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Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie Urges Reopening of U.S. Economy; Foreign Intelligence Sources Push Back on White House Claim that Coronavirus Engineered in Chinese Lab; Jersey City To Reopen Farmers Markets, More Parks; Intel: "Highly Unlikely" Virus Spread Was Result of Lab Accident. Aired 8-8:30a ET
Aired May 5, 2020 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're just looking at what is already happening.
The White House, they are pushing back on this internal administration projection that estimates as many as 3,000 deaths per day by the end of this month.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This virus, it doesn't have to outsmart us. We are choosing not to take a path.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've got to let some of the folks get back to work because if we don't, we're going to destroy the American way of life and these families.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome to NEW DAY. This is Tuesday, May 5th, 8:00 in New York. Erica Hill in for Alisyn this morning.
ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Nice to be with you.
BERMAN: So there is this question that Americans and leaders across this country are facing this morning. Do we accept death on a massive scale in order to return to some sense of normalcy? Here's how the nation's top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci put it on CNN overnight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: It's the balance of something that is 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) BERMAN: So this morning, it does seem some Americans and some leaders are willing to accept more sickness and more death, as if that's the price to pay for getting outside and going back to work. But, just in moments ago, new numbers show a majority of Americans are not ready to return to crowded places, and leading researchers have numbers to back up why.
HILL: The model talked about -- the most talked about, rather, model when it comes to the impact of the coronavirus now nearly doubling its predicted death toll, as you can see there, 134,000, and that is just by August. Even more stunning, internal projections from the CDC and FEMA show that by the end of this month, as many as 3,000 American lives could be lost on a daily basis, along with 200,000 new cases per day.
Now, none of this even factors in the possibility of a second wave in the fall, which of course could coincide with flu season. The White House is pushing back on that report in "The New York Times," saying that that data has yet to be analyzed by the Coronavirus Task Force.
BERMAN: Joining us now, CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Sanjay, it is really interesting to me. You have these models showing that as the country and these states make these decisions to open up, that more Americans will die. More Americans are dying. And then you have this new poll, and if we could put up some of the numbers from the new poll showing that most Americans feel that the decisions to open things up, we don't want to go. You're opening movie theaters, but we don't want to go. Just 18 percent of Americans say they want to go to movie theaters, they would be comfortable and support reopening for business. Gyms, 22 percent, nail salons, 25 percent, restaurants, 26 percent. It's interesting that the public sentiment here is against what some public leaders are now doing.
SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, just because you can maybe go out in some of those places doesn't mean people will or they should. That's heartening. I hadn't seen this sort of data before, but I think the idea that people are getting these messages and recognizing that the constant out there is still the virus. The virus is still circulating.
And I guess maybe it goes without saying is that everybody ultimately probably wants things to open up again, but wants to make sure we're as safe as possible when that happens. There is probably always going to be some degree of risk given that the virus is a contagious virus. But there is -- there are ways, and they have been laid out pretty clearly to do this as safely as possible.
And I have been quite surprised that in the conversation about reopening, the idea that, hey, those gating criteria, we're just going to ignore those. Not only are we going to just go ahead and open now, we're going to ignore the gating criteria, which are pretty easy to understand and laid out by the White House. So it's good to see that at least the messages are getting through to the individuals.
HILL: It will be interesting to see, of course, how that plays out in the coming weeks as we look at this modeling that the White House has often cited themselves, and we see this. This is quite a jump in the span of a week in this modeling. And they talk about the criteria that are used there. And a lot of what they is based on, as we know, these numbers jumping, this is about an increase in mobility and relaxing social distancing. So we're starting to see it play out, Sanjay, the concern I think from a lot of people, and we know you hammer this point home so well every single day is that what we do today, we won't know the full impact for another two, three weeks.
GUPTA: Right. That's the thing. That's just because between the time someone was exposed and the time that they may develop symptoms and get tested, several days can pass, and if they get hospitalized after that, several more days, and so forth.
It is interesting, these models, and I think people would be right to say, look, I'm hearing different numbers every day, I don't know what to believe anymore. That's because the models are all over the place. Dr. Jha from the Harvard School of Public Health last hour made the point, I think it's one that is really important, is that, if you just do the simple math on these scenarios that Hopkins put forth as part of that federal government report, up to 3,000 deaths per day, that's 90,000 people in a month, right? We're already at 70,000. Roughly. I hate to talk about this so clinically, I can't even believe that we're talking about numbers like this. But 90 plus 70 is 160,000 people. That already blows past the most recent highly upward projections.
