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Trump Administration Developing Coronavirus Surveillance System?; Global Outbreak; Bernie Sanders Drops Out. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired April 8, 2020 - 16:30   ET



DR. CELINE GOUNDER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: And then there are a couple other issues that are going to be frustrating efforts to scale this up, which is that the nasal swabs and other mediums that we use to collect specimens are also in short supply.

So, there's issues at every step of the way, Jake.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: So -- but just to give everybody, including me, up to speed on this, there are two million of these machines, and they have just been sent to labs all over the country in the last few weeks, and they're just sitting in labs?


So, that's the thing. They haven't made it to the labs. So there are intents to purchase and send. I'm not sure where they're idling, perhaps in Abbott warehouses, but they're not making it to the labs where they're meant to be used.

TAPPER: OK, so Dr. Birx is incorrect when she says that they're out there, more than a million of them are out there, and 80 percent of them sitting idle.

You're saying only 5,500 of them have gotten actually out to the labs and we don't know where the other ones are.

There's also, right, an issue, because there are all sorts of different kinds of tests for this, for coronavirus, also this allocation problem. These new, faster tests become available. And then everybody wants that new, faster test to get the results in 15 minutes, as opposed to four days, five days.

People flock to those tests. And as a result, the older test machines also sit idle. It's kind of like standing in a long line at the express lane at the grocery store, when other lanes that are not express are wide open.

How can that be fixed?

GOUNDER: Well, a lot of those waits are actually related not to the time it takes to do the test, but rather where do you fall in terms of priority in the line? So if you're somebody who's not very sick, who's not in the hospital, who happens to be getting a test, you're going to be made to wait to get your test results. The people who are going to get the test done right away are going to be those who are in intensive care units in the hospital who are critically ill.

So some of that is really actually another form of rationing here.

TAPPER: I want to talk to you about hydroxychloroquine, which President Trump, as you know, has been pushing the use of.

And, look, everybody wants something to emerge to help these people who are suffering, whether it's hydroxychloroquine or whatever. I know there are dozens of drugs being tested.

So, yesterday, the CDC removed its guidance on how to use hydroxychloroquine from the CDC Web site. What do you make of that?

GOUNDER: Well, I think there remains a lot of disagreement between those of us who are scientists and doctors, and those of us who are perhaps a bit more emotional and really grasping at straws.

And I understand that there is a great desire to save patients. I want to save my patients, but I also don't want to do them harm. And the very patients who are at very high risk of complications from the hydroxychloroquine are the patients who are also at risk of severe disease from COVID-19, so patients with underlying heart or lung disease.

So this is not something that should be recommend lightly. And I think that's why you see the CDC pulling back any advice on that.

TAPPER: Even though hydroxychloroquine is not FDA-approved for coronavirus -- nothing, we should note, is FDA-approved for coronavirus -- the state of Georgia has already acquired 200,000 doses of hydroxychloroquine. Florida is scheduled to receive a million doses today.

Is this being tracked and monitored properly, so that people like you, infectious diseases specialists, know what's going on, find out the results in real time?


So these are medications, whether it's hydroxychloroquine or remdesivir, or convalescent serum, any number of these treatments, really should be done in the context of a protocol where we're collecting data, because that allows us not only to potentially help somebody, but to learn from that, because, if you don't do that, then we won't know what works and we won't be able to recommend effective treatments in a month or two or three.

We will still be flying blind. So it's really important that this be done in a context where we're actually learning from those experiences. TAPPER: All right, Dr. Celine Gounder, thank you so much. And thank

you for the work you do during this difficult time. We really appreciate it.

And then there was one, Senator Bernie Sanders dropping out of the Democratic presidential race.

A behind-the-scenes look at what drove his decision -- that's next.



TAPPER: In our 2020 lead: Senator Bernie Sanders dropped out of the Democratic presidential race today, clearing a path for former Vice President Joe Biden to be the Democrat presidential nominee.

Still, Sanders claimed a victory in the fight for the heart and the future of the Democratic Party.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): While we are winning the ideological battle, and while we are winning the support of so many young people and of working people throughout the country, I have concluded that this battle for the Democratic nomination will not be successful.

