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White House Outlines Map to Reopen, No Details on Lack of Testing; Report: Remdesivir Shows Promise as Coronavirus Treatment. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired April 17, 2020 - 06:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The criteria that you can see indicates the federal government has recommended are fairly strict.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're basically operating in the blind if you can't do widespread testing. So these are just arbitrary guidelines.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: We'll wait to see if any of these governors actually start to implement these practices.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Those states that are in great shape already, they will be able to go literally tomorrow.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that would be really dangerous. We're ramping up the tests, and we've got to see what the infection rate is.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Until there's a vaccine, every time things are reopened, there will be new infections.


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

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Friday, April 17. It's 6 a.m. here in New York.

These questions. Can you start planning to go go back to work this morning? That depends. We really don't know.

Should you feel safe if you do go back to work? That depends. We really don't know.

This morning, there are new federal suggestions, three phases for how to reopen parts of the country. We will explain what they are. But there are significant gaps on perhaps the most fundamental issues: standards for testing and actual plans for testing.

Ultimately, it will be the governors who will call the shots. CNN has learned that in a conference call yesterday, governors stressed they're not just lacking tests but also the basic materials needed for testing, like swabs.

At a CNN town hall last night, Dr. Deborah Birx called it unrealistic to expect that every worker in the country will get tested.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: John, we're also following potentially promising news this morning on the treatment front. A new report says a clinical trial of the -- of coronavirus patients being treated with this drug called Remdesivir have recovered quickly from their severe symptoms. So we'll dive into what that means.

We're also standing by for new modeling to be released soon. It is expected to show that Southern states may not be hit as hard as expected by coronavirus, in large part because people are complying with social distancing.

But hotspots like New York seem to be stuck at their peak levels for longer than originally expected.

So let's begin our coverage there with Athena Jones. She is live in New York. What is the latest, Athena?


President Trump outlining new guidelines to open the country. But the plan makes clear the return to normalcy will be a far longer process than the president initially envisioned, with federal officials warning some social distancing measures may need to remain in place through the end of the year to prevent a new outbreak.


JONES (voice-over): President Trump revealing the White House's new guidelines for opening up America again. With no start date, his three-step plan outlines an effort to gradually restart the economy, beginning in areas least affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We took the greatest economy in the history the world, and we closed it in order to win this war. And we're in the process of winning it now. We are not opening all at once but one careful step at a time.

JONES: In phase one, a soft reopening of parts of the United States.

For example, while the vulnerable still shelter in place, working from home will still be encouraged but some Americans can slowly begin to go back to their offices.

And businesses like restaurants and gyms could open using strict safety measures but no large gatherings. Phase two will relax some social distancing efforts, like opening schools and allowing elective surgeries and nonessential travel again.

For phase three, normal life resumes as much as possible. No staffing restrictions at work. And big sporting and entertainment venues will be back in business again, with limited restrictions. Those most vulnerable asked to still practice social distancing while they're in public spaces.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASE: Not every state, not every region is going to do it at the same time. Sooner or later, we will get to the point, hopefully sooner, with safety as the most important thing, to a point where we can get back to some form of normality.

JONES: But before states begin the path toward lifting restrictions, the guidelines suggest they have decrease of coronavirus cases across a two-week period, a return of pre-crisis hospital conditions, and an adequate supply of personal protective equipment for healthcare workers; and have the ability to set up safe and efficient screening sites.

DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE COORDINATOR: The criteria that the federal government has recommended are fairly strict. And that's to give states, really, the time to really set up exactly how they're going to contact trace with the CDC in the background as supporting.

JONES: While unveiling the plans in a phone call with governors, a source familiar with the conversation said the president told them, You are going to call your own shots. And that's what many state leaders are already doing.

GOV. LAURA KELLY (D-KS): Our thought process is right now, is that we would look at what areas in the state of Kansas could we start using these take-it-slow guidelines to reopen?

GOV. JOHN CARNEY (D-DE): I'm still saying stay at home, stay safe. We're still not out of this. We still haven't peaked.


JONES: Here in New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo extending stay-at-home orders until May 15. And his office announced 1.2 million people across the state have filed unemployment claims over the past five weeks.

For perspective, Cuomo's office said during the entirety of the 2008 crash, 300,000 people across New York state lost their jobs -- John.

BERMAN: All right. Athena Jones for us in New York City.

You know, one thing we should have mentioned, thousands of people are still dying every day from coronavirus. So please keep that in mind.

Joining us now, CNN political commentator Dr. Abdul El-Sayed. He is an epidemiologist and previously served as the director of the Detroit Public Health Department.

[06:05:05] Also with us is CNN national security analyst Juliette Kayyem. She was an assistant secretary at the Department of Homeland Security under President Obama.

