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Key Model Increases U.S. Death Projection As States Reopen; CDC To Warn About Possible Virus-Related Syndrome In Children. Aired 10- 10:30a ET

Aired May 13, 2020 - 10:00   ET




JIM SCIUTTO, CNN NEWSROOM: A good Wednesday morning to you. I'm Jim Sciutto.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN NEWSROOM: And I'm Poppy Harlow. So glad you're with us.

A sad news again this morning. The projected death toll rising as the race to reopen gains momentum across the country. While nearly every U.S. state plans to loosen their restrictions by next week, a key model often cited by the White House now projects 147,000 American deaths from COVID-19 by August.

SCIUTTO: Governors, of course, not the only ones grappling with the question of reopening. Schools are facing crucial decisions on whether to move forward this coming fall. The nation's largest four-year public university system, the California State University system now says almost all of its classes in the fall will be conducted online. Is that a canary in the coal mine, a sign of the times? More on that in a moment.

But, first, let's begin with CNN's Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen on this new modeling. The health experts, Elizabeth, as you know better than us --


SCIUTTO: As you reopen, you're going to see numbers like this. Is that what we're seeing reflected in this model?

COHEN: Yes, to a large extent, that's exactly what we're seeing. We're also seeing some changes in testing and also the way the numbers are reported, but, yes, social distancing being more limiting sort of letting people out is very much behind these increases. So the projected increase now is for deaths is more than double the number of projected deaths two weeks ago. So in other words, in two weeks, their number of projected deaths more than doubled.

Let's take a listen to what the head of that modeling group has to say about this data.


DR. CHRISTOPER MURRAY, DIRECTOR, INSTITUTE FOR HEALTH METRICS AND EVALUATION: What's happened is that states have relaxed early. People have heard the message, they have gotten out, they become more mobile, they're having more contact. And we're seeing the effects already of that transition and then that's playing out in the projections, unfortunately.


COHEN: So we took a look at the states with the three biggest swings in numbers, and they were all increases in projected number of deaths, I'm sorry to say. Let's take a look at what those numbers are.

In New York, they are now projected more than 34,000 deaths by August. That is an additional 2,448 compared to what they were projecting before. In Massachusetts, more than 9,000 deaths by August, that's an additional 2,084. In North Carolina, more than 4,000 deaths. That's an additional 3,220. So as you can see in those three states and in other states, additional increased deaths.

There are some states where it went down, but the biggest swings are increases. Jim, Poppy?

HARLOW: Wow, Elizabeth, thank you very, very much.

The entire California State University System says it will cancel almost all of their in-person classes this fall. This is Los Angeles County's health officials say the stay-at-home order may last for months, Jim.

SCIUTTO: CNN's Stephanie Elam joins us now with more. So, Stephanie, the nation's largest four-year public university system, thousands of students affected, how did they come to the decision? I'm curious, is there any opposition there to this decision?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, I think people are just digesting this information right now, Jim and Poppy. And, yes, you're talking about 500,000 students. And the real issue here is when you do have that many students, even if they are spread out across 23 universities, that is a lot of togetherness. And right now, they're saying because there is not that medicine, that vaccine, that treatment, that there's just no way to have this many people close together, so almost all of their classes will be virtual in the fall.

And they're also saying that they're making this call early to help temper those expectations and to also help these students prepare, especially those new ones who may have just graduated or are about to graduate in the next couple weeks so that they can prepare to what their life will look like.

On top of that, you have the University of California system, which has ten universities across the campus, nearly 300,000 students, and they're saying it's also likely that none of their classes or most of their classes will not be on campus either. So you're seeing some very large numbers here coming out from California as far as what university will look like in the fall. Obviously, a lot of questions will trickle down from that and what we expect to see of elementary school, junior high and high school kids.

But as you can see, we see it here in L.A. County, they're talking about it and they're still trying to figure out what that's going to look like for those younger students, Jim and Poppy.


