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There Are 3.5 Million Cases Worldwide, 1.1 Million Cases In The U.S.; "New York Times" Reports, Internal Trump Administration Projections Show About 3,000 Daily Deaths By June; Scientists Focusing On 14 Possible Vaccines. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired May 4, 2020 - 13:00   ET

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


ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT REPORTER: So that's all coming.

[13:00:06]

But today, the first day, went all right for the Supreme Court, John.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Ariane de Vogue, I appreciate that little bit of history and Justice Sotomayor will figure out the mute button by next week, I'm sure. Ariane, thank you.

Hello to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm John King in Washington. This is CNN continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.

In the United States, the case count, you see it in your screen there, climbing above 1.1 million. The number of Americans dead now nearing 70,000. A new projection from inside the Trump administration predicts things may get much, much worse. An internal estimate by the Centers for Disease Control and first obtained by The New York Times says the daily death number will rise from current levels to 3,000 per day by June.

Some perspective there, 2,977 victims died on 9/11. The federal government model now says more Americans than that could die every day, Monday through Sunday, from coronavirus.

CNN Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is joins me now. Elizabeth, if you look at these projections in the CDC document, yes, they are projections, but with all this talk of reopening, I think many Americans, maybe psychologically, are thinking, oh, the worse is behind us. This document tells us, no it isn't.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. There is, even without this document, John, we know from all sorts of other data the worse is not behind us. It is unfortunately in front of us. And what this document points to is a choice that we as a country can make. We can make the choice to get very, very strict and hunker down and try to extinguish this flame as much as we can, or we can open backup, let people hobnob and be together in bars and tattoo parlors and restaurants and we will not be putting out that flame.

And so we have a choice. If we fast forward to September, we can look back and say, wow, we really did our best to tamp this down or we didn't. And, of course there are lots of considerations here with the economy, we don't want people to suffer financially. But we also have to have to think about what it means when you put people back together, it makes it harder to get rid of this virus. It is incredibly simple. The more human bodies are near each other, the further this is going to spread, the harder it's going to be to get rid of it.

KING: It is striking when you look -- I'm looking at the projected cases per day. I mean, they're tracking 25,000 a day now. Little under some days, little above some days. This model has it reaching perhaps 200,000 in a month at the beginning of June.

COHEN: And because of the -- those projections are because there has been so much of a movement to open up. If instead we kept on hunkering down, those doing the mitigation, the social distancing, the stay-at- home orders, those numbers would be lower. So those projections are based on the opening up, so to speak, that many governors and many places are doing.

So this is not sort of just an act of God, if you will. This is not just the virus doing what it's going to do. It's because of what we are doing to encourage or discourage the growth virus.

KING: It's fascinating to see how businesses, seeing these projections, decide who to call back, who to leave at home, how many hours and all that. Elizabeth Cohen, I appreciate your important insights.

Let's go straight now to the White House to CNN's Kaitlan Collins. Kaitlan, the president in that Fox News town hall last night was sounding optimistic. These numbers are dark.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, they are incredibly dark, a very sobering document that's been put together by FEMA and HHS that we're now getting a hold of looking at this from The New York Times reporting. And, of course, this comes as last night, the president was revising his own death toll that he's been projecting upward.

Just a few weeks ago, we saw the president saying that he believed it could potentially be as low as 50,000 and that it was going to be substantially lower and that initially projected 100,000 death toll rate. But now, of course, we have blown past the 50,000 here in the United States. And the president said last night, and he believed, now, it could go anywhere from 75,000 deaths to 100,000.

And now, of course, we are looking at this new document, and you've got wonder about how that's going to factor into what the White House has been pushing, which is, of course, for states to reopen. And the president was saying that even last night, as he was revising the death toll upward, he was saying that he believed students would be back in school by the fall.

He was making other rosy projections about these states pushing to reopen. So, of course, the question is whether or not this document is going to have any kind of effect on what the White House is thinking moving forward.

We know there actually was no coronavirus task force meeting scheduled for today. They've started to scale those meetings back in the last week or two compared to when they used to have them for every single day, for about an hour-and-a-half. At least they're not meeting in the same big formal capacity that they once were.

But you've got to wonder what these projections, what effect it's going to have.

[13:05:01]

Because, John, remember even in April, mid-April in the rose garden, the president was saying he believed the U.S. was past the peak of new coronavirus cases here in the United States, and this document seems to say that it could get worse in the next four weeks.

