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New Modeling Predicts Doubling of COVID-19 Deaths as States Reopen; Interview with Doctor Jorge Rodriguez; The U.S. Could Reach 20 Percent Unemployment This Week. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired May 5, 2020 - 14:00   ET



ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: -- rule, gonna take some getting used to. But we'll wait and see. Maybe this is what Major League Baseball's going to look like if and when it does get back on the field.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST, NEWSROOM: Going to stay up late and watch a game.

See you tomorrow; Brooke Baldwin picks up right now.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST, NEWSROOM: Hi there, I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you so much for being with me on this Tuesday. You're watching CNN's special coverage of this coronavirus pandemic.

And soon, we will see if the president will practice what his top health officials preach, to wear a mask in public to help protect others from coronavirus. Within the hour, the president is set to arrive in Phoenix, where he will tour a Honeywell facility that makes those N95 masks.

Before he left for the trip, the president addressed for the first time the latest gruesome projections from internal modeling by the CDC, that the price of reopening the nation will be tens of thousands more lives, as many as 200,000 new infections a day by June 1st.

The president wrongly claimed those figures are based on no mitigation. Listen to this.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That's a report with no mitigation, so based on no mitigation. But we're doing a lot of mitigation. And frankly, when the people report back, they're going to be social distancing and they're going to be washing their hands and they're going to be doing the things that you're supposed to do. But that report is a no-mitigation report, and we are mitigating.


BALDWIN: So let's be clear. The internal modeling does take into account mitigation -- that is, social distancing, stay at home orders -- and the numbers are going up in part due to more states relaxing more restrictions.

But the president also said this about governors who make the call to ease orders despite their state not meeting the White House guideline to have 14 days of a downward trajectory.


TRUMP: And I respect the governors, and I've given them great discretion. If, however, I see somebody doing something that's egregious or wrong, I will stop it in two seconds.


BALDWIN: And you see the numbers of infections in the U.S. nearing 1.2 million; the number of people who have died is approaching 70,000 and the internal modeling from the Trump administration wasn't the only projection predicting more loss of life as more states reopen.

So let's start with our correspondent Athena Jones. And, Athena, the University of Washington is also calculating that more people will die as more and more Americans get out and about?

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Brooke. That's exactly right. There are consequences to the loosening of these restrictions. We're talking about an influential model that the White House often cites. They are now projecting that as many as almost 130,000 U.S. people -- U.S. COVID-19 deaths by early August. That is nearly double their previous projection.

And listen to why, this is important. Among the reasons they cite for this increase in their forecast? Relaxed social distancing, increased mobility and outbreaks in places like the Midwest.


JONES (voice-over): With more and more states opening up, America faces a stark question.

ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: 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?

JONES (voice-over): Two grim new projections, foretelling a summer marked by more death, more suffering, more fear and more conflict. Both estimates, now predicting thousands more U.S. deaths from COVID- 19 than they were just days ago, about doubling previous projections.

The influential model from the University of Washington, often cited by the White House, pointing to several reasons driving the increase in their forecast: relaxed social distancing, increased mobility, the addition of presumptive deaths and outbreaks in places like the Midwest.

CHRISTOPHER MURRAY, DIRECTOR, INSTITUTE FOR HEALTH METRICS AND EVALUATION: No surprise, as people go back to being more active and interacting with each other, we're going to see increased transmission.

JONES (voice-over): And while experts and officials warn of a health catastrophe, others are focused on an economic one, as California borrows $348 million from the federal government to pay unemployment claims, becoming the first state to make such a move.

CHRIS CHRISTIE (R) FORMER GOVERNOR OF NEW JERSEY: In the very same way now, we have to stand up for the American way of life. What are those lives going to worth if people can't go to work, if they can't support their families?

JONES (voice-over): It's not all bad news. U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, today, announcing that with its partner, BioNTech, it has begun testing a new vaccine in humans in the U.S. They say it could be ready for emergency use in the fall if it works.

