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Health Officials Urge Social Distancing As U.S Nears Peak; J.P. Morgan Forecasts 20 Percent Unemployment Rate, 25 Million Jobs Lost; More Coronavirus Vaccines And Treatments Move To Human Trials. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired April 10, 2020 - 07:00   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEW DAY: So, Dr. Anthony Fauci standing by to join us as New Day continues right now

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is New Day. It is a holiday weekend but an urgent appeal from health officials not to go out and celebrate in public. Social distancing is saving lives as we reach what could be the peak of the pandemic within days.

Nearly 17 million people have filed for unemployment in just the last three weeks. That plays into President Trump's thinking over when to reopen the country. He is pushing for early May.

After first declaring that anyone who wants the coronavirus test can get one, the president is now something very different. Last night, he admitted there will not be widespread testing for every Americans before everyone goes back to work.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN NEW DAY: And still today, the tests are far from perfect. Overnight, CNN learned that top scientists are warning the White House about the accuracy of the tests. One study found they missed more than 30 percent of positive cases.

Dr. Anthony Fauci says antibody tests to tell us who has had the virus could become available within days to weeks. What does that mean for all of us?

Joining us now is Dr. Anthony Fauci. He is the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force and one of the busiest men alive. We so appreciate your time, Dr. Fauci. Thank you for being here.


CAMEROTA: Let's start with the antibody tests. I've heard you say that they have been -- some have been developed and even validated. Are we really just days away from them being in use? FAUCI: Yes. Actually, at the last task force meeting, the individuals responsible for both developing, validating and getting the tests out are saying -- and I'm certain that that's going to happen -- that within a period of a week or so, we're going to have a rather large number of tests that are available.

One of the things that you mentioned that's important, because other countries have gotten burned by this, these antibody tests are tests that we do on other diseases, but they need to be validated. You need to make sure that they're consistent and that they're accurate. And that's what we're doing now both with the NIH and with the FDA is validating them. As soon as they're validating, they'll be out there for people to use.

CAMEROTA: And so, Dr. Fauci, what does that mean for us? Does that mean that we are shifting away from an emphasis in testing for coronavirus to antibody testing to see who has had it and recovered?

FAUCI: No, not at all. I mean, those things are done in parallel. One does not essentially rule out the other. We still rely appropriately and heavily on the tests to show that someone is, in fact, infected. Whereas, the antibody test says you were infected and if you're feeling well, you're very likely recovered.

When you're trying to find out whether a person is infected, that's the test we always talk about. But as we look forward, as we get to the point of at least considering opening up the country as it were, it's a very important to appreciate and to understand how much that virus has penetrated the society.

Because it's very likely that there are a large number of people out there that have been infected, have been asymptomatic and did not know they were infected. If their antibody test is positive, one can formulate kind of strategies about whether or not they would at risk or vulnerable to getting re-infected. This will be important for healthcare workers, for first line fighters, those kinds of people.

CAMEROTA: Can you imagine a time where Americans carry certificates of immunity?

FAUCI: You know, 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.

CAMEROTA: Okay. I want to talk about something else that we understand is being discussed among the task force and in the White House, and that is when to reopen the country. The president is eager to do so, as he has said. He's even eyeing the date of May 1st. Who is going to oversee that? Is there someone who is coordinating the plan for reopening the country?


FAUCI: Yes, that's a very good question. You know, it isn't a single person. As you know, the task force meets every single day, studies all the data that come in. There is also a group that's looking at what the best approach would be from the standpoint of the kinds of people that you want to get out there first, the people who are very necessary to the functioning of society.

At the end of the day, we have FEMA involved, we have Dr. Debbie Birx, who is the coordinator of the task force. And we go over the data on a day-by-day basis and we report to it to the president and the vice president. That decision will be made at that level.

CAMEROTA: Are you comfortable with the date of May 1st?

FAUCI: Well, as I've said so many times, Alisyn, that 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, as I've discussed with you a few times on this show. It's looking like that in many cases, 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. Because the one thing you don't want to do is you don't want to get out there prematurely and wind up back in the same situation.

So, obviously, we're looking for the kinds of things that would indicate that we can go forward in a gradual way to essentially reopen the country to a more normal way. But that would really depend upon a number of things that we really follow every day.

