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New York's First Epicenter Begins to Reopen Today; Trump Retweets Criticism of Joe Biden for Wearing a Mask; Novavax Begins Human Trials for Coronavirus Vaccine; Family Attorney: Justice Department Investigating Arbery Murder as Hate Crime. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired May 26, 2020 - 06:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We cannot make assumptions. We may get a second peak in this wave.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Crowds apparent as a cooped-up country reopens. Data shows more states are heading in the wrong direction.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anyone who is involved this weekend in any sort of crowded event should just self-quarantine.

MAYOR STEVEN REED (D), MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA: Gives me pause to think about what we may see the next week or two when people get back to their communities from vacationing down the Gulf Coast.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: This is now the tenth team that's in human clinical trials, trying out their experimental COVID vaccines.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The world basically is going to have to vaccinate its way out of this pandemic. And I think the standard way of doing it is just too slow.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Tuesday, May 26, 6 a.m. here in New York.

And this morning, an important marker. The city that saw the first real coronavirus outbreak on the East Coast, the original hot spot here, begins phased reopening this morning, after nearly three months.

Nationwide this morning, though, there are some new worries. Seventeen states are seeing an increase in new cases, with five of them up more than 50 percent. Thirteen states are holding steady, and 20 are experiencing a decline. It will be weeks until whether we know whether relaxed restrictions

for the Memorial Day weekend causes cases to spike. Some health officials in parts of Missouri are now calling on everyone who attended this packed pool party in the Ozarks to self-quarantine.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: John, there's also new information this morning about the impact of coronavirus on children. A majority of states are now investigating hundreds of cases of that pediatric inflammatory syndrome.

These cases are very rare. At the moment, we only know of 350, which, of course, is a fraction of the total amount of cases. But these cases with children could have a big impact on the thinking of reopening camps and schools.

So we have a lot to get to this morning. Let's begin with CNN's Brynn Gingras. She is live in New Rochelle, New York, where it is a new day -- Brynn.

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It certainly is, Alisyn. Good morning.

Really across the country, though, it was hit or miss over this holiday weekend when it came to those safety precautions: wearing masks, keeping social distancing. This as the country is nearing that devastating milestone of 100,000 deaths due to the coronavirus.

But here in New Rochelle, you're right. It is a new day. Officials are saying, be smart, be safe. Remember this area was one of the first to shut down in the entire country because of that hot spot. And people here want to look forward, not back.


GINGRAS (voice-over): New Rochelle, New York, was the state's first coronavirus epicenter. And this morning, it's part of two regions scheduled to begin reopening this week. Governor Andrew Cuomo reminding New Yorkers, it's important to stay smart.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): The number goes down until you go out and don't do the PPE and don't do the mask, and then the number will go up. And who's going to determine what happens to the number? The person in the mirror.

GINGRAS: At least 17 states are seeing an uptick in coronavirus cases over the past week, including Arkansas, where some enjoyed the weather without taking safety precautions.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I see I'm not the only person. You see no mask here. You see no fear.

GINGRAS: The governor urging people to be more responsible.

GOV. ASA HUTCHINSON (R-AR): When you wear a mask, you're expressing your concern of someone else. So we're trying to set the right example and continue to do that. GINGRAS: Cases are also increasing in Alabama, where crowded beaches

last weekend concerned local leaders like the mayor of Montgomery, who earlier warned his city is critically low on ICU beds.

REED (D): It gives me pause to think about what we may see in the next week or two, when people get back to their communities from vacationing down the Gulf Coast. It's problematic for me that people are cavalier about their behavior.

GINGRAS: Chilly weather keeping crowds light at some northeastern beaches. At Delaware's Rehoboth Beach, face coverings are mandatory on the boardwalk and encouraged on its shores.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was very impressed with what I saw and I feel very much more comfortable about rolling into the first of June.

GINGRAS: But at this New Jersey beach, most people who walked the boardwalk did so without covering their faces.

