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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Trump Upset Over Poll Numbers?; State of Air Travel?; Vaccine Search; U.S. Economy Suffers Huge Damage; Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired April 29, 2020 - 16:30   ET

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


[16:30:01]

DR. PAUL OFFIT, CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL OF PHILADELPHIA: Then you're going to be exposed to more virus, there's more viral replication, and there's a greater degree of disease.

And that's sort of true of many infections.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: You say this will be our new reality until a vaccine is developed.

The pharmaceutical company Pfizer says they could potentially supply millions of vaccines for emergency use by the end of the year. What do you make of that timeline? Give us a reality check on it.

OFFIT: Well, certainly, the only way to develop population immunity, true population immunity, is with a vaccine.

But you want to make sure that -- and there are many companies that are making vaccines. More than 70 companies across the globe are making vaccines. But you want to make sure that before you give a vaccine to millions or tens of millions or hundreds of billions of people, that you hold that vaccine to a high level or high standard of safety and efficacy.

And you want to make sure that there are fairly large placebo, control prospective studies before you put a vaccine out there. And I worry a little bit that we're going to -- by shortening the timeline, we may not have as much information as we'd like about safety or efficacy before the vaccine rolls out to the general public.

TAPPER: You have developed vaccines in the past. And, as you know, they normally take several years, as you're suggesting, sometimes decades.

Are steps definitively being skipped to make a vaccine available in the next year to a year-and-a-half?

OFFIT: Well, by definition .I mean, the average length of time to make a vaccine typically is about 20 years from the early research on through the research of development.

When you're making a vaccine in a year or 18 months, by definition, you're skipping or compressing steps. I think the big step that you're skipping is typically for any vaccine that's licensed, first of all, it is licensed. It goes through the FDA licensure procedure -- is that you test tens of thousands of people in a prospective placebo, control trial to make sure that's safe, to make sure that it's effective.

I think that when you do it the way we're doing it here, where I think it's going to be maybe 1,000 or a few thousand people that are tested before the vaccine is least FDA-approved, if not licensed, I think you wonder whether or not the vaccine is as safe and as effective as you would like to be.

You may only learn that after the vaccine has already rolled out.

TAPPER: What are the risks of moving this quickly?

OFFIT: Well, as in anything in medicine, there's benefits and risks.

I mean, we're terrified by this virus. We're paralyzed by the virus. It's killing a couple thousand people a day in the United States. And so I think we're willing probably to take a little more in the way of risks regarding the vaccine than we would normally for a virus that isn't a scourge like this one.

And that's true of anything in medicine. It's always a matter of risk- benefit. There's an enormous benefit to a vaccine that works and is safe. And I think we're willing to not know as much as we would normally know in order to get a vaccine more quickly.

TAPPER: And Oxford University, as you know, they say they're developing a promising vaccine. They say they could finish trials by the fall.

What do you know about that vaccine? Is that also too ambitious a timeline?

OFFIT: Well, so that's a vectored virus vaccine, much like the vaccine that we have currently for Ebola or for dengue. I know that that vaccine has worked well in their monkey animal model studies. And that's encouraging.

But as a friend of mine says regarding animal model studies, mice lie, and monkeys exaggerate. You never really know until you put it in people. And I think people -- these companies or even the academic institutions shouldn't make broad claims until they really are confident that the vaccine has been tested in large numbers of people to make sure that it's safe and it's effective.

TAPPER: Is there anything that you're hearing about as a potential vaccine?

I'm not going to hold you to it, because it's just based on what now, but is there anything that you're excited about, that you think is promising?

OFFIT: I think everything is on the table, a whole killed virus, a live weakened virus, a purified protein vaccine, a so-called mRNA or DNA vaccine, which also is essentially a single protein vaccine. I think anything is possible. Right now, there's much that's unknown.

And so we should be careful about how we move forward.

TAPPER: All right, Dr. Paul Offit in the great city of Philadelphia, thank you so much. Really appreciate your time, sir.

OFFIT: Thank you, Jake.

TAPPER: It's kind of a gamble.

The life-and-death struggle some small business owners are dealing with right now in a community hit hard by the coronavirus, that's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:38:49]

TAPPER: The money lead today, another blinking red light for an economy in crisis because of the pandemic.

U.S. economic growth shrank 4.8 percent in the first quarter of the year, the Bureau of Economic Analysis announced earlier today. Consumer spending, investing, income, production, all of them down for the first time in six years.

And it's the biggest drop since the Great Recession of 2008.

Let's bring in CNN business anchor Julia Chatterley right now to translate all this.

And, Julia, the timing of the drop is what's so stunning. The economy was arguably relatively normal in January and February, and then came March, when the pandemic really hit the U.S. hard.

JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN BUSINESS ANCHOR: We literally went from normal, exactly to your point, to economic collapse in the space of two weeks, remember, the final two weeks of March.

That's when the shutdown kicked in, and we saw the devastation that was created. The problem here is, as bad as March was, we have sat through the whole of April too. We know that's going to be worse.

