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Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms Interviewed on Georgia Opening Up Businesses During Coronavirus Pandemic; President Trump Makes Controversial Suggestion about Household Disinfectants being Used to Treat Coronavirus; How Long Does the Coronavirus Live on Surfaces? Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired April 24, 2020 - 08:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. The death toll in the United States will likely hit 50,000 people this morning. That's more Americans than died in the Vietnam or Korean Wars. Almost 3,200 people were added to the death toll yesterday. And I know that we can get numb to these numbers, but some numbers, like 50,000, are still shocking to even just say out loud.

So despite the death toll, some states are reopening business today. In Georgia, gyms, hair and nail salons, bowling alleys, massage and tattoo parlors can open their doors. Theaters and restaurants can reopen on Monday. At the same time, the models suggest that Georgia has not even hit its peak yet, and its death toll will double in two weeks. Scientists believe this state should wait until the end of June to reopen.

Also, a new study finds that coronavirus spread in the United States as early as January, infecting as many as 28,000 people in major cities like New York, San Francisco, and Seattle, without many of them ever knowing it.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: So also this morning, it has come to this. Public health officials, states, major corporations, having to issue public statements essentially saying don't listen to the president, it might be damaging to your health. It's like some bizarro surgeon general warning. Why? The president mused about whether household disinfectants, which can kill the virus on surfaces, can somehow be injected into your body to cure COVID-19. The parent company of Lysol this morning just released this statement, saying, quote, "Under no circumstances should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body through injection, ingestion, or any other route." The state of Washington said basically the same thing. What the president suggested is not just false hope, it's dangerous. Don't do it. Don't do it anywhere, including Georgia.

Joining me now is the mayor of Atlanta, Keshia Lance Bottoms. Mayor Bottoms, thank you so much for being with us. This is a milestone day in your state. I want to get to that in just a moment. But first, I assume you heard what the president said about disinfectants and musing about whether or not they could be injected into the body. What do you want the people of Atlanta to know about that?

MAYOR KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS, (D) ATLANTA: John, in addition to advising people to please stay home, now I have to add to that list, don't inject your body with Lysol. It is like we're living in the Twilight Zone. We have public health officials, we have scientists, we have experts who are saying this is important. In order for us to get through this pandemic and to get to the other side of the 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.

These are strange times that we're living in. And I just hope that people will exercise common sense. But we have to -- we have to be careful what we put out to the public, because there are so many people who don't understand what the science is.

BERMAN: What do you expect to happen in Atlanta today? Obviously in Georgia, the governor has decreed that several different types of businesses can open -- hair and nail salons, massage parlors, tattoo parlor, barbershops. What do you expect to see today?

BOTTOMS: John, what I expect to see is that there are some people who simply will not listen, that they will go into hair salons and go and get manicures and pedicures as if it is business as usual. And then what I expect is that in a couple of weeks we will see our numbers continue to rise in this state. To the extent that we had any relief in this state, it's because in Atlanta and other metropolitan areas in the city, we have been very aggressive about closing down businesses, putting in stay-at-home orders, and it has helped lower our numbers. But we are not out of the woods. We have expanded hospital capacity in this state and in our city, but it doesn't mean that we need to work to fill up those beds. Those are there in case we need them, not for the sake of reopening the economy.

BERMAN: So the governor says people can go to these institutions. What are you telling people in your city about whether they should?

BOTTOMS: Very simply, stay home. Nothing has changed.


People are still getting infected. People are still dying. We don't have a cure to this virus. The only thing that's helped us is that we have stayed a part 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. We have got to get money into the pockets of people who are concerned about putting food on their tables and paying their rent. That's why we should be putting our energy.

BERMAN: I know it is not an abstraction for you, right. Your mother owned a hair salon for, what, 24 years? BOTTOMS: She did. And I shampooed hair in that salon many a day, and

not once was I able to do it from six feet. And in talking to my mother, my mother says there is no way in the world I would go and stand over a customer right now.

But I also recognize this would have been devastating for my mother financially. It would have been devastating for our family. But my mother would also say to me, you got to live to fight another day. And so I recognize that people are hurting financially. But it is not worth putting your life and the lives of your children and your family at risk.

