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New Study Finds Abbott Coronavirus Test Returns Many False Negatives; States' Reopenings Vary Widely Around the Country; U.S. Children Are Developing Serious Coronavirus Complications. Aired 2- 2:30p ET

Aired May 13, 2020 - 14:00   ET



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: -- more likely to have that. Does that worry you, when you're talking about sending kids back to school and they're going home where Grandma or Grandpa might be?

PABLO RODRIGUEZ, MEDICAL DIRECTOR OF COMMUNITY AFFAIRS, CARE NEW ENGLAND: That is absolutely ridiculous of Senator Paul -- he's a doctor too -- about saying that schools are safe at this point.

Number one, we are learning every day about this disease, and now we have the cases of Kawasaki syndrome in children that didn't happen in China, are happening here. So children are not immune from this infection, that's number one.

Number two, you know, children live with adults, children live with their grandma, with their grandpa. And they become vectors of infection.

And number three, mortality is not the issue. Latinos are young. So here in Rhode Island 88 percent of them are under age 60. They only represent a small percentage of those who are dying, but they have three times the chance of becoming hospitalized.

So if what we're trying to do is to really flatten the curve so we don't overwhelm the health care system, the last thing you want is for more people to get infected, regardless of the age. And especially if we're talking about Latinos, you don't want Latinos to get infected.

KEILAR: All right, Dr. Pablo Rodriguez, we really appreciate you joining us. Thank you so much.

RODRIGUEZ: Thank you for having me.

KEILAR: And we're going to continue with CNN's special coverage of the coronavirus pandemic in just a moment.


I'm Brianna Keilar, and the darkest winter in modern U.S. history, one with unprecedented illness and fatalities? That is the jaw-dropping warning from Rick Bright, the man who led a key federal agency working on a coronavirus vaccine until he was ousted.

Bright, who filed a whistleblower complaint alleging retaliation by the Trump administration, is set to testify before Congress tomorrow. And his message will be clear: The government needs to fix its response now, to avoid more tragedy.

And Bright isn't the only person issuing a warning about a potential spike in COVID-19 cases and deaths. For the second time in just a few days, a key model, often cited by the White House, is projecting an increase in U.S. deaths to 147,000 by early August. This is a jump of 10,000 projected deaths from its last update, just days ago.

But let's start now with that whistleblower warning. Here with me is CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger, and we have CNN's senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen.

Gloria, Bright also is expected to say this, quote, "As I reflect on the past few months of this outbreak, it is painfully clear that we were not as prepared as we should have been." I mean, he's expecting -- we're expecting him to just unload a giant dose of reality, aren't we?

TEXT: "As I reflect on the past few months of this outbreak, it is painfully clear that we were not as prepared as we should have been. We missed early warning signals and we forgot important pages from our pandemic playbook."

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: We are. And I think it's potentially very damning for the administration. This is somebody who was on the inside at the outset of this. And what he is saying is, we forgot some of our playbook here.

And it is completely antithetical to what the administration has been saying. The administration has been saying, nobody could have gotten on this any sooner. The president is saying, nobody could have predicted this. And that, of course, the previous administration left them high and dry.

There actually was a pandemic playbook, Brianna, labeled as such. And I think Dr. Bright actually confirms that right now. So I think this is so different from the message that the administration is giving the American public, I think people are going to have to take notice.

KEILAR: And, Elizabeth, Bright is warning of the darkest winter. His main concern is that he does not see a national testing strategy from the administration. It seems like we've heard that over and over, not just from him. When he's talking about the darkest winter, I mean, what would that look like?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, it's hard to know what exactly he's referring to, but let's talk a bit about this national testing strategy. President Trump has actually said that he wants to leave a lot of these testing decisions and acquiring tests to the state government. He seems to be saying, we do not have a national testing strategy. And that's really a problem because testing is so central and has been

so -- to use a technical term -- messed-up from the beginning. If you don't test, you don't know where the virus is. It's also a problem when one state does a lot of testing, another state doesn't do much: It looks like the state that does a lot of testing has more virus, when it may just be that they're being more responsible and doing more testing.

If you don't test, you don't know who the enemy is or where the enemy is. You have to keep testing. Without that strategy, it's hard to fight that enemy.

KEILAR: I'm stealing that term, that technical term, "messed up," from you, Elizabeth.


And I wonder, we've actually just found out, Elizabeth, some breaking news. The White House has been using a rapid COVID test that was developed by Abbott Labs. This is the one they're using for the president, they're using this for visitors. And a new study actually suggests that it doesn't work that well. So what do you make of that?

