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More States Reopen as Trump Revises Possible Death Toll to 100,000; Florida Kicks Off Phase 1 of Reopening Plan; California Counties Defy Governor's Stay-at-Home Order and Reopen Businesses; Former FDA Commissioner: 1,000 Deaths Per Day May be "New Normal"; Dr. Leana Wen Discusses Scott Gottlieb's Prediction of a "New Normal," Trump Admitting Death Rate Projections Higher, FDA Authorizing New Roche Antibody Test; Dr. Kayvon Modjarrad Discusses Whether Trump's Hopes for Vaccine by Year End is Realistic; Mayor Lyda Krewson, (D-St. Louis), Discusses Why She's Keeping City Closed as Governor Reopens Missouri. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired May 4, 2020 - 11:00   ET




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

You can mark your calendars for three weeks from now, by Memorial Day. By the beginning of June, the country will have a better idea of whether the reopening experiment kicking off now will have worked out or turned out to be a very dangerous losing gamble, whether the rate of sicknesses decline or spike again in these early states.

And make no mistake, this is a gamble as no state has reached the key benchmark the CDC has set forward to meet before reopening, that 14- day decline in new cases.

But for now, it's full speed ahead as more states begin easing restrictions today. You can see them right there on your screen. By the end of this week, more than 40 states will be at least partially reopening.

With that in mind, here is where the numbers stand. The U.S. death toll is now approaching 70,000. More than 1.1 million confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States.

And even President Trump is now being forced to acknowledge the total number of deaths here is going to be higher than previously estimated.


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. I used to say 65,000, and now I'm saying 80,000 or 90,000. And it goes up and it goes up rapidly.


BOLDUAN: CNN's Rosa Flores is in Miami, one of the few places that is not part of the state's reopening moves.

Rosa, how is it going? What are you seeing?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kate, we're already seeing that thousands of people are not following the rules in just one city in Florida. I'll get to that in just a moment.

But about Florida in general, today is the kickoff for phase one for the reopening of most of the state, but that excludes the counties of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach. This is one of the biggest states in the union. And 30 percent of the state's population are in these three counties, but they account for 60 percent of the cases and the deaths.

That's why the mayors of these three counties got together and decided to reopen simultaneously. They're excluded from phase one, but they did reopen parks, waterways, golf courses, and other green spaces starting on Wednesday.

But not everyone is following the rules. We learned from Miami Beach police today that they tallied up all of the warnings issued Friday, Saturday and Sunday, just this past weekend, and they say that they issued about 8,000 warnings to individuals for not social distancing, for not wearing their masks. Another 1300 people were not leaving the parks once they were closed, so they had to ask those people to leave.

Now, when it comes to the rest of the state, phase one involves allowing restaurants and retail stores to reopen at 25 percent capacity. Restaurants will also be able to have outdoor seating, but the seating will have to be six feet apart. Elective surgeries will be allowed. And Governor Ron DeSantis announced the opening of 80 state parks.

But this is only phase one, so schools are still closed. Bars, gyms, hair salons are also closed.

As the state looks forward at a possible phase 2 -- we're only launching phase one today -- but as they look forward, Governor Ron DeSantis is mentioning that testing, Kate, is going to be key. There are multiple efforts going on to try to expand that here in the state of Florida -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: It's so important to roll through what phase one looks like where you are, because it is different everywhere, in every state. Everyone is different.

Rosa, thank you so much. I really appreciate it.

With the vast majority of states reopening, in part, this week, in states where stay-at-home orders remain in place, things are getting heated. In California, large crowds gathered in Huntington Beach and other Orange County towns over the weekend to protest the governor's decision to shut down the beaches once again. Two other counties in California are defying the statewide

restrictions by making moves to allow some businesses to reopen.

CNN's Stephanie Elam is in Los Angeles. She's been tracking all machinations of this as it's progressed.

Stephanie, what is going on there?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A lot of different things. And it's sort of the tale of two different Californias, one of the most popular states in the nation, Kate.

You have northern California counties -- three of them so far -- one in the far northeastern county, Monmouth County, which has a population of about 9,000 people. On Friday, they decided to go ahead and open up some businesses, churches, schools as well.


