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Generic Steroid May Improve Severe COVID-19 Recovery; President Trump Prepares to Hold Rally in Tulsa; China Aggressively Responds to New COVID-19 Cases. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired June 16, 2020 - 10:30   ET




POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: Now, to some pretty troubling numbers from a key model of COVID-19 that is watched by the White House. It says, this morning, that the U.S. could see more than 200,000 COVID-19 deaths by October.

This is a new study, just released, shows that people under the age of 20 are about half as susceptible to contracting COVID-19 as those over 20. Joining me now, Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency room physician and former Baltimore city health commissioner.

So let's start on that, because unfortunately I am not under 20, so I am, I suppose, in the high-risk group. But in all seriousness, I worry that this may lead to just more sort of cavalier action and less mask-wearing by younger folks. What do you think?

LEANA WEN, EMERGENCY ROOM PHYSICIAN: Yes. I think it is important, Poppy, for us to understand the results for what they are. Which is, actually, we already knew some of this, right? We've been saying that people who are older, with chronic medical illnesses, are more susceptible to having severe effects from COVID-19. And this just confirms that, that younger people are less likely to become symptomatic.

But young people could still get it, could still become very ill. Also, they could still, even if they don't become ill or even if they are asymptomatic, they could still transmit COVID-19 --


WEN: -- to other people too. And so (ph) really (ph) don't (ph) want (ph) people (ph) --


HARLOW: So this is saying, Doctor, just -- sorry, just to be clear, this is saying it's not that the younger people don't get it, it's that they're just likely to even know they have it because they wouldn't have any symptoms? WEN: That's right. And so it is still very possible that young people are getting COVID-19, or at least are somehow able to transmit it to others too. And so I think there are really a lot of implications for how we have to all keep up our guard, all have to wear masks, all have to keep on practicing that physical distancing as much as we can.

HARLOW: OK, so there is a new study out of the U.K. that shows that a particular steroid -- it's called dexamethasone -- is really effective in treating people with COVID-19. As much as a third of the people on ventilators got better by using this relatively common steroid.

How promising is that? And also, if you could speak to any of the risks associated with it?

WEN: Sure. So this is huge news because dexamethasone is a very commonly used steroid. It is a generic that's very cheap. And the study results, the preliminary results, show that it reduces the death rate for very ill patients, who are on ventilators or in the hospital and on oxygen.

So that's huge. But we do have to keep in mind that these are preliminary results that are not yet peer-reviewed. And in recent days, there actually have been quite a lot of studies that have been retracted, and so we do need to validate these results. And also, people need to keep in mind, this is for very ill patients.

So this did not study patients who are not in a hospital setting, so I don't recommend for people to go out and buy this steroid. Because as you said, there are side effects. There could be the increased rate of infections, there's skin breakdown, there are many other side effects, just because every medication has side effects. So very promising, but take this with a grain of salt.

HARLOW: I think all of us parents -- you have children, you're a new parent as well -- are really still scratching our heads about how this affecting children, and the inflammatory syndrome that's being diagnosed in children, researchers saying it may be a delayed response to COVID? Are we any closer to knowing?


WEN: Well, what we know so far about this inflammatory syndrome in children is that it is very rare, which is good news, but it's very serious. And there's a lot that we don't know about it, including which kids are more likely to have it.

And because it is, as you said, a delayed response, it's very challenging for parents, I think, to think about this in relation to school and daycare that's going to be coming up. And so I think whatever decisions are made have to take into account public health guidance, and also people have to be ready to roll back these restrictions, and potentially be willing to re-close schools if it turns out that children are getting sick or are passing COVID-19 to others.

HARLOW: Finally, on this model, very quickly, as we end, IHME now says over 200,000 U.S. deaths by October. Would a vast increase in mask-wearing bring that number down?

WEN: Yes. two hundred thousand, these models are not inevitable. Our actions today have a huge effect on what happens, and so we really need to take every precaution, especially as the opening is happening, do everything we can, and we will bring down the number of deaths and the number of infections.