KING: All right. That would be another prediction by the president. It turned out not to be true. And it's politics and pandemics. We don't usually like to talk about it together but we are six months from the election and these numbers don't bode well for the president there either. Kaitlan Collins, I very much appreciate it.

Here to share his expertise and his insights, Professor Ali Mokdad from the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation, who produces the coronavirus model the White House frequently cites. Professor, thank you for being with us.

When you look at the CDC document and what its projections, and, again, it's a projection, but does it track the work that you have been doing as we go from May towards June, and we go now 32 states as of today? I think it will be 40 something by the end of this week having at least a partial reopening. Do those numbers track?

ALI MOKDAD, PROFESSOR OF HEALTH METRICS SCIENCES, INSTITUTE OF HEALTH METRICS AND EVALUATION: Yes. So what we are doing is, today, we're releasing a new estimate from our models and we are seeing, of course, a rise in projected deaths for several reasons. One of them has increased mobility before relaxation, premature relaxation of social distancing, we're adding more presumptive desks (ph) and we're seeing a lot of outbreaks in the Midwest, for example.

And the numbers, if you have a minute, I can explain what we are dealing with. The numbers right now in our models are impacted by four main variables.

The first one is heat. We are seeing an effect of heat. It was much a smaller area. For each Celsius degree, there was 0.7 reduction in transmission of the virus. Right now, we see 2 percent reduction. So, early on, it wasn't as hot as it is now. As it's becoming warmer, the heat effect is increasing.

The second one, what we're looking at is testing. It's going for our advantage. More testing right now, it means premature catching of the virus and preventing the circulation.

The third one is density, of how dense is a population, and we're looking at density of 1,000 person per kilometer -- square kilometer.

And the last one that's really the most important one is mobility. And right now, we are seeing an increase in mobility. That's leading to an increase in mortality, unfortunately, in the United States.

KING: And so are you -- when you look at the White House's projection versus yours, are you optimistic or more pessimistic?

MOKDAD: I haven't seen the full numbers from the CDC and I haven't read the studies. Our numbers will be -- my guess, would be a little bit less more optimistic than what the CDC is saying.

KING: Right. And so where are you now? You were at August 1st. The president often cites your numbers. August 1st U.S. deaths, where do you think we will be under the current reopening plans?

MOKDAD: It's premature reopening. King, you and I talked about it. Premature opening, so mortality will increase. Unfortunately, I can't prove (ph) the number. We'll release it like in three hours from now.

KING: Okay. We'll see the numbers when they come up.

As you watched -- you mentioned the heat effect. So that is a moderate positive, you think, a significant positive?

MOKDAD: It's much less than we have seen this previous flu epidemic, for example, a regular flu. But we're seeing it increasing as temperatures are getting warmer. So we believe that as it gets much warmer, remember, we're looking six weeks in the past right now. It wasn't that much warm. So right now, we're seeing a bit of effect as it is getting warmer.

KING: And how are you watching -- as you build your model, you see these states start to reopening, you obviously contract the mobility of people as this happens. A state may say a gym is open, movie theaters are open, restaurants are open, but then it depends on the psychology of the American people, the people within that state. Do you they accept it? Are they willing to get out and go?

And do you have enough data so far in Georgia, Texas, the early states that have done some of this reopening? Are you seeing mobility about what you expected, below what you expected?

MOKDAD: Yes, King. So, today, when we release our new numbers, you will see even a mobility shock. You see how mobility started increasing before the relaxation. And you're quite right. Right now, we have temperature that's bringing down testing, just bringing transmission numbers down. But mobility is the one that's increasing.

Yes, mobility in the past is different than mobility right now. So a decline in 10 percent of mobility is not the tame as increase in 10 percent of mobility. Because people right now, even some of them who are going out, are doing it more carefully by wearing masks and we see an effect for masks as well and social distancing.

So mobility is something that we're struggling with. We're looking at the early data from these states that prematurely relaxed social distancing and we're seeing an increase in mobility. And we're trying to project that kind of mobility into the future.

KING: Professor Mokdad, as always, I appreciate your insight. I'm going to look for the new numbers a bit later today, just trying to nudge it a little forward, but we'll wait. We can wait. Thank you, sir, I appreciate it.

Coming up for us, the risk of reopening. President Trump says he's getting great reviews for his coronavirus response. But the numbers in the states tell a more complicated story.

