Return to Transcripts main page


Wisconsin Primary Today Despite Governor's Efforts; Interview with University of Nebraska Medical Center Chancellor Jeffrey Gold; Interview with Boston Mayor Marty Walsh. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired April 7, 2020 - 10:30   ET




JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: So it's primary day in Wisconsin. Governor there, others tried to institute limitations so that people weren't risking their lives by going to vote. Social distancing, extending voter access, extending the deadline, et cetera. They were blocked by the state court, the federal court.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: Yes. And look at this video. I mean, this is what's taking place, this is at a polling location in Milwaukee just last hour. Look at that line, blocks and blocks and blocks long.

The primary here was forced to press forward after a last-minute controversial Supreme Court decision. Omar Jimenez joins us there.

I mean, good for them, they're staying six feet apart. But just talk to us about what led up to this. It was a real push and an executive order, and then finally the Supreme Court said, no, this is going ahead?

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It has been a chaotic week in regards to trying to get this election going. And for starters, that video that you just saw was literally a video that I took, just walking this line behind me, here at one of only five polling places here in Milwaukee. They typically have 180 polling places.

But when you talk about how we got here, this started -- at least policy-wise -- last week. A federal court order extended the election day, basically until April 13th. That is up until the amount of time that you could to -- to count the actual ballots, so that was the beginning with some of the legislative -- on the legal side.

Then, yesterday, what we saw from the Supreme Court, the U.S. Supreme Court, is that basically these ballots had to be postmarked by today to be counted before April 13th. So basically, if that absentee ballot is not postmarked by today, it won't count even if ballots are being counted by April 13th.

And the reason that is so crucial is that we have seen over a million absentee ballots already requested here in Wisconsin; thousands of those absentee ballots have been requested, but won't be received in time just partly because of the chaotic nature and the magnitude of requests, by the time this Election Day is over. Which means for those thousands of voters, they have to choose between whether they want to risk their health potentially and come out here and vote in person, or not vote at all.

And that's just on the absentee voting side. The politics side, there's a whole different side where the Democratic governor here, Tony Evers, wanted to delay this election. So he went to his Republican-led legislation, a special session over the weekend. They shot him down.

So then yesterday, he issued an executive order delaying this election until June 9th, after which the Republican-led legislation immediately appealed to the state Supreme Court here, also Republican-led. They voted along party lines for the vote to continue, and now here we are with long lines at polling places, at least here in Milwaukee.

SCIUTTO: He was just trying to keep voters safe, right? It's remarkable. Omar Jimenez on the ground, thanks very much.


What is it like to treat coronavirus patients in the hospitals as they're coming in, in the worst of it, in one of the few states that does not have a stay-at-home order? We're going to ask a doctor who actually treated some of the very first patients in this country, remarkable experience. And that's next.


HARLOW: Right now, the state of Nebraska does not have a statewide stay-at-home order. But Dr. Anthony Fauci says what the governor of the state is doing is, quote, "really functionally equivalent" to that.

SCIUTTO: With us now, Dr. Jeffrey Gold. He's chancellor of the University of Nebraska Medical Center. We should note, Nebraska Medical Center treated some of America's very first coronavirus patients. It's got a biocontainment unit there, where the government sends some of the most fearsome cases of this and other pathogens.

Doctor, thanks so much for taking the time here. I wonder if we could take advantage of your experience, being one of the first responders to this. We've learned so much about this virus from the beginning. I mean, damage to hearts and lungs, I mean, young people's exposure. Poppy was talking just recently about African-Americans in some communities, apparently being at higher risk.

From your position, what's the most important thing or things you've learned about this virus since the beginning?

JEFFREY GOLD, CHANCELLOR, UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA MEDICAL CENTER: So we've had an opportunity to serve our nation in many different ways. Our interest in health security and biocontainment actually goes back 15 years. We cared for Ebola patients back in 2014. So then when we were asked to repatriate Americans from Wuhan, and

then ultimately a large cohort of individuals from the Diamond Princess, we willingly agreed, having had a completely set-up unit, well-trained staff, adequate supplies and equipment.

But we also had an opportunity to study these individuals, to look at the transmission of the virus, to begin important clinical trials, and also to ask very important questions about how to best care for these patients in terms of personal protective equipment.

Fortunately, we've been able to take this information and share it widely, initiate a number of important medication clinical trials and work very closely with both our federal partners, state partners and others to try to use our resources as effectively as possible.


HARLOW: What you have seen is just so fascinating to me because you guys have been on the frontlines of this. I mean, those patients arriving in the middle of the night on the tarmac there, to your doctors, from the cruise ships, just at the start of all of this in the U.S.