They're telling people who are 65 or older or anyone with underlying conditions, they should still stay at home, should follow those guidelines as well. But they're saying, listen, we are different as a rural community in this part of the state.

Then you have two other California counties, Yuba County and Sutter County, which I should note, Monmouth County has zero cases of coronavirus. But these two counties do have cases of the coronavirus.

And today, they're starting to ease up on the restrictions. They're saying salons, gyms, tattoo parlors, restaurants can open up. They're saying social distancing still needs to be followed. And they're saying any of these personal care businesses, after 30 minutes, you have to get up and move on and get out of there.

But it is interesting to note that these are counties that have thousands of people in them, so very different north of Sacramento.

What's not clear at this point is whether or not the governor is going to go after these counties to make them follow the order of the state, which obviously is supposed to cover the entire state. And that's an issue here.

The other issue, though, is that, in the beach communities in Orange County, they feel targeted because of the fact that the governor said their beaches need to be closed over the week. And we saw Newport Beach decided to file litigation that will be filed by Huntington Beach as well, because they're trying to force getting their beaches opened up despite what the governor said.

You saw big protests there over the weekend. People are very mad. I was there on Friday, Kate, and I can tell you there's a lot of anger about the fact their beaches are closed. So they're fighting to get that changed.

But, still, you can see that we've been at the stay-at-home order longer than any other state in the nation, and the fatigue is there. And people, now that the weather is getting nicer, it's really beautiful now, people want to get back outside. And you're seeing that fight now.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely, they are.

Good to see you, Stephanie. Thanks.

There's also a stark warning coming from the former FDA commissioner saying, despite the data right now shows that despite what any politicians is reporting, social distancing and mitigation efforts to date have not worked as well as officials had hoped or expected.

Listen to how Scott Gottlieb, who served under President Obama, is advising the current White House, how he put it.


DR. SCOTT GOTTLIEB, FORMER FDA COMMISSIONER: There's about 20 states where we see a rising number of new cases. Illinois, Texas, Maryland, Indiana, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, have a lot of new cases on a daily basis.

While mitigation didn't fail, I think it's fair to say it didn't work as well as we expected. We expected we would start seeing more significant declines in new cases and deaths around the nation at this point, and we're just not seeing that.

We may be facing the prospect that 20,000, 30,000 new cases a day diagnosed becomes a new normal. And a thousand or more deaths becomes a new normal as well.


BOLDUAN: Joining me now, Dr. Leana Wen, emergency room physician, former Baltimore city health commissioner.

Dr. Leana Wen, I want to get your reaction to Scott Gottlieb. The numbers being discussed, in general, I feel we've gotten to a point it makes your eyes glaze over. But if 30,000,000 new cases a day and 1,000 new deaths a day is the new normal, what should that mean to folks watching?

DR. LEANA WEN, EMERGENCY ROOM PHYSICIAN & FORMER BALTIMORE CITY HEALTH COMMISSIONER: Kate, these are sobering numbers to think that we've reached a plateau. At least we're not increasing exponentially as we were But that plateau is terrifying.

I think what it reflects is there are different outbreak curves happening around the country. As we see in the New York area, that those are infections are leveling off and decreasing, we're seeing hot spots happening in other parts of the country, including in rural areas that don't have a good health care infrastructure in the best of times.

And I also worry, Kate, I worry about what happens when we lift these social distancing measures. Even with that aggressive mitigation, we're still, at best, seeing a plateau, which means that this virus hasn't changed. We still don't have a vaccine. We still don't have a cure.

And what happens when these measures are lifted is that we are going to see an explosive spread. And that, at this point, seems inevitable.

BOLDUAN: And smart folks like yourself continue to point out that a virus is happy to wait you out. It's happy to wait you out if you don't have any measures put in place.

President Trump, in talking about the numbers and the projections. President Trump is now revising his projection of the death toll, back up to something like 100,000 people. These estimates, they were far lower weeks ago. Now even Donald Trump is saying the projection is getting worse. What do you think this change reflects?

WEN: I mean, I think it reflects reality, because President Trump had previously said we're looking at 60,000 deaths and now we've surpassed that number.

