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Fauci: Coronavirus Curve "Going in Right Direction"; Fauci: Antibody Tests Comings "In a Week or So"; Trump: Country Will Reopen Sooner Than People Think; Trump & CDC Director Clash over Need for Testing; Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist (D-MI) Discusses Creation of Task Force to Address Racial Disparities in COVID-19; Survey of Economists: U.S. Already in Recession. Aired 11-11:30a ET
Aired April 10, 2020 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Hello to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm John King in Washington. This is CNN's continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.
The global coronavirus ripple still spreading this hour. In Tokyo, a record spike in cases, prompting new government restrictions on movement. In war-torn Yemen, fear of coronavirus devastation after officials there confirming case number one in Yemen Thursday.
Here in the United States, more tragedy but also some hope. The numbers are sobering, nearly 470,000 confirmed cases, nearly 17,000 Americans dead. Remember how we started the week, with talk of this generation's Pearl Harbor moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEROME ADAMS, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: This is going to be it is hardest and the saddest week of most Americans' lives, quite frankly. This is going to be our Pearl Harbor moment, our 9/11 moment, but it's not going to be localized, it's going to be happening all over the country. I want America to understand that.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY & INFECTIOUS DISEASES: We are struggling to get it under control and that's the issue that's at hand right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: The surgeon general and the president's top infectious disease specialists, they were right, the numbers are bleak. The projection is that the peak of the deaths here in the United States will come on Easter Sunday.
But a look at the numbers does offer a prayer that while the pandemic will stay with us for a long time, the worst could be behind us. Let's look at the numbers. Stunning. New York State alone has more
cases than the top two countries in Europe with cases, more than Spain, more than Italy, just in New York State, the epicenter here in the United States. Those numbers are stunning.
The timeline of the cases here in the United States, you see it if you go back to the middle of March, and up we go. The question is: What's the number today? Will it keep climbing? That is the expectation. We'll watch as the numbers come in today.
And the sad part is the deaths also. You go back through the last couple of weeks, this is today. We'll get a count as the day goes on. The expectation is the coronavirus peak in the United States, the projections say, anyway, this coming weekend, Easter Sunday.
If you look at the cases added in the United States, this is the key question. This number, you see it peaking here, 33,000 back on April 4th. The last two days down just a little. Does it plateau, does it go back up, does it start to come down?
That's what the experts are looking for as they have debates of more testing, as the president weighs to reopen the government. Does it go up, does it start to curve down?
If you look at some of the key states and hot spots, Louisiana, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, is that a plateau? Is it starting to come down? You need several days of data to see that.
New Jersey, still going up. Neighboring New York, still have a problem there. Maybe that's a flat line, but that's a high number. We'll watch those numbers in New Jersey.
In Michigan, another state devastated, you see here down a little bit from Tuesday to Thursday. The question is, does it keep going down. Is this a temporary blip or have they flattened the curve in the state of Michigan? That's the big question now.
The president wants to reopen the economy. His restrictions stay in place for 20 more days. His top expert on the subject says the coronavirus will determine whether or not it's time to reopen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FAUCI: The virus kind of decides whether or not it's going to be appropriate to open or not. What we're seeing right now are some favorable signs, particularly in New York. We're starting to see a flattening and a turning around.
We would want to see -- I would want to see a clear indication that you are very, very clearly and strongly going in the right direction.
It was really the way we predict predicted that the deaths would clearly lag behind the favorable parameters of what's going on.
(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: A key part of putting American life back to normal, or the new normal, anyway, is antibody testing. Dr. Anthony Fauci, you just heard there, he says these tests will come online starting next week.
Our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, joins us now.
Sanjay, what are these tests? Does that timetable, does that sound right to you?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: First of all, with regard to the tests, these are different than the virus tests. There are the swabs we've heard a lot about, John. That's basically finding the presence of the virus in your body at the time you're actively infected even if you're not having symptoMs.
The antibody test is sort of the contrails, the things you see after a plane, a signature your body has after you've been exposed to the virus.
It's significant for two reasons. One, if you have these antibodies, the theory is you should have protection from getting the virus again. Have I been exposed to the coronavirus? Have you? I haven't been tested, I haven't really had any symptoms, but it's possible I've been exposed.
This antibody testing could help answer that question for you, for me or anybody else in that same position. That's how you start to get an idea of surveillance.
