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NYT: Fauci to Issue Stark Warning on Risks of Reopening Too Soon; New CNN Poll Tracks View of Federal Pandemic Response. Aired 6- 6:30a ET

Aired May 12, 2020 - 06:00   ET



JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Dr. Anthony Fauci is expected to warn lawmakers that the U.S. will see needless suffering if the country opens up too quickly.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's quite a warning. All the public health officials are united in that.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Testing certainly is a very important function, and we have prevailed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I hear the word "we've prevailed," that's hard to understand. We're only in the second inning of this nine-inning game.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we made a lot of progress. The actual testing is going up.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): When you see the number of lives lost, from my point of view, we're on the other side of the mountain.


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

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: And we want to welcome our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Tuesday, May 12, 6 a.m. here in New York.

And this is a significant morning in terms of our health. This morning, the nation's top health officials will testify in front of Congress for the first time since the coronavirus became a pandemic. A lot has changed in those two months. Medical experts have learned a lot, and this morning we will hear from them.

"The New York Times" got a preview that they -- they have a report on what Dr. Anthony Fauci will say. He will issue a stark warning to the American people. He'll say that reopening the country too quickly will cause, quote, "needless suffering and death."

He'll also explain why he believes that reopening too soon will make it harder for us to return to normal.

As you know, the majority of states are already easing restrictions, even though none of them meet the White House's guidelines for reopening.

And CNN has a new national poll just out moments ago that shows a majority of Americans believe the federal government is doing a poor job with this pandemic. More Americans are overwhelmingly afraid or concerned about a second wave of the virus hitting us. So we'll break down all of those numbers in a moment.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: As of this morning, more than 80,000 Americans have been killed by coronavirus. That is a staggering loss that continues to grow, and our hearts go out to those suffering.

Still, the president chose this moment to declare, "We have prevailed" on testing. We haven't. It is true that the country is doing much more testing than it was, much. But it is not where most scientists say it needs to be for people to be safe returning to work.

And to claim we have prevailed obscures the failures of testing in the early stage of the pandemic that cost lives and the economy, and it ignores Dr. Fauci's warning that you will hear today that making the wrong choices now will lead to needless suffering and death.

It seems this is a sore subject for the president. He abruptly ended a meeting yesterday after facing simple questions from two female reporters. He told one of them, a Chinese-American, to go ask China.

Let's begin our coverage with CNN's Joe Johns, live at the White House. I think there's a lot of expectation about what Dr. Anthony Fauci will say under oath to Congress and America today, Joe.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: It does seem to be the case, John. We're just hours away now from the nation's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, issuing what we expect to be a stark warning, not just to the public, also to Congress and to the governors of states in the process of opening up.

It will be the first hearing on the pandemic in front of the Senate since the president declared the national emergency in March.


JOHNS (voice-over): When Dr. Anthony Fauci appears before the Senate Health Committee this morning, he's planning to warn Congress about the dangers of reopening the country too soon.

Fauci writing in an email to a "New York Times" reporter, "If we skip over the checkpoints, then we risk the danger of multiple outbreaks throughout the country. This will not only result in needless suffering and death, but would actually set us back on our quest to return to normal."

The nation's top infectious disease doctor seeming to react to the many states that are ignoring the White House's guidance for relaxing restrictions and proceeding with reopening their economies.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I get the impatience. You know, people want to open up. But there's been pretty strict, you know, and pretty easy-to-follow criteria, these gating criteria. None of the states sort of follow that: 14-day downward trend, having the testing in place, and then ultimately, being able to trace. They're not there. I mean, that's data. That's evidence.

JOHNS: At the White House, a new look for some staffers spotted in the Rose Garden wearing masks, a source telling CNN a new White House memo requires all staff entering the West Wing to wear one and to follow social distancing. This move a likely response to two White House employees testing positive for the coronavirus last week.

TRUMP: Thank you very much. Thank you.