But there are new concerns about how the virus impacts the nation's youth. Fifteen children between the ages of two and 15, many hospitalized with COVID-19 in New York, showed inflammatory symptoms compatible with the rare Kawasaki disease, a potentially deadly illness.

A new National Institutes of Health-backed study is examining not just the impact COVID-19 has on children, but also their ability to spread the disease, an issue that raises important questions about opening summer programs and schools.


JUAN DUMOIS, PEDIATRIC INFECTIOUS DISEASE PHYSICIAN, JOHNS HOPKINS ALL CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL: We already have some data to suggest that especially in a household setting, children with the virus can be the ones who, even if they don't have symptoms themselves, can spread it to the adults in the household.

JONES (voice-over): And after weeks of protests against stay-at-home orders, more conflicts over recommendations that people socially distance, like this park ranger in Texas, pushed into a lake after ordering people to spread out.

And over calls to wear masks. On Friday, a security guard was shot to death after telling a customer at a Michigan Family Dollar store to wear a mask, the governor, requiring them in public spaces.

JONES (voice-over): A sign that, like America's battle with the deadly virus, the fight over what measures are reasonable to protect public health is not going to end any time soon.


JONES: And so this debate over lives versus livelihoods is only getting more intense. But one thing that's undeniable here, based on all of the data we've already seen from the beginning of this crisis, is that who is most at risk is unlikely to change. We're talking about the elderly and infirm, people who live and work

in close conditions where it's hard to socially distance. And of course, blacks and Hispanics, who often work in frontline positions, more likely to be exposed and more like to die if they get the virus. And then health care workers and first responders in places that are still struggling with the personal protective gear.

So there are definitely consequences to these -- these moves to open up states -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: No, but you hit it, saying it's lives versus livelihood. That is the real conversation today. Athena, thank you very much.

And to that point, there is a grim price tag some leaders are asking Americans to pay as the country begins to reopen amid this pandemic. It is a sacrifice governors are willing to make that could literally mean life or death.

And former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie says people are going to have to accept the latter as an outcome.


CHRISTIE: When Churchill made the decision to fight, to not give in to the Nazis and they were getting blitzkrieged in London, I bet his approval numbers weren't great.

I think that's what we need from governors now, is some boldness and some ingenuity and honesty to the people. In the end, you're going to have to tell them, "People are going to die and it's going to be awfully sad."


BALDWIN: Dr. Jorge Rodriguez is back with us. He's a specialist in internal medicine and gastroenterology. People are going to die, he says, and that is going to be sad. But he also says, you know, we have to look out for the livelihood of this country. What do you make of his comments?

JORGE RODRIGUEZ, BOARD CERTIFIED INTERNIST: You know what, duh, people are going to die. We know that, you know? So that is not a reason to be careless about how we do this. Brooke, what frightens me most is the fact that some people almost take this as a war chant, right? To be careless and to not wear masks.

I don't know what's going on. Folks, we're going to have to adapt to the fact that this is going to be the new normal for probably a year, year and a half. And I personally don't believe that it has to be lives versus livelihood. I think we can do both.

One thing that I'd agree with Governor --


BALDWIN: How, how, how? Dr. Rodriguez -- RODRIGUEZ: Well --

BALDWIN: -- how can we do both? Like, if you were in charge and we somehow needed to do both --


BALDWIN: -- what would those first couple of steps look like? Being safe, but going back to business?

RODRIGUEZ: All right. First of all, look, the rules of -- Dr. Jorge's rules of Cs. We have to be coordinated, which means that every part of the country has to have the same rules. I think that social distancing is just going to have to exist until we have vaccine or a large portion of the population is immune to this.

We also are going to have to wear masks. It's almost as if not wearing masks is this sort of defiant cry, you know? And people are yelling, this is a hoax, they don't believe in science. That has to stop. You know what, the science that tells you about this virus is the same science that tells you that planes fly, it is real, all right?

So we have to believe in the science, we have to be coordinated. So you know what I'd love to see? I'd love to see all states -- all right? -- really follow the same rules, like we're doing here in California. We're opening bit by bit. And either we open it, or people are going to open it themselves. So I think we have to be coordinated.

