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Study Says Estimated Cost of Pandemic in U.S. Will Be Over $16 Trillion; New COVID Cases in America Up 41 Percent from Last Month; Roberta McCain Mother of Senator McCain Dies At 108; Texas Church Helps Feed 3000 People A Week Since Crisis Hit. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired October 12, 2020 - 15:30   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: In our NATIONAL LEAD today, experts estimate that the coronavirus pandemic will cost the United States a staggering $16 trillion. But the authors to the study say that's an optimistic assumption. They base their assessments on the outbreak being largely contained by next fall.

But when you look at the situation today, the idea of a contained outbreak feels almost unthinkable. Right now 31 states are seeing cases rising and the United States is averaging almost 50,000 new cases every day as CNN's Erica Hill reports.


ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The numbers are not good. Nationwide we're adding an average of more than 49,000 new cases a day, up 41 percent from just last month.


HILL: New cases are surging in 31 states, more than a dozen posting their highest weekly averages for new daily cases. Seven states reporting their highest daily new case counts since the pandemic began.

DR. LEANA WEN, FORMER BALTIMORE HEALTH COMMISSIONER: These are extremely alarming trends and there should be warning bells going off around the country.

HILL: Hospitals especially in rural areas bracing.

DR. GEORGE MORRIS, PHYSICIAN VICE PRESIDENT, CENTRACARE: We have the beds, we have the people, but as we get more of these exposures, what's going to happen to our availability?

HILL: North Dakota, which leads the nation in cases per capita, has fewer than 20 ICU beds available. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People are continuing to operate kind of as they

had before COVID even was here, and that's leading to a lot of our numbers increasing.

DR. THOMAS FRIEDEN, FORMER CDC DIRECTOR: Any time we ignore, minimize or underestimate this virus, we do so at our peril.

HILL: New research in the Journal of the American Medical Association finds a 20 percent increase in U.S. deaths from March to August, adding to the evidence that our current COVID death toll is likely an undercount.

FRIEDEN: If you died from COVID and you also had diabetes, you died from COVID.

HILL: As an influential model now projects, nearly 400,000 COVID- related deaths by February 1st. But if more Americans wore masks, that could change dramatically.

DR. PAUL OFFIT, DIRECTOR, VACCINE EDUCATOR CENTER, AND PEDIATRICS PROFESSOR, CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL OF PHILADELPHIA: If 95 percent of Americans wear a mask, we will prevent roughly 80,000 deaths over the next few months. I mean it's a remarkable statistic. Those are people. I mean if you saw those people, you would try and do something to prevent their deaths, but somehow, we just ignore it all.

HILL: The human toll is growing, both in lives lost and in lives forever changed.


DR. DEEPAK CHOPRA, CLINICAL PROFESSOR, DEPARTMENT OF FAMILY MEDICINE AND PUBLIC HEALTH, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SAN DIEGO: People are going through different stages of grief, so some feel victimized, some are angry, some are hostile, some are resentful, some are helpless.

HILL: Researchers at NYU warning of a second wave of devastation. This one tied to mental health and substance abuse. The magnitude, they write, is likely to overwhelm the frayed mental health system. Of particular concern is essential workers including those on the front lines.


HILL: And, Jake, just another note on U.S. deaths, more research also published in JAMA today found that the U.S. death rate is high, even when you compare it to other countries that have high COVID-19 mortality rates. We're talking about France, Italy, the U.K., Spain.

As for why the U.S. death rate is so high? Well, the authors noted weak public health infrastructure and an inconsistent pandemic response in the United States -- Jake.

TAPPER: Erica Hill, thank you so much. Surprising new information about schools and COVID. We'll have the new study about getting kids back to the classroom. That's next. Also ahead, Dr. Anthony Fauci will join us. The action, he says, is

asking for trouble when it comes to the pandemic. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our HEALTH LEAD as coronavirus cases continue to rise across the United States, 31 states are reporting an increase in cases from last week. An influential model is now projecting nearly 400,000 deaths in the U.S. by February. Joining me now, Director of Division of Infectious Disease at The University of Alabama at Birmingham, Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo.

