Return to Transcripts main page


When Did Coronavirus Begin in United States?; Reported Heart Attacks Decreasing?; 100,000 U.S. Coronavirus Deaths Expected By End of Month. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired May 6, 2020 - 15:00   ET




DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But I think it is a change a little bit. I thought we could wind it down sooner.

But I had no idea how popular the task force is, until actually yesterday. When I started talking about winding it down, I would get calls from very respected people, saying, I think it would be better to keep it going. It's done such a good job.


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Just a day ago, the president had spoken of disbanding the critical medical advisory panel that is guiding the nation how to handle the crisis.

And yet, today, he acknowledged the unprecedented and historic challenge caused by the pandemic.


TRUMP: You see, with the stock market, where the stock market is at 24000, and we went through the worst attack we have ever had on our country. This is really the worst attack we have ever had. This is worse than Pearl Harbor. This is worse than the World Trade Center.

There's never been an attack like this. And it should have never happened. Could have been stopped at the source. Could have been stopped in China. It should have been stopped right at the source.


KEILAR: The debate on how the nation should move forward continues to intensify. More than 40 states are in some stage of reopening, while the overall numbers of deaths and infections are not falling.

In fact, a Johns Hopkins scholar testified to Congress today that not one state has met all of the White House criteria to reopen. Data analysis shows the former epicenter, New York, also other areas are experiencing decreases, but now there are new hot spots that are emerging. We will have much more on this in a moment.

Also today, a former director of the CDC testified on Capitol Hill that the nation is still at the beginning of this pandemic. And he has no doubt the number of people who die from coronavirus in the U.S. will reach 100,000.



And, sadly, looking at the U.S. as a whole, just calculating forward from the number of people whose infections have already been documented, there will be, tragically, at least 100,000 deaths from COVID by the end of this month.

Second, as bad as this has been, it's just the beginning.


KEILAR: At this hour, there are more than 1.2 million infections in the U.S. and more than 71,000 deaths.

Let's specifically focus in on these emerging hot spots.

And, for that, I want to turn to CNN's Tom Foreman.

Tom, tell us what the data is indicating here.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, you mentioned the Johns Hopkins numbers.

Look at this map, and it'll give you an idea of how this wave is sort of sweeping across the country. Yes, we have been talking a lot about the East Coast for quite some time here, New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Washington, D.C., because so many of the cases were there.

But now we're seeing the waves start showing up in other places, Minnesota, for example. Minnesota had not been making a whole lot of news. Now their numbers are going up, and they're talking about some studies there saying their peak may not be until sometime off in the summer.

Move down to place like Nebraska. Again, we weren't talking about it a whole lot. Now the state is scrambling to say, we need to set up more testing centers to deal with the rising numbers there.

And then, of course, you go to a giant state like Texas, which has so many people in it. Their numbers start moving up, Brianna, that is another sign of how a lot of places that thought they were simply going to get away or maybe thought they were just going to get away with nothing happening are now watching the wave of this virus hit their state.

How much it will hit them will depend partially on what they do about it and on these other factors, which we may not fully understand, but it's happening right now, Brianna.

KEILAR: Is this affecting any of the plans that various states have for reopening business?

FOREMAN: Well, it's affecting them, in the sense that virtually every state that is reopening is talking about, well, we're going to enforce social distancing. We want people to wear masks. We want all these protocols to be safer.

And we have seen how in some places even when they try to enforce that, look, there are some people out there who simply will not go along with that. They're talking about all of that.

But don't forget, as you noted earlier, almost all the states are in the process of moving forward with the reopening in some fashion, even though, only a couple of weeks ago, we were talking very openly about how the standard would be, when you had 14 days of declining numbers, then you might open.

And practically nobody has that. But the openings are happening anyway -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Yes, it's pretty stunning, Tom. Thank you, Tom Foreman, for us.

As Tom mentioned there, Texas is one of the states where cases are going up, as it starts to reopen some businesses.

CNN's Ed Lavandera is in Dallas.

And, Ed, you have news of a showdown over a salon owner. But, first, do these numbers change any minds there of the people that you're talking to in Texas?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Not in terms of state leadership here.

These are numbers that are consistent with what we have seen over the course of last week, once again, Texas adding more than 1,000 new coronavirus cases and reporting those numbers, as well as just over 40 new deaths to all of this.


So these are numbers that we have seen for the course of the last seven weeks. And despite all of that, the governor here insists that he has a great plan in place to reopen the Texas economy. But it is coming with showdowns here.

