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Obama Talked about Pandemic Preparation; Retails Sales Plunge for March; Doctors Learning About Treating Coronavirus. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired April 15, 2020 - 08:30   ET



DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Who would really have to be trying not to get that message. He was drawing a direct contrast with -- with Donald Trump. And, you know, it's interesting he said, this is the president we need right now at this time. I mean he was making it very clear, not just why he supported Joe Biden, but the, you know, all the qualities that he listed, honesty, humility, empathy, these are qualities that critics of President Trump have been pretty clear are missing in him and the president obviously feels that way. And those are important qualities in the midst of a crisis.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: So, Axe, I want to play some sound from then President Obama from I think this was five years ago and he was speaking at the National Institutes of Health about pandemics.

So listen to this.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT (December 2, 2014): There may, and likely will, come a time in which we have both an airborne disease that is deadly. And in order for us to deal with that effectively, we have to put in place an infrastructure, not just here at home, but globally that allows us to see it quickly, isolate it quickly, respond to it quickly.

So that if and when a new strain of flu like the Spanish flu crops up, five years from now or a decade from now, we've made the investment.


BERMAN: Yes, so that was 2014, which is interesting.

So, David, a lot of people are looking at this election now saying, really, it will be run on the response to this pandemic.


BERMAN: If that is in fact the case, what role do you see President Obama playing in this election?

Look, I think that he's going to be active. He's very, very passionate about where we are. I think that was reflected in the statement that he made yesterday. It was obviously very, very thoroughly crafted. It was a lengthy statement. You see he has a lot of concerns that are pent up.

And I think his -- he's going to play a, you know, public role in this campaign. He's probably also going to play a private role in terms of offering counsel and encouragement to Biden and Biden's campaign.

He had been waiting for this moment because he wanted the campaign to be over. He didn't want to put his thumb on the scale for Biden or any candidate until voters had a chance to choose their nominee. But he's made it clear from the beginning that he was going to be an active participant in a campaign.

How that happens now given all the limitations of this Covid-19 era will -- remains to be seen. But, obviously, he's going to be a, you know, on digital and in other ways a big presence in this campaign.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: But in terms of his style, David, what does it look like? You know, he notably didn't mention President Trump's name.


CAMEROTA: He didn't have to. Is he going to continue to do that? I mean is that by design?

AXELROD: Yes, I mean I think his point was crystal clear. I don't think he needs to call him out and taunt him. I don't think he'll do that. I don't think he -- that's not -- neither his style nor what he thinks is appropriate to a former president.

But I think his critique is going to be tough because he feels passionately about it and you can see that yesterday. I don't think this is the last of that in this campaign. And as we, you know, go down the track, you'll see more and more of a critique from him.

In the near term, my view is that the best thing he can do is also elevate Biden and -- and he's a great witness to who Biden is. He's seen what he's done. He understands his experience. And he has very good personal insights into Biden's humanity. People need to know more about Biden, as well-known as he is, there's not a lot of depth of knowledge about him. Barack Obama knows him as well as anyone and has credibility in presenting who Biden is to the American people.

BERMAN: Hey, David, very quickly, what was your thought bubble when you were watching that video from then President Obama in 2014 talking about pandemics?

AXELROD: He's been obsessed by this since he was a senator, reading about the avian flu. He got money to study vaccines for the avian flu. And he started a unit in the White House just dedicated in the National Security Council to pandemics that the Trump administration disbanded. He left office saying this is one of his five biggest concerns for the future. So when the president -- the current president says no one saw this

coming, everyone in the field saw it coming. Anthony Fauci started talking about this decades ago, that we were going to have a big pandemic and we needed to get ready for it.

And so, you know, that's just -- that simply wasn't true. We got caught flat footed because this administration dismantled some of the early warning systems that were put in place by the Obama administration and past administrations just for this kind of exigency.


CAMEROTA: It seems eerily prescient now given that he said five years and you could set your calendar to five years to basically the day that he was talking about it.


CAMEROTA: David Axelrod, great to see you. Thanks so much.

AXELROD: Always good to see you guys. Be well. Stay safe.

CAMEROTA: You too.

All right, we've just got brand-new numbers in showing how crippling this pandemic has been for retail sales. Of course you know that from your neighborhood. We'll tell you what the numbers are, next.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

CAMEROTA: We do have breaking news right now. Brand-new numbers on how the coronavirus is crippling the U.S. economy. We have just gotten retail sales numbers and CNN's Julia Chatterley joins us now with what you're seeing.

So what do they look like, Julia?

JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: They are nothing like we've ever seen before. For the month of March, retail sales down 8.7 percent. I mean this is a huge number.

What this tells you is that when the U.S. economy effectively shuts down, so do consumers, though even within that, there are winners and losers you should expect. Liquor stores did relatively well.


