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CDC Releases Scaled-Back Guidance As States Reopen; Researchers Use Cows To Develop Possible COVID-19 Treatment; Face Coverings Mandatory For Los Angeles County Residents. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired May 15, 2020 - 10:00   ET



JIM SCIUTTO, CNN NEWSROOM: A very good Friday morning to you. I'm Jim Sciutto.


Just a few hours from now, the White House says the president will make an announcement on vaccine development. We're told Dr. Fauci will be attending this event in the rose garden. We'll stay on top of all the headlines from that as we get them.

SCIUTTO: And also this, states have been making moves to reopen for weeks. And the CDC just released a six-page but scaled back list of guidelines for businesses and schools to make their own decisions to safely get back up and running. Six pages all voluntarily decision trees is what they provided. More on that and the states reopening in just a moment.

But, first, let's get to CNN's John Harwood on this new vaccine development announcement. Do we know exactly what the president is going to announce at noon?

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Not exactly. We did get a briefing or a preview from White House Adviser Kellyanne Conway, who talked about the staffing up of Operation Warp Speed, which is the administration's effort to accelerate vaccine development. Here is Kellyanne Conway.


KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: He'll be unveiling two professionals who will be leading the effort. But that comes quickly on the heels of the FDA cutting a ton of red tape and regulations to allow us to already be developing therapeutics and vaccines.


HARWOOD: Kellyanne is talking about Moncef Slaoui, who is a former pharmaceutical executive who is going to be the chief adviser, Gustave Perna, who is the four star army general, who will be the chief operating officer of Operation Warp Speed.

The question, of course, is how fast is Warp Speed. Anthony Fauci has talked about a 12 to 18-month timeline beginning in January. He was talking about that timeline, which means 12 months would be January.

But there has been progress on the multiple vaccine candidates that are being explored from Oxford University to NIH. Scott Gottlieb, the former FDA commissioner, has said that there could be vaccine doses available for emergency use in September if we get outbreaks in particular areas.

The question, really, is going to be then how soon after that could we mass-produce vaccine to give to people who are vulnerable in this country. And if there is additional details on that today, that would be welcome.

The reopening of the economy and the end of the shutdown is very controversial around the country. There is nothing controversial about the push for a vaccine, which is the exit strategy out of this crisis, guys.

HARLOW: Yes, really the only one. John, we're looking forward to that event. Thank you very much for reporting from the White House.

Let's turn now to the re-openings across the country. Jason Carroll joins us again this hour in from Binghamton, New York, where millions in the State of New York are still under a stay-at-home order.

Five regions, though, meeting that criteria to reopen?

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right, right, right. I mean, when you look at what's happening here in the State of New York. I mean, it's much different from what's happening in many other places. I mean, you can't even really compare what's happening here compared to like a Wisconsin or a Michigan, for example.

I mean, even when you look at New York, the governor made it clear that he was going to take a regional approach to this. That's why when you look at New York City, which is still under that stay-at-home order, an order that's been extended until the end of the month, until May 28th, and when you compare that to what's happening in upstate, where we are here in Binghamton, you've got five of ten regions in upstate that have met the criteria in order to begin reopening, so that's why today you'll see construction, manufacturing, curbside retail able to go forward and reopen.

I mean, the folks that we've talked to up here, Poppy, this is a day that they say is a long time coming. I spoke to a man who works in construction, runs a construction company, I spoke to him in a town that sits not far from here, and he says, this day is long overdue.


JOSEPH DUNDON, OWNER, DUNDON CONSTRUCTION: I'm very excited to get back to work. I know my work crew, everybody is pretty sick of being home, so we're eager to get back to work and we're doing our best to acquire all the PPE that we need for our employees, the hand sanitizer that we're going to need to help our employees stay safe on the job.


CARROLL: So, reopening but trying to do their best to reopen carefully. That's going to be the story here in Binghamton.

But, again, you look at New York City. New York City has only met four out of the seven criteria in order to begin reopening. So, again, New York City still on pause, still waiting to economically get back on their feet. Poppy, Jim?

SCIUTTO: And, of course, that's where the population of the state is focused, so many millions affected by that. Jason Carroll, thanks very much.

To Wisconsin now, confusion. Local leaders making their own rules one by one, community by community, this after the state supreme court struck down the state's stay-at-home order. Omar Jimenez in Waukesha, Wisconsin.


