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Fauci: "Clear-cut Evidence" Ebola Drug Reduces Coronavirus Death; Dr. Cyrus Shahpar Discusses Vaccine Development, Remdesivir Treatment, Increased Need for Testing, Warning Signs as States Reopen; 3.8 Million Americans Filed for Unemployment Claims Last Week; Intel Community Pushes Back on NYT Story on Coronavirus Origins; Texas Allowing Restaurants, Theaters, Retail Stores to Reopen; Nevada Extends Stay-at-Home Order Until Mid-May. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired April 30, 2020 - 11:00   ET



POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Oh, so great. Moore was a captain during his military career and was just promoted to honorary colonel in honor of his efforts. He also received more than 125,000 birthday cards from people around the world and a personal message from Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Our thanks to him. And happy birthday.

Thanks for joining us today. I'm Poppy Harlow.


"NEWSROOM" with John King starts right now.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Hello to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm John King in Washington. This is CNN's continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.

Europe still very much in the grip of this pandemic. That word today from the World Health Organization. It cautions against relaxing restrictions too soon.

There's more ugly economic data out today around the world showing the depth of the coronavirus downturn. Contractions in both Spain and France. The European Union reporting the worst drop in economic activity in 25 years.

Here in the United States, new government numbers showing 3.8 million more Americans filed for unemployment benefits. In the past six weeks, coronavirus has killed 30 million American jobs.

The president's morning Twitter feed tell us he's focused not on lost lives, not on lost jobs, but instead on polls, on James Comey, Roger Stone, and Michael Flynn.

The federal social distancing guidelines expire today. Meaning, as we turn from April to May, the rush to reopen becomes a state-by-state experiment and experience. The economic motives are clear, the science less so. Take a look. On a

state-by-state basis, split results. And 24 states, according to Johns Hopkins data, are trending down.

Among them, Arkansas, who says its restaurants will open soon. California also trending down but it's governor poised to close all beaches to keep the trend moving in the right direction. And 26 states showing spikes or reporting more cases, including Texas, the center of a big reopening push right now.

A quick look at the scale of American deaths over the last month is simply horrifying, 4,000 deaths on the 1st of April. And 61,000 deaths this morning, the final day of the month.

The president said yesterday, quote, "We want it to be the way it was." Most scientists, though, say that is wishful thinking, a dream, until there's a vaccine.

Treatment, though, perhaps on a better trajectory. The nation's top expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, says there's now, quote, "clear-cut evidence" that an Ebola drug reduces coronavirus death.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY & INFECTIOUS DISEASES: The improvement was 31 percent better chance of recovering and getting out of the hospital. That's important. But it's the first step in what we project will be better and better drugs coming along.

This is not the total answer, by any means, but it's a very important first step.


KING: Let's go straight to CNN medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen, in Atlanta.

Elizabeth, clear-cut effect, Dr. Fauci says. Tell us about the data.

DR. ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: The data is very interesting because it points to an advantage to taking this drug. But I want to be clear, this is not a blockbuster drug for coronavirus by any means.

Let's take a look at what this drug is since it's hardly a household name. It's called Remdesivir. It was developed for Ebola but it didn't really work very well for Ebola and it kind of sat on the shelves. It's never actually been on the market. Still, as we speak, not on the market for any particular illness. They were given permission to use it experimentally for coronavirus.

This is a study that was sponsored by the NIH and had over a thousand patients in various countries, including the U.S. When people took a placebo, it took them 15 days to recover. When people took Remdesivir, it took them 11 days to recover. But there's a fear that people will hear about this drug and say,

there's a cure, we don't need to social distance. That's not the case. It cut the duration of the illness by four days. That's important and it shows that the drug works and it allows scientists to do further research in this area.

But we haven't seen Remdesivir save lives yet. People are still taking this drug and dying. That's still happening. So we need to keep that in mind as we talk more about this drug -- John?

KING: Very, very important context.

Elizabeth, also some news about a vaccine timeline today. What can you tell us about that?

COHEN: Right. So Anthony Fauci has been talking about a timeline of 12 to 18 months ever since January. I remember talking to him at the time and he was saying we're moving full speed ahead. This is just a catchy name for what Anthony Fauci said back in January.

Basically, They are hoping they can have a vaccine for all Americans by the end of the year. Dr, Fauci said 12 to 18 months in January, so that puts us at the sort of earlier end of that timeframe,

Let's take a listen to something Dr. Fauci had to say recently.


FAUCI: We're in the early phases of a trial, phase one. When you go into the next phase, 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. And you do that at risk.



