can work.

So even though medical experts have warned about the side effects of pushing the straw and so the President has constantly said I am not a doctor but he was asked what do you have to lose? So the question is as this debate is playing out inside the west wing, you're seeing what a divide it is on the Coronavirus Task Force over the use of this drug and who's pushing for it and who has the President's ear here?

Because clearly right now, the President is favoring with people like Navarro and continuing to push this instead of couching it as Dr. Fauci has done, saying wait and let the science speaks for itself here.

KING: Trust your doctors, Kaitlan Collins I appreciate that. We'll continue to watch this one as it plays out. We expect to hear from the New York Governor Coronavirus update from Andrew Cuomo any minute. His state by far the hardest hit in the United States also some big global anxiety in action today. Japan now plans to inject nearly $1 trillion to its economy to blunt the Coronavirus recession. Germany's top health official warns "There are no exit day and no timeline to ending the lockdown there". In the U.K. Boris Johnson has spent a night in the hospital suffering from persistent Coronavirus symptoms as the Queen rallied in the U.K.


ELIZABETH II, QUEEN OF UNITED KINGDOM: We'll succeed and that success will belong to every one of us. We should take comfort that while we may have more to endure, better days will return. We'll be with our friends again and we'll be with our families again. We'll meet again.


KING: That last line is a World War II throw back one here in the United States too where there is a mix of optimism and gloom. The President says we can see light at the end of the tunnel, as his Surgeon General says prepare for a Pearl Harbor type week nearly 10,000 deaths in the United States now.

25,000 new Coronavirus cases on Sunday every week is now a national tragedy. And again the experts anticipate the U.S. death toll will finish north of 100,000 lives lost in the best of the scenarios.

And in this warning from a government watch dog just today, dire medical equipment shortages on front line both in testing and in protective equipment. The White House's team promises it is surging needed supplies to areas most in need. We'll see in the week ahead if that's a promise being kept or not.

It matters because if doctors can't protect themselves, they may not be there to help you. In Michigan this morning the state' Governor says their supply stash is nearly gone.


GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER, (D-MI): We are running dangerous low on PPEs. At Walmart Hospital we have less than three days until N-95 masks run out. In Henry Ford Health System we have less than four days. At all three health systems there are less than three days until face shields run out and less than six days until surgical gowns run out.


KING: So we know this is going to be a very tough week here in the United States, but what can we learn from what we have seen so far with the virus and what does the data tell us about what we can expect going forward?

Joining me now CNN's Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Sanjay I just want to start with yesterday when the Surgeon General says this is going to be Pearl Harbor week something like 9/11 and the President says there is light at the end of the tunnel and the Vice President says we might be done with this sooner than we originally thought. Where are we? DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know John we are not at the peak of this yet. So it is a little hard to tell. When you are on the sort of upward slope of that curve you don't know for sure when you are actually going to get to the top. You are hearing different projections I know John.

April 9th which is this in a couple of days you know two or three days for New York City and they say at that point there may be 878 deaths per day around that time. And then there is a flattening of the curve for a little bit, which means a sort of plateaus for a bit which is what you want to see and then hopefully start to come down.

They think for the United States over all it might be a week after that John where sadly some 303,100 people may die a day during that time where we are at the apex. We don't know for sure John. I think that's safe to say these models are just that.

They're built on the assumptions that you are feed into the model. They're built on the assumptions that people are being diligent about staying home and not sort of continuing to propagate the virus.

And I think certainly more people are than not but it is probably not as many people that should be still and it is also you know as far as the timeline goes as what Vice President Pence was talking about, those models are based on the idea that we have to sort of have these stay-at-home orders until the end of May John.


GUPTA: So again this may change but that's sort of where we are now.

KING: And that's why I was asking the question in the sense that I guess it depends how long you consider the tunnel to be? All these models are built on through the end of May. Right now they're only in place through the end of April and we know the President keeps pushing again for to reopen the government.

Help people understand. So we are obviously watching New York this week, New Jersey, Connecticut they have been hardest hit. But then you look at the data and you see places like Michigan and New Orleans also right there front and center but behind them Pennsylvania and Massachusetts some people say maybe Rhode Island. Dr. Fauci warns about a series of waves, what does he mean?

GUPTA: Well, look I mean, it is interesting, John. I mean, just not even two weeks ago there were places that are now considered hot spots that essentially thought they have may be dodged this. You know they weren't going to really be that affected by it and then you know dozens or 20 or so patients who are diagnosed turns into several hundred within a few days and then more than a thousand a few days after that.

