Return to Transcripts main page


Northeast Governors Report Signs that Social Distancing May Be Working; Reports: Trump Advisor Warned White House in January of Pandemic Risks; U.K. Cabinet 'Taken by Surprise' by Johnson's Deteriorating Condition. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired April 7, 2020 - 06:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We want every American to know that what they're doing is making a difference.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A new government watchdog report finds, quote, severe widespread shortages of critical supplies across the country.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're the federal government. We're not supposed to stand on street corners doing testing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've never seen a leader who is incapable of admitting a mistake. Right now, that refusal is costing lives.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Boris Johnson was admitted into the intensive care unit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A surge in deaths is upon us, and the U.K. walks into that now with the prime minister in obviously a bad medical condition.


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

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Tuesday, April 7, 6 a.m. now in New York.

The big question this morning: Are we starting to see some of the first signs of progress the battle against coronavirus?

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says the numbers show his state may be flattening the curve of the outbreak, may. Governors in neighboring New Jersey and Connecticut are reporting similar trends with the death rate appearing to level off. Now, these could be signs that social distancing is working, but all three governors insist they are taking nothing for granted, and this is no time to relax restrictions.

Ninety-seven percent of the United States is now under some kind of statewide stay-at-home order, seven states still holding out.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease doctor, warns that life in America may not get back to, quote, "normal" until there's a vaccine.

CAMEROTA: Meanwhile, John, President Trump is showing growing contempt for anyone who questions his handling of this crisis. The president lashing out against an inspector general report that found, quote, "severe and widespread shortages of medical supplies at hospitals across the country." When asked about critical shortages in testing still today, the president claims that that responsibility lies with the states.

And developing overnight, a new story that one of President Trump's top advisers warned the White House back in January the coronavirus could kill millions of Americans and cost trillions of dollars. So why did it take so long for the White House to react? We'll share that new reporting.

Also, we are monitoring the condition of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. At this hour, he remains in intensive care at a London hospital. And we're just learning that the U.K. cabinet was taken by surprise by Johnson's deteriorating condition.

So let's begin our coverage with CNN's Athena Jones. She is live in New York with the latest. So what is the status in New York, Athena?

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Alisyn.

Three states saw a decrease in deaths from Sunday so Monday, but officials say that it's too soon to tell if that's a trend. New York was one of those states.

And now, still, medical workers across the country continue to sound the alarm that they're not getting their needs met.


JONES (voice-over): In New York City, medical personnel are already stretched thin, and this morning, many are fed up.

JILLIAN PRIMIANO, REGISTERED NURSE, WYCKOFF HOSPITAL EMERGENCY ROOM: We need supplies. We need more than one gown per shift. We need to not be transmitting coronavirus from patient to patient and home to our families.

JONES: A health and human services inspector general report says hospitals across the nation are suffering from a severe and widespread shortages of critical supplies needed to both fight the pandemic and protect healthcare workers. President Trump dismissing the report entirely, suggesting it was political.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Should it be for longer.

TRUMP: Did I hear the word inspector general? Really? It's wrong.

JONES: Despite the denial, Michigan is facing the third highest number of coronavirus cases and could run out of medical supplies soon.

GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D-MI): We are running dangerously low on PPE. We are doing everything that we can at the state level to secure more personal protection equipment.

JONES: The governor of Illinois says he's short on protective equipment, too, and wants the Trump administration to do more.

GOV. J.B. PRITZKER (D-IL): Take note that this is not as simple as placing an order and having it arrive at your doorstep a few days later.

JONES: The president firing back, saying his team is doing a great job.

TRUMP: Some of the states are very happy. Even Governor Pritzker from Illinois is happy ,because he may not be happy when he talks to the press, but he's happy.

JONES: Meantime, state leaders like California Governor Gavin Newsom lending a hand, sending 500 ventilators to the national stockpile intended for New York and other states.

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): We want to extend not only thoughts and prayers, but we're also extending a hand of support with ventilators.

JONES: Docked in Manhattan, the U.S. naval ship Comfort has begun accepting those sickened by the disease.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): This is an enemy that we have underestimated from day one, and we have paid the price dearly. Well, the numbers look like they may be turning. Yay, it's over. No, it's not. And other places have made that mistake.

JONES: Dr. Anthony Fauci suggesting that life under coronavirus guidelines like social distancing will be around for a while.

FAUCI: If back to normal means acting like there never was a coronavirus problem, I don't think that's going to happen until we do have a situation where you can completely protect the population.


JONES: Now, in addition to the USNS Comfort, the Javits Center here behind me continues to take in COVID-19 patients to try to take the load off the city's hospital -- hospital system.

