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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
U.S. Cases Top 424,000; Death Toll Surpasses 14,500; WH Task Force: Philadelphia, DC Expected to be New Hot Spots; WH Coronavirus Task Force Says Social Distancing is Working. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired April 8, 2020 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: The Philadelphia Metro and Wilmington and in the Baltimore and the Washington, D.C. area 15 percent, zero positivity and 500 cases per day and 200 cases per day in Baltimore.
This is how we're looking at it, county by county, metro by metro, rural region by rural region to make sure we don't miss anything and we're triangulating testing data with the attack rates, with the hospitalization with the number of cases and really creating a mosaic of who needs what, when to ensure that every American is served well.
I had a great call today with a group of pediatricians, the Head of the American Academy of Pediatrics and with the American College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. Behind the scenes and working every day are the pediatricians fielding those phone calls from every concerned mother and, of course, grandmothers like myself, in protecting our children every day to ensure that they have access to the medical care that they need while this is happening.
And to every pregnant woman out there, I was very reassured hearing from the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. They have put amazing things in place to protect every pregnant woman. They have been social distancing in their offices. They have increased all of the disinfecting. They have lengthen the time between clients to every pregnant woman.
Don't miss your appointments. If your OB thinks you need to be there, you should go. And please know that on the labor and delivery wards, they are doing everything to protect you and their babies. They are committed to you. They are absolutely committed to you having a good experience.
Make sure if your physician believes you should be in the hospital for your delivery, make sure you're following their guidance. We don't want any pregnant women to suffer a bad outcome during this time. So again, I just want to conclude by thanking the American people and recognizing the number of people we're losing per day is serious to all of us and it could be so much worse.
But our frontline health care providers and the way they're talking to each other about how to improve care for every individual that they serve, you see them on the TV, see them in the emergency room, you see what they're up against. This is how we can honor them as to make sure we continue to put as
Dr. Fauci always says, put your foot on the gas and make sure that we continue to strongly mitigate and really protect those with pre existing conditions.
And finally, those pre existing conditions we know now include asthma. So asthma, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, any of these conditions, renal disease, no matter what age, please make sure you're following the guidelines to protect those individuals in your household. We know they're more susceptible to a worse outcome.
We don't think that anyone's more susceptible to getting infected. I want to make sure that everyone understands everybody is susceptible to getting infected. This virus is very transmittable as we well know, but we need to protect those that need our protection the most.
So thank you all for what you're doing to get the message out to ensure that we continue to protect each other in this very difficult time.
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Great. Dr. Fauci, please.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Thank you, Mr. Vice President. Just to follow up and underscore what Dr. Birx has said, as I've said many times from this podium, the spectrum of going from infection to getting ill, to requiring hospitalization, to intensive care, to death. And what is the most striking thing that obviously is so sobering to us is when we see the number of deaths.
We know now for sure that the mitigation that we have been doing is having a positive effect, but you don't see it until weeks later. Remember, this past weekend, when we all of us got up in front of this podium and mentioned that this was going to be a really bad week, at the same time we were saying that we would hope we would start to see a little bit of a change in the daily hospitalizations, intensive care and intubations and New York is starting to see that.
So I say that, but I dropped back a bit, don't get complacent about that. Because what's going to happen two and a half weeks from now is really what's going to happen with regard to the people who are getting new infection. As Dr. Birx said, everybody is almost certainly as susceptible as anybody else to getting infected. It's what happens to you after you get infected.
And again to just keep emphasizing, we need to keep mitigating, we know that this is something that is a strain on the American public, but it's just something that we have not only the only tool, it's the best tool.
And to just shift a bit to what we said yesterday regarding the African-American community, it is very painful to see and I've seen it throughout my entire medical career that the health disparities in the minority community, but particularly the African-American community puts them at risk apart from coronavirus issues, puts them at risk for diseases much more so than the general population.
The double whammy that you suffer now is when you have this terrible virus, which essentially prays in its ultimate deleterious effects on people with those underlying conditions. And since that is more predominant in the African-American population, we want to double down and say to the young people, to the elderly people in that community to please try as best as you can to protect yourself if you're a younger person and to please protect the people who are susceptible. Your grandmother, your grandfather, your elder uncle, the people who have these underlying conditions.
Because we are not going to solve the issues of health disparities this month or next month. This is something we should commit ourselves for years to do. But what we can do now today is to prevent people who are put at higher risk, because of the demographic group from getting into a situation, which is much, much more deleterious than the general population.
So I plead with all of us in the population, but particularly for those of us, our brothers and sisters in the African-American community, because we know that mitigation does work. The reason we know it works is the question that was asked about the numbers that why they came down with the projections.
Because remember, what you do with data will always outstrip a model. You redo your models depending upon your data. And our data is telling us that mitigation is working. So again, as Dr. Birx said, keep your foot on the accelerator, because that's what's going to get us through this.
PENCE: Dr. Redfield.
DR. ROBERT REDFIELD, DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: Thank you, Mr. Vice President. I just wanted to follow up one of the most important things we can do is keep our critical workforce working. And I think you heard it said that we have many different critical workforce industries in this country. Obviously, first responders, healthcare workers, but as you heard, it's also individuals who helped maintain our food supply, et cetera.
And so what CDC has done is that we really looked at the essential workforce and how to maintain that workforce, particularly at this time as we begin to get ready to reopen and have confidence in bringing our workforces back to work. And so we put out a new guidance for essential health care workers who've been exposed to the coronavirus.
These are individuals that have been within six feet of a confirmed case or suspected case and so that they can, under certain circumstances, they can go back to work if they're asymptomatic as the Vice President said. They could go back to work if they do several things, as we say here. Take their temperature before they go to work. Wear a face mask at all times and practice social distancing when they're at work. What we've asked them not to do while they're at work is we want them
to stay at home if they're sick. We want them not to share objects that would be touching their face and we would like them not to congregate in break rooms, lunch rooms and crowded places.
