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Trump Touts Testing; Arbery Death Grips the Nation; Pence Maintains Distance after Possible Exposure. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired May 12, 2020 - 08:30   ET




ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, will testify this morning along with three other top health officials at a Senate hearing on the government's coronavirus response. Here's what President Trump said yesterday.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have met the moment and we have prevailed. Americans do whatever it takes to find solutions, pioneer breakthrough and harness the energies we need to achieve a total victory.


CAMEROTA: Joining us now is Michael Osterholm. He's the director for the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. And for 15 years he has been warning of a global pandemic and says things in the U.S. can get much worse.

Mr. Osterholm, it's great to have you with your ominous warnings for all of us.


CAMEROTA: I've read that you -- you recently said that we are only in the second inning of this, out of a nine-inning game.

Why are we not at halftime, as so many people seem to feel?

OSTERHOLM: Yes, well, what's happening right now is we're focused on this moment of reopening, coming off what is, in a sense, the first wave. But if you look at the historic nature of these pandemics caused by viruses, like flu viruses or potentially even this coronavirus, they last for months and months. Currently we estimate that somewhere between 5 percent to 20 percent of the U.S. population has already been infected, with most of the country closer to that 5 percent range.

This virus will continue to transmit very effectively until we get to about 60 or 70 percent of the population infected and then it will only slow down. So with all the pain and suffering and death that we've had so far, I think we're only literally in that very, very early innings of this. And what's really concerning to me is we're not planning for what could be a large wave of cases later this summer, or this fall, or the ongoing number of cases for months ahead. And so to hear this proclamation of victory is very short sighted and we will pay a price for not being better prepared, even in the months ahead.

CAMEROTA: The historical analogy that people use, of course, is the 1918 Spanish flu. And do you see this Covid-19 as following that same trajectory because 50 million people were killed with that.

OSTERHOLM: Yes. And we put out a document several weeks ago from our center, which actually laid out a series of scenarios. We're not sure if this is going to act exactly like the flu virus, but it has so far.

In 1918, in the early wave that occurred, we saw some very, very large numbers of illnesses and deaths in cities like New York and Chicago and yet we had cities like Minneapolis, Detroit, Baltimore, Boston, and Philadelphia that had no activity at all. Much like we've seen in this country and around the world. Italy wasn't hit, northern Italy was, southern Italy had very few cases.

What we're concerned about is that then in that 1918 situation, cases more or less disappeared after that early first wave of several months, only to come back with a vengeance then several months later. My biggest fear right now is actually cases start to go away. Not that we want anyone to become infected or -- or get really sick with this virus, but it would suggest to us that maybe we are just getting ready for the opening round of a very large wave this late summer or fall that could be much, much larger than anything New York had seen or many other places around the world. That's a concern to us if 1918 holds as a model, as it has so far.

CAMEROTA: But, Mr. Osterholm, I mean it must cause you great anxiety to see so many states and so much of the country reopening given all this, but what is the answer? I mean you can't ask people to stay inside for the next year. People need a paycheck. So what's the answer given what you know about how these things travel?

OSTERHOLM: You hit the nail right on the head. What we have to do is understand we can't live with the guardrails. The guardrail on one side is we lock down for 15 or 18 months and hope we get a vaccine that then can get us to that 60 or 70 percent level from vaccine protection. On the other side we have, well, let's just go back to life as we know it, and I promise you we will bring down our healthcare systems in this country many, many, many hundreds of thousands if not millions of people will die, the healthcare system will not be there for people who have heart attacks, strokes, any other conditions also and, unfortunately, many healthcare workers get sick and die.


That's not an acceptable guardrail either. So what we have to do is find that middle ground. I call it threading

the needle with the rope. How do we release into everyday life those people who are younger, who have a much lower risk of having serious disease and dying, and at the same time help protect the population that is at risk, which is a challenge?

But the bottom line, ignoring this discussion is not going to get us anywhere. This virus is acting on virus time and it's acting on virus gravity. It will infect us and we just have to understand our plans have to account for that. What is our hospital preparedness today if we saw a peak in New York City, not what we saw, but one three times higher, what is our capability of handling that? And we're not having that discussion right now. That's what we have to have.

CAMEROTA: Mr. Michael Osterholm, this is a very grave warning. We appreciate your expertise. Thank you very much for sounding this alarm.

OSTERHOLM: Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you.

CAMEROTA: New developments this morning -- thank you -- in the case of an unarmed black man shot while jogging in Georgia. The breaking details on what Ahmaud Arbery's autopsy report has just revealed, next.



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: A Developing story out of Georgia this morning. CNN affiliate WSB is reporting new details of the autopsy report in the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery. The unarmed black man was shot and killed while jogging in Georgia.

