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Georgia Reopens Some Businesses Today Despite Warnings; Trump Muses on Medically Unsafe COVID-19 Treatments; NY Governor: 1 in 5 NYC Residents May Have Had Coronavirus. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired April 24, 2020 - 06:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Georgia Governor Brian Kemp is allowing some nonessential businesses to reopen, even though public health officials warn it may be too soon.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I wasn't happy with it, and I wasn't happy with Brian Kemp.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Exercise common sense. Listen to the science and stay home.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASE: We are not in a situation where we say we're exactly where we want to be with regard to testing.

TRUMP: I think we're doing a great job on testing. I don't agree. If he said that, I don't agree with it.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: The idea that we would inject people with disinfectant, then see what happens, that would be dangerous.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need to be telling the unequivocal truth. Do not try these things at home.


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 Friday, April 24, 6 a.m. here in New York.

And we just want to take a moment this morning to acknowledge that, in the next three hours while we are on the air, the death toll in the United States will likely hit 50,000 people. That's more Americans than died in the Vietnam or Korean wars.

Almost 3,200 Americans were added to the death toll just yesterday. And I know that we can all get numb to these numbers every day, but some, like the number 50,000, is still shocking to say out loud.

And despite the death toll, some states are reopening business today. In Georgia, gyms, hair and nail salons, bowling alleys, and massage and tattoo parlors can open their doors. Theaters and restaurants can reopen there on Monday.

At the same time, the models suggest that Georgia has not even hit its peak yet. Scientists believe that that state should wait until the end of June to reopen.

A new study also finds that coronavirus spread in the U.S. as early as January, infecting as many as 28,000 people in major cities like New York, San Francisco and Seattle without many even knowing it.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And heartbreaking work of staggering ignorance. Public health officials this morning warning directly against outrageous suggestions made by the president to millions of Americans, wondering if household disinfectants, which can kill the viruses on surfaces, can somehow be injected into the body to cure COVID-19.

Overnight, the Washington State Emergency Management Department made a public plea against eating Tide pods or anything similar. "Don't make a bad situation worse," they say.

So this morning, things that will not cure coronavirus include wearing garlic around your neck, interpretive dance or asking nicely. But at least none of those things will hurt you. What the president suggested will. It's not just false hope, it's dangerous. Don't do it.

We'll get to that in a second. First, though, a new beginning of sorts in Georgia this morning. CNN's Martin Savidge live in Atlanta where at least one store behind you, Martin, will open today.


Good morning, Alisyn.

The governor has said it's up to the individual businesses to decide, and there's only one store in this shopping center that says it will reopen. A hair salon.

You know, the governor of Georgia -- and Georgia was one of the last states to issue a shelter-in-place order. That was three weeks ago. Today, of course, Georgia becomes one of the first states to reopen, and no one really knows how that's going to go.


SAVIDGE (voice-over): Georgia Governor Brian Kemp's plan to relax some social distancing efforts begins this morning. Owners of barber shops, hair and nail salons, bowling alleys, gyms and massage parlors can reopen their stores. And next Monday, restaurants and theaters can do the same.

Kemp defending his move to allow some sectors of his state to resume business, tweeting, "My team has worked closely with the Trump administration. And our decisions and direction are informed by data and public health recommendations."

This as President Trump tosses out unscientific ideas from the White House podium, last night raising the bizarre notion of using household cleaners as a possible treatment for coronavirus patients.

TRUMP: And then I see that disinfectant 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?

SAVIDGE: But health experts agree, there is no scientific merit for that suggestion.

GUPTA: He also said, you know, it needs to be studied. Actually, it doesn't. I mean, we know the answer to this one.

The idea that we would do a trial of some sort and inject some people with disinfectant and some people not and see what happens. I mean, as you point out, I think -- I think everybody would know that that would be dangerous and counterproductive and not at all moving us in the right direction.

SAVIDGE: Meantime, Illinois extending their stay-at-home orders through May 30, with an added requirement: wearing face coverings in public if a six-foot distance can't be maintained.

GOV. J.B. PRITZKER (D-IL): We need to keep going a little while longer to finish the job.

SAVIDGE: California's governor asking residents pressing to end social distancing efforts to look at the facts.

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): We're not out of the woods yet. I know there's deep desire. People are making calls on an hourly basis, saying it's time to open back up. Consider the deadliest day in the state of California was the last 24 hours: 8.5 percent increase in the total number of deaths.

SAVIDGE: Dr. Anthony Fauci says the U.S. needs to ramp up both the number and capacity to perform tests in order to safely reopen parts of the country.

FAUCI: I am not overly confident right now at all that we have what it takes to do that. We're getting better and better at it as the weeks go by. But we are not in a situation where we say we're exactly where we want to be with regard to testing.

