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The White House Is Trying To Do Contact Tracing To See How The Coronavirus Got Into The White House West Wing; New York Governor Andrew Cuomo Holds A Press Conference From Irondequoit, NY About COVID-19. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired May 11, 2020 - 12:00   ET



GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): Guidelines, which I don't even know how that happens. The federal government says here are the CDC guidelines which are basic health guidelines. Some states don't meet those guidelines and they're opening anyway. Well, there's a lot of pressure to open. I know, but pressure doesn't mean you act unintelligently, right?

Some states opened and then saw a rush of people from surrounding states. We've talked about that here, the concept of an attractive nuisance. Finger Lakes opens. You can't open up an attraction or a site that will be attracting people from outside the region and then you have a problem you never encountered, right? So that's something to watch.

And some places never really made the people part of the plan, and that is a fundamental mistake because this is not - we are not at a point where government is going to solve anything frankly. This is people who are solving the problem. Personal opinions oppose (ph) the facts.

I did one thing right as governor that I'm proud of. I got the people involved in this situation to a greater degree than they had been involved probably in modern history - probably in modern history. From day one this was of such a magnitude that unless people engaged and understood and bought into this, government was impenitent. Governments think government can't impose - enforce any of these things that we did. Stay in the house, close every school, close every business. State government can't enforce that. People had to understand the facts and people had to engage in governing themselves in a way they hadn't in decades. I don't know what happened. I'm still trying to figure out when government got to a place or when society got to a place where people would accept the lack of professionalism from government, the lack of competence from elected officials.

I don't know when government became so political and it all became about rhetoric rather than actual competence, but it happened somewhere along the way. That government could not handle this situation. People had to get engaged. People had to be informed, and that's the one thing I did right. Now, they got engaged because it mattered. This is not an abstract issue. You're talking about people's lives and people's health and the health of their children, so they were interested. They were engaged, but they were also informed and I worked very hard every day to make sure they knew the facts. Trust the people. Lincoln, right? An informed public will keep this country safe. True. And that's exactly what happened here, and that's what we're going to continue to do. People need to be part of this. The whole plan that we're outlining today is all down. It's online. It's in a book. People need to understand exactly how we do this second phase just the way they understood how we were going to get over that mountain and how we were going to flatten the mountain. They have to understand now how we reopen and they have to be part of it.

Understand the plan. Hold me accountable. Hold me accountable. Hold your local officials accountable, but people have to be part of it and they have to know the facts and know what we're doing because it's going to come down to how people react and how people behave. And if they understand what we're doing, they will do it. Just as I couldn't enforce any of this on day one, the local officials are not going to be able to enforce it either. Nobody's going to mandate personal behavior. People have to wear a mask. People have to be smart when they show up at work. People have to be smart when they shop. They have to understand this is not the flood gates are open. Go back. Do everything you were doing.

Be smart. Nobody's going to protect your health but you. No one's going to protect your children's health but you. Well, children aren't affected. Oh really? That's another fact that they're going to change on us. Now we're worrying about - we have 93 cases that we're investigating of young children who have COVID-related diseases.

So this is about keeping yourself smart and keeping yourself healthy and keeping your family healthy. We'll do everything we can, but you have to be New York tough. Smart is the first word after tough. United, disciplined, loving. Thank you for being here. Any questions?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor Cuomo, what will Friday look like, May 15? Can people just report for work at a construction or manufacturing company that's qualified to open at 9 a.m. start of business? And can a whole staff return or who will give those answers?

CUOMO: The - that is going to be, as I said, with - this is now a shift, right? So to going from phase one, which was basically a state- controlled one set of rules all across the state, that was phase one. This reopening phase is locally-driven, regionally-driven, and regionally-designed. So the businesses that can open are the businesses that are approved by that region and approved with these conditions, right?

Every business that reopens is going to have to meet certain conditions. The state set a certain number of conditions. Local governments may add additional conditions to those businesses and how they open, and that has to be done on a region-by-region basis.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They'll get that information sometime prior to Friday?

CUOMO: Yes, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Governor, how long do you anticipate being at each phase? You know, obviously a lot of the big businesses in our area, in any area are (ph) phase two. So how long do you anticipate it taking to get to that point?

CUOMO: You can - it will - it will be determined by the facts and the numbers as you go along, right? You are more of a visual person. You're turning a valve increasing the economic activity. Your question is how fast can we open the valve. You have a dial right next to the valve that says infection rate. You have another dial that says hospitalization rate. You can open that valve as fast or as slow to keep that infection rate below 1.1, which is what they call an outbreak. If it hits 1.1 it means the virus is increasing exponentially. So watch that dial, watch the hospitalization rate and the timing of phase one, phase two, phase three, it's determined by those two dials. It's determined by those facts.