We have to be careful, all right? And the fact that we do have to wear masks, it's not such a big deal to wear a mask. Other generations have sacrificed more than we are doing: World War I, World War II, the Great Depression -- folks, really, this is nothing compared to what other generations have done. Really, are we that selfish?

And then, you know, we have to be caring and we have to be considerate of each other, realizing that this is not just about our freedom, but this is about the person that we live with, this is about the children. So we're going to have to wear masks, we're going to have to be distanced, and we're going to have to open it up in a gradual way.


Because this is really an experiment. Two weeks from now or three weeks from now, this person that was so cavalier may realize that, oh my God, my mother is sick, my brother is sick. And when it hits home, it may be a little too late (INAUDIBLE) about it.

BALDWIN: I appreciate how you laid all that out.

I'm curious, just going back to Chris Christie for a second, you know, do you think leaders like Chris Christie or the Georgia governor, Brian Kemp, you know, who are the ones out there pushing for reopening. Do you think that they should be walking the walk? Do you think that -- you know, all right, well, we should be -- see them and their families out and about in public too? RODRIGUEZ: Of course we should be -- sure, they should be walking the

walk. You know, like a friend of my said, yes, they're opening everything but I don't know if the tours to the White House are open yet, you know what I'm saying? You really have to walk the walk, and the leaders have to set an example, right?

Do you really want to go to a doctor that smokes, right? So we need to see leaders that are wearing masks, we need to see the social distancing because that is just the reality. Otherwise, you know, we're like children sometimes. Mommy and Daddy aren't doing it? We're not going to do it.

BALDWIN: You just make me think of something. You know, we're going to be seeing President Trump heading to this Honeywell mask facility, this N95 mask facility in a bit in Arizona.

And I don't want to get you out of your lane on politics, but people will be watching you, talking about, you know, leaders leading. I mean, people will be watching to see the president, getting of Air Force One, and whether or not he'll be wearing a mask.

RODRIGUEZ: You know what, I'm going to cut him a little bit of slack. If he has social distancing, then maybe he doesn't have to wear a mask.

But, listen, I find a lot of comfort and a lot of pride when I see, for example, the president of Italy is wearing a mask. When I take a stroll around my neighborhood and I see that all my neighbors are wearing a mark? They're not just taking care of themselves, they're taking care of me.

But when you have the presidential mantle, then you really -- everything you do and everything you say matters. And wearing a mask might save hundreds of thousands, if not tens of thousands of lives. So, yes, it matters.

BALDWIN: Let me play this clip from the president. This is what he said -- just shifting gears -- talking about testing earlier today.


TRUMP: We have so much testing, I don't think you need that kind of testing or that much testing. But some people disagree with me and some people agree with me.

But we have the greatest testing in the world, and we have the most testing in the world.

BALDWIN: So, Doctor Rodriguez, you know, you hear the president, saying he doesn't believe widespread testing is needed despite what scientists and doctors and business leaders have been saying. How do you feel about what the president just said? And don't we need more tests?

RODRIGUEZ: Yes, widespread testing is absolutely necessary. We don't know what we're dealing with here, with this virus. This -- that's why it's called the novel coronavirus, because it is new, it has never affected humans. We don't know why some people are getting it, we don't know why some children are getting it. So information is power.

When we started doing the antibody tests in my office, what was it, like seven days ago, it was like the dam broke open. People want to know where they stand. And if we can give that information to public health departments, we can basically see who's getting it, where they got it.

Come on, America went back to Typhoid Mary, that's how we discovered that epidemics are being spread. Information is crucial, and testing gives us information, period.

BALDWIN: Well, I'm -- myself, you know, we've talked about it. I was sick with COVID, I'm excited, next week, to go give my plasma with the American Red Cross --

RODRIGUEZ: Thank you.

BALDWIN: -- and in doing so, get my own self an antibody test.

One more for you, Doc, and that is that the World Health Organization says that there are 108 potential COVID-19 vaccines in development worldwide. But even if a vaccine is available in January, as the White House has been predicting, I mean, it's not like, all right, vaccine available, bang, people can get these vaccines. I mean, how much of a lull in time before we can really get our hands on these?

