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Vaccine Timeline?; Interview With Miami Beach, Florida, Mayor Dan Gelber; States Start Reopening. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired April 30, 2020 - 15:00   ET

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


[15:00:13]

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. Thank you so much for joining us this hour.

Ready or not, the reopening of America is picking up speed this afternoon. At least 31 states will be partially reopened by week's end, restaurants, public parks, even dozens of shopping malls preparing to open their doors.

The federal social distancing guidelines are also set to expire at midnight. And we learned today the White House is considering new CDC recommendations detailing how businesses, schools and other groups should handle reopening.

They include schools keeping desks at least six feet apart, having students eat lunch in classrooms, rather than cafeterias, faith-based organizations holding virtual or outdoor services, and restaurants using this multiple menus, plates and utensils, among other precautions.

All of this as the numbers continue to mount. The virus has killed more than 61,000 Americans. Well over a million Americans have been infected.

Let's start this hour with how the country's three biggest states are each preparing to reopen in three different ways.

CNN's Stephanie Elam, she's in California, the state that's taken one of the most aggressive approaches to shutting down, and now one of the most cautious approaches to opening back up.

Stephanie, what is it going to be looking like there?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, for one thing, we did see last weekend, Kate, where the temperature soared and people flocked to the few beaches that were open. That would be in Ventura County and Orange County.

And because of that, the governor was not at all thrilled here. Governor Gavin Newsom saying that is just not what we want to do, because these viruses do not take the weekends off. So, now we are expecting to hear from him shortly, announcing that he's going to order all of the beaches up and down the state to be closed for the foreseeable future. Now, we just know that, in Newport Beach, that city council in Orange

County had voted to keep their beaches open, but with stricter enforcement of those distancing guidelines. So, one executive from Orange County saying that this is an overreaction.

Also, San Diego, which opened up their beaches, are saying their people have been doing a really good job of following the rules. So they are not happy about this either. They're saying it sends the wrong message.

But, nevertheless, we're waiting to hear this because we do know that a memo was sent out to the police stations in the state to talk about that. So we are waiting to hear that, just because they're very concerned about this virus spreading as the numbers are still rising.

Here in L.A. County, Kate, I can tell you that now anyone who wants to get tested for the virus can now do so, according to mayor Eric Garcetti -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Things changing really quickly. Thanks, Stephanie.

Ed Lavandera, he's in Dallas, Texas, where the governor is taking a different approach than what Stephanie just laid out -- Ed.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Kate.

Well, here in Texas, the stay-at-home order ends today. That means starting tomorrow, restaurants like the ones you see behind me can begin opening up and serving at 25 percent capacity.

So, what does that mean in reality? And, essentially, what this is doing is, that is allow -- that is making business owners on their own having to make these very tough decision. So, restaurants, malls, movie theaters can open up, although several movie theater chains say they're not going to open up. They're going to stay closed for a matter of safety.

And we spoke with one restaurant owner here. And, as you look at the trend lines of coronavirus cases in the state, state officials believe that they're beginning to see the flattening of the curve. But here in Dallas County, they had nearly 180 new cases announced today. That's the highest number reported in the last month-and-a-half, so troubling signs here.

And that's why there's still a great deal of concern. And business owners, like the one we spoke to, say they're just trying to figure it out and make the best of a horrible situation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JULIAN RODARTE, EXECUTIVE CHEF AND CO-OWNER, BETO & SON: It's been extremely stressful. I mean, 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. (END VIDEO CLIP)

LAVANDERA: Kate, that the owner of this particular restaurant we were talking to says they're opening up essentially just to be able to salvage work for their employees. As you heard, they're going to be losing money.

And a lot of small business owners, as politicians make these grandiose claims that they can reopen, they're going to reopen the Texas economy, it's small business owners left to make these very difficult decisions.

BOLDUAN: And running day by day is no way to run a business.

Thanks, Ed.

