Return to Transcripts main page


NFL To Test Players Daily Amid Widespread Shortages, Delays; Arizona Reports 134 COVID-19 Deaths Today; Experts Say Antibodies May Be The Bridge To A Vaccine. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired July 21, 2020 - 15:30   ET



DR. MYRON ROLLE, DOCTOR AND FORMER NFL PLAYER: It's probably not. So, a lot of guys are very concerned by their own safety, their family's safety. I think we're moving quite fast in this whole - this whole trying to get the football back on to boards.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Do you think that they should be playing, period?

ROLLE: I don't think they should be playing, no. I think it is rather ambitious to do so. I think when you have numbers that are rising, when you have hospitalizations still occurring, PPE is still in high demand obviously, when you have players that are voicing their concern and players wanting to be seen as individuals and humans, right?

And NFL is saying we're committed to hearing you out, hearing your voices. You see it in the black lives matter movement, the NFL was committed to not treating these players like a commodity.

Well, if you're committed to that, then be consistent in all forms. Be consistent with - well, our players are sharing these sentiments and let their voices be heard. Let's hear them out here too and make sure that they're safe. And make sure that equipment managers and other staff that are in that NFL facility, in that lock box building, are be able to be safe too.

It is hard to social distance and physical distance in a huddle, when you are in the trenches and battling on offensive line, when you're lifting weights in the weight room and you're sweating on bench and somebody uses it after you, doing walk throughs in team meeting rooms. It is very difficult to do that in that kind of sport. So, the NFL should pause, take a second to think about the players, place them at a premium and really delay the sport or cancel it for the year. That is my opinion.

BALDWIN: I appreciate your point about not you know these players not being commodities. I hadn't heard how you phrased it before. So, thank you for that. And just quickly, I hear you about the sweat and locker rooms and that kind of thing. Just quickly, you know, I know you told my producers that players should be neurotic about their health. Neurotic? How do you mean?

ROLLE: I'm talking about when you walk into a facility, take off your street clothes. We do it in the hospital, right? We take off our scrubs, take off our street clothes, put new scrubs on, do our deals. You know going to the operating room, emergency room, go to different wards.

And then when we leave, put on new fresh sets of clothes. So we're not transmitting this virus because as we know, it is droplet and contact and some scientists are saying it is airborne too. But we know it can transmit this way.

Disinfect your equipment as much as you can. Wear masks as much as you can. Try to space yourself out in the cafeteria, eat a good, you know, diet that's you know rich in vitamins, nutrients, so that you're able to protect your immune system which helps against other upper respiratory infections. So, do the best you can. If you're going to be placing decision to play, protect yourself and your family and do everything you can on your end.

BALDWIN: Being neurotic. I understand. We all need to be to some degree right now. Doctor Myron Rolle, thank you very much. Good to have you on.

ROLLE: Thank you very much, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Thank you. Thank you.

The coronavirus is breaking records in Arizona. The state setting a new record in fatalities but other data not as bleak. Plus, we'll talk to a reporter who went to a hospital so overwhelmed that ambulances - dozens had to wait for beds to open up.



BALDWIN: A devastating new death toll in Arizona today. The state reporting 134 coronavirus deaths in just the last 24 hours. That is the among the highest number of COVID-19 fatalities in a single day. Other data from Arizona could be cause for cautious optimism though after weeks of surging case numbers, hospitals and ventilator use are now dropping slightly statewide.

CNN's Miguel Marquez is live in Phoenix. And so, you know, we've talked about how you know for a state that was emerging as this hotspot, is this seen as any relief or no?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is. It is seen as the possibility that they are starting to get it under control and that possibly the cases have spiked in hospitals and now everything is trending down. The problem is it is trending down, but it is trending down from a very high level and it is not trending down very quickly.

So, the retransmission rate, if I get it, and how many people do I give it to, that is below 0.1 percent which is good. The below one means it is good. The amount of virus out there, though, is enormous. That positivity rate, so everybody getting tested, still about 23 percent of them are coming back positive. That is on a seven-day average. That leads the country.

Arizona is still up there as the highest in that positivity rate. The case counts have started to come down. The death rate is starting to go up a little bit. The number reported every day because there is a lag. They've had this a massive number of cases in - in June and July and now they're starting to see more and more deaths. They expect to see more deaths in the next couple of days.

The problem with all of this is that they want to now open the schools. They were meant to open the first of August. The governor has pushed it back to an aspirational date of the 17th of August and now there is discussion.

The governor often says there is more coming on that issue this week. But the problem is if you're trying to bring those cases down and you open schools, it is another avenue, it is another vector, it's another way for that virus to reach more people and that is what Arizona is facing right now. Brooke?

BALDWIN: And the issue as people talk about schools, 40 to 45 percent of people who have it are asymptomatic, you go to school, you infect others. It's the you know, what do you do all over again. Miguel, thank you in Phoenix.

