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Testing Delays; Trump Encouraging State Protests?. Aired 4- 4:30p ET

Aired April 20, 2020 - 16:00   ET


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: This all comes as Dr. Anthony Fauci is once again warning the nation, if restrictions are lifted too soon, the coronavirus could have a resurgence.



DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NIAID DIRECTOR: But what you do, if you jump the gun, and go into a situation where you have a big spike, you're going to set yourself back.

So, as painful as it is to go by the careful guidelines of gradually phasing into a reopening, it's going to backfire.


TAPPER: Despite these warnings and problems continuing to plague testing in the United States, small groups of protesters representing just minority views on the matter have taken to demonstrating and possibly spreading the virus through those demonstrations throughout the country, encouraged in no small part by President Trump, even though, as Republican Governor Larry Hogan of Maryland noted to me, it's the White House's own guidelines that the president is encouraging protests against.


GOV. LARRY HOGAN (R-MD): The president's policy says you can't start to reopen under his plan until you have declining numbers for 14 days, which those states and my state do not have.

So, then to encourage people to go protest the plan that you just made recommendations on, on Thursday, it just doesn't make any sense.


TAPPER: Doesn't make any sense, indeed.

Despite all this, as CNN's Nick Watt reports, some states are now beginning to scale back restrictions.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There are protests against stay-home orders now spreading, fanned perhaps by the president. There is some relaxation some places. South Carolina expected to open stores and beaches Tuesday, which were open all weekend in Jacksonville, Florida, with social distancing rules flagrantly flouted.

REP. DONNA SHALALA (D-FL): I think that decision was reckless. It shows you how undisciplined the leadership of this country has been, because we do not have a consistent message.

WATT: And there are still hot spots., Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, while our leaders struggle to balance the pain of the virus...

DR. ARNOLD WEG, CORONAVIRUS SURVIVOR: I had the sense that I was drowning at certain points. I was unable to even stand.

WATT: ... with the pain of the shutdown.

ERIC GARCETTI (D), MAYOR OF LOS ANGELES: It may be a year or more before a vaccine or medicine frees us from periodically returning to safer at home. But let me be clear. We cannot stay indoors for six or seven months without risking an even greater economic catastrophe.

WATT: One influential model suggests just these four states can safely open first on May 4, still two weeks from today.

ALI MOKDAD, INSTITUTE FOR HEALTH METRICS AND EVALUATION: What we are reporting is a level that a state can comfortably move to a containment stage.

WATT: That level is one new case per day per one million people. So, for example, New York state would need fewer than 20 cases per day. Right now, they're still seeing more than 5,000. All large events in the city, concerts, parades, were just canceled through June.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): You don't need protests to convince anyone in this country that we have to get back to work and we have to get the economy going and we have to get out of our homes, nobody. The question is going to become, how, when, how fast?

WATT: Apparently, at one new case per million per day, a state will have the capacity to care for that patient and also trace and test their contacts.

In the U.S., we're testing around 150,000 people a day. Harvard researchers say that must more than triple to over 500,000 a day for us to reopen right.

THOMAS TSAI, HARVARD UNIVERSITY'S T.H. CHAN SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: Social distancing has been an effective tool so far. It's been a blunt tool. But we need to just take a bit little more surgical approach if we are to think about returning back to normal.

WATT: Bottom line?

FAUCI: But unless we get the virus under control, the real recovery economically is not going to happen.


WATT: And, today, a shout-out from Governor Cuomo of New York for the disproportionately black and brown Americans who are out there working right now, the essential workers.

As Cuomo said, while most of us are staying home dealing with cabin fever, they are out there dealing with the virus. This is health workers, but also grocery store workers, other essential workers. Cuomo says they deserve more money, they deserve hazard pay. He said, why not a 50 percent bonus, Jake?

TAPPER: Yes, black and brown Americans being hit disproportionately hard by the coronavirus, according to medical stats.

Nick Watt in Los Angeles, thanks so much.

Joining me now to discuss, U.N. and chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

And, Sanjay, you heard Dr. Fauci warning that the economy cannot come back until the virus is much more under control. And yet we're seeing Jacksonville opening beaches Friday. In South Carolina, some retail stores are expected to reopen.


The virus is in a downslope in the U.S., but do you think these measures are -- you know, lifting these restriction is premature?


