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Trump To Unveil Reopening Guidelines Amid Health, Biz Warnings; South Korea Says, 141 Recovered Patients Test Positive Again; Anti- Anxiety Medication Prescriptions Up 34 Percent Amid Coronavirus. Aired 1-1:30p ET
Aired April 16, 2020 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Anderson Cooper picks up our coverage right now. Have a good afternoon.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: I'm Anderson Cooper. Thanks for joining our special coverage of the global coronavirus pandemic.
31 days after the White House its first social distancing guideline. Later today, the president is expected to unveil his plan on how to begin to reopen the economy. And while the president is ready to give some direction, he's getting plenty of some signals of nation's governors and consumers are not necessarily waiting to take it.
America's two largest cities, New York and Los Angeles, and the nation's capital, they have all gone ahead and extended stay-at-home order until May 15th. And it's two weeks later than the May 1st deadline, sources say the president is determined to try and set.
Plus, moments ago, New York's governor, Andrew Cuomo, just announced the same extension for his state and the six other states coordinating with him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): We have to continue doing what we're doing. I would like to see that infection rate get down even more. The New York pause policies, the close down policies will be extended in coordination with other states to May 15th.
I don't want to project beyond that period. That's about one month.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: In the meantime, more than 640,000 people have been infected. Now, more than 31,000 have died from the virus.
And take a look at this line of cars of families seeking food in Cypress, Texas, as we learn another 5 million people applied for employment, bringing the month total to a historic 22 million.
In about two hours, the president is set to do a video conference with governors to go over his new guidance or his guidelines ahead of the announcement. And the president may repeat his beliefs some areas maybe are going to reopen sooner than others. The White House task force identified nine states with fewer than a thousand cases.
Our Kaitlan Collins is at the White House. So, Kaitlan, before you talk about what the president's plans may be for reopening, those involved, I know you have the details on the kind of pressure he's getting about reopening the economy.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. You are hearing from these calls the president is on with these business leaders who were saying, we don't think testing is there yet to open up. But, Anderson, there are a lot of people who are also pressuring the president to do so soon.
I want to point to the statement from Stephen Moore. If you remember him, he was the guy that the president was going to put on the Federal Reserve board. They had to pull him out of the last minute after he did get a lot of criticism. And he is one of many people who's on a list of people who are advising the president on reopening the country.
And he is really signifying in the statement here what other people are pressuring the president to do as well. He says that these new unemployment numbers that came out today should be a five alarm wake up for Washington and the nation's governors. And Stephen Moore says, starting tomorrow, we need to let American businesses open up their doors and allow tens of millions workers back earning a paycheck. He says, if we don't act soon, hundreds of thousands of Americans could die from economic deprivation and hopelessness.
Now, that is what the president is listening to, while he's also hearing his state governors and people like Governor Cuomo extend their deadlines actually for how long they're going to keep their states closed down the way they are right now before they even think about starting opening up business. And this, of course, comes as, his afternoon, the president is going to have that call, he's going to preview his guidelines with them before formally revealing them at that press briefing later on.
And a lot still remains to be seen about what those are going to look like. But, really, a question is, is that the president is hearing these concerns about testing. Because yesterday, when we asked does he want to address those concerns from the business leaders, the president didn't really answer and instead just maintained that testing in the United States is going well despite the concerns that we are hearing.
COOPER: Kaitlan, do you know what it is or why it is that the president sort of seems resistant to talk about testing and ramping up testing? I know he says it is up to the states to do that and they'll stand behind the states and support them. But, I mean, is it -- do you know -- is there an explanation for why?
COLLINS: Well, if you look at the overall, the administration's response, testing has been is a singular failure. And the president is aware of that. It is something that was a crisis point, at one point, inside the administration when they were talking about it.
And since then, the president has been insisting that testing is going fine and he's not hearing as many concerns. But just because you're not hearing as many concerns, it doesn't mean the concerns aren't still there.
And Governor Cuomo floated that idea earlier saying the president should use the Defense Production Act -- not Governor Cuomo. Health experts were earlier floating this idea where they can use the Defense Production Act to ramp up testing supplies so then all of these states can have the testing that they need to have. Because we're still hearing concerns even though they've got these rapid tests, those tests that deliver results in 15 minutes or sooner, they're delivering those Abbott Labs tests to states.
Some of the governors say they don't have the cartridges to actually conduct those tests or they may have enough to do eight tests for their entire state. So that's what we heard from the governor of Illinois.
