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New York Governor Cuomo Resists Plans to Reopen State Quickly; Study: Risk of Exposure Facing Georgians Up By 44 Percent Since April 21st; W.H.O: One Hundred and Eight Potential Vaccines in Development Worldwide. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired May 5, 2020 - 09:00   ET

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


[09:00:06]

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Very good Tuesday morning to you. I'm Jim Sciutto.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Poppy Harlow.

A dramatic shift. A key model now predicting more deaths as states loosen their restrictions. This model doubling its projection saying more than 134,000 Americans will die from COVID-19 by early August. But the push to reopen not easing up in many states. Plans are moving forward despite the stunning new predictions and when it comes to those difficult decisions, Dr. Anthony Fauci, he put it like this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: It's the balance of something that's a very difficult choice, like how many deaths and how much suffering are you willing to accept to get back to what you want to be some form of normality sooner rather than later?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: That's in effect the trade-off here. It comes as we get new developments this morning in the ongoing push for a vaccine. U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has announced it has begun testing an experimental vaccine in humans in the U.S., that, of course a crucial step, but a lot of steps involved with this.

Let's get to CNN senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen.

So let's begin, if we can, on this modeling here. It's a model that the White House has relied on. And now it says in effect doubling the death rate. How do they get to that number?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: They look at what we're doing, actually, Jim. That's really what they look at. They say how much are we social distancing, how much are we staying at home, and if it looks like we're not doing it as much as we used to, not a surprise, the number of deaths are going to go up. Let's take a look at those numbers and also at a second model. So what

this showed, this is from the University of Washington, that model you referred to that the Trump administration has relied on, now they are saying more than is 134,000 deaths between now and August 4th. Previously they had said 72,433.

Much of the reason for that difference, why is it so different, is because people are with each other more. This is a virus that spreads person to person. So when people get closer to one another, you're going to see an increased number of deaths, there is no way around it.

Now let's take a look at another model that the Trump administration has been looking at and using. That projects 3,000 deaths per day and 200,000 cases per day. Also those are very high numbers. Again, no mystery when you get people together more, you're going to have more cases. When you have more cases, you're going to have more deaths -- Jim, Poppy.

HARLOW: Elizabeth, talk to us also about what more we know about the first American participants that are actually getting Pfizer's vaccine. This is obviously part of their trial.

COHEN: Right, so Pfizer is one of three U.S. companies that is doing vaccine clinical trials, and so it's -- they are now one of three that have vaccinated people in the U.S. with their experimental vaccine. Pfizer has partnered with a German company and that German company has vaccinated a set of people in the European Union. So this is just another advance, another company that is doing more vaccinating and this is a good thing.

The more companies that we have in these trials, that means the more candidates we have that can actually turn out to work, the more the better because you don't want to rely on just one vaccine because at any point you can say, oh, wait, we thought it was working and it's not. We thought it was safe and it's not. So the more the better.

SCIUTTO: Elizabeth Cohen, thanks for staying on top of it.

Now let's go to the White House, President Trump is set to leave in the next hour for the battleground state of Arizona.

Joe Johns, the White House's own recommendations include wearing face coverings and not doing nonessential travel, but not a lot of leading by example on those.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: That doesn't seem to be the case, Jim. What we do know is the president as you said is headed out to Phoenix, Arizona, and one of the big questions is whether he's going to wear a mask. He has expressed some reluctance to do that. However, the vice president who went out to the Mayo Clinic very recently didn't wear a mask and came under criticism and eventually admitted he should have.

The president is also going to be accompanied by numerous advisers as he always is along with security, anybody who comes into contact with the president is expected to get a COVID-19 quick test. So that, of course, will be a little bit unusual in and of itself.

Now what is the president doing? Number one, he is going to visit with Native American communities, we're told, and they're going to talk among other things about the $8 billion that apparently is still in the pipeline for Native American communities, some of which have been hit very hard by coronavirus, including the Navajo tribes. So that's going to happen. Also, as you said, this is a big political event.

And while the president is out on the road, by the way, the Coronavirus Task Force is expected to meet for the first time since last Friday. I'm sure they'll have a lot to talk about.

[09:05:10]

Jim, back to you.

HARLOW: No question, Joe, thanks so much.

So in California, the governor says retail stores can start reopening this Friday. Of course, there will be restrictions in place, but Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti does not see that timeline happening in his city.

