Return to Transcripts main page


Universities Make Plans to Hold In-Person Classes in The Fall; According to CDC 4900 Plus Workers at Meat and Poultry Plants Test Positive For COVID. Gilead Gets FDA Approval for Remdesivir to Treat COVID; Doctors Report Surge in Strokes Among Young Patient. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired May 1, 2020 - 15:30   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: It is May 1st traditionally known as college decision day. The day many high school seniors commit to their school of choice.

But with the pandemic, hundreds of schools are extending those deadlines. And also, a big question remains, will students even be on campus in the fall?

Colleges and universities across the country are working through that now. One of the schools already announcing it plans to have students on campus and in classrooms is the University of Oregon. Planning to bring back over 22,000 students in the fall. Joining me right now is the President of the University of Oregon, Michael Schill. Thank you for coming in.

MICHAEL SCHILL, PRESIDENT, UNIVERSITY OF OREGON (via Cisco Webex): Hey, Kate. Good to be here.

BOLDUAN: Thank you. You are planning for it. How confident are you that it's going to happen, that you'll have students back on campus in the fall?

SCHILL: We are hoping, we are planning, we are counting on having students back. Our faculty did an amazing job going remote. But, you know, a university like the University of Oregon is more than just two-dimensional online classes. It is a place where we learn from each other.

So, our students, our faculty, our staff, our whole community is really excited about the possibility of us being back and the probability of us being back.

BOLDUAN: Every parent and student I'm sure is wondering the same thing. What is going to be different? Talk me through this. What is one -- one piece of it is what is the dorm situation going to look like this fall? SCHILL: Sure. So, what we are -- we are right now in the planning

stages. See, we are in a fortunate position in that we start on quarters. So, we're not beginning until the beginning of October. So, we have extra time to do really carefully planning and also watch what happens around the rest of the country.

But we have a great emergency preparedness group and what we're going to be doing in the dorms is we are going to be thinning out the dorms so not that many students will be using bathroom facilities. We, maybe reducing the number of students in the dorms significantly.

We are going to be doing testing on a regular basis of students. And we're also going to be doing contact tracing. So, it is very important -- we want our students back. But first and foremost is their safety, safety of our professors, our staff, and our entire community of Eugene.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. And, of course, if you reduce the number of students living in a dorm, where do you put the rest of them? Are you going to be -- is it now -- I mean everything has a ripple effect, right. Every decision that you have to make here. Is it now more off campus housing you need to find for people?

SCHILL: Yes if that is the case. Now, we're very fortunate in Eugene, our housing market is fairly -- it is not as tight as many places, so we'll be able to handle that.

And, you know, and also, I should say, everything that we're doing is subject to the -- the final say in all of this is going to be the governors. And we are really, really fortunate to be on the West Coast because our three governors are science-based governors in our region, Newsom, Brown and Inslee and we're working very, very closely with them and with the other leading research universities in our region. And so, we will come up with a lot of plans, a lot of scenarios, we're gaming out every scenario right now.

BOLDUAN: Talk to me about one of those scenarios also -- dining halls, lecture halls. I assume that means reduced density there as well.

SCHILL: Absolutely. So what we might do is more hybrid classes. So you might have a class -- split a class in half, same room, split it in half so the people are distanced and one week they might be doing things online, the next week they'll be in person. You'll have small sections where you'll be in big rooms, where you will be able to not sit right on top of each other. I would imagine there could be masks that people will sometimes wear.


We'll do intensive cleaning of the rooms, until all of those things, working very, very carefully and very closely with our health department in the county -- main county. And you know --

BOLDUAN: Sorry. Sorry.

SCHILL: No -- part of the advantage of being a great research university is we have all of this brain power from our faculty and our staff that we can really

put to this. And, you know, my belief is that the universities will lead our countries out -- our country out of this crisis.

BOLDUAN: Here's hoping for that. And it is also no small thing, you have major sports programs at Oregon. What is that going to look like for them?

