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Trump Touts Taking Unproven Drug Despite Warnings; Eight-Year- Old Boy Recovers From Inflammatory Syndrome; Connecticut Begins Reopening Process Tomorrow. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired May 19, 2020 - 07:00   ET



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

And this morning, more than 90,000 Americans have been killed by coronavirus. 90,000. That is yet another milestone that we couldn't have imagined months ago.

President Trump spent much of his time yesterday about boasting about taking a drug himself. But studies have shown to be ineffective and most Americans can't even get their hands on.


DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: And a lot of good things have come out about hydroxyl. A lot of good things have come out. And you'd be surprised at how many people have taken and especially the frontline workers before you catch it. The frontline workers, many, many are taking it. I happen to be taking it.


CAMEROTA: Well, most people can't just ask their doctor for a drug and have their doctor prescribe the very drug that they want. The president here who's stats, he's 73 years old, he's clinically obese, he has coronary artery disease, he is being treated for high cholesterol, but he has been able to self-diagnose, or at least ask the White House doctor for an unproven treatment.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEW DAY: So, even more than that, why is he so proud of it? Why does he flaunt not wearing a mask? Why did he brag about shaking hands as long as he did? How are people who don't have a team of physicians attending to them going to be affected by this?

Also breaking overnight, a 30-day ultimatum from the president threatening to pull all funding from the World Health Organization. He's blaming the WHO for not doing more to stop the spread initially in December and for praising China's transparency in January. But, remember, in January, the president himself said, quote, the United States greatly appreciates China's efforts and transparency and he went on to thank China's president. CAMEROTA: All right. Joining us now, we have CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta and CNN Medical Analyst Jonathan Reiner. He is a Professor of Medicine at George Washington University and was former Vice President Dick Cheney's cardiologist.

Dr. Reiner, I'm going to start with you because you were Dick Cheney's doctor. So you understand how this works when a powerful person, a president or a vice president, wants a drug that may or may not be proven. What is the protocol here, the fact that President Trump wanted to try it and the White House doctor said, well, okay, if you want it, we can give it a shot?

DR. JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Good morning. I don't think it really worked that way. I think that what almost certainly happened is the president had a significant exposure to the virus, maybe multiple exposures since we know at least two people, his valet and Ms. Katie Miller, both tested positive in a pretty short time.

So I think the White House medical team was incredibly concerned about his exposure to the virus and the likelihood that he actually might contract it. And I don't think this is something that the president just went to Sean Conley and said, look, I've thinking about taking the drug. Why won't you get ahead and give me the drug. I think this was a very, very detailed conversation.

In his brief note last night, Dr. Conley mentioned that he had reached out to subject thought leaders around the country to ask about this. So I think this was a very carefully considered move. But what's interesting to me is that this shows how concerned they were about the president contracting the virus.

The other interesting thing about the decision to take about this drug despite the fact that there is really no data available yet, I think we'll soon have some data, is that he's been taking it for ten days. Both of the major clinical trials which have evaluated this had only really used it for four or five days. So why is he still taking the drug? That's another unanswered question.

We also don't know if Vice President Pence is taking it.

BERMAN: Right. Look, I think there's a bigger thing going on here, which is, first of all, let me just play a moment here to get people a sense of why I'm about to say this. The president isn't just taking hydroxychloroquine. He's bragging about it and preening about it. He was so excited to spring it on the press. So let's watch this moment.


TRUMP: I was just waiting to see your eyes light up when I said this, but, you know, when I announce this. But, yes, I've taken it for about a week-and-a-half now and I'm still here.


BERMAN: Who cares what the press' faces look like when the president made that announcement? Only the president cares because it's not about the science, it's about owning the libs or making a statement.

And, Sanjay, it's part and parcel of something else we've seen, the president proudly not wearing masks, the president bragging about not shaking hands, the president musing about injecting disinfectants. Let's just play some more sound of that.


TRUMP: Thousands or hundreds of thousands of people that get better just by, you know, sitting around and even going to work, some of them go to work, but they get better.


You can't be a politician and shake hands. People come in -- when I leave, I'll be shaking hands with people. They want to shake your hand. They want to say, hello, they want to hug you, they want to kiss you, I don't care. That doesn't you have to do that.

