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CNN Live Event/Special
A CNN Global Town Hall: Coronavirus Facts and Fears. Aired 10- 11p ET
Aired March 05, 2020 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, and welcome to the CNN Global Town Hall. I'm Anderson Cooper.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: And I'm Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Thanks for joining us at home, and a special thanks to everyone who's here in the studio with us tonight.
COOPER: We're here tonight because we believe the best way to fight fear is with facts -- not hype, not hope, not hunches -- facts. History has shown us a virus spreads farther, faster when there is fear and confusion. There is right now a lot we know about this virus and a lot we don't yet know, and it's as important to address what we don't know as it is to illuminate what we do.
Tonight we're going to bring you the very latest from our CNN correspondents around the world, in countries where the impact of the virus is more clear than it is here right now. We'll be talking to experts in the field -- medical professionals, scientists, and caregivers who are on the frontlines. We'll talk to people who are now patients infected with the virus tonight.
A member of the president's Coronavirus Task Force, Dr. Anthony Fauci, joins us, as well. And throughout the evening, we'll be taking questions from people here in the studio, on video, and via social media. You can see on the walls, there are just some of the thousands of questions that we've received just in the last few days.
First, though, how we got here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Health officials in China are trying to identify a mysterious strain of pneumonia.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This mysterious new cluster of pneumonia cases is raising deep concerns here and across the region.
COOPER (voice-over): December 31st, Chinese authorities informed the World Health Organization of an unusual illness in Wuhan, China. Officials believe the virus was transmitted to humans from animals.
DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So this is where authorities believe the source of the coronavirus is. It's the wildlife and seafood market. And you can perhaps see over there, it's cordoned off. You've got police at all the corners.
COOPER: One week later, health officials confirm this is a novel coronavirus and it's spreading quickly. Hospitals in Wuhan are overwhelmed with patients as the virus transmits from person to person.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): For us, it's impossible to not be afraid. Everyone's afraid.
COOPER: Within two weeks, the virus appears in other countries in the region. By January 21st, it shows up in Washington state and the CDC warns it will get worse.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's not so much a question of if this will happen anymore, but rather more a question of exactly when this will happen.
COOPER: Supplies of face masks run thin as fear and uncertainty about the virus grows.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NIAID: There's not going to be a vaccine for this thing readily available. We're going to have to rely on classic, good public health measures.
COOPER: In the two months since it was first reported, the novel coronavirus has spread to at least 76 countries, more than 90,000 confirmed cases so far, and more than 3,000 deaths.
ANNE SCHUCHAT, PRINCIPAL DEPUTY DIRECTOR, CDC: The trajectory of what we're looking at over the weeks and months ahead is very uncertain. We do expect more cases. And this is a good time to prepare.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, this is a fast-moving event, a fast-moving story, and there's a lot of fear out there about everyday things, including gatherings like this one. So to that point, we asked everyone here tonight if they've traveled recently to any of the hot spots just to be safe. The people gathered here told us that they had not. That is certainly a good place to start.
Sanjay, let's talk about what we know and what we don't know at this point.
GUPTA: Yeah, I mean, we've learned a lot. Certainly we know that a novel, or new, virus that originated in China is now spreading quickly around the world. We know that it's a virus that we've all certainly heard about, but just a few months ago had never been diagnosed in a human being.
We know the reported numbers, nearly 100,000 people infected and around 3,000 have died. But we also know, as we're going to talk about those numbers, are really still just best estimates.
We know the virus is spread through coughs and sneezes and droplets just like the flu, but that it doesn't linger in the air like measles or smallpox. We don't know for sure how long it lives on surfaces, and we don't know why it appears that children don't seem to be hit as hard as adults, nor are we fully certain that if you catch it once, you can't catch it again.
And we don't know for certain when this might end. Big question. So much of this is a mystery still, and I realize -- we realize that that can be a bit unsettling for people. So we want to make it clear, as Anderson did, that tonight we're going to be honest with you. Sometimes a void of information can be filled with bad information, so we're also going to clear up misconceptions. And I hope the knowledge that you get tonight will help relieve some of your fears and some of your anxiety.
Anderson, I think that we also need to know and be prepared for what comes next, so we're going to spend the next two hours answering your questions and provide the perspective that everyone needs.
COOPER: All right, we've been talking a bit already about Washington state and, really, the epicenter of the outbreak is in Kirkland, Washington.
I want to go to our Gary Tuchman, who's at the medical facility, Life Care Center, there. It's linked to seven of the 12 U.S. fatalities so far.
There was a press conference I know with the governor and Vice President Mike Pence earlier tonight. What's the latest, Gary?
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, we need to mention there has not been widespread transmission here in Washington state. But that being said, this nightmare scenario that's taken place at this very small nursing home northeast of Seattle does not bode well.
Twelve people are known to have died from coronavirus around the United States so far. Seven of those people lived inside this nursing center, the Life Care Center, in Kirkland, Washington. That means more than 50 percent of the people we know who have died from coronavirus lived here. We don't know -- and this is very important -- we don't know how the virus got inside this building.
We do know that other people who live here, other people who work here, and other people who visit here are also sick and they are dealing with that right now. What's very disturbing, according to family members we talked to today who have loved ones inside this building who are asymptomatic, is no testing has been done for those people yet. Despite all the talk of testing, these loved ones want their relatives to be tested, because if they're not sick, they want to get them the heck out of here. If they are sick, they realize they need to stay, but they don't want to take a person who might be infected and infect their loved ones and infect the public.
