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U.S. Death Toll Nearly Doubles in Last Week, Need for Testing Grows; New York Hospitalizations Down; Protestors Rally Against Stay- at-Home Orders in U.S.; 16 Dead in Shooting Rampage, Deadliest in Canadian History. Aired 6-6:30a ET
Aired April 20, 2020 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Testing remains a problem today. It is one of the key hurdles to reopen the economy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have been fighting every day for PPE. We've been fighting for testing.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The governors want to have us, the federal government, do the testing. The testing is local. You can't have it both ways.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everything associated with testing ultimately has to be approved by the CDC and the FDA, as it should be. The states shouldn't be making their own decisions on that stuff.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He did not, in my view, understand this disease in the beginning. We are not going to be able to get back on our feet and restart if we don't get help from Washington.
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Monday, April 20, 6 a.m. here in New York.
The death toll in the United States is now nearly 41,000 people. When John and I came on the air last Monday, that number was 21,000. In other words, in the space of a week, the casualty number has almost doubled, to 41,000 Americans. That's a number that a few months ago would have been unthinkable.
But on a positive note this morning, the White House says several hotspots, including New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Detroit, and New Orleans are stabilizing. They say they're seeing progress in stopping the spread in those places.
Now, over the weekend, the hospitalization rates in Connecticut and New York dropped after weeks of a steady climb.
So which places are next to be hardest hit? Well, Chicago, Boston and Philadelphia are being closely monitored as areas of concern.
So are we on track to reopen parts of the country soon? Well, that's hard to say because of the continuing problems with testing. By now you are familiar with the terms testing and tracing. Now you can add the word tension to that, because over the weekend, that's what we saw between the White House and a group of governors.
BERMAN: Yes, many of the nation's governors, Alisyn, from both parties say there's just not enough tests. Things like swabs needed for the tests are in short supply.
This morning, researchers from Harvard estimate that testing rates must triple -- triple -- before the U.S. can safely reopen. The president disagrees.
He does now claim, though, that he will use the Defense Production Act to push the manufacture of more swabs.
A new "Wall Street Journal"/NBC News poll shows that nearly 60 percent of Americans are concerned about reopening too quickly. Nearly 60 percent. Keep that in mind when you see the pictures of these small pockets of protests around the country, calling for an end to the stay-at-home orders.
One bit of key economic news this morning. Word from Washington is that a deal on additional small business aid could come as early as this morning. We're watching that very closely.
A lot to get to. Let's begin with CNN's Brynn Gingras, live here in New York -- Brynn.
BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, John and Alisyn. Good morning.
Yes, there continues to be this push to reopen the country, or at least parts of the country. But major warnings, particularly from governors, to proceed with caution. As you guys laid out, the nationwide death toll has nearly doubled just within the last week.
Here in New York, hospitalizations are down. But Governor Cuomo says, listen, we are only at halftime here and that these strict measures are still vital.
GINGRAS (voice-over): President Trump eager for states to reopen. There's one major component needed to even move into the White House's first phase. Testing.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And our testing is expanding very rapidly, by millions and millions of people.
GINGRAS: But in reality, only about 150,000 Americans are tested daily, according to Harvard researchers, and state leaders say they do not have nearly enough resources as the president claims.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But the testing has to improve here and in every state.
GOV. LARRY HOGAN (R-MD): To try to push this off, to say that the governors have plenty of testing, and they should just get to work on testing, somehow we aren't doing our job, is just absolutely false.
GOV. RALPH NORTHAM (D-VA): We've been fighting for testing. But for the national level to say that we have what we need and, really, to have no guidance to the state levels, is just irresponsible.
GINGRAS: But Trump insists it's up to the states to figure out their own testing programs.
TRUMP: Testing is local. You can't have it both ways. Testing is a local thing. And it's very important. It's great. But it's a local thing.
GINGRAS: New York state appears to be past its coronavirus peak, and Governor Andrew Cuomo warns residents now is not the time to relax.
