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Divide Grows Between States Opening And Those Extending Restrictions; States To Reopen As Trump Revises Possible Death Toll To 100,000; FDA To Require Antibody Test-Makers To Seek Emergency Use Authorization. Aired 10-10:30a ET
Aired May 4, 2020 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN NEWSROOM: They're moving to reopen their economies today.
Other states keeping restrictions in place despite growing pressure. The pressure also building, of course, to get a vaccine, President Trump predicting it could be ready before the end of the year. But a top vaccine expert telling us on this broadcast just last hour, he's not so confident.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ASHISH JHA, DIRECTOR, HARVARD GLOBAL HEALTH INSTITUTE: That is an incredibly ambitious timeline. Usually vaccines take a several years to develop. Obviously, we are trying to speed the process up as much as possible. And I've been saying 12 to 18 months if everything goes super smoothly.
Miracles can happen. It could come together, but I'm certainly not banking on it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: We have all the angles covered this morning. Let's begin though with Rosa Flores in Miami. So, Florida, one of the first states to relax these social distancing guidelines. How is it going there and how are people responding?
ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, we actually just talked to Miami Beach, Jim, and they reopened parks on Wednesday and we're learning that they just closed one park because people were not adhering to the social distancing guidelines.
But when it comes to the State of Florida, it really is using a geographic approach. Most of the state will be kicking off and reopening today with Phase 1, except for three counties, and that's Miami-Dade, where I am, Broward and Palm Beach. These three counties make up 30 percent of the state, but they account for 60 percent of the deaths and the cases as well. That's why these three mayors got together and they decided to reopen together. They are exempt from Phase 1. But like I mentioned, they did reopen parks, waterways and other green spaces starting on Wednesday, and we're learning from Miami Beach, at least in that locality, people are not following the rules. And so local governments are ready to close some of these parks if they see that the rules are not being followed.
When it comes to the rest of the state, Phase 1 kicks off today. This means that restaurants and retail stores will be able to operate at 25 percent capacity indoors. When it comes to outdoor seating for restaurants, they are allowing it but seating has to be at least six feet apart. Elective surgeries will also resume, and Governor Ron DeSantis announced that 80 state parks will also reopen.
But this is only Phase 1. So schools are still closed, bars, gyms, hair salons are also closed. But as the state looks at Phase 2 and trying to get to Phase 2, Governor Ron DeSantis is mentioning that facts will be very important and testing will be a focus.
For example, he is allowing pharmacists to administer COVID-19 tests, so very soon here in the State of Florida, we're going to see COVID-19 tests being administered at CVS, at Walmart, at Walgreens. And also he has deployed a mobile unit to try to test more people within nursing homes and then, finally, Jim, antibody testing.
The State of Florida has been waiting for these tests for weeks, and finally, over the weekend, Governor Ron DeSantis announcing that the state just received 200,000 antibody tests. We're expecting those tests to be administered throughout the state at some point this week. Jim?
SCIUTTO: Rosa Flores in Florida, thanks very much.
Now to California, where two counties in the northern part state of the, Yuba and Sutter Counties, are defying Governor Gavin Newsom's stay-at-home order, today, reopening businesses, such as restaurants, salons and gyms.
Joining me now to discuss is Gary Bradford. He is the Fourth District Supervisor for Yuba County. Thanks so much for taking some time this morning.
Let's get at this decision, because I know that officials across the country, they've got tough decisions to make. There are enormous economic consequences here, but there are also the health risks. If you see an uptick in cases after relaxing these restrictions, will you take responsibility for any uptick in cases?
GARY BRADFORD, 4TH DISTRICT SUPERVISOR FOR YUBA COUNTY, CALIFORNIA: So it isn't just the uptick in cases that we are going to be monitoring herein Yuba-Sutter. The key we're going to be watching is actually hospitalizations. And the reason we're paying close attention to those is we're significantly increasing our testing capability starting today, and so we fully expect an increase in cases with an increase in testing. But what we are hopeful is we will not see a large increase in hospitalizations.
SCIUTTO: Okay. If you do, is that on you, in effect?