So therefore, these people are upset. They're not upset with the people who work here. They are upset with their state government leaders and the government leaders in Washington, D.C. Anderson?
GUPTA: Hey, Gary, it's Sanjay. I got one more question for you. There's another cruise ship, we understand, that's just off the coast of San Francisco. They're actually airlifting tests, my understanding, to that cruise ship. What have you learned about that?
TUCHMAN: Yes, Sanjay, so we have some people who are driving by who are yelling at us right now, so let me apologize for that, because this is important. Please, sir, quiet down, if you don't mind. Thank you.
There was a man, 11 people have died here in the state of Washington, one person in the state of California. That person was on the Grand Princess Cruise ship. It was a cruise ship from San Francisco to Mexico. That cruise ship then came back to San Francisco. The man, he was 71 years old, died. He lived north of Sacramento.
The cruise ship then continued from San Francisco to Hawaii, was coming back. The governor of California has made a decision. It has been found out that at least 35 people on that cruise ship have flu- like symptoms. He says that those people need to be tested before that ship is allowed to come back to San Francisco.
So today a helicopter dropped testing supplies on the ship. People were tested. We'll get the results tomorrow. And then the decision will be made what to do with that cruise ship. It's one of the largest cruise ships in the world, 2,400 passengers, 1,100 crew members aboard. And the decision will be made tomorrow what to do with the cruise ship and the people aboard.
COOPER: Gary, just quickly, why haven't the folks in there been tested?
TUCHMAN: That is the $64,000 question right now, Anderson. These family members we talked to today were so upset, and they don't know the answer. They're not being told by any government leaders what to do, how to handle this. They're trying to be responsible. They don't want their loved ones to stay inside here if they're not sick.
But if they know that if they take them out and they are sick, they can infect lots of people, but they're not being given advice about what to do. So they can take their loved ones out of here, but right now, they're not, because they don't know if their asymptomatic relatives are OK to take out.
COOPER: All right, Gary Tuchman, thanks very much.
I want to go next to China where there are more than 80,000 cases of coronavirus and at least 3,042 deaths thus far. Officials there have taken drastic and unprecedented steps to contain the outbreak. The question is, how well did that work?
Joining us now in Shanghai is CNN's David Culver. David, depending on the day, we hear that cases in China are declining, then we'll hear that they are increasing. To your knowledge, what is the status of the spread of the virus there in -- particularly in Shanghai, how are things right now?
DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you're right, Anderson. We've seen these fluctuations going up and down. And it's important to distinguish where we are in Shanghai versus the epicenter of all of this, and that is Hubei province, and particularly its capital, the city of Wuhan.
Now, here in Shanghai, it seems as though things are under control, but then you look at the numbers within Hubei, and they're rather intense. I mean, tens of thousands of people who have been impacted by this and thousands who have died.
And so the concern going forward is the extreme containment effort and its effectiveness. As of now, the World Health Organization has said that China's containment of Hubei province as a whole -- and you're talking about lockdowns in and out and within that province -- they say it's been rather effective. And it's extreme. I mean, we've talked to folks just an hour or so ago, I was on the phone with one resident just checking in, and they cannot leave their homes. They're sealed within their residential complexes. Basic necessities come to them. Outside of that, for example, here in Shanghai, a lot more flexibility and freedom to move around.
As far as how it's being handled from the government's level, we know that they are continuing to increase hospital capacity, and that's interesting, because we've heard them say that more people are leaving the hospital versus going in.
Yet they don't want to get complacent, Anderson and Sanjay, because the greatest risk here is thinking, yeah, we've got this beat.
GUPTA: And, David, you know, you've been there since the beginning. This is Sanjay. You've been there since the beginning, and you evacuated from Wuhan. A lot of what we know is based on data that's coming out of China. And I think one of the big questions in the medical community is, how trustworthy is that data? Do you have any sense of that?
CULVER: No question, Sanjay, and we've been asking that question, too. I mean, I listened to what Gary was expressing as far as the frustrations towards the state and federal leaders there in Washington, And we saw that weeks ago here. I mean, it's echoing exactly what we were putting to some of the officials, and we were hearing on the ground from folks who said, we know that we might have it, because our loved ones have been confirmed. We're experiencing the same symptoms, yet testing has been delayed, it's not coming through.
We also know that some of our loved ones have passed away, and the doctors were pulling people aside and saying, it is, in fact, that pneumonia. However, they were never confirmed. So what does that tell us? It wasn't going towards the total count.
Now, since we can say that the federal government here, the central government, under President Xi Jinping, they have moved forward with getting a lot of those test kits to where they need to be, and it seems as though they're coming to a place where they're being readily available, at least, according to some of the folks we're talking to on the ground within Wuhan and within Hubei province as a whole, Anderson and Sanjay.
COOPER: David Culver, thanks very much. Be careful, as coronavirus has been spreading, the world has been slowing down, global travel shrinking, trade shows canceled, in Paris, the Louvre shut down, has reopened with new precautions. Italy, especially hard hit, with nearly 4,000 cases and at least 148 people have died there.
For more on all of that, we're joined now by CNN's chief international anchor, Christiane Amanpour, who's joining us from London. Christiane, what's the latest in the U.K.?
