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Trump Looking to Punish China?; States Start Reopening. Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired April 30, 2020 - 16:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: It seems clear the administration remains unready in some key ways, as more than half the states across the nation are in some stage of reopening, though it's clear that not all of them have met the White House guidelines to do so.

The economy picture in this country, of course, remains grim. About one in five working American have now lost their jobs, according to today's new unemployment claims. That's 30 million people, though there are some states, such as California, that are adding restrictions, as CNN's Erica Hill reports.


ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For many Americans, the first step towards a few normal begins tomorrow.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think our customers are going to feel comfortable, you know, shopping in our store.

HILL: By the end of the week, 31 states will be partially opened, despite none of them appearing to meet the vague White House guidelines that call for a downward trajectory of documented cases within a 14-day period before any opening, many resuming elective surgeries, opening parks, golf courses, stores and restaurants adopting new safety measures, as CNN learns the White House is reviewing new draft guidance on reopening from the CDC, recommending schools place desks at least six feet apart, move lunch to the classroom and avoid assemblies.

Faith-based organizations also should limit large gatherings. Restaurants should avoid salad bars and buffets and use disposable plates, utensils and menus.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Even with the issuing of this new guidance, I worry about reopening and next steps being much more motivated by political agendas than by the science.

HILL: In New York, the state health department now investigating the discovery of dozens of bodies in unrefrigerated trucks outside a Brooklyn funeral home.

BILL DE BLASIO (D), MAYOR OF NEW YORK: Well, let's be clear about this. Funeral homes are private organizations, private businesses. They have an obligation to the people they serve to treat them with dignity.

I have no idea in the world how any funeral home could let this happen.

HILL: A handful of states extending their stay-at-home orders, while, in California, a busy weekend prompting Governor Gavin Newsom to close all beaches and parks indefinitely, one local official calling the move an overreaction.

In Los Angeles, the mayor says his city can now test all 10 million residents across L.A. County, regardless of symptoms, for free.

ERIC GARCETTI (D), MAYOR OF LOS ANGELES: We all know this is a silent killer. It moves quietly through the population. And why it's so important for people who don't show symptoms to get tested is because, oftentimes, they're the super spreaders.

HILL: Health care workers will have priority at the city's 34 testing sites, which the mayor says can process 18,000 people a day.

The nation's top infectious disease experts says, if the next phase of trials is successful, a vaccine could arrive by January.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NIAID DIRECTOR: We're going to safely and carefully, but as quickly as we possibly can, try and get an answer as to whether it works and is safe. And if so, we're going to start ramping up production with the companies involved.

HILL: Some colleges say they will bring students and staff back to campus, including the universities of Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, Vermont, and Texas Tech.

And in New York City, a grateful send-off from the NYPD and FDNY for the USNS Comfort, as the hospital ship heads home to Virginia.


HILL: And, Jake, we are just getting some new information in about other states, including Louisiana, the governor there announcing some new restrictions for restaurants and churches.

Restaurants can operate outdoor dining areas, but they can't use waitstaff in that area. They need to use strict social distancing. And the measures would only allow people to eat with members of their household at smaller tables. Those tables would be spaced apart.

In terms of churches, Jake, the governor said they can operate outside with a tent, but that tent cannot have flaps on the sides.

TAPPER: All right, joining me now, CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Erica Hill, thank you. Sanjay, a vaccine by January, we're hearing that being discussed by Dr. Fauci and others. Do you think that's possible, a vaccine by January?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's ambitious. I mean, there's no question.

And Dr. Fauci said, it sort of falls within the time frame that he's been thinking about. He said a year. And that was back end of January. So it's possible.

The one thing Jake, to keep in mind is that, typically, you go through the phases of a vaccine, you prove that it's safe and effective, and then it works in large populations of people. Those are the three phases, and then you start manufacturing it.

In this case, two things would happen. One is that probably, during phase two trials, they would start to expand the size of the population tested. So, it'd be a larger phase two to try and figure out if you can get what are called efficacy signals, some sort of signal that this is working.

And, at that point, if it's true that it seems to be working, they will start manufacturing it at that point. It's a lot earlier. The gamble is sort of an obvious one.


Maybe, afterwards, it's proven actually not to be effective, and you have produced a bunch of ineffective vaccine. But if it does work at that point, you're months ahead of the game.

