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West Wing On Edge As Virus Hits White House, Officials Refuse Quarantine; Trump Administration Announces Plan For Rationing Remdesivir; Study Shows Key Enzyme May Be Tied To Why Virus Hits Men Harder. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired May 11, 2020 - 13:00   ET



JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: We shall see how this plays out. Evan, thanks very much.

Thanks for joining us today. I hope to see you back here this time tomorrow. A very busy news day. Brianna Keilar picks up our coverage right now. Have a good day. Stay safe.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: I am Brianna Keilar, and this is CNN's special coverage of the pandemic.

As the White House scrambles to contain the virus among its own staff, there is a growing disconnect between the public and the private phase of the president on how he deals with the spread. He tweeted today that coronavirus numbers are looking better and he and his vice president often refused to wear masks.

But after two staffers in the White House tested positive last week, sources say the president is irritated and frustrated that certain staffs have not been wearing masks. And the president says he doesn't want to be near people who have not been tested. We'll have much more on that in just a moment.

We are also learning though that the University of Washington modelling a team the White House often cites has increased its death projections to 137,000. This is up 3,000 from its previous prediction. And this uptick is due in part to the fact that more people are moving around now as nearly all states have started to reopen despite the fact that at least 12 states show an increase in cases from the last several weeks.

One of the people in the west wing recently infected is Vice President Pence's press secretary, Katie Miller. She routinely has contact with top health officials who are part of the administration. And now we know that the leaders at the CDC, the FDA and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases have all put themselves in some kind of quarantine.

But note, the names that you don't see here are President Trump or Vice President Pence. Let's go now to CNN's Kaitlan Collins at the White House. And, Kaitlan, before we talk about how the White House has been trying to do contact tracing and looking at Katie Miller and tracing from there, you have got some breaking news about the vice president. Tell us about this.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Some video has surfaced of an even that the vice president was at on Friday.


It's this food supply roundtable in Iowa. So this is the trip, you will remember, this is when we found out that his press secretary had coronavirus and had tested positive, because Air Force Two is supposed to take off from Joint Base Andrews, it sat on the tarmac for about an hour, as some staffers got off. We later learned that was because Katie Miller, who was not scheduled to be on that trip, was tested positive, those staffers were worried about their concern.

And then just hours later, the vice president attended this roundtable where at the beginning, the executives who receded to the side that were going to participating in this roundtable with the vice president have all been wearing masks before he arrived. Then you see this unidentified staffer come into the room and she signals to those other executives that they can take off their masks.

Now, Brianna, it's not clear what exactly the staffer said to them. We do not know who the staffer is. We're going to identify her yet. Though we are told she was there on behalf of the Trump administration.

And source is telling CNN she didn't tell them to take off their masks. She was basically signaling that they could because of the distance that was between them and the vice president. Though it's not clear if they themselves were six feet apart in this video. But it goes to show you, they were wearing masks and when the vice president showed up shortly before, they took the masks off to participate in this roundtable.

Now, of course, this comes as the vice president himself and his office announced last night he is not going to be quarantining despite his press secretary being one of those two staffers who tested positive last week. And as you just noted, we're seeing a slew of others officials who also came in contact with that press secretary, decided to voluntarily self-quarantine in accordance to the CDC guidelines.

But despite that, the vice president did show up at work here today. We were told that over the weekend, they're basically scrambling to try to figure out who Katie Miller was in contact with, do that contact tracing that health officials have said, it is so vital to getting people back to work across the nation. And they're still trying to figure out who Katie Miller got the virus from herself.

And, basically, why they want to know that is whether or not it was someone inside the White House, inside the west wing, because they want to try to contain the outbreak here, of course, so no one else gets it in addition to Katie Miller and the presidential valet that we reported on last week who also had it.

So, Brianna, it's remarkable because what you are seeing what's happening here is at a much smaller scale at the White House is what you're seeing so many other businesses and governors and local leaders wrestle with as they debate reopening their own states and their own counties across the nation.

KEILAR: Kaitlan, thank you for that report from the White House.

And now, one of President Trump's top economic advisers is speaking candidly about what it is like to work inside the White House right now.


KEVIN HASSETT, SENIOR ECONOMIC ADVISER TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: It is scary to go to work. I was not part of the White House in March. I think that I would be safer if I was sitting at home than I would be going to the west wing.

You've been on the west wing. It's a small crowded place. It's a little bit risky. But you have to do it because you have to serve your country. And there are a lot of things you can't do except there.


KEILAR: Jamie Gangel is our CNN Special Correspondent and Dr. James Phillips is a Physician and Assistant Professor at George Washington University Hospital, he's also a CNN Medical Analyst.

Jamie, to you first on this. I know you have been talking to a senior GOP official who described what the risk is like when you go to the White House and meet with the president. Tell us what you've learned.

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, I think that what we just heard, scary, says it all. What I was told is that when you go into the White House, you really are rolling the dice, that if you're a visitor going to meet with the president, first, you go over to the OMB, you get tested but you don't know the results yet. They say you can leave. And they say, if you don't hear from us, you are okay.