HARLOW: Yes, so many questions on those fronts. Stephanie, officials, health officials there are talking about months now of stay-at-home orders in terms of an extension for Los Angeles. Is that right? I mean, what's the mayor, Eric Garcetti, is saying?

ELAM: Right, yes. So what happened yesterday is the Director of Public Health, Dr. Barbara Ferrer, she was talking to a board of supervisors meeting and she said that this extension would last likely three more months. And so when she said that, that's what got people really upset. But she did say that there would be some easing over that time, still, people are like, what is happening because our stay- at-home order was supposed to expire this Friday.

However, all of this is driven by the data, and the mayor here is saying the same thing, that what we are seeing is that the number of cases here in L.A. County make up almost half of all of the cases in the State of California. So with that in mind, it's not really a shock that we're seeing this. It just means that we're going to have to get used to a new way of living.

One good little bit of ray of sunshine, the reason why I'm at the beach right now, Jim and Poppy, is because the beaches here, which are basically the gyms here in L.A. County, are now open again this morning. And so a lot of people are coming out here. You do have to wear a mask. You cannot sun bathe or sit around and have a picnic. You can just keep exercising or get in the ocean.

But other than that, this is just a little bit of something to make people feel better, and it shows you that these restrictions are beginning to ease in some ways.

SCIUTTO: Yes. We saw someone taking advantage right behind you there as we started. Stephanie Elam on the beach, where I wish I was, thanks very much.

HARLOW: Me too. Thanks, Steph.

SCIUTTO: To New York, where coronavirus cases have been on the decline. A relief, Governor Andrew Cuomo says some parts of the state will begin to reopen on Friday.

HARLOW: Let's go to Shimon Prokupecz, who joins us now. We talked a little bit about this yesterday, rural parts of the state. Is that being expanded at all? SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No. Right now, it's still the same areas. But to be more precise here, these are not areas we normally talk about. So this is the Finger Lakes region, Southern Tier and Mohawk Valley region, so, Upstate New York, hours away from New York City. It's going to be a good test, certainly, for the governor and for the state to see how the soft re-openings, these Phase 1 reopens work, how the numbers stack up. That is what they're worried about. So they're going to start there, see how things go.

And then, of course, there's going to be some entertainment, Poppy, over the weekend on Friday, starting Friday. They're going to open up drive-through theaters. You can drive in. You can watch movies. Some of that is going to be happening across the state, which is going to give some folks some entertainment at least. But this soft opening, this reopening, Phase 1 opening of parts of the state, the whole point of it is going to give the state a good way to test how things are going to work.

And just quickly, to that point, these are going to be construction jobs, manufacturing jobs and wholesale supply, and also some retail in those parts of New York state are going to be able to open up starting Friday.

HARLOW: Okay. Well, there's been a lot of economic pain in that region even before this crisis, so it's probably welcome news for them if they can do it safely. Thanks, Shimon.

Let's talk about Florida, because Floridians may have gotten it right when it came to staying at home in the early days of this pandemic. That may come as a surprise considering the viral videos we saw of spring breakers crowding beaches there. This is back in mid-March.

SCIUTTO: But new data actually shows that the state's cases in deaths per capita are lower than other states such as New York and Connecticut.

CNN Correspondent Rosa Flores live in Miami this morning. Rosa, what does the data tell us made a difference?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, we asked the experts about this, Jim, and they told us there are multiple factors. But one of the main ones is that Floridians decided to stay home very early.

Let me show you what these experts are looking at. This is -- these are going to be maps from a company called Descartes Labs. And this company looks at data to analyze people's movements. And this first map is from March 3rd. The darker the blue, the more people are moving around. Again, this is very early on. The lighter the green, the more people are staying home.

