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CNN NEWSROOM

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo Gives Updates On Coronavirus Response; New York Governor Andrew Cuomo: Nobody Needs To Protest To Convince Us Of Desire To Reopen; Protestors Hold Anti-Shutdown Rally In Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; President Donald Trump On CDC: We're Very Proud Of The Job They've Done; Contamination In CDC Lab Likely Caused Delays In Early Testing. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired April 20, 2020 - 12:00   ET

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


[12:00:00]

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): When you talk to those labs, there are 300 labs. They buy machines and equipments from national manufacturers. And those labs can only run as many tests as the national manufacturers provide them chemicals reagents and lab kits. The national manufacturers say they have supply chain issues.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So what --

CUOMO: I'd like the Federal Government to help on those supply chain issues.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Funding or is that --?

CUOMO: No it's worse - it's harder than funding. This is a quagmire because it's not just funding because I've offered funding to the national manufacturers and I've said you know I'll buy, I'll pay. What do I have to pay to get the test?

The national manufacturers who will say well it's not that easy. I can't get the chemicals. The chemicals from check come from China. I can't make the vials fast enough. I can't make the swabs fast enough. So I don't know what's right or what's wrong with that national supply chain question.

But that's where the Federal Government could help. But should the states take the lead on the tests? Yes. That's exactly right but we need the volume and the volume is going to be determined by how well those national manufacturers provide the kits to the 300 labs in New York?

Would you take the test this second function that we're not talking about which is you take the test tracing you know we have to talk through tracing because people don't understand what tracing is?

Tracing is then this function that we've never done before where you hire an army of people thousands of people to be investigators in essence not a scary investigator but an investigator who traces the contacts of every person who is positive. That's an entire undertaking that known his even imagined before. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you like the Federal Government to you say the Defense Production Act to ramp up production let's say supplies and things like that? And then also have the Federal Government hired this army of tracers is that what you're asking for?

CUOMO: The tracers I think. I would argue and just my personal opinion as a Governor of New York. I would do the tracing as a state responsibility also. Some people think the Federal Government should help on tracers. I would say the state can do the tracing and I'll coordinate Buffalo tracers, Rochester tracers, Westchester, New York City tracers, Nassau Suffolk.

I think that's too discreet in action for the Federal Government right? Anything that is granular and specific to the specific details of the state. Leave that to the state government right? You're in the Federal Government I used to be in the Federal Government.

Federal Government you're painting a room with a roller okay. You can't do corners with the roller. You can't do trim and molding with a roller. Somebody has to come behind you with a brush and do the details.

State government has a brush so Federal Government has a roller. I have a brush. Let the Federal Government do what they can if it requires a brush let the state government do it. The big question on the testing is that national manufacturers supply chain and getting that up to scale quickly.

I'll handle my 300 labs but my 300 labs are now saying I can't get the tests from the national manufacturer. And the way this happened because nobody designed this before and it is nobody's fault you're right away everybody wants to go to well who is to blame? Nobody is to blame.

The way the testing world work was a national manufacturer made their machine the Andrew Cuomo Testing Machine. I sold my machine to private labs and hospitals. My machine only operates if you have an Andrew Cuomo testing kit. It doesn't work with Howard Zucker testing kit.

You have to buy from me. And now what's happening is you call up and say okay I want to buy 1000 kits. I say you normally only by a 100. I know but now I want a 1000. I can't get you the 1000. So even though you have the machine I am so as a national manufacturer I have such an increased demand I literally can't produce it in time.

And to unravel that supply chain issue a manufacturing issue I think that's the best way the Federal Government can help. Do you have a follow up?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm just a little confused because are you asking the Feds to step in and tell manufacturers would bring in different manufacturers to make this sort of equipment and then you're also asking for the Federal Government to pay for the tracers but you'll handle the kind of nuts and bolts?

