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Trump: Death Toll Could Reach 100,000 in the U.S.; Race is on for Coronavirus Vaccine. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired May 4, 2020 - 06:00   ET



DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I used to say 65,000. And now I'm saying 80 or 90. And it goes up, and it goes up rapidly.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The medical experts haven't altered their projection, which was 100 to 240,000 deaths in the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration's ambitious plan to make 100 million doses of a vaccine available by November.

DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE COORDINATOR: On paper it's possible. It's whether we can execute and execute around the globe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think anywhere in the country or the world is out of the woods. Certainly, people are relieved in Colorado that many of them are able to go back to work.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we're going to be able to continue to take some good steps, but it's certainly not the Florida that we had in February.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Monday, May 4, 6 a.m. here in New York. Alisyn is off. Erica Hill joins me this morning.

Can I just say, Erica, you've been doing such an amazing job every day, reporting from the front lines of this pandemic here in New York? We really appreciate the work you've been doing.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR; Thank you, my friend. I appreciate that. We have a heck of a team at this network, that we do.

BERMAN: All right. Breaking overnight, the president with a huge revision in the number of deaths he says he is expecting from coronavirus. He now says 100,000 deaths is a realistic number. That's a far cry from what he said just two weeks ago.


TRUMP: We would have had millions of deaths. It looks like we'll be at about a 60,000 mark, which is 40,000 less than the lowest number thought of.


BERMAN: April 19, he was predicting 60,000 deaths. We're already at 67,000 deaths.

And the daily death count is stubbornly high. The new deaths being reported every day, between 1,300 and 2,000 every day. And it's worth noting, this is without knowing whether there will be any effects from the states around the country that have decided to reopen.

HILL: In terms of that reopening, it coincided with beautiful weekend weather in many parts of the country. Parks and beaches in places like New York, Texas, Georgia and Florida, in some places, packed.

Much of Florida, of course, does reopen today. By the end of this week, more than 40 states will be partially open.

Take a look at the scene in Central Park over the weekend. You can see those -- Look a little closer. You'll see all the people there. You -- this scene here, as we dropped the banner for you, prompting a warning from Governor Andrew Cuomo about false comfort. Reminding New Yorkers that any decline in numbers does not mean this virus is gone. And also reminding them his stay-at-home order remains in effect.

The White House continuing to raise hopes for a potential vaccine, meantime. The president now says it could be here by the end of the year.

A lot of new developments to get to this morning. Let's start with Rosa Flores, who joins us now, live from Miami.

Rosa, good morning.


As half the country begins to reopen today, some devastating news. The projected coronavirus death toll is not 60,000 like President Trump said about two weeks ago. It could reach up to 100,000. Yet, the president maintains that beaches and parks should continue to reopen, just like here in south Florida and that schools should resume in person this fall.


FLORES (voice-over): President Trump revising the projected coronavirus death toll.

TRUMP: We did the right thing. I do look back on it. Because my attitude was we're not going to shut it down. Look, we're going to lose anywhere from 75, 80 to 100,000 people. That's a horrible thing.

FLORES: But that's what he said just two weeks ago.

TRUMP: We would have had millions of deaths instead of, it looks like we'll be at about a 60,000 mark, which is 40,000 less than the lowest number thought of.

FLORES: Now more than 67,000 Americans have died since the start of the outbreak, as the battle over when and how to reopen parts of the country again is underway.

This week, more than half of states will be under some sort of relaxed social distancing guidelines, including most of Florida, where restaurants and retail stores will be allowed to operate at 25 percent capacity this morning. To President Trump, that's a good move.

TRUMP: Parks are opening, beaches are opening. At some point, we have to open our country. And people are going to be safe. We've learned a lot. We've learned about the tremendous contagion. But we have no choice. We have to -- we can't stay closed as a country.

FLORES: But as coronavirus infection rates rise in regions like the greater Washington, D.C., area, Maryland governor says it's too early.

GOV. LARRY HOGAN (R-MD): Unfortunately, the pressure is to do it in a not safe way. And -- and that's something we're very concerned about.

FLORES: With warmer weather, more and more people are flocking to outdoor spaces. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo reminding his residents the fight against the coronavirus is far from over.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): People are bored. People want this over. They see the numbers going down. They can take false comfort. We said roughly 1,000 new people every day walk into the hospitals. Oh, no, it's basically over. No. Well, I hear other states are reopening. No. We're not out of the woods.

