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Some States Begin to Reopen Economies; New Heartburn Drug being Tested for Efficacy against Coronavirus; White House Reportedly Reconsidering Daily Coronavirus Task Force Briefings. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired April 27, 2020 - 08:00   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. And this morning we really are at an inflection point in the fight against coronavirus. The number cases worldwide is approaching 3 million, one-third of those cases here in the United States. The U.S. death toll is still rising, approaching 55,000. But this morning several states are beginning to ease some restrictions and reopen some businesses. At least 13 states will take some kind of action this week that includes opening restaurants and movie theaters in Georgia today, and curbside retail 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: So John, the question this morning is can these states reopen safely, and what does that look like? Does it look like this packed beach in southern California? Is this social distancing? Dr. Deborah Birx says Americans should expect social distancing to be with us for months. She also says widespread testing will take a technological breakthrough. As for how the White House is responding, CNN has learned the president will adjust his messaging, scaling back on those daily briefings and pivoting to the economy. The latest plan is to leave the medical advice to the experts after the president made a bizarre and dangerous suggestion about disinfectants on Thursday.

BERMAN: Joining us now, CNN chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. There you are. Sanjay, great to have you with us this morning. It was interesting to hear Deborah Birx say that social distancing will be with us throughout the summer. She didn't put an end date on it. She said social distancing is here to stay for a while. And she is sending that message as some states, and we had the map up before, are beginning to ease some of the distancing restrictions, some of them, and reopen some businesses, some of them.

So how can you have both things at once, Sanjay? What exactly does it mean in terms of what needs to stay in place and what can begin to relax a little?

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think it's tough to have both at the same time. And I don't like to be the one to say that, but I think it's the honest truth. And the reality is we're dealing with the virus is contagious. As you start to get people starting to go to these places again, and I was even hearing, Alisyn, your interview with the restaurant owner from Houston, I believe. I admire his sort of diligence and wanting to do things the right way. The problem is he's dealing with a very contagious virus. Did he address the ventilation in his restaurant? Will the virus be spreading around in other ways? How is he disinfecting all these surfaces, payless technology, all that. We're going to see new things.

The problem is we're still dealing with a very contagious virus. People don't know who has it in their body because you can have it and not have any symptoms or not yet have symptoms and still be spreading it, all these things that we know now. So I think what it really comes down to is at any point when we start to reopen we're going to have an increase in the number of people who become infected. I think the two questions are, one is how much are we willing to tolerate of that and how much are people going to be nervous, understandably, about that. And two is, how do we test? I know we keep talking about testing like I'm a broken record, you need testing at all these various locations, that's what widespread testing means, so that you can give people some confidence you're not harboring the virus in your body right. The people that you're going to be around aren't harboring the virus in their body right now. We're not near that right now. We will get to that point, but just if you look at the initial models, even they said reopening probably wouldn't be occurring until the middle of June, and we're sort of still in April here.

CAMEROTA: Sanjay, we've been talking this morning about how we're all engaged in this grand experiment that basically starts this week. Even if you're in a state that isn't reopening businesses, we're all obviously watching the 13 states that are, and we're about to find out if removing the barstools as Matt Brice just said he does, from the bar and placing people six feet apart, is that enough. Is all of our handwashing and our Purell-ing going to be enough? I don't envy you doctors because you're the ones that have to keep track of all of this, and you're going to see what happens in these 13, for lack of a better word, guinea pig states that are willing to take these risks and try it. And I think that people are holding their breath, but again staying inside is an unsustainable model forever.

GUPTA: It is, and I don't think it needs to be forever. I think that there will be a period of time, I think especially when we can start giving people confidence that they can go out because they've been tested and they're negative. I got tested. When I was negative, it certainly did give me some degree of confidence. It's a snapshot in time, so it's likely that people will need to be tested on some regular interval to keep that, for a period of time, until we have good therapeutics or a vaccine. I think that that's going to be a way of life.


