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U.S Suffers Deadliest Day Of Coronavirus Pandemic; New Model Now Estimates 60,000 Deaths In U.S By August; Poll Shows 55 Percent Say Federal Government Doing Poor Job On Virus Response. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired April 8, 2020 - 07:00   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEW DAY: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is New Day.

The United States just had its deadliest day yet from coronavirus by far. It has now killed nearly 13,000 Americans. But, but the CDC director believes that thanks to stay-at-home orders and social distancing, we may see fewer fatalities than some had originally projected.

There are other positive signs as well. Though many governors this morning warning that they are dangerously close to running out of medical supplies and new statistics show that coronavirus is disproportionately killing black Americans.

Also developing overnight, the lockdown in Wuhan, China has been lifted. 11 million people in the city where this pandemic started now free to leave their homes for the first time in ten weeks. We'll show you what that looks like and if we're seeing a glimpse into our own future.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN NEW DAY: And, John, this morning, President Trump is blaming the World Health Organization for their late response and their messaging on coronavirus, though his own words were often wrong as well. Remember when President Trump said on February 26th that the number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. was a couple of days away from being zero. Well, he is now threatening to withhold funds from the World Health Organization for its response.

Also this morning, President Trump, who himself voted by mail in Florida last month is dismissing mail-in voting as corrupt. This comes after thousands of Wisconsin voters stood in long lines on Tuesday. They wore little protective gear, though you do see some people in masks and, of course, they are social distancing. The state Republicans went to court to keep the governor from postponing that state's primary.

BERMAN: All right. Joining me now is the mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio. Mr. Mayor, thank you very much for being with us and taking the time to give us an update on our city. I know that New York reported the deadliest day yet, 800 deaths. New York State had the deadliest day yet, and the country did as well. But you along with many other public officials now are seeing some positive signs in the battle against this pandemic. What are you seeing?

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D-NEW YORK CITY, NY): John, we are. And I want to tell you, after -- it's been a long battle already. It's a long battle ahead. But we do see some progress. We thought there would be a lot more patients who would need ventilators. That rate of increase in number of people who came into a hospital and needed a ventilator, it's really reduced now. The number of people going to the hospital to begin with, we're seeing a reduction.

Now, John, look, I want to say this to New Yorkers and anybody who is trying to deal with social distancing and shelter-in-place, we have to recognize the progress is because people are doing the right thing, New Yorkers are doing the right thing. This, to the extent, we've got something going in the right direction, it's because New Yorkers actually followed the guidance and they are helping everyone else make progress.

But as much as we all want to get back to normal, as much as we're all felling like we just want to get outside and socialize again, it's not that time yet. In fact, what this says, John, is that social distancing, the shelter in place is working. We've got to stick to it to make sure we really defeat the coronavirus and absolutely be careful it doesn't rebound back on us.

So, humanly, we're all looking for relief. We're all looking to finally get out from under this. But it's not that time yet. The progress confirms the strategies are working. And people deserve a lot of credit. It's not easy, John, to break all the habits we have, especially as New Yorkers. We are warm, emotional people. We want to be close together. We want to celebrate things with our friends, our family. No one has been able to do that.

But I think people should be really proud of the fact that these very tough efforts that people are going through actually are starting to yield some progress.

BERMAN: Let me follow-up on a couple of things you just brought up. Let me talk about ventilators first. Because every time we were speaking with you before, you told us initially that this past Sunday, you could get to this past Sunday but you didn't think you can get further. Then it was this Monday or Tuesday but you didn't think you can get further. Where are you now? How are you set up for ventilators right now?

DE BLASIO: John, for the first time we've got a little bit of breathing room. I can tell you we can get through this week. We got great help from the federal government and the state government but also the number of people who need them finally is leveling off a little.

Now, we're not out of the woods. I mean, the other thing, John, to recognize is, we could be seeing a few good days and then we don't know if it doesn't change in the days ahead. But right now, the breathing room has allowed us to get more ventilators in, have a chance to actually prepare for whatever comes ahead.


We can get through this week for sure.