BRADFORD: So if we see a large increase in hospitalizations, we will certainly look to go the other direction. We do not want to overwhelm our healthcare system here. Currently we have plenty of capacity. We have surge capacity set up. But if that appears to becoming an issue, we will go back to the other direction.
SCIUTTO: I see. So, in effect, you're setting up a system here where you ratchet up and down the restrictions based on the level of the outbreak that you see?
BRADFORD: Absolutely. The phase, opening up, that we're taking is certainly science-based, based on conditions here locally. We're really taking an approach of what is the risk of various business and activities to COVID-19 spread, and to determine that. Our health officer looked and used a study from John Hopkins that essentially looked at both the amount of people that you would be in contact with in that activity or that business as well as the proximity of those individuals and the -- yes, so the duration and the proximity and the amount of people.
SCIUTTO: Understood. Looking forward, the real question here is do folks respond, right? Do people, as these businesses open in the county say, I am comfortable? I have this option but I am comfortable. What response are you seeing on the ground there as you begin to relax these restrictions?
BRADFORD: So I think some individuals are very excited about the relaxed restrictions and others are not. And those individuals are welcome to continue to stay home. We certainly want our high-risk individuals to continue to stay home, and we want everyone who does choose to go out to practice social distancing. And that will be critical to the success of the reopening.
Are individuals in the business taking personal responsible for their actions and ensuring that they maintain social distancing at all times, as well as when that may not be possible, to wear a mask?
SCIUTTO: Gary Bradford, we wish you and the people of the county the best of luck going forward.
BRADFORD: Great. Thank you.
SCIUTTO: This morning, pressure is mounting on Michigan's Democratic governor to ease restrictions in that state, but Gretchen Whitmer is refusing to back down. And she slammed the racism of some demonstrators who gathered outside the state capitol last week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D-MI): The confederate flags and nooses, the swastikas, the behavior that you've seen in all of the clips is not representative of who we are in Michigan. And the fact of the matter is, I mean, we're in a global pandemic. This isn't something we just negotiate ourselves out of, and it's a political matter. Whether you agree with me or not, I'm working to protect your life if you live in the State of Michigan. I'm going to continue to do my job regardless of what tweets come out or what polls come out or what people think that makes sense.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: Well, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, also a Democrat, joins me now. Mayor, always good to have you on this program.
During a press conference last week, you said that the coronavirus outbreak in your city appears to be, quote, strongly on the decline. Today, the first wave of Detroit City workers are beginning to go back under some restrictions for safety. I wonder, is your city, in your view, ready to relax some of these restrictions?
MAYOR MIKE DUGGAN (D-DETROIT, MI): Well, three weeks ago, we were slammed. We were losing 40 or 50 residents a day from our desks. Our hospitals were overwhelmed, gurneys in the hallway. But the social distancing here in Detroit as they complied and it has dropped dramatically. There are 700 or 800 empty hospital beds in Detroit today. We're down 70 or 80 percent in the desk.
But we are bringing people back under the strictest medical protocols in the country. So we're bringing back our roads crews, our outdoor lawn crews. But before they come back, everybody has to be tested and has to be negative. They have their temperature checked on the way in. They've got social distancing requirements on the job. They've got masks. It's the same protocols we've put in in our police department, our fire department and our bus system, and we had a dramatic positive effect in bringing down the infections in all of those operations.
So we're not bringing people back sitting next to each other in cubicles and desks. This state isn't ready for that. But we definitely believe we can bring people under these protocols for outdoor work back safely.
SCIUTTO: Your governor, as you know, is under pressure to ease restrictions statewide. I wonder if you're -- here you are, you're a mayor, you're easing some restrictions as you get comfortable with it. Do you support the easing of restrictions in the state, where either areas that have not had outbreaks as bad or where they're seeing a decline in cases?
DUGGAN: Well, I completely support what Governor Whitmer is doing and everything I'm doing is consistent with her orders. For people around the country, this probably looks confusing. But in Michigan, there are 4 million people in Southeastern Michigan and Detroit and the suburbs. The coronavirus is spread throughout that 4 million.
