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Doctors Are Now Tracking a Mysterious Disease Linked to The Coronavirus That is Killing Children; The Director General of the WHO Says There Was A Surge Of Coronavirus Cases Over The Weekend In Some Of The Nations Around The World Where Stay At Home Measures And Other Restrictions Had Been Lifted. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired May 11, 2020 - 12:30   ET



KING: Good to see you, sir. We'll see you again. Coming up for us, doctors now seeing more children with a mysterious disease they link to coronavirus.


KING: Doctors are now tracking a mysterious disease linked to the coronavirus that is killing children. The New York governor, Andrew Cuomo, mentioning that just moments ago.


CUOMO: 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.


KING: 93 cases in New York State alone and there could be even more we don't know about just yet. Dr. Deepika Thacker is a Pediatric Cardiologist with the Nemours Children Health System in Delaware. Doctor, thank you so much for being with us. Walk us through what you're seeing and the link to coronavirus. And as the governor said early on, people were saying, well, children are more safe. Children seem more immune. Maybe not the case?

DEEPIKA THACKER, MEDICAL DIR. OF CARDIAC INPATIENT UNIT, NEMOURS CHILDREN'S HEALTH SYSTEM: John, I think we are seeing the cases of the actual coronavirus infecting children while we are saying they may be milder than adults, what we are seeing now is an immune-mediated response in these children. So the initial viral infection may still be mild but sometimes their body is reacting with an immune response which is - which can be quite severe. These children are presenting with what we're now calling the

pediatric multi-system inflammatory syndrome possibly associated with COVID-19. So high fevers, abdominal pain, headache, shortness of breath, sometimes rash and conjunctivitis.

KING: And so, the symptoms are on the screen right now. A parent should be looking for these. Anything else? I mean, some of those symptoms do overlap with what were told about coronavirus. Watch for a high fever and the like, but what are different in the sense that if you're parent watching at home and you think your kid has been isolated but is showing some symptoms, what should you do?

THACKER: You know, I think that's - I think parents should use their instincts, and if your child has any of those symptoms it would be worth while connecting with your - with your child's doctor. Many of them can even do video calling now. Here at Nemours, we have an app called Care Connect for our telemedicine system. We are available 24/7. But if the child appears really sick with shortness of breath, with severe headaches, vomiting, then probably head over to the nearest children's hospital for immediate attention.

KING: And -


THACKER: These children may appear well in the beginning but can deteriorate pretty rapidly, but again with good care they do very well.

KING: All right, Dr. Thacker. Very much appreciate your insights. Let's keep in touch as this goes forward. Hopefully we solve a new mystery every day it seems, but this one seems troubling. Thank you very much for your time.

Coming up for us, they're called clusters where the biggest coronavirus outbreaks still happening.



KING: President's meat packing plants and nursing homes have become the country's most largest and vulnerable COVID-19 hotspots. Their alarming numbers of cases and deaths. Let's take a closer look at these clusters - the data behind them.

First you look at prisons and these are just the biggest ones - the biggest red circle here - a 1,000 plus cases in some of these correctional institutions here. The medium size circle 750 to 1,000 cases. 500 to 750 in these lighter circles.

Again, you see out in California, they're everywhere. These are just the biggest cases here in correctional facilities. Look at the some of the statistics - 20,000 inmates/prisoners infected, 300 deaths in prisons across the country right now. We've talked a lot about clusters in meat packing plants. They're

everywhere again - spreading across the country. But these are the biggest - giantess - circle here more than 1,000 cases at one plant.

The smaller circles 500 to 750; 750 to 1,000 cases; again, one work place. Food processing plant. Bam! Corona virus cluster. Let's look at some of the statistics here. More than 10,000 workers infected or exposed in these facilities.

At least 30 deaths so far; those numbers keep rising as we go through it. And of course long term care facilities - a legacy stain - of the corona virus. Look at this, 20 states have at least 100 long term care facilities with corona virus. 128,000 infections in these nursing homes - the long term care facilities.

At least 25,000 deaths in these facilities. With me to discuss how this is happening Debbie Burkowich. She's with the worker's safety and health program director for the national employment law project.

Along with Dr. Jennifer Leigh who teaches emergency medicine at George Washington University. Dr. Leigh I want to start with you. Prisons, meat packing plants, correctional institutions - we would think that they have nothing in common yet they are the sources of these big clusters. Why?

DR. JENNIFER LEIGH, CLINICAL ASSOCIATE PROF, EMERGENCY MEDICINE, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY Well John one of the things that all of these facilities and institutions have in common is the density. The closeness with which people either have to work or to live, and that is just a set up for the easy spread of this virus.

