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Brazilian Researchers Warn Against High Dosages Of Chloroquine To Treat Coronavirus Patients; At Least 18 Dead After Tornadoes Rip Through Southeast U.S.; Urgent Push To Address Racial Disparity In Covid-19 Cases. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired April 13, 2020 - 12:30   ET




JOHN KING, CNN HOST: A new study warns against using high doses of chloroquine to treat coronavirus patients. Chloroquine is closely related to the more widely used drug hydroxychloroquine, which President Trump repeatedly pushes, as a quote, game changer in the fight against COVID-19.

CNN chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta is here with details on the study. So, Sanjay, this is a study in Brazil that was called off abruptly because what they were seeing was startling and scary.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it was. And, you know, I should preface this by saying, it is a small study. It did not -- it wasn't randomized, meaning it didn't have a placebo control arm to this. So it's not the kind of study, John, that we would typically be reporting on because it is so early and so small.

But there's a lot of studies out there because of all the interest in hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine studies. Some studies have shown benefit. This one did not show benefit, did show some harm within the people who had the highest doses. Let's take a look at specifically what they showed.

Again, a small study 81 people, they basically divided them into two groups. One group got a lower dose, one group got a higher dose, which was 600 milligrams for people who follow this, 600 milligrams twice a day for 10 days. And what they found in that group were that -- there were patients who died, 11 patients who died. There were also people who develop these heart arrhythmias, John, something that we've talked about before.

Now, again, the problem with these small studies is we don't know for certain that the medication caused those deaths. There has been this link to heart arrhythmias. But that's why you have to do larger studies on this. I think we are starting to get a sense that certain doses of this medication may just be too toxic. We don't know what the right doses if there is a right dose at all.

I should add as well on Friday, just before the before the weekend, John, in Sweden, now where they've been studying this as well, they've now made a -- given out guidance for all the hospitals in Sweden to stop giving the hydroxychloroquine because, and this is their words, they're not seeing any effect so far in the studies, and they also can't rule out serious side effects.

So, again, small studies, there's going to be a lot of these, John. But, you know, we're waiting for the more definitive study to see if this actually has any benefit at all.

KING: But that's the importance of the science here. Have patience. Look at the studies waited out for the right ones. Sanjay Gupta, really appreciate your insights there.

Moving on to another big issue, health experts tell us the comprehensive coronavirus testing is the only way to effectively get life back to normal or at least close to normal. Despite that, President Trump says, testing everyone is not necessary. According to Johns Hopkins, 2.8 million Americans have been tested. Our country of course has almost 320 million people.

In addition to comprehensive testing, public health experts say, contact tracing is also imperative to understanding the virus and how it might spread. Here's what the CDC director said this morning.


DR. ROBERT REDFIELD, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR DISEASE CONTROL & PREVENTION: The things that need to happen for the reopening is that what's happening with the numbers of new cases. We've got substantially augment our public health capacity to do early case identification, isolation, and contact tracing.



KING: With me now Dr. Joia Mukherjee, she's the chief medical officer at Partners in Health and is working with the State of Massachusetts to ramp up contact tracing. Doctor, thank you so much for being with us.

I want to get into how this works just so you can lay it out for people so they can understand this since it may be coming to their lives in the near future. But let me start with the threshold question about the infrastructure, 2.8 million Americans have been tested for the coronavirus so far, 462,000 in New York, 190,000 in California, 185,000 in Florida, 117,000 where you are in the State of Massachusetts, which rakes number three right now state by state, I believe, in the number of cases. Is the infrastructure in place both manpower, technology, whatever else you would need to have contact tracing at the level at which you believe it would be effective and helpful?

DR. JOIA MUKHERJEE, CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER, PARTNERS IN HEALTH: It's not in place yet, but we are in the process of rapidly building it and scaling it up. John, thank you so much for having us on. Partners in Health has been talking about the need for this basic public health approach of testing and contact tracing and isolation.

