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Trump's Plan For Reopening America?. Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired April 16, 2020 - 16:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Dr. Deborah Birx says that at least nine states, Nebraska, Maine, Vermont, Hawaii, Montana, North Dakota, Alaska, Wyoming, and West Virginia, currently have fewer than 1,000 cases each, and could begin reopening.

Of course, these are among the least populated states in the U.S., though, top health officials, business leaders and some governors are warning President Trump that testing capacity is nowhere close to where it needs to be to safely and securely to begin to send Americans back to work, school and society on a much larger scale.

Let's go straight to CNN's Kaitlan Collins at the White House.

And, Kaitlan, President Trump also just told governors that his May 1 goal was a negotiation with the top doctors?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, he says it came in consultation with them.

We're still waiting on a little context of what this negotiation was, and if it means that they weren't in agreement with that. We know that we -- based on our own reporting over the last few weeks, that they had been hesitant about that May 1 deadline, but the president is saying he consulted with Dr. Birx, Dr. Fauci, and the CDC director, Dr. Redfield, as well, as he was establishing these new guidelines.

And they gave the governors this packet here. We're still going through it, with all the guidelines of exactly what this is going to look like. And he says this is what he's going to announce later tonight formally at that press briefing.

But, Jake, what he told these governors on this call, according to a source who had access to it, what they told our colleague Ryan Nobles, was the president was talking about this phased reopening of the country, reiterating that idea that he believes there are some states that can start to open before that May 1 deadline, saying that they should feel comfortable to do so, based on their own data, if they do, though he did acknowledge that there are some states that are not going to be ready to do it by then.

So the question really is, how do these states take this? Because a lot of them, as you have seen play out today, have already started establishing their own reopening phases, their own guidelines for that.

And that's not just those states on the West Coast or the East Coast. We also saw some Midwest states join up today to make their own partnership for how they're going to coordinate this rollout, though the president did say, you are going to call your own shots, based on this source who had access to the call.

That's notable, given what the president has been saying about how he has the authority to determine what these states are going to do and, if he doesn't like what they're doing, he can close it down, he said.

TAPPER: And, Kaitlan, President Trump also spoke to senators earlier today about his plans to call for a reopening of the country. And he pushed back when senators called for more thorough widespread testing.

COLLINS: Yes, this was the second day in a row the president has heard the same concern. Yesterday, it was from business executives. Today, it's from a bipartisan group of senators, who were saying they are worried about the lack of testing in the country.

They want it to be ramped up before the country and their states are going to start reopening. And we're told by sources the president pushed back on that, talking about how they had actually increased testing in the u.s, which we know, because it was pretty abysmal at the beginning, so they have ramped it up since then.

But the question is, is it adequate enough to start opening up these states? And business executives yesterday were saying that they want it to be higher if they're going to feel comfortable opening their stores to consumers, and if consumers feel comfortable going in.

So it's not clear that the president is heeding those calls yet. That is something that has been a persistent message to him, though, Jake, this week.

TAPPER: Yes, I don't know of any governors who think that testing is widespread enough and that it's up to speed where they need to be.

Kaitlan Collins, thanks so much.

New York's Governor Andrew Cuomo made clear today that his state, in his view, is not ready to reopen, extending the stay-at-home order until at least May 15, as CNN's Erica Hill reports for us now.


GOV. NED LAMONT (D-CT): If we had gone after the testing agents a few months ago, we'd be in a very different position than we are today. I can't simply wait for the federal government's guidance, but I will listen when it comes.

ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Testing critical for any move forward. Minnesota's governor wants to test 5,000 people a day before considering any substantial reopening.

In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo calling for the federal gun to step up, while also offering insight into how he will determine when businesses can reopen.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): This is not just government deciding. It's government deciding with private businesses, who now have to take a look at this new normal, this new reality, and tell us how they think they can adjust to it.

One of our questions in evaluations is, how essential is that business service?

HILL: As the president promises new guidelines, states continue with their own, new mandates in New York, Connecticut, Maryland, and Pennsylvania for face coverings, extensions for social distancing, but current orders elsewhere meeting some pushback.

Protesters on the streets in Ohio, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Michigan, which has some of the most strict stay-at-home measures.

GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D-MI): The fact of the matter is it's still too dangerous to have people just out and about unnecessarily.

