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Two California Counties Defy Governor; No Evidence Trump-Touted Drug Helps Patients; Trump Valet Tests Positive For Coronavirus. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired May 07, 2020 - 15:00   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: You are watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you so much for being with me.

Of course, for our viewers here in the United States and all around the world, you're watching CNN's special coverage of this coronavirus pandemic.

And any moment now, we could be seeing images from the Oval Office in the White House. Texas Governor Greg Abbott is there to meet today with President Trump.

But breaking news at this hour puts into question whether that event should be happening at all. Why? Because one of the president's personal valets has tested positive for coronavirus. A source says valets in the White House do not wear masks. And they are part of this elite military unit, oftentimes working closely with the president and his family.

So, we will come back to that story. Will we see the president at the very least in a mask when he talks to Governor Abbott? If he continues to follow an apparently unwritten code at the White House, he probably will not.

CNN has learned of this internal battle there over whether to wear a mask, with the president concerned that being seen in a mask contradicts his message of reopening the nation.

On top of all of this today, the White House is also facing scrutiny for rejecting a draft of these CDC guidelines. They're guidelines that would help schools and churches and businesses move forward, open safely during this pandemic, especially as the majority of the nation reopens.

This is all happening -- you see all the red on your screen -- despite cases spiking or remaining about the same in a lot of the areas. And it's not quite clear, at least to us today, why the White House shelved those CDC guidelines, but a CDC official was told that some of the suggestions were too stringent and could be used in lawsuits.

So, let's go straight to the White House, to our correspondent Kaitlan Collins.

And so let's start with this story about the White House valet.

This individual, not named, started to show symptoms yesterday, and we're told the president was none too pleased to find out that he tested positive. Tell us more, and just tell everyone what a valet does.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it might be a little confusing if you're not familiar with what's going on inside the West Wing.

But, basically, there are a few ballets that are assigned to the president. These are U.S. Navy members who are part of this elite military unit that is dedicated to the White House. And, basically, they are there for all kinds of food and service and beverage service.

They travel with the president when he goes on the road, when he goes out of the country. They're basically his right-hand man for these kind of personal tasks that, of course, the president needs carry out, in addition to the first family.

So, basically, what that means is, they work very closely with the president. And this person, we're told, was someone who was regularly in the Oval Office and the West Wing and interacting with the president, and that's why it's causing so much concern inside the White House today that someone has now tested positive for coronavirus, and it's someone they know is regularly around President Trump.

And so we're told the president was not happy when he found out about this news that a valet had tested positive for coronavirus. This is someone who doesn't often wear a mask when they're around the president.

Whether that changes going forward, Brooke, is going to be an entirely different question. So far, the White House has only said that, yes, they were notified by the medical unit that a member of the military who works on the White House grounds tested positive for coronavirus.

But other than that, Brooke, they're not really elaborating. So, the question is, does the president address it himself in this meeting with the governor of Texas? And it's going to raise questions about what life is like in the West Wing going forward, because you saw yesterday, the president had those nurses in the West when he was signing that proclamation.

And a reporter asked about the fact that none of them were wearing masks, none of them were social distancing, even though, of course, they do undergo frequent testing. And we should note the president has since tested negative after finding out about this valet.

But the president said that he did -- that he thought that that was an unfair criticism when the reporter asked about the protocol that they were following. And so that's really going to be a big question going forward, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Let me ask you too just about those CDC guidelines that were presented to the White House in terms of how the nation reopens. And the White House shelved them.

Why did they do that?

COLLINS: Well, the White House thought they were overly prescriptive. Basically, it was a 17 -- 17-page guidance coming from the CDC that the CDC was saying that the White House task force asked them to do, basically, a more detailed guidance about reopening the country, guidance for schools, for churches, for restaurants, all these other establishments that say they needed a little bit more detail about what they should be doing as they're opening up, and that, basically, the White House rejected it.

They're not going to be implementing those. They asked for changes, though it's not clear they got those changes. And so, right now, the White House is just repeating what they have been saying, that governors should be the ones issuing the guidance on reopening.

But certainly a lot of states are looking for more guidance on this, Brooke, from the federal government.

BALDWIN: All right, we will come back to all of this in just a second. Kaitlan, thank you very much.

Want to squeeze this bit of news in too. A House investigation is finding that, in the early stage, pages of this coronavirus pandemic, that the Trump administration was not effectively screening passengers coming from infected countries as they arrived here in the United States.


So, let's go to Capitol Hill for this to my colleague Lauren Fox.