Then you go through the OEB. You interact with people, you go to the west wing, you interact with people. And this person said to me that what was very surprising to them was that when you meet with staff, this person saw no one wearing a mask, no one social distancing. And they were told that, quote, we don't have to social distance or wear masks because we get tested.

But, Brianna, we know that the staff doesn't get tested every day, only guests coming in. So this is what we saw with Katie Miller. We also know that one day, you can test negative, the next day, you can test positive.

The person then went to meet with President Trump as part an event and said there was no social distancing in there that the president was in arm's lengths away. I asked the person, did you feel pressure not to wear a mask? They said, absolutely. And they said that they just got the message loud and clear.

So this is, what can we say, it's irresponsible. These are the White House's own guidelines that you are supposed to wear mask and social distance but, clearly, the president does not want to do that.


KEILAR: Dr. Phillips, what's your reaction to that?

DR. JAMES PHILLIPS, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Well, it's one of disappointment. I go to work every day in the hospital. And when we walk in the door, we are screened. We're expected to wear at least a basic surgical mask at all times when we're in the hospital. We have our support of our leaders within the hospital to encourage to use of non-pharmaceutical interventions, such as social distancing, mask- wearing and hand hygiene.

And I feel like the White House, where our most important leaders are, should probably do better modeling the behavior of hospitals, where the primary concern of this virus is infection control within its own walls. And that would mean that despite the amount of testing with these known false negative rates that you would still choose to protect the most important people in our government by the social distancing behaviors, if necessary.

And not just that, but as the leaders of this crisis, as the incident commander of this crisis, I think the president has a unique opportunity from an optic standpoint to model behavior that his constituents should follow. Because as everybody know, this president has a very unique ability to reach his constituents who model his behavior probably more than any other president in their lifetime.

KEILAR: And Dr. Phillips, as I know you are aware, most of the top health experts on the White House Coronavirus Task Force have been exposed to someone who's tested positive for coronavirus. So they're now in quarantine. This includes Dr. Fauci, who is doing what is described as a modified quarantine. I mean, no doubt, his presence is very important on this task force but what does that mean to you, a modified quarantine? Is there such a thing that's actually safe?

PHILLIPS: Well, first and foremost, I hope they are all okay and I hope that they all remain negative. The daily testing they're going through is not a pleasant experience. I was tested yesterday and can attest to that.

From his standpoint, first of all, I trust that he's going to make all the right adjustments, more than just about anybody. I think what he means by a modified quarantine is that when we talk about exposures to this virus, he's looking at it in the same way that we do in a healthcare setting, where he can gauge a low, medium or high encounter based on pretty specific criteria. And his spokesperson has called this a low risk encounter, which is probably just glancing. And in that regard, he feels safe taking appropriate precautions, wearing a masks to go to an empty office. I don't have -- I don't take any issues with that as a medical provider. And, again, most of us medical providers are taking cues from Dr. Fauci. He's the best at this. And so I would trust that he's doing what he can to keep the people safe and also keeping himself safe.

KEILAR: All right. Dr. Phillips, thank you. Jamie, fantastic reporting, thank you so much for pulling the curtain back on what's going on at the White House. We appreciate it.

The numbers show that more men are dying from coronavirus than women and there is as new study that may show why.

Plus, new reports out of Italy shows patients are seeing symptoms long after recovering, in some cases, we are talking about weeks and weeks later.

And as more and more Americans return to life as sort of normal, one ice cream shop owner closes his store after verbal abuse from customers. He's going to join us live and tell us all about what happened.

This is CNN special coverage.



KEILAR: The federal government is announcing a plan to ration remdesivir, the only drug so far to show some promise as a treatment for severe cases of coronavirus.

A shortage of the drug is now putting hospitals in a tough spot. And CNN's Elizabeth Cohen has been following all of this. Elizabeth, what more can you tell us about this?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, it's been almost two weeks since the federal government said, hey, it looks like remdesivir can shave four days off of a coronavirus patient's hospital stay, which, of course, is good news. The government has to ration this drug because there is not enough of it. And now, it's being called a bungled effort.


COHEN: Remdesivir, the only drug that's been shown in a large rigorous study to fight COVID-19. Given limited supplies, the federal government has been doling it out, some hospitals getting less than they need, others getting none.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): New York State is working with HHS, Health and Human Services on the federal side, administering to 2,900 people at 15 hospitals.

COHEN: The federal government has given New York enough remdesivir for 2,900 patients, but there are at least 7,262 coronavirus patients around in New York hospitals. That same situation playing out around the country. This vial from the first shipment of remdesivir received last week by Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, where Dr. Rochelle Walensky is Chief of Infectious Diseases.

DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, MASSACHUSETTS GENERAL HOSPITAL: We know that the doses of this drug that we are going to get are not going to be enough to treat every patient that we have in the hospital now.

COHEN: So they have to make decisions about who gets remdesivir and who doesn't.

WALENSKY: This was hard.

COHEN: At Mass General, they have about 200 patients with the virus and they have enough remdesivir for only 65 patients. And more patients are being admitted every day, and doctors don't know when they'll get more of the drug. Mass General's decision, a hospital committee, not the patient's doctor, decides who gets it.


