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Vaccines May Not Be an Easy Solution; Coronavirus Cases Surging in Texas; Interview with Keith Urban. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired May 15, 2020 - 14:00   ET


[14:00:00] ARTHUR CAPLAN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: -- hundreds of millions if not billions of people, that's going to take more than testing it on humans by the fall. You also have manufacturing quality issues that have to be attended to very, very closely. And you know, Brianna, some vaccines, their duration, you might get an immunity response for a year. That's what we get in say, the flu vaccine. And the flu vaccine's only about 40 percent effective.

This idea that we're going to vaccinate our way out of the pandemic by the fall is the president trying to, I think, position himself for his election. It doesn't have anything to do with science.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST, NEWSROOM: Rob, same question to you. What do you think?

ROB DAVIDSON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, THE COMMITTEE TO PROTECT MEDICARE: Yes, I think the president is afraid to do the hard work. The hard work would be to use the Defense Production Act to get us the testing equipment we need to do what we should do to get out of this as soon as possible: test, trace and isolate. That's the hard part.

I think it's easy for him to be a cheerleader and he should, behind the scenes, be pressing every single lever of government to speed a vaccine safely and effectively along. But to hold press conferences now suggesting by fall? I agree with Dr. Caplan. I think that this is much more about a re-election campaign than it is about any matter of science.

KEILAR: Because he also stressed, Dr. Caplan, that testing is overrated. He didn't say that today, that was yesterday. But he said that testing is overrated.

CAPLAN: Well, I think it's overrated in the White House. It's not overrated if you're doing actual medicine and trying to work your way out of this pandemic.

Look, we have tests, we just don't have enough of them. We could contact trace, we could isolate and quarantine people who were infected. That is the way out. I'm not saying to stop vaccine efforts, I'm not saying to not press and have the manufacturers cooperate. But have we ever made three billion doses of anything and rolled them out within a few months? Never, it's never happened, it's not going to happen here. One other problem, Brianna. The president said, you know, there may be

people who don't want to take it. He is opening the door to anti- vaccine sentiment? We could be in a situation where we had a vaccine, and yet a lot of people saying I don't want to take it. And then we never would achieve the kind of immunity and group immunity we need to beat the pandemic that way.

KEILAR: Yes. And, hey, look, it's really hard. You're echoing what another expert just said on our air, it's very hard to imagine that not happening, considering the door is clearly open for some folks not to be vaccinated once there is a vaccine, that we don't expect to come out as soon as the White House is promising.

Rob, one of the things that the president said in this Rose Garden event, he said that there are a lot of states with -- they basically have a testing overcapacity, he said, like it's labs waiting or they've got all the testing capacity and it's just not being used. What did you think of that?

DAVIDSON: Well, if in fact he has data that labs are available and tests aren't being used, perhaps there's a problem in the supply chain of swabs or reagent, which many governors -- including my governor, Whitmer, here in Michigan -- has said. And the president has the authority and the ability and the moral imperative, again, to use all the levers of government, to use the Defense Production Act to ensure that those supply chains are wide open and available.

If in fact there are people sitting in labs, waiting to do tests, he has the solution to that. Again, it's just hard work. It's not popular with his corporate class, that supports his campaigns and those of other Republicans in Congress. And so he seems that he has been unwilling to do that, thus far.

KEILAR: Art, one thing you've argued that I think a lot of people would raise their eyebrows at, is that it's medically ethical to inject people with coronavirus in order to test vaccines' effectiveness. Explain this to us.

CAPLAN: So, look, what we're faced with now, if we don't follow Rob's advice and sort of work our way through this with testing, is if we're going to go warp speed with vaccine, you still have to give people whatever this miracle agent is going to be, and then wait for them to become naturally infected and then see what happens, and that takes years.

The only real way you could speed that process is if you gave them a vaccine candidate, and then gave them the virus and tried to study, in a small number of volunteers, what would happen. That's the only way I can think of to really put warp speed behind these studies.

It's obviously ethically contentious. I think it's defensible, given the havoc that this pandemic is causing around the world. You'd have to make sure people volunteered and did it altruistically and did it in an informed way. And pick young people so you lower the risk of death. But if we don't pursue that route, then the idea that we're going to

get results from clinical testing of vaccines, waiting for natural infections to occur? That's years.

KEILAR: Yes. Art, thank you so much.

