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NEW DAY

New Polling Indicates Large Majority of Americans Think Restrictions on Gatherings Due to Coronavirus Pandemic Appropriate; Current Testing Capacity for Coronavirus in U.S. Lags Behind What is Needed to Reopen Country; New Reporting Indicates President Trump Briefed Early on Threat Posed by Coronavirus; One in Four NYC Residents Test Positive for Coronavirus Antibodies. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired April 28, 2020 - 08:00   ET

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


[08:00:00]

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need to be at least 500,000 tests a day.

DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We've launched the most ambitious testing effort on earth.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to put together our own testing protocol. If the federal government would come in and help us out along the way, that would be a cherry on top.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning, everyone. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. And we do begin with new projections for the coronavirus death toll here in the United States. The University of Washington model that is used by the White House was updated late last night. It now shows deaths in the United States increasing to 74,000 people by the first week of August. This is as states begin to reopen. Three weeks ago, as you can see on your screen, that toll projection was 60,000 people.

As of this morning, more than 56,000 Americans have died. Still, the nation is moving forward for the staggered and uneven approach to reopening. In Texas, the governor announcing an expansive reopening plan that begins this Friday. First to open there, retail stores, restaurants, movie theaters, and malls, all at a 25 percent capacity.

Meanwhile, their neighbor, Louisiana is extending their stay at home orders through May 15th.

And there is this new national poll by "The Washington Post" and University of Maryland that shows that 66 percent of people think the state-imposed restrictions on businesses are appropriate. Another 16 percent think they don't go far enough, 17 percent thinks too restrictive. Then 64 percent say the restrictions on the size of public gatherings are appropriate now, 22 percent say those are not restrictive enough, just 14 percent feel that those are too restrictive, John.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: These numbers are really interesting, 86 percent, if you do the math there, think that the measures may not be restrictive enough.

Overnight, the White House outlined new guidelines for testing that puts the onus on states and designates the federal government a supplier of last resort. A White House official tells CNN the goal is for each state to test at least two percent of its residents. That figure, we should note, is well below the minimum level that most public health experts and many economists, for that matter, think is necessary to safely reopen most of the country.

Also, there are new developments this morning out of Oxford University where we're getting word of scientists moving forward with a coronavirus vaccine trial.

CAMEROTA: Joining us now is CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Sanjay, before we get to the numbers in terms of what has -- I guess it is actually the same thing. The fact that the University of Washington has updated their projection for death to 74,000 by the first week of August, and the fact that states are reopening, and the fact that there is this new poll that shows how many Americans are not yet comfortable with going out in public, where does that leave us all this morning?

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Well, I think the best news was that last poll, which I had not seen that data before showing how many people are, you know, willing to abide by the stay at home orders even as the states reopen, some thinking that it is not even restrictive enough. That is really interesting data, I think, to give an idea of how much we have changed in this country over the last several months.

The model, the IMHE which we have been following for several months now, is just a model. And I always want to make that point, because we said this before on the show, all models are wrong, some are useful, and this is one that I put in that category. And keep in mind as well that that model, the same model, a month ago showed, predicted that there would be some 90,000 people that would die from the infection. So the numbers have bounced around. I think the 60,000 number always seemed a little low.

But I think what we're seeing now as the numbers have now been projected upward to 74,000 is two important things. One is why did it go from 90,000 to 60,000 initially? I interviewed Chris Murray about that and he said, well, the stay at home orders, people were abiding by these more than we thought they would, especially in southern states, and they're having an impact. So it was a significant downward sort of move from 90,000 to 60,000 roughly over that few week period. It goes up now because we're starting to live the orders. So we have evidence, at least, by these models that it worked, and we have evidence that it will revert back quickly once these stay at home orders start to get lifted. I think the question really is how much? How much of an impact will it

have? We've always known, as we've talked about on this program several times, that at some point as we start to lift stay at home orders around the country, the numbers will go up. But I think most people, just about everyone I have spoken to, in fact I can't think of a single public health person I've spoken to who hasn't said it is too early to be doing this right now for lots of different reasons, so as a result, the uptick, 15,000 person uptick really over the past several weeks is significant but seems to accurately reflect that.

[08:05:02]

GUPTA: Which is why these poll numbers are so interesting. If we can put these up again. Restrictions on restaurants, stores, and businesses, 66 percent say they're appropriate, 17 percent too restrictive, but 16 percent not restrictive enough. So do the math there, 82 percent of people say they're either appropriate or don't go far enough. So we know that businesses might reopen, restaurants might reopen, movie theaters might allow 25 percent of people to show up. But we don't know that people are going to go. And right now people are telling us that they think that some of the restrictions in place are fine.