For months now, we've been supporting countries all over the world to get in early in this preventive approach. And yet, day after day, people are focusing on the hospitalization, which is very important but part of comprehensive public health approaches, demand, treatment, as well as care and prevention.

And so the infrastructures are there in every state to do contact tracing. That's what the purpose of public health do, and they do it generally quite well. But they are outmanned and outnumbered by the scale of this epidemic. So we have stepped in to really massively expand the ability of the State of Massachusetts to trace every contact.

KING: So walk me through, walk me through so people understand how this would work. And I'm going to give you a personal example. My youngest brother lives where you are in Massachusetts. He has tested positive. He is recovering. He is doing OK. He says this was the nastiest thing he's ever had to deal with. So if you were contact tracing him, walk through how it works.

MUKHERJEE: OK. So if a person is positive, normally public health demands that we do first a case investigation. So we would call your brother and say, you have been tested positive, hopefully, he's already been called by a clinician or the testing center. And then we would investigate who have his close contacts been within the time that he's been symptomatic and also for two days before that.

So assuming that he may have been before developing symptoms, also able to transmit the virus. Then we would enumerate those contacts, some of them would be people in his family, some of them might have been, let's say, a running buddy, one might have been maybe he was driving a friend to the grocery store. So a contact would be anyone who's been within six feet for more than 15 minutes of your brother for that period that he's been ill and for the two days prior to that.

Then the second stage is that information goes to a contact tracing team that would call each and every one of those people that meets that definition of a contact in that six foot radius and said, you have been a contact of someone with COVID.

These are the things you need to know. One, are you OK? Are you feeling OK? And if not connecting people rapidly the care, testing? Second, are you able to quarantine yourself until we figure out if you are -- have COVID or not? And if not, then we would refer that person into social support.

So that's the third piece of the strategy is really assuring that there's enough social support for people that might be food, that might be housing, that might be sanitation, so that people can properly isolate and not spread the disease within families or close circles because all epidemics are quite local.

And so we have to address those local contacts to really stop transmission of this virus. And so what we have been concerned about all over the world is that a lot of focuses on the top of a pyramid, about 20 percent of people with COVID will need to go on to oxygen, need a ventilator, and that's very important to take care of them.

But the bottom 80 percent are people who may be spreading this with just mild symptoms or even before they develop symptoms. And there's very little being done to control community spread. And if we want to not only flatten the curve which we're doing through social isolation, but shrink the curve actually end up making fewer infections. We have to do contact tracing and isolation.


KING: I wish you the best of luck as you try to roll this out of Massachusetts. Hopefully, it set an example that people can watch Dr. Mukherjee very much appreciate your time and expertise today.

MUKHERJEE: All right.

KING: Coming up for us, deadly tornadoes ripped through the southeast and the severe weather threat, is not over yet.


KING: Another cruel reality today from Texas to South Carolina reports of up to 50 tornadoes. You'll see some of the pictures there, leaving at least 18 people dead. Most of those deaths were in Mississippi. Twenty tornadoes reported in that state alone.


In Louisiana, the governor declared a state of emergency over the quote, devastating damage which tore the impacted areas this afternoon. Right now more than 900,000 people are without power. But the threat from this storm, these storms not over yet.

CNN chief meteorologist Chad Myers joins me now. Chad, in the middle of a pandemic to see people going through this, it just rips your heart out.

CHAD MYERS, CNN CHIEF METEOROLOGIST: Right. And now that their house is destroyed or at least partially destroyed, where would they go to stay away from other people? Are the hotels even open? Are they going to be available to try to get out of the way of the people that are now we know trying to self quarantine?

So here's where happened. We talked about this yesterday. It started in Texas and moved to Louisiana. Then they got very violent in Mississippi. They were probably Mississippi tornadoes in the EF4 or greater category. John, these are very big tornadoes.

And then they moved into parts of Georgia, Alabama, and the Carolinas, and now finally, up the East Coast. This is not done. Even though this initial line that caused all the problems has now moved offshore, except for maybe Jacksonville and Jacksonville Beach. We have another area up here under the coldest air aloft that will rapidly rotate again today.