HARLOW: Dr. Leana Wen, thanks, we appreciate you.

WEN: Thank you.

HARLOW: Well, Tulsa's history of racial violence is magnified, and many more people are talking about what happened there, 99 years ago, as the president prepares to hold his first rally in months in Tulsa. We'll be joined, next, to take a look back at what happened.



HARLOW: Later today, the president is expected to sign an executive order to establish a national database to better track police officers who use excessive force, right? So everyone could see clearly and transparently what had happened in the past.

The president, still facing some criticism, though, as he prepares to host a rally, his first in months, in Tulsa. Obviously, the racial history of violence in Tulsa is critically important here. Let's go to our colleague Abby Phillip, she joins us this morning.

Good morning, Abby. Look, the past here, 99 years since what happened in the brutal attack in Greenwood, is so important, even though the president has moved this by a day.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. I mean, there is such a through line for residents here, between what happened almost 100 years ago, and what they are still grappling with today. And this debate about police use of force, that we are having at a national level, is very real right here in Tulsa.

They have been talking about these issues for many years, and the people I spoke to really wanted to be conveyed to the rest of the world that here in Tulsa, they believe that this is a clear case of how this city's black residents feel that racism permeates every aspect of their lives, especially in their interactions with police. Take a listen.


TIFFANY CRUTCHER, BROTHER KILLED BY POLICE: We're twins, yes, three minutes apart. He came out first, and he called me his little big sister.

PHILLIP (voice-over): Before George Floyd, before nationwide protests against police brutality swept the country, Tiffany Crutcher's twin brother Terence was killed by a Tulsa police officer in 2016. CRUTCHER: Terence just needed help that day.

PHILLIP (voice-over): Crutcher was unarmed, and the officer who shot him was charged with manslaughter but later acquitted.

For Tiffany, the anger in Tulsa over policing dates back to 1921, when her great-grandmother was one of thousands of black residents who ran for their lives as a mob of angry whites killed hundreds, and burned down the black neighborhood of Greenwood, known then as Black Wall Street.

CRUTCHER: Same culture that burned down Black Wall Street, and killed innocent people, and ran my great-grandmother from her home, is the same culture, the same policing culture that killed Terence.

PHILLIP (voice-over): Now, President Trump is coming here at a time when black Tulsa residents still feel like their voices aren't being heard.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The fact that I'm having a rally on that day, you can really think about that very positively as a celebration.

PHILLIP (voice-over): Most of the city's black residents are concentrated in North Tulsa, literally divided from the rest of the city by train tracks. A 2018 Human Rights Watch report found that black Tulsa residents are 2.3 times more likely to be arrested than white residents. The report also found traffic stops are more likely to happen in the black, poor parts of the city, tend to last longer, and are more likely to result in search, questioning and arrest.

But it's not just drivers.

DAMARIO SOLOMON-SIMMONS, ATTORNEY FOR TULSA TEENS: My clients, who are 13 and 15, had been walking on this road, minding their own business --

PHILLIP (voice-over): Earlier this month in Tulsa, two black teenagers arrested for jaywalking in a neighborhood with no sidewalks. Their story, getting national attention when police video of the incident was released.

Donna (ph) Corbitt (ph) lives just around the corner, and also recorded what she saw. The video, showing both teens in handcuffs, one, struggling with officers, and at one point, an officer kicking him inside of the police car. And, later, the teen demanding that they call his mother.


DONNA CORBITT, WITNESS: It really made me very sickened to myself. You know, it was a great burden to see, you know, such brutality on a child like that.

PHILLIP (voice-over): Tulsa police say the arrest is being investigated. Corbitt and the younger teen's mother, returning to the place where

her son was arrested.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It just broke my heart, that they felt comfortable harassing, abusing him, mutilating (ph) him.

PHILLIP (voice-over): Echoes of countless other viral videos that have laid bare the pain of black America.

CRUTCHER: I just lost it. That's all I could think about, was that baby, thinking he was going to be the next George Floyd or the next Terence Crutcher.