CNN's Martin Savidge joins us now from Brunswick with all these details.

Martin, what have you learned?


Yes, the autopsy of Ahmaud Arbery was conducted on February 24th, so that's one day after the day he died. And what it shows is that he was hit three times by shotgun blasts, twice in the chest, one in the upper area, one in the lower area and then also grazed with one arm. It also shows that there were no drugs or alcohol in his system at the time at which he died.

So this is all consistent with a video that we have seen. But what's truly amazing is what has changed in this case in just one week.


SAVIDGE (voice over): This is the video that changed everything in the Ahmaud Arbery case, the one showing his death. From the moment it becomes public, the investigation that for ten weeks seemed to be going nowhere takes off. Shock and outrage bring protesters to the streets. Arbery's family calling their son a victim of hate.

MARCUS ARBERY SR. AHMAUD ARBERY'S FATHER: He didn't bother nobody. Always mind his own business. And -- and that's what he was doing when he got killed. When he got lynched. That's what he got, lynched.

SAVIDGE: Tweeting, Georgians deserve answers. The governor offers to send in state law enforcement. The next morning, Georgia Bureau of Investigation agents are in Brunswick reviewing evidence. And in less than two days, do what local authorities did not do in two months, arresting the armed father and son seen in the cell phone video confronting Arbery.

VIC REYNOLDS, DIRECTOR OF THE GEORGIA BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION: Agents from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation affected an arrest on two individuals, Greg and Travis McMichaels, charging them with both felony murder and aggravated assault.

SAVIDGE: Ironically, the case that early on moved at the speed of molasses started because Ahmaud Arbery loved to run.

JASON VAUGHN, BRUNSWICK HIGH FOOTBALL COACH: Ahmaud had amazing speed. I mean just straight, fast speed.

SAVIDGE: His family says the 25-year-old was in the neighborhood February 23rd jogging.

This newly revealed surveillance video shows he stepped into a home under construction, looks around, then leaves and begins to run.

Some residents say the neighborhood has seen a string of break-ins, but CNN found only one police report for theft in the last four months.

Arbery's presence triggers calls to 911.

DISPATCHER: You said someone's breaking into it right now?

CALLER: No, it's all open. It's under construction. And he's running right now. There he goes right now.

DISPATCHER: OK, what is he doing?

CALLER: He's running down the street.

SAVIDGE: According to the initial police report, Gregory McMichael is standing in his front yard and sees Arbery, quote, hauling ass down the street. McMichael, who's former law enforcement, and his son Travis, grab a handgun and shotgun, according to police documents, jump into their truck and begin following Arbery. The police report says Gregory McMichael stated that he and his son tried to cut Arbery off at least twice and McMichael said that another man, William Roddie Bryan, in a separate vehicle, tried to block him, but all were unsuccessful.

Eventually, father and son used their truck to block his path. Travis McMichael is on the street holding a shotgun as Arbery approaches at a jogger's pace. Roddie Bryan captures video of the encounter. After three shots, a wounded Arbery stumbles and dies in the street. Brian shares the video with police that day.

KEVIN GOUGH, ATTORNEY FOR WILLIAMS "RODDIE" BRYAN: Either the first or the second officer on the scene, you know, he invites him to sit in his car and they watch the video together.

SAVIDGE: According to Glynn County Commissioner J, Peter Murphy, who has spoken to officers who were on the scene that day, police called the district attorney's office for advice. The same office where Gregory McMichael had worked for years.

J. PETER MURPHY, GLYNN COUNTY COMMISSIONER: I believe there was direction from the district attorney's office to not execute arrests.

SAVIDGE: That all changed May 7th.

But even with the arrests, public frustration continues. Many now want those responsible for handling the case in the beginning to either resign or be fired.


SAVIDGE: There are also demands for a third arrest, of William Roddie Bryan, the man behind the video, who Arbery supporters accuse of working with the McMichaels to capture Arbery.

Bryan's attorney says his client was not helping the McMichaels the day of the shooting and that instead of being arrested, Bryan should be credited for the video that changed everything.


GOUGH: If he had not videotaped that incident, the only person who really could speak to what happened is dead and we'll never have that opportunity. So that video is the prosecution.

SAVIDGE: Last night, Bryan speaking out to CNN.

WILLIAM BRYAN, RECORDED ARBERY SHOOTING: Yes, sir. If there wasn't a tape, then we wouldn't know what happened.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: And how do you feel about that?

BRYAN: We all wouldn't.

I -- I would -- I hope that it, in the end, brings justice to the family and peace to the family.

SAVIDGE: CNN has made repeated attempts to reach the McMichaels and their family but so far has not been successful.

Even with the recent, dramatic events, supporters of Ahmaud Arbery and his family say they're just the first steps on the road to justice. And they're in it for the long run.