I think they rushed it the last few weeks. They really wanted to get these antibody tests out there. They loosened the regulations on these from the FDA on the antibody testing, and I think that's why we've seen so many tests that subsequent didn't really pass validation.
What Dr. Fauci was talking about, John, as he mentioned, by next week he thinks there will be enough validation in place that these tests should become more widely available.
I trust what he's saying. We'll have to see, though, right? We've heard these messages about all kinds of testing for a while. We have to actually see it to believe it.
KING: See it to believe it is a good way to put it.
Sanjay, I want to play a moment of last night's town hall. You asked the CDC chief who was on the town hall with you last night, and you asked about a drug repeatedly brought up in the White House briefings.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GUPTA: I'm a physician, and people ask me, frankly, I don't know because there isn't data. I would want data. You're a doctor. It's a decision between doctor and patient. Would you recommend it to a patient? DR. ROBERT REDFIELD, DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND
PREVENTION: Yes, I'm not going to recommend it and not going to not recommend it.
CDC is an organization, as you know, you and I have talked about it before, we're not an opinion organization. We're a science-based data- driven organization.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: That's an interesting answer. The president gives a very, very different answer than his CDC director.
GUPTA: That was an interesting answer. He started by saying, I would not recommend it. I thought he was going to end there, John, but he kept going by saying, I would not not recommend it.
They're in a tough spot, John. I think they're trying to balance, you know, the public health scientific sort of recommendations, which I think would be pretty clear for someone like Dr. Redfield, who I've known for some time.
You want the evidence before you recommend it. You want to know that it's safe, it's not going to harm somebody and you want to know that it's effective.
I think the challenge, John, and this has been really interesting to observe as a reporter, but this idea that if you ask for that evidence, then you're somehow thought of as somebody who doesn't want a therapeutic, that you're too pessimistic. That's not the case.
I think everyone wants a therapeutic, everyone on the planet given this is a pandemic. But the idea this could potentially be harmful to somebody, we don't know the dosing, we don't know how long someone should be taking this. Someone with underlying heart conditions could be affected by this.
I think that's what his answer was reflecting.
KING: I think it was also reflecting that he understands sometimes he's at a briefing standing before the president of the United States who says something very different.
Sanjay Gupta, appreciate that today.
The White House guidelines, of course, for social distancing are in effect for 20 more days. The experts, like Dr. Anthony Fauci, would like to say the virus decides whether it goes into May. But it is clear the president is clamoring to reopen the country. In some conversations with allies wondering if he has to wait until next month.
CNN chief political correspondent, Dana Bash, joins us now.
Dana, the president extended the guidelines. They were originally two weeks. He extended it to 30 days. He said he's listening to the scientists, the doctors, like Dr. Birx and Dr. Fauci. The question is, at the end of the month, if they ask for more time, will he listen again?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That is the question. And I've been doing reporting this morning. A source close to the president says he more and more has been getting phone calls from people who are not doctors, who are not from inside the White House or the administration but people who are kind of on his call list.
Friends, old friends, hedge fund managers, people on Wall Street, people who very much have an economic background and an economic stake in whether or not the government reopens, and these people are telling the president, come on, get on with it, really pushing him for a date certain to do so earlier, perhaps, than what he has now or at least some more certainty than what is there.
So, you know, this has been, in many ways, understandably so, but it is really more clear now that there's the tug, the push and pull, between the economists and what is good for the economy and what is the reality of the unknown on the science side and on the medical and health side. And that is what the president is dealing with.
But again, right now, I'm told that he is hearing more and more agitation from people who want to get the economy back up and running because -- for obvious reasons. The economy is in a recession and he had a lot to crow about just about a month ago, and that is gone right now.
KING: And he's listening to friends at Wall Street. He's also looking at an election calendar. He's running for reelection.
KING: You do not want the president of the United States in a recession as you do that.
The most fascinating thing to watch has been, at times, the president embraces Dr. Birx and Dr. Fauci. At times, he seems to be in a tug of war with them. Dr. Fauci will say one thing and the president will walk up to the podium and say, but we need to reopen the country.
Just played Dr. Redfield, the CDC director about the president's favorite drug, hydroxychloroquine, he said he would not recommend it, he would not recommend it against it.
