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New Antibody Test Almost 100 Percent Accurate?; How Far Can Coronavirus Droplets Travel?; U.S. Government Projects Massive Rise in Coronavirus Cases Ahead. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired May 4, 2020 - 15:00   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and all around the world, as this is our special coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.

And as most of the nation here begins to relax more and more restrictions, a new model from the Trump administration projects a steep rise in the number of coronavirus cases and deaths when you look to the weeks ahead.

Let me show you this. This document first obtained by "The New York Times" shows internal modeling which projects the number of people dying each day from the virus will nearly double by June 1 to 3,000 people a day.

And remember that modeling, but let's also just put it in context; 3,000 people is greater than the number of Americans killed on 9/11.

The modeling also projects that the number of cases will jump from 25,000 a day to 200,000 cases of COVID-19 a day.

Here's a -- here's a quote from this piece in "The Times": "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."

So let's begin this hour over at the White House and our correspondent there, Kaitlan Collins.

And, Kaitlan, sobering numbers coming out today. What is the White House saying about this?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're trying really to distance themselves from these projections by saying this is not a document that came from the West Wing.

They say it hasn't formally been presented to the president's Coronavirus Task Force, though we should note the task force hasn't actually met in person since last Friday, as they're now scaling back the number of meetings that they're having.

But a White House spokesperson said that this modeling is not reflective of the data that the task force has been looking at. So they're trying to put some distance, but they are not denying the authenticity of this document, of these projections that you're seeing.

And, of course, you have got to wonder just how much they're taking into it into account, because you saw the president last night revise the death toll upward of what he had been saying in recent weeks, Brooke.

I think it was just about two-and-a-half, three weeks ago when the president said the death toll could potentially be as low as 50,000. Then last night, in that FOX News town hall, he said that it could go up from 75,000 to 100,000, as he was seeming to get more realistic about what the numbers are looking like.

And despite that, Brooke, we should note, the president has still pushed ahead with his desire for some of these states to continue easing restrictions and reopening, even in the face of some of these sobering numbers that you're seeing in this document.

And one of them that's really the most striking is not only just the deaths and how much those could sharply increase, but also the number of new cases per day, where this document has it going from 25,000 a day, as it is now, to maybe even potentially 200,000 by the end of this month, early next month.

So that is something that's really striking to see. And, of course, it goes as you're continuing to see the president's economic aides really want to get the economy reopened. All the health experts have been incredibly cautious, saying they're just too concerned about what could happen if too many states open just too quickly -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Kaitlan, thank you very much.

I just want to go straight to the good doctor here, our CNN chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, is with us, as is our chief political correspondent, Dana Bash.

But, Sanjay, I just want to go straight to you.

Again, when you hear 3,000 deaths daily, and then that would put us back where we were in mid-March, what do you make of these numbers? And how -- do we even know how they arrived at these numbers?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, like you, Brooke, I hate hearing numbers like this. But this is not surprising.

We have seen these models for some time. A lot of attention has been focused on this one model out of the University of Washington, which is -- talked about death tolls around 60,000, 70,000 over the past few weeks.

There have been other models all along, including ones from the federal government,that have projected, sadly, death tolls much higher.

I think there's two things that really jump out. And we haven't seen the report itself. We're just seeing some of the current projections. But the earlier reports sort of -- they're in line with this.

Two things. One is that the mitigation efforts, the stay-at-home orders, have had an impact. But ,seemingly, what they have done is they brought things down to a lower level of daily infections. It did not sort of create this back end of the curve that we were sort of thinking would happen, that we would be able to contain this.

It just got the slowing down to a certain level. So it's had an impact, but maybe not as great an impact as we have hoped, because even 1,700 people dying roughly a day is obviously -- it's staggering to think about.

The second thing, which I think, Brooke, is no surprise -- we talked about this on your program on Friday -- is that places are starting to reopen. So the whole idea that you're going to see an increase then in the number of people who become infected, number of people who get hospitalized and may die is sad, but true.


I just want to show, if I can, if we have this flattening of the curve graphic, which we showed so many times a few weeks ago, Brooke, you remember, if you look at this flattening of the curve, if you look at the volume underneath both curves, the one that has the bigger peak, and the one that has the flatter peak, they are about the same, right?