HILL: Michigan's Governor warning those protesting could fuel the spread, forcing the order to stay in place longer.


Oklahoma's governor extending stay-at-home measures for the most vulnerable populations through May 6, while also looking to reopen.

GOV. KEVIN STITT (R-OK): While we need to keep up our guard, we are looking and we are working on a plan to safely open up the state.

HILL: Nine states currently have less than 1,000 cases. In other areas, new concern of a resurgence.

DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: Rhode Island and Providence are in a unique situation. First, they had increasing cases from the New York City area, and now they have new -- new increasing cases from the Boston area. They're caught between two incredible hot spots in the country.

HILL: Massachusetts setting aside $130 million for long-term care facilities, while, in New Jersey, overwhelmed staff and a morgue well over capacity at this nursing home, where 17 bodies were found in a facility that has space for just four.

And at Arlington National Cemetery, members of the old guard conducting military funeral honors with masks. A soldier lowers his at a safe distance to offer condolences, the cemetery noting in a post, "We adapt and keep to our mission."


HILL: Those pictures in many way really illustrate how much things have changed around the country, Jake.

One other note too on what's happening with governors, seven Midwestern states today announcing they will collaborate with one another to reopen businesses in their areas. Those include Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Ohio.

TAPPER: All right, Erica Hill in New York, stay safe, my friend.

Joining me now is CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Sanjay, I want to start with a clip from Dr. Oz on FOX. He was talking about the trade-offs that need to happen in order for the U.S. to try to go back to some semblance of normalcy.

Take a listen to this little clip, and we will talk about it on the other side.



DR. MEHMET OZ, "THE DR. OZ SHOW": Let's start with things that are really critical to the nation, where we think we might be able to open without getting into a lot of trouble.

I tell you, schools are a very appetizing opportunity. I just saw a nice piece in "The Lancet" arguing that the opening of schools may only cost us 2 to 3 percent in terms of total mortality. And that's -- any life is a life lost, but to get every child back into a school where they're safely being educated, being fed, and making the most out of their lives, with a theoretical risk on the backside, it might be a trade-off some folks would consider.


TAPPER: All right, so Dr. Oz is basically saying there -- I don't think he was referring to -- because I looked at "The Lancet" -- and I don't think he's saying -- talking about 2 to 3 percent mortality for the entire country, which would, of course, be millions and millions of people.

I think he's talking about this one "Lancet" study that talks about how the -- that closing schools only reduced deaths 2 to 4 percent. But that's still theoretically thousands of lives.

GUPTA: That's right.

Yes, I mean, it's a trade-off that he's describing. It's a tough trade-off. I think a lot of people first heard that, and probably interpreted at him as thinking 2 to 3 percent of either the country or even children's lives -- 56 million people, kids, rather, are in schools.

I think that the better way to sort of -- I think this is what he meant. I haven't talked to him. But the models suggest that maybe some 60,000 people will lose their lives, sadly, to this disease. How much are we gaining by the various measures that we're putting in place?

The closing of schools, they say, may be contributing only to 2 to 3 percent of that. So that, as you point out, Jake, would be about 1,200 to 1,800 people potentially, again, not children, but people within the country.

Every life is a life. And what is the trade-off in terms of starting to reopen things? That's a big one. And I'm sure that was the data that came out of "Lancet." And I'm sure Dr. Oz thought about that before he said that, but that is obviously a big one.

But these are the questions that are going to have to be decided. If -- when we reopen, Jake, I don't think we're ever going to get to the point where we say, OK, we are absolutely free and clear, we can guarantee that no one will get infected, no one will get sick, and no one might, sadly, die from this after we reopen.

The virus is still out there. It's still circulating. Until we have a vaccine, I think that's going to be these constant trade-offs that we're making.

TAPPER: Right, but it does seem to a lot of experts that I have spoken with that the United States, for the most part, citizens, governors, et cetera, President Trump pushing for it as well, in terms of the social distancing guidelines, staying at home in some places, and that it has been, to a degree, successful.

The curve is being flattened. But that doesn't mean, according to these health experts, that, all of a sudden, we say, OK, it's worked, we have avoided the worst, and we rush back to work, because we still don't have the testing capacity.


And if all of a sudden, we just, willy-nilly, as Dr. Fauci says, flip the switch and go back to normal, then the number is just going to surge again.

GUPTA: That's absolutely right.