Here's a couple of other examples where the scientists speak, same issues, a little different than the president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What we will be doing in the very near future is going to certain areas of our country and do massive testing.
Do you need it? No. Is it a nice thing to do? Yes. We're talking about 325 million people, and that's not going to happen.
REDFIELD: I think there have to be continued expansion in testing. If we have a continued flu-like illness, then obviously very expansive testing will be necessary. If we have very limited flu-like illness, then I would argue it's the case identification, the isolation and the contact tracing.
TRUMP: Hopefully, we're going to be opening up, opening very, very soon, I hope.
REDFIELD: It's not going to be one size fits all. It's going to be using the data we have from surveillance to really understand where it is, the most important places for us to begin to reopen and get prepared for next year, which will be another challenging time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: In both of Dr. Redfield's comments there, he mentions you need expansive testing. The president says there won't be massive testing. Maybe there's a nuance in the separation of those words. When he comes back and talks about reopening, he says you need surveillance, which is testing.
We are not at the point, most of the scientists say, and most believe we can't get there the next 20 days to ramp up testing where they would be comfortable understanding the universe of people out there who have symptoms, who are asymptomatic, et cetera.
BASH: I think what you just created in the back and forth of those sound bytes is a pretty good illustration of the conversation and debate that's going on behind the scenes inside the task force.
And it's a debate that we as Americans want them to be having, how is this going to work, and it has become pretty tense, my understanding, in recent days for the reasons we just talked about.
And they are discussing options like, you know, maybe keeping the most at-risk population quarantined, opening up in areas where they feel comfortable that people have gotten the virus, that people have the antibodies.
But the latter part of what I just said, as we just heard from the CDC director, the only way you could do that is with testing.
And so there's such a contradiction in the desire and the reality, and that continues.
And I also think -- you know, I don't think it's overstating it to say that as big of a decision it was on a federal level and it continues to be on a state and local level to effectively close the economy, it will be a bigger decision when they reopen it.
Because they are going to have to be incredibly comfortable that this thing is not going to, you know, kind of spike again and get us in a situation where they make it worse. So when it comes to a leadership question and a leadership decision,
it is probably the biggest that the president is going to have to make.
KING: And there are 20 days. A lot of time. We'll see where the numbers take us in 20 days. You mentioned a big decision for the president. Some of those governors may disagree, too, depending on the situation in their states. We'll watch this one play out. White House briefing this afternoon. We'll see if we get more on this.
Dana Bash, appreciate it.
For Americans out of work, unable to go many places at all, there are a few escapes from the coronavirus dysfunction. Sports have stopped, of course. The first live televised sporting event from any of the major extensive sports leagues since the coronavirus pause is set for Saturday night. The event? A remotely filmed playground game of horse between NBA stars.
But the bigger question is when Americans can watch, much less, go to real games persists..
Last night, the NBA legend, "Magic" Johnson, said on the CNN town hall, we need sports to get through this, but health and safety must come first.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAGIC JOHNSON, NBA HALL OF FAMER: I think sports will come back, it's just a matter of when will we make sure that this virus has not affected -- is level and it's not affecting the whole country anymore.
America and all of us who live in this great country that we live in, we need sports, especially in a time like this. But only if everybody is safe. Now, the key is, I think sports will come back probably without fans first.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: The pandemic is disproportionately affecting African-Americans, Michigan among the states with new efforts to better understand this disparity. The state's governor is leading that, and he joins me next, live.
Before we go to break, it was one month ago on this day that President Trump assured the American people that coronavirus will be gone before we know it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I guess we're at 26 deaths, and if you look at the flu, the flu for this year, we're looking at 8,000 deaths. And, you know, hundreds of thousands of cases, but we have 8,000 deaths. You have 8,000 versus 26 deaths at this time.
[11:15:02] We're prepared and we're doing a great job with it. And it will go away, just stay calm. It will go away.
KING: African-Americans make up 14 percent of Michigan's population but, so far, represent 40 percent of the state's coronavirus deaths. That is an alarming and stunning statistic. It is a disparity we see elsewhere, too.
Michigan's coronavirus new task force on racial disparities is studying this issue to learn more about the root causes.
Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist is leading the task force and joins me live.
Governor, thank you for being with us.
We know, especially in Detroit where you've seen the spike in these African-American deaths, you have more density. We know that things like obesity, diabetes are more prevalent to the African-American community. Is that it, health disparity and density, or is there more to it?
