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The Lead with Jake Tapper

100,000 U.S. Coronavirus Deaths Expected By End of Month. Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired May 06, 2020 - 16:00   ET



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

The coronavirus death toll in the United States right now is 72,233. It's a continued steady loss of about 2,000 people, neighbors, friends, family members, dying every day in this nation from this virus.

At this point a month ago, the death toll was just over 10,000.

Now, President Trump has announced he's reversing course, saying that the Coronavirus Task Force will continue, explaining he had no idea how popular the task force was, until he saw the backlash about phasing the group out.

Moments ago, the president also confirmed that Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx will continue in their current roles on that task force.

This as I'm learning that some on the task force and in the administration have been urging President Trump to take the lead on an ambitious national testing program, so that the virus can be quickly identified and isolated and society can responsibly take steps to reopen.

This includes surveillance testing, so workers could go into, say, a nursing home and test everyone and get results back very quickly. But that would require President Trump to invoke the Defense Production Act to force companies to manufacture tests and reagents, mandating that labs hire and expand their ability to test.

But President Trump so far has rebuffed those suggestions. He is opting instead to listen to voices on the task force and in the administration that say that such a move is not necessary, that private industry will certainly do this on its own, voices that are eager to reopen the economy, at least partly motivated to boost the president's reelection chances.

Today, a former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention testified before Congress, saying that, as bad as this pandemic has been, it's -- quote -- "just the beginning." Another expert also testified today that, to her knowledge, no state has met all of the criteria laid out by the White House task force for reopening, even as a majority of states have already begun this process.

The plan right now seems to be to ignore the science and hope that all goes well.

New Jersey's governor today announced that he is extending that state's public health emergency for another 30 days, as medical experts continue to warn of a surge in cases throughout many parts of the country.


NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The New York City subway closed overnight, first time in over 100 years, to clean the cars.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): We have turned the corner and we're on the decline. You take New York out of the national numbers, the numbers for the rest of the nation are going up. What we're doing here shows results.

WATT: Across the country as a whole, the new case count is not falling, hovering somewhere over 20,000 every single day.

DR. SCOTT GOTTLIEB, FORMER FDA COMMISSIONER: I think that we need to understand, this may be the new normal. We may not be able to get transmission down much more. I hope we can.

WATT: But many places reopening anyway. Hot spots now growing in cities like Dallas. Still, Texas will allow hair and nail salons open Friday, moved up from mid-May.

All but these seven states are now taking steps to get back in business. On Monday, restaurants could open in Florida. On Tuesday, cops in Jacksonville had to break up a tailgate party at a taco stand.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The risk of the coronavirus is a scam.

BILL DE BLASIO (D), MAYOR OF NEW YORK: Right now, what I fear is, there's a rush to reopen, in some places, at least, that's going to end up with people losing their lives who didn't have to lose their lives, who could have been saved if there had been more care.

WATT: Good news, there is no evidence this virus is mutating to become more lethal or contagious, according to a new genetic analysis from UCL in Britain.

And who is this coronavirus infecting? Well, around 90 percent of positives in San Francisco's Mission District are people unable to work from home, according to a new study, 95 percent of them Latinx.

LORI LIGHTFOOT (D), MAYOR OF CHICAGO, ILLINOIS: We're still seeing a disproportionate number of black Chicago as people who are dying as a result of COVID-19. WATT: Airlines now hoping we will get back in the air. Average

passengers per plane is up to 23, from just 17 last week.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think people are going to have to make their own judgments about, you know, their health. But we're doing everything we can.

WATT: Meanwhile, we hear the city of Houston might now furlough all its employees this summer, except fire and police. Wendy's just announced its fresh beef shortage will likely last a few more weeks, and more long lines at food banks here in America.


Today, it's Pittsburgh.


WATT: And we just heard from Maryland that, 7:00 tomorrow morning, they are going to be opening the beaches.

That's good news for people in the D.C. area like yourself, Jake. But, listen, whatever governors say, whatever businesses open, for most of us, it will be down to a personal decision. Do we go out? Do we think it's safe?

I say most of us because some of us don't have that luxury. There are millions of Americans who will need to risk their health to get out there, to feed their families, also to save the sick and to keep all of us safe -- Jake.