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Well, listen, Anderson and Sanjay, as you've, you know, accurately articulated, uncertainty is the worst thing. Here they were talking about containment. But now, the chief medical officer says they're moving into the so-called second phase, which is control. And then there's research and mitigate. But that's what's happening right now.
The British National Health Service is one of the most known in the world. The officials here say that the National Health Service, you know, will be able to cope, but we know there's a massive shortage of nurses. We know, as David has said, and as Gary has said, that the testing kits are in short supply, not just here, but around the world.
And so this is what's happening. There has not been any massive closures of schools here, like we've seen in Italy. There's been one death and several dozen confirmed cases of infection.
But there is a sense that they might have to go into, you know, methods such as controlling how people work, keep them at home more, and it's called, you know, social mitigation. So, also, as you were talking about, how do people deal with each other, social distancing, for instance? There's a huge amount of talk about, should people shake hands? Should they hug, kiss?
What we're being told -- it may sound basic -- but you've been talking about it and it's absolutely the case. The main advice that people here are being given is wash your hands and wash them over and over again. And if you use sanitizer, use something that's at least 60 percent alcohol contained. And that's another issue, because those are rushing off the shelves, and there's a lot of shortages in these things.
But this is what we're seeing over here. We've had cases of deaths in France. And all these governments are trying to figure out -- because they do have centralized public health systems and hospital infrastructure. So they're trying to figure out how to now control, because contain is somewhat -- somewhat sort of, you know, past -- that horse has sort of bolted, so to speak.
GUPTA: And, Christiane, it's Sanjay. You know, people may know this, but after China and South Korea, Italy now has the largest outbreak in the world. And as you mentioned, schools and colleges shut down, I think, until the end of March or at least mid-March. Is that affecting the rest of Europe, I mean, given the proximity of all these places?
AMANPOUR: I mean, to be frank, yes, because, again, uncertainty is the worst, worst thing. And this is what this is all about, uncertainty. And the worst is that one gets different views and different sort of expert opinions, and so that's creating more uncertainty.
But for sure, I mean, you know, just from closing schools in Italy to closing big sporting events, here they're even deciding, here in England, whether they'll close sporting events. Already Premier League teams are being told they can't even shake hands when they get out onto the field.
But, you know, travel from Italy is also a big worry in countries like Great Britain here and elsewhere. People are quite worried about travelers who come from Italy, because the cases that have been confirmed in many instances are because of contact with people who have come from Italy.
And even here in Britain -- I mean, in London, not far from where I'm sitting, there's been one case, according to the police, of a hate crime, a race-based attack on a person here on a commercial street in central London because they were Asian. And this is -- you know, this is another sort of worry. It's not widespread, but it's a worry as well.
AMANPOUR: Italy is very bad. And, of course, as you know, outside of Europe, Iran is the biggest problem.
COOPER: Yes, Christiane, thanks very much.
South Korea holds a pair of distinctions so far, the biggest outbreak outside China, perhaps the most testing effort so far. Ivan Watson is in Seoul for us.
Ivan, what's the situation like right now in Seoul? How many cases are there now?
IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the infection -- the confirmed number of infections, Anderson, has crossed the 6,200 mark with at least 42 people who have died as a result of the disease. Now more than 70 percent of the infections have originated around the southern Korean city of Daegu. That's where the real cluster of the infections are in, related to a religious organization that was holding prayer services there.
And it's also around that city that a 23-year-old U.S. soldier and his wife and child were also infected. And this has security implications because not only the U.S. military, but certainly the South Korean military has had dozens of infections across all four branches of the military. And that has forced the U.S.-South Korean military alliance to postpone their joint military operations exercises indefinitely.
I want to highlight another statistic. And you mentioned this. This is the aggressive testing for the coronavirus here in South Korea. More than 150,000 tests conducted since the virus first appeared here, and the authorities are working so hard to expedite this. There are even drive-through testing facilities to speed up the process and to limit the exposure of doctors and nurses to potential carriers -- Anderson, Sanjay.
GUPTA: Something we haven't seen here in this country yet, Ivan Watson.
COOPER: One hundred and fifty thousand in South Korea. Do we know how many people have actually been tested here?
GUPTA: About 1,500.
COOPER: Fifteen hundred in the United States total.
GUPTA: So -- yes.
GUPTA: A magnitude of difference.
We're going to go to Japan next where the world's attention has been focused for some time, was focused on that quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship. And where in just a few months now, the Summer Olympics are scheduled to begin. There are just over a thousand cases in japan with at least 12 deaths, and CNN's Will Ripley is in Tokyo for us -- Will.
COOPER: What's the latest, Will?
WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So, this has not been a great week for organizers of Tokyo 2020 and the International Olympic Committee because Japan saw the case numbers rise over a thousand. You have infectious disease experts saying that the number could be 10 times the official reports because of the fact that this country's testing so few people.
You have Olympics organizers saying that they're still proceeding as if they're going to deliver the games on schedule at the end of July. But a growing number of people questioning whether it's actually going to be safe to do that given that you have people from 200-plus countries scheduled to come here from all over the world, living in close quarters for a period of weeks and then going back to their home countries.
The big concern, of course, is that if this outbreak continues to intensify, if it becomes a pandemic by summer, will they be able to hold the games? And I think right now there just isn't an answer to that question.
COOPER: Yes, Will Ripley, Will, thanks very much. We're going to be right back with Dr. Anthony Fauci, a member of the White House's Coronavirus Task Force. We'll be taking questions. We'll also talk to someone who has the virus about his condition, about what it feels like. We'll be right back.