Drugstores. Food stores, too, as we were desperately stockpiling, particularly in the latter two months of March.

On the downside, though, clothes, accessories, cars, as you would expect, a real weight on these numbers. There were two key observations I'll make, Alisyn. The first is that

we were only in shutdown really for the last two weeks of March. So, as bad as this March number is, April's going to be worse. It's also going to capture all the people that are now out of work.

But what this also doesn't capture is the online sales that we're making. We don't manage to get that in these numbers. So it's perhaps worse than it looks, but, hey, it's the worst we have on record.

CAMEROTA: And so, Julia, I mean the -- that -- that's just jaw- dropping.


CAMEROTA: But tie it to jobs for us. So if the retail sales are that bad, what do you expect the jobless claims this week?

CHATTERLEY: The predictions again are pretty terrifying. Another 5.5 million people expected to ask for help, to claim for benefits this week. So that will then put us at around 22 to 23 million people in the last four weeks that have tried to go to their local states and say, look, I need some support during this time.

I mean, just to give you a sense of what we're talking about here, we're talking about one in eight workers over the last four weeks. It would completely wipe out all the job gains that we've seen since the financial crisis just in this space of four weeks. And we keep talking about this on a weekly basis. We know people are still struggling to get through. So it's still not capturing where we stand at this moment today. We're talking one in ten people in this country potentially according to some estimates, which is saying we could see 37 million people out of jobs or furloughed by the end of May.

CAMEROTA: There's been news that the airlines are going to get help, going to get assistance. So what do their bailouts, for lack of a better word, look like?

CHATTERLEY: Yes, let's call it airline aid at this stage. The government's obviously fighting for workers, and we're talking 750,000 direct jobs here. On the other hand, the airlines, I think, fighting for survival.

These terms are tougher than you would expect, I think. Thirty percent of the money that they're going to get given here to support workers has to be paid back eventually. They cannot fire their workers. This is critical. The restrictions on the airlines involved, they can't buy their own stock back. There's also going to be limits on executive compensation. So we can call it a bailout in the short-term, but what this ultimately was about, Alisyn, was protecting hundreds and thousands of workers that one day, when we start flying again and the airlines recover, will be ready to get back into their jobs and work.

CAMEROTA: OK, Julia Chatterley, thank you very much for helping us see the breaking new on the retail sales. Just astonishing, historic numbers. Thank you. So, in terms of the medical story, what have doctors on the front

lines learned so far about treating coronavirus patients? What are they doing differently today than they did two months ago? Well, Dr. Sanjay Gupta shares what we now know, next.



BERMAN: So many coronavirus patients are fighting for their lives. It is usually an unseen battle. But 33-year-old Janet Mendez filmed herself just before getting discharged from the hospital on Monday. Listen to Janet telling her harrowing story.


DR. JOHN PUSKAS, CHIEF OF CARDIOVASCULAR SURGERY: Today is the day you're going home.


PUSKAS: Congratulations.

MENDEZ: Thank you.

I've been in the hospital maybe almost a month, exactly the date. I don't remember because it has been so long. But finally they are sending me home.

It has been a long journey, especially not for me, but for my family, because they were the one up, they were the one praying, they were the one going every single day through my journey and while I was sleeping.

People were saying when I came in I was blue. I remember perfectly well that I looked at my face and I looked like a Smurf. So I got scared.

I am thankful to God that I'm able to say, OK, I'm leaving the hospital and I'm OK. That the coronavirus did not take me away.

PUSKAS: When you came into the emergency room on the 25th, last month, you came straight up to the intensive care unit --


PUSKAS: And we put that breathing tube in for you.

You had a lot of trouble with your lungs during those two weeks. In fact, some air leaked out of the lungs and you got swollen up and then we got the air to not leak anymore. We did some special things. We put you in a facedown position and then a face up position and back and forth like this for a few days. And, ultimately, your lungs recovered.

Is there anything you want to tell other people about Covid? MENDEZ: Take it seriously. Protect yourself. If you don't have to go

outside, stay home, because at the beginning, you're, like, oh, yes, yes, it's just the media, but this is real. It knocks you down. Even though you think you're healthy, it knocks you down.


CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh, what a survival story and how encouraging.

John, what else have doctors learned, we want to know, about treating coronavirus patients?

CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us.

So, Sanjay, one of the doctors there alluded to one of the things that has changed over these past months, doctors who have been in triage mode, as we know, have learned a lot and gleaned a lot about the trajectory of this disease.


CAMEROTA: And one of the things they've learned is that their natural inclination was to intubate somebody who is struggling to breathe right away.


CAMEROTA: But, it sounds like, over the course of these couple months, they've figured out that there might be less invasive things that are just as effective?