CNN's Randi Kaye is West Palm Beach, Florida, where the governor in Florida is taking yet a different approach -- Randi.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Kate, you could say the governor here in Florida is sort of dipping his toe in that reopening pool.

Phase one of his reopening starts on May 4. And Florida's 14-day trend, despite looking at that, here's what's reopening. Let me tell you. We have the retail stores. They can open at 25 percent capacity. Restaurants can also have 25 percent capacity inside and tables outside, as long as they're six feet apart.

[15:05:14]

Elective surgeries can resume. Golf courses are open, as long as you take your own cart. Community pools are open. Parks are open. And boat ramps are open.

As far as what's closed, you have movie theaters, dog parks, spas, salons. Those all remain closed. Nursing homes are still closed to visitors. Picnic areas are closed and schools are still closed. Masks and social distancing certainly encouraged, and no groups larger than 10.

But here's what's key. This is why I say he's only sort of dipping his toe in the reopening pool. He's keeping these major South Florida counties, Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach County, where I am, closed, completely closed.

Now, these are three major counties, the most populous counties of the of the state. They include 30 percent of the state's population, about six million people. Those will remain under a stay-at-home order. So even though the governor says he is reopening, he's taking extra precaution when it comes to that area of the state -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Good to see you, Randi. Thanks. Really appreciate it.

All right, so now to testing, one of the most important issues that experts say in keeping a handle on the virus as the country reopens. Despite repeated pleas from states and experts for help ramping up testing, President Trump is once again contradicting what his task force has stated all along, now suggesting widespread testing isn't necessary.

Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have done incredible with the testing.

And you will see over the next coming weeks -- Mike, you may be -- want to speak about that a little bit. But over the next coming weeks, you will see some astonishing numbers. I don't know that all of that's even necessary.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Let's take a closer look at two of the biggest states we're talking about here, Texas and Florida.

New figures show that those states are falling considerably short of their testing goals, even as they reopen, as they laid out just then.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott, he has said they need to test 30,000 people a day. Over the past two weeks, the state conducted less than 12,000 tests a day, on average. And in Florida, experts say the state needs to test about 33,000 people every day. That's more than double the current rate of daily tests being conducted there at the moment.

For more on this, joining me right now is the mayor of Miami Beach, Florida, Dan Gelber.

Mayor, thanks for being here.

MAYOR DAN GELBER (D) MIAMI BEACH, FL: Glad to be.

BOLDUAN: The state beginning to reopen on Monday in a big way.

Your county, your city and -- your county and to others not part of that reopening, as Randi Kaye was laying out, however. How do you feel just in general about Florida reopening now?

GELBER: Well, I don't know that we're -- to be a little more accurate, the governor sort of put that on us to decide.

I don't think we should be rushing into a reopening at all. I think we have to rely on doctors and health care practitioners who tell us whether we're ready.

And the two main things to decide whether we're ready are sort of the measure of the virus in the community -- and it's still here, obviously, and it hasn't really been plummeting down the way they want it to -- but, more importantly, that you have the testing capacity, the surveillance testing, the contact tracing, which is a pretty massive effort, so that, when you do have an outbreak, which you most certainly will have, you're able to, in a laser-like and surgical way, sort of cabin it off from the rest of the community.

You don't have that ability, you're going to be flying blind, and, unfortunately, you're likely going to have to close again, because there will be nothing you can do.

BOLDUAN: Yes.

And exactly on that point, Governor DeSantis said earlier this week -- here was how he put it. Let me just read his words: "Our ability to test exceeds our current demand."

He's saying that you all have an oversupply of tests, apparently, at this point. Do you see it that way?

GELBER: Well, listen, I have been -- I have been -- the governor has responded to our requests. We're opening up a new testing site at our convention center, which was already transformed into a field hospital. So now we're going to transform it into a testing site.

It's not really even just the testing that's going on right now that concerns me. We have to have the capacity to do this contact tracing. And imagine my community. We typically get 10 to 15 million visitors in a little town of 92,000.