COHEN: Right. President Trump seems very personally invested in this test. He has talked about what a great test it is by name, "the Abbott test." So there have been studies out there that show that it is not picking up all positive cases, that it is not as good at that as other tests are.

So now, a study coming out just today from New York University, where they put the Abbott test next to another test, and found that the Abbott test was missing positive results. These were results that were found to be positive by the other test, from people who had symptoms of COVID. This really -- and they missed a lot of them.

And so that really calls into question, is the White House using a test that is missing a lot of positive cases? I spoke to one infectious disease expert, Dr. Peter Hotez -- he's on our air often -- and he said it's time to call an audible, and switch tests. I didn't know what calling an audible meant, and he said -- he explained to me that that's when the quarterback says, Wait a second, we have to change everything. So I learned something.

And -- but what he's saying is, maybe it's time for the White House to consider using a different test.

KEILAR: You're cracking me up with that, Elizabeth.

Gloria, I wonder, are they going to? Do you think they'll change tack at the White House? I mean, clearly, they should.

COHEN: I -- see, the issue is --

BORGER: Well, I think right now, they're --

COHEN: -- is that this is -- BORGER: -- they're --

COHEN: -- this test --

KEILAR: Sorry, Gloria, I'm sorry, Gloria, go ahead.

BORGER: Go ahead, Elizabeth.

I think right now, the -- you know, the White House is kind of invested in the Abbott test, and the president has said that he feels safe because everybody who comes into contact with him is tested.

Well, if the tests are unreliable, then that's a problem for them. So, you know, I'm not the White House physician, I have no idea, Elizabeth. I think you may have some thoughts about what they ought to do here. But if this is what they are using inside the White House to protect the president and the vice president, I bet they're thinking twice about it now.

KEILAR: Elizabeth, Gloria, thank you so much. I've missed you both, by the way --


KEILAR: -- so it's great to see you both, Gloria and Elizabeth.

BORGER: I miss you, too.

COHEN: Miss you, too.

KEILAR: I know, I really do miss you guys.

By this weekend, 48 states will be partially reopened and as of now, the numbers show rates of new cases and deaths are on the decline nationally. But the decision to ease social distancing is raising new questions on how to return to everything from the classroom to the ballfield. CNN's Erica Hill has more on this -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Brianna, good afternoon. Yes, we actually just heard that Iowa is going to lift restrictions in the 22 counties that had not yet had them lifted on Friday. And as we're seeing more states move forward, we're also hearing today from the WHO, which said this virus could become endemic. It may just be here to stay, another reminder that we're all trying to figure out how to live with it.


HILL (voice-over): This picturesque college campus will be quiet in September.

MICHAEL WIAFE, PRESIDENT, CAL STATE STUDENT ASSOCIATION: It is the right call. Looking at the safety of our student body, population --

HILL (voice-over): California's state university system, sticking with distance learning this fall, impacting nearly half a million students.

EDUARDO OCHOA, PRESIDENT, CAL STATE UNIVERSITY, MONTEREY BAY: We found that in order to maintain social distancing guidelines, we would have to reduce the capacity of our classrooms to 25 percent of their normal levels.

HILL (voice-over): For school-age children, the answer on when and how they'll return to the classroom isn't yet clear.

GOV. NED LAMONT (D), CONNECTICUT: Probably smaller classrooms, more distancing. Teacher probably wearing a mask --

LILY GARCIA, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL EDUCATION ASSOCIATION: I have 39 kids in my classroom one year. How are you going to socially distance 39 kids?

HILL (voice-over): The CDC, meantime, preparing to alert doctors to a new inflammatory illness in children, possibly linked to COVID-19, which can present weeks after the virus.

ESTHER CHOO, E.R. PHYSICIAN: We just have to remember, we have more to learn about the virus than we have yet learned.

HILL (voice-over): New York State is investigating 100 cases in school-age children.

Across the country, Americans, seeing grocery prices rise to their highest levels in nearly 50 years. As more states navigate their next phase, experts are watching for new cases.

Georgia and South Carolina, two of the first to reopen, mostly flat. South Dakota, posting some of the highest spikes along with Arkansas and Delaware.

New Orleans, once a major hotspot, allowing some businesses to reopen this weekend. Restaurants, told to keep customers' contact information for 21 days to aid with potential contact tracing, as the push for a measured approach continues.

ASHISH JHA, DIRECTOR, HARVARD GLOBAL HEALTH INSTITUTE: Opening up prematurely just sets us up for big outbreaks, which will force us to shut down again. So if you care about not being shut down, we should really let science drive how we open up safely.