SCIUTTO: CNN correspondent Dan Simon is in Northern California this morning.

And, Dan, it's interesting, because we've seen some pushback against the governor in counties on beach openings. We talked about that yesterday. Now you have the L.A. mayor talking about store opening. What's the statewide plan?

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Jim and Poppy. Friday is going to be an important day for the state. It's also going to be highly symbolic. But what Governor Newsom is saying is that retailers can begin opening up, with some modifications. So retailers, you're talking about toy stores, bookstores, clothing boutiques, anything of that nature. And it's not going to be the full shopping experience. Customers can simply go to the curb and pick up some items.

Now what the governor is saying is that this does not need to be applied uniformly across the state. So cities like Los Angeles where the cases still have not peaked, they can slow things down a little bit and open at their own pace. The same goes for San Francisco. But this is part of what Governor Newsom had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): This is a very positive sign and it's happened only for one reason. The data says it can happen. But we recognize as we begin to modify behaviors modify and possible community spread may occur.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SIMON: So while Governor Newsom is saying that this can all begin on Friday, I think what you're going to see is that communities are going to do things at their own pace and roll things out simply on their own schedules and we'll see when Los Angeles does it and we'll see when San Francisco does it -- Poppy, Jim.

HARLOW: Before you go, Dan, something interesting that is happening, led by Governor Newsom there is this recruitment of what he's calling essentially a tracing army, right? And we've heard leaders talk about the need for contact tracing for many, many months ahead. How is this going to work? How many people are going to take part? Is it funded by the state?

SIMON: Right, this is a big issue for California, really a big issue across the country. But what Governor Newsom is saying is that UCLA and UCSF are going to develop an online academy to begin training contact tracers. And the goal is to have 20,000 tracers in place really within the next month or two. So that's a lot of people.

So what they're going to start now with is with state workers, people who can transition out of their current jobs and begin working on contact tracing and they'll have to go through this online academy and that's going to begin within a couple of weeks -- Poppy and Jim.

SCIUTTO: Dan Simon in San Francisco, thanks very much.

We talked about the tracing army, I'm joined now by someone help leading that effort, Dr. Mike Reid, global health researcher at the University of California San Francisco.

Good to have you on, Dr. Reid. Tell me, is the tracing army as it has been called up and running?

DR. MICHAEL REID, INFECTIOUS DISEASE PHYSICIAN: So in San Francisco we have an army of contact tracers who are, you know, working every day, calling people on the phones. We're just getting started in -- across California. So we have some ways to go before the army is reaching contacts elsewhere across the state.

SCIUTTO: How long, right? Because you talked to every health expert, even elected state officials, who say that to open safely you need broad-based testing and you need contact tracing, which is for folks at home basically tracing folks who have been infected, see who else they've had contact with so you can kind of keep a lid on things. So you need it, at what point does California have that capacity?

REID: So I think in many jurisdictions there is already capacity. The issue is whether it can expand to meet an increasing demand as and when, you know, social distancing policies are loosened. In terms of how long it will take to expand that army, I think the goal is that as Governor Newsom has outlined to train 2,000 contact traces a week so that we're going to be able to stand up that tracing capability over the next couple of months.

SCIUTTO: Without contact tracing on a broad scale, is it unsafe for states, counties, jurisdictions to open up?

REID: Look, it's part of a set of public health interventions. Contact tracing on its own is not a silver bullet, but it is an essential piece of the, you know, portfolio of strategies that any public health department needs to stand up. So, yes, it needs to be in place. Is it the only thing? No.

SCIUTTO: OK. Based on your experience with this kind of thing, is it simply a fact -- I mean, the models seem to show this.

[09:10:04]

Is it simply a fact in your experience that if you relax these social distancing restrictions that there will very simply be an uptick in cases and sadly deaths as a result of those infections?

REID: So I think it's going to depend a bit on how people's behavior changes. I think if we can encourage people to maintain social distancing, you know, universally use facial coverings, then we may not see huge increases. But whether individual cities and jurisdictions are able to persuade the populous to do that I think remains to be seen.

SCIUTTO: Final question, you know, effectively the U.S. missed the boat on contact tracing on the first outbreak, the first wave of this infection. You know, we're many weeks in. The concern, of course, is you have another spike in the fall. Will California at least have the capacity in place by then to help keep a lid on the extent of a second wave?

