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When Could Country Reopen?; Trump vs. Governors. Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired April 14, 2020 - 16:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: The number of deaths reported each day in the United States has also gone down in recent days. Last Friday, there were more than 2,000 reported deaths just on that day.

The daily numbers have been lower since then, though, of course, we will have to see if that trend continues.

And as we begin to see the signs of perhaps, perhaps parts of the U.S. hitting the peak, there is a battle brewing about when the country, writ large, and also individual parts of it can responsibly begin to return to some semblance of normal, without inviting a stronger surge of coronavirus patients and fatalities after those steps are taken.

Today, Dr. Anthony Fauci reiterating what he said to me on Sunday, telling the Associated Press he thinks May 1 would be a bit -- quote -- "overly optimistic" for many areas of the country to begin to attempt to reopen, and that any return to business will have to be done on a rolling basis, though, in Fauci's words, there has to be a plan, and the U.S. is -- quote -- "not there yet" -- unquote.

President Trump yesterday claimed in a stunningly frenzied briefing that he has total authority to decide when and how that return to work will happen, which is factually incorrect, according to the U.S. Constitution. He does not have that authority.

The governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, told CNN earlier today that he would defy such an order if he thought it would endanger public health in his state.

President Trump took to Twitter to attack Cuomo for simultaneously asking for help, while also asserting his authority.

But as CNN's Nick Watt reports for us now, Cuomo says he's not going to engage in any fight with the president.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): If he ordered me to reopen in a way that would endanger the public health of the people of my state, I wouldn't do it.

NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): New York's governor insists that he, not King Trump -- his words -- will decide when and how the state reopens for business.

This morning, the president tweeted: "Cuomo has been calling daily, even hourly, begging for everything. And now he seems to want independence. That won't happen."

CUOMO: The president is clearly spoiling for a fight on this issue. If he wants a fight, he's not going to get it from me, period.

WATT: Northeast governors in the group now coordinating their economic comeback are preaching caution.

GOV. NED LAMONT (D-CT): On May 20, we will make a decision about how and when we really can start opening things up. I think it's going to take at least another month of being careful.

WATT: On the West Coast, California, Oregon and Washington state are also now collaborating on a gradual reopening. California's governor says this might be the most difficult phase of COVID-19. Six conditions must first be met.

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): The most important framework is our capacity to expand our testing, to appropriately address the tracing and tracking of individuals.

WATT: Opinions, approaches will continue to vary. This South Dakota facility that produces nearly 5 percent of the country's pork is now shuttered after a COVID-19 outbreak. There was never a stay-at-home order in the state.

GOV. KRISTI NOEM (R-SD): This was a critical infrastructure business. A shelter at home wouldn't have made a bit of difference.

WATT: In Florida, Hillsborough County officials just imposed an overnight curfew on Tampa Bay. But WWE will resume, without fans, after Florida's governor reclassified wrestlers as essential workers.

FRANCIS X. SUAREZ (R), MAYOR OF MIAMI, FLORIDA: One of the things that worries me or concerns me is asymptomatic carriers, like I was, actually, when I contracted the virus on March 13. So, we don't know how many of those are, because we're not doing asymptomatic testing.

WATT: But unemployment is up nearly 17 million. Reopening is key for families, like the Wards (ph) from Kansas, their restaurant still closed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're jobless. We have no income. We don't know how to support our family right now.


WATT: Now, a few of the other things that the governor of California wants in place before he even really seriously considers reopening, hospital capacity, the whole PPE supply issue, also how we're going to safeguard our seniors going forward, and also how we will continue to social distance after reopening. A few of the ideas he threw out there were disposable menus in restaurants, perhaps even getting your temperature taken before you are allowed into a restaurant to eat.

And the governor would not be drawn on timing. He said, if we still see declines in a couple of weeks, ask me then -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Nick Watt in Los Angeles talking about the new normal that we're all headed towards.

