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Children and Coronavirus; The Struggle to Recover From Coronavirus; Health vs. Economy?; Interview With Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R-AR). Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired May 19, 2020 - 16:30   ET


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: And, Sanjay, there are right now clinical trials going on, conducted by the National Institutes of Health and others, to see if hydroxychloroquine, in combination with another drug or on its own, can be used as a treatment.


They don't recommend that it be done now, but they are doing clinical trials of it just to see if it works. And, look, we all hope it works. We all hope everything works. I mean, no one's got anything against it.

But, as Dr. Schaffner points out, there's really no data about taking it prophylactically, in other words, taking it so that you don't get it. That just doesn't exist, although it seems to be what President Trump is extolling.


I mean, there are those trials that are under way now. There's trials looking at health care workers who have had significant exposures. They're taking care of patients with COVID. They have had significant exposures. They're trying to basically use hydroxychloroquine.

And there's lots of trials of different medications going on around the world to see, could it prevent the virus from actually getting inside the human cells? Could it act more as a prophylaxis, as a preventative? Those trials are under way.

And, hopefully, we will get some good data from that. But we don't have the data as of yet. The data on -- as Dr. Schaffner was saying, on a treatment have not been particularly impressive.

I mean, the study that was done on patients at the VA was -- it was a retrospective study. That means they went back and looked at the patients who received hydroxychloroquine, patients who received hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin, this antibiotic, and patients who received neither, and there was enough concern on that study, saying, hey, look, this -- it seems to be causing these cardiac problems, that the FDA came out and said, this should no longer be used off-label.

This should only be used in the context of a clinical trial or for hospitalized patients. That's the FDA, only in a clinical trial or hospitalized patients, not off-label, which it had been available in that context before that.

So, what the president is doing is taking it off-label. And, typically, you can do that. And a lot of different medications are used that way. But, again, the FDA had enough concern to pull back on that, based on what they were seeing.

It is fair to say, Jake -- you and I have talked about this for a couple of months now -- that we need a prospective randomized trial that's of large numbers to really understand whether this medication would be beneficial. We don't have that data yet.

There are lots of medications that are being studied. The one that has had the most positive data has been remdesivir, as you know, in terms of shortening hospital duration and illness duration.

TAPPER: Right.

GUPTA: We don't have that -- even that kind of data on hydroxychloroquine.

So, it goes against, as we talked about yesterday, the advice of his public health officials, based on what we know. We need to know more.


GUPTA: But based on what we know now, there was enough concern to pull back.

TAPPER: And, look, I understand people criticizing the study of the VA patients ,because, as we have all talked about, it's retrospective. It's not a trial. They looked at patients. A lot of the ones who took the hydroxychloroquine, as we have all talked about, were among the sickest.

It's a non-peer-reviewed study. But the authors are just trying to figure out what's going on. They didn't say, don't take it. They said, we need more study. That was the ultimate conclusion of the study.

President Trump, meanwhile, is saying -- he literally said, what have you got to lose?

And, Sanjay, what do people have to lose, if you look at the warnings from the NIH panel and the Food and Drug Administration? What do people have to lose?

GUPTA: Well, I think, with regard to using it as a treatment -- I mean, I think the scenario is this.

People who have COVID disease already, and then get hydroxychloroquine for -- it could be that, for some reason, in those patients who are already sick with the disease, hydroxychloroquine could worse some things. It could prolong these Q.T. intervals, create these cardiac arrhythmias, as they're -- as we have been describing them.

In patients who don't have the disease yet, but there's concern, exposure, I think the side effect profile is probably a lot lower, I mean, as has been pointed out. And I have taken hydroxychloroquine as a malaria prophylaxis when I have traveled around the world. A lot of people probably have.

And I even went on the CDC Web site over the last month or so and looked at hydroxychloroquine as a malaria prophylaxis. And they say, healthy adults and even healthy children can take this medication.

I think the larger question is twofold. One is, there's no evidence that it works. So what are we really saying here? There's -- by the way, again, there's lots of things that are being studied. Why this particular drug? It has no evidence that it works as a prophylaxis.