WALENSKY: This is not how we like to practice medicine.

COHEN: But she says it's the most equitable way to do it.

WALENSKY: It's nearly an impossible situation to be in medicine when you think that there is something you could and should be doing for somebody and you don't have it to give.

COHEN: The federal government has never explained how they've decided which hospitals will receive remdesivir and how much.

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This drug is promising and we want to get it to the American people and to the areas that need it most.

COHEN: Saturday, the federal government said, in addition to sending remdesivir to hospitals, they would also send to some state health departments and intend eventually to send it to all state health departments. But they haven't said how much they'll send to each state or their formula for determining those amounts.

REP. LLOYD DOGGETT (D-TX): This administration, of course, doesn't believe in transparency, but healthcare providers need to know about this.

COHEN: Representative Lloyd Doggett runs the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee and has been following the remdesivir rollout.

DOGGETT: It has been bungled from the very beginning.

COHEN: And now doctors trying to do their best to allocate this scarce resource.

(END VIDEOTAPE) COHEN: Now, since doctors have to choose who is going to get remdesivir and who won't, naturally, they want to know. Well, who would it work the best for, we want to give it to those patients. Well, that information might be in this large study that was done and that got the federal government, but, unfortunately, the government hasn't published it yet. We are still waiting. Brianna?

KEILAR: Any idea when they'll publish?

COHEN: They say in the coming weeks.

KEILAR: Okay. All right, we'll be watching with you Elizabeth Cohen, thank you so much.

There is a new study that may explain why coronavirus is hitting men harder than women. This is a study that shows that men's blood contains a greater concentration of an enzyme that helps the coronavirus infect cells, which leaves them then more vulnerable than women.

So let's talk about this is now with Dr. Joseph Conigliaro. He is the Division Chief of General Internal Medicine at Northwell Health. Doctor, thank you so much for joining us.

And just give us a sense of how this is specific to this enzyme and why that is so significant in what we are seeing as gender disparities.

DR. JOSEPH CONIGLIARO, DIVISION CHIEF OF GENERAL INTERNAL MEDICINE, NORTHWELL HEALTH: Thank you, glad to be here. It's sort of confirms an observation that we had and that men were doing worse. The enzyme, which is Angiotensin Converting Enzyme 2 helps facilitate entry of the virus into cells and can't be implicated in the viral replication.

The important thing here is that it gives us a target to treat the virus and some of the existing medications that we're using can be explained in that way, also other medications that might affect this particular enzyme can now be purposely used and looked at. So it's an important piece of information.

The limitation of the study is that all patients in the study were heart failure patients. So it remains to be seen if those patients -- the same is seen in patients who got heart failure.

KEILAR: Okay. Because what this is telling you is that if you have more of these enzymes, you're going to do worse. Basically, the virus becomes more effective. But that's also telling you if there is as way to tackle that enzyme, right, or attack that ability of that enzyme, then you can actually help people to feel better, is that accurate?

CONIGLIARO: Yes, that's accurate.

KEILAR: Okay. So the World Health Organization has found that in some severe cases of coronavirus, people are not just bouncing back and that their recovery can take a very long protracted time. They say, we should expect when people are discharge that their recovery continues. What does this mean for overall recovery and how does this affect, I guess, how people behave once they are out of the hospital or even once they are clear of the virus but they are at home?

CONIGLIARO: So we learned so much about this virus particularly in the early months about how it infected acutely. And now, we're starting to learn a lot about how people convalesce with this virus. So this virus is -- manifests so many different organ systems, the kidney, the liver, the heart, the G.I. track. Patients are reporting symptoms referable to all these organ systems. We're seeing patients who are fatigued, continue to have some fevers after they have been treated or they've recovered actually.

So -- and, actually, we have seen some of the virus measured up to three or four weeks out. So we need to follow these patients and particularly primary care physicians because of the very many manifestations, it's not just in the lungs. Part of it is to see how it works out and then give patients some reassurance that they will will eventually get better.

What we don't know is what we are seeing is directly from the virus or is it from the aftereffects of the immune response from the virus.


KEILAR: Yes. We are learning that Johnson and Johnson right now is looking to produce a billion coronavirus vaccines next year. They're starting clinical trials in September. And the idea here is that they're hoping to have data by the end of the year. Is that a realistic timeline, in your view?

CONIGLIARO: That's pretty ambitious. It takes at least a year or two to get a vaccine safely up and running. I think the trick here is going to be make sure that safety is not compromised and then be ready to make sure that the vaccine is accessible once they feel that it's efficacious.

KEILAR: Such great insights from you Dr. Joseph Conigliaro, thank you.

CONIGLIARO: Thank you very much.

KEILAR: An ice cream shop owner closes down after customers refused to follow social distancing rules once he reopened. He's going to join me to talk about that.

Plus, I will speak live with a 12-year-old who survived those mysterious complications from coronavirus that are impacting some children.

And doctors calling out United Airlines for this scene, as the TSA reports the number of passengers on airplanes rising fast.