We know how contagious this virus is. And when people are close together and are not able to effectively social distance from each other, then you just have a set up right there for the more rapid spread.

And I think another aspect to, all of these populations is unfortunately how vulnerable they are. Of course, with nursing home residents many of them live there and they may not be able to speak up or for themselves to be cognizes of what's happening.

Workers at meat packing plants many of them are immigrants who are low wage, low paid workers who may not understand what's happening because of cultural and language barriers.

And don't have a lot of ability to speak up because they need these jobs to support themselves and their families. And of course incarcerated individuals, too, are very vulnerable and that's another thread that connects all of these populations.

KING: And so two questions here Debbie Burkowich so as Dr. Leigh pointed out, do you think the right conversations, the right protocols are happening in these places?

[12:45:00] And number two, what lessons are there as governors and at the urging of the President of the United States say it's time for other people to get back to work. These are essential facilities, if you will, that are operating throughout all this, as more Americans go back to a factory, go back to an office space that could be crowded, what are we learning from these clusters?

DEBBIE BERKOWITZ, WORKER HEALTH AND PROGRAM DIRECTOR NELP: Thank you John for having me. And I agree with Dr. Leigh, and I think there's a real lesson to be learned here as states start reopening.

Let's just take a look at meat packing, and take a look at the workers there. What happened in meat packing, and Dr. Leigh was right, workers were very close together in those plants, that's just how the plants have been designed and there are thousands of workers in lots of these plants.

While we were all told to social distance outside of the workplace and why a lot of us were sent home from or jobs and restaurants were closed so we could keep six feet apart. When workers went into these plants they were required by the company to work shoulder to shoulder, crowded into break room, crowded into lunch rooms, using the same, you know, clock to punch in, and not provided masks. And so, the lesson there is that though CDC had put out guidance, there are companies and whole industries that don't implement them, because it's just guidance, it's not required.

And employers can follow it or not follow it. And as these plants are reopening now I don't really see workers six feet apart on the processing line. They're putting little dividers between them, but there's no evidence there.

And in nursing homes, you know, while so many workers have gotten and died from COVID-19, like in meat packing, and it's because those workers didn't get the N95s, the resporative (ph) protection that they need, and so, you know, it's spreading in the workplace, it's spreading in prison guards and it's spreading in meat packing, it's spreading at work.

Not because of who these people are, but yes, these people -- most of these workers are workers of color and it is because most of these jobs, especially low wage of our frontline jobs aren't people of color, they are being hit particularly hard.

And we need to have specific mandates and that's really the lesson for the governors, that the president and the OSHA, that agency that usually sets requirements, has set no requirements. They haven't issued one citation.

And so, now it's really up to the governors and cities to start mandating certain requirements to protect workers and, you know, mitigate the spread of the disease among workers and then also among the community.

KING: I agree and we'll watch as this plays out. Again, the acceleration of the reopening is happening. The question is, will we learn the lessons from what's happening in front of us. Dr. Leigh I want to come back to you just for one more on the long-care facilities.

We saw the first cases in Washington State, we now believe there were other cases in other places that we didn't know about, but the first public cases in Washington State at a long-term care facility. The question I have constantly, when you listen to governors update their state statistics everyday, in some states this I more than 50 percent of the deaths, is that why didn't the alarm bells go off earlier and say, this is our most vulnerable population, we need to get them out, we need to move them into hotels or move them into temporary hospitals or move them somewhere, because we have a problem. Why didn't that happen?

LEIGH: Well, you know, it's -- I -- I think part of it, again, is just going back to this population specifically that, you know, they can't necessarily advocate for themselves and we -- we -- it's up to the rest of us and it's up to government to be able to have that oversight and ensure that these facilities are safe and that they protect not only the residents and their patients, but also their staff.

And when you look at these facilities, I mean a lot of the ways the virus infiltrates into them is through the staff. You know, early on there were measures taken that I think were wise, although painful for many families to basically restrict any visitors.

And -- and then, so when you do that, how does the virus get into these facilities? You know, the virus comes in via the staff. And I think one of the things that was so tricky about this virus and prevented us from detecting some of these outbreaks earlier is that asymptomatic spread.

So, you have these residents who are so vulnerable, they're older, this is the population most at risk for bad outcomes and death, and then you have staff who have to come in and take care of their needs, they're coming in and out, who may not have the PPE that they need, and they may not have any idea they're infected.

And this goes back to why all of them need to have the PPE, the personal protective equipment to protect themselves and the residents and they need testing, especially if there's been at least case, they need -- the need good education and training and good infection control to

be able to separate and -- the residents who are infected from those who aren't and to disinfect the places very carefully.


