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NYT: New Federal Projections Warn Infections Could Spike if Stay-at-Home Orders Lifted Too Soon; U.S. Nears 500,000 Coronavirus Cases; Deaths Top 18,000; Gov. Jared Polis (D) Colorado Discusses About the Meat Processing Plant Employees Impacted and 2 Deaths; Fauci: Large-Scale Antibody Tests Will be Available "Very Soon". Aired 7-8p ET

Aired April 10, 2020 - 19:00   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Please join us then. Until then, thanks very much for watching.

Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.


OUTFRONT next, Trump wants to reopen the country as soon as possible as the new government projection reportedly says there will be a spike in cases if stay-at-home orders are lifted too soon.

Plus, a growing outbreak in a meat processing plant in Colorado impacting as many as 300 people. The Governor of Colorado is OUTFRONT.

And why are so many people under 50 getting hit so hard by coronavirus. One of the nation's leading experts on this very question is my guest.

Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, Federal Health and Homeland Security officials are warning of a potential dramatic spike in coronavirus cases if stay-at- home orders are lifted too soon. Now, this is according to projections obtained by the New York Times and the warning comes as the President wants to reopen the country, in his words, as soon as possible, perhaps even by May 1st.

So when asked about the projection of a spike in cases, Trump today claimed to not know anything about that. His top infectious disease expert also said he hadn't seen the projection, but added this.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Don't let anyone get any false ideas that when we decide at a proper time when we're going to be relaxing some of the restrictions, there's no doubt you're going to see cases. I would be so surprised if we did not see cases. The question is how you respond to them. I think that's what they were referring to.


BURNETT: No doubt you'll see cases. It is a new reality that we will all be facing for a long time to come, it seems. And while the President would like to reopen the country as soon as possible, major cities are already extending some stay-at-home orders now beyond May 1st. Los Angeles County, of course, the second largest city in this country, extending its stay-at-home order until May 15th. And it comes as Trump's coronavirus task force says now is not the time to let up.

The U.S. death toll tonight now tops 18,000 people and according to the CDC, almost half of the deaths in the United States at this point are from New York and New Jersey.

Erica Hill is OUTFRONT live in New York. And Erica, obviously, everyone in the country and around the world, indeed, is now watching the numbers in New York extremely closely. It has been the epicenter of the outbreak here in the United States. Any change here today?

ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It change the numbers, yes, but it's cautious optimism. Those are the words of the Governor. He's looking at a drop in things like hospitalizations and number of people in the ICU, but deaths are continuing to rise.

And he's been clear, Erin, that when you see those drops, that's because of the actions people have taken over the last couple of weeks. And looking at that, it means this is no time to stop.


HILL(voice over): There are now more positive cases in New York state than in any country around the world and yet there are signs of hope. Hospitalizations and the number of patients in the ICU both down across the state.


DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: For a long time, they were over 50 percent of our cases and 50 percent of our new cases. That is dramatically changed because of the impact of what the citizens of New York and New Jersey and across Connecticut and now Rhode Island are doing to really change the course of this pandemic.


HILL(voice over): Gov. Andrew Cuomo stressing any move forward will require massive testing and the power of the federal government.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): We have 9 million people we want to get back to work. You need more than several thousand tests per week. If this is going to happen anytime soon. If I had a Defense Production Act in the state, I would use it. I would use it. I don't have that tool, the federal government does.


HILL(voice over): New York City now bearing as many as 25 unclaimed bodies each day in a public cemetery on Hart Island to free up desperately needed space in the city's morgues.

In Houston, a potential hotspot according to the White House task force, the parking lot at NRG Stadium transformed into an overflow hospital. Experts watching the progression as a former FDA official says the warmer months may offer a reprieve.


DR. SCOTT GOTTLIEB, FORMER TRUMP FDA COMMISSIONER: Hopefully the fact that we're heading into the summer and the summer should be somewhat of a backstop against transmission of this virus as we head into June, July and August. That's going to help us. Coronas typically don't circulate in the summertime so there is a seasonal aspect to coronaviruses generally.

This one is so null that it's likely to continue to transfer into the summer, but droplet transmission becomes less efficient in the really hot humid months.