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): It's only halftime. We still have to make sure that we keep that beast under control, we keep that infection rate down, we keep that hospitalization rate down.
GINGRAS: While some Florida beaches, like this packed one in Jacksonville, begin to open up, leaders in hotspots like Louisiana highlighting data how the data shows measures like social distancing are working.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're in a much, much better place today than we thought we were going to be. And it's because of the citizens of Louisiana taking the stay-at-home orders seriously.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We want to work. Open our state.
GINGRAS: Meanwhile, in a handful of cities from Austin, to San Diego and Denver, people are protesting stay-at-home orders, and according to President Trump --
TRUMP: These are great people. Look, they want to get -- they call it cabin fever. You've heard the term. They've got cabin fever. They want to get back. They want their life back. Their life was taken away from them.
GINGRAS: In states like Michigan, which faces the third highest number of coronavirus deaths nationwide, Governor Gretchen Whitmer says that she can withstand harsh criticism for keeping strong restrictions if it means saving lives.
GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D-MI): We've got to be really smart about the actions we take now to protect life, as well as the actions we take to reengage. Because as tough as this moment is, it would be devastating to have a second wave.
GINGRAS: And about testing, today New York will be the first state to roll out antibody testing, 3,000 tests across the state to, hopefully, get a true percentage of how many people had the virus and may -- again, may -- be immune to it. Of course, though, inching toward that goal of hopefully getting people back to work -- John and Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: Yes, we will be talking about those antibody tests, and as well as immunity, what we know and don't know about it. Thank you very much, Brynn.
Joining us now is Dr. Amesh Adalja. He's an infectious disease specialist at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Also with us, CNN national security analyst Juliette Kayyem. She was an assistant secretary at the Department of Homeland Security under President Obama. Great to see both of you.
Doctor, I want to start with you. Because of course, it's good news that these -- some of these high-profile hotspots -- New York, Connecticut, New Jersey -- are seeing a decline in hospitalizations, intubations and the death rate, but if we, you know, loosen the stay- at-home orders, should people expect, even in these hotspots, for it to go back up, those numbers?
DR. AMESH ADALJA, INFECTIOUS DISEASE SPECIALIST, JOHNS HOPKINS BLOOMBERG SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: We know this. It is a fact, if you start to allow people to social distance, you're going to get more cases. That's just the nature of this virus. It spreads between humans efficiently.
So the question is not if we're going to get cases but are we going to be able to find those cases, isolate them, and contact trace them such that we don't get a rate of cases that exceeds hospital capacity. We want to keep it at a low clip so that hospital capacity isn't exceeded. And the way that we do that is with a multiprong strategy in which testing is a really crucial part of that.
BERMAN: Talk to me about the numbers as far as testing goes. Because we're testing, what, 150,000 a week right now. This Harvard study suggests we need 500,000 to 700,000 a week. Why that number?
And we're seeing about 20 percent positive tests in testing right now. Harvard says we need to be at 10 percent or lower. Why?
ADALJA: It's because we're trying to make sure that we're testing enough people that we know where this virus is and where it isn't. So if you have a number of tests being done across the country, and
the average rate of positivity is 20 percent, that tells you that you're probably not testing enough, because it's still fairly high, meaning that you still have a somewhat uncontrolled outbreak.
When it gets lower, and the WHO numbers, less than 12 percent or so, you start to see that you're testing enough people that you have a handle of where the cases are and where they aren't. And it may be that there are places in the country that are already at that. And it is part of the gating strategy of phase one that the White House really. So it's not going to be homogenous.
But definitely in the hotspots, they need to get the number of positives down. And the only way you're going to do that is by testing wider so you have a better idea of where this is.
CAMEROTA: Juliette, I do not understand the disconnect between the White House and the governors about testing. This is head-spinning.
The president says that testing is a local issue. OK. It's done locally. But the governors say they cannot procure the ingredients needed -- the reagents, the nasal swabs -- without help. They're crying from the rooftops for this help.