Officials in St. Louis asking people who attended events like this pool party in the Ozarks to self-quarantine for 14 days.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The risk of contracting COVID-19 is exponentially increased.

GINGRAS: Take a look at this crowd in Texas, all river tubing in close proximity.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I get it, everybody else getting it, eh? It's life.

GINGRAS: And this social media video from Houston showing a pool party at a club with very few masks in sight. Houston's mayor says police will begin enforcing capacity limits after hundreds of social distancing complaints over the holiday weekend.

MAYOR SYLVESTER TURNER (D), HOUSTON: We have to pump the brakes. People are -- there are some who are pretending as though this virus no longer exists. And quite frankly, it's not only endangering themselves and those who are at those -- at these gatherings, but they're endangering everybody else when they leave these gatherings.


GINGRAS: Now, we are in the original containment zone here in New Rochelle, the area where the National Guard was stationed just three months ago.

Now we know that this area is opening. Contact tracers were trained over the holiday weekend. But it's not just here. It's a total of seven counties in New York that can reopen and begin phase one, John, and that, of course, includes manufacturing, construction and retail pickup -- John.

BERMAN: Look, it's been a long time coming. It's taken a lot of hard work in these regions with social distancing really at a premium there.

Brynn Gingras, thanks very much for being with us.

Joining us now is Dr. Juan Dumois. He's a pediatric infectious diseases physician at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital. And CNN political analyst Margaret Talev. She's the politics and White house editor at Axios.


And guys, and Doctor, I want to throw up on the screen, just so people see it again, the pictures that we saw all weekend long of people out there partying, close to each other, all over each other. At the Ozarks, there was this pool party.

And now you have local health officials in the Kansas City area and the St. Louis area saying, Look, you know, if you live in our counties and you went down to this pool party, we want you to self-quarantine, because you could be at risk right now.

When you see these pictures and when you know that things like this were happening all over the country, Doctor, what can be done at this point? It does seem like Pandora's box has been opened, and people are just out doing their thing. So how does one control or try to mitigate possible damage here?

DR. JUAN DUMOIS, PEDIATRIC INFECTIOUS DISEASES PHYSICIAN, JOHNS HOPKINS ALL CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL: Well, I think we just need to keep getting the message out there, that this virus is not gone. And that avoiding of social distancing is just giving the coronavirus more opportunities to very quickly spread to other people.

And in areas that have already seen maybe a decrease in the number of daily cases, they're going to start seeing an increase in -- in a few weeks.

CAMEROTA: But Dr. Dumois, isn't it true that in terms of the super spreader events that we saw back in March -- the Biogen convention, the cocktail parties -- they were all indoors? And so isn't it harder to spread the virus outdoors?

I mean, I don't want to give everybody a license to run out and have a pool party like that, but is it exponentially harder to spread it outdoors than it is indoors?

DUMOIS: It depends on the circumstances and the conditions when you're outdoors.

If you're outdoors and going for a walk in the park where you're not clustering with other people, chances are someone who is coughing out the virus will have those particles from their breath dissipate very quickly and blown away by the wind.

But if you're in close proximity to other people, and you are staying in close proximity, a little bit of a breeze, and you're downwind of the person who coughs and is infected, that will blow right into your face. With your next breath, you're inhaling virus.

So it depends on how close you are to these other people and how long you are close to them that increases your risk.

BERMAN: It seems to me that sharing a raft or perhaps sharing a margarita with somebody, doesn't really matter whether you're inside or matter.

CAMEROTA: Why do I hear a tinge of envy every time you describe this party?

BERMAN: Look, I have no desire to be near that many people ever, let alone during a pandemic.

But -- but Margaret, there's another what I consider to be nondebate going on this morning, and I think it's truly fascinating. So former Vice President Joe Biden went to a Memorial Day observance in Delaware yesterday, and he was wearing a mask. We've seen pictures of it. Perhaps we can see them again. You can see him there in the black mask.