Meanwhile, Governor Cuomo extending his stay-at-home orders to April 29 and raising the maximum fine, doubling it, in fact, for those who violate the social distancing guidelines to $1,000 -- John.


BERMAN: All right. Athena Jones for us outside the Javits Center, which is now admitting COVID patients. Athena, thanks very much. Joining us now, Dr. Ashish Jha, the director of the Harvard Global

Health Institute; and Dr. Roderigo Kong, an emergency medical physician and the medical director of the Patient Safety Institute at Staten Island University Hospital.

And Dr. Jha, if I can, I want to start with you on the numbers we've been seeing in New York and the tri-state area over the last few days.

Governor Andrew Cuomo said yesterday the total number of hospitalizations down, ICU admissions down, daily intubations down. And if you look at the death rate -- it's up on your screen right now -- over the last day or two in the tristate area, you can see in New York, basically flat. In New Jersey, basically flat. In Connecticut, basically flat. What do you make of this?

DR. ASHISH JHA, DIRECTOR, HARVARD GLOBAL HEALTH INSTITUTE: Yes, so, look, I think this is the early sign that all the work that everybody's been doing -- staying at home, washing their hands -- is maybe starting to pay off. And I say maybe because we just need a few more days of data to make sure that it really is flat. And then ultimately, we want to see it starting to decline.

But I see this as a good sign that we are make progress. And this is what we expected and hoped, and to be perfectly honest, maybe coming a couple of days earlier than I was expecting, but I'll take it. At this point, I'd much rather be wrong in this way and, you know, overestimating where we'd be compared to where we are.

CAMEROTA: Dr. Kong, you're on the front lines. Data only gets you so far. What are you seeing at your hospital? Are you seeing anything slowing down?

DR. RODERIGO KONG, EMERGENCY MEDICAL PHYSICIAN, STATEN ISLAND UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL: What we're seeing in our hospital actually does jive with what the governor was speaking about. There has been a slowing down of admission rates. In fact, we are actually, for the past couple of days, discharging more patients than we are admitting from COVID-19.

But I have to say that we have to be very careful with this. This is the time when we can look at these numbers and be happy and celebrate them, perhaps see a glimmer of hope, but this is actually the time when we should redouble our efforts and be ever vigilant.

BERMAN: And, Dr. Jha, just because we're seeing it in New York, what does it mean for the rest of the country?

JHA: Well, two things. First of all, it's a reminder to the rest of the country that social distancing works, that staying at home saves lives, and this is a good thing to do.

But a lot of the other parts of the country are not anywhere near flattening the curve. They're still rising exponentially, and there are plenty of places are going to be getting -- hitting their apex days or even weeks from now. So we do have to stay vigilant across the country. And by the way, for New Yorkers, letting our foot off the brakes, as

Governor Cuomo likes to say, will only mean a resurgence. So at this point, while this is good news, it's -- it's temporary good news for New York, and we all have to really stay vigilant.

CAMEROTA: Yes. I mean, we've been talking about these rolling peaks going across the country for a long time, and we can't just be New York-centric and think, you know, oh, good, we're out of woods. The country is not, obviously, out of the woods in any stretch.

And that's where, Dr. Kong, testing comes back into play. So if we're ever going to get back to normal, we need to know who has it, who has had it, who may have immunity from it. And President Trump's messages on testing have been contradictory.

So let me just play for you what he said a month ago and then what he said yesterday.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Anybody that wants a test can get a test.

States are supposed to be doing testing. Hospitals are supposed to be doing testing. You understand that? We're the federal government. Listen to me. We're the federal government. We're not supposed to stand on street corners doing testing.


CAMEROTA: So, Dr. Kong, obviously I don't want you to have to weigh in on the politics of it, but a month ago that wasn't true, when President Trump on March 6 said anybody who wants a test can get it. No, they couldn't. And we saw that -- and you saw that better than anybody. We heard all the stories of people who were desperate to get a test.

So now, a month later, when the president says hospitals are supposed to be doing the testing, what's the situation on the ground with testing?

KONG: Situation on the ground is that more people are getting testing, that's true. But there is also a lot of confusion, and there still remains difficulty for people to get testing.

Testing, I think, is a very important part of the puzzle to understand how COVID-19 is affecting us, to see how many people are actually affected by it and to gauge its severity.

However, also, from a boots-on-the-ground point-of-view, if someone has a test that is positive or negative, sometimes that actually doesn't really matter. When we see these patients, they will present with a certain range of symptoms. And if they present with those symptoms, regardless of a test result, we will treat them as a COVID- 19 patient, because there's such a widespread (AUDIO GAP) COVID-19. But I think that having a test that works and having a test that is

regulated from a federal, all the way down to a local level, would be very useful to understanding, in the future, what this disease has done to our population.