Joining me now to discuss, CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

And, Sanjay, this really caught my eye. Researchers at Harvard School of Public Health said today that the American people may have to endure at least intermittent social distancing, if not constant, until 2022, or until a vaccine is available.


TAPPER: Really? 2022?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is one of the trajectories that these authors put forth in this paper. I mean, there were several different trajectories. And this was one of them, based on a lot of things, obviously, the vaccine being a big one, Jake.

And there's a good chance we would have a vaccine next year, according to what Dr. Fauci and others have said. It also is somewhat dependent on how much we may start to develop our own immunity.

We do these antibody test, Jake, to figure out if people have been exposed, whether or not they might have antibodies, and whether those antibodies might be protective. As more people get that as well, it should start to slow down the spread.

But, look, the virus isn't going anywhere, Jake. I think that's the real point these authors were making. So, we may have to intermittently social distance, or at least have vulnerable people social distancing longer.

TAPPER: Let me just ask you about the antibodies. If I have antibodies -- and I have no idea, because I don't even know where I could get a test -- but if I do have antibodies, does that mean I'm -- that's it, I'm fine, I can go out and do whatever I want, because I have already had some sort of contact with the virus and survived it?

GUPTA: I think the best answer to that question is presumably. We don't know for sure.

I mean, that is how it should work, Jake. That's how it's worked with other viruses, including coronaviruses. But we're still three-and-a- half, four months into this. They're going to learn. They need to confirm that, but that's exactly -- what you described is exactly what happens. Your body is essentially taught how to fight the infection the next time it sees it.

We don't know how strong that fight will be or how long it will last, but that should happen.

TAPPER: Sanjay, Dr. Fauci said today, again, that he thinks reopening parts of the country by May 1 is overly optimistic.

You and he are looking at a lot of the same data. Why do you think he's saying that?

GUPTA: Well, Jake, I think he has always thought that, to be honest.

I mean, over the last three-and-a-half months, four months, whatever, we get a sense of the pattern of how these messages get relayed, Jake. It's its first 15 days, and we will reevaluate. They knew for sure when they announced those 15 days that it was going to last longer.

And even, I think, when Dr. Fauci talked about the end of April, he knew the data did not suggest that it would be just until the end of April. So I don't think anything changed. I think just how he is slow- rolling people into this, I think, has become something that he's very good at. And that's what he -- that's what he's doing.

TAPPER: We have talked a lot about the influential model from the University of Washington that is cited by the White House and many others, projections on how well we're doing in flattening the curve, et cetera.


TAPPER: The guy behind that model now says we can essentially stop coronavirus transmission this summer, with zero deaths projected in the United States after June 21.

Really? I mean, that's sounds -- that sounds dealable. Is that likely?

GUPTA: Well, you would hate to not be optimistic about something like that.

But I think it is important to remember when people hear those models that the virus still exists. The virus is there, Jake. It's circulating. We may decrease the rate at which it circulates tremendously.

And, originally, when Chris Murray wrote his paper, he said it would come down to, I think, less than 90 deaths a day, which seems like a lot still, but obviously a lot less than we're dealing with now. I think it would be tough to get to zero. I think that's the case, because this virus is contagious.

We know it can be quite lethal. It's there. We may slow it way down, but not zero.

TAPPER: The FDA authorized a saliva test for the -- quote -- "emergency use" of diagnosing COVID-19.

How would that work? Would that dramatically increase the capability for people to get tested?


So, one thing I will point out, this was an emergency authorization test again. I only bring this up, Jake, because there has been this, understandably, in some ways, a rush to get testing out there, different types of ideas in terms of how we evaluate this disease. And people want that quickly.

This was a -- it looks promising. It was based on -- based -- 60 patients whose -- they were tested using the saliva test, compared to swab tests, sort of the more gold standard. And they were 100 percent accurate. So, that was obviously a good sign.

