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States vs. Trump; Has U.S. Reached Coronavirus Peak?; New Model Advisers Some States Could Relax Social Distancing As Early as May 4th. Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired April 17, 2020 - 16:00   ET


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: And we have some brand-new models just in to CNN that suggest some states might be able to relax some restrictions as soon as May 4, though other states may need to wait until June or July.


We will discuss that more with Dr. Sanjay Gupta coming up.

We're also getting brand-new details from a disastrous call with Vice President Pence, where Senate Democrats pressed him on testing. Democratic sources say there were no clear answers. Multiple governors from both parties say they still do not have the necessary supplies to conduct as much testing as they need or equipment, and they're in desperate need of more federal help.

But, today, President Trump tweeted: "The states need to step up their testing."

The buck stops there, suggests President Trump.

The president also lashed out at family targets,ranging from Democratic congressional leaders to President Obama and Vice President Biden.

And the day in the day after he told the nation's governors directly that they would call their own shots, and that they were all very capable people, the president today tweeting that states run by three Democratic governors should be -- quote -- "liberated," whatever that means.

He attacked New York's Governor Andrew Cuomo by name, saying that Cuomo should complain less and do more. This was Governor Cuomo's response:


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): First of all, if he's sitting home watching TV, maybe he should get up and go to work, right?

How many times do you want me to say thank you? But I'm saying thank you for doing your job. This was your role as president. OK?


TAPPER: This kicks off today with CNN's Kaitlan Collins live for us at the White House.

Kaitlan, some of these protesters in states objecting to the guidelines that both state and national health officials say are saving lives, they're also challenging Republican governors.

Here's one protest against Ohio Republican Mike DeWine from earlier this week. But President Trump is only encouraging protests against three Democratic governors, and, pointedly, they're in states that he wants to win in November.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and he's made no mistake about that.

And, certainly, Jake, it's notable because just yesterday the president was saying it is up to governors to make these decisions about when they feel it's safe to reopen their states. And now the president is encouraging these protesters who are pushing back at those stay-at-home measures, some of them strict, that a lot of these governors have put in place.

And the question is, is it going to set up this broader clash, where the president is encouraging these protesters to push back against these restrictions while these governors feel that they need to stay in place?


COLLINS (voice-over): After unveiling a plan to reopen the country that didn't include a national testing strategy, President Trump is lashing out at states and telling them to expand testing on their own.

Trump's phased approach at reopening the nation doesn't address the concerns he heard about testing from governors, business executives and lawmakers in recent days.

Despite that, Trump said some states could reopen by the end of the month or even earlier.

CUOMO: It's up to the governors.

COLLINS: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said his state wouldn't be able to fully reopen without federal help.

CUOMO: Help on testing, because states can't do that.

COLLINS: Trump tweeted before Cuomo even finished speaking, telling him to spend more time doing and less time complaining, and the president accused him of never thanking the federal government.

Cuomo fired back almost instantly.

CUOMO: First of all, if he's sitting home watching TV, maybe he should get up and go to work, right? COLLINS: After acknowledging the president's efforts to help New York, Cuomo said he's been appreciative.

CUOMO: How many times do you want me to say thank you? But I'm saying thank you for doing your job. This was your role as president. OK?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Because they all want to open.

COLLINS: Less than a day after Trump told governors it was up to them when states reopen, he embraced protesters in three states who rallied against their governors' stay-at-home orders.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Try to come back May 1.

COLLINS: Trump tweeted that Minnesota, Michigan and Virginia should be liberated. All three states have Democratic governors and are considered battlegrounds for the presidential election.


COLLINS: Now, Jake, as you can see from the videos, a lot of these protesters are the president's own supporters. They're wearing his shirts, waving his flags, and he acknowledged yesterday that there are people in those groups that like him and that listen to him when he says -- when he tells them essentially guidance of what to do.

He dodged a question yesterday. Now he's tweeting that they should be -- these states should be liberated. And we should note that one of the governors is responding. That's Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who said earlier today she hopes the president's tweets do not incite more protests in her state.

And she said that anyone with a platform should be using it to encourage people, not the way the president is using his today.

TAPPER: All right, Kaitlan Collins, thanks so much.

Governors today are announcing their next steps after President Trump released his reopening guidelines.

