Return to Transcripts main page


Majors Changes Likely To American Daily Life Until Vaccine; Fauci On Antibody Protection, We Don't Have All The Answers; Worries Pandemic Could Hurt Education Of Millions Of Children. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired April 15, 2020 - 10:00   ET



POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: The president continues to suggest May 1st, it's just a few weeks from now for a possible reopening of the country even though Dr. Anthony Fauci says we are not there yet.

Now, governors are telling their states to expect a major adjustment in their lives for quite a while before anything can return to the way it was.


GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): You may be having dinner with a waiter wearing gloves, maybe a face mask, dinner where the menu is disposable, where the tables, half of the tables in the restaurant no longer appear.

GOV. GINA RAIMONDO (D-RI): All of us are going to be living in a new normal, whether that means wearing a mask, working in shifts, we all need to start to realize that for the next year or so, we're going to be living under a new set of regulations.

GOV. J.B. PRITZKER (D-IL): What we have to do is to design a new normal, a way of life to carry us to the other side.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN NEWSROOM: That reality check from some of the most affected states is happening as the CDC director warns that we should expect a second wave of coronavirus infections in the fall, and another one perhaps even sooner, that is if the reopening is done too quickly.

Also, Dr. Anthony Fauci says that new cases, and this is good news, are flattening across the country, showing that social distancing measures are working, but the numbers still shocking. Yesterday, 2129 Americans died of this disease.

HARLOW: Let's begin this hour again with our Correspondent, Dan Simon, in San Francisco. Just, really, hearing from Governor Newsom finally got my head around I think what the future holds in a new normal. DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Poppy. I think we're all just sort of managing through this crisis day by day, and haven't really thought, you know, too deeply about what things are going to look like a few months from now. But what the governor is doing is managing expectations for what you can expect once society, once the economy opens up.

And what he is saying is that you're not going to have large gatherings for some time, that's sporting events, concerts, schools are going to look a lot different. You might have staggered start times so you don't have everybody rushing the school at once. P.E. classes, assemblies, lunches, they might have to be reconfigured for social distancing. He says face coverings, expect those to continue for some time, people wearing masks, et cetera. And you heard what he said about restaurants.

Take a listen to what more he had to say.


NEWSOM: This is an imperfect science. And there is no -- you know, there's no playbook that someone else has put together.

There's no light switch here. I would argue it's more like a dimmer. And that dimmer is about what I was talking about, this toggling back and forth between more restrictive and less restrictive measures.


SIMON: Well, he did not specify a date for all of this, when he's going to put pen to paper and lift the order, but he did say there are a couple of important benchmarks that need to be met. The first thing, of course, what you need is widespread testing, which does not yet exist in California and throughout much of the country. And he also said the hospitals need to remain very vigilant. They have to be prepared in case you have another surge of patients. Poppy, Jim?

HARLOW: Dan Simon, thanks so much for that reporting.

Let's talk about all the developments overnight. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, our Chief Medical Correspondent, is with us, and Dr. Megan Ranney, emergency physician and associate professor of emergency medicine at Brown University in Rhode Island. Good morning to you.

Sanjay, can we just talk about this new normal? Even if it means going to restaurants with fewer people and masks or children going to staggered school days, if that happens a few months from now, how can that be effective for the most vulnerable people without a vaccine if we don't have contact tracing and rapid testing for everyone?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. No, I think that's absolutely right, Poppy. I think all these things, and if you listen closely to what Governor Newsom or other governors have said, and read these plans very carefully, which we have been doing, it really is predicated on this idea that you got to have not only lots of testing available. It's got to be practically available to people. And, Poppy, if I were to say to people, you know, right now, if you want to get a test and get a result back within a day, could you do it? And there's a lot more people who would answer yes, but there's still too many people who say no.

For vulnerable communities, to your point, Poppy, I think that we hear about these incremental changes in terms of reentry, if you will. For vulnerable people, that may be even slower, if at all, for a period of time still.

I will say that, you know, there're certain things that are going to change this equation tremendously, obviously a vaccine being one of them, how much natural immunity we have as a result of having been exposed. A lot of us may have immunity and not realize we have been exposed. I think for a time period, it's going to be slow.