The president and his wife went to services. They were not wearing a mask.

What's interesting to me is that Brit Hume of FOX TV put out a tweet of a picture of Joe Biden that said, this might explain why Trump doesn't like to wear a mask in public.

I'm not sure I get it. I really am not. And the president retweeted this.

This is a huge majority issue in the country. Sixty-four percent of Americans say that we should all be required to wear masks in public. Sixty-seven percent say the president should be required to wear a mask in public. The CDC says you should wear a mask in public.

So who's owning whom here? I mean, the president re-tweeted a picture of Joe Biden doing something that is wildly popular among the American people.


And you asked, what can we do collectively as a country, right, to try to minimize the spread of this. And wearing the masks is one of those things. Not only because it creates a barrier, but because it creates a psychological barrier, as well. When you see someone wearing a mask, you're not going to get right up in their face.

And so, you're right. There is wide bipartisan support for this. Our own weekly polling with IPSOS shows this. But there's also a partisan split. This is an issue that unifies Democrats and, to some extent, divides Republicans.

While most Americans are wearing masks, the support for this is softer among Republicans, and the support for this is softer in rural areas, as opposed to urban and suburban areas. So it's like yet become another political Rorschach test. And it's a -- it's a dangerous one. It's a divisive one.

But the president feels that wearing a mask kind of looks silly or projects weakness and that, in situations at least in his case, where he says he's been tested, he's OK, he has sought not to wear these in public. We'll see on Wednesday when we see him, you know, in Florida.

But for Biden, their -- that campaign's feeling is that, at least among their base, it's not only OK to wear a mask, but there is a wide expectation that he should to send a signal about how others should behave.


CAMEROTA: But here again, Dr. Dumois, there is a distinction. President Trump didn't wear a mask inside. He went into a crowded Ford plant in Michigan where it is the law, the state law, to wear a mask. And it was the Ford company's policy that everyone who goes indoors, all visitors, everyone wears a mask. And he was within six feet of people.

So that's -- that -- there's no question there that you should be modeling the good behavior and lawful behavior of wearing a mask.

But outdoors, where Vice President Joe Biden was, that is still, as you just said, that's sort of people's judgment. And you have to -- and this is where people get confused, because before you head out the door, you try to figure out if you're going for your run or if you're going to a veterans memorial, if you're going to be within six feet of someone else.

DUMOIS: Yes, I think that it is incumbent on highly visible politicians and celebrities to show a good example. And it does not make a good example if you're indoors, with -- closely in groups of people and not wearing a mask. It just gives the message that it's not important. And I think that it is.

BERMAN: Look, I wish the words on our screen said, "Trump retweets picture of Joe Biden doing something wildly popular." Or "Trump retweets picture of Joe Biden doing something that the CDC recommends that everyone do."

And to Margaret's point, 40 percent of Republicans -- 40 percent of Republicans are supportive of wearing masks in public. There aren't many issues, I think, that Joe Biden can back that have 40 percent Republican approval here.

So again, I'll leave the medicine to the doctors here, but the politics to me are fairly clear.

Margaret, Doctor, thanks very much for being with us.

CAMEROTA: OK, another biotech company announcing they are starting human trials for a coronavirus vaccine. We'll tell you about this development and how promising it is, next.


CAMEROTA: U.S. stock futures are surging. They are up nearly 500 points, ahead of the open, thanks to optimism about another potential coronavirus vaccine. The American biotech company Novavax announcing it is starting human trials.

CNN's Elizabeth Cohen joins us now with details.

What do we know, Elizabeth?

COHEN: Alisyn, you know, the word that keeps coming to my mind is "preliminary." This is preliminary data, preliminary information. Still, important that now a tenth vaccine maker is moving into this field.