RODRIGUEZ: You know, that's a good question. Usually vaccines take four to five years to develop. And we're going to walk a very thin line between availability and having something that is safe. So probably some corners are going to be cut if we're going to produce a vaccine very quickly.

Now, there are some of these 108 that are what (ph) are (ph) called phase two trials, which means that they're actually checking to see if it is effective in humans. After that, usually, it goes to phase three, where you see if it has any long-range benefit. Some of that may be cut.

But the issue is not in developing a vaccine, the vaccines have been developed. We need to see if they're effective. But the bottleneck is going to be in production, distribution and cost of those vaccines. Sometimes it takes years to create a manufacturing plant that can make 10 million vaccines. We have a country of 300 million in a world of what, I don't know, three, four billion people? Who makes the decision as to who gets it?


And another thing that kind of concerns me is I really do feel that we need to be cooperating with different countries. For example, the Oxford vaccine in the U.K. is probably the one that is most along. So what if they get it and we don't have it? You know what I'm saying? It's one world. And we really need to realize that. So we -- now, cooperation and coordination is more important than ever, in my opinion.

BALDWIN: Yes. Back to your C's, so well laid-out. Let's talk again soon, Dr. Jorge Rodriguez. You are excellent.

RODRIGUEZ: Yes, I'd love that.

BALDWIN: Thank you very much.

RODRIGUEZ: Have a great day.

BALDWIN: Thank you, you too.

Moving on, the fast food restaurant Wendy's is now taking burgers off the menu at 20 percent of its locations because of meat shortages. Are other restaurants next?

Plus, from J.Crew to JCPenney, more and more classic American companies are at risk of collapsing.

And frustrations are boiling over America, across social distancing and wearing masks. And essential workers like store clerks and park rangers are on the receiving end.

I'm Brooke Baldwin, you're watching CNN's special live coverage. We'll be right back.



BALDWIN: Welcome back, you're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

Day by day, more signs that America is slowly reopening for business. In Missouri, the governor there is allowing large venues to reopen, saying people can go to amusement parks and concerts as long as seating is spaced out according to proper social distancing rules.

So here is a bit more from across the country from my CNN colleagues.


DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Dianne Gallagher in Atlanta, and customers of Wendy's across the country are saying, where's the beef? A financial firm analysis determined that 18 percent of Wendy's 5,500 restaurants are not serving hamburgers.

Now, whether you live in a state that's affected depends on what region you're in right now. Wendy's released a statement, saying in part, we continue to supply hamburgers to all of our restaurants, with deliveries two or three times a week, which is consistent with normal delivery schedules. However, some of our menu items may be temporarily limited at some restaurants in this current environment.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Rosa Flores in Miami, where Carnival Cruise Lines has announced that it has cancelled all cruises due to the COVID-19 pandemic until August 1st. At that point, the cruise line says that it will resume cruises but only in North America, using a phased in approach.

Now, that means that they will only be sailing out of Galveston, Miami and Port Canaveral. And for those customers who had cruises cancelled, they are being offered future credit, on-board credit or a full refund.

JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN HEALTH REPORTER: I'm Jacqueline Howard in Atlanta. The American Academy of Pediatrics has new guidance for schools looking to reopen. The group says schools should plan to reopen in phases and brace themselves for more closures later.

Schools should start with reduced hours before returning to full activities, schools will have to clean and sanitize all facilities, monitor and test students for potential spread of the virus and limit student interactions with each other and staff.

So far, 46 states and Washington, D.C. have recommended or ordered school closures through the end of the current academic year.


BALDWIN: All right, everyone, thank you very much.

As the economy buckles under the strain of coronavirus, some giants of the American retail industry are fighting just to survive. J.Crew and Gold's Gym have both filed for bankruptcy amid a wave of forced closures. Stores like Neiman Marcus, Sears and JCPenney were already in trouble, even before this crisis hit. And rental car company Hertz was recently thrown a lifeline in the form of a loan from its creditors.