I think wearing a face mask as a great president, prime ministers, dictators, kings, queens, I don't know, somehow I don't see it for myself.

And then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute, one minute. And is there a way that we can do something like that by injection inside or almost a cleaning.

It could be the testing's, frankly, overrated. Maybe it is overrated.


BERMAN: The point is, Sanjay, that when you're the president, you can't just be concerned about your own health. You have to be concerned about the nation's health here. And there's an impact to what he says and does.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: It's terribly irresponsible, it sets a bad example, and maybe even dangerous. It is dangerous, as people actually going out and doing some of these things.

I think, you know, when it comes to, for example, the mask wearing, we now know that there are people required to wear masks, he still doesn't wear one. But that may have contributed to the exposure Jonathan was talking about. I'm sure it did contribute to the exposure. Had people been wearing masks, they probably wouldn't be in this situation.

If, in fact, the president has had a significant exposure and now they're a little panicked trying to figure out is there anything question do, it's important important to keep in mind that for several weeks, if not, months, they've been talking from federal government ways to mitigate that exposure. That was not happening at the White House.

I also think it's interesting with this hydroxychloroquine. Dr. Conley writes in his letter that we balance the evidence for and against hydroxychloroquine. There isn't any evidence to use it. As, again, Jonathan mentioned, there is a study that's going to be forthcoming looking at it as a potential prophylaxis. That data is not there yet.

What we do know is that it doesn't work as a treatment. It could be dangerous as a treatment and the president has underlying heart disease, which may make him even more at risk.

Yes, I don't relish the decision or sort of the discussion, I think the president is not going to had to have about this. I don't know how that discussion took place. I'm not sure who prompted that discussion. But this is setting a really bad example. There will be people who go out and run for this medication now that hoard it. There are other people who actually need it for legitimate purposes. We saw this last time he talked about hydroxychloroquine. It is a complete, unnecessary and potentially dangerous distraction.

CAMEROTA: But, Dr. Reiner, I mean, we're also talking about the president of the United States. By definition, his health affects all of us. And there are side effects to hydroxychloroquine. You don't just take this on a lark.

There are -- I was just mentioning to John that I have a friend who took hydroxychloroquine a few years ago because she was going on a trip and would be exposed possibly to malaria. She said it caused the craziest dreams, horrible sleep and I read that some of the side effects are mood swings. And so how would that not be affecting the president of the United States' judgment? There are also psychological consequences or emotional of this drug.

REINER: Right. I think -- well, I think the last thing we need is this president to have mood swings. But the drug's most consequential side effect is a malignant cardiac arrhythmia that can kill you.

Now, the White House doesn't really use the kinds of rules that we use out in the community. They have access -- 24-hour access to their patient and they can do things that docs in the community can't do. So they have ways of actually mitigating that risk.

I agree with Sanjay completely. This drug is unproven and the data that we have suggest that it doesn't work or it can be harmful. So no one in this country should use it in the manner the president is using it. But the White House medical unit obviously made a calculated decision that they considered his risk of taking the drug to be lower than his risk of potentially contracting the virus.

And my calculations, I think his risk, based on all of the comorbidities that you mentioned in the lead-in, he probably has a 20 to 50 percent of dying from this virus should he contract it and they almost certainly did a calculus and felt that the odds favored him taking it without any clear efficacy data to support that. Very unusual, but it does speak to how worried they were about him last week.

BERMAN: Yes, that's a separate issue, right, how scared he actually is of getting sick. And we know he's a germophobe here. We knew he blew up at people behind the scenes when he found out people in the White House were sick.


Sanjay, we also know something at least about the president's health. He's a large man, as Nancy Pelosi, who's not a doctor, mind you, Nancy Pelosi pointed out last night to Anderson. Listen to this.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): He's our president and I would rather he not be taking something that has not been approved by the scientists, especially in his age group and in his, shall we say, weight group, that he's morbidly obese, they say. So I think it's not a good idea.


BERMAN: Now, I understand, Sanjay, he's only clinically obese, not morbidly obese, but he's overweight. And as you have noted now for some time, there are issues with his heart that should raise questions.

