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Governors Coordinate To Reopen Economy As U.S Cases Near 600,000; Trump Says, U.S Bought Millions Of Doses Of Hydroxychloroquine; President Obama To Endorse Biden For President Today. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired April 14, 2020 - 10:00   ET




JIM SCIUTTO, CNN NEWSROOM: A good Tuesday morning to you. I'm Jim Sciutto.


Global coronavirus cases are nearing 2 million. More than 23,000 people have died in the United States. And while some of the hardest hit regions are seeing signs of a turnaround, others are still weeks away from seeing the worst of this pandemic. The conversation now, a heated one, who should reopen first and how?

SCIUTTO: Well, here is one approach. At least ten east and west coast states have decided to band together to study when and how to properly reopen, though not all states are taking that approach. It's a stark contrast to what the president said at the latest coronavirus task force briefing, where he said that governors have to get behind whatever the president says.


DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: When somebody is the president of the United States, the authority is total, and that's the way it's got to be.

REPORTER: Your authority is total?

TRUMP: Total. It's total. And the governors know that.


HARLOW: It's not total. Many constitutional scholars have rightly pointed out that that statement ignores the 10th amendment, which outlines powers deserved to the states.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Also, it ignores a traditional position of many Republican lawmakers.

Joining us now to look at how governors may go it alone, CNN Correspondent Dan Simon, he's in San Francisco, and CNN National Correspondent Athena Jones in New York, where 10,000 people in the state have died.

But, Athena, on the good side, the worst expectations or fears did not materialize last week in terms of getting to that point where there were more patients than ICU beds, or more patients than ventilators. How did that happen?

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Jim. That's exactly right. Well, according to Governor Cuomo, that didn't happen because of the way people are acting, people following social distancing guidelines, doing that has helped bring down the number. But as you mentioned, 10,000, a very large number of people to die when this has only been going on for a few weeks.

The State of New York has reached nearly 200,000 cases. But as Governor Cuomo has said, the curve is flattening, it's flattening at a bit of a high level. Total hospitalizations remain high, but they're going in the right direction.

And a key way of looking at this is the fact that the center behind me, the Javits Center, the temporary hospital, has 2,500 beds, about 300 of them are now occupied by COVID patients. So that gives you a sense of the fact that they were able to avoid the worst.

Governor Cuomo is saying the worst is over if we continue to be smart. What does he mean by being smart? Means, as we look ahead to reopening the economy, it has to be done in a phased, gradual process. This is why he's joined together with six other governors, a bipartisan of states going from Massachusetts down to Delaware, to work together on plans to reopen their economies when the time is right.

This is not something that's going to be immediate. We heard this morning from Connecticut's governor, Ned Lamont, that he's not ready to even start talking about lifting restrictions until May 20th.

So here is Governor Cuomo talking about the importance of working together, and also replying to President Trump, insisting that he has total authority over the states. Watch.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): It's going to be a phased process. We have to bring in testing so that we're testing as we're doing this reopening, so that we can gauge whether or not we're increasing the virus spread. 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.


JONES: So there you have it, Governor Cuomo saying quite simply he's not going to be taking his cues from the president, he hasn't done that so so far. And, again, you heard him mention testing. We've heard him stress that quite a bit, antibody testing in particular, getting that up on a large scale across this region so that we can find out who has been exposed to the virus, who has come through it and maybe has an immunity and they can be part of that first wave of folks who go back to work when that begins. Jim and Poppy?

HARLOW: Okay. Dan Simon, to you.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Poppy. One of the things we have seen throughout this crisis is a very remarkably cordial tone between President Trump and Governor Newsom with Newsom often commending the administration for how it has dealt with the State of California. The question going forward is how is that going to continue now that the president has said that he has the sole authority in terms of when the economy will reopen?


Now, what we are seeing, first, what we saw with Athena, with the governors on the east coast, we're seeing on the west coast, with a couple states, California, Oregon and Washington, forming this pact, laying out a framework in terms of what it will take for the economy to reopen.

