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Model Projects Number of Daily Coronavirus Deaths to Double by June; Masks Required on Some Flights Today Though International Travel May Continue Suspension; Some Children Are Developing Toxic Shock-like Coronavirus Complications. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired May 4, 2020 - 14:00   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST: -- in NFL history. Don Shula was 90 years old.

Thanks for sharing your time with us today. Hope to see you back here tomorrow. Brooke Baldwin picks up our coverage, right now.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Hi there, I'm Brooke Baldwin. I want to thank you so much for joining me on this Monday afternoon. You are watching CNN's special live coverage of this coronavirus pandemic.

And we have to begin today with a sobering and haunting new prediction, that shows a grim month ahead for America as more and more states begin to reopen and the president himself encourages them to get back to business.

This is what we have. An internal document first obtained by "The New York Times" shows internal modeling, which projects the number of people dying a day from this virus will nearly double by June 1st.

So the number now, we have, is to 3,000 deaths a day, remembering this modeling but also remember, 3,000 is much more than the number of people killed on 9/11. And that could happen, daily, over the next couple of weeks, as more and more states relax social distancing. The modeling also projects that the number of cases will jump from 25,000 a day to 200,000 cases a day.

Let me read you part of this piece out of "The New York Times." Quote, "The projections confirm the primary fear of public health experts: that a reopening of the economy will put the nation right back where it was in mid-March, when cases were rising so rapidly in some parts of the country that patients were dying on gurneys in hospital hallways," end quote.

As we are learning these new projections, at least 40 states will have started reopening businesses in some form or fashion by the end of this week. Let's start with CNN correspondent Nick Watt who's been following how states are moving forward despite doctors, you know, warning and scientists warning that it's still too much too soon.

And, Nick, even for states that are keeping stay-at-home orders, they are seeing people just not follow the rules. NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They are, Brooke, absolutely. But there

is one other factor at play here, is there are just millions of people who are very amped up to get out there again. They have been at home for a long time.

You know, Connecticut opened the parks, the weekend. They had to close the parks just because the parking lots were full to capacity. It wasn't so much people disobeying orders, it was just people trying to get outside.

Governor Cuomo summed it up pretty well this morning. He said, yes, now is the time to start talking about reopening. He's saying local municipalities of New York can think about maybe the end of next week. But he also said this, If you walk around without a mask on, you could literally kill someone. So it is this ongoing balancing act.


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 ADMIN, CENTERS FOR MEDICARE AND MEDICAID SERVICES: While we've been staying indoors, we have been slowing down the spread. But what we haven't done is gotten rid of the virus.

WATT (voice-over): Parks packed some places over the weekend, authorities had to act 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 and June.

WATT (voice-over): In 15 of our states, the daily new case count is falling, among them, those northeast hotspots.

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

WATT (voice-over): But in 20 states, the daily new case count is still rising. Among them, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois. It's ticking down in Florida where, today, minus those three big hard-hit southern counties, restaurants and retail can reopen at 25 percent capacity.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's definitely been a push for more testing but it would have been better, I think, to make sure we had all that in place before we open.

WATT (voice-over): New York City, now making its own tests. They say 30,000 will be available by Friday.

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

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

Here and elsewhere, politicians, now under pressure from anti-lockdown protestors.

SLAVITT: I worry that the political season isn't going to help us --

WATT (voice-over): Today, two California counties, defying the governor, letting restaurants, malls and the like reopen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some individuals are very excited about the relaxed restrictions. And, you know, others are not and those individuals are welcome to continue to stay home --

WATT (voice-over): Meanwhile, the White House is now focusing on 14 potential vaccines.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are very confident that we're going to have a vaccine at the end of the year.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Miracles can happen, it could come together. But I'm certainly not banking on it and I don't think we should all bank on a January availability. But I'm hopeful that sometime in 2021, we will have a vaccine.


WATT (voice-over): The makers of that potential therapeutic, remdesivir, say they've now donated 140,000 courses to the federal government.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 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 (voice-over): Now, listen to this, our weird normal. Today in D.C.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (via telephone): Oyez! Oyez! Oyez! All persons having business before the honorable, the Supreme Court of the United States, are admonished to give their attention --

WATT (voice-over): That's the Supreme Court, for the first time in history, meeting by teleconference.