REID: I hope so. You know, I'm fairly optimistic that we have enough human resource capacity to expand to anticipate and respond to any further spikes over the coming months. So I think a glass half full perspective is, yes, that we -- you know, with enough resources and political will and enthusiasm from the public, yes, we can mobilize the army of contact tracers.

SCIUTTO: Well, we wish you and the army good luck. Dr. Mike Reid, thanks very much.

REID: You bet. Thanks for having me.

SCIUTTO: Poppy.

HARLOW: Still to come, new numbers show that since the state of Georgia loosened its social distancing restrictions, the risk of coronavirus exposure for its residents has skyrocketed by 40 percent in that single state.

Also, a new report says internal documents from China recommend the country should be prepared for a potential armed conflict as a worse- case scenario over the fallout from COVID.

SCIUTTO: Goodness. Sobering words. And new questions as to how the state of Florida is reporting the actual death rate from the outbreak, especially when it comes to a critical area, and that is nursing homes.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [09:15:00]

SCIUTTO: There are some states who are resisting the push to loosen restrictions amidst the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, such as New York where Governor Andrew Cuomo has yet to move forward with any plans to reopen, although the rate of infection in New York is slowing. Brynn Gingras is in New York. Brynn, Governor Cuomo who has been conservative throughout says the number is simply not declining fast enough to justify reopening. What is he looking for exactly?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, he's really just laying out some strict criteria, Jim, and essentially saying that the state may be the last state to actually reopen because he has this strict criteria. Essentially, we know the numbers, right? There's been more than 2,500 cases from the weekend into Monday, and then there has been more, about 226 deaths, which is a very sobering number, but it is the lowest that the state has seen in a couple of months.

But he has that May 15th date of when the state can reopen, but listen, he's not setting any dates after that, instead, he's setting this criteria, which is basically seven different boxes, that different parts of the state need to check those boxes really are about testing, about hospital capacity, about the ability to carry enough PPE in case a surge happens again.

And once these different areas of the state can check some of those boxes, then they can move into different phases of reopening with two weeks in-between those phases. So, we're talking about quite a while before we may even see restaurants and bars, which is in the fourth phase reopen. Again, because there is those two weeks in-between. So, very strict criteria, Jim, as you said, very conservative approach for the state that's been hit the hardest by the coronavirus.

SCIUTTO: So another step you're standing in front of a subway station there, and the subway has been a focus --

GINGRAS: Yes --

SCIUTTO: Some study to see if that was a nexus for spreading the infection around the city. So what's the city doing now to try to halt that?

GINGRAS: Yes, of course, this is a city that depends on its mass transit, it really can't get moving again until the subways, until the trains are all, you know, able to move again with more people on it. So right now, the MTA is starting that process, essentially starting overnight into tomorrow. They're going to shut down the subway. It's never been done before.

We've heard that a lot in this pandemic. And they're going to use four hours overnight to disinfect every single subway train, top to bottom, clean every subway station. There's more than 500 in this city. They make sure that everything is disinfected in order to get people to feel safer, to come back to the subways, and of course, make people who are working on these subways, more than 50,000 transit workers feel safe as well. SCIUTTO: No question. Brynn Gingras, thanks so much.

HARLOW: So, the risk of people being exposed to coronavirus in Georgia is growing by the day. Stanford University and Google collaborated to determine the risk of exposure, they used this data compiled by "The New York Times" since April 21st, three days before Georgia reopened. The risk facing people across the state has soared.

It has soared nearly 44 percent. Let's bring in Dr. Carlos del Rio; the executive associate dean at Emory University Medical School in Atlanta. You're in that state, when you look at these numbers, and then add on to it, Dr. del Rio, the new IHME model that projects nearly 5,000 deaths in your state, in the state of Georgia, by August 4th, that is less than three months from today.

How should governors and mayors think about these numbers as they're making their decisions?

[09:20:00]

CARLOS DEL RIO, EXECUTIVE ASSOCIATE DEAN, EMORY UNIVERSITY MEDICAL SCHOOL: Again, you know, I'm very concerned. And I'm very concerned because the infection rate will continue to go up and the death rate will continue to go up. And obviously, you know, governors are making decisions based on wanting to restart the economy, but it's going to be really hard to think about truly restarting the economy in a situation like that. And I think it's incredibly tricky.

