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President Trump Downplays Need for Widespread Testing; W.H.O Officials Studies Link Between Rare Inflammatory Disease and COVID-19 in Children; Source: Trump Fumes at Campaign Manager as Re-election Stress Mounts.; More Than Half of States Will Be Partly Open by End of Week; California Governor to Close All Beaches and State Parks; Florida Officials Dispute Report of State's COVID-19 Death Toll; Up to 60 Bodies Found in Four Trucks at Brooklyn Funeral Home; Remdesivir Trial Shows Positive Effect on Recovery Time. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired April 30, 2020 - 09:00   ET



JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Very good Thursday morning to you. I'm Jim Sciutto.


A pivotal week in this pandemic as more states move to ease up on their lockdowns. More than half of the country, look at that, will be partially reopened by Friday. Federal guidelines on social distancing also just hours away from expiring. But is this just all way too soon?

SCIUTTO: It's moving pretty quickly here. The pressure is building naturally to get life back to normal or at least as normal as possible. This despite more than 60,000 deaths here in the U.S., and rising. But for those who become infected, this could help.

This morning, Dr. Anthony Fauci says that he expects the FDA to authorize emergency use of the antiviral drug known as Remdesivir. The drug showing some promise it can help patients recover faster. He also says the goal is to have a potential vaccine ready by January next year, part of what the administration is calling operation "Warped Speed."

We are covering this from every angle as we do every day. First, let's get to CNN's Ed Lavandera on more states reopening by the end of the week.

And Ed, this is notable, right, because it's states led by both Democrats and Republicans who are making these decisions.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Jim. Well, it is happening. 31 states across the country. The concern comes that it's essentially a patch work of different rules, regulations, guidelines, that are being established in each of the states. So there is a little bit of confusion and even within those states, you take Texas, for example, you have a couple of different cities and counties where either businesses or local officials are going rogue in some sort of way.

They're not happy with the speed of the reopening and trying to get ahead of things, but this is happening and the easing of these federal guidelines is happening in more than half of the states across the country. Those include those guidelines of staying -- working from home, what elderly people should be doing, travel restrictions, and those sorts of things. That is what is unfolding here across the country.

Here in Texas, the stay-at-home order is set to expire after today, which means starting tomorrow, places like where we're at here, Trinity Grove, which is a complex of restaurants just west of downtown Dallas, many of the businesses here planning to reopen but at a 25 percent capacity. What that means and what business will look like is still unclear at this point.

You know, anecdotally we've kind of heard a wide array of opinions on how all of this was going to unfold. Some businesses choosing not to reopen, saying that the cost of doing business isn't worth the risk of infecting employees or customers and that sort of thing. So a great deal of concern about how all of this is going to unfold in the coming days -- Poppy.

HARLOW: Ed, thanks very much. We'll watch that really closely. Also this morning, California Governor Gavin Newsom expected to order the shutdown of all states and beaches. All state beaches and parks there.

Stephanie Elam is with us.

And Steph, I mean, we were talking to you just yesterday and showing that video of very crowded beaches, like Huntington Beach and Newport that really upset the governor for safety reasons. Now he's closing them?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, he was very clear about this. This is not really a shock here at this point, Poppy. Governor Gavin Newsom was not thrilled to see all of the beachgoers, thousands of them, that were flocking to the beach as we hit a heat wave here in Southern California. So we saw in Ventura County where they're allowed to go to beaches, and also Orange County where they're allowed to go to beaches, that thousands of people turned out.

Now just as recently as Tuesday, one city council, Newport Beach city council, voting to keep their beaches open even after that crowding, and said they would just enforce those strict separation guidelines. Well, now it doesn't matter. This is what we're hearing now. The governor is actually supposed to mention this today, what his plan is, but we know that a memo was sent out to the police agencies up and down the state to tell them to prepare for this guideline of keeping the beaches closed because as the governor has said, these viruses -- this virus in particular is highly contagious and it does not take weekends off.

And just really wanting to make sure that this is one thing that they wanted to do, is get these beaches closed so people don't continue to come out here on the weekend -- Jim? SCIUTTO: It's almost a daily battle, it seems. Stephanie Elam, thanks

very much.

To Florida now where there are questions about the state's official death count. This as Governor DeSantis there will reopen much of the state starting on Monday.