SAVIDGE: But according to Trump --

TRUMP: No, I don't agree with him on that. No, I think we're doing a great job on testing. I don't agree. If he said that, I don't agree with him.


SAVIDGE: Yet, many state leaders say there is much work to be done.

GOV. PHIL MURPHY (D-NJ): The fact as a nation we weren't ready for this as a testing matter, we've cobbled together now up to 86 different sites, but we're still not there yet.


SAVIDGE: The death toll in the state of Georgia is now at 881. Twenty- two thousand people have tested positive for the coronavirus.

And then there is the University of Washington modeling. A lot of people follow that. And it suggests that Georgia will not reach its daily death peak until next week. And that in two weeks, the death toll in the state of Georgia will double and triple by June. That model suggests the state should not reopen until June 22. And of course, we're a long way away from that -- John and Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, Martin, thank you very much. And we'll check back in with you to see what happens in that shopping center behind you.

Joining us now are Dr. Carlos Del Rio. He's the executive associate dean of Emory University School of medicine at Grady Health System. And Dr. Manisha Juthani. She is the associate professor of medicine and epidemiology and an infectious diseases specialist at Yale. Great to see both of you.

Dr. Del Rio, I want to start with you, because you are at ground zero of where this sort of experiment of reopening is going to begin today. You are in Atlanta. And so what are hospitals and healthcare systems like yours planning for there over the next couple of weeks?

DR. CARLOS DEL RIO, EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT DEAN, EMORY UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: Well, we've been planning for this coronavirus epidemic for several weeks. We are -- we're ready, and we hope that we don't have a lot more patients coming.

Our number of patients in the last several days has been pretty flat. The increase hasn't been much. We are not overwhelmed at this point in time. We just hope that we don't get overwhelmed as a result of this decision.

I would urge people to use common sense. I think if people continue practicing social distance, if people don't go to those businesses despite the fact that they have been allowed to be open, we will be OK.

But I think we need, really, people to practice common sense. The one thing you don't want to do, you don't want to get infected and you don't want to become a patient. I really don't want to see you in the hospital.

BERMAN: And Dr. Juthani, that's actually the most interesting question to me this morning. As stores can open, the question is will they? Will they?

You know, CNN made a bunch of calls to a lot of gyms and other places, trying to figure out if they were opening, and we really couldn't find many places at all that were opening. Martin is standing in front of a hair salon that will.

But the interesting thing will be to see how many establishments choose to and how many people choose to go out. How will that affect things?

DR. MANISHA JUTHANI, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF MEDICINE AND EPIDEMIOLOGY, YALE UNIVERSITY: I think that's an interesting point, John. I mean, I think that a lot of the public is listening to the reporting and is listening to the advice of medical professionals and public health professionals, who are seeing that we are anticipating that rates and number of cases will continue to go up in Georgia.

And people are nervous about that. I think that they're using caution, and they're using their own common sense. And I think we'll see. Only time will tell, as Dr. Del Rio said, if people in the community use their own judgment and exercise judgment on what they think is safe, maybe this will be OK.

I think the thing that we need to remember is that who we'll see in the next few days are people who were infected in the previous two weeks, let's say, roughly. And so, if there's a change in behavior right now, we wouldn't see the effects of that until another few weeks from now.

And so if we see an increase, an incline on the number of cases, that may give us a sense that maybe more people did venture out. But that would also be good evidence to say that social distancing works and maybe it needs to go back in place.

CAMEROTA: Yes. It's just hard to get a socially-distant tattoo or a socially-distant haircut. I mean, those are just impossibilities. So we'll see if people want to exercise that option for themselves.

But in the meantime, let's just mark where we are right now at this moment. So in Georgia, the peak is not expected for five more days, according to the models.

As of today, Dr. Del Rio, 881 people have died there. In the next two weeks, the model predicts that number will double. And then by June it will go up yet again. And that was before businesses reopened. So this is just looking at a snapshot of what would happen today if everybody just held steady.

But obviously, it's a whole new equation with businesses opening. And Dr. Del Rio, you use, I think, a really compelling analogy of Mt. Everest, and that there's this -- this sort of assumption that once you get to the peak, you can exhale. But what's the reality?

DEL RIO: Well, I think, Alisyn, the reality is that, you know, the models are models. And I think people are putting too much time and effort looking at this models and seeing how the peak changes.

[06:10:02] I looked at it this morning. And again, now -- now it looks like a very steep peak is coming up. And nothing really has changed, as was said previously. What we're seeing right now are infections that happened two weeks ago.

So the reality is, these models help decide how much healthcare resources you're going to need, how much hospital beds, how many ICU beds, et cetera. But they really tell you very little about how the infection is progressing and where you need -- where you can relax measures. Because the reality is, is the models are changing day to day, depending on the inputs you put in.

