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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

When Will Country Have Enough Testing?; U.S. Surpasses One Million Coronavirus Cases. Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired April 28, 2020 - 16:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[16:00:01]

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And, today, they were good, but they weren't the same as they were yesterday, because that's the business. They want to try and win on November 3.

But we're doing a job the likes of which nobody's ever done. And I'm not talking about myself. I'm talking about people in the Army Corps of Engineers, where we built hospitals, where we built thousands and thousands of beds all over the country.

New York, what we did was incredible, 2,900 beds in a matter of days. What they've done is so incredible -- and FEMA, what they've done. And the doctors, and the professionals, and all of the people that you see me with all the time -- you know, these are great people and they've really done a great job.

And now, our country's opening up again and I think it's going to be very, very successful. I think that -- I mean, Larry is here, we talked about it and we talk about it all the time. I think that third quarter -- it's obviously a transition quarter but I think it's going to be OK, maybe better than OK. Larry thinks better than OK, I think even more so than I do. And then, I think fourth quarter will be great and I think next year is going to be a tremendous year for this country.

QUESTION: Mr. President, can I follow-up on the PPP loans, sir?

TRUMP: Jennifer?

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) Yes, on the PPP loans, can you say who's going to be responsible for that review that Secretary Mnuchin mentioned on the loans of up to $10 million (ph), who exactly will be responsible for it?

MNUCHIN: The SBA will be responsible and...

(CROSSTALK)

MNUCHIN: ... they'll be -- they have a team of people. They'll bring in additional people. And again, I want to assure the American public and the American taxpayers, we will make sure that these certifications were done accurately or the loans won't be forgiven and there will be liability. QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) Mr. President, Mitch McConnell today told (inaudible) Republicans on a phone call (ph) he does not want to fund infrastructure in a -- in a coronavirus stimulus bill. Do you have a reaction to that?

TRUMP: I think Mitch is looking at it, as I do to an extent, as the infrastructure -- he likes infrastructure, we all do. We have to rebuild our country. $8 trillion has been spent -- I wasn't in favor of it I can tell you that -- in the Middle East. $8 trillion, think of it. And yet, you wanted to fix a pothole in a roadway or in a highway in this country and you didn't do it because they didn't have the money, because so much money was spent in the Middle East.

Well, that's, as you know, a whole different story now. And we're going to do -- we want to do infrastructure, but a lot of people -- a lot of the Republicans would like to keep that as a separate bill. So we'll see how that works out, Jennifer (ph). We'll see.

Yes, please.

QUESTION: Mr. President, you said at the top of your remarks that you feel the worst of the pandemic is behind us, but without a treatment, without a vaccine and states now reopening, how can you be so sure?

TRUMP: Well, I think that, like other things, we're going to -- hopefully, we're going to come up with a vaccine. You never know about a vaccine but tremendous progress has been made -- Johnson & Johnson and Oxford, and lots of good things. You've been hearing the same things as I do.

Tremendous progress has been made, we think, on a vaccine. You always have to say "think" and then you have to test it. And that takes a period of time. But a lot of movement and a lot of progress has been made on a vaccine.

But I think what happens is it's going to go away. This is going to go away. And whether it comes back in a modified form in the fall, we'll be able to handle it. We'll be able to put out spurts and we're very prepared to handle it.

We've learned a lot. We've learned a lot about it, the invisible enemy. It's a bad enemy. It's a very tough enemy but we've learned a lot. It's in 184 countries, as you hear me say often. It's hard to believe. It's inconceivable.

It should have been stopped at the source, which was China. It should have been stopped very much at the source but it wasn't. And now, we have 184 countries going through hell.

But I think that a lot of good things are going to happen. And I really believe that fourth quarter is going to be, maybe, tremendous. And the next year, I think, has a chance to be really getting close to record setting, we hope so. We hope we can be back where we were. We had the strongest economy anywhere in the world and I hope we're going to be back there again.

Go ahead, please.

QUESTION: Mr. President, you've spoken about your friend who passed away. I was wondering if you've spoken to the families of anyone else who has lost loved ones to COVID-19, if there's any particular stories that have affected you.

TRUMP: Well, I have -- I have many people, I know many stories. I've spoken to three, maybe -- I guess, four families unrelated to me. I did, I lost a very good friend. I also lost three other friends, two of whom I didn't know as well but they were friends and people I did business with -- and probably almost everybody in the room did. And it's a -- it's a bad death. It's not a -- it's a bad thing. It grips on to some people.