BERMAN: Dr. Jha, you've written a lot about testing over the last several months. What's the difference between what is actually happening now and what you think needs to happen?

JHA: Yes, so look, we need much more extensive testing than we have. For two reasons. One is we need to let clinicians on the frontline know which patients have it and which don't.

But if we're ever going to get out of this, if we are going to ever let kind of our society open back up again, we need a lot more testing. Our estimates are we need two to three times as much testing as we have. We need to test everybody with symptoms. Not necessarily because it will change management, or because you need to know that they have it. We need to be testing their contacts. We need to be testing a sample of the population.

That's the only way we're going to know how much disease there is in the community and when it's safe to open up again. If we want to open up our economy, we've got to have a lot more testing.

CAMEROTA: Dr. Kong, I want to end on a heartening note. I know that you have a -- had, I should say, a patient who struggled with this, I think, in the hospital for 15 days. And tell us about her and what we're seeing in this video.

KONG: Are you seeing the video?

CAMEROTA: Yes, we're seeing her. I know you can't hear it, but we're seeing her crying tears of joy, it looks like, as she's reunited with her husband. So tell us about Christina.

JHA: Sure. This is the patient that was admitted at our (UNINTELLIGIBLE) at our south hospital. She had a course in the hospital for 15 days. She was 47, and she had severe disease and required a lot of attention.

What is amazing is, I think, that the staff saw this person, they saw themselves. This was a patient about their age who had a family. And they were able to treat her, and then she was able to be reunited with her family. This actually represents a win for everybody.

But I have to -- I have to remind everybody, she was able to go home because all of you are staying at home. So this is a win for us, but, please, stay ever vigilant. Stay at home. By staying at home, you actually help us to treat the disease and keep it at bay.

CAMEROTA: That is so beautiful. I mean, just seeing her reuniting there with her husband. She's a mother of five. And when she sees him, and she puts her hands to her face and starts, you know, crying tears of joy, it is a really great victory for all of you and for everyone. So thank you both for all of the expertise this morning.

BERMAN: So, President Trump has insisted that nobody saw the coronavirus pandemic coming. The problem with that is, it's not true. Reports that one of his key advisers put it all down on paper as far back as January, that's next.



CAMEROTA: We have new details this morning about what the Trump administration knew about coronavirus and when they knew it. Both Axios and "The New York Times" report that White House economic adviser Peter Navarro wrote two separate memos, warning the White House that coronavirus could cost the country trillions of dollars and kill up to two million Americans. That first memo was sent in late January, a the second memo in late February, just days before President Trump was saying this publicly.


TRUMP: The coronavirus, which is, you know, very well under control in our country.

We're going to be pretty soon at only five people. We're going down, not up. We're going very substantially down, not up.

It's going to disappear. One day it's like a miracle, it will disappear.


CAMEROTA: We don't know if President Trump actually saw Peter Navarro's memos.

Joining us now is one of the reporters behind the Axios story. That's CNN political analyst Margaret Talev.

Margaret, great to have you here. So I have so many questions about this, but Peter Navarro, economic advisor to the president, why was he so compelled to begin trying to compile all of this information and sound the alarm?

MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, these are really two extraordinary memos because of the detail that they show and also because of the context of the timing.

But Peter Navarro often says publicly he's a Ph.D., he's a statistician. And you can see that at work in these memos.

He draws out different modeling scenarios and says, look, on the low end, if this is no big deal, it's just a flu and we deal with it, it could run somewhere around, you know, $35 billion a month.

But on the high end of it is pandemic. His initial estimates were this could cost 543,000 lives and maybe 4 billion -- $4 trillion. And within a span of about three weeks, he had raised those estimates very high upward, saying it could cost up to 2 million American lives -- pardon me, up to --


TALEV: Yes, two million American lives but almost $6 trillion in economic costs.

BERMAN: It is extraordinary, and it's detailed, Margaret. It's explicit, and I'll say it in three syllables so people get it, explicit. It spells it out completely.

This is P-22 here. "There's an increasing probability of a full-blown COVID-19 pandemic that could infect as many as 100 million Americans with a loss of life of as many as 1 to 2 million souls. We have a graphic for that."

We also have P-23. "We can expect to need at least a billion face masks, 200,000 Tyvek suits, 11,000 ventilator circuits, 25,000 PAPRs."

I mean, this was written on February 23 from within the White House. So when President Trump has said publicly who could have seen this coming, no one saw this coming, it's just not true. His own White House was putting out paper internally, saying that exactly this was coming.