And so, Lauren, this is specifically in reference to travelers who are coming in from South Korea and Italy?


And this is from my colleague Jeremy Herb. But what he learned from the House Oversight Democrats essentially was that travelers who were coming from South Korea and Italy were expected to be screened on any U.S.-bound flight in those airports.

But once they got to the United States, they weren't screened there. Instead, the State Department told the committee that they were in communication with the governments of both of those countries, that they were confident in the screening protocols.

But here are some numbers for you. Essentially, House Democrats found that there were 56 passengers who were stopped coming from South Korea to the United States on flights. There were 13 passengers coming from Italy, and zero that were stopped coming from Milan to the U.S. Of course, that was the epicenter of the outbreak in Italy, Brooke.

So those are just some preliminary numbers. The other thing that the committee was looking at was specifically why there weren't more protocols put in place once the Trump administration decided to screen all passengers coming from Europe in that second week of March. Why weren't there more protocols put in place to establish social distancing?

Because remember all those pictures in airports of passengers trying to route into the United States.

BALDWIN: All those crowds, yes.

FOX: And there were so many questions about whether or not that was really safe. So that's another thing that this committee is looking into, Brooke.

BALDWIN: I'm glad they are.

Lauren Fox, good to see you. Thank you very much.

Let's have a broad discussion with Dr. Ali Khan. He is the dean of the University of Nebraska Medical Center's College of Public Health and the former director of the Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response at the CDC.

So, Dr. Khan, you are the perfect guest for me today. Welcome, sir. And thank you so much for all the work I know that you are doing and you have been doing for this country.

Let me just begin with the story of the White House. So, this valet, this person who is so, so just physically close to folks in the West wing, including the president, experienced symptoms yesterday morning, coronavirus, has since tested positive.

The president has since tested negative. You talk to me about whether or not the president's in the clear.

DR. ALI KHAN, FORMER CDC OFFICIAL: So, thank you, Brooke, for the opportunity to chat with you.

So, this is a classic example. So I'm going to assume the president counts as essential personnel.


KHAN: And so the first question is what -- whether or not yet contact with this individual. And that's a conversation that he would -- you would have for -- typical conversation, public health department.

Who are the contacts? And you identify the contacts and who has been exposed. And then those people, you define whether or not they're essential, and then, based on that, they are placed into quarantine or not with their families.

And so this is the typical conversation that local and state health departments are having across America. And then you define how long that quarantine would look like.

And, again, based -- we have had these difficult conversations for essential workers. Initially, we had quarantined everybody for 14 days. And for those who are essential, we had sort of decided that they could go back to work with stringent testing protocols, because, for health care workers, we could not afford to take everybody and not allow them to be at work for 14 days.

BALDWIN: So, all right, in the White House, we know that there are these -- they're using these rapid tests. We were just discussing how the president doesn't like to wear masks.

Aides apparently take them off before they go into the West wing. And so the White House uses the rapid-response testing for anyone who's actually coming into direct contact with the president. And they do temperature checks.

Is that -- just from a medical perspective, is that an appropriate replacement for wearing a face mask? Is that fine?

KHAN: So, anybody over 2 currently should be wearing face masks or some sort of face covering.

BALDWIN: Anyone over the age of 2? Anyone?

KHAN: Correct. Anybody over -- anyone over the age of 2 currently out in social settings should be wearing face masks, washing their hands and practicing social distancing measures.

Ninety percent of Americans at this point still are likely susceptible to this disease. And those are measures we all can individually take to protect ourselves, protect our families and protect our neighbors.

BALDWIN: So, the president is about to meet with the governor of Texas, Dr. Khan, and there will be media in the room, and there will be White House staffers.

And let's go out on a limb and assume they're not wearing masks. Is that -- is that -- given everything you have just said, is that wrong?

KHAN: Ideally, everyone should be wearing masks.


KHAN: And once again, it's -- I think it's what allows us to reopen America, because so much of us are still susceptible. These are the personal measures we can put in place that allow us to reopen America, combined with the excellent public health measures we need to put in place around testing, identifying cases, and tracing contacts, and quarantining contacts.


So this is just that extra -- those extra measures we are putting in place to make sure that we don't see more cases as we reopen America. So, yes, it's just one of the extra things we're doing, because even though we are reopening America, nobody's canceled the pandemic.

It's still out there. BALDWIN: Right, right, right.

So, precaution, mask. Got it. We will look for the video from the White House.

In the meantime, you're former CDC. I mean, you heard Kaitlan reporting that the fact that the White House is shelving the CDC guidelines in terms of how to reopen America, they called it overprescriptive.