TAPPER: That's why the nationwide testing program that so many officials keep urging President Trump to start doing is so important for those front-line workers, for those people who need to go back to work to survive.

Nick Watt, thank you so much.

Joining me now to discuss, CNN chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta.

Sanjay, you heard the former FDA commissioner under President Trump, Scott Gottlieb, say today that we may not be able to get the number of new cases below 20,000 to 30,000 a day and that, most likely, cases will continue to rise.

Do you agree? Is that going to be the new normal?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I think we have got some evidence of this now, Jake.

Sort of middle of March, when this pause went into effect for the nation, obviously, the different states sort of abided by this at different times. And some were -- more diligently than others.

But, yes, if you sort of look and say, hey, look, during a stay-at- home sort of order for the nation, there's still going to be some baseline level of transmission -- it's a very contagious virus, front- line workers, obviously people going out and doing essential tasks, whatever it may be, asymptomatic spread, coming home, not even knowing they have the virus, and spreading it, is part of what's driving those numbers, I mean, 20,000 to 30,000 of people getting infected every day.

Maybe it could come down a little bit more if we got even more diligent, even more diligent, about stay at home. But, obviously, as you know, Jake, we're going in the other direction, at least this week. Many states are reopening.

TAPPER: Take a listen to what President Trump had to say today about the virus.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This virus is going to disappear. It's a question of when. Will it come back in a small way? Will it come back in a fairly large way? But we know how to deal with it now.


TAPPER: Just yesterday, the president said it would go away even without a vaccine.

Is there any reason for us to think that coronavirus will just pass without a vaccine?

GUPTA: I wish there were.

I mean, you know, we're learning more about this virus every day, Jake. I mean, there were other viruses in the past, like SARS, for example, which did sort of die away after a period of time.

This is just a much more contagious virus. It's becoming what's called endemic, meaning sort of firmly-placed on the planet, really, in every country, almost, on the planet.

I think it may have lulls. It may go up and down a bit with seasonality. There's some evidence that, with warming temperatures, about a 2 percent drop in the virus for every one degree Celsius.

But I don't think it's going away. The two ways that we start to really make it go away are a vaccine, which we have talked about, it's going to take some time, or something known as herd immunity, where so many of us, and 60 to 70 percent of the world becomes infected.

If you say 60 to 70 percent of this country, that would mean some 200- 220 million people. If there's 200,000 cases a day, which some of these models have -- suggest, that's a million a week, that would be five years, Jake, before we get to herd immunity.

So, it may go away, but not anytime soon. And we have got to outpace it, really, until a vaccine becomes available.

TAPPER: The president keeps saying these things that are completely anti-scientific, ascientific.

A study out of San Francisco found that nearly 90 percent of people there who tested positive in the city's Mission District are not people who can work from home, suggesting perhaps many of them are service workers.

More than half of them reported experiencing no symptoms. Now, you contrast that with a study out of New York hospitals that found most patients were home when they contracted the virus.

Explain this to us. What does this suggest?

GUPTA: I think what this suggests -- I follow this closely -- what this suggests is that people can really contract this virus at home or out in the community.

Maybe that's obvious, but I think the point is that people who even were at home most likely had members of their household or people who came over for some reason or the other who probably hopefully were completely asymptomatic, so it wasn't like they had symptoms and came over, but were still -- had the virus in their body and were spreading it.


I mean, that's what's happening. And I think this is a message. First of all, it's a very contagious virus. I think everybody sort of gets that by now.

But this idea, again, that people say, hey, I'm going to go out, I'm young, healthy, I'm willing to game it, chance it, whatever, and then I come home, and I spread it to my family, that's real. People should look at what happened in New York and take that as a -- sort of a lesson here.

Again, it's tough. It's not going to be forever, but for the time being, you have to know that, if you go out, you're not just risking your own health in terms of potentially getting infected and getting sick, but you're risking the people you love, their health as well, because you could spread this virus to them.

TAPPER: Sanjay, thank you so much.

Be sure to tune in for a CNN global town hall, "Coronavirus: Fact vs. Fears." That's hosted by Sanjay and Anderson Cooper. That's tomorrow night, Thursday -- among their guests, former Vice President Al Gore, filmmaker Spike Lee.