Now, we found out that young people do extraordinarily well. That's why I think we can start thinking about schools. But of course, we're ending the school season. So you know, it wouldn't be -- probably, you'd be back -- you wouldn't be back for too long.

I noticed where Purdue University, a great school in a great state, wants to open and have students come in. I think that's correct. Some colleges -- I think I saw Harvard wants to have students come back in the fall. I would hope that they'd have students.

I think that the whole concept of computer learning is wonderful. But it's not -- tele-learning, but it's not the same thing as being in a classroom in a great college or a college of any kind -- college, university, there's nothing -- you can't replace that. So hopefully, they're going to be coming back. Young people do very well with this horrible scourge, they do very well.

So I am going to see you tomorrow and we'll have other things to talk about. We have a lot of interesting things.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: All right, President Trump talking to reporters in the East Room of the White House, I believe.

Welcome to THE LEAD.

You have been listening to President Trump talking about the latest in the coronavirus pandemic and the fight against it, as the U.S. reaches another grim milestone this afternoon.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States has now topped one million.

CNN's Kaitlan Collins is at the White House for us right now.

And, Kaitlan, President Trump again trying to shift the blame.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, and, Jake, it's notable that the president is taking questions in a place like this in the East Room.

These are events where he normally does not take questions. But this comes as there's been this internal divide over whether or not the president should bring those press conferences he had been holding to an end, after what happened on Thursday with the fallout over his remarks about potential treatments for coronavirus and what he said about household disinfectants and whatnot.

But the president is still finding a way to take questions for the second time today. You saw him there saying that he believes we are soon going to be at that benchmark that experts have said the U.S. needs to hit of five million tests per day.

Of course, a reminder, we have only just hit over five million tests overall. I believe the vice president said yesterday it was 5.4 million tests done in general in the United States.

And now the president is saying he hopes that they can up their daily basis of those tests. And, of course, the question is really going to be, how are they going to do that? Because we saw them lay out those new guidelines yesterday that didn't really specify exactly how states are going to be ramping up testing.

As governors have been saying, that's what's key to reopening their states. So, the question about this five million tests, the president did not put a deadline on when we're going to be hitting five million per day. But we should note, we are not close to that at all right now.

TAPPER: Right. And we're going to talk to Dr. Anthony Fauci later in the show about that and other issues pertaining to this.

Thank you, Kaitlan.

Joining me now is CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Sanjay, let's talk about the fact that these experts who have these projections of what the death toll and the infection rate will be, they have again revised the death toll, this time up to 74,000 by August.

Partly, they say, this is because states are relaxing social distancing guidelines. Is that right? In other words, are the governors making decisions that will theoretically lead to more deaths?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think that that's feeding into this, for certain, I mean, going up as high as it has.

Keep in mind, Jake, we have been talking about this particular model for some time. About a month ago, I think almost exactly a month ago, the toll was around -- the projection, I should say, for these tragic deaths around 90,000 people.

And then I think you and I both saw it go down to 60,000 68,000 people. And I think, at that point, the point was that the stay-at- home orders were having an impact, we were starting to see that impact. And now, as they start to get revised upwards, I think there's two

things that are feeding it, the point that you're making. If you start to relax something that we know has had a positive benefit, you're going to start seeing the numbers go the other way.

I think another thing, Jake, is, I follow these curves. We talked about flattening the curve, but it was still supposed to be a curve. And what you're seeing in some of these places is more of a plateau. So, it almost seems like, in some of these places, people saw a certain amount of benefit, and either are relaxing it, and we're not seeing the numbers start to come down as they should.

The curve is just staying plateaued for a while, which I think is also feeding into these models. It should be going down in some of these places. And it hasn't been as of yet.

The concern is that we're actually starting to see a little bit of an upward trend, as opposed to just a plateau as well. So, we get -- we're following that very closely. But I think those two things are really driving that increased, sad death toll.

TAPPER: Of course, there's a big difficulty here for leaders, whether President Trump or governors. How do you balance the economic catastrophe going on vs. the risk to lives?

And I guess the question I have for you is, would this type of spike that the modelers are projecting, would that occur no matter when economies begin to reopen, at least until there's a vaccine?

GUPTA: I think there would be an increase no matter when, because this is a contagious virus. It's still out there.

[16:10:05]

When we start opening things up, there are going to be people who get infected that otherwise would not, but not a spike like this, not like the spike that these IHME modelers are predicting. It's a significant spike.

It's a 25 percent spike, really, if you go from 60,000 to 75,000, roughly. So it's significant. So, I think your point being that the virus is still going to be out there is true. And you are going to have a calculation at some point.

