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Children and Coronavirus; U.S. Government Projects Massive Rise in Coronavirus Cases Ahead. Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired May 4, 2020 - 16:00   ET



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

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

And, right now, the number of deaths in the United States from coronavirus continues to climb. It is now up to 68,326. At this time a month ago, the death toll was 8,162.

And we have some breaking news just in. Two new projections indicate a sharp increase in coronavirus cases and deaths. The leading model from the University of Washington, frequently cited by the White House, has revised its projected death toll from 72,000 deaths in the U.S. in August to nearly double that, 135,000 deaths.

President Trump is also now openly estimating that the U.S. could see up to 100,000 people die from coronavirus. That would be more than all of the American lives lost in the Vietnam and Korean wars combined.

Plus, a separate internal document obtained by "The New York Times" reveals that the Trump administration is expecting an acceleration in how many people are infected and killed from this virus, predicting up to 3,000 people in the U.S. dying every day by June in a new document from the Centers for Disease Control.

And yet, as CNN's Kaitlan Collins reports for us now, President Trump says some states are still not reopening fast enough.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As states ease restrictions and start to reopen, the administration now privately estimates that the number of daily deaths from coronavirus could sharply increase over the next month.

"The New York Times" obtained an internal document that projects the daily death rate would continue to increase to as many as 3,000 per day by early June.

The same document also estimates the number of new cases could jump from 25,000 a day to 200,000 by then. The White House didn't deny the document's authenticity, but said it didn't come from the West Wing and the data is not reflective of any modeling done by the task force. The task force hasn't met in person since Friday. President Trump

acknowledged in a town hall on FOX News Sunday night that the virus could be much deadlier than he previously imagined.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to lose anywhere from 75,000, 80,000 to 100,000 people. That's a horrible thing. We shouldn't lose one person over this.

COLLINS: That's twice as high as a few weeks ago, when the president said the death toll could be as low as 50,000.

TRUMP: The data suggests that, nationwide, we are the past the peak on new cases. Hopefully, that will continue, and we will continue to make great progress.

COLLINS: Even as he acknowledged that the death toll could now be much higher, Trump said he favored easing restrictions and pushed ahead with his desire to reopen the country.

TRUMP: At some point, we have to open our country.

COLLINS: Trump is also disputing what he knew and when, and says he wasn't briefed in person the coronavirus until late January.

TRUMP: On January 23, I was told that there could be a virus coming in, but it was of no real import. In other words, it wasn't, oh, we have got to do something, we have got to do something.

COLLINS: "The Washington Post" reported last month that there were repeated warnings about the virus in the president's daily briefing document, which the Office of the Director of National Intelligence denied.

Sunday night's town hall was held at the Lincoln Memorial. And at one point, Trump asserted he's been treated worse by the media than President Lincoln was.

TRUMP: I am greeted with a hostile press the likes of which no president has ever seen. The closest would be that gentleman right up there.


COLLINS: Now, Jake, a White House spokesman said earlier that those new projections had not been vetted through the interagency process, and they noted that the president's phased guidelines about reopening the country had been endorsed and agreed to by the nation's top health experts, basically indicating that right now they do not plan to change their approach just because of these new numbers about that death toll being revised up, possibly as soon as by the end of the month.

TAPPER: Kaitlan Collins at the White House, thanks so much.

In the coronavirus epicenter, in New York state, Governor Andrew Cuomo urge caution today that, while the number of cases and deaths is declining in his state, those declines are not nearly as fast as he had hoped.

And there is still a long way to go before New York will begin to reopen.

California, on the other hand, is starting to relax some restrictions. Moments ago, the governor there, Gavin Newsom, announced retail stores can start to reopen Friday on a limited basis.

CNN's Nick Watt is in Santa Monica, California, for us right now.

Nick, how would this plan of Governor Newsom's, how would it work?

NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, he is going to lay that out for us on Thursday, he says.

I mean, Jake, this is big breaking news. This is from the state that was one of the earliest and most enthusiastic adopters of this stay- home policy.


And now Governor Newsom says that 50 -- 5-0 -- days after he announced that policy, we will start relaxing some of those restrictions.

So, retail will be a lot of curbside pickup. He says there will be severe modifications in all of this, but 50 days after he said we got to stay home, he's now saying we can begin to come out.


