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Anthony Fauci and Top U.S. Health Officials to Testify Before Senate Committee Soon; CDC: Coronavirus Death Toll in New York City May Be Much Higher; House Democrats Work on New Stimulus Bill. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired May 12, 2020 - 09:00   ET



JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Very good Tuesday morning to you. I'm Jim Sciutto.


This morning, Fauci gives America the facts. One hour from now, the nation's top infectious disease expert testifies in front of the Senate and the "New York Times" says he will warn senators of, quote, "needless suffering and death if the country reopens too quickly." A warning that directly undercuts the president's push to get the country back up and running fast.

SCIUTTO: So what does the president has been doing and saying this morning? He has been tweeting conspiracy theories, attacking journalists, attacking his predecessor. What about attacking the virus? How? Will he talk about that?

We do know this morning that the vice president, Mike Pence, will now be maintaining a distance, he says, from the president for the near future after his press secretary tested positive for the virus.

Lauren Fox is on Capitol Hill this morning, John Harwood at the White House.

Lauren, let's talk first about Dr. Fauci's testimony this morning. He's going to be delivering some stark warnings.

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, exactly. And you can expect, Jim, that this morning Democrats are going to be looking for any daylight between President Trump and Dr. Fauci's message this morning.

This is the first opportunity that lawmakers have had since March 3rd to question Dr. Fauci in this hearing. Now, it's going to look very different. Everyone is going to be remote, including the witnesses and the chairman and ranking member of the committee, so that's going to be just a sign of the times. And a sign of the fact that the Trump administration itself is trying to fight back the spread of coronavirus in its own midst. Now, I will tell you that Dr. Fauci's message this morning is expected

to be states need to follow those federal guidelines for reopening, and failing to do so could lead to, quote, "needless suffering and death as well as potentially multiple waves of outbreaks." So expect that this morning Democrats are going to be seizing on any opportunity for Dr. Fauci to set the record straight on what needs to happen to make sure the country is ready to reopen.

HARLOW: Let's bring in White House correspondent John Harwood for this.

OK, so, John, so the president's choice in terms of who he's tweeting about or attacking this morning comes -- flies in the face of the facts, right? You've got a fact that not enough testing is being done. You've got a fact that even the city of Wuhan this morning as the "Washington Post" reported is going to test everyone, 11 million people, by the end of next week. And that's just not where America is.

What are we going to hear from Dr. Fauci in terms of facts today?

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Dr. Fauci is going to lay down a warning, the kinds of warnings that he was laying down from the White House briefing room when they were having those Coronavirus Task Force briefings and say that the danger is if we go too fast and overrule or ignore those gating criteria that the White House laid out a few weeks ago.

The irony, of course, is that these guidelines were laid out by President Trump himself, along with Dr. Fauci and Deborah Birx a few weeks ago. But what's happened is the pressure of the economic toll along with the public health toll has gotten to the president. He has run away from his own guidelines, urged states to reopen, even if they're not meeting them, and partly this is a political pressure because the president is running for re-election.

He's seen his poll numbers drop, he's seen his catastrophic rates of unemployment but it's also psychological pressure, guys. We've seen this in the president frantically tweeting this morning, wild attacks on Nancy Pelosi, on cable news figures like Joe Scarborough of MSNBC. The president is struggling with the opprobrium of the American people.

We saw that in our CNN poll today. A majority think the federal government has done a poor job and majority of the people don't believe what the president says, and he's struggling with that.

SCIUTTO: Lauren Fox, John Harwood, thanks very much.

President Trump has claimed once again that his administration has met the moment and prevailed on coronavirus testing even as the death toll rises. During a press briefing Monday, the president insisted everyone who wants a test can get one, maybe true in the White House, not necessarily for the rest of the country.

HARLOW: Yes. Certainly not for the rest of the country. Senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is with us. Shortages of

coronavirus tests have been a sore spot for the president. He continues to repeat something that's just not based in fact, maybe he wants it to be true. It's not true and it's to the detriment of the American people. Maybe there are, and there are some places, some cities where there are widely available tests, but not everywhere.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Poppy, that's right. And let's be clear about something. There are two different kinds of tests, and often when Trump talks, he doesn't talk about the two different ones, which is so important because both are crucial to make decisions about opening up the country.