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[13:10:00]

KING: A closer look now at the reopening debate, 50 states, 50 plans, especially in the context of this new Trump administration internal document. We've just learned of the estimate the U.S. death rate could increase from about 1,750 deaths a day coming in right on average to 3,000 deaths a day by June 1st. Let's take a look as we go through these states.

Number one, let's look at the states, you see them colored in green. These states are going down. Remember the president's reopening guidelines of a trajectory down in 14 days? Well, these states meet it. You see them filled in on the map in green. New York meets it but you heard the governor a bit earlier saying he is still waiting a little bit longer before he reopens.

Let's just look at one of these states, Florida, the reopening underway, and you see the downward trend, a spike here, still a bit of a roller coaster, things for the governors to watch. But if you go back to the middle of April, you come down, it is down about 600 cases a day coming in just yesterday.

[13:15:04]

That's Florida among the stays going down.

These states in yellow are about the same. You see across the southeast here, see the entire west coast, you see other states as well, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Michigan, about the same, holding steady. Governors there, some reopening, some wanting a little bit more time.

Georgia, among the states here, it's about the same but it reopened. Remember, it was among the first states to do so. And you see a spike in recent days, a little bit up, a little bit down, down over the weekend. We'll see. But the five-day moving average is about flat, plateau, staying the same.

These states are going up, essentially the entire middle of the country. If you look here, the state by state, day by day case counts still going up. Texas among them, Oklahoma among them, both of those states reopening. If you look up in Northern New England, going up, here, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee still going up.

These cases going up even though some of these states are reopening. Virginia not ready to reopen, the president says it should, and you can see why the governor is hesitant. That line has plateaued, at best, maybe going up. If you look up here Virginia is still waiting.

This is what makes this so complicated, 50 states, 50 plans, depending on where you live, you see 20 states are going up, the other pink states. 15 states about the same, they're the yellow. 15 going down, the green. Imagine if you live here. You're surrounded by states. Everything is a little different. So maybe your state is reopening, maybe the next state is still going up.

It's a complicated as we go. We learned about this new report just a short time ago projecting cases are going up. Deaths are going to go up as we go through toward June. Still, the president says to governors, hurry up, reopen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: It depends on where you come from. Certain states are going to have to take a little more time in getting open and they're doing that. Some states, I think, frankly, aren't going fast enough. I mean, you have some states that -- Virginia, they want to close down until the middle of June.

And a lot of things that they are doing, I really believe you can go to parks, you can go to beaches.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: As you saw on the map there, Florida, one of the places where the coronavirus cases are going down. The reason to reopen there is urgent and compelling. More than 1 million Florida workers have filed for unemployment benefits in recent weeks, according to the state's website. But there is still a staggered response in three key counties on when and how to reopen.

CNN's Rosa Flores has been tracking this for us. She is live for us in Miami. Rosa, a big state, a complicated state, and now a reopening plan.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And we're already seeing signs, John, that people are not following the rules. And we're talking about thousands of people, so much so that a park that just reopened was just closed. I will get to that in a just a moment.

Let's talk about Florida, because it's one of the biggest states in our country with about 21.5 million people. Reopening starts today with the exclusion of three counties, including Miami-Dade, where I am, Broward and Palm Beach Counties. These three counties make up about 30 percent of the population of the state. But they account for about 60 percent of the cases and 60 percent of the deaths.

That's why these mayors got together decided to reopen simultaneously. They are excluded from Phase 1 but they did reopen parks and waterways on Wednesday. What we learn from Miami Beach Police today that they issued nearly 8,000 warnings over the weekend to individuals who went to parks and were not wearing face coverings, they were not social distancing. On top of all of that, 1,300 people had to be asked to leave these places at the end of the day.

But when it comes to the State of Florida, again, Phase 1 kicks off today and that includes restaurants and retail stores, being able to reopen at 25 percent capacity. Now, restaurants will also have outside seating, but the seating will have to be six feet apart.

Now, according to the governor, elective surgeries will be able to resume, 80 state parks will also open, but this is only Phase 1, which means that schools are still closed, bars, gyms, hair salons are still closed.

Now, as this state starts thinking about Phase 2, according to Governor Ron DeSantis, testing, John, is going to be key. He has waived some rules to allow pharmacists to test at, things like CVS and Walmart. So that's kind of the next step that we're waiting for here in Florida, a lot more testing, including antibody testing. John?