BERMAN: So how and when, though, can these businesses or any businesses start to reopen? You know there is an appetite, and you know people are hurting, and you know eventually things will start to open up. So what is the right way to do it and when?

BOTTOMS: John, I think that we have to be responsible. In Atlanta, we have a committee in place who is going to advise us. The metropolitan Atlanta area is home to 26 fortune 500 companies. We have representatives from those companies on this advisory committee. We have public health officials on this advisory committee, small business owners. We will look to the professionals to tell us how to responsibly reopen.

Now, I understand this needs to be a phased approach. Elective surgeries, people who understand how to use PPE, and even have access to PPE, sure, perhaps we can begin to open up those businesses. But I'm competing on the open marketplace as a mayor to get PPE for my sanitation workers. How can I expect that my hairstylists will also be able to access PPE and then have all of the information she needs to put it on while we have healthcare professionals who are struggling with this?

BERMAN: Mayor, I want to give you a chance to respond to something that, frankly, is vile, which is an awful text message you received where you were, I believe, in the presence of one of your children, and one of your other children actually received the same hate-filled text message. What is going on here?

BOTTOMS: John, what I see is racism in 2020, and that's why I put that text message out, because I want people to understand what it means when you have our highest leaders speaking in xenophobic terms. This is a byproduct of that. People feel empowered to speak hate. And it saddened me. It was a teachable moment in my household to have this conversation about race with my children. And I was very surprised to even see my high school senior tell my sixth grader he's been called the n-word more times than he can count.

It's 2020, and there is still so much work that has to be done in America. And I hope this sparks a conversation, but what I see the larger picture here, I'm continuing to get messages, and there are other people getting messages. There's someone or some entity that is attempting to make this pandemic about something other than what it is. It is a public, a global health crisis that's impacting all of us. There is no regard to color. There is no regard to economic status. This is something that is impacting all of us.

BERMAN: Mayor Keshia Lance Bottoms, thank you for being with us this morning. We appreciate your time. We're sorry you're receiving those messages. Thank you.

BOTTOMS: Thank you.

BERMAN: Alisyn?

CAMEROTA: OK, John, President Trump dispensed his weird and dangerous medical thoughts to the American people from the White House podium yesterday. Here is what the president said, and here is the silent but visible reaction from one of the top doctors on his task force, Dr. Deborah Birx.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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, but you're going to test it. And then I said supposing you brought the light inside the body, which you can do either through the skin or in some other way, and I think you said you're going to test that too. It sounds interesting. Right. And then I see the disinfectant, where 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.



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Joining me now is CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Sanjay, as John can tell you, I'm a body language expert, and I see discomfort there from Dr. Birx, the having to look away, avert your eyes, look down. Just putting her in that position, putting a real doctor in the position of, would injecting disinfectant into your body work? What was that yesterday?

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: That was super uncomfortable, Alisyn. And, you know, Dr. Birx, Ambassador Birx, is an infectious disease expert, somebody who the country has relied on with regard to HIV/AIDS long before this coronavirus outbreak. I don't know. It seems like for me as a medical journalist, you do spend time busting myths. That is part of the job. But the idea that myths are created to be busted down, that is new. Even when I was speaking to Dr. Hahn later on that night, he said, when asked about it, I thought it would be a very short segment, he would say, yes, that doesn't work, we're focusing on important stuff. Instead, he said, well, these are real conversations happening between physicians and their patients right now.

No, they're not. I don't think there are patients going into the doctor's offices asking, should I be injecting disinfectant into my body? This is an important show that you guys do. I can't believe that we even have to talk about this. But that is the reality. And I felt for her. I felt for Dr. Hahn as well. I don't know how they continue to do the job sometimes because they just have to spend as much time spinning around this stuff as they do actually talking about the science.

BERMAN: That's the part of it -- look, she looked like she was dying inside when he was saying it. And if she wasn't, she should have been. And it does make you wonder about whether she should have said something right then and there, because to let that hang out there and have people wonder about injecting disinfectants even if they were is dangerous. And if people are having those conversations with their doctors, it is because they heard the president say it yesterday. And it just can't, can't happen. I don't know what else to say about it.