The rest of the state, there are a lot of farmland where they've seen very little of COVID-19.
And so the protests you've seen in Lansing are 100 miles away from here, and you don't have very many people in Southeastern Michigan. It's almost -- it doesn't -- the protests don't have a direct impact on us, but people in Detroit have been following the governor's orders. I haven't had to close parks, I haven't had to post curfews because we've had great compliance. And I think Dr. Birx has cited the City of Detroit in particular for one of the most rapid containment efforts in the country. We are still going down, but we are only bringing people back to work under the strictest medical protocols.
SCIUTTO: Every health official we've spoken to on this program has said to go back safely, to ease restrictions safely. You have to have broad-based testing and contact tracing. Last week, the director of the Detroit Medical Center said that Michigan is averaging 40 tests per 1,000 people today, but it should be 150 tests, about four times where it is right now. I just wonder, are you getting ahead of the game here by opening up before you have that kind of testing across the board?
DUGGAN: So the City of Detroit is testing 1,500 people a day. So we just spend a lot of time messing around with this (ph). We went out. We lined up test kits. We lined up lab capacity. We've got a massive drive-through test site at the fairgrounds. And so, for example, the contractors are going back to work today. Last week, they all went through the test site. Everybody who was negative came back, those who are positive are being quarantined, but everything here is being directed by our medical director. And in the City of Detroit, we are success successfully testing at a very high rate.
And so what I did was, right now, I have offered free testing to every grocery store, every nursing home, every essential business in this city is now sending their employees through the Detroit testing site, we're getting them tested. And we're finding that people who don't have symptoms, 10 percent of the time, they have COVID-19. This is why this is spreading and why it's so essential that all workers get tested, not just those with symptoms.
SCIUTTO: Mayor Mike Duggan, we wish you and the people of Detroit the best of luck.
DUGGAN: Thanks, Jim.
SCIUTTO: This morning, the coronavirus is forcing a historic change for the Supreme Court. The nine justices hearing oral arguments not in person but by teleconference. The phone hearings kicked off just minutes with the case involving the travel website booking.com. Ariane de Vogue joins me now from the Supreme Court.
Ariane, it's sort of like a Supreme Court Zoom call at this point. All of us have done it for work calls and even probably for our kids' classes. It's remarkable though because we're hearing the arguments and the questioning in real-time.
ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT REPORTER: Right, it's the first time that justices have had oral arguments by phone, but it's also the first time that they've let the public listen in. For years, people had to wait in line for a coveted seat in that courtroom, and now everybody today can listen in and hear oral arguments. Of course, this is going to change the way the justices digest the case. Usually, the Roberts bench is a very hot bench with the justices asking a lot of questions, and today they're going one by one, justice by justice. And I also talked to a lot of attorneys who were nervous coming in, Jim, because they said they have kids at home, dogs, they're worried about technological glitches, but they're also worried about not being able to look the justice in the eye to get a reaction.
We have had just the start of one of the cases today. Chief Justice John Roberts asked the first question. Even Justice Clarence Thomas piped in. He doesn't usually ask questions during oral arguments. Take a listen to a little bit of the audio here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAMELA TALKIN, MARSHAL OF THE SUPREME COURT: Honorable, the chief justice and the associate justices of the Supreme Court of the United States. Oh, yay, oh, yay, oh, yay. All persons having business before the honorable, the Supreme Court of the United States are admonished to give their attention, so the court is now sitting.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DE VOGUE: And we know that all the justices are healthy. The public information officer told us that, Jim, but they haven't met together in the same room for weeks.
SCIUTTO: So the Supreme Court has a lot of big cases coming over the coming days and weeks, including cases involving the Trump administration. Give us a sense of it.
DE VOGUE: Right. Well, today's argument is sort of an under the radar trademark case, but by Wednesday, they're hearing a big case regarding the Affordable Care Act's contraceptive mandate. And, Jim, next week, we're going to get two of the biggest cases of the term, that's President Trump's bid to shield his financial documents from disclosure. Those will be argued on Tuesday. And after that there, is a big Electoral College case that the justices will hear.