COOPER: So, we gave you a look around the world at what the situation is. Tonight a lot of people airing their concerns online about the coronavirus, obviously, and the answers say they are or are not getting from government officials, from television, or social media. Wall is filled with the sorts of questions you'll be hearing later in this town hall from people looking for answers about how they should respond in any given situation.
Can they shake hands? Should they go to large meetings? Last week the administration created the Coronavirus Task Force, including some of the nation's top health officials. A member of that task force joins us now, Dr. Anthony Fauci. Dr. Fauci is the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. He has advised six presidents on domestic and global health issues.
Dr. Fauci, thank you so much for being with us. You're clearly having very busy days these days. What tonight is the one thing you want to tell Americans about this virus?
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY & INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Well, the issue is it's something we need to take seriously, but we should not be panicking about it. If you look at the United States as a whole and look at the difference between what the risk of getting infected is, and if a person gets infected, like what we're seeing in Washington State around Seattle, the two different issues, the risk of getting infected as taking the nation as a whole is low. But that could change, as we're seeing in Seattle where you have some community spread, which elevates the risk a bit for the community, which is the reason why in Seattle the authorities have appropriately done the beginning of social distancing, which is kind of mitigation.
If a person is infected, if you look at the experience from China, from Korea, and from Italy, the overwhelming majority of individuals will do quite well. They'll be able to spontaneously recover without any specific kind of medical intervention. However, about 15 to 20 percent of the individuals, very heavily weighted towards the elderly, those with underlying conditions like heart disease, chronic lung disease, diabetes, are really at considerable risk for a bad outcome, including death.
So you have to make sure that when we approach this, we protect the vulnerable while telling the people who are young and healthy that, with few exceptions, they will do well. So that's really to try and get a broader understanding of where we are right now with this outbreak.
COOPER: Just to be clear, though, those people who are young and healthy who may get it and will be OK, it will be, I guess, like a bad flu or something for them. They can still pass it on to other people, though. Just because they're healthy doesn't mean they should go to work, things like that.
FAUCI: Oh, absolutely, Anderson. That's very important. I mean, people who are infected will pass it on to other people, and that's the makings of an outbreak. I'm just talking about in general the risk of infection versus when you are infected, the risk of something going bad for you.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Dr. Fauci, it's Sanjay. You know, we've heard from the vice president recently that we want to make sure people who want to get tested can get tested. People who have concerns can get tested. At the same time, we hear that there are not enough tests to go around. What are we supposed to take away from that?
FAUCI: You know, Sanjay, you're right. It's unfortunate that it got off to a slow start. There were some missteps with regard to the CDC's test. They had a problem. They fixed the problem. Now by the end of the week they should be able to get out about 75,000 tests. They have now partnered with the private sector so that everything doesn't have to come from the CDC, which generally makes tests for the public health segment.
When you get the commercial segment that can then make millions, millions of tests, what you're going to see in the reasonable future is a dramatic escalation in the number of tests that will be available. But you're absolutely right. Up to this point there has been a lag in the ability to get tested.
COOPER: Actually, let me just follow-up on that. In terms of the -- you said by the end the week. Do you mean like tomorrow or do you mean Sunday? And how many tests you say will be out there available by then?
FAUCI: Well, what they are telling us, what the CDC and the FDA is saying, that by the end of the week, the beginning of next week, they should be able to get 75,000 tests out there. And by the following week, they could get up to a million tests out there. That's the plan. That's what we're hearing.
GUPTA: I don't want to belabor this, I know you've answered this a lot, but how many tests are we going to need, Dr. Fauci? Now you've heard from South Korea, you know, over 100,000 tests have been performed. How do we really get an idea of what has happened here in the States, how widespread this is?
FAUCI: You know, Sanjay, you and I have discussed this in the past. And you know I've been an advocate of much more proactive testing, not only testing when physicians ask for a test, but testing to determine where we are and what level is under the radar. And for that reason we're going to need millions and millions and millions of tests. That's what I feel and that's what many of my colleagues feel.
COOPER: Dr. Fauci, we have a question for you from Wuhan, China, where an American, his name is Doug Perez, he's living, he's working, he's a school teacher. Doug is joining us now.
Doug, I know your question is about U.S. travel restrictions from mainland China. I just want to inform our viewers that currently U.S. citizens who are in Wuhan, China, and can return to America have to enter through a -- specific airports and be under mandatory quarantine for 14 days. For all nationals, they are currently banned from entering the U.S. if they were in China in the last 14 days.
So Wuhan, the Chinese government has actually locked down the city where you are so you cannot even get out of Wuhan. Doug, what's your question for Dr. Fauci?
DOUG PEREZ, U.S. CITIZEN TEACHING IN WUHAN, CHINA: Well, like you said, my question is especially important to many Americans and other nationalities who are currently living in China. With new cases on the decline in China, while community-spread propagates most new cases in the USA, does the Trump administration have a time-line for lifting travel restrictions on China?
FAUCI: You know, I can't answer that question. There is no decision now about when that will occur. That's something that is evaluated, really, quite frequently when the task force meet. We look at what the situation is on the outside regarding the imposition of and removal of travel restrictions. But the last time this was discussed, there was not any decision about removing it, but leaving it the way it is right now.