CNN's Rosa Flores is in Miami. An allegation here that those numbers have been suppressed somehow? What are the facts?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Jim, we have been unpacking some of this reporting, taking a look at the details. The reporting is by the "Tampa Bay Times," and what reporters there did is they looked at the COVID-19 death toll and compared the death toll reported by the Florida Department of Health, and also the death toll reported by the medical examiners' commission.


And those reporters found that the ME's reporting a death toll that was 10 percent higher at that point in time. And then the paper went back and asked the ME Commission for that data again and, according to the newspaper, at that point in time, the ME Commission said the Florida Department of Health had, quote, "intervened. "

So we went to the source. We went to the Medical Examiner's Commission asking them for an explanation. They did not respond to our phone calls, e-mails or texts. We went to the Florida Department of Health. They did respond and here's what they said about the intervening with the distribution of this information. They said, quote, "The Florida Department of Health has spoken with counsel for medical examiners to explain concerns on disclosing personal identifiable information."

When it comes to the 10 percent discrepancy in the numbers, the Florida Department of Health says that they are following CDC guidelines. They said the following, quote, "Per CDC people are listed according to their place of residence. This ensures that cases are not inadvertently listed twice."

Now turns out medical examiners that are based by county report deaths based on jurisdiction and they report residents and also nonresident deaths. The Florida Department of Health only reports resident deaths. So we asked the Florida Department of Health the obvious question. OK. So if you're not reporting nonresident deaths, will you release those deaths to CNN? And they indeed did do that, Poppy.

They sent us an e-mail with 43 cases, a list of people from out of state and from out of the country who have died here in Florida that are COVID-19 related. And, of course, we continue to take on this story to figure out more about what the CDC actually requires states to do and that sort of thing so we continue digging, Poppy.

HARLOW: Rosa, thank you for doing that digging and for all that information this morning. Here in New York, a gruesome discovery, up to 60 bodies were found in four trucks outside of a Brooklyn funeral home. A law enforcement official tells CNN they were tipped off, that there were fluids dripping from those trucks.

Let's go to our Shimon Prokupecz. He joins us again this morning.

What happened? Were these actual refrigerated trucks meant for bodies that the morgue didn't have room for or were they something else?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They were not. What happened here is that funeral director in Brooklyn, this location, took possession of these bodies. The families paid him money to take these bodies and he just became overwhelmed, we're told, with the number of bodies that he kept receiving. And instead of getting refrigerated trucks, he put them in U-Haul box trucks. They were stacked in these trucks. There was no refrigeration.

And with time, as you can imagine, the stench, the smell of decaying bodies just overwhelmed the neighborhood. And folks there, residents of that neighborhood, called police to complain. They say that they saw fluid leaking out of the truck and then when police and state officials got there yesterday, they made the discovery.

It's really just an awful situation and just another sign, Poppy and Jim, of just how overwhelmed components, parts of this city, funeral homes, hospitals, have become overwhelmed with the number of cases, with the number of deaths and now a sad sign. We're seeing this at funeral homes of who have to deal with a lot of these bodies becoming overwhelmed and just don't have the resources and the means to deal with it.

SCIUTTO: Goodness. Those poor families.


SCIUTTO: What a nightmare for them.

Shimon Prokupecz, thanks very much.

We are getting more information on treatments, possible treatments this morning.

HARLOW: Yes. That's right. Some signs of hope. Let's get right to CNN medical correspondent, -- senior medical component Elizabeth Cohen.

So there is new data on Remdesivir, which our viewers have heard you talking about with us every day for the past few weeks, that is promising and being touted by Dr. Anthony Fauci. It is not a cure, OK. So why is it promising in terms of treatment?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. It is clearly not a cure. Let's talk about what it's not before we talk about what it is.


COHEN: For example with the HIV, there is a drug cocktail that came out for those of us who remember this in the early '90s. That was a game changer. That completely changed everything. That is not what this is. This is a drug that seems to make people recover more quickly, which is important, but doesn't necessarily mean that it is saving lives.

So let's take a look at this drug called Remdesivir. If you've never heard of it, it's because it's not actually on the market. It's an experimental drug that was developed for Ebola. It didn't work very well for Ebola and it's never been approved to be on the market for anything. It's just been used experimentally.

So yesterday Dr. Anthony Fauci announced the results of a large study, more than a thousand people, which is large by COVID standards in the United States and in other countries as well, and they found that those who took a placebo took 15 days to recover. Those who took Remdesivir took 11 days to recover.