HILL(voice over): Florida's Governor meantime says he may soon reopen schools county by county.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R) FLORIDA: We're going to look at the evidence and make a decision. For whatever reason, it just doesn't seem to threaten kids.



HILL(voice over): Gov. DeSantis citing a lack of deaths in his state for those under age 25, though that is not the case nationally. Sixteen states have already closed schools for the remainder of the academic year. Others extending current closures into next month. As officials remind those celebrating Easter this weekend, the virus doesn't pause for the holiday.


MAYOR LORI LIGHTFOOT (D-IL): We've seen people who have been going to church and ignoring the admonitions or ignoring the orders, getting sick, ministers dying. This is deadly serious and you can express your faith in lots of different ways, but it can't be by congregating.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HILL(voice over): For some, simply being home is reason enough to

celebrate. In Miami, cheers as to COVID patients are discharged. A similar scene in Louisville.

And from a hospital at the epicenter, a message of strength. Mount Sinai is Chief Medical Officer praising her staff as they mark the end of the beginning, assuring them, "We will prevail."


HILL: Erin, in Kentucky today the Governor there, Andy Beshear, saying they will be taking down the license plate information of people who attend a mass gathering this weekend. That information will be given to the health department and those individuals will be required to self quarantine for 14 days.

He went on to say they shouldn't need to do this, saying he didn't think it's an act of faith to attend a service in person but it is an act of faith to sacrifice to protect your fellow Americans, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Well said. Thank you very much, Erica.

And OUTFRONT tonight, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. So, Sanjay, I want to start with a point here, one of the main headlines today, these projections from the Department of Homeland Security and Health And Human Services that the New York Times has obtained. Basically saying if stay-at-home orders are lifted after 30 days, there'll be a dramatic spike in coronavirus cases this summer and the death tolls would be similar to what would have happened if nothing had been done in the first place.

So for a lot of places, that puts you having these orders ending, essentially, basically where the President wants them to in early May. What is the exit ramp here?

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, it's interesting. People are hearing some good news, I think, over the last few days in terms of these numbers maybe plateauing. Obviously, the death toll is still so tragic to think about, but possibly some signs of encouragement, but also this admonition that if we sort of let up a bit here that the virus which is still a very contagious virus, it's still out there circulating. We start to congregate, it'll start to spread again very quickly and could take us back to the beginning, to square one.

The exit strategy, Erin, I think is - it's been pretty clear. You got to first of all have the hospitals ready to take care of patients that might get sick. I mean, that's clear. But testing, we talked about this over and over again. But it's important for people to understand that what should have happened in the beginning, what needs to happen, certainly as we exit out of this is that people get tested for the virus.

If they are found to be positive, they are isolated. If they are isolated, then their contacts have to be traced. Erin, before all of this happened, for yourself, how many people did you come in contact with in a few days? You couldn't even probably think about that. It's a challenging laborious task.

I've read estimates that you'd have to hire some 300,000 people to be contact tracers. Point is a lot of infrastructure, testing and all sorts of different locations, not just hospitals, all of that has to be in place, I think, in order to really get an exit ramp.

BURNETT: And clearly not returning to life as we knew it before during this time, not fully. That obviously you're not going to go to a sports stadium or something and not even know your contacts were. I guess that state something that seems sort of obvious.

But when it comes to testing, a committee of the National Academy of Sciences, Sanjay, sent a letter to the White House and I know you saw it. But for those who don't know about, it expressed doubt in the current Coronavirus testing and they actually cited that one study in this letter of 51 coronavirus patients.

And in those 51, the test missed 16 positives. That is obviously a pretty terrifying thing to hear. Is this reliable for this type of test? I mean, is this the reliability metric we're looking at?

GUPTA: I had to go back and read this study a few times, Erin, to make sure that I was interpreting that correctly. Yes, you can put up the specific language here that exactly what you said, 16 out of 51 patients who were positive were told they were negative. So it's a false negative result.

Now, part of that could be if you test too early, the viral load isn't high enough to detect. It could be that when you do these swabs, you got to make sure it's a really good swab. People always describe it as painful. There is a reason for that. You have to actually get a good sample and part of it is maybe that in some of these situations, a test just wasn't finding it.