So what we have now are these guidelines for the different stages of what the country might look like as it begins to reopen. I don't actually think that those, in and of themselves, are controversial. There are expectations there that a lot of people are looking at and think, Oh, maybe that's interesting, in each stage.

Juliette, it's another matter, though, as to how we get there. What's being called the gating requirements to get to each phase. And I want to show people just a sense of what they are. It calls for a downward trajectory in symptoms and cases. A downward trajectory.

So the issue is what exactly does that mean? A trajectory to where? And how are we supposed to know?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Exactly, John. So the broad outlines of the plan really do mirror the governors. And I think the White House found itself probably rightfully penned in by all the activity with these regional groups that the governors had joined, because they were already pushing this kind of staged reopening. Nothing about that was surprising.

It's the gating, as you say, that is left vague. What do you mean by -- what number is lower? Because New York has been experienced -- experiencing lower numbers. But they're certainly not low enough.

And then how do you get to knowing what lower is, right? And that is, of course, back to testing. In some ways, I sort of felt like this plan is like asking Mrs. Lincoln, You know, besides that, how was the play? Right? You know, we're not getting to the -- to the core issue, which is any other country that has gone through this reopening process slowly, surely, you know, pivoting, opening up critical infrastructure before you open up, say, you know, retail stores has had an extensive, not just testing but tracking and isolation program.

Nothing in the plan gets us closer there. And that's why the governors pushed back.

CAMEROTA: Dr. El-Sayed, when you read these federal guidelines for these different phases, what -- how does this change what happens today? How do these guidelines change what happens on the ground with doctors and at hospitals, et cetera?

DR. EL-SAYED, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I'll be honest, it doesn't really change much as I think is rightful to talk about. There are still people who are getting sick, and there are still people who are dying. And the facts of this are going to be driven by the dynamics of the virus in this country.

There are a couple of things that I want to piggyback off of what Juliette said, which I think are right.

No. 1, a lot of this is going to depends on how fast we are beyond the peak of the curve. And every community really does have multiple curves here. I mean, I know we aggregate all of the numbers, and we talk about a curve in the United States. That's not really the case.

If you look at the curve in some rural part of Kansas versus the curve in New York City, you're talking about two very different numbers. And the danger here is that you open up too fast in a place like Kansas, which are still on its upswing, though you didn't really see it, because the numbers were somewhat low.

And the other danger is that the numbers are still so high in a community like New York, even though it's been a couple days beyond its peak.

And then the last part is that this has to be driven by our ability to contact trace; our ability to have the personnel and the tests in place to make sure that we can contract trace safely, even as we start going back to some semblance of, quote unquote, "normal."

BERMAN: There is some news being reported in "The New York Times" in terms of contact tracing that the administration is considering redirecting some census workers who aren't conducting the census right now to help contact trace. And also devote some people specifically to that.

Juliette, isn't this what the governors asked for? Didn't the governors want to be the ones to call the shots here? Most of them that we've heard from over the last 12 hours since this plan was announced said, OK, these guidelines, I guess, are helpful; and we're going to make our own decisions.

KAYYEM: That's exactly right. And so, you know, in some ways, though, as I said, the White House was just mirroring -- mirroring where the governors already were.

So -- so we're here today and then, you know, as everyone knows, the sort of resolution of this is not just a finding of a vaccine but, of course, a manufacturing and distribution.

This time period, anywhere from 12 months, which is very hopeful, to two years, which would be great, is going to be very adaptive. And that's what you see in every single plan.

We're going to slowly open up critical infrastructure, schools. Because if we can't get our kids back into schools, we're not going back to work.

Continue to test and trace. Bring people back in if we start to get clusters of activity.

And also you -- we need massive resources to not only isolate those people, convince the people they may have been around to stay isolated, or to isolate themselves.

And then also a piece that's not really mentioned is I think employer incentives, so that employees come forward. They're not hiding out with fevers or coming into work with fevers, so that you have an entire workforce that is protected.


So there's a lot in terms of the homeland security side that still needs to be worked through. This two-year period is going to be very adaptive, but it's -- it's dependent on the numbers at the beginning. What does lower numbers mean in terms of testing?

CAMEROTA: But Dr. El-Sayed, I do want to drill down on the schools question. Because so many parents have been waiting for the answer to this. So many of our viewers.

So in phase one of these federal guidelines, restaurants can reopen if they're practicing social distancing. Movie theaters can reopen if they're practicing social distancing. But schools stay closed.

Just explain the logic of, since kids are the least affected, as far as we know, by coronavirus, what's the logic to letting these other things open but not schools?

EL-SAYED: Well, there are a couple of pieces here. In some respects, the question is, you did a little bit by the just natural course of the school year. We are in April. School usually ends about a month and a half from now. And the number of the states that are most heavily affected have just canceled school outright.

