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Another Model Projects 3,000 U.S. Deaths a Day by June; 40 U.S. States to Partially Reopen by Week's End; Key Model Forecasts 134,000 U.S. Deaths by August; Race to Find Virus Vaccine and Treatments Intensifies; Trump, Pompeo Claim Virus Came from Chinese Lab; Doctors Say Virus was Spreading in France in December; World Leaders $8 Billion for Treatment, Vaccine. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired May 5, 2020 - 04:00   ET



ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us here in the United States and all around the world. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM and I'm Rosemary Church.

Just ahead, the White House reportedly predicts a rise in coronavirus cases and deaths as the President cheers on states to reopen their economies.

New intelligence shared among U.S. allies contradicts claims made by President Trump and his Secretary of State that the virus originated in a lab in China.

And lockdown fatigue hits a breaking point. A park ranger pushed in the water and a security guard killed, both while doing their jobs trying to keep the public safe.

Grim numbers and a stark warning as new projections show the months ahead could bring an alarming surge of coronavirus deaths in the United States. Still, dozens of states are pushing ahead with their gradual reopening. A key model often cited by the White House from the University of Washington now estimates more than 134,000 deaths by August 4th. That's nearly double its previous prediction. And even a Trump administration model predicts a steep rise in deaths. An internal documents obtained by "The New York Times" projects about 3,000 daily deaths in the U.S. by June 1st. That as America's leading expert on infectious disease warns about easing social distancing too soon.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASE: One thing this virus has that's really different from so many other viruses that we have experience with, it has a phenomenal capability and efficiency in spreading from person to person. This is not a trivial issue. This virus has enormous capabilities of spreading like wildfire.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CHURCH: CNN's Athena Jones has more on the reopenings across the United States.


ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The reopening of America gaining steam. In Florida, restaurants and retail spaces allowed to open at 25 percent capacity. Elective surgeries, once again, allowed. Some state parks and beaches and popular spots like Clearwater and Panama City now open, at least for some part of the day.

CHRISSY MCLAUGHLIN, RESTAURANT OWNER: Wow. Just wow. It's been great to see people just really happy to just be released.

JONES: But schools, movie theaters, bars, gyms and hair salons still shuttered. For now, restrictions remain in place in the states' three hardest hit counties.

RON DESANTIS, FLORIDA GOVERNOR: Being safe, smart and step by step is the appropriate way to consider that.

JONES: In Georgia, Simon malls opening their doors.

In Colorado, non-essential offices can reopen today with increased cleaning and employee desk staying six feet apart. While Nevada began allowing curbside pickup at stores and expanded outdoor activities late last week. By the end of the week, more than 40 states will have begun lifting restrictions meant to stop the spread of the virus.

This even as the picture across the country is mixed, with cases rising in more states than they are falling and the number of new cases confirmed daily remains stubbornly high at around 30,000.

In fact, an influential models cited by the White House now projecting nearly 134,000 COVID-19 deaths in the U.S., nearly double their previous estimate, due in part to the relaxation of social distancing restrictions.

DR. CHRISTOPHER MURRAY, DIRECTOR, INSTITUTE OF HEALTH METRICS AND EVALUATION, UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON: This rise in mobility in the last week or ten days is likely leading to some increase in the transition.

JONES: And "The New York Times" citing an internal document reports the Trump administration projects about 200,000 new cases per day and some 3,000 deaths a day by early June, nearly double the current total.

DR. SAJU MATHEW, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: We're opening too early. I mean, I'm being honest about that. I'm not surprised at the projection. It's really based on how exponentially this virus can grow.

JONES: With the nation's death toll surging past the 60,000 figure he estimated just two weeks ago, President Trump acknowledging the sobering reality. DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to lose

anywhere from 75, 80 to 100,000 people.

JONES: Even that number will be low.

DR. DEBORAH BRIX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE COORDINATOR: Our projections have been between 100 and 240,000 American lives lost and that's with full mitigation and us learning from each other of how-to social distance.


JONES: Still there may soon be promising news on the vaccine front with Oxford University scientists predicting theirs can be available by this fall.

SIR JOHN BELL, OXFORD UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CHAIR: We're pretty sure we'll get a signal by June of whether this works or not.