But that's a 30 percent false negative rate, Erin. It was a small study. This has to be sort of investigated a little further and see if it remains true over larger sample sizes. But in this particular case, it was the standard genetic study and it was compared to CAT scans of the lungs.

The CAT scans as it turns out picked up the disease, the COVID disease in the lungs 50 out of 51 times. And with this, the genetic study that missed it 16 times, as you mentioned, so that's worrisome. But I think it has to pan out in larger studies still.

BURNETT: And so there is another study today about when people are trying to understand it, because it is amazing at this point, talking about restarting the economy, how much we've learned, but also how much we still don't know about this virus and how it spreads and what it does.

There's a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association Neurology which says coronavirus patients commonly experience a lot of neurologic problems; dizziness, headache, seizures, strokes, taste and smell, I guess, which we have heard about as part of this, but there's a whole other host of symptoms. Do we know why and how this happens and how common it is?

GUPTA: Yes. I mean, it turns out it was pretty common in this particular study that you're talking about. About a third of the time, people did have some neurological sort of symptoms as well. Sometimes it was a first symptom. It was the first thing that that you notice. You think of a respiratory virus, you think of cough you think a fever, you think of lung symptoms, but sometimes it was just a totally strange neurological symptom.

I think we have the list, if we do you can go ahead and put it up, but there was all kinds of things; dizziness, headache, as you mentioned, loss of smell, loss of taste. Why is that to your question, again, looking at this and I talked to a bunch of my friends in the neuro world, could it be that the virus is actually causing inflammation at the base of the brain, where the nerves for smell, for example, sit. Perhaps.

It could be that it's causing an inflammation in the body throughout and it's disproportionately affecting the nervous system. We don't know. But I think it's a really important point for patients and for clinicians, somebody comes in with an unusual neurological symptom, no other explanation in the midst of a pandemic, you've got to think about COVID being a possibility and probably get a test for that patient.

BURNETT: It is. It's just amazing that when you think about symptoms like that or masquerading as a heart attack. It's just stunning how many parts of the body this seems to impact so dramatically. Sanjay, thank you very much.


BURNETT: And Sanjay is going to be back with us later on this hour.

Next, a massive outbreak at a Colorado meat processing plant. The Vice President saying as many as 300 people are impacted. The plant though is still open. The Governor of Colorado is my guest.

Plus, is the antibody test the answer to getting America back to work or just a whole lot of wishful thinking? Sanjay is going to be back with a special report.

And the outbreak forcing so many families to say goodbye, virtually. I'm going to speak to one woman who witnessed her mother being laid to rest on FaceTime.



BURNETT: Breaking news, a growing outbreak at one of the country's biggest meat processing plants, killing at least two employees, according to the union representing workers at the Greeley, Colorado facility. And we're just finding this out after Vice President Pence just hours ago said up to 300 employees at the plant may be impacted. That was his word by the outbreak.

OUTFRONT now, the Democratic Governor of Colorado, Jared Polis. He spoke with the Vice President earlier today about the outbreak. And Governor, I appreciate your time.

So we're trying to understand obviously, the scale of what's happening here. The union says there are, at least, 50 cases, the company said there's 36, the Vice President said as many as 300 employees may be 'impacted'. I mean, what do you believe the current number of cases is and how big this is?

GOV. JARED POLIS (D) COLORADO: Well, going to find out because we're going to have them all tested and test them all in the next few days. But judging from the figures, about two deaths, about 14 hospitalized, I would estimate there's probably between 200 and 400 folks that will test positive, but we'll see. It's anybody's guess.

We're going to get them all tested. Those that are clear go back or are going to return after a short closure, hopefully, next Wednesday or Tuesday or Thursday. This is really important in our nation's food supply and for all of those critical workers out there, of course, the health care workers, many others, but there's also many in our nation's food supply that we rely on to keep those grocery store shelves full.

This is one of those areas and so we're going to do everything we can to prioritize it, working with the vice president, with the administration, with the Weld County health department and make sure it can reopen by mid next week.