GUPTA: Yes, I mean, and I think this is, again, the point that Jonathan is making, that he is a vulnerable patient in this regard. Given his age, given his preexisting conditions of heart disease, obesity is a significant risk factor for people having worse outcomes with this infection. We saw this in all the data coming out of China and in Europe and now the United States.

So, yes, this is -- I mean, and so maybe that was the reason they said, look, we'll do whatever we can to try and, you know, see if we can prevent him from getting the disease by even using an unproven medication in this case. You're absolutely right.

So I don't know how they calculated this, how they sort of made this decision. I don't think it's the right decision. I don't think he should be taking this medication. Again, I think the most important message is probably to everyone else out there that this is an unproven, potentially dangerous medication. The president should not be taking it. You should not be taking it.

Studies are still ongoing as a prophylaxis medication, so we'll see what they'll show. And those are for healthcare workers who had significant exposures. He's obviously not healthcare worker. So, again, we'll see what those study show. But he should not be taking it and other people should not either.

CAMEROTA: Well, I understand why you're doing that warning, Sanjay, because a couple weeks ago, when the president suggested that maybe people should inject bleach because maybe that would do some inside cleaning, the calls to hotlines, Dr. Reiner, spiked. The calls to medical crisis, you know, overdose hotlines in terms of people asking if they should take bleach and considering drinking bleach went up.

And so now, I mean, it just stands to reason that, obviously, doctors are going to be fielding calls today about hydroxychloroquine and is this something that prophylactically other Americans you think should or will start trying?

REINER: Well, I hope not. We know from pharmacy data actually from two months ago when the president first mentioned this that a few hours after he spoke about this, prescriptions spiked 40 fold. So his words have consequences. So I do expect people are going to be asking about this.

But to what the president said about frontline healthcare workers are taking this, there isn't a single frontline worker that I know who is taking this drug. Not a single --

BERMAN: We have. I have. Just to be clear, we have spoken to people who have been treating people with coronavirus who have tried it and also have prescribed it some time ago. Early on, I will say, before some of these studies and whatnot came back, and the studies are what matters here.

I also think -- look, and I'm not going to bring you guys into this discussion. You guys are doctors and scientists. I think there's a big part of this discussion that has nothing to do with science and the president, once again, telegraphed that yesterday when talking about he wanted to see the reactions on the reporters' faces. He's bringing this up for a reason beyond medicine. What is that? Is it to distract from the 90,000 dead people on the screen? You can see that number there. Is it to distract from an inspector general report or inspector general purge? I don't know. We'll talk about that later.

Sanjay, the who, the WHO, the president sent a letter overnight to the WHO giving a 30-day ultimatum to pull all U.S. funding permanently. Among the things he's critical of is transparency in China, which has not been strong, right, issues early on with China in reporting coronavirus and the spread. However, as we have noted before, the president himself praised China for its transparency in January.

GUPTA: Right. And so it's one of these situations where I think that there's going to probably need to be a significant postmortem, if you will, regarding the WHO and what happened specifically with China. Because I agree, you know, we've learned about things late out of China, much later than we should have. I mean, weeks late and we know that weeks make a huge difference in the midst of a pandemic.

I think the question is, is now the right time to be really going after the WHO, because we're still in the middle of this thing.


Other countries are very dependent, probably more dependent on the WHO than we are, countries that have disenfranchised healthcare systems, they're going to need that and we're going to need the data coming out of those countries in order to best sort of, you know, have an effective effort against this pandemic.

So, ultimately, you know, I think the idea of punishing the WHO right now probably also ends up punishing us. An infection anywhere is an infection everywhere. And the WHO still, in addition to the clinical trials they're doing, has best vision on these countries around the world.

They have -- you know, they have not been stellar on this, as we all know. They declared this late. We declared this a pandemic earlier than the WHO did. But I think, for time being, everyone in the world needs the WHO at this point.

CAMEROTA: Okay. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Dr. Jonathan Reiner, we really appreciate all of your expertise helping us understand where we are. Thank you very much.

REINER: My pleasure.