CAMEROTA: We, of course, are on the cusp of a holiday weekend. Easter Sunday is when so many people get together and have big family dinners. What is your message to the country and for people who are feeling a little bit better and maybe more confident and might be tempted to do that?

FAUCI: Yes, thank you for asking that question. I mean, as difficult as it is, we must continue to adhere to the mitigation strategies of physical separation that are in those guidelines that were first 15- day, now extended for the 30 days until the end of April. Appreciating, I know, particularly in a season like the Easter season and Passover, how difficult that is. But we really need to do it. Because it is working.

The kinds of mitigations that we're doing now, the courage that we're seeing flattening and coming down, that's exactly and precisely because of what the American public is doing. So even though we're in a holiday season, now is no time to back off. As I say so often, now is the time to actually put your foot on the accelerator. Because we're going in the right direction. Let's keep in that direction.

CAMEROTA: Are the models that you're looking at still predicting Easter Sunday being the peak of this in terms of deaths in the country?

FAUCI: Well, as we said last weekend, as we're going into this weekend, that this is going to be a really bad week. And, unfortunately, but predictably, it was a bad week with regard to deaths. But as I've said many times, death tends to lag behind what the driving elements of the outbreak are, namely the new cases that are coming into the system.

So at the end of this week, we'll look back and say, that was really a bad week when it comes to deaths. But on the other side of that week, in the beginning, as we're seeing, particularly in New York, New York is a really good example, at the time of day where the deaths peaked, they were seeing less hospitalizations, less admissions, less need for intubations. So it was really the way we predicted that the deaths would clearly lag behind the favorable parameters of what's going on.

CAMEROTA: Dr. Fauci, in our raining seconds with you and on a much lighter note, Saturday Night Live is back this weekend after a month of being off. What do you think the chances are that somebody will portray you?

FAUCI: I have no idea. I hope not.

CAMEROTA: Well, if they did, which actor would you want to play you? Here are suggestions, Doctor. Ben Stiller, Brad Pitt? Which one?

FAUCI: Oh, Brad Pitt, of course.

CAMEROTA: It's fitting. Dr. Fauci, we really appreciate your time. We know how busy you are. Thank you very much for all of the information.

FAUCI: It's always good to be with you. Thank you.

CAMEROTA: You too.

BERMAN: Alisyn, thank you for making Dr. Fauci smile. It's so nice to see a guy who has the weight of the world on his shoulders laugh for a change. That was fantastic.

Joining us now, CNN Chief Medical Correspondent and Dr. Brad Pitt. Sanjay, it's great to have you here.

Look, it was really interesting to hear from Dr. Fauci say it is working and also hear him emphasize the importance of testing, in two separate kinds. One, to see who has it, who has coronavirus, but also the antibody test to figure out who has had it already.


Talk to us about what you heard from Dr. Fauci and why that's so important.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, the discussion about the virus test, the swab test, you know, it's one that we've been having for a long time. And it's interesting to hear still the number of tests have ramped up. There's problems with reporting. There's about 25 percent of the tests not being reported and they're still not being applied uniformly.

What Dr. Fauci has said and sort of reiterated that point is, in order for the nation to start opening up, you've got to have robust testing that is accurate testing all around the country. And it's still not clear at this point that we have that.

With regard to antibody testing, I thought it was very interesting, because there's problems with these antibody testing. There's loose regulations, let's give as many of these antibody tests as possible. Well, it turns out, a lot of people making those tests did not make very good tests. That's a problem. They need to be validated.

Now, he said, I think, within the next week, I think, Alisyn, when you asked him that question, they would have several companies validated. That's a big deal if that's true. I mean, that is antibody testing, very significant, because those are the types of tests that tell you, A, you've been exposed, and B, you might have some immunity. Antibodies fight the virus. So I think those were two big things that came out of the testing.

CAMEROTA: Yes. And, Sanjay, I also thought it was interesting to hear him say that they are talking about who will coordinate and how the country reopening. You can't just flick a switch, as we've heard, so somebody is going to have to figure out which states do it, on what timeline, what does that look like, do we mean schools, do we mean stores, what do we mean? So I was heartened to hear him say that they're talking about that.

But you know better than anybody the benchmarks that he feels need to be hit in terms of what it looks like when that curve starts going down.

