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Experts State Widespread Testing for Coronavirus Necessary for Reopening U.S. Economy Currently Unavailable; New Study Suggests Patients Recovered from Coronavirus Susceptible to Reinfection; Experts: Testing is the Biggest Obstacle to Reopen Economy; How Countries Around the World Are Slowly Reopening. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired April 16, 2020 - 08:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have almost 17 million Americans who are out of work.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So much of the transmission occurs from asymptomatic people. Perhaps the way to really put this fire out is to start testing asymptomatic people.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is your NEW DAY. We begin with the crippling effect of the coronavirus pandemic on the U.S. economy and the debate over when and how to get Americans back to work. President Trump will announce new federal guidelines today, but governors and even major business leaders are warning the president that widespread testing needs to happen first before they are willing to reopen.

Dr. Deborah Birx on the White House Task Force says they have identified nine states with fewer than 1,000 confirmed cases. She did not spell out at the time which states those were that could open sooner than others, but you can see on your screen what we believe they are. Business leaders are warning that testing is still inadequate and needs to be dramatically increased before people can go back to work. And the U.S. is still testing at a far lower rate than many other countries, John.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And that's really the news this morning, Alisyn. There are two stories out there, the economic one and the medical one. They're the same story. The economy needs testing to get going at a whole different level than right now. Workers need to feel comfortable that the person in the next cubicle is not infectious. A brand new study indicates that people may be most infectious before showing symptoms. So you need to test people who don't seem sick to guarantee a safe work space. The economy needs testing. In 30 minutes, we're going to see the weekly unemployment claims. They

will be released. Economists are forecasting somewhere between 4 million and 8 million more jobs lost. If that holds, the U.S. economy would have erased all of the jobs creased since the great recession.

CAMEROTA: Joining us now on all of the headlines this morning is CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Sanjay, we have been talking all morning about how everything is part and parcel of testing. People will feel better when there is widespread testing, and they will be able to go outside, and they may be able to go back to work, and we could restart the economy. But we're not there yet. And I was just expressing frustration in the last hour because we keep -- everybody knows that testing is key, OK? But we keep hearing we don't have the capacity for widespread testing, and they can't even manufacture, as far as I know, tests fast enough. So can you give us some timeline for when we could be at that level of testing or what manufacturers are saying about bringing these tests online?

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, I think there is, as I was digging into this yesterday, it seems that there is a couple of different problems here, because you talk to these big labs like Quest and stuff, as you know, in some of these places testing actually went down, the number of tests they were performing went down over a few days, could have been the holiday weekend, but they say in many places there is not a backlog of tests, they're just not testing as much because they haven't had as many requests for tests. In some places there have been backlogs.

I think what is interesting is that even in places where you have additional extra capacity there is still not doing enough tests, which really gives the idea that maybe our criteria for who we're testing is still too stringent. There's places where unless you have symptoms, you can't get tested. That's not surveillance. We're not in surveillance mode like we should be. I think that's part of the issue.

I think if you were to ask -- I'm not suggesting everyone in the country needs to gets test. You can do a sample size that's large enough without testing everybody. But right now there is many places where people, if they said today, right now, I want to get tested today, I want to get my results back today, could I do it? The answer to that question for everybody has to be yes. And right now it's still no in many places.

So it is a question of the number of tests, and I wrote down some 3.3 million tests have now been done in the United States. We need to be doing around 750,000 to a million a day, roughly, according to some of these calculations, for a period of time. And we need to apply that uniformly across the country. So numbers yes, widespread, uniform application of that availability as well. I think there's two issues there, Alisyn.

BERMAN: That's twice as many tests in a week as we are doing right now. You are talking about -- you're talking about twice as many tests in a week than we have done total right now.

And Sanjay, I heard you asking that question all day yesterday. And I put it on my to do list, because I don't know the answer to that question. I don't know where I can get a test with my results back today, and it is absolutely something we all need to find out and have an instant answer for that question.

I want to tie this to the economic news and the latest medical study we saw in nature medicine yesterday, the idea that people are most infectious, perhaps, or shedding the most virus perhaps two days before they're actually symptomatic.