FLORES: Even after armed protesters stormed the Michigan capitol last week, Governor Gretchen Whitmer says she refuses to reverse her extension of stay-at-home orders until May 15.

GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D-MI): Whether you agree with me or not, I'm working to protect your life if you live in the state of Michigan. We're going to listen to facts and science, because we've got to get this right.

FLORES: Dr. Deborah Birx highlighting the severe risks people are undertaking by attending the demonstrations.

DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE COORDINATOR: It's devastatingly worrisome to me personally, because if they go home and infect their grandfather or their grandmother who has a co-morbid condition, and they have serious or a very -- or an unfortunate outcome, they will feel guilty for the rest of our lives.

(END VIDEOTAPE) [06:05:06]

FLORES: Dr. Birx also urging Americans to continue to social distance, to continue to wear masks, regardless of what the state of residence of individuals are doing.

Here in Florida, phase one kicks off today, with most of the state reopening, except for the three counties of Miami-Dade where I am, Broward and Palm Beach. And it's no surprise, because these three counties make up about 30 percent of the population, but they account for more than 60 percent of the case and the deaths.

BERMAN: All right. Rosa Flores for us in Miami. Rosa, please stay safe.

Joining us now, Dr. Carlos Del Rio. He's the executive associate dean at the Emery University School of Medicine and CNN national security analyst Juliette Kayyem.

Sixty-seven thousand deaths in the United States. People can see it right there on our screen. I want to play for you what the president has said just over the last few weeks in terms of what he is expecting in terms of the death count.


TRUMP: So we're talking about maybe 60,000 or so. That's a lot of people. But that's -- 100,000 was the minimum we thought that we could get to, and we will be lower than that number.

We would have had millions of deaths, instead of it looks like we'll be at about a 60,000 mark, which is 40,000 less than the lowest number thought of.

At 50 or 60,000 people, heading toward.


BERMAN: All right. We're now at 67,000 deaths. The president now says 100,000 is possible, Dr. Del Rio. I want to ask Juliette in a second. We're going to talk about the political messaging and why he was so wrong here.

But I'm more interested, Dr. Del Rio, first in the public health implications of this. Why is the daily death rate so stubbornly high, between 1,300, more than 2,000 every day, depending on what day of the week it is. The daily count of new cases between 25,000 and 30,000 every day. Stubbornly high. Why doesn't this seem to move?

DR. CARLOS DEL RIO, EXECUTIVE ASSOCIATE DEAN, EMORY UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: Because we have bare -- basically entered what I would call the plateauing phase of the pandemic on a national level. That doesn't mean that it's stabilized in the United States. That means that in some places, like New York, the number of cases are coming down. But as Governor Cuomo said, there's still a thousand people are showing up in the emergency room. But in other places, like in the South, the cases are starting to go

up. So you have a combination of some going down, some going up. So on a national perspective, it appears that we're plateauing.

But again, I caution people that, if a new normal, if a plateau is an acceptable plateau is 30,000 new cases per day and 2,000 deaths per day, it's simply unacceptable. That is a very, very high number. We have a very serious epidemic. And somehow, we seem to not be taking it seriously anymore. And I'm very concerned about that.

HILL: Juliette, how damaging is that messaging that's being put out, that people are feeling OK. As Governor Cuomo referred to it, this false sense of comfort. And yet, as Dr. Del Rio points out, none of this should be acceptable to see numbers like this.

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: That's exactly right. It's -- they're all unacceptable.

And I think to a certain extent, President Trump sort of set this tone by, you know, sort of saying there are good numbers, 60,000, and maybe that good number is 100,000. Those aren't good numbers. Those are unacceptable numbers from the perspective of can we actually fight this thing and also, comparatively, to other countries.

So I think -- I think what the White House has tried to do is sort of, quote, of course, move the "finish line" in quotes to justify opening up too soon.

There is no question, by any medical standards, we are opening up too soon. The country -- most -- most of the country besides New York -- we're focused on New York -- is actually seeing increases. That is a choice that these leaders are making. They should be honest about it, about what it will mean. It won't just mean more people sick. It will mean 3,000, 2,000 dead a day.