And in the second slide, if we're talking to the employers of these critical industries, we would ask those employers take the employees temperature and assess their symptoms before starting them back to work. If the employee does become sick, we want them to be sent home immediately.
We'd like them to increase air exchange in the buildings and increase the frequency of how they clean common surfaces and really began to get these workers back into the critical workforce so that we won't have worker shortage in these critical industries. So that's the new guidelines that CDC will be posting today.
PENCE: And those will be available at cdc.gov and thank you, Dr. Redfield, and we'll have questions for anyone on the panel, please.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just a couple of things to clarify, the 500 million masks that the President mentioned that are being developed, are those for health care workers or are you planning to actually hand out masks to the American public?
PENCE: I think the focus has been to make sure that our health care workers in our health care system has the supply.
And with regard to what we're gathering from literally around the world and for manufacturers in the United States is first being deployed to states and to hospital systems. But I must tell you that whether it be the Hanes company or other companies, we're seeing manufacturers in America that are recognizing the growing demand for mask by the American people and are spinning up production literally by the hour.
But our focus, our continuing focus is on making sure that healthcare workers have the personal protective equipment to do their job safely, and provide the level of care that every one of us would want. Please.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, Mr. Vice President. Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly says that she has put in several requests FEMA for supplies for the stockpile and those have not been fulfilled. So will Kansas be getting any of the ventilators because the requests included ventilators? And does she need to be calling the White House instead? Have you spoken with her directly?
PENCE: I've not spoken to the governor directly, but I'll reach out this evening, certainly. In our conference call with governors this week, we spoke to them about the approach that we are taking. Traditionally, governors are accustomed to when a hurricane strikes the Gulf Coast, when wildfires strike out west, when flooding or tornadoes hit in places like Indiana, you're accustomed to have a declaration of emergency approved and then resources flow from FEMA. In this situation as we deal with a nationwide declaration and an
epidemic, what we've explained to governors is that what President Trump has directed is that we leave no stone unturned to find resources around the country and around the world including ventilators. And we make sure as the Coronavirus epidemic impacts individual areas that the healthcare workers, and the families, and the patients impacted have what they need when they need it.
And what I would say to the people of Kansas is that we're looking at their numbers every day, just as in the case of every state in the country. And we're going to work our hearts out to make sure that as the coronavirus cases emerge and we hope that through the great work that Kansas has done on social distancing and mitigation that people of Kansas have done a remarkable job that we may well be to a place where their existing resources and capacities are present.
But we want people to know that taking the counsel of Dr. Birx and our entire health care team, we're focusing just as we did first in Seattle, California and now in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Louisiana, the Detroit area, the Chicago area. We're going to make sure that those resources go in that order.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And so because you brought up social distancing and the work that Kansas has done. There's actually a controversy right now over her order to limit the number of people in religious gatherings to 10 people. Should states be telling religious institutions how many people can gather if it's to stop the spread of the coronavirus?
PENCE: Well, the President's coronavirus guidelines for America ask every American to avoid any gathering of more than 10 people. And that's on the advice of all of our best scientific experts as a way that we can slow the spread. But as we've made clear to every governor, we defer to our governors and what they believe is the best and appropriate practice in their states and we'll support those local decisions. Yes, please.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you. In his opening statement, the President said there were 10 drugs that are now in clinical trials, would hydroxychloroquine be one of those?
PENCE: Well, I can speak to that and then I'll invite Dr. Birx, Dr. Fauci to come forward. We do have, I believe, we will have roughly four separate clinical trials underway studying hydroxychloroquine. But it's important to remember that as the President's made the point many times, the FDA has approved what's called off label use.
And so in consulting with your physician, if your physician determines it's appropriate to write a prescription for hydroxychloroquine, we're working today to make that available across the country. It's broadly available today as an anti malaria medication, but we're working around the country and internationally to increase that supply.
But we are we are studying it in at least four different clinical trials and Dr. Fauci can speak to that.
FAUCI: Yes. Thank you that question. The easiest way to find out is to just go to clinicaltrials.gov and it will tell you everything that's there. There are a number of different clinical trials, some of which are randomized control trials, which as I've said many times from this podium to me is the optimal way to determine ultimately if something is safe and effective and works.
But there are a lot of different ways that this is being looked at. It's being looked at against the placebo. It's being part of a multi- arm trial comparing it with others. There's a trial that was recently started actually in prophylaxis among healthcare workers. So there are several of these.
In addition to that, there's what was just mentioned now that any physician in consultation with their patient and back and forth can make the decision to use the drug on an off label. So we have two things that are simultaneously going on. We're having actual formal clinical trials and the off label use.
PENCE: Very good. Next, please.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to turn back to the disproportionate rates of black deaths when it comes to the coronavirus. Dr. Fauci, you have been talking about this for weeks that there are underlying health issues. People with underlying health issues are most at risk. But if we knew that blacks disproportionately have fallen into that category, why wasn't the CDC prepared to gather this data in real time to work to fight this?
FAUCI: Well, I'm not sure. We have the Director of the CDC here who could answer that question, but let me try to just take it from a different perspective. The health disparities that exist are not anything that started with coronavirus. They were there.
So there isn't much you can do about the disparity, the thing you can do is to make an extra special effort to protect people who have the underlying conditions. So it's the same way as we say, well, the elderly and those with underlying condition, unfortunately, the African-American community has a much greater proportion, population for population of these underlying conditions.