So take a look at March 15th. Again, this is early on before any state has issued a statewide stay-at-home order, and Floridians are staying home. Now, March 22nd, showing a dramatic slowdown, and then April 3rd. This is the day that Governor Ron DeSantis' stay-at-home order went into effect, and, again, people are staying home. Now, if you're looking at these maps, you're probably thinking, wait a minute, everybody around the United States is also staying home, not only Florida. So what sets Florida apart? Great question. We asked the experts that exact question. And they said there's multiple contributing factors.

First of all, the Governor DeSantis' restrictions on nursing homes that were issued early, Florida's robust public healthcare system, which has responded to other disasters like hurricanes, low population density outside of big population centers, like Miami, where I am, less use of public transportation.


And, Jim, the experts say, yes, even a little luck.

SCIUTTO: Well, it's nice to have luck. Rosa Flores in Florida, thanks very much.

In Illinois, the state is now facing its largest single-day rise in new cases, more than 4,000 in the past 24 hours.

I'm joined now by Dr. Richard Novak. He serves as the Chief of Infectious Diseases Division at the University of Illinois Chicago. Good to have you on, Dr. Novak.

So when we look at the 14-day trend in Illinois, Illinois witnessed several days of steady declines prior to this most recent increase there, you could see at the right-hand side of your screen. Is that spike the result of the relaxing of the stay-at-home orders?

DR. RICHARD NOVAK, CHIEF OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES DIVISION, UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS AT CHICAGO: Well, actually, it isn't. It's -- if you look at the number of tests that have been done in Illinois to correspond to that spike, you see that the number of tests on that day was 30,000. So we had a huge spike in testing, and therefore, you're going to detect more cases on that particular day. There seems to be a little bit of a lag on the weekends, and you see decline on the weekend days, and then yesterday, Monday, we had this big spike.

But if you look at the actual number of tests that were done that were positive, there's been a steady slow downward trend in the number of positive tests, which is a good sign that we are -- that we flattened the curve and we're starting to see actually what's really important is we're doing enough tests now now that we're actually catching a lot more cases and hopefully we're (INAUDIBLE) going to see continued decline.

SCIUTTO: It's a good point, folks should prepare for that kind of data, right? Because as testing becomes more common, of course, you pick up more cases there.

Big picture, you heard Dr. Fauci in the Hill yesterday, warning -- not ordering states to do anything, but warning, listen, the science shows that as you relax stay-at-home orders, and it makes sense, more people are out there, that you are likely, in many places, to see a rise in cases. What do you expect in the State of Illinois, and how do you expect to respond to that if you do see it?

NOVAK: Well, I think our governor has been very effective in controlling the rate of opening. We have a five-phase plan. We're opening the state, and it's really driven by the science, driven by the data. And so the governor has been quite cautious about how we're going to proceed, and we're hoping to move to what he calls Phase 3 by the end of this month and start opening a little bit more, open barbershops and a few other businesses.

But it's key that the people of the state understand that we need to continue to be very cautious, continue to wear masks when you go outside. I go outside often, and probably half or less of the people in my community are wearing masks when they go out. And that's really key.

SCIUTTO: Cautious but not hiding, right? Is that the idea? So take precautions like masks, businesses, take precautions, like spreading people out in restaurants, in offices, et cetera. I mean, from your perspective, as an expert, do you believe that opening under those sorts of restrictions is safe for the people who are watching right now?

NOVAK: I think very cautious opening, social distancing as businesses open is really important. And then we have to follow the data. Let's hope that we continue to see a flat curve or a declining curve once we start doing those things. If the data shows us otherwise, well, we may have to take a step back. But a very cautious approach is what's being done here in Illinois.

SCIUTTO: Understood. Simple advice, watch the numbers and respond accordingly. Dr. Richard Novak, good to have you on. We wish you and the people of Chicago all the best of luck.

NOVAK: Thank you so much.

HARLOW: Well, you have probably been hearing a lot this morning and in recent days about this new mysterious virus as it's affecting children, possibly tied to the coronavirus pandemic. Now, doctors are baffled by some symptoms in patients that attack the entire body as well. Our Dr. Sanjay Gupta takes a closer look at that ahead.