So I think the models have a purpose here, but the point is these numbers don't need to go up as much as these models suggest. We can do something about it. We have shown that physical distancing can at least bring it down to a slower sort of burn. It is not going to go away completely, but there are places around the world where they have been able to get down to really low case counts. It can be done as long as we meet these criteria.
GUPTA: I'm glad you pointed out, Sanjay, that I think we're all getting a little bit casual tossing these numbers around. There are 1,200 new reported deaths yesterday, and that was a better day compared to some of the days before. That's 1,200 people lost. If you know one of those people, think about how heartbreaking that is. One death is the important number here when it is someone you love. Just keep that in mind.
And I don't want to dismiss the leaders who are making these decisions for society or the choices that are being made. And as you say, Sanjay, they made clear that they want to reduce the death and the pain as much as they can, but there are now people admitting, and I use that word carefully, that there needs to be an acceptance, they say, of some level of death and suffering. I just want you to listen to that Chris Christie said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS CHRISTIE, FORMER NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR: We sent our young men during World War II over to Europe, out to the Pacific, knowing, knowing that many of them would not come home alive. And we decided to make that sacrifice because what we were standing up for was the American way of life. In the very same way now we have to stand up for the American way of life. What are those lives going to be worth if people can't go to work, if they can't support their families, if they're going to become homeless, if they have to go to food banks every week to be able to feed their families? That's not sustainable either.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: It is interesting to hear some leaders start saying this out loud, Sanjay.
GUPTA: I think that the -- it is a very rousing sort of way of putting things, right, but I think it's not really the binary sort of terms that Chris Christie and others have made, that either you do this now or you're going to tank the country. Everybody wants things to be open, but there is a safer way to do this. And I'm choosing that word carefully, because I don't know in it is right or wrong, but there is a safer way to do this, and that is to wait for a 14-day downward trend. Why? Because at that point you feel like you can actually get your arms around this thing. Wait until you get testing in place so you can find people and isolate them and start to think about the word containment as opposed to always playing catch-up with mitigation.
And, again, there is evidence around the world where this has worked. New Zealand is an example. There are other countries where you've seen this actually start to have a positive impact. World War II, I don't know if it is a great metaphor here. Sacrifice I think is important, we're all sacrificing in some ways. But am I going to sacrifice on behalf of people I don't even know by going out and doing risky things? That's the difference here. This is a contagious virus. Wars maybe have some metaphorical value here, but not entirely. I'm not willing to take risks on behalf of people who are elderly, who have preexisting disease, who are more likely to get sick or die. I'm not. I think a lot of people aren't, as the poll that you just showed shows.
BERMAN: Sanjay, thank you very much.
Joining us now, CNN White House correspondent John Harwood. John, thanks very much for being with us. Some other news this morning, we have heard President Trump, we have heard Secretary of State Mike Pompeo make the claim that they have seen evidence that the coronavirus began as part of a lab accident in Wuhan, China. CNN reported overnight that the five eyes, these are America's closest allies in the intelligence community, are now saying, that's not the evidence we have seen. The evidence we have seen points us to animal to human transmission, and the Australian president is even saying it clearly as well. The Australians are flat out saying, yes, the evidence points to animal to human transmission here. So what is going on?
JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, they say they have seen evidence, but they haven't shown anyone else the evidence. And that's the key distinction. The scientific research has suggested strongly, shown strongly according to Anthony Fauci, that this was not a concocted virus. This was not something that the Chinese created as a bioweapon in a virology lab to harm other people.
Now, is it possible that it was the result, it was naturally harvested, it was animal to human transmission, they harvested it in the virology research going on in Wuhan, that it was being studied and it escaped? Yes, that's possible. But the evidence for that is only circumstantial, and the unifying thread of what the administration is doing is trying to place more of the onus for what is happening to the United States right now that you and Sanjay were just going through, the horrific levels of economic dislocation and death that we're suffering, suggests that is caused by China.
Obviously, China had a problem, they were not transparent about it, it expanded to Europe and the rest of the world. And the problem for President Trump is that he's running for reelection and is looking for ways to deflect blame for the performance of the administration.
HILL: Separately, John, I just want to get some details on this as well. We're learning that no White House task force member is now going to be allowed to testify without express permission from chief of staff Mark Meadows.
HARWOOD: That's right. And one consistent thread that we have seen in this administration is that they do not regard accountability as their friend. We have seen the president replace the inspector general in the intelligence community, who flagged the whistle-blower report on President Trump and Ukraine, we saw just the other day he nominated someone to become the superior of the HHS acting inspector general who had highlighted shortages of hospital equipment. Here the administration wants to control how much members of Congress are going to find out from members of the Coronavirus Task Force about what the administration's response has been and how the members of the task force feel about it.