I mean, look, the one constant in all this is the virus. The virus is still out there. It is still very contagious. And, Jake, I remember talking about some of these models with you. And all these models have been all over the place. But we looked at models that predicted that, sadly, some 60,000 people would die by August 4.

That was what one of the models from University of Washington showed. That was one of the ones that was being touted, obviously, at the White House. What are we now? It's April 20. And we're at, I think, some 40,000 people have died, I mean, April 20. That was August 4, 60,000 people.

My point is -- and, again, I get no joy at all in talking about this, this way, but we're way ahead now, according to some of these models. The numbers nearly doubled in terms of these tragic deaths since last week. And now we're thinking about reopening.

I mean, the data speaks for itself. We have to follow the data, the evidence. It's not -- it's tough, I think, all around, but I think it speaks for itself. And now we're starting to get some more specific numbers from Dr. Fauci and others in terms of what kind of testing is needed. We have always said more testing. But what does that mean? It was

important to define that. And we're starting to get definition of that. We do about 150,000 tests a day, roughly, a lot better than we were before. But in order to just test the people that really need to be tested, the health care workers and front-line workers that Nick Watt was just talking about, obviously people who have some sort of symptoms, you would require three times that, close to 500,000 tests a day, Jake.


GUPTA: So we're not there yet. It's not clear that we have that capacity yet or the swabs or the reagents or whatever it takes.

So, reopening is premature, I think.

TAPPER: And I have heard from governors that the swabs, the reagents, the other things that are necessary to have, along with the testing kits, are also in short supply.

And you're talking about how there -- Harvard is suggesting it needs to be about 3.5 million tests done, conducted every week. Right now, we're at about 1.5 million. So we have got a lot of ways to go.

Governor Cuomo saying today that hospitals across the state of New York are expected to deliver results from hydroxychloroquine tests to the FDA and the CDC. This is, of course, the drug that some have hopes for as a treatment, not a vaccine, but a treatment.

But it also has tremendous side effects. President Trump often talks about the drug as a possible treatment.

Do we have a preliminary read on these test results yet?

GUPTA: We don't.

All we know from these specific results were that they were sent to the Department of Health and Human Services, the FDA, and we should get those results, Jake. I mean, you know, these are government-funded studies. Some 10,000 doses of the medication went to New York.

That doesn't mean 10,000 patients, because, oftentimes, it's given twice a day for several days. But, nevertheless, we should get these results.

I will tell you that it's still early. I mean, whether the results show no effect, significant side effects or some effect, these are all early studies. I can tell you, we're starting to get a trickle of information from Sweden, where the guidance is, don't give this medication outside of clinical trials anymore, from France, where some of the earliest studies were done, now show toxic side effects at higher doses, and Brazil, where they have also recommended not to use this medication outside of trials.

So, I -- whether it's good or bad, in terms of what we see, we need the data still. I mean, I -- just like you, Jake, I think just like everybody...

TAPPER: Right.

GUPTA: ... wants to see a therapeutic work, but I don't want people to be hurt. hand I don't want people to have false hope.

We need to see the data on this. That data is something that we deserve to see. As soon as, I'm sure, the FDA or HHS analyze it, we will get a better look.

TAPPER: The virus is not just affecting the respiratory system in patients, their ability to breathe and the scarring on their lungs, et cetera. There's now evidence, you say, of neurologic and cardiac impairment as well, problems with their hearts.


Yes, I mean, the idea that a respiratory virus would primarily affect the lungs was a good -- good assumption, but I think, pretty early on, doctors started to see other organ systems affected.

First, they thought, well, the lungs are not -- is not oxygenating the blood; therefore, other organ systems are getting injured by the lack of oxygenated blood. But now it seems like something else is going on.

Take a look at the list of various symptoms that we see with the central nervous system and also the cardiac system. One of the things that we saw early on with the -- with the heart was, people were having symptoms that seemed like maybe they were having a concurrent heart attack or something, but it was unclear whether there was also so much inflammation causing these problems.


The top of that list, Jake, is blood clotting. Typically, blood clotting would be a good thing in somebody who is having bleeding, for example, obviously. But, in some cases, blood clotting can also be evidence of a pretty significant illness, a precursor to shock, septic shock in the body.

Also, with regard to neurological symptoms, you will remember, Jake, people at times would complain of something like loss of smell. It would be the only symptom they would have. And, at first, it was just sort of an oddity. But then they realized that it was sometimes the first symptom of this COVID illness, along with things like dizziness and headache and seizures even.