Now, they haven't put forth any formal guidelines, but they have sort of a philosophy. And one of the key tenets in terms of what that will look like is what testing will look like in a post-shutdown economy. This is part of what Governor Newsom had to say. Take a look.


GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): We will be driven by facts, we will be driven by evidence, we will be driven by science, we will be driven by our public health advisers and we'll be driven by the collaborative spirit that defines the best of us at this incredibly important moment.


SIMON: Another big issue is making sure, of course, that healthcare workers have all the protective gear they need. They want to make sure all the masks are in place, all the ventilators. In terms of having everything together, you want to have all of your ducks in a row before you reopen the economy.

Now, we're expecting to hear more from Governor Newsom later this afternoon when he is expected to unveil his formal plan. Poppy, Jim?

HARLOW: Okay, that's an important one. They've been ahead of the curve on a lot of this. Dan, thanks so much for that reporting, and our thanks to Athena too.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, our Chief Medical Correspondent, is with us. Good morning, Sanjay.


HARLOW: Can we just start with this modelling, the new modelling out of the University of Washington, which has been at the forefront of this? The White House listens to, takes in a lot of what they say, and it shows essentially that after the end of June and July, we could see no more deaths in the United States from COVID-19. Is that right?

GUPTA: It does. It shows that possibility, or at least very few deaths to the point where it starts to really decrease background activity of the virus. But it also, you know, takes into account that social distancing measures will have to last for some time. It's not an exact target, but -- and they're constantly updating these models on a day-by-day basis, but, yes, you're right, it does show that you can get to a very low level of transmission.

SCIUTTO: Sanjay, just to understand, because even if you social distance through the end of May, of course, the virus doesn't disappear, it's a highly contagious, when you begin to relax and more people are out there, they're going to interact and presumably more people are going to be infected. I mean, it's -- just so viewers at home, and even myself, understand this, it doesn't disappear, it's just that you're slowing the rate to a manageable degree, is that right, so hospitals, doctors, et cetera, can handle it?

GUPTA: That's right. I mean, Jim, the constant in this is the virus. I mean, the virus, we know, is very contagious, we know that obviously it can make people very sick in some situations and even lead to death. That hasn't changed.

You know, it's interesting, I was having conversations with people over the weekend who say, look, the risk is really, really low at this point. That's true. And that's because we're doing something in this country that is unprecedented and it's having an impact. When we start to loosen restrictions, and I would say that no matter when that is, given that the virus is still there, given that there is not a vaccine, there are going to be people who get infected. There are going to be people who get sick still as a result of that reopening. I think the question is what is the acceptable level at that point.

Talking to Chris Murray, who sort of authored these models that you're talking about from University of Washington, they've come up with this number, 0.03 percent. Which is, basically, if you do the math, around 90 people in the entire country a day would be getting infected and getting sick from this virus. 90 people is obviously not that very many, but it's not zero either, to your point.

And I'm not sure. I think that when you say it's going to go to possibly zero, it's hard to imagine that because the virus is still circulating, people are still going to get sick. I think it's going to be that balance to that point what you're willing to accept.

HARLOW: So, Sanjay, there is an incredible story, I know you've seen it in The New York Times, about a 45-year-old doctor in Seattle who contracted the coronavirus, was in a comma, his organs were failing, they tried hydroxychloroquine on him, didn't work. Then they hooked him up to something that I had never heard about before reading this, called an ECMO machine. And it serves as essentially an artificial heart and lung and it takes blood out of his body and oxygenates it and it puts it back in.

There's a lot to unpack there. There's the image of this machine. Why do you think it worked, and is this something broadly available at hospitals around the country?

GUPTA: Yes, this is a fascinating machine. I can tell you, it's been around for a while. It was actually, in some ways, popularized at the institution where I trained at University of Michigan.


It's ECMO, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, and it's a long title. But, basically, think of this as like a cardiopulmonary machine.

The lungs, sometimes, despite the best efforts of the ventilator, if the lungs themselves are too stiff, if they're unable to receive the oxygen, it doesn't matter how much oxygen you can give in. If they're unable to give up the carbon dioxide, which the body needs to dispel carbon dioxide, it doesn't matter if the patient is on a breathing machine because the lungs simply can't do it.