So a brand new tornado watch is in effect actually, from D.C. through Baltimore, Philadelphia, not quite to New York, but you're close enough. I've seen some very big storms around Dale City south of Washington D.C., into Timonium and Baltimore. And they are still developing at this hour.

This is what 1:30 will look like, very close to where we are now, maybe an hour ahead. Look at the size and the color of the storms upstate into Pennsylvania, into New Jersey. By 3:30 Eastern Daylight Time storms into Massachusetts, Rhode Island, not every single one will rotate but every single storm, John, will have the potential to make a 70-mile per hour or greater wind gust.

And there you see the storms going through New York City somewhere around 5 o'clock tonight. This was a brutal set of circumstances. Moisture from the Gulf of Mexico, we had cold air coming in, and we will have wind gusts, 48 million people in wind warnings with wind gusts over 75 to 77. I would even say 77 miles per hour would maybe the maximum today. And I know that's not a tornado, but that will bring down trees, that will bring down power lines, and that will get in your way for sure, John.

KING: For sure indeed. Chad Myers, really appreciate the update there that news, very sad, the power of that. Wow. Chad, thanks so much.

Coming up, back to the coronavirus crisis and in states like Michigan this pandemic disproportionately affecting African-Americans. Now, officials are demanding more data, more tests so they can better understand why.



KING: Former President Barack Obama weighing in just a short time ago on the need to address how coronavirus is impacting people of color in a disproportionate way. President Obama tweeting this, we can't deny that racial and socioeconomic factors are playing a role in who is being hit hardest by the virus. It's a reminder for our policymakers to keep our most vulnerable communities at the forefront when making decisions.

Dr. M. Roy Wilson is president of Wayne State University in Detroit. He's also a former deputy director at the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities. Dr. Wilson, thanks for being with us on this day.

You hear from the former president of the United States there. And you not -- you just look at the numbers, just look at the numbers in Michigan 14 percent of the population in your state is African- American. Yet, 33 percent of the cases in Michigan are African- Americans and 40 percent of the deaths.

It's stunning. I've looked at these graphics several times. Every time you do it, it just stops you in your tracks. There's a lot of studying going on, a lot of promises that we're going to deal with the diabetes, the hypertension, the underlying health conditions that are a part of this after this. What is being done today, today to help people who are on the frontlines in this?

DR. M. ROY WILSON, PRESIDENT, WAYNE STATE UNIVERSITY: Well, that's a great question, John. And I appreciate your asking that because a lot of focus has been placed on these underlying conditions that have existed really, since the time bound within medical school. And that was a long time ago and nothing's changed.

So we really have to look at what we can do now immediately to stem this tide of excess death among the African-American population because of this coronavirus. And there are a number of things that can be done immediately. First among those, I will put this, better communication, targeted communication toward the African-American community. There was a lot of misinformation at the beginning of this crisis where many African-Americans thought that they could not get the disease.

I think that people like Magic Johnson and actor Idris Elba, have done a lot to try to dispel that myth. But more targeted, systematic targeted communication is necessary. Second, I think that more testing in the African-American population is necessary. You know, a lot of people have had challenges in getting testing. And that's not just African-Americans, but African-Americans have had more of a challenge in getting testing than I think the average.

For example, you know, a lot of testing sites aren't in African- American communities. And a lot of African-Americans don't have cars to go to these remote sites. So more testing among the African- American population is necessary. And I think perhaps the most important is that all this data that's coming out from the different states, many of them do not support or do not report race specific data.


So the CDC study that came out, report that came out last week that showed African-Americans were at excess risk, really only had about 40 percent of the hospitalizations have raised data. So counties and states have got to do a better job collecting and reporting race specific data because race specific data is important to mitigate the excess damage that's being done to the African-American community.

KING: And the reason I asked, I don't for a minute want to underplay the longer term systemic issues that need to be dealt with after coronavirus and I hope any men at the states put the resource and the Federal Government put the resources there.