Also, the future of flying, as planes slowly start to fill once again, concerns remain over how airlines will enforce social distancing and safety measures. What you need to know, ahead.

SCIUTTO: And a judge in the Michael Flynn case now saying not so fast to the Justice Department's move to dismiss the case entirely. What next? More surprises perhaps to come.



HARLOW: Right now, the CDC is preparing to alert doctors about a mysterious illness that's showing up in children and that may be linked to COVID-19. SCIUTTO: Yes. We know this is causing a lot of concern, understandably, among parents. It comes as doctors have seen a list of unusual symptoms.

CNN's Sanjay Gupta joins us now with more. So, Sanjay, doctors have seen a number of different conditions potentially linked to the virus. What about these and, crucially, how extensive is it at this point?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, it's just been a few months, right? And I think, initially, the tendency from a lot of people in the public health community was, this is a coronavirus. Is it going to behave like SARS or MERS, other coronaviruses that we know? But you're absolutely right. I mean, we're learning new things almost every day about how this virus is different and what it does to the body.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, I'm ready to go out into the E.R. I don't know quite what to expect yet.

GUPTA: Don't know what to expect, in so many ways. The coronavirus has challenged E.R. doctors like Matt Bai (ph) since it hit, baffling doctors with its mysterious symptoms.

Coronavirus is a respiratory virus. It can spread through droplets with each cough or each breath.

DR. MANISHA JUTHANI, INFECTIOUS DISEASES SPECIALIST, YALE MEDICINE: You have a droplet that then goes into your nose, maybe down to your throat, and eventually, down into your lungs.

GUPTA: But some people have critically low oxygen levels and yet still appear like you and me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Almost unimaginable how people could be awake and alert and have oxygen levels that are half normal.

GUPTA: And it gets even more confusing. A respiratory virus doesn't typically cause isolated loss of smell or bumps and lesions on the feet. From nose to toes, and nearly every organ in between, how does a microscopic strand of RNA wreak so much in such varied destruction?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So when they come in, they can be to the extreme where they have no pulse already or they're coming in breathing really fast and hypoxic with a very low oxygen level and cold and blue.

GUPTA: It could have to do with the way the virus typically enters our cells in the first place. You're looking at the ACE2 receptor. Now, see how the spikes on the coronavirus bind to the surface of the cell.

JUTHANI: This particular receptor is known to be in lung tissue. But it's also known to be in the heart and other parts of the body. It seems that this ACE2 receptor is expressed more potentially with age.

GUPTA: Higher levels of ACE2 are often present in men, which could also explain why they are most likely to be affected more severely. Patients like 33-year-old Warren Alvega (ph), who had a life- threatening blood clot in his lungs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The next thing I know, I was on the floor.

GUPTA: And there's the mystery of what it's doing to some children. At least three dead now in New York from an illness with symptoms similar to Kawasaki disease, a condition where the blood vessels become inflamed.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): We have about 100 cases of an inflammatory disease in young children that seems to be created by the COVID virus.

JUTHANI: The children that are having these signs of inflammatory conditions, they already had the infection over two weeks ago. This is not like another virus that I have seen.

GUPTA: This tiny little virus, which cannot even be killed, because truth is, it's not even alive.


GUPTA: You've got to keep in mind that the virus does need a host, which in this case is us. And that's the whole principle behind physical distancing. Separate out the host, the virus can't make the jump. Eventually, the hope is at least it will start to dwindle away and we can outpace it as we wait for a good therapy, a good medicine or a vaccine.

SCIUTTO: So much of this is like a biology lesson for all of us, isn't it?


SCIUTTO: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, always good to have you on.

GUPTA: You got it. Thank you.

SCIUTTO: So, Dr. Gupta and Anderson Cooper will hold a new CNN global town hall tomorrow night. They're going to be joined by former acting CDC Director Richard Besser, former Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, and activist Greta Thunberg. Coronavirus, Facts and Fear, tomorrow night, 8:00 Eastern Time, only on CNN.

