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Dr. Howard Forman Discusses Scaled-Back CDC Reopening Guidelines; 5 Sailors on "USS Theodore Roosevelt" Test Positive for Coronavirus; NY Governor Cuomo Gives Update on Coronavirus Response. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired May 15, 2020 - 11:30   ET



DR. HOWARD FORMAN, PROFESSOR OF PUBLIC HEALTH MANAGEMENT & ECONOMICS, YALE UNIVERSITY: I think, first and foremost, is you want to have testing capacity. You want to have rapid, reliable testing. You want to be able to provide people with accessible, affordable isolation when they do test positive.

And you want to be able to get the positive rate in testing down to a very manageable level so, at some point, you can move into contact tracing mode and close this down completely.

If you do anything too prematurely, you're going to set off a new wave and then you've basically set us back several months.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: In the context of these decision trees, so the federal government's guidance is pretty basic. It's common sense. There's nothing wrong with it, but it's pretty basic.

I want to show you some polling and get your take on what should governors, what should experts like yourself when you're on television or in communities talking to people be saying, as we do see -- this is Gallup polling of people isolated outside their house, in their houses, from April to May.

Fewer people are staying at home. Those under a stay-at-home order, close to 71 percent following it, 64 percent going outside. We see no stay-at-home order. More and more people are leaving the house and they're moving about to different degrees.

What do they need to know? What do they need to hear from their government and their experts about best practices?

FORMAN: There's a lot of things we've come to learn over the last several months through this process. One is wearing masks. It's maintaining social distancing. It's not crowding into smaller rooms. There are so many things that we have learned that we can do.

And, look, it's understandable that quarantine fatigue is setting in all over the country, and, in fact, all over the world. And what we need to do is put in place additional levers that continue to tamp down on the outbreak even as other things that we're doing might be starting to elevate risk.

KING: Dr. Forman, I really appreciate your expertise and insights. Thank you very much.

FORMAN: Thank you.

KING: Thank you, sir. Have a great day.

This disheartening update now from the U.S. Navy. We're told at least five sailors on board the "USS Theodore Roosevelt" have once again tested positive for coronavirus. The Navy telling CNN the sailors had met, quote, "rigorous recovery criteria" that the Navy says exceeds all CDC guidelines.

This comes, of course, after more than a thousand sailors tested positive on that ship back in March.

CNN's Barbara Starr at the Pentagon with the latest here.

Barbara, sad to say the least.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: It's a very mystifying situation, John, because the sailors on the "Teddy Roosevelt" follow hygiene standards probably more than anybody does.

But now five of them that had been sent back to the ship cleared or said to be healthy, and had two negative tests, did test positive once they were back aboard the ship. They are being taken off. They are being treated.

In addition, 18 other sailors that had been in close proximity to them are being taken off the ship. They are being screened out of an abundance of caution.

The "Roosevelt" has had a tough time. They have had hundreds of sailors recover and go back on board very successfully.

But the question now is, what is happening and what made this happen. Is the testing not as accurate as it is thought to be? Were these false negatives and they always had a little bit of the virus still in their system? This is something the Navy is looking at.

And the CDC is looking at these tests, we know, on behalf of everybody trying to keep everybody safe.

The military has had a total of about 5,000 active-duty cases. Right now, an indicator of how many people have recovered. They are down to 3,000 cases, active cases in the military right now with about 28 hospitalizations.

But there's a big push on to understand the testing, understand how accurate it may be, what else needs to be done.

And as secretary -- the defense secretary, Mark Esper, recently said, he's worried a second wave of the virus may be coming. And they'll have to figure out how to keep everyone healthy and safe in the military just like the rest of us -- John?

KING: Just like the rest of us but their duty incredibly important.

Barbara Starr, I appreciate the update there. Come back to us when we know more.

We're waiting for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. He'll give his daily briefing in just a moment.


Russia now has the second-largest number of coronavirus cases in the world. The big international headlines up next.


