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Trump Pushes To Get Past Virus Crisis As New Cases Rise; U.S Infection Rate Rising Outside New York As States Reopen; Norwegian Cruise Line Warns It May Go Out Of Business. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired May 6, 2020 - 07:00   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEW DAY: Wind down the coronavirus task force by Memorial Day.


Why? What message does that sound? We will explore.

Also this morning, the ousted director of the office in charge of the developing a vaccine is filing an extensive whistleblower complaint. It alleges his early warnings about the coronavirus were ignored and his questioning of a treatment being touted by President Trump, he says, led to his removal.

ERICA HILL, CNN NEW DAY: A growing number governors, meantime, moving to reopen their states even as we the number of new infections continuing to rise across the country. And as polling shows, most Americans oppose easing stay-at-home restrictions.

Also this morning for you this morning, a new genetic analysis reveals the coronavirus has been circulating since late last year and it appears to have spread rapidly after the first infection. Those are important points, experts say. That information is key. Why?

Well, joining us now to help us understand, CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Andy Slavitt, former Acting Administrator for the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services under President Obama.

And, Sanjay, just put into perspective for us learning that it was starting to spread late last year and spreading rapidly. Dr. Fauci has said, of course, that this could spread like wildfire, that we know. What does that tell us?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's starting to give us a better sort of timeline on this virus. Some of not only how it was spreading but also a little bit of how it was changing along the way as well.

Now, one thing I'll caution is that people are going to hear the idea that it was mutating all along and maybe be alarmed by that. This is not surprising. I mean, some 3 million people who have this virus as the virus spreads, it's going to have some small mutations. That's typically how they can track these viruses, sort of follow them through the pipeline.

But they have found there was some mutations along this area that a lot of people probably heard of now, this spike protein. Think about the virus. It's got these proteins on the cell. One is a spike protein. That spike is used to get inside cells. So that particular spike protein area does seem to have had a mutation in it.

And that mutation seemed to be more common in the virus that was spreading in Europe, more so than the virus that is spread in China interestingly. It seemed to make the virus, at least at that point, more contagious.

But they went back and looked at it. They said, okay, look, now we know that this virus is different here, was it also leading to more hospitalizations? Was it leading to more people becoming sick? And that does not appear to be the case.

So, again, not surprising that there are some mutations here. One of those mutations may have made this more infectious, more contagious. And that is now seemingly the more dominant strain that is circulating around the world.

It's unclear what this means at this point for anything else going forward other than to know about this. Certainly, vaccine researchers are going to want to look at this information and see does it change anything in terms of the various vaccines that are being worked on right now.

Keep in mind, Erica or John, the flu vaccine changes every year because there's a little bit of drift in the flu virus every year. We're not sure if that will be something that happens with the coronavirus but that's something they're going to keep their eyes on now.

BERMAN: Andy Slavitt, 71,000 deaths in United States and counting more than 2,000 about every day or around 2,000 new deaths every day. In this chart from The New York Times, which I know is something you've been screaming from the rooftops over the last several days, that, yes, the number of new cases in the New York area is going down.

You can see that on the left of your screen right there but the number of new cases in the rest of the country is rising. In other words, the situation not getting better nationwide necessarily. What kind of time is that, do you think, to wind down a White House task force overseeing the coronavirus response?

ANDY SLAVITT, FORMER ACTING ADMINISTRATOR, CENTER FOR MEDICARE AND MEDICAID SERVICES: Good morning. Look, it's a tough time for everybody. People are impatient. Politicians are sensing it. We all want our normal lives back. But Americans very loudly, clearly, are saying we want to open up safely. We don't want to open up in an unsafe fashion. And we are not feeling that we're at that safe point yet by all polls and all accounts.

And I want to emphasize something, and it's -- because it's something that Sanjay was saying, which is different parts of the world are dealing with this differently. The Czech Republic with masks, Hong Kong with experience, New Zealand with an alert system, Italy opening back up, Greece with discipline, and there are successful strategies. They are opening up their countries safely.

We, on the other hand, appear to be taking a posture that we're just going to end the task force and open up without a strategy to keep people safe. And I don't think that that's going to work.

HILL: So what does that -- so to that point, Sanjay, what does that -- do we have any sense of what that may look like? If the task force goes away -- we're told that Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx will still be around and he will still be working on things.


But in terms of letting the American people know what that is and what's happening behind the scenes to better prepare for this next surge that so many people are expecting, that's a big question mark.

GUPTA: It is a big question mark. And, you know, I mean, I think that the idea that somehow sending this subjective signal that this is winding down, that this is over, you know, the task force disbanding, states reopening, we can look at this in the rearview mirror. And, of course, all of us having to wish that were true, but it's not and that is the truth.

