Return to Transcripts main page

THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Health Expert: Contact Tracing Critical for Safe Reopening, Warns of Resurgence in U.S. Without It; Washington Governor Inslee: Trump's "Liberate" Tweets "Unhinged". Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired April 17, 2020 - 16:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): 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.

[16:30:12]

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

JOSHUA MICHAUD, KAISER FAMILY FOUNDATION: We're going to be at risk of resurgence of this disease, not just in the fall, but going into next year.

SIDNER (on camera): So you're saying without contact tracing, without testing a massive amount, we could find ourselves right back where we started?

MICHAUD: I think we could find ourselves very much at risk of another resurgence.

SIDNER (voice-over): But the U.S. does not have enough people to do the tracing. State health officials estimate there are about 2,000 people doing this work now, but Johns Hopkins University warns we need at least 100,000.

(on camera): For now, contact tracing is only as good as your memory. This is hard. I mean, before stay-at-home orders, can you remember all the people you had close contact with over a two-week period, say, at the coffee shop? Or at the grocery store? Or at a restaurant? Or at your child's school?

And that's where big tech like Google and Apple are jumping in. They will soon have an app you can voluntarily download that works with health departments so they can see detailed location data from your cellphone. But the public may be skittish about it due to privacy concerns.

Contact tracing requires serious legwork. L.A.'s mayor is pushing for federal help.

MAYOR ERIC GARCETTI (D-CA): We're probably going to need hundreds of thousands of people who would be put to work. It should be funded by the feds by enacted locally.

SIDNER: As for Driscoll, her contacts have been found. The Health Department tells Driscoll that none of the people she was in contact with have symptoms so far. But testing is still a problem.

AMY DRISCOLL, SURVIVED CORONAVIRUS: I've had no additional testing.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SIDNER: Amy Driscoll says she has no additional testing so she doesn't really know whether or not she is still contagious or shedding the virus. And that's a bit scary for her. She doesn't want to go out in the community.

But I should mention this, Jake, just this week, the CDC has told CNN that it started a pilot program, sending community members and protection teams into eight states to try to give them and ramp up contact tracing. We should also mention, the testing going on here in Los Angeles is really important, drive-up testing, it's one of the ways that they're trying to deal with this. But also technology is so incredibly important, they're trying just about anything to have an army of contact tracers so that we can return to some semblance of normalcy, Jake.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: All right. Sara Sidner in Inglewood, California, thank you so much.

Leading experts say that the U.S. is anywhere from 12 to 18 months away from a vaccine that would be ready for the public to combat coronavirus. But one doctor is working on a short term solution that might act as a kind of Band-Aid until the vaccine is ready.

Dr. Robert Gallo is one of the scientists, of course, who was credited with discovering HIV. He developed the first antibody test for that. He's leading in an effort to repurpose the oral polio vaccine in hopes of slowing down the outbreak.

And joining me now is Dr. Robert Gallo.

Dr. Gallo, thanks for joining us.

If your team is able to repurpose the oral polio vaccine, how effective do you think it could be against the coronavirus?

DR. ROBERT GALLO, CO-FOUNDER AND DIRECTOR, INSTITUTE OF HUMAN VIROLOGY: Enormously so. But I first want to say that this is with my colleague and especially driven by Konstantin Shimakov, who came to the Soviet Union to the FDA, where he's a virologist and an associate director of vaccine division. We know the information from the past, and it's been kind of forgotten and sitting on the shelf.

So, I wouldn't say a Band-Aid. I would say far more than a Band-Aid, but it's different than your conventional vaccines. And, by the way, I don't think anybody can give any data on any vaccine of this specific variety because you just don't know if they're going to work. You have a vaccine when you have it, when it's safe, proven, and effective, proven. We don't know when that's going to be.

You may not ever have it. Sometimes antibodies are good. Sometimes they're not very good. So, yes --

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: Tell us how the oral polio vaccine would work.

GALLO: Pardon me? Sorry.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: Tell us how the oral polio vaccine would work for this.

GALLO: Yes, it's what we call the innate immune system, the alarm. It's an RNA virus, like the coronavirus is. And when you get an infection or when a virus replicates like the oral polio vaccine replicates in you, it's very, very safe. If you're previously vaccinated for polio, it's completely safe. Then you stimulate what is the emergency response that we inherited from lower forms like frogs, turtles, invertebrates, that don't have a lymphoid system.

So, this is not antibody. This is not killer T-cells. This is not specific for protein.