And that's -- that's the calculation that the White House is making right now, that we'll just become immune to the power and the sort of devastation of these numbers.

BERMAN: We have a visual representation of what you both have been talking about in terms of the numbers going up in some places. I want you to look at this if you can.

On the left of your screen there is the daily new case number in New York. And you can see, New York, daily number is going down. That's a good thing. This is also the state with the strictest measures still in place.

But then look at Illinois. Look at Minnesota. Look at that steep rise in the number of cases. If you go to, we've got this for every single state. And you can see Iowa, the cases going up every day. Virginia, the cases going up every day. There are states like Montana, where the cases are going down. It's a different story to every state.

But there are enough places, Dr. Del Rio, where the case load is going up every day, that when you see pictures of people out there enjoying the sun, going to stores, you know this isn't over.

DEL RIO: Absolutely. You know this is far from over.

But again, I want to emphasize that the three places we really need to be concerned about, the three hotspots right now are, No. 1, is jails; No. 2 is meatpacking industry, meatpacking places; and No. 3 are nursing homes. And those are the three most vulnerable places.


But pretty soon it's going to be also place where people, there's large gatherings of people, whether we're talking about going to parks, going to concerts. So -- you know, going to church. So as soon as you start having a large gathering, you run the risk of having a very rapid rides in infections.

And I'm afraid that what we're seeing -- I mean, I don't mind people going out and taking a walk. Going outside is fine. But it's those large numbers of people coming together that is very concerning.

HILL: Juliette, there's also the issue of -- and Dr. Del Rio brought this up. If you look at the numbers on a national scale, versus what you're looking at in different hot spots and different states, it's interesting as we're hearing different governors talk about their decisions, they'll talk specifically about what they see in their state, as they should.

But how much do they need to take into account what's happening in neighboring states, since this is a patchwork reopening?

KAYYEM: That's exactly right. They absolutely do. And they have to determine, in a sense, what they're going to say to out-of-staters, what sort of testing they might want from out-of-staters.

This is the challenges that colleges and universities are going through right now. A college might feel very, very comfortable opening up, because their state has numbers going down. But if they have out- of-staters, what are you doing at that stage?

And so that is why -- you know, we do have what's this adaptive, you know, sort of pivoting going on right now, which is you focus on your vulnerable populations, you focus on areas that may be impacted, like jails.

And you do not let people congregate. This is the thing that's so frustrating to people like me. I'm all for a phased reopening. It's not like there's an either/or. But you're -- but why are we focusing on movies and games and all this recreational stuff? We should be focusing on getting our economy moving, on getting kids back to school, rather than on these sort of entities or congregations that are -- that are clearly going to pass the virus from, you know, one population to another?

So we can do this. There will be more deaths. But we have to do this smart. And some of the plans coming out of the states are sort of going to fun first. Right? We don't go to fun first during a pandemic. We focus on the vulnerable populations, opening up the economy slowly, and then eventually, when there's a vaccine, we can have fun again. Right? I mean, that's -- that's the way we have to look at it.

BERMAN: Again, you can go outside. I think it's so important what Dr. Del Rio is saying here. You can go outside, enjoy the sun. Just got to be smart. And that means each us of as individuals needs to be smart, and our governments need to be smart also.

All right. Juliette Kayyem, Dr. Del Rio, thanks so much for being with us this morning.

KAYYEM: Good morning.

DEL RIO: Appreciate being with you.

BERMAN: The race to develop a vaccine is on. Expectations high. Maybe too high. We'll discuss next.



BERMAN: So this morning, new dates being tossed around about when a vaccine for coronavirus might become available. And in some cases, these dates are in direct conflict with each other. So why?

CNN senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen has been tracking this for us and joins us now with the latest -- Elizabeth.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: John, there's so much pressure to have a vaccine that will work and that will work relatively soon. But the reality is, is that we'll have to live with some degree of uncertainty for at least a while.


COHEN (voice-over): Sunday night President Trump was quite sure about the prospect of a vaccine against COVID-19.

TRUMP: We are very confident we're going to have a vaccine at the end of the year -- by the end of the year. Have a vaccine.

COHEN: But not everyone seems so sure. Dr. Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House coronavirus response, was cautious Sunday about whether a vaccine would be ready by January, saying it depended on the progress of clinical trials.