And so, today, I am announcing the suspension of my campaign.


TAPPER: Just yesterday, Wisconsinites braved along lines and rough weather and potential coronavirus contagion to participate in that state's primary.

CNN's Ryan Nobles Ryan joins us now.

And, Ryan, Sanders offered limited praise of Joe Biden in his announcement. I mean, he praised him, but it was limited. What did you make of that?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, as you know, Bernie Sanders is not the type of person that heap praise on anyone, regardless of the circumstances.

But I think today his message wasn't necessarily directed at Joe Biden and his supporters. It was more directed at the supporters of Sanders' campaign and the progressive movement in America.


He wanted to make clear to them that he did everything he possibly could to win this Democratic nomination, and that they fell short, and that he was going to continue to work to push for those ideals that led him to run for president way back in 2016. Now, this is going to be incumbent upon Sanders now to bring that

group of supporters over to Joe Biden's camp before the November election, because they could be very important if Joe Biden is to beat Donald Trump in November. And Joe Biden seems to understand that as well.

He has been very positive in his praise for Bernie Sanders as he exits the race. In fact, Biden's penned a very long essay just thanking Bernie Sanders contribution to the political discourse. And he also tweeted this.

He said: "I know Bernie well. He is a good man, a great leader and one of the most powerful voices for change in our country, and one that it's hard to sum up his contributions to our politics in one single tweet, so I won't try."

So, Jake, I think the next stage of this conversation is how Biden and Sanders come together to unite the Democratic Party as they head into the November election, obviously, something that will not be easy, given the fact that the coronavirus pandemic has basically put the campaign for president on ice.

TAPPER: Ryan, somebody else that was quick to tweet, was President Trump, who is eager to have the divisions in the Democratic Party and have Sanders supporters either vote for him or at least sit out the race, as some of them did in 2016.

What are you hearing from Sanders supporters and other progressive groups when it comes to what they're going to do now?

NOBLES: Well, the simple answer to that question, Jake, is that it's not going to be Bernie Sanders that necessarily wins over the support of these folks for Joe Biden. It's really going to be incumbent upon Joe Biden to win that support over.

In fact, there's a wide group of progressive groups that represent particularly young people, millennials and Generation Z folks, like the Sunrise Movement, Justice Democrats, and NextGen America.

They put out a combined letter to Joe Biden talking about these big progressive issues that they feel are important and should become an important part of his campaign. So, while a Sanders endorsement will go a long way to winning over those folks, it's really going to be about more about what Joe Biden stands for and how he's going to apply that to his presidential campaign, if he's going to get their votes in November.

TAPPER: Yes, could be a tall order for some of them.

Ryan Nobles, thanks so much.

The president lashing out today over criticism of his administration's handling of this pandemic, blaming the World Health Organization, blaming Democrats, blaming the media, blaming governors.

And, as CNN's Kaitlan Collins reports, a new CNN poll shows that 52 percent of the American people do not approve of how President Trump has handled this crisis.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'd love to open with a big bang, one beautiful country just opened.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Trump's aides are hoping to give him the economic big bang he's counting on.

And CNN has learned they have started intensive discussions about a plan to reopen the economy as soon as May, which could ultimately lead to a showdown between his staff.

Trump is touting a potential turnaround in the outbreak after a key forecasting model that the White House has cited now says the U.S. may see fewer deaths than initially expected.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NIAID DIRECTOR: A model is as good as the assumptions that you put into the model.

COLLINS: Some health officials say it's too early to declare victory just yet.

DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: What's really important is that people don't turn these early signs of hope into releasing from the 30 days to stop the spread.

COLLINS: A new CNN poll finds 55 percent of Americans now say the federal government has done a poor job of preventing the spread of coronavirus in the U.S., and they think Trump could be doing more to fight the outbreak.

As confidence in the federal government's response has dropped, today, there are new questions about missed warning signs. ABC News is reporting that a military intelligence report was warned of a crisis as far back as November because a contagion was sweeping through Wuhan.

But the defense secretary says he doesn't recall such a report.

MARK ESPER, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: I'm not aware of that. I will tell you, again, our folks work this all the time.

COLLINS: The president has continued to blame others for his response. He's now threatening to withhold funds from the World Health Organization because he says it acted too slowly to sound the alarm.

