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CDC Chief Warns Of Potential Second Wave Of Pandemic; Key Model Shows Georgia And 11 Other States Should Wait Longer To Reopen; Abbott Lab's Rapid Tests Can Produce False Negatives. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired April 22, 2020 - 13:00   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Good luck to the Gronk. Good luck to the GOAT in Tampa. We wish you the best. Thanks for joining us today. Anderson Cooper picks up our coverage right now. Have a good afternoon and stay safe.

Anderson Cooper picks up our coverage right now.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: I'm Anderson Cooper. Thanks for joining me for this special coverage of the global coronavirus pandemic.

At a time when the nation needs clarity from its leaders, arguably, more than ever before, with more than 37,000 new cases and more than 2,700 deaths just reported in a single day, there is new confusion and contradiction coming from the White House. The president is announcing his CDC director will be putting out a new statement after he warned of a potential second wave of the pandemic to The Washington Post.

Dr. Robert Redfield said, quote, there's a possibility that the assault of the virus on our nation next winter will actually be even more difficult than the one we just went through. We're going to have the flu epidemic and the coronavirus epidemic at the same time, end quote.

The FDA commissioner agreed today there's a concern for what's ahead.


DR. STEPHEN HAHN, COMMISSIONER, FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION: I think that it's certainly a possibility, and the whole task force set of doctors is concerned about the second wave. And then Dr. Redfield's concern is that there also might be flu at the same time, but that's why we have built into the plan the surveillance mechanisms to look for the respiratory illnesses and then to do the appropriate testing at that time.


COOPER: On top of that, the president is praising the governor of Georgia for opening some non-essential businesses this Friday, a move that goes against this just updated model from experts often cited by the White House. It shows Georgia among 12 states that should wait until at least June 8th or later to relax social distancing rules. I want to turn to our Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen. So, Elizabeth, this new modeling from the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation, which is the group that the White House often cited. Just give us more context on it and why it's significant and what they're saying.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. So, Anderson, this is a group that's been trusted by the White House and many others. They're out of the University of Washington. And what they do is they take this very complicated model looking at how COVID- 19 is spreading and what effects social distancing are having.

And so they thought, hmm, when can these states safely open up? So, for example, here in Georgia where I'm speaking to you from my home studio in Georgia, we are allowed to go to nail salons or hair salons starting in two days. But what IHME says is, you know what, you ought to wait until June 19th. In South Carolina, they're planning on opening things up this week, and the Institutes for Health Metrics and Evaluation says, you know what, we think you ought to wait until June 5th.

And I think something is important to remember here, which is that we all have our own personal responsibility. Just because the governor of Georgia says that I can go get my nails down in two days, I can go to a nail salon, doesn't mean that I will choose to do that. Anderson?

COOPER: So the modeling, which was 60-something-thousand deaths by early August, that's based on the idea that social distancing follows the modeling's suggestion, so that if Georgia does, in fact, do what the governor says they're going to do on Friday and then Monday open up restaurants and movie theaters, that will likely change the modeling in terms of raising the death toll.

COHEN: Right, exactly. Whenever you hear a projection of deaths, there is always an assumption of social distancing. Like, we assume if these social distancing measures stay in place through whatever date, we will have this many deaths. The minute that you say, you know what, let's lift these social distancing measures, let's get everyone back into circulation earlier than that, that death number will go up. That's the way that it works.

COOPER: There's also a major development about when the first person in the U.S. actually died from coronavirus, and they say it's now three weeks earlier than initially thought.

COHEN: Right. This is very interesting. This is based on some New York Times reporting. They talked to a coroner in a county in Northern California, and the coroner said, you know, I did some autopsies in early to mid-February where it turned out that people had coronavirus. So let's take a look at what those dates say.

Those dates say that when they looked at those autopsies, which were in early February, February 6th and 17th early to mid-February, there were two autopsies where they found those people had coronavirus. And, this is important, they had no known travel history. They hadn't been to Wuhan, China. That's not how they got it. They got it from somewhere out in the community in California.

February 26th is when the CDC has always told us that it was the first case of unknown origin. Now we're hearing it could have been the 6th or the 17th. And February 29th is the first time the CDC said we had a death from coronavirus. Now, it looks like that was actually February 6th. So that is a big difference.

So, in other words, in February, it appears from this reporting that there were people who were dying of coronavirus and that they had caught it just out in the community.