BURNETT: So they had the union, I know, it sent you a letter saying, "The time for action is now. With each passing day, more employees' lives are at risk." They had asked for the plant to be closed at least seven days. So you're saying mid next week, but it's closed now, you're saying so you're getting to wait at least five days or so?

POLIS: It'll close long enough to test every worker and clear workers to return to work. About 5,000 folks all together. At least 3,000 to 5,000. It's not necessarily just the workers there. It's also truckers who supply it and others who might have been exposed. So we're doing that over Easter Sunday, Colorado National Guard is supporting that work. We're going to do our best to get the big part of the nation's food supply back up by mid next week.

BURNETT: And you have been assured, of course, and I think it's important to say this that in terms of obviously the crucial nature here, the employees first and foremost and also the food supply that goes to so many around this country. The food supply itself, obviously, is safe, correct?

POLIS: Of course, absolutely. The closures of three to four days will not be felt at all. Five days won't be felt by consumers at all. That's one of the reasons we got to do it and do it in a way where employees are safe as you indicated.

These are employees who speak 25 languages at this facility from all over the world. Obviously, English and Spanish is the main two, but many other languages from Africa and other areas. So the logistics around the testing are more complicated than they would otherwise be because of the language piece.


But we're doing it. They'll test negative, they can return to work. They're all going to have masks and the company's doing a huge cleaning.

They always clean the industrial floor because, of course, the Food and Drug Administration tight regulations around safe meat production. But they're going to do a deep clean of the employee areas, the back rooms, the entryways, the exits, all of the areas that employees encounter over the next few days to make sure that it's entirely safe when people are able to return to work next week.

BURNETT: Governor, the President wants to open the country by the beginning of May. Obviously, to many public health officials, that seems to be way too early for many places, but obviously your stay-at- home order right now runs through April 26th. Are you are you planning to stick with that at this point?

POLIS: Well, I sure hope so. If Coloradans are staying at home as is important wearing masks when they go out, we hope that we can do that. And I think it's clear in everything we're talking about in all the states, that doesn't mean that on May 1 or any date in early May things are going to go back to how they were in terms of 60,000 people at a stadium, a busy night club. Those are likely to stay on significantly longer.

But our priority is making sure that folks can return to work in a safe way, earn a living, be able to support themselves. And the sooner the better with regard to that and, of course, with the additional precautions and social distancing that will be taken in workplaces across Colorado and hopefully across the nation.

BURNETT: All right. Gov. Polis. I appreciate your time. Thank you so much, sir.

POLIS: Thank you, Erin.

BURNETT: And next, it's the test that could help Americans do just what Gov. Polis was talking about, get back to partially their daily lives. But just how effective is the antibody test? Dr. Sanjay Gupta is back with a special report.

And more than 500 people under the age of 50 have died from coronavirus in New York, just in New York and the virus is hitting some hard people much harder than others. A doctor leading the research on why, why is this happening is my guest.



BURNETT: Tonight, the White House saying the United States will have large scale antibody testing very soon.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're also working to bring blood-based serology tests to the market as quickly as possible. When validated, we're confident that the production will scale up to 10s of millions of tests very quickly.


BURNETT: Dr. Sanjay Gupta is OUTFRONT with a look at these crucial antibody tests and how they work.


GUPTA (voice-over): According to the coronavirus task force, more than 2 million tests have now been performed in the United States and yet there are still people who need to be tested such as healthcare workers who can't get one. It's part of the reason there is now so much interest in a different kind of test, an antibody test. Dr. Fauci told CNN on Friday, it's coming soon.


FAUCI: I'm certain that that's going to happen. Within a period of a week or so, we're going to have a rather large number of tests that are available.


GUPTA (voice-over): But what exactly are antibodies? They are proteins in the immune system that develop days after someone has been infected. And it's the antibodies that makes someone immune to becoming re-infected. It means two things; you were previously infected and you are now likely to be protected at least for a while.


DR. STEPHEN HAHN, FDA COMMISSIONER: We think it'll be a tool to help us get people back to work. It'll be additional information, because as you know if you have an antibody, that means you were exposed and have recovered from it. That with the information about diagnosis should help.


GUPTA (voice-over): That's why public health agencies around the world want these antibody tests, because it could help some people get back to their daily lives. You remember the swab test we're all familiar with, well, that tests for the virus itself, specifically its genetic material.