I mean, that's the thing. I think people -- sometimes, it's hard to prove a negative, Jake. I mean, we see these numbers of people who are likely to die, the models, what they suggest, and it's tragic.

But to your point, without these measures, things that we are going through in this country that we have never experienced before as a society, they have had an impact. I mean, the initial model suggested, look, 40 to 60 percent of the country could become infected, 150 million people-plus.

And the fatality rate, even if it was closer to 1 percent, which some suggested it might be, you're starting to talk about millions of people, a million-and-a-half people that would have died.

Now we're talking about 60,000 people. It's still a staggering number of people. But these measures are largely what have done it. We don't have a therapeutic. We don't have a vaccine. So why did the numbers drop like this from in the millions to in the tens of thousands? It's because of these measures. And now, as we are thinking about reopening, we have to say, how much

did this play a part in reducing that? How much did closing schools play a part in that? How much did closing large venues play a part in that? How much did closing these businesses play a part in that?

And all of those are going to have to be analyzed. And they're going to be evaluated, probably as part of any discussion of reopening, along with many other things. But that's -- you're absolutely right. That is the -- I'm sure the decision matrix that is happening right now.

TAPPER: So, we just got hot off the presses of my inkjet printer right here at home the opening up America again document.

So I'm looking at this in real time, Sanjay.

Phase one says that all vulnerable individuals should remain in place. All individuals in public should maintain physical distance, avoid socializing in groups of more than 10 people, minimize nonessential travel.

And then, obviously, there's a phase two and a phase three. What do you make of that for phase one? Basically, that gets us to where we were before people started doing stay-at-home orders?

GUPTA: Yes, I think -- I read part of this as well.

And I think what they also have in there as part of phase one is that we have to show -- I believe this is correct, Jake -- 14 days of sustained decrease in overall numbers of people who are infected with the virus. They have to make sure hospitals are at the capacity of pre-crisis levels.

They have to have adequate personal protective equipment. And my understanding, again, in that phase one, these schools stay closed that are already closed as well.

A lot of that fits with -- I think in some ways with what Dr. Fauci has been saying and others have been saying. There are triggers, I guess, is the point for this phase one to take place.

And those triggers, I think, are almost more important than what phase one looks like, because we have got to activate those triggers.

Oh, in addition to that, they got to have testing. That was another one of the triggers. Testing, they said in this, interestingly, should be administered by the states, should be safe and efficient.

What does that mean? That means, for example, you, Jake, if you were going into work, starting to go back to work, that you could be tested, maybe even every day or on a regular basis, and get a result back very, very quickly. That's probably what that means.

Right now, there's a lot of people who probably should be tested, have no idea how to go about getting tested. That would absolutely have to change in order to go into phase one as well, from what I'm reading of these documents. We will get a bit more clarity on that.

TAPPER: Yes, I guess the other question I have, because I don't -- and, again, I apologize. We're just getting this document.

But I don't see anything about, we're going to do this now because we are up to speed and we are able to do contact tracing, we are able to do widespread testing, as they did in South Korea, et cetera. I don't see that as part of that.

And since we keep hearing from experts like Dr. Fauci and governors, who are driven by their own health commissioners, who say, we need to be able to do testing, so we know who has it, and we can immediately isolate individuals, I don't understand an opening up America again plan that doesn't have a testing component.

Do you?

GUPTA: No, I don't. And I don't think any of the public health officials think so either.

And I don't think they have ever wavered on that, despite how their comments have been taken or how they have sort of presented things so as to not shock people.

I think, as we hear what people say about this reopening phase, everyone's going to pay attention to what a post-reopened America looks like. Obviously, that's important.

I think what I'm going to really be paying attention to this evening, as I listen, are, what are the triggers to get there? Because I think that's where the public health officials have sort of added their imprint on this.

Yes, we want the country to be reopened as well.


We agree, but here are the triggers, 14 days of sustained decreased spread, testing as you've just mentioned, Jake, safe and efficient, administered by the states I think is what that document says, so that has to be really, really widely available.

TAPPER: Right.

GUPTA: On a practical level, not just the numbers. Because we can say we have 10 million tests, if there are still entire states or entire communities that don't have those tests, it doesn't -- it doesn't really matter in terms of getting those places opened. It has to be widely available. No one is saying 325 million people have to be tested. It has to be widely available to get an understanding of where the virus is and how it can be best contained.

