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Coronavirus Cases Now Top 4 Million in U.S.; Nationals' Star, Juan Soto, Tests Positive for COVID-19, will Miss MLB Season Opener; Shortened Major League Baseball Season Starts Tonight; Minimizing COVID-19 Complications for Pregnant Women. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired July 23, 2020 - 15:30   ET



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Here we go. Here's a breaking news this afternoon. We just hit this as we were sitting in COMMERCIAL BREAK.

It is official. The United States now has hit the 4 million mark in terms of cases of coronavirus. 4 million. Further highlighting the nation's distinction as the world's leader in cases. And it only took 15 days to add 1 million to that number.

Moments ago, the White House announced Vice President Mike Pence will head to Miami next week to mark the beginnings of phase three trials for a coronavirus vaccine. And with more than 100,000 people currently volunteering in trials, Dr. Anthony Fauci says drug makers are working swiftly to find a vaccine.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: The thing that we did at -- at extraordinary speed was to go from the identification, which in -- in the form of the sequence which became public, to actually developing a vaccine, and if you want to do it correctly, with safety, and real attention to safety and efficacy, I think we are going as fast as we possibly can.


BALDWIN: Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath is the CEO of Biotechnology Innovation Organization or BIO for short. It's a trade group that represents pharmaceutical companies and academic institutions. So, Dr. McMurry-Heath, welcome.


Vaccines. So, this week, a vaccine from Moderna found to produce immune responses in a phase one study could be promising, right? Moderna and several other companies eyeing the end of this year or they're saying maybe early 2021 as dates for possible availability to the public.

Do you think these timelines are realistic and do you think we will have a vaccine soon?

MCMURRY-HEATH: Well, I would say it is all looking very good. Particularly this week. Not only did we have Moderna phase two results announced last week, but just this week three more vaccine candidates showed that they were showing very encouraging results in their early phase two trials.

So, just to back up a little bit and break that down, phase one, two, three. What does that all mean?

In phase one, when you're developing a new drug, you're really trying to look and see, is this even safe to put into humans? That's really a bar you want to clear. With phase two, you're starting to look in a small group of patients to know that it actually works. It actually does what you've designed it to do. At least in a small group. With phase three, you then expand to a large number of patients. And you try to see across the population. Is this new drug or vaccine safe and effective? And it is so good news that we're getting close to it and because of the tireless work of scientists across this country and across the globe.

BALDWIN: We're grateful for them. Thank goodness for them. Keep working. Let me add to that that the Department of Health and Human Services says to President Trump's Operation Warp Speed initiative has a goal of 300 million doses by January. I'm curious if that escalated, timeline, does that concern you, just in terms of safety and also effectiveness?

MCMURRY-HEATH: Well, it's definitely an ambitious timeline and we at the Biotechnology Innovation Organization have been saying we're hopeful to have a very successful vaccine candidate out to patients by the spring of 2021.

Now, I know that seems like a long time away, but in science timelines this is incredibly fast. As Dr. Fauci alluded to. We have never seen this type of speed of scientific progress ever in the history of biomedical research and it is amazing. We at BIO have been tracking all programs across the globe targeted at ending this disease and it's clear that we have 660 projects underway around the globe simply designed to fight COVID. 170 of these are really targeted at developing a vaccine. So, we have lots of good work going on, on therapeutics and lots of good work going on in vaccines and it's so encouraging that we have so many shots on goal to try to get this right.

BALDWIN: Yes. I have read a line in one of the newspapers this week that basically said you know science has never moved this fast.

If a vaccine is approved being able to effectively deliver 300 million doses, is a concern to some experts. We had mentioned this yesterday that the White House announced this $2 billion contract with Pfizer for 100 million doses of vaccines, which should all be you know free to Americans, which is wonderful for people who just can't afford it. So how do you -- just logistically, get these vaccines out there once this is approved? MCMURRY-HEATH: Well, it's going to be a herculean effort, but the good news is that it's already underway. You know, international organizations as well as leaders across the U.S. have been paying very critical attention to not just getting a vaccine that works but making sure that we also have a process to manufacture it and to scale up that manufacturing as quickly as humanly possible.


And so, they're paying just as careful attention to those steps as they are to making the vaccine candidate first. So we are very confident at BIO that once a successful candidates have been identified that we'll be able to get those out to patients and it's just amazing to see the power of the promise of science to really hope to bring this situation to an end.

BALDWIN: As this process continues on, and we have more vaccine news. We'll have you back on. Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath, thank you very much.

MCMURRY-HEATH: Thank you, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Still ahead here, Major League Baseball returns tonight, and we are just now hearing a player who was supposed to play this evening is now out after a positive COVID test.