We're monitoring the White House right now, where the press briefing with new Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany is about to begin, as President Trump is changing his mind on the future of the Coronavirus Task Force. Plus, anybody who says they aren't scared during this is lying to you. That's the message from one paramedic on the front line -- a look at the fear and anxiety many health care workers are feeling right now.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: The White House Coronavirus Task Force is meeting right now, though it seems even some of its members are at least somewhat in the dark about what might come next. President Trump announced this afternoon that the task force will continue indefinitely. This is just one day after Vice President Pence, who leads the task force, said it would soon be winding down.

But the president says changes are coming. He plans to add more members, ones who are focused on reopening the economy, and some of the original participants may leave.

CNN's Kaitlan Collins joins me now.

Kaitlan, the president just now clarified who he is keeping on the task force. Tell us more.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, he says Dr. Birx and Dr. Fauci will be staying on in their current roles in the task force. He praised the work that they've done and he says that next week, the vice president is going to be announcing some new members added to that task force without saying who those new members are going to be.

But, Jake, there are questions what the roles will look like going forward for people like Dr. Birx and Dr. Fauci, given that just yesterday the president and vice president said their work would be done as a task force by the end of the month.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: People said we should keep it going. So let's keep it going.

COLLINS (voice-over): Reversing what he and the vice president told reporters yesterday, President Trump now says he won't shut down the coronavirus task force after all.

TRUMP: I get calls from very respected people saying, I think it would be better to keep it going, it's done such a good job, it's a respected task force.

COLLINS: The comments came one day after Vice President Pence who leads the task force said it could wrap up its work by the end of the month. After facing backlash for the move, given that the nation is still in the middle of a pandemic, Trump says it will continue on indefinitely and may add new members. TRUMP: We'll be adding two or three additional members to the task


COLLINS: But questions remain about how public his health experts will be going forward. A house panel met today without Dr. Anthony Fauci after the White House blocked him from testifying because the committee is led by Democrats. Even the top Republican on that panel said he wanted to hear from Fauci.

REP. TOM COLE (R-OK), VICE RANKING REPUBLICAN, APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE: And I want the record to show I joined the chairman in urging Dr. Fauci be allowed to testify here. I think it would have been a good testimony, useful to this committee. I think useful to this country.

COLLINS: The president also now says he did wear a mask during his first trip across the country in months. Though he didn't appear in front of cameras in one, Trump says he wore a mask as he toured the Honeywell plant in Arizona.

TRUMP: I can't help it if you didn't see me, I had a mask on but I didn't need it. I asked specifically the head of Honeywell.

COLLINS: Today, a new report from "The New York Times" details how Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner installed a team of volunteers to help the federal government's efforts to obtain medical supplies, but only ended up making it more complicated. The young volunteers mostly had experience in venture capital and private equity. But they knew little about government procurement. While sorting through tips about desperately needed supplies, the volunteers were told to prioritize those from political allies. And they often ignored the federal officials who have spent years preparing for emergencies.

JARED KUSHNER , SENIOR ADVISER TO THE PRESIDENT: The president wanted to make sure we had the best people doing the best jobs.

COLLINS: The White House is also bracing for a grim jobs report that's expected on Friday after the president's top economic adviser said that unemployment could hit 20 percent.

KEVIN HASSETT, WHITE HOUSE ECONOMIC ADVISER: This is the biggest shock that our economy has ever seen.

COLLINS: Trump says he doesn't think he'll be blamed for the economy.

TRUMP: It's very interesting, it's one thing, nobody's blaming me for that, I built the greatest economy with a lot of great people that we've ever had, and I'm going to rebuild it again.


TAPPER: In a White House meeting earlier today, President Trump did not see them to be receptive to concerns expressed by a nurse about a lack of protective gear.

COLLINS: Yes, Jake, this was notable. This is Sophia Thomas. She's a nurse from New Orleans. She is the president of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners.

And she was talking about what it's like getting your hands on medical gear as a nurse these days. She was saying there is an N95 mask that she's been reusing for weeks. She called it sporadic but manageable.

And watch how the president reacted when she made those comments in the Oval Office.


SOPHIA THOMAS, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF NURSE PRACTITIONERS: I think it's sporadic. I talk to my colleagues around the country. Certainly there are pockets of areas where PPE is not ideal. But this is an unprecedented time.


And the infection control measures that we learned back when we went to school, one gown, one mask, for one patient, a day or per time, this is a different time. And I've been reusing my N95 mask for a few weeks now.