TRUMP: Basically, everything was very positive for China. Don't close your borders, they told me.

COLLINS: The WHO reported a pneumonia of unknown cause in late December and declared a global health emergency at the end of January.

But critics have said they were too trusting of the Chinese government that initially tried to conceal key details about the outbreak. (END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: Now, Jake, during a call with Democratic lawmakers today, Dr. Fauci said the task force is working on some kind of framework and trying to establish one that could help Americans return to normal life.

He did say he expects the task force issues some kind of guidance on that in the next few days, though it's still unclear exactly what that would look like.


TAPPER: All right, Kaitlan Collins at the White House, thank you so much.

A new controversial proposal to slow the spread involving the White House and Big Brother and you. The details and the privacy concerns -- that's next.



TAPPER: As the Trump administration looks for ways to slow the spread of coronavirus, a White House task force led by presidential aide and son-in-law Jared Kushner is considering developing a national surveillance system.

According to Politico, the network would track the kind of symptoms patients are experiencing, and if hospitals have the resources to treat them.

This, of course, is raising issues of privacy concerns for some.

Joining me now is CNN technology reporter Brian Fung.

Brian, thanks for joining us.

What more do we know about this proposal and what is the White House saying about it?

BRIAN FUNG, CNN TECHNOLOGY REPORTER: Well, according to the Politico article, the proposal from the White House would seek to draw private sector data from health tech companies, so that it can track the availability of things like hospital beds, and to find out which emergency rooms are being hit hardest by the coronavirus.

And this information could allow the government to rush resources to those that are most in need of supplies, like protective equipment and tests and so forth.

Now, CNN hasn't confirmed the report. But the White House is pushing back on Politico's reporting, saying the article is -- quote -- "completely false" and that Jared Kushner has no knowledge of any such proposal. Still, that hasn't stopped critics from slamming the idea. Senator Ed

Markey from Massachusetts sent a statement after the Politico report came out that -- quote -- "The Trump administration has not given me or the American people any confidence that it is capable of creating or maintaining a massive health data network in a manner that doesn't undermine our fundamental rights of privacy."

All of this suggests there's tensions between what's now possible with technology and the ethical questions surrounding how it should be used to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

TAPPER: North Dakota is one of the states that still does not have an aggressive stay-at-home order in place.

It's now using an app, however, to track those who may have had contact with coronavirus patients. So, whether or not the Trump administration is discussing this, this is out there. How does that app work?

FUNG: Well, according to reports, the app would basically be a voluntary measure that individual users could download for themselves.

And the app would then track the locations, recording information about your geolocation data from the smartphone, and then report that to health officials. Now, health officials could then use that information to determine whether people are actually staying at home or if they're going out into the public, and if stronger measures may be needed, like stay-at-home orders or other measures designed to help keep the public safe and secure.

On the other hand, there are also questions about how useful this data may be in terms of the steps that companies like Apple have put into place to make it harder for these types of apps to collect location data and other personal information.

And so privacy and civil -- cybersecurity experts say this type of information may actually be less useful because it's not as up to date, for instance. It may be minutes or hours old, which may also help prevent users and -- from reporting their information accurately.

TAPPER: Glenn Greenwald from The Intercept did an interview with former NSA contractor and fugitive Edward Snowden about some of the privacy concerns that tracking programs raise. This is a discussion going on around the world.

Here's a little snippet of that interview. Take a listen.


EDWARD SNOWDEN, LEAKED DETAILS OF U.S. SURVEILLANCE: We are being made to dependent on a system that we do not really understand and do not have that much control over.

The only thing that we have left, our rights, our ideals, our values as people, that's what they're coming for now. That's what they're asking us to give up. That's what they're asking to change. (END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: So, Brian, Snowden is right to note the security concerns.

Handing over information to the government and just assuming we can trust this government or any government, it can be troubling to people.

FUNG: Absolutely.

And I think it really just boils down to, how much -- who do you trust more, private companies who we give data to every day, or the federal government, who is increasingly seeking access to this data?