And I think the point that Administrator Slavitt is making, I think, is so crucial, maybe the most crucial point. Because I think anytime I say this, Administrator Slavitt says stuff like this, people think you're being pessimistic and you don't want things to succeed. No, we want things to succeed. And, by the way, there are examples of where there's been good success around the world.

We don't have to look at this and say this is by any means doom and gloom. We have to look at this and say there is a path forward and there's been some examples of this.

By the way, the White House itself released these gating criteria for what that might look like, 14-day downward trend in influenza-like illness, 14-day downward trend in new cases, making sure you have robust testing available so people can have this confidence that they're not harboring the virus, people around them may not be harboring the virus. What happened to those criteria, I mean, those criteria to open up by the White House itself? It will take a little time to get there but it's not impossible and then we can reopen things more safely.

BERMAN: And if you are going to reopen things, which is what's happening at this point, Andy, one of the things that I know you think we need more of is testing, correct?

SLAVITT: Exactly. Well, look, first of all, I just referred to Dr. Gupta as Sanjay because I know him as an American doctor. He referred to me as Administrator Slavitt, it should have been the reserve. I owe him the respect. But I think we're certainly in agreement of what we're saying. Look, testing, think of testing this way. It will allow Americans to feel safe again. It will allow us to go places again and know that we are not spreading the virus. Even if we don't eliminate the virus, which is not a near term goal, knowing that we can contain it, that as soon as positive cases open up, we'll be able to identify them, quickly identify the people that have been in contact with, have some voluntary isolation, then we'll know that we're going to have small numbers of cases. And then a lot of our life can resume.

If we don't do that, then we all feel like we're taking risks every time we do something that is out of kind of the current framework we're living in. And people don't want to be forced into doing that. The people most forced, by the way, are essential workers, are people who don't have a choice because they live in public housing or they're in jail or they're in nursing homes or working in meat plants. And so we have to create regulations. We have to govern for the people who don't have the choice to stay home, which are many, many Americans.

HILL: It also comes back just based on what you're saying, Sanjay, as you look at this. It just comes back to something really simple and that's confidence, giving people the confidence, whether it's through a test, whether it's through a coordinated response, that it is safe and that they're not the only ones working to make it safe but that the others in their community are going to do that too. And that is tough to find in some areas right now.

GUPTA: It feels tough to find. And I think people don't have the psychological confidence right now, which I think bears out on those poll numbers that you were sharing, saying that even in these places where things can reopen, it doesn't mean that people will necessarily go out and utilize these services because people are nervous. They're nervous for themselves. And I think they've understood the message now that even if they don't get sick, they could still transmit the virus, even asymptomatically or pre-symptomatically. So it's a concern.

I mean, the testing is a big deal. I mean, the vaccine is going to take a while. A therapeutic that's effective may still take a while. We have our remdesivir but we need things that are going to be more powerful. The testing can go a long way. I mean, I think there's a lot of debate about what the right amount of testing is. But, I mean, Erica and John, you go into work and you want to know that you're not carrying the virus. How do you have the confidence to do that? How do you get a quick, easy, accurate test? So Andy and I are in agreement on that, for sure.

BERMAN: You guys can call each other by first names. We've established we're on a first name basis at this point.

Along those lines, Dr. Gupta, there's new information about kids this morning. There have been these reports in the New York area of kids presenting with inflammatory symptoms that look like maybe Kawasaki syndrome. You can explain what that looks like, Sanjay, and what that means, but also some new studies from different places around the world which give an indication of just how transmissible coronavirus may be among children.


GUPTA: Yes. Well, with regard to Kawasaki, first of all, which basically is a -- think of this as a widespread inflammation that occurs in the body. You get inflammation in all these different cells within the body. And I'll show you a couple pictures here. These are a little bit, frankly, tough to look at, but it's a rash.

First of all, this is the eyes. You get this redness in the eyes, which is somewhat vague. So people shouldn't look at this and immediately be alarmed thinking my child definitely has Kawasaki. It's more pictures of these of pictures of this rash, what we call maculopapular rash and it's tough to look at. But that's the sort of rash that is often associated with Kawasaki's.

What they found in this one study was that there were 15 children who had evidence of Kawasaki's, rash like that. Four of them tested positive for COVID and six of them tested positive for the antibodies for COVID. So either they had it or had had it at some point in the past, most likely. Five of the children did not seem to have any correlation with COVID.