JONES: And the drug company Roche saying the U.S. Food & Drug Administration has granted emergency use authorization for its new coronavirus antibody test that it says is nearly 100 percent accurate. The FDA has not yet confirmed it gave emergency use authorization to the Roche test. Testing is critical to reopening safely.

GRETCHEN WHITMER, MICHIGAN GOVERNOR: As tough as this moment has been, as great as the price that we have paid in this moment, we know we don't want to do it again.


CHURCH: Dr. Amy Compton Phillips joins me now. She is a CNN medical analyst and chief clinical officer of Providence Health System. Thank you so much for being with us.


CHURCH: So a new key model predicts 134,000 deaths by early August, nearly double previous projections. And an internal White House document estimates 3,000 deaths a day by June 1st. And these numbers come as more U.S. states begin to open up and we still don't have sufficient testing in place. Where is this all going?

COMPTON-PHILLIPS: Well, I think those two things are absolutely inextricably linked. The challenge is everybody wants to open the economy. We understand that it's an artificial decision to make a choice between keeping living and making a living. We need to figure out a way to do both. But if we focus on making a living before, we're ready and have the systems in place to do it safely. So have the mechanism to start opening the economy gently while we advocate testing to understand where infections are coming from, we risk going back to exactly where we were in early March with a rapid escalation of cases. And that's now what the models are starting to show, that if we can't identify where cases are, if we can't do the testing to find people who are infected and then isolate them, we risk going backwards instead of forwards. CHURCH: So how do we beat the odds here and still open up the economy.

If people continue to be strict about social distancing and wearing masks as well as washing their hands regularly, could that help beat these terrible odds?

COMPTON-PHILLIPS: It absolutely could help beat these terrible odds. And so, if people do the right things, the mask wearing, the six feet distancing, the frequent hand washing, the not touching your face, it's absolutely much better than not doing that.

There's also other tools that we can use. In Vietnam, for example, they never had great testing capacity, but they were able to absolutely constrain the virus by doing something called syndromic surveillance. Looking for the syndrome of cough, fever, shortness of breath. And people who had symptoms and then isolating people who had symptoms very carefully away from healthy people. And by doing that they've been able to stay on top of it. So even with our testing shortage, if we at least use the tools of the pandemics past, we can at least try to stem the tide of growth that we foresee.

CHURCH: Right, of course, the easiest solution to all of this would be extensive testing. That's what we've seen in South Korea, Germany, New Zealand, Australia, Taiwan. All countries that are successfully emerging from their lockdowns. Why has it been so difficult for U.S. leaders to grasp that if there's extensive testing, you can isolate and contain this virus and then everyone can get on with their lives? Instead, we're seeing the country open up with insufficient testing and contact tracing. Why?

COMPTON-PHILLIPS: It's fundamentally a belief in the data so that, you know, people not -- I truly believe that our portions of the government don't understand the vast backlog we have of testing need. And so not understanding that and pushing out the need to be on your own for getting testing to the states has created this impossible situation where we're -- one state is bidding against another state and everybody is scrambling for the same small set of supplies.

Rather than saying let's have a coordinated infrastructure across the country where we focus on ramping up the capacity to make these tests. And also, looking for alternative types of tests that might use other types of reagents in a different supply chain. So I really think we need to be -- this needs to be a Manhattan project of testing, not just a one off every man, woman, child for themself.

CHURCH: Right, and of course, we have discussed this and it's still the very same -- isn't it -- each time you and I chat. And we did learn Sunday that we should know by June if the Oxford University vaccine currently in human trials works or not.


So that's not too far away to at least know, and in the meantime President Trump thinks a U.S. vaccine could be ready by the end of the year. White House coronavirus coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx says a vaccine by January looks likely on paper. We're all looking for some sign of hope, aren't we, that this vaccine will come sooner rather than later. What's your sense of where things stand with the vaccine?

COMPTON-PHILLIPS: My sense is hope for the best and plan for the worst. So if it works out, that is fantastic and that would be the world's fastest vaccine literally. And so I would love to hope that way, but I think also we need to be planning for in case it doesn't work, what are the other vaccines we also need to be investigating. Which there are many other vaccines in the pipeline, but also medication therapies.

And so, we're starting to see some hope with medications coming out of the pipeline. So the fact that we now have evidence that remdesivir, for example, is starting to decrease the severity of illness and perhaps even a mortality benefit, that's great news. So we're starting to accumulate some effective practices in treating the virus while we continue to work on pathways to prevent the virus or the vaccine.