So they still have these concerns. But the president has just been largely glossing over them instead of saying, okay, we got X amount of tests, we're going to be at this level by May 1 to offer some kind of reassurance to these businesses, but also to the consumers who would be the ones they would need to be going into and using these businesses.
COOPER: Kaitlan Collins, I appreciate it. As always, thanks very much.
So where is the country on getting to the largest scale needed? CNN Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is here and try to break that down for us. Elizabeth?
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. These tests are so crucial, as we just heard Kaitlan talk about. These antibodies tell you if you have already been infected and developed antibodies, and that could mean that you are immune. The problem is they need to be out there on a wide scale. And even more, they need to be tests that accurate.
COHEN: With the country shutting down, one thing that could help bring it back to life is this test. It tells you whether you've had COVID-19 and developed antibodies. If so, you could be immune.
DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: So these are the kinds of tests that we know will be critical in the future.
COHEN: On Wednesday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the second and third antibody tests for the United States, especially helpful for doctors and nurses. BIRX: I think really being able to tell them. The peace of mind that would come from knowing you already were infected, you have the antibody and you are safe from reinfection, 99.9 percent of the time. And so this, I think, would be very reassuring to our frontline healthcare workers.
COHEN: The concern now, getting those tests out and distributed to hospitals and doctor's offices.
Meanwhile, more concerns about hydroxychloroquine, a malaria drug much touted by President Trump to use against COVID-19.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes, I think it could be a game changer and maybe not, and maybe not. But I think it could be based on what I see. It could be a game changer, very powerful.
COHEN: But a new French study of 181 coronavirus patients suggested that hydroxychloroquine doesn't work against coronavirus and the patients who took it had a higher risk of developing heart problems. The study has yet to be peer reviewed but doctors in Sweden and Brazil say they've seen heart problems too and they're issuing warnings about the drug.
The ultimate weapon against coronavirus would be a vaccine. But it will take many months or even more than a year to get a vaccine on the market. So until then, social distancing is the best we can do.
COHEN: Now, we can't emphasize enough, Anderson, that all of these drugs from the vaccines that are being in investigate, they're just being investigated. They are not useful to us right now. So all the more reason why we need to pay attention to what we are being told to do, which is to stay at home. Anderson?
COOPER: All right. Elizabeth Cohen, thanks.
There is a lack of widespread tests and we know that some states aren't projected to reach their peak until this summer. And a new study shows the most infectious people may be those who aren't yet showing any symptoms.
Now given all of that, we want to look at what the impact of reopening the U.S. economy may be sooner rather than later. Dr. Peter Hotez is Professor and Dean of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. Dr. Hotez, thanks for joining us again.
You say a modification should be made at the president's reopening plan. What are you suggesting?
DR. PETER HOTEZ, PROFESSOR AND DEAN OF TROPICAL MEDICINE, BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: Well, what I'm suggesting is that the problem goes way beyond even just the testing. We don't really even or states don't have individual approaches for how they're going to manage the situation. I have been calling for a pilot program to be implemented in maybe one or two states to see how we're actually going to roll this out. Let me explain very briefly.
We talked about the antibody tests to see if you've been infected or not and then potentially immune, although we don't know that for sure. But let's assume that you are resistant to reinfection. That's still only a minority of the country. Marc Lipsitch last night said, about 10 percent of the country may be has been infected, 30 million people. So the vast majority of Americans, even in an area where there's been a fair bit of transmission will not already have antibodies. So there's that piece.
Then you've got a number of people coming into the workplace. They're going to be very worried, concerned about getting infected, how are you going to have the mental counseling available for those individuals. And then you start doing the testing. Okay, great, let's say you have a rapid test available. Who's going to organize that? Is that going to be the individual companies, the origin of the places of business and then how do you roll out the results and what do you do with that information? Who is going to do the contact tracing? And do we have the capacity for the contact tracing? By that, I mean if an individual is infected, you identify all the people that have come into contact with and you have to do the contacts of the contacts. It's one of the most labor-intensive things a public health department does.
I mean, when New York City had to handle the 600 cases of measles last year, it was all hands-on deck for the city health department for those 600 cases.
Now, you're talking about thousands and thousands of people potentially with positive for COVID-19. How are you going to hire the workforce, ramp up the workforce and hire those individuals? How are you going to train them?