The president, I don't -- I don't understand -- he could be a hero.
JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Hero, right.
CAMEROTA: -- if he could help secure the nasal swabs that are needed, but he has resisted doing that until yesterday, where said that he will, I think, briefly invoke the Defense Production Act. He called it a tremendous hammer that I suppose he didn't want to use. Why not get the nasal swabs that people need?
KAYYEM: It is -- it is so true. It is the weird -- one of the oddest of many odd things about the White House's approach to this.
If you listen closely to what the White House is saying, they say words like, the states have the capacity, they have the infrastructure, they have the capabilities. It's all sort of future tense. And it's like -- I have to say, it's like weird language. They're not saying, they can do it. They're saying, Oh, they have the capabilities.
Well, I have the capabilities to test. Right? I mean, what they need is the swabs, and they need the tests.
And so finally, the president invokes the -- or he -- let's just be clear here. He says he's invoking the Defense Production Act. To get the swabs to the states and to get businesses to begin to produce. It will be a delay, though. Companies do not switch on a dime. It should have been done months ago, because we knew that this sufficiency would be here.
So the governors are right in the sense that they will execute on the testing. Of course, they will. That's their hospitals. It's their local public health officials.
But you need the federal government, as you do in every disaster, to monitor and assess what the chain -- what the supply chain looks like to drive the resources to the states that they can begin to test. It is -- it is -- the White House can say as much as it wants they have the capabilities or the capacity. Those are nothing words right now. We need the test.
BERMAN: The other thing is, we're talking top to bottom here. Top down as opposed to bottom up, in so much of this. The president can say he wants parts of the country to reopen. But about 60 percent of people in this NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll, Juliette, people say they're concerned about reopening too soon. And you're talking to business leaders around the country, people with companies.
BERMAN: What are they telling you?
KAYYEM: They're saying the same thing. Nothing would be worse than to bring employees in, have one of them get sick and then have to close down again.
So they are thinking through a layered sort of security approach, right? The first question is, do I need to bring them back? A lot of people have gotten used to this. Productivity -- productivity is not low. Keep people away. You don't want people on public transportation.
And then we're thinking the architecture of everything from offices and cubicle spaces to, of course, things like travel. Do we need to travel as much as we used to?
So they're thinking about it sort of in a sophisticated manner, but they're not going to say go until a lot of them, until they -- they can protect the employees.
We are now in what I've been calling the preparedness paradox. Things have gotten better, although let's just be clear: 40,000 people plus are dead and more to come. But we have done better, because we've been successful at flattening the curve.
People who are critical of social distancing say, Look, those people overreacted. Let's open up. That's the exact opposite of what you want right now. You've got to keep lowering the curve so that you can -- basically, so that you can drive the resources to protect our hospital capacity.
CAMEROTA: Dr. Adalja, I want to ask you about immunity, because Dr. Birx of the White House task force said something that got a lot of attention this weekend. Basically, she said that we don't know anything, really, about the immunity of people who have had this.
So listen to dr. Birx this weekend.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE COORDINATOR: In most infectious diseases, except for HIV, we know that when you get sick and you recover, and you develop antibody, that that antibody is -- often confers immunity. We just don't know if it's immunity for a month, immunity for six months, immunity for six years.
(END VIDEO CLIP) CAMEROTA: How can we learn that quickly?
ADALJA: We can extrapolate from other coronaviruses. And when you do that, we realize that immunity isn't ironclad with coronaviruses. It wanes over time, and you can sometimes be reinfected in the laboratory setting.
We don't know with this coronavirus, but I think there's reason to believe that this immunity may not -- it may be fleeting, and it may not be completely durable. But it's an important question to ask. And it's still -- we still need to do serology testing to understand where this virus has been and where it's going.
BERMAN: I'm sorry. That's a big deal, though, if it's fleeting. If immunity is fleeing, Dr. Adalja, that's a big deal. Correct?
