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Austin Beutner, L.A. County Unified School District Superintendent Discusses L.A. Schools To Test All Students, Staff Before In-Person Classes; Dr. Thomas Inglesby, Johns Hopkins Center For Health Security Director, Discusses Reopening L.A. County Schools' Coronavirus Testing Plan, Schools Reopening Without Testing; Dr. Mitchell Elkind, American Heart Association President, Discusses Cardiac Problems Associated With COVID-19; Trump En Route To Iowa To See Storm Damage; Updates On Coronavirus Responses Around The World. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired August 18, 2020 - 11:30   ET



AUSTIN BEUTNER, SUPERINTENDENT, LOS ANGELES UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT: So while this effort is not without costs, to do this at a national level is probably $15 billion, $20 billion to $25 billion. Sounds like an extraordinary amount of money. But the congressional leaders are talking about trillions.

So if we want students back in school, where we know the best learning occurs, if we want to keep teachers and families safe and students safe, and if we want to see our economy reopen and working families able to go back to work, we've got to find a solution for schools.

In my view, this is worth trying. I'm sure we'll hit bumps along the way. But we'll do our darnedest to the make sure we do the best possible for our school community.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Look, you know, the government's top man on testing last week -- and he's pushed back on this a bunch, but he did say it. He said, "Not only do we not recommend the strategy of testing everyone on a frequent basis but it could instill a false sense of security."


BOLDUAN: Do you think it could instill a false sense of security what you're doing?

BEUTNER: I don't think so, Kate. We're going to make sure our families understand and everyone in our school community understands the importance of safe distancing and good health practices.

But let's go back to march. The head of the World Health Organization told us all, if we want to get control of this virus, we have to test, test, test. And that's what we're going to be doing.

BOLDUAN: That's what logic also tells you as well, right? You've got to be able to test to know what kind of a problem you've got on your hands.

Superintendent, thank you. We'll stick close to see how things are going.

Good luck. Thank you. And thanks for thinking outside the box.

BEUTNER: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: I want to talk more about this. I want to bring in Dr. Tom Inglesby. He's the director of the Center for Health Security and Johns Hopkins.

Great to see you again, Doctor.

First and foremost, it is -- to me, it is -- I don't know another word other than inspiring to hear someone say I know it's daunting but let's do it.

I wanted to get your take on this plan. Do you think this can really work? Part of Hopkins is one of the universities that's going to be helping them out.

DR. THOMAS INGLESBY, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR HEALTH SECURITY, BLOOMBERG OF PUBLIC HEALTH, JOHN HOPKINS UNIVERSITY: Yes, so I'm not directly involved in this at Hopkins, but I think people working at Hopkins are top notch.

And I'm really impressed by the scale of the ambition here and what they are trying to do, how they have brought together technology companies and brought together what the public sector needs.

And the superintendent is right. We have to try things like this in the country. This is -- this is a great example of American innovation, technology innovation and partnership coming together around a vital, vital mission.

So I -- I'm very impressed with what they are trying to do.

BOLDUAN: L.A. is in one circumstance, right? They have not opened the door to bring kids back into classrooms yet.

If they want to make this -- to be able to be replicated across the country, I'm wondering is it too late for some school systems if schools have already started back up in many places with in-person learning.

INGLESBY: Yes. No, I don't think it's too late. I think there are going to be many, many milestones along the way this fall.


INGLESBY: Some schools are opening virtual and then going, hopefully, when things get better, they may open in person or in hybrid.

The other -- the opposite may occur and some schools may open in person and then find that they are having trouble. So I think we should see the fall as many opportunities to try

interventions and innovations. And I think we all will learn from experiences like L.A.

And I think one of the things that's really exciting about their project and their plan is that they are really using it to study the value of testing, to study how contact tracing goes in schools.

And we really need those kinds of examples to -- to -- to learn about this virus and how we're going to do against it.

I was really discouraged yesterday to say that many school districts aren't planning to say anything about the numbers of cases that are occurring in their own districts and that the federal government isn't playing to collect that data. That's the opposite of what we should be doing.

And L.A., I think, is taking the other approach. It really going after the data and making it public and useful for action.

BOLDUAN: You can't -- your opening plan can't be on a hope and a prayer that we'll be able to stay open.

I don't even see a downside to what L.A. is trying other than a lot of money, for sure. But they are bringing are together the best and brightest to see if this is possible.

And then you've got the UNC problem, bringing students back and then having to shift to online courses because of a big spike in cases in the first week.

What do you think happened there? It's an uncomfortable position where the school chancellor seems to be blaming the actions of students, and that's clearly part, but is that the only thing is?

