Return to Transcripts main page

NEW DAY

Three Members of White House Coronavirus Task Force in Self- Quarantine Due to Possible Exposure to Coronavirus; Audio Released of Former President Obama Criticizing Trump Administration's Handling of Coronavirus. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired May 11, 2020 - 08:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[08:00:00]

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Toddler, elementary school children are presenting symptoms similar to toxic shock like syndrome.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As the body is fighting, it fights in such a manner that it actually starts to cause other problems.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. I feel like I need a cold shower after watching the interview about Anthony Fauci sex symbol.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: I see him in a new light as well.

BERMAN: A new light and nothing else. Be that as it may, this morning the Trump administration is scrambling to contain the coronavirus outbreak not just in the nation, but in the actual White House. The medical and political fallout already with a serious impact. A valet to the president and the vice president's press secretary, they have both tested positive. Three top health officials are in some form self-quarantine. As of now, we're told that the vice president and three other members of the White House Task Force will not self- quarantine.

CNN has learned that President Trump is worried that the fact that the coronavirus has infiltrated 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue will undercut his claim that the pandemic is fading. The White House is now conducting strict testing and contact tracing, something the president has repeatedly downplayed.

CAMEROTA: So this morning, John, the death toll in the United States is almost 80,000 people. At least 12 states are still seeing an increase in cases at the very same time that the majority of states will relax stay-at-home orders this week.

And that key University of Washington model now estimates the U.S. death toll will surpass 100,000 people by next Friday. That's the start of Memorial Day weekend. This is because of what they call an explosive increase in mobility. In other words, people are leaving their homes. There's also new concern about coronavirus in children. More than 80 kids in New York have been hospitalized with severe symptoms. Three children have died. They're all suffering from a mysterious inflammatory disease believed to be linked to coronavirus, John.

BERMAN: Joining us now, CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta and CNN White House correspond correspondent John Harwood. Let me put up on the screen the three public health officials who are in some form of self-quarantine. Dr. Anthony Fauci in a partial self- quarantine. We don't know exactly what that means. Dr. Robert Redfield, the CDC director, he is staying at home. Dr. Stephen Hahn, FDA commissioner, he's staying at home. But Sanjay, the surgeon general is not. The vice president of the United States who is leading up the White House Task Force is not. From a medical perspective, can you explain how this makes sense, or what message this sends?

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm worried that this is inconsistent, and there's all sorts of different things where we've been reporting on this over the weekend, talking to people both on and off the record. When we first heard that, due to the exposures, potential exposures, Dr. Redfield, Dr. Hahn and then Dr. Fauci decided to have some form of quarantine, that made sense. Went back and looked at the CDC guidelines, understood that.

Also keeping in mind that we're talking about members of the Coronavirus Task Force, the person they were likely exposed to is also someone who spends a lot of time with the Task Force, and then that raised the questions, what about the other Task Force members? And what we're hearing is that they're saying we're not quarantining. We've been tested. Therefore, we think it's OK for us not to quarantine. We're going to try to limit exposure.

The problem is that's kind of wishy-washy, number one. Number two is testing is important, obviously. But testing is the aftermath, right? It's the avoiding the infection in the first place that is the primary responsibility.

Second of all, the tests are not perfect. We released a piece this morning about the accuracy of these tests, 15 percent false negative becomes significant when you're starting to look at large populations of people.

And finally, you could have been exposed in the past, tested negative for several days, and then have a positive test, and possibly be spreading the virus before that test comes back. So that's the issue, and that's why the protocols, the guidelines are quarantine. Quarantine, by the way, is for people who have not been diagnosed with the infection but are at risk. Isolation, just in terms of getting the terms right, is for people who have known infection and are obviously being told to isolate.

BERMAN: John Harwood, I want to play you some sound from Kevin Hassett who is a senior economic adviser in the White House who seems to have at least some concerns about showing up to work.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KEVIN HASSETT, COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISERS CHAIRMAN: It is scary to go to work. I was not part of the White House in March. I think that I'd be a lot safer if I was sitting at home than I would be going to the West Wing. But it's a time when people have to step up to serve their country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: I promise you, the president doesn't like that type of language, John Harwood.

[08:05:02]

And in fact, it's CNN's reporting that he has concerns that the fact that there is coronavirus now in the White House, somehow undermines the message he's trying to send that it is safe-ish to go back to work.

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: John, the president has two concerns. One is he's scared of the virus. He doesn't want to get the virus. He has been a germaphobe since long before coronavirus existed. He gets tested every day. He doesn't want to be around people who haven't been tested. He's trying to protect himself.