KING: The governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, in Albany today.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): The number of hospitalizations down. That's the way we like to see it. Rolling average down. That's the way we like to see it. Change in intubations down. That's the way we like to see it.

Number of new cases up. We don't like to see that. But it's only up a tick. And again, these numbers tend to bounce. But it's been a slow decline, there's no doubt about that. And you see there's been several plateaus in the decline.

We are very curious to find out where that number winds up, how low the new cases go. We've done a lot of research, as you know. Those new cases mostly coming from people who are at home. So we're talking about home spread, more than at work, more than first responders, more than essential personnel.

And that's the hardest place to control the spread is when a person is literally at home, right? There are very few precautions. It's all about personal behavior. That's where those cases are coming from.

Number of deaths is down, but still painful, 132. We are right about where we were when we started this, number of lives lost. We go right back to March 27th, and that's when we really first started this miserable journey.

Good news again. If you look at New York, our curve is down. Congratulations, New Yorkers. And actually, the curve in the rest of the nation is up. So while cases are increasing across the country, the number of cases in New York are actually going down.

And that's remarkable in some ways because we had more cases than anyone else. Not because there's anything in particular in the air in New York, but because we had people coming from Europe bringing the virus at a time when no one knew the virus had moved from China to Europe.

And we had three million Europeans come January, February, March before we did the ban on European travel. And those flights came to the east coast and they landed at JFK Airport, which was one of the funnel airports, if you remember.

So the problem had nothing to do with us. But we were then tasked with resolving it. New Yorkers stepped up to the plate and have done a great job.

The question now is on reopening. We're going to open half the regions in the state today, five regions out of 10. They are the regions that meet the numerical criteria.

There's no politics to this judgment. There's no arbitrary nature to this judgment. It's all on the numbers. Seven criteria, which basically measure the infection rate, hospitalization rate, testing rate, et cetera, and that's how the decision is made for those regions that don't qualify for opening today.

We're extending the pause order, which is the closedown of institutions and services that have been closed down. If a region hits its benchmark at any time, regardless of the pause order, then that region can open.

We're opening phase one in those five regions today.

Just some points on each of those industries. Residential/commercial construction will open, indoor construction and outdoor. Masks must be worn by employees when they're six feet from one another. So they must all have masks. The employer must provide the masks. Any gloves, any equipment that the employees need on that work site must be provided by the employer. There's no congregate meetings.

For retail businesses, curbside pickup starts. The employee and the purchaser in the vehicle must be wearing a mask. Anyone in the vehicle must be wearing a mask. Gloves are preferred but they're not mandated. The employer, the store owner must make hand sanitizer available.


If curbside pickup is not practical, then in-store pickup is available. But it is in-store pickup. It is not in-store shopping. It's in-store pickup because curbside is not practical. It requires ordering ahead. Social distancing in the store. No more than 50 percent maximum occupancy for that store for people coming to pick up.

Patrons must wear masks. Store employees must wear a mask, Gloves preferred. Hand sanitizer has to be made available.

For an individuals' behavior, people ask, well, what am I supposed to be doing as an individual. I'm not a store owner. I don't work construction. I understand, as an employee, what my requirements are, but just what do I do in normal life.

When you're in public, and you're within six feet of another person, wear a mask. That is a requirement. Curbside or in-store pickup, where a mask and socially distance.

Store owners should not let you in the store for an in-store pickup if you don't have a mask. The exception is less than two years old. Or some people for medical reasons can't wear a mask.

In a construction or manufacturing setting, the employee must wear a mask whenever they can't socially distance. And the employer has to meet certain precautions, which they said they would when they reopened under this.

In private, people ask, what should I do. Then you have our best advice, but in private is private. What you do in your home, what you do with your family, what you do with your personal relationships, your friendships.

We've talked about exposure to senior citizens and how you should be careful to vulnerable populations. But there are no government requirements on what you do in your home, et cetera.