GUPTA: Yes, right. And there are some certain benchmarks. But, you know, I've been following him now for so long as well that there are certain tells, if you know what Dr. Fauci, I think also. You asked I think specifically about May 1st, Alisyn, with regard to schools. And he said something. He said, it's very clearly and very strongly there are signs that the numbers are going in the right direction. That might be give an indicator that that's okay.

All along, even when they first did the first 15-day pause, and people said, well, is this only going to be 15 days, he said, if there's very clear, very strong evidence, we're going in the right direction, it will be 15 days. At the end of this month, at the end of April, he's sort of saying the same thing.

I think he's purposely a little bit and understandably sort of slow rolling the idea that this is going to take longer still. The models that he's talking about when they quote the tragic number of 60,000 people dying, still a lot lower than the original models, they're predicated on stay-at-home orders until the first week of June and really now going into August in some of these models. So I'm not saying it's going to be that long. I'm just saying that he's careful with how he chooses words.

And I think that's going to dictate the rollout. You're going to need hospital capacity. You're going to need testing capacity. You're going to need to be able to trace people, all of the things that we've been talking about.

BERMAN: He really leaned into, Sanjay, also as a student of listening to every word he said for the last six weeks. When he said, it is working, it was a message, I think, to America but also the other people in the administration who will be making decisions about when and how to reopen over the next several weeks. By saying it is working, it's a way of saying, don't mess it up.

GUPTA: Yes, that's a really good insight, John. I think you're right. I think there's been a lot of people, even still who say, is this actually working? We're doing all this huge sacrifices. What's the point? What's the benefit? I think a lot of people have said that. I think even the attorney general sort of alluded to that the other day. You're right.

And sometimes it can be hard to see what's working. It's hard to see when you eat right and you exercise that it's warding off heart disease, for example, on an Individual level. It's a little bit of the same metaphor here. These things -- you don't see the impact directly. You don't see it immediately. So I think you're right, he was sending a message there.

BERMAN: All right. Sanjay, don't go far. We'll have you back in just a few minutes. Thanks so much for being here.

GUPTA: Okay.

BERMAN: Overnight, jarring, almost surreal forecasts about job losses and the fate of the U.S. economy. Former labor secretary, acting labor secretary joins us next.



BERMAN: This morning, J.P. Morgan is out with a dire forecast, now estimating that the unemployment rate in the U.S. will hit 20 percent, shedding 25 million jobs, and that the U.S. economy will shrink by 40 percent in the second quarter.

Joining us now is Seth Harris, former acting Labor Secretary. He oversaw the rollout of the 2009 stimulus package under President Obama. Mr. Secretary, great to have you with us.

I want to play some sound from the Fed chair, Jerome Powell, about how he is assessing the ultimate reopening of the economy.


JEROME POWELL, FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN: We need to have a plan nationally for reopening the economy. We all want it to happen as quickly as possible. We all want to avoid a false start where we partially reopen and that results in a spike in coronavirus cases and then we have to go back again to go to square one. We all want to avoid that.


BERMAN: We want to avoid a false start. That's an economic prescription from the Fed chair, not a medical prescription there. Why is he making that?

SETH HARRIS, FORMER ACTING LABOR SECRETARY UNDER PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, because there is no separation between how we address the pandemic and how we heal the economy. We're not going to bring people back to work and allow them to get sick and die. That's the wrong answer. I think it's foolish for us to be setting May 1st as an artificial deadline. We need to let the science drive the decision- making, not the politics.

What we know for sure, John, is that America's employers are absolutely not ready to bring their workers back safely.


We're seeing that sadly in workplaces that are open right now, Amazon warehouses, grocery stores, transit systems, fast food restaurants, even hospitals where workers are getting exposed, they're getting infected and they're getting sick, and some of them, sadly, are dying. We need to change that if we're going to open the country back up.

BERMAN: So we saw a microcosm of a workplace dealing with these issues yesterday. It was the White House, which is a workplace. There was a reporter who had showed symptoms two days ago of coronavirus. So, yesterday, before the briefing, they tested everyone who walked into the briefing room. That is how they handled that workplace.

So what does what happened there, how does that reflect on the wider economy as we talk about reopening?