WATT (voice-over): Today, restaurants can reopen in Nebraska, bars in Montana, offices in Colorado. Yes, some social distancing restrictions remain, but, by the end of this week, more than 40 states will be partially back open for business.

ANDY SLAVITT, FORMER ACTING ADMINISTRATOR, CENTERS FOR MEDICARE AND MEDICAID SERVICES: Well, we have been staying indoors, we have been slowing down the spread. But what we haven't done is gotten rid of the virus.

WATT: Parks packed some places over the weekend, authorities had to act. In D.C., crowds gathered for a flyby Saturday.

MURIEL BOWSER (D), MAYOR OF WASHINGTON, D.C.: This virus has not left the district. In fact, we're where we thought we would be in having peak experiences during the month of May.

WATT: And there's a warning as the weather gets warmer.

SLAVITT: People get together, have big events. And then we really pay the price for May in June.

WATT: In 15 of our states, the daily new case count is falling, among them, those Northeast hot spots.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): You see the decline is, again, not as steep as the incline. But reopening is more difficult than the close-down.

WATT: But in 20 states, the daily new case count is still rising, among them, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois.

New York City now making its own tests. They say 30,000 will be available by Friday.

BILL DE BLASIO (D), MAYOR OF NEW YORK: This is a first in our city's history.

WATT: In Los Angeles, free testing now for all, but heavy traffic reportedly causing some problems on the sign-up site.

The governor of California will now allow some retail to open Friday, with significant modifications. He says certain areas of lower concern can move even faster.

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): We will afford them that right with conditions and modifications that meet the health needs of the entire state.

WATT: Meanwhile, the White House is now focusing on 14 potential vaccines.

TRUMP: We are very confident that we're going to have a vaccine at the end of the year.

DR. ASHISH JHA, DIRECTOR, HARVARD GLOBAL HEALTH INSTITUTE: Miracles can happen. It could come together, but I'm certainly not banking on it.

WATT: The makers of that potential therapeutic, remdesivir, say they have had donated 140,000 courses to the federal government.

DANIEL O'DAY, CEO, GILEAD SCIENCES: They will determine, based upon things like ICU beds, where the course of the epidemic is in the United States. They will begin shipping tens of thousands of treatment courses out early this week.

WATT: Now listen to this, our weird normal. Today in D.C.:

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oyez, oyez, oyez, all persons having business before the Honorable the Supreme Court of the United States are admonished to give their attention.

WATT: That's the Supreme Court for the first time in history meeting by teleconference.


WATT: Now, Jake, you mentioned that model from the University of Washington has just nearly doubled its projected death count in the U.S. to 135,000 by August.

Now, one of the professor's involved was asked why. He said, well, certain outbreaks in the Midwest have caused concern, but also -- and this is key, he says -- that before social distancing restrictions were relaxed, there was increased mobility, and he says that some of those restrictions have been lifted prematurely, and that is why they are upping their estimate of the eventual death count -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Nick Watt in Santa Monica, thank you so much.

Coming up: A division of the National Institutes of Health is now looking at coronavirus and our kids. A former CDC disease detective will join me on why children are apparently less likely to be infected.

Plus: Want to leave the house? In one country, you will have to text the government a reason why. We're going to go live on the ground with a look at one nation's success story so far.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: The agency led by Dr. Anthony Fauci is now looking into how children are affected by coronavirus.

Today, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases announced that officials will study 2,000 families in 11 cities to determine who gets infected with the virus and whether it spreads to other family members.

Joining us now to discuss, Dr. Seema Yasmin, a former CDC disease detective.

Dr. Yasmin, thanks for joining us, as always.

So, the CDC did a preliminary study of this last month. They found that very few children with coronavirus end up hospitalized, and that fewer children than adults experience even symptoms, like fever, cough, shortness of breath.

What might this new study be able to tell us?

DR. SEEMA YASMIN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: So, we're really trying to figure out some of these unanswered questions and quite perplexing issues among children, Jake,.

It's not that kids aren't getting sick. I want to be very clear that we have seen children get severely sick with COVID-19 and some even tragically die. But, by and large, this is much more an illness of adults and older adults.