And I'm curious your perspective, because, for maybe what needs to be done in New York City is overprescriptive for what should be done in rural Tennessee. Do you see that point?

KHAN: Oh, absolutely.

And I see it playing out throughout America, because governors, even county by county, are making decisions that, in this county, we can allow health directives to lapse, in this county, we can't allow health directives to lapse.

So it makes perfect sense for governors to make decisions county by county on what makes sense for them. At the same time, it makes sense to allow -- to give them good guidance on how they would do this in a staged process and what some of those good cleaning and disinfection guidelines and social distancing guidelines would look like, so they don't have to reinvent the wheel.

Plus, let's be honest. CDC is the brain -- public health brain trust, not just for the U.S., but for the world. And we want their guidance. I mean, they put out excellent guidance.

BALDWIN: So, the fact that the White House, though -- I hear you saying what happens in New York City maybe doesn't need to happen in rural Tennessee, but, at the same time, there's a reason why the CDC puts out guidance.

How do you feel about the White House just not paying attention to it?

KHAN: Well, again, I'm not sure what the White House is paying attention to or not.

I'm hoping whatever guidance the CDC puts out, as they have done for meatpacking plants and nursing homes, long-term care facilities, prisons, et cetera, that that guidance will get out there, and we will see it. And I hope -- I have already seen some guidance come out, and I'm hoping this additional guidance will come out as they work through whatever it sounds like, from what I heard from your reporting, there seems to be a lot of interagency issues around getting that guidance out right now.

BALDWIN: Yes. Yes.

How about -- we think about this Coronavirus Task Force at the White House. Dr. Birx, Dr. Fauci, we haven't seen a lot of them recently.

I'm wondering, Dr. Khan, do you see this as just another indication that scientists, medical professionals are being silenced?

KHAN: So, as somebody who spent 23 years at CDC, I am reassured not just being from CDC, but being a citizen here in the U.S., I'm reassured when every night or every day I hear from the CDC.

They are the public health lead. They're our public health agency. So I'm reassured. No disrespect, obviously to the great work by Dr. Deborah Birx and by Dr. Tony Fauci, but I'm reassured when I hear from CDC what's going on in America and what we should be doing to protect ourselves, because the honest truth is, yes, we need to make sure that we get our economy up and running.

But part of getting our economy up and running is to make sure that we keep Americans safe. And CDC has been doing that and has been doing it very well. And we need to continue to allow them to help us understand how to do that, as we get our economy up and running.

BALDWIN: OK, CDC. I'm reassured if you're reassured.

Dr. Ali Khan, thank you very much for coming on. And all of your expertise, it is invaluable. Thank you, sir, very much.

I want to pivot to some breaking news now. There's a new study that shows that hydroxychloroquine, the drug that President Trump touted for weeks, showed no signs of helping coronavirus patients. So we have more on that coming up.

Also, millions of additional Americans just filed for jobless benefits. But the question we're asking is, how many of those jobs will come back, will even exist when this is all over?

And New York City opens what they're calling a disaster morgue, after funeral homes were found stockpiling bodies in unrefrigerated trucks.

You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. We will be right back.



BALDWIN: We're back. Here's more breaking news.

There's a new study that has found no evidence that hydroxychloroquine helps really sick patients infected with coronavirus.

This is a drug, remember, that President Trump enthusiastically promoted multiple times back during his Coronavirus Task Force briefings.

Let's go to CNN senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen now with what you have learned, Elizabeth.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Brooke, this is such an important study. It was done at Columbia University. It was published in "The New England Journal of Medicine," one of the most respected medical journals in the world, which means it was peer- reviewed.

And what it found, when they looked backwards at patients who took hydroxychloroquine and compared them to those who didn't, it didn't make a difference. They died at the same rate. They ended up on ventilators at the same rate.

And this was nearly 1,400 patients. So that makes it the largest study of its kind. The authors had a very, very succinct conclusion.

I will read it to you now: "Hospitalized patients should not be routinely treated with hydroxychloroquine."

Now, I will say that there are people who are studying, does it work in people who have mild infections? Maybe they're not in the hospital. Or does it work to prevent infection with COVID?


That's possible. And that's being studied. But this is now one of several large well-done studies that shows that it doesn't work when you're treating hospitalized patients -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Elizabeth Cohen, thank you very much.

Two California counties are reopening for business, defying Governor Gavin Newsom's stay-at-home order. Yuba and Sutter counties in Central California both allowing many businesses to reopen Monday, including restaurants, salons, spas, tattoo parlors, shopping malls, and gyms.