It includes things like you've heard of interferon, for example. It's your immediate reaction that says, wow, I sense an RNA molecule, the virus's genetic information.

[16:35:01]

It shouldn't be here, and it can trigger a lot of reactivity that can block the virus at the gate. I think it could be a major help and I think we have to get it out there fast. More than you're thinking about it because you want to be cautious.

TAPPER: How close are you to getting it developed and available to the public?

GALLO: Availability is easy. It's in the storage of companies like Sanofi Pasteur, BioPharma and some others. They're already beginning to go forward with the allocation. We'll do a 10,000-person beginning trial, Mr. Tapper. Beyond that, we want to go really to people in the front lines.

And I think it will be fast tracked and we're getting that kind of conversation with people within the government, you know, the FDA knows about it, we're going forward with it. After getting that approval, and we hope everything will happen in weeks, not months, and that it will come out very quickly.

It's really safe. So let me emphasize that. It should not have side effects as do some of the potent drugs or other things that are still experimental. This has been used on millions of people.

TAPPER: Let me ask you, because we've heard obviously about the use of hydroxychloroquine as a drug to potentially help coronavirus patients. A new report shows that the experimental drug remdesivir might be helping speed up patients' recovery times. Remdesivir was tested against Ebola, it was not effective against that, but right now 2,400 patients are in a drug trial to see if it will work against coronavirus.

What do you think about remdesivir's potential effectiveness?

GALLO: I can't say for sure until I see published information and more about it. I'm -- you know, it targets the enzyme of the virus, the polymerase that copies RNA, so it could be infected. It's after you're infected -- this is not prevention, I'm talking about mainly prevention.

But, you know, I hope for the best. I haven't seen enough to be very, very comfortable yet. But the word today from Chicago hospitals including, I guess, the place where I spent my time, University of Chicago, sounds much more interesting than I would have expected. So it seems encouraging, what else can I say?

The hydroxychloroquine, less known, I think, and maybe there's contradictory reports on it right now. And again, you want to see certainly more information about it. With this, there's a lot of information.

TAPPER: Dr. Robert Gallo, we certainly wish you the best of luck with this. We hope it works. Thank you so much for your time today and thanks for the work you do.

GALLO: Thank you, thank you for having me on.

TAPPER: Tens of thousands of small business owners now left hanging out to dry after the federal loan program runs out of money. But can Republicans and Democrats work together again in time to fix it?

And a growing outcry in Spain after children have not been allowed to go outside at all for more than a month.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:42:30]

TAPPER: This just in -- Democratic Washington State Governor Jay Inslee is calling President Trump's Twitter tirade, quote, unhinged. This comes after a series of tweets in which the president called for the liberation of Michigan, Minnesota, and Virginia, whatever that means. Those are three states where protesters have been rallying against Democratic governors' stay-at-home orders. Inslee said that the president's statements not only encourage violence and illegal acts, but Inslee says the president is putting millions of people in danger of contracting coronavirus.

In money, the woman who ran the Small Business Administration for the Obama administration is now urging Democrats in the Senate to drop their demands and replenish the small business loan program now. Karen Mills told "Roll Call," quote, things that have to be implemented quickly can't have a lot of bells and whistles or else there will be too many unintended consequences, one of which is delay and we don't have time to delay, unquote.

I want to bring in CNN business anchor Julia Chatterley.

Julia, Senate Democrats say they want more funding for hospitals and local governments in addition to new rules so that the loans can also go to underserved small businesses. What are you hearing about negotiations? The money has run out.

JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN BUSINESS ANCHOR, "FIRST MOVE": The money has run out. I'm hearing they're getting closer to a deal, Jake, but it's not going to come until next week, which is a problem in itself. But in terms of the contours of the deal, for the paycheck protection scheme, I'm hearing the money could be more than $250 billion, more like $300 billion. And critically, to what you just mentioned, there won't be more strings attached.

Lenders of all shapes and sizes have told me that they do want more conditions attached to those loans because getting them out to people has been complicated enough, quite frankly. The compromise, and it's wrong word but I'll use it, is that there will be more money for hospitals, I'm hearing, perhaps as much as $100 billion. The money for states, though, will come later. The deal here clearly resonates and makes the point that all of these things are important, they all need money.

But the small businesses, the alarm bells are ringing, it's an emergency and it's been one for the last two days.

