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Trump Threatens to Move Republican National Convention; Vaccine Search; States Reopening. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired May 26, 2020 - 15:00   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Hi there. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you so much for being with me.

You are watching CNN's continuing coverage of the coronavirus outbreak.

Here we are, five months after the very first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in the United States. And more than 1.5 million names have been added to a list that continues to grow.

And that list includes another staggering number, 100,000, the number of people who have died.

It is a threshold that is unthinkable, one the nation is set to cross any day now.

So, we begin with Tom Foreman.

And, Tom, we have been talking about the pictures we're seeing of folks going to the beach, going out to eat, going to pool parties, and so many people are just ignoring that one critical piece of safety advice in the White House, social distancing.

So you tell me what you're seeing in various states and who's been affected the most.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What I'm seeing, most of all, Brooke, is a map that day by day by day is not showing the fundamental thing that health officials said we needed to see, a real trend down that is sustained.

Look at the latest map here. If you look at the Southeast United States, all of that red down there, the tan color sort of means they're holding steady. That whole region is having a problem right now, if you look at it in terms of new cases in the past week vs. the previous week.

Yes, we have got some green across the middle part of the country there. But what we have seen time and again is, a state looks good for a few days, their numbers move a little bit down, then they shoot right back up. What we have not seen, and day after day looking at these maps, what you won't see is a sustained pattern of two-thirds, three-quarters of the country getting in the green zone and staying there. That's what has to happen. And yet, you're right, people are out there acting as if somehow it's all over now because they're tired of it.

Whether you're tired of something or not doesn't mean it's over. The other thing that we have to look at here is who is actually dying from this as we approach this dreadful threshold of 100,000 deaths out there.

If you look at it, the people who are actually dying from this, the people who are paying the most for what we're doing with this disease or not able to do with this disease are, quite simply, your parents and your grandparents. That's the group that is experiencing the greatest number of fatalities.

Look at that; 58 percent of the fatalities are over the age of 75. If you add in the people who are over the age of retirement, they're around 65, somewhere there, now you're pushing 80 percent. And, yes, younger people, boy, the numbers fall way off, especially once you go below the age of 45.

Then you get way down, very few people dying in that group, many of those people you see in those photos, but I want you to look at this comparison. Look who's getting sick. Those younger people are actually getting this virus much more than the older people are.


FOREMAN: The older people, many of whom have existing conditions, heart conditions, lung conditions, diabetes, they are dying from it at much greater numbers, but younger people are getting it at higher numbers.

The younger people are really getting pounded by getting this. And this for some people may come and go, you may get it, you may feel better, you may move on. But it is not clear yet, as early as this disease is, as early as it is in our knowledge, what the lasting effects are.

There are people having organ issues. There are people having continued breathing issues. There are people having blood clots. We just do not know right now. Some of those young people who survive will be fully healthy in five months, five years, 10 years, or if there's a lingering effect.

So, look at the numbers. And what the numbers really say, Brooke, is that we are still, I'm sad to say, early in this process, as much as all of us wish we were not.

BALDWIN: I know. I know. And we will come back with those numbers and talk to the doctor again, just underscoring, 74 percent of the cases ages 18 to 64. That's a wakeup call.

Tom Foreman, nice to see you. Thank you. FOREMAN: You're welcome.

BALDWIN: Let's go to Georgia.

The governor there, Brian Kemp, drew both praise and criticism late last month as gyms and nail salons and other businesses became the first in his state to reopen. And then, shortly thereafter, a statewide shelter-in-place order expired for most folks who live in Georgia.

And now here we are a month later. What do the numbers tell us about the spread of coronavirus in that state?

Let's go to my colleague Nick Valencia in my hometown of Atlanta, Georgia.

And, Nick, what are you finding?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the governor, when he announced his broad reopening, Brooke, he made a lot of people nervous, including those senior officials that we'd been speaking to at the CDC. They warned of the potential of a second way, perhaps even the third wave.

But the governor the whole time maintained that the state was ready to handle the spread of the virus. We crunched the numbers and put that theory to the test.


VALENCIA (voice over): Looking at scenes like this, you may think Georgia never closed. CNN took a closer look at the data.