The first kind tells you if you have coronavirus right now, that usually involves a nose swab, and the availability for that, doctors tell us it's patchy. There are some places where there are enough, there are other places where doctors tell us when I want to test someone, I can't test them, I don't have enough tests. Sometimes it's not enough kits, sometimes it's not enough swabs for the nose, sometimes it's not enough chemical reagents that you need to make the tests work.

The second kind are antibody tests. Those tell you if you had it in the past. Not now, but if you had it in the past and that's a blood test, and there for sure are not enough of those. The availability for that is very scarce in various places. It's very hard to find them in certain parts of the country. So if we look at the White House, as a standard, where they want people to get tested every week or some people every day, you know, why shouldn't all of us have that, right?

We all work, it's important that all of us should have that. We are nowhere near having that kind of availability in this country.

SCIUTTO: OK. Hydroxychloroquine. This is a treatment for coronavirus, an unproven one, that the president repeatedly touted from the White House podium. There is a new study that shows it doesn't work. What do we know?

COHEN: Right, so more than 50 times President Trump has promoted hydroxychloroquine or hydroxychloroquine along with azithromycin. These are both drugs that are on the market for other things, so doctors have been free to prescribe them. Now partly because Trump got so excited about them, it got everybody excited and doctors did prescribe it.

So there is a study done by the New York State Department of Health, along with the University at Albany and they looked at 1,438 hospitalized patients in New York for a period of time in March. And what they found was that taking these drugs did not increase survival. But it did increase your risk of cardiac arrest. So in other words, they did not do any good. In fact, it did harm, more than doubled your risk of having cardiac arrest.

HARLOW: More than doubled the risk. Wow. Elizabeth, thanks very much. And that was a big study of more than 1400 patients.

In less than an hour, Dr. Anthony Fauci is expected to issue a stark warning about -- to the Senate panel about the risk of reopening states too soon.

SCIUTTO: Ryan Young, he's in the suburb of Columbus, Ohio, a state that has seen its infection numbers rise as it eased social distancing guidelines. Shimon Prokupecz is in New York where parts of the state are preparing to reopen later this week.

But, Ryan, let's begin with you. Ohio has taken a relatively conservative approach about reopening but it is reopening. What are they seeing on the ground there?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It has, and today is a big day, especially for small businesses all across this area.

Look, we're at this one right here, Second Sole. They sell running shoes. And as you can imagine, they've been closed for the last seven weeks. They had 12 employees who worked just at this store, all that went away. Look at all this area. They're all situated differently now because when you come in to try a shoe on, they're not going to even put that shoe back into circulation for a day at least after they clean it.

So you have to think about the process they've had to go through just to get ready to be at this point. They want their customers to come back in and be very safe. In fact, listen to the manager that we just talked to a few moments ago.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our customer base has to understand that we have cleaned everything, from the shoes to the floors to the point of sale system. Everything is marked off and everybody is safe.


YOUNG: Yes. Jim and Poppy, when you think about this, the first part of the day is going to be appointment only and then it's all about social distancing. Even when you come here to the store, you go to the cash register, you can see the X on the ground. You can see they put markers here so the employees and the customers know exactly what to do.

And it's a two to one ratio. If there are two customers, there has to be one employee. They're not going to fill the store. This is the conversation that's happening all across the country. But right here in Ohio, especially with these businesses that have been closed for several weeks, they want the customers to come back in, but as you heard that manager say, they're really worried about safety.

Customer safety is where they're putting their priority one. In fact, they've cleaned this entire area. They put the sanitizing situation right here so you can come in and clean your hands. This is something that we'll see over and over across the country. HARLOW: For sure. Interesting to see how they're going to attempt

this. We wish them luck. Thanks so much.

Let's go to Shimon Prokupecz. He joins us now around New York. So we're not talking about New York City opening up, obviously, but more rural areas of the state.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, upstate New York, so north of New York City. What the governor has announced is parts of that region will begin to open up. It's still going to be a very slow phase. But it is a pivotal week for this state and the fact that we can even start talking about opening up parts of the state. And of course, it's all about the numbers. The governor saying that he doesn't want to just say boom, everybody, go out, get out there, go outside. He wants to do this in a phased approach.


The concern obviously is the number of cases that if they do start spiking up, if they do start to grow, the hospitals again are not going to be able to handle the volume. So they want to do this in a phased way, in a slow way, to see how many cases reignite, how many people start to get the virus again. Obviously they're hoping it doesn't.