You watch the infection rate, you watch the hospitalization rate as fast as you can come online without increasing the virus spread to outbreak or increasing the number of deaths, then that's how fast you reopen the economy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will you shut it if it's too fast?

CUOMO: The local region has a control room and a circuit break we call it to stay with the graphic, physical metaphor - circuit breaker. If you see those dials going into the red zone, if you're really closely watching the dials you wouldn't have to turn the valve off. You would just slow the valve a little bit depending on how well your dials are calibrated and whether you're watching or not. So the best would be just slow instead of off, but if the dial's going to the red zone, circuit breaker, turn the valve off until you get the dials back under control.

We - the whole ride across the mountain has been getting the spread of the infection under control, what they call the infection rate, how fast it's spreading. It has to be under 1, which is one person who is infected infects less than one other person, right? You have to keep the infection rate below that, and you have to keep the hospitalization rate at a manageable level. You can't overwhelm your hospitals period because then people die, and that is a universal bad thing. You watch those two dials and you calibrate it locally.

Well, how fast can you open? Nobody knows. It also depends on how smart you are in the opening.


Now, if you open businesses and the employees are smart and the business owners are smart, well then theoretically nobody should get infected, right? You should be able to go to work, be six feet apart from everyone, have the right precautions, nobody gets infected. You do it wrong, you're at the meat processing plants and the poultry

processing plants that we've seen across the nation, you open, everybody goes to one place, a few people have the infection and now you have 1,000 workers infected. How did that happen? It was improper precautions in the workplace.

So, you have to depends on how businesses do, how employees do and then you watch those dials. As fast as you can reopen, reopen, just watch the dials.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Governor Cuomo, as businesses are coming up with these reopening plans and we move on to from phase one to phase two, how long will the businesses in each phase keep these plans in place? Like say, how long will they have to stay six feet apart or when will be OK to maybe lift those plans?

CUOMO: It depends on the facts. You'll know, you'll watch -- your basic question is when do we don't have to worry about the virus anymore. I hope it's tomorrow. I doubt it's tomorrow. It depends on how good we are at reducing the spread and controlling the spread. It's how smart we are. It's our actions, our behavior.

That's why I come back to, who slowed the spread in the beginning? The people of this state, nobody else. There was no government action. It was unprecedented action of the people, presented with the facts, informed and engaged.

Hasn't happened in my lifetime -- hasn't happened in my lifetime. I've never seen this situation before, where people actually did what they founding fathers thought they would do, that they would really care and really get engaged and really get informed and really act on what they believe.

You know, for so many years what government did was just irrelevant or overly political or you didn't believe anyone, you didn't trust anyone so they just tuned it out, right? I have to live my life, I can't watch this sideshow called government politics. Yes, well now it's a matter of life and death. And they got engaged.

I'll tell you something else gratuitously, I also believe if we actually learn from this moment, you know, we talk about reimagining New York, so that we don't just build back, we build back better, and we're going to do that. I also think this is a moment that could change history in this country for the better.

You -- you -- whoever the you is that started this virus, you had a wake-up call for this country and a moment of in history that people have never gone through before. You stopped the country, you stopped the economy, you put -- we call it pause in New York, you put people's lives on pause and everyone went through a period of turmoil and --

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: The Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo, his daily coronavirus briefing, a remarkable beginning of the work week here, the Governor of New York, his state hardest hit, his state locked down the most early on. He says, it's time now to begin to prepare to reopen New York

beginning this Friday. He says, quote, all of the arrows are pointed in the right direction, meaning the case count, meaning the intubations, meaning the rate of new COVID cases showing up at hospitals. The Governor says it is time, beginning Friday, to reopen on a regional basis in New York.

He announced regional panels to coordinate that, he showed a book with all the state guidelines and the regional guidelines to have the reopening process, the safety protocols that must be in place.

And he urged regional officials, he said, you have between now and Friday essentially to get your acts together, coordinate with each other and to bring their people, their citizens into the process.

A remarkable moment, the governor called it the next step in this historic journey. As always, using New York's perspective to give some national advice as well, questioning why some other states across are reopened when, he said, they are nowhere close to meeting the guidelines laid out by the president and his Coronavirus Task Force some weeks ago, including a 14 day trajectory downward of coronavirus cases.

So, as the Governor of New York prepares to reopen his state and he says this next week is critical to the information process, we also know the President of the United States, today, even though there has been coronavirus in the White House residence and in the West Wing, will talk to the American people today saying, in his view, testing has now ramped up to a point where the rest of the country can reopen.


He's been tweeting this morning that he wants the country to reopen even faster than it is.

Let's bring in our White House Correspondent Kaitlan Collins and Seung Min Kim, who is a White House reporter for the "Washington Post."