But also, just think about the amount of movement between -- between school buildings every single day. It's not just that the kids themselves are there, but it's that you have teachers and staff and -- and then parents moving in and out of the school every day.

And then on top of that, even though they may not be carriers, we do know that kids tend to be passers of a disease, just because their hygiene is just not as, we'll just say, nuanced as adults' might be. And so take those things together, and it still may be that those buildings themselves may be an important (UNINTELLIGIBLE), an important spreader of disease.

And you know, ultimately, like I said in the beginning, this may be a moot point, just because by the time we actually get to the place where we're comfortable opening up schools, the school year will have ended and we get another two- to three-month reprieve before the fall.

BERMAN: Can we just put up phase three here so people can see that, at the final stage, I guess, before complete normalcy and vaccine, people are still being told to social distance there. And in big venues, limited physical distancing and sanitation protocols.

In other words, things will still be different even after getting through two stages.

Juliette, so two questions about this. No. 1, what are the governors getting, not getting in this plan that they want?

And then the second thing is, isn't there an underlying theme here that's not really being discussed? Dr. Anthony Fauci suggested a little bit. He says there will be setbacks. But we have to acknowledge that in doing this at all, people are going to get sick at rates that they aren't right now, correct?

KAYYEM: That's exactly right. To that second point, this period until the vaccine, people will be getting sick. Our goal is that fewer people get sick.

So how do you do that? You continue to social distance in some capacity. Whether it is not having those big concerts or big games, or we're all going to have to have a personal risk assessment.

You're going to -- you know, for the next two years, you're going to sort of decide, is it really worth that trip? Is it really worth that restaurant?

So we are going to even self -- you know, sort of socially distance, because we don't want to get sick. But there will still be people getting sick. The goal is keep them -- identify them and keep them isolated.

As for the governors, who I talked to a lot of them. Two things that they want. They want testing. Right? And a lot of them, the good news is a lot of them are working on it independently or in these regional clusters.

The second thing is they want to continue to urge the federal government to deliver the PPE and the other resources, because as you get more of these cases and as you go towards peak, if you are the second tier of states or the third wave of states over the course of the next four to six weeks, you're a little bit nervous that we're starting -- you know, that we are running out or we have run out of stuff.

So we need the federal government to keep getting that supply chain moving to the states.

BERMAN: All right, guys. Thanks so much for that.

There's also other big news, potentially, overnight. An explosion of excitement over reports that an experimental treatment is showing promise against coronavirus. We'll explain what the drug is and what the clinical trial is said to show. That's next.



CAMEROTA: Developing this morning, we have some new details about a drug that is showing encouraging results in a clinical trial in Chicago. This drug is called Remdesivir. You've probably heard of it.

And the health outlet called stat news has obtained video of the doctor who is leading the trial explaining that patients with severe respiratory symptoms and fever recovered quickly after being treated with this drug. Dr. Abdul El-Sayed is back with us. Also joining us is Dr. Eric Cioe-

Pena. He's an emergency room physician at Staten Island University Hospital and the director of global health at Northwell Health.

Dr. Cioe-Pena, I want to bring you in. The stock market seems very excited this morning about Remdesivir. Should the rest of us be excited, as well?

DR. ERIC CIOE-PENA, DIRECTOR OF GLOBAL HEALTH, NORTHWELL HEALTH: I think the initial results are really encouraging. I think we do need to remember that this is not official results that have been released. We haven't seen the primary data. It's an industry-sponsored trial. So there are some kind of red flags there. But if the data is as described, it's very encouraging early -- early clinical science that there may be a drug that's working.

BERMAN: Let me just tell people what this drug is. It was a drug that was largely developed to treat Ebola. It didn't really work against Ebola, and other things were seen to have worked better.

The other thing is, it's a fluid. It's an intravenous fluid that needs to be given over six to ten days. So it's a fairly high bar to get it into your system.

The last thing is, we said it's shown promising results. A doctor who is involved with the study is -- has been recorded saying it has shown positive results.


BERMAN: So, again, we have to wait and see the study itself. But my understanding, Dr. El-Sayed, is there's not a control group in this study. It's -- so it will be limited insofar as as what we are told. Yes, people who were given the drug seem to be improving, according to this one doctor. But as compared to what?

EL-SAYED: Yes, that's right. I think we're all really looking for hope, and we should be. And yes, that's a great sign that a doctor believes that there are good outcomes.

But you're right. In science we have a standard, and that's a randomized controlled trial. We have to know that this compares well to random allocation, to either the drug or a control group.

And so we don't have that in the study, and that's concerning.

The second big concern is that, as the doctor pointed out, this is an industry-sponsored trial. And Gilead Sciences is the manufacturer. Gilead has some -- some problematic history in terms of treatments for serious infectious diseases.