TALEV: But the White House internally has not been in lockstep with this and, in fact, we talked with a senior official last night who said when they saw Peter Navarro's memos, their first thought was, Well, there he goes again on trying to get a China travel ban.

So there is -- there was and still is a fair amount of distress about Peter Navarro's motives when he speaks out because of his hawkish history on trade and the China travel ban.

And on the other hand, there has been and, to some extent, remains a real divide inside the White House about how to balance health concerns with economic concerns. And you see that play out every day when the president speaks.

But this question of was Peter Navarro able to get the president's attention. He's close to the president, president generally likes him. Was he able to get these memos in front of him and read?

And you see the difference in the memos. The first memo addressed to the National Security Council. The second memo addressed to a whole bunch of people and the president. So with increasing urgency, he seemed to be trying to tell the president, Hey, I'm going to put this in writing.

And the president often doesn't like that. You saw this play out in the debacle over the Navy commander: I'm going to put this in writing, and I'm going to address it to the president himself. CAMEROTA: Well, the president did react, I mean, in terms of the so-

called travel ban from China, though, as we now know, there were hundreds of thousands of passengers who were able to come in. But, still, he issued that sort of proclamation. And so maybe that was in response to Peter Navarro's warning?

TALEV: Well, we don't know, because then the actions from the podium and from Twitter and from what were still rallies at the tie were so dramatically different. The president saying, We've got this under control. It's not that many people. Look at the stock market's performance.

So you saw, to some extent, direct acknowledgment by the president in his policies. His team began working to move forward on stimulus packages with Congress, as you said, efforts to keep even Americans who may have been exposed from coming back off of cruise ships and airplanes.

So the president was privately concerned about it and, to some extent, showed that in policy; but it did not translate into the public message or what he was telling Americans just living, going about their everyday business, about how seriously to take the risk that this could come to their communities.

CAMEROTA: Margaret Talev, thank you very much for sharing your reporting. We will obviously continue to dive into that.

Now to this story. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson remains in intensive care after his coronavirus symptoms worsened yesterday. The latest on how he's doing in a live report from London, next.



BERMAN: A major developing story this morning. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson remains in intensive care. As one cabinet member says they were, quote, "taken by surprise" by his deteriorating condition.

Joining us now from London, CNN anchor and correspondent Max Foster, live from Parliament; and CNN's chief international correspondent, Clarissa Ward, live at the hospital where Johnson is being treated.

Clarissa, let me start with you. What can you tell us about the condition of the British prime minister?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, what we know that Prime Minister Boris Johnson is still in the intensive care unit. He was not been intubated; he is not on a ventilator.

But I've been speaking with a number of emergency physicians here in the U.K. who are working on COVID; and they all say that, for the prime minister to be moved into the ICU, even as a precautionary measure, is indicative of the fact that he likely had very low oxygen saturation levels, probably was having some difficulty breathing properly. And so what they want to do is keep him in that ICU area where, if he

does need to be intubated, if he does need to go onto a ventilator, they can do it in a very quick and timely fashion.

The real concern is how on earth things changed so quickly. It was just 24 hours ago, John, I was talking to you and, you know, 10 Downing Street was telling us everything was absolutely fine. He was in good health. This was just precautionary. He was doing some tests. He was still running the country from his hospital room. And now it becomes very clear, in a rather dramatic escalation, that things were much more serious than that, John.

CAMEROTA: Thanks, Clarissa, I'll take it.

I mean, I suppose -- I mean, that could have been an issue with messaging, or it could be this virus. You know, we have seen people hit a downward spiral quickly after they were, you know, reportedly or supposedly doing well. It's hard to know at this point.

And so, Max, if -- if Boris Johnson is not intubated right now and if he's conscious, who is running the country? Is he still?

MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: Well, there is no clear succession plan if a prime minister becomes incapacitated, and it's a problem. And political commentators are starting to talk about today.

The issue you've got here is that Boris Johnson has said he's still in charge. Downing Street insists that's the case, but Dominic Raab is stepping in as first secretary, the most senior cabinet minister after him, when necessary.

But what isn't clear is who's in charge when. The wider constitutional crisis potentially looming here is that the queen needs to know who to take advice from in terms of prime ministers. So when is Dominic Raab in charge? When is Boris Johnson in charge? And if he suddenly becomes unwell, what's she supposed to do?

If you are prime minister, you have big powers. You could go to war. You can appoint judges. You can do all these sorts of things. So who does the queen go to and approve in those situations? It's a big issue.

I know that the cabinet secretary is in touch with the queen's private secretary. She's insisting on being kept briefed on this, but she doesn't be -- want to be left in a situation where she's making political decisions. That's not what she's there for.

But if Dominic Raab does something that the rest of the cabinet doesn't like, it's a problem.