TAPPER: It does. I should clarify what I meant. It does mention testing in this document. It just says testing and contact tracing. Ability to quickly set up safe and efficient screening and testing sites. Ability to test people for COVID and trace contacts, ensure sentinel surveillance sites are screaming for asymptomatic cases, which it all makes sense, but the states -- most of the states are not up to capacity for this.

GUPTA: They are not up to capacity. And, you know, we talked -- I talked to several people in leadership positions and various states and you know they give me the reality to have what is possible. It's improving. But it's not there. I mean, that's how they characterize it.

It's not there -- it's not there in some places. It is there in other places. It has to be there in all places. So, you know, I think that -- this document, the big shiny object is going to be understandably, what America looks like after we reopen.

But it's those triggers that are in there that are really important. The one thing I think is going to be a back and forth is whose responsibility is it really to make sure the testing is widely available in an efficient and safe way.

In that document, Jake, and we'll get more clarity again, it says that's really up to the states administering those screenings.

TAPPER: Exactly.

GUPTA: So we'll see.


TAPPER: Core state preparedness responsibilities. Yes.

GUPTA: Some states don't have the ability to do that right now. I think that's what we are hearing. Some do, some don't. So how are they going to do it?

TAPPER: All right. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thanks very much.

GUPTA: You got it.

TAPPER: And be sure to tune in to Sanjay's "CORONAVIRUS: FACTS AND FEARS", CNN global town hall this evening hosted by Sanjay and Anderson Cooper. Their guests will include the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden. Dr. Deborah Birx of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, and Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chen, on their initiative to fight the virus. That's tonight at 8:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

Coming up, it's a key test that could tell you if you have immunity from the virus, but not every antibody test is created equal. Why that could put people's lives at risk.

Plus, presidential adviser and first daughter, Ivanka Trump, apparently ignoring her own advice to other Americans to stay home.

Stay with us.


TAPPER: The Food and Drug Administration or FDA has just authorized its fourth antibody test for emergency use. But since those tests are not for the general public, a new market of non-FDA-approved antibody tests is developing. Some 70 different types of antibody tests are being sold without approved research backing their validity.

The former head of the CDC calling many of these non-approved tests, quote, junk.

CNN's Drew Griffin investigates.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is the one test that can tell you whether you are safe to leave the house. The antibody test -- a finger prick test for feel without symptoms to determine if your blood carries the antibodies of COVID- 19. Meaning you've been exposed to the virus at some point and now potentially immune.

How immune? We just don't know.

DR. ANIA WAJNBERG, MOUNT SINAI HOSPITAL: We still have a lot to learn about what having antibodies means. Does it mean that you're immune? Can people be re-infected? How long will immunity last?

GRIFFIN: At least 70 antibody tests have been developed by companies or hospitals taking advantage of relaxed FDA rules during the coronavirus crisis. But without the FDA certifying the tests, there is no way to know which ones work, leading to companies to use lists of fine prints, including positive results may be due to past or present infection with other viruses.

One sign of the confusion, Dr. Allison Fox, bought 200 tests for her practice in New Jersey only to be told by the New Jersey Health Department do not offer any COVID-19 tests to your patients.

DR. ALLISON FOX: It's incredibly frustrating. It doesn't make sense to me at all.

GRIFFIN: The FDA is now trying to straighten the mess that has been what one testing official called the wild wide west of antibody marketed tests. The National Cancer Institute and its serum-testing lab has been drafted to determine which tests work, which do not.

That is key says Dr. Anya Weinberg who heads up the testing group at New York's Mt. Sinai hospital, which was just given emergency use authorization.

WAJNBERG: So, it's incredibly important as we learn more and use these tests to develop our plans and policies, to reopen society, that we can rely on the results we are being given.

GRIFFIN: The FDA has given emergency use authorization to four antibody tests, but the very first company to get it hasn't been able to get its tests into the United States. Cellex telling CNN Chinese export rules prevented them from shipping their antibody tests to the U.S. so far, but they hope and expect that this issue will be resolved very soon.

Why so important to have widespread antibody testing and make sure they work?


Two big reasons says Harvard epidemiologist Caroline Buckee.

CAROLINE BUCKEE, HARVARD T.H. CHAN SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: So the first thing is to work out how many people have been infected, whether we're close to the epidemic peak or whether we have a long way to go.

