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NYU's Dr. Corita Grudzen Discusses Antibody Testing by Injecting Plasma from Formerly Infected Patients into New Patients; Valet to President Trump Tests Positive for Coronavirus; Sen. Lamar Alexander: President, Vice President and Task Force Need to Go Back to Day Jobs; Bob Filbin, Co-founder and Chief Data Scientist, Crisis Text Line, Discusses Growing Concerns about Mental Health Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic; Coronavirus Alters the 2020 Campaign Landscape. Aired 1:30- 2p ET

Aired May 07, 2020 - 13:30   ET



DR. CORITA GRUDZEN, EMERGENCY MEDICINE SPECIALIST, LANGONE MEDICAL CENTER, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY: And we use their antibodies, through plasma, and we give them to patients who are ill in the hospital, on oxygen, not feeling well, and compare that to saline.

We have enrolled in a little 100 patients, thus far. We hope to get to 300 as so possible so we can get answers whether this is beneficial, harmful, or has no effect.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: And do you want for your study patients who have significant symptoms, patients who have mild symptoms, or do you want everybody?

GRUDZEN: So there are a number of studies going on across the country. Our specific studies is those who are moderately ill. They are in the on the part and on oxygen but not on a breathing machine.

We know this technique is very old. The first Nobel Prize in medicine went to someone who invented this whole process to cure Diphtheria. We know, early in the course of the illness is the best time to give it. We use it at the beginning of a hospitalization or at the beginning of the illness in the first seven days of symptoMs.

We think, theoretically, that's the best way it would have a chance to have an impact.

KING: Everyone is hoping -- you hear from the White House podium, through studies like your own, some sort of a therapeutic and something to help for the meantime while we wait for the vaccine research to play out.

Take me through a timeline for how you think, OK, we have this many patients and it will take us how long will ever we think of a process and try to expand it if you think it's working out well?

GRUDZEN: Yes. So we need to -- clinical trials are complicated. You can't get an answer early. So we make projections. And we need 300 patients at this point to get an answer.

It is complicated because, a good thing is there's less patients eligible. In the first few days, when we started this, April 17th, we were enrolling many patients a day. Now we only have luckily, good for humanity, we only have one or two patients in the hospital that would qualify.

So, it is a race against time but with all these infectious diseases, part of the problem is the epidemic reigns. We don't have the science. And god forbit, we don't have the answers. So we are trying to enroll patients as fast as we can.

That being said, we would love for all this to go away and get back to our science and research and taking care of patients as we have in the past.

KING: Dr. Grudzen, appreciate your time and insights. I wish you the best of luck. Come back to us as you keep learning.

GRUDZEN: Thank you. We will.

KING: Thank you.

We have more on our breaking news at this hour. A valet to the president tested positive for the coronavirus.



KING: Back with our important breaking news reported first here on CNN today. A personal valet, a military aid, to the president of the United States tested positive for the coronavirus. We are told the president was tested immediately after this new surfaced and, again, tested negative. Additional tests will be necessary.

This does raise questions about the precautions being taken by the president and those around him, including the question whether the White House, including the president, are too casual when it comes to the question of face coverings and masks.

Our chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, is joining us from the White House.

Jim, this has been a question for some time but it's more in the spotlight because of this disturbing news.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, John. Building off my reporting from my colleagues, Kaitlan Collins and Peter Morris, about that valet testing positive for coronavirus, I can tell you, my colleagues were all reporting, is essentially, John, an unwritten code here at the White House that staffers around the president, working in the West Wing, working across the White House complex simply don't wear mask.

I talked to a White House official this morning about this, particularly of the president why he does not wear mask. The person says he's a unique individual. He can't be seen wearing a mask.

Same goes on a lot of officials on a daily basis. You rarely see a White House official wearing a mask inside the White House complex. We're told there are some working with the National Security Council who wear them from time to time. But not inside the West Wing. We hardly see those staffers wearing masks.

And a lot of those bubble up, as you we know, when the president was checking out the Honeywell facility where they make these masks. Our sources say there was a brief moment where the president put on a mask and didn't feel like he felt comfortable in it, so he took it off when Honeywell official said it is not necessarily that you wear a mask in here.

What the White House is saying about this, I talked to a White House official who said, listen, we get temperature checks as we come into the White House complex every day. People who work closely with the president are tested for coronavirus on a regular basis. They feel those layers of protection are sufficient.

The question is going to be asked, moving forward, John, why aren't these officials wearing masks around the White House, particularly when a valet who works closely to the president has contracted the virus and is recovering from it.

It is something that's raising, time to time, criticism of this White House, John. Should the White House or the president and other staffers be leading by sample and wearing these masks. They'll say over here at the White House it's a CDC recommendation. It's no mandatory. For now, they're just not doing it -- John?