Rob, really appreciate your insight, doctors. We really thank you for breaking some of this down for us.


And now to this map, which shows that CNN analysis of how each state is trending when it comes to new coronavirus cases. When you're taking a look at this -- if we can bring our map up here -- any shade of green is good.

Ah, we don't have the map, we don't have the map. But here's what the map would have told you. It would tell you that 28 states are showing a reduction in infections. The progress, this is coming as nearly all states are in some phase of reopening, and that's key.

CNN's Nick Watt is keeping track of what's happening across the U.S. So, Nick, we are seeing this improvement, but then there's other stats, just released today, that's remining us just how hard this is for businesses.

NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, millions of businesses across this country, just trying to make it work right now within the framework they've been given. Here, at one of my local coffee spots, I just heard the barista through the pickup window say, It's hard to hear you with this mask. And masks are now mandatory, even just walking down the sidewalk here in Los Angeles County.

So people, trying to make it work but different states, different counties, different cities, different rules.


WATT (voice-over): Across Louisiana, dinner and a movie is now an option once more, but your server might be masked.

COLLIN ARNOLD, NEW ORLEANS OFFICE OF HOMELAND SECURITY AND EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS: We really have, you know, kind of crushed the curve. And because it's due to our residents, really. They stayed at home --

WATT (voice-over): Forty-eight states now have an opening plan under way today. Half of New York State begins is long road back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All I can do is get back to work and hope that they'll come.

WATT (voice-over): But the stay-at-home order is extended through June 13th for millions more in the state, including everyone in New York City.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK: We need a massive citywide apparatus -- testing, tracing --

WATT (voice-over): Similar situation in Maryland. The state's stay- at-home order ends today, but not in Baltimore.

And April's retail numbers are out, another historic low, retail sales down 16.4 percent. Clothing sales, down nearly 90 percent.

PETER NAVARRO, DIRECTOR, WHITE HOUSE OFFICE OF TRADE AND MANUFACTURING POLICY: The whole essence of the strategy to fight the China virus has been to shut the economy down. So this is a natural, logical result of that .

Most of the 50 states are going back to work in some form, so I like to look forward --

WATT (voice-over): Ford will start making cars again Monday, and restaurants will reopen in hard-hit Miami as the county looks to hire up to 1,000 contact tracers. Texas just set a record, most recorded COVID deaths in 24 hours; gyms and offices, still scheduled to reopen Monday.

Chicago's Cook County just eclipsed Queens, New York as the county in the country with the most cases, but Illinois is reopening.

GOV. J.B. PRITZKER (D-IL): Every region is, so far, meeting all the metrics --

WATT (voice-over): Remember, Georgia's new case count is not climbing. And today, it's three weeks since reopening began.

In Vegas, you can now buy a mask from a vending machine at the airport as Caesar's gets ready to open.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the new world, there will only be three chairs and nobody will be able to be within six feet. We will be deactivating every other slot machine. A customer can't even stand here and play this game because the game's not even active.

WATT (voice-over): Good news from L.A., the USNS Mercy hospital ship just left, after seven weeks supporting the COVID-19 fight. The curve here has flattened.

And great news from New Jersey. Sylvia Goldscholl, who lived through the 1918 Spanish Flu as a kid, just recovered from COVID-19. She's 108.

SYLVIA GOLDSCHOLL, SURVIVED CORONAVIRUS: I survived everything because I was determined to survive.


WATT: And some big news about beaches. New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, a coordinated effort. They say beaches will be open before Memorial Day. Here in Los Angeles, this weekend will be the first big test: Can we social distance on the sand? And Hawaii, basically saying if you're thinking of coming here on

vacation, just don't, not yet. They have now extended a rule through the end of June, that any incoming traveler has got to self-quarantine for 14 days -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Fourteen days. All right, Nick Watt, thank you for that wonderful report.

So why are cases surging in Texas? I'll be speaking with a doctor there.

Plus, the rapid test that the White House is using? Well, they're unreliable, according to a new warning. So is the president safe, are staffers there safe?

And a wave of coronavirus conspiracy theories and misinformation is flooding social media. Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg will join me live.


This is CNN's special coverage.


KEILAR: In Texas, coronavirus cases appear to be spiking, with the state this week reporting an increase in cases and the greatest single-day number of deaths, that being 58. More than 1,200 people in Texas have died from coronavirus.