But there is still a lot of concern in this state and certainly, Poppy, this city, it's probably going to be one of the last places to open in the country. The mayor here saying New York City probably is looking at June for some kind of reopening. Of course, that's going to be very slow and it's going to be a very small way in which this city eventually reopens.


SCIUTTO: Baby steps in some places, more aggressive steps in others. We're going to be watching it.

Shimon Prokupecz, Ryan Young, thanks very much.

A stark comparison between the testing here and in China. There were six new cases, six, discovered in a city of Wuhan where the outbreak began. And the governor there now planning to test all 11 million residents of Wuhan by the end of next week, just incredible.

HARLOW: Also, minutes from now, the Supreme Court takes up a case on the president's tax returns and another on financial documents from the Trump family. Landmark cases being heard by the high court today over the phone. We'll talk about what's at stake.

And will there be baseball? Reports that MLB owners have approved a plan that could mean games starting in July. We've got the latest on that.


[09:15:00] HARLOW: A key Senate hearing set to begin at the top of the hour.

Lawmakers preparing to question Dr. Fauci and three other top U.S. health officials on the nation's pandemic response. Dr. William Schaffner is with us, he's an infectious disease professor at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, also formerly with the CDC.

Dr. Schaffner, so good to have you and let's begin on this critical hearing to get facts to the American people, that begins at the top of the next hour. What would you ask Dr. Fauci today if you were one of those senators?

WILLIAM SCHAFFNER, PROFESSOR OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES, VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER: Well, I think I would be asking him to look forward and to give us a realistic, not hyped, anticipation of when we might see a vaccine and what the plans might be for delivering the vaccine. And, of course, we're also interested in his thoughts about therapies that are currently being tested in various places around the country now.

HARLOW: And what about for CDC Director Redfield, your key question for him?

SCHAFFNER: Well, for Dr. Redfield, I would ask, does he continue to anticipate that there will be a surge in COVID this Fall --

HARLOW: Right --

SCHAFFNER: Along with influenza, and how can we stimulate influenza immunization because that will become even more important than ever this Fall.

HARLOW: That's right because he talked about that second wave being potentially worse, only to be shut down after he said that by the president. So what does he think under oath about that? That's a very good point. The president talked about testing once again in the Rose Garden yesterday, and he said, quote, "if somebody wants to be tested right now, they'll be able to get tested".

A, that's not true for everyone across the country, it's just not based on fact. But it also contradicts what his testing coordinator Admiral Brett Giroir said moments earlier that the tests are really for people that need it, and for people that are showing symptoms or that are part of a contract -- contact tracing search. So at this point, how far off do you believe it is where the country can actually achieve what Wuhan is doing by the end of next week, which is testing everyone.

SCHAFFNER: Yes, that's amazing statement. I had not heard that before. But across the country, we're very disparate. Here in Tennessee, if you want a test, even if you don't have symptoms, you can get a test. And we're also extending testing to everybody in nursing homes and prisons and other congregate living facilities. Other places, testing is still very tight.

And you know, there's lots of discussion now about reopening universities, for example, in the Fall, and how widely we'll be able to test not only the faculty, but the students coming in. So there's a great desire to really expand testing here in the United States very widely.

HARLOW: You know, doctor, there is an important CDC report out that looks at New York City in particular. And it looks at mid-March -- New York as a state, and it looks at since mid-March, researchers had found over 24,000 reported more deaths than expected. And it found 5,000 of them that weren't directly linked to coronavirus. And what that insinuates and what they took away from that is that social distancing practices demand on hospitals and healthcare providers, et cetera, may be delaying those that are dying from other things from going to seek medical assistance.

Heart attacks, for example, the reported number being treated going down because more people aren't going to get them taken care of. What does this tell you?

SCHAFFNER: Well, what it tells me, Poppy, is that's something we always said, it's a tight balancing thing between the medical aspects and the social and the economic aspects. No matter what you do, there are adverse consequences. So these --

HARLOW: Yes --

SCHAFFNER: Are all difficult decisions and we need to move carefully going forward. And, you know, there are lots of children who are staying away from healthcare providers, not getting their routine vaccinations. This is beginning to concern us across the country. Could we have new outbreaks of, for example, measles, because children --

HARLOW: Yes --

SCHAFFNER: Are being withheld from going to the doctor.