[12:05:00] CUOMO: We didn't get into payment of tracers. I don't think there's been any proposal with the Feds pay Do they? No, no one is even talking about paying. The states right now pay for the tests and pay for the tracers. That's why I say when they say the state's Governors go reopen; okay I'll do the test.

By the way I pay for the tests. I pay for the tracers. So it's not about the money. On this front it's about division of labor and responsibilities. And on the testing I can't solve for the national manufacturers not being able to produce the volume to sell to my state labs.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Given the high number of deaths in nursing homes on Friday we saw a division between those that are nursing home residents that have passed away in the home but then also in the nursing homes that is and also in the hospitals?

But what its states policy regarding admission or readmission to these nursing homes whether or not one of these people have tested for the virus or there was a state directive that said that people cannot be denied readmission or admission? Just wondering what the state policies right now? Again judging the high number of deaths that are coming out of these nursing homes?

CUOMO: If you are tested positive for the virus or you allow to be admitted to a nursing home is the question or readmitted?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

CUOMO: It's a good question. I don't know.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If the policy is that if you are positive you should be admitted back to a nursing home. The necessary precautions will be taken to protect the other residents there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is that safe though and do the staffs have the capacity to treat those individuals? Is that the best place again judging how rapidly the virus spreads? And also this is a very vulnerable population as you guys have expressed multiple times.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And that's probably why we are working closely with the nursing home both the leadership and individuals. We're working the nursing home to protect those individuals who are coming back who had the COVID-19. And we're worked back to the nursing home from where they came.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What are you working on? Can you quote some of those?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, it is all the issues up supplies PPE staffing testing of other individuals and as I mentioned the other day just monitoring to be sure that the necessary precautions to being taken.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to ask you about the Hydroxychloroquine test results. Do you have them? Can you share what the results are? CUOMO: The hospitals those tests have been done by hospitals in New York. I think we had like 20, how many hospitals? Over 20 hospitals were administering Hydroxychloroquine and doing a test. They are today those hospitals are to send their results to the FDA who do they send them to?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They will send them down to the FDA and to the CDC.

CUOMO: FDA and CDC and they should be sending the first tranche of results today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Getting - result as well?

CUOMO: Department of Health gets a copy but it's really a study that's being done for the Federal Government. So it goes to the FDA and CDC yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Governor, I mean even against a regional approach but due to so many upstate hospitals lying off people right now. Do you think there is a way to bring back elective surgeries at least for upstate hospitals?

And with so many there's different productions going on right now and you spoke earlier about a ruling leaves but there are some projections things like your county for example they're not necessarily getting better and they're projected to hit I think like June you? Are you worried at all about the production if there were to be a regional approach to reopening?

CUOMO: Yes. Two questions both good ones. Is there a rolling curve? Yes it is an ocean. I see an ocean. They're rolling curves. New York City had the first curve and then they project higher curves in other states and other parts of our state right?

So Massachusetts is now coming up to a high point and we're working with them anything they need we're with them God bless. Buffalo will have a later curve Albany will have a later curve. And we're watching those curves in different parts of the state.

And our strategy has always been we deploy to wherever the curve is highest right? Massachusetts has a problem we run to Massachusetts. Buffalo has a problem we run to Buffalo we run to Rochester. So whenever you get up towards that point and the locality we're working with to prepare for that high point.

Second question on the elective surgeries we stopped elective surgeries for all hospitals in the state. That was one of the ways we increased capacity right.

[12:10:00]

CUOMO: Now we're at a point where some of the upstate hospitals have significant financial burdens because they're not doing the elective surgery which is one of their places where they make money frankly.

And they're saying can't we have lower vacancy. We don't need those beds for New York City people or Buffalo people or anyone else. Why not let us start going back to elective surgery if we don't need the capacity. That is a good question and we're going to look at we are have been looking at that.

It's again a little question of balance in the valve in the dial. You let them go do elective surgery they fill up the beds with elective surgery then what happens if you have a need for those beds because of the Coronavirus and you don't have the bed because someone is doing some form of elective surgery?