Kaitlan, I want to start with you. The Governor of New York knows he has a national platform here and he was talking about how he's going to do this on a regional basis, he's going to bring the people in.

He believes New York is ready, most of it, New York City and the suburbs around it are no where near ready to reopen yet, but he also at one point said he didn't understand how other states were doing this.

He uses these briefings everyday essentially to deliver a message and we're going to hear from the president today saying go and go more quickly. Governor Cuomo saying, some states are going too quickly.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and you saw the president implying that it was some governors playing politics by refusing to open their states or doing so at a pace that he doesn't think is the correct one that they should be moving at. This morning that is something that he tweeted saying that some

Democrats, he believed, would like to keep most of it closed until the election, because, of course, he thinks that that's a way that would hurt him.

When you're hearing from most of these governors they say that they just think that that's the right thing based on the numbers that they're looking at and whether or not they've going downward like what you're seeing recommended in the own White House's guidelines for reopening the country.

And, of course, John, this comes as the White House is dealing with their own issue of what the rest of the country is and what the governors are on a larger basis just at here at the White House, by trying to contain an own -- their own outbreak after two officials testes positive for coronavirus last week. Two officials who spent a lot of time around the president and the vice president in addition a slew of other top officials, of course.

And so, we're told by sources that they really spent the weekend trying to contract trace and figure out who all was in touch with Katie Miller, the Vice President Mike Pence's Press Secretary who tested positive, but also that White House valet, someone who's in and out of the Oval Office frequently, they're trying to figure out who all they came in contact with, because they want to be able to stent (ph) the outbreak.

And so far it doesn't appear that they've been able to be completely successful with that. They're still trying to figure out where those two individuals contracted the virus from.

So, really we're seeing what governors are dealing with on a big basis, to try to happen here at the White House, of course, it's a much smaller environment here and they do have those rapid tests, which makes it a little bit easier for them to continually -- continuously test everybody.

KING: Right. And Seung Min, part of this remarkable week ahead, as Kaitlan announced, they're trying to do contact tracing at the White House to find out how did coronavirus get into the residence, how did coronvirus get into the West Wing? Lamar Alexander, the Chairman of the Key Committee in the Senate, he's on self-quarantine because a staffer tested positive.

We know that Dr. Fauci, Dr. Redfield and Dr. Hahn, three members of the president's Coronavirus Task Force are going to testify remotely at his hearing because they are in quarantine to varying degrees.

CNN Sarah Westwood reporting this morning White House officials now preparing them for this virtual testimony if you will. It is a remarkable moment, because we're going to hear from the president today and we see it in his tweets already today saying, get about it governors, open more quickly.

You know that his own scientists are going to be asked at that hearing, but Republicans and Democrats, are we doing this at the right speed? Are states like Georgia and Texas, for example, going too far, too fast?

SEUNG MIN KIM, CNN POLITICAL ANALYSIS: Exactly. And it's going to be just a weird dynamic to watch at this hearing, a hearing that is about the coronavirus and all it's impacts on it, that it's top people who are testifying and his chairman cannot be there precisely because of the coronvirus, but you see -- we've already seen the White House try to restrict these key officials from testifying before the Democratic led House, but you can expect to see a lot of tough questions too from the Republican controlled panel.

Democrats have been preparing a lot of questions on the Administration's handling of the coronavirus, what -- when would be the appropriate time to open and you saw Senator Lamar Alexander, who is that Chairman of the Committee, kind of preview what he's going to be saying at tomorrow's hearing and saying, we really need to ramp up testing everywhere, before the country feels comfortable that it will reopen.

And you've seen testing become even an issue on Capital Hill, where you've seen Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in a rare point of agreement say they will reject these rapid tests that the White House offered them for the Capitol to be able to operate.

But -- and that's causing some disagreement from the rank and file, Senator Lamar Alexander, Senator (Inaudible) says perhaps we should have access to these tests because we are essential personnel, because we have to be in the Capitol to do the people's work.

KING: Well, and to that point, Kaitlan, the president is coming into the Rose Garden later today, we're told it will be an announcement on testing. I just want to go back for a little history here.

On this issue of testing, the president has been, I'm going to be kind, wildly inconsistent. Listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, we're testing everybody that we need to test.

Anybody that wants a test can get a test.

We took over an obsolete broken testing system.

There's not a lot of issues with testing.

The governors are supposed to do testing.

We are lapping the world on testing.

I have always said testing is somewhat overrated.


[12:20:00] KING: Do we know what we're going to hear from the president today as he says governors open up and do it more quickly?

COLLINS: Well, we know the White House is trying to look ahead to basically say that they are working on what governors say they need; not only testing but also the resources needed to conduct those tests, tracing all of these things that many people have said that they would need to feel comfortable about going back to work.