SCIUTTO: So, Dr. Ranney, I have asked this question of officials in New York, California, in the last 24, 48 hours, you know, they echo Dr. Gupta saying you need testing can contact tracing to begin reopening. But in both of those states, they don't have it yet. Does Rhode Island have it? And if you don't have that broad-based capacity for testing and contact tracing, how can you reopen?

DR. MEGAN RANNEY, EMERGENCY PHYSICIAN: So, our state is a relatively small one. We only have about a million people. But Governor Raimondo has been tremendously proactive. We have actually rolled out in conjunction with the National Chain CDS as well as with our National Guard testing sites across the state.

At this point, almost anyone in the state who wants a test can get one. And I'm able to test almost all of the patients who come through my emergency department with symptoms. So we are rolling that out here now.

We're also rolling out contact tracing, using technologies that we can check in with people on a daily basis, after we know that they have been in touch with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. That opens up the possibility of opening up the state, but gosh, as of yesterday, we have more than 80 people that have died in our state.

That doesn't sound like a lot, but again, in a small state like Rhode Island, that means that almost every one of us knows someone who has died and many of us, especially those of us in healthcare, of course, have touched the lives of many people who have died.

HARLOW: Sanjay, there is a new letter, it's written in the New England Journal of Medicine, about pregnant women. It did another sort of look at pregnant women here in New York City, and it found that the majority of them who tested positive for coronavirus were asymptomatic at the time of delivery. And the suggestion here is just that you should be testing every pregnant person to come into the hospitals. Is that right? GUPTA: I think so, yes. I mean, you know, I think pregnant women are a good example of a group of people who should be tested. But I think, you know, we're going to get to the point where hopefully everybody who goes to the hospital can get tested, even if they don't have symptoms, in part because you want to know if they're positive, but also, that's part of the surveillance that everyone is talking about.

Widespread testing doesn't mean we need to test every single person in the United States. That would be impractical, 325 million tests. But it does start to mean strategic surveillance. And that would be a good way to do it.

You know, if you do the numbers and say how many people visit a doctor on any given week, the number is around, I think Dr. Gottlieb quoted this around 4 million people. So you're talking 750,000 tests a day that would need to be done in the country. These are arbitrary numbers, but that gives you an idea of how widespread the testing would need to be.

SCIUTTO: So, Dr. Ranney, you see New York is now counting probable deaths of coronavirus in addition to the confirmed cases. Recognizing what experts in a number of countries have said is that because testing is not broad-based, a lot of people die at home, we're really understating. I wonder if that's your experience in Rhode Island, that at the end of the day, those numbers we have on the right side of the screen here don't actually reflect the true scale of this outbreak.

RANNEY: Yes, that is absolutely true across the nation. The medical examiners are working as quickly as they can, but doing those examinations takes time, even in normal times. And our medical examiners are just overwhelmed. Again, testing is not widely available in much of the country.

And medical examiners, like everyone else in healthcare, are lacking in adequate protective equipment. So they're, again, literally putting their lives on the line by doing these autopsies and this testing.

We are hearing of increasing numbers of people dying at home or in nursing homes with suspected COVID-19, where we can't get testing done for weeks, if at all, because of those limitations in testing and limitations of the number of bodies honestly that the medical examiners can take on.

SCIUTTO: Amazing.

RANNEY: But I do expect there's a tremendous undercounting, yes.

HARLOW: So, I'm going to jump in, Sanjay, and ask Jim's smart question here, because he alerted me with this last night, sending me The Wall Street Journal piece that I was -- well, it made my jaw drop reading it, and it talks about your area of expertise, and that is brain damage, long-term brain damage that is being found because of coronavirus. What do we know about that?

GUPTA: Yes. I mean, we've heard evidence of this now for a little bit of time. And I think we have a list of the various types of symptoms that people may have that aren't just affecting their lungs but affecting their nervous system overall. But you may remember, Poppy, there was some evidence early on that loss of smell could be one of those symptoms that people develop as a first symptom even of this coronavirus infection.