So that sort of the concern, all of it sort of hampered as we've talked about John. Even though testing as really ramped up in this country there are still places out there where people aren't getting tested that probably need to be tested. So we still don't have full sort of visualization on especially some of these areas where there hasn't been much testing done so far. I think you've got to prepare you know places right now they think we don't need any surge capacity we don't need any redundancy in our system.

I think that they're going to have to really look at what's happening in all the places around the country. Look to see if they have stay- at-home order in place and how it is all going to sort of add up for them? There is - it is difficult John to get the perfect level of preparation for something.

KING: Sanjay, I'm sorry I need to interrupt you. We need to get to the Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo giving his daily Coronavirus briefing. Sorry, Sanjay.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO, (D-NY): On the numbers, the number continues to increase. We are up to 8,658 new cases. Overall we have 130,000 people tested positive. 16,000 people in our hospital system, 13,000 people been discharged.

Numbers of deaths are up once again number of people we lost and number of New Yorkers 4,758 which is up from 159 but which is effectively flat for two days. While none of this is good news. The flattening, the possible flattening of the curve is better than the increases that we have seen.

New York is still far and away the most impacted state. New Jersey is having a real difficulty. I have been speaking with Governor Murphy from New Jersey and anything we can do together we will Michigan also.

California has leveled off and Louisiana is having a difficult time. So they're in our thoughts and prayers. Total numbers of hospitalizations are down, the ICU admissions are down. And the daily intubations are down. Those are all good signs.

And again would suggest a possible flattening of the curve. The number of discharge is down but that reflects the overall reductions in the numbers. Big question that we are looking at now is what is the curve?

We have been talking about cases increasing until they don't. When they stop increasing then what happens? The projected models have a number of alternatives. Some suggests basically the curve goes up and then drops precipitously and some suggests there is a slight pause at the top some suggest this is a longer pause at the top which is effectively a plateau effect or again the straight up and straight down precipitous drop which is the peak effect.

No one can tell you which will occur. They say anyone of the three options. You study other countries you've had a combination of the above. We are studying it as we have used the projection models from day one to determine actually what we do and how do we set policies and programs by following the data?

[12:10:00] CUOMO: Doctor Militarists has been working on the numbers working with the statisticians and the projection models and helping us incorporate that into an operational model. And Jim if you want to just take a moment and speak about the projection models here please.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Great thank you Governor. As the Governor said we have been looking at projection models from the beginning to determine the size and scope and severity and the Governor has mentioned this over his briefings.

We've been working with many organizations and using the data like Imperial College Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation Cornell, McKenzie and others. And some of the initial projections that we first saw at the beginning of this were at least 110,000 beds for COVID patients alone.

And the peak would come at the end of April. Those were some of the earliest modeling from many organizations that it would be at the end of April around an 110,000 beds just for COVID patients.

There are other models to that we were tracking one being lower at about 55,000 COVID beds but again peaking at the end of April. We follow now that we have a pretty robust data set they'll go by for the last several weeks. The bottom line there the purple line is sort of the way we are tracking today which suggests it is a little lower.

And the question was what could you do to lower those initial projections from 110,000 and from 55,000? So a lot of the activity was we saw with the statisticians and the folks looking at these types of models said it was going. So what activities and actions could you take to aggressively lower that overall number?

And the answer really was and what the Governor has been doing was aggressively enforced and enacts social distancing to lower the overall number. And this number and the current data suggest that that is exactly what's happening.

And it's not settled yet because we are going day by day and the numbers as the Governor says has changed a lot. Over time based on what numbers come in but this could suggest that we are indeed potentially at the apex or beginning to be at the apex at this moment.

Like the Governor has said there's been a range of models 7 days, 14 days, 21 days and 30 days. It looks like we're out towards the earlier side of that time frame based on the current projections and modeling that we've been looking at.

CUOMO: Thank you Jim but you also see on these. You see on the slide where we are now right? And it can still go any way. We could still see an increase. So it is hopeful but it's also inconclusive and it still depends on what we do right?

These models all have a coefficient of what we do? And how successful we are social distancing et cetera? And from our decision making point of view it doesn't really matter if we've hit the plateau or not because you have to do the same thing. If we are plateauing, we are plateauing at a very high level and there is tremendous stress on the health care system. And to say to this healthcare system which is at maximum capacity today right? This is a hospital system where we have our foot to the floor and the engine is at red line and you can't go any faster.