TAPPER: So a sandwich shop owner in Phoenix told us about his struggle. He said -- his name is Josh Garcia. He said he barely made his last payroll. He said it took him 13 days and six revisions to his loan application before he got his money.

Finally, he got it this morning. He says that that money will keep his business afloat for the next three months.

[16:45:03]

He's one of the fortunate ones, because he got the money, but I keep hearing about others who have not been able to get through and not been able to get the money. And they're going to maybe have to face some tough decisions over this weekend even.

CHATTERLEY: Absolutely.

To your point, he's one of the lucky ones. There are many that are still trying, and, right now, they can't even apply, given that the money's out.

The restaurant sector is a really important one. The average cash buffer in this country for a restaurant is about 16 days. So some have less, some have more, but we're already one month into the shutdown. I spoke to one of the country's largest online lenders this week, and

he said, look, American businesses are fighters, but they have maxed out on credit cards, they have borrowed from friends, they have crowdsourced in their communities. And time has run out.

I also spoke to Karen Mills, who you just mentioned. She told me, in a best-case scenario, 20 percent of small businesses in this country will fail as a result of what's going on here. Every day counts, and every day means job losses, Jake.

TAPPER: Yes. No, Karen Mills saying to Senate Democrats, cut it out, get that money out the door.

CHATTERLEY: Yes.

TAPPER: Unemployment claims are overwhelming states. Florida had to add 100 computer servers and almost 2,000 call center staff to help with demand.

Vermont's governor authorized his state to issue $1,200 checks to those caught in the backlog, yet these situations might not speak to just how many people really are unemployed.

CHATTERLEY: It's just giving us a sense here.

We know they have all been challenged. Governor Phil Scott of Vermont saying, look, the Labor Department has until Saturday night to clear the backlog. Otherwise, we're going to start cutting checks just to pre-pay people for the benefits that they're due.

They said that they'd had 80,000 claims just in that state alone since mid-March. Around 40 percent had issues. That's been the challenge here.

But my biggest fear, Jake -- and I keep saying it -- is gig economy workers, 23 million people, where they have had to build a new system to get them on board. This is going to be my fear, I think, going forward.

TAPPER: All right, Julia Chatterley, thank you so much.

In our world lead today: The U.K. is launching a vaccine task force to accelerate development after the health minister there said, exiting a full lockdown will not happen until there is a vaccine.

In Denmark, more restrictions being lifted, allowing courts and some small businesses, including driving schools, and hairdressers to reopen.

French President Emmanuel Macron telling "The Financial Times" that the E.U. is facing its -- quote -- "moment of truth" to provide financial solidarity in this crisis. In the same interview, Macron called out China's lack of transparency, saying: "There are things we do not know about what happened in China, and it is up to the Chinese government to be honest and tell the world." The Chinese government, of course, is revising the total death toll in Wuhan, the epicenter of this pandemic, increasing the number by 50 percent

CNN's David Culver joins me now live from Shanghai.

And, David, this comes after a lot of questions about how the Chinese government has handled this pandemic. What prompted these new numbers?

DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jake, you and I have talked about this extensively.

And the official line from the Wuhan city officials is that they're doing this to show accountability to history, to the people and the victims, as well as to ensure open and transparent disclosure of information.

That's the official line. But it comes as numbers around the world are continuing to rise. China, as you pointed out, facing increased scrutiny over their transparency, or lack thereof. Now, President Trump did tweet about this today, saying that China doubled the number of deaths. That's not actually true.

They only changed within Wuhan alone, city officials there adding that 50 percent increase. But where the president is likely right is that in suggesting that an actual number is probably far higher than what even they're putting out now, because we have reported extensively on the early claims of cover-up, the underreporting, the silencing of early whistle-blowers, the censoring of information online.

And some there were even telling us early on that their loved ones, Jake, were never tested. Yet we're told they died of severe pneumonia. And so you have to wonder if that's just within the city of Wuhan they're changing, outside of that, are the numbers then going to be revised once more?

TAPPER: All right, David Culver in Shanghai.

In Spain, children have not been allowed to leave their homes for five weeks, and, understandably, kids and their parents and caregivers are getting a little restless.

They have started a free the children movement, one echoed even by the mayor of Barcelona.

CNN's Scott McLean joins me now.

And, Scott, Spain is the only European country that has this specific type of restriction on children going outside. Is there any plan to lift the restriction?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So, Jake, we have been asking that exact question to the prime minister's office today, but, so far, we haven't gotten a specific answer.