GUPTA: It doesn't work. It doesn't need to be studied. That was the other thing -- let's study this. No, we don't need to study it, because we already have the answer. And by the way, to do a study means that you would knowingly inject something that could kill people into one group of people and not into another group of people and then prove what everybody, I think even my kids, already know. It is a little bit -- it is infuriating actually, that this is -- we have really big problems to solve. There is -- and there is great trials going on, and thankfully that work is still continuing. But we're spending so much time talking about whether or not disinfectants can be injected into the human body today.

And I know you guys have talked about it all morning. It is just hard to wrap your head around that. And I did feel -- Dr. Hahn used to be the head of the MD Anderson Medical Center, one of the foremost oncology centers in the world. He ran that place. He's a respected oncologist. He knows the answers to the questions that we were asking him last night at the town hall. I just -- this is a really -- it is a really strange time I think with regard to this collision right now between science and politics. I've been doing this job a long time, I have not seen it like -- I've seen collisions before, but not like this. These are big ones.

CAMEROTA: Yes. Just one last thing on this point. The president's friends in the media like to say, you guys take him too seriously. He was just riffing. They say things like that. You know who took him seriously this morning? Lysol. Lysol felt obligated to come out with a really stern warning to anybody who will listen, saying "Due to recent speculation and social media activity, the makers of Lysol have been asked whether internal administration of disinfectants may be appropriate for investigation or uses in treatment for coronavirus. Under no circumstance should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body through injection, ingestion, or any other route."

And Sanjay, I've been making the point, it's not just hypothetical, we have seen cases, there was a couple in Arizona that heard the president talking about chloroquine and decided to take -- they had it laying around for cleaning their fish tank and they took it and the husband died. So it does get -- it gets out there. These suggestions, whether they're riffing or whatever, they make it into people's minds.

GUPTA: Well, I would imagine that just about everyone watching right now already knew that this would be a bad idea, this would be a dangerous idea. I would imagine that to be the case. Even people who, regardless of your politics, already knew that.


So we should just dispense with this unequivocally without any, you know, any sort of framing this in any way other than it's a bad idea. It doesn't need to be studied.

We are going to find something that works because I realize these are desperate times, that's one thing we can all agree on. But, you know, vacuum of information should not be filled with bad or dangerous information. We should just say we don't know and move on.

And in this case we do know that stuff is dangerous and shouldn't be done.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: On the judge of what might work, Sanjay, there is a new study overnight out of China, which suggests they have been able to clone antibodies. We don't know exactly which kind of antibody, but some kind of antibody to the coronavirus.

How could this help in terms of possible treatment?

GUPTA: Yes, this is really interesting. This is this idea of monoclonal antibodies has been, you know, tried and used in other potential infections. So, you know, someone is infected and they develop antibodies. People may have heard this now -- the antibodies are what fight the virus.

Problem is that not all the antibodies in your body are the same and they're not all going to fight the infection as well. You want to find the ones that are the most likely to neutralize the virus.

The way they do that takes some of your antibodies, put it in a test tube with the virus and basically see does the antibody neutralize the virus? And if it does, they can then take those antibodies and clone them over and over again and use them essentially as a treatment.

It is a really fascinating process, and it is laborious, and it is also very, very expensive so it is harder to think of this as something that can be used widely across the country, but it does make the case that these antibodies can be effective to treat the virus.

We talk about medications we create in the lab, these are essentially medications that are created in your own body and then amplified, you know, cloned over and over again, and injected.

The big questions, A, does it work? It should work, it could work, and that's why I think there is some early promise out of this data out of China.

Two, how do you deal with the expense, because to do this on some sort of wide scale will be very extensive. I mean, we need to try everything we can now obviously. But if a medication like the ones we've been talking about works, I mean, that's obviously going to be a good option as well.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, we appreciate you helping us with fact and fiction this morning. Thank you very much.

GUPTA: You got it. Thank you.

CAMEROTA: What does science tell us about how coronavirus is spread? Well, a bio safety expert is going to tell us, next.



BERMAN: So the White House announced new research about the impact of heat and humidity on the coronavirus when it is in the air and on surfaces.

Joining us now is Paul Meechan. He is the former director of the Office of Safety, Health and Environment at the Centers for Disease Control.