It is obviously a lot more comfortable too, those swabs. It's the one thing people will tell you, is that they're uncomfortable. This is essentially more like one of those genetics ancestry tests.


GUPTA: You spit into a little vial.

A couple things. Right now, you have to be in a clinic or a hospital do this. It's not an at-home test, although I do wonder if something like this could be a telemedicine visit, ultimately, because having an at-home saliva test that you could then send in or something, I think that would be a big deal, Jake.

Right now, they say they can get up to 10,000 tests a day, but maybe they would scale that more.

TAPPER: HHS announced partnerships to develop convalescent plasma therapies to help treat coronavirus.


How significant could that be, given that we still do not have any sort of vaccine or cure for it?

GUPTA: Yes, those trials are under way.

And it's what we were talking about earlier. You take somebody else's blood has the antibodies in, their plasma, you inject that into somebody else?

Big question, still, Jake, to the earlier discussion, how effective are these antibodies? Presumably, they're going to be effective. We don't know how strong or how long they will last. So that's going to be part of this equation.

But convalescent serum, as this is called, is -- can be promising. Those trials are under way.

TAPPER: And there are reports that some people believe that doctors might be in some cases overusing ventilators. We have heard so much about the dire need for these machines for

people who, because of this diseases, because this virus, won't be able to breathe for themselves. How is it possible to overuse them?

GUPTA: Well, let me answer this and preface by saying -- I'm saying this with all humility, because we're learning together on this, Jake.

But one thing that started to become apparent was that a lot of patients, these patients with COVID, when they're placed on ventilators, they weren't doing nearly as well as one would have expected for a respiratory infection.

They were staying on the ventilator a lot longer, 11 to 21 days. And at point, one study showed that 80 percent of those patients were not surviving. There have been studies all over on this, but that's significant.

And I think it just makes doctors think, hey, look, what are we missing here? This is a lung problem. We're treating it the way that we treat lung problems. And yet some of these patients still aren't doing well. Is there something else going on here? Are we overusing the ventilator and missing something else?

I think that's what's going on there, Jake.

TAPPER: So, just some questioning, because we're all still going through this for the first time.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thank you so much. We really appreciate it, as always.

GUPTA: You got it.

TAPPER: And be sure to tune into Sanjay's podcast, "Coronavirus: Fact vs. Fiction." It's on Apple podcasts or wherever you listen to your podcasts. Always a great listen.

Coming up, we're going to take a look at the key question President Trump was not able to answer about the government's response to coronavirus.

Plus, I will talk with actor and New Yorker Robert De Niro, as he urges Americans to stay home and tells New York health care providers, thank you.



TAPPER: President Trump still has not answered one key question from yesterday's marathon White House briefing. The president used the briefing in part to air a propaganda video made by the White House which heralded the president's actions to combat the pandemic and was also a blatant attempt to rewrite weeks of inaction and the president downplaying the threat of the pandemic.

But one CBS News reporter noted that the propaganda video conveniently left out most of one key month.


REPORTER: The entire month of February, there is a complete gap.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: January, I said in January, on January 30 --


REPORTER: What did your administration do in February for this time that your travel ban bought you?

TRUMP: A lot, a lot.


TRUMP: And in fact, we'll give you a list. What we did in fact, part of it was up there. We did a lot.


TAPPER: The omission from the propaganda video may be because President Trump and his team do not want you to remember what he said and did in February, such as this.


TRUMP: By April, you know, in theory, when it gets a little warmer, it miraculously goes away.

The coronavirus, which is, very well under control in our country, we have very few people with it.

The people are getting better. They're all getting better.

Again, when you have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero, that's a pretty good job we've done.


TAPPER: More than 600,000 cases, more than 25,000 dead. It's now April. The virus is nowhere close to disappearing.

We should note the president also held four rallies in February, thousands of people in enclosed spaces.