SAVIDGE: John and Alisyn, recapping that breaking news now that we started with, the autopsy report that is out with Ahmaud Arbery again showing that he was struck three times, which coincides with that video where you hear three shotgun blasts. Those two blasts were into the chest and then another one grazed his arm.

Also this morning, the GBI is now saying it's going to investigate this case, not just the case itself, but how it was prosecuted as well. There are many questions about potential conflict of interest.

John and Alisyn.

BERMAN: Martin Savidge, it is so helpful to have it all laid out like that from the beginning, all the twists and turns. Still so many questions about how this was handled at the beginning.

Thank you so much for the work you've done on this.

We have breaking details just in on Vice President Mike Pence. CNN has learned of new precautions he's now going to take. That's next.



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BERMAN: And there is breaking news. We learned that Vice President Mike Pence will avoid close contact with President Trump after Pence's press secretary tested positive for coronavirus. Pence has decided not to self-quarantine and he was seen at the White House yesterday without a mask.

CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta back with us.

Sanjay, it's just so crystal clear that the White House realizes it has a problem, but wants to keep up appearances for some reason. Let's look at this as a medical decision right now. What questions do you have about how much space Mike Pence is keeping from the president for how long and whether he needs to be doing this.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, if you back up even one step further, you know, the vice president should be in quarantine, which is, I know, a jarring thing for people to hear. But one thing to keep in mind is that the person who tested positive is someone who is his press secretary and who he had, you know, probably significant amount of contact or was in close enough proximity.

We know that Dr. Fauci, Dr. Redfield, and Dr. Hahn, who were all part of the Coronavirus Task Force, and had what they called low risk exposures to -- to Katie Miller, who was the president's -- vice president's press secretary, decided to quarantine themselves or have some sort of modified quarantine. That's significant. These are obviously three of the top docs in the world with the Coronavirus Task Force. The vice president needs to be doing the same thing.

Now, they make the argument, I've talked to some of my sources over there, that the vice president and Ambassador Birx have additional responsibilities. They're considered critical. They need to continue to show up at the White House. The issue is then, what do you do to try and slow down, mitigate the spread as much as possible to everyone in the White House, including the president. One is to wear a mask, you know, which, again, the vice president did not do. The second is to maintain certainly a physical distance from people, which it sounds like the vice president is now going to do.

And we, you know, we hear about this six feet distance. It's a good -- it's an arbitrary number, but it's a good number, but also making sure the surfaces that the person comes in contact with are continuously disinfected. And, you know, to be separated as much as possible, to do teleconferencing, even if you are in the same building to still do teleconferencing as opposed to being in the presence of people.

They know this. The top doctors in the country are doing this. SO this is not a surprise, I think, in some ways. I think it's consistent we've seen this sort of acknowledgement of the scientific principles throughout, but then a very slow adoption of these things when it comes to testing, when it comes to masks, when it comes to now this idea of quarantining. So I'm not surprised that he's doing this. It's maybe even one step further is where he needs to go.

CAMEROTA: Yes. I mean, Sanjay, do you think that this is why so many Americans are confused. You know, you, every morning join us and you field questions, as you have for weeks and weeks from so many Americans who still have questions about what does isolation mean, how much of a distance am I supposed to be keeping away from my family or somebody who might have -- be showing some sort of symptoms? When do I wear a mask? I mean this is where leadership and presidential leadership would come in handy because if there was something consistent, people would follow it.

GUPTA: Yes. And I think people don't take it seriously as a result as well. Like, even if they know the specifics in terms of six feet away and they know that people should be isolated. Isolation means you've now been diagnosed with the virus. You need to isolate yourself. Quarantine is for people who don't necessarily have the virus, but are at some risk because they've come in contact with somebody with -- and people are understanding these terms, I think, better than before, but still in many places maybe not taking it seriously because we're not seeing other places or other people take it seriously.


I mean, I will say this now, at the White House, they're doing really robust testing. There are people who are getting tested every day. People should pay attention to that. Look at what's happening to the White House and ask is that happening where you live or could it happen where you work or whatever the question may be. They are doing aggressive contact tracing, figuring out all the people that came in contact with the people who were infected and then suggesting they quarantine. Again, three of the nation's top doctors are in quarantine right now.

I mean just let that settle in for a second. And then they're doing this, you know, this maintaining the physical distancing, which is what we've heard so much about. That's what's happening there. That's what needs to happen everywhere.

CAMEROTA: Sanjay, thank you very much for all of the information this morning.


CAMEROTA: And thanks, everybody, for watching.

CNN will have much more on this break news, as well as Dr. Anthony Fauci's testimony on Capitol Hill. CNN's coverage continues after this quick break.