PHILLIP: Poppy, there is such a physical separation here in Tulsa between the black residents and the white residents, but there is also a separation of the understanding of each other's lived experiences, and that's one of the things that I heard so often.

What the police department says are their efforts to do proactive stops, to try to get at a criminal activity before it happens. These black residents say they feel terrorized in their own neighborhoods, and it is that dynamic that many residents here want to be brought to light, and want to be part of this national conversation about where we are in terms of race and what we need to do in terms of policing.

HARLOW: Abby, thank you, such important reporting. I know you have more ahead for us this week, we appreciate it very much.

Beijing, reintroducing strict lockdown measures and rolling out mass testing after a fresh cluster of coronavirus cases has emerged there. We'll have a live update.



HARLOW: This just in, the nation's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, says he has not spoken to the president in the past two weeks. In these two weeks, we've seen cases of coronavirus rise in more than a dozen states, as they continue to reopen. And a new model, out this morning, projects 200,000 U.S. deaths from COVID-19 by October.

In China, there is a race to contain yet another outbreak of COVID-19 infections in Beijing. Authorities have locked down more residential compounds in the city, disinfected thousands of restaurants and restricted outbound travel. More than 130 cases have been reported in this latest flare-up.

Let's go to our Ivan Watson, he has details from Hong Kong. So, I mean, significant increase here?

(CROSSTALK) IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Poppy. You know, just 10 days ago, the Chinese capital was lifting alert levels, it was feeling more comfortable and life was coming back to normal. But now this latest outbreak.

In just five days, you've got 133 locally transmitted cases detected, and they -- a lot of them stem from this enormous wholesale food market in the south of Beijing. It's called Xinfadi, it's been shut down. More than 70 percent of the produce that feeds Beijing comes from this market. And as more and more cases get detected, other markets had to be shut down as well. And neighborhoods, residential compounds around them, have had to be shut down.

The authorities have embarked on this massive coronavirus testing spree, where they've tested tens of thousands of people. They are contact tracing an estimated 200,000 people that they believe moved through this market since the beginning of this month. But even with these efforts, the disease has spread, now, to at least three provinces outside of Beijing.

So the numbers that we see so far, I think some U.S. states would love to have 130-plus cases over the course of five days. But what China's clearly very worried about is that this could spiral out of control, and they could have a repeat of that initial outbreak that took place in the city of Wuhan, back in January and February, the first outbreak in the world that -- well, we know how it unfolded and spread around the globe after that -- Poppy.

HARLOW: We certainly do. Ivan, thank you for that reporting.

Meantime, in Africa, coronavirus is causing many, many issues, especially when it comes to treating other diseases across the continent. Our correspondent Farai Sevenzo joins us now from Nairobi, the capital of Kenya.

This is something, I think, that's not getting enough attention but is very important, because it's taking away the ability to treat some very severe other issues. What do we know?

FARAI SEVENZO, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Poppy, the issue is not the other diseases, it is just the sheer impact of coronavirus on many societies. Remember, many people like to say Africa has got very weak health systems, that may not be the case because even here in Nairobi, quite a lot of people are coming out of isolation, having got rid of their coronavirus.

But the issue is this. You know, when you imagine you go to a clinic, and you wanted to get your child vaccinated, none of that is getting any attention. The medics are concentrating on the pandemic of the moment, and they're trying to keep people isolated. And of course, people like the global eradication for polio are saying that a new strain has been found in over 30 countries. These are the issues that people are worried about.

I've just been speaking to the World Health Organization in Brazzaville, and as much as people might imagine that people in the Congo are in trouble, he reckons that they have been in a state of preparedness because of their fight against measles, against Ebola. But the thing is that they want, is a global initiative, a global stance against this pandemic, so that those other diseases can be treated -- Poppy.


HARLOW: Farai, thank you very, very much. I think we need to be paying a lot more attention to what's happening on this front across the continent. we appreciate your reporting this morning.

Soon, today, a few hours from now, the president will have a signing ceremony for his executive order on police reform. The details of what's in and what's not, ahead on CNN.