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Somber Warnings Temper Hopes Of Return To Normalcy; U.S. Grocery Costs Jump The Most In 46 Years; Dr. Fauci Warns Of Serious Risks If States Reopen Too Soon. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired May 13, 2020 - 07:00   ET

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


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN NEW DAY: Classes will be conducted online.

[07:00:01]

And overnight, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease doctor and one of the most trusted voices on the coronavirus pandemic, came under new attack from some of President Trump's allies. Why do they need him to be the enemy? We explore that.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEW DAY: All right. As of this morning, more than 82,000 Americans have been killed by coronavirus, 82,000, and that number is growing. The key University of Washington model has gone up again, now forecasts nearly 60,000 more Americans dying by the 4th of July.

CAMEROTA: Okay. So let's bring in CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta and CNN Political Analyst David Gregory. Great to see both of you.

So, Sanjay, I mean, this is just sobering news. Cal State, 23 different campuses, half a million kids, they're not going to be open in September. What I can't tell -- I mean, they're not going to be open for campus. They're going to have online classes, as kids have been doing.

And so I just don't know if Cal State is just the first to say it out loud and if this is a harbinger of what all parents should start kind if mentally preparing for because I think that most of us have thought, okay, we're going to get through this, we're going to get through the summer, but in September, we're going to try to go back to school and we're going to have some normalcy, but maybe not.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think I draw a little bit of a distinction between colleges and schools and grade schools in particular. I mean, there is still this emerging information, knowledge about this virus. Obviously, we're all learning this together. But zero to 14, from newborns to 14 years old, do seem to be, as we've known, a lot less susceptible to developing significant symptoms of this.

Now, there's obviously new information coming out about symptoms in young people, but it still seems relatively rare. And there is the idea obviously that kids can still transmit this virus even if they don't get that sick themselves.

But if you start to say, okay, well, younger kids are a little different than older kids and if we start to have more widespread testing, which everyone is has been really harping on since the beginning of this, could you start getting into a situation where you could mitigate spread, still potentially open schools.

We've been doing a lot of reporting on this, Alisyn. And there's big school districts, including in Los Angeles, L.A. Unified School District, for example, that are looking at ways for, again, grade school students to possibly reopen. Staggered school times, no cafeteria, no mass gatherings, obviously kids wearing masks. It's going to look like a very different school. But there is the possibility that there's a distinction again between schools and colleges.

Colleges are their own communities and potentially their own hotspots. I think that's part of what's driving that thinking. Schools may be different.

BERMAN: There was a major political development overnight which I want to get to David, with you, in just a second. But, Sanjay, since you brought up the symptoms that are affecting children, let's just delve into that a little bit more because I do understand this is something the CDC now has some new information on.

GUPTA: Yes. I mean, a couple of weeks, there was an alert that went out in the U.K. basically saying all hospitals should be on the lookout for kids who have these inflammatory-like symptoms. Now, the CDC is essentially saying the same thing here in this country that hospitals should be on the lookout for what we're calling now PIMS, which is pediatric inflammatory multi-organ syndrome.

Kawasaki is sort of a name that people have known, especially in Asia, where it seems to be more prevalent in the past. But now, PIMS seems to be more common in this part of the world, the United States and U.K., not as common in Asia, but still I will say relatively rare. I mean, we're five months into this.

Two things jump out. One is that we didn't really see this that much earlier on. Why not? Is this truly a post inflammatory-type syndrome? We're still not sure about this. But some 100 children around the country seem to be affected by this rare, is there some sort of genetic predisposition, several investigators looking into that right now.

But skin is the largest organ on the body. That is what people will notice first in terms of that sort of distinctive rash, which is tough to look at. But I still think relatively rare. There's more investigation that needs to be done. But not all kids seem to be at risk of this.

CAMEROTA: Okay. David Gregory, go ahead.

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I want to make one point about the schools. CAMEROTA: Yes, quickly.

GREGORY: I just want to make one point about schools. Some of the work that I'm doing with schools in the district, Maryland and Virginia, as well as other parts of the East Coast, I think what was striking about the Cal State, L.A. or the Cal State system was how definitive it was.

Because a lot of the schools that I'm talking to are working on some kind of hybrid plan, whether they're public or private schools or maybe late entry plans. But so much of this is dependent on the ability to contain the virus. How do you onboard students into a school setting unless you have a real sense of their health and how to maintain that as well as that of the teachers.

[07:05:06]

So I think there's a lot of thinking and planning going on into some kind of hybrid system, at least at this point.