The very next day, state regulators arriving, ordering a handful of businesses in both counties to shut down.

Here's what Gavin Newsom had to say.


GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): They put those businesses at risk, not only the health of their communities at risk, and I would encourage them just to do the right thing, and know that we are committed to working with them, as we have been, and their county representatives, through CSAC, League of Cities, and their health directors, to accommodate their local needs and their regional variances.

But we have a process and protocol to do that. And so we believe in ready, aim, fire, not ready, fire, aim.


BALDWIN: So, let me bring in Gary Bradford. He is the 4th District Supervisor for Yuba County.

So, Gary, thank you so much for joining me today.

And let's get to it. Governor Newsom says it's still too early to open some businesses, yet your county has decided to open. Why?

GARY BRADFORD, 4TH DISTRICT SUPERVISOR, YUBA COUNTY, CALIFORNIA: So thanks for having me on this afternoon, Brooke.

I will say that we certainly did not make this decision lightly. Our health officer had a stay-at-home order that was set to expire on Sunday, May 3. And last week, on Friday, we published a new order that was to go into effect on Monday.

That new order was based on science. It was based on conditions here in our county. It was patterned after a report from Johns Hopkins University that essentially evaluates the risk of coronavirus spread at various businesses and types of businesses and various activity types.

It looks at two things, including the contact intensity, so, how close are you to other people and how long do you maintain that closeness, and the number of contacts, and then identifies a risk associated with that, low, medium and high in both of those categories.

We opened -- we reopened businesses that were low or moderate from a risk standpoint, and also made sure that those businesses put in place social distancing modifications, in order to help protect the public.

BALDWIN: So, I hear you, in doing your homework and talking to a bunch of smart health folks.

But, at the same time, Gary, health officials are scolding some businesses for ignoring the rules. And this week, ABC, Alcoholic Beverage Control, regulators visited a bunch of restaurants told them to shut down.

Why are the businesses not complying with them?

BRADFORD: So, it is very concerning to us that that occurred, that the state did have ABC visit our local businesses.

We believe that those businesses are certainly in line with our local ordinance and they are not doing anything to create extreme risk for their customers, nor their employees.

I certainly would agree with your statement that some businesses do not necessarily follow the social distancing guidelines, and neither do some residents. That is a concern, I'm sure not only here in Yuba County, but across the country.

And we're actively working to educate both our businesses and our residents on the importance of doing things like staying six feet away, like wearing a mask when you're in public, washing your hands right, not touching your face, the typical things that we have all heard, and how important those things are to getting our economy back on track.

BALDWIN: It seems to me -- and I think -- and I feel for these businesses, and I understand business owners want to provide for their families.

But it's -- on the one hand, you have the governor saying X, but you have local leaders saying Y, and then the businesses are on the receiving end of -- it just feels like mixed messages.

BRADFORD: Sure. Hard to disagree there's some mixed messaging there.

I know our new order was very clear that businesses should pay attention to the state order, as well as the local order, and seek legal advice in areas where they believe that those two orders might be in conflict.

I will tell you, one of the reasons we moved in this direction was our local health officer is really concerned about the totality of health in our region. And (AUDIO GAP) clearly, there's no denying that COVID- 19 is a serious risk to health in the community.


It has been. It continues to be. I think our board supports Governor Newsom, as well as our local health officer, Dr. Luu, and the decisive decisions they made early on in this pandemic, requiring a stay-at- home order.

I think that saved many lives in our community. On the flip side of that coin, though, our local health officer also has identified that there are public health ramifications of the stay-at-home order.

And that includes challenges to both physical and mental health from individuals that are subject (AUDIO GAP) subject to economic loss (AUDIO GAP) stay-at-home order.

BALDWIN: Of course. Of course.

BRADFORD: And then truly looking at the balance (AUDIO GAP)


BALDWIN: I understand. I understand. It's such a tough time. And you see it -- I see it both ways.

Gary Bradford, I appreciate you coming on. Stay well. Stay healthy.

BRADFORD: Thank you. Thanks for having me.

BALDWIN: You got it.

Moments from now, we are expecting the president's first response to his White House valet testing positive and his administration rejecting CDC guidelines.

So, stand by for news there.

Also, devastating news for the U.S. economy. One out of every five people now has filed for unemployment since mid-March, one out of five. With businesses shutting down and filing bankruptcy, will there be as many jobs to go back to?

You're watching CNN. We will be right back.