Return to Transcripts main page


Dr. Carlos del Rio Discusses More Testing Required Before Reopening Economy; Source: Deal For More Small Business Aid Unlikely Today; Mnuchin: "My Idea" To Put Trump's Name On Stimulus Checks; Reports From Around The World On Coronavirus Response; Italy Weighs Antibody Tests In Effort To Reopen Country; U.S. Death Toll Tops 40,000 as Need for Testing Grows. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired April 20, 2020 - 13:30   ET



DR. CARLOS DEL RIO, INFECTIOUS DISEASE SPECIALIST & CHAIR, DEPARTMENT OF GLOBAL HEALTH, EMORY UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: Nothing is going to be perfect. But I think, if you think about if I was thinking about opening an industry, I would think -- you know, or an office, I would think about it the same way -- we are working right now, for example, at my hospital. Everybody gets a temperature check and everybody has to wear a mask.

And if everybody wears a mask and everyone does a temperature check, nothing is going to be perfect but those things will be additive to decrease the risk of transmission.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: CNN learned the CDC's early testing failure was caused in part by a contaminated lab and took roughly three weeks just to sort through the failed coronavirus test kits. Was this avoidable? And whether that's known or not, how much damage did it do to the U.S. response?

DEL RIO: I don't know if it was avoidable or not. I'm not an expert on the topic and I don't have a lot of the information I would need to have to comment.

But I think, at this point in time, yes, I think it was something that delayed us. But at this point, rather than looking back, we have to look forward. We have to see what we are and say, what do we need to do to get to where we need to be.

I think the next two or three weeks, we ought to be testing the number of people we need to be testing if we just do it the right way. And a blueprint of, how do we get testing where it needs to be, it has to happen now.

COOPER: What kind of numbers of people do you think needed to do contact tracing effectively?

DEL RIO: It is a lot of people. I can tell you why. The reason is we know -- it is not only getting the testing but getting the results of the individual quickly and the immunity of contact tracing. Because of the way the virus is spread and the very short time between exposure and disease, which is about five days, you have to get everything done quickly, within 72 hours.

So if I am testing somebody today and that person is found positive, I need to know about it today and I need to let public health know so they can immediately take action, go find the contacts, isolate the individual and quarantine those other individuals and get them tested. That takes a lot of effort. That takes a lot of people. And it is not going to be immediate.

But, again, we have a lot of unemployed people. A lot of people have filed for unemployment. So this is a great opportunity to get individuals at different localities and hire them and use them for contact tracing to tackle this pandemic.

COOPER: Dr. Carlos Del Rio, we really appreciate it. Thank you very much.

The CEO of Shake Shack says he is giving back $10 million his company got from the government and there are smaller businesses who need it more. We'll tell you what lawmakers are doing now to help those who got shut out the first time around.

Plus, Germany starts to reopen as cases decline. The steps come with a warning from the country's leader. We'll tell you how they are starting to reopen.



COOPER: More federal help for the country's small businesses may have to wait a little longer. Multiple sources familiar with the negotiations between the White House and lawmakers tell CNN that a new deal to provided billions more in assistant isn't expected to be done today but that talks are continuing.

The first Paycheck Protection Program worth $349 billion completely ran out of money in a matter of weeks. There were also complaints many of the smaller businesses were not able to get the help they desperately needed to stay afloat.

Our Julia Chatterley is joining us now.

What do we expect to see in this new version when it is finally gets done?

JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS ANCHOR & CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, when it finally gets done, the news of a delay is a devastating blow for the millions of businesses out there waiting for this.

What we're expecting is a top up of around $300 billion. Also some money for disaster loan programs that provide grants. But what will be key in this is whether there's a portion of this money that's allocated to the smaller lenders in this country to get access to the smallest business out there. The need for this became incredibly clear over the weekend when we got

data on the first chunk of money from Small Business Administration. I can give it to you squarely. Over 25 percent of the money went to 2 percent of businesses. Some of these were big corporations. They hire thousands of workers.

Now that's in line with the current conditions but not really in line with the ethos of the program. I think the belief is something needs to be done on this.

While we wait for the top up, we wait for a deal to be done, we also need to focus on that aspect of this and that the money gets in the right hands and that something is more fair as we think about what happens here.