But I think, Jake, what has struck me is that there were very specific gating criteria here that were based on the best data. We need to see a 14-day downward trend. I mean, the reason you say that is because you get down to a low level enough infection that you start bringing in what is called that R0, the likelihood you're going to spread it to somebody else, you want to bring that down to below one.

That's how you start to actually make this virus start to fizzle out. As we know, it's somewhere in around three right now, so if you can bring it down below one, you will start to see significant impact.

That's what the 14-day trend in part was based on. Many states aren't following that. I mean, that was federal guidelines, admittedly, but still pretty easy to follow -- I mean, pretty easy to read and to understand.

But, obviously, a lot of places are not following them.

TAPPER: Sanjay, I have been told that health experts would expect anywhere from 2 to 4 percent of those tested for the virus to be positive, but the numbers that we're seeing are much higher than that, 8 percent in California, 19 percent in Georgia, 35 percent in New York, 17 percent across the U.S.

GUPTA: Right.

TAPPER: Is this just a matter of who is being tested? What's going on here?

GUPTA: Yes, I think it's in part because we still aren't doing good surveillance testing.

People who are getting tested, for the most part, are going to be higher-risk people. And you are more likely to get positive results in that population.

But I think there's two things here. In order to get real prevalence -- like, out of 300 and, whatever, 45 million people in the country, how many people actually have this? We don't know. We don't know the answer to that question.

And, obviously, to really know it, you would have to test everybody, which we're not going to -- that would be very hard to do. But you can start to extrapolate what the number is likely to be in terms of prevalence.

And according to some of these studies, some of these antibody studies, you start to look at -- like, in New York, for example, I think they said the number was around 15 percent, in the city of New York, maybe closer to 20, 25 percent.

We don't know what it is in other places, but for the time being, the virus testing, instead of focusing on the numbers, which I get that people want to say, how many tests per day do you need to perform? What you really want to see is that the positivity rate drops below 10 percent.

That's not telling you how many people out there have it. It's telling you that you're starting to test enough. You're seeing enough negatives that -- meaning your penetration of testing is starting to feel more adequate.

In Georgia, where I live, we're closer to 20 percent, so double what we should be. And yet things are still reopening. It means that we haven't done enough testing.

TAPPER: All right, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thank you so much, as always

Coming up: the leading model revising its coronavirus death toll upwards. What's behind that? That's next.

Plus, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, will join me live in minutes.

Stay with us.

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[16:17:27]

TAPPER: This afternoon, the U.S. passed another grim, tragic milestone. More than 1 million in the nation have been confirmed infected with coronavirus. And the death toll in the United States from coronavirus now stands at 57,812. At this time a month ago, the death toll was 2,043.

For context, about 58,000 Americans died in the Vietnam War over a nine-year span. We're close to losing that many Americans to coronavirus in only three months. And now, the leading U.S. coronavirus model from the University of Washington has raised its projected deaths, predicting 74,000 lives will be lost in the U.S. just by August.

CNN's Erica Hill takes a look at how these new projection models show reopening states too early could bring deadlier outcomes.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASE: In my mind, it's inevitable that we'll have a return of the virus or maybe it never even went away. When it does, how we handle it will determine our fate.

ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At least a dozen states pushing forward as new models suggest the country could face a major setback if change comes too soon.

DR. CHRIS MURRAY, DIRECTOR FOR HEALTH METRICS, UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON: Our forecast now is for 74,000 deaths. There's a lot of unknown factors there. But our best estimate is going up.

HILL: The updated model often cited by the White House also predicting there could be longer peaks ahead if restrictions are eased too soon.

FAUCI: If we are unsuccessful or prematurely try to open up and we have additional outbreaks that are out of control, it could be much more than that.

HILL: Harvard researchers estimate the U.S. needs to test 5 million people a day by early June to safely begin reopening. The White House testing czar disagrees.

ADMIRAL BRETT GIROIR, WHITE HOUSE TESTING CZAR: So we don't believe those estimates are really accurate nor are they reasonable in our society. HILL: Many areas around the country looking to antibody testing to

better understand the spread. Nearly 15 percent of the thousands tested across New York state were positive for the antibodies. That number is closer to 25 percent in New York City.

COREY JOHNSON, SPEAKER OF THE NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL: A lot more people were getting infected before it actually started to show up.

HILL: In addition to random sampling, states and cities also testing first responders and front line workers for antibodies. As officials weigh the data, Americans are trying to figure out what the coming weeks and months could look like amid new warnings about the economy.