There is a one woman who was sentenced to seven days in jail. Her name is Shelley Luther. She's the owner of a salon in the North Dallas area. She had stayed open, despite the stay-at-home orders and despite the announcements from state government here that hair salons could not be open.

Shelley Luther was given a citation by police. She received a cease- and-desist letter from a judge, which she ended up tearing up at a rally. And then in court yesterday, the judge told her if she apologized for her actions that she would not be sentenced to jail time. And this is what she told the judge:


SHELLEY LUTHER, SALON OWNER: I have to disagree with you, sir, when I -- when you say that I'm selfish, because feeding my kids is not selfish. I have hairstylists that are going hungry because they'd rather feed their kids.

So, sir, if you think the law is more important than kids getting fed, then please go ahead with your decision, but I'm not going to shut the salon.


LAVANDERA: Shelley Luther receiving a good amount of support. There's a small protest here at the county jail in Dallas.

And, also, the governor of Texas described her sentence as excessive. The attorney general describes it as shameful and outrageous. And Senator Ted Cruz described the decision as just nuts.

But this is all ironic, because, just yesterday, the governor of Texas decided to ease the restrictions on hair salons, barbershops, and nail salons, allowing those businesses to open up this Friday. And when that happens, if nothing changes between now and then, Shelley Luther will still be in jail -- Brianna.

KEILAR: All right, we will follow this with you, Ed.

Ed Lavandera in Dallas, thank you so much.

Things were much clearer when everyone was on lockdown. But now, with mixed messages coming from state and local governments on what is open and what is not, things are bound to get a little confusing, right?

So I want to bring in Dr. Carlos del Rio. He is the executive associate dean of Emory University School of Medicine at Grady Health System.

Sir, thank you so much for being with us.

And you're aware that there's a lot of Americans who are just so confused about whether to go back out into the world? Is it healthy for them to do so? If it's not fully healthy, how do they mitigate the risk? Is it worth the risk? What do you say to them?

DR. CARLOS DEL RIO, PROFESSOR OF GLOBAL HEALTH, EMORY UNIVERSITY: What I say to them is that this epidemic is not over. This virus is still here. It's infectious.

The cases, as you heard previously, are going up. And I think simply because you haven't heard about it and you're getting a messages that it's OK to go back, it's not safe to go back. And I would say, continue taking care of yourself. Continue, as much

as you can, practicing social distancing, staying home, not going to crowded places, wearing a mask all the time, and washing your hands frequently.

KEILAR: What do you say to people? I mean, we have been hearing people, including a salon owner there who was arrested, saying, look, without this business, kids are going hungry. How do you -- how do you balance that, if you have food insecurity, to the point that it's actually affecting the children, not just the adults in the family?

DEL RIO: It's incredibly hard. And I feel for all those people and I feel for the more than 30 million Americans who have lost their job.

We really saw a -- essentially not a slowdown, but really a stop of the economy in this country that was very rapid, very sudden and, quite frankly, most of us did not expect that it was going to be so quickly.

Unfortunately, we don't have the social support in our country that we could have that would have allowed us to continue supporting people economically during this crisis. This is what much of the European countries have. And this is why the European countries have been able to shut down much more effectively than we have.

But, having said that, I think, if somebody is going to reopen a business, they need to do it in the most -- in the safest possible way. And I would tell that barbershop, make sure that you don't -- that you space out your clients, that you have plenty of space between them, that you wear a face field, that you were a face mask, and that you have all your clients wear a face mask, and that between one client the next, you do a lot of deep cleaning and make sure that everything is around cleaning.

So, practice as much safety as possible. I understand what the concern is. I'm not going to tell you close your business. I understand you need to get food to your table, but also do it in a safe way and decrease the risk of exposure, not only to your clients, but to yourself.

You don't want to get sick. You don't want to end up in the hospital.

KEILAR: No, that's right.

There are several steps that are showing children can be carriers. They can spread the virus, unknowingly even. So, as states are starting to reopen, what is your guidance when it comes to reopening schools or going forward with summer camps?


DEL RIO: Well, let's start with the latter.

I think summer camps -- summer overnight camps may actually -- may actually be a little easier. And let's just think about it hypothetically. If we had enough testing, and you could potentially test all the children and all the counselors, and you put them in a bus, and you take them up to the mountains somewhere, and they stay there for two weeks, and nobody comes from the outside, and the people that are there all negative, I think that will be probably fine. Right?

You will probably be OK. It would probably be a very safe place, because it's a contained environment, and nobody's going in and out.