So this is still being looked at. I mean, we want to make sure this is not called an observation bias in the midst of a pandemic of the things that do happen from time to time are now associated with this pandemic. But this is a concern. There was an alert that went out in the U.K. a couple weeks ago warning all hospitals to be on the lookout for Kawasaki. And now, we are seeing this more in the United States.

It does raise the question, why now? I mean, this has been circulating for some time. Why now? Again, it doesn't seem the virus has changed enough to be causing such different symptoms, but I think that that's going to be a question that the investigators want to answer.

HILL: It's something we'll all be looking forward to. Sorry, John. Were you going to say something? I jumped on you.

Really quickly --

GUPTA: I didn't answer the second part of the question. Is that what you're -- let me just answer that real quick.

Yes, there is this -- I think about children transmitting the virus. We've known for some time that children are less likely to harbor the virus, get the infection and less likely to get sick from it. I think what these new studies are showing is that that remains true, but children also seem to have more contact when they're in a school environment and that can offset the fact that they are less likely to get the virus. And they are also quite likely to be able to spread it, again, when they have no symptoms.

So kids can be the spreaders of the virus even with few symptoms. And I think that that's what's sort of gaining the people's attention about whether or not to reopen schools.

BERMAN: All right. Sanjay Gupta, Andy Slavitt, thank you both very much for being with us. GUPTA: Thank you.

HILL: Hospitalizations in New York City continue to drop. What does that mean in terms of when the country's largest city could reopen? Mayor Bill de Blasio joins us next.



BERMAN: This morning, the number of coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths continue to decline in New York City. Mitigation efforts here are showing encouraging signs but the numbers for the rest of the country moving in a different direction.

Joining me now is New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. Mr. Mayor, thanks so much for being with us. Those charts, and I don't know if you can see them, show that the number of new cases in the New York area are declining. But if you remove the New York area, the rest of the country, the number of new cases are going up.

So when you see something like this, what's your message to the rest of the country?

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D-NEW YORK CITY, NY): John, my message is, be careful. This desire to restart and open up without necessarily referencing the actual facts of what's going on is dangerous. Look, the whole focus has to be on protecting the people of this country. That's more important than the almighty dollar. That's more important than anything. And right now, what I fear is there's a rush to reopen in some places at least that's going to end up with people losing their lives who didn't have to lose their lives, who could have been saved if there had been more care.

What we learned the hard way here in New York over the last two months is, this is a ferocious enemy. And the way you defeat it, the way you push it back is with really tightening up the social distancing and the face coverings, and the shelter-in-place, all the things that New Yorkers actually have done to a remarkable degree. And I got to tell you, John, not easy to do here and not what I would have expected New Yorkers to be able take to so quickly, but they've done an amazing job.

But my message to the rest of the country is, learn from how much effort, how much discipline it took to finally bring these numbers down and follow the same path until you're sure that it's being beaten back or else if this thing boomerangs, you're putting off any kind of restart or recovery a hell a lot longer.

BERMAN: Are you worried they're going to ruin all your efforts?

DE BLASIO: I worry for everyone, John. It's not just about the people I represent in New York City, I think we're all interconnected in this country. So if one part of the country starts to see a surge, it's inevitably going to affect everyone else. BERMAN: You have said that you are going to release your plans for summer in New York City soon. Do you care to preview them here this morning on New Day? I know you've said your ultimate goal is to be ready for a larger opening in September when kids go back to school, you hope.

DE BLASIO: Yes. John, I think September is the thing I feel particularly strongly about. I want kids back to school on time. I want to see our school system open in a safe and healthy manner. In the time between now and then, look, our goal is to restart as quickly as possible. But there's a couple of key questions here, making sure the facts support it. We're still not there yet to even begin to loosen up the restrictions. Then we have to watch out for the boomerang effect. We cannot ignore evidence of any kind of resurgence or, again, we'll just pay for it for a long, long time. It will be a longer delay in restart.

And then there's also the crucial question, how are we going to even afford to restart our city if right now we are literally out of money, $7.4 billion in the hole because we've lost so much revenue, it's only going to get worse.


How are we going to pay for all the basic services we need, all the people who have been the heroes of the crisis, police, fire, EMT, paramedic, healthcare workers, educators? There's no money. So how are we going to restart our city, provide services and actually recover without it? That's where the federal stimulus is the key. And, boy, are we getting mixed messages, John, especially from the president.

Last night, he started talking about, well, he is more interested in giving rich people a break on the capital gains tax than helping New York and other cities and states back on their feet. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. And so we have no guarantees that the federal government is going to help us. That's only place we can turn for help. And right now, that's a pretty murky situation.