On the other hand, he's trying to protect himself politically by switching his message to reopening of the economy. That is not actually in tension with the goals of reopening the economy and protecting public health, they are not actually in tension. They flow from the same source. If you control the virus, you make public health better, and you make the economy better. But he's trying to move ahead before we have controlled the virus.

The start thing for the American people is they see top White House officials acquiring the coronavirus. They're going to see a hearing this week with a Senate committee where the chairman of the committee is himself in quarantine because a staff member has tested positive, and three of the top public health officials are in quarantine because they've been in contact with positive people.

What that tells the American people is no, it is not safe right now. And that, by the way, will have laudatory public health consequences, because we've seen that the American public is reacting to their own sense of danger and fear, not necessarily just what the government officials tell them. We've seen that in Florida, for example. Before the governor shut down the state people were practicing social distancing because they were seeing reports on the news suggesting that coronavirus was a threat. That is something that will actually serve to protect public health no matter what the government does.

BERMAN: Sanjay, it's the day after Mother's Day, and I know that one of the areas many parents are concerned about, because I've heard from a lot of parents over the last few days, are these kids in New York largely at this point presenting with these inflammatory symptoms, some 85 reported cases of some kind of inflammatory syndrome in New York, mostly toddlers, elementary schoolers, three deaths, two cases under investigation. It has the appearance perhaps of sometimes the Kawasaki syndrome. What's the latest thinking on this, Sanjay?

GUPTA: I think we're still learning, John. And I totally hear you. These little pumpkins, you see those pictures, and it's tough to see. I think what we're still talking about is something that's thankfully rare, but something that I think both for clinicians, people who are taking care of these kids as well as parents to be on the lookout for.

Kawasaki disease is an inflammatory disorder that tends to affect many organs in the body, including the skin, which is the largest organ. It can be quite severe if it affects the heart, specifically the blood vessels that are in and around the heart. And again, thankfully, what we're talking about is rare.

But with this first study that we looked at, and by the way, I should point out that there was an alert that went out in the U.K. a few weeks ago, we all saw this alert. It basically said hospitals, just basically be aware of this, be on the lookout for kids who may be coming in with this. This could be related to COVID, didn't see those same alerts going out in China and Japan, interestingly. And again, that might just be a curiosity. It's a bit perplexing. Asia typically you see more cases of Kawasaki. In this case they seem to have seen less, at least with correlation to COVID.

But in this first study of 15 children, four of the children had active infection, actively diagnosed with the infection, six had presence of antibodies, so some infection in the past, and five seemed to have no particular relationship here. So I think the message is, again, rare. Watch out if you see unusual rashes, if you see what's called a strawberry tongue, where the tongue looks like a strawberry, redness in the eyes, just something unusual, even if your child has not had known exposure, known COVID, that might be something to talk to the pediatrician about. Do a telehealth visit, that's something you can do now, maybe the pediatrician will get a good history and a good examination. But we're learning, John, as we go along here.

BERMAN: John Harwood, this administration got some unwanted criticism from the leader of the past administration. President Obama was on a conference call with supporters over the weekend, Yahoo! got the audio, and President Obama was very critical. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: It's part of the reason why the response to this global crisis has been so anemic and spotty. And it would have been bad even with the best of governments. It has been an absolute chaotic disaster, when that mindset of what's in it for me and to heck with everybody else, when that mindset is operationalized in our government.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[08:10:21]

BERMAN: Quickly, John, any sense if the White House will respond to this?

HARWOOD: Well, President Trump was tweeting over the weekend, suggesting that President Obama was responsible for some of the Russia actions that he's been criticizing with respect to Michael Flynn, so I think that's one way he's going to respond. There will be other ways.

I do think one other point is worth making, and I think Sanjay will agree with me on this. President Obama said it would be bad under any government. That is true. And secondly, there are good things happening now. Testing is expanding. The positivity rate is declining. All of that is positive. It's simply that the administration, while those positive things are happening, is resisting some of the steps and taking responsibility for some of the steps on further ramping up testing that will make it safer over the summer. That's the issue.

BERMAN: We'll have Sanjay back later to talk about some of that. John Harwood, thanks to you. Sanjay, thanks to you.

Nearly all retail will reopen in Ohio tomorrow. More on the plan the governor calls a high-risk operation, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:15:03]

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: This week, Ohio will try to get back to work. Tomorrow stores will open, and that means, according to the governor, about 90 percent of businesses there will be open. Next week is restaurants and bars.