HILL (voice-over): Washington, D.C., extending its stay-at-home order until June 8th. Colorado's tourism office, asking out-of-state visitors to stay home. Arizona, announcing professional sports can return this weekend, while new CNN polling shows Americans are split on whether players should suit up.

As for fans, new information about how cheering could increase the spread of COVID-19.

ERIN BROMAGE, BIOLOGY PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF MASSACHUSETTS DARTMOUTH: If you're yelling and screaming and supporting your team, those people in I guess the spray zone of your voice, you know, you're putting them in danger.

HILL (voice-over): Outside St. Louis, an experiment in socially distant baseball.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, it definitely doesn't feel normal.

HILL (voice-over): Disinfectant in the dugout, distant umpires, and fans. Weird, but worth it.


HILL: Of course, a lot of kids and even their parents, hoping that maybe there could be some sports this summer. That is a big question mark in much of the country, Brianna.

As for schools, we did just hear, a short time ago from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who said at this point, he can't talk about September because he doesn't know what's going to happen in June, and he's still waiting to hear back -- he had asked districts around the state to offer some of their ideas to him.

KEILAR: The spray zone? I mean, I'd never quite thought about it that way, but it's graphic but it's such a real thing --

HILL: Yes.

KEILAR: -- Erica Hill, the spray zone. All right, thank you, Erica, for that report.

And ahead, new revelations that show how Florida avoided the same suffering as New York in the outbreak.

Plus, I'll speak with a gym owner who received four citations in two days for reopening.

And as more states are reporting new cases of that mysterious syndrome in children, likely connected to coronavirus, the CDC is actually set to warn doctors about this. This is CNN's special live coverage.



KEILAR: Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort is out of prison and back at home. This move, coming after Manafort's attorneys requested his release due to the coronavirus pandemic. We have more now from CNN's Josh Campbell.

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, high-profile prison release announced today, this one involving none other than President Donald Trump's former campaign manager, Paul Manafort. He had been in jail, sentenced to over seven years on tax evasion and other charges, that of course stemming from the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Now, Manafort's attorney wrote a letter to the Bureau of Prisons, asking for his early release, saying that his underlying medical conditions put him at significant risk of contracting COVID-19. The prison's agreed, he's now out and in home confinement. This, of course, comes as criminal justice reform advocates around the country have been calling for the early release of certain nonviolent offenders, who they say remain significantly vulnerable as this deadly virus continues to spread like wildfire through so many of the nation's jails.

KEILAR: Josh Campbell, thank you so much.

The CDC is preparing to release an alert that warns doctors to be on the lookout for a mysterious illness that could be linked to coronavirus in children.

The syndrome is marked by persistent fever, inflammation and poor function in one or more organs. First reported in New York, most states are now reporting some of these cases.

And Dr. Mary Beth Son is the director of the Rheumatology Program at Boston Children's Hospital. She is also an assistant professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, and she's joining us now.

Doctor Son, thank you so much for being with us. Tell us, what are you seeing in kids who are presenting with this?

MARY BETH SON, DIRECTOR OF RHEUMATOLOGY PROGRAM, BOSTON CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL: So what we're seeing are these clusters of pediatric patients, coming into the hospital with a variety of symptoms. And some of them are severe. All kids have high fevers and signs of inflammation, as you've said. And some kids come in with features of Kawasaki disease, some kids come in with very low blood pressures, and some kids come in with signs of cytokine storm.

KEILAR: So what is that last thing that you said?

SON: Right. So cytokine storm is a well-described phenomenon in other illnesses, where the regulatory mechanisms of the immune system are unleashed, and so you have a lot of hyperinflammation.

KEILAR: OK. A big inflammatory response that you're seeing. And so then how do you treat the kids and how are they responding to the treatment?

SON: So the treatments are directed towards what signs and symptoms we're seeing. So Kawasaki disease has been a well-described entity for decades. And so kids who come in with features of Kawasaki disease, which include things like red eyes, red cracked lips, rash, redness of the hands and feet or a big lymph node, we have treatment for that, something called IVIG. And the kids traditionally have responded very well to IVIG. And it protects the arteries around the heart, called the coronary arteries.

Kids who have more signs of hyperinflammation -- KEILAR: OK.

SON: -- cytokine storm, get other therapies.

KEILAR: OK, so, look, I'll be honest, I have kids and I was WebMDing to see what I should be looking for. So let's get it straight from you, the expert, on -- I mean, you described some of the symptoms there. So what all should parents be looking for, aside from that?