I want to bring in CNN's Nick Watt in Los Angeles.

So, Nick, most governors are making it clear they will need help from the federal government with testing and more in order to reopen.



They need the help with testing, because, number one, they're going to need to keep track of this virus once we start to reopen. And they also need testing to meet those guidelines laid down by the president.

A flurry of governor activity today. We had Newsom here in California advising other governors, don't play politics. Governor Whitmer in Michigan, saying, we will reengage our economy when it's safe. Governor Murphy in New Jersey saying, if you're mad, if you want someone to blame, blame me, it is on me.

It is also increasingly clear today that we have looked pretty similar, 97 percent of us across the country, under stay-home orders. Pretty clear that moving forward we will begin to look very different in different places.


WATT (voice-over): This afternoon in Jacksonville, Florida, they're reopening beaches and parks with some restrictions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Folks, this can be the beginning of the pathway back to normal life, but please respect and follow these limitations.

WATT: The president says 29 states now in the ball game to open relatively soon, perhaps Utah.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Definitely, in the next couple of weeks, we believe that certain parts of the economy could be open.

WATT: Utah has less than 3,000 confirmed cases, but take, say, Massachusetts, more than 32,000 cases.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's no doubt that Massachusetts continues to see an uptick in new cases, tests, and in, unfortunately, fatalities.

WATT: In Texas, state parks will open Monday. A week from now, stores can open for pickup only, but:

GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): School classrooms are closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year.

WATT: Governors, not the president, will be calling the shots.

GOV. MIKE DEWINE (R-OH): We must get this right, because the stakes are very high.

GOV. MIKE DUNLEAVY (R-AK): When we open things up, can we expect a spike? We hope not. But it won't shock us if that occurs. What we will see is a establishment, a venue, a locale.

WATT: Some saying, we're just not there yet.

CUOMO: You have to develop a testing capacity that does not now exist. We cannot do it without federal help.

WATT: West Virginia wants to test every single resident and staff member in the state's nursing homes. Mississippi just extended its stay-home order another week.

GOV. TATE REEVES (R-MS): I hoped and I prayed we would be there based on their metrics. We're just not there yet.

WATT: Reopening will be regional. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Opening some states, and other others, it's a little bit like -- somebody said to me, it's a little bit like having a peeing section in the swimming pool. Imagine if Georgia was open, but Alabama wasn't. It wouldn't make much of a difference.

WATT: Some neighboring states are coordinating a new bloc just formed in the middle of the country.

There is no vaccine yet, no proven therapeutics, but remdesivir, designed to fight Ebola, apparently now showing promise in COVID-19 trials.

DR. LEILA HOJAT, CLEVELAND MEDICAL CENTER: We have had a lot of our patients improving and going home. And I think that we're all really pleased to see that.

It's hard to know at this point if that's related to the study drug or not.

WATT: And let's not forget there are still thousands of health care workers on the front lines.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a lot of sick patients, multi-organ failure.

WATT: Still so many lives in the balance.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we have a lot of young patients. This patient here, pregnant patient, who is, unfortunately, at the verge of being intubated. And we're trying to save her.


WATT: Now, I'm at LAX today, because the mayor of Los Angeles last night said that air travel in and out of the city had fallen by 95 percent. I didn't believe him, but I think he's right.

I have been here two hours, and I have seen, I think, three planes in the sky. Interesting, going back to the president's guidelines, nonessential travel is a phase two opening up. So California is actually doing pretty well on those guidelines.

But by my back-of-the-envelope reckoning, we are still 24 days away from LAX getting back to anything near normal. That is us here in Los Angeles.

I want to go now to Lauren Fox in Washington, D.C., who has some reporting on a phone call and the vice president -- Lauren.

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Well, as more and more attention continues to build, as lawmakers are looking for when their states could be reopened, the vice president had a phone call today with Senate Democrats.

And there was a lot of frustration that was boiling over on this phone call. I'm told that Senator Angus King, who's an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, was so frustrated with the explanation for when testing would be available and what dependency was going to be put on the states to make sure tests were available, that he told the vice president that this was a dereliction of duty.

And he told the vice president, according to this source, that -- quote -- "I have never been so mad about a phone call in my life."