Problems are, first of all, at some point after you recover, that test will be negative. And secondly, a lot of people have had trouble getting that diagnostic test in the first place. The antibody test is more definitive. There are only a few reasons you would have antibodies in your blood. You got someone else's antibodies by an injection of their blood, you got a vaccine, which teaches your body to make antibodies or you were infected.

The antibody test requires a sample of your blood and this strip, which has proteins from the virus on it. If your blood reacts to that strip, it means you have antibodies in your blood.


BIRX: And I think really being able to tell them the peace of mind that would come from knowing you already were infected, you have antibody, you're safe from re-infection 99.9 percent of the time. And so this, I think, would be very reassuring to our frontline health care workers.


GUPTA (voice-over): Another benefit of antibody testing, surveillance. In places like Miami-Dade County, Florida, Santa Clara County, California and Telluride, Colorado, they have already started using antibody tests to get a better sense of how many people, many of whom, will be surprised to learn have already been exposed to the virus.


LOU RESSE, CHIEF OFFICER, UNITED NEUROSCIENCE: Whoever volunteers is getting tested twice. And the purpose of that is to see who's sero converts and develops the antibodies. Meaning, who was actively infected during this period of quarantine.


GUPTA (voice-over): A CDC spokesperson told CNN the agency has already used these tools to 'monitor contacts of infected people, and to identify individuals who, due to mild infection, may have not known they were infected'.

Getting the antibody tests up and running much like the test to detect the virus itself have been challenging. In a rush to get these tests to market, the FDA lowered the regulatory standards and what followed were a lot of unreliable and inaccurate tests.


BIRX: There's a series of antibody tests out there that have not been validated. Some of the tests that may be available on the internet may have very low sensitivity and specificity and give you a false reassurance that either give you a false positive or a false negative, implying that you may be protected.


BURNETT: And Sanjay joins me now along with Dr. Jonathan Reiner, who advised the George W. Bush White House medical team for eight years and is the Director for Cardiac Catheterization Program at GW University Hospital now. So Sanjay, look, a lot of has been put on these tests. In a sense, it

sort of become the holy grail for a lot of people. This is going to be like the silver bullet. We're going to have these antibody tests and everybody is going to be able to go back to work, but it does seem unclear.


GUPTA: Yes. I mean, I think it's a really important test, and you know, just candidly, if it were easily and widely available, I would love to get this test, because you know, did I get exposed to coronavirus at some point and not have much in the way of symptoms?

I would like to know that, but I don't think it's a silver bullet, Erin. I think, you know, in order to actually be able to contain this outbreak, we're really talking about the original tests still, the ones we've been talking about for a few months now. The key is to find people who have the infection, to be able to isolate them, and then trace their contacts. That's a big task, you know?

We obviously did not have great -- we were late at the beginning of all this. But as we start to exit out of this in the United States, we've got to be able to do that, and it's laborious. I mean, I read a study, it says it might take 300,000 people to really contact trace people who might have these infections.

So, testing, tracing, treating is the mantra. And the tests they're talking about is for the virus itself, not the antibodies.

BURNETT: And -- right. And so, here's the point with the antibody tests, right? There's, one, how many people are actually going to have, when you do it, how many people in the population had it? And does that do anything to get you close to herd immunity or anything like that? And then the other issue, of course, is whether having an antibody actually means you're immune for any period of time.

Dr. Reiner, the president said today that people who have had the virus have immunity, but here's how he said it.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So, they have the disease, and they're better, and they have the immunity now. They have -- supposedly, according to what I'm hearing, it could be for a long period. It could be for a lifetime. It could also be for a year or two. I'm hearing --


BURNETT: Dr. Reiner, basically, I mean, if that's what experts are telling him, they have no idea. That's a really long range. So, there's not even a sense as to whether after you have this you really are immune, right?

DR. JONATHAN REINER, CARDIOLOGIST; ADVISED WHITE HOUSE MEDICAL TEAM FOR EIGHT YEARS: Well, viral diseases like this typically do confer immunity for at least a moderate period of time. We don't know how long the immunity that's acquired with coronavirus infection will last, but this is why we need to test.

