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U.S. Vaccine Expert Warns of Darkest Winter in Modern History; Trump calls Fauci's Comments on Schools Unacceptable; Fauci Says U.S. Death Toll Probably Being Undercounted; Abbot Defend Test as Preliminary Study Reports Flaws; Wisconsin's Top court Strikes Down Stay-at-Home Order; U.S. States Reopening as Death Toll Exceeds 84,000; European Plans to Revive Air Travel for Summer Tourism; U.K. Finance Minister Says Significant Recession Likely. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired May 14, 2020 - 04:00   ET



ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us here in the United States and all around the world, you are watching CNN NEWSROOM and I'm Rosemary Church.

Just ahead, why Donald Trump is disputing the findings of America's top infectious disease expert. And --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think that the risk presents any higher than me going to a grocery store.


CHURCH: Back at the bars in Wisconsin just hours after the State Supreme Court overturns the governor's stay-at-home order.

Plus, we are just hours away from yet another dismal U.S. jobs report and the fed chairman has a stark warning about the economy.

One of America's top vaccine experts is warning of dark days ahead if the U.S. doesn't get control of this pandemic. Dr. Rick Bright who was recently demoted from his government post in a possible act of retaliation is scheduled to testify on Thursday to Congress. According to a preview of his prepared statements, he will tell lawmakers about hard truths.

Our window of opportunity is closing if we fail to develop a national coordinated response based in science, I fear the pandemic will get far worse and be prolonged causing unprecedented illness and fatalities. Without clear planning and implementation of the steps that I and other experts have outlined, 2020 will be the darkest winter in modern history.

Dr. Bright's testimony may not sit well with the White House just as President Trump took issue with Dr. Anthony Fauci's testimony on Tuesday. Fauci said it would be unlikely for schools to return to normal later this year.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: The idea of having treatments available or a vaccine to facilitate the re-entry of students into the fall term would be something that would be a bit of a bridge too far.


And we get more now from CNN's Kaitlyn Collins at the White House.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, President Trump on Wednesday offered his most direct criticism yet of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert. Who, of course, is one of his top health experts during the coronavirus pandemic. Saying that he disagreed with Dr. Fauci after he testified before the Senate the day earlier. And the President saying he found an answer that Fauci gave on opening schools unacceptable.

Now the president said he believed Dr. Fauci was playing all sides of the equation. When he was asked what he meant specifically by that, the President pointed to what Fauci had said about schools. Though he didn't say specifically which comment Fauci had made that it was that he disagreed with so vehemently. We know that Fauci told Senators he believed there would not be a vaccine ready by the time students are returning for the academic year in the fall if they are to be returning. But then he later clarified he does not think those things are tied together, that you have to have a vaccine in order for schools to reopen.

Another comment he made was in response to a question by Senator Rand Paul, one of the President's allies who of course is recovering from coronavirus when he was making the argument for reopening schools because kids have not had as great of an effect from coronavirus as adults have. Dr. Fauci pushed back saying there's a lot of unknowns about the disease. He did not want to say point blank that it was OK for children to go back to school yet because there is so much to be learned including the inflammatory disease that we've seen strike several hundred kids throughout the United States.

All of this comes as we also have new reporting that shows that the President and some of his top aides have questioned the way the CDC and other health organizations are counting the number of coronavirus deaths here in the United States. We're told that basically they think they may be over counting them and they may not be a reliable indicator for making decisions about reopening the country. And that is also a break with Dr. Fauci. Who we saw testify publicly yesterday that he believes the death count was almost certainly higher than what's being reported now.

Kaitlyn Collins, CNN, the White House.


CHURCH: Joining me to discuss this is Dr. Amy Compton-Phillips, a CNN medical analyst and chief clinical officer at Providence Health System. Thank you so much for talking with us.



CHURCH: So we just heard that administration officials are privately questioning the coronavirus death toll after Dr. Fauci testified the count is probably underreported. What's the scientific reasoning behind why the death toll is likely higher than we think and why is it important that we know that real number?

COMPTON-PHILLIPS: With the back logs we've had in testing, some people with symptoms haven't been able to access a test or they're in a part of the country without easy access to medical care. And so they stay at home with their cough and shortness of breath and then they pass away there.