KING: Dr. Leigh, Debbie Burkowich, really appreciate your insights. We'll hopefully learn the lessons as we go forward. Thank you both very much.

Coming up for us, the WHO now warning of a surge in cases in some countries that lifted their restrictions.



Iowa Governor, Kim Reynolds, just announcing she will follow a modified quarantine protocol, that out of concern she may have been exposed to the coronavirus during a recent trip to the White House. The governor says she was tested this morning and that test was negative.

And of Illinois, Governor J.B. Pritzker announced a temporary shut down of his office. That after a senior member of his staff tested positive for the virus.

Also just in, the Director General of the World Health Organization says there was a surge of coronavirus cases over the weekend in some of the nations around the world where stay at home measures and other restrictions had been lifted. Let's go straight to Senior Medical Correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen. Elizabeth, what are we talking about here?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: John, they specifically referenced three countries when the WHO talked about this resurgent issue - South Korea, Wuhan, China, and Germany. Not incredibly complicated, right? You let people get back together, the virus may rebound. Let's take a look at a tweet from the WHO just today. "Early serological studies," that means blood studies, "reflect that a relatively low percentage of the population has antibodies to COVID-19, which means most of the population is still susceptible to the virus." In other words, if you are going to open up your communities, you should realize this that most of your people are susceptible to the virus.

The WHO has issued guidelines to countries that are thinking about opening up. Two of the points they make is, number one, make sure that your outbreak is under control. Number two, make sure that you have the surveillance mechanisms so that you can catch any new outbreaks as they might pop up. John -

KING: Elizabeth Cohen, appreciate that. An important lesson as we accelerate the reopening here in the United States. Moving onto some other news now. A top former prosecutor today says the Justice Department is, quote, "infected with politics," and he blames the Attorney General, William Barr. Jonathan Kravis once led the prosecution of the Roger Stone case. He wrote in The Washington Post that Barr is ignoring the law and the facts and undercutting, in his view, the work of career employees to protect allies of the president. CNN's Evan Perez joins us now. Evan, this is a remarkable charge by a former prosecutor.

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it is. Jonathan Kravis has been quite, John, about exactly why he left the Justice Department, but it was clear that when he left he was leaving in protest, and according to this op-ed that he has now published in The Washington Post, he's saying that he is fearful that there is going to be lasting damage to the Justice Department and it's ability to do its work in a non-political way because of the actions of the attorney general. And he's not the only one who's speaking out. We're hearing from alumni of the Justice Department who have now written an open letter criticizing the attorney general for what he has done not only in the Roger Stone case but also in the Michael Flynn case. This is the case in which the attorney general is now moving to drop charges against Michael Flynn.

We also heard from Mary McCord, who was at the head of the Justice Department's National Security Division at the end of the Obama administration. Here's some words that she had in an op-ed in The New York Times over the weekend. She says the quote that essentially that Attorney General Barr has misused her own words, you know, to try to drop these charges against Flynn. She says, quote, "My interview is no support for Mr. Barr's dismissal. It does not suggest that the FBI had no counterintelligence reason for investigating Mr. Flynn, that the FBI's interview was unlawful or unjustified. It does not support that Mr. Flynn's false statements were not material, and it does not support the Justice Department's assertion that the continue prosecution would not serve the interest of justice."

One of the importance of Mary McCord's words, John, is the fact that the department - the Justice Department now is saying that those Obama administration officials did not themselves support the FBI's investigation of Michael Flynn. That is not the case according to Mary McCord. And so, now we wait, John, for the judge to finally weigh in on this case. After all, Michael Flynn stood before him and essentially lied when he said that he admitted to these - to these lies to the FBI.

KING: And Evan, I don't know if the right term is this is back or this is just the volume's turned up again. You see the president tweeting and retweeting over the weekend. He takes a very different view. He's grateful for all of this, and he thinks this is proof that the truth, the sunlight is being casted and that he was right all along and that he and his allies like General Flynn were railroaded here. Obviously these former prosecutors take a different view.

PEREZ: No, they do. And look, and I think part of the lens we have to look at all of this is the fact that the election is coming very quickly. The president and his polling numbers are down because of the COVID response, and they seem to find an advantage to bring up this issue of the Russia investigation, John.

KING: Even in the pandemic, stoking the base. It's always been the president's reflex. We shall see how this one plays out. Evan, thanks very much. Thanks for joining us today. Hope to see you back here this time tomorrow. Very busy news day. Brianna Keilar picks up our coverage right now. Have a good day. Stay safe.