Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

TV Doctors Under Fire for Comments on Coronavirus; Small Business Loan Program Runs Out of Money & No Deal to Fund in Sight; Timeline of How U.S. & China Each Handled Virus Outbreak. Aired 2:30- 3p ET

Aired April 17, 2020 - 14:30   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:31:02]

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: A few of America's most well-known TV doctors are now under fire for some of the comments they've made about coronavirus on Fox News.

Here's what Dr. Mehmet Oz told Sean Hannity on Tuesday night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. MEHMET OZ, HOST, "THE DR. OZ SHOW": Well, at first, we need our mojo back. Let's start with things really critical to the nation where we might be able to open without getting into trouble.

I'll tell you, schools are an very appetizing opportunity. I just saw a nice piece in "The Lancet" arguing that the opening of schools may only cost us 2 percent or 3 percent in terms of total mortality.

And 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 back side, may be a trade-off some folks would consider.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: After complaints about what he said, Dr. Oz posted this to Twitter, walking back his comment:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OZ: I realize my comments on risks around opening schools have confused and upset people, which was never my intention. I misspoke.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: The apology comes, or the statement of misspeaking, comes days after Dr. Drew also issued an apology for initially downplaying the coronavirus.

And this from Dr. Phil last night on Fox News.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. PHIL MCGRAW, HOST, "DR. PHIL": And 45,000 people a year die from automobile accidents, 480,000 from cigarettes, 360,000 a year from swimming pools but we don't shut the country down for that. But yet, we're doing it for this? And the fallout is going to last for years because people's lives are being destroyed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: We should know those numbers are not accurate, and also, all those things are not highly contagious.

An hour later, Dr. Anthony Fauci was forced to set the record straight after Fox News host, Laura Ingraham, compared the coronavirus to HIV.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST, "THE INGRAHAM ANGLE": We don't have a vaccine for SARS. I mean, they got close in mice. We don't have a vaccine for HIV. And life did go on. Right?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY & INFECTIOUS DISEASES: But, Laura, this is different. HIV/AIDS is entirely different. We don't have a vaccine for HIV/AIDS but we have spectacularly effective treatment.

SARS disappeared, and we didn't need to develop a vaccine for SARS. I think it's a little bit misleading, maybe, to compare what we're going through now with HIV or SARS. They're really different.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Also, life went on for a lot of people during the worst of the HIV/AIDS pandemic because a lot of people ignored it for a decade, a decade or more as people were dying. That's how life went on for a lot of people. For a lot of people, life didn't go on. They died.

Joining me to discuss, CNN medical analyst, James Phillips, also a physician and assistant professor of George Washington University hospital. And with Brian Stelter, host of CNN's "RELIABLE SOURCES" and our chief media correspondent.

Doctor, I want to get your reaction. What do you make of these TV doctors, you know, kind of giving this kind of advice?

JAMES PHILLIPS, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Well, I think it's a shame. I think both have an incredible platform to do good and to benefit society with good information, good interpretation of data from different studies.

And the problem I see here is a problem that people have had for decades with both of these two doctors. I have very strong opinions and I'll try to be restrained because I understand the irony of being a doctor on TV talking about doctors on TV.

However, -- (CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Dr. Phil is not actually a medical doctor, just for the record.

PHILLIPS: Yes, Dr. McGraw, Mr. McGraw is a PhD and he hasn't had a license to practice that since I graduated from medical school.

So I think it does a public disservice for him to go on TV, misread the numbers, and compare these completely unrelated non-infectious causes of death to coronavirus.

[14:35:04]

He's clearly speaking to an audience of one. And I find it very problematic because we, as emergency physicians and doctors in general, we're not satisfied with the numbers of deaths caused by auto accidents and drownings and everything as you mentioned. Those are failures.

So it's been very frustrating for the last six weeks to hear people compare this to the flu and other things that cause tens of thousands of deaths per year, as though that's acceptable. We try every day to enact public health measures to prevent those deaths too.