GUPTA: Yes, this is really interesting data. I hadn't seen that before this morning. Just because you can go doesn't mean you should go, and a lot of people won't feel the need to go. I think that that message is getting through.

And it is quite remarkable. Four months ago, five months ago people had no idea what this thing even was, most scientists let alone people in the public, and now people are willing to completely change their lives because of this. So the message is getting through, and I guess that is a little bit of good news here.

Obviously, the numbers going up, again, the model showing that the number of deaths to go up is reflected on the fact that these states reopen. But I'm curious now over the next couple of weeks, and I'm sure Chris Murray will be talking about this, the person who has been the author of these models, OK, well, they're opening, but people aren't necessarily going out, so now how does that impact the models? That will be interesting to see.

CAMEROTA: Sanjay, another thing, another bit of information that developed overnight was that the CDC is talking about excess deaths that may not have been classified as COVID-19 deaths. These were in March and early April, particularly in the tristate area, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, that had, as we know, developed as a hot spot. And so basically every month there is a kind of predictable amount of death generally before coronavirus, and so the fact that they saw a 15,000 person spike means possibly that they were not counting those accurately in terms of coronavirus deaths, and will we ever be able to, because those people have already died, know the accuracy of how many people were really dying?

GUPTA: Yes, that's a good question, Alisyn. We may not. It is possible, as we saw in California, to go back, and this is grim stuff to talk about, but you go back and you look at autopsy samples and possibly test for the virus in those situations and maybe you can find out. But I think that we've always known that we were undertesting. As a result of undertesting, we were missing people who were getting infected. But there are also people who were probably showing up at the hospital who at that time, especially earlier on, is this the flu, is this some other respiratory problem? It's not -- they're not testing positive for flu, but we don't know what it is.

And there is a lot of, just as a person who works in the hospital, there's a lot of times where you're just not clear what the diagnosis actually is, but you're still treating them as a respiratory ailment. So people who were infected, not caught, people who were hospitalized not caught, and now we're seeing people who had died and were not caught. A lot of people who may have been categorized even as flu deaths during that time period may in fact have been COVID deaths. But it is this excess death way, this numbers to compare this year to last year, this season to a previous season, where you sort of arrive at the numbers. And so that will cause the numbers to go up even more.

GUPTA: Sanjay, I want to end with you on testing. There are really two stories this morning on this. Number one, the White House claiming that it is going to help states to get to two percent of the population tested in each state. Is that nearly enough? And the second thing is, you hear so many people rushing or trying to rush to go out to get these antibody tests to find out if they have the antibodies for coronavirus, which might indicate that they have been exposed and have some immunity. How much weight should we be putting in that?

GUPTA: Well, I'll take the antibody question first. There is so many antibody tests out there, many of which have just not been very good. And there was a rush, understandably, to get as many of these tests out there. People really wanted to find out. Look, had I been exposed, was that cold I had a month ago, was that the coronavirus? I understand. I want to know as well. Unfortunately, many of tests out there aren't very good.

When we dug into some of the tests, some of them have as high as a 50 percent false negative rate -- sorry, false positive rate. So it's telling you you had the antibodies when you actually don't, giving you a false sense of confidence. And that's not good. These tests need to be validated.

Second of all, even if you take the data for what they are, whatever I think it was, 25 percent roughly in New York City, it's a funny position because that's significant percentage of people, but in order to get to a population of people where you're starting to develop herd immunity, you need to be in the 60, 70 percent range.

[08:10:00]

This isn't enough even if the data were true to be able to read into it to have herd immunity. And I'm not really trusting this data right now. I think a lot of people are treating it as a little bit suspicious.

The other thing with regard to testing, we'll make this point over and over again, the positivity rate is on the screen now. This is a really important -- I hope people get this. We keep talking about the absolute number of tests, 5 million tests, we keep talking about it in relationship to South Korea, for example. This is what people really probably need to be paying attention to going forward for a bit of time. We need to have the positivity rate around 10 percent or lower for the country. That's how you sort of know you're doing enough tests. Georgia, where I live, 20 percent roughly. We're not doing enough tests. We have no business reopening. New York has a long way to go in terms of doing enough tests. They're doing more than they used to be, but populated place, they need to be doing more tests. California is right on the edge there, eight percent, so that's good. But as a country, we need to be doing a lot more.