School is a little more complicated, right, because a classroom of 30 or 40 kids may not be -- you may not be able to practice social distancing. Children are all the time on top of each other and playing with each other. And there's sort of passing those secretions.

And so it's much more complicated, but I think you're going to have to figure out ways to come back to school in the fall in such a way that maybe you spread the school year. Maybe you divide the classrooms. Maybe you have classrooms not of 30, but of 15. Maybe some of the classes continue to be online.

I think we're going to have to get creative. I think we're going to have to really use a lot of innovation and continue using a lot of technology if we want to come back. This is not going back to where we were.

This is going forward to a new reality, until we have a vaccine available.

KEILAR: It's interesting when it comes to this disease that the reality keeps shifting, right, because it's so unknown.

So, at first, it was difficulty breathing is a hallmark of someone suffering very much from coronavirus. Now we have learned that it also causes blood clots, and we're learning of a new study that shows blood thinners may improve survival among hospitalized coronavirus patients, especially if they're on ventilators.

Tell us -- tell us what this means to you, what this means to taking care of patients who end up being hospitalized.

DEL RIO: Well, as you say, we're learning as this disease -- this is a new disease, so, every day, we're learning.

And I feel sometimes that the speed of knowledge is a little bit like drinking out of a water hydrant. I mean, it's just way too fast for any of us to keep up. But some of the things that we're learning are just fascinating.

And one of them is that the respiratory failure that you see in these patients can be very sudden, and it can be improved with certain types of ways that we -- that the ICU people can manage the ventilators and can manage oxygenation.

But one of the things is, when people are sick, they tend to form blood clots. And in this disease, we seem to be getting more blood clots, and part of the respiratory failure may actually be due to small blood clots in the lungs. So putting patients on anticoagulation may actually decrease that

risk. And, in fact, there are a couple of studies suggesting that that's appropriate. So, in many places, including my own hospital, anticoagulation is pretty much part of the standard of care when people go into the intensive care unit.

KEILAR: It's very interesting, as we learn more information about this virus.

Dr. Carlos del Rio, thank you.

DEL RIO: Delighted to be with you.

KEILAR: Emergency rooms across the country are reporting fewer heart attacks. But what is really behind the decline? We will discuss that.

And a new investigation reveals that cases in the United States were likely spreading as far back as December. We will talk about that ahead.

Plus, a violent arrest raising questions about how police are enforcing social distancing rules, especially in communities of color.



KEILAR: There has been an unusual drop in people calling 911 for heart attacks and strokes. Some doctors now suspect that this is tied to that coronavirus pandemic.

I want to bring in CNN health reporter Jacqueline Howard.

And, Jacqueline, what are doctors thinking about what's happening here?

JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN HEALTH REPORTER: Brianna, there's really two ideas that are floating out there.

One, because we're all staying home and social distancing, could we be experiencing less stress and facing fewer triggers that could lead to these cardiac events? That's an idea that definitely needs more research.

But the other idea, which is more likely, is that fewer people are calling 911 and seeking help for heart attack and stroke symptoms. So it's not that there's fewer heart attack events or stroke events happening. It might be that fewer people are calling 911.

And there's preliminary data out there that shows, since January, about 20 -- there has been about a 20 percent decline in 911 calls for the symptom of chest pain.

So maybe that's what's happening here. But we really need more research to really look at, OK, why is there this decline and what's really driving the decline in heart attack and strokes? KEILAR: Yes, because there's a risk. And, certainly, I think people are afraid of it. No one really wants to go to a hospital now if they don't have to, so they're worried about being exposed to the coronavirus there.

But this risk of waiting to call 911 for chest pain -- or we have even heard from doctors who said, look, some people come in with appendicitis that is much further along than it normally is.

What do doctors recommend for patients who may be experiencing symptoms?

HOWARD: That's right.

The recommendation right now is just not to wait. If you experience anything that feels off, any symptom, it's OK to make that phone call to your doctor's office, even call 911, or go online to the patient portal and set up a telemedicine appointment.

But do what you can to get that information. And then you can make an informed decision with your doctor as to what your next steps should be.

The fear is there. People are scared of exposure to the coronavirus, but hospitals are doing what they can to separate and -- COVID-19 patients from other patients and really to limit that exposure.


So, it's best to seek help. Don't wait.

KEILAR: All right, Jacqueline Howard, thank you so much. Really appreciate that important information for people out there who need it.

New today is an investigation by "The Miami Herald," which found the first cases of coronavirus were likely spreading in the state for weeks, if not months, before the first reported cases. So we're talking about as far back as December.