And we have all these hotels and venues and promenades. And how are we going to be able to control this if we don't have a massive amount of testing and the expertise and capacity?

I will give a plug to the Rockefeller Foundation. They are rolling out very, very competent and state-of-the-art, best-in-the-marketplace approach to this. And they picked our community. The Dade, Miami and Miami Beach community is one of their 10 sites.

And, hopefully, that will give us the capacity and expertise to do this, because, if we don't, I really am very worried that we're going to be opening up to a -- really just a disaster.

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BOLDUAN: I mean, it could be. That's exactly right. I mean, a second wave is everyone is absolutely terrified for. Forget what -- I mean, putting aside even the most important thing, what it could -- what it means for public health, for the economy in your -- what it would mean for the economy in your city, in your state, it would also be devastating.

Do you have -- do you see any sign that contact tracing is even close to where it needs to be for where you think it needs to be?

GELBER: I will say this. We have reached out.

And then -- well, as an aside, one of the problems with any kind of challenge is, it reveals the fault lines of organization. Our county health department actually works for the state surgeon general, who doesn't actually report anybody in the county or the city. So you have got to just hope they deal with you. They have been pretty

good. They have increased their capacity and are getting to the point, I think, where they're almost there. We brought in experts from the University of Florida and from Duke to challenge that to make sure it is, because I can't turn to my residents and say, or the business community, let's go, we're ready to go, fire it up, and then find out that we didn't have any of the things or the protocols that we needed.

And imagine if it does fail. Then how hard is it going to be to convince people that it's safe to reopen again? Who's going to believe us? Who's going to come here? Who's going to go anywhere?

So it's really important to get it right. And you must have incredible capacity for surveillance testing to help with contact tracing and for just testing asymptomatic people.

BOLDUAN: Do you -- you're not reopening yet in your city.

GELBER: No. No.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: When do you -- do you have any -- do you know or have any idea in your gut yet when you think you will be reopening? Are you thinking a week out that you will be able to start thinking seriously about it, a month out?

Is there one thing that you need to see, singularly, before you're comfortable?

GELBER: My gut is the gut of an attorney and former federal prosecutor, not the gut of an epidemiologist or an infectious disease doctor.

When they tell me, when they tell me we have got capacity to manage this virus, so that you can open up, that's when I will turn to my residents and say, experts have told me that.

This is not a political decision. It's a decision -- it's a health care crisis at its root. Even though it has an economic crisis as well, it's a health care challenge.

BOLDUAN: Let me ask you. The governor has -- when he was in the Oval Office, especially, he is taking credit for the relatively low death rate that we have seen in Florida.

He's also really gone to the point of criticizing other states for what he's called their draconian measures that they put in place, and they had higher death rates. But when you really look at how things played out in Florida, you shut down, you did a stay-at-home order in your city on March 23, more than a week before the governor issued the statewide order.

Do you think the governor deserves credit here, or do you think it was the fact that your earlier action and that of other local officials was able to get ahead of it? GELBER: You know, I think it's -- listen, I don't believe that this is a game about credit or blame.

The governor, when I called and told him we were doing it, he was -- he wanted to hear and he was totally agreeable. And he gave us the information and support we wanted. So, I'm not about the sort of whose fault it is.

But I will tell you this. When you -- we could use more of that capacity to understand this issue, because, typically, cities like mine don't have the capacity to make these very sophisticated and complex health care decisions.

But I don't -- I'm not a finger-pointer. I was the Democratic leader in the legislature. He's a Republican. It would be easy to get into that. I think it doesn't do well for anyone. We were the first city to shelter in place ,the first city to close our beaches, the first city to require masks, I think, among the one or two in the nation.

But we have to because we are not a city that does social distance. We want our fairs and Super Bowls and people coming into Ocean Drive and our beautiful beaches on any other day. But, right now, we can't have that. And we're not built for social distance.

So we needed to act, I think, faster and quicker. And when I called him to let him know that's what we were doing, he didn't say no. He said -- he said, if that's what you think, I'm supporting it.