So why is there so much attention on this drug? And I think the second point is the one that Dr. Schaffner brought up. And we saw pharmacies suddenly having a 30-fold demand for this medication. And there are patients out there who take it for their own illness, lupus, autoimmune diseases, who had a hard time getting it.

So you do create these surges in demand, hoarding of the medication, and people having to go without.


Those are, I think, the two big issues on the prophylaxis standpoint, Jake.

TAPPER: And, Kaitlan, President Trump also said he's not sure he will wear a mask when he visits this Ford plant on Thursday. The company is asking everybody to wear a mask.

The president has, it really seems, made a point of not wearing one, even when he is the only one on the scene not wearing one.


And that's really notable about how he's taking hydroxychloroquine, a drug that we know the FDA -- and we're talking about all these studies -- has cautioned against. Yes, the president has decided against wearing a mask, even though it's something that's been recommended by the CDC, by others, about covering your face when you're in public.

And so the question is going to come down to, does he wear it on Thursday when he goes to Michigan to visit this Ford components plant? And they say that they have shared their guidance about everybody wearing a mask with the White House staff in advance, so they know about it.

So the question is, what decision does he make, ultimately? Because we know, when he visited Honeywell in Arizona, most people were wearing masks initially. And then the president said that the CEO told him backstage he could take off the mask that he was wearing.

He never appeared in front of cameras in that mask. But he did tell reporters later on that he was wearing one briefly. So we know that there's been back and forth with aides over whether or not he was going to wear went to that plant. The question will be, does he wear one here?

He did notice the criticism that the vice president faced after he visited the Mayo Clinic and did not wear a mask, even though they said that was also their policy and they informed his staff ahead of time. And they even handed them out to the staff as they got there and were walking in the front doors.

So, the president did not commit one way or another whether or not he's going to wear one in just about two days.

TAPPER: And, Dr. Schaffner, I suppose the answer from the president -- and I have heard this from some of his aides -- is, look, the president gets tested for coronavirus literally every day. And the mask you wear not to purchase protect yourself, so much as to protect others from you, in case you are an asymptomatic carrier.

So what is the issue of the president not wearing a mask, if it's true, because he does seem to have the best testing regimen in the country, if not in the world? I wish that my kids and my family could get such a testing regimen.

But he is constantly tested to make sure that he doesn't have coronavirus.


The first is obviously a national example about what should be done. And we need that kind of national leadership. As I have been saying, I wear a mask every time I go outside. And I would think that that should be the norm in this country.

Number two, we all know that the test is sometimes fallacious. So, having complete reliance on the test may be unwise. And then, of course, the third thing about hydroxychloroquine is, it would make perhaps an average person out there think that, if they take it, they're bulletproof, and they don't have to do the social distancing anymore, and it might inadvertently then expose them to the virus.

So I think the whole national example is less than public health optimal, which is what I'd like to see.

TAPPER: All right, Dr. Schaffner, thank you so much, Kaitlan Collins as well. Both of you, thank you so much. And, Sanjay Gupta, stick around. We're going to get back to you in a few minutes.

But now we're going to go to the money lead.

One single exchange in a Senate hearing earlier today gets at the economic debate playing out in this country, both on Capitol Hill and in kitchens and living rooms around the country, the struggle of saving lives vs. saving livelihoods, and the delicate task of striking some sort of responsible balance.


SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D-OH): How many workers will die if we send people back to work without the protections they need, Mr. Secretary?

STEVEN MNUCHIN, U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY: Senator, we don't intend to send anybody back to work without the protections.

BROWN: How many workers should give their lives to increase the GDP or the Dow Jones 5,000 points?

MNUCHIN: No worker should give their lives to do that, Mr. Senator, and I think your characterization is unfair.


TAPPER: That was Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin defending the Trump administration's attempt to push businesses to reopen answering questions from Democrat Sherrod Brown of Ohio.

Mnuchin, along with Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, testified earlier before the Senate Banking Committee.

I want to bring in CNN business anchor Julia Chatterley to talk about this.

And, Julia, let's get at this question that Senator Brown was asking. What cost? What cost are we willing to pay to reopen businesses when it comes to human lives? Secretary Mnuchin is warning of permanent economic damage the longer states are shut down.

JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN BUSINESS ANCHOR: And the heartbreaking reality is, they both have a point here and there's no easy answer.

Lives are at risk during the health crisis. Lives are also at risk if we have a prolonged economic crisis too. This whole hearing underscored the challenges here of policy-makers trying to find the balance between protecting workers, saving businesses, saving jobs and keeping families afloat.


I'd make the point that, in the absence of these answers, Congress just has to be prepared to spend to ensure some kind of recovery.

TAPPER: And, Julia, Republican Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, he tried to highlight the success of the federal small business loan program. Take a listen.


SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC): I think the two tranches of the Paycheck Protection Program have saved, from my understanding, somewhere near 50 million jobs, the first tranche about 30 million jobs, the second tranche about 20 million jobs.


TAPPER: That's a lot of jobs. I'm sure it saved a lot of jobs. But do we know if 50 million jobs is an accurate number? We have heard President Trump make this claim. What do you think?

CHATTERLEY: We just don't know.

And we are not going to know how many jobs have been saved as a result of these loans, until these small businesses come and start asking for forgiveness. And then they say, look, these are the people that we rehired. These are the jobs that we saved.

What I can tell you -- and perhaps where this 50 million workers came from -- is that there are 50 million workers-plus attached to the loans that these small businesses have been given under the PPP scheme. So, if this all works perfectly, great, then we could see all these jobs come back.

But the message from senators today was, these small businesses are crying out and saying they need more time than eight weeks to rehire these people. They need more flexibility on these loans. And then, of course, it comes down to customers coming back. Loads of questions still on this.

TAPPER: Yes. And the Fed chair, Jerome Powell, said that state and local governments have already laid off about one million workers.

Should that set off alarm bells for Congress to do more to fund states and cities?

CHATTERLEY: This was critical for me.

And this was Jay Powell setting off as many alarms as he could, given the constraints that he faces. He pointed out that 13 percent of U.S. workers work in state and local government. We're talking one in seven workers, and these are vital services, policemen, health care workers, garbage collectors. They're fundamental to the functioning of society.

If this is about jobs, it doesn't get more fundamental than this. Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, was asked about this. He didn't dispute that state and local needed more money. He said it comes down to a question of who pays, the federal government or states themselves.

I can tell you, if states have to stop cutting these services into a recovery, that will slow it down and that will cost jobs.

TAPPER: All right, CNN business anchor Julia Chatterley, great to have you, as always.

In our health leads today: We focus a lot on the death toll, understandably, but even those who recover from coronavirus often go through hell for a grueling few weeks or even months of agonizing symptoms, even young, healthy, even athletic people reporting shortness of breath, trouble walking, even after their recovery.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta now takes a look at the possible long- and the short- term effects of this disease.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MICHAEL HERBERT, CORONAVIRUS PATIENT: He said, I need to do a rather aggressive treatment on you. Do you have a wife and children? If so, we need to call them and tell them -- you need to essentially tell them goodbye, because you have about a 20 percent chance of surviving this.

GUPTA: I can't even -- I can't even imagine. I mean, is it hard to talk about?

HERBERT: The hardest part of all to remember is the phone call to my wife and kids. I mean, that was just awful.

GUPTA (voice-over): What started as a cough and a fever ended with 49-year-old Michael Herbert in the ICU on a ventilator for seven days, unsure if he'd ever see his family again.

HERBERT: I didn't know what was going to happen, if I was going to wake up or not.

GUPTA: In all the numbers we hear about coronavirus, the number infected, the number who have, sadly, died, we haven't heard as much about another group of patients, those who have recovered.

DR. MARIA VAN KERKHOVE, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: There are more than a million people that have recovered. Many people are doing very well. There may be some individuals who will have some long-term effects because the virus -- it depends on how severe the virus was.

GUPTA (on camera): How are you doing? What does recovery mean for you?

HERBERT: When I first got out of the hospital, I was very weak. And I had been told by the doctors, the pulmonary -- pulmonologist in particular that my lungs would probably take four to eight weeks to heal.

GUPTA: Was that a concern that you might have long-term impacts on your lungs?