CAMEROTA: Up next, a personal story. A young boy battling severe symptoms tied to coronavirus, today, he is home from the hospital but it has been rough road. He is alive thanks, in part, to his big brother. So we're going to speak to the boy's father about their story, next.



BERMAN: New this morning, the CDC is warning of a rise in a mysterious inflammatory syndrome in children weeks after they get coronavirus. eight-year-old Jaden Handowar went into cardiac arrest. He was saved by his older brother who performed CPR. Jaden was later found to have had coronavirus antibodies.

Joining us now is Jaden's father, Roup Hardowar. Mr. Hardowar, thank you very much for being with us.

The first thing I want to ask you is how is Jaden, eight years old, doing this morning?

ROUP HARDOWAR, FATHER OF EIGHT-YEAR-OLD WHO SUFFERED CORONAVIRUS- RELATED ILLNESS: Jaden has, for the past four or five days home, he has come a very far way. He came home, he wasn't saying much. He wasn't able to walk. We used to take him to the restroom. Yesterday, Jaden was able to get up on his own, use the restroom. He's also able to bring out more words strongly.

BERMAN: I know, as a parent, I'm really interested in speaking with you and parents of kids everywhere want to know what they should look for here, because this really is a new concern. And you say Jaden had a fever for a few days, this is about a month ago. It went away and then what happened?

HARDOWAR: Right after the fever, he started to have diarrhea. Now, the diarrhea was attributed from his pediatrician feedback, is that it was attributed because he wasn't eating. And at that point, we thought he would have come around. We start to give him Pedialyte, which was advised to us, and we also tried to start Jell-o and crackers, give it to him. We saw him coming around, but that didn't really happen. He eventually end up into cardiac arrest.

BERMAN: And it was his brother who's a scout who used CPR to save him, that's a whole other story. And kudos to you and your whole family for raising two such wonderful sons on that. But walk us through how this affected Jaden's body from the time he went into cardiac arrest through his stay in the hospital until now.

HARDOWAR: I would say he has lost a lot of weight. And going into the cardiac arrest, I'm sure that was a scary situation for him. He doesn't know right now what really went on that day. We haven't spoke much about it. But today, at home, he is very small, we can say he lost a good 20 pounds out of this. But his strength is coming back and his voice is coming back and that's the most important for us right now. That's what we worry about.

His heart is of concern because we were told that -- from the doctors that he was diagnosed with something called Brugada syndrome. And Brugad syndrome, I don't know the detail of it but it means something about your heart getting overworked and would go into an irregular beat. And as a result, they have implanted a defibrillator, which is going to help him if he ever gets into this condition again.

BERMAN: You're like me. When doctors talk to me about things that my kids have, I just nod and smile, I don't understand half the words there.

Some parents have talked about rashes in their kids, other symptoms that come about from this inflammatory syndrome. Have you seen any of that?

HARDOWAR: You know, interestingly in Jaden's case, we saw none of this. And that's the point -- the situation where we have to ask questions, why he doesn't have none of this. Because that's -- those are some of the typical signs that they're seeing. But in Jaden's case, the only sign we had was the initial fever, then the fever went away. So he never had things together. He had the fever, it went away. Then his diarrhea came, and, you know, it's like a single condition every time. So it's not the typical virus signs that we were seeing.

BERMAN: And, again, he never tested positive for having coronavirus or COVID-19, but after the fact he does have the antibodies, which indicates that somewhere along the way, he had it, correct?

HARDOWAR: Yes. And that's what we are concerned about. He tested positive for the antibody. I don't know the accuracy of the antibody test. Yesterday, we took him to his pediatrician and we requested a second antibody test just to -- I guess, just to be satisfied at home.

BERMAN: And it's also interesting because this all started happening to you and your family a month ago. This was before, I think, we all became much more aware of this inflammatory syndrome of some of the risks for kids. Small numbers of kids, but a real risk for some kids particularly in the New York area. What do you want parents to know about this?

HARDOWAR: I would say take every signs seriously.


I believe that pediatricians are all aware that kids in New York are being affected and don't let things be -- don't let it go.