So people are keeping, you know -- keeping talking about the peak like it was the end game. And it's not the end game. It's simply a model. And as such, a model needs to be looked at, but it also should not be taken as the gospel.

BERMAN: So Dr. Juthani, I'm going to ask you a couple questions here about what the president said. And I'm not going to play what he said again, because God forbid sun hears it and tries it.

But let me ask you as a doctor. What happens if you inject bleach or disinfectant into your body?

JUTHANI: I think all of these products have labels on them that tell you not to ingest them and to call poison control if you do. And I think that we know that these are harmful products to ingest. We have no scientific evidence to say that injecting disinfectant is a good thing to do.

So I think what we heard in the data in the conference yesterday was that this virus does seem to be affected by disinfectant and by heat and by humidity. And that on its own, outside of the body, when it is on surfaces or in -- you know, on countertops, things like that, that we have ways to be able to get rid of it. And that's good to know, that we can disinfect and that it works.

However, using those types of products, if you yourself are sick or if you're afraid of getting sick, could be much worse. And I hope nobody does that.

BERMAN: And just to -- just to follow up on that, again, what they're talking about is killing the virus out in the open in the wild. Not as a treatment, as Dr. Birx said. And I commend you for your sanity and calmness in answering this question.

But as a public health expert, when you hear someone with the platform that the president has, speaking to millions of people, musing about maybe there's a way to inject the disinfectant or get it inside as a cleansing device into the body, what concerns does that raise?

JUTHANI: You know, I do think the president said that he would leave that to the scientists and for the professionals to be able to study and comment on, whether it was a good idea. And Dr. Birx, you know, as you mentioned, did not think it was a good idea. I would agree with that. I think that it's very dangerous to -- for people to think that these

types of products could be used in that way. And I don't think we need to scientifically study those particular products. I think there are lots of other products that are potentially hopeful, other potential medications. And that's where we need to divert our resources towards clinical trials and trying to be able to come up with good therapeutics for this illness.

BERMAN: Yes. Great to clean your clothes. Dangerous to try to clean your lungs. I think we can leave it at that.

Dr. Juthani, Dr. Del Rio, stick around. We've got a lot more questions for you.

JUTHANI: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: So despite assurances from the White House, the U.S. is still way behind when it comes to widespread testing. What Dr. Anthony Fauci says we need to do, next.



BERMAN: So a really fascinating new study out of the state of New York, which found that 21 percent of people tested in New York City, about 13 percent statewide, had antibodies for the coronavirus. So what does that mean?

Back with us, Dr. Carlos Del Rio and Dr. Manisha Juthani.

Dr. Del Rio, that seems like a lot. One in five people in New York City has the antibody or an antibody for coronavirus. What does that tell you?

DEL RIO: Well, I think it's telling us that this virus got spread a lot more than we initially thought. And I think part of it is because, No. 1, it spreads very easily. The infection rate is about three, so for every person infected, there's three that become infected subsequently.

But the other thing is that we now know that a lot of people with the disease are either -- with this infection are either asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic. And therefore, there may be a lot of people out there who -- who were infected and simply don't know it.

So what it's telling us is that there may a lot more people infected out there.

The good news about that, is that when we look at the mortality rate and we look at the denominator, the number of people infected, it may not be three or eight percent. It may be in the neighborhood more of one percent or less, which is good.

But the bad news is that it becomes incredibly difficult to control. Something that you simply cannot see. You simply cannot -- you know, if only people who were symptomatic spread a disease, it's a lot easier to stop. But when asymptomatic and mildly symptomatic people spread a disease, it's very, very hard to stop it.

CAMEROTA: See, but Dr. Juthani, when you hear these numbers that maybe 20 percent, well, that actually from this study of 3,000 people, that 20 percent of people in New York City have the antibodies so were somehow exposed to the virus; and 14 percent of the state of New York have the antibodies.

It makes you think, as my children did last night at the dinner table, Ooh, maybe we've had it already. You know, that's the -- that's the curiosity factor of this. Oh, maybe can I get tested. Maybe I have the antibodies.

But -- but I find it hard to believe that people with no symptoms in a household might have had it like, say, my children. And when we say asymptomatic, do we really mean they didn't have any symptoms, or do we need that a month ago, somebody had a scratchy throat and dismissed it as allergies?


JUTHANI: Well, I think we don't really know the answer to that. You know, I had an antibody test as part of a healthcare worker study. I had a sore throat for a couple of weeks, and my test was negative. I was hoping mine was positive, too, just like your kids.

So you know, I think we don't really know the answer to that until we have really widespread testing with lots of different people getting tested and kind of going back and seeing if there were any symptoms. I think a lot of people thought they might have had allergies.