CAMEROTA: That's really good information to know. So it's not obviously one-size-fits-all and maybe parents shouldn't yet get anxious that their schools will go the way of California. I think that those are both really good insights that you have.

Let's talk about what happened after this hearing. So there was a hearing yesterday with Dr. Fauci and the other -- the nation's other top health experts in front of this Senate health education committee. And, David Gregory, the president spent much of yesterday trying to distract, sending out lots and lots of tweets in this Twitter storm about unrelated things.

And then afterwards, you heard the president's media allies begin to vilify Dr. Fauci. We're going to play a montage for you and see if you can spot the coordinated talking points.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Is this the guy you want to chart the future of the country? Maybe not. This is a very serious matter. The decisions we're making right now. Tony Fauci has not been elected to anything.

Some people seem to think he should be the dictator for the duration of the crisis. That's insanity.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fauci, to be very blunt, is the face of this failed administrative state. You've got to question the entire premise of this.

CARLSON: The chief buffoon.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Dr. Anthony Fauci also seems to favor what the Democrats want, that is massive restrictions with no end in sight.

LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: All due respect to Dr. Fauci's expertise, no one elected him to anything.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: No one elected him. No one elected him. No one elected him. Sometimes the talking point hits you over the head with a mallet, David. And so they -- why Dr. Fauci, why does he have a target on his back now? What's that?

GREGORY: Because he has so much credibility and because, as a scientist, he seems to bring nothing but kind of sober analysis and projections about this virus. I don't think paying attention to any of those sound bites from those figures is worth our time because they're not making serious points.

The president, as he often can be, can be directionally accurate when says, look, we have to balance these two things. We have economic destruction and we have a virus.

Anthony Fauci makes very clear that his primary function as a public health specialist is to focus on the science and to save lives. But he recognizes that tension completely. What I think the critics of him right now are grabbing on to is that he's making people feel anxious, that there's no end in sight.

I spoke to a governor in Oklahoma last week. He made a point about -- that he feels like he's up against a momentum of fear and a lack of consumer confidence. That's what he's trying to counter. The virus is not hitting everybody equally around the country.

And I think there's a fear that the public health officials are dictating a continued closure of the country. And in a lot of parts of the country, there's some real pushback against that that leads to unserious criticism like we just saw.

BERMAN: Look, I think it is important, frankly, because what Dr. Fauci is doing is voicing what the science is telling him. He hasn't closed a single thing in this country. I don't think a single doctor has closed any entity in this country. It has been the elected officials, the governors of each of these states. I don't think anyone, despite what Tucker Carlson has said, has indicated that Dr. Fauci should be a dictator. Zero people have said that.

What they seem to have a problem with, Sanjay, is the science. I get that. I get that there are people who want things to be open. But to attack someone who is merely voicing what his lifetime of experience in medicine has told him, I do wonder if that will undermine the faith of people inside this country.

GUPTA: You know, it strikes me as being sort of an -- in a way a doctor/patient relationship. The doctor and the patient in this case is the country. And sometimes you have to deliver bad news to a patient. You hope that the patient follows the advice that has to be given. But in this case, what's happening is that the patient knows what they need to do, isn't doing it and then gets angry at the fact that they're still not getting better, in this case getting angry at the doctor. I mean, I've seen that before in my own practice and sometimes you have patients who have difficult medical problems. You know you can help them but it has to go both ways. I mean, those people have to be willing participants in this. And if the patient is getting angry because they're not following the recommendations and still not getting better, you can see the dilemma that puts the whole relationship in.

[07:10:05]

I mean, you know, the other thing is get a second opinion. If you carry out this metaphor, get a second opinion. I mean, the infectious disease societies from all over the world, when they're trying to get a second opinion, who is the guy they go to? Will they go to Dr. Anthony Fauci? I mean, they have other organizations that are sort of predicated on the work that he has done.

So, I mean, it's fine, talk to other doctors. Get other opinions. I mean, we doctors always recommend that and see what the answer comes back. I mean, that's worthwhile maybe in this case. But I can tell you, because that's what I do as a reporter, the science is pretty clear here. It's not what anybody wants to hear. Nobody likes what's happening right now. It is an infection. It is an illness that we are dealing with.

We can get through this, we can get better, but we've got to actually go through the treatment.

CAMEROTA: Sanjay, David Gregory, thank you both very much. We really appreciate talking to you.

Now this, grocery prices are rising faster than we've seen in decades. So we'll tell you what items will cost the next time you go to the store. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:15:00]

BERMAN: All right. New this morning, the biggest price jump for groceries in nearly 50 years, prices up 2.6 percent just last month. That's according to the Labor Department. That's the sharpest month, the increase since 1974.