Behind those big names are people who power them, millions of employees suddenly out of work. And just this morning, President Trump's senior economic advisor is predicting the pain will only get worse with unemployment levels not seen since the 1930s.


KEVIN HASSETT, SENIOR ECONOMIC ADVISER TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: My guess right is that it's going to be north of 16 percent, maybe as high as --


HASSETT: -- 19 or 20 percent --


HASSETT: -- and so we are looking at probably the worst unemployment rate since the Great Depression.

HARLOW: Wow. Well then --

HASSETT: It's a tremendous negative shock a very, very terrible shock --


BALDWIN: Let's go straight to CNN Business editor at large Richard Quest, with me now. And first and foremost to you, my friend, I'm so glad to see you. I know you tested COVID-positive as well, and then we'll talk about that --


BALDWIN: -- we can compare notes in a second here.

But back to the news that was made. I mean, up to 19 or 20 percent unemployment, and you point out, you know, that's not even the crucial number. The crucial number comes later in the year, right?

QUEST: Yes. So we're up to 16, 17, 18, 19 percent because employers have furloughed staff so that they can collect the larger increased unemployment benefit. And that makes absolutely perfect sense. And in a variety of ways, the -- what employers have done is transfer employees' payroll effectively to the U.S. government.

Now, that will continue as the reopening begins, so more companies will start to take on their employees again. Restaurants will employ waiters, cooks and chefs, retail will employ shop clerks, and so on.


The big and important number that we need to really focus on is three, four months down the road. How many jobs -- let me put it crudely. How many jobs never come back? That's going to be the crucial determinant of really the seriousness for long-term society.

And that's what worries me the most. Because we were at an unemployment rate, 3.5 percent. There is no way we will hit that again for any time soon. We are, at best, looking for an unemployment rate at the end of the year of nine, 10, 11, maybe even 13 percent. And that, Brooke, is just devastating as more companies either go out of business or simply don't hire as many people back.

BALDWIN: Wow, so we'll -- you'll be covering that in a couple of months.

Can you give me some good news? How about it's good to see you, and you seem well. How are you doing?

QUEST: I'm OK. I still -- I'm no longer infectious and I'm out of isolation. I've -- and this is something interesting I didn't know before all of this, I've still got the cough. The cough, the deep cough that just doesn't got away. And my doctor says I'm going to have that for the foreseeable future, a couple more weeks, maybe a month or two. Because that's all the inflammation.

Other than that, no longer have the -- but, you know, thank God. I mean, I had it light. You and others were the ones that really, really went to hell and back, as you --

(CROSSTALK) BALDWIN: No, I feel I had it light --

QUEST: -- put it, quite lightly.

BALDWIN: -- when I talk to so many people who have loved ones in the hospital. It's all about perspective --


BALDWIN: -- but it so good to see you.

QUEST: You know --

BALDWIN: Yes, yes, yes, go ahead.

QUEST: Can I just say, this question, I was listening so carefully to your last guest about masks and things like that, this debate, you know --

BALDWIN: It's a flashpoint.

QUEST: -- we're at the level of -- we can see it on the screen, the level of number of deaths in the United States is what, nearly 30 percent of the global total, and it is where they said it would be by the end of August.

If you remember, back when you got COVID, when you said -- when this all started, we were talking about 70,000 deaths by August. It is early May, and the number is there. And that I think is the most telling way in which this is going to move forward.

And how we reopen, what we are prepared to accept, the number of people that will be out of work? This is a societal, economic issue that will be -- you and I, please, God --


BALDWIN: We'll be talking about it for some time to come.

QUEST: -- will be talking about, and hope (ph) these (ph) things (ph) will get better.

BALDWIN: We will. Great to see you. Richard Quest, thank you very much.

From a -- speaking of masks, from a security guard, killed after asking someone to wear a face mask, to a park ranger being shoved into a lake here? Essential workers are experiencing an increase in acts of violence and disrespect, and we need to talk about that.


Plus, China is now reportedly warning of an armed conflict as hostility escalates with the U.S., as we learn new details on the possible origin of the coronavirus.