INGLESBY: No. I think, in general, we have the things that schools and universities can do themselves, what they can do within their campuses.

But then there's also the level of transmission that's going on around them and the communities around them. In some parts of the country, community transmission is low and rivals that of Europe or Asia where countries have it under control.


But there are parts of the country where disease transmission is high. And we should expect, based on all the models that we've seen, that in places where transmission is already high in a community, when a university or school opens, they are going to have cases there.

And I think UNC is just struggling with the reality that we have that universities interact with communities around them.

And -- and kids come from around the country when they come on to campus, and there's a likelihood that if kids are coming from around the country they are going to be cases on campus.

So I wouldn't blame the kids. I would basically say that this is the situation that we're in. And universities need to really be planning for that reality.

BOLDUAN: One thing that's not clear is what the threshold is or should be for a school to need to shut back down.

From a scientific standpoint, is it clear to you what should trigger a school to shut down?

INGLESBY: I think it probably should depend on the local context, the size of the school, the age of the kids, and if it university, you know, versus kindergarten through fourth grade?


INGLESBY: And it also depends on the scale of the outbreak. If it's a few cases, maybe it could be managed if the classrooms were in cohorts or we understand who were likely to be infected.

But if it's a large outbreak at some point, with lots of people home on quarantine, it may be just much more realistic and safe for them to shut down for a period of time, perhaps two weeks, and then to try and reset.

I think also, if community transmission is low at the start of the semester in a given place but then begins to really rise rapidly -- we hope that doesn't happen but we should presume it will happen in some parts of the country -- then schools are going to be just at risk as everyone else in communities. And they may then need to reclose.

If the percent of positive tests goes up or their daily numbers go up. That's when they will have to think about closing.

BOLDUAN: The flexibility that will have to be required heading into the fall is going to be something that everyone has to get used to.

Dr. Inglesby, thanks so much. I always appreciate your even hand. Thank you.

INGLESBY: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, the new postmaster general is agreeing to testify before the Senate this week amid accusations that political influence is threatening mail-in voting. Details on that next.



BOLDUAN: The postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, will soon be in the hot seat. It was just announced that DeJoy will be testifying before two congressional committees. He was set to appear before the Senate Homeland Committee on Friday and then the House Oversight Committee on Monday. He's been facing an avalanche of criticism and now an avalanche of

changes being made to the postal system, changes that are leading to a slowdown in service and delays that are particularly concerning with the expected surge with mail-in voting for the upcoming election.

DeJoy definitely has a lot of questions we know to answer from both Democrats and Republicans now. We'll bring you updates on that as we can get it.

Also, a new warning out on the American Heart Association about devastating heart problems linked to the coronavirus.

Some key findings coming out that nearly a quarter of those hospitalized for COVID-19 experience serious cardiovascular complications. Studies showing 8 percent to 12 percent of all COVID patients have acute cardiac injury.

And there's also case studies indicating COVID may lead to heart attacks, acute coronary syndrome, strokes, blood pressure abnormalities. And you can see there the list goes on.

Joining me right now is Dr. Mitchell Elkind, president of the American Heart Association.

Doctor, thank you for being here.

We've heard this anecdotally from some patients who have recovered. But how serious are these cardiac issues that you're learning related to COVID?


You know, this disease surprises us every day. We learn more and more about it.

And in the beginning we discovered that this wasn't just a respiratory disease and it can cause heart problems in as many as 20 percent to 30 percent of people who are hospitalized.

Sometimes those were very serious complications. People could have cardiac arrest in the hospital when they were severely affected.

What we've discovered now is that, even as people recover from the virus, as long as a couple of months after they have gotten better, they can have evidence of heart injury.

Although, most of those patients we think will recover. We don't know yet. It hasn't been long enough to know how long lasting or how severe those lasting complications may be.

But we're seeing it in people with milder disease and people who may not even have been hospitalized in the first place who have milder forms of the disease to begin with.

BOLDUAN: Doctor, do you think there's a chance that with some of these -- some of this injury to the heart that you're seeing in recovered patients that it could bring them lifelong damage?

ELKIND: That is certainly a concern. Again, we don't know the answer to that. We've only known about COVID-19 for six months or so, right? So we need to follow these people.

So, for example, the American Heart Association has a registry in which we -- we follow people who have had COVID-19 and look to see what their cardiac complications are during the hospitalization.


And we hope to continue tracking people afterwards so that we can really answer that question. Unfortunately, we just don't know that yet.

But that is a concern that we have and why we're so attentive to this problem.