But in the here and now, what concern me and you just pointed about testing is critical there, is if you look at the people right now on the frontlines, 31 percent of our bus drivers, urban transit workers are African-American, 31 percent of our home health care services are provided by African-Americans, taxi and limousine service, three and 10, nursing care facilities 28 percent, postal service 27 percent.

These are the heroes who are still going to work in the middle of all this, and you're saying they don't have the testing resources they need. WILSON: I think that's true. And, you know, Wayne State University was very early in the game in terms of mobile testing. But the initial mobile testing was, you still need a car to get to the site, it was just drive through testing.

Recently, we switched from drive through to drive to testing, which means we're going to the actual areas where African-American populations are overrepresented and testing at those sites for example, the homeless shelters, nursing homes. Today, we're going to a couple of prisons. These are areas where it's very difficult for the population of these places to get adequate testing.

And so we're actually going to those areas. I think it's very important to have much more testing done in these populations, either very vulnerable populations.

KING: I wish you the best, Sir. And I hope you keep in touch as this one plays out in the weeks and then months and months ahead. I really appreciate your time today. Dr. M. Roy Wilson, thank you very much.

WILSON: Thank you very much, John.

KING: Thank you, Sir.

Back to the economic challenge, now all across the country states are trying to determine when it will be safe to reopen their battered economies. In Texas Governor Greg Abbott promises an executive order this week, outlining how and when that state's economy will reopen.

And in Pennsylvania, which has nearly 23,000 cases of coronavirus, the car industry wants changes in how the state is responding to this pandemic. Pennsylvania is just one of three states banning dealers from selling cars during the crisis. Owners of car dealerships say, they're not only losing business, but they're losing it to neighboring states.

Matt Stuckey is the CEO of Stuckey Automotive. Mr. Stuckey, appreciate your time today. So your issue here is number one, Governor, we don't think you should have done this to us. And number two, Governor, now that you have done this to us, we're losing business to our neighbors, right?

MATT STUCKEY, CEO, MATT STUCKEY AUTOMOTIVE: Yes. Thanks for having me on, John. Just one quick question for you, well, what state do you live in?

KING: I live in the State of Maryland.

STUCKEY: So, there you go. So put folks in Pennsylvania have to drive in Maryland to buy a car -- based on the restrictions we've been put under.

So hey, look, we're not asking for business as usual. We understand this is our first time through all of this. But you hit on your opening there, we're one of three states in the nation that are not allowing folks to buy cars right now. And you know, the car dealers in Pennsylvania really feel like that's something that is an essential service that we should be able to provide to our customers.

KING: And so let me just let me just jump in because we're short time a little bit here. But I assume you're willing, you know, we'll social distance, we'll wear face masks or anything we have to do we just want to do business. Is that your point?

STUCKEY: Absolutely. Yes. We had plan in place to do that. We can start that tomorrow.

KING: And so, when you've appealed to the governor, what's the answer back? No, you have to wait?

STUCKEY: Well, there's been a waiver process that set up in Pennsylvania, it's not really worked, certainly not least in our favor and it has been very dysfunctional. We are obviously working through our state legislature and our representatives for both sides of the aisle are dealing with this situation.

They're on our side. So we're really hoping for a change in this soon. But it's been over three weeks now. And we've had multiple customers that have contacted us, that have tried to buy a car. And have driven in other state. So you know, it really is defeating the purpose of what we're trying to do to limit the spread of this virus and to try to keep everybody safe.

KING: Matt Stuckey, appreciate your time. We'll watch this one of the many economic ripple effects if you will, playing out. We'll keep in touch as it goes forward. Really appreciate your time today, best of luck. Thank you, Sir. And thanks for joining us today. We'll see you back here this time tomorrow, very busy day. Don't go anywhere. Anderson Cooper picks up our coverage, right now. Have a good afternoon. Stay safe.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: I'm Anderson Cooper. This is CNN special live coverage of the coronavirus --