KING: It is a question that's now much more up close and personal given the disturbing news of a military valet testing positive. We certainly hope he has a good recovery. We'll continue to follow this.

Jim Acosta, thanks very much for that.

Let's bring in our chief political correspondent, Dana Bash.

Dana, you know the president. As Jim right so outlines, any president, any president would be reluctant to wear a mask in public. Afraid of the image. Afraid is the wrong word. But I want to project strengths and confidence.

I want you to listen, now that we know this, a military aid -- you cover the White House and you know these aids are close to the president, bringing them personal chores, bringing him many things from the White House -- has tested positive.

Let's go back to the White House briefings early on. If you came into contact with somebody who tested positive, coronavirus, what should you do?

This is Dr. Birx. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: The most important thing is, if one person in the household becomes infected, the whole household self-quarantines for 14 days. That stops 100 percent of the transmission of the household.


KING: The likelihood of that happening is pretty close to zero. But we can't make light of this. Somebody within inches of the president of the United States tested positive. The president was tested and he has initially tested negative. He's going to have tests for a couple of weeks every day until they figure this out.

Do you expect any serious considerations, discussion at the White House to think, OK, we need to be more careful?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there should be. He has to look across the pond at his friend, Boris Johnson, to see that it is possible, that even if you are a world leader, you can get it.

As you said, the president's valet is working incredibly closely with the president and they're in close contact in all parts of the White House. If this is not a wakeup call to the president and his staff that, yes, it may not project strengths, as Jim Acosta alluded to, but it does lead by example.

Most importantly, it protects the president. And people around him and other people who are around him should follow suit. I don't know what will, if this is not a wakeup call.

KING: You got a chance to speak to somebody who will be key to congressional oversight of all of this, Senator Lamar Alexander. You discussed the White House Task Force, the ongoing conversation about whether it should end. What did he tell you?

BASH: I was surprised that Lamar Alexander -- as you said, he has an important job. He's the chair of the health committee in the Senate. And what he said is that the vice president and the president should go back to their day jobs as should other senior members of the task force.

Take a listen.


SEN. LAMAR ALEXANDER (R-TN): You know, I think it is probably a good idea to get rid of the task force. I mean, the task force, you think about it, it means that you've got all the principle people in the government who have jobs to do. Dr. Fauci has a job of infectious diseases. And the head of the FDA should be in charge of approving new test treatments and vaccines.

Fact is, it would send a signal to me that they are doubling down doing their jobs instead of being in meetings all day. You can't spend two or three hours of meetings all day and still approve the next vaccine.


BASH: And Dr. Fauci is going to go before --


BASH: -- Senator Alexander's committee next week. That's the committee the White House approved because it is run by him, by a Republican. They're blocking him from the White House where the Democrats are in charge.

I asked Senator Alexander if that's a suggestion is he's going to go easy on Dr. Fauci, and he kind of laughed, you know me better than that.

One last thing is, if there's a big debate, as you know, John, about this fourth round of funding, and whether or not there should be a new chunk of money to go back to the states, he told me he's not for that, that even states like his own home state of Tennessee that you know that have a big shortfall, they have to think about perhaps cutting or even, as a Republican, he said, maybe raising taxes.

KING: That's a fascinating perspective, especially as Senator Alexander used to be Governor Alexander --

BASH: Right.

KING: -- so he looks to be on the short end of those conversations.

Dana Bash, appreciate the reporting there.


There's growing concern around the country about mental health, around the world, about mental health amid the COVID-19 pandemic. What the experts are saying, hearing and learning, next.


KING: The coronavirus pandemic is having an enormous adverse effect on mental health.

Listen here to the president of the CEO of Mental Health America, saying anxiety and depression is starting to impact more and more Americans.


PAUL GIONFRIDDO, PRESIDENT AND CEO, MENTAL HEALTH AMERICA: What we have seen since the start of the pandemic is an incredible increase in the number of people who now have anxiety or depression, an increasing severity of people who have other mental health conditions, too. This is a big wave that's already here and bigger wave is coming. (END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Joining us now to discuss is Bob Filbin, the co-founder and the chief data scientist for the Crisis Text Hotline.

Bob, thank you for being here.

I want to put up on the screen the top-10 trending phrases you are getting from texters. I want to take us inside what it tells you about the stresses and anxiety that people are having about the COVID-19 lockdown. Essential, you see some of the economics there, laid off, closed, unemployed.

Walk us through what you're hearing from people who are reaching out for help.


BOB FILBIN, CO-FOUNDER AND CHIEF DATA SCIENTIST, CRISIS TEXT LINE: Yes, so we're at 24/7 service supporting people in crisis across the U.S.

What we're seeing overall is that increase in demand. So we see 40 percent higher volume since mid-March from people reaching out. And you can see that different issues are turning over time that these are changing every week.

We're starting to see issues around being laid off, losing your job, enter this top 10, whereas, quarantine and a fear of getting the virus remain high.