Now, I know a lot -- for a lot of people including me when I first saw that, you think four days, does that make such a big difference? It does make a difference for two reasons. One, it's always better to be sick for fewer days, of course, anybody knows that. In addition, if you can spend four fewer days in the hospital, that's a good thing. Hospitals are great places they save our lives. They also can give you infections, all sorts of bad things can happen in hospitals.

If you spend four fewer days, that's a good thing. But perhaps most importantly it's a proof of concept that this antiviral mechanism works. And since it works, maybe there are other similar things that can work as well.

SCIUTTO: Elizabeth, Trump administration is calling it "Operation Warped Speed" for a vaccine, though Dr. Fauci said the timeline for this, the likely one still at the earliest January next year. What's actually happening here and is there any evidence that the timeline for a workable vaccine is moving up?

COHEN: So "Operation Warped Speed" is really just a catchy name to put on what they've been doing all this time. Ever since January, and I remember talking to Dr. Fauci at that time and others, they said it is full speed ahead and they have moved at lightning speed to try to get a vaccine. Let's take a listen to something that Dr. Fauci said recently.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: We want to go quickly, but want to make sure it's safe and it's effective. I think that is doable.


FAUCI: If things fall in the right place.


(END VIDEO CLIP) COHEN: Right, so a lot of things have to happen correctly. We have to have enough people to give this vaccine to, we have to have enough virus circulating that we can see if it actually works. The timeline that is being talked about here is by the end of the year. That would be 12 months from when Dr. Fauci originally said this in January. In January he said the timeline for getting a vaccine available to everyone is 12 to 18 months. This puts this at the early end of his timeline.

HARLOW: OK, Elizabeth, all we can do is really, really hope that those early predictions are correct.



HARLOW: We appreciate you.

Still to come, after weeks of touting the nation's testing potential, the president is now downplaying the need for widespread testing across every state. Why the change and how much testing is actually needed so you and everyone can go back to work feeling safe? We'll talk about that.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Yes, listen to the health experts on this. And multiple sources tell CNN that President Trump is furious at his campaign manager, Brad Parscale, at one point, even threatening to sue him. What has the president so upset? Stay with us.



JIM SCIUTTO, CO-ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: Well, despite what experts are saying, unanimously, President Trump is now downplaying the need for widespread blanket testing as more states look to reopen. Have a listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We've done incredible with the testing, and you'll see over the next coming weeks, Mike, you may want to speak about that a little bit. But over the next coming weeks, you'll see some astonishing numbers. I don't know that all of that is even necessary.


POPPY HARLOW, CO-ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: With us now, infectious disease specialist Dr. Kent Sepkowitz. I will just point people to all of the experts who talked about the necessity of testing. And when you hear the president saying that, and, you know, the mayor of Los Angeles at the same time saying they're providing coronavirus testing for all residents with and without symptoms. What do you know from the data needs to be done in terms of testing to have a safe return to somewhat normalcy? KENT SEPKOWITZ, INFECTIOUS DISEASE SPECIALIST: Yes, the only thing we

know, and some days it feels like we don't know so much. But the only thing that we know works is testing. And the reason it works is that it allows us to move intelligently, and quarantine as necessary, assure as necessary, and handle the public health dimensions of this.

Interestingly, when the vice president was at Mayo and famously opted not to wear a mask, in his press conference afterwards, he bragged that he, the vice president, was tested regularly. And therefore knew he didn't have corona, and the people around him are tested routinely. So there's no question that at least Vice President Pence is very aware of the value of testing. It's a little bit like the old let them eat cake in terms of the attitude, I fear.

Except that if I want to eat the cake and you guys don't even get the cake. It's very peculiar. They do recognize the need, just not for us.

SCIUTTO: Let me ask you a question about just how much we know. Dr. Michael Osterholm is infectious diseases expert wrote in "The New York Times" today that while testing is important, the tests, of course, are not full proof. He cited a Cleveland Clinic study that found that the main test being used has about a 15 percent false negative rate, that being key because of course it says you haven't been infected when indeed you may have been exposed.

I just wonder, given those holes and I'm not saying testing isn't important, because clearly, it is, and it seems to be the best weapon you have here. But given those holes, what does that tell us about decisions that public officials will be making, right? Because you know, you make a test and say --


SCIUTTO: Hey, you're safe, but you're not really safe. So how do you balance that information?