Spain has one of the strictest lockdowns on planet Earth. People here are not allowed to leave their houses to exercise or to go for a walk, and only certain people are even allowed to leave to go to their job.

[16:50:00]

The state of emergency did make a specific exemption so that people could leave to walk their dogs, but made no similar exemption for people to let their kids out to blow off some steam.

And you would be really hard-pressed to find anyone in Central Madrid who has anything resembling a backyard. There is a petition now circulating online that has some 55,000 signatures asking the government to loosen restrictions to give kids some leniency to go outside.

And, Jake, they say -- health authorities here say that, when restrictions are lifted, normalcy will not be the same as before.

TAPPER: All right, Scott McLean in Madrid, Spain, thank you so much.

One Hollywood legend has a special message for front-line workers and hospital staff.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT DE NIRO, ACTOR: I'm Robert De Niro, and I'm a New Yorker, just like you.

The only difference is, you are all heroes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: We will talk to Robert De Niro live next.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:55:37]

TAPPER: As New York continues to be the hardest-hit state in the country, more than 15,000 deaths and 220,000 cases, actors, sports leaders and other celebrities have been supporting front-line workers in a variety of ways, from acts of kindness to major donations, including my next guest, Robert De Niro, a noted New Yorker, who joins us now.

Mr. De Niro, thanks so much for joining us.

You're encouraging -- among the many things you're doing to try to help out, you're encouraging people to donate to the All In Challenge to raise money to help feed vulnerable Americans. And anyone who donates could win a walk-on role in your new Scorsese film with DiCaprio.

Tell us about that.

DE NIRO: Well, Leo asked me to do that. And Marty and I thought, of course, anything at this point.

And we're just -- we're just figuring out when we start shooting. But, of course, that's the least I could do.

TAPPER: Right.

You also recorded a video message for front-line workers and hospital staff at New York Presbyterian. How does this moment compare to the aftermath of 9/11 for you, as a New Yorker, trying to help out and as somebody watching how the city is coming together?

DE NIRO: Well, in 9/11, it was -- it feels the same, felt the same, except this is much more -- it's something you would see in a movie.

I never expected anything like this to happen, and happen so fast. And, I mean, a month-and-a-half ago, we saw it coming, two months ago. But it just -- it's unreal to see every big city in the world and in Europe and everywhere just sort of empty.

I -- you only see that in a movie. And it's happening to us. I must say that I wish that we had -- people had acted, that the government had acted earlier. They had enough warning, because we wouldn't be at this stage of this pandemic, I think, if that had happened.

It's just -- it just seems like that's what it was. But we're weathering it. We're going through it. And it's not easy. And we don't know where it's going to wind up.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: I want to ask you about a fellow New Yorker.

(CROSSTALK)

DE NIRO: No, I was going to say, Andrew Cuomo is doing a great job.

TAPPER: OK. Yes.

DE NIRO: He's is doing a great job. It's so refreshing to see him speak, and take charge of this thing, no matter what happens.

Even if he's -- even if we did get too many ventilators or too many hospital beds, we were proactive. He was proactive, and made sure that, if something did happen, God forbid, as bad as it did, and it might still, God forbid, he was -- he took action.

So I'm very proud of his behavior.

TAPPER: I want to ask you about a different prominent New Yorker in all this, Dr. Fauci, originally from Brooklyn.

He was quoted in "The New Yorker" talking about how somebody like him deals with public officials. He referred to the philosophy of "The Godfather," it's nothing personal, it's strictly business.

And in an interview with me a few days ago, when I asked about why people in leadership positions didn't heed his calls for social distancing back in February, he quoted "The Irishman," saying, it is what it is.

And I know that Fauci is a big fan of yours. What do you think about the job Fauci is doing?

DE NIRO: I think he's great.

He's a New Yorker, Italian-American. I understand him without him having to say that much. He's trying to walk a fine line and be responsible.

And it is what it is. That's it. And we have got to deal with it. I don't think we would have had to deal with it as badly as we are. But we're in it now. So that's it. We will know next time.

TAPPER: All right, Robert De Niro, an honor to talk to you, sir. Thank you so much, and stay safe and healthy.

We need you for when this is all over.

DE NIRO: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, guys. Bye.

TAPPER: Be sure to tune in to CNN this Sunday for "STATE OF THE UNION."

I will be talking to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Plus, I will have an exclusive with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and the Governors Larry Hogan of Maryland and Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan.

It's all at 9:00 a.m. and noon Eastern on Sunday.

[16:30:00]