So the point is this is a very daunting undertaking for a state and I don't see how you are going to roll that out very quickly. It will likely to take months to roll out the full program that's going to be needed for that purpose.
So, number one is I think we have to buy more time, which is good, because right now, if you look at the IHME curves, these different health metrics, they're only going down now. Remember, the peak in the U.S. was just a week or so ago. And in Texas, for instance, where we are, the peak hasn't even happened yet. So I think, at the minimum, we want to get down to the nadir of that curve, the bottom part of the curve, which is around May 15th thinking and New York. Maybe that's why governor picked that.
And even then we have to put all these things in place. The testing is absolutely critical when people say, testing, testing, testing. But when you actually look at the output, how you operationalize it and make it meaningful, there is a lot of moving parts to this that have to be done in place. I doubt anybody has really done that.
COOPER: Right, I mean, a couple -- a lot to unpack there. But just on contact tracing, I've heard estimates of a hundred thousand people might be needed if you're going to get really serious about contact tracing. Some health departments, which have been underfunded for decades, just tell somebody who's tested positive with other diseases or illnesses, contact all the people you were in contact with and let them know you tested positive and they should come in for a test, and that's contact tracing.
What you're talking about is much more legitimate, real contact tracing, where somebody is actually tracking those people down and having them talk to people, correct?
HOTEZ: That's right. And then you can add a layer on to that doing what's called syndromic testing, syndromic surveillance, where doing sentinel sites and you're monitoring individuals coming in with fever, respiratory symptoms. The point is it's all doable but it's a big -- it's a new infrastructure that has to be put in place.
COOPER: And I am not sure that the federal establishment is really -- I mean, they're certainly not really talking about that publicly. I interviewed the head of the CDC, Dr. Redfield. I think it was last week on our town hall, Sanjay and I. And when -- I think it was Sanjay put those numbers to him, of a hundred thousand people, he seemed to indicate, well, he sort of poo-pooed that that those numbers may not be necessary because of technology, using technology. I'm not sure what technology he was necessarily referring to was.
HOTEZ: Well, there is some technology around syndromic surveillance and we are hearing some of the apps that Google and Apple and Kinnser are rolling out, all useful but it's got to be implemented and orchestrated. And we are not getting a lot of federal guidance coming down.
I know there is a new document coming out jointly from FEMA and CDC, I haven't seen that yet. I guess we'll see what that looks like. But the point is I don't think the states, the individual states with a couple of exceptions have the horsepower to organize this. They don't have the depths and breath of the epidemiologic modeling and the health systems management to be able to do that.
So there is going to be a need for federal guidance and federal support. That's why I say let's put this together at least in a couple of states to operationalize it and see what it looks like, troubleshoot it and then maybe we can begin to rolling out a more ambitious plan for the country.
But just to say (ph) let's do this now, it's just not going to happen.
COOPER: Yes. Dr. Hotez, as always, I appreciate it. Thank you.
A reminder, I'll be hosting a weekly live global town hall to answer your questions about coronavirus night. It's our seventh one. Dr. Sanjay Gupta and I will be hosting this. Our special guests will Dr. Deborah Birx from the White House task force, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden will also be joining us, as well as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan. It starts at 8:00 Eastern only in CNN, from 8:00 to 10:00. Ahead, South Korea reported dozens of recovered patients have tested positive again. We'll take a look at what maybe behind that.
Plus, health officials are warning that alcohol may increase your risk of getting the virus and make it worse once you do.
And after telling people to stay home, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner have traveled out of state for Passover.
COOPER: There's disturbing news out of South Korea. More than 140 patients who seemingly recovered from coronavirus have tested positive again. South Korea's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said, the agency does not know what caused the people to retest positive and they're currently investigating.
We want to discuss it with our Medical Analyst, Dr. Seema Yasmin. Dr. Yasmin, what do you make of this? I mean, it's a stark contrast from what so many experts have said that it's unlikely somebody will be re- infected for the coronavirus soon after recovery. Is -- but we've also heard cases of there being kind of COVID hiding in reservoirs inside people after they've supposedly recovered but they still tested positive. But I assume this people want -- I mean, do we know if these people tested negative and then later tested positive again?
DR. SEEM YASMIN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: So that's what we are hearing, Anderson. And there are three potential explanations that could help us understand what's going on here.
The first, as you mentioned, is reinfection. And I really hope that that's the least likely of the three possible explanations. Because if folks are getting re-infected so soon after they've already been sick, that does not bode well for how long or how short the immunity might be to this virus.