GUPTA: Dr. Fauci, I want to talk about the mortality rates for a second and keeping in mind these numbers do change. But there does appear to be a pretty significant discrepancy between what the World Health Organization is saying and what we're hearing from the administration. Do we have a sense of what the mortality rates really are? Are they going to change? And why this discrepancy?
FAUCI: Sure. So, Sanjay, what it is, when you look at the WHO numbers, it's a purely arithmetic calculation. You look at the number of deaths as the numerator and the denominator as the number of infections.
When you do that math, when you click on a coronavirus tracker, those numbers come up, as you say.
If you do that simple mathematical formula, what you have is a 2 percent to 3 percent mortality. However, when you do modelling, namely you figure out what the likelihood there is and to what extent you have asymptomatic infection, if there is a certain degree of asymptomatic infection and the assumptions in the model, then the denominator becomes much bigger. So what you're hearing is something that obviously is understandably confusing, the strict arithmetic determination and the model of what the range would be. And the range is lower than that. How much lower, it's uncertain, but it's clearly lower than that. That's the model. But the actual calculation is 2 percent to 3 percent.
COOPER: So, Dr. Fauci, I'm terrible at math, never good at it. That's why I'm in TV. So if...
... until we -- until there's more widespread testing in the United States, we won't know how many people in the U.S. actually may have the virus, and that will affect what the fatality rate is, correct?
FAUCI: Yes, absolutely. And the assumption is, Anderson, that there is a segment of the group -- we don't know how large it is -- who are without symptoms and are not getting counted in the calculation.
And that's why the point you make is very valid. Until we have a much more accurate determination of who is infected, including those who are asymptomatic, we will not get a more accurate determination of what the case fatality rate is. Your point is very well taken.
COOPER: Dr. Fauci, I want to introduce Elodie Ghedin. She's a molecular parasitologist, which I can't even say.
QUESTION: Virologist, too.
COOPER: OK, and you're a professor of global health at NYU.
COOPER: What's your question?
QUESTION: So, assuming we have enough kits, why aren't we testing everyone?
And how do we determine who we will test?
FAUCI: Yes. What I just said -- what will be available today, this evening, we don't have enough to do what we want to do. In the next week to two, it will rev up so that we will.
And the first thing you want to do is you want to make it available to people who are trying to make a diagnosis on someone who comes in with symptoms to determine if, in fact, they do have coronavirus.
But in addition to that, there should be the kind of sentinel screening to get to the answer that Anderson just asked the question about.
COOPER: Dr. Fauci, before we let you go, I just want to ask a very simple question. For someone out there tonight who's got a cough; maybe they have a little fever; they haven't been to Wuhan; they've just been living their life and they're freaked out, what should they do?
Because obviously you don't want everybody who has the flu or a cough to go into an emergency room demanding a test that are -- is not available.
COOPER: So what do they do?
FAUCI: Yes. You know, I think they should just go home and just hunker down and recover at home. The chances are overwhelmingly likely that they have either influenza -- I hope they got their flu shot, which would make it less likely to have influenza. But the overwhelming likelihood is that it is not coronavirus.
What they should do is just go home, hunker down and recover. That's what you should do right now -- again, because the risk across the country of infection is quite low. If you're in an area where there is community spread, as I said, in Seattle, that elevates it a bit.
COOPER: Dr. Fauci, thank you so much. And I want to emphasize what Dr. Fauci just said about the flu. Oh, and you and I, Sanjay, have talked about this before. It's amazing to me, for all the people who are freaked out about coronavirus, as many as half of Americans do not actually get a flu vaccine.
GUPTA: That's right. Only 45 percent have --
COOPER: Right. So if you're freaked out about the coronavirus, you can't really do anything about it right now, but you can do something about the flu. And if you haven't gotten a flu shot, you should get one.
GUPTA: That way you can, sort of, distinguish the two.
GUPTA: Yes, exactly.
COOPER: All right. Dr. Fauci, thank you.
I want to bring in Ron Klain, the Ebola response coordinator under President Obama and co-host of a new podcast called "Epidemic," about the coronavirus.
Thanks so much for being with us.
RON KLAIN, EBOLA RESPONSE COORDINATOR UNDER PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you.
COOPER: Appreciate it.
And also Dr. Craig Spencer, who contracted Ebola -- hey, how are you? Nice to see you. Welcome. Who contracted Ebola in 2014 after treating patients in West Africa. He's now the director of global health and emergency medicine at the Columbia University Medical Center.
Thanks, guys, so much, for being with us.
DR. CRAIG SPENCER, FIRST EBOLA PATIENT IN NEW YORK CITY (?): Thank you.
KLAIN (?): Thanks for having us.
COOPER: So, first of all, Ron, I'm wondering what you made of what you heard from Dr. Fauci. What do you want Americans to know, right now, who are worried about this?
KLAIN: Well, look, Dr. Fauci is a national treasure. He's advised six presidents, as you said. And I wish his advice was getting more purchase, more power, inside the administration.
There's really no excuse for why we're in this testing mess. We knew in December that this disease would come here. We had time to get ramped up. And just this week the administration told us there would be a million tests by tomorrow.
Now Dr. Fauci says that number will be 75,000; maybe next week there will be a million tests.
And Dr. Fauci also told us that we're going to need, actually, millions of tests. So we're far behind where we should be. We're far behind where Korea is. We're far behind where Singapore is, other countries are. And I think that's -- that's a hard question.