Also in elderly people it seems the symptoms tend to be a little less discrete so people don't feel good, they just general malaise and then they die. So not the same cough, fever, shortness of breath that others get. And so what happens is people end up dying in other places without getting the test.

But it's why you saw New York City start to look at death rates this year compared to previous years and seeing this difference in death rates and that's how they were counting excess deaths from undiagnosed COVID. That's what Dr. Fauci was referring to, that we're missing some of these cases for people who simply aren't accessing care today.

CHURCH: Right. And President Trump also criticized Dr. Fauci for cautioning against sending children back to schools and universities too early while there's no vaccine available emphasizing they are vulnerable as well. President Trump insists it's only the aged and those with underlying health issues that are vulnerable. Who should we listen to, the scientist or the politician? And how do you decide when it is best to send kids back to school when we may not have a vaccine until next year?

COMPTON-PHILLIPS: You know, it is so critical to listen to the scientists and to give voice to the scientists. One thing in this epidemic that we have never seen before in the U.S. is the muzzling of people with expertise. You saw it in the quashing of the CDC report and how to get people back to work safely because for some reason it wasn't seen as politically palatable. And just ensuring that we have the capacity to listen to the experts, so that people that actually study the epidemiology and know how to keep us safe. It's essential for us to be able to hear that and use that truth to guide our path forward. And for some reason we're in this very odd moment when we're not allowing people with expertise to speak that truth and so we're not able to use it to guide us rationally.

CHURCH: Yes, and we're also learning more about this virus as we go along, aren't we? And now two new studies reveal that COVID-19 attacks not only the lungs, but the brain, kidneys, heart, liver, tongue, toes and intestines. And so, should this give us more reason to be cautious as states and countries open up. But how do we strike that balance between health and economics?

COMPTON-PHILLIPS: You know, I think we do things rationally, logically, slowly and progressively. And in fact, what the White House guidelines say about opening the country are a rational path forward. They're not very specific. They don't give us much guidance, which is what that CDC report that isn't getting released does, is specifically tell you how do you open a store? How do you open a school safely, rationally. And somehow wanting to take short cuts we're missing some of that guidance. Because we know people should not have to choose between continuing living and making a living. We need to do both. But we need to do the former guided by the science of the latter.

CHURCH: And doctor, we're also learning that thousands of people are volunteering to be exposed to COVID-19 to speed up the effort to find and distribute a vaccine for the virus. This is called a human challenge study. Which is a controlled human infection study where volunteers are actually given the experimental vaccine and then deliberately exposed to the pathogen via nasal spray or some other means. Does this global emergency justify taking those risks to get a vaccine out there and save many more lives?

COMPTON-PHILLIPS: You know, this is one of those moments when I am just continuously amazed at the goodness people have wanting to help their neighbor, right? Wanting to help everybody else. It's the same reason people donate plasma. Everybody wants to find a cure and they're willing to put themselves at risk to do so. Any time during this study we have something called informed consent and say these are the risks and these are the benefits. And so people would willingly do this.

The reason it makes a vaccine trial much faster is because normally you have to observe people.


You give the test vaccine to a group and then other people don't get it and then you watch them over time and see who potentially gets exposed and what are the statistics. And that can honestly take a couple years. So the fact that you're actually giving the vaccine and then exposing them to the virus, you learn very quickly how well that vaccine works. And that's why it really short-circuits it. So it is ethical, but you have to really make sure people understand what they're signing up for because there's real and legitimate risk to everybody involved.

CHURCH: Yes, incredible risk, but if this can actually speed up the process, a lot of people would be very thankful to those volunteers. Dr. Amy Compton-Phillips, thank you very much. Appreciate it as always.

