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Update on Coronavirus Across the World; NY Governor Cuomo Gives Update on Coronavirus Response. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired April 23, 2020 - 11:30   ET




JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: The global race of the pandemic vaccine is gaining ground. Today, the U.K. started its first human trials for a possible vaccine. That trial being conducted at the University of Oxford. It is based on a weakened version of the common cold virus found in chimpanzees.

Our international correspondents now with more on the day's big global developments.


FRED PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Here in Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that the country risks the gains it's made in combatting COVID-19. Germany recently loosened some restrictions that have taken place since the number of new infections continue to decline for several days.

Now the German chancellor says she believes some state authorities might be too lax in enforcing the measures that are still supposed to be in place.


This comes as the number dead from the novel coronavirus has now topped 5,000 in this country. That number is still fairly low considering the number of infections already confirmed here in Germany.

Angela Merkel, in a speech today, also taking a swipe at President Trump. President Trump recently criticized the World Health Organization and stopped U.S. payments to the body. Angela Merkel today said Germany still views the WHO as very important and will continue to support it.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Berlin.

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Here in Hong Kong, I'm monitoring the growing war of words between Beijing and Washington over China's wildlife markets. The U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has called on China to close

all of these markets. There are believed to be hundreds of them, making up a multi-billion-dollar industry in mainland China.

That's because there's some scientific evidence suggesting that the coronavirus and other deadly diseases, like SARS, jumped from wild animals that are sold for food and traditional medicine in these markets, jumped from the animals to humans.

The Chinese foreign ministry says that the wildlife trade is banned, and anybody who does it will be prosecuted. But they generally introduced a temporary ban at the end of February.

The fact is that the pandemic, as it continues to claim lives, is becoming an increasingly political and contentious issue between the U.S. and Chinese governments, between these two rival powers.

Ivan Watson, CNN, Hong Kong.

DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Here in Wuhan, China, the original epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, there's a slow start of resuming life here for many of the businesses in particular.

As you look around the U.S. and in parts of Europe, there's an attempt to start to reopen.

Here, after what was the most severe of lockdowns, arguably in the world, a 76-day sealing off of many communities, they're trying to figure out how to navigate this new normal.

Many businesses remain closed, and some tell us they will not open. They simply financially could not weather the storm of the lockdown.

Others have found new ways to operate, and that includes moving their stores to the front of the storefront. So pretty much outside of their stores, that way they keep people from going in, customers from coming inside. They limit the exposure, potential exposure of this virus, and they increase social distancing.

It's their way of trying to continue on with business in this post- lockdown era.

David Culver, CNN, Wuhan, China.

MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Here in Mexico, government officials tell CNN they have recorded at least 44 attacks against health care workers since the middle of March. These workers enduring everything from having bleach thrown on them to being punched in the face inside hospital quarters.

Authorities say the motive here is likely misinformation, rumors spreading in Mexico, that it's actually health care workers that are responsible for spreading the virus throughout this country.

This is not to say it's the majority opinion here in Mexico. Most people, I think, would tell you they support and appreciate health care workers, but that doesn't change the fact that doctors and nurses are scared.

I talked to one doctor who said she won't wear her medical scrubs in public anymore. She goes to work in her street clothes and changes when she gets there because she feels the scrubs make her a target. She says all she wants to do is help fight this pandemic without fearing an attack.

Matt Rivers, CNN, Mexico City.


KING: Back here in the United States, Tyson foods closing its -- sorry, the governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, beginning his daily briefing. This is in Albany.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): And when we started this, I said the best thing I can do is give people the truth and give people the facts separate from an opinion, separate from my spin, separate from what I would like to believe, what I hoped. Just facts.

And the reason I do that is because everything we're doing is basically voluntary on behalf of people, right? State government, local government, federal government doesn't have the power to enforce stay-at-home orders if 19 million people said, I'm going out today. They would go out.

But the belief is if they have the facts, if they understand the facts, they'll act prudently in connection with the facts.

Now, some of the facts have been disturbing. Some of the facts have been ugly. But those are the facts. And that's my job, is to present the facts as facts. If I have an editorial comment on the facts, I'd give it to you, but I want you to know that's my editorial comment versus what data or science will say.


Also our Muslim brothers and sisters begin the observation of Ramadan this evening, and we wish them all the best.

The hospitalization rate is down again, so that is good news. Overall, if you project the curve -- everybody is looking at curves nowadays -- if you look at the curve, the curve continues to go down.

That's also in the total hospitalization number. It bounces up and down a little bit but it's clearly down.

The number of intubations bounces a little bit, but it's also clearly down.

The number of new COVID cases walking in the door or being diagnosed is relatively flat. That is not great news. We'd like to see that going down, but it's not going up, either.

The number of lives lost is still breathtakingly tragic, 438. That number is not coming down as fast as we would like to see that number come down.

And what we're looking at, at this point, is, OK, we're on the downside of the curve, the numbers are trending down. Do they continue to trend down, or do they pop back up?