Tell us how that looks on the ground there.

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim and Poppy, in the absence of that statewide order, what we're really seeing in places like this part of Wisconsin is that, for example, in this county, the county order is that there is no order restricting businesses and how they open. The only thing they are asking is they are recommending that these businesses follow social distancing protocols as laid out by the CDC, which means bars, restaurants, cafes, even all the way up to movie theaters have the flexibility to open if they'd like.

Now, yesterday we stopped at one of those bars at a happy hour, and it basically looked like any happy hour with pre-pandemic. The only difference is the bartender had a mask on. And while people were sitting in groups, it did seem like they stayed with the groups they came with and they were all in different parts of the bar themselves.

One of the cafes we stopped by as well, they're trying to put their seating so that no one would sit next to each other. And, again, this goes back to the state's supreme court striking down the Wisconsin- wide stay-at-home order order, leaving these individual jurisdictions to come up with their own plans.

And it also creates a dynamic that is concerning for some. Because the restrictions we're seeing here in Waukesha County are different from what we're seeing just a county over in Milwaukee, and different from what we're seeing in the state capital of Madison, all drivable between each other, which means, depending on where you go, you have different restrictions, different potential risk exposure situations before you then, of course, potentially come back home.

And, again, as for moving forward, when we could see a new statewide order, it's going to come down to the governor and the Republican-led legislature working together here. HARLOW: If they can work together. Omar, thanks very much.

So let's talk to Rosa Flores now. She's following the latest for us in Florida. Miami-Dade, Broward Counties can open up restaurants on Monday, is that right?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You're absolutely right, Poppy. restaurants opening on Monday in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties and also non-essential

business, like retail stores, nail salons, hair salons. But restaurants standout because every other county around the state that has reopened restaurants, they've only been allowed to reopen at 25 percent capacity. But Miami-Dade and Broward asked the governor for 50 percent capacity and the governor approved that.

Now, as these counties reopen, of course, they are listening to experts. One of the key things about reopening an area is contact tracing. According to the Florida Joint Information Center on COVID- 19, the state has about 1,100 contact tracers around the state.

Well, Miami-Dade upping the ante, they are hiring between 800 and 1,000 contact tracers, and that's really by no surprise. Because when you look at the numbers here in the state, Miami-Dade is the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic here in the state. It accounts for about 35 percent of the state's 43,000 cases.

So, Jim and Poppy, as this county enters Phase 1 of the reopening plan, again, they are hiring between 800 and 1,000 contact tracers to make sure that they can keep abreast of these cases in the county. Jim and Poppy?

SCIUTTO: Rosa Flores, we know you're going to be watching it closely.

Joining us now to speak about this and more is infectious disease specialist, Dr. Carlos del Rio. Doctor, good to have you on this morning.


SCIUTTO: I wonder, as a specialist in outbreaks like this in infectious diseases, does giving, not just communities, but individual business owners a decision tree to decide when it's safe to open or close to establish that they've met safety standards, et cetera, does that work? Does that work across the country? Is that efficient?

DEL RIO: I think that's a very good guideline that CDC has put together. I think those charts are really useful. I think we need some sort of road map and that's a very useful road map.

There is also other information out there. I don't know if you've seen something called the COVID Exit Project, but there's some really nice data on how states are meeting or not meeting the requirements, how infections are doing over the past 14 days, what their testing capacity is, what their ICU capacity is. The more information we have, the more road maps we have, the better decision-making we're going to make.

HARLOW: As we wait for the White House, the president to hold this announcement in the rose garden at noon today about vaccine development, you have particular concern about -- in terms of, you know, opposition, growing opposition in this country to vaccination in general.

DEL RIO: Well, I think the progress that we've made in the development of a COVID vaccine is really incredible. There is nowhere in history that we went from discovering a virus and sequencing a virus to having a vaccine enter a human trial. 63 days was the time. That is just unbelievable.

So I don't know how much more speeding can happen. We're about to start in late June, early July the Phase 2 study. 30,000 people are going to be enrolled.


That's going to tell us if the vaccine works. Then we have to produce it. But then people have to accept the vaccine.

And I think, again, we need to understand that without a vaccine, and we don't vaccinate enough people, it is not easy to control this epidemic.


