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Governors Move to Reopen Businesses in Some States; Heartburn Drug Being Studied as Coronavirus Treatment. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired April 27, 2020 - 06:00   ET



DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE COORDINATOR: Social distancing will be with us through the summer.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Only a handful of states are really approaching the legitimate thresholds to consider opening up. Georgia is not one of them.

GOV. BRIAN KEMP (R-GA): We're probably going to see our cases continue to go up. I believe we'll be able to stay on top of it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are not ready to open. The people who power that economy are at risk.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As we begin to reopen the economy in May and June, you're going to see the economy really bounce back in July, August, September.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the biggest negative shock that our economy has ever seen. We're going to be looking at an an unemployment rate that approaches the Great Depression.


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

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Monday, April 27, 6 a.m. here in New York.

And this morning, we really are at an inflection point in the fight against coronavirus. The number of cases worldwide is approaching 3 million, one-third of those cases here in the United States. The U.S. death toll is now approaching 55,000. But this morning, several states are beginning to ease restrictions and reopen some businesses.

At least 13 states will take action this week. That includes restaurants and movie theaters in Georgia, curbside rental businesses in Colorado. Even states that are not changing a thing this week, like New York, are beginning to talk about how and where things might change if the situation continues to improve. ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: And so, John, one question this morning

is, can these reopenings be done safely? What will that even look like? Does it look like this packed beach in Southern California from this weekend? Is that social distancing.

Well, Dr. Deborah Birx says that Americans should expect social distancing to be with us for months. She also said widespread testing will take a technological breakthrough.

As for how the White House is responding to all of this, well, CNN has learned that the White House plans to adjust its messaging, scaling back on the president's daily briefings and pivoting to the economy. The latest plan is to leave the medical advice to the experts, after the president dangerously suggested that injecting disinfectants into humans might help kill virus.

But let's begin our coverage with what the country will look like this week. CNN's Martin Savidge is live near Atlanta, where the Waffle House is open for business.

Hi, Martin.


Yes, as you can see Waffle House opened up at 6 a.m. So the doors just officially a few minutes ago. It is the first time they've had dine-in for quite some time. If you know Waffle House, you know what they do. It's breakfast all day.

As a lot of states -- at least a number of them -- think or consider reopening, there's a lot of confusion out there, still, for the public, due to mixed messages coming from Washington, as well as within their own states, leaving many people to wonder what's safe, what's not and what's next?


SAVIDGE (voice-over): This morning, restaurants and theaters are allowed to resume business in the state of Georgia, joining salons, tattoo parlors and gyms already able to operate. Some local leaders fear Governor Brian Kemp is encouraging workers to return far too soon.

MAYOR KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS, ATLANTA: I hope that the governor is right and I'm wrong, because if he is wrong, more people will die. And this notion that we can somehow deal with more people who are sick is ludicrous. Because we don't have a cure.

SAVIDGE; Georgia is one of at least a dozen states where some businesses are starting to reopen, including Colorado, where services such as curbside delivery at retail stores and elective surgeries are allowed to resume today.

The governor says he's still encouraging residents to avoid unnecessary trips. GOV. JARDEN POLIS (D-O): We're all worried about a potential spike, whether it's in the fall, along with flu season, in September, October.

SAVIDGE: Nationwide, people are starting to lose patience staying indoors. Weather tempting many in Orange County, California, to flock to the beach this weekend as a heat wave hit. Now the Newport Beach City Council will consider closing their shores for the next three weekends.

Florida's governor faced some scrutiny for being one of the first to allow local leaders to reopen beaches. But he says he's in no rush to fully open the rest of society.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): I'm less concerned about a specific date than I am about getting it right.

SAVIDGE: The White House's coronavirus task force coordinator says social distancing is likely needed through the summer, until there are major advances in testing.

BIRX: We have to realize that we have to have a breakthrough innovation in testing. And I know corporations and diagnostics are working on that now. We have to have a breakthrough.

SAVIDGE: With the president dialing back on his daily briefings, CNN has learned the White House is planning more economy-focused events that could include round tables with CEOs and workers to highlight efforts to spur an economic recovery.

Aides believe Trump is better positioned to drive an economic message rather than a health one.


SAVIDGE: New Jersey, Ohio and Texas are the states that are going to be discussing and revealing their reopening plans today.

As for Georgia restaurants, they're under severe restrictions for social distancing, cutting back the amount of space inside of a restaurant for people to sit and eat by 2/3 -- John and Alisyn.

BERMAN: It will be interesting to see how it works at Waffle House, given the counter and the fact that they're pretty small to begin with, Martin. A fascinating report. Thanks so much for being with us.

Joining us now, Dr. Colleen Kraft. She's the associate chief medical officer at Emery University Hospital. And CNN national security analyst Juliette Kayyem, former assistant secretary at the Department of Homeland Security.