COOPER: Brian, I mean, both of these doctors made the claims on Fox News. I assume -- they have syndicated programs. I imagine a lot of them are carried on FOX stations and, therefore, that's one of the reasons --

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: -- obviously, the large number of viewers who watch Fox News, who may also watch those shows on FOX syndicated stations.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: There's some Dr. Oz synergy going on. The reason why he's on Fox News every day is because he has a business relationship with another part of the company.

And this is the danger of the Fox News presidency. The president gets this low quality or bogus or misleading or poisoned information from FOX, and then reflects it on Twitter and in public statements. And then takes actions based on it.

Look at what he's doing today on Twitter, tweeting about wanting to liberate certain states, mostly blue states. He's out there saying, liberate, liberate, based on what he heard on Fox News early in the day.

It seems the president lurches from one extreme to the other based on what he hears on television every day. And that's partially why there's a chaotic and failed response to the crisis.

Bottom line, Anderson, it's incumbent on White House aides to make sure the president is getting accurate information. And it's incumbent on Fox News management to stop these embarrassing

segments from getting on the air, to have these quack doctors misleading the public on live TV.

COOPER: Dr. James Phillips, I appreciate all you do in actual life, not just on TV life. But thank you very much, Dr. Phillips.

And Brian Stelter as well.

Up next, tens of thousands of small business owners today looking for their next hope to survive, as the $350 billion set aside for loans is gone in less than two weeks.

Plus, more details on the latest detail projection. Just how long will these peaks last and which region could be spared the worst?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:41:26]

COOPER: It was the backbone of the $2 trillion stimulus, the small business loan program, now Capitol Hill at an impasse. The program out of money and tens of thousands of small businesses unable to access funds meant to help keep them afloat.

In Ohio, Governor Mike DeWine closed schools on March 12th. That's when my next guest, Alicia Wilhelmy, said she noticed business was slowing down, orders dropped immediately. One week later, a statewide stay-at-home order was issued and she had to tell her employees not to come in.

Alicia is the president of Seemless Printing in Cincinnati.

Alicia, I mispronounced your last name. Can you tell me how to say it? I hate to do that.

ALICIA WILHELMY, PRESIDENT, SEEMLESS PRINTING: It happens all the time. It's Wilhelmy.

COOPER: Wilhelmy, thank you very much.

You've been trying to get the small business loan. It's frustrating for so many small business owners. Have you been able to even get through?

WILHELMY: No, we have not. I started doing my homework right away when the stimulus package was announced and attended some webinars, got into the payroll system and came up with the numbers, so I'm ready to go. I've done my homework. We've been pushed off and pushed off, unfortunately, by our bank.

And listening to the news has been really frustrating because we've spent a lot of time chasing our tails, I would say, this week, that's the image that I get on the Web site when I try to click "apply" and doesn't go through. COOPER: I know someone waiting for weeks, finally, put in the request,

finally, just got a letter back today, well, thanks for your interest, there's no money left, so we're not going to be able to process it at this time. I mean, it's incredibly frustrating.

Do you have any -- I've been told for some businesses that don't necessarily have ongoing long-term relationships with lenders that it's harder for them, like construction, folks like that who have ongoing constant relationship with lenders, it's easier.

WILHELMY: Well, unfortunately, I don't think that's the case for us. What we've been told by our local bank is that we are a tier-one client and we're the kind of people who they are looking out for and want to serve, but then their platform isn't supporting what the banker is telling us.

COOPER: What does that even mean? I mean what --

WILHELMY: That's a great question.

COOPER: Yes.

COOPER: And we feel kind of foolish, because we did what we thought we were supposed to do, in terms sticking with the bank we've been for years to run our business, and going through that channel as being the best way rather than looking at all these e-mails we get every day and going through someone we don't have a relationship with.

But unfortunately, we've done that and now we've missed the boat, so to speak.

COOPER: So what happens now?