COOPER: Part of the problem -- I talked to a number of small business owners who are still trying to get a response from a bank or the bank that they use was not part of the program or was still -- it was also rushed, the bank was assessing it, or some small businesses don't have regular relationships with a lending institution --


COOPER: -- where some of these bigger businesses, construction firms especially, or developers, they have ongoing relationships with lenders. So it's easier for them to get results.

CHATTERLEY: This is a critical part of this. Some part, let's be clear, was about getting the money out as fast as possible. For biggest lenders, they went to their clients and pushed the money out and got them through. But that shows a lack of fairness I think.

If you didn't have an existing relationship, you were one of the smallest businesses, you don't have a business credit card, you didn't have a fair chance here. And it was on a first-come-first-serve basis. So it became about survival of fittest. And those that had banking relationships won. That needs to change this time around.


Yes. And earlier today, the CEO of Shake Shack told CNN why he's returning the $10 million his company received from the program. Let's listen.


RANDY GARUTTI, CEO, SHAKE SHACK: The very people, the small businesses, our friends who owns small restaurants, could not get access to this capital and they were in line or their banks couldn't get it down. That doesn't seem right to us.

As we watched this opportunity play out for a couple of weeks, it was very clear that the program was underfunded and it was not set up for everyone to win.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: And as he says, it was not set up for everyone to win.

We also had our first images of these stimulus checks going out to Americans that have President Trump's name on them, which is quite unusual. The treasury secretary says, claims it was his idea.

CHATTERLEY: I think the treasury secretary has proven the part that he's incredibly royal. The IRS says this order came from the treasury, of course. The IRS says there won't be a delay.

I think the truth is we'll never know who decided the president's name should be on that check, quite frankly.

The critical thing for the people waiting for them is, will this delay my check. The IRS assures people this will not be a delay. And the treasury secretary says it will be a terrific symbol. It will be a symbol and a terrific one when it arrives.

COOPER: It is a symbol of something.

CHATTERLEY: It really is.


Julia Chatterley, thanks very much.

At the top of the hour, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is expected to speak about the state of negotiations on the Senate floor. We'll bring you any updates as we get them.

Turkey has just surpassed China in the number of coronavirus cases. That's official Chinese numbers, but that country still has not enacted a widespread lockdown.

And British Prime Minister Boris Johnson catching heat for his response or delayed response to the pandemic. CNN has reports from all around the world, next.



COOPER: One of the last cruise ships amid the pandemic docked in Marseilles, France. The "MSC Magnifica" arrived this morning with more than 1,700 passengers, mostly Europeans. The ship left Italy in early January. Last pulled into a port six weeks ago. A spokeswoman tells CNN all passengers are healthy. Before disembarking, everyone must be checked for fever and other symptoMs.

More international headlines. We'll get a quick check with CNN colleagues around the globe.


CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I am Clarissa Ward, in London, where the government is fighting back after a blistering article in the "Times on Sunday" accusing Prime Minister Boris Johnson of grossly mishandling this crisis, saying he missed allegedly five COBRA emergency cabinet meetings on the subject of coronavirus. And that he was too focused on Brexit and internal politics and underestimated the threat of this pandemic.

Ten Downing Street fighting back, calling the article sloppy and inaccurate.

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT; I am Arwa Damon, in Istanbul. Turkey has surpassed China in confirmed coronavirus cases. Still, the government is not implementing a full lockdown or a curfew. They're only doing that on the weekends.

During the week, if you are over the age of 20 or under the age of 65, in theory, you can still go out. All those schools, universities, many businesses, parks, bar restaurants, they're all shut down.

But doctors are saying that while, at the moment, there's plenty of capacity in hospitals, there's no problem when it comes to PPE or lifesaving medical equipment, that could all change quickly if the government does not decide to implement severer measures.

FRED PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Fred Pleitgen in Germany, where some smaller shops are now able to reopen. And we're already seeing a lot of people on the streets. And a lot of people want to go back into these shops.

And the other things they're able to open are zoos in Germany as well. We were able to go to the zoo. You could tell the animals thought it was a little strange to see all these people around all of a sudden. But you could see a lot of the people were happy to take their kids to new places and go out and have a relaxed time in the zoo.

Angela Merkel, however, is warning these gains are very fragile and could be reverse if there are new coronavirus infections.

SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Shasta Darlington, in Sao Paulo. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro joined a group of protesters in Brasilia on Sunday to demand an end to quarantine measures meant to slow the spread of COVID-19. He did not wear a mask and, in fact, coughed several times while addressing the crowd of a couple hundred.