And Juliette, I think, to an extent, what happened in Georgia took us off track a little bit. Because here was a state where clearly, the trajectory wasn't going down to the extent that it needed to, and they were opening things that didn't need to be open. Tattoo parlors in a state where the cases aren't going down. Bad idea. [06:05:12]

But things are beginning to open in places, and things will continue to reopen. So the discussion is, what's the right way to do it?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: That's exactly right. This is where we have to get our heads around now, is that there is going to be some loosening up. It's not -- it's not opening up that sort of that term seems to apply to everything. It shouldn't.

States, including blue states, like Colorado, and Governor Cuomo said that he's going to look at northern New York with some possibilities of opening up, are going to begin to sort of release the pressure a little bit.

Now, they have to do so safely. You protect vulnerable populations. You continue to utilize PPE. But finally, and the most important thing, is that -- that social distancing will still be the norm. It is the baseline. There's going to be exceptions for all the things that we're talking about. But social distancing will be with us for not just through the summer but for a long period of time. We will default into our homes until we actually have either better treatments, better testing or a vaccine.

CAMEROTA: And so Dr. Kraft, I mean, we're all about to engage in this national experiment, basically. I mean, even if it's not your state that's loosening the restrictions, you know, we -- states are porous.

And so, as a doctor, do you think it's possible that we've all, as just regular people, learned enough through these past weeks about hand washing, about using Purell about not hugging hello, about staying six feet apart, that we won't see the spikes that so many are worried about?

DR. COLLEEN KRAFT, ASSOCIATE CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER, EMERY UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL: I think that it's still possible, Alisyn, that we could see the spike that we're -- when we all sort of come back together.

I do think that there has been a dramatic culture shift towards how we take care of ourselves, how we take care of others. And I think we will not be going back to pre-COVID days of -- of sort of loosening some of these restrictions of hand hygiene, face hygiene and other things that we've been talking about for weeks.

I do think that we have learned quite a bit. Now we're about to see how well that applies when we try to figure out how to live with COVID going forward.

BERMAN: We have a list of the state. This is P-9, where you can see that certain things will change. And it does vary from state to state as to what those will be.

So you can see a lot of states, some of them -- Minnesota, Indiana, you know, South Carolina, Georgia -- have populations, Colorado, not small populations necessarily all spread out. And even New York state -- I find this interesting -- Andrew Cuomo

over the weekend was talking about, in a couple weeks, if the trajectory keeps on going, that upstate, where things are not so bad, maybe construction and other things will begin to reopen. So things will open up.

My question to you Dr. Kraft, is what needs to stick? If we're going to do a few things -- continue to do a few things as the restrictions ease, what do we need to keep on doing, beyond just washing hands and not, you know, being super close to everybody?

KRAFT: Right. I think we need to continue to think about where our risk assessments are for our individual lives and our businesses, and everything that we do.

So what is a place that's quite germy, or what's a surface or, you know, an activity that is very difficult to keep clean? So then you have to make a choice. Do I want to participate in that? Or how do I mitigate those risks?

So I've talked to lots of individuals in different professions about how you can keep yourself safe. And I think we're going to -- we need to turn and pivot to start -- sort of start thinking about what I -- what role do I have to play? And then what role can I contribute, you know, either in coming alongside of others on keeping things clean?

So I think the things that are going to stick are really being aware of surfaces and how they can transmit infection, and then what we can do to basically avoid those surfaces, clean surfaces, or you know, inform others that those are -- we're going to get sick from.

CAMEROTA: Juliette, in case you were wondering what's going inside the Waffle House, we have a live shot now, where we can peer in.

KAYYEM: My favorite.

CAMEROTA: And we can see nothing. I mean --

BERMAN: I see some distorted bodies.

CAMEROTA: Yes, there are bodies in there. But I mean, I thought that it was going to -- we were going to see something a little bit more packed. But you know, people are going to go in. Of course they are. I mean, you know, people are itching to get out and get back to their normal lives.

One thing, Juliette I wanted to bring up. If there was any fallout after the president's bizarre press conference, where he suggested that maybe injecting disinfectant into people could be useful.

Somehow, you know, some people wondered if anybody would take him seriously. And we now have a little bit of an answer to that. Because the governor of Maryland, Larry Hogan, talked about the fallout that his state and people who man the emergency numbers have had to deal with because of that. So listen to him.



GOV. LARRY HOGAN (R-MD): I've raised concerns multiple times about conflicting messages. We had hundreds of calls in our -- in our hotline here in Maryland about people asking about injecting or ingesting these -- these disinfectants, which is, you know, hard to imagine that people thought that that was serious. But -- but people actually were thinking about this, was this something you could do to protect yourself?


CAMEROTA: Of course, they were thinking about it. When the president of the United States makes a suggestion, people listen.