SEPKOWITZ: Yes, where we have the tests that we have. We always wish they were better. We are able to make decisions based on pretty good data. I think if you look at South Korea, which we invoke all the time, a recent study held a control an outbreak in a commercial building, you know, this is doable. No test is perfect to say we shouldn't embrace testing as our primary strategy is misguided. We have what we have, it's good, it's not perfect.

Similar to remdesivir, you know, it's adequate as a mediocre treatment, it's not a game-changer.


HARLOW: If we could talk about children for a moment, because the W.H.O --

SEPKOWITZ: Sure -- HARLOW: The World Health Organization this morning, out with a more

in-depth look at why it is that some children as young as 5 and younger are getting this rare inflammatory decision Kawasaki disease that has emerged as a possible complication from COVID-19. And you've seen it happen in several children, and I'm just wondering how alarming that is to you and what parents need to know to look out for.

I understand there's a swelling of feet and hands and rashes. What do they need to look for right now?

SEPKOWITZ: A swelling in feet and rashes and fever. Kawasaki has been around for a while. It's always been mysterious, we always thought it was triggered, the syndrome became evident after what may have been coronavirus routine infection. It's out there, we know how to diagnose it. It has good treatment. It has curative treatment.

So I think awareness as ever is the first, second and third issue here. People should -- if their kid has a rash, if a kid has fever, they need to call their pediatrician, probably through a tele-medicine visit so that rash can be examined and the treatments are pretty straightforward. So it's a real -- it's the real deal. Yes, I think it's the real deal --

HARLOW: Yes --

SEPKOWITZ: But I am confident we can handle it.


SCIUTTO: Yes, so many surprises with this, and I know doctors like you, you're learning something new every day. Dr. Sepkowitz --


SCIUTTO: Thanks so much for helping, walking us through it all.

HARLOW: Thank you, doctor, we appreciate you --

SEPKOWITZ: Thank you both --

HARLOW: So, tonight, Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta will have the very latest on the virus. They have a new live CNN global town hall, they'll be joined by Dr. Anthony Fauci and also Bill Gates. "CORONAVIRUS FACTS AND FEARS", it's tonight, 8:00 Eastern.

SCIUTTO: So President Trump lashed out at his own campaign manager, fuming over his sliding poll numbers and growing criticism of his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. We're going to have the details just ahead.

HARLOW: Also moments away from the opening bell on Wall Street. Futures significantly lower this morning, largely because of this jobless claims number that shows another 3.8 million people filed for first-time unemployment benefits last week. That is more than 30 million Americans filing for those claims in just the last six weeks. U.S. stocks closed sharply higher Wednesday as investors once again

grow optimistic about a potential coronavirus treatment with remdesivir. But these jobs numbers are just tragic once again.



HARLOW: President Trump apparently unleashing on his campaign manager over his sliding poll numbers. And multiple sources reporting to CNN that the president berated Brad Parscale on Friday evening. At one point, the president even threatened to sue him, it's not clear how serious that threat was.

SCIUTTO: Yes, the president's threats to sue a lot of people, he never followed through on. CNN's White House correspondent Jeremy Diamond and John Harwood join us now. First to you, Jeremy, you broke this story, what's been interesting throughout is that even when public polling has showed the president's polling sliding, there's been this kind of storyline that the internal polling showed a different more positive story. But is what you're learning now that Trump's own internal polling shows a slide?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's exactly right, Jim. And that is part of the reason why the president was in such a bad mood last week, and with what in part led him to berate his campaign manager on Friday evening. I'm told according to three sources familiar with the matter, that the president berated Parscale for his slide in the polls, and even threatened to sue him, although as you guys noted, it's not clear exactly what the president would sue his campaign manager over or how serious he was about that threat.

But two days before that incident, the president had been briefed by his political team including Parscale and the RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, and they presented him with some internal polling that shows the president losing against Joe Biden currently in some of those key battleground states. Part of that polling, the briefing that they gave him on the polling was also to try and convince the president to begin to scale back those daily combative news conferences.

And some of the internal polling that they showed him was to show him that some of those key swing voters in fact are really turned off by the president's performance at those briefings. And so, that is also kind of underscoring all of this and the president's anger at his campaign manager because it came on Friday evening after he had spent the day really steeped in the criticism that he faced for saying at a briefing the day before that Americans should perhaps ingest disinfectant in order to cure themselves of the coronavirus.

That really exacerbated those concerns from aides about the president's news conferences. And it also really underscores the message from the president's own political advisors. One Republican close to the White House telling me that the president's bad mood last week and his outburst.