That doesn't mean it is going to be shut down entirely. They have denied the ability of Anthony Fauci to testify before a House committee, but Lamar Alexander's Senate Committee is going to have members of the Coronavirus Task Force. He is somebody who has a strong record on health issues, and so I do think there is going to be some level of accountability there. It's just the administration would prefer that to take place in the Republican Senate rather than the Democratic House.
HILL: John Harwood at the White House for us. John, thank you.
HARWOOD: You bet.
HILL: The mayor of Jersey City says he had three bad choices -- reopen businesses, wait for a vaccine, or rely on President Trump for clarity. The mayor joins us next to tell us what he chose.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: New this morning, the mayor of Jersey City, New Jersey, will begin reopening his city even though he admits there are not enough coronavirus tests to ensure safely lifting the restrictions.
Joining me now is Steve Fulop, the mayor of Jersey City.
Mr. Mayor, thank you so much for being with us.
It's really interesting. You say you had three choices. Number one, reopen, you say, as safely as you can. Number two, stay at home and wait for a vaccine. And number three, rely on President Trump for clarity.
So my questions to you, why are those the three choices? And why did you select number one?
MAYOR STEVEN FULOP, JERSEY CITY, NJ: Well, I mean, what would be a different option? I think that's pretty much where we are today. If you think about opening the city, as we're talking about right now, it really is for the long-term health of the city. And I think mental health, economic health, and physical health, but you have to do it slowly.
The only thing that will change between now and let's say several months from now is a potential vaccine. So that leads you to option two, which is basically asking people to shelter in place indefinitely, because the only thing that will lead to a risk free environment is a vaccine or treatment.
And then the third is what I mentioned regarding the federal government. I mean, we've been waiting for, you know, more testing opportunities. It's been very slow. So, we're doing as best as we can and then slowly but carefully kind of moving forward and opening the city.
BERMAN: So, option one, doing it the best in the safest that you can involves testing. You're testing, what, 2,100 people a day, roughly, in Jersey City, which is a high relatively speaking to the rest of the country, relatively high number per capita.
BERMAN: But it's not where you want to be, not where you need to be. What would it take?
FULOP: Yes. Well, we probably have to do about 10 times the number of tests that we're doing today in order to adequately feel -- and feel comfortable that we're adequately testing our population. And the reality is that there just isn't that capacity out there for us to purchase.
We've gone directly to the labs and we've contracted with them to be able to do our testing. We're doing more testing than anybody else in New Jersey. We also have more cases than most people of New Jersey, and in the region and more than most states.
But the reality is we have to think about what's great -- in the best interest of the long-term health of the city, and that is carefully opening and not just sitting around and being stagnant.
BERMAN: So, it's interesting. The former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, we played this sound a bunch, but basically says we need to accept a certain level of death here.
And Dr. Anthony Fauci overnight said that's the choice that Americans are making, you know, how much death, how much suffering are they willing to accept?
What would you respond? How do you respond to that? How much death and suffering are you willing to accept in Jersey City?
FULOP: Look, I mean, I wouldn't look at it that way. I mean, our goal is not to have any suffering obviously, and deaths, and that's what we try to minimize or eliminate. I mean, I wouldn't say that we're going to accept that ever.
But the reality is that, you know, keeping the city closed entirely as it is today leads to all sorts of other problems, from mental health problems to economic problems to also physical health problems.
So, you know, if you're realistic there is no such thing as a risk free environment, you need to trust your residents to make smart choices, and I do believe that people can be responsible, they know what social distancing is and they know what they're supposed to be doing in today's world.
BERMAN: Yes, Sanjay, and I don't know if you've seen our shows, that it's a false choice, saying the choice is between helping the economy or keeping people safe. The real choice, is how do you open as safely as possible? So how do you open as safely as possible now?
FULOP: Yes, well, I think there's a lot of businesses that can start to open in the near term and people can responsibly practice social distancing. I mean, think of car dealerships or, you know, non- emergency elective medical procedures, or thinking about certain types of retail.
FULOP: Those sorts of things you can practice social distancing. Restaurants and bars, you have to obviously be more cautious with. But I do think we can start moving in a positive direction. I think it's really important to the health of the economy and the local level.
BERMAN: You know, it's interesting, though, because there's this new poll out just moments ago, from 'The Washington Post", I'm reading the numbers in my poor handwriting here. Some 67 percent of people said they won't be comfortable going back to a store.