KAYYEM: That's exactly it. I mean, it's amazing, isn't it? Presidents matter. And I think -- I think what we saw last week was both the president sort of, let's say, unmoored from reality and scientific reality, but maybe there's good out of this.

I've often said from the beginning, if the president can't be useful, let's make him irrelevant. And it sounds like he's going to get out of the lane that matters the most, which is the protection of life and the protection of our first responders, and maybe turn into a lane which also matters, which is economics, but probably is not going to kill people directly right now.

And I think if we -- if the president -- you know, if people, like governors begin to sort of try to isolate the president and his bad information, we will be in a better place. It's not ideal, but it's sort of what we've got right now.

CAMEROTA: Juliette Kayyem, Dr. Kraft, thank you both very much.

KAYYEM: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: So here's a development. Could a popular heartburn drug that you may even have in our medicine cabinet right now, could it help treat coronavirus patients? Details on this new clinical trial starting. Next.


BERMAN: This morning an interesting development in the research front. New York hospitals are studying a common heartburn drug as a possible treatment option for coronavirus. In the clinical trial, patients are getting a high dose of the drug along with hydroxychloroquine. CNN's Elizabeth Cohen has more.


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Could it be that a medicine on drugstore shelves might help in the fight against coronavirus? Doctors are trying to figure that out. Researchers in New York City are studying the active ingredient in

Pepcid, called Famotidine. It's because of something doctors observed in China.

DR. KEVIN TRACEY, NORTHWELL HEALTH: Patients who were sick with COVID but were taking Famotidine had a -- had a better outcome.

COHEN: Now doctors at Northwell Health are trying it out in a clinical trial.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You do the hard work.

COHEN: So far they've enrolled 187 patients and expect preliminary results in a few weeks.

TRACEY: There are many examples in the history of medicine where a drug that was designed for one purpose turns out to have an effect in another disease.

COHEN: But Dr. Tracey warns, don't rush out to buy heartburn medicine. The patients in the study are in the hospital, getting mega-doses intravenously, and it's not clear that it will work.

While the Northwell doctors work on Famotidine, Dr. Anthony Fauci Saturday had some hopeful words for another drug, Remdesivir, for animals with coronavirus.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASE: It was clinical benefit just reported a couple of weeks ago of SARS coronavirus 2 in rhesus macaques.

COHEN: A doctor at the University of Nebraska saying results on a major Remdesivir study in humans could be available in a week or two.

Also over the weekend, the governor of Florida held a press conference, where a doctor said 12 patients had done well on convalescent plasma. Antibodies from someone who's recovered from coronavirus are given to someone who's currently infected.

DR. SUNIL DESAI, ORLANDO HEALTH MEDICAL GROUP: And when we give it to that patient, we essentially are boosting their immune system to help fight this infection. This is going to be a huge game changer in our arm of (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to fight COVID-19.

COHEN: But doctors warn having 12 patients who recovered doesn't necessarily mean very much, since most COVID-19 patients do recover. A larger study with a comparison group would be necessary. Only the best science to get treatments that really work for COVID patients and their families, desperate for answers.

Elizabeth Cohen, CNN, reporting.


CAMEROTA: OK. Back with us now, we have Dr. Colleen Kraft, along with Dr. Suraj Saggar. He's the chief of infectious diseases at Holy Name Medical Center. Great to have both of you.

So I know that we're getting ahead of ourselves. I know that these clinical trials are just beginning. We're not at the end of them. But obviously, Dr. Saggar, people are desperate for some hope, OK, even if they can't, you know, get their hands on it today.

And so of some of these new developments that you heard in Elizabeth's piece or that you're just seeing around you --


CAMEROTA: -- is there a reason to think that some of these could be promising?

SAGGAR: I think we all need encouragement. And you know, full disclosure, I'm involved in several other clinical trials at my own medical institution. But I would urge caution. And the reason being is this.

A lot of these initial discoveries and medications are what we call retrospective or observational. So it's hard to make long, sweeping definitive claims when you're just looking back at patients' charts and saying, Well, gee, they took this medication. They seemed to get better.

You know, you can't really ascertain whether it's a cause -- causative effect or just an associative effect, which is why it's really important for the science to play out, to let the randomized clinical trials, let people have control group where they get placebo, and people get -- patients get the study drug and then move forward what we call prospectively in time before we can really make definitive claims.

You know, this is the first pandemic in the social media era. And the beauty of this is that scientists and doctors, we're sharing information very quickly. Of course, as information comes to the limelight, sometimes people, as we know, and it seems, can take the information and run with it.

So we really need to let the science play out. This -- this clinical trial is a welcome study of my colleagues in New York City. And we look forward to many clinical trials, then eventually finding which therapies, indeed, are effective and which, perhaps, are not.



BERMAN: Look -- go ahead, Alisyn. Sorry.

CAMEROTA: Well, just one quick question about the Pepcid one.