And I think that that's what they're sort of counting on. If you're months ahead of the game, and it actually works, I mean, that would be fantastic, Jake, for everybody, and probably be well worth it financially.

If it doesn't work, you could be behind and lose a lot of money. So, that's the gamble, I think that a lot of people are sort of considering at this point.

TAPPER: Yes. We talked to Dr. Paul Offit, a vaccine expert at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, yesterday, and he talked about how it can take up -- it can take decades to get an effective vaccine.


TAPPER: But on the point you're making, take a listen to what Dr. Fauci said today about the production of a possible vaccine.


FAUCI: We're going to safely and as quickly as we possibly can try and get an answer as to whether it works and is safe.

And, if so, we're going to start ramping up production with the companies involved, and you do that at risk. In other words, you don't wait until you get an answer before you start manufacturing.


TAPPER: So, this would theoretically get to the marketplace without going through all the protocols a normal vaccine goes through, as you noted.

Is that a sign of how prolonged the process normally is, maybe because of bureaucratic reasons or extra steps of caution, or a sign of how much of an emergency this is?

GUPTA: That's a great question.

I mean, I think -- I mean, there's no question, I think, even within the bricks-and-mortar science structures, when your back is up against the wall, I mean, ingenuity in terms of expediting things in this case can come out.

I mean, people are doing things that maybe they had never had to have done before, not the least of which, Jake, this type of vaccine, if it works from some of the trials, would be a totally different type of vaccine.

Typically, you think that you give a little bit of the virus, and that sort of teaches someone's immune system how to fight that virus if it sees it again. Or you give an inactivated form of the virus. Those are sort of typically how vaccines work.

In this case, you're actually sort of giving a blueprint of a part of the virus to somebody, and hoping that that stimulates the body's immune system to be able to fight this virus if it's exposed to it again.

It's never been done before. It's -- there's no vaccine like that that's ever been approved before. They have tried it in the past. They started the process with SARS and MERS, other coronaviruses, and I think they're building on some of that knowledge now.

But there is so much new here, Jake. If it works, it will be fantastic and probably change medicine and vaccines forever, for all time to come. But if it doesn't work, it's going to be a lot of starting over for folks.

TAPPER: The president announced that the White House social distancing guidelines will expire today. More than 30 states will have started to reopen by the end of the week.

I want you to take a listen to something else Dr. Fauci said today about the states reopening.


FAUCI: The guidelines are very, very explicit and very clear. There's a lot of leeway, because we give the governors the opportunity to be very flexible. But you have to have the core principles of the guidelines. You can't just leap over things and get into a situation where you are really tempting a rebound.


TAPPER: Are states tempting a rebound, as Dr. Fauci described? You're in Georgia, where Governor Kemp made a similar announcement today.

GUPTA: That is about as forceful something you're going to hear from Dr. Fauci.

I mean, we have all heard him now for several months. He's being very forceful there in his very Dr. Fauci sort of way: We have given you clear guidelines. We could not have spelled this out any more clearly. You should not jump, sort of do leapfrogs over these various gating criteria, because you could have a rebound.

As a result, people could get infected that otherwise wouldn't. People might end up in the hospital that otherwise wouldn't. And people will die that otherwise wouldn't.

I don't think you can be any clearer about this. I think it's very hard for people who aren't public health officials or have the sort of experience of a Dr. Fauci to sort of see something that's not smacking them directly in the face.

A lot of people, including here in my state, are sort of spiking the football already. They think that this thing is behind us and it's time to reopen.

I -- Dr. Fauci and others have been very, very clear on this. It is not. The virus is still out there. It is still contagious. We don't have enough immunity built up in our communities. We don't have enough testing built up in our communities.

The trends have not gone downward to the point where you can say, OK, at least we got this thing in sort of kindling stage, as opposed to a fire out there. It makes me really nervous.

I think what -- the way that I would say it, Jake, is, I hope that they're right, these governors, in making a decision. Everyone hopes that they're right .But I'm worried that the price of being wrong is too high at this point.


TAPPER: All right, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thanks, as always.

Be sure to tune in for a CNN global town hall tonight, "Coronavirus: Facts and Fears," hosted by Sanjay and Anderson Cooper. And their guests this evening include Bill Gates and, of course, Dr. Anthony Fauci, who you were just discussing.

Sources telling CNN that the Trump administration is now coming up with a plan to try to punish China because of the coronavirus pandemic and that country's government's lies about it -- the actions under consideration next.