But here's what I'm most concerned about, is that there are actually things we can do to change the trajectory of where we will be. We can rapidly ramp up our testing, our tracing capabilities.



WEN: We can do a lot more to strengthen our health care system.

So if we know that this is where the numbers are going, let's at least look at what we can do to prevent them from getting even higher. I think that requires this national effort that we're just, unfortunately, not seeing to date.

BOLDUAN: And to be clear, this projection, as we've been talking about these projections, this is the death toll just through August. This is not the total death toll of this crisis before there's a vaccine. I think that's an important aspect that needs to be pointed out over again and again.

Then you have, as you talked about, as folks are opening up, clear evidence over the weekend that even states with stay-at-home orders in place, people are not doing that. If that's what's happening in May as other states start experimenting with reopening, what do you fear that means for June? As I said at the top of the show, mark your calendars for Memorial Day.

WEN: That's right. And I'm glad you mentioned this lag in time because I think that's the problem, that people are not seeing that the impact of their actions are not immediately reflected. It's not like you go out today and we're going to see a spike tomorrow.

But rather because there's a lag of time between when you get infected and when you start showing symptoMs. And then another lag of time between that and when people become very ill or succumb to the illness. I think that's the problem, that we're not seeing what's going to happen until weeks or even months later.

But I think everybody should keep on doing their part. If you don't have to go out, please stay away. Please keep on practicing these good public health hygiene practices. Don't congregate. Don't gather. We can at least do our part in keeping ourselves and everybody else around us healthy, too.

BOLDUAN: I'm starting to think it's the instant gratification society running up against science is what we're seeing here in the kind of collision happening.

There's a huge drug company, Roche, that says they just received FDA approval for release of a new antibody test. They claim it's more accurate than others on the market. And how it's being discussed, I want you, if you could, translate in English for the rest of us.

Roche said its test captures 99.8 percent of people who have been infected and identifies 100 percent of those who have not. A specificity of 99.8 percent and a specificity of 100 percent.

Can you translate that for me?

WEN: Sure. Roche in this test are saying they are very effective in identifying both individuals who test positive, meaning that if they test positive, they actually have the antibody, and that they are very effective at finding those who are negative. So a true negative result reflects that they have not had this exposure.

I think the problem, though, we still don't know what the antibody test really means, even we have an accurate measure of the test result. We don't know if having the antibody means that you're actually immune from getting the virus.

It may be a better measure of exposure than actually whether you're protected, and I think we should be very careful until we know what that really means.

BOLDUAN: That's such an important point. It should frame how we talk about these antibody tests as there's now more moves towards using more of them.

Thanks so much, Doctor. Appreciate it.

Coming up for us, President Trump says he's very confident there will be a vaccine by the end of the year. Is that realistic? I'm going to talk to the head of the Army's COVID-19 vaccine project.

And later, Missouri begins reopening today, but not everyone is ready. Why the mayor of St. Louis says she's keeping her city closed.



BOLDUAN: This morning, President Trump is projecting optimism about a test for the coronavirus vaccine and the extremely ambitious timeline that the administration has set.


TRUMP: We think we're going to have a vaccine by the end of this year, and we're pushing very hard. We're building supply lines now. We don't even have the final vaccine.

Johnson & Johnson, if you look, Johnson & Johnson is doing it. We have -- many companies are, I think, close. I meet with the heads of them and I find it a very interesting subject because it's so important.


BOLDUAN: According to sources, right now, the White House has identified 14 potential vaccines to focus in on for development.

Let's talk to one of the researchers working on a potential vaccine right now. Joining me is Dr. Kayvon Modjarrad. He's director of emerging infectious diseases at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research.

Thank you so much, Doctor, for being here and for what you do.

I'm very curious. I know everybody is. Everyone is talking about the timeline to the urgent need to get a vaccine to market safely and today, right? Where are you all in terms of the timeline of your vaccine?

DR. KAYVON MODJARRAD, DIRECTOR FOR EMERGING INFECTIOUS DISEASES, WALTER REED ARMY INSTITUTE OF RESEARCH: I think the important thing for people to understand is our institute is one of the oldest research institutes in the entire U.S. government.

Walter Reed Army Institute of Research are rare. We've has been working on vaccines for 125 years. We actually have developed half of the vaccines that are licensed today.