Governor Greg Abbott ended the state's stay-at-home order on May 1st, he began a phased reopening of the state. Joining me now from Austin is Dr. Pritesh Gandhi. He is a specialist in internal medicine, and also a Democratic candidate for Texas' 10th Congressional District.

Doctor, tell us, why are we seeing this surge in cases in Texas?

PRITESH GANDHI, PRIMARY CARE INTERNAL MEDICINE: Sure. Thanks for having me on today. It's a complicated issue. We are living in a state that is number one in the country in the number of uninsured Texans. You couple that level of limited access with turnaround times for testing that can take three to four to even five or six days.


And you layer on top of that limited access to tests and the inability to have a coordinated approach to who we're targeting and when we're targeting these patients, and we find ourselves in the situation that we're in today. It's not surprising to public health experts and medical professionals like myself.

KEILAR: And you're really in the middle of this. Tell us what you're seeing in your clinic.

GANDHI: Sure. So on average, we have about 20,000 uninsured and underinsured individuals that we take care of here in Austin at the safety net clinic that I work at. For a clinic like our size, we have about 150 tests on hand. And so we struggle in terms of being able to provide ready access to the patients where they are at.

And so there are things that clinics like ours can do, and clinics and medical institutions around the state. We could do GIS mapping, where we overlay the sickest of patients, comorbid conditions, and target specifically where mobile testing needs to be set up. We're doing that work, but it really would benefit from a regional effort, to be able to find patients where they're at so we can do expansive testing.

KEILAR: There's a new study from NYU, and it found that Abbott Labs' quick tests, which are the tests that are used by the White House, frequently miss cases. Quote, "The fact that it misses positive samples makes this technology unacceptable in our clinical setting," that is what researchers wrote.

Is this something that you would use in your clinical setting?

GANDHI: It is definitely concerning.

Now, look, we have to take a step back and recognize that this is not a peer-reviewed study, it was not done in a controlled setting and it was done under suboptimal conditions. That being said, some of the early returns on that test show that up to 15 percent -- perhaps up to 50 percent -- false negative rate.

And so I think when you take a step back, a clinic like ours likely wouldn't have confidence that that test will give the appropriate result. And when you look at subsequent FDA guidance, they're saying that, well, if you have a negative test and the patient has symptoms, you may need to do a second confirmatory test.

But we're talking about being in a situation where folks don't have access to do that second confirmatory test. and if that test takes three or four, six or seven days to return, you can see how that can quickly spiral downwards.

And so I think we have to take one big step back and recognize that we are struggling with limited access to testing, we are struggling with doing contact tracing in an expansive way. And on top of that, we're starting to get reports that some of these tests aren't as accurate as they've been purported to be.

KEILAR: Yes. Dr. Pritesh Gandhi, thank you so much, joining us from Austin, Texas. We appreciate it.

GANDHI: Thank you. Happy to be here.

KEILAR: A woman arrested for striking officers over her refusal to wear a mask.

Plus, what's the future of live music and concerts? Keith Urban may have just illustrated it with a real-life experiment and he will join me.


And more on our breaking news, the new vaccine chief says early data suggests the first doses could be ready by the end of the year. But is that really possible? Stand by.


KEILAR: A woman is accused of hitting a New York City police officer who asked her to put on a face mask. And a bystander captured video of the arrest. This is something that took place at a Brooklyn subway station. When officers say they asked the woman -- who was with a young child -- to wear a face mask as required, she actually has a mask around her neck but not over her nose and mouth.

So after being escorted up the steps, the 22-year-old begins screaming and appears to hit one of the officers. She is then wrestled to the ground and arrested.

Here are some more coronavirus headlines that we are following across the country.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: I'm Shimon Prokupecz in New York. And officials in Ulster County, New York have sent out an alert, advising anyone who had contact with a barber inside a Kingston, New York barbershop to seek medical attention.

They say that a barber there who was operating illegally tested positive for the coronavirus, and they're asking that anyone who had contact with this person within the last three weeks to seek medical attention so that they can be tested.

CHRISTINA ALESCI, CNN POLITICS AND BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: I'm Christina Alesci in New York. Gut punch, disaster: Those are the words that flooded my e-mail box this morning when the April retail sales hit.

