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NEW DAY

New York Governor Extends Stay-At-Home Order Until June 13; Prestigious Journal Slams Trump, Calls For Reviving The CDC; Wisconsin Supreme Court Strikes Down Stay-At-Home Order. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired May 15, 2020 - 07:00   ET

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


[07:00:00]

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN NEW DAY: We want to welcome viewers in the United States and around the world. This is New Day.

This morning, millions of New Yorkers are learning they will be spending one more month at home. Governor Andrew Cuomo just extended statewide restrictions until June 13th for the most populated parts of the state, like New York City. But some areas of the state have shown enough improvement that starting today, they can ease restrictions. As of this Sunday, 48 of the 50 states will be at least partially reopened.

When to reopen has, of course, become a flashpoint across the country, particularly in three key swing States. In Michigan, the state capitol was shut down because of

protests from hundreds of heavily armed demonstrators. Protesters in Pennsylvania are planning a demonstration, John, protest at the capitol today.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEW DAY: All right, Alisyn. This morning, we finally have a version of CDC guidelines for reopening. It's more like a series of single-page checklist and far cry from the 68-page draft that the White House rejected.

Health experts agree testing is key. So what's the federal plan for that? The ousted director of the government's efforts to find a vaccine just told Congress there is no plan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. RICK BRIGHT, FORMER DIRECTOR, DHS BIOMEDICAL ADVANCED RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY: I'll never forget the emails I received from Mike Bowen indicating that we are -- our mass supply, our N95 respirator supply was completely decimated. And he said, we're in deep shit.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: All right. Joining us now is Dr. Nicole Lurie. She's the former Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response at HHS. She was also Rick Bright's former boss. Also with us is Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo. She is the Director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Great to have both of you with us.

And we'll get to Rick Bright's warning in a moment. But, first, I want to start with just what we're seeing in the country and what we'll see this weekend. Dr. Marrazzo, the majority of states are basically opening up in some form. But here is the map on the screen, and I want people to look at this, because the majority of states are also doing pretty well. As you can see, some are holding steady in terms of their cases over the past week, but 26 are down significantly, from 10 percent to 50 percent over the past week.

So when you look at the snapshot of where the country is and what we're planning this weekend, Dr. Marrazzo, do you heed a sigh of relief or do you brace yourself for what's next?

DR. JEANNE MARRAZZO, DIRECTOR, DIVISION OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES, UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA AT BIRMINGHAM: Good morning, Alisyn and John. First of all, it's great to see you both looking healthy.

I think you know the answer to that. I am not ready at all to breathe a sigh of relief. I am continually bracing myself and there's a couple of reasons for this. And remember, we have been talking all along about how complex our tracking of this epidemic is, and there are a few reasons for that. Remember that we have been, like everybody else, emphasizing testing and widespread testing of as many people as we can to get an accurate estimate of what the true prevalence of this disease is.

The challenges are that our estimates depend very much on who is being tested. Are they symptomatic people? Are they people coming to a hospital? Are they people in a nursing home or a correctional facility, right? How many people are being tested? Are we getting a really accurate estimate? If we test a lot of people, we're much more confident in what that's going to look like. And then the last, very important, where are we testing?

So we have seen progressive waves of infection come across the country at different times. I've been calling this, and many people have this series of mini epidemics within a larger pandemic. If you go into a place like New York, you probably are going to see a decline, thank goodness, and hopefully because of what happened in the last couple of months. If you go into a place that hasn't really experienced their upswing yet, you're going to see a very different pattern.

CAMEROTA: And that leads us, Dr. Lurie, to Rick Bright's warning yesterday to Congress. I mean, he basically was saying that he is very concerned about what's going to happen in the fall and the winter. As you know, he used dramatic language, because he does not think that there's a national plan.

Well, as of this morning, I am holding the CDC's six-page plan, I guess, the guidance that they're giving to states. And, I mean, I think that the federal government basically thinks that it's up to governors and local municipalities to figure out their own plan, and, you know, Mr. Bright was saying that he fears that there will be equipment and vaccine shortages without a national plan.

[07:05:08]

So which one is right?