Can you talk a bit about the NIH clinical trial that you're running right for COVID-19 treatment? And that is a trial on a drug called remdesivir, I believe. What --

GOLD: Yes.

HARLOW: -- is it proving helpful?

GOLD: Well, we're pretty early in the trial. We were the first center in the country to start as, again, it was because of this cohort of individuals from the Diamond Princess. Several of them were sick enough that they actually needed to be hospitalized and to be treated.

And so now this is a multi-center trial, and I'm told that we should have some preliminary information back from the review panels as early as in the next several weeks, maybe even sooner than that.

You know, it just gets to a very important point, that there needs to be some science around both the safety and the efficacy of the use of these medications. And while remdesivir does seem promising, we should know definitively in the relatively near future.


HARLOW: OK, good.

SCIUTTO: Where do you stand, then -- because we're in an odd situation, where you have the president and some political -- politicians touting anti-malarial drugs, whereas the experts -- like Dr. Fauci -- cautioning, well, real caution on these, given that the effects, not proven. As well as the fact that other people depend on these medications to treat their existing conditions. What's the right message on something like an anti-malarial drug as a treatment for COVID-19?

GOLD: You know, all of these drugs, even the very best of them, have side effects, complications, and they also have tremendous benefits. And that's why putting some science around this is always useful.

Initially, what prompts the research is that people have a -- what I would call an anecdotal experience. They've tested it, and because it's been useful in other areas, and they see, wow, it seems to help one patient or two or five. And indeed, there is some preliminary information that the anti-malarials, you know, are effective at least in a very limited series of studies. But hopefully we'll have some very well done scientific studies in the near future.

This particular drug, the quinine-related drugs, has significant side effects. So you want to be sure we use it at the right time in the right folks.

HARLOW: Can I just ask you one final question about what the governor there, Governor Ricketts, said on this network? Just about a few weeks ago, he was on with Jake Tapper on the 29th of March. I think we might have the sound -- do we, guys? OK, listen to this because Jake asked him about rural hospitals.


GOV. PETE RICKETTS (R), NEBRASKA: With regard to these rural hospitals, they already transferred patients today based upon their ability to be able to handle it. So it's -- it's a practice that's already in place, that if a hospital has a case that they don't feel like they can give the proper amount of care to, we make an arrangement to transfer to a different hospital.


HARLOW: I mean, is that a foolproof solution right now to hospitals across rural Nebraska with no ICU, to just airlift people or take them by ambulance elsewhere when some of those other hospitals could be flooded with patients?

GOLD: Sure. Well, at the moment, we're not flooded --

HARLOW: Right.

GOLD: -- and it is a durable solution, and it has been for many years. You know, think trauma and other sorts of things that we see as the academic medical center for the state that we care for.

But you're right on. I mean, it's all going to depend upon capacity. As long as we have capacity, we're very willing to help in any way to educate, work with supplies and equipment, train individuals to the best of our ability and transfer patients. But if we get overwhelmed, we're going to have to think long and hard about how durable and sustainable that might be.

HARLOW: Yes, that's a question we've been thinking a lot about in terms of rural America. We'll stay on it. Dr. Jeffrey Gold, thanks to the work -- for the work you and your team are doing. We look forward to hearing how that drug works out as these studies get wrapped up. Thanks for your time.

GOLD: It's a great pleasure. Thank you.


HARLOW: OK, we'll be right back.


HARLOW: A Navy official says 230 sailors on board the USS Roosevelt have tested positive for coronavirus. This comes after CNN learned that Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly was ordered to apologize -- ordered from Defense Secretary Esper -- to apologize for calling the carrier's ousted captain "stupid."

SCIUTTO: Yes, stupid and naive. Captain Brett Crozier, he was removed as commander after sending an e-mail raising alarm about the spread of coronavirus on the ship. CNN's Ryan Browne, he's been covering this story.

It's kind of remarkable on a lot of levels. I mean, one, Crozier was fired because he let this letter leak. Modly's comments were leaked, he stood by them and now he's apologizing for them.

RYAN BROWNE, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Yes that's right, Jim. It's been a bit of a rollercoaster in the last 24 hours with the U.S. Navy. Initially, we saw the remarks from Secretary Modly addressed to the crew aboard that ship, and that's the same crew that had given their now-fired commanding officer, Brett Crozier, a really warm sendoff with applause, chanting his name.

And then Modly, deciding to go to that very same crew and slam their former commanding officer. And we saw, when the remarks became public, Modly defended them, said he stood by everything he said. And then just hours later, he issued this statement of apology, apologizing to Captain Crozier, to the family, to the United States Navy and to all the members of that -- the crew of that ship.


Now, we're being told the reason he did that about-face and issued that apology is he was ordered to do so by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Mark Esper.

