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Some States Race To Develop Reopening Strategies Despite Warnings; Researchers In China Clone Antibodies From Recovered Patients; Pence To Hold Call With Nation's Governors Today. Aired 10- 10:30a ET

Aired April 24, 2020 - 10:00   ET




JIM SCIUTTO, CNN NEWSROOM: A very good Friday morning to you. I'm Jim Sciutto.


This morning, states across the country moving ahead, allowing some businesses to reopen today as other states set to announce their plans in just a few days. Reopening in Georgia today, businesses like hair salons, barber shops, bowling alleys despite warnings from medical experts and even from the president.

SCIUTTO: There is a more urgent concern, deliberate misinformation coming from the White House. The president made dangerous suggestions for treatments that are causing genuine alarm.


DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: Supposing we hit the body with a tremendous -- whether it's ultraviolet or just very powerful light, and I think you said that hasn't been checked and we're going to test it. And then I said suppose you brought the light inside the body, and then I see the disinfectant, it knocks it out in a minute, one minute. And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning?


SCIUTTO: Dr. Birx said, not as a treatment, there, and here are the facts. Injecting disinfectant in your body, it's simple, it could kill you. The maker of Lysol felt the need to warn its customers, do not inject our product, and the president's own task force says heat and sunlight just aren't treatments.

Martin Savidge, Ed Lavandera, they join us now.

First, let's go to Martin in Atlanta. So Georgia has been one of the more aggressive in opening businesses, et cetera. I'm curious, are businesses responding there? MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Jim, it's hit or miss. It would appear, if you just take, for example, the shopping center in which we're in front of, there are a number of businesses that technically could reopen today. There is only one that says they will. It is a hair salon. Around the corner, there is a barber shop.

But it seems that in many cases there are a lot of businesses that are taking a wait and see attitude. Some have already come out and flatly said they're not going to reopen, they don't believe it's safe. Others have said they're having trouble getting the PPE, the personal protection equipment that they need and that is required by the state.

And then there has been just all the pushback against the governor. One of those who has been the most outspoken is the mayor of Atlanta. Here is what she's saying.


MAYOR KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS (D-ATLANTA, GA): In order for us to get through this pandemic and to get to the other side of this crisis, we have to socially distance. And in a normal world, we would be able to look to our president and to the White House and receive sound guidance and advice, but instead we're now telling -- having to tell people not to ingest and inject your body with household cleaners.

The only thing that's helped us is that we have stayed apart from one another, and I'm simply asking people to continue to do that. I think as leaders, we have to make it easier for people to stay home.


SAVIDGE: Regarding the criticism that has come from the president of the United States against Governor Brian Kemp, the governor has not actually done many interviews since that all began. He has been tweeting, and he hasn't directly responded to the president. We know that, of course, he still went forward with something the president didn't want. But we're also hearing Governor Kemp is not going to be on the governor's call with the White House today.

Now, those that are overseeing the governor's schedule, they say that he's actually in the southern part of Georgia today inspecting damage from a number of severe storms we had yesterday. So that's what's being said.

We should also point out that among the businesses we saw, it was a barber shop. The line started at 6:30 in the morning. The door opened at 7:00 A.M. They were practicing social distancing in there, but the barber clearly was not following the strict protocols. He had a mask on but he wasn't wearing gloves.

And there are many other things. He was supposed to question his customers about their health practices and how they were feeling. None of that was being done. I didn't see any temperatures being taken.

So it appears some businesses are open but they are not necessarily strictly following the guidelines. Jim and Poppy? HARLOW: Wow. It's really telling to see that. Marty, thanks.

Let's go to Ed Lavandera. Oklahoma making some moves today, Ed.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. The governor there in Oklahoma announcing that those personal care places, nail salons, hair salons, barber shops allowed to reopen today, and he's also saying in early May, places like movie theaters and restaurants could open up in a limited way as well.


Also the governor of Texas is starting to allude to that as well. He is expected to announce further openings this coming Monday in terms of other businesses that might be able to open up here in the State of Texas.