HERBERT: I can tell they're not 100 percent right now, and I guess I shouldn't expect them to be. They told me it would be a while for them to be all the way back.

Again, just like everybody else, I think there's a lot of unknown here.


GUPTA (voice-over): There are still a lot of unknowns, and even studying recovery of coronavirus patients seemed like a luxury in the early days of this pandemic.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today is pretty intense.

GUPTA: But now, Dr. Reynold Panettieri is trying to decipher these unknowns by conducting a six-month study of coronavirus patients who have recovered.

DR. REYNOLD PANETTIERI, RUTGERS UNIVERSITY: There's several -- several cases and participants who have described this ongoing fatigue and malaise, a feeling of not well.

What is curious is, these patients, premorbid, or prior to the infection, where even aggressive athletes. We would not have predicted that.

GUPTA: One thing that could help predict long-term effects is looking at what happened during other coronavirus outbreaks.

Take a look at this. Those are fibrous stripes on the lungs. It almost looks like spattered paint. These could be interesting an early sign of pulmonary fibrosis. That's a type of scarring of the lungs.

Previous studies of coronaviruses, like SARS and MERS, have identified patients who had long-lasting fibrosis. And now we are seeing reports of COVID-19 patients with the same fibrous stripes on their C.T. scans.

It's another example of what we're still learning from infection to recovery. We're still not sure exactly how this virus will truly affect us long term.

(on camera): It's six weeks since you were -- quote -- "off the breathing machine and in the process of recovery."

How are you doing six weeks later?

HERBERT: I'm doing so much better. When I finally got to see them again eventually, once I was taken off the ventilator, it was like the best thing that ever happened to me


TAPPER: And Sanjay is back with us.

Sanjay, many people, especially those who are young and healthy. I think that they think you might get coronavirus, you will be sick for a couple days, but then you will be immune and everything's fine.

And you and I both know people, young healthy people, that's not the case necessarily.


I mean, it's worth pointing out, as we have since the beginning, that, thankfully, most people aren't going to have much in the way of symptoms. Some people may have no symptoms at all.

But I think what has been striking about this, Jake, is exactly what we saw with Mr. Herbert and several other patients. Even young patients, patients who really did not have significant disease beforehand, didn't even think they were going to get this virus, find themselves in the hospital, find themselves deteriorate quickly within the hospital.

I feel fine. I'm OK. All of a sudden, they need a breathing tube and to be on a breathing machine. They recover, but then they have these prolonged problems. They can't walk a block without getting shortness -- shortness of breath.

Now, some of that is just from being in the hospital and the ICU alone, but it seems to persist longer. And then you saw the longer- term scarring on the C.T. scans that we saw with SARS and MERS, and now we're seeing with COVID.

So this is going to need to be followed. I mean, we're still early days into this. But this is what they're starting to look at in terms of recovery.

TAPPER: And we have also heard how underlying disease can be a factor in those who get coronavirus.

What do we know about how underlying disease might affect recovery?

GUPTA: Yes, I think there's still a line between age and other, as we call them, comorbidities or preexisting diseases, in terms of the serious -- dictating the sort of seriousness of your hospital course and the length of your recovery.

I think that you can draw a line there and start to make the correlation. But, then again, there's all these patients still -- I think we're missing something here, Jake, because there's all these patients still, as Dr. Panettieri mentioned, who could have even been qualified as aggressive athletes as they went into their illness, and then weeks, months after they recover are still having objective loss of function, typically lung function, 20 to 30 percent loss of lung function.

So, yes, if you are elderly, if you are vulnerable, as we have talked about, you're likely going to be more at risk in terms of prolonged recovery.

But what else is happening here? Why these young, otherwise athletic people having such significant recovery afterward?

TAPPER: Can people who had coronavirus, recovered from it, continue to have symptoms even after they have recovered from it and have tested negative?


So, even after you have tested negative, you can continue to have symptoms. Typically, people who have -- it depends how you define recovery to some extent. And even that is a subject of debate as we talk to some of these scientists.

For some people, testing negative twice, separated by a certain interval of time, usually a couple of days, that is defined as recovery. For other scientists and other investigators, they are saying not until someone has absence of symptoms do they qualify as recovery.

