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White House On Testing, Federal Government Is A Supplier Of Last Resort; Key Model Projects Higher U.S Death Toll As States Reopen; White House Adviser Says, U.S Facing Great Depression-Era Jobless Rates. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired April 28, 2020 - 10:00   ET


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN NEWSROOM: As the supplier of last resort.


And new this morning, the Javits Convention Center in New York, which was converted into a field hospital and treated more than a thousand patients, will complete its mission, we're told, on May 1st, according to the Pentagon. The remaining patients are now being transferred to local hospitals, a sign of progress there.

First, let's get to CNN's Martin Savidge in Atlanta. Martin, we're a couple days into relaxing of the social distancing rules. How is it progressing?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's definitely been a slow process. I mean, there are a number of businesses that are reopened now today inside this shopping center where we are. And you barely are seeing a few customers walk through the door. So this is going to be something that takes some time.

You know, there have been about a dozen states so far that have come forward with either plans to reopen or have started reopening. Every one of those plans is completely different, and they're approaching those re-openings in different ways.

Georgia though has been the most aggressive, as we know. Last Friday, they opened up the services industries, bowling alleys and gyms. And then yesterday, they allowed some people to dine in at a restaurant and can also go to a movie theater.

Let's see how the numbers match up when you look at where this state is with the coronavirus. You've got over 24,200 confirmed cases. The numbers continue to go up. This is the concern. And then we have 995 deaths, very likely today, will go over 1,000.

So compare and contrast it now to the State of Kentucky. Andy Beshear, they're back -- it was on March 25th where he issued the program, Healthy at Home. That was their shelter in place. That was over a week before the State of Georgia implemented its program of shutting down.

And right now, if you take a look at what they've got planned for reopening as of Monday, a gradual restart and reopening of the healthcare industry, not the retail industry. In other words, you can go visit your doctor, you can have minor procedures done, you can also go to the dentist, the chiropractor, and you can go to the optometrist. But it's all focused medically there. Now, you take a look at the numbers as far as infections and deaths. In Kentucky, 4,146 confirmed, deaths are 213.

So, again, all these mixed numbers and mixed indications and mixed approaches to reopening, it's confusing and it's clearly adding to why things in Georgia and elsewhere are, well, the public slow to react.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN NEWSROOM: Martin Savidge, thank you for that reporting.

Let's talk about Texas and Louisiana, as those states prepare to reopen many businesses as early as this Friday.

SCIUTTO: CNN's Ed Lavandera, he joins us now from Dallas. So, Ed, as you know, in some places as the restrictions are relaxed, folks don't respond immediately well to that. They're taking it maybe even more slowly than some state officials. What are you seeing in Dallas, what are you seeing in Oklahoma?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, let me just give you kind of the big picture of what will be happening here this week in Texas. The governor is going to let the stay-at-home order that is set to expire on April 30th, this Thursday, expire. And that means that starting Friday, new roun of businesses can reopen. That would include retail stores, malls, restaurants, movie theaters. All of those businesses can reopen but only at a 25 percent capacity.

Now, there's some debate on exactly how all of that is going to be enforced, but that's what we know as of now. What is not included -- it also include libraries and museums and people can play outdoor sports in groups no larger than four.

What is not included is hair salons, barber shops, bars, gyms. The governor here in Texas says that could be revisited in mid-May.

And if you look at the graph here of the coronavirus cases in Texas, that stay-at-home order was put into place on April 2nd. The number of cases has continued to go up, and that is what many big city leaders here in the state in particular have a great deal of concern about, that this is going to spark a new round of coronavirus cases spiking up here in the state.

And then when you contrast this with what is happening in Louisiana, of course, we've reported extensively on how New Orleans in particular has been a hot spot. The governor there has extended the stay-at-home order until mid-May, but he has eased some restrictions saying that stores can offer curbside pickup and that restaurants can offer outdoor seating, although wait staff won't be able to serve those people sitting outside at those tables.

And as I mentioned, that stay-at-home order, which was put into place on March 23rd, and cases continue to go up, but in both of these states, officials are saying they believe they're starting to see a flattening of the curve.

But Jim and Poppy, as I mentioned, there is a great deal of trepidation as to exactly how all of this is going to work. Just real quick, we're here in a parking lot with this popular movie theater in Northeast Dallas, Alamo Draft House.


This company is saying that they have no plans to reopen their movie theaters this weekend. So just because businesses can reopen doesn't mean they will. Jim and Poppy?