GUPTA: Yes. Yes. I think that's true. And, you know, one thing I think that should go without saying again is that, you know, we are all learning together, as you've said, Alisyn. I mean this is a new disease. It's a virus, you know, so we know about viruses, but this is a new disease. And so, you know, even as -- in my, you know, 25 years as a -- you know, since I finished residency, I -- this is something that's -- that we're -- I'd never seen before. Nobody had seen before. So we are learning together.

But you're absolutely right, I think there was something that really struck doctors, you know, within the last several weeks, and that is that the -- the -- if you -- people were put on these breathing machines, these ventilators. There was only about 20 to 30 percent of these patients who were successfully then coming off these ventilators in some of these studies. That's -- that's -- those are terrible rates, obviously. You want to put people on ventilators to get them through that course and hopefully get them off successfully. But that wasn't happening and so doctors started to look for other things.

And they also noticed that even though parents were having low oxygenation, you know, the amount of oxygen that was showing up on their test was very low, they weren't sort of gasping for breath. Typically if you had a low oxygenation like that, you'd be very breathless, you know, just trying to catch your breath, and yet they didn't have that. So what was going on? Was this still primarily a lung problem, was there something else going on? That's still being investigated. But it did start to prompt these doctors to say, let's try other strategies. Maybe not put a breathing tube in right away and instead use a machine that's more like a CPAP machine. Or, as you just heard a very good description there, maybe it's that we have to allow more of the lungs to actually be recruited. When you're lying flat on your back, especially if you're someone who is overweight or obese, it can be hard to recruit as much lung function, so simply rolling the patient over into a prone position and maybe even back and forth, very simple repositioning, could make a big difference, as it sounds to have made with Janet, who we just saw in that piece there.

BERMAN: It's interesting. We've spoken to people who have been on their bellies basically in the prone position for, you know, ten, 12 hours a day under this. And this all seems to be stuff that's been learned over the last five weeks.

GUPTA: Yes, no question. I mean you hear about these certain kind of tables that are now being crafted or tables that are used for other things to basically allow, like you say, someone to stay in this belly down or prone position for long periods of time and making a big difference.

And, again, these CPAP machines, the tendency is always someone has low oxygenation, this is a respiratory virus, put in a breathing tube. That's where the calculations on how many ventilators are likely to be needed. And I don't want to minimize the need for ventilators. I think they're still very much there. But for other patients, it may not be the right answer. It oftentimes has the doctors just taking an extra beat before they immediately put in the breathing tube and saying, let's just be sure that we can't get by with something else. If we just give oxygen, let the person even sit up as opposed to lying on their back, or in prone position, with just some oxygen, could we accomplish the same thing a lot less invasively. And the answer many times is coming back yes. Not always, but many times yes.

CAMEROTA: Some other interesting developments in terms of what we've learned over the past few weeks, maybe it's not just a respiratory crisis and virus. So there have been symptoms reported, I think fairly regularly, patients hallucinating, patients having seizures and a lot of patients losing their sense of taste and smell. What does that tell you?

GUPTA: These are the neurological manifestations. This is my world now of neuroscience. And about a third of patients have had these neurological impacts from the disease as well. Sometimes as the first symptom they have. So this is something everyone should pay attention to. Unusual dizziness, loss of smell, loss of taste, you feel impaired in some other way. Whatever it may be could be an early sign. That's not to alarm people. Just something to be mindful of.

One thing it suggests, Alisyn, as you just said is, we think of this understandably as a respiratory disease. A respiratory disease affects the lungs. But could something else be happening here? My guess is, yes. We don't know what it is yet, but is this causing inflammation elsewhere in the body, such as the base of the brain causing these types of symptoms, or is it causing a more generalized problem, for example, in the blood? So blood -- you know, less oxygenated blood to all these different organ systems causing these sorts of problems. We don't know the answer to that yet, but we need to because I think it's going to make a world of difference going forward.

BERMAN: Such interesting stuff, Sanjay.


So many new developments. We are all learning much more along the way. Thanks so much for this.

GUPTA: Yes. You got it.

CAMEROTA: OK, guys, we have an extra special "Good Stuff" this morning. We want to welcome the newest member of our NEW DAY family. This is Georgia Elle (ph). This is a beautiful baby born to two CNN employees, our producer, Craig Scholz (ph), and his wife, Caroline (ph).

So, Georgia came into this world on Monday morning weighing 8 pounds, 5 ounces. We are told mom and baby are doing great and we just can't wait to put Georgia to work here as part of the NEW DAY family.

BERMAN: She'll be in the control room. Yes, control room within days. No question about that. Our congratulations to them. Clearly takes after the mother.

All right, we have some breaking news.

CNN has just learned that Senator Elizabeth Warren will endorse Joe Biden for president this morning. More on that and CNN's coronavirus coverage continues, next.