BOLDUAN: What do people need to know and look out for as obviously coronavirus is still amongst all of us and what people need to know? What I'm seeing it's not real hitting had one particular age group either.

ELKIND: It's not. That's correct. It can affect people who are young, fit and healthy as well.

And, in fact, in some of the studies that have been done, even people who seem to be well initially go on and develop these kinds of cardiac issues later. And so that is, of course, concerning.

You know, initially, we -- we recognize that people who had a history of heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes were the ones who were most at risk of complications.

That's still true. But it doesn't mean that young, healthy people can't get sick from this.

So I think people need to be aware of that. This is a challenging illness. And, again, we're still learning about it.

And I think people need to take it seriously and do all the things that we've been talking about and public health officials have been talking about, like wearing masks, social distancing, maintaining sanitary practices to prevent the spread of the virus.

Everybody is susceptible to it. And we need to be very careful about it.

BOLDUAN: Doctor, thank you very much for your work and your time today. Appreciate it.

ELKIND: Thanks for having me.

BOLDUAN: Coming up next, families living in tents on their front lawns, thousands without power. President Trump is paying a visit to Iowa after this devastating storm. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


BOLDUAN: President Trump is about to land in Iowa where people are recovering from devastating storms there that tore through the state and a swath of the Midwest last week.

Hurricane-force winds destroyed homes, took down trees. Just look at the pictures. And tens of thousands are still without power.

CNN's Ryan Young is joining me from Cedar Rapids.

Ryan, the president is headed there. What are you seeing and hearing from folks?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A lot of people are very upset, saying they need help. And this effort is already starting. Right now, you can see the construction effort to get some cleaned up.

But people lived in here. And we talked to the folks who lived inside and they felt like the building would lift off.

Take a look from above and you can see the damage that we were able to shoot with drone video. This video shows you the wide path this storm cut through.

And people talk about how dangerous this was over the few minutes because they said they didn't know that the storm would be so powerful, hurricane-force winds.

And take a listen to the two ladies talk about what they were dealing with.


MONICA SESAY, CEDAR RAPIDS RESIDENT: We were thinking it is just a rain and then started to -- the wind started the blowing so the building was shaking.

JENNIFER SMITH, CEDAR RAPIDS RESIDENT: I threw my seat back and hearing stuff hit the window. I was shaking. I didn't know what to do because I'm stuck right here at this four-way and the trees everywhere out there. I mean, those trees were falling down.


YOUNG: Yes. You can imagine how powerful that was in terms of being stuck inside a car.

But look at how it has impacted farmers. They've already been hit hard because of the pandemic. Look at some of the corn fields. This will be a tough year for them to make it to the black.

They might not have any profits with how hard they were hit. Corn is a major product in this area. Coming back live, you can see tents in front of this apartment complex

where some people have been staying. And they definitely want help from the federal government.

And as we speak right now, Kate, look in the distance over there. That is a food truck that's arrived here. People are lining up by the tens to try to get some food.

They're hoping when the president arrives today that he will be able to give them relief. As you could understand, during these tough times, everyone needs a little help.

BOLDUAN: These tough times, and the midst of a pandemic with a lot of folks out of work, the last thing they needed.

Ryan, thank you for being here and bringing us that and showings the images.

We'll bring you in as the president will be on the ground soon.

Health officials in France report a dramatic jump of COVID-19 infections this month. Numbers increasing across all age groups. The French health authorities say Paris has six times as many cases compared to early August. Outside the capital, infections are up as well.

Let's go to CNN international correspondents for the latest on the pandemic.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Will Ripley, in Hong Kong. New Zealand prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, is firing back at President Trump's comments that New Zealand is in the midst of a terrible upsurge of COVID-19.

She says there's no comparison between New Zealand's 13 new cases on Tuesday, fewer than 100 active cases in the country, and the U.S. with over five million cases of COVID-19 right now, which is more than New Zealand's entire population.

She says the reason why the country is taking strong measures to contain the virus, albeit a small cluster, is because they want to keep the numbers in New Zealand low.


STEVEN JIANG, CNN BEIJING BUREAU SENIOR PRODUCER: I'm Steven Jung, in Beijing. Over the weekend, thousands of revelers packed the pool to the brim at a local water park in Wuhan, the ground zero of the pandemic.

Waving to the beat of music and cooling down in the water without masks or social distancing measures in sight.

Just four months ago, the city was emerging from a brutal 76-day lockdown, during which its 11 million residents were mostly confined at home. Such sweeping measures are being credited by the government for containing the virus not only in Wuhan but also in the rest of China.


BOLDUAN: Thanks all for that.

Still ahead, President Trump going after Michelle Obama after her speech at the convention last night.