TRUMP: Sporadic for you but not sporadic for a lot of other people.

THOMAS: Oh, no, I agree, Mr. President.

TRUMP: Because I've heard the opposite, I've heard they're loaded up with gowns now. Initially we had nothing, we had empty cupboards. We had empty shelves. We had nothing, because it wasn't put there by the last administration.


COLLINS: So, Jake, you see there, that is a nurse in New Orleans talking about what she experiences at work on a daily basis, talking about what it's like for her going in, dealing with patients as young as a month-old baby and the president there saying that's not what he's heard. Of course, she was just talking about her experience and what it's like for herself to try to get her hands on masks to go to work.

TAPPER: His body language there was fascinating, not listening to her, not facing her, crossing his arms, doesn't want to hear anything that could be perceived as criticism.

Kaitlan Collins, thank you so much.

Hospitals already crushed by an overwhelming number of coronavirus patients and seeing a new crisis emerge, the mental health of doctors, nurses, and other front line health care workers. Experts warning that those in the hardest-hit areas such as New York City are more likely to face anxiety, depression, and post traumatic stress at rates similar to soldiers returning from combat.

CNN's Erica Hill brings us some emotional stories from hospital workers on the front lines. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DR. EVELINA GRAYVER, DIRECTOR, CORONARY CARE UNIT, NORTH SHORE UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL: Every single time I walk into that hospital, it affects me personally. It affects my family personally. It affects my daughter personally.

ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dr. Evelina Grayver wasn't supposed to be in the ICU.

(on camera): Is there a moment when you can live it behind?

GRAYVER: In all honesty, I'm kind of afraid of those moments. I'm afraid of the moments that I actually will allow myself to truly think and absorb all that I'd just seen.

Where they are all on ventilators.

HILL: When the coronavirus began to spread, she was redeployed overnight.

GRAYVER: This is my daily test.

HILL: -- from the coronary care unit. Did anything prepare you for what you saw on day one?

GRAYVER: Nothing.

HILL: Day one was nearly two months ago. In the weeks since, her grandparents and then her parents contracted the virus.

On April 25th, her 99-year-old grandfather, a Holocaust survivor, passed away. She still hasn't been able to see her grandmother. It's too risky. There has been insomnia, anxiety, and lingering fear.

GRAYVER: I'm fearful. I'm fearful that me as a high risk person that I am and being exposed, that I'm going to expose everyone and anyone that I love. I'm fearful of depression. I'm fearful of anxiety. I'm fearful of post-traumatic stress disorder.

HILL: There is no timeline, no handbook for this pandemic.

ALEX STORZILLO, PARAMEDIC ST. JOSEPH'S HEALTH, PATERSON, N.J.: Anybody who says they're not scared during this is lying to you.

HILL: As a paramedic, Alex Storzillo is trained to deal with death. But he's never experienced it to this degree. He worries about the toll to come.

STORZILLO: I mean, we may not feel it now, but, you know, summer, fall, when the dust all settles, I think that a lot of first responders might be dealing with PTSD.

DR. ADAM STERN, PYSCHIATRIST, BETH ISRAEL DEACONESS MEDICAL CENTER: The health concerns are so often stigmatized that it can be challenging, especially in a field like medicine. Health care workers and anyone on the front lines of this pandemic are really at increased risk of PTSD and other emotional disorders.

HILL: Hospitals around the country are responding, adding additional mental health resources including counseling. Emergency medicine has some of the highest burnout rates for physicians. Now increasing numbers of front line health care workers are dealing with similar unrelenting stress. Their families feel it too.

KAYLA LEVY, DR. GRAYVER'S DAUGHTER, AGE 13: I miss her a lot, all the time.

HILL (on camera): Do you worry about your mom?

LEVY: Extremely. I worry that she can get sick and possibly infect others and infect me when she comes home.

HILL (voice-over): Dr. Grayver says 13-year-old Kayla has been forced to grow up quickly.

GRAYVER: As a mother, it feels like you're not there. You're not there when your child is scared. You just feel helpless and kind of useless.

It's a horrible feeling. Sorry. It really sucks.

HILL (on camera): And as you're trying to juggle all of that, there are people looking at you and saying, you're our heroes.