There's something else going on here, Jake. I have talked to a lot of people even over the weekend, people who are studying this. Is there something that this virus is specifically doing to the blood, making the blood less able to carry oxygen? Is it causing widespread inflammation that's affecting all these organ systems?

There's something else going on. That probably explains why younger and healthier people are also affected in ways that are surprising. We need to figure that out. TAPPER: President Trump is also saying that he wants to send

investigators to China over the various issues, including transparency.

The Chinese government obviously has hit a lot of information from its own people, as well as the world. You spoke with the head of the CDC, Dr. Robert Redfield, about this as far back as February. What did Redfield have to say back then?

GUPTA: Yes, even then -- this was middle of February. And I was curious, because we heard this -- all the cases of people who had this infection were exposed to this wet market initially, there it was all from animals to humans.

And then I started reading journal articles that suggested that wasn't the case. The first patient had no contact with the wet market. In fact, a third of the original patients had no contact with this market.

So I wanted to understand, what did we know and when? And I asked Dr. Robert Redfield about that again mid-February. Take a listen.


GUPTA: Do you, as head of the CDC, trust the information coming out of China?

DR. ROBERT REDFIELD, DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: This outbreak did start earlier. And it did have evidence of human-to-human transmission earlier than our Chinese colleagues at least publicly appreciated, or even in the discussions that I had with my counterpart.

GUPTA: What do you think it is?

REDFIELD: Well, I think it's above the medical...

GUPTA: You think it's a political decision?

REDFIELD: Well, I think it's above the medical. I don't think the director of CDC is making that decision.

GUPTA: You think it's a political decision.

REDFIELD: Well, I think it's -- all I can say is, I think it's above the director of CDC, because I know he would love to have us assist them.


GUPTA: Jake, if you listen closely there, he says, not only publicly was this information not being transmitted, but even under these sort of close transmissions between the CDC, Dr. Robert Redfield wasn't being told this either.

So, there was a real lack of transparency on some of the core issues here, Jake.

TAPPER: Yes, the Chinese government keeping this information from the CDC and from their own people.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thank you so much. Appreciate it.


TAPPER: Be sure to listen to Sanjay's daily podcasts. It's a must- listen, "Coronavirus: Fact Vs. Fiction," on Apple Podcasts or wherever you access podcasts.

Polls show a majority of Americans support a slow, responsible return to work. So, what is driving this small, but very visible and very vocal minority to these protests around the country?

Then: a source telling CNN how a mistake in one lab slowed the U.S. response to the coronavirus by weeks, with serious repercussions. That's ahead.



TAPPER: Dozens of protesters across the country ignoring orders to physically and social distance and stay at home, and demanding that their governors lift quarantines put there to protect them. They want to go back to work, they say. In some cases, it's deep-seated conservative groups that are orchestrating the demonstrations. A majority of the American people oppose the measures these people are protesting for.

CNN's Jeff Zeleny is covering some of the groups behind the protests. CNN's Miguel Marquez is in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where we saw some crowds.

Miguel, let me start with you.

We've heard protesters say they understand the health risks. I have to say, looking at the protests, it doesn't seem like they understand the health risks.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we are on the steps, the very place where that protest was happening today. I want to show, it's pretty much cleared out at this point. But it was -- you know, people were right next to each other, many of them, many, many of them not wearing masks at all, ignoring sort of the social distancing guidelines from the president himself.

All of this taking on sort of a feeling of Trump campaign rally, a protest against the quarantine rules, a religious revival, and even a pretty large segment of Second Amendment rights individuals. So it was a lot of different voices.

And for many of them, the coronavirus, the pandemic, they just feel that it's politics at its worst and that Democrats are trying a coup by pandemic -- Jake.

TAPPER: Yes, that's obviously insane.

Jeff, what do we know about who's organizing some of these rally rallies? There's obviously -- everyone wants things to go back to normal. Everyone wants to go back to work when it's safe to do so. But these people seem to want to go back to work even before it is safe to do so?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, there's no question that there's a loose organization behind all of these. I was at one of those protests in Michigan that got so much attention, it inspired other protests like the ones we're seeing over the weekend and into this week here. And the one in Michigan was organized by the Michigan Conservative Coalition, you know, a loose group of like- minded individuals who organized the Tea Party rally more than a decade ago.