DR. NICOLE LURIE, FORMER ASSISTAN: Well, I don't think there that it's an either/or. I think different parts of our society need really clear guidance for when and how to reopen. Individuals, parents, families, people going back to work need to understand when the conditions are safe for them to go back to work. Workplaces need to know how to keep people safe. So there are a lot of open questions out there.

And while the CDC guidelines are -- I wouldn't even call them guidelines, simple checklists, are just that very simple, they're missing the kind of detail that we've traditionally expected from CDC.

With regard to a plan going forward, with all of the hullabaloo about reopening and all the controversy, what we've seen to have been missing in this conversation about what is the plan for this fall? What is the plan if there's a really bad second wave? What is the plan if it coincides with a bad flu season?

I haven't seen very much evidence of planning. I've got to think that there is some. But are there enough masks, is there enough PPE, is there enough testing material, ventilators, can we keep healthcare workers safe? And, for me, probably, most importantly, what is the early warning system in any state or any community for when things are starting to get bad again. We're suddenly starting to poo-poo testing. I don't know that early warning system is right now.

CAMEROTA: Those are really good questions.

Speaking of the CDC, The Lancet, the prestigious medical journal, has come out overnight with basically calling upon Americans to pick a different president. I'll just read, Dr. Marazzo, some of what they're saying in this strongly worded article. They say Americans must put a president in the White House come January 2021 who will understand that public health should not be guided by partisan politics.

And what they are really seem to be, quote, most concerned about is the CDC, which is they say has been marginalized. They say, the CDC has seen its role minimized and become and ineffective and nominal adviser in the response to contain the spread of the virus.

As you know -- I mean, at least it was reported in The Washington Post, Dr. Deborah Birx, who is still part of the advisers to President Trump, had said that she -- well, she's quoted as saying in The Washington Post, that she can't trust anything that's coming out of the CDC. How do you think we got to this point?

MARRAZZO: Well, I think that we all have been saying for actually decades now that investment in public health infrastructure has been on the wane. It's very clear that the CDC, like many public health agencies, has experienced dramatic cuts over the last 20 years, and those cuts always escalate during challenging economic times, which, of course, we have seen in the last ten years. So it's a little bit, I think, unfair to really criticize harshly the CDC's surveillance system. What Dr. Birx was saying that she actually called the system for -- the CDC has for doing surveillance of this virus antiquated. Well, there are reasons that it isn't as sophisticated as something that came right out of Silicon Valley yesterday, it's because we're not investing the money and the resources that you really need to have the state-of-the-art program and organization that we did have not that long ago. So I think that is one big challenge.

On top of that, you do have this partisan divide that has really crippled everything that Dr. Lurie just very beautifully said, this really effective coordination that should have absolutely nothing to do with politics. It should have to do with the virus and our ability to keep people safe and well-informed.

CAMEROTA: Dr. Lurie, what do you think of the criticism of the CDC and the significance of The Lancet Editorial?

LURIE: Well, the CDC has been a trusted institution for years and it takes years and years to build up that trust and confidence in the American people. I think one of the things that we've seen over this outbreak in particular is an erosion of that trust and I think confusion on the part of Americans about who to believe and what to believe. And that's really unfortunate.

To Dr. Marazzo's point, I hope the public is waking up to the fact that public health is critical to our national security, to our global security and to economic security. It's time for a really serious reinvestment there.

CAMEROTA: But, I mean, Dr. Lurie, if Dr. Birx and if you're agreeing that it's antiquated, the CDC is antiquated, what's the answer?

LURIE: The answer is investment to build a modern state-of-the-art capability for them to do everything it is that they need to do.

[07:10:00]

The CDC still has tremendous expertise and subject matter experts. I only wish that they were the people who are speaking to us right now.

CAMEROTA: You know, in terms of this CDC guidelines that I have here or, as you say, this checklist, it's six pages as opposed to the draft. It was 67 pages. You know, we heard some lawmakers begging for actual explicit guidelines. I'm not sure that this will satisfy them, for instance. This has got restaurants and bars. And this one says -- here's one of the guidelines. Encourage social distancing and enhanced spacing at establishments.

Well, Dr. Marrazzo, I don't know if that gives restaurant owners enough information for what they should be doing. I mean, I guess it's up to their judgment call?