COMPTON-PHILLIPS: Thank you so much for having me. CHURCH: A preliminary study from New York University says the virus

testing kits praised by President Trump and used by the White House frequently give the wrong results. The University says the rate of false negatives makes Abbott's 15-minute I.D. NOW test unacceptable in its clinics. CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta says even a small rate of wrong results could be dangerous.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well this is a study that came out of NYU. They looked at, you know, I think 30, 35 samples, somewhere in there. And the failure rate was obviously very concerning. You know, Abbott has commented on this saying they're looking into it. Maybe the tests weren't being performed correctly. This is obviously a significant sort of test because it could give results really quickly. If you're waiting days for your test results and you end up having the virus and you're out there spreading it, that's been the concern. So people need results quickly. This can give one in 15 minutes.

But even before this study -- which still needs to be peer reviewed. Again, and Abbott needs to look into this more. There were studies suggesting that it could have a failure rate -- false negative rate, I should say, of 15 to 25 percent. If 100 people have the infection, they all get the test. If you have a falls negative rate of 15 percent, that means 15 of those people will be told you don't have the virus, they actually do.

If you're in a hospital and they get put into a COVID negative part of the hospital, a place where there's not COVID spreading, now you spread it. That creates a cluster in a hospital. The same sort of thing could happen in a nursing home. Or, you know obviously, we're talking about states opening up. People out there out and about potentially spreading. This is a big concern. Especially given that people can spread this without symptoms. They have no other barometer by which to measure other than the results of this test. If it's wrong, that's a problem.


CHURCH: The drug maker insists its test has a high accuracy rate and other studies contradict the New York study. According to Abbott, more than 1,000 sites are using the I.D. NOW test to screen for COVID-19.

Well now to Wisconsin where the State Supreme Court has overturned Wisconsin's stay-at-home order ruling it unlawful and unenforceable. The result, several bars near Milwaukee immediately reopened for business after the court ruling and folks there are speaking out.


KATIE KOUTSKI, CUSTOMER: I have a toddler at home and I'm a full-time nurse so it's been very stressful and hard to not be able to go out and be with my friends and family at the bars.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you concerned about possibly getting coronavirus from being inside of a bar tonight?

KOUTSKI: No, I don't think that the risk presents any higher than me going to a grocery store.


CHURCH: Well the court's decision is a big win for the Republican led legislature which argued the order would cost jobs and hurt many companies. The court rules that Democratic Governor Tony Evers overstepped his authority when the state's health department extended the order to May 26th. Governor Evers told CNN's Don Lemon the court ruling puts his state into chaos.


TONY EVERS, WISCONSIN GOVERNOR (via phone): Evers, the Republicans, they've worked with them and they have provided no plan. Even when they went to the Supreme Court, they said they had a plan. Haven't seen it and now we have no plan and we have no protections for the people of Wisconsin. This will cause us to have spikes across the state, there's no question about it. When you have more people in a small space, I don't care if it's bars, restaurants, or your home, you're going to be able to spread the virus. And so, now today thanks to the Republican legislators who convinced four Supreme Court Justices to not look at the law but look at their political careers, I guess, it was -- it's a bad day for Wisconsin. It's the wild west.


CHURCH: And while the death toll in the U.S. exceeds 84,000, almost every state is pushing ahead with plans to reopen. Erica Hill has the details.



ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Shopping, restaurants, the beach, signs of pre-COVID life returning, as experts warn the virus itself may be here to stay.

DR. MICHAEL J. RYAN, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: This virus may become just another endemic virus in our communities. And this virus may never go away.

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

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

HILL: New York state is now investigating more than 100 cases prompting new questions about what school could look like this fall if children can return to the classroom.

NED LAMONT, CONNECTICUT GOVERNOR: 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: across the country grocery prices rising to the highest levels in nearly 50 years. New cases in Georgia and South Carolina, two of the first states to reopen, mostly flat over the past week. South Dakota boasting some of the highest spikes along with Arkansas and Delaware.

New Orleans once a major hotspot allowing some businesses to return 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.

DR. 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: Washington DC extending its stay-at-home order today through June 8. Colorado's tourism office asking out-of-state visitors to stay home. As Miami Beach offers a plan to reopen more than 1,600 businesses and restaurants.

RICKY ARRIOLA, COMMISSIONER, MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA: Every day that we keep these folks out of business it just prolongs not just economic suffering but the suffering of the families that work in these establishments.

HILL: Arizona and Florida announcing professional sports can return to their states.