So what does that mean in terms of testing as we talk about reopening? Does that mean we need point of entry testing? Does that mean that Alisyn Camerota, not just in the box, in the TV next to me, but in the office, literally next to mine at CNN, even if she's not symptomatic, do I need to have her tested so I can feel comfortable coming back to work?

GUPTA: I know that sounds jarring, but the answer to that question might be yes. We've heard for the essential worker guidelines a couple weeks ago where they were going to have their temperatures checked at home, again when they arrive at the office, wear masks, but that's obviously trying to find if someone is symptomatic, checking their temperature. We have known for some time people with spread this virus if they're asymptomatic, meaning they don't have symptoms, they never developed symptoms, and now the study shows that people can spread the virus if they're pre-symptomatic. So yes, I think it could get to that point, almost like a saliva test that is rapid, something that is going to be a rapid sort of test that people start having done at least for a period of time until there is good therapeutics, until there is a vaccine, obviously, or until we show that there is good immunity.

I think one of the larger issues, John, testing very important, but you know we always say test and then trace. So if you're sick, you have symptoms, hopefully you stay home, the tracing is still challenging, but a little bit easier as a result of the fact that hopefully you're staying home.

If I had to ask you before all this, how many people did you come in contact with for two to three days before you started to develop symptoms, it would be near impossible to try and figure that out. But that's the sort of tracing that would still need to be done if we're being serious about being in containment mode, trying to contain the virus. So testing has to be really ramped, up and the tracing, hundreds of thousands of people may need -- this might be an entire new industry in our country, tracing industry, hundreds of thousands of people to be able to do that very laborious task.

CAMEROTA: Sanjay, there is this incredible video just out, I know that you've been studying it from the "New England Journal of Medicine," look at this, everyone, on your screen. On the left, you can see these little illuminated droplets, and on the right you can see just two. They sort of look like constellations. On the left is somebody, correct me if I'm wrong, Sanjay, of -- somebody not wearing a mask. And this is the droplets. And I don't know if they're coughing here or just speaking. And then on the right are somebody wearing a mask. So what do you see with all this?

GUPTA: Yes, they were just saying "Stay healthy." That's what they were saying. It was on the "th" sound of "healthy" that the most droplets were being expressed, large droplets, small droplets, someone not wearing a mask obviously versus wearing a mask. The case has been made for some time that if you wear a mask, you're doing it to protect others from you. Not so much to protect yourself from others. These cloth masks that we have been talking about. And that's a visual sort of depiction of that.

The question was, how many droplets are you actually putting out just by talking and saying something like stay healthy in this case. And you can see that we put out a fair number of droplets. The large droplets tend to fall to the ground more quickly. Smaller droplets can sometimes dehydrate very quickly in the air before they even fall. And just the genetic materials hovers in the air for a little bit. It is not true aerosolization, but that's what they're trying to show, that's just by natural talking, this is what we're expressing, and a mask can reduce it by a significant amount.

BERMAN: And that's why masks are very much part of the discussion now in many places in the country, thinking about allowing people back to work.

Sanjay, we want your take on a new study that we saw, or new information that we saw just before we came to air this morning, and that came from South Korea, that 114 people there who had believed to be recovered from coronavirus had tested positive again, or at least shown traces of the virus again. Explain to us what that means and the possible implications here, because one of the questions we have been asking is, do we know for sure you can't get it again if you've already have it?

BERMAN: Right. Right. So two important terms here. One is reinfection, so someone has the virus, they get infected, they clear the virus, it has gone from their body, and then they get infected again. And then another one is reactivation, which basically means you had the virus in your body, you got better in terms of symptoms, but in fact the virus was still there and something reactivated the virus. Never left your body, but it got reactivated in some way so you got sick again. Two different things.

From a reinfection standpoint, you know, the answer to both these things, John, and I think we always have to give some -- be humble here when we give answers, we don't know, we're still pretty early days into this, there has been some early animal studies maybe suggesting animals could be re-infected. But a lot of people have been asked about this, Dr. Fauci has been asked about this a few times, I've been keeping special notes on this.