But Alisyn, the other thing is, going back to Houston, so it was a good example, what is the sort of clinical trial here for guinea pigs? The reality is, as you know, from the time of exposure to the time someone might get sick can be up to 14 days, that's the incubation period, and then eve after that it might be another week before they go into hospitalization when they really start to get counted. So we're talking three to four weeks from now that we'll start to see the ramifications of what's happening today and this week. And during those three to four weeks, you know what's going to happen? People are going to say, hey, it's not that bad. It looks OK in these states. They're not having an uptick in cases. They're not going to have an uptick in cases yet. That is the nature of this virus and how it behaves in the body. So we've got to be steadfast in this. And I'm not going to enjoy having to be the one keep beating the drum on that because people are going to say you're just inciting fear, but we know some things to be true about this virus.

BERMAN: To say one thing, Sanjay, you took a test and you tested negative. You'll have to test again in a week or two weeks. You're still going to the hospital. Someone like you especially, it's not just one and done. You have to do it and do it regularly. That's why the volume of tests need to go up so much.

Sanjay, if we can, I want to talk about a couple of medical developments over the last few days. There was a doctor who wrote in the "New York Times" about silent hypoxia, and this has to do with the COVID pneumonia that so many people are going with and the unique characteristics of it. Can you explain what that's about?

GUPTA: Yes, we have an idea of what typical pneumonia, either from bacteria or some viruses looks like. We know how patients sort of behave. They start to become very air hungry and feel like they're more gasping for breath in situations like that. And I think what Dr. Leviton was writing about was the fact that many of these patients are coming in not acting that way. When you put a pulse oximeter on them, which measure the blood oxygenation, oftentimes it would be frightening low, and yet the patient was still talking on their phone or able to have conversations with people, did not look like someone who had a blood oxygenation that low.

So what would explain that? Maybe not the lungs, is there something else going on in the body? Some suggested maybe it's the blood itself that this virus is affecting, reducing the blood's ability to absorb as much oxygen. We don't have evidence of that yet. There's people who are studying that. But there's also evidence that instead of putting someone on a breeding machine, because we know there's a lot of patients who are going on these breathing machines and having a difficult time coming off, simply putting the patient on their stomach or on their side and increasing the ability for the lower parts of their lungs to actually get oxygenated seemed to have a significant impact. It's called proning the patient, for example, putting the patient prone instead of supine.

So we're learning as we go along, but I think that's what Dr. Leviton was writing about and others have written about this as well, that this is behaving unusually for a typical pneumonia. There's things that are making us rethink this and treat it differently.

CAMEROTA: Also tell us about this new clinical trial that is beginning at Northwell Hospitals today, I believe, and that is the common household antacid of Pepcid and how that may be helping patients not have as bad a version of coronavirus.

GUPTA: Well, this is a trial that's starting, and I'll preface this by saying as I said a few times before on some of these things, this is really early stuff. We wouldn't be talking about this sort of trial at all were it not for this pandemic. But this was based on an observation, an association in China that they saw where some patients, typically actually poor patients taking this version of a heartburn medication, famotidine, which is a cheaper version versus Prilosec type medication, and these doctors in China were seeing at least observationally those patients tended to do better on this heartburn medication than other patients. So this has been the inspiration to say, hey, let's try this here. And by the way, not just the oral version of it that you can buy in stores, but let's actually concentrate it into an IV form and give quite a bit higher dose and see if that makes a difference.

The thinking is, it's not totally unfounded, the thinking is heartburn medication and a virus, there actually is a connection because these heartburn medications often work by blocking certain receptors in the body. Turns out one of the receptors that they block is also one of the receptors the virus uses to get inside the body. So perhaps there is a rationale for this, but it's really early. And I think just as we were talking about the last segment, I know a lot of people are going to out and start buying this heartburn medication. We don't know this works, and I don't want to suggest that it does. They're going to study it, and it is going to take some time to get those results.


BERMAN: It's good that studies are happening, but we need to wait until there are actually results from reliable research studies before we go and make any conclusions. Sanjay, thanks for being with us. We'll talk to you again in a little bit.

GUPTA: You got it. Thank you.

BERMAN: CNN has just learned that the White House might scale back its Coronavirus Task Torce meetings. It comes as the West Wing weighs whether or not to cancel the public briefings as well. CNN's John Harwood live in Washington with the details. What does this mean, fewer task force meetings all together?