Now, some context here. This is a real-time check on the health of the U.S. economy. That is, the U.S. consumer. And we have not seen a decline like this -- 16.4 percent -- since the government started tracking the data back in 1992.

The nosedive was widespread, but the hardest hit, not surprisingly? Clothing and accessories. Sales in that category were down 90 percent. Bottom line here, the consumer isn't willing to spend on much more than essentials at this point.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Rosa Flores in Miami. President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort, telling club members that the club will reopen this weekend with restrictions and added protocols. Like restrooms will be sanitized at least every hour, sanitizing stations will be added to the pool deck, social distancing guidelines will be strictly enforced and tables will be set at least six feet apart.


Now, this is only a partial reopening so the main residence, the spa, the gym and the tennis courts will remain closed. It's unclear when the president will return to Mar-a-Lago.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: I'm Andy Scholes in Milton, Georgia. A battle is brewing as Major League Baseball tries to get back on the field. According to reports, the owners want the players to agree to a 50-50 split in revenue, which will be way down. Now, the Players' Association says that's not happening.

And former A.L. Cy Young Award-winning pitcher Blake Snell saying, yesterday, the risk is too high for him to go out there and play for a reduced salary.

Now, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred was on CNN's town hall last night. He says with new protocols in place, he hopes to convince the players that it will be safe to return. And he's confident that the league and the players will be able to work out the economic issues.

KEILAR: All right, thanks so much to everyone for that.

Country music star Keith Urban, showing that socially distanced concerts are possible. The Grammy Award winner took to the stage last night, holding a private concert for more than 200 first responders at a drive-in theater outside Nashville.


KEITH URBAN, SINGER: God bless you guys, God bless the U.S., God bless the health care workers. Thank you so much, and God bless the drive-ins. Come on.


KEILAR: And I had the pleasure of talking to Keith Urban about it earlier today.


KEILAR: Tell us how you came up with this idea and how all of this came together.

URBAN: Well, first of all, thank God that drive-ins are still happening --


URBAN: -- that was a bit of a shock.

But when we thought about the things we needed to do, which was to figure out how to play to people in set distances -- and obviously people in cars is the primary basis of a performance right now, I think -- drive-ins were a no-brainer because first of all, they're set up for all the cars to be facing the stage. And secondly, you've got this ready-made massive video wall behind you, which every live performance has video walls behind them. The drive-in's had it for, you know, 50, 60, 70 years.

We just tapped into the projection system, and we're able to set a stage at the base of the screen. Everybody in their cars, and it was the first one. You know, it's a proof-of-concept, so we learned a lot last night about things that we could to to make it better. But last night was a blast, and for a good cause as well.

KEILAR: No, for a wonderful cause. Look, these first responders have been dealing with a lot, and they certainly deserve just a moment of normalcy.

What was it like? Was it different performing in front of this audience?

URBAN: Yes. Well, I mean, there wasn't the sort of immediate reaction and sort of crowd energy that you get when you -- certainly when we play, we get that kind of -- that -- the cycle of energy flowing. It was just various car horns and headlights and --


-- the muffled cheers and singing of lots of people in vehicles, and -- but we had such a great time.

KEILAR: I wonder, looking at this, and I wonder if other performers are going to look at this. Because this is the first of its kind here in the U.S. Is this a model for how other performers are going to get before bigger audiences?

URBAN: Oh, I think for sure. I mean, first of all, we've got to play, we've got to play somewhere, it's what we do.

So I think the idea of playing to people in vehicles is a bit of a no- brainer, figuring out, scaling that up to play more people. Doing it, you know, in a safe way with the guidelines. I mean, we spent a month putting this particular concert together.

Even though it wasn't for a paying public, it was specifically for Vanderbilt University Medical Center. So all the people there last night were doctors, nurses, health care workers, emergency responders, front liners, they were -- everybody was in that field, and we gave away every ticket last night to them.

So it was a way to see what this could look like, but it's definitely a potential. I think you can see potentially in massive parking lots. I mean, you know, country concerts are renowned for their tailgate partiers, I think the concert's just going to be the tailgate party now.

KEILAR: That's a good point.

And, you know, I just wonder what you think about how we've seen some states relaxing their standards -- for instance, concerts are now allowed in Missouri as long as social distancing requirements are met, which some promoters say that's actually just impossible to execute. Would you have concerns about performing before a crowd where --