SCIUTTO: Listen, everyone has decisions to make. States do, cities do, businesses do and people do. Ed Lavandera in Dallas, thanks very much.

HARLOW: So let's go down to Southern California, where governor was clearly unhappy with images like the ones we're about to show you. Images of, look at that, thousands of people crowding on the beaches this weekend. Gavin Newsom saying, this is exactly what people should not be doing.

SCIUTTO: CNN's Stephanie Elam is in Newport Beach with more. Wow, that's quite a change. I mean, it was only a week or two ago when we just saw the beaches absolutely empty. What's happening there?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I have to tell you, Jim and Poppy, I feel a little bit like I'm in the twilight zone driving down here, because almost everyone down here does not have on a mask. People are standing in groups talking and they're back surfing. That part is like the least of the concern.

And I walked by a few of the shops here. A few people are in there, no masks on. Everyone working in all the shops that I've seen have on masks. It's very, very shocking. And this is the reason why the governor of California, Gavin Newsom, came out and said that, listen, we are just weeks away from easing some of the restrictions that we've had in place here, longer than any other state in the nation. But this is all going to be based upon the data, and the data is based upon California's behavior.

And right, now he was saying what he saw over the weekend, it got really hot here. I was driving just to see what people were doing on Saturday. In my car, it got up to 93 degrees. But because it got so hot, people came out here to Orange County, to Newport Beach, where they could get on the beach. And that's where you saw all these people heading out onto the water.

Same thing up north where I drove by. Ventura County is almost right as you got to the border of Ventura and Los Angeles County. You can see that people were out there because Los Angeles County, San Diego County, those beaches remained closed. Ventura and here, Newport Beach, Orange County, they opened up.

So now here in Newport Beach, the city council is going to meet later today to discuss maybe closing the beaches down for the next three weekends or perhaps closing off the roadways that would lead out here, but this is why the governor, very concerned that people were coming out, saying, listen, if we don't shut down, we'll have to stay in the situation much longer, so stay at home. Poppy and Jim?

HARLOW: And it can just reverse all the progress that was by California early on by taking those actions early. Steph, thanks for that reporting.

SCIUTTO: We're in the midst of big experiments here. It affects social experiments going forward to see how this works.

In less than an hour, President Trump will meet with his ally, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, at the White House.

HARLOW: A 30-day stay-at-home order remains in effect in the state until May 1st. Governor Desantis has not yet put a date on when his state will reopen. The White House has been criticized over its pandemic response. DeSantis has said the federal government gave Florida more than enough testing supplies, more than 32,000 coronavirus cases though in that state so far.

SCIUTTO: Well, the White House now says that the federal government should only be a last resort as states scramble to get additional testing. Remember, of course, the president, Poppy, said repeatedly, anybody who wants a test could get a test.

HARLOW: Drew Griffin is here. So, Drew, does this new plan go far enough in helping the states deal --

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Poppy, the new plan really isn't a plan. It is a report card, the government grading itself on how well it's done in providing testing. An eight-part plan of which seven of those parts are checked off as if they've done a great job. And the eighth being basically that states will have to fend for themselves when it comes to supplies with the additional help that the federal government may help.

I feel like a broken record because we've been reporting this for weeks and weeks and weeks. The federal government seems to believe that just supplying or making sure the big corporate labs with enough gear is good enough while we're hearing from hospital systems in states across the country that they cannot fulfill all the tests that they need to because they don't have reagent chemicals, swabs, vials, or in some cases, the lab capacity to do the work.

Should the president and the White House task force benefit, they did do one service. They mapped out every single lab and its testing abilities as a kind of a guide for where the states could go to get their tests fulfilled, but there doesn't seem to be what the states really want, is some kind of overall federal management of the supplies so you don't have all of these states, hospitals and labs competing for what is a very restrictive supply line chain.

HARLOW: Of course. Of course, they want it streamlined. Drew, thank you for that update. So the race is on also to find a vaccine for COVID-19. Scientists at Oxford University in England say they're ready to conduct a pretty large clinical human trial by the end of May after their tests showed their vaccine effective in monkeys.


SCIUTTO: A hopeful sign, but, listen, you need the data overtime. Is it too optimistic to have a timeline at this time for an effective vaccine?

CNN Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen takes a look.


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: From Tokyo to Quebec, from Iowa to New Orleans, to Australia, scientists in a race to come up with a vaccine to end the scourge of COVID-19, more than 80 vaccine developers in all according to the World Health Organization.