They hadn't been traveling to Wuhan. That completely changes the picture of what we were told was happening back in February.

COOPER: Right. And I guess if we had known that back then -- or was it known back then? I mean, if this coroner -- was the coroner just thinking, oh, wait a minute, maybe those people died of something -- of coronavirus, in retrospect, or did they know it at the time?

COHEN: You know, I was on all those early CDC phone calls where they briefed the media, starting in the middle of January, and what we were told over and over again was that the concern was about travelers. They never talked about, oh, we think this disease is out there and that people are getting it or even that, you know, people were dying of it.

That was never mentioned. The concern was, if you're an American, you only need to worry if you've been traveling to Wuhan or if you've had close contact, like for example, if your spouse had been traveling to Wuhan.

There was not a concept at that time that it was just out there in the community. These autopsies certainly question that.

COOPER: Elizabeth Cohen, really interesting development. Thanks very much.

Now, to that new study that found coronavirus patients taking hydroxychloroquine saw no benefit and had higher death rates compared to those who did not take the drug, one of the most startling aspects, this is the same drug that President Trump and Fox News hosts have been touting repeatedly above all others.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The FDA also gave emergency authorization for hydroxychloroquine. We're having some very good things happening with it.

It's shown very encouraging, very, very encouraging early results.

LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST: This drug that you and I have talked about, hydroxychloroquine, talked about it with the Dr. Grace, they're already being used. And one patient was described as Lazarus, getting up after he was like on death's door. They started getting a protocol of hydroxychloroquine at Lenox Hill, and it suddenly like Lazarus up from the grave. I mean, that's an actual case.

TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: Watching people in the media talk down a potentially life-saving medicine because a politician they don't like has endorsed it is probably the most shameful thing I as someone who has done this for 29 years has ever seen.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: Hydroxychloroquine is a very safe drug. It has been given to tens of millions of individuals in the world since its approval.

TRUMP: We have purchased and we have stockpiled 29 million pills of the hydroxychloroquine, 29 million. A lot of drugstores have them by prescription, and also -- and they're not expensive. Also we're sending them to various labs, our military. We're sending them to the hospitals.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In their protocols, doctors have protocols for doing certain things, they don't mention complications from hydroxychloroquine because they're so uncommon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On their web page, the FDA is offering a generic guidance to manufacturers on how to produce hydroxychloroquine.

TRUMP: So, the hydroxychloroquine is something that I have been pushing very hard. I got the very early approval from the FDA.

If things don't go as planned, it's not going to kill anybody.

It will be wonderful. It will be so beautiful. It will be a gift from heaven if it works.

If some other person put it forward, they'd say, oh, let's go with it, you know? What do you have to lose?

JESSE WATTERS, FOX NEWS HOST: There's a lot of stuff floating around about the hydroxychloroquine. Very good. And the media seems to be almost rooting for it not to work.

TRUMP: Things are happening. I haven't seen bad. I have not seen bad. One thing that we do see is that people are not going to die from it. So if somebody is in trouble, you take it, I think. I would.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And it's being used worldwide.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This study done by reputable center, double-eye- blind, randomized trial, showed there was an improvement in outcomes in patients who took the hydroxychloroquine. It's not a panacea, but you have to respect data.

JEANINE PIRRO, FOX NEWS HOST: In my open, I put in a sound with a woman who was a Democrat from Detroit, a Michigan representative, who said you know, thank God for Donald Trump even mentioning this. Once I got to the hydroxychloroquine, hydroxy, I was fine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, your open was spot on.

PIRRO: Is there something else --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's politicized. No, come on. It's like the never- Trumpers, it's like, oh, if he's for it, we've got to be against it.

TRUMP: I'm seeing things that I sort of like, so, what do I know? I'm not a doctor. I'm not a doctor. But I have common sense.


COOPER: Well, the president was asked about this latest study last night, out of the Veterans Administration, said he hadn't yet seen it. Now, the National Institutes of Health is recommending against using this drug in combination with the so-called Z-pack that the president has been promoting.


Joining me now, CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Seema Yasmin.

Dr. Yasmin, first of all, the study, it hasn't been peer reviewed and it's not randomized, so that's very significant. It is from the Veterans Administration. I'm wondering what you make of it? I mean, is it time to stop using hydroxychloroquine for COVID patients or is more research needed?