BOLDUAN: Well, look, I'll tell you, Mayor, as a fan of your -- as a fan of your beautiful beaches, I am included in the everyone is looking forward to getting back on your beaches.

But, until then, thanks for what you're doing. We will stick close to you and hear what you're hearing on the ground and when you make those decisions to reopen.

GELBER: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Thanks so much.

Coming up for us...

GELBER: Thank you very much.

BOLDUAN: Thank you.

The drug remdesivir is raising hopes of a treatment for the coronavirus, for a drug that hasn't yet been approved by the FDA. Will there be enough for everyone who needs it?

Plus, the White House is calling it Operation Warp Speed. What's the strategy and will it work?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:19:19] BOLDUAN: Dr. Anthony Fauci today is continuing to express optimism the drug remdesivir will be a first and important step toward finding effective treatments for coronavirus, earlier saying that he's pretty confident the FDA will be giving the drug a stamp of approval quickly for emergency use in hospitals, saying it will now be the standard of care for COVID-19 patients, as clinical trials have shown I.V. treatment of remdesivir has shortened a patient's hospitalization by four days, on average.

Now the maker of the drug, Gilead, is reporting, with their current supply, they have enough to treat 140,000 patients.

CNN senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is tracking this sign of hope.

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And we will take it where we can get it, Elizabeth.

What are you hearing about this statement coming from Gilead out about how many patients they can treat now and how quickly they could increase production?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right.

So, two thoughts on that. One, you mentioned 140,000 patients, Kate. That's assuming that each patient did a 10-day course of treatment. Gilead has also said -- has said that it looks like maybe five days would be enough. So that then increases the number.

If you can do 140,000 for 10, presumably, you could do twice as many for five, if that were to work out. Also, this is an antiviral drug. They are not terribly complicated to manufacturer. Gilead has a lot of experience doing this. They have a very large portfolio of HIV drugs, also antiviral drugs.

So there's sort of every reason to think that they could ramp this up pretty easily.

BOLDUAN: And the administration, it has also launched what it's named Operation Warp Speed, which -- an effort to speed up the development time for a vaccine, talking about treatment and this vaccine.

Dr. Fauci said that the goal is for that to happen by January.

Let me play what the president said about this today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Well, I hope we're going to have a vaccine. And we're going to fast-track it like you have never seen before, if we come up with a vaccine. I think they probably will.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: What are you learning about this effort? COHEN: You know, it's interesting, because it sounds like this is

something new.

But really what they did was they gave it a new catchy name, Operation Warp Speed. He's saying January. Well, back in January of this year, Dr. Fauci said 12 to 18 months, so January of next year or the end of this year, that's 12 months.

So, in other words, it's on the short end of what Dr. Fauci said. Now, there certainly are skeptics who say, wow, we have never made a new vaccine in anything like that. It's usually years and years.

But there are some advantages right now. First of all, they're throwing a lot of money at this. There are dozens and dozens of companies that are trying. And so that really helps. When you throw money at it, and you have a lot of different teams working on it, and also with the technology that we have today that we didn't have in prior years, it could be that they could get this done in 12 months.

BOLDUAN: Great to see you, Elizabeth. Thanks.

COHEN: Thanks.

BOLDUAN: So, how is this going to work?

Joining me right now is Dr. Walter Orenstein. He's associate director of the Emory Vaccine Center in Atlanta.

Doctor, thank you so much for taking the time for us.

What do you think of this timeline of manufacturing a COVID vaccine by January?

DR. WALTER ORENSTEIN, EMORY UNIVERSITY: I think it's very quick. It's possible, but it's going to be difficult.

I think the big issue is, obviously, they need a vaccine that works and is safe. And, normally, it takes three phases of trials to have a vaccine done.

The first one, which is going on with a number of vaccine products, including one at Emory right now, dealing with looking at primarily safety and whether an immune response induced.

Then a phase two, which is sort of intermediate, then a phase three, which is the actual effectiveness trial, or efficacy trial, to look at whether the vaccine is protective, and whether there are any safety problems with its use.