JOHNS: Once again, the president did not wear a mask --

TRUMP: In the case of me, I'm not -- I'm not close to anybody.

JOHNS: -- as he applauded America's response to the pandemic and said there are enough tests to go around.

TRUMP: As far as Americans getting a test, they should all be able to get a test right now.

JOHNS: But that's not what experts say.

DR. ASHISH JHA, DIRECTOR, HARVARD GLOBAL HEALTH INSTITUTE: The reality on the ground is that many people who need a test can't get one today. And until they can get one, it's really dangerous to try to open up our economy and tell everybody they can just go back to work as though there wasn't a major outbreak out there.

JOHNS: While taking questions, Trump growing increasingly frustrated and reaching his boiling point with one reporter.

WEIJIA JIANG, CBS NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Why is this a global competition to you if every day, Americans are still losing their lives and we're STILL seeing more cases every day?

TRUMP: Well, they're losing their lives everywhere in the world. And maybe that's a question you should ask China. Don't ask me. Ask China that question, OK?

JIANG: Sir, why are you saying that to me specifically?

TRUMP: I'm telling you.

JIANG: I should ask China?

TRUMP: I'm not saying it specifically to anybody.

JOHNS: Before abruptly ending the news conference.

(END VIDEOTAPE) JOHNS: In addition to Dr. Fauci, three other witnesses will be testifying remotely at today's hearing: the director of the Centers for Disease Control, the Food and Drug Administration's commissioner, as well as an assistant secretary for HHS. The chairman of this committee -- that is Lamar Alexander of Tennessee -- also is expected to chair this committee hearing remotely, because he also has a staffer who has tested positive for coronavirus. And Lamar Alexander is out for 14 days.

John, back to you.

BERMAN: Yes. Yes, look, how this hearing will look is an illustration, in and of itself, of the health situation in this country facing so many. Joe Johns at the White House, thanks so much for being with us.

We have a new CNN national poll released just moments ago, and it shows a majority of Americans troubled by how the Trump administration has handled the pandemic. More than half say -- says the U.S. government is doing a poor job preventing the spread of coronavirus. That figure has been steadily rising since March.

While optimism about the outbreak is growing -- and that is interesting -- a majority still thinks the worst is ahead. Eighty-one percent are afraid or concerned about a second wave of coronavirus. Seventy-one percent afraid or concerned about the availability of coronavirus testing. And a majority believes the federal government is not doing enough about a possible second wave, the limited testing and the mounting death toll.

As for who the public trusts, just 36 percent believe what President Trump is saying, compared to 74 percent who trust Dr. Anthony Fauci. And that underscores the importance of Dr. Fauci's testimony this morning.

CAMEROTA: OK. Joining us now is Dr. Manisha Juthani. She's an infectious disease specialist and associate professor of medicine and epidemiology at Yale School of Medicine. And CNN political commentator Joe Lockhart. He was the White House press secretary under President Clinton. Great to see both of you.

Dr. Juthani, you know, what "The New York Times" reports, they got an email from Dr. Fauci. So we have a little bit of a preview about the warning that he plans to give to Congress to this Senate committee and all Americans. So the quote is, "If we skip over these checkpoints in the guidelines to open American again, then we risk the danger of multiple outbreaks throughout the country. This will not only result in needless suffering and death but would actually set us back on our quest to return to normal."

What are you listening for today? What do you -- It's been a long time, actually, since we've heard from Dr. Fauci. What do you need to hear from him today?

DR. MANISHA JUTHANI, INFECTIOUS DISEASE SPECIALIST AND ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF MEDICINE, YALE SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: I think we're going to hear a lot of what we're expecting to hear, what he has consistently been saying throughout this pandemic. That if we move too quickly, that there may be endless suffering, as the quote you said.

So I think that I am looking to hear from him the same guidance that he's been saying, but to really encourage states to look closely at their local pattern, not all states are going to be the same. Some states, it is OK to start opening up.