But today in Texas, it is the day that retail stores will be allowed to reopen. We are on a row of retail stores here in East Dallas. We're standing in front of a good records vinyl store, and the owner we've been talking to said even in a good economy, running a place like a vinyl record store isn't the best of businesses, so they've been really hit hard by all of this.

And what you hear from a lot of these store owners and companies, that they're a little apprehensive about how all of this is going to roll out, worried not only about their own safety but their customers' safety.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Ultimately it's up to them, right, when and how they do it. Ed Lavandera in Dallas, thanks very much.

While the states are pushing to reopen their economies, President Trump continues to promote unproven, even dangerous treatments for the coronavirus. Have a listen.


TRUMP: Deborah, have you ever heard of that, the heat and the light relative to certain viruses, yes, but relative to this virus?

DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: Not as a treatment. Certainly, fever is a good thing when you have a fever, it helps your body respond. But I've not seen heat.

TRUMP: I think it's a great thing to look at.


SCIUTTO: All right. Let's bring in Craig Fugate. He's a former FEMA administration and senior adviser for Blue Dot Strategies. Good to have you on.

Big picture, what is the danger, from an emergency management perspective, in the midst of a pandemic to have a sitting president spread misinformation, frankly, from the White House podium? CRAIG FUGATE, FORMER FEMA ADMINISTRATOR: Well, this has always been the concern of disasters that we don't have a clear message for the public. And you have health officials on one hand saying one thing, you have elected leaders saying something else, and we're having to do a lot of cleanup and explain to people not to do something that was suggested they could do.

SCIUTTO: Does it work? It's interesting, because if you look at -- there's been some polling that shows that that misinformation makes a difference. For instance, if you look at even Republicans versus Democrats, how seriously they're taking the pandemic or how seriously they're following social distancing guidelines. Again, from an emergency management perspective, does it actually change the response for the worse?

FUGATE: It can. We saw this as far back as Three Mile Island, a nuclear power plant emergency, where we had different officials saying do different things, evacuate or stay. So we know that when we have a mixed message, the public is confused and they're not sure what they should do.

SCIUTTO: Yes. All right, well, let's talk about the decision states have now. We're seeing a number of states do it, granted at a different pace, but states beginning to dip their toe into the water with reopening. I mean, is the question from your perspective, from a planning perspective, not can you do it or should you, but really when and how a state proceeds with this?

FUGATE: Absolutely. And there's one of the factors I think we need to focus on. I'm down here in Florida, so we're very concerned about tourism, but what's the reputational harm if we reopen too early and people then get sick based upon that?

SCIUTTO: Yes. That's -- you could do more damage down the line, I imagine.

So what do states need to see? I mean, the White House put out credible guidelines on this, things like 14 days of declining numbers of cases. States such as Florida, Oklahoma, Georgia have proceeded before they reach that point. Why does that make a difference?

FUGATE: Well, we have a lot of people that are still infected. Any time we bring folks together, that's going to increase the risk of spread.

And I think this goes back to what I think the health experts have been saying. Until the numbers are down, until we can do testing, we need to be cautious slowly reopening and maybe focus on areas where we're not bringing the public in direct contact with each other.

SCIUTTO: Well, you bring up testing there, and that's the part that fascinates me. It confuses me to some degree, because even now, I really can't think of a state in the country -- we've been asking elected officials all across the country if they have the testing capacity they need, and they frankly don't. So without knowing for sure how many people are infected, how can you safely reopen? Particularly as we look at numbers from New York and you're learning from these random tests that the prevalence of this infection is wider than anybody imagined.


FUGATE: There is a lot of risk. We've got to remember, the vector or how this disease is spread is from people that are infected, many of whom will not have any symptoms. So to go in and get my hair cut, is the barber infected, and he just doesn't know.

SCIUTTO: Yes, not knowing, I mean, that's the risk. Well, Craig Fugate, we appreciate the work you do. Thanks very much for coming on this morning.

FUGATE: Thanks for having me.

SCIUTTO: Still to come this hour, a potential development in the fight against the coronavirus. Researchers in China say they have now cloned antibodies from people who have recovered. Could this lead to a potential treatment?

HARLOW: A governor is making a tough decision on reopening their states across the country. What about Connecticut? We'll talk to the governor of Connecticut, ahead.