COHEN: What he means "at risk," you start ramping up production of several vaccines now or very soon, some of them won't work, so there's a chance you'll spend money on products that don't work, but hopefully you have products that do work on time -- John?

KING: Elizabeth Cohen, very appreciate that. Two big developments. We'll follow this as we go forward.

For more on this medical conversation, I want to bring in Dr. Cyrus Shahpar. He's a former official at the CDC.

Doctor, let's start there with Dr. Fauci, a, the approach. Let's be ready to ramp up production, even maybe of some vaccines we're not quite sure of yet, but we'll ramp up production just in case. If they work, we'll have them to distribute. If they don't, we'll throw them away. And the timeline.

Given your experience at the CDC, does that sound reasonable or overly optimistic?

DR. CYRUS SHAHPAR, EPIDEMIOLOGIST & FORMER TEAM LEAD, GLOBAL RAPID RESPONSE TEAM, CDC: I think the timeline is optimistic. We've never created a vaccine in 12 to 18 months. But this is an unprecedented situation, so we have to try to do everything as fast as possible. And also get ready for distribution.

Once we know something works, we really need to get it in the hands of everyone, so that work needs to start now.

KING: You have been big -- I read something you wrote the other day pushing for way, way more testing. Listen to the president of the United States and tell me if you agree or disagree. Here's the president.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We've done incredible with the testing. And you will see, over the next coming weeks -- Mike you may be one 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.


KING: The administration says they're ramping up. The president says it may not even be necessary. What do you say?

SHAHPAR: No, we definitely think it's necessary. We do need to ramp up from where we are now. At minimum, double to triple the number of tests in order to test the priority groups, people who need to be tested, symptomatic health care workers, people living in nursing homes, first responders who have symptoMs.

To do all that testing, just to get eyes on the virus, we need to massively test.

KING: I want to show you the data as we go through the state-by-state reopening experiment. I think it's critical that we talk to people like yourself.

These graphics are a little hard to see. But if you lean forward, you'll see the rate of transmission. I've been listening and learning from the experts like yourself.

If it's below one. That means a person who has the coronavirus is not passing it on to at least one other person. Greater transmission from one person below.

So Texas, Georgia and Ohio, they're all now below people with coronavirus passing it on to one person. If you look, especially in Texas and Georgia and Ohio there, it dropped down and has now flattened.

If you're advising a governor who is reopening his state, what is the most critical part of that line, keeping the rate of transmission below one to one?

SHAHPAR: It's definitely keeping it below one and sustaining it below one. The challenge with using those figures is there's different ways to estimate it. Not every estimate the people use is the same, just like the models.

For instance, in New York City in mid-April, one model said that number was one to one to 1.1. Another one said it was .8. You would make very different decisions based on those two numbers for the same place at the same time.

I think that type of now casting or using those figures to make decisions, it's early in the evolution of that. It can be used to help inform, but we shouldn't be making decisions on that information alone.

KING: But if you see it starting to go up as states reopen, that would be a warning sign, correct?

SHAHPAR: That would be a warning sign, yes. We're closely watching that. I think we're going to look to different states with different approaches to see, what are the impacts of kind of pulling back on some of the measures.

KING: Dr. Shahpar, really appreciate your insights and expertise. Let's stay in touch as we walk through this state-by-state experiment.

For more on this, Dr. Anthony Fauci and Bill Gates join Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Anderson Cooper live tonight for a new CNN global town hall "CORONAVIRUS, FACTS AND FEARS." That's at 8:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

A closer look now at the punishing new jobs numbers. Nearly four million more Americans filing for unemployment last week.

Our chief business correspondent, Christine Romans, is in New York.

Christine, what do we take from these numbers aside from the obvious "ouch" pain?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: April was probably the worst month in the American economy than we've ever had. Main Street is living through six punishing weeks here.

The rate of new jobless claims is slowing, but slowing from these astronomical levels, 30 million people. That's one-fifth of the labor market has filed for unemployment in the last six weeks or so.

It kind of depends on where you are, too. There are parts of the country that are really, really getting hit hard. Hawaii, for example, 29 percent of its labor force has filed for jobless benefits in just the past six weeks. That's remarkable. It's a tourism-based economy, of course, but you've got all those people out of work there.

Other big states with a percentage of their labor market completely sidelined, Kentucky, Georgia, Michigan, Rhode Island. Just remarkable numbers.


Each number, John, is a person who probably has bills to pay tomorrow. The government has said they'll give extra money for jobless benefits. But as you know, the states have been quite uneven with how they've distributed those benefits.