WILHELMY: We have e-mails daily with the banker and he, of course, is apologetic and I'm sure he's in the same boat we are. He doesn't know what's happening either.

I think it's really easy for Congress and the government and whoever to say this is what's happening but when it's time for it to happen in real life, it's a different story.

COOPER: It must be infuriating to hear from the White House on down, well, there were some glitches, it's been worked out.

WILHELMY: Yes.

COOPER: There were more than a few glitches, they weren't worked out and now there's no money.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Alicia Wilhelmy, sorry for what you're and so many others are going through. Thank you very much. And I hope more money gets in it and gets to you. Thank you.

WILHELMY: Thanks. [14:45:53]

COOPER: Just ahead, a major adjustment to the death toll in Wuhan, China. One of the more changes that the Chinese government says it's doing to try to show transparency. The question is: Is there as much accuracy as the Chinese actually says? We'll take a look at the timeline of how the outbreak unfolded there.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: The United States and China are going head to head in a fight to shape the narrative about the coronavirus origins as the blame game continues to escalate. It's worth taking a look at how both countries handled the outbreak.

CNN's David Culver has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On December 31st, as the world rang in the new year, Chinese authorities in Wuhan were treating dozens of cases of a severe pneumonia of unknown origin. At the time, still no evidence of human to human spread.

In Wuhan, Dr. Li Wenliang warned friends of the threat of a new virus. At the time, police reprimanded him for spreading rumors. Less than a week later, Chinese authorities confirmed they had identified the virus as a novel coronavirus.

January 11th, Wuhan's health commission reported the first known death. Chinese officials had evidence of clusters suggesting human to human transmission early as January 14th, according to a new "Associated Press" report based on leaked internal documents.

On January 16th, as the impeachment trial of President Trump began in the Senate, Japanese authorities confirmed a man who traveled to Wuhan was infected with the virus.

Wuhan health officials continued to downplay how quickly the virus could spread. "The contagion of the novel coronavirus is not high. The risk of sustained human to human transmission is low. With the implement of our preventative control measures, the epidemic is preventable and controllable."

By January 20th, China had reported 139 new cases and three deaths, and Beijing acknowledged the virus was spreading from person to person.

[14:50:06]

The very next day, the U.S. saw its first confirmed case of COVID-19 in a Washington State man who had recently returned home from a trip to Wuhan, China.

On January 23rd, Chinese authorities closed the city of Wuhan with its population of over 11 million people to the outside world.

By the end of January, six days later, President Trump announced the creation of a task force to monitor and contain the spread of the virus.

The United States saw its first confirmed case of person-to-person transmission on January 30th. And the World Health Organization declared an international public health emergency.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now we're working strongly with China on the coronavirus that is a new thing that a lot of people are talking about. Hopefully, it won't be as bad as some people think it could be.

CULVER: A day later, the Trump administration announced the U.S. would deny entry to foreign nationals that travelled to China in the last 14 days.

CNN spoke by phone with whistleblower. Dr. Dr. Li Wenliang.

DR. LI WENLIANG, CHINESE DOCTOR: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

CULVER: He contracted the virus after being silenced by authorities and returning to work.

On February 3rd, as the Iowa caucus posed the first big test for the Democratic presidential candidates, the war of words between China and the U.S. began.

China's foreign ministry accused the U.S. government of inappropriately reacting to the outbreak saying, quote, "that the U.S. is turning from overconfidence to fear and over reaction."

On February 7th, Dr. Li Wenliang died of the coronavirus. After that news broke, topics like "Wuhan government owes Dr. Li Wenliang an apology" and "we want freedom of speech" trended on China's Twitter- like platform Waiva (ph), before disappearing.

That same day, President Trump said his relationship with Chinse President Xi Jinping was in great shape.

TRUMP: We're working on the problem, the virus. It's a very tough situation. But I think he's going to handle it. I think he's handling are really well. We're helping wherever we can. But we have a great relationship. It's incredible.