So the best weapon we have right now is what I said in my opening remarks is to do whatever we can to get them to realize that what we need to do is to protect them from getting infected and to also protect them from inadvertently and innocently bringing the infection to people who have these underlying conditions.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: All right. You've been listening to the coronavirus task force briefing. The very latest update in the pandemic. Obviously there you were just listening to Dr. Fauci but also, of course, the Vice President, Dr. Birx, the Chairman of the CDC, Dr. Redfield and President Trump also. And this comes on the same day the United States reports more than 14,500 deaths related to coronavirus. The White House coronavirus task force is bracing for new hotspots
tonight and they were going through some of those, talking about specific areas, obviously the New York City metropolitan area, including New Jersey, and Connecticut and Rhode Island along with Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, D.C. They're talking about a spike in cases in those areas as well.
The warning come as there are sobering new numbers out of New York and New Jersey. The deaths, 779 in New York, 275 in New Jersey in just the past 24 hours.
I want to go now to our panel, John King, Kaitlan Collins, Daniel Dale and Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Thanks to all.
All right. Look, so we were taking a lot of the questions and answers there. The President, of course, was there for a time answering questions as well, John. And you noticed a difference in the way he was sort of interacting and addressing the members of the press in the room.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I thought it was quite remarkable, Erin, how measured even cautious the President was. Yes, he was reckless and wrong when he was criticizing mail-in voting. Mail-in voting works. It does not have anywhere near the level of fraud the President was suggesting.
Yes, he did exaggerate where the United States is on this day when it comes to wide scale coronavirus testing. But remember, just think back in recent days, in recent weeks, he's often been almost coming out of his suit and agitating to reopen the country, pushing forward, publicly disagreeing at times or at least jumping in to say, yes, but we need to reopen when Dr. Fauci or Dr. Birx say something.
Think about how measured and cautious he was tonight. The President himself said we have to be careful. He said, yes, the projections are down now not 100,000 Americans, not 80,000 Americans, but still 61,000 Americans likely to perish. He said, hey, that's still a big number.
Make no mistake about it, behind the scenes at the White House they are hoping in three weeks, at the end of April, to be able to reopen the economy at least on a limited basis. But the President understands, because he's listening to Dr. Birx and Dr. Fauci that that depends do the New York numbers keep going down, how bad is it when we get the Philadelphia spike, the D.C. spike and these other spikes.
And so to see the President speaking in concert with his advisors, keep your foot on the gas, keep honoring the regulations. Let's be careful.
KING: Quite striking because we have seen so many times just contrary.
[19:20:00] BURNETT: And incredibly so especially when you're talking about
61,000 as their estimate, and again, these are all estimates and I think we all know that based on the inputs you have. So it could change dramatically one way or the other.
But that's a number that even a few weeks ago this president, the first thing he said would have been that's the same as the flu and tried to downplay it, whereas he was doing the exact opposite tonight.
And Kaitlan, on that front, he was not, when he when he was asked specifically about the death toll and the new model projections, he wasn't very specific at all about wanting to open the economy. What did you make of that answer?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: No, he wasn't. And I think it's pretty clear why because the last time he set a date of Easter for reopening the economy, of course, they blew through that date and the President now realized he was just saying there that they think that could be the come down of after they hit that peak. Though it's not clear yet that that's going to be that date.
So basically, he knows it's risky to pick an exact date without having data and science to back it up. That is not something he had last time when he picked that Eastern date. So that's why the President was so hesitant to say any day. He said he did not want to do that. He just wanted to base it off of what the models were showing them, what the health advisors were telling him and he said he was going to rely heavily on them.
But, of course, Erin, while we're looking ahead at what that date is going to be, you also have to look back to see when the administration first started responding to this. And the President was asked about that ABC report that showed that there was a military intelligence report in November, they said, that warned about this contagion that was sweeping through the Wuhan area and the President was asked about that. He was asked about those Navarro memos that we talked about yesterday.
He was asked when did he first learned of just how serious this was going to be and he said he realized the gravity right around the time when he imposed those travel restrictions on China. That was January 30. That was one day after that memo from Peter Navarro was dated addressing the president.
COLLINS: Though the President is saying he did not see them, was not briefed on them because he said Navarro sends a lot of memos. Though it raises questions because that was right around the same time the President formed the coronavirus task force and impose these restrictions. And, of course, as we read those memos, they pretty much detailed specifically what we are seeing play out now in the United States.
BURNETT: So you also had, Sanjay, the President talking again about the antimalarial drug, hydroxychloroquine. And, obviously, when that's paired with the Z-Pak, you heard Dr. Fauci here just going through that they are allowing it obviously to be done off label, because that's allowed to be done and also saying there's four trials, including one on it being given sort of ahead of infection to hospital employees.
What do you make of that and where they are on that? The President continuing to tout it, coming on the same day that cardiology groups tonight are issuing a warning about the very severe damage that that drug can do to somebody with known or unknown heart issues.
SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, this is a little bit more clarity on this, I think for the first time really to sort of separate this out because we knew a lot of these treatments, a lot of these doses of this drug were going to various places. But it wasn't unclear to me and I've been making lots of calls on this, whether all of these institutions were actually treating these medications as part of a clinical trial or they were primarily just using them off label.
And I guess what Dr. Fauci was saying exactly how you described it, Erin, is that it's both now. So it is going to make it confusing because those patients who are receiving it off label aren't really part of the trial. They're going to be these anecdotal reports, I'm sure. But we do know that it's going to be trialed in healthcare workers as a prophylactic drug and also at different stages of the disease, mild stage of disease, moderate and more severe.
It is interesting because it is a medication that suppresses the immune system, may work to sort of prevent the virus from getting into cells in the first place. And when you look at those things, it does sort of make you ask, when would it be most effective, perhaps. Most of the studies thus far that we've seen have either been in the lab or in mild patients, Erin.
So we got to wait and see what the data shows. I mean, I'm glad that the trials are being done and it sounds like some of them are being done in a randomized fashion. So that should be good data sometime soon.
BURNETT: Right. And obviously the big question, of course, is it going to save lives or not. Improving the outcome in someone with a mild case, OK, that's nice and important. But obviously, you're looking here for something much more significant and dramatic if it's the game changer the President said it would be.