If you reverse engineer that and say, OK, so if to get to the 10 percent positivity, how many tests do we actually need to be doing? And the number seems to be pop out even higher than the Harvard public health school numbers, which are 500,000 a day. It's actually over a million a day, a million a day. The White House plan calls for around 7 million a month. We're talking about a million a day. So you can see the delta here. It is like four times off in terms of the amount of testing we need to be doing here. It is not forever. But that's what we need to be doing in order to think about reopening things. And letting people have the confidence that they can go out more safely.

CAMEROTA: OK, Sanjay, thank you very much for all of that information. You'll be back to answer our viewers' questions soon. Thank you.

So there is this report in "The Washington Post" that says President Trump was repeatedly warned in more than a dozen classified briefings about the coronavirus threat back in January and February. That was the time that he was publicly downplaying the threat. The acting director of national intelligence denies this "Washington Post" report. The president is trying to blame China for the deaths of 56,000 Americans.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We'll never forget loved one, we'll never forget the great people that sacrificed for a reason of incompetence, or something else other than incompetence, what happened at a point where they could have protected the whole world, not just us, the whole world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: CNN's John Harwood is live are us at the White House with more on this. John, great to see you. So what do we know about the daily presidential briefings that "The Washington Post" reported on that the president in, as I said, at least a dozen, back in January and February, they were already trying to sound the alarm of what the coronavirus would look like as it headed here.

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, what these reports do is round out the picture that we had already built in reporting by multiple news organizations, including our colleagues at CNN, that the administration was informed by China on the 3rd of January, and from then on the potential threat became more and more obvious. Even if China covered up the extent of the outbreak, we had information about the outbreak that we didn't act upon.

What this "Washington Post" report shows is the way that three particular personal characteristics of the president make him pretty ill equipped to respond to something like this. First of all, he doesn't read very much. Second of all, he has a very short attention span and doesn't conceptualize beyond the immediate moment. And, third, he has a tendency to hype good news and bury bad news.

So take them in sequence. If you don't read, it isn't 100 percent clear whether he absorbed either in written form or orally the content of these briefings. But even if he had, the president tends to look at what is happening right now, and so if somebody is describing a potential threat in the future, that's not something he's going to react to. And, third, related to the second one, is that he wanted to preserve a good feeling of confidence about the economy, didn't want to disrupt the markets. We saw that consistently for an extended period of time.

You put all those three things together, you don't know exactly the combination of each component, but one of his former national security aides, Brett McGurk, tweeted yesterday after this "Washington Post" report that this signals a dereliction of duty by the president. And, again, the judgment for the American people and for the voters in this fall is how did the president do. Whatever China did in terms of misleading us or lying about the extent of the outbreak, how did we react. And obviously we reacted slowly and behind the curve.

CAMEROTA: As you know, doctors and public health officials and states and governors have been calling for more testing for months. And then yesterday at the White House briefing the president said that the federal government is the test supplier, quote, of last resort. Well, I think we're at the last resort. It has been four months.

[08:15:00]

And then yesterday at the White House briefing, the president said that the federal government is the test supplier, quote, of last resort.

Well, I think we're at the last resort. I mean, it's been four months and they say they haven't had the ingredients and the capacity to test.

So where does that leave us? Is the federal government going to kick into gear?

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Not clear. It is a suggestion of a movement in a positive direction toward what public health officials say is necessary. Under pressure, the president and the administration is acknowledging more responsibility than before. They're not leaving it all to the states. They're saying we're a partner to the states. The question is, how far do they take it? Clearly, there is a lot of

pressure from Democrats and public health people for the administration to take the reins of this situation, use its power to expand testing capacity. They -- this is an interim step, the president said (VIDEO GAP) Vice President Pence said we're going to get to 2 million tests a week by May, that's more than we're doing now -- not as much as public health officials say is necessary to get control of this virus.

CAMEROTA: John Harwood, thank you very much for the update from the White House this morning.

HARWOOD: You bet.

CAMEROTA: Is New York City ready to reopen? What will it take? We're going to speak to a leader in America's largest city about this, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Brand-new antibody testing out of New York state shows a staggering 25 percent of New York City residents testing positive for antibodies.

[08:20:04]

So, what does that mean for preparations to reopen?

Joining us now is Corey Johnson. He is the speaker of the New York City Council.

Mr. Speaker, thanks so much for being with us. Happy birthday, I understand, this morning, as well.

COREY JOHNSON (D), SPEAKER OF THE NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL: Thank you. Thank you.

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: Have you been tested? Have you been tested for antibodies? OK.

JOHNSON: I have not been tested, no. I have been, you know, self- isolating and practicing physical distance at my boyfriend's apartment during the last six weeks or so. I haven't been tested.