In that case, what you're saying, I'm going to basically take over the lungs' function here. Take the blood out of the body completely. Oxygenate it, remove things like carbon dioxide from it, and then put the blood back into the body. It's a remarkable technology. It's been around for a long time.

Typically, guys, it was used for babies, babies who were born prematurely. But over time it was used increasingly for adults. They're more widely available. They're not totally available. But I can tell you, in countries around the world, there is even like portable ECMO machines now to try and make this more available to people who really need it.

So it's a fascinating technology. It can be really useful in a situation like this.

SCIUTTO: And, Doctor, just very quickly before you go, can you relax social distancing without widespread testing?

GUPTA: No. Let's not equivocate on this. That's necessary. You still have got to test people, isolate them, contact trace them, all the things that we've been talking about for three months. Those desires and needs have not gone away.

SCIUTTO: All right, simple answer. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thanks so much as always. Be sure to watch Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Anderson Cooper for a new CNN global town hall, Coronavirus, Facts and Fears, airs live this Thursday starting at 8:00 P.M. Eastern Time only on CNN.

Still to come, new tests are planned on the drug that President Trump has called a game changer against coronavirus, but how soon before we know if it's actually effective. We're going to talk about it.

HARLOW: Also, who has the authority to open your state back up? The president says he has total authority. The Constitution begs to differ.



SCIUTTO: The governor of South Dakota, Kristi Noem, has announced on Monday that the nation's first statewide trial of hydroxychloroquine. President Trump has touted the antimalarial drug as a possible coronavirus treatment but it hasn't been proven yet. Still the president says the drug will become more accessible across the country.


TRUMP: Over the the seven days, my administration has deployed roughly 28 million doses of hydroxychloroquine from our national stockpile. We have millions of doses that we bought and many people are using it all over the country.


SCIUTTO: Joining me now is Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen. And, of course, we had that moment at the White House podium a couple of weeks ago, where the president has touted this as almost a confirmed treatment. Dr. Fauci has said the evidence is just anecdotal. What are the facts here?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Dr. Fauci and every medical authority has emphasized this. You have to study this drug. Can you imagine, Jim, if we were to give this drug to large numbers of people and it turned out to hurt their heart? That would be terrible. That's why it's being studied. The president is emphasizing the wrong thing. The supply is not the issue here for COVID patients, the issue is should they be taking it at all?

We have seen in some studies that it's hurting people's heart. In fact, The Washington Post reporting today that the CIA is warning its own employees, do not take this drug on your own. It could hurt your heart.

SCIUTTO: This is a concern here, because with any drug, for some people, it might work, for other people, it might have worse side effects than the benefits. I mean, it seems like the point here, is it not, Elizabeth, you got to study it first before you're broadly using this to treat patients who are infected.

COHEN: Absolutely. I mean, that's why we have the system that we have in this country. We don't just let people take powerful drugs willy- nilly, we test in very rigorous, very well designed clinical trials. And those are happening, but we're not going to have those results of those until weeks or months from now.

And to your point, Jim, this drug might work to prevent COVID for some people. It might work to treat or it might kill people. We don't know. I don't know why the president is having such a hard time with that concept.

SCIUTTO: Yes, that's why you test drugs. Elizabeth Cohen, thanks so much. Poppy? HARLOW: All right. Let's talk about a lot more. Dr. Jeffrey Gold is with us, Chancellor of the University of Nebraska Medical Center. And just for some context here, Doctor, you guys are the ones that really treated this first round of coronavirus patients that came months ago off the Diamond Princess. So you've seen how this has developed since the early days. The federal government uses Nebraska's Medicine biocontainment unit to treat patients as well.

Can we talk about the antibody testing? It's gotten so much attention, but you have a few words of caution. In terms of like what former CDC Director Tom Frieden said yesterday, which is there are a lot of fakes out there, essentially, there is only one FDA-approved one. So what should people know about what to use?

DR. JEFFREY GOLD, CHANCELLOR, UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA MEDICAL CENTER: So that's exactly right. There is currently one FDA-approved so-called serologic test for antibodies, which measures your immunity to COVID virus.