BURNETT: Dan - yes, go ahead.
GUPTA: And keep in mind, again, I'm just going to say keep in mind again, most patients with mild disease will improve on their own. That's why it's been so challenging to look at these studies on mild patients because you just don't know would they've improved on their own anyway or not.
BURNETT: Daniel, you watched the President when he was out there, obviously, answering questions. What stood out to you? I mean, there was one exchange, I know, with our Jim Acosta when they were talking about the lines that we all saw yesterday, voting yesterday in Wisconsin. The pouring rain, people standing for two and a half hours waiting in line to vote.
And the president, again, repeated his claim that mail-in voting is fraught with fraud. Putting aside the irony, the fact that he himself votes by mail. What are the facts behind that?
DANIEL DALE, CNN REPORTER: The facts, Erin, are that this president has lied throughout his presidency about the extent of voter fraud in this country and he did so again tonight, both generally and specifically. So the general lie was that he said there was a lot of fraudulent voting in his country.
Every study has found that voter fraud is vanishingly rare. When he was asked specifically about his claims about the extent of fraud with mail-in voting, he said evidence has been compiled, we'll get some to you.
Well, he had a voter fraud commission that was disbanded without producing any such evidence. So this is just complete nonsense. And then, Erin, the specific lie was about a California settlement with the conservative group called Judicial Watch (inaudible) ...
BURNETT: Oh, yes, he said a million ballots or something like that.
DALE: Yes. He said that settlement showed - it was California emitting that a million people had voted illegally. That's not what that settlement said. That settlement was about more than a million inactive voters who were still on the rolls. It said nothing at all about any of those people actually voting illegally. They were basically dormant registrations that California agreed to get rid of.
California made no admission about voter fraud at all. So this was completely inaccurate.
BURNETT: Which I think is a really important point, because that was exactly the point that he was making was that all of those million people tried to vote.
John King, what do you make of here the other point when the President was talking about - there was just a lot of pushback from reporters in terms the sense of the numbers coming down in the model that they're now saying, possibly only 61,000 Americans may die. And, of course, putting an only, in front of that, is awful to even contemplate because these are 61,000 lives, but they had originally, of course, said 100,000 to 240,000.
But the President refusing to talk about the data that goes in that. Those numbers, at least as far as I understand them, are a projected death toll in this country until August or up to August. So built in there somewhere is some kind of an assumption about no return to normal life, a full return to normal life or something in between in terms of social distancing. And they simply have not been clear to anyone about that, have they?
KING: I think you raised a critical question here, Erin, about the next couple of weeks. Again, the President was much more moderate or cautious in his tone today about this. He doesn't like to talk about Americans dying, no president does, standing with a camera aimed at them in the White House briefing room. He often has in the past defer to the experts to go through the numbers and then he does get to them later in the question and answer session.
But this is a moment where the President does see these numbers going down. This is a moment where the President is hoping that this is a much less depressing story. There's no good news here. There's nothing inside here that is good news. He's hoping it is a less depressing story as we go forward.
And again, behind the scenes he is pushing to try to have a plan in place to reopen the economy as quickly as possible. That would be in his view at the end of April. However, the models project the social distancing guidelines staying in place at least through the month of May, but some of them even longer than that.
So there's a lot of tension behind the scenes here. You can see the president if you watch him on Sean Hannity, a different tone than in the briefing room, he does have a bit of an I told you so to him. Andrew Cuomo didn't need all of the ventilators, did they - did he, they don't need as many hospital beds, did they.
But the way he said it in the briefing room today was much calmer, much less in your face, if you will, than he says it when he's speaking to the choir on Fox News or even in the briefing room in past settings. There was just something different today and I think the President knows, he said this very delicate moment, the death toll is still going to go up in the next few days. This is going to be an ugly week in America. So you don't want to see him to be happy.
At the same time, I think he knows behind the scenes and Kaitlan knows the dialogue inside the White House even better than I do that he wants to get Birx and Fauci on board three weeks from now. When he wants to reopen the economy at least some.
If he spars with them every day in the briefing room and fights with them every day in the briefing room, he's much less likely to have that the President gets politics. He gets behind the scene politics and you could see today he has sparred with him sometimes, today he made a conscious effort to keep things down. I have a goal in place. It's three weeks down the road. I'm going to eat my piece until then and then we'll see.
BURNETT: Kaitlan, does that jive with what you're hearing that he is trying to, I guess, just to put it in layman's terms, butter them up?
COLLINS: I think he's very conscious of when he disagrees with them and when they break and they are saying two different things as we've seen even when they are standing right next to each other, because someone like Dr. Fauci is pretty blunt when he gives multiple interviews. The President knows that people listen to Dr. Fauci. That's why he has him come to most of these briefings because he always gets asked when Fauci is not there where he is. That's something that President has remarked on several occasions privately.
So the question is really going to be what their guidance is going to be because so far they haven't hinted what they think should happen at the end of April. There is no plan currently for what it's going to look like after that and, of course, things change quickly because it was just not that long ago when the President was hoping for that Easter deadline.
He seemed pretty dead set on it where officials had to go with him and bluntly show him what these numbers were looking like, the numbers that they had.
And so, I still don't think that they have gotten the data where they can say, here's what we can do X, Y and Z on this day. That is something Dr. Fauci said they're working for very late into the night.
But one thing he did say that we haven't got any indication when it's going to be yet is Dr. Fauci said that they would in the next few days put out some guidelines on how to return to American life for normalcy. And I think a lot of people are going to be clamoring to see what those guidelines are going to be and how it ends up if the president and his economic team and health experts are all on the same page on that.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: I mean, Sanjay, it would sound like if they're going to be having some -- again, the first question to you would be, what is built into this number up until August? Are we building some -- by the end of May, suddenly, it's completely back to normal and bars are full and the restaurants are full and the beaches are full and conferences are going on and the concerts are going on?