So what this new study hopes to do is, it's sending nasal swabs and blood test kits, just pinprick blood test kits, to 2,000 families across 11 cities, hoping to recruit 6,000 children. And they're asking caregivers to take nasal swabs and blood tests from these kids every two weeks, send those results back to the lab. And they're going to follow these kids for six months, in the hopes of

understanding what proportion of kids who get infected actually become sick with COVID-19, and if children are infected, are they silent carriers in the household? Are they going on to infect family members?


Because right now, we don't know if kids are somehow resistant to the coronavirus or is it that they get infected but don't get very sick with it. And certainly, the data from these studies are sorely needed and will help us make better, more informed decisions about things like reopening health -- schools and children's care facilities as well.

TAPPER: The study is going to include healthy children and children who have asthma and other allergic conditions to clarify early research that suggests that kids with such conditions might have a level of protection from COVID-19. What is the possible correlation between asthma and coronavirus?

YASMIN: So, you would expect that with the respiratory bug, it's going to be kids with asthma and kids with allergies who are more likely to become very sick and more likely to become infected in the partnerships. There seems to be a strange paradox with COVID-19, though, that if you have kids with asthma and allergies, they seem to have a lower chance of becoming infected in the first place, and of developing a severe disease.

Now, this is strange and unexpected. But we think it has to do with a receptor on our cells called ACE-2. This is a receptor that the SARS coronavirus liked to latch onto. And when you look at the airways of people with asthma and allergies, they seem to have less of this receptor in their cell. But still, we're still not clear as to what this means moving forward, and that's why this study is sorely needed to help us better understand whether kids with asthma and allergies are really less likely to become sick.

TAPPER: FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, announced the White House is going to oversee distribution of this experimental drug remdesivir which is expected to treat somewhere between 100,000 and 200,000 patients. How does the U.S. government normally decide who gets the drug, who is able to get it? Does the White House usually make those decisions?

YASMIN: So with a finite number of doses and in a crisis situation, you want to make sure the allocation is absolutely designed by need, where there are most cases of COVID-19 and where are there most patients in ICU beds, because with this new drug, remdesivir, which has not been approved but given FDA authorization under emergency use, this is being used in the sickest COVID-19 patients.

Now, as you mentioned, Gilead has made 1.4 million doses available for free. But if you read the FDA's guidance, it says it's going to be the federal government that decides where this goes. The thing that's concerning about this, though, is that in the past few weeks and months, we've seen federal authorities seize PPE on its way to states. We haven't always seen decisions that are based on science, more so with which governors have friends in high places.

So, it's absolutely crucial that when we only have enough drug for about 150,000 people, it goes to those hotspots in the U.S. where most people are on ventilators, most people are severely sick, and where we're likely to see more deaths.

TAPPER: Dr. Deborah Birx of the White House coronavirus task force says that remdesivir is the first step forward. But she also acknowledges that they have only seen half the data.

Do you have concerns with the drug going wide during this emergency time?

YASMIN: So this is a failed Ebola drug that was then tested in COVID- 19 patients. And what we've seen that does offer a glimmer of hope is it looks like remdesivir shortens the recovery time. So on average, it might take somebody very sick with COVID-19 about 15 days to recover. But you give them remdesivir, that drops by four days to about an 11- day recovery time.

Now, certainly that is some hope amidst so much crisis and these escalating death rates in the states. But I want to reiterate this is not an FDA approved drug. It's a FDA authorized drug for an emergency situation.

And what that means, Jake, is as we start giving more and more people remdesivir, we're keeping a really close eye on them. We're not assuming that this works on everybody. We're still gathering data and evidence to see, does it work, who does it help most, and using that to guide where the drug should be sent.

TAPPER: And Dr. Yasmin, lastly, the FDA says there are 72 active trials under way and another 211 in the planning stages for treatments, not a vaccine.

What makes remdesivir theoretically the one that so many people are most optimistic about?

YASMIN: So I think what's most promising about it is the fact that it does reduce that recovery time, and when we're giving intravenously, in hospitalized patients, who are the most sick, it does seem to boost their recovery. It does not show any data around being statistically significant in lowering the death rate. But certainly it's the drug that's gone furthest in terms of testing in humans and that coupled with the fact that it seems to shrink recovery times is what's most promising.