GUPTA: I -- I have a couple more questions about that. But, Dr. Spencer, let me ask you. You -- you were the first person in New York to be -- to actually contract the Ebola virus.
GUPTA: How are you doing?
SPENCER: I feel great.
GUPTA: You're totally better?
SPENCER: Never better, yeah.
GUPTA: A hundred percent?
GUPTA: That's -- that's good to hear.
SPENCER: Thanks for asking.
GUPTA: What -- when you look at the response back then, 2014, how do you compare it to what's happening now? SPENCER: Yeah, I think that's a great question. You know, in 2014, after I survived Ebola, I went back to Guinea to work as an epidemiologist, to understand more about the disease. And I ended up writing a piece really expressing my concern about how the political response had really taken priority over the public health response.
And I think that's incredibly important and salient right now. People need clear, concise, evidence-based messaging. They need to understand when testing is happening, who can get tested, what is their risk.
And right now I think people have this disconnect between what they're hearing from public health authorities and what they're hearing by a tweet. And I think it's causing a lot of confusion, a lot of fear, a lot of hysteria, which is reminiscent of what we saw in 2014 and 2015.
GUPTA: So -- so is there something you'd recommend that's -- that be done differently?
SPENCER: Yeah, well, I think my big message is proactive preparedness should take precedence over this reactive catch-up every single time.
As Ron pointed out, we knew months ago that there was a problem that was likely going to come here and spread. Over the past couple years, we've really torn apart the architecture of our pandemic response here in the U.S. We've proposed lower funding to the CDC. We've ended great pandemic preparedness programs like PREDICT, which was helping us to find zoonotic diseases in places where these viruses are more likely to come and to spread from.
And I think that we just haven't taken the right time; we haven't taken the right preparation. We need to be as serious about preparation and preparedness as we are about response.
COOPER: Ron, just in the last -- I mean, to the idea of, kind of, getting the right information out there, the president has, you know -- I'm reluctant to say this, but -- contributed to the problem by just, kind of, speaking off the cuff about this.
COOPER: He's got, you know, great people like Dr. Fauci on, who are giving facts. He has, sort of, indicated at one point just in the last couple days that, like a miracle, this could just dissipate and disappear. He has said, you know, they had 15 cases and that they are all getting better and that might be the end of it. That was a couple days ago. Obviously, that didn't turn out to be the case.
And he's even said -- you know, he said last night on Fox that, you know, there's people who are going to work and they get better and they're able to continue working.
Obviously, you don't want to encourage anyone to go to work because, even if they're feeling OK, they might infect other people.
What kind of damage is this doing? KLAIN: You know, Anderson, it's doing the worst kind of damage. When we talked a minute ago about the crisis of competence we're having, the failure of the response, there's also a crisis of confidence. People can't believe what they're hearing from the president, and that's really corrosive in a time of something like this.
And, look, I actually think, ironically, it's -- it's not helping the president's own goal. Even if you believe the president's goal here is to try to calm people down, boost the markets, keep the economy going, all this misinformation actually is just making people more anxious, more uncertain, more unsteady.
And so I think the best thing the president could do is communicate less. Let people like Dr. Fauci and Dr. Schuchat and the people at CDC do the communicating. They are the experts. When the president tries to tell people it's just all going to be fine; it's a miracle; it will go away, I think that just makes people more nervous, not more reassured.
COOPER: Why wouldn't those patients in that nursing home in Washington be tested already? Do you know?
COOPER: Does that make it -- is there any scientific reason why that would be...
SPENCER: I think what we really want to do is we want to, as Dr. Fauci was explaining, we want to expand that denominator. We want to know -- we know that, right now, in New York City, there are multiple cases with unlinked chains of transmission, meaning that we don't know how they were infected. And from that, we...
COOPER: That's already -- we know that -- that's already happened?
SPENCER: Yeah. And so we know that there's transmission occurring in the community. And that's concerning from a disease detective standpoint because, if we can't link everything back to one source or a couple different sources, we know that it's happening in different places, and that just increases the risk.
KLAIN: Some of the modeling issues, as you know, Anderson, that may be within that community, there could be up to 1,500 even, based on looking at the genome of this virus which has been circulating for about six weeks. So...
GUPTA: But let me ask one follow-up question to what Anderson was asking you. You know, I've looked at the modeling in this country, just the overall flu response, pandemic flu response. And let me put up these numbers.
But even in a moderate scenario, what they say is that a million hospitalizations, 200,000 people, would need to be in the intensive care unit, and 64,000 people would need breathing machines. We -- we don't have all that. We have, maybe, just barely that. And many of those ventilators and breathing machines are currently being used. [22:40:00]
What -- what are we going to do if that many people actually need care like that?
KLAIN: Sanjay, it's a great question. And it's the second area where the response thus far has been laggard. So testing is one area. But getting our health care system ready for this influx of cases is something we should be doing now.
We saw in China they built temporary hospitals. They really flexed up their capacity. And I think this is a point we all need to think about. It's not just the people who get coronavirus who are going to be affected by this. If hospital emergency rooms are overwhelmed; if doctors and nurses treating those people get sick and staffing drops at our hospitals; if we don't have enough beds, people with other illnesses won't be able to get into the hospital and get treatment.
KLAIN: You know, people with routine medical conditions won't be able to get treatment. So the possible impact on our health care system is something we should be using this time, while cases ramp up, to really get ready for. And I think that's a big deficiency.