WATT: And a couple more examples of our new weird normal, Costco, that famed purveyor of plenty, now limiting the amount of meat each customer is allowed to buy. J.Crew, the first national retailer going into bankruptcy. And here in L.A., second-largest school district in the country, the class of 2020 will be graduating virtually this year.

And, you know, California, we were told by the governor, he's days, not weeks away from lifting some restrictions. We're going to hear from him at a press conference within the hour -- Brooke. BALDWIN: Still just stunning to hear the U.S. Supreme Court, hearing

cases over teleconference. What did you call it? New weird normal, indeed. You are correct. Nick Watt, thank you.

Let's talk more about some of those numbers we hit at the top of the hour. With me now, Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, and director of the Center for Vaccine Development at Texas Children's Hospital.

And so, Dr. Hotez, I mean, we all know the president's been publicly pushing this reopening of states despite his own administration privately projecting that there will be about 3,000 deaths daily by early June -- this is according to "The New York Times." It is a sobering number. Is that possible to you?

PETER HOTEZ, PROFESSOR AND DEAN OF TROPICAL MEDICINE, BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: Yes. Well, let's put those numbers in perspective. At the worst of our COVID epidemic in the United States, there are about 2,000 deaths per day according to the Institute for Health Metrics. And that was in the early part of April.

And at that time, 2,000 deaths per day was basically the leading cause of death in the United States, COVID-19 was the leading cause of death. Now you're talking about a number that's a third higher, 3,000 deaths per day.

The problem is, I looked at that document and you don't -- there's no real listing of the assumptions that go into that, how they came up with that number, is it going to be homogeneously distributed across the United States or is it different parts of --


BALDWIN: Do you not trust the number? Because I'm looking at --


HOTEZ: Bottom line, it's not very informative.

BALDWIN: -- I'm looking at "The Times," they say the projection's based on government modeling pulled together in chart form by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. So are you not trusting the number?

HOTEZ: Well, it's not that I don't trust the number, it's just that that statement doesn't mean anything. It doesn't really -- as opposed to something like when you go to the Institute for Health Metrics model, you actually get a list of the assumptions, what went into that, how they came up with these numbers.

BALDWIN: I got it.

HOTEZ: And the only thing I can tell you is that my understanding is that towards the end of the day today, the Institute for Health Metrics will release their own numbers. And where they are very transparent with the assumptions -- number one -- and number two, it's a little more granular, you can actually read about it by different states.

And the reason that's important is because although the relaxation of social distancing will lead to an increase in cases, there are other factors that we have to consider as well. We now know the population density is very important, so things may be worse, I'm sorry to say, in cities like New York or Boston than they are in some of the cities in the American Southwest.

Or the fact that there may be some mitigating effects of higher temperatures and sunlight, so, again, things may be worse in places like San Francisco or New York than it might be in the southern part of the United States.

And the IHME models --


HOTEZ: -- like these other models you're talking about now, will actually give us a window into looking at that.

BALDWIN: Do you think social distancing just isn't working? I mean, is it maybe flattening the curve but not bending it?

HOTEZ: Well, I think it does work. And it really depends how quickly you implement social distancing. So I think one of the reasons why New York City got hit so badly was social distancing was not implemented until March 22nd, which was probably about six weeks after the virus entered into New York.

And we know that if you wait six weeks before you implement social distancing, then bad things happen. That's when you get that big surge in the number of cases in the ICU.

And in Texas, we benefited from that information coming out of New York because we probably implemented social distancing much sooner in our epidemic, and prevented that big surge.


So social distancing unquestionably has an impact. How relaxation of it's going to work, now, is what I'm concerned about. And that may be a major factor in this big bump, getting up to 3,000 deaths per day, which is so tragic.

BALDWIN: To that point -- last question for you -- you know, you say that you're not even listening to the White House coronavirus task force any more. You seem -- the notes I read of yours, you seem, Doc, exasperated, you know. What is the number one thing in your mind that needs to be done?

HOTEZ: Well, it's frustrating to listen to the White House task force meetings because they'll throw numbers out there and then they won't back it up either with the assumptions, or give you anything to refer to later on. So, you know, you'll hear 100,000 deaths. Well, where does that come from? Or you'll hear, you know, the information about remdesivir decreasing time for hospitalization.