But we're still not clear about what next week may bring. This is an unpredictable virus. We do know that. The one thing we know about it is it's unpredictable and it's ferocious. So we cannot let our guard down, do not let the pedal off the gas.

And anyone else in the country dealing with this, John, I'd say, do not take this moment of progress as a reason to start relaxing or thinking you don't need things like shelter in place. In fact, to me, it's a confirmation, strengthen our effort. we want to defeat this thing once and for all. It's not going to be overnight. It's going to take a while. But double down, double down. Because this is finally some evidence that these strategies can work.

BERMAN: Mayor, what can you tell us about the number of people dying at home who aren't being admitted to the hospital? Because we understand that number is very high, like 20 times the normal rate and there is a suspicion that many of these people are dying from coronavirus.

DE BLASIO: Yes, I don't even think it's a suspicion anymore, John. I think the blunt truth is, coronavirus is driving these very tragic deaths. I mean, come on, this is America. This is so sad that we're not talking about ten people, 20 People. We're talking about something like 100, 200 people per day. I mean, think of what this means for the families, think of the pain they're going through. There's no question the coronavirus is driving it. We never saw anything like this in normal times. We have to acknowledge that and say this is further evidence of just how destructive this disease is.

And it's a reminder that we've got to keep educating people, we've got to keep supporting people. And, again, don't take this disease ever lightly because the real death toll, you're right, even is higher than these -- I mean, the numbers we're talking about now, we surpassed the number of people who died in the World Trade Center in the last couple of days. I mean, that would have been unimaginable.

A few weeks ago, John, if I had said that to you, I think you would say, there's just no way that could ever happen. And mow, somehow, we're at that point. We've got to realize just how destructive this is. And that's another reason to just keep our guard up.

BERMAN: Particularly destructive among minority communities, one of the more alarming numbers we have seen. Although I have to say, not surprising is that the number of infections is disproportionately high among African-Americans and the number deaths disproportionately high among African-Americans. What can you do about this?

DE BLASIO: Well, John, it's after Americans and Latinos. We put out some data in the last few days and it's very painful to see. This disease, unfortunately, it amplifies the horrible health disparities that already exist. And it does very clearly cut by income and by race. And the communities that, for a long time, people have not gotten the healthcare they deserve and need are getting hit by this very, very hard.

What can we do about it? I'm going to talk about that later today, because I think there are new approaches we can take to go out more deeply into communities, to prepare people, to navigate this challenge.

Now, look, the first thing is to make sure that the folks who do end up being hospitalized, obviously, the vast majority of people who need care end up in the hospital, to keep making sure they have the ventilators, the PPEs, the medical personnel. That's still job one, to save the lives we can in the hospitals, they're still the frontline.

But I think there's more we can do in the neighborhoods too to educate and support people. I'm going to put out some of those specific ideas today because we are seeing these disparities, it's documented now and it's unacceptable and we have to fight back.

BERMAN: In terms of -- I don't want to use the word normal, but opening up, reopening parts of the economy again, what will be the first step in that?

DE BLASIO: Yes. So it's crucial to find that pathway, John. But here is my first caution. Human life comes first. Saving lives comes first. You will not have a reopened economy, you won't have normal if your hospitals aren't functioning, if you can't protect health and safety, if governments can't function locally.

So the first thing to do is make sure we do not trip a wire accidentally and cause a resurgence. We saw this in Asia. There're some examples of this, John, where they got a little too optimistic and then the disease reasserted.

So job one is to really make sure we have contained this to the maximum extent possible. Then I think the first steps are reopening the things that are core to our life, starting slowly but surely to create again all of the things where people gather. But we're nowhere near that now.

I think the first point would be don't have a false dawn here. Don't take your foot off the gas. Actually, make sure this thing is contained.


Because if we're going to rebuild, you want that strong foundation.

BERMAN: I'm going to let you go, but I want to circle back to the ventilator issue because this has been one of your areas of main concern and just lines (ph) out there. At this point, you think you might have enough for good? DE BLASIO: No. John, absolutely not. And I'm glad you asked that. I'm saying I have enough for this week. But, literally, a few days ago, we were talking about how many days until we ran out. Literally, worrying that we're just a few days away from someone coming into a hospital unable to breathe and there was no ventilator for them. No. I'm only saying we can get through this week into next week.