So joining us now is Lieutenant Governor of Ohio, John Husted. Mr. Lieutenant Governor, thank you very much for being here. So just explain for the rest of us who are not yet in your situation, what's this going to look like tomorrow, when stores open? How many people will be allowed to be in a store at once? Who is going to sort of police all of this?

LT. GOV. JOHN HUSTED (R-OH): Well, we learned a lot from going through the first eight weeks of this on how to keep people safe.

Many businesses were open. We will require six foot distancing, we will require masks in many cases. Also disinfecting, there are going to be very stringent rules for how we go back to work and how we act as consumers.

And as that begins to open up, we will open up the Ohio economy, but we will also keep in mind, we want to keep people safe as well.

CAMEROTA: Well, I mean, your Governor, Mike DeWine has admitted that this is risky. You all are taking a risk. You have decided that it's a needed risk. I mean, it's valuable, obviously to get people back to work.

But do you -- are you sort of nervous today as you're about to embark on this risk? HUSTED: I think we're very wary of the coronavirus. We know that does

come with risk. We know that there's a risk of not taking action as well, as we see unemployment rates go up, as we see state and local governments in need of resources to provide the social safety net for healthcare, for education, a variety of other things.

We believe that we can do two things at once. The coronavirus is going to be with us throughout the rest of the year. We need to learn to live with it and we're using the experiences that Ohio businesses have had globally. The work that they have done during the pandemic so far has proven to be successful at keeping workplaces safe.

But of course, we have concerns about this. You know, we don't want to see a spike. So, far the data that we are seeing over the last couple of weeks keeps trending in the right direction towards lower hospitalizations, fewer deaths, fewer cases, and we believe that if people follow the safety precautions, if employers do it, if employees do it, and customers do it, that we can continue to see those welcome trends of a downward spread of coronavirus and also putting people back to work so they can provide for themselves and their families.

CAMEROTA: Well, there's a couple of different data points that I know you all are looking at. And one is, I mean, at least according to Governor DeWine, the cases have plateaued.

I didn't hear him say that they had gone down, but that they had plateaued, which had allowed him I guess to feel comfortable. Here's the latest numbers in terms of what's happening in Ohio and the coronavirus new cases.

So you can see there that, you know, the, the curve is not down, but it has flattened. And then there's this University of Washington model that some people use and what they've been seeing is that there's increased mobility.

Ohio is one of the states where the mobility of people leaving their houses, driving around, they measure this through cell phone has gone up with a 15 to 20 percent increase.

And so what's the plan Lieutenant Governor, if you do end up seeing a spike, which is possible, of course, then how do you unwind this again? What's the plan that you've talked about for if next week, the numbers start going in the wrong direction?

HUSTED: Yes, well, there's a lot of data points. We have gone down from our peak and, you know, the governor mentioned it has plateaued. It has. It's been pretty steady.

I just looked at the overnight data, it's still continuing to trend in the right direction. But the bottom line is, is that we believe that the safety precautions that we're putting in place, because we've seen it.

Look, many businesses were open throughout this and they were open as essential businesses and with the deployment of those safety practices in those settings, we believe that -- we have not seen hotspots develop. We have seen good outcomes with that.

And so, yes, there's more mobility, but that has really nothing to do with the order. That mobility was already starting to happen long before we began to ease restrictions because people's tolerance of staying at home is limited.

And so, as we often say, we've got to learn to live with it. We've got to learn to live safely with it.

What we don't want people to find though is a false sense of security. Understand that the coronavirus is still just as dangerous as ever, and people need to know that and they need to respect each other. They need to wear masks and the like.

But we believe our hospital system is prepared. We believe that we know much more now than we did two months ago so that we can mitigate and we can mitigate any potential spikes in the future. Although we are ready, particularly in congregate settings like nursing homes, and prisons, places like that, we have more testing that we can deploy, that if hotspots emerge that we can test people, we can contact trace, and we can quarantine and isolate people.

[08:20:28]

HUSTED: So, the testing coming online also gives us another tool in the toolbox to make sure that if we do see a problem somewhere that we can mitigate that problem.

CAMEROTA: Okay, Lieutenant Governor John Husted. We really appreciate you giving us a preview. Obviously, we will be watching Ohio closely. Thank you very much.

HUSTED: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: So what happens to summer camp during this pandemic? I know that my children are waiting with bated breath to hear what their summer is going to look like as so many parents wait for these decisions, so we're going to have a conversation about what it looks like, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:25:03]

CAMEROTA: It turns out there's no substitute for experience, especially when faced with a global pandemic.