That's the balance that we're going to announce tomorrow. A policy that we believe provides for that and has some variables that take the Coronavirus rate in that region and compares it to the vacancy rate in that region and the potential for a high point in that region. And will announce that tomorrow.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor we already had a spike in insurance. I believe at the end of last week - making this question from - that short I think there were 275,000 on process planes had been able to make a dent in that especially with people who are self employed?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So yes.

CUOMO: Melissa, she has all the answers. I have only questions.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They've made a significant dent in that. They brought over 3100--

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: We were listening to the Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo giving his daily Coronavirus briefing. Again the Governor encouraged if that's the right word in the middle of this horrible pandemic that New York is beginning to come down the case curve.

478 New Yorkers he reported died yesterday that is a horrific number but it is the lowest number for the state in quite some time since early heading up the curve. So the Governor saying they are making some progress also though voicing considerable caution on the question that now it's all around the country and even indeed all around the globe when can you reopen as your case count does start to come down?

The Governor saying everyone needs to wait. Everyone needs to be patient. He says it's critical that local officials are getting pressure to do things in their communities. Stay in lock step with the Governor not to confuse people and also again as we have heard repeatedly bringing up he needs more testing capacity in his state before he is comfortable getting people out of the house and back to work.

Let's bring in our Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. So Sanjay you are at this odd moment I caught the crossroads moment where that there's no good news here but there's less discouraging news here when you look at hospitalizations down intubations down.

The death toll 478 that is a horrific number it is lower than yesterday lower than two days ago three days ago. So I guess we call that progress but the caution from the Governor is I'm still not ready even though we're coming down because he says he doesn't know how steep or not steep the descent will be.

And he says he does not have the testing capacity to let him feel comfortable there when 19 million people live in the state of New York. When they start to come out by the tens of thousands going back to work back to recreational activities that will start to head up again?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. These are really important points that John. First of all you do need to see some trends with regard to this data. You know is this a - even aside from the steepness of the descent it's almost how pointy is the top?

Is this a few days sort of apex or is this going to be sort of we get to the top and then it just really plateaus in sort of the numbers sort of all stay steady for a while which wouldn't be necessary as you say bad news. But it's the good news is the news when we see that the numbers are definitively going down.

The spread between the doubling times is really starting to widen out all of that. And we're not quite there yet. I mean I look at these numbers all the time John and you know as you point out it's tough to just describe these numbers because these are real people and their lives and their illnesses behind these numbers.

But that's what these public health officials are looking for. And we see that the numbers do bounce around a bit. They bounced around here in the United States they bounced around in New York and also other places around the world.

You know in terms of the testing this is something I feel like for 3 months now we've been talking about on a regular basis. It was important, is important and probably will be almost the most important going forward.

We talk about containment strategy, mitigation strategy and then containment strategy again. We would have loved to have contained this virus from the very start meaning every single person that was testing positive would have been isolated.

[12:15:00]

GUPTA: Their contacts would have been traced. They would have been quarantined and then you feel like you've got this thing contained. We didn't get to that point in this country we well know. That's hard it's a very contagious virus. So then we went into mitigation strategy to slow it down.

As we come up the backside of this curve at some point and we still don't know what that is? It's going to be about that containment strategy again. This belief that we can identify everyone who is positive whose testing positive in this country? Who is harboring the Coronavirus in their bodies regardless of whether they have symptoms?

We can isolate them and make sure their contacts in quarantine as well. That will be the key and that's what I think Governor Cuomo spent the last several minutes sort of talking about. It was interesting because testing he says is a dual responsibility.

He described as the rollers, the big rollers of the Federal Government the tiny brush work is the states. I would say that the capacity for the testing the lab with technicians waiting to get the samples have improved dramatically but this - but the brush work is in this case the swabs, the reagents, the medium even the vials that the swabs are transported in.