In both cases, we're talking about what measures are acceptable in a public health crisis and a national emergency -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Brian Fung, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

In our world lead: Spain is announcing that the country is conducting a clinical trial aiming to prevent the further spread of coronavirus among their health care workers. They're calling it the biggest study of its kind.

About 22,000 health workers in Spain have been infected. That accounts for about 15 percent of the total number of cases in Spain.

France saw its deadly is day yet in the coronavirus pandemic, with 562 reported dead in just the last 24 hours, the death toll in that country now standing at more than 10,000.


And in New Zealand, one person has died after that country's government acted very early and aggressively to close borders and lock down the entire nation.

We have reporters around the world joining me now to discuss what's going on.

After two nights in intensive care, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson's condition has been improving, and he is said to be sitting up and engaging with hospital staff.

Let's go to the U.K. now, where we find CNN's Nic Robertson, joining me live from London.

Nic, do we know how long Prime Minister Johnson is going to remain in intensive care?


There's no assessment being given. We're not getting a direct readout from his doctors. The very latest is that the prime minister continues to make steady progress. But when we're told in the briefing, as we were by government officials today, that he's making steady progress, that he is -- that there is positive improvement, that is engaging positively, this doesn't answer the question, well, was he not engaging positively yesterday?

Was he not engaging? So there's a lot that we don't know. We don't know the severity of his symptoms. We don't know what's giving the doctors the encouragement and the feeling that he is making this steady progress.

We do know, however, that today was the deadliest day so far in the U.K.; 938 people died. In percentage terms, it seems to be plateauing. That's what government officials are saying, that it's not accelerating out of control.

One official said -- another health official said that there does seem to be some plateauing. And it is beginning to beg that question, that many in the Cabinet would like to see the prime minister back to help make that decision on when to lift the lockdown.

That's a big question. And, as big, when is the prime minister going to be involved in those decisions? We just don't know, Jake.

TAPPER: Sure seems like there's a lot of information about the prime minister that the government is not giving the press or the public.

Nic Robertson, thanks so much.

Confirmed cases in Africa have grown exponentially in recent weeks, according to the World Health Organization, saying the virus has the potential to unleash economic and social devastation on that continent.

CNN's David McKenzie joins me now from Johannesburg, South Africa.

David, what's the plan for containing the virus not only in cities like Johannesburg, but in smaller villages with limited access to resources?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's a good question, Jake.

And that is what really troubles me about this World Health Organization announcement that more than 10,000 are confirmed to have the virus. But that number is less than other regions because the virus hit most of the continent much later.

What is even more troubling is that exponential spread you mentioned. And what they're doing about it? Well, large parts of this continent already locked down. Governments and presidents across the continent took decisive action early on. South Africa is under a 21-day lockdown. Key countries like Kenya and Nigeria are also virtually shut down.

Here's what really worries me, Jake. More than 80 percent of this continent is -- have informal jobs. If you don't work, you don't eat after several days perhaps in many circumstances. As the continent tries to combat this to try and stop the virus from spreading and collapsing weak health systems, how are they going to make those difficult choices?

Because so many people just can't survive in lockdown. Self-isolation is a privilege. Many people on this continent can't afford that privilege -- Jake.

TAPPER: Indeed.

David McKenzie in Johannesburg, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

The pope saying he thinks coronavirus could be something of a response to humans ignoring climate change, saying -- quote -- "I don't know if these are the revenge of nature, but they are certainly nature's responses" -- unquote.

CNN's Ben Wedeman joins me now live from Rome.

And, Ben, this was part of a revealing interview the pope just gave?


He gave this interview to a British journalist who's writing for the "Tablet" and "Commonweal." And it was certainly a harsh critique of the world system, as it exists today, certainly in the shadow of this coronavirus pandemic.

He said that now, in this moment of crisis, it is a time to see the poor and to help them out, and not to treat them as rescue animals. He referred to a photograph he saw from Los Angeles, where he said that the homeless were being kept in quarantine in a parking lot in a city, he said, where there are thousands of empty hotel rooms where they could be housed.

He also mentioned politicians who are using rhetoric reminiscent of Adolf Hitler in 1933, talking about perhaps helping the poor, but not doing much other than selling weapons -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Ben Wedeman, thank you so much. Stay safe.

Thank you so much for joining us.