If they continue to trend down, how fast is the decline and how low will the decline go? In other words, if 1,300 people, or about that number, keep walking in the door, then you're going to have a hospitalization rate proportionate with the number of people walking in the door.

So we want to see the number of people walking in the door reduced, the number of new infections reduced, so we hit a low plateau, if you will, but we don't know what that is and we don't know when it is.

And if you look at the number of incoming cases, it's been remarkably flat for the past several days. So that's the best indicator of how containment is working and how the close-down policies are working.

And over the past few days, we basically flattened at 1,300 new cases a day, which is not great. We'd like to see those new cases reducing even more, and we'd like to see them reducing faster.

You then have other long-term questions. Is there a second wave of the virus? We talked about the 1918 pandemic. It came in three waves. Is there a second wave? Does the virus mutate and come back?

The federal officials are starting to talk about the fall and potential issues in the fall. They're worried about the virus waning somewhat during the summer.

Remember, that talk will go away when the weather gets warm. Nobody is really saying it will go away when the weather gets warm in the summer. But there's still a theory that the virus could slow during the summer but then come back in the fall.

If it comes back in the fall, then it comes back with a normal flu season. That's then problematic because you are then, quote, unquote, "testing" for the flu and you're testing for COVID on top of all the other tested you do. That could be a possible overwhelming of the testing system.

If people could have the flu or could have COVID in the fall and they don't know which it is, they could get nervous and start going into the health care system, which could then bring back a capacity issue in the health care system. That's something we have to worry about and watch.

Nursing homes, they are a top priority. They have been from day one. Remember how the nursing home system works. They are private facilities. They get paid to provide a service. They get regulated by the state government.

There are certain rules and regulations that they must follow. And we put in additional rules and regulations on nursing homes in the midst of this crisis. Staff must have appropriate PPE. They must have their temperatures checked before they come into the facility.

There are no visitors who are coming into the facility, which is a tremendous hardship, but it's necessary to protect public health.


If they have a COVID-positive person in the facility, that person has to be in quarantine. They have to have separate staff for the COVID residents versus the non-COVID residents.

If they can't care for the person in the facility, they have to transfer the person to another facility. The nursing home is responsible for providing appropriate care. If they cannot provide that care, then they have to transfer the person to another facility.

They have to notify residents and family members within 24 hours if any resident tests positive for COVID, or if any resident suffers a COVID-related death. That is a regulation that they have to follow.

And they have to readmit COVID-positive residents, but only if they have the ability to provide the adequate level of care under Department of health NCDC guidelines.

If they do not have the ability to provide the appropriate level of care, then they have to transfer that patient, or they call the Department of Health and the Department of Health will transfer that patient, right?

That is how the relationship works. The state has very strict guidelines on privately run facilities. They get paid to take care of a resident. That resident, that patient, must have a state-directed level of care. If they cannot provide that, they can't have the resident in their facility, period.

Those are the rules. We're going to undertake an investigation of nursing homes now to make sure they're following the rules. It's going to be a joint Department of Health and attorney general investigation.

But those are the rules. They get paid to take care of resident. And they have to do it in accordance with state rules. And if they don't, we will take appropriate action.

And the State Department of Health and the attorney general are going to be commencing an investigation to make sure all those policies are in place and being followed. If they're not being followed, they can be subjected to a fine or they can lose their license. It's that simple.

Testing is going to be a major operation that happens from now until the situation is over. It's new. It's technical. It's complex. It's a political football.

But testing does a number of things for us. Number one, it reduces the spread of the virus by finding people who are positive, tracing their contacts and isolating them. That's a function of testing. Testing also, what they call antibody testing, you test people to find

out if they have the antibodies. Why? Because if they have the antibodies, they can donate blood for convalescent plasma, which is one of the therapeutic treatments. So you want to find people who had it so you can identify them to donate for convalescent plasma.

The testing also can tell you the infection rate in the population, where it's higher, where it's lower, to inform you on a reopening strategy. And then when you start reopening, you can watch that infection rate to see if it's going up. And if it's going up, slow down on the reopening strategy, OK?

So there are different forms of testing for different purposes. All of them are important.

It was vital for any state, I believe, to first get a baseline study of where you are on the infection rate.

All we know to date is the hospitalization rate, how many people are coming into hospitals. That is all we have been tracking. That's all we know.

And then from that, you've had all sorts of anecdotal extrapolations on the hospitalization rate, saying, I think the infection rate is this, I think the infection rate is that.

I said, I want to have the infection rate. So we have undertaken the largest, most comprehensive study of New York state to find out what is the infection rate. And that we started a few days ago, sample size so far of 3,000 people statewide. Let's find out what the infection rate is.


We have preliminary data on phase one. And this is going to be ongoing. We did about 3,000 tests. We're going to continue this testing on a rolling basis. We'll have a larger and larger sample.

But I want to see snapshots of what's happening with that rate. Is it going up, is it flat or is it going down?