SCHILL: So that remains -- that is not within my control, whether -- so obviously a lot of people are wondering what football will look like? Because I doubt very much, we're going to have a packed stadium watching our Ducks play football.

As you know we won the Rose Bowl this year so we want our football games to be played, we're hoping our football games will be played, but we're not going to take any chances with the health and safety of our student athletes or the people who come to watch them. So, the decisions there will be made by the Pac-12 Conference as well as the NCAA, as well as the governor.

BOLDUAN: Yes. There's a lot of necessary -- it is necessary in this case. A lot of cooks do need to be in the kitchen when it comes to these major decisions. President Schill thank you. Good luck, appreciate your time.

SCHILL: Thank you, stay safe.

BOLDUAN: Thank you. You as well.

Coming up, just days after the President orders meat processing plants to remain open across the country, hundreds of workers test positive for COVID-19. What is being done then to protect workers if they're being told it is time to go back to work?



BOLDUAN: This just into CNN. The CDC reporting that more than 4,900 workers in U.S. meat and poultry processing facilities have contracted the coronavirus. At least 115 facilities in 19 states have reported cases. And in two of the hardest hit states when it comes to this industry, Iowa and South Dakota, that comes out to about 18 percent of the workers.

CNN's Miguel Marquez is on the Iowa/Nebraska state line near one meat processing plant.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dakota City, Nebraska just across the state line from Sioux City, Iowa, Tyson's beef processing plant there. Massive, one of the country's largest, 4,300 employees, the person I'm speaking to is one of them.

When you hear the number of people getting sick every day, they say, you just wait your turn. Out of fear for losing their job, we are not identifying this person who said it was clear something was wrong at the plant for weeks.

(on camera): How many have gone missing in the last several weeks?

(voice-over): Three, four or 500 they say. Tyson has now tested everyone at the plant, but this person says the company could have done more earlier.

(on camera): They only started giving you masks a couple of weeks ago. Only masks. Yes. No other protective gear.

(voice-over): No gloves. No face shields, no gowns they say.

(on camera): So well into the crisis over COVID-19 this was the only protection offered to employees at the plant in Dakota City. It is something that we also heard from officials at another Tyson plant in Waterloo.

SHERIFF TONY THOMPSON, BLACK HAWK COUNTY, IOWA: We walked out of that plant knowing that we had an enormous problem.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Black Hawk County Sheriff Tony Thompson and health department officials inspected Tyson's Waterloo, Iowa, plant on April 10th.

THOMPSON: A third of the staff was wearing masks at that point, some of them had masks but they were dangling around their necks.

MARQUEZ: Thompson says his county is in a full-on health crisis. Black Hawk County has more confirmed COVID-19 cases than any other county in the state.

THOMPSON: Our front line of defense is all kind of fallen back now to the E.R. front doors, to the long-term care facility front doors to my jail front door.

MARQUEZ: And now concerns about reopening parts of the state to regular business and forcing meat packing plants back to work too hastily.

THOMPSON: President Trump does this Defense Production Act telling the Tyson plant they got to open back up. I don't know what that is supposed to say to the citizens here that have contracted the disease or the citizens here that are at twice the risk of catching the virus than anywhere else.

MARQUEZ: And that Tyson employee in Nebraska also has a message for the President.

I just want him to know, they say, we are human, and we have families that care about us and we care about them, too.


MARQUEZ: Now, a spokesperson for Tyson says that they did have issues and difficulties getting protective equipment for their employees early on. They even said they chartered a plane at one point to go overseas to bring back masks, but they do have 140,000 employees in the company. Officials here and in Waterloo also say that Tysons does seem to be getting the message now and preparing their plants for no more infections or fewer infections in future days.



MARQUEZ: This one is closing down for the weekend. It will be cleaned and reworked. The one in Waterloo will also close -- is closed and will open up in the coming days. Both of them, they hope, will avoid any more infections. Kate, back to you.

BOLDUAN: Miguel, thank you. Thanks for doing this reporting.

MARQUEZ: You got it.