SCIUTTO: Ariane de Vogue, we know you'll be there and will bring those decisions as they come. Thanks very much.
Still to come this hour, as the president shifts the expected death toll number in this country upward, new reporting details President Trump's frantic attempts to reopen economy.
Plus, the Trump administration has identified now more than a dozen possible coronavirus vaccines for development, this as we're hearing conflicting dates from the experts on when a vaccine actually could be available.
And murder hornets. That's not a movie. The giant insects have now been spotted in the U.S. That's very bad news. We'll explain why.
SCIUTTO: This just in to CNN, the Carnival Cruise Line says it plans to have some ships back in Service by August. This morning, the company unveiled a phased approach to return to the water. Carnival will resume service for eight ships starting August 1st. They will operate from Miami in Port Canaveral in Florida, as well as Galveston, Texas. The company is extending its pause on operations on all other North American and Australian markets through the end of August.
The FDA has announced this morning that it will now require antibody test-makers to seek emergency use authorization. This is a policy shift that will require commercial manufacturers to submit requests along with validation data for their tests within ten business days. The FDA is also setting specific performance actions for all test developers.
Let's bring in CNN Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen. Elizabeth, there have been questions about the efficacy of these tests, right, what do they actually show. Is this an attempt to address that?
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Oh, absolutely. I mean, it was more than questions, Jim. It was on April 5th that the head of a major lab association told CNN there are a lot of crappy tests out there on the market. That was his word, crappy. April 5th, so nearly a month later, finally, the FDA is correcting what it did back in March.
So to take us back in the middle of March, Jim, Trump very proudly, he bragged about how he was going to make everything easier. He was going to change regulations to make everything easier. He blamed Barack Obama for making things difficult. And what he did was he allowed people to market, to put on the market antibody tests that had not been proven. They didn't have to show that they actually work. You could just put it out there on the market. You did not have to show that it worked. So what ended up happening was that you had all these tests out there that didn't work.
So now they're going back to the way it was under Obama and other presidents, and they're saying, hey, you need to show that it works. This is so simple, it is so obvious, so not only did they make this change in the first place, but it has been nearly a month that people have been complaining. And finally, they are making this change.
SCIUTTO: Okay. Timeline on a vaccine. The president has said he thinks it could be ready by the end of the year, his health experts say January at the earliest. I spoke to the head of the Harvard Public Health Institute who said, listen, next year, if everything works out perfectly. What's the reality here?
COHEN: The reality is that, A, we don't know if a vaccine is even going to work against the novel coronavirus. And, B, we don't know how long it's going to be.
Back in January, Dr. Tony Fauci said 12 to 18 months. So he is now saying, yes, it's possible, as I said back in January of this year, 12 to 18 months. So is January of next year possible? Sure. But he is giving no guarantees, Dr. Deborah Birx is giving no guarantees. There are no guarantees. We are all going to have to live with this uncertainty.
Is it possible we will have a vaccine on the market in January? Sure, it's possible. Is it also possible that we will be still working towards that goal? That is also possible.
SCIUTTO: Yes, got a way for the hard data. Elizabeth Cohen, thanks very much.
Let's bring in CNN Medical Analyst Dr. James Phillips. He is a physician and assistant professor at the George Washington University Hospital. Dr. Phillips, it's great to have you.
DR. JAMES PHILLIPS, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Good morning.
SCIUTTO: A lot of hopes are riding on a vaccine, right, because folks want to go back to normal but they want to do so safely. It surprised me somewhat when I spoke to the head of the Harvard Public Health Institute in the last hour that, listen, this would actually be the first workable vaccine for a coronavirus. Explain what a breakthrough that would be.
PHILLIPS: Yes, he's right. So, you know, when SARS and MERS, two of the previous coronaviruses outside the typical flu viruses, emerged, vaccine development was started but ultimately died out and it never went to production. So we've never had a coronavirus vaccine that made it into any kind of widespread use. So its efficacy is somewhat in doubt. Typical vaccine production takes up to ten years. I think the fastest vaccine that's ever come to market back in the '60s was four years and that was for mumps.