But you've been talking about it. We're really going to need to ramp up tests here in New York City as people start to talk about how to potentially reopen down the line.

BERMAN: What is this 25 percent of people testing positive for antibodies in New York City? What does that mean to you as you craft public policy? How does that inform your decisions?

JOHNSON: Well, I'll say, of course, I'm not an epidemiologist. So I don't want to pretend I have all of the expertise. You heard Dr. Sanjay Gupta talk about the tests earlier in that many

of the tests may not be the most accurate tests. And the testing is very, very sensitive.

But we do know, what is clear from that data, and from other data that we have looked at, we do know that there was widespread community transmission in New York City before we realized it. A lot more people were getting infected before it actually started to show up.

When you look at some of those public health numbers, there are numbers called the ILI numbers, influenza-like illness numbers, that are tracked every single winter and you saw a spike in those numbers before coronavirus started to show up in an apparent way and it's likely that it was those coronavirus illnesses that people were getting sick with.

So, we know it's widespread, and we knew it was widespread before.

BERMAN: Should you have been preparing earlier then?

JOHNSON: Oh, absolutely. I mean, I -- I said this before. You know, everyone was too slow. You know, in the midst of an epidemic, in a pandemic, speed is everything.

And, you know, I called for some of the things earlier than others, like closing schools and banning large gatherings, but none of us were fast enough and part of the reason why it was so difficult is we were basically in a dark room, without being able to turn the light on. We had a little tiny flashlight without the testing to understand what was happening in New York City at the time so we need to take those lessons.

BERMAN: Let me ask -- let me ask you about some developments over the last 24 hours. You were part of a push to open New York City streets. Many -- miles and miles and miles of New York City streets, closed them to traffic and opened them to pedestrians. Why?

JOHNSON: Because as the weather gets nice, and it's a beautiful day here today in New York City, you're seeing more and more New Yorkers who want to go outside and exercise when you have children who aren't going to be in school this summer, and with playgrounds closed and with beaches likely not open at capacity, and public pools not open, you need to find places where New Yorkers can actually get outside in a socially distanced way.

Right now in New York City, as you know, John, we have parks across neighborhoods, but in many of those parks, things are really crammed right now. And it's creating anxiety.

So, we have a lot of streets. We crafted a deal to open up 100 miles of city streets to allow people to run and walk and have children be on their bikes in a way that is safe.

And you don't have people cramming the parks. As the weather gets nicer, as the summer comes, we're going to need this more than ever as more people go outside and this is a great way to do it. Paris has done it. Milan has done it. Oakland has done it. Minneapolis

has done it. And now, New York City is going to do it.

BERMAN: I guess we have to avoid pictures out of California right now. You're talking about streets not beaches. But we've seen these pictures of beaches with people over the weekend -- you know, it doesn't look like they're really social distancing quite to the extent that they should be.

Let me ask you quickly, Speaker, President Trump yesterday twice asked governors about whether or not it was appropriate to start opening the schools in their states. Now, most states have actually announced they're going to close schools for the rest of the year. New York state has not made that decision yet.

Do you see any possibility of schools reopening here?

JOHNSON: I think it's unlikely. I think that, you know, to make a decision like that, we would need to be doing a lot more of the testing that you've talked about in this hour that we're not able to do right now without the federal coordination.

So, this has been very hard for parents, very hard for children. We need to make sure we're on a course to hopefully get to schools reopened up back in September.

BERMAN: Mr. Speaker, Corey Johnson, thank you very much for being with us. As we said, we hope you have a happy birthday. These birthdays during the pandemic, memorable to say the least.

JOHNSON: Thank you, John. I just want to say, end with -- it's important to have hope.

[08:25:02]

A lot of New Yorkers are feeling worried and scared that this time. We got through the fiscal crisis of the 1970s. We got through 9/11. We got through the Great Recession. We got through Hurricane Sandy.

We can get through this if we're unified and smart and strategic, and that's what we need to do.

So, thank you for all your coverage.

And, New York City, we'll get through this if we do it together.

Thanks, John.

BERMAN: We appreciate you being with us this morning.

So, some restaurants in the United States making drastic changes just to survive.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In one hour, we changed the business model completely. We are essentially a neighborhood market now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: How coronavirus is changing where and how we get our food, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAMEROTA: The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way Americans eat and shop for food, which means restaurants and other food service providers have had to change the way they do business.

CNN's Dianne Gallagher is live in Atlanta for us with more.

So what did you learn, Dianne?

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, for else and for some of these restaurants, essentially, they made the choice that they're either going to have to close or change.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GALLAGHER (voice-over): The food supply change is shifting and in most cases it's hard to --

END