But the second explanation could be this idea of reactivation. And many viruses do this. The one that causes chicken pox stays inside our bodies forever, basically. And in one-third of people, it reactivates later in life a shingle. That could be the second explanation.
But I'm really hoping we're looking at this third scenario, which points more to the test than to the virus itself. So we know that with every hundred tests that we do after PCR tests, between two to five come back inaccurate. Meaning, we are telling people they are negative when actually they are positive. And I really hope that as we learn more that this is a scenario that we are pointing to more and more.
COOPER: So it's possible it's just false negative testing?
YASMIN: Yes. And I hope that that is the one as opposed to reinfection or reactivation of a later virus.
COOPER: Right. If there is reinfection, how soon would we know whether or not somebody is immune? I mean, we have been obviously talking about this. It's been sort of assumed. Dr. Fauci has said his instinct is that -- based on what he knows about these types of viruses, that his instinct is that you would have some immunity to it whether it's like a seasonal flu-type immunity after a vaccine or not. Do we know when we'll know one way or the other on that?
YASMIN: So I'm really hoping that because this SARS COVID 2 is so genetically similar so SARS COVID 1, the virus that caused the outbreak in 2002-2003, with that virus, we were seeing people have an immune response. It lasted for a year to two, potentially even three years.
And I'm hoping that a lot of our hunches and our instincts based on this new virus, which are really formed from what we know from those older coronaviruses pan out to be true.
And I hope that we're seeing not just, oh, you have a few weeks of an immune response and those antibodies hang around for a month. I really hope that as we get more data, that we've learned that the antibody response is more solid than that and sticks around for longer than that.
But to answer your question about when we'll know, it's a time game. This is such a new virus. We're still looking at how long the immune response loss in people. And so for some of that, we just need time on our hands.
COOPER: Obviously, so many people around the globe, millions of people around the globe stuck at home, they're seeing a video of happy hours happening, people drinking at home. The WHO is now saying that drinking alcohol can increase the risk of catching the virus and making it worse if you do get it.
YASMIN: That's right, Anderson. So it was troubling that the week of March 21st, we saw 55 percent uptick in the sales of alcohol across the U.S. And that should be the biggest spike of 75 percent increase at that time in the sales of spirits, so stronger alcohols.
And this may tie hand in hand with these myths that are going around about two things. One, that alcohol disinfects you internally and that alcohol boosts your immune system, and neither of those are true. Yes, we use strong alcohol solutions to disinfect surfaces, to clean the skin before we do things, like take a blood sample. The alcohol doesn't magically disinfect your insides. And, actually, it can lower your immune system's ability to fight infections.
So I think the World Health Organization is saying don't drink at all, that might be a bit off a big ask at such an anxious time, but definitely drink alcohol in moderation and be aware that it's not protecting you. It's really lowering your body's ability to fight infection.
COOPER: It's a good thing to keep in mind. Dr. Yasmin, thanks so much, I appreciate it, as always.
Ahead, protests are up in several states against social distancing measures. We'll take a look at that.
Plus, as grocery stores see unprecedented demand, African-Americans facie increase risk. Grocery workers are feeling more vulnerable on the frontlines.
COOPER: Well, perhaps it's not a surprise, more Americans are turning to anti-anxiety medication as the coronavirus crisis drags on. A new report from Express Scripts says, prescriptions for anti-anxiety medicines spiked 34 percent last month. Usage was nearly twice as high for women compared to men.
I want to get some more headlines from our colleagues all around the country.
ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Athena Jones in New York, where two additional members of the New York Police Department have died after testing positive for the coronavirus. Detective Robert Cardona and Carol Ryer, a traffic enforcement agent, lost their battles with the disease on Wednesday, according to Police Commissioner Dermot Shea, who tweeted, the hearts of all the members of the NYPD are heavy as we vow to never forget. Wednesday's deaths bring the total number of NYPD members lost to COVID-19 to 27.
AMARA WALKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I am Amara Walker in Atlanta. Fed up with their state's stay-at-home orders, protesters are demanding that their local economy be opened up.
In Lansing, Michigan, Wednesday, protesters could be seen without wearing masks and in close proximity of each other. But the majority of the protesters were in their cars, honking their horns and jamming traffic for miles.
Similar scenes played out in Raleigh, North Carolina, outside the legislative building.