It was just a question of sort of spreading out the pace in which people became infected. And to some degree, we have been able to do that. But as we start to reopen, that pace will pick up and the number of people who become infected that otherwise wouldn't have will increase.

So this is obviously not the news people want to hear. But it is the honest news, Brooke.

BALDWIN: So, just so I'm following you, because you have also made the point -- you live in Georgia. We know Georgia is reopening. So many states are reopening.

And the point you have made is, we won't know the data in terms of infections or worse for another couple of weeks. So, if we take this number, 3,000 deaths a day, or 200,000 coronavirus cases a day, does that even factor in these next couple of weeks of states reopening?

GUPTA: Yes, that is a great question, Brooke, because I think it was really interesting to me.

When I looked at the -- again, the University of Washington model, the IHME model, that was already starting to go up without even factoring in the reopenings. So there was already this sense that the -- for whatever reason, maybe people weren't being as diligent about staying at home, even in places where they should have been, we don't know what the reason is.

But even before reopening, the numbers were already -- the projections were already starting to creep up.

So, this is starting to take into account some of this, but this is not even taking into full account of the dozens of states that are reopening. So, again, I take no joy in saying this, but I think the numbers that we're looking at, as stark as they are, may be even higher in terms of the projections once we start to take into account all these states opening.

And we want to avoid that explosive growth that we saw in mid-March. That was when the hospitals were really taxed, Brooke. That's when people were complaining they didn't have enough personal protective equipment. And they were worried that people who would otherwise have been able to be cared for may be dying preventable deaths.

We don't want to be in that position again. And I think that that's what these projections are clearly warning us about. We have to listen. People are taking victory laps, they're spiking the football, whatever you want to call it. We are not out of this yet.

And, again, I take no joy in saying that. I'm going to get tons of hate mail, as I always do, but it is the truth. And we have got to tell people the truth right now, because there is a path out of this, if we actually are very, very clear about what is happening right now.

BALDWIN: No, you're a truth-teller, and we respect you for that.

One more piece of information. As you and I have been talking, this has just come in, that this key coronavirus model that the White House is using says it will revise projections to nearly 135,000 U.S. deaths, almost double its previous prediction, Sanjay.

And the Institute for Health Metrics Evaluation at the University of Washington cites relaxed social distancing and increased mobility, Sanjay. So that is precisely to the point you were just making.

GUPTA: Yes, look, and if you look at the numbers, and you just do the quick math -- and, again, I hate to speak about this in such clinical terms, and especially, Brooke, you have dealt with this firsthand, but you talked about 200,000 people, they're saying, may be come infected every day, every day.

Right now, we're just over a million people. So now they're saying could be 200,000 people infected every day and up to 3,000 deaths a day. That's what they're saying. That's a 1.5 percent mortality.

I mean, we have talked about this since January, that the flu is around 0.1 percent. If we're truly talking about something that is 10 to 15 times more lethal, that makes the case that the best we can do, until -- we have to outpace this thing by getting a good therapeutic or a good vaccine, and we will.

But in the interim, something that is that lethal really, really makes the case that we have to do everything we can right now, staying home, washing hands, wearing masks, because it decreases the spread, and it just shows that you're a good, courteous human being.

Those things need to be done right now, because it's the best that we have. We will get through it. But, for right now, it's the best we have.

BALDWIN: OK, Sanjay, thank you.

And, Dana, let me bring you in, because the other piece of this is the fact that this is the White House, they are projecting these numbers privately, yet the president very publicly is pushing to reopen, even saying states like Virginia aren't opening fast enough.

Will these new numbers have any effect on how the White House moves forward?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Unclear. I mean, that's the honest answer at this point.

The other side of this that Sanjay was just alluding to, as he gave us that grim and pragmatic medical view of the situation going forward, is the way that people are suffering economically.


And I know Sanjay knows this and recognizes this, as do all other medical professionals who are making these really stark recommendations to continue to stay home and use preventative measures.

But the president, what he is saying, what he said last night at his town hall, what he continues to say more and more, is, based on the pressure that he is getting, not just from his base, not just from red states, but even more broadly now, that the economy is already so dire and could be in a place that none of us could even imagine, since the Depression times, if he doesn't start to reopen.