But, to your question, yes, even after people have tested negative, these persistent symptoms can continue, as was the case with this 49- year-old, Michael Herbert.


TAPPER: And we're all living and learning about this in real time.

GUPTA: Right?

TAPPER: The virus didn't even exist a year ago.

When do you think we will know all of the potential lasting effects of this -- of the coronavirus?

GUPTA: I mean, some of this is going to be known in real time, as you mentioned.

So how are patients doing a year out? We will know that a year after the first patients have recovered. I mean, it sounds maybe obvious, but we do get some data from looking at other coronaviruses, like SARS and MERS, because there's a lot of similarities there.

Obviously, SARS was not nearly as contagious, but it was far more lethal, if you think about it. I mean, 8,000 people around the world contracted SARS. Nearly 800 people died. So it had about a 10 percent fatality rate. But it was a coronavirus.

So they do look to these other coronavirus is to get an idea of what recovery in this case might look like. But, to be honest, this virus is -- even though it is a coronavirus, is behaving in different ways. It's doing different things to the body.

Why would it cause isolated loss of smell? Why would it cause COVID toes, these clotting abnormalities that are responsible for pulmonary embolism, strokes in 30- and 40-year-olds? We saw that study come out of Mount Sinai.

That is not stuff that we have seen typically with these other viruses. So, as you said, Jake, we are living and learning.

TAPPER: Yes, Sanjay, thanks so much.

GUPTA: You got it.

TAPPER: And don't forget, be sure to listen to Sanjay's daily podcast, "Coronavirus: Fact vs. Fiction," wherever you listen to podcasts.

The new COVID-related health conditions showing up in children and adolescents is, sadly, on the rise. Today, there are 137 confirmed cases of what's called multisystem inflammatory syndrome just in one state, New York.

But, as CNN's Erica Hill reports for us now, now French and Swiss researchers say they might have some options when it comes to treating it.


ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Children feeling the impact of COVID-19 even without contracting the virus, the CDC warning routine vaccinations are down, off 22 percent in Michigan, as California reports a 40 percent drop.

New York now looking into 137 cases of multisystem inflammatory syndrome.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): We know what the common denominator is. Ninety percent are children who test positive for the COVID virus or COVID antibodies, which means they either have the virus or they had the virus, 90 percent.

HILL: Researchers in Europe reporting children with the condition who ended up in the ICU recovered quickly with immunotherapy and steroid treatments.

As states continue to ease restrictions, many still require face coverings in public areas. And one often cited model, which just revised its predicted death toll down, shows that may be helping.

DR. CHRISTOPHER MURRAY, DIRECTOR OF HEALTH METRICS, UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON: Forty percent of us wears a mask all the time. About 80 percent wears a mask sometimes. And that's probably helping separate out that impact of rising mobility.

HILL: As mobility and testing increase, states are monitoring new cases. Numbers over the past week are up in 17 states, including Florida, where Miami is preparing to reopen parks and businesses tomorrow.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're just ready, ready to get back to work.

HILL: Hawaii, among the 16 states seeing a decline in new cases, just extended its mandatory 14-day quarantine for visitors through the end of June.

Nursing homes still a concern. All but one of the 83 residents at this facility in Louisiana have tested positive. A quarter of the confirmed cases in Nebraska have been linked to meat processing plants. Nearly 20 percent of workers at one Washington plant have been infected.

A handful of universities will limit in-person classes this fall, some ending before Thanksgiving.

DAVID LEEBRON, PRESIDENT, RICE UNIVERSITY: Our larger concern as we made his decision was the potential for a resurgence of the pandemic. And that's the reason we decided to shorten the semester.

HILL: Morehouse College announcing layoffs, furloughs and pay cuts as a result of the pandemic, as businesses large and small navigate their new normal.

Texas restaurants can increase capacity to 50 percent on Friday, but even that may not be enough.

ALEX BRENNAN-MARTIN, BRENNAN'S OF HOUSTON: It's going to be tough. Houston's going to lose some good restaurants.