Now, that's a really important thing. It's not a diagnostic test to say whether you currently have the disease. It's a test to know whether your body has developed antibodies to prevent you from getting the disease again for some period of time.

There are approximately 30 good diagnostic tests that are out across the country right now, PCR Tests, as they're called, that measure the presence of virus particles. But this first serologic test is now available. We're actually validating it in our laboratories right now and hope to roll it out to a large scale in the near future.

There are probably another at least dozen that are under development in the United States as well.

HARLOW: So, so much attention has been on the drug, hydroxychloroquine. You just heard Elizabeth Cohen, our Senior Medical Correspondent, talking about it. The State of South Dakota now doing the first statewide test of it. The Henry Ford Medical System in Detroit is testing it among some of their workers and first responders as a prophylactic for some. I just think that's gotten all the attention and it's important to look at.

But some other drugs have not, and one of them is remdesivir, made by GlaxoSmithKline. You have the first clinical trial on that. Can you update us on what you found so far?

GOLD: Sure. Well, we're involved in a large, national, multi-centric clinical trial in remdesivir, and I fully agree with the need to put science behind the decision of both what is safe and what is effective. I believe, at least what I'm told from the investigators that will have some answers in early May, possibly and it's likely before that.

But there was a compassionate use study that was recently published from Southern California, one of the large hospital systems there, one of our new tech (ph) partners, which used compassionate use distributin for very critically ill individuals of remdesivir. And the preliminary findings, at least in this small anecdotal study, indicated that it did have a positive effect. Hopefully, that will be confirmed in a larger national trial, which will be out in a few weeks.

HARLOW: Okay, so there's that. Keep us posted. Come back in early May when you have those results.

Talking about the statewide testing that's now going on in South Dakota of hydroxychloroquine, I guess what are you looking for out of that, and are you guys using hydroxychloroquine, and if so, to what extent?

GOLD: So I really don't know what our community is doing. Our medical center is currently not using it, I don't believe. There is a number of studies, good quality studies that are being done with hydroxychloroquine, hydroxychloroquine combined with azithromycin. This is a drug that's been around for a very long time. We know its safety parameters. We know its risk to cardiac disease. What we don't know is whether it prevents, treats or slows the transmission of COVID-19.

HARLOW: Final question, a simple one, but if we don't have broadly available rapid testing, which we don't have right now in the country, and what the CDC director, Dr. Robert Redfield, deemed very aggressive contact tracing, how can anyone go back to life as normal without those things?

GOLD: Well, I think, Poppy, we're going to have to define the new normal. This is not going to unwind with the flick of a switch over a single day. As we start to learn more about how many people are actually infected from testing and from contact tracing, we're going to start to slowly reopen and loosen some of these physical separation determinants that we've put into place.

But there's going to be a new normal for a period of time. I think people are going to carry their masks with them, they're going to wash their hands more often, they're going to stay a little further away from people. They even stay at home and work from home more often. I think it's going to take some time to unwind this even if there is a magical availability of large-scale testing.

HARLOW: You make an important point. I think we're just also going to have to rethink the economy, then, and what it means for all those service workers out there that are depending on what was normal back then for their livelihood and their families.

Doctor, I appreciate your work. Thanks for being with us, Dr. Gold.

GOLD: My pleasure. Thank you.

HARLOW: So this just in to CNN, we're learning that today, former President Barack Obama will officially endorse Democratic Candidate Joe Biden. Details on that announcement, next.



SCIUTTO: While he had been keeping his powder dry, but this just into CNN, the former president, Barack Obama, will announce his endorsement for the man he served with in the White House, Joe Biden, come later today. A source familiar with the plans tell CNN this will come in a video message.

HARLOW: Senator Bernie Sanders suspended his campaign last week and then formally endorsed Joe Biden yesterday.

Our Chief Political Correspondent and Analyst, Gloria Borger, with us. So nice to get to see you, Gloria. It's been a little while.



HARLOW: So, bring us up to speed. What are we going to hear from the former president today and in what format?

BORGER: Well, you're going to hear a video.