GRIFFIN: And the second involves what's known as herd immunity. If having the virus and recovering means we won't get it again and enough of us have had the coronavirus and now carry that immunity, then a large percentage of us of the herd won't be able to spread it.

BUCKEE: We don't need everybody in the population to be immune to the virus. We just need enough people to be immune that the virus can't start to spread again and take off exponentially.

GRIFFIN: That's why it's so important for this next batch of testing widely available, easily reportable, and above all, accurate.


GRIFFIN: And, Jake, the National Cancer Institute is really racing through this process, trying to get the information to the FDA as soon as possible. They tell me within a week they could be through all the tests that they have to do for this first batch.

TAPPER: All right. Drew Griffin in Atlanta, thank you so much.

Joining me now to discuss is Dr. Lisa Dabby. She's an emergency medicine physician at UCLA Health.

Dr. Dabby, good to see you.

I want to start with some breaking news. You have not seen this yet, but CNN just obtained the booklet distributed to governors from the Trump administration ahead of the president's announcement this evening on steps to begin to reopen society and the economy. It does not outline any sort of federal plan for testing, instead leaving it to the states to figure out. It does say that states need to have the ability to quickly set up safe and efficient screening testing sites for symptomatic individuals to test individuals for COVID-19 and trace contacted and ensure sentinel sites are screening for asymptomatic cases.

Are states there? Are states ready for that?

DR. LISA DABBY, EMERGENCY MEDICINE PHYSICIAN, UCLA: So, Jake, I can answer about Los Angeles. We are very lucky at UCLA for doing our own in-house testing. So we have a turn around time of about three hours from getting the specimens, getting the results.

Now, I will say we are definitely the exception and not the norm in L.A. County right now. My colleagues at other hospitals are very limited in the amount of testing they can do. One colleague can only run, even though they have the Abbott machine which has a 15-minute turnaround, they can only do 100 tests in a week because they only have that many swabs.

Another college at an East L.A. hospital can only run 15 a day, 15 a day because they have swabs, and they have the medium to transport the swabs. So they're turning around hundreds of people every day with symptoms who they can't test because they don't have the materials that they need to perform the tests and even worse than that is the outpatient testing through the city of Los Angeles. The outpatient testing turnaround time is anywhere from seven to nine days to get your results.

So by the time you get your results of your tests, you're better and done with the virus or you're much sicker and you're already in the hospital. So we really need to work in Los Angeles and California on increasing the ability to test everybody on a more timely manner.

TAPPER: Yes. And California has been one of the states that's will be heralded for being ahead of the curve on this.

Let me ask you about the piece Drew just did about the FDA-approved antibody tests and the ones that aren't FDA-approved. Do you use the FDA-approved antibody tests and how might they be used to get us out of this crisis?

DABBY: So we are rolling out FDA-approved antibody testing at UCLA. I would just take a minute to caution people to not use the unapproved tests. I think it's really dangerous use a test that's not accurate. If you a take and get a result that you have antibody and you don't really have antibody, then you can be putting yourself in harm's way because you're falsely believing that you have immunity.

Now, having said that, if we use a good accurate test, it can be really useful to know that people have antibody allows us to kind of let down our guard a little bit as we send them out into the community and to know how many people in our community will be affected will be really useful in terms of opening things back up.

TAPPER: Dr. Dabby, you're enrolled in a study that looks at the exposure to coronavirus among healthcare workers. Tell us about that. How does that work?

DABBY: So I just started the study yesterday, and I'm going to be screened twice a month. Both tested for COVID and also tested for antibody. And what the researchers at UCLA are trying to understand is how many of our healthcare workers have already been exposed, how many of our healthcare workers potentially have the virus and don't have any symptoms. I'm really excited to be in this study. A, to be able to help

contribute scientific research and, B, for my own knowledge. It's going to be a game changer for me if I know I have antibodies. It will relax my guard being around my parents, because I know if I have some immunity, I hopefully can't pass anything along to them.

TAPPER: All right. Thank you so much, Dr. Lisa Dabby. And thank you for the work that you and the healthcare workers around the country are doing. We really appreciate it.

DABBY: Thanks. Jake.

TAPPER: While the Trump administration is now focusing on a claim that the virus originated in a lab in China, we're going to take a look into some of the deceptions that we've heard from Chinese officials about the virus.

Stay with us.