HILL: Outdoor dining and in-person retail returns in Connecticut tomorrow. A planned opening for salons has been pushed to June, as concerns grow about how many small businesses will survive.

GOV. NED LAMONT (D-CT): I haven't calculated it, but I'm afraid there could be a sea change.


HILL: Here in New York state, Governor Andrew Cuomo was talking about Memorial Day today, Jake, and not about beaches and parks, but about ceremonies.

And he said those will be allowed to continue, but they're going to be limited to 10 people, per CDC guidelines, saying, though, he does hope that they will be broadcast, so that other people can, of course, honor along with those at the ceremony.

He said vehicle parades, though, will be allowed -- Jake.


TAPPER: All right, Erica Hill, thank you so much.

Arkansas held one of the first known live concerts in this age of coronavirus. Restrictions, of course, to see Travis McCready at a former Masonic temple in Fort Smith existed. There were restrictions. The building was only at 20 percent capacity. Fans had to sit apart. They wore masks. They had to have their temperatures checked before even going in.

But many who attended said that it was worth it.

I want to bring in right now the governor of Arkansas to talk about the fact that beaches are going to reopen this Memorial Day weekend and much more.

Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson joins me now.

Governor, thanks so much for joining us.

First off, I have to ask.

Arkansas did not have a stay-at-home order. And yet your state has largely been spared the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, even compared to neighboring states like Tennessee or Louisiana.

To what do you attribute that? Why do you think it is that Arkansas has been so fortunate?

GOV. ASA HUTCHINSON (R-AR): Well, part of it is we have taken it very seriously. We declared the emergency early on. But we also, whether it's social

distancing, mask-wearing, we have emphasized the seriousness and deadliness of the disease. But, at the same time, we wanted to keep as much of our economy going as possible. We didn't do that shelter-at- home order.

I think, in hindsight, that was a very good decision, particularly now, as everyone is working so hard to rebuild the economy. It's much easier whenever you didn't shut it down to begin with.

And so we're blessed because of where we are in the cases. But we don't take it for granted even now, and as illustrated by the concert that you just mentioned, that, even in that concert venue, which we were so delighted of, social distancing was important, the screening of the guests that came in.

And so we have got to learn to live with that. But we're going to focus on rebuilding that -- this economy that is so critical to us, as well as the safety side. And that leads us to the testing that we're really trying to increase in this state.

TAPPER: So, pools and water parks and beaches are going to reopen in Arkansas this weekend.

What are you doing to make sure that this does not result in more cases and deaths of coronavirus? Are you implementing social distancing or wearing mask requirements? What's the plan?

HUTCHINSON: That's true, I mean, social distancing, recommending wearing masks whenever you cannot social distance.

You know, in the pool area, for example, the lifeguards have responsibility or the owners of the pool to make sure that there is social distancing out there. So, it's not just, let's keep them from drowning, but it's also, let's keep them safe in other ways.

And so we educate our citizens, and we trust them to make good judgments. And we set the right example for them.

But, absolutely, as we open up our state parks, as we open up our hiking trails, our pools, our lakes, we want to make sure that we still emphasize the social distancing part and the wearing of masks.

We're still concerned. We're doing 60,000 tests this month, which is 2 percent of our population. It was a very aggressive goal that we have. Today, I announced that, next month, we're going to be testing all nursing home residents and staff.

So, these are just acceleration of this. And we're going to discover more cases. But, as we do, we want to be able to continue to social distance, avoid that spread that's so critical, at the same time keeping our economy moving.

TAPPER: I should point out you had a spike in cases in recent days.

Included that is -- included in that spike is a massive outbreak at the federal prison in Forrest City, Arkansas. More than 300 inmates and at least 17 staffers have tested positive.

The surrounding community has also seen an uptick in cases. What's steps are you taking to contain the spread there?

HUTCHINSON: Well, good question.

And these -- the inmates there at the federal correctional institute, as well as the inmates at our state prison in Cummins, these are human beings that we care about. They are Arkansans in large part.

And so we want to make sure that, if they test positive, they're separated, if you're negative, they're separated, so we don't cross- contaminate and spread the virus in there. It is a contained environment.

They're getting good health care. And we're isolating them, to the extent we can.