HARLOW: Let's discuss more of what we were talking about with Dr. Esther Choo, an Emergency Room Physician and Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine at Oregon Health and Science University. It's very good to have you, Doctor.

I would just like to begin on part of Sanjay's reporting there, which is what we're seeing in some children. New York State, they're investigating 100 of these potential cases, three deaths, children with inflammatory syndrome, organs being inflamed, feet, hands, et cetera. How difficult is it to diagnose, and I guess if you could explain why we don't know for sure if it's connected to COVID or not?

DR. ESTHER CHOO, EMERGENCY ROOM PHYSICIAN: Yes, we're seeing this thing that we initially called a Kawasaki-like disease. This is a syndrome, a cluster of symptoms that are associated with previous viral illnesses, it's -- and now that we're generalizing and calling it pediatric multisystem inflammatory disease.

I think what we're seeing is, what we -- in some ways, what we saw in adults, which is that this virus can affect any part of the body. It can involve any organ system or multiple at once. And in this case, seems to stimulate inflammation of blood vessels themselves, which, of course, go to every organ.


So it certainly seems like what we have seen before with other viruses, like it sort of comes together in a cluster of symptoms that we call Kawasaki, and so far seems to be very linked to COVID-19, but we have a lot more to learn about how this might be unique and distinct from Kawasaki, whether it's going to be responsive to the same treatments, like immunoglobulin.

Just this far into the virus, this novel coronavirus, we just have to remember, we have more to learn about the virus than we have yet learned. So new manifestations, and in particular, these manifestations that are late manifestations, many of the studies we initially did on COVID only had a follow-up period of two weeks in total. And now we're able to follow people out further and we're going to see and start to understand more and more of these complex complications of the virus.

HARLOW: Let's listen to this moment, because Dr. Fauci addressed this in part yesterday in his testimony before the Senate. Here he was.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I think we'd better be careful if we are not cavalier in thinking that children are completely immune to the deleterious effects.


HARLOW: Yes, so children are not completely immune from this, is the point. And I just wonder how parents should make the decision if they start to see a rash or they start to see swelling of some part -- body part of their child, do they take their child to the emergency room, because there's also a risk of exposure there?

CHOO: There is. But I think parents need to really obey their instincts here. I mean, people with this Kawasaki-like disease, or this multi-organ inflammatory state, children will be quite sick from it. And beyond what seems like a mild flu-like illness, which is what we thought COVID-19 would do to -- would manifest in children. We thought they will have mild disease. It's fine in children. And we really did -- we took comfort in the fact that our kids were largely safe, that they were dangerous as vectors to older people and to sick people, but the kids were going to be fine. And I wonder if some of that is our comfort with relaxing social distancing measures is that the people we value most in society tend to be our kids. They were going to be fine, you know.

And now we're seeing that actually the disease certainly affects children probably relatively -- in relatively lower proportions, but still, you know, even those small numbers become big when we have disease that's this widespread now in the United States. And I think having kids get this sick, having them get some of the deadly complications is just something that, as a society, we just can't bear to see.

And so I think parents really need to obey their internal radar when they see. This doesn't feel like a mild viral illness. This is really high fever, there's multiple manifestations. We want people to come in to emergency rooms when you're sick.

You know, we're still -- we have that purpose. We have many layers of protection so that we really minimize exposure to disease. I am worried that people will go very far to avoid emergency care for something like this that is treatable only in the hospital in an attempt to avoid causing harm. That's what we're there for.

HARLOW: Very important to know, treatable only in a hospital. Dr. Choo, thank you.

SCIUTTO: Important to hear more about that. Well, the coronavirus crisis is deepening in Russia, as new cases jump by more than 10,000 for the 11th straight day.

Plus, there are concerns about Vladimir Putin's health and exposure, coming up.