CNN's Kaitlan Collins picks this story up from the White House.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Amid the pandemic, President Trump is stoking his feud with state governors about when to reopen the country, a decision that he says is all his.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When somebody's the president of the United States, the authority is total.

COLLINS: After some Democratic governors pushed back on his assertion, Trump tweeted that someone should tell those governors mutiny on the bounty was one of his favorite movies.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That any one of you provoke an incident.

COLLINS: A good old fashioned mutiny now and then is an exciting and invigorating thing to watch, Trump tweeted, especially with the mutineers need so much from the captain.

Constitutional experts say the president's claim has no basis in reality and Trump isn't saying who told him that it did.

COLLINS (on camera): You said when someone is president of the United States, their authority is total. That is not true. Who told you that?

TRUMP: You know what we're going to do? We're going to write up papers on this. It's not going to be necessary, because the governors need us one way or the other, because ultimately, it comes with the federal government.

I haven't asked anybody, you know why, because I don't have to. Go ahead, please.

COLLINS: But who told you the president has the total authority?

TRUMP: Enough.

COLLINS (voice-over): Two of Trump's Republican allies also say he's wrong. Senator Rand Paul and Congresswoman Liz Cheney posted these tweets, saying the federal government does not have absolute power, though they didn't mention the president.

TRUMP: You're so disgraceful.

COLLINS: The coronavirus briefing at the White House Monday quickly turned into an aggressive defense of Trump's leadership.

Angered by an extensive report in "The New York Times" that documented his slow response to the outbreak, Trump dimmed the lights and played a highly edited campaign-style video outlining what the administration had done.


TRUMP: Well, we've asked them to accelerate whatever they're doing in terms of a vaccine.

COLLINS: But the video largely glossed over the month of February and highlighted no steps Trump took then to slow the spread.

REPORTER: The entire month of February, there is a complete gap.

TRUMP: January, I said in January. On January 30 --

REPORTER: What did your administration do in February with the time your travel ban bought you?

TRUMP: A lot.


TRUMP: And, in fact, we'll give you a list. What we did, in fact, part of it was up there. We did a lot. Look, look, you know you're a fake. You know that.

COLLINS: In February, the president did continue to hold campaign rallies and often downplayed the threat of coronavirus in the U.S.

TRUMP: You know in theory, when it gets a little warmer, it miraculously goes away, I hope that's true.

COLLINS: As he now focuses on the economy, Trump says he'll announce a second task force focused on reopening the country today, though it's still not clear who is on it or what exactly it will do.

LARRY KUDLOW, WHITE HOUSE ECONOMIC ADVISER: The president I think is moving towards some very important announcements in the next day or two.


COLLINS: Now, Jake, it's still incredibly fluid, exactly what this task force is going to look like. The president says there's also going to be others dedicated to manufacturing, religion, things of that nature, although it's not clear when we'll hear about those. But as of this morning, we're still being told this task force is going to be announced today so we should get a better look of who is on it and what exactly the president expects it to do.

TAPPER: All right, and we're still waiting for that list from the White House of steps the president and the White House took in February to help stop the spread of coronavirus. Thank you so much, Kaitlan Collins.

The city of Philadelphia, today, announced that it has topped 7,000 cases confirmed cases of coronavirus in the city. To date, in the City of Brotherly Love, 206 people have died from COVID-19.

Joining me now is the mayor of Philadelphia, Jim Kenney.

Mr. Mayor, good to see you again.

Last Wednesday, Vice President Pence --


TAPPER: -- said that Philadelphia was, quote, an area of particular concern. State health officials say that Philly could be near or at your peak of coronavirus cases.

What are the conditions like in Philadelphia right now? KENNEY: Well, as you said, 7,000 -- over 7,000 positive cases and

over 200 people succumbed. We're holding our own. I mean, you know, firsthand, we have the best hospitals in the world, some of the best hospitals in the world, and they're not at full capacity yet. There's enough ICU beds, there's enough ventilators, and there's enough regular bed capacity.