And I will just tell you, just before coming on with you, Brooke, I was talking to the former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie for the podcast "The Daily D.C.," and his recommendation was, we have got to start to real, do it carefully, do it slowly, but that leaders in this country have to just say point blank, people are going to die, and it's the price that society needs to pay to restart the economy.

And he said it in characteristically blunt terms. Unclear if the president will do that. But that, for sure, is the kind of thing that the president and other leaders are hearing privately in one ear, as they're hearing what Sanjay was saying in the other.


I appreciate all this analysis. Dana, thank you, Sanjay, thank you. And, again, thank your daughter for sending me the mask. I have it everywhere I go now. Appreciate you.


BALDWIN: Thank you.


BASH: Welcome back, B.B.

BALDWIN: Thank you. Love you, D.B. Thank you.

Listen, six feet may not be enough. A new study shows that particles from a heavy cough can travel up to twice that distance. We have those details ahead.

And a potential game-changer in tracking the spread of the virus. One drugmaker claims it has an antibody test that is nearly 100 percent accurate. Could be some great news for everyone.

And masks are a simple and effective way of stopping the spread of the coronavirus, so why are people threatening violence after being told to wear them?



BALDWIN: Welcome back on this Monday afternoon. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

As we're learning of new dire projections of an increase in deaths and cases, at least 40 states will have started reopening businesses in some way by the end of this week, and among them the state of Florida, where phase one begins today.

CNN's Randi Kaye is live there in West Palm Beach.

And, Randi, a million people, a million have filed for unemployment thus far in Florida. So the governor is feeling the pressure to get stores and services open. But it is still with social distancing, right?


People are certainly being asked to social distance, Brooke, but already we're seeing problems. In fact, in Miami Beach, they have already closed a park and they have issued 8,000, 8,000 violations for not social distancing and not wearing the face masks, as is required there.

But, as you mentioned, this is phase one. It's a learning experience, apparently. More beaches are opening today, including popular ones in Clearwater and Destin and Pensacola. Restaurants are opening. State parks are opening. Restaurants have limited capacity.

Also, retailers are opening to about 25 percent capacity. Some things are still closed, like some of the museums are closed here. Of course, the movie theaters are closed, the salons and the spas, and also three major counties here in South Florida, including this one where I am, Palm Beach County, as well as Broward County and Miami-Dade. And that's because those were the hardest-hit counties. That's also

about 30 percent of the state's population, so a very highly populated area, about 6.2 million people living there.

But, as you mentioned, Brooke, social distancing, it is key, which is why we wanted to know, how far does a cough really travel? So we went to a Florida lab to find out.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you cough. Three, two, one.

KAYE (voice-over): Inside this lab at Florida Atlantic University, two engineering professors are measuring the power of a cough.


KAYE: Using a dummy, they fill its mouth with a mix of glycerin and water, then with a pump force the dummy to cough, then wait to see how far the droplets travel. They fill the air, visible with the green laser light, simulating what happens when we cough.

SID VERMA, FLORIDA ATLANTIC UNIVERSITY: It generates particles on the order of 10 to 20 microns, which is roughly close to what the smallest droplet sizes are when we cough.

KAYE: Take note how quickly the simulated respiratory droplets spread. The droplets expelled traveled a distance of three feet almost immediately. Within five seconds, the droplets were at six feet, then nine feet in just about ten seconds.

Remember, nine feet is three feet beyond the recommended social distancing guidelines.

VERMA: Already reaching roughly nine feet now. It's still moving further, slowly.

KAYE: The fog of droplets lingered in the air, but kept moving forward, taking just another 30 to 40 seconds to float another three feet.

VERMA: It's getting closer to 12 feet now.

KAYE: Yes, he said 12 feet.

Over and over again, the simulated droplets blew past the six-foot mark, often doubling that distance.

VERMA: OK. It has passed three feet already, approaching six feet. And it looks like it has crossed six feet. And now it has slowed down.


KAYE (on camera): How long might they linger at nine feet and 12 feet? MANHAR DHANAK, CHAIRMAN, FAU ENGINEERING DEPARTMENT: So, at nine

feet, they could linger for two to three minutes, OK? But the concentration is less than what it would be at, say, six feet by a factor of eight.