And even back then, people were saying, well, look, how does that fit in? What's going on here? Is this some sort of inflammation that's happening at the base of the brain that's causing this or is there something else going on? It's still not clear. But now, there's a much larger list of symptoms, dizziness, headache, things like that that, again, may not only be symptoms of this coronavirus infection, but first symptoms.

And I think it's just a little bit of a thing for people to watch out for. Am I having symptoms that are unusual, not affecting my lungs, but affecting my nervous system in some way? That might be an early sign. We don't know why that's occurring. That's going to be something researchers need to figure out. But that's -- you know, that's another surprise about this illness that we're all learning about together.

SCIUTTO: Goodness. And we are learning, as we go, aren't we? Dr. Gupta, Dr. Ranney, thanks to both of you.

RANNEY: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Be sure to watch Dr. Gupta and Anderson Cooper for a new CNN global town hall, Coronavirus, Facts and Fears, answer so many of your questions. It's tomorrow, 8:00 Eastern Time, only on CNN.

HARLOW: A new sobering number of the coronavirus pandemic has reached a grim milestone. A number of global cases has now crossed over 2 million. The United States has the highest number of cases, and the most deaths in the world.

SCIUTTO: Yes, and as we just heard, likely understating the true scope of this.

Still to come, as antibody testing ramps up in some places, there are concerns about the accuracy. Just how reliable are these new tests that are popping up on the market?

HARLOW: And later, we focus on mental health. Academy Award-nominated actress, Golden Globe winner Taraji P. Henson is live with us about the new campaign she has promoted and is working on with tremendous work through her foundation to provide mental healthcare to African- Americans in communities hardest hit by this pandemic. She joins us live, ahead.



SCIUTTO: The FDA is now reviewing data on coronavirus antibody tests after loosening restrictions and standards on them. It comes after antibody tests flooded the market. Many of them, though, and this is key, really just unreliable.

This morning, America's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, says that having antibodies may not even mean that a person is safe.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: We have to be humble and modest and appreciate that we don't have all the answers with the antibody.

When you develop an antibody after infection, it almost invariably means you're protected.

We don't absolutely know that for sure yet. I think it is going to be the case.


SCIUTTO: So let's dive into this. Joining me now is Dr. Angela Rasmussen. She's a virologist for the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health. Doctor, thanks so much for taking the time today.

Help folks at home understand, first of all, antibodies mean your body has been exposed to this infection before. Why don't we know if with this particular virus that that gives you immunity from another infection?

DR. ANGELA RASMUSSEN, VIROLOGIST, COLUMBIA MAILMAN SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: So, conventional wisdom does suggest that for most viral infections, when you get over that viral infection and recover, you develop antibodies. And most of the time, these antibodies are what we call neutralizing, meaning the antibodies can bind the virus directly and inactivate it, render it non-infectious.

We just don't know if antibodies developed by patients who have recovered from COVID-19 have this neutralizing activity all the time. Our data so far suggests that many of them likely do, but we don't know for sure, and we don't know how many patients this applies to.

SCIUTTO: Okay. So you find out, I imagine, by continuing to do tests. How soon before there's enough data to answer the question definitively?

RASMUSSEN: So, we actually need to do a lot more antibody tests in order to figure that out. There have been several papers that have been published that do show in a number of survivors or recovered patients that they do have levels of what we call IGG antibody. The next step is to determine if those patients with that IGG antibody have actually IGG neutralizing antibody that can inactivate the virus, as I mentioned.

And there are tests that can look at this that have been developed. We just need to run more of those samples.

SCIUTTO: Yes, that's interesting because, you know, you need to keep doing the tests so that you can find out the answer to that question, but it doesn't necessarily mean if you get the test all of a sudden you have this like biological suit of armor, right, as you go out there.

So if volume is key here, does any state, does any community have the capacity yet to do these tests on a broad scale to get that answer?

RASMUSSEN: That I don't know. And that is partly dependent on the supply chain and the availability of these tests to individual states. But one thing to consider is that some recent data out of Europe suggests that actually the overall rate of infection is quite low, which means that if we start looking in the population, there's only going to be a few people or a relatively low percentage of people who have actually been infected with COVID at this point who have these antibodies.