At lightning speed, a vaccine group even suggesting that the vaccines be manufactured before they have been fully test. The so far, seven vaccines are in human trials.

On March 16th, a study volunteer was vaccinated in Seattle as part of a trial sponsored by the National Institutes of Health. Two other vaccine companies followed, one Chinese and one American. And then researchers at Oxford University in England vaccinated their first patient on April 23rd.

SARA GILBERT, OXFORD UNIVERSITY: What we're doing with any vaccine is trying to trick the immune system into thinking that there's a serious infection here that the immune system needs to respond to.

COHEN: Different vaccines work in different ways, as Dr. Anthony Fauci, Head of the National Institutes of Allergies and Infectious Diseases.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: We're using everything from genetic immunization with RNA and DNA vaccines, viral vectors, live attenuated proteins, nano particles, et cetera.

COHEN: And that's a good thing, said Dr. Peter Hotez, a vaccine expert at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

DR. PETER HOTEZ, BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: By having that diverse array of different technologies, it increases the likelihood that you'll get one or two or three that will reach the finish line.

COHEN: That's right. Most of these vaccines likely won't work and those that do will take a while to be tested.

HOTEZ: Dr. Fauci has charged us with doing this in a year to 18 months. That would be a record. And we're trying our best. COHEN: Hotez, who is also working on a vaccine, thinks it will take significantly longer than that to complete human trials. Researchers spend many months giving vaccines to their human study subjects to make sure they're safe and effective.

With dozens of companies developing vaccines, it's possible some might be overly optimistic.

HOTEZ: You may think they're talking to the general public. What they're really doing is talking to their shareholders and investors. So try to stay calm.

You want to be able to kind of distance yourself from a lot of the hype.

COHEN: Settle in for a long and remember --

FAUCI: We're dealing with an unprecedented global health problem. If we don't get control of it, we will never get back to normal.


COHEN: Now, to be clear, even though this Oxford University trial is getting a lot of attention, they just started human trials last week. They were the fourth to start human trials, not the first. There is no reason to think that any one trial is way ahead of the other. Poppy, Jim?

SCIUTTO: Patience. We all need patience with this. Elizabeth Cohen, thanks very much.

HARLOW: Still to come, the fate of the U.S. economy, the dire warning from a top White House economic adviser who says we are facing jobless numbers not seen in this country since the great depression.

SCIUTTO: Plus, the crucial role of contact tracing. We're going to speak to an expert about why it's so important. This is, of course, discussing people who have been infected and who they've had contact with. It's not easy.



HARLOW: So this morning, a new model showing the predicted U.S. deaths is actually higher than it was just a week or so ago. Dr. Chris Murray, he's at the University of Washington, says this toll could hit 74,000 by August. Listen to this.


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Do you think that these states are opening too early, too soon?

DR. CHRIS MURRAY, DIRECTOR, INSTITUTE FOR HEALTH METRICS AND EVALUATION AT UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON: I certainly do. If you're focused on trying to protect people's health, then the answer is, absolutely. It's a safer strategy to get the number of infections in the community down to a really low level and then testing and contact tracing and isolation can work.


SCIUTTO: Joining us now, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, of course, CNN's Chief Medical Correspondent. And, Sanjay, I wonder if the question is, are some states ready to relax these restrictions and others or not based on the prevalence of cases, population densities, et cetera? What do you think the right answer is?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you can look at the data on the country as a whole and state-by-state as well, and there's really no states that are probably at the point now where they can say they're absolutely doing adequate testing and have all the necessary testing, you know, infrastructure going forward, including the contact tracing, which is something Dr. Murray has talked about for some time.

I should point out, having said that, that these models are still just models and they're always wrong. Some are useful, but they're always wrong, and Dr. Murray would say that as well. Remember a month ago, the projected death toll in the United States from that same model was 90,000, and then it went down to 68, then 60. It sort of bounced around.

It shows us two things. One is that, in some ways, we were doing better than I think the original models predicted in terms of physical distancing, especially in the southern states for a while, and now that those restrictions are starting to get lifted, the models show the numbers going up.

People may still not go out just because they can go out. I mean, you look at some of the polling around this, and people are still worried about this, so we'll see what these models do.


But you need to have adequate testing in place. And what that means -- people keep hearing that term, but what does that mean? That means, for you guys, as you, maybe over the next few months, start going back to work, how do you get tested? How do you get tested regularly? How do you use that information to determine whether or not you're going to go into a place of work, a business setting where you may not be able to keep physical distance? How do you have the confidence to do that? We have to have the testing in place. That's what it reliably means and we're not really there at any point this the country yet. We're way behind. We've been behind. As drew said earlier, I feel like a broken record too talking about that same thing, but it's the truth.