And keep in mind, the state announced that the first cases happened on March 1. And under pressure, the governor finally ordered a statewide stay-at-home order on April 1.

I'm joined now by Sarah Blaskey, an investigative and data reporter for "The Miami Herald," one of the reporters who did this investigation, as well as Dr. Eric Toner, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.

Sarah, tell us what you found.


So when we were looking through the data that the Department of Health in Florida publishes, WE found an interesting piece of data that is sort of hidden on the back end. And that's the date of onset of symptoms, rather than the date that the case was logged into the DOH system.

And based on that, we saw cases that are COVID-positive cases with onset of symptoms all the way back to December 31. You see a smattering of them in January, and then you see a ramping up of them in February, still a small number, but it certainly helps sort of explain where this trend started.

And, interestingly, about a fourth of them had no contact with other COVID-19 cases and had not traveled.

KEILAR: OK, so that means community spread, right?

But then, as recently as March, Sarah, you had the governor denying that community spread was happening at all, right?

BLASKEY: That's right. Into March, the governor was saying that there was no community spread in Florida. Obviously, he didn't have all of the information we have now at that time, but he had certainly been told by experts that community spread was happening in Florida.

KEILAR: So, Doctor, tell us, what does this mean? What does this signal when you're talking about how early this outbreak has been spreading inside the U.S.?

DR. ERIC TONER, JOHNS HOPKINS CENTER FOR HEALTH SECURITY: Well, we long suspected that there was going to be community spread in the U.S. dating back into January.

This virus was circulating in Wuhan, China, back into probably November. And so there are 20,000 flights per week from China to the U.S., so it's not surprising that somebody or somebodies flew from China to Florida, and started a chain of transmission there.

But it would have been pretty invisible, given, first of all, it's the middle of flu season, and, secondly it's an illness that 80 percent of the people have relatively mild symptoms.

And so it would be setting up a chain of transmission that's growing, doubling in size every week or so, and it would be a month or two before there are enough cases that anybody would begin to take notice of them.

KEILAR: I wonder, Doctor, as we're looking forward, because it seems like we're in this for the long haul, right, as we're looking forward, does knowing that this started community spreading sooner than we previously thought, does that get us anywhere in the fight against coronavirus?

All right, unfortunately, we lost the doctor's signal.

But, Sarah, I wonder, as you have been talking to experts, has anyone said that looking back tells -- what are they saying that it helps illuminate? Is it about sort of what government needs to be doing better or is there any sort of health outcome that it actually improves?

BLASKEY: Well, experts have explained it to me in two ways.

So, one, it helps us understand the spread of this virus better, so that we can move forward in this current moment with more information that informs public health decisions, government decisions.

But it also helps us to have this historical data for other potential viruses in the future, so that we can look back at this moment and say what happened here and compare that to any future situation. So it helps us both now and in the future to have more robust data, and especially that symptom onset date.

KEILAR: Yes, no, it's -- that's a very good point.

Doctor, what Sarah was making, the point of, is that there's help when it comes to fighting future pandemics, so that you could be better prepared, and then also it helps in the current situation.

What do you think?

TONER: Well, it certainly helps us going forward for future pandemics or perhaps future waves of this pandemic.


We -- the most important thing is that we have testing, that we have ubiquitous testing, that we can test everybody who has symptoms.


TONER: That's what was lacking in Florida and in California in the very early days. There wasn't a test.

And even now, we don't have enough tests. So, we really need to have a really detailed and broad view of the disease in our communities. We need to know who's sick and who's been in contact with them.

And if we know that, then we can -- then we would have found these early cases in Florida.

KEILAR: Yes, I mean, it's essentially, Doctor, like telling us we're reading an old newspaper, right? That's only so helpful. That's why we need to get more up to date and have this testing. And it just reinforces that, how much that's needed.

TONER: Yes, but even more importantly than having a current newspaper, we need real-time news. We need CNN.

We need to be able to know what's going on this minute, not what happened yesterday.

KEILAR: Yes. No, it's so important.

All right, Dr. Toner, thank you. Sarah Blaskey, great reporting. We appreciate you being with us.

And still ahead: the New York Police Department under fire for its arrest of someone who violated social distancing guidelines. Was there an excessive use of force? We're going to show you what happened next. And you can decide.

Plus, front-line medical workers aren't just doctors. They aren't just nurses or first responders. But what about the forgotten men and women who are helping keep the hospitals running?

I will be talking to a woman who recently lost her husband to the virus next.