CHURCH: Yes, we are getting there, aren't we, with science, but there's a lot of impatience really at the base there with so many people. They just who don't want to stay home right now. But Dr. Amy Compton-Phillips, thank you so much for talking to us.

COMPTON-PHILLIPS: Thank you so much.

CHURCH: Well for weeks, the U.S. President has pushed an unproven theory alleging the coronavirus leaked from a lab in China and more could have been done to prevent the pandemic. But intelligence shared among U.S. allies indicates the virus likely came from a Chinese wet market and not from a Chinese lab. That's a theory the Trump administration is pushing.


TRUMP: I think they made a horrible mistake and they didn't want to admit it. We wanted to go in. They didn't want us there.

MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: There is a significant amount of evidence that this came from that laboratory in Wuhan.


CHURCH: Well, Chinese state media called Secretary Pompeo evil in response to the allegations and accuses him of creating rumors recklessly in the face of science. CNN's Alex Marquardt has more on this.


ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR U.S. CORRESPONDENT: The Trump administration now finds itself at odds with some of its closest intelligence partners as it pushes the theory that the virus that came from China originated in a lab and escaped accidentally.

I spoke with a Western diplomatic official who says that the growing intelligence consensus, the assessment, is that that is highly unlikely. And in fact, it is highly unlikely that the virus came from the market in Wuhan and was a natural occurrence as it jumped from an animal to a human. That, according to this official, is what the Five Eyes intelligence sharing group is coalescing around. The Five Eyes group includes the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

I spoke with another Five Eyes official who said that he did concur with that assessment. It is just an assessment. There is no smoking gun. There's no 100 percent certainty. Because according to the first official, China has not allowed transparency or cooperation.

Meanwhile, the American intelligence community is sticking to its guns and standing by a statement that it put out last week. Saying that it continues to determine whether or not the virus came from the lab or from the market. And for the first time the intelligence community has said that it has evidence of both.

A senior official for the office of the director of national intelligence tells me, the intelligence community believes the virus started in China. We're down to two theories and have evidence on both. We agree that it does not appear to have been purposeful.

The only other thing that has been ruled out by the U.S. intelligence community is that the virus was manmade.

Alex Marquardt, CNN, Washington.


CHURCH: Joining me now is Josh Rogin, a CNN political analyst and foreign policy columnist for "The Washington Post." He has written extensively on U.S./Asia relations. Always good to have you with us.


CHURCH: So, Josh, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says he has an enormous amount of evidence that this new coronavirus originated in a Chinese lab. China says, show us the proof, and accuses Pompeo of spreading lies. But Australia and some European nations are also questioning the origin of this virus. How important is it that China address this issue immediately with full transparency. And for Pompeo to produce that enormous amount of evidence if he has it. Because intelligence shared among U.S. allies indicates that this virus most likely came from a wet market, not a lab.


ROGIN: Administration sources tell me that there's a heated debate internally over whether or not the preponderance of evidence shows that the coronavirus originated in a natural spillover setting or resulted from an accident coming out of the Wuhan Institute of Virology for the Wuhan CDC lab. There is no agreement and no firm proof on either side, but each side believes it has a circumstantial case to make.

Now it is true that the intelligence agencies have not found proof or direct evidence that there was an accident at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Nevertheless, the State Department and National Security Council believe that they have based on open source information a significant file of evidence.

They point to, for example, safety concerns about the lab that were expressed in 2018 by visiting diplomats. They point out that there was a lab at the Wuhan Institute of Virology that studied coronaviruses which have proven to be the closest relatives of the coronavirus we're dealing with. Now and they point out that those viruses that are most closely associated with the novel coronavirus came from bats that originated 1,000 miles away from Wuhan in the province of Hunan.

Now if you stack that against the evidence that it came from the market, reasonable people can have a reasonable disagreement. But without more Chinese cooperation and without more Chinese government transparency, it will be impossible to determine which theory is the correct one.

CHURCH: Right, and then Mike Pompeo also accuses China of hiding information about the severity of this new virus for weeks. Now CNN has reported about this interviewing whistleblowers who confirmed this. What needs to happen when a country hides from the world the deadly nature of a virus that then leads to a pandemic?