HARLOW: But what is, Sanjay, top of mind for you guys right now? I mean, you guys have Bill Gates on the town hall on Thursday night. He obviously wrote that really interesting piece over the weekend about a modern pandemic. What is top of mind now?

As you see a lot more Americans leaving their home, going to packed beaches in California, where is your head on all of this?

GUPTA: Well, I think it is worth pointing out, and we talked to Bill Gates about this last time as well, that we have done some things that are worth, you know, noting in a positive way. I mean, five months ago, nobody knew what this was, and now in the United States, we are all living an incredibly different life. Some people thought it could never happen in this country. And yet we've been doing it.

So, you know, it is worth touting those achievements as well. And people still recognize the severity of this, even in states where they are starting to open up. They are still saying, look, I'm nervous, I want to stay at home, I see that there's light at the end of the tunnel but we're not there yet. So I think that that's good.

But top of mind is, with regard to testing, we keep using absolute numbers. We've done 5 million tests. We are this many ahead of South Korea. And I think that that's not the right way to look at this. There is a right amount of testing to do, not necessarily a number of testing. And to get to the point where you feel like you've done enough testing, you really want to see 10 percent positivity rate.

Again, that's a model, but I think we have the numbers here. You can look at the positivity rates in the United States. So out of a hundred tests, if you're getting back more than ten that are positive, you're not testing enough still. That's basically what that means.

In Georgia, where I live, we're close to 20 percent. We're not there yet. In New York, where you live, Poppy, 35 percent, you're not there yet. California is close, but they have to be able to sustain that. But as a country, we're closer to 20 percent. South Korea may have done fewer tests than us, but their positivity rate is 2 percent, so a whole magnitude lower. That's what we need to be getting and make it really reliable and practical for people.

And also they're concerned about accuracy of tests. Some of these tests have a 15 percent false negative rate, the test for the virus. That's way too high, obviously. I mean, if you do a blood glucose test, you're pretty sure that that blood glucose number that came back is within a very small range of accuracy. We're not there in terms of accuracy of tests and we're not there in terms of availability yet.

SCIUTTO: And, of course, a false negative means you would be missing infections, right? You can test people, think that they're safe and they're not and they still go out and infect people.

Listen, Dr. Gupta, we have so many questions for you every time, but thanks so much for getting into it for us.

HARLOW: Thanks, Sanjay.

GUPTA: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Coronavirus, these are the questions, what to do, what to avoid, when to see a doctor. CNN's new podcast has answers to those questions. Join Dr. Sanjay Gupta for Coronavirus, Fact versus Fiction. You can listen wherever you get your favorite podcasts. HARLOW: Yes, it is fantastic every day.

All right, staggering job losses levels now nearing the great depression. Next, I'm speaking with one of the president's top economic advisers about where we are as a country, where we go from here on this.



HARLOW: Unemployment headed to depression-era levels as more than 26 million Americans file for unemployment claims. This as a country tries to prepare for what very may be the biggest negative economic shock we have ever seen. These are the warnings from Kevin Hassett, who is now back at the White House serving as a senior economic adviser to the president. And, Kevin, I'm so glad to have you. Thank you for being here.

Let's just begin with this. Kevin, how high will unemployment go by June?

KEVIN HASSETT, SENIOR ECONOMIC ADVISER TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: I think by June, I think 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 the 1930s. I think GDP growth the second quarter is going to be a big negative number. The president and the whole team have been fully briefed on all that.

The question is what happens next, and a pretty mainstream forecasting outlet, the Congressional Budget Office, sees a sort of rip-roaring second half of the year. And God willing that's what happens. And if it does happen, I would have to say it's because of really, believe it or not, bipartisanship. We've had three phases of stimulus bills that last time I was on your show, we hadn't really talked about. And I think that those phases have kind of built a bridge to the other side and it's actually plausible that we a turnaround like the CBO projects.

But I'm still worried. I feel pretty worried here --

HARLOW: I know. I'm worried and I'm lucky, right? And so let's look into these numbers. So between 16 and 20 percent unemployment, that's great depression levels unemployment. You're talking about a contraction in growth of about -- or maybe in excess of 30 percent in the second quarter --


HASSETT: The Wall Street firms are saying minus 20 to minus 30 at an annual rate.