Plus, a drug showing a clear-cut positive effect on treating coronavirus now likely to be fast-tracked by the FDA. I will talk with a doctor leading a trial of the drug remdesivir.

That's ahead.

Stay with us.


TAPPER: Breaking news in our politics lead.

President Trump initially praised Chinese President Xi, but, in the last few weeks, he's been getting much more aggressive about pointing the finger of blame at the Chinese government and President Xi indirectly for not being honest and transparent about the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China.


And now, we are learning just how the White House is planning to punish China.

Our team of reporters is covering and all the angles out of the White House.

CNN's Kylie Atwood is with us from the State Department. We're going to start with CNN's Kaitlan Collins in the Trump administration's continued shift in its messaging surrounding the pandemic.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The White House won't renew the federal social distancing guidelines that expire today as the tense debate rages across the nation about when to re-open.


COLLINS: Dr. Anthony Fauci confirmed this morning that there is a ramped-up effort under way called Operation Warp Speed to produce a coronavirus vaccine.

The president says he's the one in charge of it.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know who is in charge of it, honestly? I am. I'll tell you, I'm really in charge of it.

COLLINS: But the president offered no comment on whether he had anything to do with the statement by the acting director of the national intelligence that said officials are investigating an uncorroborated theory that the outbreak could be the result of a lab accident. TRUMP: I haven't seen the report yet.

COLLINS: The number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. is now over 1 million and more people have died from it in the last 10 weeks than did in the entire Vietnam War.

TRUMP: And now, it's like --

COLLINS: Yet, Trump is now portraying the federal response which has been widely criticized as too slow as a success story.

TRUMP: So, I think when you asked, how did we know, and I have to say it, because the news is so fake and so corrupt, I think we did a spectacular job. The federal government has done a spectacular job.

COLLINS: After Vice President Mike Pence was criticized for ignoring the Mayo Clinic's policy about wearing masks inside the building earlier this week, he did wear one today as he toured a General Motors facility in Indiana that retooled its machines to make ventilators.

TRUMP: Behind you, please? Please?

COLLINS: Meanwhile, the president is speaking to reporters in a different venue this week as he shows that his briefings don't always require a briefing room.

TRUMP: And then I see the disinfectant where it knocks it out in a minute.

COLLINS: Trump hasn't taken any questions from the White House briefing room since last Thursday when he veered into an unscripted riff about studying ingesting disinfectants to treat coronavirus. Instead, his aides have now filled his schedule with roundtable with CEOs and governor sit-downs in the Oval Office.

TRUMP: So, any questions?

COLLINS: That way he can take questions with a limited audience, fewer reporters and a narrower focus.


COLLINS: Now, Jake, the president was irritated by these news reports that were saying he had cancelled his briefings because of the fallouts from those remarks. So you've seen the White House to say he is having press conference or having these one-on-ones or these back- and-forths with reporters where he is taking questions. Though, of course, it looks different than the last several weeks when he was coming into that briefing room on a daily basis.

TAPPER: All right. Kaitlan Collins, stick around.

Kylie, I want to bring you in.

CNN just learned the White House is considering punishing China for how it believes the country handled the virus. Tell us about that. KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, these

are efforts from multiple officials across multiple U.S. agencies in the government to try and figure out what the options could look like for a long-term plan to punish China for the coronavirus pandemic.

And I want to point out that these are early ongoing conversations, right? And they include things like the possibility of sanctions or cancelling on U.S. debt obligation or coming up with new trade policy, but they are orders that are coming from the top. We have heard from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo repeatedly in the next few weeks that China will pay a price here.

Now, it is important to note, Jake, that this is a very delicate moment in time and moving too fast too quickly on this effort could be really problematic for the United States. A lot of these supply chains come through China. The U.S. is reliant on those medical supplies, getting to the U.S. right now. And so, one official said to me that it would be, quote, irresponsible for the U.S. to drive too fast, too soon on this effort.

TAPPER: And, Kaitlan, at the beginning of this crisis, President Trump testified in favor of President Xi and not only said that he had a handle open it, but that he believed him. He vouched for his transparency.

What are you hearing from the White House about all of this?

TAPPER: Yes. The president repeatedly praised him for being transparent, which, of course, he's criticized the WHO, the World Health Organization, for not. The president has gone back and forth privately over how he feels about China on this.