BALDWIN: Baseball is back. A little over three hours, Major League Baseball will launch its regular season with a game between the New York Yankees and the Washington Nationals. And we just learned, the Nationals' player, Juan Soto, has tested positive for coronavirus and will miss tonight's game. I can tell you who will be there, Dr. Anthony Fauci, he will be throwing out the ceremonial first pitch to start off the season that will be like no other in history. For starters, that is only 60 games long and there won't be fans in the seats.

So, joining me now, David O'Brien, sports writer for "The Athletic." So, David, thank you so much for coming back and talking ball with me. And I just want to start with some of these details I've been reading about. You know, obviously, shortened season, no fans, constant COVID test. But then I was reading about you know cardboard cutouts of spectators and you know sound effects. Tell me more.

DAVID O'BRIEN, SPORTS WRITER, "THE ATHLETIC": Fake sound. They have the fake crowd noise at all the ballparks. The cardboard cutouts, I don't know if they're going to be there everywhere. They have not have them at parks so far but they've had them in quite a few parks. Literally just cardboard cutouts of people sitting in the seats.

BALDWIN: Why is this? The players want this?

O'BRIEN: I don't think the players asked for the cardboard cutouts. I think they did that on their own. They think the appearance, aesthetic is a little better and some places big tarps with advertising on the outfield seats and that kind of thing. But the crowd noise, I'll tell you what. I'm as traditional as they come and thought it would be really stupid, but the crowd noise is much better than the dead silence we had at the first couple inter-squad games. And I couldn't imagine them playing a regular season game with absolute no crowd noise. And the pumped in crowd noise they had is actually an iPod that MLB sent all the teams with about 70 different sound effects, you know, from a low hung of a crowd to cheers when something big happens in different volume of cheers that kind of thing. And the person handling it times it right is pretty good.

BALDWIN: Well, that's so interesting. You know, I'm like, will there be at-bat songs, will there be the seventh inning stretch? So many --


BALDWIN: So many questions. I do want to get to because also, significant, you mentioned advertising. You know this is an era of baseball in the era of black lives matter and this huge social justice movement. I know we've seen a couple players kneel during exhibition games and we know that players, they'll be allowed to wear black lives matter patches, or united for change patches.

O'BRIEN: Right.

BALDWIN: What are you hearing about some of the players' plans?

O'BRIEN: Well, Gabe Kapler, the Giants Manager, actually took a knee in one of their first games, an exhibition game, a couple nights ago. So that's just how far we've come. Can you imagine him having done that you know, last year even? So, things have changed, man, and it's -- barely raised and eyebrow. I didn't hear anyone howling or protesting over him doing that at all.

One of New Orleans against the Braves in an exhibition game a couple of nights ago held his fist up. There was nobody - nobody took a knee. But I'm sure we're going to see people take a knee at a lot of games. And I wouldn't be surprised if we saw some guys do it on mask, kind of you know, half the team do it or something.

So, I just think things are really different now. And it's viewed as an acceptable form of protest, which is always was, but so many people couldn't see it for what it was. I think they do now.

BALDWIN: Totally different now. Totally different now. A couple big- named players, David Price, Buster Posey, Ryan Zimmerman, they've decided not to play the season because of the pandemic. Do you think we'll see more players dropping out?

O'BRIEN: I don't -- maybe if the team starts out horribly, and a couple of guys test positive. That kind of thing. But I think probably we've got all the guys -- that have done it, were thinking about doing it, that were on the fence. Mike Trout was one a lot of people speculated might be the biggest name in the sport and he said yesterday, "I'm playing." The Braves had a couple of them. Nick Markakis, the 36-year-old veteran leader. And I didn't think he would do it. I thought Velasquez would do it but he opted out. And also, Felix Hernandez, who was for rotations by another former young award winner. But Felix had made over $200 million so it's a little hard for him to play I think this year for $370 grand.

BALDWIN: And then we mentioned the Nats and Yankees today. And we'll be watching for Fauci in his Nationals mask and his --

O'BRIEN: I bet he throws a strike!

BALDWIN: We'll be watching for a strike over --


O'BRIEN: He's an athlete --

BALDWIN: David O'Brien, thank you so much. Good to see you.

O'BRIEN: You got it.

BALDWIN: And still ahead here on CNN, COVID-19 is impacting pregnant women at new alarming rate. Dr. Amanda Little-Richardson, one of the stars of a reality series on Netflix, it's just incredible. It's called "Lenox Hill." She will join me, next.