BERMAN: You're talking about what would be a fourth stimulus plan, direct federal funding to states and cities. And to that, as you said, the president has sent mixed messages. But one of the things he said is, I don't think Republicans want to be in a position where they bail out states that are or have been mismanaged over a long period of time.

DE BLASIO: Yes. John, it's astounding that he even introduces the question of red states and blue states. He's saying it out loud. He is politicizing a pandemic, not being patriotic, not talking about all Americans and how to bring us back together. We're all connected. This is the largest city in the country. We help lead the national economy for everyone. We send a huge amount of money to Washington, much more than we get back.

And this is a city that has been succeeding. We've had record low unemployment before the crisis. We're the safest big city in America, crime levels down to where they were in the 1950s, thriving economy. We've been succeeding here. A lot of cities have been succeeding and helping the American economy. And now the president is turning his back because of partisan affiliation. Who does that, John?

What kind of president in the middle of a crisis says, well, I'm going to help you but I'm not going to help you because of what's on your voter registration card? No. What we need here is a stimulus that puts us all back on our feet so we can succeed together. If it doesn't happen, I guarantee you there's no recovery. And I hate saying that. But, John, it's the truth. If there is not a strong fourth stimulus for cities and states, there will not be a national economic recovery, period.

BERMAN: Well, what do you need? How much do you need and when and what happens if it doesn't come, because there's no action in Washington this week on it.

DE BLASIO: John, what I'm staring down the barrel of and cities and states all over the country, people are either acting on furloughs and layoffs or preparing for furloughs and layoffs of the exact people who have been the heroes in this crisis who we should be celebrating and supporting, the first responders, the healthcare workers, the educators.

How are we going support these people who we need if we don't have any money? I've lost $7.4 billion already and my economy can't come back until I get that stimulus and get back to normal and provide those basic services. It's a real catch-22, no stimulus, no recovery, no revenue. It only gets worse.

So, to me, what the federal government needs to do is make cities and states whole. We didn't ask for coronavirus. We've been dealing with it, often alone, bluntly, without the federal help, like the testing. But once it happened to us, we had no choice but to confront it.

And then when we had no more money, what are we going to do? The only place that prints money, the only place that can provide the help to get us out of this mess is the federal government. If they don't, we're on our own and there's no recovery.

BERMAN: What happens when you say this to the president? Can't you just play the New York card, say, hey, you're from New York, right? Don't you want to help out your city? What happens when you present that argument?

DE BLASIO: I have, John. I presented it to him in private conversations, I've said it publicly. I don't know what happened to him, how he forgot where he comes from. Because at times, he has expressed sympathy to me and publicly for what's happened to the people of New York and other cities, the heroism of the first responders and the healthcare workers.

And then he goes silent when it comes to actually helping them out, absolutely silent, except to talk now about how he can maybe get into this bill a relief program for rich people. When he starts talking about capital gains tax, that's him wanting to help his rich buddies, not helping firefighters or EMTs or paramedics or healthcare workers. You can't make it up, John. But the bottom line is, if the president is silent, then he's helping Mitch McConnell and the Senate to ignore their responsibility.

The president said today we need a fourth stimulus, we need to give those cities and states the ability to get back on their feet, just like he did. He gave $58 billion to the airline industry. He was in favor of that bailout. How about helping cities and states move forward? If he said out loud we need to do that, the Senate would fall in line instantly.

BERMAN: Mayor Bill de Blasio, we appreciate your time this morning. Thanks for being with us.

DE BLASIO: Thank you, John.

BERMAN: So one of the world's biggest cruise lines warn it could go out of business because of the pandemic.


And now, some airlines are sounding the alarm as well. The impact this is having on the travel industry, next.


BERMAN: Coronavirus is crippling the cruise ship industry. And this morning, Norwegian Cruise Lines is warning investors that it may go out of business.

CNN's Rosa Flores live at the port of Miami with details. Rosa?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, good morning. You know, the big question is, will the cruise line industry survive the COVID-19 pandemic? I talked to one expert who says yes. I'll get to that in just a moment.

But, first, Norwegian Cruise Lines warning its investors that it could be forced to go out of business. We've reached out to the company and have not heard back yet. But this, as the cruise line industry gets hammered by the COVID-19 pandemic, you've seen it on the news, passengers and crew contracting the virus, getting stuck on ships, some of them dying. The CDC issuing a no sail order in mid-March that goes through at least through June, and these cruise line companies scrambling to stay in business. Some of them cutting costs and are figuring out ways to stay in business.


But if you look at bookings, the future looks uncertain but not bleak. According to Bob Levinstein from, this is a website.