And what we hear is that it is very unlikely to be re-infected. If this behaves like any other virus, including other coronaviruses, after you're infected your body should develop antibodies that provide some immunity. We don't know how strong or how long, but should provide some immunity. Is it possible the virus doesn't leave for much longer than we think? We have been interviewing this guy, Carl Goldman, for some time who seemed to have evidence of the virus in his body, being swabbed every other day, evidence of the virus in his body for about a month. So it is possible this virus hangs in the body much longer than we thought. In Carl's case, he eventually did clear it, so it is not like someone that hangs in your body forever and creates a shingles like pattern years down the line, doesn't seem to be that case. But it may be hanging out in the body much longer than we realize.

CAMEROTA: Really interesting, Sanjay. Thank you for helping us understand all of these headlines this morning with these new medical developments.

Be sure to join Anderson Cooper an Dr. Sanjay Gupta for a new CNN coronavirus town hall. It's tonight at 8:00 p.m. Joe Biden will be joining them as well as Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Dr. Priscilla Chan on how Facebook and the Chan-Zuckerberg initiative are working to try to combat the coronavirus.

CAMEROTA: OK, so how can the United States get the widespread testing that we have been talking about for everyone? We're going to ask the man who coordinated the Obama administration's response to the Ebola outbreak. That's next.



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: So, President Trump told us he will announce his plans to begin reopening parts of the country today. Many local and state officials say they need reliable testing at a mass level to lift social distancing guidelines safely.

Joining me now is Ron Klain. He's the former Ebola response coordinator during the Obama administration who has supported Joe Biden or is supporting Joe Biden for president right now.

Ron, I want to start with testing and I want to put aside the problems that existed and the failures of testing for the beginning of coronavirus in the United States. They happened. What I want to know is starting from today, April 16th, 2020, how do we scale up the testing the way we need to in this country and whose responsibility is to make it happen.

RON KLAIN, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Well, it is most important question and I'm glad you've been discussing it this morning. There's only really one solution and that's for the federal government to use its powers under the Defense Production Act to order and pay for massive number of tests. You know, John, I think the -- leaving aside, leaving aside what went wrong in February and March, the frustrating thing is we're not going to test any more people this week than we did last week or the week before that. We have plateaued at around 150,000 tests a day. It is not going up.

If you don't go up, you're never going to get the kind of numbers you've been talking about, 500,000, 750,000 tests a day. We're never going to get there.

So, the only way to fix that is with federal leadership. The states can't do this on their own, they cannot use the kind of powers the federal government has to mandate the production and distribution of the massive number of tests you're talking about.

BERMAN: Do you think we need to be testing healthy people, healthy seeming people?

KLAIN: Yes, ultimately we do. First problem we have is we're not even testing all the sick people now. We're not even testing all the people who their doctors suspect they have the virus. So, that's obviously job number one, right?

But as you said, to eventually restore a sense of safety and security, we're going to have to develop and administer very inexpensive point of contact tests so we can -- the very least conduct surveillance on what communities have the virus, where it is, what cities, what towns are seeing outbreaks, we're going to need millions and millions of tests a week eventually, but we're nowhere close to that and the first step is getting that 1 percent of the country every week being tested.

BERMAN: I want to ask you about vaccines, you have experienced in dealing with this, helping coordinate it, and obviously everyone wants them to discover the vaccine for coronavirus right now. But you point out something interesting, I think people need to hear that the challenge might not be with discovering the vaccine exactly, is it?

KLAIN: Well, so, it is obviously a challenge. I don't mean to minimize the scientific -- the brilliant work the scientists are doing. But it is only the first step and that's my point, which is that once this virus is discovered and tested, which I expect may well happen this summer or fall, you have the massive project of making 300 million doses for America and may be discovered and tested in other countries, and we're going to have to fight with other countries who is going to get the vaccine first, how it is going to be made, just manufacturing this is quite a challenge.

And then, of course, it has to be put in people's arms. And inoculating 300 million Americans is going to be a massive logistical challenge. And also we know we face vaccine resistance, vaccine hesitancy in the country already, we're going to have to overcome that to get people to take the vaccine.

BERMAN: That's a whole other issue, that will be really interesting to see if people have been fighting certain vaccines drop that resistance, all of a sudden.

Ron, I want your take on another thing here. I want to play sound from Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana, and I want to discuss what he's talking about here. So, listen to this.


SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R-LA): We got to open the economy. If we don't, it is going to collapse. And if the U.S. economy collapses, the world economy collapses. And trying to burn down the village to save it is foolish.