COOPER: Do you think it's possible that this will just dissipate in April like the president had indicated early on?
And I'm not asking to bash the president. I'm asking just --
KLAIN: Yeah --
COOPER: I mean, there are viruses which, in warmer weather, do not do well and -- and dissipate, become seasonal. Is that going to happen here?
KLAIN: Look, I think, as Dr. Fauci said, there are a lot of unknowns. But I think you can't run government policy on hopes and wishes. What the public deserves is a health care system and a government that's powering that system that's preparing, maybe not for the worst-case scenario but for the medium-case scenario that Dr. Gupta just outlined. That's a pretty likely scenario. And it's just the responsible thing to be ready for.
If it surprises on the up side, then we're all better off and we can focus on Craig's point, which is preparing for the long run. Whatever happens with this one, this isn't the last time we're going to do this. You guys will be doing this two years or three years from now when we have the next one. And we shouldn't be catching up then. We should be ahead of the game. And investments in responding to this are preparedness also for the next time we go through this.
COOPER: Ron Klain, Craig Spencer, thanks so much, appreciate it.
We're going to take a quick break. Up next, we'll talk via Skype to a man who has the coronavirus, is now being treated in the country's only federal quarantine unit. We'll be right back.
COOPER: So what's it like to actually have the coronavirus and undergo treatment for it? Carl Goldman is a patient at the country's only federal quarantine unit located at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. He's joining us.
Also joining us from Omaha is Dr. Mark Rupp, an infection disease specialist who supervises the doctors treating all coronavirus patients at the medical center. Mr. Goldman, we should point out, is joining us via Skype.
First of all, Carl, thank you so much for joining us. How are you feeling?
CARL GOLDMAN, CORONAVIRUS PATIENT: I'm feeling great. I still have a little cough, but other than my first day when I got here to Omaha with a high fever, I've been feeling fine. This has been like a minor, minor cold for me. My wife and I had boarded the Diamond Princess on a cruise to Japan on January 17th. I think the biggest shock is we're now into March. She's home now because she never got the virus, and here I sit in wonderful Omaha where the folks have been just fabulous.
COOPER: Let me just ask, because everyone probably wants to know this. What does it feel like to have the coronavirus? I know you said you're feeling great now. What was the first symptom? What was the worst -- you know, what does it compare to, exactly?
GOLDMAN: Yeah, the common denominator seems to be a spike, very high fever in a very quick amount of time. We had been sent back from the Diamond Princess over to the states on a 747 cargo plane. When I got on the plane, I fell asleep. I was still feeling fine when we got on the plane. Fell asleep next to my wife.
Two hours later, I woke up, and I had a high fever, 103-plus. My wife looked at me and said, "You're flush. I think you've got it." I went back to the doctor onboard the plane. He tested me and saw that I did have the fever, was put in a quarantine area, flown here to Omaha, and put in a biocontainment center where I was, again, tested for the actual virus and it came out positive.
But it felt less than a common cold. I didn't have a stuffy nose. Didn't have a sore throat. No -- the fever was high, but no body aches, no chills, no sweating that usually comes with 103 fever.
GOLDMAN: And after about eight or nine hours, the fever was gone.
GUPTA: And, Dr. Rupp, it's Sanjay Gupta. And, you know, I first met you when you were actually -- the University of Nebraska was taking care of Ebola patients back six years ago. Can you just give us a sense of how the patients are doing over there in Nebraska? How -- you know, we hear from Carl, but how sick have some of these patients become?
DR. MARK RUPP, CHIEF OF DIVISION OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES, UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA MEDIAL CENTER: Yeah, well, we're very pleased to serve as a national resource in this time of need. And much of the experience is exactly as was just related. This is a virus that causes -- can cause serious illness, but in most people, it's relatively mild, fevers, cough, and then, unfortunately, if it progresses to worsening lower respiratory tract infection, pneumonia, and in its worst instances, death.
That seems to be more prevalent in older folks and those with underlying diseases. But, again, the majority of folks do tend to do fine, and we're very pleased that with these 15 people that we've taken care of recently, that actually we've had seven of them restored to health and have been released home. We still have eight of them here in either our quarantine unit or in the biocontainment unit.
GUPTA: You know, Dr. Rupp, there's been these interesting trials out of China, where they have, you know, tens of thousands of patients looking at different therapeutics. I mean, everyone is focused on the vaccine, but the idea of looking at antivirals that might be beneficial, that's obviously a big deal, as well. That could really be helpful here. They're conducting trials in Nebraska, as well. Have you learned anything? Is there something that you think it looks promising?
RUPP: Well, it's too early to say, but we're very pleased with the fact that we brought this trial on extremely quickly, along with our colleagues at the NIH, and the leader here at the University of Nebraska is Dr. Andre Kalil leading that trial.
But it's a very well designed study, looking at remdesivir, which shows great promise.
This is a drug that was developed and actually tested initially against Ebola virus. It was found not to be very effective against Ebola, but did seem to work against some of these coronaviruses, like SARS and MERS, and so it really does seem to show some promise now with the treatment of CoVID-19. So we're very hopeful, but it's way too early to say anything.
COOPER: Carl, I understand you've actually been receiving threats. I mean, one wants to think that everybody is sympathetic and, you know, understanding you've done nothing wrong in all of this. What kind of threats have you been receiving?