GRAYVER: There are so many times when I hear the 7:00 clap from work. I just want to be home with my child to just be there and to kind of feel like you're her hero, you know, like as a mom.


HILL (voice-over): It's those moments as mom that keep her going.

GRAYVER: The silver lining is the fact that the quality that we spend, maybe the quantity is not as much and -- but the quality is so much more meaningful. We're just us.


HILL: In so many ways, Dr. Grayver is emblematic of what people are seeing across the country, as you pointed out, Jake, really in these hotspots. But that's going to start to move across the country. When her parents were both ill by the way, she basically set up an ICU in their apartment and she sort of run via FaceTime because she was so concerned about them going to the hospital. She said she hopes that by speaking out, it will also encourage some of her colleagues to do the same because she recognizes that they all need to start talking about what they're experiencing especially as it starts to set in.

TAPPER: All right. Erica Hill, a very important piece, thank you so much for bringing that to us.

Joining us now, Andrea Bonior, a clinical psychologist, professor at Georgetown University. She's also the author of "Detox Your Thoughts" which is out now.

Andrea, thanks for joining us.

You just heard from health care workers on the front lines not only worried about getting infected and then bringing that infection home and hurting their family members but they're also worried about the emotional toll that is resulting from all of this. What should health care workers be doing right now to help them get through this?

ANDREA BONIOR, PROFESSOR OF PSYCHOLOGY, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: Yeah, yeah, I'm so glad to hear some of them speaking up, because I feel like in some ways our government is failing them. And hospitals are creating their other than resources after speaking to each other and creating counseling for each other. But we need more funding.

And that people need to be speaking out about the fact that the mental health crisis that is likely looming applies not even only to help providers but across the board. And we're not hearing anything from the federal government about how we're going to plan for this, how we're going to screen for this, how we're going to offer services for this.

So, continuing to have this conversation and also of course reach out to each other. Social support is so important in the throes of trauma. That's what they should be doing right now.

TAPPER: There have been two recent reports of suicides by front line health care workers. Dr. Lorna Breen, she was an emergency physician. John Mondello was an emergency medical technician.

What's your message to health care workers who might be having suicidal ideation right now, might also be thinking this because of how overwhelmed they feel and how they're confronted with this horror day in and day out?

BONIOR: Yes, there is no shame in speaking out. And I hope that the communities of health care providers can encourage each other to speak out. They are undergoing trauma, they're undergoing stress. It's almost like being in a war in certain ways.

And as a culture, much as we say support our troops and then we don't necessarily fund their mental health services, we also have to do the same here. Think about what it means to support our health care providers. It means give them resources, give them the ability to say, you know, I'm struggling with depression, this is too much, I feel traumatized. I feel like I can't cope, and for them to be able to avail themselves of the resources out there.

There are suicide hotlines. They're seeing an increase certainly over this time. But also, we also have a suicide crisis in this country even pre-pandemic. Rates have been rising for the past two decades in the United States. And it's time we go from having a conversation about it to seeing the government put forth money to really make a difference in this.

TAPPER: We also hear with all these people being cooped up, we hear about an increase in domestic violence cases, child abuse cases. When people talk about how there is a health toll to staying inside too, that's one of the things they're talking about. How should people be dealing with that?

BONIOR: Yes, the health toll of people's anxiety and stress and relationship conflicts and child abuse is significant. And there are resources out there. I think we need to support each other within the community.

Right now, there are a lot of children, for instance, that don't have the daily teacher checking in to see how they're doing, so we're seeing that uptick in domestic violence, we're seeing that uptick in child abuse cases. And we really need to think about who we can check in on even just informally, how we can try to help each other to keep an eye on this because right now, it's really a period of time where the usual resources are not working as well because all those social safety nets and just daily contacts with adults who care about these children aren't happening to the same extent.

TAPPER: I know that for our families sometimes, we make sure that if somebody has a bad moment, including dad, that we say, hey, you know what, this is tough. This is tough, I'm sorry, that was a bad moment.

It's also an important time for people not going through the things we've already talked about, just regular folks who are cooped up, just to take it easy on each other. And including take it easy on yourself.

BONIOR: Oh, absolutely. Yes, Jake, I think the empathy piece is so crucial here because when we show empathy to each other, we help each other be less afraid. And I think some of the negative reactions we're seeing, people out there, you know --