And this is why antibody testing is so important. It gives us the opportunity to identify people who have had the virus, who have developed antibodies, the convalescent antibodies, the IGG antibodies, and then test them over a period of time. So, if patients have antibodies a week or two after their illness and the antibodies are still present several months later, those people are probably immune.

But we'll need to see and we'll need to do this kind of testing to fully understand.

BURNETT: And I guess that's interesting when you're saying multiple tests.

Sanjay, Dr. Fauci was asked this morning about the possibility of Americans carrying immunity certificates, basically, you know, that if there's kind of like a suspicion and a lack of trust in the community, that you would be able to have those. Here's how he said it.


FAUCI: That's possible. I mean, it's one of those things that we talk about when we want to make sure that we know who the vulnerable people are and not. This is something that's being discussed. I think it might actually have some merit under certain circumstances.


BURNETT: It is hard as an American in many ways, Sanjay, to imagine such a thing, though, an immunity certificate. Do you think, though, that from a medical perspective that this is a good idea, that people should start thinking about this?

GUPTA: You know, I think culturally, you're right, there's going to be -- there's a lot that's different, obviously, that we've been doing in this country that no one's ever done before, so this could be something you add to the list.

But I think Jonathan Reiner's point is the point that really needs to be taken into consideration. What does that immunity card mean? I mean, how much confidence do we have in giving someone an immunity card? Does it have an expiration date on it? Do you have to continue to get tested to get that card sort of updated, you know?

I'm a little -- you know, I don't think we know enough yet. I mean, we're only 3 1/2 months into this, really, Erin, so how long those antibodies last and how much protection they confer, we don't know. We'd really have to know that ahead of time.

BURNETT: And Dr. Reiner --

REINER: I'll tell you where --

BURNETT: Go ahead. REINER: I'll tell you where this may immediately be a big help, and

this is to test the docs and the nurses on the front lines. It would be enormously helpful to, now to know who has antibodies to this virus, particularly because we think so many health care workers have been exposed but are asymptomatic. If we knew who was, what we think, immune to this, these are the folks that could be, you know, moved towards, you know, more of the front lines right now with a higher degree of safety.

BURNETT: And, Sanjay, before we go, the other issue, of course, is how many people actually have had -- will even have antibodies. You know, the former FDA commissioner, we've talked about this, Scott Gottlieb raised the point that in other countries where they looked at this, it was very small. Italy and Spain with 10 to 15 percent, some of them down to 3 percent, 1 percent, even less.


And you could find similar here in the United States was his point. In other words, antibody testing may not be the silver bullet, right? You know, you're not going to get this, oh, it's so broadly out there that we can really all return to work, that that may not be the test that everyone needs to focus on.

GUPTA: Right, right. I think that's absolutely true. Maybe there are specific populations of people like health care workers, like Dr. Reiner was saying.

But, you know, it will be interesting to see. We have not had eyes on this whole problem, you know, almost since the start in terms of how many people are actually infected and now how many people may be carrying these antibodies. We just don't know. But I think these other countries are pretty instructive in this regard and it may be a lot lower than we realize.

And therefore, we're not going to get to this point that everyone knows as herd immunity. We're not going to have enough immunity from people being exposed to the virus to ward off the infection if there's a second wave or something.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you both very much. I appreciate your time, as always.

And next, genetics. Could genetics be the reason why there are some people, and especially young people, who are more susceptible to the coronavirus? A doctor who says it is possible that it could be genetic as to why some young people are getting hit so hard is OUTFRONT to explain why.

Plus, it's become a heartbreaking reality for tens of thousands of families, forced to say good-bye to a loved one virtually. I'm going to speak to a woman who attended her mother's funeral via FaceTime.


[19:40:43] BURNETT: Tonight, why some young people might be getting hit harder by the virus than others. In New York, the state hit hardest by the virus, they report 508 people under age 49 have died, accounting for 6.5 percent of the fatalities in the state.

You know, what is behind those numbers? I mean, when you hear especially about some of the very young and people who don't have any underlying conditions, it is absolutely heartbreaking.