HARLOW: That -- so, I took my 4-year-old to get her 4-year shots back, you know, just about a month ago, and I was nervous but no one else was in the pediatrician's office, that's how important those vaccines are for her. But you're saying, you're seeing a pattern of parents not taking their children in to get these vaccines and the fallout could be devastating.

SCHAFFNER: Oh, yes. Pediatricians and family doctors are concerned about that as well as public health authorities across the country. We -- and pediatricians and the doctors are trying to arrange their -- the way they work their practices, seeing children in the morning for immunizations, sick children only in the afternoon, to keep them separated --

HARLOW: Yes --

SCHAFFNER: Anything they can do to enhance the confidence of moms to bring in those children for vaccination.

HARLOW: Yes, moms and dads, it falls on all of us, for sure. Dr. William Schaffner, thank you --


HARLOW: Very much, we'll be looking forward to the hearing today. Jim?

SCIUTTO: President Trump insists the U.S. leads the world in testing for the coronavirus. Numbers don't back that up. And now in Wuhan, China, it's planning to test all 11 million residents, all 11 million, in 10 days. Is the U.S. really prevailing in testing? We are just moments away as well from the opening bell on Wall Street.

The Dow looks to open slightly higher this morning, investors will be watching what happens on Capitol Hill. This as House Democrats work on a fourth stimulus bill. This is by push-back already from both the White House and Senate Republicans. The bill could mirror or exceed the $2 trillion stimulus costs passed by lawmakers back in March.



SCIUTTO: This is pretty remarkable. Wuhan, China, now says it plans to test all 11 million residents for the coronavirus, this after a handful of new cases were confirmed this week. This comes after President Trump declared that the U.S. has the best testing in the world. In fact, he stood in front of banners in the Rose Garden yesterday that read America is leading the world in testing per capita. That is not true.

With me now, Ambassador Richard Haass; President of the Council on Foreign Relations, he also served in the State Department under President George W. Bush. More importantly, he's the author of a new book "The World: A Brief Introduction" which is out just today. And I got my copy, I've been reading it as well as I always do when I have smart guests like you on the show.

Question for you, I mean, it's great because it gives a primer on history and ties those lessons from history to today. You make a big point about global leadership and the importance of global leadership and the U.S. leading. Is the U.S. leading on the global response to the coronavirus outbreak?

RICHARD HAASS, PRESIDENT, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: The short answer is no. We're clearly not leading by example. Testing is a perfect area where we badly fallen short. We didn't even show up at the European COVID Conference where there was -- there's going to be an international collaborative approach to come up with a vaccine.

So the short answer is no. We're not leading, and what's so bad about it is that we have a tremendous stake in the world's success. And so long as COVID-19 is raging around the world, one way or another, it will infect all sorts of people. So, we're not just letting others down, we're letting ourselves down.

SCIUTTO: Like in the trade war, Trump is in effect going it alone on this. For instance, when you talk about China's role here because there are other countries other than the U.S. that criticized China's early cover-up of the outbreak, Australia among them. But as with the trade war again, you don't find the president bringing together folks, strength in numbers, but going it alone. Does that strengthen or weaken the U.S. position?

HAASS: Look, China deserves to be criticized for how it handled this. But going it alone makes no sense. This is a classic global challenge. And whether it's climate change or pandemic or terrorism, we need partners. Actually partners, allies, that's been one of the great advantages of the United States. Think about it. China has no partner. During the Cold War, the only partners the Soviet Union had were those they coerced.

We have all sorts of partners around the world if we were cooperating with them on pulling equipment, pulling resources, economically dealing with the world's troubles, working on vaccines, working on antiviral. We would potentially be far ahead of where we are.

SCIUTTO: Yes, folks often make the point that China's only ally is North Korea. You know, quite a position to be in the world. In your book, one of the issues you deal with, one of the questions you asked, in effect try to answer is, whether tariffs work. I wonder if you think tariffs have worked for Trump and whether you think the quote/unquote, "phase one" trade deal survives the current battle between the U.S. and China over the outbreak.

HAASS: Look, tariffs are a tool and they can work to some extent when they're warranted. I would argue that we've used them in many ways when they weren't warranted. They were never designed to simply even out trade balances. They were designed to retaliate when some country did things that broke the rules. For example, they manipulated their currency, so their goods were less expensive here.

So, that doesn't make sense. In terms of the trade one deal, it essentially got us back in some ways.