MARRAZZO: Well, they certainly aren't up to the kinds of information and standards that I've ever seen from CDC or expected from CDC. And I've got to say I hope that more will follow. Obviously, we've seen a lot of the controversy with initial draft guidelines being pulled back. And what I want to know is when can we have confidence that what we're seeing from CDC really reflects the best and complete judgment of CDC and not something that may be significantly watered down. That only puts the American people in a much more dangerous situation, not being able to rely on CDC expertise for advice.

CAMEROTA: Okay. Ladies, we have to leave it there. Thank you very much for your time and your expertise. I really appreciate it, Dr. Marrazzo, Dr. Lurie.

So, confusion in Wisconsin over the state-at-home orders. They were overturned statewide leaving some cities to have to make their own rules. So the mayor of Wisconsin's capital city is going to join us, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:15:00]

BERMAN: This morning, new confusion between states and cities working seemingly across purposes in terms of reopening. Some cities in Wisconsin have taken swift action following a court decision to overturn the state's stay-at-home orders. The decision Wednesday night sent people packing into bars in close quarters. You can see here many without masks.

Joining us now is the mayor of Madison, Wisconsin, Satya Rhodes- Conway. Mayor, thank you very much for being with us. I should make clear that Madison is still enforcing these safer-at-home orders. So what's it been like the last 24 hours with the state saying one thing, your city saying another?

MAYOR SATYA RHODES-CONWAY (D-MADISON, WI): You know, John, it's really -- this decision by the supreme court is just outrageous, it's irresponsible and it's really disappointing. And the court has decided that with the flip of a switch and the state is just without any sort of public health guidance at all in response to this pandemic.

Here in Madison, we are still enforcing the safer-at-home order. Our public health director issued those orders countywide and really not much has changed locally. But I'm extremely worried because Madison is not an island and what happens in the rest of the state really affects us.

BERMAN: What happens when someone does come in to your county from part of the state that's reopened? How do you handle that?

RHODES-CONWAY: Well, you know, there's really not much we can do about that. I just have to hope that everyone is going to be responsible and do their best to take care of themselves and their community. And I'm really hoping that other counties surrounding us will continue to adopt public health orders to keep their communities and ours safe.

BERMAN: Now, I do think that there are people, no doubt, in Wisconsin and around the country looking at the curve, as it were. And in Wisconsin, the number of daily cases has stabilized, new cases, has stabilized or dropped a little bit. There was a little bit of a spike yesterday. But, basically, you can see the curve flatten there.

And in a state like Georgia, for instance, which relaxed its restrictions more than two weeks ago, the curve has continued to bend downward. There's fewer average new daily cases there.

So when you see that and you see Georgia opening, how do you tell your people, we can't open even though Georgia has?

RHODES-CONWAY: You know, most of the folks that I have heard from locally are really grateful that we're continuing to follow the best science and the best data, and keep them safe. But we know that we need to reopen and in a safe way but it's going to be like turning a dial, not like flipping a switch, right? We're going to ease back on the restrictions and we're going to follow the data.

We have been able to flatten the curve here in Madison and that's because our community has really stepped up and started to take care of each other. But we have to be smart about this. We have to follow the science and not inject politics into pandemic planning.

BERMAN: Well, you're bringing up politics. I don't think it's lost on you or anyone that Wisconsin is a swing state, an important state in national elections, obviously a very contested state in terms of statewide elections. How much do you think politics is playing into this?

RHODES-CONWAY: Well, I think that it's inevitable that the supreme court's decision was political. It was brought, the original cases brought by the Republican legislature. And, remember, this is the same supreme court that thought it was safe for us to hold an in-person election during a pandemic.

And what we saw was that dozens and dozens of people got sick as a result, and the court apparently has not learned from that.

BERMAN: Let me ask you, Madison is, of course, one of the great college towns on earth, the University of Wisconsin, 45,000 students there. What's your opinion of whether or not in-person college classes should begin again in the fall?

RHODES-CONWAY: I really hope that it's safe for students to come back. U.W. is such a vital and important part of our community. And the chancellor and I are in regular contact about their planning process, but I know that U.W., just like Madison, is going to be guided by science and data and do what's best for their students.

[07:20:04]

BERMAN: What's your gut tell you about whether or not you'll see the students there in the fall?