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're going to have to wait and see how this actually plays out over time both on the briefing and the task force component. We know that the briefings have become increasingly counterproductive for the president, as dramatized by his remarks on disinfectant last week. As for the task force itself, you've got to wonder exactly what they're doing at this point given the fact that they've pushed the most important element in recovery right now, which is the testing component, testing contact tracing to enable states to reopen, they pushed that down to the states. They're providing some assistance, and Dr. Birx has talked about identifying laboratory resources, and they did use the Defense Production Act to enhance the production of testing swabs. But if that is a state responsibility, what exactly is the task force going to add to that? Certainly, the states have got their shutdown orders and their plans

for lifting those shutdown orders, and the White House is going to have to make a judgment as to what the utility is of continuing to have those daily task force briefing

BERMAN: So John, explain to me what exactly we've seen from the president over the last 48 hours, because it's been unusual. He had the whole thing where he claimed that his advice or suggestion that you inject yourself with disinfectant might get rid of the virus. Then he tweeted about Nobel prizes, he meant Pulitzers, and that was sarcastic, too. And then he's got people talking to the "New York Post," bragging about how he's skipping lunch. What's going on here?

HARWOOD: What's going on is you have a president who is tormented by how bad this is going. Remember, he is stuck on the idea that just a couple of months ago, he was running for reelection with this robust economy. All that has been blown out of the water. You've got a public health catastrophe, an economic catastrophe, and look what happened to his poll numbers over the last couple of months. He has now lost the rally around the president effect that he had at the beginning of the crisis. He is behind by a significant margin to Joe Biden, the likely Democratic nominee, nationally. He's also behind in polling averages in five out of the six battleground states. His position has deteriorated.

And after there was initial belief that he was going to be able to command the stage with these daily briefings and make his case to the American people, we've seen that he harmed himself by saying things that don't make any sense like he did last week. And that performance on disinfectant last week has almost made it toxic for him to talk about the virus itself, which is why they intend to shift more to discussion of the economy, although the news is not particularly promising on that front at the moment.

BERMAN: John Harwood, thank you very much.

On that very note, White House Economic Adviser Kevin Hassett expects the U.S. will see unemployment rate comparable to the Great Depression. We're going to speak to White House trade adviser Peter Navarro, next.




KEVIN HASSETT, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISER: This is the biggest negative shock that our economy I think has ever seen. We're going to be looking at an unemployment rate that approaches rates that we saw during the Great Depression.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Striking prediction from key White House adviser Kevin Hassett, this as the White House is planning to shift President Trump to more economy focused events in the coming days and weeks.

Joining me now is Peter Navarro. He's the Director of the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, and a White House economic adviser. Peter, always great to have you on NEW DAY. Thanks so much for joining us this morning.

PETER NAVARRO, DIRECTOR OF THE OFFICE OF TRADE AND MANUFACTURING POLICY: Good morning, John. And my brother Hassett is all gloom and doom, but let me give you some good news, maybe some breaking news.

Today, we're going to have, who I call the 21st century Rosie the Riveter, come to the White House, a real American heroine who won the name Kim Glas. She runs the National Council of Textile Organizations.

About six weeks ago, I started working with her group to repurpose these factories that were making things like t-shirts into making mask and gowns. Now, they're into swabs and things like that. Groups come in here to talk about all of that.

And what I see from the micro level is this most rapid industrial mobilization since World War II. So, a lot of good things are going on in the economy at the micro level.

BERMAN: Okay. Do you think Hassett is wrong?

NAVARRO: I think that from the macro perspective, I'll let Kevin, I'll let Steve Mnuchin, I'll let Larry Kudlow look at that, but what I'm seeing now --

BERMAN: You called it gloom

NAVARRO: If I may.

BERMAN: You called it gloom and doom, though. So, I'm just curious if you're suggesting that it's too gloom and doom.

NAVARRO: I think what we need now is optimism as we begin to try to get America back to work and what I'm suggesting to you, John, is what I see from the micro level.