ROGIN: Right. Well there are two issues here. It's almost indisputable that in the first weeks of the coronavirus crisis that the Chinese government silenced whistleblowers, jailed journalists, jailed doctors, misled the world in terms of statistics and also had the researchers who were studying the virus censored and restrict the public release of their research. That is an historic fact that is not really in dispute.

What Mike Pompeo was saying is that a lot of these Chinese government tactics persist to this day and that the statistics are still wrong and that the research is still being censored. And that prevents the rest of the world from having fair data which means that we can't have fair miles which means we can't plan the right response. And that ongoing censorship by the Chinese government is the issue that's a matter of diplomatic negotiations at this moment.

Unfortunately because the tensions in the U.S./China relationship have become so heated, there's very little chance that the Chinese government will do anything that Secretary of State Pompeo wants them do. So we're looking at an extended period of increased tensions and an extended period of intransigence by the Chinese government. Even though it calls for it to be more transparency will continue to increase.

CHURCH: Right, and as part of all of this, of course, the other accusation from the U.S. Secretary of State is that while hiding the severity of this new virus China stockpiled supplies of masks and PPE and kept it from the rest of the world. How much proof is there that Beijing did actually do that?

ROGIN: Well, there's no doubt that because China was the first mover in each phase of this crisis, they were able to and did intend to import tons of medical equipment and PPE to deal with the crisis that they were experiencing. Now what Pompeo is alleging is that they did that intentionally to deprive the world of this same medical equipment. That link has not been established.

You know, it's enough to say that China was very aggressive in hoarding these supplies without having to accuse them of intentionally doing it to starve the rest of the world of those same supplies. Nevertheless, this is just one more piece of circumstantial evidence that the Trump administration is using to make the case that the Chinese government intentionally misled the world in order to protect their own people at the expense of other people around the world.

CHURCH: Josh Rogin, thank you so much for joining us. Appreciate it.

ROGIN: Thank you.

CHURCH: And we'll take a short break. There's new evidence that COVID- 19 may have been in France weeks earlier than was previously thought. Why this matters in the fight against the virus. We'll have a live report. That's next.



CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. Well, doctors in Paris say they have evidence, the coronavirus was circulating in Europe well before previously thought. France reported its first cases in late January and two people who had traveled to Wuhan in China. But new tests on frozen samples show another patient was infected with the virus in December. CNN's Jim Bittermann is just outside Paris. He joins us now with more. Jim, good to see you. So what more are you learning about this? And of course its significance.

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right, Rosemary. I mean this actually something that's taking place around the world now after the discovery here in Paris that, in fact, the virus may have been present in France and in Europe a month earlier than people thought.

Basically what happened here is that a couple of doctors with samples decided to take a look at the influenza, the flu patients that came in during month of December that had severe symptoms. And of 24 cases they found one an Algerian, a gentleman of Algerian origin in his 40s and who came in with very severe symptoms on December 27th into the hospital and he was first diagnosed as being a flu patient.

But when they went back and they have kept all of the swabs that they had taken from these patients, all the samples that they've taken and frozen, they unfroze them and they sort of checked them out for coronavirus and they discovered that he had, indeed, had coronavirus.


They're now checking to see if the genome of the kind of coronavirus that he had matches the genome of the Wuhan coronavirus. So that still has to be verified, but for the most part they have now run the test several times, they think he's positive and they think this was the first case in France, and maybe in Europe, that they know of in any case. And this is important, Rosemary, because knowing how it's spread, the origin, is how they'll know what's going to take place in the future, basically past prologue. And in fact, they'll be able to sort of predict to some extent how this is going to spread in the future -- Rosemary.

CHURCH: It'll be interesting to see if other doctors go back and look at samples they have. Jim Bittermann, many thanks to you joining us from just outside of Paris. Appreciate it.

Well, world leaders are pledging $8 billion for the research and development of coronavirus treatments and a vaccine. The European Union hosted Monday's virtual event. The President of the European Commission says this is just the beginning and countries must be ready to contribute more. E.U. officials say pharmaceutical companies should commit to making treatments and vaccines available around the world at affordable prices. Norway, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Japan are among the top contributors. The United States is not participating. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is pledging $100 million to this global effort.

Well, the coronavirus pandemic could very well mean the end for a number of struggling retailers. Still to come, a look at the first major retail casualty in the U.S. so far.


CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. Well some major U.S. retailers are suffering even as states start to reopen.