BIRX: On paper it's possible. It's whether we can execute and around the globe.

COHEN: Dr. Anthony Fauci also cautious, saying January is possible. But --

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASE: What might happen is that people months from now will say, Well, you said we were going to have a vaccine in January. I didn't say that. I said we're going to shoot to be able to have one.

COHEN: And the scientists at the University of Oxford had to walk back a statement his colleague made that she was 80 percent confident the Oxford vaccine would work.

JOHN BELL, OXFORD PROFESSOR: I certainly wouldn't put the possibility at 80 percent. That's a pretty big number.

COHEN: While the world waits for a vaccine, several U.S. teams at the company Regeneron, for example, and at Vanderbilt University, are working on a treatment for people infected with COVID-19 that could come along faster. It's called a monoclonal antibody. They hope to start studies in the coming months.

People who've survived COVID-19 develop antibodies to the virus. Scientists take the most powerful antibodies and synthesize them in the lab and give them as a drug to people sick with coronavirus.

And for now, coronavirus patients have Remdesivir, the first drug that's been shown to have an impact against coronavirus in the clinical trial.

DANIEL O'DAY, CHAIRMAN, GILEAD SCIENCES: We intend to get that to patients in the early part of this next week, or beginning to work with the government, which will determine which cities are most vulnerable.

COHEN: We don't know if Remdesivir saves lives. Early results are inconclusive. But it did shave four days off recovery time for hospitalized patients. That's why scientists continue to look for something even better against COVID-19.


COHEN: So far, about seven companies worldwide are doing human trials for a vaccine -- Erica.

HILL: Elizabeth, thank you.

Back with us now, Dr. Carlos Del Rio and Dr. Amesh Adalja, infectious disease specialist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Gentlemen, as we look at what we just heard from Elizabeth and where we stand today in terms of a vaccine, there are dates being thrown around. There is a lot of hope out there.

Dr. Adalja, should we be talking about specific dates at this point?

DR. AMESH ADALJA, INFECTIOUS DISEASE SPECIALIST, JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: No. I think it's premature to think about an exact date, because you don't want people to get a false hope that a vaccine is going to be available next year, or even -- even 18 months from now. Because this is something that takes time.

[06:20:06] Vaccine development is usually measured in years, not in months. And

the 12 to 18 months that we keep hearing about, that's very optimistic. If everything goes very well through all the clinical trials, that there's no safety signal.

And then you have to actually mass produce it to vaccinate the entire world. So I do think that we have to think about fighting this virus without a vaccine for the foreseeable future.

BERMAN: Dr. Del Rio, what's the challenge in developing a vaccine for this specific virus? It doesn't mutate nearly as much as, say, the flu virus does. And that's one challenge we're dealing with the flu virus. But can coronaviruses -- or how can coronaviruses sometimes be more difficult to try to create immunity for?

DEL RIO: Well, I think the challenge that we have is that when you are thinking -- first of all, you need to find what's the most immunogenic component of the virus. And we think it's going to be that entry point, that point in the spike protein that attaches to cells.

But one of the concerns that many of us have is that you may actually see something called an antibody-dependent enhancement with this virus.

In other words, you know, we see patients with coronavirus. They're getting better. And then in the second week of -- of their illness, they get suddenly worse. They get a side effect (Ph). And that's probably their immune system reacting to the virus.

So one of the concerns that many have is very much like we have seen in Dengue. In Dengue, for example, you can give a vaccine, and sometimes the vaccine actually increases the risk of, when you get infected, getting a more severe disease.

So that antibody-dependent immune enhancement is one of the concerns that many of us have. That you can have a vaccine that, theoretically, could prevent a disease in people that have never had it but potentially make the disease worse in people that already had it.

So it's challenging. It's tricky. There's going to be a lot of nuances that need to be looked at.

And also, quite frankly, the older you get, the less likely you are to produce antibodies. We know the disease is worse in older individuals. You need to make sure that older people are able respond.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- said he has it. Doctor says he has it.

HILL: I think we're warping a little. Dr. Adalja, we're having a little trouble with him being able to hear, so Dr. Del Rio, I want to come back to you on that point.