KING: I just want to put up some of the warning signs up that people can see obviously the text at the bottom of the screen. If you need help, reach out. Bob's does great work to help.

You can see depression, anxiety, trouble staying asleep, trouble concentrating, change in appetite, trouble relaxing, feeling increased worries or fears. Almost everybody is having some of these symptoms.

At what point, should anybody who's having sort of normal fear, normal anxiety say, this is escalating the to a point where I should reach out for help?

FILBIN: Great point. This is very normal. Over 80 percent of our texters say they are experiencing some kind of fear or anxiety related to COVID. Most people in the country are experiencing some form of stress.

I think one step that strikes me is that twice as many that text out or reach out to us are concerned about their friends or loved ones getting the virus, versus getting the virus themselves. So this is a time where we're socially worried about the people we love.

I think when to reach out is when you experience something that you think is disruptive in your own life, when you see that in the vast majority who do reach out find value in the service. And a lot of people reach out for the first time. Two-thirds are sharing something they've never shared before.

So the right time is whenever you feel like it might be the right time, do you reach out.

KING: Bob Filbin, thank you for your insights. More importantly, thank you for what you're doing. And I'll just talk for a second to leave the number up there if anybody wants to see it as we finish the conversation.

Thanks for what you're doing. And best of luck in the days and weeks ahead.

FILBIN: Thank you.

KING: Thank you, sir.

Come up for us, coronavirus changes the 2020 campaign playbook in a big way.



KING: The 2020 campaign -- I'll show you an image. Joe Biden currently holding a virtual roundtable discussion on African American issues for voters in Jacksonville, Florida. You see the former vice president in the middle of your screen. This is what the 2020 campaign looks like. No big rallies. No large events. No grip and grin.

With me now is national political reporter for the "New York Times," Shane Goldmacher, who published a piece about how campaigns are trying to navigate this new landscape.

Shane, just take us, when you're talking to the political pros around the country about the way things were and the way things are, what jumps out at you the most in this new virtual campaign?

SHANE GOLDMACHER, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, "NEW YORK TIMES": There's two big challenges. The first one is how do they get their message out right now for Joe Biden. Events like that, totally attritional, never been done before, where local events online.

Frankly, a bigger challenge, how do you build a campaign to get out the vote in October when you can't do some of the basic building blocks that people have used forever to get out the vote, like knocking on doors, group phone banking. Those are off the table right now.

They are big questions. Will strangers want to open the door? Will people want to open the door if strangers are knocking?

KING: That's a great point you make.

And in your piece, you talk about the bricks and mortar. I've been doing this for years. This is my ninth presidential campaign. And you're going to states and counties and towns, try to find the local campaign office, see how many volunteers are working the phone banks, what are the signs, the maps about the precincts?

From your piece, in Minnesota, the chairman of the Democratic Party, said it put on hold plans for 30 additional offices in his state that President Trump vowed to contest.

There's no reason to incur the expense, says the chairman, Ken Martin, citing the uncertainty of the fall. Even the bricks and mortar of the campaign, that's normally, as a political reporter, that's how you test. How many volunteers do they have? What's the energy? Are they really working? Gone.

GOLDMACHER: Absolutely. And this is also where campaigns try to funnel their energy. Campaigns recruited volunteers and activists on the Internet for a few presidential cycles at this point. But typically, they've directed those people eventually to go knock on doors, to go in person at a phone bank where there's a camaraderie, where there's social pressure to keep making more phone calls.

Now, how do you do that remotely and who do you hire? Do you rent the offices? Do you reinvest in digital ads? It's tough because those aren't proven, like door knocking and phone banking to get out the vote. So it's a brave new work. And it's hard for the campaigns to plan.

Joe Biden entered with a smaller campaign staff than Donald Trump. Does he build up in the field operations or not?

KING: It's a fascinating conversation as we've seen in recent days. Advice from Democrats saying Donald Trump has a much broader digital footprint than Joe Biden needs to accelerate on that.

I appreciate your joining us today. We'll continue this conversation. It's a brave new work and we'll see who can figure out how to do it.

Shane Goldmacher, from the "New York Times," we appreciate it.

And thank you for joining us today here. We'll see you back here tomorrow. Busy news day.

Brooke Baldwin picks up our coverage right now.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Here we go. You are watching CNN's special coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being here.

We have some breaking news right now. Today, the pandemic is striking closer to home for President Trump because one of his personal valets has tested positive for coronavirus.

A source says that valets in the White House do not wear masks. And if you're wondering what a valet is, it's a perfectly valid question, they're part of this elite military unit oftentimes working very closely with the president and his family, oftentimes seen as confidants. So we have much more on that.

[13:59:54] Also, will we see the president in a face mask when he greets the governor of Texas any moment in the Oval Office? And should this be happening at all? We'll bring you the event when it's available.