ADALJA: It is. But what we know with other coronaviruses, is that you get -- you can get reinfected experimentally. But you don't have any symptoms. And then the question is, are those people still contagious? And I think that's an important question to ask.
You're likely protected from severe disease, and you likely do have some immunity that's measurable by antibodies, some by another arm of the immune system. And it's complicated, and we haven't worked it all out with this coronavirus or even other coronaviruses, because they're not -- they haven't been considered that important to figure these things out, because they were common cold viruses.
So this is really important if we're going to operationalize serology testing to be able to say, you're safe to go back to work, or you're going to be a frontline worker, or you're going to get an immunity passport. We have to actually know what immunity is and define it. What level of antibodies and how soon do they decline?
BERMAN: We're so early in understanding this virus. Dr. Adalja, Juliette Kayyem, thanks so much.
KAYYEM: Thank you.
BERMAN: So the push to get the country back open again is sparking these small pockets of protests around the country. Makes for pictures here. But remember, 60 percent of the country says they are concerned about opening up too early. The president seems to be egging them on, as well. We'll discuss, next.
BERMAN: So you've probably seen these pictures from Olympia in Washington state. It's a couple thousand people rallying outside the state capitol. They're protesting the stay-at-home orders. This was among the largest gatherings in cities across the country.
It comes as governors continue to urge residents to stay home to stop the spread of coronavirus. And also, it comes, we should note, as nearly 60 percent of Americans in polling say that they're more concerned about lifting these orders too early.
Joining us now, CNN political analyst David Gregory and Dr. Mario Ramirez. He's the former acting director of the HHS Office of Pandemic and Emerging Threats under President Obama.
And Dr. Ramirez, I want to start with you. Because not just the fact that we saw these pictures, small groups from around the country. But we also saw the president egging them on with tweets saying liberate Michigan, liberate Minnesota, et cetera.
As a public health official, as a doctor, as someone who treats patients, when you see something like that, what's your reaction?
DR. MARIO RAMIREZ, FORMER ACTING DIRECTOR, HHS OFFICE OF PANDEMIC AND EMERGING THREATS: Well, thanks for having me. I think you're right that some of those statements and those images -- (AUDIO GAP) from a public health standpoint, there's (AUDIO GAP) things to say. I mean, if we look at the virus task force's recommendations, you're supposed to have a decrease in cases for 14 days for influenza-like illness cases for 14 days before you start to lift those restrictions.
And the fact is that places like Minnesota and Michigan and Virginia don't yet meet that criteria.
I think it's also important to step back, though, and look at that in a greater context, because we've talked a lot about testing. The truth is that we haven't -- (AUDIO GAP). So even if we can test these people, we don't have a way to actually trace them and their contacts after that.
The third thing, I think, as we're thinking about, too, is that we've also sort of under-focused on other critical (AUDIO GAP) this, and not enough emphasis has been placed on what we're going to do with children or what we're going to do with education. Are we going to get back to school? What are we going to do with these folks?
And I think -- you know, it's dangerous to say that we are not going to coordinate those activities across the states. And even though organizations like (AUDIO GAP) labs and some other folks can step in to fill that void, when we have the president saying that we need to lift those states, when those criteria aren't met, it makes it very difficult to coordinate those things from a public health standpoint.
CAMEROTA: David Gregory, I mean, in terms of the protestors' sentiments, I just want to be cognizant that the four of us, as we sit here today, are approaching this from having lived in a hotspot and from having jobs.
And so that, of course, colors you know, the feeling of how desperate and dire the staying at home is.
If you lost your job or are at risk of losing your job and are in a place where it doesn't feel as acute as here, I understand them saying, Let's get back to our lives. We're desperate to work. We want to get back to our lives.
And, you know, I mean, obviously, this is where some sort of national vision or voice, I think, might help quell some of that anxiety. But your thoughts?
DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I think that's totally legitimate. I think we have to recognize that the president, when -- even when he goes overboard, is tapping into something that's real. He feels it, which is total economic ruin that he's seeing every day from the vantage point of being president of the United States and what people are feeling around the country. And that has to be balanced here.
And the public health officials know that it has to be balanced. Dr. Fauci hears that every day, feels that every day. So that's real.
What -- what's disturbing about this is not only is it -- is it wrong to, you know, egg protesters on, because it's not responsible from a health point of view. It also raises the specter, too, of the partisanship and the division here. That you're egging on states where you've got Democratic leaders. And somehow not having a national response, having a more broken up response based on ideology, which is just completely wrong.
And I think the last point is that this issue of when are we safe to go back is very much in the hands of individuals and families. You know, you don't live through something like this without stepping back and saying, Hey, when do I feel safe taking my family to the restaurant in our neighborhood, and being around other people, or getting on a plane or train, or go -- you know, going into a fast-food place or a store? We're going to make those decisions based upon how we feel. And even the government telling us, Oh, it's all clear now, that may not be enough.
BERMAN: David, I have to tell you, the American people are watching all of this, too. And it's sinking in. We see it in the NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" polls. When you ask Americans who they trust to handle this pandemic, the president's in the 30s. He's in the 30s in trust to handle this.
People's own governors are in the 60s and 70s. Dr. Fauci is, you know, 400 percent.
BERMAN: But the president's in the 30s here.
And when you look at that, one of the reasons why is there are 755,000 cases in the country right now. That's 500,000 times more than the 15 cases the president said were going to be here at the beginning of March. There are 40,000 deaths in this country. They want leadership, it seems, David.
GREGORY: Right. And I think people who felt like, whoa, this isn't that serious and who had a president who was validating that, now being confronted with the reality that it's so much more serious than they thought.
And, you know, I don't know about you, but one of the things that I feel most mornings when I wake up is just a sense of dread or uncertainty about the future, not only fearing the worst, but just not knowing. The not knowing is really hard.
And I think where governors have been effective is they're just focused on facts and the road ahead and public health. And thinking about all of these things.
You know, you can't pronounce yourself a wartime leader. If the president gives himself that designation, he could have much higher support in a crisis like this.
Instead, he's done what he's always done, which is foment a kind of division where people have very different views, depending upon where you sit and what your view of Trump is initially, is how you may view his handling of the crisis.
CAMEROTA: Dr. Ramirez, David Gregory, thank you both very much for all of the information and perspective.
So more relief could be on the way for some hard-hit small businesses. We have details on a new aid package that could happen as early as this week. But what's the fine print? That's next.
BERMAN: Breaking overnight, police are investigating a shooting rampage that left 16 people dead in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. This is the deadliest attack in Canada's history.
CNN's Paula Newton, live in Ottawa with all the breaking details. This is terrible, Paula.
PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, gosh, John. Just incredible what Canada is waking up to this morning.
I mean, John, this is a bucolic, small-town Canadian scene. You know the kind of place. Leave your front door open. It was an absolute reign of terror for more than 12 hours.
Police started getting 911 calls late Saturday night. They say they arrived at a property, found several victims already dead, both inside and outside a property.
But then what happened next, they started to see fires all over that property and then were getting more calls of fires throughout the community. You're talking several dozen miles away.
The suspect, a lone gunman, apparently, Gary [SIC] Wortman, 51, a businessman. They started that manhunt all over the community. As they did not really know what they were going into, in a lot of these different crime scenes. They told people to lock down in their homes. John, they were already locked down, right, because of coronavirus. They were told to barricade themselves in their basement.
Add to that the information from police that he may -- the suspect may or may not have been wearing some type of an RCMP, a police uniform. Plus, could have been in a police cruiser.
This all ended some 12 hours later at a gas station. He was gunned down by police but not before, you know, quite a tragedy had ensued up and down those country roads.
There will be so many stories of heartbreak in the coming hours. But right now, the most profound, Heidi Stevenson.