I mean, that seems -- that doesn't seem plausible but you tell me. I mean, what is -- what does normal mean?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, I think we got a little bit of a glimpse of it today because they started talking from the CDC, Dr. Redfield talked about getting some of these workers back to work and what that might look like. Now, this is for more essential workers but I think it's a little bit of a glimpse.
And, you know, some of the things, well, that he talked about were basically people taking their temperature every day before they go to work, and employers taking the temperatures of the employees when they arrive at work. People wearing masks at work for a period of time, no congregating in break rooms and things like that.
Employers, you know, creating a better air circulation in these buildings, making sure there's deeper cleaning within workplaces, things like that. Now, that's more sort of for these essential workers. But I think that might sort of trickle into other workers as well as they start to return to work. I think it's going to be very gradual in some ways, Erin. I do think
in some ways we have a very short attention span. So, you know, this has been a whole unique story, but having covered other similar sorts of stories, you know, we will divert at some point and this will -- and, you know, it will -- it will -- it won't be a sudden change but I think it might be faster than a lot of people anticipate.
But I think we're starting to get a little bit of an idea what these things might look like. There are specific numbers and things that people want to see in place before we can bring people back to work. Hospitals have to be ready for potential surges. There has to be a really robust testing in place so people can be isolated and their contacts can be traced.
If you talk to Chris Murray at the University of Washington, he even puts a number on it. He said there has to be fewer than 60 deaths per day in the United States. Like you, Erin, I mean, there's no amount of death that you can talk about, you know, that seems reasonable, but having to put a number on it is what he did.
And he says 60 is a reasonable number, at which point that's a low enough background sort of level that I think we can start to return people to work.
BURNETT: All right. All of you, thank you very much.
And now to more on the federal response to the pandemic, which also just came up in that briefing. Frustrated governors in need of supplies are asking, who's in charge? You may have heard one of the questions there regarding Kansas.
So, who is in charge? Is it the administrator of FEMA? Is it the president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner?
Leyla Santiago is OUTFRONT.
SUSANA MENDOZA (D), ILLINOIS STATE COMPTROLLER: The states have been told you're on your own. It's a Wild, Wild West.
GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D), MICHIGAN: We are running dangerously low on PPE.
GOV. MARK GORDON (R), WYOMING: Those supplies are being diverted by the federal government.
LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Nearly a month after President Trump declared COVID-19 a national emergency, states are still sounding the alarm on supply shortages. And there's another frustration mounting amongst states, understanding who's taking charge of the federal response.
FEMA has taken the lead coordinating role but with FEMA's administrator Pete Gaynor largely out of the public view, one congressional aide tells CNN no one really knows who's in charge, who's making decisions.
JARED KUSHNER, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISER: When we were briefing the president earlier, he asked me to come out and talk a little bit.
SANTIAGO: Trump's senior adviser Jared Kushner has taken a more senior role, at times taking charge unapologetically.
KUSHNER: I got a call from the president that he was wearing from his friends in New York that the New York public hospital system was running low on critical supply. I called Admiral Polowczyk, make sure we had the inventory, we went to the president today and earlier the president called Mayor de Blasio to inform him he would send a month of supply.
SANTIAGO: In a letter to FEMA's administrator, the House Oversight Committee is now questioning Kushner's involvement stating in part, it appears Mr. Kushner is unclear about basic facts regarding the purpose of the strategic national stockpile. Kushner is one of many stepping in to respond to the unprecedented pandemic, including others like Vice President Pence, Rear Admiral Polowczyk and FEMA Administrator Gaynor.
FEMA provided this video showing how they chartered in more than a dozen overseas flights with supplies secured by prior U.S. companies, half of it goes to prioritize hot spots, they tell us. The other half goes to the private market, now a source of frustration for states competing with others for the same supplies.
MENDOZA: What's happening we're having to secure, hopefully, if we are able to get our hands on product from China, Australia, whether it's ventilators or PPE and paying six to seven times the price that we would.
SANTIAGO: As some states compete, others have turned to each other. California Governor Gavin Newsom sending 500 ventilators to fellow states, including New York, New Jersey, Illinois. It's relief for some, progress for others.
But with such uncertainty ahead, states continue to say it's not enough.
SANTIAGO: And, Erin, let's talk about these prioritized hot spots, deemed priorities by HHS and FEMA. They say that's based off CDC data. FEMA, however, has not been very clear in giving those details as to exactly what supplies are going to what hot spots when it comes to the supplies coming in from overseas on those flights.
And that just makes me think about the conversation I had with a Louisiana state official who said, look, it's not that FEMA is not engaged. We're very much engaged with them, have a long-standing relationship. Remember, this is Louisiana. They went through Katrina together. And on a regional level, they are engaged and working. But he pointed
out that decisions aren't being made on a regional level. It's much higher. And as a state, getting those supplies is frustrating, confusing and the decision making, he says, lacks a lot of transparency.
BURNETT: That's a big issue.
All right. Leyla, thank you very much.
I want to go now to Janet Napolitano, the former secretary of homeland security under President Obama and former governor of Arizona.
So, Secretary Napolitano, you've been, you know, on both sides of this. I mean, I'm sure you can see, the federal side as well as state side. But, you know, when Leyla was talking about the lack of transparency, adding to the confusion, the president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who we just saw there, he does not have relevant experience in this sort of thing. He has been basically getting involved directly, directing FEMA and HHS officials to prioritize requests from people he spoken to. You heard him say he gets a call, goes in and gets that supply for that particular place.
What do you make of that?
JANET NAPOLITANO, FORMER SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY UNDER OBAMA: I think it's chaos out there. And I think the reason Jared Kushner has been deployed to this is to fill a gap that shouldn't have existed in the first place.