So, that is what we're seeing here, if not the same people, in some cases it is, certainly the same mindset across the country. There is an organization of people who certainly are in favor of limited government and they're protesting this as an economic argument, saying these closed businesses are hurting their bottom line.

But, Jake, the bottom line actually, this is a political argument. This is an argument to bolster the president's sort of call to reopen the economy. But the irony in all of this, these very protesters, some of whom are holding Trump flags, are protesting the president's own guidelines.

None of these states actually meet the qualifications that the White House laid out last week in terms of the three-phased approach. So, that's what's so odd here, these protesters are actually protesting the president, although they're not saying there, they say they're protesting the Democrats -- the Democratic governor there in Pennsylvania.

TAPPER: Even odder, President Trump even encouraging protesters who are taking issue --

ZELENY: Indeed.

TAPPER: -- with President Trump's own guidelines.

Miguel, today, the Republican governor of Ohio, Mike DeWine, says he respects the protesters, but he added that small business owners have told him they don't want to open right now if that means closing again in a few weeks. It's a delicate balance for many of these governors, Democrats and Republicans.

MARQUEZ: Very much so, and even voters out there. I mean, most Americans, Democrats or Republicans, think that it's better to err on the side of caution and keep things closed down for a bit longer than to go back to work. What protesters are saying here today is that May 1st, that was

something the president had floated early on, they want to see things opened up May 1st.

During the protest, at the height of the protest, Governor Wolf, which lots of their ire was focused on today, he extended the stay-at-home orders until May 8th. So, that is likely not to be well-received with this crowd -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Jeff and Miguel, thank you so much.

Coming up next, one major U.S. chain now returning millions of dollars it received from the stimulus bill. We'll explain why, next.



TAPPER: Another day with vastly mixed messages coming from the Trump administration to governors. While members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, including the vice president, told governors on a call today that the federal government will help states ramp up coronavirus testing, that is a direct contrast from President Trump who this morning on Twitter blamed the states for not working fast enough to do testing on their own -- as CNN's Kaitlan Collins reports.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: As multiple governors voice concerns about a shortage of coronavirus tests and the supplies needed to conduct them, President Trump is claiming they're wrong.

Today on Twitter, he compared the demands to when governors asked for more ventilators. They screamed it loud and clear and thought they had us cold even though it was the states' task. Now they scream testing, testing, testing, again playing a very dangerous political game.

But governors say a lack of supplies for testing is one of the biggest hurdles they're facing, and the president is wrong that there are enough tests to open back up.

GOV. RALPH NORTHAM (D), VIRGINIA: Jake, that's just delusional, to be making statements like that. We don't even have enough swabs, believe it or not.

COLLINS: Trump has dismissed those complaints as Democrats playing politics and not doing enough to ramp up testing on their own.

Republicans like Larry Hogan of Maryland say that's, quote, absolutely false.

GOV. LARRY HOGAN (R), MARYLAND: Every governor in America has been pushing and fighting and clawing to get more tests not only from the federal government but from every private lab in America and from all across the world. COLLINS: The vice president says the U.S. is conducting about 150,000

tests per day. But researchers at Harvard estimate that number needs to be tripled to safely reopen.

During a call with the nation's governors today, Pence and Dr. Deborah Birx stress that a partnership between the federal government and states is needed.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We just completed a very productive meeting of members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force with governors all across the country.

COLLINS: Trump, who did not join the call, is offering a very different message.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Testing is -- is local. You can't have it both ways. Testing is a local thing.

COLLINS: The president is also still stoking protests against stay- at-home orders in states with Democratic governors.

TRUMP: They want their life back. Their life was taken away from 'em.

COLLINS: The string of protests is also organized by groups with conservative ties. Even though the protests contradict the president's own federal guidelines, one of his top aides argues it's the governors who have overreached.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: Some of these governors have physically distanced from common sense. In Michigan, you could basically smoke your grass but not cut your grass. This makes no sense to many people.


COLLINS: Now, Jake, also yesterday, the president said he's going to use the Defense Production Act to get a U.S. company to make more swabs that are needed for that coronavirus testing. I spoke with Peter Navarro, his trade who's been coordinating all the uses of the DPA here at the White House, today he said they are finalizing negotiations with Puritan, this company in Maine to make more swabs. But basically, they're using the DPA to give this company more money, that's where they're in talks to do. So, then the company can increase --