But this disease is ferocious and if it were a human being, I would say it's a very clever disease. And do not underestimate it. So we're good for this week but the future is still unknown.

BERMAN: All right. Mayor Bill de Blasio, we are very appreciative of your continued time. Thanks for being with us this morning. And thanks for talking about -- for once, we get to talk about things maybe moving in a positive direction.

DE BLASIO: Amen. Amen.

BERMAN: Thanks, Mayor.

CAMEROTA: Okay. John, we just got some new information into our newsroom. The University of Washington, that's the place that's been releasing these models that we've all been watching, they have just revised their projection for the United States downward. It is now estimated that 60,000 Americans could die by August. That is significantly lower than what the White House projected of 100,000 to 240,000 Americans. But let's read the fine print here.

So, joining us now is CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Sanjay, I know you've been telling us that models are wrong but helpful. And so I'm not sure what to make of that or what you see in these new numbers.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, obviously, these numbers are better. And you have to take them into context of lots of different models that I know the White House is looking at.

But I had a chance to talk to Chris Murray just yesterday. He's been the one who's been driving these models at the University of Washington. I think what's changing a bit is they're getting data from other countries around the world.

They were primarily basing a lot of what was happening with their original models, which were closer, showing closer to 100,000 people dying, almost exclusively on Wuhan and saying here is what Wuhan did. If we can do the same thing, then we could sort of get to this number. But we're -- it's not clear that we can do the same thing because Wuhan had a significant state of lockdown.

Now, they're seeing other countries that did have significant lockdowns but not as extreme as Wuhan, maybe not as early as what you saw in Wuhan and yet are having success. So seeing social distancing measures be successful even if not implemented as stringently as Wuhan. So maybe a little bit of evidence that even a little bit or moderate amount of social distancing can go further than they originally thought. A caution to your point though, Alisyn, to your point, I think, to a lot of statisticians' point, these numbers may still bounce around a bit. We still don't know. They project the peak to be earlier and they the numbers to be lower.

BERMAN: lower numbers are better than higher numbers. I do think that this still projects a daily death toll of 2,000 to 3,000 for several days, which obviously no one would ever consider to be good.

Sanjay, I just had an interesting assessment with Mayor Bill de Blasio, who obviously -- he is seeing some positive signs of things leveling off in New York City. And I asked him what the first steps in opening up would be. He's very cautious about even discussing it because he doesn't want people to relax the social distancing measures, but this is something you've been looking into. What has to happen?

GUPTA: Yes. It's interesting. There's people who have different criteria for this sort of thing. I listened to what the mayor said about this as well. But, in general, when I look at the various criteria that people have put forward, including, again, Chris Murray, but also former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, I think that it comes down to a few things.

First is that you've got to be able to test adequately. Just like at the beginning of the curve, we talked about adequate testing. We've also got to look to have that sort of testing at the end of the curve as well. Hospitals got to be able to treat people, you know, the capacity issues that we've been talking about.

It sounds like in New York City, things are looking better. But there's still sort of red lining, so you want to get to the crisis level of care.

And one of things that Chris Murray sort of added to that list as well that you see in front of you is he put a number on it. He said, you got to have fewer than 60 people dying across the country a day.

Now, there's various reasons that he arrived at that number, but it's a percentage. But, basically, he, like other models, want to see a continued reduction and see that reduction for at least two weeks in a row.


And then it has to be below 60 people a day dying before you can start to say, hey, look, we are now in a position where we can reopen things.

CAMEROTA: Sanjay, obviously, John and I have been New York City- centric because we are in this hotspot, but what are you looking at in terms of where the next peak is, where is the next hotspot? What are scientists and doctors worried about?

GUPTA: It's so hard to say, Alisyn. You know, this is the question when I talked to people around the country. I think there's a couple of things that sort of jump out. One is that it's just hard to know. Because if you don't -- we're doing so much better with testing. That was a topic of conversation for a long time. But there's still places around the country where the testing is not uniformly applied. So you have a lot of testing, for example in New York City but there's still -- it's a little more opaque in some of these other places.