The moment that it was clear that the nation was confronting a pandemic, there should have been an immediate assessment of what was in the national stockpile and immediate assessment of what the states had in their respective stockpiles, what the needs were going to be, and a coordinated federal effort to procure the necessary masks and PPEs, ventilators and so forth, so that the states had a place to go to buttress what they had in their own possession, and so, they weren't competing with each other and figure out who to call.
Having a disaster response procedure where you get supplies if you manage to reach the president's son-in-law is just not the way a government is structured to act.
BURNETT: So, you know, President Trump has said, Secretary, repeatedly that nobody knew there would be a pandemic of this magnitude. But, of course, we are learning he was warned repeatedly in April of 2019, so one year ago, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the possibility of pandemic flu is what kept him up at night. In late November, ABC News is reporting intelligence officials compiled that report warning about the coronavirus and what could happen because of what they were seeing in Wuhan, about their great fears.
And in late January and February, of course, Peter Navarro wrote those memos talking about a full-blown pandemic. The president said he did not see those. But during the time all of this was happening, all the way up until the end of February, this is how the president was talking --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Looks like by April, you know, in theory, when it gets a little warmer, it miraculously goes away.
You may ask about the coronavirus, which is very well under control in our country.
We have it so well under control, I mean, we really have done a very good job.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So, Secretary, I know it's easy to be a Monday morning quarterback.
The president's warned about a lot of dire possibilities on a daily basis, I'm sure.
But, again, you've been there. You have been a part of these sorts of things. Is it conceivable to you even with all of the warnings I just laid out, that the president did not know how grave the threat of coronavirus was to the United States?
NAPOLITANO: Look, the president gets information on so many things on a daily basis, it may not have penetrated his consciousness, but this is where the kind of, you know, three-year process of management gaps running the government, which is a large complex organization, comes into play.
If the president didn't personally know, there certainly should have been people in the agencies who saw the coming pandemic and who were prepared and empowered to take appropriate action to make sure that the country was as prepared as it could be when the pandemic manifested itself on manifested itself on our shores. And, you know, there are just gaping holes in the administration now and there are consequences to that. You know, good disaster response requires really good preparation, and we just didn't have that kind of preparation here.
BURNETT: That was clear no one was empowered, to your point, didn't penetrate his consciousness, there was no supply-building going on, there was nothing that when the eight-bell alarm went off for what they needed to do.
Thank you so much, Secretary Napolitano. It's good to talk to you again.
NAPOLITANO: You're very welcome. BURNETT: And Doctors Fauci and Birx tonight, you saw them, speaking
earlier this hour, both saying social distancing is working and warning Americans that they cannot stop, that this isn't talking any time soon, not to be complacent.
Nick Watt is OUTFRONT.
NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A glimmer of hope, a model used by the White House now predicts the nationwide death tall is down about 20,000 largely due to social distancing, but --
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: Today is a day in the state of New York with very mixed emotions.
WATT: Because day after day, the state is still seeing a rise in reported deaths, and --
CUOMO: The number of deaths will continue to rise as those hospitalized for a longer period of time pass away.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY & INFECTIOUS DISEASES: It's very sobering to see the increase of deaths. It's going to be a bad week for deaths.
WATT: And about 60,000 Americans are still projected to die by early August. Right now, we're not even a quarter of the way to that grim total. And every number is a person, a story.
Zenobia Shepherd's daughter Leilani just died, age 27.
ZENOBIA SHEPHERD, MOTHER OF COVID-19 VICTIM, LEILANI MARQURITE JORDAN: my husband and I were both in the room, and it was -- I want to hold my baby's hands for the last time and I wasn't able to hold her feet. It's my baby.
WATT: The new modeling also highlights some regional disparities of projected deaths in New Jersey, more than doubled to over 5,200. Projected deaths in California down from about 6,100 to about 1,600.
DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: We're looking very carefully at California and Washington to really understand how they've been able as a community of Americans to mitigate so well.
WATT: A new CNN poll shows the majority of Americans now think the federal government has done a poor job in preventing coronavirus spread. It's 55 percent, up 8 points in about a week. The administration also still watching hot spots popping up around the country.
BIRX: We are concerned about the metro area of Washington and Baltimore, and we're concerned about the Philadelphia area.
WATT: Some states now stockpiling a malaria drug to treat COVID-19. That's not proven to work, potentially dangerous. Florida expecting a million doses today. Georgia already given 200,000.
TRUMP: I really think it's a great thing to try, just based on what I know. Again, I'm not a doctor.
WATT: Adam Jarrett is.
DR. ADAM JARRETT, HOLY NAME MEDICAL CENTER: We are using hydrochloroquine but we really don't know whether it works.
WATT: And still, we're told, there's not enough testing going on.
BIRX: A lot of lab directors can look in their laboratories, if they have an Abbott m2000, if they can get that up and running, we could double the number of tests we're doing per day. Right now, about 80 percent of them are idled, over a million test kits sitting ready to be run.
DR. ROB DAVIDSON, ER DOCTOR: Well, I hope that the federal government is doing more than speaking this at a press conference. This is a key to opening back up again, getting these tests online.
WATT: So are antibody tests. The White House says they will be ready inside two weeks.
CUOMO: That is going to be the bridge from where we are today to the new economy, people who have been exposed and now are better, those are the people who can go to work.
WATT: But for now, still this must be our normal.
MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK CITY: We have to recognize the progress because people are doing the right thing.
GOV. PHIL MURPHY (D), NEW JERSEY: If you're watching from Jersey, please stay home.
WATT: And for this more optimistic modeling to come true, we've got to keep on doing what we're doing through the end of May. Proof that it's working -- well, Santa Clara County here in California was one of the first places to tell people to stay home. They were seeing cases double every three days. Now, they say cases are doubling every two weeks, maybe longer. And they say that's because people are doing what they're told, doing what they have to do -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Nick, thank you.