What we found is that, at least so far, the numbers haven't changed much. In the months since George's governor eased restrictions in a big way, the rate of new cases hasn't declined, but it hasn't skyrocketed either, despite some dire predictions.

Looking at data from Johns Hopkins University, between April 24 and May 24, the number of new confirmed cases by day in Georgia does show slightly higher numbers over the past five days or so. But zooming out, though it goes up and down, overall data shows the rate of new daily cases in Georgia has been mostly flat, from April 24, the day of the first reopening, to May 24, averaging in the 600 to 700 range, the rate of new deaths per day also steady.

GOV. BRIAN KEMP (R-GA): I'm proud of what we accomplished over the last several weeks, but we cannot rest on our laurels. We need to further expand access to testing, and we need to encourage Georgians to make it a priority.

VALENCIA: In fact, testing is the one thing going way up in Georgia.

Georgia's rate of new tests added per day has basically quadrupled in that one-month period, from about 5,000 a day to about 20,000. So, more testing to find new cases, plus a flat rate of new cases, seems like good news.

And the rate of positive test results remains about 5 percent. It was in the range of 15 percent to 20 percent a month ago, also good news.

In Atlanta, the city's most densely populated city, it seemed that some were willing to take the risk, data or not. Nightclubs were packed. Restaurants were too. In an apparent reference to Atlanta's mayor, the host of this massive Atlanta pool party seemingly admitting to the risk, writing on Instagram: "I'm sorry, Ms. Bottoms."

(on camera): What's your assessment so far of how the state's doing?


VALENCIA (voice-over): Emory University Global Health and epidemiology professor Carlos del Rio says the impact of the governor's shelter-in-place order clearly decreased the number of infects and deaths.

DEL RIO: Having a healthy economy is about providing people jobs. It's about providing people opportunity. It's about health. So unemployment, it causes disease. Unemployment causes poverty. So we have to find a balance. But we need to do it carefully. We need to be careful not to be irresponsible.


VALENCIA: And epidemiologists like Dr. Carlos del Rio warn that the true measure of just how much this social easing will impact the numbers will come in about two weeks here.

He's pretty nervous after seeing those images that we all saw this weekend, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Yes. Nick Valencia, thank you so much for all of that.

Let's have a broader discussion now with Dr. Celine Gounder, a CNN medical analyst and host of the podcast "Epidemic."

Dr. Gounder, nice to see you again.

I want to go back to -- it was fascinating looking at what's happening in Georgia, but back to what Tom Foreman was talking about in terms of the breakdown of how many people, how old folks are who've had coronavirus.

And, again, the number that jumped out at me, that the majority the case of, 74 percent, are between the ages of 18 and 64. So, I'm curious if you are -- just your takeaway on the breakdown of age groups. And, also, if you are, let's say, an 18-year-old wanting to go out and get a haircut vs. a 65-year-old, should you be taking different precautions?

DR. CELINE GOUNDER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Well, I think it's really important to distinguish here, Brooke, between frequency and severity.

So, yes, it's most frequent for us to see these cases falling under -- among adults between the ages of 18 and 65. But we definitely are seeing some of the worst cases among the elderly. And we are seeing very severe cases, though rare, of the disease among children.

Now, I think it's important also to not just think about this in terms of age, but underlying risk factors. And those risk factors are high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, having had a stroke, diabetes, and that really depends on the person, not just on their age.

BALDWIN: I guess the meat of maybe what I'm asking is, if you're younger, and you're thinking, well, I can go to that pool and hang out with my friends, or I'm going to the restaurant, should you have that mind-set going out?

Or is the point that so many younger people are getting at as well, it should just be a gut check?

GOUNDER: Well, I think it depends on if you're worrying about your own personal health or you're thinking about maybe your family, your parents, your grandparents, your community.

BALDWIN: Great point.


But we do have an obesity rate in this country of like 40 percent, including among younger people. And so those younger people may be at risk because of their underlying health conditions as well.

BALDWIN: What about -- we're on the precipice of summer. Everyone -- the old M.O., when we go to the pool, slap on some sunscreen and cannonball.

Like, that's all we would think about. But now what would your advice be for parents taking kids to the pool?

GOUNDER: Well, I think the good news is that pool water itself is quite safe.