And then all this information has to be reviewed by regulators for licensure, and then we need to produce it. I think we can go as quickly as possible. I think 12 months is optimistic.

And, as Elizabeth Cohen said, this began in January. And we are moving forward. So there are a number of vaccines in phase one or phase two trials right now. BOLDUAN: As we have all been learning is and you have been pointing

out, it is not uncommon to see a timeline of something more like five years or even 10 years to get a vaccine developed into market.

Are there risks of moving this too quickly?

ORENSTEIN: I don't think there are risks of moving it too quickly.

I think that there are -- other than perhaps wasting funding that could be used otherwise. I think the major risk is, will these vaccines work? We don't have a model of a vaccine that works yet, and how safe is it?

And, obviously, there are a lot of trials going on. According to the World Health Organization Web site today, there are eight vaccines in clinical trials and another 70, 70-plus vaccines, or 80-plus -- actually 80-plus vaccines in pre-clinical development.

So, we need something that works. And, normally, it takes years and the trials take longer. We're moving at warp speed. And it's hoped, but you have to be prepared just in case it doesn't work out.

BOLDUAN: Yes.

[15:25:00]

I mean, and, as you mentioned, kind of as they're moving in warp speed, part of the strategy, it seems that they're laying out with this project, is kind of centralizing the effort somewhat.

You have however many clinical trials out there going on and a number of vaccine possibilities that they're looking at around the world, and now bringing it together, the trials, the private companies who will manufacture the drug, and the federal government with a whole lot of money and obviously the oversight over the drug to streamline the effort.

And I'm wondering, this morning if this is the best way to get a vaccine done, why isn't it done more often with vaccine production?

ORENSTEIN: Well, I think part of it is, for many other vaccines, there's not the emergency that we're talking about.

What we have here is a new disease to which the population seems to be 100 percent susceptible. We don't really have that with any of the other vaccine-preventable diseases that we have had to deal with. And so there is -- obviously, you want a vaccine as quickly as possible.

And we have tried to get an AIDS vaccine for over 30 years and have been unable to do it yet. But I think we -- clearly, vaccines would make a big, big difference in the health burden of this.

I think the other issue that we need to be considering now is, even if we have a successful vaccine, we're not going to have eight billion doses the day after the vaccine is licensed to vaccinate the whole world. And so we're going to need to have a system in place to prioritize what might be limited supplies initially as to who gets it, and assuring that we have a delivery system to get the vaccine out to people for whom it would be recommended.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely.

Thank you for coming on. It's really important to get your perspective. Thank you.

ORENSTEIN: No, and I think one of the big issues is, it's not too early to begin discussing, if you have limited supplies, which groups should get the vaccine first.

BOLDUAN: Which do you think should be the first group?

(CROSSTALK)

ORENSTEIN: What?

BOLDUAN: Who do you think should be the first group?

ORENSTEIN: Well, I think that, to me, the two major groups that one would have to consider are essential workers, such as health care workers, and then people who are most at risk of complications from the disease, such as the elderly.

But you might need to balance that. If the elderly often don't make that good a response to a vaccine, you may have to protect the elderly more indirectly by preventing people -- by vaccinating people who might transmit.

So there is a whole process that the CDC undergoes. And they have a committee, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, which begins looking at all this information and then deciding what is the best way to mitigate the burden of this disease.

BOLDUAN: Yes, so, progress, but clearly not there yet, and a lot of things to consider along the way.

ORENSTEIN: Correct. Correct.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much, Doctor.

ORENSTEIN: We do need to think about those things now and be ready, so when we get the first doses, we're ready to go.

BOLDUAN: Thank you, Doctor. Absolutely. Thanks so much.

ORENSTEIN: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Still ahead for us: another sad sign of how hard the virus is hitting the country -- 3.8 million Americans filed for unemployment for the first time last week.

Are there any signs of hope in the new data? And who can help?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [15:30:00]