LT. GOV. GARLIN GILCHRIST (D-MI): There may be more to it, because these disparities have existed for generations and COVID-19 shows why this is particularly deadly in this pandemic.
This hits home for people. I've lost 15 people in my life to this virus here in Detroit.
We have a lot of work to do. That's why we're starting this task force. We're pulling on expertise from health professionals, doctors, community leaders, faith leaders to make sure we can respond to this immediately so people can recover and die from the coronavirus.
KING: I know you can't see it because of the technology but I just want to put on the screen, 14 percent of the population, 33 percent of the cases, 40 percent of the deaths. I want people to look at the graphic and just see it. This is 33 percent of your cases are African- Americans.
If we can move to the next one, 14 percent of Michigan are African- Americans, 33 percent of the cases are African-American, 40 percent of the deaths.
The reason I want to look at the graph, Governor Gilchrist, is you know what happens. We have a crisis, then the crisis passes. We went through this with Katrina and in New Orleans after. In the case of your state, you'll come out of this. You know what's happening. You're not getting any money. You're not getting income taxes right now. You're not getting business taxes right now.
So well-intentioned people like yourself will come to the governor and make some recommendations. I know your own governor, your partner, and you believe in her heart, will she have the money to be able to address these issues?
GILCHRIST This is why we need a national strategy and a national approach. The federal government will have to work with states like Michigan to make sure we have the resources to response to the ongoing crisis that will last far beyond COVID-19 being such a big problem in our state.
We'll need money for human services, for more access to health care. We need money for mental and health counseling. We need support.
That will be particularly important in communities of color, in the black community of the city of Detroit where I'm speaking to you from right now. If we get those resources, we'll be able to respond to this.
But we also need to respond to the disparities that exist beyond COVID-19. We need to look at those issues as well. Poverty is a problem. Lack of access to the health care system is a problem. When we solve those, we'll get out ahead of these disparities.
KING: My doctor here in D.C., my personal doctor, she is big on working with the African-American community here in D.C. She's been on my case toe highlight this issue saying, yes, there are health care disparities, but she also talks about access to food, access to education, access to economic development prospects.
Do you believe that has to be part of what you're doing?
GILCHRIST Always. And one of the reasons we're taking such strong action on things like access to water in the city of Detroit and the state of Michigan by making sure water systems are not cutting off people's water and utilities, because you need that in order to wash hands while you're at home to stay safe and save people's lives.
This is a comprehensive challenge. The disparities are manifold. We want to stand up and be creative and take a leadership role because not many states have done this, even though we're seeing issues in New Orleans, in Chicago.
I've talked with partners in other states to develop a multistate and national strategy in partnership with the federal government to deal with these racial disparities.
KING: If you're having a problem, months from now, getting attention, call us. I promise you, you can come right back here and talk to us if people decide this is in the rearview mirror and let it fade.
I want to talk about your state's effort to combat the effects of the coronavirus. The governor has a new executive order prohibiting travel between two residences, essentially saying, if your aunt lives down the street, she doesn't want you going from one house to another house. Why is that so important. Some people would argue, that's my family. GILCHRIST It's important because people are safest where they are. We
need people to stay safe and stay put, because even just a little bit of travel, a little bit of unnecessary interaction can lead to the spreading of this virus.
People who don't have symptoms and don't feel bad yet may still be spreading the virus. We need to limit the contact. Call your auntie on the phone, have a video conference or Facetime, but right now, you need to stay home so we can keep our community safe.
KING: Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist, I appreciate your time. Best of luck with the commission and the broader fight.
GILCHRIST: Thank you very much. Everyone, stay safe.
KING: Pleasure. Please come back. Please come back and keep us posted.
We're waiting now to hear from the New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. His daily briefing will be in a few minutes. We'll take you there live.
Up next for us, though, our economy will get worse before it gets better. That's what 45 of the nation's top economists say. They also say we're already in a recession and will remain in one for at least the next few months.
KING: Markets in the United States are closed today for Good Friday, but that didn't stop the president from tweeting this morning about gains this week and predicting a big bounce for the economy once the coronavirus is behind us.
Perhaps, but the current reality is beyond painful. A survey of 45 economists finds the U.S. economy is now in a recession and that survey predict things will get worse in the months ahead.