OUTFRONT now, Dr. Jean-Laurent Casanova, an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at Rockefeller University. Dr. Casanova, you've been studying this very issue, trying to understand this. You know, when we hear these stories of perfectly healthy, young people, people in their 20s, people in their 30s, people in their 40s, they're getting incredibly sick. Some of them are dying of this.

And you're trying to understand why, whether perhaps this is coming down to genetics. Why do you suspect that this could be genetic?

DR. JEAN-LAURENT CASANOVA, HOWARD HUGHES MEDICAL INSTITUTE INVESTIGATOR, THE ROCKEFELLER UNIVERSITY: Right, well, this is exactly the problem that we try to tackle, as you just said. Previously healthy children, adolescents or adults arbitrarily under the age of 50, who suddenly are critically ill.

So, the hypothesis that we're testing with Helen Su at the National Institutes of Health, is that these patients carry genetic variations -- in the past, people would say mutations -- genetic variations that are silent clinically until they're infected by the coronavirus. And in a few days or weeks, they develop severe pneumonitis and have to be into an intensive care unit.

BURNETT: So it's basically something in their DNA that enables the virus to be much more lethal in how it acts?

CASANOVA: Right, exactly. But you know, this is not an idea that came out of the blue. Helen Su at the NIH had discovered mutations, variations, responsible for pneumonitis caused by the rhinovirus. And we had discovered other variations responsible for influenza pneumonitis.

So we had already shown for two other types of viral pneumonitis that were aware, what we call in our jargon, inborn errors of immunity that could underlay these catastrophic illnesses. So we teamed up and tried to decide to test whether what was true with rhinovirus and influenza. We also perhaps could apply to coronavirus.

BURNETT: Now, are these genetic mutations or variations, as you're talking, consistent across people? In other words, is it something you could find a specific therapy or cure for these people? Or are you finding just a countless number of mutations that are interacting in such a deadly way with the virus?

CASANOVA: Well, this is another great question. And I don't want to get too technical or detailed, but the infectious diseases, viral illnesses in particular that Helen and I have studied in the past, show what we call genetic heterogeneity, that is it seems that for a given viral illness, there can be many different types of airborne errors of immunity. They're related physiologically but are different from one person to another.

And we don't know, of course, whether it's going to be the case or not for coronavirus.

BURNETT: But that, of course, if it were the case, would make it much more difficult to find a solution, I would imagine.

CASANOVA: No, not necessarily, because even if the variations affect different genes, if these genes are related immunologically or physiologically, then there can be a solution that applies to the different types of inborn errors.

BURNETT: All right. Well, let's hope that that is the case. Thank you very much.

I appreciate your time, Dr. Casanova. Thanks for explaining it.

CASANOVA: Thank you. Thank you very much.

BURNETT: And, of course, to know that there are people trying to work for solutions for some of these incredibly tragic stories of young people who are getting so ill and dying from this.

OUTFRONT next, I'm going to speak to a woman who lost her mother to coronavirus, but she had to attend her funeral via FaceTime.

Plus, the coronavirus upending traditions. The world observing Holy Week.



BURNETT: Tonight, a sad reality of the coronavirus crisis, grieving families being kept apart when they would normally mourn a loved one together. It's happening to people all across this country, including our next guest, who attended her mother's funeral this week on FaceTime.

OUTFRONT now, Tracy Dilka. Her mother was 85 years old, Marty Evans, and she passed away last week from coronavirus.

Tracy, I am so sorry for your loss, to lose your dear mother.


BURNETT: You know, I know you were with her in her final days. The hospital let you visit her before she passed. And in that, I know that was a great gift, that many families are not having during this crisis, so I know you are grateful for that.

But, you know, tell us about those last moments, those moments that you did have with her in the end. DILKA: When we had FaceTimed throughout the week before, and we could

just tell we were losing mom by her facial reactions and able to connect with us. And when we got to the hospital, it was 4:15 in the morning and we walked in and it was like she rallied, because she got to see us, because we hadn't seen her.


And she was very excited. And I didn't say, "hi, mom," or anything, I just went up and I said, hey, do you know who I am? And she looked at me, she's like, yes, you're Tracy. And that's Teresa, the other twin. I said, OK.