Well, the only information that's up anywhere on the web is a paper that came out in "The Lancet" that day that showed that remdesivir's not working at all. And so it's, for a scientist, it's a bit exasperating because you don't see anything kind of backed up. Or, you know, we all know the story about hydroxychloroquine.

So what happens now is, you know, I find it more -- a better use of my time to actually look at all the papers that are coming out on the preprint servers like bioRxiv and medRxiv or the journals that are publishing. And every now and then, my wife Ann, will drag me in front of the TV, say, Peter, you've got to listen to this. And I'll listen to it.

But, again, usually it's sort of uninformative because you don't know where the numbers are coming from or what it's based on.

BALDWIN: No, I appreciate you wanting to look at the hard data. And as a scientist, you know, I'm so glad you are going through all those pages and pages. But I'm also glad your wife is dragging you in front of the TV. It's like you've got to see both, right? To have your full analysis --

HOTEZ: Right.

BALDWIN: -- you are so good. Dr. Peter Hotez, thank you so much for all that you do. We'll talk again, I know we will.

On top of all of this, top pediatricians in New York are warning of -- and this is their word -- alarming new information about children with coronavirus. One of them will join me, one of those doctors.

Plus, as many airline passengers are required to wear masks today, new signs that international travel may not return this year at all.

And the president attacks his predecessors in the middle of this pandemic, including former President George W. Bush who made this incredibly inspiring video over the weekend, calling for unity.

So stay here, we have a lot talk about on this Monday afternoon. You're watching CNN, I'm Brooke Baldwin.



BALDWIN: We're back with some more breaking news. New now, the NFL announcing all of its games this season will be played inside the U.S., of course because of the pandemic. The league had planned to play one game in Mexico City and four in London.

And speaking of international travel, it may not be returning any time soon. I want you to listen to the Treasury secretary speaking about this this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MARIA BARTIROMO, FOX BUSINESS HOST: Do you think international travel will be opened up this year?

STEVEN MNUCHIN, SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY: Too hard to tell at this point, Maria. I hope down the road it is, but I'd say we're taking this -- our priority is opening up the domestic economy. Obviously, for businesspeople that do need to travel, there will be travel on a limited basis . But this is a great time for people to explore America.


BALDWIN: This is the first day a number of major airlines, including United JetBlue, Delta, they're all asking passengers to wear face masks when they fly. A week from today, Southwest, American and other airlines will also require that.

And let's go to our CNN aviation correspondent Pete Muntean, live at Reagan National Airport. And, Pete, are folks you're talking to -- you know, jumping on those planes -- are they prepared for this new reality?

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're getting prepared. You know, airlines say that masks will be as essential to fly now as a boarding pass. All major airlines have policies going in place either today or over the next week.

Now, the real question will be how airlines will enforce this. It's a tricky spot for them to be in. They do not want to be in the position of denying somebody boarding if they don't already have a mask. They also definitely do not want to be in the position of having to boot somebody off a flight if they're not following these new mask policies.

You know, this is happening in the absence of a policy from the federal government. The flight attendants' union has been wanting this for weeks. I just spoke to officials at United Airlines who say that they will initially provide passengers masks if they are not already getting this message.


JOSH EARNEST, CHIEF COMMUNICATIONS OFFICER, UNITED AIRLINES: Look, I think when it comes to enforcing the regulation or you know, enforcing this requirement, you know, every flight today that's flying is going to have one of our flight attendants walking through the cabin, reminding people to raise their seatback to the full upright, locked position and to stow their tray table before landing?

You know, those are obviously requirements that people generally as a rule follow. And when it comes to something as important as wearing a mask to prevent the spread of the virus, I think our customers are going to be compliant with that as well.

(END VIDEO CLIP) MUNTEAN (voice-over): Airline sources tell me this will not be a perfect policy for passengers, at least initially. They say, you know, you have to think of those who might be heard of hearing, they might have a hard time lip-reading the neighbor of theirs already wearing a mask. You know, that's just one example of how tough this will be on passengers.

Airlines call this simply a fluid situation, they're trying to keep up in hopes that passengers start to come back soon. But here at Reagan National Airport, things pretty empty right now, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Yes, I'm sure there will be all kinds of changes as we all roll along in this new normal together. Pete, thank you.

In Washington, a top pediatrician is warning an alarming new bit of information regarding children and the coronavirus. The top critical care pediatrician at Mount Sinai Kravis Children's Hospital in New York is warning some young patients have been developing serious complications affecting their heart and their blood pressure that resemble toxic shock.