And by the way you can't stay at redline for any period of time because the system will blow. And that's where we are. We are at redline people can't work any harder. The staff can't work any harder and staying at this level is problematic.

And if we are plateauing it's because social distancing is working. So we have to make sure the social distancing actually continues. On the relieving the pressure on the hospital system which is unsustainable at this rate we're continuing what we call our Surgeon Flex Program where we get all the hospitals on the line on a daily basis.

They're all doing inventories they are all doing data sheets. They're all on the telephone and we're shifting among the hospitals, ventilators, PPE equipment who asks gowns? Who ask masks? And that happens on a daily basis that adjustment.

Also to relieve pressure on the hospital system the Javits is coming online is a very big deal that is a relief valve for the entire downstate system.


CUOMO: The 1100 military personnel started to come in 300 were sent to New York City public hospitals to help the New York City public hospital system the H&H system which has been under stress. The rest will be going to Javits to bring that up and running to full capacity. That transition is happening now.

That - is a COVID Center now started as non-COVID it's now a COVID center. The majority of the military personnel will be coming in tomorrow and the next day. But that Javits Center is going to be a major relief out.

Second the United States Navy Ship Comfort, the original plan was that that would come in for non-COVID people. The original plan was it would also be a relief valve on the hospitals but not for COVID people that it would take all the non-COVID patients if you will from the hospital system.

That was the plan as it turned out there's not a lot of non-COVID people in the hospital system which is a separate story, happens to be a good news story. A byproduct of shutting everything down is you have fewer car accidents crime rate is way down, fewer trauma cases.

So there's not a large non-COVID population in the hospitals. I'm going for the President this afternoon and ask him to shift the Comfort from non-COVID to COVID. Then we would have Javits and the Ship Comfort as a relief valve. There are 2500 beds in a 1000 beds as 3500 beds which could serve as a relief valve for the whole downstate hospital system. That is the only way we sustain this level of intensity in the hospital system. And I understand what the original plan was with the Comfort but I understand that there is no preordained strategy here. You have to feel it out day to day and you have to adjust with the facts.

And we don't need the Comfort for non-COVID cases. We need it for COVID if we had those two facilities as a relief valve that would make a significant difference. Now bringing online 3500 beds is no small task.

Northwell Health is going to help us manage those but they're going to be staffed by military personnel. Only the military could bring in that many people that quickly with vast logistical operation.

And I want to thank DOD very much for their cooperation because God bless the U. S. military. We were fully aware of what they do to defend this nation but this is a different application that we don't see every day and they're doing an extraordinary job.

So I'll call the President, he has been helpful to New York in the past and he's moved very quickly in the past. I'm going to ask him if you can make this adjustment for us because it would be truly beneficial. We would feel much better knowing that we can sustain this pace if we could start to offload patients to these two facilities.

In any event plateau not plateau we still have to extended New York pause because if that curve is turning its turning because the rate of infection is going down. One of the reasons the rate of infections going down is because social distancing is working.

We have to continue the social distancing. Schools and non essential businesses will stay closed until April 29. I know that it's a negative for many, many reasons I know what it does to the economy. But as I said from day one I'm not going to choose between public health and economic activity.

Because in either event public health still demands that we stay on pause with businesses closed and schools closed whether we've hit the apex or whether we haven't hit the apex. You would have to do the same thing.

There's also a real danger in getting overconfident too quickly. This is an enemy that we have under estimated from day one and we have paid the price dearly. Well the numbers are look like they may be turning.


CUOMO: Yea it's over no it's not and other places have made that mistake. Hong Kong has made that mistake. South Korea has made that mistake. And we're not going to make that mistake. The weather's turning people have been locked up. We've been talking about cabin fever.

Now it's a nice day. I'm going to get out. I'm going to take a walk. Now it is not the time to do that. And frankly there has been a laxness on social distancing especially over this past weekend that is just wholly unacceptable.

Look, people are dying. People in the health care system are exposing themselves every day to tremendous risk walking into those emergency rooms. And then they have to go home to their family and wonder if they caught the virus and they bring it home to their family.

If you don't - if I can't convince you to show discipline for yourself then show discipline for other people if you get infected you infect someone else you go to an emergency room you put a burden on all sorts of other people who you don't know and who frankly you don't have the right to burden with your irresponsibility.