When we end the shutdown, the virus is going to spread faster. That's just the fact. And the American people understand that.


BERMAN: I want to approach this if we cannot from a political standpoint, moral or societal standpoint, because it is the question that is being weighed, at a certain level it is what we have to address as a society, which is how much risk are we willing to accept when we reopen the economy? How do you address that?

KLAIN: Well, first of all, I think you have to understand that you can open the economy, but will the customers show up? It is one thing to say everything is open.


But if people believe that going to a restaurant is going to get them sick, people believe that going to a store will get them sick, you're going to have open stores and restaurants with no customers.

So that's why I think you can't separate the necessary health steps we need to make us all feel safe with the idea of reopening the economy. That's the first thing I'd say.

The second thing is there is reopening and there different kinds of reopening, right? We need to protect the workers who are working in these places, we need to protect ourselves. That means much more widespread distribution of masks, gloves, protective gear, even rethinking the way in which we operate some businesses, spreading workers farther apart, being open with social distancing.

So, you know, I think there is a lot of hard work that needs to be done. I give credit to the governors in the Eastern part of the United States, meeting with business leaders, and really not just cheerleading about opening the economy, but doing the hard work of figuring out how to make opening safer when it happens. I think that's what we should be focused on.

Can we get testing in place, can we get the healthcare system where it needs to be and then can we do things to make us all safer as we start to move around more in a less socially distanced world?

BERMAN: Giving everything you just said, one political question, do you think there can be a Democratic National Convention in August in Milwaukee?

KLAIN: Yes, I think it's just too soon to say. We have to see where the virus stands. Certainly, it is our hope to have a convention in Milwaukee in August. If that turns out not to be safe, we'll make other plans.

BERMAN: Ron Klain, thanks very much for being with us this morning.

KLAIN: Thanks for having me. BERMAN: So, so many countries around the world struggling with the

same questions as the United States. When will it be safe to lift the lockdowns, how do you do that? We show you what is being done around the world, next.



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Countries in Europe and Asia are slowly reopening during this pandemic. So we have reporters around the world to bring you the latest.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Fred Pleitgen in Berlin, where Germany is actually tightening some lockdown measures, while also easing some of the anti-coronavirus restrictions. Large gatherings will remain banned in Germany until at least the end of August. At the same time, smaller shops can start opening starting Monday. Germany has seen a strong decrease in the number of coronavirus cases, but also has seen a surge in new deaths.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Ben Wedeman in Rome. Italian government started this week allowing some shops, factories and businesses to reopen. Now that the coronavirus outbreak here is beginning to ease, there is hope that in the coming weeks the economy can be gradually revived. Just how bad is the economy? Well, the international monetary fund warns that Italy's gross domestic product could plummet by more than 9 percent this year because of the virus.


Boris Johnson introduced a lockdown in Britain on the 23rd of March and said that it would be reviewed in three weeks time. The prime minister was admitted to hospital into the intensive care unit and is now recuperating at the prime minister's estate, Chequers. So, with Dominic Raab deputizing for the prime minister, Boris Johnson out of action and the chief medical officer in the country saying Britain looks like it is at the peak, but not past the peak, the expectation and the word for ministers is that Britain will remain in lockdown for the near future.

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Scott McLean in Madrid where the Spanish government says an increase in testing is responsible for a new spike in reported cases after a week of lower numbers. And a new study suggests that nearly 1 in 3 of Spain's nurses, about 70,000 of them, may have contracted the virus. The study, which is from the Spanish college of nursing, suggests that nurses think that a lack of personal protective equipment is partially to blame. According to the official data, nearly 28,000 healthcare workers across Spain have contracted the virus.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Matthew Chance, with news that the Kremlin is set to decide on canceling its annual military parade amid concerns over COVID-19. The May 9th event which commemorates the end of the Second World War is one of most important days of the Russian calendar. Its cancellation will send a stark message.

Only weeks ago, President Putin told the Russian people the virus was under control. Since then there has been a strict lockdown, record daily infections, and a distinct change in tone with Putin now forced to admit the peak of the pandemic in Russia is yet to be reached.


CAMEROTA: And here in the U.S., the new jobless numbers are about to come out. We'll have them for you next.