CULVER: On February 10th, President claimed that, as the weather started to warm up, the virus will go away.

TRUMP: The virus. Their working hard. Looks like by April. You know, in theory, when it gets a little warmer, it miraculously goes away. I hope that's true. But we're doing great in our country. China, I spoke with President Xi and they're working very, very hard. And I think it will all work out fine.

CULVER: As Democratic voters in New Hampshire were casting ballots in the presidential primary, the World Health Organization named the disease caused by the virus COVID-19.

Throughout the month of February, news of increased cases poured in around the globe and the U.S. saw the first case of community spread transmission.

On February 28th, at a rally in South Carolina, the president lashed out at Democrats.

TRUMP: Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus.

They tried the impeachment hoax. That was on a perfect conversation. They tried anything.

(BOOING)

TRUMP: They tried anything. They tried it over and over. And this is their new hoax.

CULVER: And that very same day --

TRUMP: We did something very fortunate. We closed up to certain areas of the world very, very early. Far earlier than we were supposed to.

And we only have 15 people and they're getting better and, hopefully, they're all better soon.

CULVER: March 11th marked a turning point for the U.S. Actor Tom Hanks announced he and his wife had attracted COVID-19 in Australia.

Hours later, the NBA suspended its season after a player tested positive moments before a game.

And the WHO declared the outbreak a pandemic.

At this point, leagues, companies and states began a process of telling Americans to stay home.

The economy and stock market began a fast track to historic losses.

After President Trump repeatedly praised China's response to the coronavirus, on March 19th, Chinese officials reported no new locally transmitted coronavirus cases for the first time since the pandemic began, touting success and control in the outbreak despite widespread skepticism over the transparency of their reporting.

And on this very same day, as the number of cases and the death toll continued to rise in the U.S., President Trump suggested China should have been more transparent.

TRUMP: Probably would have been much better if we had known about this a number of months earlier. It could have been contained to that one area in China where it started.

And certainly the world is paying a big price for what they did and the world is paying a very big price for not letting them come out. Everybody knows that. We all know that. CULVER: Throughout the month of march, the number of COVID-19 cases

continued to rise in the United States.

And on March 30th, the president said this:

TRUMP (voice-over): Nobody could have predicted something like this.

CULVER: But the White House economic adviser did warn the president about the threat of the virus back in January.

[14:55:03]

By April 2nd, the pandemic had infected more than one million people in 180 countries and regions killing more than 51,000.

And on April 8th, just over a week ago, China lifted the 76-day lockdown in Wuhan.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: David Culver joins us now from Shanghai.

A lot of distrust as you laid out. You're getting new information about the resized death toll out of Wuhan?

CULVER: Anderson, we have placed increasing skepticism on the numbers we've been seeing here. This dates back to our early reporting. You saw the timeline that we laid out there.

And some the early stories that we were hearing from folks within Wuhan, who suggested that testing of their loved ones was being delayed or not happening at all, told us that the numbers aren't adding up because people were passing away and that they were being told by doctors that they had died from a severe pneumonia or some were pulled aside and said it was pneumonia but didn't test them and couldn't count them toward the total number.

So we knew the numbers weren't adding up.

As of today, we know the Wuhan city health officials have changed the way they are incorporating some of these folks that passed away prior. They've enhanced it by 50 percent. That is the number they added.

The president of the U.S. -- I was looking down at his tweet a short time ago. He said that they doubled the number, China as a whole. That is not the case. What happened was, within the city of Wuhan, in particular, it went up 50 percent.

The revising of those numbers, though, it comes after increasing skepticism from the global community. However, China is pushing back saying they're doing it as a testament to their people so that history is left properly documented.

COOPER: David Culver. David, thanks very much. Appreciate it.

I'll be back later tonight at 8:00 p.m. Hope you join us. Just a short time from now, more governors respond to the president's

plan to reopen. He'll hold a news conference at the White House.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:00:08]

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.