RHODES-CONWAY: You know, I'm hopeful. I really am. But I don't think that we'll go back to normal anytime soon, you know? Again, we're going to be -- we're looking at a dial, not a switch. We're looking at easing back, and I expect we'll see some combination of in-person and remote learning going forward.

BERMAN: Again, just in closing here, the conflict between what the state is saying and what your county and city are saying right now. What's your message to people who live in Madison? How are they supposed to process this conflict?

RHODES-CONWAY: You know, I think that it's really important for everybody to understand that beating this virus takes all of us. And we can do it, but we need to do all of our smart public health, you know, guidelines. We need to be washing our hands, covering our coughs, staying six feet away from other people as much as we can. And regardless of what the rules are at the state level and we need here in Madison to be taking care of each other, and being guided by science.

And that's what we're doing at the local government level, and that's what I hope that, frankly, everybody in the State of Wisconsin and all across this country will do.

BERMAN: All right. Mayor, we appreciate you being with us. Please stay safe. We wish you best of luck going forward.

RHODES-CONWAY: Thank you.

BERMAN: So is the death toll from coronavirus being underreported? Why one author says we may be well over 100,000 deaths already.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:25:00]

BERMAN: All right. Breaking news, we're just getting word of a powerful earthquake just moments ago in Central Nevada. Initial reports from USGS are that it was a powerful magnitude 6.4 quake. The epicenter between Reno and Las Vegas.

Now, there's not much there, but we are seeing reports on social media that it was felt as far away as San Francisco. So far, no reports of damage or injuries. We will update you as soon as we get more information. Alisyn?

CAMEROTA: Okay. Also new this morning, one of the world's most prestigious medical journals, The Lancet, is calling for new leadership in United States, writing in an editorial, Americans must put a president in the White House come January 2021 who will understand that public health should not be guided by partisan politics.

And joining us now to talk about this and more, we have New York Times Columnist Nicholas Kristof. He is the co-Author of the book, Tightrope, Americans Reaching for Hope. Nick, great to see you.

The Lancet doesn't do this, doesn't write editorials like this. They're a medical journal. But it sounds like they were so disturbed what they were seeing happening at the CDC. They basically feel that the Trump administration has marginalized and minimized the CDC to a dangerous degree.

What they write also in this editorial, the Trump administration further chipped away at the CDC's capacity to combat infectious diseases. CDC staff in China were cut back with the last remaining CDC officer recalled home from the China CDC in July, 2019, leaving an intelligence vacuum when COVID-19 began to emerge.

So what do you think the significance of this editorial is?

NICHOLAS KRISTOF, COLUMNIST, THE NEW YORK TIMES: I think it reflects a deep unease worldwide at the U.S. role in this in two aspects. One is, as you say, that the CDC really appeared to bungle the early response and part of that was testing in particular. South Korea and the U.S. famously had the first cases on the same day. South Korea responded immediately, aggressively, and the U.S. really dropped the ball on testing for -- we missed a couple of months there.

But I think the other element of this beyond the CDC is that the world and The Lancet expect the U.S. to play some kind of leadership role in global health. And so President George W. Bush really led the way in fighting AIDS with his PEPFAR Program, also with the malaria initiative. President Obama led the way in responding to Ebola in Africa, in 2014.

And there's a sense today, I think, outside the U.S., that the Trump administration, rather than leading the way, has, in a sense, been subtracting from the global effort by going after the World Health Organization, by not cooperating in international efforts, by what is perceived in many countries as scapegoating China rather than really trying to solve the problem at home.

CAMEROTA: Nick, as you're speaking the death toll on our screen, this is from Johns Hopkins, shows that we are about to reach 86,000 Americans who have been killed by coronavirus. You have taken a pretty granular look at the numbers and you don't think that number is right. So what do you think the number is?

KRISTOF: So I worked with a Harvard biostatistician, Rafael Irizarry. And we looked state-by-state at the increase in mortality compared to what it is normal years at this time of year. And in many states, there is no entries. Actually, because of the lockdown in a number of states, there are fewer deaths now than normal, probably because of less traffic. But, overall, if you look at the U.S., it appears that since March, there have been 100,000 to 110,000 deaths attributable to the coronavirus.

So the count seems to be a -- not insignificant undercount. And telling doctors that's because especially early on in the pandemic, some elderly person would die after a fever, there was no coronavirus test, and the doctor would simply put respiratory.

END