Dr. Marrazzo, good to see you. Given that the cases are on the rise, do you think this prediction, this model of nearly 400,000 deaths by February is accurate, reasonable?

DR. JEANNE MARRAZZO, DIRECTOR, DIVISION OF INFECTIOUS DISEASE, THE UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA, BIRMINGHAM: I think it's entirely within the realm of possibility, Jake. It's really concerning. If you look at the average daily count over the last 7 to 14 days in the United States, as you said, it's been 49,000.

So, it's gradually inched upward, where we're getting down to the high 20's, 30's. And I'm really concerned we're going to start tip over 50,000 again and get back to 60,000 which is what we were seeing in July and certainly in the absence of significant interventions and control, I think that's inexorably what's going to happen.

TAPPER: So, my kids are doing school remotely. You know, I'm in a studio now, nobody's around me. I wear a mask when I'm outdoors. I speak for tens of millions of Americans who are doing everything we're being told. Why is the case counts going up?

MARRAZZO: I think there are a few reasons. It's very clear that not everybody is being as diligent as you and your family are. And I think in some ways it's understandable. There is a significant amount of fatigue particularly among college students, particularly among young people.

You know, it's this balance of being tempted to villainize that and criticize it, which I think we all sort of instinctively want to do. Because we know the things that you're doing for example are doable. You can do it and you can make a difference.

On the other hand, you know, kids want to be kids. They want to have a college experience. They want to get out there and they want to do the things that everybody had the chance to do before them.

So I think the balance is trying to really call on their sense of responsibility and their caring for their community and try to really hammer home that if we don't change our behavior, again, we're going to continue to see deaths mount and mount and mount.

And our system is going to get overwhelmed again which is what I'm really scared about. Those data from North Dakota, the 20 beds being available there, that's really quite frightening and should be a huge alarm bell to people.

TAPPER: The U.S. has reported more than 50,000 cases in the last four out of five days and total cases are up 41 percent from last month, 41 percent. I don't know if we're headed for a nationwide second wave or just another bump in the first wave, but where are we in this?

MARRAZZO: So I'm one of those people who really never loved the wave metaphor because for us, for example, and I think I've mentioned this before, we've had pretty rock solid inpatient census of COVID since June. And many hospitals in our situation where there's kind of this endemic transmission are really in the same boat. So, we never really had a recession of that wave down to the point where we felt we could take a deep breath and really loosen restrictions up again.

You know, we had a brief period where we were maybe thinking about the mask ordinance going away, but that rapidly didn't happen because we realized that there was really not significant improvement on the major outcomes, particularly hospitalizations and deaths.

So, I think it's just a relentless surge that is -- there is a little bit of this going up and down. Every time you look at that downturn, it's been associated with an increase in mask wearing and social distancing. It works.

So almost certainly these ups and downs are related to community behaviors that really can be altered and sustained.

TAPPER: But the data supports that it's mostly college students and young people in their 20s that are the major vectors for the spread right now?

MARRAZZO: You know, I think it's not totally clear. There are some interesting data. If you look at some of the recent data from the CDC looking at the rates of infection, particularly between August and September.


Nice MMWR a couple weeks ago showing an increase in the rates of infection in people aged 18 to 24. They didn't specifically look at college students, but it was definitely in that age group. And interestingly enough, it was also predominantly in white people.

So not the people who on your average community intake sort of assessment are more likely to get COVID. So it was really strongly suggestive national data that that movement of people together in those settings could be one big part of the picture.

TAPPER: And there's this preliminary data collected from Brown University saying that when it comes to students -- I think it's grade school and high school students -- only 0.13 percent have tested positive for coronavirus and 0.24 percent of teachers testing positive. That seems like a very low figure, two low figures. If schools, you know, do social distancing, have their students wear masks, et cetera, is it safe for schools to open person-to-person classes?

MARRAZZO: That's a great question. You know, one of the things we're learning, and again, this will need to be borne out by others' experience, but certainly anecdotally and in talking with a lot of public health folks, the infections that we're seeing in students and in teachers are generally not being acquired in the classrooms, right?

People in these classrooms and schools are mostly doing an extraordinarily good job of trying to keep those environments safe. Unfortunately, they can't be a police sort of agent when those individuals leave the school.