BALDWIN: The threat of coronavirus is adding yet another layer of caution and concern for millions of women who are pregnant during the pandemic. At a recent CDC study found that 31 percent of expected mothers who caught COVID are hospitalized. That's more than five times the percentage of nonpregnant women. And once hospitalized, pregnant COVID patients had a higher chance of being admitted to ICUs and being placed on ventilators.

So, I just want the bring in a woman who has dedicated her life to helping women, especially women of color, navigate their pregnancies.


Dr. Amanda Little-Richardson is a specialist in obstetrics and gynecology at Kaiser Permanente Jose Medical Center. And if you have not seen this series, I have watched every minute of it. It's extraordinary. And this Netflix series where she's featured called "Lenox Hill." Here's a clip.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have to come here with a really open mind of how these people are feeling.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to work with population. Medicine has traditionally neglected.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Get angry. Yes, you can. Listen to me. You can.


BALDWIN: Oh, Dr. Richardson is with me. Now, I might have just fangirled you in commercial break because I just -- you just blew me away, just with who you are and what you have been able to accomplish in the field of medicine. So just thank you so much for being on with me. And I want to dive in to the you know, the study. This study doesn't clarify if the women were hospitalized because of complications related to COVID infections or if they were hospitalized for pregnancy related reasons and happened to have the virus. But as an OBGYN, what do these numbers tell you?

DR. AMANDA LITTLE-RICHARDSON, OBSTETRICS AND GYNECOLOGY, KAISER PEMANENTE SAN JOSE MEDICAL CENTER: I mean these numbers kind of reflect the disparities that we have and maternal health in general, that we've been struggling to reduce mid-term mortality within the United States. And especially among African American women who died four to five times the rate of their you know white counterparts to Hispanic counterparts. And so, things like COVID are exasperating in the health disparities that already exist within this country. So, you know I would be interested in what that data also shows in terms of socio-economic breakdown, racial breakdown, access to healthcare. Are we exacerbating already existing medical conditions you know that we are -become worse during pregnancy? And so, it's very concerning for sure.

BALDWIN: Is there anything -- I wrote down what you said, four to five times the rate, you know, just the issues that black women face, black pregnant women face. Is there anything that they can do to minimize their risks?

LITTLE-RICHARDSON: Right. Right. And I mean that's an excellent question. That's the golden ticket. That's what our work is for. I mean, currently, California has the -- California maternal quality care collaboration - in California, has been one of the only states reduced maternal mortality by implementing maternal health bundles, such as how do we approach women that are bleeding heavily after a childbirth. How do we approach women that have high blood pressure during pregnancy and postpartum? And by initiating kind of standard approaches to caring for all of these women, they've been able to improve maternal health outcomes. So, by initiating these kinds of bundles across the country, I think we can see improvements. And this is just one step in the right direction for sure.

BALDWIN: You mentioned the fact you were in California, and I would be remiss not to ask about that. Because of course, I watched the series "Lenox Hill," here in New York City and then you wanted to head back to California to be with your husband and you had a precious baby girl. And so, I'm curious just with the numbers that they are in California, COVID numbers, how are you and your colleagues dealing?

LITTLE-RICHARDSON: Yes. You know, I think I am really fortunate to work within a healthcare system that have a very quick response to the virus in March. I think that I have been very fortunate and that I have not had to care for so many pregnant women who have had COVID. But I think what I am seeing amongst my patients is just increased anxiety and increased stress about what catching the virus during pregnancy could mean for them, how that might affect their baby, their health, the health of their children.

Initial studies were showing that there were no vertical transmissions, meaning if the mom became pregnant the baby would not catch the virus until after birth, and now there has been questions about that. There's lot of uncertainty. And so, during COVID, my job has really been to try to provide a source of comfort to my patients, even in the space of not knowing and just making sure that we continue to provide exceptional care for all moms.

BALDWIN: And you are a new mom yourself. Newish. How old is your daughter now? She's over a year?

LITTLE-RICHARDSON: About to be 17 months.

BALDWIN: All good with new mom? New mom is healthy, and baby is healthy and everything.

LITTLE-RICHARDSON: She's very healthy. We are very fortunate. I mean from the show, we talk about her diagnosis, and we've been really grateful that she continues to just thrive. And then me as a new mom, I am still you know working on those 10 pounds of pregnancy, but otherwise I am very good emotionally and physically and really grateful.


BALDWIN: Grateful to have you on. Wish you all the best health to you and your family and just thank you so much. Dr. Amanda Little- Richardson from the Netflix series "Lenox Hill."

Thank you.


BALDWIN: Still ahead here on CNN, the mayor of Portland, Oregon, tear- gassed after speaking with protesters. This comes as the president sends federal law enforcement into - during Democrat-led cities across the country. And now, some Republicans are speaking up.