In some places those things are in short supply. That is something that you know needs to be corrected in order for practically speaking people to be able to get tested when and if they should.

KING: And Sanjay I don't know if we know the answer to this? So forgive me if this is an unfair question but the Governor said that the New York hospitals that participated in this hydroxychloroquine test. The Governor of New York a lot of people are critical of the President the Governor of New York early on said send us some we will test it. This hydroxychloroquine--

GUPTA: Yes.

KING: --does it work? He says those hospitals that participate in the test are sending their first round of results to the FDA and the CDC. Do we have any idea? Are there enough was - is there enough data there to have a conclusion or we still at a preliminary stage or do we not know?

GUPTA: I have heard that the data still preliminary. It's in the hundreds of people. We know that 10,000 doses I think were sent to New York City at least initially. That doesn't mean 10,000 patients people get the medication on a regular basis.

So I think the results are still going to be - these are still small studies. But we are starting and I think we will. I just was checking on this before we came to the program John. But if it's a federally funded study the data being sent to HHS for further analysis in the FDA. We should get the results of that even if these are small studies.

Ultimately you know John we're starting to see a drumbeat of evidence though around the world. Brazil, Sweden sent out guidance that you should not use this medication hydroxychloroquine outside of a clinical trial anymore. Even in France they have some guidance basically saying at high doses there could be significant side effects from this.

So we will see what these latest results show but ultimately it's going to be a big trial that gives us the definitive answer. And that should come back within the next few weeks John.

KING: Well I hope that they release the numbers as soon as they can responsibly do so. This has been put out there many times including by the President not just the President including by the President of the United States.

They have numbers to tell us something hopefully as soon as they have them in a reliable verifiable way. They would share them. Dr. Gupta as always thank you so much for your help you're insights there.

GUPTA: Thanks again.

KING: Still ahead here the death toll continues to climb but this big debate should the United States reopen? A lot of protesters taking to the streets their answer is, yes.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:20:00]

KING: Want to show some remarkable pictures. Let's go straight live right now Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. That is of course the State Capital. These demonstrators in the streets protesting Governor Wolf is the Governor. You see that sign right there stop crying Wolf.

They want the state to ease its coronavirus restrictions the stay-at- home orders again that as the Pennsylvania State Capital in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. CNN's Miguel Marquez is right there. Miguel tell us what you're seeing?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. So we are walking around this ground. And they want to exactly be sure how many people they were going to have on here today? But I can tell you there are several hundred at least here on the very lower steps of the Capital.

Several hundred more across the street and then throughout the day you had hundreds and hundreds of the thousands of cars driving by honking their support for the individuals here. This has been organized by several different groups. There have been many of these rallies or protests across the country in recent days.

This one seems to be picking up steam because the President himself using his Twitter feed and using the White House as sort of a reelection platform. Many, many people have come out not only against the quarantine and expressing concerns about the quarantine has been put in place but also to show support for the President.

We spoke to, many who were not wearing masks, I mean, some - many people are wearing masks and taking some precautions here many, many are not. They don't either think that the viruses that seriously don't that it portends to them.

They're not particularly concerned with those - with the effects. There are now state representative speaking. There are several other speakers it looks like it is going to go for the next couple of hours. We will keep you updated as this keeps going on John.

KING: Miguel Marquez in the middle of that's a demonstration of American democracy. The question is whether it's a public health risk as well? Miguel Marquez in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania I appreciate that live reporting. We'll keep an eye on this.

We do know more today about why the Federal Coronavirus testing effort stumbled at the start? Multiple health officials telling CNN contamination at the CDC lab caused weeks of delays. Now mistakes happen but one issue here is a breaking protocol as the Trump Administration tried to manufacture its first Coronavirus test.

CNN's Sara Murray part of the reporting on this story, she joins me now. Sara take us inside what happened what went wrong?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, John we know there was this year in February where the test shipped out they just weren't working.