KAYE (voice-over): The professors say the droplets become less dense the further they travel, but they still hang in the air, still with the ability to carry disease.

And watch this. Even when we put a simple mask on the dummy, particles still disperse from the sides of the mask, though they didn't travel far.

(on camera): Certainly, if you are not wearing a mask, you are supposed to cough into your elbow. But if you cough into your hand, this is what happens.

Let's turn out the lights. I will put my hand up against the mouth of this dummy and simulate a cough. You can see the droplets spray in all directions. They may not travel as far, maybe about three feet or so, but they spray everywhere. And they can linger in the air, possibly for as long as three minutes.

(voice-over): Intensity of the cough matters. So we tested a gentle cough too. The lighter cough didn't go very far at all, about three feet. But the question remains, how close is too close?

(on camera): Do you think, based on what you've seen in your own lab, that six feet is enough for social distancing?

DHANAK: Six feet is the minimum distance that you should keep.

It seems that ...

KAYE: But further is better?

DHANAK: Further is better.



KAYE: So, we shot that inside, Brooke, in a small lab, but outside would be a very different story.

Even with a slight breeze, how I'm feeling today, the professor said that the cough would go up and the droplets would disperse to the side, maybe it would travel about three or four feet.

But what really got me was how long it hangs in the air. They said several minutes, as you heard there. So if you walk into an elevator or maybe a restaurant, now that they're starting to open, and somebody coughed just a few minutes before that, and you don't know it, those droplets are still in the air, and they can get you.

BALDWIN: No, that was incredible to see that demonstration. I just had no -- no idea how far a cough could potentially travel.


BALDWIN: Randi Kaye, thank you so much for doing that, just to show us. Appreciate it.

KAYE: Great to see you.

BALDWIN: Thank you very much.

One drugmaker says it now has an antibody test that is nearly 100 percent effective. So, we will talk to an emergency room doctor and ask if that could be a game-changer.

Plus, he will share the most promising treatments he has seen thus far more coronavirus patients in the ICU.

So, stand by.



BALDWIN: Drug giant Roche says it has received emergency authorization from the FDA for its new coronavirus antibody test. It's a test that the company says catches 99.8 percent of people who have been infected and detects 100 percent of the people who have not been infected.

CNN'S Elizabeth Cohen has more on how the White House has tightened its rules on these antibody tests.


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: On Monday, the Trump administration walking back a policy that they instituted in mid-March.

Trump said that, to fight COVID-19, they were going to change some of the rules and regulations. So, in mid-March, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration told test developers who were making antibody tests, hey, you can market your tests, and you don't have to prove that they work.

So, what happened is that the market was flooded with -- quote -- "crappy tests," the word crappy being used by a major public health lab association. It turns out that many of these tests didn't work.

So, now the FDA saying, if you want to sell an antibody test in the United States, you first have to prove that it works -- Brooke.


BALDWIN: Elizabeth, thank you.

And I want to talk more about these antibody tests. Dr. Christopher Seymour is a physician and scientist at the University

of Pittsburgh Medical Center. And he's also a researcher who has been involved in the clinical trials to test coronavirus therapies.

So, Doctor, thank you so much for being on.

And speaking from experience, having been sick, looking for a reliable antibody test, do you take this company at its word when they say it's 99 percent accurate?


And thanks for having me, Brooke, and we're glad you're feeling better.

This is really exciting news. We have for months heard about these tests that might not be accurate. And now to be able to understand if a patient has actually had coronavirus and perhaps not known it has great implications for both public health, as well as for us as Individuals.

BALDWIN: So, surely, there will be this rush on this particular antibody test, right, people wanting to get it to see if they're immune.

Who will be able to get it? How will they prioritize this?

SEYMOUR: Well, I think, first of all, health care workers are likely to be the ones tested initially.

And that's because it's so important that our nurses and our physicians are able to understand whether they might have not known that they had the disease...

BALDWIN: Of course.

SEYMOUR: ... and that perhaps they're better.

But we expect that this test and others like it -- there are many that were approved -- will be used quite --