The responsibility for local officials and what we call the Regional Control Center, local officials have to enforce business compliance and social distancing. These businesses are opening subject to saying they will comply with safety precautions. Local officials have to make sure they are followed as well as social distancing guidelines for individuals.

The Regional Control Center will have a daily morning meeting where they review and monitor the infection, testing and hospitalization rates. And I can't stress this enough.

We're starting to turn the valve. One of my favorite graphics. Not saying a heck of a lot. Starting to turn the activity valve. Watch what happens to the infection rate, testing rate, hospitalization rate. If those numbers start to move, slow down on the activity level. That requires you to monitor the impact of this increase in public activity.

You will see an increase. We expect to see an increase. But that increase has to be monitored and has to be controlled.

We've talked about the infection rate, the rate of transmission. When the rate of transmission hits 1.1, you're headed towards a bad place. So monitor that rate daily and correct immediately if you see an increase in those numbers.

Beaches. We've talked about coordinating with other states. And this has happened in other parts of the country, other parts of the world also. We are one multi-state region. What one state does will affect other states.

That is, probably nowhere more clear than when it comes to opening beaches. One state doesn't open beaches, another state does open beaches, you will see people flood to that state. Georgia opened barber shops. People drove from out of state to Georgia to get a haircut.


If New Jersey opens beaches or Connecticut opens beaches and we didn't open beaches, you would see a flood of people to Connecticut and New Jersey. And our relationship and responsibility to our other states, neighboring states, is important.

We want what's best for New York, but we want what's best for New Yorkers. It's not in New York's interest to have New Yorkers going to a Jersey beach, which are now going to be overcrowded because then you have New York and New Jersey going to that beach. It's not in our interest to have people going to Connecticut beaches if those beaches are then going to be overcrowded.

So we've worked with New Jersey and Connecticut. We've come up with an agreement that accommodates all needs. And it was done in good faith.

The agreement is Connecticut, New York, Delaware will all be opening beaches for the Memorial Day weekend. States will have different specific rules about what happens on that beach. They'll all be plus or minus but they're all basically in the same ballpark.

They're opening Friday of Memorial Day weekend. State beaches, that includes local beaches, lakeshores. It does not include pools. Pools are closed. But no more than 50 percent capacity, and that will be done at parking areas, entrance areas, exit areas, et cetera.

No group contact activities, no volleyball, no football, nothing like that. Areas of social gathering will be closed, picnic areas, et cetera, playgrounds, pavilions, arcades.

Social distancing will be enforced for employees and for visitors. Masks must be worn by employees. And visitors must have masks and wear them when they can't socially distance.

At this point, concessions will not be operating. We don't want long lines of people waiting for concession stands. And we'll ensure that staff levels are adequate to enforce these measures.

On the beaches that are controlled by cities, towns, counties, municipal beaches, municipal lakes, the local government can decide to open or stay closed. If they choose to open, they must adopt the state's requirements at a minimum. And the chief executive can decide to do that.

If they want to impose additional requirements above and beyond the state requirements, they are free to do that. That will be done by a home-rule message.

And those decisions should be made by the locals by Wednesday, May 20th, so we can plan accordingly.

If a locality doesn't open beaches, we need to know that because then we'll have more demand on the state beaches in that area. If they do open beaches, we need to know that also just to understand the flow of the traffic and where we have to staff up.

Again, state beaches will be open on Friday before Memorial Day.

Last point, reopening must be smart and we have to keep this in focus. Remember, learn from the lessons that are around us. We've seen other countries open. We've seen cities open. We've seen them then close because the activity level went up too high too fast.

We see countries like Germany that are reopening, but they're seeing that infection rate go up and they're monitoring it very closely. We expect the rate to go up but it has to go up at a rate that we can control, right?

And the risk is the activity level increases quickly and then the virus spreads quickly. You overwhelm the health system, et cetera. So this has to be monitored very closely.