The other thing I will say that Jaden's older brother, who is part of Boy Scout, he helped out. And learning CPR is something I would like to say that it's not just for people in the medical field, anyone can learn CPR. I'm (INAUDIBLE) employee and I'm also getting an annual refresher of CPR every year.

So if you don't know CPR, volunteer in Boy Scout or join Boy Scout.

BERMAN: It's all good stuff. We all should know CPR. It's great training.

I just want to show people the video of Jaden leaving the hospital, which I think was a big moment, I know, for your whole family, the applause. It was a tough go for him. I know that he's still feeling the effects of this. But it was so nice to see the outpouring of emotion for him there.

What are your thoughts for the healthcare professionals, the people who helped you through this?

HARDOWAR: I want to say thank you to the doctors at Quinn Hospital. who were all really good. They advise me through this. What I like with the doctors, I like the collaboration they were having, discussing all the conditions that they were seeing from Jaden. And also what I learned was the collaboration within the Tri-State area with doctors. And I think the collaboration and using the data that's available is what's making the doctors, because this is new, it's helping them to make better decision.

So I want to say thank you to the doctors.

BERMAN: Roup Hardowar, thank you so much for being with us this morning. We're so glad that Jaden is back at home. Our best to all of you.

HARDOWAR: Thank you very much, John.

BERMAN: Alisyn?

CAMEROTA: Okay, John. Let's talk about reopening the country. Connecticut is the last state in the union to remain closed. But tomorrow they too will begin the process of reopening. What exactly will that look like? Well, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont joins us now.

Good morning, Governor.

GOV. NED LAMONT (D-CT): Hey, good morning, Alisyn. I wouldn't necessarily say last state in the union to remain closed. We're one of the few states in this region that never actually closed down manufacturing, never closed down outside construction, always kept our parks and beaches open. But we are, on Wednesday, going to have an opening of sorts for some things that had previously closed, outdoor dining, that's important. Main street retail, they were only available for pickup before. Now, they'll be available for in-person as well. CAMEROTA: Okay, that's interesting and I appreciate that clarification. Because what we had red is that Massachusetts and Connecticut were the last two states to engage in that kind of partial reopening that you're talking about, but it's good to know that the other things had never actually gone away.

As a resident of your fair state, I have some specific questions for you. Do you think that governors, yourself included, and municipalities across the country, have done a good enough job of explaining to regular citizens what's expected of them as they reengage? For instance, I keep hearing a lot of confusion from neighbors and people about when they're supposed to wear the masks. Are you supposed to wear it every time you go outside, if you go to the beach, if you go anywhere, or when?

LAMONT: I think we've been clear, but let's face it, Alisyn, this is a pandemic that's changing every day and there's a lot of anxiety out there. So I've had to do a lot of communication, which is why I'm with you today. Look, when it comes to the mask, we could not be clearer. When you go inside, when you go into that store, when you go into that grocery store, you're required to wear a mask and so is the -- and so is the employee. That's just what the rules of the road are.

But as you point out, if you're walking along a beach or walking to the park, you're outside, there's not a lot of people around you, you can keep your social distance, use the mask at your own discretion then.

CAMEROTA: Restaurants, governor, how will they be able to survive at limited capacity? I think people -- they are excited about the outdoor venues opening, but when it's time for the indoor venues to open, how will they be able to stay in business if they can only operate at, say, 25 percent capacity?

LAMONT: We're taking baby steps. We're one of the first states to allow outdoor dining here in New England, and I think that's important. You want to get the customers comfortable. You want them to maybe -- maybe they're hesitant. They don't want to go back to a restaurant at all. But maybe they'll go back if it's outside only, waiters wearing a mask, waiters wearing gloves. And maybe a month from, then they'll feel more comfortable about going inside assuming all the protocols have been followed.

CAMEROTA: I talked to my hairdresser last night. She's upset. She had been hoping that she would be open this week. And finding out that you pushed, salons back to June 1st, has really caused a huge kind of cataclysm, at least in her business, because she says she can't pay her rent or her health insurance. She really wants to get back to business. So what's your thinking there?


LAMONT: Well, I hope she's one of the 80,000 companies here in the State of Connecticut that got the Paycheck Protection.