So in order for us to have a vaccine even in that 18-month time period would require everything to go right, from a safety standpoint and immunogenicity standpoint and a production standpoint.
However, the key term that Dr. Birx used whenever she talked about the potential for a January timeline, the two words, on paper. Now, on paper is totally so different than sort of in real life. And so while I appreciate her being as optimistic as possible, I'm not certain how realistic it is based on history.
SCIUTTO: How much time do you need to establish that a vaccine works, right?
Because you would have to put it through trials, test it on people, and I know some trials are already underway, but how long and how many people do you typically have to put something like this through so that you have confidence that it protects the population?
PHILLIPS: Yes, it depends. And there are several variables there. So before we get to distribution to a wide portion of the population, we're typically talking about three phases that a vaccine would go through. And right now, seven or eight of those are in Phase 1, which are the safety trials. You know, we're giving this vaccine, this medicine, to healthy people.
So, first and foremost, we want to make sure that we're not causing injury or illness to these folks, especially in an era where 1 to 3 percent of Americans refuse to vaccinate their kids when only 40 percent of the population is getting a seasonal flu vaccine. We want to do everything we can to encourage them by letting them know that what we're doing is safe.
So once we've established that safety with hundreds, maybe a thousand people, they'll go into Phase 2, which is where they're really trying to determine whether or not this virus will elicit immunogenicity or an immune system reaction to determine if it will actually protect you. That's often done by a randomized control trial, where some people get a placebo and some people get the vaccine.
And if that proves efficacy and proves further safety, you now move on to Stage 3, where you're going into thousands people. And you're testing it in a way on a broad population like you would in real life should the vaccine go forward. And all of those safety trials take time because you want to watch those patients to make sure that they don't develop problems.
SCIUTTO: So the White House says that it has now identified 14 different potential vaccines to focus on. How do they do that? And is that the job of the administration to do that? I mean, is that helpful to help sort of target resources to get this going?
PHILLIPS: Well, I think in a unique situation like this, I think it is imperative that the federal government, the private companies who are developing these vaccines, as well as very important philanthropic organizations, like the Gates Foundation and others, do what they can from a financial standpoint to push things forward. 90 percent of vaccines that are ever candidates fail. And often that's because of the financial aspects of going into Phase 2 and Phase 3 trial. I support any financial considerations that can be given there, and there certainly needs to be guidelines.
Now, they're choosing those vaccines based on what is being seen in animal models early on, whether it's monkeys or ferrets or mice or whatever model they're using there. So that's where the hope comes from. And as Dr. Birx said, there are a number of different types of vaccines, whether you're using live virus, injured virus, virus corpses or others, and so all of those things are going to have to be part of a generalized approach to the problem.
SCIUTTO: Okay. Final question before I go off of vaccines, but the treatments for people who become infected, remdesivir is getting a lot of attention. And after some initial questions about it, there does seem to be some evidence that it shortens the recovery time. How important is that to treating people who get infected?
PHILLIPS: That remains to be seen. So I think the way to sort of explain this to folks is something that we're more used to hearing about, which is Tamiflu or oseltamivir, which is one of the other antivirals that we use for the flu. Now, it doesn't cure the flu. It just shortens the duration of the symptoms and it may shorten the severity of how bad you feel.
Now, remdesivir, in these very early trials, are showing that it may shorten your time in the hospital. But it's not showing, in the data we've seen, to reduce your likelihood of death, which is the ultimate end point that we all want to get to.
So while this is one of those tools in our armamentarium, it will help to save lives uncertain, it's not a panacea, it's not a magic bullet. and because it's in I.V. form, it's not going to be a pill that people can take at home to prevent the flu or to treat themselves at home. So more work is certainly required.
SCIUTTO: Got to watch for the data. Take time. Dr. James Phillips, always good to have you on.
PHILLIPS: I appreciate it. Thank you.
SCIUTTO: President Trump keeps raising the expected death toll from the coronavirus outbreak, but at the same time, he is encouraging states to reopen. What is driving the mixed messaging from the White House? We're going to discuss, next.