And so we're building on a lot of that experience. And particularly, we were working on coronaviruses for the past several years as well. So we were able to pivot that on the day that the sequences of this new virus were published to start working on a vaccine. And ever since, we've been working 24/7 around the clock.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Where are you in terms of that project, in terms of trials?

MODJARRAD: Yes. Our vaccine approach is in animal studies right now, so we have one unique approach in a whole landscape of many different approaches. You mentioned 14 that are being prioritized but there are about 100 vaccine candidates out there.


Our role in government is not just to advance one of our own type of approaches but also to work with academia, industry and other government agency partners to be able to use one of our resources to advance their vaccine candidates.

So we've been in discussions this whole time with all those different partners to see where we can insert and help them go much faster as well.

BOLDUAN: That is fascinating.

As you mentioned, the institute and you as well have worked on vaccines of many types. I've seen you talk about your efforts with the Zika virus. You called the timeline even for that unprecedented at the time,

bringing the vaccine to clinical trials in nine months. And then you look at a timeline of getting a vaccine through trials and approved in 12 months is even faster.

What does that mean or look like from someone who is in the thick of it?

MODJARRAD: Every single time we have dealt with one of these crises, we have gone faster and faster. Each time, it's unprecedented.

And so what we've seen, I think, is because of the sheer volume of different groups coming in, all the political will, all of the resources being collectively focused on this effort, we're seeing -- I mean, the timelines that I never could have imagined to be able to get a vaccine from sequence to clinical trials. The NIH group and Moderna were able to do it in 42 days.

So it's not inconceivable that we could go much, much faster than we have before.

BOLDUAN: How do you make sure that you're not moving too fast, that safety isn't being compromised for speed?

MODJARRAD: Yes, that is a critical point. And I'm glad that you brought that up. Is that there are areas where we can compress the timeline, but the key points that people should understand is there's no shortcut that we're going to take that compromises safety.

I'm a physician and our first principle in medicine, first, do no harm. So we're going to focus on safety first and make sure that we have a safe vaccine and then an effective vaccine.

BOLDUAN: What do you think the chances are that -- I've seen some talk about this -- that more than one vaccine is actually going to be needed. For example, one for older people as their immune systems have reacted to the virus differently than younger people.

MODJARRAD: Yes. In the world of vaccines, we call that target product profiles. And as you said, there are different populations with different levels of vulnerability to the disease.

Some vaccines we might need that might be good with preventing transmission. Some vaccines might be better at preventing severe disease, as in the elderly population. Some vaccines might be better for health care workers and first-line responders. It gets the immunity faster. Some vaccines might be able to provide immunity for a longer period of time.

So that's why it's important that we invest in multiple approaches.

BOLDUAN: That's amazing, the undertaking that is underway.

Thank you for your good effort. Good luck. Thank you.

MODJARRAD: Thank you very much.

BOLDUAN: Still ahead for us, I'm going to talk to the mayor of St. Louis about why she is keeping her city closed, even though Missouri's governor is opening the rest of the state today.


We'll be back.



BOLDUAN: Add Missouri now to the growing list of states beginning to reopen this week. But not everyone in the state is ready. The two biggest cities in the state have announced stay-at-home orders will extend through at least mid-May. Look at the numbers from St. Louis. The city reporting its largest increases in cases just yesterday.

Let's go there. Joining me now is the mayor of St. Louis, Lyda Krewson.

Mayor, thank you so much for coming in. I appreciate your time.

You told the governor your city isn't ready --


BOLDUAN: -- to reopen while he is reopening the state. What are you seeing that leads you there, that troubles you or that doesn't have you there yet?

KREWSON: Well, the city of St. Louis in our region here has two-thirds of the cases in the state of Missouri. There are other counties in Missouri who only have a few cases. So what we have here is a situation where one size does not fit all.

In our city, we are leaving the stay-at-home order in place for another week or two weeks. We haven't determined the exact date but we think somewhere around mid-May. We're going to continue to look at the data and have that inform us.


We know everyone wants to get back to work. But we are very concerned that we continue to see a decrease in the number of hospitalizations before we are able to go back to work.