Some people are now looking to certain states starting to very slowly reopen and they haven't even received their first unemployment check yet -- John?

KING: Such an important point you make when we show these graphs and you look at the numbers on the right of your screen. Each one of these numbers is a person who lost their job, has coronavirus, lost their life.

Christine Romans, more on this topic later.

Christine, thank you very much.

ROMANS: Thank you.

KING: Some rare public pushback this hour from the Intelligence Community. That, to a "New York Times" story. "The Times" reporting says senior Trump administration officials are prodding the intelligence agencies to try to find evidence to fit an uncorroborated conclusion, that the coronavirus originated in a lab in Wuhan, China.

CNN's Alex Marquardt and Jim Sciutto join me now.

Jim, to you first.

It's rare to see a statement like this from the director of National Intelligence, the acting director in this case, put out in public, what?

SCIUTTO: Listen, let's set aside the response to the "New York Times" story for a moment and just look at this statement and what it says about what the Intelligence Community is doing now on the origin of this virus.

It presents the theories here as an either/or. It says that while the Intelligence Community has eliminated the idea that this was a manmade virus, it says the two choices in effect are that this came from animals, which is the scientific consensus, or that it escaped from a weapons lab, a Chinese bio weapons lab, which is located in Wuhan.

On what basis? Is there intelligence to back up that theory?

I'll tell you, in years of covering the intelligence agencies, I haven't seen, and I'm not aware, of a public comment putting out there in the public sphere an as-yet unproven theory.

I'll tell you as a comparison, when the Intelligence Community made its public assessment in October 2016 that Russia was interfering in that election, that public statement followed a high-confidence assessment that Russia was interfering in the election.

You know, you didn't have ODNI at this point saying this is something we're going to check out. They did an assessment, had intelligence to back it up and made a rare public statement.

What's rare about this is they're putting out a theory there, at least they're not preventing evidence they have yet backed up that theory.

When you connect that to the president repeatedly placing blame on China and raising this possibility, it raises questions about political influence to intelligence.

KING: It does, Alex, in the context we know that the president from day one has been distrustful of the Intelligence Community. He has churned through people at these agencies, including the director of National Intelligence, to top person.

The current person is this ambassador to Germany, Rick Grenell, who is acting, who is viewed by people as more political, less intelligence experience.

Now comes this statement. If you read it, it says we're looking at A or B, we're still looking at both. It doesn't make a conclusion, but to Jim's point, they put something on the table that's just uncorroborated at this point.

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, John. And we have to look at it in that context. This is not just a statement that is coming from the Intelligence Community. This is coming, as you say, from the director of National Intelligence.

Rick Grenell really an outlier when it comes to directors of National Intelligence, someone with no prior intelligence experiment, no prior national security intelligence experiment.

You remember Dan Coats, who had both of those, was pushed out last summer. He was succeeded by an acting director in Joe McGuire, who was in place as this crisis was growing in January and February. And then Grenell was given the job in February.

When we talk about the politicization of intelligence, it makes sense that this kind of statement is coming from the Intelligence Community. It makes sense that the White House and the national security apparatus feels like they can ask this of the Intelligence Community, that they can ask them to look into a theory that really has not been substantiated.

As Jim says, it's remarkable that you now have the I.C. putting out a statement about a theory that really hasn't been solidified. They don't have an assessment. They don't have a smoking gun. The only thing they're saying with certainty is that the virus originated in China and that it was not genetically modified.

So this statement is not only in response to that "New York Times" reporting but also in response to all of us asking about, you know, the actual origins of this because you have people like Mike Pompeo and others in the administration who are pushing this theory that the virus originated in a lab, not in the market, seemingly to be able to assign China as a scapegoat for political reasons -- John?



KING: If -- go ahead.

SCIUTTO: You know this as well as me, just keep going back to the Iraq war. The intelligence agencies went through years of new processes and analysis following the misread of intelligence on Iraq's methods of destruction to prevent political pressure from influencing those decisions going moving forward.

If it is political influence here, that raises questions about all of the work they did over those years of solve that problem post 2003.

KING: All right, Jim Sciutto, Alex Marquardt, appreciate it.

To button it up, it is terrible in a time of pandemic that you have to question just about every statement that comes out of the administration given their history, given their history. But question them we must.

Up next for us, business owners in Texas struggling with reopening under a strict new set of rules.



KING: Today is the last day of April, meaning the end of the federal government's social distancing guidelines. It is a state-by-state call as of tomorrow.