CAMEROTA: The Pepcid one, because that is something that people have lying around the house. If it's true that, in China, they figured out that, when they looked at patients' charts, that the patients who did best happened to have come in already on Pepcid, is there something anti-viral about Pepcid that would explain that?

SAGGAR: You know, it's the one thing. They mapped the genome of the virus. They -- very quickly, China was able to disseminate information across the globe.

And we realize that certain proteins that the virus depends upon to replicate itself -- remember, a virus is constantly looking for a host into which to replicate.

The certain enzyme, of protease, in particular, Famotidine, in very high doses -- again, not doses that a typical person would have in the house. This is intravenous form, so something you'd only get in the hospital for very severe reflux. It's a type of blood called an H-2 blocker. They found, at least in the test tube, there seems to be some antiviral activity with Famotidine.

So again, taking a drug that's used for something else, usually to decrease the acid and the ph in someone's stomach and realizing in very high mega doses it has an antiviral effect.

That's not unlike hydroxychloroquine, which is an anti-parasitic but also found to have some antiviral effect when given to zinc (ph). But again, we're still waiting to see if that plays out.

So again, what happens in that test tube or in vitro is oftentimes very different from what happens in vivo, or in life. Which is why it's really important for good, randomized clinical controls, prospective studies to be done. And we can't rely on just looking at charts retrospectively and making long, sweeping inferences.

BERMAN: Look, we should be encouraged that people are trying different things. That's encouraging. Whether or not to be encouraged by the results, we need to wait until all the studies are over. And I think it's really important to make those distinctions, which we are.

Dr. Kraft, I do want ask about something that Dr. Deborah Birx said over the weekend. She said we need a technological breakthrough in testing, and she's talking about antigen testing. Why do we need that breakthrough and what exactly is that?

KRAFT: So antigen testing is detecting the active form of the -- the virus or a part of the virus in the blood. And that is a little bit different than the virus testing we've been doing by swabs. And it's also different than the antibody testing we've been talking a lot about recently, which is sort of -- sort of seeing that the virus has been there.

And so what we're really looking for is something that we can easily spread out across the United States in a very easy manner to be able to, you know, have everybody tested at the point that they need to be tested.

And so if someone is getting a surgery, if somebody needs to go, maybe even to a dentist, you know, can we -- we want to -- that would be a breakthrough, to be able to test and screen for this type of disease, to be able to decrease transmission and sort of change the practice on how we -- how we bring people into certain -- certain places.

And so that's really what, I think, she's -- you know, she's talking about and what we're, you know, trying to understand about how we can change the course of -- of how we diagnose but also how we then respond to that diagnosis with -- with different infection prevention parameters.

BERMAN: All right. Dr. Birx, Dr. Saggar, thank you both very much for being with us this morning.

Officials in Southern California considering emergency action after scenes like this at beaches over the weekend.

Plus, we have a CNN exclusive. A conspiracy theory pinning the coronavirus outbreak on the U.S. Army, turning one family's life upside-down.



BERMAN: Growing concerns this morning about the food supply in the United States. The chairman of Tyson Foods says millions of pounds of meat will vanish from the system as the coronavirus pandemic forces more and more food processing plants to shut down. And that will lead to shortages in grocery store.

Tyson closed its pork plants in Waterloo, Iowa, and Logansport, Indiana, last week so workers could be tested for the virus.

And in Delaware and Maryland, two million chickens will be killed, or the word they used is "depopulated," because of a lack of employees at processing plants.

CAMEROTA: Nearly 55,000 Americans have been killed by coronavirus. But each state has a different plan for what to do this week. CNN has reporters across the country to bring you all the latest developments.


PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm in Ventura County, California. An extreme test over the weekend. At one point, 18 million Southern Californians under a heat advisory, but they were trying to maintain the rules of social distancing.

There was a patchwork of rules as to what beach you could go to and what beach you could not.

Here in Ventura County, you can see behind me, it was in bounds, just so long as you social-distanced. No big bonfires or gatherings.

But just a couple miles down the road, L.A. County, they had basically banned anybody from being at the beach. That stayed in effect. And the mayor, Eric Garcetti, chimed in on Twitter, basically saying they didn't want one sunshiny weekend to ruin a month of progress.

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Alex Marquardt in Washington, D.C., where U.S. officials are warning about a growing wave of cyberattacks and who may be behind them.

The Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the CDC, says it is coming under a mounting, growing wave of daily cyberattacks. One official familiar with the attacks says that the scale and scope means that they could only come from Russia or China.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration is calling out China for its attacks on the medical sector, specifically on researchers looking into a vaccine for the coronavirus.

We reached out to the Chinese embassy here in Washington, D.C. They declined to comment.

Meanwhile, the head of the national security division for the Department of Justice says in terms of a vaccine there is nothing more valuable today.