We set up a surge hospital at the terrific Temple University, it's been wonderful to us. We have that ready to go. We have not accepted a patient there yet. We expect it to be staffed by Thursday, and potentially taking patients that are not as sick, who are stepping down into -- into that facility to free up room for the people who are sicker.

TAPPER: Mr. Mayor, do you have -- do the health care workers in Philadelphia have all of the protective gear, all of the ventilators that you need in case you see a greater surge?

KENNEY: We have a capacity of ventilators now. We're working on the purchase of a -- like a hybrid ventilator that was developed at MIT and Jefferson University, and we're in the process of concluding the purchase of those to have them on standby.

The PPE has really been frustrating because it's something the federal government could have really helped us with, but we're scrounging, and begging, and borrowing, and stealing. We're working -- hospital workers have it. We're running -- the thing we're running out of a lot are the surgical gowns, and we're trying to help them get those.

And now, we're concentrating on nursing homes which are seeing devastation in -- I think we have 64 nursing homes in Philadelphia, and every nursing home has at least one or more people infected. And most of our deaths have been people over the age of 70, people with preexisting health conditions, and people in nursing homes.

TAPPER: Mr. Mayor, you've said that one of your biggest concerns is that Philadelphians think it's safe and go out and try to resume normal activities as they were doing in January. And you warned that if they do that too quickly, and not following guidance, that could lead to a resurgence of the disease. Are you seeing indications that Philadelphians are doing that? Or that's just a worry?

KENNEY: I think -- I think the majority of Philadelphians are doing it. I understand how hard it is to stay in your house for a month or more or even more than that, possibly. But people are venturing out.

We're trying to get them to exercise and ride their bike with, you know, the distance that's needed to keep them safe. We ask them to just go out and do their -- the things that they need to do, the grocery store, the doctor, and people for the most part are complying.

But again, our big fear is, is that we're getting mixed messages from Washington. And I don't want people using what the White House says to say, well, it's over now, so we can go out and resume -- resume our activities.


We're in close connection with Governor Wolf in Harrisburg and he's of the same mindset we are. We should go by the science and the medicine and take our advice from those sectors.

The economy, of course, is a concern for us. I'm fearful as to what we're going to face when we start winding this down from a city budget perspective. But it's better than losing people's lives. And if we can get the curve to start to flatten, if we can get it down to a point where we feel safe to resume, we just don't want to resume too early where people wind up getting killed or dying from it.

TAPPER: You wrote a letter to Congress asking for more federal help. Other than the personal protective equipment and the surgical gowns you referred to, what exactly does Philadelphia need in terms of help from the federal government?

KENNEY: We need direct funding. We love our state governments but we need money directly to cities so that we can utilize them without any type of loss of revenue -- loss of money or handling charges or anything like that. We need the money straight to us.

And PPE equipment, as you said, but our housing needs are really serious. We have a lot of people facing eviction, although the eviction courts are closed and they're not -- and they're not executing writs, people are getting behind in their mortgage, getting behind in their rent.

We've served a million meals plus since this started. We've set up 80 sites in our schools to feed our kids because a lot of our kids live in poverty and they depend on going to school to get their meals and get their health care. So, we are continuing that.

We have 40 sites set up for families with larger boxes of food and they're open on Tuesdays and Thursdays. We're doing the best to get our homeless population tested and in shelter. And, you know, when you live in a city that's as wonderful as our city but has a large poor population, our challenges are even greater.

TAPPER: All right, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, thank you so much.

A reminder to my mom and dad, continue to stay indoors in Philadelphia.

We appreciate it.

KENNEY: Absolutely. Thanks, Jake. Will do.

TAPPER: And stay in touch, Mr. Mayor, in terms of that Phila -- in terms of things that Philadelphia needs that you're not getting.

It's a program that can save someone's job. But now, the Small Business Administration is warning that loan money is running out, and fast. We'll talk about that next.