His apology also came after several top members of the House Armed Services Committee called for his resignation or his ouster, and it came after President Trump, in the White House press conference, publicly said that he was going to step into the dispute between Modly and Captain Crozier, praising Captain Crozier's record, saying that he was going to try and fix the situation. So a lot of doubt being cast on how Secretary Modly handled that situation, when he made those remarks to that crew.

SCIUTTO: Yes, one of many acting secretaries across government at this point, which means they have not faced Senate approval. Ryan Browne at the Pentagon, thanks very much.

A lot happening in the news today, and here's "What to Watch."

TEXT: What to Watch... 11:00 a.m. Eastern, N.Y. Gov. Cuomo holds briefing; 1:00 p.m. Eastern, N.J. Gov. gives virus update; 5:00 p.m. Eastern, Coronavirus Task Force briefing


HARLOW: After Boston's largest single-day increase in coronavirus cases, the mayor is now suggesting a curfew. He'll join us next.



SCIUTTO: Welcome back. The mayor of Boston is now recommending an overnight curfew for nonessential workers. This, as the number of cases in Boston soars. Across the state, nearly 14,000 people now infected in the state of Massachusetts.

I'm joined now by Boston Mayor Marty Walsh. Mayor, thanks so much for taking the time here. Boston had, to date, been relatively unscathed by this, certainly not to a degree a city like New York. As you see these numbers rise, is it your sense that Boston is now on the steep side, the early side of the curve as they say?

MAYOR MARTY WALSH (D-BOSTON, MA): By looking at the numbers, I'd say that the answer to that question is yes. We have 2,035 cases of coronavirus in the city of Boston. And in the last three days, 33 percent of those have been diagnosed. So we're starting to see that spike happening.

You know, it's really hard to manage these numbers a day at a time, you can't really tell. But I want to be on the side on the -- err on the side of caution, if you will, as we make some very difficult decisions here.

SCIUTTO: Yes, yes. I wonder because you're hearing some glimmers of hope from other places that got this earlier and instituted those kinds of bans, social distancing earlier. I wonder, a leader of a city, are you concerned about folks getting ahead of themselves to some degree? Say, hey, well, things are slowing down a bit in New York, I guess that means I can go out again, you know, I could go running, go to the grocery, you know, et cetera, social distancing. Are you concerned about that?

WALSH: Yes, I'm really concerned about that. I think that as we saw in the reports yesterday, watching CNN last night, a lot of -- a lot of cities and states are optimistic about how they're moving forward and the progress they have, they have capacity in hospitals and emergency rooms and things like that.

But as we've watched this virus take place around the world, there are spikes at different times and I think the fact that we're starting to see these numbers level off a little bit in certain places, this is not the time to lax on any rules as far as stay-at-home orders or ending curfews or not taking precautions.

Because we're in this for the long haul, and this is going to go on for several months now here in the United States, and I think that we have to be very careful. And we're trying -- I'm trying to let the residents of Boston know on a daily basis that, you know, the dips in the numbers, they don't really mean a lot right now.


WALSH: What it means is, until the experts and the scientists and the doctors tell us that the fear of coronavirus is over, we have to be very cognizant of that and do everything we can to prevent an increase or a spread or a spike a little later on down the road here.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Dr. Anthony Fauci, certainly echoing that sort of caution.

I want to get to the issue of testing here because this is so central to this. A month ago, the president said that anyone who wanted a test could get one. Now he's saying that hospitals need to do their own testing, in effect passing the buck on to them. I just want to ask your reaction to that, but also does Boston have anything near the number of tests it needs at this point to get a handle on this?

WALSH: Well, first of all, I think the inconsistency coming out of Washington in messaging is really bad, and I think that we need to stay consistent on this. As mayor, I try to remain as consistent as possible on the messaging that I'm giving to the people of Boston, and our government is doing the same here in Massachusetts and governors around the country. So I think, first and foremost, that's a really important piece.

The second piece is, you know, we would like to have an opportunity to be able to have tests for anyone that wants them. A lot of people are concerned about that. We are increasing our testing and we're gradually seeing an increase over the last two and a half weeks.

But to your point, we really need to continue to do mass testing for folks if we want to get to the other side of this virus and we want to kind of say, all right, we're free of it, if you will, mass testing is going to have to happen --


WALSH: -- not just in hospitals, but health centers and testing facilities.


WALSH: So there's no question that the federal government's ability to get more tests to the cities and states around the country is important.

SCIUTTO: It's key. Folks, all the experts been saying that consistently from the beginning. Mayor Marty Walsh, we wish you, the good people of Boston all the best of luck. [11:00:04]

WALSH: Thank you very much.

SCIUTTO: And thanks to all of you for joining us. I'm Jim Sciutto.

HARLOW: I'm --