BOLDUAN: Still ahead for us, an alarming new complication emerging from the coronavirus. Strokes in patients in their 30s. I'm going to talk to a neurosurgeon who is seeing this firsthand.



BOLDUAN: This just in from the White House. According to pool reporters and Reuters who are in an event with the President, the President has just announced that Gilead, the company that has been developing and done the trials on the coronavirus, potential coronavirus treatment, remdesivir, that Gilead has now received the FDA approval for the emergency authorization from the FDA to begin using this treatment.

Dr. Fauci had said this was likely to be coming soon and would happen quickly. The President announcing that it now has happened. And President Trump also announcing that the Gilead CEO is going to be donating 1 million doses of remdesivir. Much more on that to come.

In talking about the impact of coronavirus on patients of all ages, we have top officials who are looking for treatment and for a vaccine for the coronavirus, remdesivir being one of them. But as they look for these fixes and for a vaccine, there is a scary new complication emerging in patients not considered the most vulnerable.

A troubling jump in sudden strokes among COVID patients in their 30s and 40s who are not otherwise terribly ill. One of the doctors who has been treating patients like this, detailing this troubling complication, Dr. Thomas Oxley, he's a neurosurgeon at Mt. Sinai Hospital here in New York. He's joining me now. Dr. Oxley, we know that this virus attacks the lungs. What is the connection that's leading to stroke?

DR. THOMAS OXLEY, NEUROSURGEON, MOUNT SINAI HEALTH SYSTEM: We're still learning. We noticed several weeks ago that there was an increase in strokes occurring in all patient groups, but most alarming was an increase in young patients in the age of 30s and 40s who had no past medical history.

BOLDUAN: It is so scary to hear this. When you started seeing this happen in patients that you needed to then care for who are in their 30s and 40s, what did you say when you first started seeing it?

OXLEY: Well, the first thing that we noticed was that the patients were not coming into hospital quickly enough. Stroke needs to be treated urgently. Usually within six hours, sometimes 24, and two of the five patients that we reported delayed calling an ambulance out of fear of coming into hospital.

BOLDUAN: Is this, are you finding, and there's so much that is not known, is this specific to patients -- the sudden stroke -- in this age range, or is it just that you're seeing such a surprising increase in sudden strokes in a group that shouldn't be having strokes?

OXLEY: It is a low number of patients. But what is surprising is that typically in young patients having large vessel stroke, we typically find a cause. There's a reason those blood clots are forming, and we were not able to find a cause in the majority of the patients we've seen except that they were unwell with COVID.

BOLDUAN: You know, one complication of the treatment here, which is, one is obviously a huge dose of blood thinners, right, is I've heard from other doctors, is then bleeding in the brain. How do you then account for that? It's a push/pull, everything has another ripple effect.

OXLEY: The entire environment of blood clotting and blood breaking down in the blood is not functioning normally with the virus. So, the ability of the blood to normally maintain the homeostasis is affected. We've seeing that as well with patients having strokes, then also sustaining bleeds which is why we've been reticent to recommending blood thinning medicines. However, the hospital took the steps just two days ago recommending some broad guidelines around anti- coagulation management for patients in the hospital with COVID.

BOLDUAN: That's an important move. I mean stoke events aren't on young people's radar. What do people need to be looking for in this moment?

OXLEY: Most people are only calling the ambulance if they have shortness of breath or high fever. For patients who are developing stroke symptoms, it's very important that they call an ambulance immediately. So, the way to remember stroke is the acronym F.A.S.T., F for facial droop, A for arm weakness, S for speech difficulties, and then T for time. Large vessel stroke really needs to be treated within 6 hours to be effective.

BOLDUAN: Dr. Oxley, thank you for the work you're doing on this and the work you do day in and day out. I really appreciate it.

OXLEY: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you. Still ahead, the U.S. is making a very big bet on a vaccine maker that has never brought an approved drug to market. Why are so many people pinning their hopes on this company?



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

We began the show one month ago, on April 1st, with 4,564 deaths from coronavirus in the United States. Now today, on May 1st, the death toll right now tops 64,203. Just a stunning and tragic number.