HARRIS: Right. Well, employers need to have plans for how they're going to bring their workers back and how they're going to keep them safe. So you start with a plan and then you start with how do you keep people who are sick and infected out of the workplace. You give them paid sick leave, you encourage them to stay home. You have to be careful about how many people are coming in your workplace.

Then you have to have what are called engineering controls. You have to design the workplace to maintain social distancing in the workplace, handwashing, other protections. And then for workers who are going to be in regular contact with each other or with customers, they've got to have all the personal protective equipment they need, as well as deep cleaning. And that's just a start, John. So there's a lot of work to be done before people are back to work.

BERMAN: Well, you can't divorce the medical discussion from the economic discussion. The White House is talking about two task forces that will work separately but they have to be part of the same discussion. It is all connected here in so many ways.

I want to talk about the unemployment numbers that we've seen. 6.6 million people filing last week, but you say that is an incomplete story. Why?

HARRIS: It is an incomplete story, John. We're already at either 19 or 20 percent unemployment as of the end of this week. We had millions more people who filed for unemployment claims this week. We won't get that number until Thursday. And also, there are a lot of people who are struggling to file their unemployment claims. So that number, the unemployment claims number is more a reflection of the capacity of our nation's unemployment insurance system to take in and process claims than it is a measure of unemployment.

We are headed towards great depression levels of unemployment in our country and that's going to happen in the next couple of weeks.

BERMAN: You just used the great depression phrase. How apt of a comparison is that?

HARRIS: Well, it gives us a measure of what really catastrophic unemployment looks like in our country, but it happened quite differently. In the great depression, we had an underlying economic collapse. The markets collapsed, the finance system collapsed.

Here, we have essentially voluntarily shut down large segments of our economy. We've never done anything like this before. So we don't know how quickly we're going to be able to get back from it.

BERMAN: Can I ask you? Based on your experience in 2009 and 2010, when jobs do start to reappear, what do people need to know? What lessons did you learn then that you can pass on to people as they start looking for work whenever that does happen again?

HARRIS: Well, that it's going to take some time, but that they need to be prepared. Often, what happens during economic recessions or depressions is that people take the opportunity to improve their skills, to go back to schools, to acquire additional credentials. But, unfortunately, so far, Congress has not appropriated additional money to make that possible. We need huge investments, not only in education but in workforce development, job training so that people can be ready to go and employers can be ready to employ them.

BERMAN: Seth Harris, great to have you with us, as always. You make everything understandable. I really appreciate you being with us.

HARRIS: Thanks, John.

BERMAN: So there is this mad pursuit for a coronavirus vaccine. It is so important. That would be the thing that could hip us get our lives back to normal again.

A doctor who works on vaccines tells us where we are and about new human trials, next.



CAMEROTA: A global effort is underway to develop a vaccine for coronavirus. Pharmaceutical companies, universities and public institutions are collaborating and competing to find a vaccine or treatment as soon as possible.

Joining us now is Dr. Peter Hotez. He is the co-Director at the Texas Children's Hospital Center for Vaccine Development. Dr. Hotez, it is always great to see you. I always appreciate you coming on every week and telling us where you are in terms of the vaccine development.

And so my question is, A, how annoying is it that I ask you every week? Are you there yet? And number two, are you there yet?

PETER HOTEZ, CO-DIRECTOR, TEXAS CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL CENTER FOR VACCINE DEVELOPMENT: Well, this is the story of vaccines. Vaccines are probably the longest out in terms of time horizon. They have the biggest payoff in terms of being able to prevent this in future COVID epidemics and pandemics. But they also take (INAUDIBLE) to develop, because remember what you're doing when you're making a vaccine. You're actually immunizing generally well people and preventing them from getting sick.

So because they're well individuals, healthy individuals, we have to be pristine not only in showing that the vaccine works but also knowing that it's safe. And it's that safety piece that really takes a lot of time. So our U.S. Food and Drug Administration has got this really well fine-tuned to make certain that we're not going to accelerate something which is not safe for the public.

So we have a vaccine that we hope will move into clinical trials into the next few weeks. And there's about four or five candidates already now moving into clinical trials. And it will easily be a dozen or more candidates.


And we can actually talk about why do we need so many candidates.

CAMEROTA: Yes, why do we? I mean we have a list of some of the ones -- yes, so we have a full screen of some.