RON DESANTIS, FLORIDA GOVERNOR: There's been reports that major league soccer may want to have their season in Orlando. Do it. We want to have you here. We want to have the basketball practicing again. We would love to have the major league baseball.

HILL: New CNN polling shows Americans are split on whether players should suit up. Locally some teams are experimenting with socially distance baseball.


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

HILL: Disinfectant in the dugout. Distant umpires and fans. Weird but worth it.

(on camera): More and more states announcing plans for reopening. In New Jersey, Governor Phil Murphy says people can start to gather in large groups in their vehicles. So he's talking about things like drive in movie theaters and even worship services. The governor, however, notes that if your vehicle is closer than six feet to the one next to you, your windows, your sunroof and if you're in a convertible the top of that car need to remain closed. Back to you.


CHURCH: Thanks for that report. And you are watching CNN NEWSROOM.

Still to come, as people in England gradually return to work, there are questions over how safe it is to do so. We will be live in London. Back in a moment.



CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone.

Well the European Commission has a plan to get planes back in the air for summer travel. It unveiled sweeping guidelines for social distancing, contact tracing across borders and travel bubbles between countries where infection rates are low. But the EU's blueprint to save the summer season might not help. The International Air Transport Association doesn't expect the industry to return to 2019 levels until 2023. Meanwhile, TUI, the world's biggest travel operator, warns it could lay off 8,000 employees. Ultimately, the EU Transport Commissioner's message, travel at your own risk.

Well, as some people in England start work for a second day since restrictions were eased, there are fears over their health as well as the health of the British economy. Busier public transport is raising concerns of a potential second spike in infections while the finance minister is warning of a significant recession this year.

Nina dos Santos joins us now from London. Good to see you, Nina. So it's a very difficult balance to strike, isn't it, to strike between health and economics. So not all governments are getting this right. What are people across England saying about their experience so far as they emerge from their lockdown?

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's interesting, Rosemary. As you were just talking about the European Commission's guidance there, which especially when it comes to leisure travel, travel very much at your own risk. It's your decision. However, there's been a very different message in the U.K. as people are desperate to get back to work after the seven weeklong lockdown. And the government, frankly, is desperate for them to help crank the economy back into action.

Boris Johnson has been accused of a very chaotic response to try and to open up the U.K.'s economy this week. On the one hand he hit the airwaves in a recorded speech from Downing Street on Sunday evening that appeared to tell people to get back to work straightaway. Then it emerged that it wasn't actually Monday morning they were going to get back to work on. It was new restrictions coming into place from Wednesday.

But the problem is especially across the British capitol, there's only the public transport to keep people safe and at a safe social distance to get them back to work. So huge scenes of crammed buses, subway system operating at under capacity that couldn't keep people from being crammed into railway carriages themselves. And then, of course, there are other parts of the country and other parts of the capital that saw trains running empty.


It just gives you an idea of the massive herculean task that they have here in terms of sort of planning out how to reopen things in a safe and orderly manner.

And this is where I come to the fact that other parts of the U.K. are doing things very differently. Boris Johnson doesn't have full jurisdiction on matters like public health over other parts like Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. They say it's still too dangerous to reopen things. Their message is stay home, not stay alert. Which is a new message in the rest of England.

As you pointed out in your introduction there, Rosemary, it's all about balancing the shock to the economy. We know the finance minister has said that the U.K.'s probably already now inside a pretty swift and pronounced recession. How can they temper that while still preventing a second spike in infections and keeping people safe? That's the high wire act Boris Johnson is currently trying to pull off -- Rosemary.

CHURCH: Yes, it is a difficult one, too. Nina dos Santos joining us live from London. Many thanks.

A dire warning from the Federal Reserve chairman as economists expect millions more Americans filed for unemployment benefits. The latest on the U.S. economy. That's coming up.


CHURCH: There's still so much we don't know about COVID-19, but researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have discovered the droplets from the mouth of someone infected can linger in the air for more than eight minutes. The study found talking loudly for just one minute in a confined space could generate at least 1,000 droplets. And this animation from Purdue University shows how tiny droplets from a single cough can spread through the cabin of a passenger jet. And it's findings like these that make effective contact tracing.