As you said, the company is called Novavax. They're based in the United States. And they're starting a round of preliminary investigation, if you will, with 130 study subjects. They said that they plan to vaccinate their first volunteer in Australia. That's where they're doing their trials, last night.

Again, they'll go on to do 130 people. They hope by July to have some information about how these 130 people did. Did the vaccine seem to illicit an immune response, and also, is it safe?

So this is the tenth vaccine to join the world scene in human clinical trials.

And let's take a look at what is going around, going on around the world. Ten worldwide. This is the fourth in the United States. There are also five in China, one in the U.K., and 114 in pre-clinical stages, meaning they are not in human clinical trials. They're in the lab. They're doing work with animals.

You will notice all of these will not turn into real vaccines that you and I and the world will get. And that's OK. We expect them to start with a lot. The best ones will hopefully succeed. We hope to have several vaccines. Some might work well for certain groups, young groups, old people, et cetera, better than others -- John.

BERMAN: All right. Elizabeth Cohen, thanks so much for that information. Really appreciate it.

Joining me now is William Haseltine. He's a former professor at Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health. He's now the chair and president of ACCESS Health International.

Professor, it is always an education to have you on.

Let's talk about Novavax, just as a peg for what you have been focused on over the last few days. Novavax is the tenth company now to move forward in these vaccine trials. You look at this as a broad subject and say, you know, we need to approach all of this with more caution. Why? WILLIAM HASELTINE, CHAIR/PRESIDENT, ACCESS HEALTH INTERNATIONAL: The

question that most people ask me and will ask to themselves about the vaccine is, When will we have it? The question a scientist or a doctor asks is if we will have it.

At this point, it's not clear that the answer to "if" is definite. It's not clear that we will definitely have one of these vaccines.

And the reason is, has to do with the virus itself. Has to do with the nature of the population that's being vaccinated.

Let me point out something that's really obvious. The people who need this vaccine the most are old. Those over 60, 70, 80. Those are exactly the people that have a very difficult time making a good response to any vaccine. Whether it's a live vaccine, a killed vaccine, a vaccine in a new kind of particle that the Novavax people are proposing. That's the first question.

The second question is, we already know from primate studies, non- human primate studies, and some very preliminary evidence from the first human trial where we have some data that's been published is that we're not sure what kind of immune response these vaccines are making. Is it really a good one? Will it really protect? Or will it partially protect? And if it partially protects, then what's the policy?

So my view of all this is, we know how to control the virus without a drug and without a vaccine. That's happened all over the east, including Australia and New Zealand.

Let's use the tools we have now and hope for a better future. But that hope is only a hope.


BERMAN: You -- you talked about the various challenges here. No. 1, for whom will the vaccine be most effective, dealing with the older population? And then you mentioned something particular to the virus itself that makes it challenging to find a vaccine. What is that?

HASELTINE: Well, we know these are coronaviruses. And we have years and years of experiences with coronaviruses. About one-third of all the colds you get every year are coronaviruses.

And many, many years ago, people did experiments where they infected people, volunteers, to get a cold. Not a serious disease. To get a cold, and then a year later came back and used the self-same virus to see if they were protected, and they weren't.

We also know from the study of the blood and the serum and the antibodies in people who recover from COVID, from this disease, is that the antibody response is not strong. It's weak. And only a few people out of the whole group make enough antibody that can stop the virus, even in the test tube, much less in real life. So that's a problem. BERMAN: If they are producing neutralizing antibodies, if they are producing neutralizing antibodies, which some of the press releases on these studies -- and I know there's a distinction between studies and press releases -- but some of these companies are saying they've seen evidence of producing neutralizing antibodies -- is that a positive sign? Or why might that be even limited, too?

HASELTINE: It's not a negative sign, let me put it that way, but however, it's not a high level of neutralization. And it doesn't protect the monkeys from getting infected in the nose.

In fact, if you look at the Oxford trial, every single one of the vaccinated animals were actually infected. It's true that the virus levels in the lungs were lower, but what about the virus levels in the nasal passages that transmit the viruses?