But lately, it's been a lot of tough talk from the president behind closed doors. We should note that his top two economic advisers, Larry Kudlow and Kevin Hassett, denied earlier that the U.S. was considering cancelling part of its debt obligations to China.


They said that is not happening, pretty flatly on the record, though the president has been very upset with China behind closed doors. So, it's just really an open question of which day it is and how the president feels toward China, because he has gone back and forth and wavered multiple times, even in private, as they discussed, as Kylie reported, how they should respond.

TAPPER: All right. Kaitlan Collins, Kylie Atwood, thank you so much to both of you.

Tune into Sunday night. We have been working on a CNN special report, "The Pandemic and the President". My team and I investigate the Chinese government, the World Health Organization, governors, President Trump, the Trump administration as coronavirus was spreading throughout the world. What did they do? What did they not do? That's at 10:00 p.m. on CNN on Sunday. Coming up, I'm going to talk to a doctor who is leading a trial of the

promising new drug remdesivir. What the medication does, how soon it might be available? That's next.



TAPPER: Earlier today, Dr. Anthony Fauci says he expects the Food and Drug Administration to approve the drug remdesivir for emergency use, quote, very quickly.

Preliminary results of an NIH study show remdesivir shorten the recovery time when used as a treatment for some coronavirus patients.

Joining me now to discuss is Dr. Barry Zingman. He's leading a remdesivir trial in Montefiore Medical Center in New York, where he is the clinical director of infectious diseases.

Dr. Zingman, thanks so much for joining us.

I know you can't give exact data because your trial is still ongoing. But can you give us an idea just generally speaking how the patients in your trial are generally doing?

DR. BARRY ZINGMAN, LEADING REMDESIVIR DRUG TRIAL BACKED BY NIH: Thanks, Jake. Thanks for featuring this major events.

The -- we've had 91 patients in the trial at Montefiore Medical Center and psychology medicine and many people have done great. However, at this point, I don't know yet whether or not the patients have received remdesivir or whether or not they've received the placebo. We are still blinded to this.

So this is still hidden from us, in order to assess the drug properly. So we will find out eventually.

TAPPER: I understand this is -- and correct me if I'm wrong -- but I believe this is not a pill that patients take. It's administered through an IV. Does that mean it would only be used as a treatment for patients who are sick enough to be hospitalized or at least go into an emergency room?

ZINGMAN: Yes. That's certainly the case. The medication is I.V., and as well there is another reason why it's only for hospitalized patients. And that is because it's only hospitalized patients that really have a high mortality rate with a COVID-19. Generally, people who are outpatients, who are not that sick don't have a high mortality rate and don't necessarily need this treatment.

TAPPER: Unlike some of the other drugs being tested as a treatment for coronavirus such as hydroxychloroquine, remdesivir has never been approved by the FDA to treat any illnesses. Hydroxychloroquine has been used for other illnesses.

Now, you have noted the one of the key parts of your study is seeing if any patients have side effects. Are you concerned some of those side effects could be serious given the lack of information about using this medicine as a treatment?

ZINGMAN: So, that's always a concern within medicine. Even with this trial, only about 150 people have ever been treated with us. But now, we have over 1,000 people and the preliminary results that we have are that the drug is well-tolerated. And I could say in my experience with 91 patients, we've seen very little in the way of side effects.

So, this is very hopeful. It's not definitive yet, but it's very helpful.

TAPPER: So, if I understand this correctly -- and again correct me if I'm wrong -- the reason people feel optimistic about remdesivir is because in -- first of all, it was a very comprehensive legit study out of NIH that included placebos and a very large sample group, but beyond that, it reduced the amount of time that somebody was sick by about a third. But statistically, it didn't show a significant enough difference in mortality.

Is that what you are testing it for? Or you could be looking at mortality? You don't know what's going to happen?

ZINGMAN: So, we're looking at multiple different measures of outcome. One is a recovery from hospitalization mortality is a critical outcome, of course, but there are other outcomes as well that we're going to be looking at, such as getting off of oxygen, such as whether or not people need -- move from being not on a ventilator to being on a ventilator.

So, the analyses are still ongoing. We're at the very start of this. But the information that we have so far is very strong that people are being discharged about four days earlier, and that the mortality difference is very strongly in favor of remdesivir being also about 30 percent less, which is a very sig -- very significant.