SCIUTTO: Dr. del Rio, I'm sure you're aware of the debate and some of the opposition to the extension of stay-at-home orders. You have this argument, this question saying, hey, wait a second, we thought the stay-at-home orders were to flatten the curve, right, so you didn't have big peaks and so hospitals weren't overwhelmed.

Now, that that's happened in a lot of places, some will look and say, wait a second, have the goalposts been moved? Is now the standard reducing cases across the board as often and as long as you can? How do you respond to that?

DEL RIO: You know, it's a very tricky balancing act, right? The key is how can we reopen safely the economy, how can we reopen some businesses but at the same time not overwhelm our healthcare systems? We don't want to have what happened in Spain, what happened in France, what happened in many places, including Wuhan, where the healthcare system was overwhelmed and you simply couldn't handle the number of patients and that increased mortality.

So we need to do two things. Number one, we need to protect the most vulnerable populations, because those are the highest risk of going into the hospital and having severe complications. But, number two, we need to monitor our hospital admissions and our ICU capacity. And if those start to get into a danger zone of getting overwhelmed, we need to start thinking about slowing down the admission.

So this is a little bit of a sort push and pull process that is going to require having really good information, having a lot of testing and having really good contact tracing in place.

HARLOW: What do parents need to know about this inflammatory syndrome in children that seems to be tied to COVID?

DEL RIO: Well, I think the most important thing they need to know is that, you know, I've heard a lot of parents and a lot of people say, we're going to have COVID parties so our kids get exposed because kids don't have any problems. That's not a good idea. Because while kids tend to do okay, some of the kids can get really sick and can have this inflammatory disease called Kawasaki Syndrome that can really get them in trouble.

So the best advice is do not expose yourself unintentionally to COVID. And as I tell people, continue practicing safe distances, continue wearing you're a mask, washing your hands, and the best thing you can do is not acquire COVID.

SCIUTTO: Final question, schools have big decisions to make in the fall here, and the data does still show that young people are less at risk than older people or people with existing/preexisting conditions here. Does that, as an expert, make it safer, in your view, as the president contends, to reopen schools?

DEL RIO: Well, it does and it doesn't, because, remember, schools -- the kids may be okay, but you'll also have teachers, you'll have kids go home and be with grandparents, and the kids can then take the infection. So the problem is not what happens to kids. It's what happens with the kids that get infected and then take the infection somewhere else. And I'm afraid you can have outbreaks.

So, again, we need to look at the CDC guidelines and we need to look at other things, because there is a way to safely open schools, but we may need to do school in a very different way. Again, social distancing for children is really hard, so what can we do to prevent outbreaks?

We may need to have smaller classrooms, we may need to have different kinds of activities, we may need to have different school hours. That is all being actively Discussed right now. And, again, the idea is how do we do these things in a most effective but also safe way?

SCIUTTO: Yes, a lot of talk now about alternating days, right, reducing class size, kind of people coming in one day and then the other. Dr. Carlos del Rio, great to have you on and we wish you the best of luck.

DEL RIO: Thank you very much. Have a good weekend.

SCIUTTO: While the president claims that certain states and localities are not reopening for political reasons, specifically, he has sided (ph) Los Angeles. We're going to get reaction from the L.A. County's director of public health, coming up.

HARLOW: Also, Ford will reopen its U.S. plants on Monday. The question becomes how do they keep all of their employees safe? We have an exclusive interview with Ford's CEO, ahead. And here is something you don't hear every day. Cows could be the key to creating a coronavirus treatment and saving human lives, seriously. Details ahead.



SCIUTTO: So there's a lot of experimenting going on now, and could cows soon be able to help in developing a treatment for people infected with coronavirus?

Right now, researchers are studying ways to use antibodies derived from animals with genetically modified immune systems in order to save human lives.

HARLOW: It's fascinating and it's interesting to see what the potential might be. Elizabeth Cohen, our Senior Medical Correspondent, is with us.

So, essentially, these cows could be plasma donors?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. We think of people as being plasma donors, but, Poppy, these aren't just any cows. These are cows that are made to be a little bit like us.


COHEN: Cows, they're just like us, really. These cows are just like us in one important way, a way that could possibly save lives during the pandemic. These cows have human chromosomes.

You've given the cow a human immune system?

DR. EDDIE J. SULLIVAN, SAB BIOTHERAPEUTICS: No. We've certainly given the cow part of a human immune system.