But I think, you know, the thing is, we know that there are people that are asymptomatic. We know there are people are mildly symptomatic. And then we know that there are people that obviously have been very, very ill and in the hospital.

And I think that, unless we have even broader strokes of testing -- so this particular testing that was done in New York City was done in grocery stores and big box stores. And so there's a little bit of a bias there in the sense that it had to be people who were coming out of the house and going to the grocery store.

If kits were sent home or if people, public health workers went into communities, into the inner city, would we see even higher rates or would we see lower rates? We don't really know the answer to that.

So until we have even more data on what the serology is, the antibody testing is for many, many people, we won't really know the answer to that.

BERMAN: So Dr. Del Rio, with your permission, I want to go back to some of the things the president said yesterday and these moments where his statements were putting the nation's public health leaders on the spot. So watch this exchange between the president and Dr. Birx yesterday. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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 TASK FORCE COORDINATOR: Not as a treatment. I mean, certainly, fever --


BIRX: -- is a good thing. When you have a fever, it helps your body respond. But not as -- I've not seen --

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


BERMAN: OK. So not as a treatment, she says. He was talking about somehow injecting UV rays or getting UV rays in your body to kill coronavirus.

He then also talked about injecting or somehow ingesting bleach or household disinfectant into your body to kill the virus. And again, you know, we dealt with dishonesty before at the highest level, but this is beyond that. What he's suggesting will hurt you.

And it's stunning to think that, at a certain level, we have to put a warning underneath the president's words. It's almost like a surgeon general warning, warning you know, what he is saying could be harmful to your health.

DEL RIO: I totally agree with you. I mean, I think what it does, is two things.

No. 1, it takes me back to the early years of HIV, where a lot of things that were -- makes absolutely no sense were proposed, were used. People used also, you know, heat therapy. They would try to heat your body to get rid of the virus. All sorts of things were tried.

And I frequently also heard about people using bleach, and suggesting we looked at bleach.

But again, you know, I would remind people that, you know, this is not how you treat a virus. Bleach is great to clean a surface. It's not great to put in your body. It's actually more dangerous.

I think that desperation is leading to a lot of things that make absolutely no sense. We need to leave the discovery of medications and of treatments to scientists who follow a scientific method. And there's a way to do research that actually is safe and effective, and we need to let research take its course and give us effective treatments. We don't need to think -- be thinking about things that are more dangerous than the disease.

And more importantly, when he -- the president said, Well, maybe you need to study this, we as scientists will never do an experiment and will never expose somebody to something that is more dangerous than the disease they have.

So my rule of thumb is that I wouldn't take this. I wouldn't give it to anybody of my patients or my study subjects. So please listen to scientists as it relates to what is the treatment for this infection.

BERMAN: Alisyn, let me just jump in here, because I just got something sent to me by Christine Romans, our chief business correspondent. And it's a statement from the maker of Lysol. OK? They felt like they needed to put a statement out overnight.

It says, "As a global leader in health and hygiene products, we must be clear that, under no circumstances, should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body through injection, ingestion or any other route."

And they start off a statement that says, due to recent speculation, they feel like they needed to say that.

I'm sorry, Alisyn. I didn't mean to cut you off.

CAMEROTA: Well, I mean, they're not alone. By the way, the Washington state agency of, I think, emergency management also put out that statement last night: "Please don't eat Tide pods or inject yourself with any kind of disinfectant. If you need help with COVID, we have lots of resources." They give the place you can go. "Just don't make a bad situation worse."

This -- these are the measures, Dr. Juthani, that people in the public health space feel they must go to after listening to the president. I mean, it's worse than snake oil, obviously, because it's dangerous.


And by the way, none of this is just hypothetical. There are people who have taken the president at his word and tried this. There's a couple in Arizona, one of whom, the husband died after they found some chloroquine for their fish tank and thought that that's what the president had said: What harm could it do? Take a chance on it. It will help. And they ingested it.

And so anyway, that's where we are this morning. Thank you, doctors, very much. We're out of time. Dr. Juthani, Dr. Del Rio, we really appreciate your expertise.

JUTHANI: Thank you.

DEL RIO: Happy to be with you.

CAMEROTA: We also have a quick programming note. CNN is teaming up with Sesame Street for a special town hall tomorrow morning at 9 a.m. Eastern. Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Erica Hill will be joined by Elmo, Big Bird, Abby and Grover to tackle your family's and your kids' questions. You can go to Street to submit your questions.

I'll take Grover -- Grover's advice any day. Meanwhile, there are signs of life returning to the city where the

outbreak first began. So CNN's David Culver on how things have changed in Wuhan. His next installment.