And if you start to develop even a few cases in some of these other places, according to some of the predictions, you have a better than 50 percent chance that that's going to turn into a significant outbreak over there.

So you'd like to be able to say, Alisyn, there's clear hotspots. Obviously, Detroit and New Orleans are places that people have been focusing on, Washington, California early on. But there are other places out there that everyone is trying to get better visualization on.

BERMAN: Sanjay, I want to ask you about the World Health Organization. I want to preface this by telling you there's an ABC News report out that U.S. intelligence officials were telling the Trump White House as early as November that there might be a pandemic or fears of a pandemic in Wuhan, in China.

So keep that in mind when I play you this sound of the president going after the World Health Organization. Listen.


DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: They called it wrong. They called it wrong. They really -- they missed the call. They could have called it months earlier. They would have known. And they should have known and they probably did know. So we'll be looking into that very carefully. And we're going to put a hold on money spent to the WHO. We're going to put a very powerful hold on it and we're going to see.


BERMAN: Again, the Intelligence Community, according to ABC News, told the White House in November, Peter Navarro sent memos in January and February. That aside, what has the WHO's role been in this and what would be withholding fund do to them?

GUPTA: Yes. Well, we have a timeline. We can put that timeline up as we're talking about it. But, basically, you know, it was December 12th that the first patient was likely diagnosed. December 31st is when they started to really investigate what was happening there, which was right around the time that these other alerts started coming out.

I think in November, what was being referred to was, at that point, there was a question of a respiratory virus that was -- let me rephrase that. There was a question of a new type of pneumonia that is being diagnosed. It wasn't even clear what was causing that pneumonia at that point. By January 7th, I believe, is when it was first identified as a novel coronavirus.

So, you know, I don't know that anybody could say that we should have known months earlier. I think the world has sort of been dealing with this novel coronavirus on the timeline that you're seeing there on the screen.

One thing I want to point out, because a lot of people are saying, well, look, couldn't the virus have been circulating a lot earlier and, therefore, we just didn't know about it? It's a fair question. And I've asked a lot of people about this. Here is the thing to keep in mind. If that were the case, if there's been a lot of coronavirus, for example, even circulating in the United States much earlier than we realized, we would have seen ultimately within a couple of weeks the corresponding number hospitalizations and corresponding number of deaths.

It is true that some of those could have been mistaken as flu. But even when you start account for that, it's unlikely that you would have seen a very high level of coronavirus in the background before that.

CAMEROTA: But, Sanjay, didn't the World Health Organization get a lot of things wrong? CNN called it a pandemic before they did. Their first tweet was that there was no human-to-human transmission. They were trusting China that there was no human-to-human transmission. Don't they bear some responsibility for getting some of the messaging wrong here?

GUPTA: Yes. I mean, look, I think wrong versus what specific timetable, we did call it a pandemic a few days before the World Health Organization did. They have specific criteria for this sort of thing. Could they have done things earlier, I guess, is the question versus being wrong. Perhaps. They have their criteria, we were looking at that criteria very specifically. When we crunched our own numbers at CNN. It looked like a pandemic to us. And so we called it a few days earlier than they did. But I don't know that you call it wrong.

CAMEROTA: Well, human-to-human transmission thing was wrong. And also they said that asymptomatic people couldn't spread it.


I mean, this is the World Health Organization. So I think that those things that they were saying have proven wrong.

GUPTA: Well, you clearly think they were wrong. I mean, there are other people who don't believe that. I mean, again, you deal with a certain amount of information and you try to make an educated sort of opinion on it.

One thing I'll point out in terms of the funding, you have to realize that most of the funding really is for countries that probably cannot -- don't have the resources to contain or mitigate this sort of thing as well. So, you know, when you're talking about the World Health Organization, you're talking about countries that may not have yet been dramatically impacted by this. So if other countries around the world become impacted in that way, what does that mean for the rest of the world again, even here in the United States? Yes. I mean, at CNN, we did call this a pandemic before they did. I think it's, again, more a question of their criteria. They called it a public health emergency of international concern before we did, before the CDC did, so it goes back and forth.