Joining me now, CNN Chief Business Correspondent Christine Romans, also Anchor of Early Start, and CNN Anchor and Correspondent Julia Chatterley.

Romans, look, I think all of us who have shopped for groceries either online or those who have ventured out to the store, they know that this stuff is getting more and more expensive. What is getting the most expensive?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Oh, my gosh. Well, egg prices jumped like 16 percent. Meat prices are at record highs. Fruits and vegetables are up. Bakery and cereal items are up. I mean, all the major categories are up here as people are stockpiling. They're buying more stuff, they're eating more at home. I know you're feeding a couple of boys at home. I'm feeding three boys at home as well. More meals will be eaten in my house and more groceries have been bought in my house than probably ever before here.

And there are also some supply disruptions on the margin. So consumer behavior is changing, demand is up and you've got some supply wrinkles and that means higher prices.

BERMAN: Yes. This is 101, to an extent, Julia Chatterley, supply and demand both being affected here.

JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN BUSINESS ANCHOR: Absolutely. We've been talking about it. We've got wholesale meat prices, the highest that they've ever been. As Christine was saying, simply getting meat to be processed from the farms has been a challenge. So the cost of transport has been a problem, just taking care of your workers that are doing it and, of course, our consumption patterns have changed. We're buying more groceries than we've done for a very long time.

Overall prices fell, and this is an important thing. But where prices fell, things like cars and clothes, we're not buying, groceries are essential and we are.

BERMAN: That's right. No, consumer prices, in general, have gone down but for things that we don't need necessarily to exist every day. We do need food, which is why, I think, so many Americans are seeing this up firsthand.

Julia, another major development I was reading about overnight, small businesses, right, the life blood we like to say of the economy. There's a new concern that up to 100,000 small businesses that are closed or shut down right now might never reopen.

CHATTERLEY: And this is the crucial part of the stimulus package or the financial aid package and the PPP program was expected to try and achieve. It was to hold these small businesses steady.

Now, many businesses on a yearly basis go out and more are arriving and startup. So there's a crucial calculation here, difference I think you need to adjust for. But the fear is when these small businesses represent half of employment in the United States, losing any of them means permanent job loss. And that's the last thing we need right now amid a border crisis, a health crisis and an economic crisis.

This was what the stimulus package was meant to address. And there are fears that it's not been good enough and it's not been quick enough.

BERMAN: And, look, the biggest issue, I think, facing the economy is when will Americans be comfortable doing those things that fuel the economy?

And, Christine Romans, we have new poll numbers out from overnight. CNN asks, would you feel comfortable returning to regular routine today? 58 percent of Americans say no. If nearly 60 percent of Americans aren't comfortable going back to their routine, then it's going to take time for the economy to rebound.

ROMANS: It really will. And you've seen also in that same polling, just the collapse in how people feel about the economy too, unlike I've ever seen before. Only 34 percent rated the economy good. That's cut in half from just the past couple of months.

And here is where the science and the economics come together. If you have a choose your own adventure reopening in this country and you have a resurgence of the disease or you have problems, that's going to continue to hurt consumer confidence to hold the economy back. It's a vicious circle, really. If you go too quickly, you hurt the economy, you hurt people's confidence. And that is what the economy is after all, isn't it? It's the consumer confidence of all of us.

BERMAN: And, look, I talk to investors and every one of them, Romans, says to me that their biggest fear is that things will reopen and then there will be a second wave, a big spike. And that they say -- I mean, I can't imagine devastating the economy worse than it is, but their concern is that would send things to a new low.

ROMANS: And that's where policymakers have to step in. That's where we're talking about more stimulus, we're talking about more help for those small businesses that we were just talking about. This is where leadership comes in because the science is sort of unwavering, right? And the consumer part of it is also unknowable, how consumers are going to react.

So this is why you've got to have probably another stimulus package, I don't think it will be the $3 trillion that Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House, has put out there as a wish list, but this is where you will need policymakers and government to step in and be that bridge to the other side.

BERMAN: You can't divorce the economy from the medical aspect of this. That's for sure.

[07:20:01]

Julia Chatterley, the House, which is led by Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats, they are putting together this new relief package. It won't pass the Republican-led Senate. But what are some of the key tenets ere maybe that some people can agree on?

CHATTERLEY: This goes to exactly the heart of what we have been describing. Questions have been asked by the Democrats at exactly the right time, even if the Republicans don't agree. Do benefits need to be extended? Do we need to just push them out, particularly the $600 a week bump up to the end of year, gig economy workers, 29 million workers?