Some protesters were also urging military interventions to close down Congress and the Supreme Court, which have supported social isolation measures.

Bolsonaro called his supporters patriots and said their freedom, their liberty must be guaranteed.


COOPER: Still ahead, how a major mistake at a CDC lab delayed coronavirus testing for weeks. We'll tell you what we learned went wrong.

Plus, former secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, joins me live with her perspective on the administration's response to the crisis.


You are watching CNN's life special coverage.


COOPER: Italy is hoping to do widespread antibody testing to see how many people may have had the virus and developed antibodies to it, which, theoretically, might mean immunity. A quick test could be the key to reopen the country. But there are some questions about the reliability of the tests.

Ben Wedeman and his team tried one of the tests under consideration with mixed results.




BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just three drops of blood are enough for a Chinese-made antibody test for the coronavirus, now going through a trial run in Italy. Just one of several tests being examined by the Italian government.

Other countries have had mixed success with such quickly-designed tests, but we gave it a try.

(on camera): We were up in the north of Italy in the red zones for 17 days. So we are very anxious to see the results of this test.

(voice-over): Unlike swabs, this test gives results in just eight minutes.


WEDEMAN: The result, says Dr. John Dominic Balsoni (ph), can tell us three things. Either you never had anything, or that you are currently infected, or that you had the infection but overcame it and have antibodies that are no longer contagious.


WEDEMAN: I received a clean bill of health.


WEDEMAN (on camera): Negative?

BALSONI (ph): Negative.

WEDEMAN: And never had it?

BALSONI (ph): No.

WEDEMAN: Never had it.

(voice-over): Alfredo (ph), who drove us all over northern Italy for two weeks, also negative.


WEDEMAN: CNN Rome's veteran cameraman, Alessandro Dentilli (ph), however, had a different result.


WEDEMAN: "Positive," says Dr. Balsoni (ph). "He had the virus in the past and has brilliantly overcome it."


WEDEMAN: Alessandro (ph) never had any symptoms.


WEDEMAN: But our bodies can't take time to produce antibodies, so experts caution that these tests may miss some recent current infections, unlike the more common swap tests, which should be able to detect whenever someone is shedding the virus.

Antibody tests like the one I got -- quick, painless and inexpensive, just around $20 -- can show who's already been infected with COVID-19 and may now be immune to the virus. A critical step as Italy shifts into phase two, the phase when the country reopens.

PIERPAOLO SILERI, ITALIAN DEPUTY HEALTH MINISTER: It means the tests will be done eventually.

WEDEMAN: Deputy Health Minister Pierpaolo Sileri, who caught the virus and has since recovered, says such tests will initially focus on critical sectors before becoming widespread.

SILERI: Just, so example, I mean, with working in the health system to do the test, was working for every public unit to do it. Plus, I'm going to check the population, especially the north.

WEDEMAN: The number of new coronavirus cases in Italy is slowly declining, but the daily death toll remains high.

While the International Monetary Fund warns the country's gross domestic product could plummet by more than 9 percent this year, striking a balance between the economy and public health will not be easy.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, Rome.


COOPER: It is just about the top of the hour. I'm Anderson Cooper. Thanks for joining us as we continue CNN's special coverage of the global coronavirus pandemic.

Exactly three months since the first U.S. case was reported on January 20th, more than 761,000 have contracted the virus in the United States. More than 40,000 have died so far. The death toll doubling in the last week, basically.

But the White House Task Force says the first hot spots in this crisis, New York, Detroit, New Orleans, are beyond their peak. And this week, some states, like South Carolina, are set to start to reopen some parts of their economies.

Just how to do that though, across the nation, an intense conflict between governors and the president as he cheers on protesters, seeking to end stay-at-home orders. The same stay-at-home orders he himself has been pumping out guidelines for.

For more on the conflict, let's go to CNN's Nick Watt who joins me us from Los Angeles.

Nick, the prime issue continues to be testing around the country. It's been a contention since the beginning of the crisis. Where are governors and the president? What is the status of this?


NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this morning, the vice president had another call with governors. And we're told by one of the governors who was on that call that it was pretty much all about testing, that the general cry from governors was that they need more help and that Vice President Pence assured them that the federal government is moving as quickly as possible to provide that help.