But again, we're giving this to people in an emergency situation.

[16:20:04] It's an authorized drug, not an approved one. And we are still gathering evidence on remdesivir and some other potential treatments to find out what really works against COVID-19.

TAPPER: All right, Dr. Seema Yasmin, always great to have you on the show, thank you so much for your time. Coming up, our Dr. Sanjay Gupta is going to join me to discuss the

dramatic increase in expected coronavirus deaths, nearly 135,000 now projected for August. Why?

Stay with us.



TAPPER: Two new models project explosive growth in the number of both cases and deaths from coronavirus in the United States. According to one estimate, up to 3,000 people could die per day next month. That's from the CDC.

Joining me now is CNN chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

So, Sanjay, this new Trump administration document from the Centers for Disease Control projects a possible 3,000 deaths and 200,000 new cases a day. Then there's the updated model from the University of Washington which predicts a doubling of projected deaths by August from 70,000 or so to 134,000.

I mean, this is obviously horrible news. We hope the projections are wrong. But what's your big picture reaction to it?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, I agree with you, it's horrible news, Jake.

Someone who has been following this along looked at the initial projections, you know, going back to January. Sadly, this doesn't surprise me. I mean, I think this is much more in line with what some of the original models were forecasting, Jake. I mean, again, it's horrible news.

But when we started to see some of these models coming out of the IHME models, you know, out of the University of Washington, I remember even you and I talking about it at that point and I was sort of struck by the fact than the numbers seem a lot lower than the other data and the other models, frankly, would suggest, and I was also struck by the fact that the White House pivoted to that model, in part I think, you know, because it did look more favorable than a lot of the other models coming out at that point.

What we were dealing with, you know, and we knew this since January, it's a very contagious virus. We knew that -- we still don't know the true lethality rate, you know, the percentage of people that will die once infected, but we knew it was higher than flu. Flu is around 0.1 percent.

Initially, we thought maybe looking at some of the early data out China, this was closer to 1 to 2 percent. So, 10 to 20 times higher. It was hard to know.

We also knew that, you know, flattening the curve would have an impact but we didn't know how much of an impact. I think two things jump out now.

TAPPER: Uh-huh.

GUPTA: One is that we kind of have some idea of the fact that the physical distancing measures have had an impact, but it's reduced this level of infection in this country to a slow burn as opposed to moving us to the back side of the curve. We hope this would take us to the back side of the curve. Though it doesn't look that way, Jake.

I mean, still, 1,700 people roughly are dying every day, and, as you mentioned now within the month, they think that number will go to 3,000 people a day in part because the models continuously adjust. And in large part, Jake, as you know and as we've talked about for a long time, because people are starting to reopen, and that's going to lead to an increase in infections, an increase in hospitalizations, and sadly, an increase in deaths.

I -- you know, 135,000 is what this IHME model is forecasting. Jake, I hate to say this, but even that might be a little low, if you're talking about 3,000 people dying a day for one month, that would be 90,000 people. Seventy roughly have already, you know, died in this country. Just do the math, that's 160,000 people right there, and that's after one month, Jake.

TAPPER: Right.

GUPTA: So, you know, we need to take this seriously, as we've been saying, and really focus on some of these strategies that seem to have had some impact as we try and outpace this virus. This is the worst health thing that has happened to human civilization in a hundred years, and I hate saying that but it's the truth.

TAPPER: Well --

GUPTA: And, you know, it needs to be said.

TAPPER: Right. And, Sanjay, Chris Murray, who developed the University of Washington IMHE model, said there's longer tail of deaths and that his team is now using a hybrid approach gathering mobility data and data to, quote, reflect the effect of premature relaxation of social distancing.

This is what you and I have expressed frustration about now for weeks, which is, there -- governors are relaxing these guidelines, and the economic pain is very real, and nobody makes light of it. But without widespread testing, so that while we reopen our economy, we're able to know who has the virus, who doesn't, and isolate people who have it, we're just going to extend this economic pain, not to mention, of course, the health pain.

And it's like Mayor Vaughn from "Jaws," excited for a wonderful summer with lots of economy, we can't do that if there's a great white shark in the ocean.

GUPTA: I agree completely. And, you know, we have to outpace this virus. [16:30:00]