In Texas, the situation is still going in the wrong direction as the state continues to see a dramatic surge in cases and hospitalizations. It is forcing officials in Hidalgo County to implement a shelter-at- home order as hospitals there are maxed out and running dangerously low on supplies.


And aggravating the issue are the high poverty levels and underlying illnesses that are rampant in this part of the country. My next guest spent a week in Edinburg, Texas. The city on the Mexico border, seeing a punishing spike in infections.

She visited a hospital, so overwhelmed, patients are waiting outside, and ambulances are using reclining chairs and hallway beds moved into the E.R. until space is freed up in the ICU.

So, with me now, immigration reporter for "The New York Times," Caitlin Dickerson. And Caitlin traveled with photographer Lynsey Addario who provided these just striking images.

And so, as we look through them, Caitlin, nice to see you again. You know I want to go back to the point that the line that jumped out of me in your piece was the visual you provided about how a dozen or more ambulances you know at a time would be waiting outside for beds to become available. Just describe what you saw.

CAITLIN DICKERSON, IMMIGRATION REPORTER, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": It's incredibly stunning, Brooke. I think that you know last week I saw some of the saddest scenes I've ever witnessed as a reporter. Particularly in a part of this hospital I visited where the sickest patients with the coronavirus are being treated. So, this facility and you've shown pictures of it, it has room for about 60 people at a time.

And at any given moment while I was there, there was a two-day wait roughly to get in and to get access to a bed. And once you get inside, it's like nothing I've ever seen. I mean, the vast majority of people are not awake. They're on a ventilator and they were not able to speak to me because they were on life support.

And you know the few people who were conscious and who were awake, their bodies were so weak that just the simple act. And I watched this happen of eating lunch for example and chewing their food or just trying to sit up in bed to get a little bit more air in their lungs. It would make their vital signs drop. And you could see the numbers start to flash. You would hear alarms go off.

And so, as a reporter, you know, as you can imagine, Brooke, I'm there and trying to interview people and what I would do is go from bed to bed when I did see someone awake and I would ask a nurse, hey, is this person well enough to speak. Obviously, I don't want to go up and talk to somebody that is going to tire them out too much. And just person after person I was told, I'm sorry, you know they're too weak and they can't even you know speak to you for a minute or two.

And again, there was a two-day wait to get into this facility because there are so many people in the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas who need this kind of care right now.

BALDWIN: We'll talk about why that is in a second and the population. But I want to talk about Lynsey's photos. I know you passed a bunch of them on to us but I just want to pause on one of them because you wanted to highlight the photo with the man that -- the hospital cafeteria worker. Tell me why that particular photo for you reflects the most harrowing scene.

DICKERSON: I think that in addition to just the very extreme level of care that this photo shows that people need, because of how very sick they are, I think it shows how - you know this is true for every community. I don't want to say it is more true on one place or another, but you know what the Rio Grande Valley is really known for is this tight knit community feel. It's very family oriented. It is very - it's a closed community.

You know they have got a few million people who live there but it has a small-town feel. And I've gotten to know it over the years as an immigration reporter. It becomes a second home to you. It's one of the most welcoming places I've ever visited.

And so, while I was there, what I kept noticing is just how personal this devastation that the coronavirus is bringing feels to the individual medical workers and that one of the people in this photo, you could barely make him out but he's a cafeteria worker at the hospital that is now taking care of him.

And I watched multiple times as nurses, as doctors walked by his bed and actually had tears in their eyes and got choked up seeing him because he is somebody who they know for a huge smile that he had on his face, you know, when they would go in to get lunch. He was the person you would ask if you didn't feel like eating the

stir fry or the burrito that was available that day. You could ask him and he might make you something custom. One nurse told me he made the best chicken wraps.

And he, like so many others, is barely hanging on right now. And in fact, he was saved by a 25-year-old nurse who noticed that his skin was starting to turn purple. He was running out of oxygen and this nurse, you know, who's grew up in the Valley, saw him, called for a doctor. They immediately put him on a ventilator. And everyone is hoping that he'll recover but it is very difficult to come back from a state like the one that he is in now.

BALDWIN: And as you point out in the piece, how - we have been reporting that this pandemic has disproportionally affected communities of color. You know the degree of poverty. And this particular part of the country, you know the complicating issues of you know -- the severe complications I should say for the virus that all just -- and whether or not these you know men and women, because of their immigration status, want to even show up and seek treatment. It all just makes it profoundly worse.


Caitlin Dickerson, thank you so much for coming on and sharing this -- shining a light on this part of the country. I appreciate it, to you and Lynsey. Thank you.

DICKERSON: Thanks, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Coming up, here on CNN, how antibodies are helping treat coronavirus patients amid the race for a vaccine. They also have their limits. We'll have Dr. Sanjay Gupta on to explain. Next.



BALDWIN: Scientists all around the world are racing to find an effective treatment for coronavirus. A vaccine would be a game changer. That's still months away at the earliest. So, what do we do in the meantime?

CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta looked at how a new antibody therapy may help bridge the gap.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If there's one thing most humans on the planet want right now, it's antibodies. Your body can produce them if you're infected. A vaccine can also provide you with them, but there is another way. It's called antibody therapy. That means, taking the antibodies from the blood of someone who's already been infected and recovered from COVID-19.

DR. MARSHALL LYON, DIRECTOR, TRANSPLANT INFECTIOUS DISEASES, EMORY UNIVERSITY: We have used it for rabies, for hundreds of years. More recent history in the Ebola outbreak in West Africa people tried something called convalescent plasma.

GUPTA (voice-over): Dr. Marshall Lyon is an infectious disease physician at Emory University. He also treated some of the first Ebola patients in the United States.

LYON: And so, plasma is the part of the blood which contains all of these antibodies.

GUPTA (voice-over): Within the plasma, you are likely to find antibodies which are specifically attached to this part of the virus it is called the spike protein and it is the key to entering human cells.

DR. BARNEY GRAHAM, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, VACCINE RESEARCH CENTER, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH: If an antibody binds this little finger part, that's obviously going to block the attachment to the cell. That will neutralize the virus.

GUPTA (voice-over): Dr. Barney Graham is Deputy Director of the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institutes of Health.

GRAHAM: There's other spots that you can bind the protein that disrupts its function.

GUPTA (voice-over): What's he's describing are called neutralizing antibodies. They work to block the virus from actually infecting cells in our body.

GRAHAM: Having the antibody or the plasma from convalescent patients allows you to accomplish at least temporarily what we're trying to accomplish with the vaccine. You can just give the antibody -- passive immunization and we can give the antibody ahead of time and create temporary immunity.

GUPTA (on camera): Taking antibodies in that plasma and giving that to somebody either to help protect them against becoming infected or even possibly as a treatment, how effective should that type of antibody therapy be convalescent plasma?

GRAHAM: I think it's very important that the serum therapies and plasma therapies and even hemoglobin therapies are tested both as treatment for serious disease but maybe also intervention in the early phase of infection so that it doesn't progress to serious disease.

GUPTA (voice-over): The hope is that these antibodies can do a preemptive strike, preventing more serious disease from developing in someone who's infected or maybe even blocking infection altogether in people who are at high risk like health care workers.

Some have even called it a bridge to the vaccine. Companies like Eli Lilly and Regeneron are now trialing therapies using neutralizing antibodies found in recovered patients but then manufactured in the lab. They're known as monoclonal antibody therapies.

GRAHAM: To be able to put them to good use in therapy or prevention is really an exciting new technology.

GUPTA (voice-over): But there is an issue. Some recent research has found that COVID-19 antibodies may wane after several weeks and it was those who were sickest who tend to produce the most antibodies and keep in mind, the majority of people with COVID experienced just mild symptoms.

GUPTA (on camera): How does that compare to how long the antibodies should last from a vaccine?

GRAHAM: For antibodies, the typical half-life of an antibody in humans is around three to four weeks. And so those antibodies if given it a high dose could last for a couple of months.

GUPTA (voice-over): These are all considerations in developing a COVID-19 treatment, as well as a vaccine.


BALDWIN: So, Sanjay is with me now. And that's so interesting to watch. How - OK, so this could be a bridge to the vaccine. And you know so much discussion about convalescent plasma. And I went over to the Red Cross.

You know I had COVID early in April, and I have my red cross app on my phone you know, and was able to definitively see you're antibody positive, which is great for whoever's getting my convalescent plasma.

But what I'm wondering this is for me or anyone who's had COVID is the real question I have is how long do antibodies last?

GUPTA: Yes. I can imagine why you ask that question. By the way, I remember how sick you were, Brooke. I remember those images on Instagram. It was quite something. Sicker people make more antibodies. I don't know if you caught that. But that's sort of an interesting thing -


GUPTA: that's come out of these new studies out of Italy and China. So, you know, you probably have a lot of antibodies. The other thing we're starting to learn as well, Brooke, is that we talk about immunity. Measuring antibodies. Easy to measure.

What we're starting to learn is that there's another thing called T- cells. People are going to learn this term because it also seems to be something that's improved in people who have been exposed to the virus and might also provide immunity.


So, you may still have this protection. Also keep in mind, Brooke, there haven't been a lot of people getting re-infected, right? If it was true, the antibodies truly waned and people didn't have immunity, we would start to see significant reinfections and we're not.

BALDWIN: Got it. All right. Sanjay Gupta, thank you. Thanks again for the mask from your daughter. I appreciate it. Thank you. Thank you.


Coronavirus infections are at an all-time high in the United States. Yet, we still don't know if members of the Coronavirus Task Force actually the doctors, will they appear at the briefing today? Dr. Anthony Fauci is one of those members and he is live on CNN next.