We did 3,000 surveys in about 19 counties and 40 localities across the state. The surveys collected from grocery stores and box stores, et cetera. That is important because that means you are testing people who, by definition, are out of the home and not at work. Ok?

What does it mean? I don't know. But that has to be a factor this is taken into consideration.

These people who were out and about shopping. They were not people in their homes or isolated. They're not people who are quarantined or who you would argue probably have a lower rate of infection because they would not come out the house. These people were not at work so they are not essential workers. That has to be calibrated.

But what we found so far is the statewide number is 13.9 percent tested positive for having the antibodies.

What does it mean? These are the people who were infected and who developed the antibodies to fight the infection.

They were infected three weeks ago and four weeks ago and five weeks ago or six weeks ago. They have the virus and they developed the antibodies and they are, quote, unquote, "recovered," 13.9 percent, just about 14 percent.

Breakdown, male/female, female 12 percent positive. Males close to 16 percent, 15.9 percent positive 52 percent.

Regionally, Long Island at 16.7 percent. New York City at 21.2. Westchester/Rockland at 11.7. And rest of state 3.6.

This basically quantifies what we have been seeing antidotally and what we have known, but it puts numbers to it.

Rest of the state, basically Upstate New York, 3.6.. It' has been about 70 percent of the cases we had in the state.

Westchester/Rockland we had an initial significant problem. Westchester had the largest, hottest cluster in the country at one time. And 11 percent so it's literally somewhere between New York City, 21, which again supports what we know anecdotally.

Long Island is 16.7. It is not far behind New York City. It is significantly worse than Westchester/Rockland. We've been talking about Westchester/Rockland. And Nassau and Suffolk are basically one. But there is a variation with the Long Island numbers.

By race, Asians at 11.7 percent, African-Americans at 22 percent, Latino/Hispanic at 22 percent, multi/other at 22 percent, white at 9/1 percent.

This reflects more the regional break down. African-American and Latinos are, in this survey, disproportionately from New York City. New York City is at 21 percent. So the African-American number, Latino number is 22 percent. And the upstate whites, talking more about upstate, which is 9 percent but it's 3.6 in the survey.

By age, nothing extraordinary here. We did not survey anyone under 18. So it starts at 18 years old. So 18-24 at 18 percent, 45-54 is 16 percent. And 75 plus, 13 percent. It is a small percentage of the total.


Again, how many 75 years old were out shopping and about. That's the group that's supposed to be isolating because they're the most vulnerable, 65-74 also. But that's the distribution.

The sample was, by definition, people who were outside the home so we have to analyze that. What does it do to the numbers? But that is a factor that has to be taken into consideration. If the infection rate is 13.9 percent, then it changes the theories of what the death rate is if you get infected. And 13 percent of the population is about 2.7 million people who had been infected.

If you look at what we have now, which is the death total, which is 15,500, that would be about .5 percent death rate.

But to big caveats. First, it is preliminary data. It is only 3,000. And 3,000 is a significant data set. It is still preliminary.

And when we say there are 15,500 deaths, that number is going to go up. Those deaths are hospitalizations and nursing homes deaths. Those are not at-home deaths. These do not include people who died in their home and we not in a hospital or nursing home. We still have to compile all that data.

The at-home deaths, you have to go back and try to find out what was the cause of those at-home deaths and add them to the number of deaths connected to COVID.

It is even complicated because, in California, they're now finding deaths that go back to last December or January that they believe were COVID-19 related and people didn't know about COVID at that time.

If you go back to December and January and start to look at the number of deaths and check them for a COVID-related death -- I don't know how you will do that practically -- you will see that total number of deaths going up.

But that 15,500 is not an accurate total number of deaths in my opinion. Well, it is not an accurate number of deaths because it does no not count in home, at-home deaths. It is not accurate because there will have been many other deaths that's not tested for COVID and attributed to that number.

With those caveats, that's what we see in the survey.

It also supports the decision that we talked about to have a regional analysis and decision making.

Upstate New York is 3.6 percent. New York City is 21 percent. What you do in a place of 21 percent is not the same thing necessarily that you would do in a place with 3.6 percent. It is just not.

It is the same theory that some states open now and New York does not because the facts should dictate the action. And if the facts dictate the action, when you have different facts, you have different action.

When we talk about a regional analysis on reopening, that's exactly right because look at the facts in that area.

But there's a second complicating factor. There always is. What you do in a region still has to be coordinated because you have a pent-up demand in the whole tri-state area, where one region opens up for business, you can see people coming in from the tri-state area and overwhelm that region. We try to rationalize with Connecticut and New Jersey because there

had been facilities in Connecticut that were opened and you have all sorts of New York license plates there.

So, yes, region analysis. But understand that regional analysis that you still exist in the tri-state area with millions of people who are looking for something to do to get out of the house and put the kids in the car and go. So that has to be factored in. Because that is a significant factor.

We still have to do more to get testing in the African-American, Latino community.