DR. SEEMA YASMIN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: So those are important caveats, Anderson, the fact that it's not been peer reviewed yet, and also, I'm bearing in mind that it's a small study, it's only 368 veterans with confirmed COVID-19 who were enlisted in the study, but it's still the largest study that we have yet.

What it's showing is that there was one group in the study was given hydroxychloroquine, another group that was given that drug, plus a z- pack, and then a third group that did not receive any of those medicines. And the study doctors tell us that there's no evidence that using hydroxychloroquine reduces the need for people to go on to mechanical ventilators, and in fact, looks like from the preliminary analysis of this data that the highest rates of death and risk of death were in that group that received the hydroxychloroquine, which totally makes sense that now the NIH is advising against using it.

And I really want to push back against so much of that language that we heard that it's not a panacea, but there's nothing wrong with it, that it won't kill anybody, because actually there are really well- documented side effects of this medicine, including some problems with the heart. And the more that we learn about COVID-19 and its many manifestations, including in some people heart disease, it makes us have to be really wary about what treatments we use and having enough evidence to know that they're not going to cause no harm.

You know, as physicians, we take an oath that says first do no harm. Sure, in a crisis situation, you need to try things, you need to have good studies to get that evidence, but you want to safeguard your patients against harm from medicines that may not help them as this study shows.

COOPER: Yes. And while some people may be, you know, gleeful that the president was, you know, seemingly wrong about this, or, you know -- I'm certainly -- obviously, from just looking at this rationally, if this medicine works, it would be a great thing. It would be an extraordinary thing.

To me, this is just a reminder of the importance of science leading the way on all of this stuff and not, you know, jumping to a conclusion about a drug because somebody has told you it's working well and there's anecdotal evidence. Science is what matters and getting scientific information out there.

YASMIN: Absolutely. And we have to maintain those standards even in a crisis. And I think for many journalists who are doing their due diligence, for many experts who are saying, whoa, hold your horses, let's gather more data before we speak in terms of using Lazarus effects and miracle, the finger was pointed at those folks for saying, oh, you're not being optimistic or you're trying to withhold a medicine that works from people who need it most, and that clearly was not the case. We were just making sure that the truth wasn't sugar- coated.

When we talked about these drugs, we were saying, these are experimental in the context of this new virus. Yes, they've been used for other conditions, but we still don't know enough about efficacy and safety with COVID-19.

COOPER: Seema Yasmin, I appreciate it. Thanks very much.

Coming up, in New York, Governor Cuomo announcing a new contact tracing program along with Connecticut and New Jersey. We'll take a look at how that might work, ahead.

Plus, the backlash growing as some states rolled the dice on reopening parts of the economy against the advice of medical experts. I'll speak with a mayor in Georgia who says is simply perplexed about what the governor in Georgia is doing.

And as the nation struggles to ramp up testing, we're getting new reporting on how a popular rapid test is unfortunately producing a lot of false negatives. Stay with us.



COOPER: The State of Georgia is 48 hours away from reopening some businesses, a controversial move made by Republican Governor Brian Kemp, especially since many of the businesses require close contact. We're talking about tattoo parlors, barber shops, salons. Some business owners plan still to keep their doors closed, but others welcome the chance to get back to normal.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to do to-go or sit down, separate everybody a little bit, do what the governor says, you know?

TERRY CLARK, ATLANTA RESTAURANT OWNER: It's turning a corner. We only need a couple more weeks, in my opinion. There's no rush.


COOPER: Restaurants will be opened on Monday as well as movie theaters. I'm joined by John Ernst, the mayor of the Atlanta suburb of Brookhaven. Mayor, thanks for being with us. Many mayors, including yourself, say you were caught off guard by the governor's decision, and now we have this new model suggesting that Georgia should wait until June 19th to safely reopen. How concerned are you?

MAYOR JOHN ERNST (D), BROOKHAVEN, GA: I'm very concerned. Our mayors are very perplexed. We were not given any heads-up, and we had no idea that this was coming down. I heard rumors that he was talking about opening up, but I just assumed it was going to be May 10th, May 15th timeframe, and then when he dropped his press conference, it surprised all of us.