These five states, their stay-at-home orders expire today. But look at those trend lines. They're not all on a consistent downward slope. Now see where you fit on this map.

There are 20 states that will be relaxing at least some restrictions starting tomorrow. Some are opening restaurants for dine-in service. Others, restarting elective medical procedures or reopening state parks, regardless of whether their cases are on a downward trend.

Arizona and Nevada, on the other hand, extending stay-at-home orders past this week. But they are relaxing some regulations on things like curbside pickups and outdoor activities.

The order from the Texas Governor Greg Abbott allows restaurants, movie theaters and retail stores to open Friday, tomorrow, with occupancy restrictions. But just because these businesses are allowed to open doesn't necessarily mean they will.

CNN's Ed Lavandera is in Texas now.

Ed, what are you hearing from business owners down there? Happy to open or hesitant to open?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, we've been talking to business owners the last few days as this plan gets ready to unfold in Texas.

What really strikes me is it's easy for politicians to stand at a podium and explain all of this and the idea or reopening the economy -- they like the headlines -- but it is the people down here on the ground that are really facing the brunt of these decisions.

I can tell you, of all the different types of business owners we've talked to, it is a stressful decision as they try to figure out to do what is best. They are juggling the economic consequences with the health and safety consequences of all of this.

Take this restaurant, for example. Beto & Son, in a trendy area of Trinity Groves just west of downtown Dallas. We spoke to the owners of this restaurant.

They've put X's on the ground where they want their wait staff to stand. They've separated all the tables. They're limiting the area to just outdoor seating on the patio. They're training their staff on how to interact with customers as they prepare to start taking in customers tomorrow.

They say that having done all of this at just operating at 25 percent of capacity, they're still nervous that they could go out of business in months.


JULIAN RODARTE, CO-OWNER, BETO & SON: It's been extremely stressful. We're not going to make a dime out of this at all. It's 25 percent of the revenue, 100 percent of the costs. We are really doing it for our staff family to make sure they're taken care of and just hoping to make it on the day by day.


LAVANDERA: John, so every business owner is different.

Here at this restaurant, the economic impact on their employees was really the driving force to convince them to reopen.

But there are other restaurants and owners and business owners that say it's still too soon and not worth the danger of all of this.

But you really see the struggle that everyone is grappling with as they try to figure out what to do, what is best in this really confusing and dangerous time -- John?

KING: It's confusing and dangerous. Well put.

Ed Lavandera on the ground there in Dallas. Ed, appreciate that firsthand reporting. That matters the most right now.

Nevada is taking a more measured approach. The governor extending his stay-at-home order until mid-May. But tomorrow, some restrictions will be relaxed.

Our Kyung Lah is in Las Vegas.

Kyung, what is the reaction there? I know the mayor has been agitating to reopen. The governor says, no, we're going to take our time.

KYUNG LAH, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The people I'm talking to, John, are the people who work here, the workers.

I want to widen out the shot and give you a good look at where I am. I am standing on the Las Vegas Strip. I could do cartwheels down here because it is completely empty. There are no cars. Something you would never have imagined even just a month ago.

And over here, if you walk with me, no one is here. The entire Las Vegas Strip is shut down. Anyone who would be a tourist, who would normally fill these sidewalks, they are gone.

And what the workers tell me is when they see all this, something like this, the Bellagio Fountains shut off, no music, no commerce, the casinos, hotels shut down, it is eerie. What they hear here is a lack of money.

They have no jobs. Unemployment here, according to an economist we've spoken to, it is already locally at 25 percent. They believe that is actually higher.


And that has meant food lines and middle-class workers struggling.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I never see myself to do this before. I never see myself to do this before, but what can you do?

I said before, I'm not going to go over there because maybe there's somebody else that needs that, and then now I have to do it. I haven't gotten any unemployment.


LAH: So you can hear in her voice there, she's afraid, and that's what we're hearing from workers. Yes, they want to go back to work but they're also worried about their health and safety.

The governor saying it's going to be phase three or phase four before any of this comes back to life. What he is expected to announce later today, John, is that some curbside retail will begin to open up, but the stay-at-home order extending until middle of May -- John?

KING: Kyung Lah, fantastic reporting there on the strip there in Vegas for us.

A reminder from those pictures and from that voice you just heard, if you have the resources and can give a little bit to a food bank, this is the time to do it.

Kyung, thank you very much.

Coming up for us, President Trump erupts at his campaign manager over coronavirus criticism and his drop in poll numbers.