We are dealing with a novel coronavirus. This is something that the world didn't really know about at all four months ago. So, you know, we have to keep that in mind as well.

CAMEROTA: Sanjay, thank you very much for all of the information.

We also have a new poll to tell you about. CNN's polling shows how Americans are feeling about the handling of the coronavirus. And they say that the government's response has been poor, a majority feel, while President Trump is shifting the blame for the pandemic. So we discuss all of this, next.



CAMEROTA: We have brand new CNN poll numbers on the coronavirus pandemic and it shows that a majority of Americans believe the federal government has done a poor job of preventing the spread of the virus.

Joining us now is our friend who has just revealed that he tested positive for coronavirus, CNN Political Commentator and former Republican Congressman Charlie Dent. Charlie, I'm sorry to hear that. How are you feeling?

CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Actually, Alisyn, I'm actually feeling all right this morning. Mornings tend to be better than the afternoons or evenings. I just definitely had a persistent feeling of fatigue. That's been the hard part. But I've never had a fever. I've had a slight cough, I've had chills, sweats, that sort of thing, loss of appetite, but gotten progressively better, and I just hope that continues.

But like I said, yesterday was worse than the day before, but we'll get through it. And, hey, my symptoms have been comparatively mild compared to what we've been watching on television, people struggling to breathe and dying in some. I'm not there, thankfully.

CAMEROTA: Okay. Well, then we're not going to take it easy on you. I'm glad to hear you're doing well, no rest for the weary.

So I have big questions for you about how -- about the government's response, because you were in Congress during the response to Ebola and Zika. And so what's different this time around, if anything? What do you see the government doing differently now?

DENT: Well, what's different is that this COVID crisis is much more pervasive. And Ebola -- and, by the way, I want to give a shout out to the CDC. At the time when we were dealing with Ebola, there was only one organization in the world, one public organization that had a capacity to go to the source, in this case, into West Africa and really address the problem and not criticizing the WHO or any organization. But it was the CDC that put the hundreds of people on the ground to address it.

So we have a very good public health infrastructure in this country. And I think, in many respects, at least at the CDC level and the NIH, and I think they are, by and large, leading a good response effort.

CAMEROTA: Have you seen the CDC playing a big role this time around?

DENT: Not as big a role this time. I mean, and I had the privilege of working with then Dr. Frieden at CDC and, of course, Dr. Fauci at the NIAID. And so I think that the -- it seems to me that Dr. Fauci's team is really leading the response much more robustly this time around and I have great confidence in them.

CAMEROTA: I want to ask you about the economic toll of all of this and how the government is handling that. The economic devastation we're already just seeing, I mean, just the first glimpses of in terms of how bad the jobless claims are and what the unemployment numbers, the rate could be this week. And we're just hearing from people about how upended their whole lives are.

And so how is the government squaring up getting money into people's hands quickly?

DENT: Well, any time you're trying to shovel this much money out the door quickly, and I've done this before too. I remember Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Sandy and other disasters. But we had to move money out very rapidly. The money gets appropriated fast. And the controls are not in place. The systems are not up and running to deliver quickly. I mean, that's a harsh reality. I am hopeful that the SBA and the banks will be able to get moving quickly on this because they have to.

But there are so many people who are struggling everywhere. I'm sitting here in Allentown, Pennsylvania. And I can tell you, there are scores of people who are out of work and I'm really concerned that they may not ever get back to work at least in the jobs they had today if we don't get beyond the pandemic.

And we have to do the social distancing, we have to go through this hard work, being patient to beat it. But I'm concerned about the long- term economic implications for a lot of people who thought they had stable jobs and may not.

CAMEROTA: Well, I mean, you're not alone. I think you're right to be concerned about that. And this pandemic is on the pandemic's timeline. You know, there's no -- well, let's all just -- I mean, President Trump has suggested that everybody should get back to work quickly, but that's possibly risking people's lives if we do it too soon.

And so from where you sit, what happens if people don't get those job back?