SON: Right. So parents should be looking at their children for persistent fevers, this would be several days of fevers. Also, if their child looks unwell. So parents know their kids best, so if they think their kid -- their kids aren't acting right or aren't looking well, they should bring them in to medical attention.

Certainly, those signs that I mentioned of Kawasaki disease, that would be important to tell your doctor about as well.


KEILAR: OK. We have heard from Governor Cuomo of New York. He said, today, that the state is investigating more than a hundred cases of COVID-19-related illness in children. And of these, he said that 60 percent of the children with these symptoms tested positive for COVID- 19; 40 percent tested positive for the antibodies. What does that tell you?

SON: So that tells you that the kids with the positive antibody testing were actually exposed to SARS-CoV-2 at least several weeks before. And so that's why people are talking, that some of these kids coming in with a syndrome actually have a post-infectious immune response to having had the infection previously.

KEILAR: Why would -- and why would they have that? Just explain that to the layperson.

SON: So we're not sure why some kids are developing this delayed reaction to having seen the virus previously, with these signs and symptoms. But I can say that there is a lot of collaboration and research going in to look at this, because this requires a lot of thought and hard work on the part of us as pediatricians and as specialists (ph) to figure this out .But we don't know yet why this is happening.

KEILAR: OK, thank you. You've armed us with a lot of good information, Dr. Mary Beth Son.

SON: Thank you very much.

KEILAR: The former head of the CDC, Dr. Richard Besser, will be a guest on this week's CNN global town hall. Former Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, and activist Greta Thunberg will also join Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta to answer all of your questions about the coronavirus. So do not miss that, that will be happening tomorrow night at 8:00 p.m. Eastern. Next, I am going to speak to a gym owner in Pennsylvania who opened in defiance of his governor's orders, and was fined four times in two days, some pretty hefty fines there. Why he says that he was willing to risk this.

And just in, Disney, suspending its cruises through July 27th. We're told affected guests will be offered the choice of a credit or a full refund.



KEILAR: Pennsylvania is the latest state whose reopening guidelines are at odds with White House messaging. My next guest is a business owner who took the decision into his own hands, and he defied statewide stay-at-home mandates to reopen his gym, and then he received four pretty hefty citations -- fines -- in two days from the state.

Dan Cronauer, thank you so much for joining us. And actually, you've had to close your gym, you closed it back down last night, right?


KEILAR: But first, tell us about this decision to reopen this, as you knew that the state -- that authorities could come after you because you were in defiance of state rules that gyms remain closed.

CRONAUER: Yes. No, thanks for having me on the show today, appreciate it very much.

Our decision to open without charge, was to be an outlet for people. I myself suffer from anxiety, depression, panic attack disorder, I know how bad that feels for a lot of people. And it got to the point where I knew others were expressing to me, like, I need the gym, I need the gym. Like it was their medication, they needed to get back in the gym. So our decision came from the people.

And to your comment about closing, it got really hard for us to close the doors because people look at us like, I'm so glad you were doing this for me. And I'm -- they're thrilled. All they wanted to do was see us the next day, and hope -- you know, for us to be open as long as we possibly could.

KEILAR: So you're looking at this as sort of almost like providing a mental health service. I would ask you --

CORNAUER: Absolutely.

KEILAR: -- why -- you know, would they not be able to work out or do some sort of improvised workout at home? What is it about the gym that your patrons were saying there's no substitute that they could come up with.

CORNAUER: So you know, the -- my wife brought up a great point to that. You know, ask everyone with kids how working from home has been going for the past 60 days, right? Then, like, no way --


CORNAUER: -- you know, not the same. Yes, exactly, right? There's something about a good gym environment. Whether we're 10 feet or 15 feet away, seeing your friend or your buddy, a recognizable face, you're waving to them, hello, that's important. Like, that comes with the gym. It's not just, you know, lifting things up and putting them down, right? It's about the social interaction as well as the mental clarity.

And when you're in your house, there's always this other thing that can be done, right? You're doing your push-ups and you're like, Oh, crap, I've got to go do the laundry. There's always something else in the back of your head, running. But when you enter the gym, your mind gets to shut off, it gets to put that music on and really just decompress for that hour that we were limiting people to.

KEILAR: You were taking precautions. But as you know, authorities there in the state feel that this isn't the time to reopen, they're worried about the physical health of the community, of people in the state. And police fined you, they cited you. What did they say to you when they did that, and how much are we talking about that led you to shut down?


CORNAUER: So a couple things there. Definitely concerned about the physical health of our people, I'm sure they are too. And that's why we took the precautions. Everyone -- we required everyone to come in, wash their hands before they even touched a piece of equipment, everyone --