Here's a quote from him, "Whether the underlying condition is COVID-19 or the body's response to COVID-19 is not known at this time. While it is too early to definitively say what is causing this we believe it is important to alert the public as to what we are seeing."

So with me now, Dr. James Schneider. He is the chief of Pediatric Critical Care at the Cohen Children's Medical Center in Long Island, New York and he is also a pediatric intensivist, which means he cares for the most seriously ill children who need very intensive care.

So, first and foremost, bless you, Dr. Schneider, for doing just incredible, incredible work with our children. And it's my understanding that your hospital has also been seeing kids with similar complications?


BALDWIN: What exactly are you seeing?

SCHNEIDER: So thank you, Brooke, I appreciate it. We have been seeing a fair number of children with signs and symptoms consistent with a common pediatric diagnosis known as Kawasaki disease. However, many of them seem to be associated with a coronavirus infection.

Whether they have an infection now or they had an infection over the past few weeks, it seems that it's triggering this Kawasaki-like illness, which is leading to also severe shock states, meaning severe blood pressure abnormalities, their hearts are being affected, their kidneys are being affected and the kids are becoming very ill from this.

BALDWIN: Let's assume people watching don't totally understand what toxic shock syndrome is or Kawasaki. Explain that, and explain the symptoms for me. SCHNEIDER: Sure. What it is is really a disease of inflammation,

inflammation of the blood vessels that typically occurs as a result of a secondary infection or secondary to an infection, perhaps of a virus, maybe some other triggers in the environment, they're not -- we're not really clear what causes it.

However, it can be very serious. And particularly, it can cause an inflammation or irritation of the blood vessels of the heart, the coronary arteries. And that's really the most important thing that we're seeing -- or we can see.

Particularly with -- now with this coronavirus infection, the children seem to be presenting with this shock state, which means blood pressure's really low, it's a life-threatening condition and they need -- commonly need intensive care. And we're seeing this around the world, not just here in New York.

BALDWIN: Are we talking about kids coming to you who, any other day, perfectly normal healthy kids? And how many cases are you seeing?

SCHNEIDER: Generally, Brooke, they are previously normal children. There is no general predisposition that we are aware of. There very well may be, we're studying this as a community so we will try to find out.

In our institution, we've already seen -- since April 27th, we've had at least 17 patients in the hospital in our intensive care unit. We've already had almost about 15 or so -- in fact, we have six today alone. So it's a real entity and we're seeing a lot of it.

BALDWIN: Gosh, it's one thing to treat adults but to treat some of these sick, sick children? Thank you so much for everything you're doing and we'll make sure we continue to shine a light on work, pediatric work as well. Dr. Schneider, appreciate you.

I want to turn the corner and talk about malls in Georgia, they are reopening today. I'll talk with someone who says the state is running a human sacrifice experiment.

Plus, Macy's reopens its doors as J.Crew files for bankruptcy.


And one state completely locks down one of its towns over the, quote, "frightful spread of the virus." We'll take you there.


BALDWIN: For the very first time, a national retailer says the virus will force it into bankruptcy while another gets ready to reopen its stores. Today, Macy's is reopening stores across the country. And this is happening as J.Crew, now the first major retailer to file for bankruptcy protections, becoming the first big retail casualty of this pandemic.

Natasha Chen is live outside Lenox Square, one of the largest malls in Atlanta, which has now reopened for business. And it also happens to be home to both Macy's and J.Crew. And so, Natasha, what's the situation for those stores today?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brooke, I know you know this mall personally. Like you said, about 200 stores in there. Macy's is definitely open, we saw a line of people outside right before the mall opened. J.Crew, though, is closed inside. But they are among the majority of tenants in there that are still not open.

I put on a face mask earlier to go pick up some lunch. And as I was waiting for my food, I noticed that there were only a handful of shops open. Those with their doors open were limiting the number of customers who could be inside at any time, really sanitizing everything and in some cases even, you know, steaming clothes after people have tried them on. And that matches what we've been seeing at an outdoor mall in the Atlanta suburbs over the weekend that had already opened.


Something else I saw is that a lot of the customers were actually following mall recommendations to wear face coverings. For the first time today, I saw that people not wearing masks were actually in the minority.