HARLOW: New this morning, researchers in China say they have cloned antibodies from people who have recovered from COVID-19. It is the first step in a potential treatment for this virus.

SCIUTTO: What is not yet clear is if these antibodies could actually be used to prevent infection. CNN's Elizabeth Cohen joins us with more.

So, Elizabeth, Dr. Mary from the Infectious Diseases Society warned that we don't know enough yet about antibody testing to assume that those antibodies give immunity. So how promising is this test so far?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: So the antibody tests -- here is what we know. When someone has immunity to measles or when someone has antibodies to measles, and a blood test says, hey, you have antibodies to measles, we feel quite confident that that person is immune to measles.

That is not the case with this virus. It is too new. Maybe antibodies means, yes, absolutely, you're immune, maybe it means you're not, maybe it means something in the middle, maybe it means you're immune for the next few months but not much longer than that. We just don't know. We need to figure that out.

HARLOW: Elizabeth, let's talk about these preliminary results from a study of hydroxychloroquine, a drug the president, until recently, had been really touting a lot of, talking about buying up a lot of it, putting it in the national stockpile. What do we know about that and the effect on recovery? And then if you could also just update us about remdesivir and the developments overnight on that.

COHEN: Right. So let's talk about remdesivir first. This was a drug where there was a lot of hope, but it appears, based on something that was posted on the World Health Organization, that those results either showed that it didn't work that it was inconclusive. Either way, it didn't show, yes, we tried it and it did work. And these were very sick patients. Maybe it would work earlier in the stage of the illness, but for these sick patients, it appears that it either didn't work or that it was inconclusive.

Another drug we've been paying a lot of attention to is hydroxychloroquine. And last night, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that a study in New York, a large study that was much anticipated, showed that it didn't seem to have an effect.


COHEN: Hydroxychloroquine, President Trump has been touting it for weeks.

TRUMP: So the hydroxychloroquine is something that I have been pushing very hard.

If this drug works, it will be -- not a game changer because that's not a nice enough term. It will be wonderful.

COHEN: But it didn't work for very sick coronavirus patients, according to the preliminary results of the largest study to date sponsored by the New York State Department of Health.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): From the review that I heard, basically, it was not seen as a positive, not seen as a negative, and didn't really have much of an effect on the recovery rate.

COHEN: The study done at the University at Albany School of Public Health looked at death rates among patients who took the drug and those who did not and found no statistically significant difference.

There was also no difference when patients took hydroxychloroquine plus the antibiotic azithromycin, also known as a Z-pack. Trump has been a cheerleader for that too.

TRUMP: And I just hope that hydroxychloroquine wins, coupled with perhaps the Z-pack, as we call it.

COHEN: The State of New York shared the preliminary results with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

DR. STEPHEN HAHN, FDA COMMISSIONER: It's a significant observational study.

COHEN: The final results of the study, which could be released as early as next week, will include 1,200 patients. HAHN: Obviously, you need to wait for the entire cohort of individuals to have been treated with the complete course of treatment to get a full read on that.

COHEN: The lead researcher noted that the patients in the New York study who took hydroxychloroquine were already very sick. He said it's possible the drug could be effective for other groups.

DAVID HOLTGRAVE, UNIVERSITY AT ALBANY SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: One might try and use these drugs perhaps on patients who are a little bit earlier on in the course of their disease or perhaps in a way to try to prevent the disease.

COHEN: The New York study is not considered the gold standard. That would be a double blind clinical trial where doctors take a large group of patients and randomly assign them to take the drug or a placebo, a pill that does nothing. Results of those trials at Harvard, the University of Washington and other centers are not expected for months.


COHEN: Now, not terribly surprising that these preliminary results showed that hydroxychloroquine didn't work. A study at the Veterans Administration plus studies in France and Brazil also showed that it didn't work. Poppy, Jim?

SCIUTTO: You've got to wait for the data, right? It's a simple rule.

HARLOW: Thanks, Elizabeth.

Let's talk about what we just learned from Dr. Colleen Kraft. She is Associate Chief Medical Officer at Emory University Hospital. Good morning, Doctor.