He wasn't the only Senate Democrat getting frustrated. Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia, he had concerns about the fact that the vice president -- excuse me -- the president was tweeting, and what he said was inciting division, at a time when the country should be coming together.

And Senator Brian Schatz told me that he was so frustrated on this phone call, because he just didn't understand, what has really changed? He said, all these promises are getting made, but they sound like the same promises that were made last week, last month and the month before.

All these frustrations really coming into sight, as there is more and more pressure on the president and some states to try to put together a plan to actually move beyond the coronavirus.

When that plan is going to be available, who's responsible for it, Senate Democrats getting very frustrated that they don't believe that the president is taking leadership in this moment -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Lauren Fox, thank you so much.

Coming up, breaking news: new modeling showing that the U.S. may have already seen the peak of the virus.

CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta will join us next.

Then: China raising new questions after revising the death toll in the city where the coronavirus originated.

That's ahead. Stay with us.



TAPPER: We have some -- we have some breaking news for you.

New modeling for the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, which is often touted by the White House, shows the peak of the coronavirus hit the U.S. two days ago and that Vermont, West Virginia, Montana and Hawaii are states that could begin to relax some aspects of the social and physical distancing measures by May 4th.

However, other states including Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Utah, Arkansas, and Oklahoma, may need to wait until late June or early July according to the modeling. Joining me now to discuss this and much more is CNN's chief medical

correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Sanjay, good to see you, as always.

Obviously, this is just a model, it's a projection, it's not fact. But the fact that the -- or the projection that the IHME found that the peak of the virus was already on April 15, is that encouraging news? Is that something for people to hold on to?

GUPTA: Yes, I think -- I think it's definitely encouraging news. Some of these models have sort of tracked for a bit of time now, so they're starting to get more confidence in these models. But, you know, when you read these reports carefully, you find a couple of things. One is that they're always going to change still, these models are going to change and they want to continue to be able to reevaluate this, even up until the day before one of these states may meet the criteria for reopening.

But I think also, as part of these models, there's a lot of assumptions. The assumptions, Jake, which you and I have been talking about for some time is the testing has to be widely available in these places so because they acknowledge that as soon as you start to reopen things, there are people who are otherwise not going to become infected who will become infected. They will start being out in the community. The virus is in the community. So there will be people who get infected.

The key is to make sure that those people can be identified right away, Jake, isolated, their contacts, the people they came in contact with, can be traced, and they can be put in quarantine. And that the hospitals can take care of people if people get sick. Those are the assumptions that need to be put in. One thing, Jake, I think is worth pointing out, is that they also put a number on this. You and I talked about the guidelines yesterday, they said you needed to have a 14-day downward trend of cases, which is -- which is an important metric, but from where to where, I think a lot of people were asking.

What they said as part of this report is that the estimated infections in the community has to be less than a million, less than one in a million. No matter where you live, no matter what community, the rate of infection has to be less than one in a million to consider reopening as well. So, that's a significant number, Jake.

TAPPER: Why did the projected death toll in this new model drop from 68,000 back down to 60,000?

GUPTA: I think there was a little bit of benefit really coming from southern states in this model. I think one of the things that the modelers noted was they were able to have evidence of better social/physical distancing in a few Southern states than they predicted. As you know, there were several states in the South that enacted these physical distancing guidelines later, these stay at stay-at-home orders later, and it was unclear just how much people were abiding by these. So, what they did was interesting, they used anonymous cellphone data,

Jake, and sort of got an idea of how likely people were to be sort of staying put but I looking at this anonymous cellphone data. I thought that was pretty interesting. But when they looked at that, they said it showed people had done a better job of staying home than predicted. I think that brought it back a bit.

TAPPER: Vermont, West Virginia, Montana, Hawaii, have been hit much less hard by the virus. What are your concerns if they follow the lead of this model and prepare to reopen, those four states?

GUPTA: I think the biggest concern is that there may be this sort of attitude of complacency. You know, we kind of dodged the bullet, things did not get that bad. Hopefully, that's the case, everybody hopes that's the case.

But the concern is that once you start to develop a cluster of cases, we saw this in many places around the country, Jake, I mean, there would be evenings when you and I would talk, there would be a dozen or so cases, by the next day, there might be a few hundred people who had been infected.


So that's the biggest concern. When that starts to happen, it's not linear growth, it's logarithmic or exponential growth in those places. So I think that's the biggest concern.