[16:20:03]

KEVIN HASSETT, SENIOR ECONOMIC ADVISER TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: I think by June, you know, I think that we're looking at numbers between 16 and 20 percent. The unemployment rate at that point will be something that's about as high as something that we haven't seen since, you know, the 1930s.

HILL: The president suggesting in a call with governors that schools should reopen even if just for a few weeks. Yet 39 states have already decided children will not return to the classroom this school year as concerns grow about a deepening divide. New York City trying to bridge the gap with nearly 250,000 iPads and Internet access. Meantime at hospitals, grocery stores, and on the streets of America, front line workers push ahead.

Along the East Coast today, grateful cities pausing for a flyover, to honor their sacrifice.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was a beautiful tribute. No better place than New York City for them to do this.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HILL: Jake, just another reminder, as you point out, we're reaching these grim milestones certainly in the number of Americans who have been lost to this virus. There are also those on the front lines who deserve the recognition for everything that they are doing to keep this country running on a daily basis, Jake.

TAPPER: Amen. Erica Hill, thanks so much.

This afternoon, President Trump claimed he is not sure if he was warned by intelligence officials about coronavirus in January or February. Despite U.S. officials telling "The Washington Post" they sounded the alarm in more than a dozen classified briefings known as the PDB, the presidential daily brief.

Remember, after those warnings allegedly happened in January and February, exactly two months ago today, in February, this is what then-acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, who by then had already been tested for coronavirus, this is what he told a conservative conference about why journalists were covering coronavirus and the administration's failures to adequately prepare.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICK MULVANEY, FORMER ACTING WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: The reason you're seeing so much attention to it today is that they think this is going to be what brings down the president. That's what this is all about. I got a note today from a -- from a reporter saying, what are you going to do today to calm the markets? I'm like, really, what I might do to calm the markets is tell people to turn their televisions off for 24 hours.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: How embarrassing.

As CNN's Kaitlan Collins reports for us again now, all of these new questions come as the president urges states to start trying to get back to normal.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Facing questions about what he knew and when, President Trump says he isn't sure if his intelligence briefings earlier this year included warnings about coronavirus.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have to check. I would have to check. I'm going to look as to the exact dates of warnings.

COLLINS: "The Washington Post" reports that Trump's daily intelligence briefings in January and February tracked the virus's spread and warned that China could be suppressing information all as he continued to publicly downplay the threat.

The questions about whether warning signs were ignored come one day after the White House released new guidelines about increasing testing.

TRUMP: We are continuing to rapidly expand our capacity.

COLLINS: Many governors have said for weeks they don't have enough tests or supplies needed to make the difficult decisions about reopening their states and need the federal government to step in. But the new White House game plan leaves the states in charge and says the federal government should only be used as a last resort.

TRUMP: The testing is not going to be a problem at all.

COLLINS: The president says he's confident the U.S. can double the testing it's doing now, though health experts have said his proposal for increasing testing falls short of what's needed.

While meeting with the Florida governor today, Trump said he's considering requiring coronavirus tests and temperature checks for those arriving on international flights. TRUMP: We're working with the airlines with that, testing on the

plane -- getting on the planes.

COLLINS: Today, the president is also expected to use the Defense Production Act to require meat processing plants to remain open.

TRUMP: We're working with Tyson.

COLLINS: Some of the country's biggest meat processing plants have been forced to close and stop operations after thousands of employees tested positive for coronavirus, raising questions about worker safety and possibly threatening the U.S. food supply. By signing the executive order, a White House official says Trump will declare those plants as critical to U.S. infrastructure and said the Labor Department is expected to issue guidance about potential liabilities.

TRUMP: We're going to sign an executive order today, I believe, and that will solve any liability problems where they have certain liability problems, where they had certain liability problems.

COLLINS: While touring the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota today, the vice president appeared to be the only person not wearing a mask as he visited with health care workers and plasma donors. For two weeks now, the Mayo Clinic has required all patients and visitors to wear masks or face coverings. While Pence was still there today, the clinic tweeted that it had informed him of its policy before he arrived.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[16:25:07]

COLLINS: Now, Jake, shortly after they sent out that tweet, the Mayo Clinic then promptly deleted it. We should note the vice president is getting tested for coronavirus on a weekly basis still, as is the president. But so far, his office has not responded about why he was not wearing a mask if they told him he should be.

TAPPER: All right. Kaitlan Collins, thank you so much.

Coming up, Dr. Anthony Fauci from the White House coronavirus task force will join me live. That's coming up next. Stay with us.

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[16:30:00]