I just want to clarify something for people on remdesivir, because this reading, the Gilead statement in full, this earlier test of it was inconclusive and they have terminated that because of low enrollment.


You though at Emory are participating in the bigger sort of what they're calling the phase 3 study of this that is at or near full enrollment. Is that right? And if so, what is that showing you on this drug?

DR. COLLEEN KRAFT, ASSOCIATE CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER, EMORY UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL: Right. So they have enrolled a thousand patients in what we consider the most rigorous way of studying therapeutics, right, which was just mentioned, sort of that double blind placebo-controlled study. That shows how this does over no treatment. And then these are really critical studies to be able to show if remdesivir is helpful.

And so that's the data we really need to wait on. Some of this compassionate use, those aren't controlled studies, we really want to know when these things are done well and prospectively. That's the right way to sort of assess whether a drug is efficacious or not.

HARLOW: Okay. So important to note people not giving up hope on that drug with COVID, we just don't know yet. Okay, thank you for the clarification.

Let's talk about the president yesterday. Is there any medical scenario in which -- I mean, it should even be studied what he proposed, which is that sunlight could help treat COVID-19 or that injecting disinfectant into one's body could do that?

KRAFT: So we should never do things that are not part of a source of truth for how we do therapeutics. And so let's go back to resources for how you can treat things.

And so has resources on protection and symptomatic care. The FDA has information about certain drugs and symptomatic care that can help, and also your healthcare provider or your healthcare system that you may be around. Please seek your treatments from those areas where there is very focused medical attention.

We don't want to use things in a way that is harmful to us. We don't want to use things out of the realm that they should be used sort of on their package or on the outside of the can or the disinfectant. We don't want to inject disinfectants in our body. That's a bad idea.

HARLOW: It could kill you, right?

KRAFT: It could definitely kill you.

HARLOW: Okay. All right, finally, just on cloning antibodies, this news out of China, very interesting. What promise could it portend for treating coronavirus around the world, but also what risks does it come with it?

KRAFT: Yes. And we've seen this a lot with other diseases that have been pandemics in our recent history. So remember back to 2009 pandemic H1N1. Thankfully, we had a drug to treat it at that time. But people were also pursuing monoclonal antibody treatments at that time.

Ebola is a very recent case. Z-map and other drugs, monoclonal antibody 114, those are drugs that are used based on sort of the virus itself, how the body reacts to the virus and then trying to give that to a different individual.

And so these are promising types of research. The main issue is that it isn't always a one-size-fits-all, and so that's what we're always trying to find, is what is the type of antibody that can be effective in every individual that would get that treatment.

HARLOW: Understood. Dr. Kraft, thank you very, very much.

KRAFT: Thank you, Poppy.


SCIUTTO: Look, Connecticut's governor says that he believes his state now in the flat of the curve, but what does that mean for the state's reopening plans? We're going to speak to him live, next.



SCIUTTO: The vice president will hold a call with the nation's governors later today. That call expected to cover testing progress in states. This as the National Governors Association just released a guide for governors that lays out ten steps needed for states to reopen their economies.

I'm joined now by the governor of Connecticut, Ned Lamont. Governor, thank you so much for taking the time this morning.

GOV. NED LAMONT (D-CT): Good morning, Jim.

SCIUTTO: So, it's tough decision for policymakers around the country, when and how and how quickly to reopen and what to reopen first. I want to get to one of the guidelines for this. The governors got calls for expanding testing capacity, that testing -- but notes the testing capacity remains inadequate. Do you, in Connecticut, or will you soon have the broad-based testing necessary to, in your view, open safely?

LAMONT: I think we'll have that within the next couple weeks, at least the testing capacity. I'm not sitting around waiting for the White House to help us out. What we are doing is teaming with CVS, teaming with Quest Diagnostic, teaming with major businesses, public/private partnerships. They have access to a lot of the key ingredients we need to ramp up our testing, and that's just what we're doing.

SCIUTTO: What portion of the population do you believe you have to test to safely reopen businesses? Because it's interesting, you look at some of the data coming out of New York, for instance, random antibody testing seems to indicate that a large portion, for instance, New York City, perhaps one in five residents have been exposed to this or previously infected.


How much do you have to test to feel comfortable?