And I want to go now and check in with an ICU doctor who's been on the front lines of the pandemic, Dr. Lakshman Swamy with Boston Medical Center. He's been talking to us, obviously, throughout this crisis.
Doctor, I -- I'm glad to have you back. You know, the last time we spoke, you were talking about a tense and fearful at fearful atmosphere at your hospital. How are you feeling now?
DR. LAKSHMAN SWAMY, ICU DOCTR AT BOSTON MEDICAL CENTER: You know, it's -- thank you for having me back. It's hard to say this, but every week I think how could it get more tense? How can we get more scared? And yet, here we are.
I was in the intensive care unit last night. I was taking care of the COVID medical ICU, that's a little over 30 patients, most of whom are on life support, ventilators, many. I spent most of the day going from one ventilator to another and trying to kind of tweak them a little bit to help people get a little more oxygen to help them get better.
Aside from that, it's hard because we're still seeing so many young, young healthy people come in and get put on the ventilator.
Last night, I was speaking with a young parent who could have been someone in my own family, and I had to tell them that we had to put the breathing tube in, and we all watched while they called their child at home and said, I love you so much, I love you so much, I love you so much, and, you know, that was it.
It almost reminds -- this may not be appropriate but it almost reminded me of those calls from 9/11 where people are saying good-bye to their loved ones. Obviously, we all hope we can get everyone better but that's the terror and that's the atmosphere we're seeing and that's room after roof after roof.
BURNETT: So, you say a couple things there that I want to follow up on. One of them is people know when you get hospitalized for this, it's serious. They understand that.
But obviously there are people in the hospital able to get out without going on a ventilator and then there are people who go on ventilators. You know, we heard the studies out of the U.K. saying two-thirds of the people who go on a ventilator don't make it. In New York, some of the numbers out is that it could be as high as 80 percent do not make it.
Why is going on the ventilator such a severe step?
SWAMY: You know, it's life support. In a way, it's just first of all a marker of how sick you really are, that you couldn't live without it. But beyond that, the problem is that the ventilator, it really -- it really takes a toll on you. So even a young, healthy person who goes on a ventilator for days or even more than a week, weeks, they're not going to come out of that the same as they were before. It will take a long time to sort of get over not just the physical trauma but really the psychological trauma too.
So really it's critical care.
BURNETT: And, you know, we also talk about how young, the example you were giving, that example and, of course, everyone is hoping for that parent but just how young people are. There are young and healthy people coming in that need this ICU ventilator care. And I think a lot of people may not still realize that but that's what you say you're seeing.
SWAMY: You know, there's -- there's an -- understandably, people are really fixed on the mortality, right? Who's dying from this? How many people are dying? We don't want people to die, right?
But it's not -- there's so much more to the picture than that. Because I'm hoping that a lot of young people will not -- even if they become critically ill, I'm hoping they will survive and we're seeing that happen but it's a long course. And they get hit really, really hard.
It was in the news up here that we had a young patient die who's relatively healthy. And it -- I mean, it shook our whole unit to the core. So, it's happening.
BURNETT: Well, Dr. Swamy, I appreciate talking to you again and you taking the time to share this with people around the country to know what this is really like.
Thank you again.
SWAMY: No, you know, it's -- we really appreciate it. We're here for you. I think, you know, in a safety net hospital, we're seeing -- Dr. Fauci mentioned this, but we're seeing the disparities of care. And that's so evident to us who is coming in our doors right now.
I think we can fix those. I think we can fix disparities and fix social determinants of health. But whatever happens, we are here for you, whatever is happening out there. Thank you.
BURNETT: Thank you, Dr. Swamy.
And from the critical care, the ICU, to reopening the economy, that is the big question facing this country, is if and when President Trump is making it clear that he wants to end the shutdown as soon as he can. Sources tell CNN, though, that some White House aides are hoping to reopen the economy as early as May.
OUTFRONT now, Dr. Jonathan Reiner who advised the White House medical team under President George W. Bush continues a consultant for the White House medical unit for years and afterward. And Austan Goolsbee, former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors under President Obama.
Austan, do you think May is possible to reopen the economy? And I guess your issue here will probably be on the definition of reopen.
AUSTAN GOOLSBEE, FORMER CHAIRMAN OF THE COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISERS UNDER PRESIDENT OBAMA: Yes, I would say I have two things on that. One is the administration has really undermined their credibility for the last eight or 12 weeks, consistently saying we think we're going to be able to open. First, dismissing that it was a serious economic threat, and then saying we would open by Easter, and then say open by May. I don't think timing wise is what you should base it on. What you
should base it on is do we have sufficient testing that we can let people out of lockdown without fear that they're going to get the virus from people who don't know that they have it. We have successful models. If you look in Korea, if you look at Taiwan, if you look at Iceland, they've done enough testing that they can get out of lockdown.
If we massively ramp up our testing effort, then that's when it would be realistic to come out. Setting a date is the wrong way to do it.
BURNETT: Dr. Reiner, another thing that I know a lot of people have been talking about is testing for antibodies. Obviously there are questions as to, you know, what kind of antibody protection people really have and I know there is a small study indicating some people don't have as many antibodies as we would expect. But if antibody testing, mass testing to see who actually had it, which would then pickup all the asymptomatic people, is that the way to do this? So if you were able to check the box that you had it, you could fully go back into the economy?
DR. JONATHAN REINER, CARDIOLOGIST, ADVISED WHITE HOUSE MEDICAL TEAM FOR EIGHT YEARS: I think it's a confidence booster to the economy and to individuals to know that they've been exposed to the virus and they have protective antibodies. Already in Europe, antibody testing is commercially available. In some countries, even at-home testing is available.
Very simple test using really tried and true technology such as what is used for home pregnancy tests that will allow people at home to essentially prick their finger and see in just a few minutes whether they have the antibodies. It's the kind of test that shows you whether you have antibodies that are produced early, about a week into the infection, and the later protective antibodies that come a couple weeks later. So that's going to come and that's going to be a big boost.