The reason we put chlorine in the water is actually because of another epidemic, polio, back in the '40s and '50s. And so the water itself is quite safe. It's really about what you're doing when you're outside the pool, when you might be breathing on each other, talking to each other.


And that's where it really is important to continue wearing masks and maintaining some degree of distance, that six feet or so distance from other people.

BALDWIN: Should kids be able to go to summer camp?

GOUNDER: That's a tough one. I have had a lot of friends who've asked me that same questions. They're making plans for their kids.

And, frankly I don't see that being very feasible. You're basically putting a bunch of kids together in a place where their hygienic habits are not going to be supervised in the same way. They're going to be living in dormitory kinds of conditions.

And it's, again, not so much about the risk to their own health, but what they might be bringing back to their parents and grandparents at the end of camp.

BALDWIN: And then, lastly, just at the workplace, I mean, this is something all of -- I have heard a lot of conversations related to, all right, well when I stop working from home and I do go back in the office, what will the biggest change or changes be?

What should I anticipate? What do you think, Dr. Gounder?

GOUNDER: Yes, I think the biggest changes are going to be, you're going to see people wearing masks at work. You're going to see some degree of social distancing at work. So you may not be sitting in conference rooms for meetings.

You may not be sitting down to lunch with your colleagues in the cafeteria. There will be more attention to public spaces, like your elevator buttons and your doors and your countertops in the bathrooms.

So I think there will definitely be some heightened awareness of how to prevent transmission.

BALDWIN: And the learning curve that we will all go through when -- when folks come back into the office,

Dr. Celine Gounder, thank you so much. So helpful.

Meantime, a company racing to produce a vaccine by the end of the year reports it's closer to that goal, but there are, of course, hurdles. We will talk with the company's head of research and development.

And health officials in North Carolina are speaking out after President Trump threatened to pull the Republican National Convention from the state -- remember, it's supposed be end of August -- demanding a guarantee, the president is, that the event can be held at full capacity.

And Broadway. As Broadway officials here in New York City say that they hope that audiences can return, can people sit next to one another?

She says yes. She says that could happen as early as January. We will talk about that with a pair of Broadway stars.

You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. We will be right back.


[15:16:53] BALDWIN: Welcome back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

The world is looking for answers when it comes to coronavirus, of course. And now another company's entering this critical phase in hopes of developing a vaccine.

Novavax is now the 10th company to start human trials of a vaccine. And there are more than 100 vaccine trials all around the world. Novavax hopes to have preliminary results sometime this July and then move on to a larger trial some time after that.

So, with me now, the president of research and development for Novavax, Dr. Gregory Glenn.

Dr. Glenn, welcome, sir. Thank you for coming on.

And, listen, full transparency, I have talked to a lot of people about a lot of trials on vaccines. And we hear about the timetable. President Trump, members of the White House, they have publicly said there will be a vaccine by the end of the year, which I know is mighty fast, compared to previous years and previous vaccines.

A spokesman for your company tells CNN that you will have 100 million doses of your vaccine ready by then. Just tell me straight, where are you on this? And is that timeline truly feasible?


DR. GREGORY GLENN, PRESIDENT OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT, NOVAVAX: Yes, yes, yes, those are those are pretty big claims. I think we're a very credible group to make them.

So I have been in vaccine development for 28 years. So, let's just talk about the biology first, because I think it's important. If you understand how a vaccine might work, I think you will see why our technology is so good.


GLENN: And we have evidence -- evidence for that.

So, you know the virus has a little spike on the end of it. It's got a crown of spikes. Those spikes bind to a human cell receptor like a spacecraft docking, very, very tight. That's what makes it so infectious.

If you can block that somehow -- and what we're doing then is making a spike protein just itself, as a protein. It looks just like it does in nature. That makes a very strong immune response. We know that our immune responses we induce from animal studies block that binding event.

We have another measure called neutralizing antibodies. In my field, if you make neutralize antibodies that are high, everyone presumes that will be protective. And, in fact, you can compare it to people who had infection and they have convalescent sera.

So we have provided quite a bit of data on that very topic to CEPI. Now CEPI is a Gates-founded, Wellcome Trust-founded, very big organization committed to getting the pandemic vaccine out the door. They invested $400 million. And that's just a couple weeks ago.