Also, widespread testing means widespread testing. I mean, that -- there's no two ways about it. That might mean that people who start to go to work get tested on a regular basis, even at their place of work, that they have community centers to get tested. That may be sort of one of the characteristics of the new normal, the term that everybody likes to use, going forward.

Yes, we talk about mass testing, we talk about physical distancing, absence of large gatherings and all that, but the idea that on regular basis, some sort of people will need to get tested, not everybody in the country, but some people who can't keep physical distance may need to get tested I think is needed in those places before they can reopen. And many of those places still talk -- I don't know about those states in particular, but there's many places around the country who say they still don't have the infrastructure in place to test and then trace.

TAPPER: Well, and that's one of the things I wanted to ask you about. I reached out to Senator Angus King. He's an independent senator from Maine who was very frustrated with Vice President Pence on that phone call that Lauren Fox reported on for us earlier in the show and said, what are you so frustrated about? He said, the states can't do this, they need the federal government to do the widespread testing. And he said it's just a complete abdication of leadership.

Based on your knowledge and how this has been done in the past during other pandemics, isn't this the traditional role of the federal government? I mean, isn't that why we have the Centers for Disease Control that's not just for Georgia, even though it's located in Georgia, it's for the whole United States?

GUPTA: I talked to lots of public health officials, including former head of the Centers for Disease Control who said that, you know, the idea of actually getting the testing done, completed, is a duty that falls on the shoulders of the federal government. I think it's important to redefine I think for people, Jake, what testing really means here. Testing, in part, is the lab. There are many labs have been set up, you know, in hospitals, public health, big commercial labs like Quest. So the capacity has definitely increased.

But as you've heard, Jake, you may not have enough swabs in one place. You may not have enough of the medium to transport the swab to the lab. You may not have enough of the reagents in the lab. That's the supply chain issue.

Many of those supplies are coming from other countries around the world, including China. How do you bring those supplies in? It's not the states negotiating directly with China or other places around the world. It's the country, it's the federal government.

So the testing capacity has gone up, and I think maybe this is a sort of commingling of terms, but capacity can have gone up, but if you don't have the supplies because the supply chain has been disrupted, how do you fix that problem? If you don't have a swab, it doesn't matter that you have ten technicians waiting by to do the test. You've got to have the swab.

TAPPER: Right.

GUPTA: So therein lies a little bit of a problem, Jake.

TAPPER: And what Senator King said to me was, states do not have the heft of the federal government, they don't have the Defense Production Act, they can't force companies to do things the way that presidents can.

Sanjay, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Be sure to listen to Dr. Gupta's daily podcast, "Coronavirus: Fact Versus Fiction," wherever you access your podcasts.

Do you remember all the people you came into contact with over two weeks? Why the answers to those questions will play a key role in reopening the country.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: The White House has announced that a major part of any reopening strategy will rely on what's called contact tracing. That's the way that officials can investigate where coronavirus-positive patients have traveled to determine who else may have been exposed.

CNN's Sara Sidner reports health experts are saying this tracing is critical to avoid a resurgence in cases and fatalities.



SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Amy Driscoll says coronavirus had a her in a vise grip that wouldn't let go for weeks.

DRISCOLL: Every breath, every humidity, every raising your arms, rolling over in bed, every single thing is painful.

SIDNER: Less than two hours after arriving home from the hospital, her phone rang. It was the county health department, asking lots of questions.

DRISCOLL: Who have I seen in the last two weeks, where was I in the last two weeks, who was I in contact with, where do I work.

SIDNER: The Health Department was doing what is called contact tracing.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): You have to trace every person who comes up positive. Trace means investigate. Investigate all those prior contacts.

SIDNER: Driscoll traced her steps. She had gone to work. Her boss and staff had to be contacted.

She went to a restaurant for lunch. She went to her hair salon, they had to be contacted. She went to a Cleveland Cavaliers game. All the family members who sat with her were contacted.

This kind of contact tracing is happening across the country and the world.

From those suffering through the deadly COVID outbreak in New York and those connected to the first major U.S. outbreak in Washington state, to California, the first place where a statewide stay-at-home order was announced.

Experts say without contract tracing and enough testing, America and the world cannot reopen safely.