But the notion we can flip the economy on like a light switch while may be aspirational is just not realistic. It's not going to happen. It's going to happen in patches in different places.
The virus is going to lessen in frequency, but it's not going to go away completely. There are going to be hot spots and we're going to have to watch for flare-ups. So, we're going to have to keep social distancing in place as well as masking is going to become a staple of the United States. A lot of what has succeeded now, we're going to have to keep in place going forward.
BURNETT: Yes. And I guess, you know, you're talking about for -- in that case, I would imagine, Dr. Reiner, many months, correct, until a vaccine?
REINER: I think we're talking 18 months to 24 months.
BURNETT: OK. So I think that's a pretty sobering for a lot of people. Austan, there is also the question on the antibody issue, because you
know you all mentioned Iceland. They tested their citizens. And of those they tested, 5 percent of the population, 1 percent of them actually had the antibodies. The former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb was tweeting an Imperial College study from Europe, right, that was basically going through estimates.
And again, these are estimates, but these are -- of what they think are the real infection rates, how many people had it. So, you had 1 percent in Austria and Denmark. Two highs, anything basically over 1 percent and 3 percent was only Italy and Spain at 10 percent and 15 percent.
To state the obvious, herd immunity doesn't kick in to 50 percent to 70 percent. So you don't seem at this point to have the antibodies anywhere to fully reopen the economy.
GOOLSBEE: I mean, that sounds right to me. And, look, at 1 percent -- think of it this way: those people become the superheroes because they're -- let's say they're immune to the disease. One percent of the country is 3 million people. The normal work force is over 150 million people.
So you've got to ask yourself, how much of our GDP can be restored if we have 3 million people who can go back to work. I think we've got to ramp up this testing.
As I say, there are lessons in Korea, Taiwan, now New Zealand, Iceland, other places where they aren't in lockdown. Korea, kids went back to school.
But the critical thing, you've got to test, you have to track so that only the people who have the disease have to shut in.
BURNETT: And, Dr. Reiner, quickly before we go, I mentioned a very small study. We don't know if it's true or not, but it did raise questions about antibodies. Maybe people who are asymptomatic or younger who had mild cases maybe don't have those antibodies, raising the question of re-infection. There's a lot we don't know.
REINER: Right, which is why we have to continue to study this in a very systematic way.
I'm always wary about initial reports. As we acquire the data in this country, we'll have a much better sense for that.
BURNETT: All right, thank you both so very much. I appreciate your time tonight. Dr. Reiner, Austan.
And this comes as the pandemic is forcing small businesses to shutdown across this country and many are not getting the help they need.
Dianne Gallagher is OUTFRONT.
LISA SPOONER, OWNER, HOME GROWN: It just feels really scary because it's so unknown, you know?
DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Lisa Spooner and Kevin Clark have been serving Home Grown comfort food for ten years in Atlanta. The husband and wife team building up quite a following, counting even the late Anthony Bourdain as a fan.
ANTHONY BOURDAIN, FORMER CNN HOST: If you need a whole breakfast, though, old school full on, then Home Grown in Reynoldstown might be what you need.
GALLAGHER: But across the country, the coronavirus has crippled the restaurant industry. About two weeks ago, Home Grown had to temporarily layoff all 40 employees.
KEVIN CLARK, OWNER, HOME GROWN: The two hardest calls we've ever made were letting our employees go and locking the doors.
TRUMP: America's small businesses are the backbone of our communities.
GALLAGHER: The Trump administration has touted the new Paycheck Protection Program or PPP loan as a quick fix for businesses like Home Grown to weather the pandemic. The $350 billion government-backed low interest loan program is meant to cover rent, utilities and payroll. If they stick with the program, the loan becomes a grant, leaving only the interest to payback. It's a sweet deal if you can get it.
CLARK: We haven't really heard anything other than, it's working. The money is getting out there, but who? Like I would love to talk to a business owner who is actually received some funds. And how they got it and how -- what time they put the application in.
GALLAGHER: After filling out multiple applications dealing with website crashes and lack of feedback, Clark and Spooner got disappointing news. Wells Fargo, the bank they've done business with the past decade, announced Sunday it reached its $10 billion limit. There is no guarantee they'll ever get to Home Grown's application.
Wells Fargo suggested trying a local community bank instead. Clark says they are on the waiting list with a rural Georgia bank now, but they don't know when or if they'll get the loan.
CLARK: We may lose our business. I mean, that's -- I mean, the worst part. But -- I mean, we could.
GALLAGHER: As business owners battle one another for the first come, first serve loans in a world where any kind of delay could be the difference between surviving the next few weeks or going under for good, there have been plenty of problems for everyone.
STEVEN MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY: I want to assure all small businesses out there, we will not run out of money. GALLAGHER: On Wednesday, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin noted there
are now 3,500 lenders in the system and says more are signing up each day. The administration has said that it hopes Congress will allocate additional funding this week. But for Home Grown, will it be in time?
CLARK: Money is our only saving grace. We cannot make it on our hopes and dreams any more. It is going to take --
GALLAGHER: Now, today, Wells Fargo announced that it had received permission to increase its lending limits as it relates to those SBA loans. And while the administration seems focused on getting more funding, if that happens, it's a big if, that will undoubtedly help.
But a lot of the problems with the rollout are actually related to issues between the lenders and the federal government rapidly changing guidelines and uncertainty, it made it tough for banks to walk the small business owners through the process.
Erin, I did just get a tiny bit of promising news. Kevin Clark said that small bank in southern Georgia has started filing his PPP loan application.
BURNETT: All right. You take the good news as you can. So many questions out there.
All right. Dianne, thank you very much. And thanks to all of you for joining us.
"AC360" with Anderson starts right now.