And the goal there, from their standpoint, is to, in parallel, scale up the manufacturing while we do the testing. And so I think what we're saying is very credible. Our technology just recently was evaluated successfully in a phase three flu trial.

The flu vaccine has not been working very well. We have a better flu vaccine. So we have a mature technology. We have a big, credible funder behind us. I think we can deliver a good vaccine. I'm very optimistic it will work. That's what we need today.


I was listening to your show earlier.


GLENN: This is really going to change everything, to have a good vaccine.

BALDWIN: It will change everything.

And let me also say how grateful I am to you for, of course, doing this work, 28 years and counting, and, of course, to have such big believers behind you. I mean, $400 million, that's a huge amount of money.

That said, your company is one of about 10 companies worldwide who have now entered this human trial portion of vaccine testing. And for people who are listening to us, and they're wondering, OK, it's great to think of the fact that this would be sped up, but would that be done at the risk of one's safety, what would you say to that person?

GLENN: That's a really good -- that's a very good point.

So, we are a mature technology. That is, a very similar type of protein and formulation was just tested in a large trial in humans in this year in the U.S. The safety looks very much like a little licensed vaccine.

So, all vaccines are going to have some side effects. What you really want to make sure is, there's nothing long-term. And, by that, I mean even like a week. So people can have a sore arm for a day, feel a little off.

I think our vaccine, compared to some of the others that are being reported, is going to be -- very have a very good safety profile. So that's the sort of important thing. And then will it work? Well, that's where we, I think, really have a strong case.

Our vaccine is making very high-neutralizing antibodies. That's going to be important for protection. So, we are looking to accelerate things. The real controllers there are going to be the FDA, the regulators.

The kind of messages they're giving out is, they're very willing to work with speed. So could we have a vaccine this year? So we're starting to phase one trial. We see the results in July. We have written -- it's under a protocol, very strictly monitoring safety and immune responses.

We will then look for efficacy in the fall. If we see efficacy in the right setting, we could potentially be deploying our vaccine at the end of this year. That is, for a vaccine, the speed of light. We really began working on this at the end of January.

But I think it's feasible. It's no good to say, well, two or three years from now, we will have a vaccine. We really -- we need one soon. And now -- and I do think that it will work.

Vaccines historically (AUDIO GAP) a miracle, so--

BALDWIN: Here's hoping you and I have a conversation again in the fall, and you say, Brooke, great news, efficacy, check. We're on this. And this is something that can help so many people around this country.

Dr. Gregory Glenn, thank you very much for coming on. And my best of -- best of luck to you. Thank you.

GLENN: Look forward to that conversation. Take care.

BALDWIN: You got it.

President Trump is now mocking Joe Biden for doing exactly what health officials are asking all of us to do in public, wear a mask. We have those details ahead.

And Dr. Anthony Fauci warns that the coronavirus death toll is actually likely higher than the official numbers. So, we will talk to a woman, a doctor herself, who says the loss of her own mother is a prime example why.



BALDWIN: With fewer than 100 days until the Republican National Convention, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper is responding to this increased pressure coming in from President Trump.

The president is threatening to move the event out of Charlotte if the governor doesn't allow it to be held at full capacity, despite concerns about COVID.

So, listen to what the governor, Governor Cooper, just said about that threat. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. ROY COOPER (D-NC): I'm not surprised by anything that I see on Twitter.

I will say that it's OK for political conventions to be political. But pandemic response cannot be. We want to see from the RNC what their plans are. And we have asked them to submit those plans to our public health officials. They have someone hired to advise them as well.

And we look forward to the back-and-forth on that. We'd like to reach a resolution that everybody can be reasonable about that puts public health, safety, the science, and the facts as the number one thing we're trying to do here.


BALDWIN: So, let's go straight to Charlotte City Council member Malcolm Graham.

Malcolm, it's a pleasure to see you again. Thank you.


BALDWIN: So, you just heard the governor there. Your reaction to what he's saying about the convention.

And if this does happen in your city at the end of the month of August, what would it look like?

GRAHAM: Well, I think what you heard the governor say is really reasonable, right?

We want to follow the science and the data to lead us to our decision locally. Obviously, the governor has a big role in that decision.

We want to balance the need to reopen in a safe way to ensure that we provide economic opportunities for our business here locally.