COHEN: And so this company, SAb Biotherapeutics in South Dakota, is hoping their blood could help make a drug to fight COVID-19.

Here is how it works. Using genetic engineering, scientists create a cow embryo that contains parts of human chromosomes. That embryo becomes a calf and then a cow. Then a non-infectious part of the novel coronavirus is injected into that cow.


Because of genetic engineering, the cow produces human antibodies to the virus. Those antibodies are collected from the cow, and once purified, become a drug that might work to combat the coronavirus in humans.

So these cows are plasma donors, just like humans who have recovered from coronavirus and donate blood. But the cows have a big advantage, and that is they're big and have a lot of blood to give.

SULLIVAN: So that's one of the reasons that we chose cattle, because obviously they are a large animal.

COHEN: Plus they can donate plasma three times a month. Humans can only donate once a month.

Another company, Regeneron, is trying a similar experiment with mice who are engineered to have portions of a human immune system. The scientists called the magic mice, they extract in clone the best antibodies.

DR. GEORGE YANCOPOULOS, REGENERON: We put in the genes for the human immune system into mice so that these mice have pretty much exactly a human immune system.

COHEN: Both companies plan to start human clinical trials early this summer.

If all goes well, when might this drug be on the market?

YANCOPOULOS: So, if all goes well, we expect that we will have the drug on the market by early next year.

COHEN: Of course, there is no telling if this will work, but hopefully these part-human animals will play a role in saving lives during the pandemic.


COHEN: Now an interesting note, all of the cows that you just saw, they are female, because female cows apparently produce more antibodies. Jim, Poppy?

SCIUTTO: Elizabeth Cohen, remarkable research there. Thanks very much.

Well, the president accuses cities, such as Los Angeles, of playing politics when it comes to reopening their economy. We're going to see what the county's director of public health has to say in response, Next.


SCIUTTO: 10 million Los Angeles County residents must now cover their faces when they go outside. This is part of the effort to stop the spread of the virus as more people start moving around. Plus, a new safer-at-home order is in effect in L.A. for the next few months.

Joining me now is the Director pf L.A. County's Department of Public Health, Dr. Barbara Ferrer. Dr. Ferrer, good to have you back in.

DR. BARBARA FERRER, DIRECTOR, L.A. COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH: Good morning, Jim. Thanks for having me.

SCIUTTO: So no set end date for this safer-at-home order. Why is that?

FERRER: I think we're on a recovery journey. We're going to slowly be relaxing restrictions over the next few months.

We're going to be very mindful of making sure that as we relax the restrictions, we're paying attention to what's happening with our rates of hospitalization, and obviously, you know, looking at what's happening in terms of deaths.

We want to make sure that we don't put ourselves in a position where we could overwhelm the healthcare system, and for all of us, you know, we really don't want our loved ones to be dying.

So we are going to go measured. We are going to go slow. But because it's a recovery journey, there really isn't an end date at this point. What there is is sort of this gradual move to reopen and reopen safely.

And I do want to clarify face coverings, because what it is is you're required to use a face covering here in the county when you're out and about with other people that are not with your household.

You know, obviously if you're by yourself or you're with your family members, you're okay, the people who are in your household. It's when you're going to be in contact with other people that we want you to keep that face covering on.

As we relax these orders and our people are about, we only have two things we can do now. We can keep our distance from people and we can cover our faces so that our respiratory droplets aren't going to expose other people.

SCIUTTO: Okay. You likely heard the president accusing Los Angeles of extending a safer-at-home order for political reasons. Have a listen to his comment. I want to give you a chance to respond.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Los Angeles, I think they're doing that for political reasons. Look, the less successful we are in opening, the better they are, probably, maybe for an election.


SCIUTTO: You've issued this order? Is that why you issued it?

FERRER: I don't even understand that context, to be honest. I mean, this is some of the hardest work we've ever had to do as public health people in really trying to balance the need for people to get back to work and to have some normalcy in their life with our obligation to make sure that we don't have an explosive spread of a virus that is very deadly for some of our most vulnerable residents.

So I don't think there is any politics here. I think there is really how to take measured steps forward. I think from the NIH director to the CDC director to all the public health directors around the country are hearing the same measured response to recovery. Let's do this, let's do it carefully, let's make sure we're paying attention to the science and the data so that we don't jeopardize all of the progress that we've made.


You know, we have slowed the spread here in L.A. County.