And so the question is also whether or not the health experts are appearing with the president at this briefing today because they don't refer to it as a coronavirus task force briefing. They just refer to it as an event where the president is going to be speaking to reporters.

And of course, we know several of his own top officials are now quarantining including the CDC commissioner -- the FDA commissioner, the CDC director, and Dr. Fauci. And so the question is, you know, what are other officials doing.

Dr. Birx, the Vice President Mike Pence who was also here, we should note, on White House grounds today after his office announced last night that he would not be quarantining.

KING: Kaitlan Collins, Seung Min Kim; appreciate your reporting on this important day as we begin a very important week in the reopening push. I want to add this footnote; the Pennsylvania Democratic governor, Tom Wolf, just responding to President Trump.

The president tweeted last hour, Pennsylvanians want their freedom now. He also accused Democratic governors of moving slowly simply for political reasons.


TOM WOLF, PA GOVERNOR: I don't know how you stay safe and -- and move quickly. The irresponsible thing to do, as I said earlier, is to just willy nilly go off and pretend that we can wave a magic wand and go back into business and suspend the reality of this virus that's surrounding us.


KING: Pennsylvania governor just moments ago responding to the president. When we come back, new modeling projections and they indicate as Americans do get back to work and start getting together, the death toll likely to climb.



KING: A key coronavirus model used by the White House is now projecting an increase in deaths across the United States because of quote, explosive increases in mobility. The IHME model is now predicting 137,000 people will die here in the United States from coronavirus by early August.

That's up 3,000 people from the projection just last week. With me now is Ali Mokdad, he's the professor of health metric sciences at IHME. Mr. Mokdad, it's good to see you again. So this -- I just want to put up a graphic here of states where you have seen increased mobility.

In 13 states that increase has been in 15 to 20 percent range. In five states it has been greater than 20 percent. Is this just connect the dots. People are getting out of the house, they don't want to stay in anymore, therefore the virus is spreading and you believe the death rate will go up?

ALI MOKDAD, PROFESSOR OF HEALTH METRICS SCIENCES, IHME: Exactly. Good morning, John. We are seeing an increase in mobility even before the relaxation of the measures that have been put in place.

And people started moving second week of April, which is of course will increase the circulation of the virus and unfortunately the number of deaths in each of these states.

KING: And so the -- the president's going to say today he wants governors to move even more quickly. Do you assume -- is there -- do you see anything before you -- if -- if people were moving before even the reopening happened, is it -- is it more likely or less likely that you will be increasing this again.

If you were increasing it even before most of the re-openings kick into the higher gear, what's ahead?

MOKDAD: I heard (ph) this unfortunately, as you -- as we said, an increase in mortality, an increase in spreading of the virus and demand on our house facility. We've seen the increase even before the relaxation.

So there'd be a psychological factor when a governor comes and says it's OK to go out, we will see even more increase of mobility. And right now what we have on our web, John, what people need to look at, which is the most important part of the information will provide, is the number of tests positive that you have and how much you estimate in your own state to have cases and how many tests you are doing.

So if you look like a state like Georgia right now, to give you an example, Georgia has about 700 cases a day. We estimate in Georgia about 4,800 cases because we're not testing everybody.

And they're doing about 7,000 tests right now. So if there is any increase in cases in Georgia, they don't have the capacity to test those people and to trace that. So that's very important to keep in mind.

Where a state like my state right now, we have 400 cases, we estimate in my state about 800 cases. Those people who are not being tested and we do over 3,000 tests right now in the state of Washington. So we are in a better position to open up and rather than opening prematurely when you don't have the capacity to do the trace and the isolation and all the testing that you need. KING: But so (ph) and that makes it a very frustrating conversation in the sense that four months we have been saying ramp up this testing. The president will be in the rose garden today to say testing has been ramped up.

You say when you go state by state and you crunch your numbers that that's simply not the case.

MOKDAD: Exactly. Because some of them are better off than other states. And we have to admit, testing has increased in this country but we're not at that level that we need to be in order to fell comfortable.

The other thing, John, we're not talking right now in many states. We don't know how many people you are tracing. How many tracers you have. How many of those people that you have traced tested positive.

We need to know as we come down if there is an outbreak, how big is that outbreak because that's a big indicator of the circulation of the biased. The other lesson, John, that we are not looking at is we're seeing what's happening in Asia. South Korea relaxed their measures.

They had more testing than we have. They had better tracing because they used that (ph). And then they closed again because they see an outbreak. And we are here -- you know we should learn from these lessons and we should be very careful. We all want to open the business but let's do it in a smart way, not premature.

KING: Professor Mokdad, as always, appreciate your insights and I'm going to hope your projections are wrong but we'll watch as this plays out. Obviously the numbers don't look very good at the ...

MOKDAD: I hope so too, John. I hope so I am wrong. I hope ...