So we were able to have 30 minutes of mom visiting back and forth, and we had our older sister on iPhone, FaceTiming. And then we just lost mom. And that was like waited to get there.

BURNETT: I'm so sorry.

DILKA: As we watched as the hours and then the minutes --

BURNETT: I'm sorry, we just had a bit of a delay there. I know you must have been grateful to have that, be together with your twin and other sister. I know she was on FaceTime but to be able to say goodbye.

DILKA: Absolutely.

BURNETT: Then I know though you weren't able to mourn, to be with her, I know she wanted to be buried with your father and that is in Kansas. You're in Colorado where she was in the hospital, and you're in a stay-at-home order, you couldn't go to that funeral.


BURNETT: What was that like, Tracy? And that is important part of being able to say truly goodbye, to have to do that via FaceTime.

DILKA: It was hard, because when I left the hospital I knew I wouldn't get to say goodbye to mom. And watching the service on the iPhone, it was like I wasn't even there to tell her goodbye.

BURNETT: Do you think -- I mean I hope --


BURNETT: I'm sorry.

DILKA: Go ahead.

BURNETT: Do you think you'll ever be able to get closure? Since you weren't there at that moment that mattered so much?

DILKA: It's a whole different grieving process for me with mom than dad. I hope I will. When we finally get to go there and have mom's celebration of life. BURNETT: And have you been able to spend any time with your -- with

your siblings at this time when that matters so much? Or no because of all of this?

DILKA: I have not been able to see my older sister at all. The one that lives in ray, and my twin sister and I, we talk on the phone a lot but since we had mom's burial, we've not been together because we're supposed to stay at home and no contact.

BURNETT: Well, I know that by doing that, doing the right thing, you are doing the right thing, helping others, and setting an example, but I know it must be so very hard.

So, Tracy, you're in all of our thoughts on this special weekend for so many.

DILKA: Thank you very much.

BURNETT: Thank you.

And, of course, it was Marty.

And we'll be right back.



BURNETT: The coronavirus pandemic has exposed a wealth divide and racial divide in America.

Tom Foreman is OUTFRONT.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: One-third of all U.S. patients sick enough to be admitted to the hospital for the virus are African- American, way more than the double their share of the population. That is the suggestion from a small, early sample of cases studied by CDC. It's not definitive, but it implies in cities such as New York, Milwaukee, New Orleans, Chicago and Detroit, the pandemic is particularly threatening black communities.

LT. GOV. GARLIN GILCHRIST (D-MI): This hits home for people. I have lost 15 people in my life due to this virus here in the city of Detroit.

FOREMAN: Yes, the virus can be lethal to anyone but --

TRUMP: Why is it three or four times more so for the black community as opposed to other people?

FOREMAN: The answer? More African-Americans are living in poverty than almost any other group as a percentage, often in densely populated cities with inadequate nutrition and education, less insurance and access to medical care. Leaving them more likely to develop those related health issues,

proving so deadly.

MAYOR MURIEL BOWSER (D-WA): We know that underlying conditions like hypertension, and diabetes, heart disease, this virus is particularly hard on.

FOREMAN: The surgeon general suffers from some of those problems, and he is only 45.

DR. JEROME ADAMS, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: I represent that legacy of growing up poor, and black, and in America, and I and many black Americans are at higher risk of COVID.

FOREMAN: Once more, a skyrocketing unemployment makes free food lines explode, poor communities are certainly growing poor, and unlike many people and better paying positions, even those low income folks who can hold on to their jobs often can't do them from home.

LT. GOV. BILLY NUNGESSER (R-LA): They are working in a lot of the service industry, that unfortunately is still dealing with the public, and the grocery store, some of the service industries that are still out there doing the job, we need them to do. And so, they are bringing in that home to their families.

FOREMAN: It's not new. Studies have shown in almost every type of calamity, poor communities are less prepared, less able to compete for resources, less quick to recover.

CUOMO: Whatever the situation is, a natural disaster, Hurricane Katrina, the people standing on those roof tops were not rich, white people. Why? Why is it that the poorest people always pay the highest price?


BURNETT: That was Tom Foreman reporting.

And thanks so much to all of you for joining us.

"AC360" with Anderson starts now.