But I think that we want to hear from him what guidance these states should be using. And I hope that people listen to that.

I think that needless suffering -- I want to just give an example in my own extended family. In my parents, Indian-Americans in this country for nine years, they know nine people, Indian-Americans who have died. This is going to hit every community.

And I think what he's saying about needless suffering, people are going to feel this. And I think that's just what we need to hear.

CAMEROTA: That's a really high number for you and your family to know, nine people who have died. That's -- that's stunning.

And so before we get to the politics of this, just one more question, Dr. Juthani, on the medicine of it. There are -- it's not just Dr. Fauci. There will be four health officials. So the CDC will be represented, the FDA will be represented, HHS, and then, of course, NIH with Dr. Fauci.

Do you think that they will all be speaking from the same script? You know, obviously, when President Trump comes out, he says things that are not what Dr. Birx or Dr. Fauci says. So what do you think they'll testify to this morning?

JUTHANI: I think they each have their own area of expertise. So, you know, the FDA is involved more with the drug development, with testing, and so, you know, they can certainly speak to those pieces. The CDC is imperative to help us, as public health officials, to be able to help -- help different companies, different agencies, figure out how to move forward with how to implement social distancing in the long run.

So this is very difficult to think about. You know, how do people get back on mass transit to commute to New York City if they have a job? How is that going to look?

And so we need the help from our public health officials, who are the CDC. And Dr. Fauci, being our leading infectious disease physician, has been advising all of us from many of the different aspects of infectious disease.

So I think they each will have a slightly different perspective that they'll be able to add to the big picture here.

CAMEROTA: OK. So, Joe, when you hear Dr. Fauci say that he's going to say that opening prematurely, meaning now, will cause needless suffering and death, obviously, that gets people's attention, obviously that's an ominous warning. But, of course, people do need a paycheck. I mean, you understand,

having been in the White House. It also has all sorts of health consequences and every other kind of consequence for people to be out of work this long and to be going broke.

And so what is the answer today as we watch all of these, you know, a majority of states beginning to reopen this week?

JOE LOCKHART, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it's an incredibly difficult -- difficult balancing act for the public health community, for the president, for the government. The president has to balance the economy. There's politics involved.

I think what we saw yesterday was the president trying to prebut what he knew Fauci was going to say today. I'm certain they've been in consultation on his testimony. And the president wanted to make the case that we've won the first battle of this war. The second battle is opening the economy.

The problem was, the president made up his own facts. He was not right on testing. He was not right on the numbers coming down all across the country.

But he wanted to make sure that when he -- as he knew that Fauci was going to give a stern warning, that he was out in front in saying, Hey, you know, we're way ahead here. We're doing great. I'm doing great. But I don't think that's going to blunt Fauci's testimony today.

CAMEROTA: Yes, I mean, Dr. Juthani, the -- the idea of we're doing great and the numbers are coming down dramatically. I think -- I'm paraphrasing the president, no, they're not.

Some places are doing well. New York seems to be on the other side of the curve, but the idea that there's something like 20,000 new cases that crop up, the fact that we're still hovering at this death toll every day, that we're, you know, above 80,000, that's just -- we are not doing great at this moment. And, you know, that's wishful thinking.

But just tell us what level of testing would we need to be at today for you and other doctors to feel comfortable opening?

JUTHANI: Again, every community is going to be different, but I think that, as we are able to roll out more and more testing, which, you know, every day to a credit to the different companies who are working at this hard, as well, who are able to produce different PCR tests, antigen tests, antibody tests, the more and more testing that we have, particularly to identify people who have acute infection, infection right now, it's going to be very important.

Now, one of the things I've seen here locally in Connecticut is there is a move to being able to do testing in pharmacies where you don't necessarily need the order from a doctor to be able to get that testing. There is new testing that's going to potentially be able to be done with saliva, maybe even at-home testing, sort of like a pregnancy test.