John Avlon explains in a CNN Reality Check.

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: The American people are getting a crash course in why competent government matters. This is not a drill. This is a global pandemic, with more than 75,000 Americans dead and more than 30 million unemployed.

It's a time where we see why non-partisan experts matter. But instead, we see C.D.C. plans developed by scientists being shelled by politicos and even amid the pandemic, President Trump is purging professionals, stocking the government with hyper partisans whose primary qualification seems to be unquestioning loyalty.

Now, the latest purge claimed the administration's lead vaccine Director Dr. Rick Bright, who claims in a new whistleblower complaint that early warnings about COVID-19 were ignored. And then quote, "I was pressured to let politics and cronyism drive decisions over the opinions of the best scientists we have in government."

In recent months, we've seen Trump target the Intelligence Community firing the Inspector General, which followed the dismissal of Acting Director of National Intelligence, Joseph Maguire and the resignation of top deputies replacing him with Trump loyalist, Richard Grenell. He is one of three acting members of the current Trump Cabinet including Homeland Security and O.M.B.

Now, last week, Grenell's intended replacement, Representative John Ratcliffe of Texas sat down for the first social distancing Senate hearing ahead of his confirmation vote be the next D.N.I.

Now, you might remember Ratcliffe from his attacks on Robert Mueller, his accusations that quote, "It does appear there were crimes committed during the Obama administration," and statements like this during the impeachment hearings.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN RATCLIFFE, (R-TX): Is it ever okay to invite a foreign government to become involved in an election involving a political opponent? The answer is yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AVLON: Now the first time Trump nominated Ratcliffe, he withdrew after evidence that he'd embellished his law enforcement record and concerns that he was too partisan and unqualified for the position.

But now he's back promising senators that he would be apolitical and tell the unvarnished truth.

Now, here's the thing about Senate confirmation hearings. You don't just believe what the nominee says, you look at what they've done, because once confirmed the only person who can remove them is the President and Trump looks for loyalty, not independence or expertise.

The latest example of that is Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner's attempts to use volunteer loyalists to procure PPEs reported by "The New York Times" and "Washington Post," the effort to bypass F.E.M.A.'s process went about us well as Kushner's Mideast Peace Plans -- none of the team members had significant experience in healthcare procurement or supply chain operations, according to a whistleblower complaint.

They prioritized requests from Fox News personalities passed on a tip to New York State which led to a $69 million contract for ventilators, none of which arrived. Taxpayers have a right to expect competence and a government that

helps people in need, not just their friends and allies, but rewarding sycophants and punishing independent expertise can lead to absurd excesses. Like the Trump administration's recent string of hiring college seniors -- yes, you heard that right -- for senior White House positions.

This kind of amateur hour, four years into administration would almost be funny if we didn't live in such serious times, with so many Americans out of work, and so many dying. And that's your reality check.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: An important reality check from John Avlon. Our thanks to him.

All right pay attention parents, an estimated 20 million children attend summer camp each year in the United States according to the American Camp Association, but with the spread of coronavirus, parents face some tough choices this year.

Joining us now is Jeff Konigsberg. He owns two summer camps in Maine and Paul McEntire, Chief Operating Officer from YMCA of USA, which operates 325 sleepaway camps across the United States.

Jeff, can I start with you and I should give full disclosure here. My 13-year-old twin boys, their summer camp in Maine closed for the summer, which was the source I have to say of much more sadness than school, in-person school being closed.

So, this is something that all families or many families are dealing with. How can a summer camp or how could a summer camp operate safely in this environment -- Jeff.

JEFF KONIGSBERG, SUMMER CAMPS OWNER, MAINE: Well, first of all, I'm sure your children's summer camp was doing everything humanly possible, and these are decisions that every Camp Director has to make.

I'm on calls every single week with Maine summer camps and other Camp Directors talking about how we could operate safely.

I'm taking a more measured approach right now. I am taking things one step at a time. We are already pushing back our opening date from June 27th to July 11th.

We've condensed our season to five weeks. I'm in touch with epidemiologists, infectious disease doctors and we are creating protocols that we are sharing with our families and we look at our parents as the ultimate decision maker. They are the partners here with us.

So, my goal is to do everything humanly possible to create a safe environment. We're changing our food service protocols. We've created a satellite health center facility. We've upped our nurses for up to eight or 10 nurses, two doctors and residents. We are doing everything humanly possible to create that environment for kids this year. [08:30:16]