They -- they released the blockbuster drug Sovaldi, which was a treatment for hepatitis C, at $84,000 a pop.

And so we do have to start asking ourselves a bigger question, which is to say, if we know that the people who are most likely to die of the disease tend to be low-income and they tend to be marginalized communities, the black population in particular, are we going to see Gilead repeat what they did in the first place, and leave this at a price that is unobtainable for a lot of folks, or that might bankrupt insurance, especially government insurance?

And so there's a lot more questions here, not just about the efficacy and safety of this drug, but also about whether or not it's going to be available to people who need it.

CAMEROTA: That's really good context to know. And Dr. Cioe-Pena, we know that some doctors have been trying in their emergency rooms, just on, you know, an experimental basis or a desperation basis, hydroxychloroquine. Has anyone in your orbit been able to try Remdesivir?

CIOE-PENA: Yes. So we actually have been very fortunate at Staten Island University Hospital and as well as Northwell. Northwell has two centers that are in clinical trials with Remdesivir in that study. Long Island Jewish Medical Center and North Shore University Hospital. And then Staten Island University Hospital has been granted a kind of expanded access to compassionate use of the drug.

So again, we've had -- we have anecdotal evidence, and anecdotal evidence is encouraging. But as the doctor said, it's not randomized clinical data. And we really do need that.

And we also -- I think this is a great time to remember that we are using patients in the city of New York, in the state of New York and the city of Chicago to find out this information. So when we start to talk about pricing and availability, we better make sure it's available for the people that helped prove that it works.

BERMAN: Let me tell people exactly what this doctor was recorded as saying. And this is a report coming out of "Stat." And this is P-28.

"We do see when patients do come in with high fevers, they do reduce quite quickly. We have seen people come off ventilators a day after starting therapy. Most of our patients are severe, and most of them are leaving in six days. So that tells us duration of therapy doesn't have to be ten days."

She also said -- she was recorded saying that most of her patients have been discharged, and they've only had two people perish.

Dr. El-Sayed, just what does this drug do, exactly? Do we know anything about the science of this?

EL-SAYED: So it's -- it's an antiviral drug. Right? Remember, this was -- this was created for use in Ebola. And you know, folks remember back to the Ebola epidemic that raged in West Africa.

Ebola is a very different kind of disease. It affects the body in a very different kind of way. But this is an antiviral disease [SIC]. It works on stopping the virus from being able to do what it does in your biology. And so they have this drug sitting on the shelf, and it basically

asks, Well, you know, it didn't really work that well for Ebola. Does it work well for COVID-19?

And you know, again, we have -- we have some promising anecdotal evidence that suggests that it might. But again, this works on the biology of viruses in particular. It may be more effective on this virus than -- than the last one that they had created it for.

CAMEROTA: OK. I also want to talk about something that we're expecting to see in the next few hours. And that's new modeling out of the University of Washington. They are -- that's the outfit, of course, that has been providing doctors and scientists with the modeling.

And last night, Dr. Chris Murray, who's the chair of this, gave us a preview for what this new model is going to look like today across the country. So listen to this.


DR. CHRIS MURRAY, CHAIR, HEALTH METRICS SCIENCES, UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON: There's been more social distancing across the country than I think we expected. Certainly, they're going to go down for a number of states in the south. Places, you know, like Florida will certainly come down.

The other phenomenon that's sort of a little bit of a counterbalance to that is that places like New York seem to be stuck at the peak for longer than we originally expected.


CAMEROTA: So Dr. Cioe-Pena, what about that? Why is New York stuck at the peak? Do we know?

CIOE-PENA: Yes, I mean I think -- I think it's a big question right now. And I think, you know, there's probably some kind of necessary interactions that are kind of maintaining viral transmission at the level that it is.

And so, you know, even with essential work, there's -- you know, there's people going to grocery stores, there is still activity. I know during this kind of last two weeks, we've asked people to even delay essential tasks if at all possible to try and, you know, flatten the curve, which seems to have worked.


The big question is now, as we are flat, how quickly that descent will be. And that also has to be with human behavior. I can already tell you, in New York, my drive in to work this morning, there was more traffic than I'm normally used to. And I think that people are hearing the flattened curve, the curve is flat, and there's a little bit of laxing of those rules. We need to be very much on guard as New Yorkers that we're not getting lax and that we're maintaining distancing, because we're not done yet. We're still halfway there. BERMAN: I have to say, some of these models are like the election

models that are revised after there's actual voting here. At this point, I think what matters is that a couple thousand people are dying every day here. We're seeing the results projecting forward. When you're consistently revising it, it may have less and less value each day.

Doctors, thanks very much for being with us.

COIE-PENA: Thanks for having me.

EL-SAYED: Thanks.

CAMEROTA: Millions of Americans who were waiting on stimulus checks this week did not get them. Details on what happened next.