And the second quarter, Jake, is probably going to be the worst we have ever seen.

TAPPER: That's right. We heard the White House economic adviser talking about -- kind of like pooh-poohing what happened in the first quarter, because the second quarter is going to be so much worse.

[16:40:01]

Lower health care spending had a big impact on the drop. That seems counterintuitive, because hospitals are so overwhelmed by the coronavirus. CHATTERLEY: It's counterintuitive, but the truth is, emergency services don't pay hospital bills, nor do they fuel economic growth in the U.S. economy.

That comes down to elective or planned surgeries. And, of course, a lot of that got canceled or delayed as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. For some hospitals, we even saw health care workers furloughed or laid off.

It's why the hospitals now are so desperate for money too.

TAPPER: Big news for the small business loan program that you and I have been discussing now for a month or so. Tonight, only lenders that have assets less than a billion dollars, $1 billion, can submit applications.

Can they just change the rules like that so suddenly?

CHATTERLEY: I mean, they have been doing the rule changing thing for day after day after day, really since this began.

In all fairness, it's about trying to level the playing field here. My big fear is that there are still small businesses that went to lenders bigger than this in order to get a financial lifeline. And for the next eight hours, at least, they are locked out.

One business owner texted me today, and he said, is this even legal? I'm desperate, and I'm still waiting. It's a mess, Jake. That's the truth.

TAPPER: And moments ago, the Federal Reserve announced it's going to keep interest rates low.

Tell us more about that.

CHATTERLEY: Well, it's interesting.

They said that more support is going to be needed both from Congress and from the Federal Reserve. They're right. But the stock market reaction for me today is what's critical.

I think the Federal Reserve is now in danger of looking like it's done more for Wall Street, as good as it is for people with 401(k)s, than they have for Main Street, businesses, real people that are struggling. They're going to have to address that balance some point soon.

TAPPER: All right, Julia Chatterley, thank you so much, as always, for your expertise.

CHATTERLEY: Thank you.

TAPPER: The financial crisis colliding with this pandemic has left many African-American and black business owners in particular with a difficult decision to make, reopen and at least try to earn enough money to live, or, as CNN anchor Victor Blackwell reports, stay closed, given the disproportional rate black communities have been impacted by COVID-19.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just south of Atlanta, Gocha's Breakfast Bar is open, but business is slow.

GOCHA HAWKINS, OWNER, GOCHA'S BREAKFAST BAR: We went from a full restaurant of 120-seat capacity to maybe two or three people trickling in.

BLACKWELL: Owner Gocha Hawkins is offering dine-in services days after Georgia Governor Brian Kemp eased restrictions on restaurants. But does she think this is right for all restaurants?

HAWKINS: I didn't think it was a good idea, because just the masses of people in restaurants, the not social distancing, I just -- I thought it was, too much, too soon.

BLACKWELL: Carlos Davis' barbershop in Albany is open too, and he's afraid.

CARLOS DAVIS, OWNER, CUT-OLOGY: Fear of what is out here, but in fear if you don't get back to opening you won't have a business to open.

BLACKWELL: It's a challenge that some African-American business owners who serve mostly African-American customers are weighing, how to reopen without contributing to the racial disparity of coronavirus cases.

According to the most recent census, African-Americans account for 32 percent of Georgia's population, but in cases in which race is reported, African-Americans account for 40 percent of coronavirus cases.

Dyan Matthews is president of the South Fulton Chamber of Commerce. Her group represents businesses in eight North Georgia cities. Most are majority African-American.

DYAN MATTHEWS, PRESIDENT, SOUTH FULTON CHAMBER OF COMMERCE: The biggest fear is that a lot of the nonessential businesses are just going to end up having to open up all their doors. That's going to continue raising the numbers in our community, putting us even more and more at risk.

BLACKWELL: Glenn Singfield II co-owns The Flint restaurant in Albany.

GLENN SINGFIELD II, CO-OWNER, THE FLINT: I support my governor, mayor, all that. However, we have to do what's best for our community and our people and our employees.

BLACKWELL: That's why some of these business owners are taking steps to keep themselves and their customers safe.

HAWKINS: They're only coming in one or two at a time.

BLACKWELL: Gocha says that she will limit capacity to 10, although a total of six customers have dined in each day this week.

Carlos' barbers are wearing face masks and cutting by appointment only.

DAVIS: It's kind of a gamble, but I really kind of don't have a choice.

BLACKWELL: Glenn is not taking a chance.

SINGFIELD: Anybody getting sick and passing away or getting sick, period, it will hurt us personally. We are standing where we're going to remain safe for a little while.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLACKWELL: A tough decision for a lot of business owners.

And, Jake, I have to give you the results of a shocking study, even shocked the CDC researchers who conducted it. They surveyed eight hospitals across the state of Georgia, seven in metro Atlanta area, one in South Georgia.

[16:45:09]

Of the 305 coronavirus patients who were admitted, they found that 83 percent of them in the month of March were African-American, again, something that they didn't even expect, considering the disparity -- Jake.