GOLDMAN: It's run the gamut, and it's unfortunate. My wife returned home to Santa Clarita. We own the local radio station there. And some -- 95 percent of the people are wonderful, but a number of them just don't want to be near her. She's decided to lay low. We are -- she is going to work every day, and then just going home, staying out of the public.
But it's -- it has not been a pretty sight. People -- there are some people out there that didn't want us to come home from Japan, and I think since they've felt that we were going to spread the virus throughout the United States.
The folks here at Omaha have been fantastic. And, boy, if we could be treated anywhere in the world, this is the place to be. And in terms of being safe and contained, this is the spot.
COOPER: Doctor, you know, we've already been getting some e-mails from people saying, well, look, if this is something that, you know, even if it gets big and for most people it will not be a big deal, the fatality rates will be in the, you know, low -- whatever they end up being, why is this such a concern? I mean, is too much being made about this, if it's something in the category of a bad flu or even a not so bad flu?
RUPP: Well, you know, I think that there's a number of ways that this can be looked at. And I do agree that we need to take a collective deep breath and realize that this is not some existential threat against mankind. And, you know, a quarter to a third of us are not going to die in the next year, like we had in the Black Death in Europe in the Middle Ages.
Having said that, this is a very serious event and one that we need to take seriously and prepare for and do everything we can to try to blunt the spread of this pandemic. So, you know, this is a virus that appears to spread a lot like the flu. And so it is spread by droplets, people coughing and sneezing and touching objects, and then inoculating themselves.
And it does have serious ramifications, even if the death rate is, you know, less than 1 percent, when you're talking about millions of potential infections, this could be resulting in hundreds of thousands of deaths. So this is something that we do need to be taking seriously. We do need to be preparing for it and doing everything that we can until we develop a vaccine or medications to slow down its progression and to blunt the effects of this.
COOPER: Dr. Rupp, thank you for what you're doing and all your whole team there. It's incredible work that you do in this and always. So thank you so much.
And, Carl, we hope you feel better soon and we hope you get out of there and rejoin your wife. And I hope people leave her alone.
GOLDMAN: Thank you so much.
COOPER: All right. You take care.
Here with us now from Geneva, Switzerland, is Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove of the World Health Organization.
Doctor, thank you so much for being with us. What are you most concerned about right now with this virus, your biggest advice to people around the world who are watching?
DR. MARIA VAN KERKHOVE, TECHNICAL LEAD FOR CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE, WHO: So thank you so much for having me. Our biggest advice right now is to be ready. We want everyone to know what they can do to protect themselves, to protect their families, at an individual level. We're working with governments all over the world to make sure that they're ready so that they can expect cases and they know what to do when those cases arrive. And we want everyone to feel that there's a collective responsibility and that they have some power in this, that if everybody is working together, that they can fight this together.
COOPER: I think that's a really important point. And I just want to emphasize for our viewers, you know, we can look to doctors, we can look to government officials, but it is each of us individuals all around the world who are literally the front line of this. And so it's washing your hands is not just for yourself, it's for your fellow family members, it's for your fellow citizens. We are the people, each of us, who have a responsibility in this.
VAN KERKHOVE: That's right. Every single person on the planet has a responsibility here. And what we want people to know is, as you say, wash your hands. I mean, it sounds very simple, but it is incredibly important that you do this multiple times per day and you do this right. And if you don't have access to that, you can use an alcohol gel.
We need to make sure that people practice respiratory etiquette.
Again, very simply, but when you're sneezing, you sneeze into your elbow, you sneeze into a tissue, and then you put it in a closed bin, you make sure that you educate yourself.
I know that you're speaking a lot about facts and not fear. And it's really important that people know where they can get reliable information. They can come to the WHO website. You have the U.S. CDC website. But there are many good sources of information.
This situation is evolving very, very quickly, as you've been reporting, and so we need people to come back and look and see what is the latest information that they know? We are an evidence-based organization, and so what we are trying to do is pull together all of the evidence about what we know about this virus. And more importantly, for the things that we don't know about this virus, we're taking steps and working with partners all over the world to help us address those unknowns.
So come back, educate yourself, know what you can do, how you can protect yourself, how you can protect your family, and be ready.
GUPTA: Doctor, you've also traveled to China recently, and it's obviously where this started. I think there's been a little bit of good news, maybe, that the numbers have started to not be increasing as rapidly in China as they had been. I mean, is that good news? I mean, can we read into that? Are there lessons for other places around the world?
VAN KERKHOVE: Yes, absolutely. There's lessons that we can learn from all countries dealing with this virus. I spent two weeks in China working with Chinese authorities to really understand what is being done there. And not only are we seeing numbers slowing, we're seeing numbers decline.
We are seeing countries demonstrate that they can slow this virus down, that they can stop human-to-human transmission, and that is an incredibly powerful message. We're seeing that these actions that have been taken, these fundamental public health actions, in terms of looking for cases, looking for contacts, social distancing, staying home when you're feeling unwell, seeking medical care when you need to, those lessons can be applied to all countries.
What is really interesting about this virus is that many countries, not just China, but China is the largest example we've seen, that we can slow this down. This is a controllable virus. And that's a really important message. It's not uncontrollable.
COOPER: Dr. Van Kerkhove, thanks so much. We really appreciate it and all the work the WHO is doing. Straight ahead, we're going to take audience questions from across the country, around the world, folks in this room. Remember, you can tweet them at us using the hashtag #cnntownhall. We'll be right back.