And people especially in New York City the level of activity is up partially the weather made it a nice day. I understand people have been locked up for a long time. But now is not the time to be lax and it is a mistake.

We all have a responsibility. We all have a role in this. We say that from day one and we have to respect the role that we play because the role that we play is a societal obligation. That's how I see it. I want local governments to enforce the social distancing rules.

The local governments are charged with enforcement. I want them to enforce them and I want to be frankly more aggressive on the enforcement. Because all the anecdotal evidence is people are violating it at a higher rate than before.

So we're going to increase the potential maximum fine from 500 to $1000 but it's not really about the fine. Nobody wants the money. We want the compliance. We are serious. And again it's not about your life. You don't have the right to risk someone else's life.

And you don't have the right frankly to take a health care staff and people who are literally putting their lives on the line and be cavalier or reckless with them. You just don't have the right. And we want to thank all of the people who are getting us through this every day under very tough circumstances.

And we see the illness rate among these essential workers and we know the sacrifice they are making and we should respect it it's that simple. You have the first responders who are out there, your police officers who are out there the transit workers who have to drive a bus and a train every day the healthcare workers who were just doing extraordinary work.

So let's respect them and let's help them. We're also going to set up a fund run by the Department of Health to assess the health care workers with expenses costs childcare et cetera. I want to think Blackstone for making the first contribution to that fund of $10 million to assist the first responders.

I hope other individuals and corporations follow their lead. We're also very aware of the mental health aspect of the situation. And the stress and the isolation that this has caused and people are trying in the wrong way to grapple with what this means? And what is the impact? How do you rationalize this situation? And the mental health aspect of it is very real. Head Space is going to partner with New York they're an app they're going to have content for New York and free membership for New York. So we thank them.

But we also have an emotional support hotline. We have thousands of mental health professionals who have signed up to volunteer to provide mental health services. So we want people to make sure they know about that and it's available.


CUOMO: I talk about perspective a lot. Maybe frankly because partially I'm speaking to myself and I had a good conversation with my daughters last night Kara and McKayla who very are often wiser than I am and wiser than their years.

It's very hard to see the number of deaths we're having. It's frightening it's disturbing that amount of loss. I'm the Governor of New York. I see my job as preventing that kind of a disturbance in negativity and loss for the people of the state.

Perspective, you know we like to think that we can control everything. We can't. We like to think that we can fix everything and fix all the problems for people we can't. The undeniable truth here is that this virus is a deadly enemy and we will lose and we are losing people who are vulnerable to the virus.

That can't be controlled that can't be fixed why? That's Mother Nature, that's a question that God can only answer. But control what you can do what you can. The challenge is to make sure that we don't lose any one who could have been saved if our health care system was operating fully.

Don't lose anyone who you could save. That is a legitimate ambitious goal of government and that we have done so far. That we have done so far have we saved everyone? No, but have we lost any one because we didn't have a bed or we don't have a ventilator or we didn't have health care staff no.

The people we lost or the people we couldn't save. Not for lack of trying and not for a lack of doing everything that we could do as a society not only as a government and as a health care system.

So to the extent we can find peace in that it helps me. And we are still New York tough and New York tough means tough. A tough in a New York sense also means compassionate it means that we are unified. It means that we are loving because if you're really tough.

The really tough guys they're tough enough to show love and because we're smart and that's how we're going to go through this. Questions?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: --drug trial of Hydroxychloroquine and chlorine going.

CUOMO: We have - we're using - we've allowed usage of the Hydroxychloroquine with Azithromia pack in hospitals at their discretion. The Federal Government is going to increase the supply to New York pharmacies.

We had a 14 day limit on how much you could buy because so many people were trying to buy it. If the Federal Government increases the supply to New York which they say they're going to do then we could lift the 14 day limit.

There are a lot of people who rely on this - who were relying on it people with Lupus et cetera. The tests in the hospital they won't say that they are too short a period of time to get a scientific report. You know hospital administrators doctors want to give - have a significant data set before they give a formal opinion.

Anecdotally you'll get suggestions that it is been effective but we don't have any official data yet from a hospital or a according quotes study which will take weeks if not months before you get an official study. Is that a fair statement?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So the problem comes but not conclusive that sounds like?

CUOMO: On which?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On that that type of treatment in hospitals?

CUOMO: Yes there has been anecdotal evidence that it is promising that's why we're going ahead. Doctors have to prescribe but there are some people who have pre-existing conditions where it doesn't work.