COOPER: What's interesting about it is that, I mean, Georgia hasn't met the guidelines that the White House itself put out. Today, both the president and the vice president praised Governor Kemp's decision to reopen the state, even though it's before the May 1st recommendation of the president. I mean, why do you think the governor did this? I mean, is it politically driven or is it just --

ERNST: I really don't know. That's the biggest problem is we have the complete mixed messages that are going on. It's what you hear from one side, the scientists saying you need to wait, the president's guidelines saying you need to wait, and then all of a sudden, you are -- we're told, no, it's good, we should go ahead. And it just brings so much mixed messages, which confuses both the public, my citizenry, and my business owners.


Most of them who have contacted me aren't going to open this week. They're going to wait a whole other week, at least, if not, longer.

COOPER: And that's what you're hearing from business owners. I talked to a woman who had a hair salon, Melange, and she's not going to reopen because she just thinks it's not appropriate at this time.

ERNST: The first text message I got, I didn't even -- I wasn't watching the governor as press conference. I get a text message from a restauranteur that says, what is he doing? This is crazy. I'm not going to reopen. And so, that was the very first one. I would say about 75 percent of the restaurants in Brookhaven are not going to immediately reopen.

Brookhaven, we were the first city in a state to social distance, to shut down our in-dining restaurants and bars. And they've been out -- you know, we've been out longer than everyone else. And even the restaurants who have been out longer are telling me that they would rather wait and make the decisions. And, you know, and the citizens I've talked to, a lot of them are saying, hey, why are we doing this now? This doesn't seem right.

And you know, the fact of the matter is, we just don't know a lot about this virus. We don't know about how many people have it. We don't know how many people have gotten it. We don't know the death rate, the mortality rate. We don't know a lot of it. And just like the evidence you just put on earlier in your show about when the first death was, there's just so much we don't know and it's just taking this risk.

And this risk is not, you know, just about health, it's also about the economy. The people that say, oh, it's the economy or health, and try to play it off each other, it's just a false dichotomy. When we're healthy and when we feel safe, we'll spend money, we'll go out, we'll have fun with our friends and neighbors. But if you don't do that, you're going to end up, you know, going right back in and people will be fearful of going out. And so, that's the biggest thing is you don't want to come out too early to then go back in or make people fearful. It hurts the economy.

COOPER: Mayor Ernst, I appreciate your time. Stay safe. Thank you.

ERNST: Thank you.

COOPER: One of the companies that produces rapid tests for coronavirus is now warning that it can produce false negatives up to 15 percent of the time. We'll have more on that ahead.

Plus, former presidential candidate Andrew Yang joins me live to explain what he's doing to get emergency cash to people who need it most.



COOPER: Well, it promised results in as little as 15 minutes. It was hailed as an answer to the lag in coronavirus testing. Now, the maker of that test is warning of some inaccuracies. Abbott Labs says its rapid tests can produce false negatives nearly 15 percent of the time, according to researchers at the Cleveland Clinic. The company says it happens if a certain solution is used to move or store the patient's swab samples.

Joining me now is Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Doctor, thanks for being with us.

This test is being widely used to the extent possible across the country. How significant is an error rate of 15 percent?

DR. WILLIAM SCHAFFNER, PROFESSOR, DIVISION OF INFECTIOUS DISEASE, VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER: Anderson, it's serious, because 15 percent of the time, then people who were ostensibly positive, have now recorded negative, and that's not reliable information. We need a better test than that.

COOPER: So, I mean, what does that -- is there any way to fix something like that in this test?

SCHAFFNER: Well, you would have to ask the laboratorians who developed the test and Abbott about that. But, certainly, that may make us cautious about using that test, at least in the near term, until it can be fixed. Because what we need, obviously, is a test that reliably tells us whether an individual is positive or negative. That's what they want to know. That's what we want to know when a patient is admitted to the hospital. That's what the healthcare workers want to know when they take care of that patient.

COOPER: You know, I've been reading just about reactions in countries where things have gone much better than in the United States and a lot of parts of Europe, Taiwan, even South Korea. It is remarkable, the difference in how they have gone about testing and contact tracing.

Where do you -- when you look at where America is right now in terms of the testing that's being done, the contact tracing, how much more do things need to improve before we can start to really seriously reopen?

SCHAFFNER: Well, we do need to improve. And fortunately, in Tennessee, we're now improving for the last several days. We have been accepting all comers at our assessment centers. Before, you had to have symptoms. You had to have fever and some sort of chest discomfort or a cough before we could test you. Now, if you think that you have symptoms that might relate to coronavirus, you can come, and we're even welcoming the worried well, people who don't have symptoms but for one reason or another are concerned and they want to know.