So we're actually going to have to test quite a few people to find enough people that have recovered from COVID, are for sure people who had it, and then make sure that we test enough of those people that we're getting around the false positive, false negative rate of these tests, because these tests are not 100 percent reliable.


SCIUTTO: Just to be clear, you're saying that data is showing fewer people have been infected with this than expected or fewer people have the antibodies to this?

RASMUSSEN: A recent study out of Germany suggested that the majority of people in a population that's been heavily affected by COVID will not have been exposed to COVID. So they have not had it and they do not have antibodies to it.

SCIUTTO: Understood, okay. So that hampers this as we go forward.

Well, listen, we wish you good luck. We know this is important work. Dr. Angela Rasmussen, thanks very much.

RASMUSSEN: Thank you.

HARLOW: Millions of children, your children, our children, out of school because of this pandemic. Many still don't have what they need, don't have Wi-Fi, don't have computers to try to learn virtually. Well, one of the nation's largest cities is doing to try to change that, next.



HARLOW: Weeks after shutting down -- excuse me for one second. I apologize, guys. We're having some audio issues here with my phone.

All right. So weeks after shutting down classrooms and shifting to virtual learning, there are growing concerns about the long-term impact that all of this is having on our children. One major issue is access, access to what it takes to actually learn remotely.

In Atlanta, some 6,000 children still don't have access to remote learning because they either don't have Wi-Fi or they don't have a computer.

I'm joined now by Atlanta Public School Superintendent Meria Carstarphen. Thank you for being with us and for what you guys are doing.


HARLOW: According to your own data, more than 56 percent of pre-K and kindergarten students have not logged on to the virtual learning system. I am struggling with it as a parent of a four-year-old. And you went to one of the homes where the children were not logging on. Can you just talk about what you saw and what's actually going on?

CARSTARPHEN: Yes. So I think that Atlanta Public Schools is like a lot of districts across the country. While we had a lot of technology, we're moving toward 100 percent online testing for spring state assessments and things of the sort, it is just very hard to feel confident that you have one-to-one technology with a device as well as connectivity for the students. So it's not one or the other. It has to be both. The device and the connectivity have to go hand in hand.

And what we're seeing out in the field is a lot of patchy connectivity, and we're certainly seeing where students, because the closure was so fast and so aggressive across the country, we were not able to get all of those devices in the hands of kids before they walked out the door.

HARLOW: So many of them just still don't have them, 6,000?

CARSTARPHEN: Yes. So we track -- we know that our universe of need sits at around 40,000 students. So before we left school, we were able to push out about a third of the technology. But then we had to go back and do things, like dismantle every tech lab in the district, dismantle all of the technology cards for online testing for the Georgia Milestones to be able to have a second wave of devices to push out.

So we did another 10,000 after closure, and then we did some direct distribution, having families come to a centralized location as well as schools to pick up technology. But as the virus continues to spread, we're trying to reduce the exposure of staff and families as well. So now, it's this careful balance of getting the technology out in a safe way while at the same time addressing the device need and the connectivity need.

HARLOW: Well, you know, on top of that, there is the issue of just lost time and lost progress for these kids.


HARLOW: You have been trying to do some things. I mean, you have been talking about a longer school day, a longer school year, trying to not let the kids fall behind. But you face pushback from parents?

CARSTARPHEN: Well, I think that a lot of people are feeling the stress of doing the instruction in home while also trying to telework as the caregiver. And I always say, as people are having these conversations about where we are in education today, is that our teachers are often parents too. So they're trying to do the instructional component for classes and schools while also holding their own family and household together in virtual learning with other teachers in other schools.


CARSTARPHEN: So you have -- what we're seeing is, yes, a lot of lost time, especially for those kids who don't have the devices and connectivity. But we're also seeing how difficult it is for teachers to actually be prepared to do virtual learning for this extended period of time.

If it's a bad weather day, you can hold it together for three or four days. But if it's a three to four months, that's a completely different proposition, and I don't feel like there's been enough professional learning for educators to be able to successfully do it.


HARLOW: There are just so many parts to this. You're completely right.