That's a high number -- 67 percent not comfortable going back to stores, 78 percent not comfortable going to restaurants. Just the reverse the numbers here you're looking at here. Dine-in restaurants, there are only 26 percent say they're comfortable going back. And in terms of movie theaters, like it's only 18 percent.
People don't seem comfortable yet. You may want to start to get things going again, but people don't seem ready.
FULOP: Yes, well, look, people can make that choice. I would say that if 67 percent say they don't want to be comfortable going to a store, 33 percent said they do. And for that store owner, wearing a mask and the customers wearing a mask, that's important to their health and long-term -- you know, health of the local economy. So, I think you can look at it both sides.
People can make choices. If somebody doesn't want to go to a park or don't feel comfortable going to a store, that's totally their choice. But I think you have to trust residents to make some sort of good judgment calls in this environment.
BERMAN: The difference, though, is the choice that you are making affects not just you but other people, right? You do acknowledge if you're leaving it to people to make choices, it can have an impact beyond just that individual.
FULOP: Yes, I mean, that's the case I would argue in everything in life, that you do make choices that impact other people. I mean, people can wear masks. People can practice responsible social distancing.
You know, the reality is that asking people to pretend as if they're going to stay in their house and shelter in place indefinitely is not realistic. So, you're better off putting some sort of controls and parameters in place where people can safely go out and actually do things that they're going to be doing anyway.
So, we don't live in the perfect world. We live in a real world, with real choices, and ultimately, you need to make the best choices, what's in the best interests of your residents.
BERMAN: No one says it's easy, Mayor. We appreciate you being with us and discussing these decisions you're facing every day. Thank you.
BERMAN: So, intelligence from several U.S. allies downplays the idea that coronavirus started in a lab. A live report from China, next.
ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: CNN has learned intelligence among five key allies indicates it is highly unlikely that coronavirus started in a lab in China. That contradicts claims by President Trump and the secretary of state.
CNN's David Culver is live in Shanghai this morning with more for us. Hi, David.
DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Erica.
This comes from the Five Eyes intelligence sharing coalition, which includes the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Australia and New Zealand. So, U.S. allies in the midst of that, and they seem to downplay and even suggest that it is highly unlikely that the source of this outbreak was the Wuhan Institute of Virology, the lab leak pushed many of teams in recent days by President Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Instead, they say it is more likely this was an animal to human transmission, and more likely to have happened in that market setting.
Meantime, state media is seizing on this here and just in the past hour or so, CCTV, which is the state-run broadcaster, of course, they push out a lot of the government propaganda here, they came out with a commentary suggesting that the United States should be investigated now for its mishandling of the virus in this later stages of it. And so, that's something that hasn't come from the government, but it is certainly coming from state media.
And there's a danger in all of this, Erica. This war of words goes beyond words. "Reuters" reporting suggests that in the sense of a new report that they say went all the way to President Xi Jinping and top leadership in China that said this is essentially the worst anti-China sentiment that has been felt in the world since the Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989. They go on to say the worst case scenario here, Erica, would be armed conflict.
HILL: Wow. That is sobering to state least. David Culver with the latest for us in China this morning. David, thank you.
Joining me now is Ian Bremmer, president and founder of the Eurasia Group.
Ian, always good to have you with us.
I'm just curious your take on what we just heard from David Culver there, what China state media is putting out and what "Reuters" is now reporting. That really stops you for a minute.
IAN BREMMER, PRESIDENT, EURASIA GROUP: Well, certainly, it is really plausible that we come out of this coronavirus crisis in a cold war between the United States and China. The Trump administration really wants to be able to pin blame for what is going to be unacceptable mortality in the United States and handling of all of this on anyone but the Trump administration. China is easiest to do.
The Chinese, Xi Jinping is also facing a lot of domestic irritation, both with the fact it was mishandled at the beginning and also that the Americans are getting aggressive towards China. And, you know, following the worst recession that China is going to be experiencing in decades, they really don't want to fight with the Americans.
So, I'm increasingly hearing people inside China saying Xi Jinping is not at all a layup for a third term in 2022. So, insecurity domestically for both leaders, plus, a lot of finger-pointing, a lot of nationalism, that's a real problem.
HILL: And you lay out why. I also liked -- you tweeted last night, we'll put this up: The U.S. has serious and legitimate arguments to blame China for the initial cover-up of COVID-19. Claims without evidence that the virus originated in a Wuhan lab undermines U.S. credibility and coordination with allies.