When you talk about older people not developing the antibodies as well and also the way a vaccine could affect someone who has had that, I mean, both of those really make you stop. Because there's been so much talk about the importance of antibody testing and antibodies and what that could tell us.

And yet, there are still these big questions about just how much immunity a person might build up and how long that will last. How does that figure in with the vaccine development?

DEL RIO: Well, I would say, first of all, you -- you don't stop. You take a pause, and you do (UNINTELLIGIBLE) science, which is really, you ask a hypothesis during research, which is what we doon a daily basis.

As far as the antibody tests, I think there's a lot of antibody tests that are coming out there. I think a lot of those antibody tests tell us that somebody maybe have been exposed. Maybe somebody was infected. The current tests we have, not all of them tell you that somebody is immune.

Anda gain, we need to define what exactly immunity means. And we need to, then, develop a test that measures exact immunity. Because if you're able to measure immunity, then that will be a different story.

And we know that, with many coronaviruses, immunity may last maybe -- you know, most people develop some sense of immunity. The question is how long will it last? And will it be -- will it be protective immunity or will it just be the type of immunity that you still get infected but you don't get as sick?

BERMAN: Dr. Adalja, we have your audio problems fixed. It's great to have you back here. We're talking about antibody testing now.

And Roche did just win emergency FDA approval for an antibody test that they claim is nearly 100 percent effective in detecting antibodies. But that only goes so far, right? Because of what Dr. Del Rio was saying, which is the presence of antibodies leaves many questions unanswered at this point, correct?

ADALJA: Right. We don't know what protection an antibody serves. We know that people, usually when they recover from an infectious disease, have some period of time when they're not able to be reinfected. And that wanes with time.

We need to know what level of antibody is required for that, how long does it last? And are you completely protected from reinfection, or do you just get infected and you don't have any symptoms, which we've seen with other coronaviruses?

So there's a lot questions about how we operationalize the use of antibodies. It definitely has value in trying to understand where a place is in their epidemic, how many people have gotten infected. But what it means at an individual level is something we need to study in detail.

HILL: As we look to not just at vaccines but and the antibodies we talked so much about, there's been such a focus, of course, on Remdesivir. And we know that there is now this emergency use authorization from the FDA. But we're also learning, Dr. Del Rio, that it will be the government who will decide who gets it. In your estimation, is that the best way to move forward with this treatment?

DEL RIO: Well, you know, at the end of the day, it has to be the physicians who decide who gets it. And Remdesivir has received emergency authorization by the FDA to be used in people with severe COVID disease. So it's not for everybody. It's those with severe disease. And we need to be careful that is decided the appropriate way and it's used the appropriate way.

It is not -- otherwise, we're going to see a creep of its use, and we're going to start using it in place that really makes no sense.


So I think it has to be decided by the physicians that take care of the patients. But it has to be -- the allocation may be done by the government or may be done by authorities.

BERMAN: Dr. Adalja, if we can take a step back again and look at where we are today, after a beautiful weekend around the country when we saw people out there, I wonder if the battle over the beaches misrepresents what the real discussion should be going forward, which is that, look, the country has, to an extent, reopened or begun to reopen in some places. So now we have to figure out the right way to do it.

What are your concerns about doing this the right way?

ADALJA: Well, the concerns are that there may be people who have this false sense of security.

The virus didn't go anywhere. The virus is still here. This is a respiratory virus that spreads efficiently. We're going to be living with this for some time. So everybody, whether you live in a state that's open or not -- a state that's not open, has to be smart about how they limit their exposure to this virus, especially if you're in a vulnerable population. Because we are going to get more deaths from this. That's a matter of fact.

The question is, we don't want those deaths to go to a level or the hospitalization rate to go to a level that we get back into crisis, where we were in March.

We need to be smart about this and make sure that we're taking the best steps we can, even when we're doing things like going to the beach. I think that's what the discussion has to be. And how to kind of live with this virus in a smart way, because it's not going to go anywhere until there's a vaccine.

HILL: Doctors Amesh Adalja and Dr. Carlos Del Rio, appreciate you both joining us, as always. Thank you.

DEL RIO: Thanks so much, Erica.

ADALJA: Thank you.

HILL: Senators heading back to Washington today. But not members of the House. So what's being done to protect members of Congress? Those details, next.