Paul, thank you so much for being with us.

Let me just tell people, we're not talking about the ridiculous statements the president made about ingesting any of this stuff. Leave that aside for the moment. There is research from DHS that was discussed yesterday, about what happens in the environment to the virus before you catch it and heat -- in heat and humidity. And there was a suggestion that both heat, humidity and direct sunlight might have an impact on the virus.

What did you see there?

PAUL MEECHAN, FORMER DIRECTOR, CDC OFFICE OF SAFETY, HEALTH & ENVIRONMENT: Oh, I agree. It's already has been known that heat would shorten the life span of the coronavirus and sunlight, the ultraviolet component of that that reaches the earth would also affect its stability in the environment.

Without having that data peer-reviewed, I can't really comment on the exact numbers that they give. But it stands to reason that the virus exposed to direct sunlight and heat will live a significantly shorter period of time than if it was kept somewhere cool and in dark.

BERMAN: You put up the numbers here, so people can see what they suggested that the half life of the virus on certain surfaces decreases as the heat and humidity increases, and also with solar energy. Why would this happen in theory?

MEECHAN: Well, there are two reasons you would expect it to happen. One is that you have the virus is enveloped, so it is susceptible to both desiccation and destruction of its genetic material, its RNA, from the solar radiation, that's actually going to introduce damage to it, which would make it not viable, incapable of infecting. The heat itself will do the same thing. So that envelope, which is a lipid, it's kind of like an oil. And so, the heat will degrade that and make the virus nonviable as well. So the combination actually probably is going to be fairly effective.

It is going to be a question of how much. I don't think we should use it all by itself and ignore cleaning and disinfecting.

BERMAN: How much is my next question. Look, there has been the suggestion for some time that maybe in the summer, in the heat and the humidity, that coronavirus will go away. And what some of the research has shown was it is not about it disappearing, it may slow the spread, but it won't disappear completely. Why is that? Is that because of the droplet person to person spread? Nothing will keep the droplets from my mouth getting to you if we're a few feet away.

MEECHAN: Exactly. We don't know the ratio of direct exposure, contact person to person. And the exposure from -- taken from the environment. The so-called fomites you pick up by touching a doorknob or elevator button, something like that.

So, until we have a better understanding of what that ratio is, we can't say that making the virus survive shorter periods of time on an environmental surface will break the back of the infection. It is going to be a combination of efforts.

BERMAN: One of the issues also might be, this virus is spreading so quickly into so many people that the spread of the virus outpaces whatever environmental slowdowns might take place?

MEECHAN: To a degree, yes. But I think -- I think it was back to you have to do both -- continue the social distancing and continue the disinfections that will enhance any effect of additional sunlight, heat, et cetera, doing a job on the environmental viruses out on playground surfaces, for example.


BERMAN: So, when we talk about sunlight and UV and being outside, explain to me, Dr. Birx was put in an incredibly awkward situation and whether she handled it well, we can talk about that a different time. But she answered the president that it can't be used as a treatment.

What is the distinction between UV rays being used as a treatment, getting in a tanning bed and trying to cure yourself of coronavirus, versus whether or not it is effective against the virus in the open environment?

Paul Meechan, did I freeze you? Was the mere concept of what the president said yesterday was so stunning to him that he is frozen and simply can't answer.

Alisyn is it back with me now. The difference there is that, yes, sunlight and UV rays we have known for some time can have an impact on bacteria and germs and viruses on the open environment, but it is when you raise the possibility of it being able to treat a sick person, that is where there is no evidence at all that it works.

You can see Dr. Birx yesterday, the mere suggestion of that was problematic for her. CAMEROTA: I'm also frozen. Like how I did that?

BERMAN: Yes, now, you're frozen. You try to freak me out.

CAMEROTA: You just froze me.

BERMAN: Everyone I talk to freezes all of a sudden.

All right. Thank you very much to Paul Meechan for being with us.

Thank you, Alisyn, for making me feel even worse about the whole thing.

CAMEROTA: You're welcome.

BERMAN: All right. Major meat processing plants forced to close because of workers getting coronavirus. What does that mean for your meat supply? That's next.