I see essential industries still working. Our aerospace industry has been at work the whole time, creating the defense weapons we need in order to protect ourselves.

We've seen Walmart booming at this point. We've seen Amazon booming. We see the economy working in certain sectors. But we also see a lot of pain and suffering, which is why we need to move forward on this together.

This is going to be an important next three to four months. Let's see how this ramp up goes.

BERMAN: Let's talk about the next three to four months and reminding people that there are 26 million people roughly who've lost their job in the last six weeks.

Deborah Birx says that social distancing will be here throughout the summer. How realistic do you think that is?

NAVARRO: John, I think based on this pandemic, we're going to change our behaviors now in a lot of ways permanently. When I think about social distancing, all -- what I think about is just being mindful of how viruses spread.

It's keeping certain amounts at a distance. It's washing your hands all the time. So, I think until we get a foolproof vaccine for this and other viruses, I think America is going to change the way we operate.


NAVARRO: But these structural changes as we move through them, I think I've already seen this, they're going to make us more innovative. I think they are ultimately going to make a stronger. There's going to be industries that rise, there's going to be some that decline relative to those other industries.

But overall, I think America is going to be strong because of the way we innovate.

BERMAN: What industries are in trouble?

NAVARRO: Well, obviously the cruise ship industry is certainly one. But again, I mean, if we can figure out a way to make that work, fine. But I think, you know, in terms of innovation, the medical sector is booming, because obviously we have to develop vaccines and tests and masks and all sorts of medicines.

BERMAN: So, Peter, cities and states are struggling right now. How do you feel about the call for many cities and states across the country for direct Federal aid as part of the next major package?

NAVARRO: That one is above my paygrade. I'll let Mitch McConnell and Steve Mnuchin and the President work all of that.

BERMAN: But you studied economics for a long time. I just want to know what you think. Do they need -- how much do you think they need this money?

NAVARRO: But it's not my lane here at the White House. I used to be a macro economist doing forecasts. That's not my place here at the White House.

What my place is, is the supply chain and again, from a micro level as I look at the economy, from the ground up, I'm seeing good things. That's what I can tell you, John.

BERMAN: Okay, let's talk about the supply chain then and let's talk about the things you're focused on. How much testing -- and I think you need to know the big picture before you talk about the small picture.


BERMAN: How much testing do you think this country needs for the economy to open at the level that it needs to?

NAVARRO: Well, let me say two things there. First of all, how much they need is a Deborah Birx question, but whether or not we're able to produce the amount of test we need, that's more in my domain.

And here's what I can tell you. If we go back five weeks or so, to the ventilator issue that people's hair were on fire, Governor Cuomo was like, we need 30,000 ventilators.

Well, what have we done? We put a path forward now that by June, we're going to have over 100,000 ventilators produced in this country. We'll have more than we need. We'll be able to export to our friends to help them out.

I think the same trajectory we're seeing now, in terms of testing -- and don't forget, John, there's two types of testing we need to do.


NAVARRO: One is the virus testing, but also the antibodies testing. One of the things I'm very concerned about right now, with the antibodies testing is we're seeing an influx of poor quality Chinese tests coming into the market and that both threatens the American people --

BERMAN: Why don't you build your own then? Why don't you build your own?

NAVARRO: Well, we are doing that and there's numerous companies as we speak, moving through the F.D.A. process, but my point here, John is that that we will be able to ramp up rapidly in the testing just as we did in ventilators.

So, we shouldn't get fixated on where we are now. We should look to where the puck is going to be and good things are going to happen on that as well.

There are a lot of other things we need. We need gowns. We need gloves. We need masks. We need to be ready for the fall.

BERMAN: When you say Governor Cuomo's hair was on fire on ventilators, you know who else had hair on fire in February on making sure we had enough supplies? You laugh because it is you, Peter Navarro, you did.

NAVARRO: Indeed. And you know what? We got those ventilators, John. I spent hours without sleep working with 12 different companies to get those. So, John --

BERMAN: But a lot of people early on were saying we need much more in supplies.

NAVARRO: Of course.