And this virus doesn't just attack the lung. It attacks the vascular system. It attacks the kidney. What else won't be protected by these vaccines?

So there are many deep questions, long questions. And this is not going to be over soon.

This is a final important topic we didn't talk about, which is safety. When you're giving a vaccine to people, you're giving it to healthy people. And you may be giving, in this case, to hundreds of millions, even a billion or more healthy people. It has to be really safe. How many people do you have to test the vaccine in before you know it's safe to give to children, adults, and maybe a billion or more of them?

We haven't ever had, really, drugs like that, but when we do have drugs that are going to be very broadly tested, it takes hundreds of thousands of people to take the drug before you're ready to release it to the public.

BERMAN: And I know you're also concerned --

HASELTINE: So these are other questions that we have in mind.

BERMAN: I know you're also concerned that in this process, there isn't necessarily a super-effective treatment available yet. There is Remdesivir, but you have some caution about that, as well.

HASELTINE: Well, I have a lot of caution about Remdesivir. There are two studies that came out that have been published now. One a very detailed study that shows it had no effect at all.

In particular, what bothers me is that it didn't touch the virus in the patients where it measured. Not in their lungs, not in their nose, nowhere you could measure.

They had three different samplings of all of these patients -- nose, rectum, and lung -- and there was no effect on the virus concentration. That's the first thing.

Another paper came out and said very weak data that said, yes, if you're really healthy and you take the drug -- well, not that you're sort of sick; you're in the hospital, you take the drug, maybe you get out a couple of days earlier. But there was no supporting virology.

I'm a virologist. If a drug is going to work against a virus, it better drop the concentration of the virus in a person. If it doesn't, why is it called an antiviral drug?

BERMAN: Professor --

HASELTINE: And that's a really serious question, and it's a problem with the data.

BERMAN: Professor Haseltine, you've raised some very serious questions across the board here this morning. We do appreciate your time coming on. We look forward to speaking to you again soon.

HASELTINE: It's my pleasure. Thank you.

BERMAN: All right. New details about a potential Justice Department investigation into the murder of Ahmaud Arbery. Much more in a live report, next.


[06:2 8:21]

CAMEROTA: Now to this developing story. The family attorney for the Ahmaud Arbery case tells CNN that the Justice Department has launched a hate crime investigation into his murder.

Let's get right to CNN's Martin Savidge for the latest. So what does this mean, Marty?


Well, it is significant news, because the family of Ahmaud Arbery, the mother and father and their attorneys, all had the opportunity to meet with representatives from the Department of Justice, which in the state of Georgia would be Bobby Christine. He's the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Georgia.

And it was at that meeting that Lee Merritt, who represents the mother, said that the DOJ admitted to them that they are looking into and beginning the investigations looking at his murder, Ahmaud Arbery's death, as a hate crime.

Now, that's significant, because as you know, Georgia is one of the few states, actually, one of only four states, that has no state hate crime laws. So if this is going to be investigated as a potential hate crime, it will have to be done on the federal level.

But it's not the only thing that the feds reportedly are looking into, according to a statement that was released by the attorneys after that meeting. It went on to say, "According to Mr. Christine, his office is investigating why it took so long to arrest the individuals responsible for Mr. Arbery's death. This would involve the consideration of both civil and criminal charges against state officials and conspirators involved in the murder of Mr. Arbery."

So, again, the question is going to be on those first D.A.s that handled the case and why there was no arrest and why this case seemed to go nowhere for two months. So the feds are looking at that, as well.

Two significant developments in this case -- John and Alisyn.

BERMAN: Yes, I've got to say. Because we don't have answers to those questions. And those are big, glaring questions at this point. Martin Savidge, thanks very much for your reporting on this.

So now that the Memorial Day weekend is over, warmer weather is on the way for most of the East Coast.