If the new normal involves less contracting, not allowing people into your homes, getting less Uber rides, that they need extended protections too, state and local. We know that these have been hammered by lack of money coming in. I mean, it was a trillion dollars nearly in this package. The money here is astonishing. But as we start to see what the economy looks like and as it opens up, we get the sense of what consumer spending looks like, how people are operating. I think that will give us a far greater sense of the kind of money and the extension of these benefits that's required. It's guesswork at this stage. One trillion more, very likely, I think, perhaps not three.

BERMAN: Julia Chatterley, Christine Romans, thank you very much.

The nation's top medical experts warning that reopening states too soon could lead to a dangerous spike in cases. We heard it from Dr. Anthony Fauci. So what's the plan for moving forward? We're going to speak to one of the key Democratic senators who was at that hearing, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:25:00]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: My concern is that we will start to see little spikes that might turn into outbreaks.

And if you think that we have it completely under control, we don't.

The right direction does not mean we have, by any means, total control of this outbreak.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: Well, despite warnings from health officials about coronavirus possibly spiking again, 48 states will partially reopen this month.

Joining us now is Alabama Senator Doug Jones. He's a member of the Senate committee that questioned the nation's top medical experts yesterday. Senator, great to see you.

I want to start with the thing that we keep hearing over and over again that part of the formula for reopening is testing and that we need more of it, we need it to be more readily available.

And what President Trump keeps touting is that the U.S. has done more testing than any other country. He says, we've done more than South Korea. He keeps holding up South Korea as this great comparison that the United States is better than. And you threw cold water on that yesterday. So let me just play that moment from the hearing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. DOUG JONES (D-AL): The fact that we are a nation that has about six times the population of South Korea, but yet we have about 310 times the number of deaths from this pandemic. So I think we have to be very careful in making comparisons around the world, comparing the United States to other countries.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: Okay. Senator, now, about three hours after you said that, the White House press secretary came out and touted how the U.S. has done more testing than South Korea. So I'm not sure your message is getting through to the White House. What do you think they don't understand about testing?

JONES: Well, I think that they just don't want to get it. I think they want things opened up quickly because the economy is continuing to tank. And that is a centerpiece of President Trump's re-election bid. But if you listen to what Dr. Fauci said, Dr. Redfield said, what Dr. Hahn said, they recognize that we are inadequate in testing, that we need more testing. And it's important to remember that it is not just testing.

Dr. Fauci yesterday talked about the spikes and community spread and the need for more testing. But he also talked about following the data from that testing, more contact tracing. That is incredibly important, and quarantining. That's why South Korea's numbers are down.

As Senator Romney said, they were aggressive in their testing and quarantining early on. And if we're going to open back up, we need to do the same thing for the next community spread that we are likely to see in the fall.

CAMEROTA: I'm not sure we're capable of that. And the reason that I say that is because of what Dr. Redfield said yesterday. He was very candid during that hearing and he admitted that it got away from them. They did have a system of contact tracing and then it overwhelmed the system. And I'm not sure that today we're in a different situation.

JONES: No, and I think we are in a much different situation. this hit us very, very quickly. We understand that now. If you look back at the timeline of January and February when the alarm bells were starting to sound, but it was not until March that all of a sudden, things just collapsed.

And I think we're in a much better position now to see how this virus has spread. What we've got, we've got incredible research going on about testing, we've got research going on about vaccines, we should learn the lessons from the past. And I think that we're in a much better position.

But the key is that we've got to start ramping that up now. We don't have time to wait. There is a sense of urgency despite what Senator McConnell said about this next stimulus package. There is a hell of a sense of an urgency with regard to testing, contact tracing and making sure that we have a quarantine plan in place for when we do see these spikes.

CAMEROTA: No, for sure. Listen, let me be clear. Yes, we've learned a lot. Yes, we have our arms more around this than we did back in February. But in terms of contact tracing, just contact tracing, are you saying that you think that the federal government and/or state governments are capable of doing the level of contact tracing that we will need?

JONES: They are capable. Are they capable at this very moment? Absolutely not. We've got to get more money to them. We've got to figure out this plan. Dr. Redfield testified yesterday that he's working with the states. I believe that. I think that the state, I know in my state, they're looking and trying ramp up all of this.

We are not capable of doing that at this very moment. But I think we've got the time, we've got the opportunities to do that. We've got to get more money. We've got to get a plan. Those plans are being developed. But they need to put the urgency on those plans.

[07:30:02]

I think by this summer, I think, we can do that. Look, we've got the opportunities to learn from these lessons.

END