BERMAN: In terms of testing, had we begun what you are doing now at the end of February, when you first called for it -- when you first called for it, would we be in a better position now on testing?

NAVARRO: But that's a false assumption. We were working on testing way back then. This -- the testing is a more complex supply chain. It's a more complex problem than ventilators.

I mean, look at General Motors. I mean, when we put the Defense Production Act on them, 17 days later, they stood up a factory and started producing the first ventilators in Kokomo.

BERMAN: Okay, but if you had put --

NAVARRO: You can't move quite that fast with testing, but I just want to make it clear, John, that we were working on that from day one.

BERMAN: But you could have - you could have ordered swabs to be produced the first week of March, instead of waiting for the flock of swabs last week, right?

NAVARRO: See -- well, again, let's just take the swabs issue. One of the projects I worked on is I had Phebe Novakovic, the CEO of General Dynamics was kind enough to take swabs reverse engineer them and figure out a way to use 3D printers to make them.

And now we have waiting in the wings 3D printer form ready to do that. So, again, we have people coming to the White House today, John, who have helped us solve the problem on swabs as well.


NAVARRO: So again, give us a little credit for seeing the problem and trying to fix the problem. We can quibble about --

BERMAN: Well, let's listen to Larry Hogan -- let's listen to Governor Larry Hogan this weekend, just about the issue of testing.


GOV. LARRY HOGAN (R-MD): We spent about a month with my wife's help getting a half a million tests from South Korea, which was going to save thousands of lives in our state, but I'm not sure it should have been that difficult.


BERMAN: I'm going to go through a bunch of questions with you quickly here, Peter, because we're running out of time. But why was -- what did Governor Hogan do wrong to not have the test that he wants today?

NAVARRO: I can't -- I have no insight into what Governor Hogan does or does not do. I have no idea.

BERMAN: What evidence do you have, if any, that people are inflating the mortality rate to make the President look bad?

NAVARRO: So, first I heard of that, not my lane, John, next question.

BERMAN: Okay, so you have no evidence --

NAVARRO: That's not even on my radar screen.

BERMAN: Okay. The President retweeted something over the weekend suggesting that people were making it seem like more people are dying or it's deadlier somehow to hurt him electorally. But you've see no evidence of that yourself?

NAVARRO: I'm focused on the supply chain, John, that's the first one I've heard of that.

BERMAN: You also in the last time you were on NEW DAY, we did have a spirited, I think, informative discussion about hydroxychloroquine, which is something you're focused on as well.

I just want you to take this morning on where things stand given that the F.D.A. put out its new guidance on Friday, warning people not to use it outside clinical trials and with hospital guides.

NAVARRO: Sure, John, the F.D.A. announcement was absolutely no change in policy. We've said from the beginning that this is the decision between patients and doctors and a discussion of the risks involved are appropriate.

Here's the chessboard I see. We've got to date almost 40 studies which show some kind of possible therapeutic or prophylactic efficacy. The two studies that came out last week, one from Brazil, one from the Veterans Affairs were both poorly flawed in their own ways.

The Brazil study used doses that were two and three times higher than the F.D.A. recommended. The V.A. study was used very late stage on older people.

I think, if I had to guess -- if I had to guess what the studies are going to show from New York and Detroit, it's going to indicate that this may work to reduce viral load and length of hospital stay.

The quicker you give it to people early in their symptoms, and the younger they are with a fewer comorbidities that would be my layperson's guess.

But I think what's important, John is, let's see what the results of those studies are.

BERMAN: Let's wait. Let's wait for the studies. We have some New York.

NAVARRO: Let's do, but we will have a spirited discussion when it comes out.

BERMAN: Absolutely. I did talk to William O'Neill from Detroit yesterday, and he says, he does not have any information yet. We will wait and see to hear from him.

Peter Navarro, thanks so much for being with us.

NAVARRO: Nice to talk to you, John.

BERMAN: All right schools over the United States trying to figure out how to reopen the classrooms when it's safe to do so.


JILIAN BALOW, WYOMING STATE SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION: Not only is this not a one size fits all, it's a brand new size for everyone.


BERMAN: More on what that could mean, next.