A lot of it is going to fall on the local governments. And we need them to really step up here.

On the compliance for businesses and individuals, the testing and tracing are one of the key monitors on that dashboard. They all meet the minimum testing and tracing requirements. But they have to do it also and it has to be done every day.


That is a logistical, operational challenge. We're working with them to do that, but that has to be done every day. And the monitoring of all the indicators, again, and quick reaction.

These indicators will be online for everyone, not just for the local government. They're on the Web sites. I would suggest everyone look at them. Look at them for their county, their region so they know exactly where they are every day. They are updated daily.

And how this goes is up to all of us. Stone to stone across the morass, as my father used to say. You are going to through a morass -- and we are in a morass, no doubt about that -- find a stone and find a footing and step onto that stone then you find the next stone and next stone. That's what we have been doing.

This reopening is data-driven, facts specific, science-driven reopening that has been done, period. It is all about the numbers and the facts. That's right.

The second stone is now you start to reopen, do it intelligently and do it with discipline and not with emotions. And government has to be there and government has to perform.

But to be up to all of us, it means it has to be up to each of us at the same time. Right? That's important that each of us understand our responsibilities. And that's how this has worked from day one.

Government, government, government. It is not about the government. It is about what the people decided to do in this situation. How did we bend that curve? When they write the history books, they're going to write about how New York turn that curve. And that was done by New Yorkers. It is not a governmental act.

No government can tell 19 million people to stay-at-home, don't go to work, wear a mask, socially distance. That's not government action. That's social action. Those are people who choose to do the responsible thing. I think because we gave them the facts. But they reacted intelligently and they responded responsively. And we have to continue that.

You know, with this virus, I just want to say on a personal level, and I want to make sure everybody understands. The facts here have been changing and the facts have been getting more negative. This started that it was going to attack vulnerable people, seniors and people with vulnerabilities.

I was speaking to a doctor today of a young person who passed away of a stroke from COVID. No underlying conditions, nothing. It was a stroke. No respiratory illness. Well, what happened? Apparently, the virus can affect the heart and liver and other organs besides the lungs and we didn't know that.

Children were not going to be infected. Well, except now we are studying 100 cases where children are infected by the virus. Some of them very serious. That 100 cases, I'll wager that's only going to go up and be much more widespread than anyone thinks.

So the amount of personal responsibility here to keep oneself safe and one family safe. I can't stress highly enough. Do not underestimate this virus or play with this virus.

I can be asymptomatic and not know that I have the virus. But I can put my hand on this table and you can touch this table three hours from now and pick up the virus.

I can walk into a store and pick up a package and not know that I have the virus, put my hand on stainless counter. You can come into the store the next day and put your hand on that counter and pick up the virus.

I don't care how clean the store owner is and how many masks you wear, that's how powerful this virus is.


Well, it is only old people. No. Tell that to the families who have a 8-year-old and 7-year-old in the hospital. Tell that to the 21-year- old girl's family where she passed away. Everyone is vulnerable to this virus. Everyone.

Government can't keep you safe. Only you can keep yourself safe. But when you keep yourself safe, and I keep myself safe, that's the way we keep all of us safe.

That's the story of life and the story of where we are today. That's the story of being New York tough. We are tough but smart, united and disciplined and being loving and responsible for one another.



KING: You have been listening to the governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, in Albany today, urging people, as his state begins to reopen -- New York State the hardest hit by the coronavirus -- as it begins to reopen, warning people do not to play with this virus. Urging municipal and local officials, urging cautions.

The governor going through the health care numbers. He says they're mostly headed in the right direction.

The governor also saying that New York, New Jersey, Delaware and Connecticut have reached an agreement to reopen beaches on Memorial Day weekend with strict local controls. So the governor is trying to look ahead to reopening here.

A quick break for us. When we come back, the president of the United States is about to have a big event at the White House on what would make reopening a lot less anxious for all of us, the race for a vaccine.

We'll be right back.