All of this type of new testing that's coming out is going to be able to allow testing to be able to be available to all people in a broad fashion. And I think that the more we have that kind of broad-based testing available where there aren't a lot of barriers in the way, the more and more people are going to feel comfortable and the more we'll have a really good sense of who has infection right now.

CAMEROTA: Joe, there was this remarkable moment at President Trump's briefing, yes, yesterday where he got agitated after a reporter asked him a question and he said, "Go ask China."

This is a Chinese-American reporter. I don't know if President Trump knew that. I don't know what was in President Trump's head. But why would a reporter go ask China? Why isn't President Trump talking to China, since he seems very angry at China, though he also continues to praise President Xi and President Xi's response? I mean, it's been quite a mixed message on China. And why is President Trump trying to outsource that to a reporter?

LOCKHART: Well, you know, I've watched a lot of these press conferences, and I've participated in helping people get ready. And occasionally, you know, even the best politician kind of loses it.

And I think the president felt a little bit threatened by the question. He does have problems with -- with taking questions when he's challenged by women, particularly women of color. And in that moment, I think you saw, you know, in a moment of crisis, his true character came out.

All he saw there was an Asian, not an Asian-American. And someone who was -- who represented China. And he lashed out at her in a way that, I believe, was openly racist. And I think what you saw after that, in the byplay with Kaitlan giving her some time and giving the president a moment to think was he knew what he did, and he had no way out of it, so he just kind of, you know, stamped his feet and walked away.

But it really was a low moment in his presidency. There have been many, but that was a low moment where I think we got a window into his character.

CAMEROTA: Joe Lockhart, Dr. Juthani, thank you very much for all of the information.

So another study has found that the drug touted by the Trump administration does not work against coronavirus, and it could do more harm than good. So we'll discuss the results next.



BERMAN: We're just hours away now from public testimony from four of the nation's top doctors, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is expected to issue this stark warning to the nation: open up too quickly and America will see needless suffering and death. Joining us now, CNN senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and

Dr. Carlos del Rio, executive associate dean at Emory University School of Medicine.

I just want to read you again the statement that Dr. Fauci sent to the "New York Times" overnight. He said, quote, "If we skip over the checkpoints and the guidelines to open America again, then we risk the danger of multiple outbreaks throughout the country. This will not only result in needless suffering and death, but would actually set us back on our quest to return to normal."

Two things strike me here. No. 1, he obviously knows this is a tonal contrast to what the president said.

But, No. 2, Dr. Del Rio, he phrases it in a hypothetical, "if we skip over the checkpoints and guidelines," when he knows it's actually not a hypothetical. All you have to do is look at the map of cases around the country right now, and we can put that up on the screen. You can see all the states in red have cases going up over previous week. And the ones in beige there are static, when the guidelines actually say you need to see a decrease in cases over 14 days.

So Dr. Fauci knows that, by and large, the country is not doing what he is warning against. Why do you think he's sending this message today, Doctor?

DR. CARLOS DEL RIO, EXECUTIVE ASSOCIATE DEAN, EMORY UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: I think he's again telling us the seriousness of the situation. I think a lot of people are not taking this virus seriously enough. And I think he's saying, you know, going too fast could be dangerous. You can -- you can cause more death than good.

And the reality is, the guidelines were very clear of what you need to see. You need to see a decrease in the number of cases over 14 days, a steady decrease. You need to see that hospitals were not saturated. And you needed to have test capacity.

And not only are cases not going down, but the great majority of states don't yet have the testing capacity necessary to be able to safely open the economy.

BERMAN: Again, and one more question on this front. You heard the president say, "We have prevailed" on testing. The number of tests have certainly gone up, has risen, but the use of the word "prevail," Dr. Del Rio, how appropriate?

DEL RIO: Well, you know, we -- we've done -- I mean, the country has started late but has done a good job. We are doing a lot of tests. We're doing more tests than -- than anybody else, but still, per capita, we're not quite there yet. We need to do more testing. And the that's going to take some time.