So, in our situation, for example, literally almost all the new infections are being acquired when students go out into the community. They go to restaurants, they go to bars, they congregate with their friends like they want to do. So, you can do as much as you can to protect that school environment and you're still going to be prey to whatever is happening in the community. That's why we all need to pay attention to this.

TAPPER: All right, Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, thank you so much, as always appreciate it. And we have some breaking news now.

Cindy McCain, the widow of the late Senator John McCain has just tweeted that Roberta McCain, Senator McCain's mom has passed away. Roberta led a remarkable life for 108 years.

Cindy McCain writing, quote, I couldn't have asked for a better role model or a better friend. She joins her husband, Jack, her son, John, and daughter, Sandy.

Senator McCain credited his mother when he accepted the Republican nomination for president in 2008 saying, quote, I wouldn't be here tonight but for the strength of her character.

The McCain family is in our thoughts this day. May Roberta's memory be a blessing.

It's a crisis wrapped in a pandemic. Lines of people wrapped around the block with no sense of urgency coming from Washington. How one community is making sure its neighbors don't go hungry. Stay with us.



TAPPER: Turning back now to our NATIONAL LEAD, a standstill in Washington D.C. is leaving millions of Americans still looking for some financial relief from the pandemic.

Coronavirus stimulus negotiations collapsed again over the weekend. And as the outbreak gets worse, again, millions remain behind on rent, millions face evictions. CNN's Ed Lavandera visited one small town in Texas where lines at the food bank have more than tripled since the start of the pandemic.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): For three months this year, Diane Lusk was out of work and watched unpaid bills pile up. And her electricity turned off.

DIANE LUSK, FACES EVICTION: It scared me whenever I lost my job and I was like, how am I going to make it? What am I going to do?

LAVANDERA: Now she's making $11 an hour cooking Philly cheese steaks in little place called Happy Eats in Dallas. But when Lusk leaves work, she doesn't know what she's coming home to.

LUSK: The constable was in the driveway and handed me court papers.

LAVANDERA: Lusk faces eviction from the house she rents for $600 a month. Her landlord isn't renewing her lease. The 60 year old cook is struggling to find a place she can afford.

LUSK: I just never dreamed that I would see the days that I've seen. All I can do is pray. That's all I can do is pray.

LAVANDERA: We met Lusk in this food line at Praise Fellowship Church in Wilmer, Texas where she comes to get meats and fresh vegetables. It's stunning to see the endless car line that shows up every Tuesday in this unlikely place, a little church on the side of an interstate.

Pastor Edwin Favors says COVID-19 struck and the crisis knocked on his church doors. They went from helping 400 people a week to 3,000.

PASTOR EDWIN FAVORS, PRAISE FELLOWSHIP CHURCH: This is a crisis that has literally hit every household. When a crisis comes, it doesn't stop.

LAVANDERA: From the kitchen of his Dallas home, Mark Melton is witnessing the edge of the pandemic cliff.

MARK MELTON, DALLAS ATTORNEY: Normally evictions are a two-step process.

LAVANDERA: Milton is a lawyer. In March he started offering free legal advice to people facing eviction.

MELTON: And I got your message. I hear you're having some trouble.

LAVANDERA: This woman is calling for a friend.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's unable to pay her rent tomorrow. Been on unemployment since the beginning of this year.

LAVANDERA: So many calls poured in that Melton has recruited a small army of 150 lawyers to help.

MELTON: There are definitely days where I just turn the lights off and sit in here and just cry my eyes out trying to figure out how to take the next step.

LAVANDERA: Ed Lavandera, CNN, Dallas.



TAPPER: And our thanks to Ed Lavandera for that piece.

Dr. Fauci caught off guard after popping up in a Trump campaign ad. Falsely depicted as appearing to praise the President. Fauci will join me in moments to talk about that and the President claiming that he's now immune. Stay with us.


TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

We are continuing this hour with the 2020 Lead. In minutes I'm going to talk to Dr. Anthony Fauci as we wait for President Trump to depart the White House and perhaps talk to reporters as he heads to a campaign rally.