KING: And you mentioned 21.3 million people, one of the larger experiments, as we have these 50 state experiments. Rosa Flores, I appreciate the update from Florida. It will be fascinating to watch in the days ahead.

Up next for us here, a new chapter in what the White House Calls Operation Warp Speed, 14 potential vaccines now being put to the test.

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KING: They're calling for Operation Warp Speed, the joint efforts by scientists to develop tests and then manufacture a coronavirus vaccine. Now, those scientists say they are focusing those efforts on 14 different possible candidates with the goal of having three or four that make it to the final test.

Anne Rimoin is a professor of epidemiology at UCLA's Fielding School of Public Health and Infectious Disease Division at the Geffen School of Medicine.

[13:25:01]

Anne, it's good to see you.

I want to go through a little bit here, and you tell me, give me the reality check. First, let's listen to the optimism of the president of the United States last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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 supplies line now. We don't even have the final vaccine. (END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: And this is Dr. Deborah Birx, his coordinator for the White House, she seems a tad more cautious. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. DEBORAH BIRX, COORDINATOR, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE: The way that it's possible is if you bring forward five or six different classes of candidates which the Operation Warp Speed has done.

On paper, it's possible. It's whether we can execute and execute around the globe because you also, for Phase 3. have to have active viral transmission in the community in order to study its efficacy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: So where are you and what are the vital -- the key steps, if you will, to get you from on paper to that execution, to the finish line?

ANNE RIMOIN, PROFESSOR OF EPIDEMIOLOGY, UCLA SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: Well, I think that Dr. Birx is right. We need to be -- that, on paper, we can come up with a plan and it may all look well and good, but it's whether or not we can execute. And there are going to be several factors that are going to determine whether or not these vaccines -- any of these vaccines are viable candidates. One of the key pieces here is safety and the other is Efficacy.

So I think that there is optimism that is appropriate because we have several vaccine candidates here. And as Dr. Fauci said, we need to have more shots on goal for a chance of having a safe and effective vaccine. So this is, in my opinion, the right approach.

That being said, there are many, many steps going forward here. There will be a need for these studies looking at not only is it safe in humans but looking in people whether or not they are actually exposed and don't get the virus. And those do take time and it will depend on so many of these factors that we see right now. And in a pandemic, you just -- we're learning so much about this virus every single day. Things could change at any moment.

KING: Thanks. Yes, that's a necessary caveat. I appreciate it there.

And then the hearing now and while we wait, and we hope, and we cross our fingers and we hope these scientists get to the finish line as fast as they can. There's been a lot of talk, and it's confusing, frankly. Just about every day, you hear about a new antibody tests, there's this, there's that, to try to help us understand how many people have already been exposed to the coronavirus, especially important in the context of states begin reopen.

The pharmaceutical giant, Roche, just got approval, FDA emergency approval for its test. Listen to the CEO on CNN this morning and saying what he believes is a significance here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEVERIN SCHWAN, CEO, ROCHE: Yes, I've devoted (ph) testing because we can do that in bigger quantities, will allow us to track the pandemic in a much more precise way, because we will know where we are in the cycle in the pandemic, how many people have been infected, how infection rates are developing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Now, they are saying, and I don't mean this to be critical, you would expect them to say, but they are saying their test is very, very good as opposed to some of the tests we know that are on the market that are not so good. A, do you trust that? And, B, what's the importance?

RIMOIN: I think that this is a great development. We need more tools in our tool box here. And Roche's test appears to have very good sensitivity and specificity. Therefore, detecting as many cases as possible that our cases and excluding those cases that are not real, right? So these are the false positives and false negatives.

Now, having a false positive is a big problem when we're talking about serology because somebody could think that they already had this, potentially change their behaviors and then be at risk. And that's a big deal.

I also want to note that what he said, that this is important for tracking the virus, tracking how it's spreading in a population and looking at bigger policy issues. What he did not say is that this is going to tell you whether you have immunity to the virus or not.

And that's the thing that we are all trying to be very cautious about when people are looking forward to having an antibody yet, it doesn't necessarily indicate that somebody has immunity because we don't understand immunity for this virus at this point.

KING: Still another big question mark, if you had it, are you immune, and if so, for how long. Professor Rimoin, as always, I appreciate your insights and expertise. We'll talk again.

When we come back, the former vice president, Joe Biden, speaks to a major Latino organization. It's a political year, but the organization right now, more concerned about frontline coronavirus workers.

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