And I think a lot of it is simply building the infrastructure and getting there. So we haven't prevailed. We're make progress. I would change the word. I think we're make progress on testing, but we're not yet where we need to be. BERMAN: I was struck, Elizabeth Cohen, in the poll that we released

from CNN just moments ago, about people's attitudes towards this pandemic, and there was a sign that people are looking at it differently and perhaps more optimistically.

We asked people, Do you feel that the worse is the behind us? And you can see now, 44 percent say the worse is the behind us, 52 percent say the worst is the still to come. That's a majority. But look where it was just a month ago. So you can see the shift there. And I wonder if you think we're seeing that shift in behavior, as well.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Certainly, we're seeing a shift in behavior, too. You know, let's get out more. Let's -- let's -- let's sort of think of this as almost kind of sort of over, and we're going to get out -- to get out more.

I see it. I live in Georgia. When I drive around the Atlanta area, this weekend I saw the Walmart parking lot full, the Target parking lot full. People are out and about. I think people are kind of feeling like it's been so bad, it must be getting better.

But we actually don't really have the data to support that. So people's actions aren't really meshing with the data.

BERMAN: Let's talk about data on another front, Elizabeth. And this is the beat you've been working so hard on the last few months, not just testing but the vaccine and treatment research. There is yet another study, a new one, the biggest yet, on hydroxychloroquine, which found what so many of the other studies have found, which is that it just doesn't have the impact that people were hoping for.

COHEN: Right. Right, yet another study showing the same thing. This is a study done by the state of New York Health Department, along with the University at Albany. They looked at 1,038 patients hospitalized for about a ten, 15-day period in March.

And what they found was that those who took hydroxychloroquine with or without Azithromycin -- and these are the drugs and the drug combos that President Trump got very excited about -- they didn't do any better. Not only that, when they took this drug combo of hydroxychloroquine and Azithromycin, they had more of a risk, more than twice the risk of cardiac arrest.


So as one doctor put it to me, I think this is kind of the nail in the coffin. Like, I think we're done here. It does not seem to help hospitalized patients.

Are there more studies and better studies we could do? Absolutely. But at what point do you just say, All right, we looked at it. It didn't work.

BERMAN: Look, I know there are people out there who still want to have a conclusive study on hydroxychloroquine as a prophylactic or in the early stages of COVID-19, but right now, it seems like that's hoping against the evidence. We will wait and see what comes up with that.

Dr. Del Rio, another bit of information that came out over the last few hours, which is interesting, and that's in Ohio. The state of Ohio is reporting now that they had five cases, they've gone back and looked, five cases of coronavirus in January.

Now, we've heard from California and other places where the evidence has shown that they've gone back and looked at medical records, that coronavirus was here earlier. But I was struck by five cases in Ohio in the central part of the country, that early. I wonder what that tells you.

DEL RIO: That tells you that we are -- at least until December, we were a very globalized society, right? People were everywhere.

If I recall, one of the colleges with the highest number of Chinese students is actually Miami University in Ohio. So it's not surprising that you're going to have travel. You're going to have people -- people -- you were traveling everywhere. We have the ability to be everywhere, to be almost every -- anywhere all the time.

And I think that, simply, this virus travels very quickly, and it travels with people, their respiratory secretions. So I'm not surprised that this virus had left China way before China established a quarantine around the province of Hubei.

And I'm not surprised that it had entered the country way before the president closed this border. So really, the horse was out of the barn before we even closed the bar.

So we need to remember that. This -- these respiratory viruses are very hard to contain and by limiting travel restrictions.

BERMAN: Dr. Del Rio, Elizabeth Cohen, thanks so much for being with us this morning.

DEL RIO: Happy to be with you.

BERMAN: All right. Something I'm watching very closely. Baseball owners reportedly have agreed on a plan to start the season. The owners have agreed, but what about the players? Details on all of this, next.