How do you ensure that you provide safety and that you decrease the risk of infection and still have the economy going. And as was said this morning, when -- in the clip just a little while ago, you know, you have mass transit, you have many businesses in which you simply cannot practice safe distancing --

HARLOW: Right --

DEL RIO: Which you simply have too much proximity to other people, so your risk of infection will go up.

HARLOW: It becomes that question that I think Dr. Fauci laid out so poignantly last night on CNN, which is what are you willing to sacrifice, right? How many deaths? What will it take? How do you balance that with getting back livelihood for so many Americans? The CDC numbers on top of this, that initial CDC forecast says as many as 200,000 new cases and 3,000 new deaths daily by the end of the month.

But our Kaitlan Collins is just reporting two White House administration officials say even these new models are not going to change the administration's posture on reopening the country.

DEL RIO: Again, you know, it bothers me that we're accepting this new normal, right? We're saying that having 9/11 number of deaths on a daily basis is going to be OK. And I just worry that simply is that I think it's a price that is way too high to pay to reactivate our economy. I also worry that there's disproportionate impact of this disease. We are seeing a much higher impact in poor neighborhoods, we're seeing

a much more higher impact in African-American neighborhoods. So, again, it's not just who is impacted, but who is disproportionately impacted that we really need to --

HARLOW: Yes --

DEL RIO: Pay attention to.

HARLOW: One percent, it is not equally shared. There's no question about that. I'm glad you raised that. So, talking about finally, eventually, a vaccine, right, which is when the country will actually truly be able to turn a corner. The World Health Organization says there are 108 potential COVID vaccines right now. We just heard about the one that Pfizer is trying in humans. But you made a note that we learned from our experience with dengue, and that is that, you have to be very careful in rolling out a vaccine because there is potential to do harm.

DEL RIO: And that's why clinical trials need to be done, and that's why you cannot really speed the clinical trial process, it's already as fast as it could possibly be. But number one in a clinical trial with a vaccine is safety. Again, because you're giving a vaccine to normal non-sick individuals. So safety has to be the number one priority. Efficacy is the second priority.

And again, I'm glad there are so many vaccines out there as Dr. Fauci has said. You know, we need many shots at goal, but we also need many of those shots to be goals. If we can score, if we can really have multiple vaccines and not one be effective, maybe we'll be better off. So, I'm really happy to see that enormous interest in developing a vaccine. But I can tell you that it's not an easy job.

HARLOW: Yes, no question. Dr. Carlos del Rio, so good to have your perspective, thanks so much.

DEL RIO: Happy to be with you.

HARLOW: Jim?

SCIUTTO: Yes, so much of this not an easy job. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says that there is enormous evidence that the coronavirus started in a Chinese government lab. But key U.S. allies who are part of an intelligence sharing agreement with the U.S. say that is, quote, highly unlikely.

HARLOW: We're also moments away from the opening bell on Wall Street this Tuesday morning. We'll watch how earnings season impacts the market and how devastating coronavirus has already been to the economy. The state of California now borrowing $348 million from the federal government to make sure it has enough to pay the huge surge of unemployment claims.

It's the first state to make that move since mid-March over 4 million people in California started seeking unemployment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:25:00]

HARLOW: Welcome back. Intelligence shared among key U.S. allies indicates that the coronavirus most likely spread from a market in China, not from a lab in Wuhan. This appears to contradict recent claims by the president and the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. With us now is national security correspondent Alex Marquardt. And Alex, your reporting this morning is that the growing assessment in the Intel community and among U.S. allies is what?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, the growing consensus among America's closest intelligence partners is that this virus came from a market in Wuhan, not from the lab. And that leaves the Trump administration really alone on the world stage in pushing that theory that it did escape accidentally from a lab.

I spoke with one western diplomatic official who has seen the intelligence, who said that it's highly unlikely that it came from the lab, highly likely that it came from the market. And according to this official, this is the growing agreement among the five eyes intelligence sharing partners. That group is made up of the United States, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

And they share some of the most relevant and sensitive intelligence in the world among themselves. And so I took that to another five eyes official who agreed that, that was this assessment that they are coalescing around. And, Poppy, it's not just officials behind the scenes saying this. You have the Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morrison saying nothing that they've seen indicates that the virus --

[09:30:00]