[12:25:00]

MURRAY: And you know at the White House they were getting a lot of reassurances from Redfield who leads the CDC as well as Alex Azar the Head of HHS that things would be improved quickly that they were on top of it.

And in reality it took an FDA official going down to the CDC lab in Atlanta to determine that in fact the labs were contaminated. And this is likely what was causing the problem in the test kits and so it took until the end of February to figure out a fix for that.

It also took until the end of February to bring commercial labs into this mix. Now here is how President Trump describes the issue when he's talking about the CDC.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We inherited a lot of garbage. We took - they had tested were no good they had all the stuff was no good. It came from somewhere so whoever came up with it. But I'm proud to tell you that now we went from having a lot of bad things happening in CDC to having great things happening where they're doing a very good job now.

But no initially look our stockpiles were empty and they've done it under pressure. The pressure is here on this they had to do this under pressure. So we're very proud of the job they've done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MURRAY: Now I know the President likes to point fingers at others. But the reality was there were a number of failings within the government that led to the test slow to get online and to this administration being slow to bring in commercial partners.

We did talk to a CDC spokesperson has that obviously what happened in the lab is under investigation and clearly the quality control systems they have in place were insufficient this time around John.

KING: Sara Murray a fantastic reporting, very important that we follow the accountability trail here. Sara thanks so much. Joining me now to continue the conversation about testing and other issues Dr. Michael Mina he an Epidemiologists and Immunologist at Harvard School of Public Health and Dr. Ashish Jha who Directs the Harvard Global Health Institute.

Doctors, thank you both for being here. This is unfair maybe but Doctor Mina I want to start with you first. We're just showing pictures - Miguel Marquez at this protest in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and one of the things you see repeatedly with these protests. There are signs here saying stop falsifying the statistics.

It is hard to get people through a pandemic. It is hard people legitimately they have every right to do this as long as they're safe. Social distancing but the idea that medical professionals like yourself or those Governors who look maybe not all their calls are perfect but the idea that people are falsifying statistics suggesting this is not real, this is no more dangerous than the flu. Please help answer people who would see those signs that say huh of those people right.

DR. MICHAEL MINA, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF EPIDEMIOLOGY, HARVARD T. H. CHAN SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: Yes. It's - I think this is a time where there's a lot of concern by everyone. But no those are when nobody's falsifying the statistics right now.

Unfortunately this is a deadly virus that is killing a lot of people and it's infecting many, many more. So it might not always be apparent to everyone around because a lot of the deaths happened in the hospital.

People aren't going to be seeing these with their own eyes unless they're physicians or nurses or other medical healthcare professionals who are working with these patients were critically ill. And I think that it's important to really remain focused on the fact that this is still an ongoing epidemic.

Social distancing measures need to continue in place right now until we absolutely get everything under control. But I understand the anxiety is that people's well.

KING: Well, part of the challenge here and let me say this, the doctors don't have to say. This is when you have public officials including the President of the United States who constantly question authorities. Constantly question the experts, constantly question whether the facts the news media give you are correct?

I want to show our viewers those numbers you see on the right side of your screen there. They are depressing and they are the best we have. They're not perfect we don't know what China's count is for example? Another chance because go but they are the best we have and they are depressing but they are very real.

Doctor Jha come into the conversation just heard Sara Murray talking about early missteps at the CDC in trying to develop a test. We need to figure out how that happened so that doesn't happen again? We don't need to scream. Human beings make mistakes but where we are today?

Where we are today the study put out by Harvard like we have a graphic from here? We talked about this yesterday as well increased testing by three times and that you say some of your colleagues say even that's not enough?

But you believe if we increase testing by three times will be at a point where you can safely reopen meaning you have good surveillance on people as they start to come out of their homes and go back into the workplace.

The challenge though and I want to listen a couple of Governors here they say we can't do this right now because we don't have maybe it's the testing kits or maybe we have the kits but we don't have the reagents or maybe we have reagents and the kids but we don't have the swabs and they want Federal help listen.