TAPPER: Victor Blackwell in Atlanta, thank you so much for that important report. We appreciate it.

We have some breaking news just into CNN: the president lashing out at his reelection campaign manager.

The behind-scenes details -- next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: And we have this breaking news for you.

The coronavirus pandemic is clearly complicating November's presidential election, given the human and economic toll on the United States.

[16:50:00]

And now CNN is learning about an angry outburst from President Trump directed at his campaign manager, as the president fumes over criticism of his handling of the pandemic and the sliding poll numbers that have come with that, sources tell CNN.

CNN's Jeremy Diamond is breaking the story for us.

Jeremy, what are you learning? JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, as you

mentioned, President Trump has grown increasingly unnerved in the last week about his reelection prospects.

Aides have presented him with data showing that his poll numbers are sliding in some of those key battleground states and that he could be headed for defeat against former Vice President Joe Biden if things continue the way that they are.

Amid all of that, Jake, the stress of that information affecting the president, it seems, and he let it out in an angry outburst with Brad Parscale, the president's campaign manager.

I'm told that the president was huddling with some of his aides on Friday at the White House, Friday evening, and that Brad Parscale was on the phone. The president berated him, I'm told, for his own sliding poll numbers, as well as for -- and even threatened to sue Parscale.

Now, it's not clear exactly how serious the president was about that threat. And I'm told that the president and Parscale have since patched things up. In fact, Brad Parscale spent several hours at the White House just yesterday and got the president's approval on some new campaign ads.

But, Jake, this is just the latest sign of how the president is really trying to grapple with what is a rapidly shifting dynamic in this 2020 election. Coronavirus has changed everything. The president's economy has been overturned. And, certainly, the president is grasping for ways that he can regain ground.

Amid all of that, some of his aides, including Parscale, have been encouraging him to scale back some of those news briefings. And what one source close to the White House told me was that the president's outbursts at Parscale appears to be just the president blowing off steam and really trying to blame other people for some of his own failings -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Jeremy Diamond, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Coming up: What is it actually like to fly on an airplane right now?

Our CNN correspondent found out -- that story next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:56:43]

TAPPER: In our money lead today, 500 TSA employees have tested positive for coronavirus, the agency announced today.

The majority of those cases are employees who handle baggage and do passenger screening.

CNN's Pete Muntean shows us what your next trip might look like, as airports are trying to adapt in the age of coronavirus.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A scene too similar to travel before this pandemic, new videos of packed planes, passengers bottled up in rows and aisles, surfaced over the weekend, raising new fears about social distancing when flying and new calls to restrict air travel even further.

JetBlue this week became the first airline to require passengers to wear masks. Its COO calls the move the new flying etiquette. United followed suit late yesterday, announcing that it will give passengers masks, though not requiring that they be worn.

The leader of the American Flight Attendants association told CNN there must be an across-the-board mask requirement and a federal ban on leisure travel by air.

SARA NELSON, PRESIDENT, ASSOCIATION OF FLIGHT ATTENDANTS: We're seeing more and more full flights without policies that really address proper social distancing or a required wearing of masks.

MUNTEAN: But the nation's air travel is at a virtual halt. Nearly half of all commercial jetliners are now parked.

The TSA says only 5 percent of passengers are passing through checkpoints compared to a year ago. I set out to see what it's like to fly right now, traveling from Washington, D.C., to Atlanta and back.

(on camera): It's hard to find someone not already wearing a mask.

(voice-over): Airlines are stepping up their use of electrostatic sprayers that disinfect passenger cabins.

(on camera): Crews handed out this Purell wipe as we got on board.

(voice-over): Airlines are also not booking middle seats.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And, of course, with social distance.

MUNTEAN: Hoping to keep up social distancing on board.

Industry groups say the average domestic flight is now carrying 17 passengers, up from 10 passengers just over a week ago.

ELIZABETH CHRISTIE, FLYER: I think the people that are traveling are probably healthy. They're not ill or critical or in a bad situation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody should be wearing a mask.

MUNTEAN: Today, the Department of Transportation gave airlines permission to start scaling back service to small city airports.

Plane maker Boeing's CEO is forecasting a years-long recovery for airlines. Even still, the industry is holding out hope that new measures will mean a new normal of flying again.

GARY KELLY, CEO, SOUTHWEST AIRLINES: We're hopeful that that will happen.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MUNTEAN: You know, Jake, from what I saw, passengers do seem keen on social distancing, not only on planes, but also here in the terminal.

Delta and United have done away with boarding by zone, instead switching to boarding by row, starting with the back of the plane first -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Pete Muntean at Reagan National, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Today, we're remembering 30-year-old Rana Zoe Mungin, a teacher in Brooklyn, New York, who died this week of coronavirus. Mungin first reported symptoms in mid-March, but she was turned away from emergency rooms twice.

By the time she was admitted she, was immediately put on a ventilator. She spent a month on the machine before she died on Monday. Mungin will be remembered for her academic excellence and her love for teaching.

May her memory be a blessing.

Our coverage on CNN continues right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

We're following breaking news.

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