Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Live Event/Special

At Least 44 States Partially Re-Opening by this Weekend, Despite Threat From Spread of Virus; 108 Potential COVID-19 Vaccines in the Works Worldwide, at Least 8 of Those are Approved for Clinical Trials; New Study on Hydroxychloroquine; Blame Game Between U.S. and CHINA Continues as Tension Rises; Trump Admin. Rejects CDC Guidance on Reopening U.S. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired May 07, 2020 - 20:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Hi, there, welcome. I'm Anderson Cooper, in New York.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and this is the CNN GLOBAL TOWN HALL, CORONAVIRUS: FACTS AND FEARS. Tonight's broadcast is being seen around the globe, on CNN International, CNN en Espanol, and being streamed on Also, Anderson, it's our tenth consecutive weekly Town Hall.

COOPER: And let me just show everyone this chart. When we did our first Town Hall nine weeks ago on March 5th, there were 12 deaths and 227 cases. Tonight, there are now 75,543 deaths in the U.S. and close to 1.3 million cases. At least 2,112 deaths just today alone. Two thousand one hundred and twelve people died today alone.

I just want to repeat, that was nine weeks ago, 12 deaths, 227 cases. Now 75,543 deaths, more than 2,100 today alone, close to 1.3 million cases.

GUPTA: Tonight, Dr. Deborah Birx from the White House coronavirus task force will be joining us to answer your questions about the virus and also about reopening the economy. You're also going to hear from Laurie Garrett. She wrote the book "The Coming Plague." Former vice president Al Gore is also here, as well as Spike Lee, who is going to debut his new short film which is a tribute to New York City.

At the bottom of your screen, you're going to see our social media scroll. Tweet us your questions with the #cnntownhall. You can also leave a comment on the CNN Facebook page. Also, a lot of you have sent in video questions and we're going to get to many of those as we can, as well.

COOPER: We also have reports from across the country and around the world on how those at home and abroad are fighting the virus. We want to start with where this country is in its fight against the virus, as more beaches, shops and other public spaces begin to reopen across the country.


COOPER (voice-over): There are now more than 1.2 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the U.S. More than 75,000 people have died, and researchers warn the death toll could rise dramatically.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: How many deaths and how much suffering are you willing to accept to get back to what you want to be some form of normality?

COOPER (voice-over): One prominent model shows the projected death toll at 134,000 people, which is almost double what it predicted just last week. That's because social distancing measures have been relaxed in many places across the country. By Sunday, more than 44 states will be partially reopened.

Health experts say there are four criteria that must be met in order for states to safely reopen, which are two weeks of declining numbers, contact tracing on all new cases, testing for anyone who has symptoms, and the ability to treat everyone safely in the healthcare system.

CAITLIN RIVERS, SENIOR SCHOLAR, JOHNS HOPKINS CENTER FOR HEALTH SECURITY: To my knowledge, there are no states that meet all four of those criteria.

COOPER (voice-over): There are, of course, real and important fears over the economy and keeping businesses closed for too long. Economists predict the unemployment rate will hit 16 percent by tomorrow.

But the virus is still extremely contagious. There are roughly 20,000 new cases reported every day.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): The faster we reopen, the lower the economic cost, but the higher the human cost, because the more lives lost. That, my friends, is the decision we are really making.

COOPER (voice-over): There are more than 100 potential vaccines in development around the world. The timeline is still unclear. Right now, everything is aspirational.

One journalist who has been warning about a pandemic like this for a long time says her best case scenario is the coronavirus could be with us for the next 36 months, if not longer.

LAURIE GARRETT, SCIENCE JOURNALIST: That's a best case scenario, and I don't see that happening.


COOPER: That was Laurie Garrett, who has reported extensively on pandemics -- will be joining us later in the broadcast.

Sanjay, this, as you said, is the 10th time that we've been doing these Coronavirus Town Halls. I want to ask you, after ten of these, what do you think we've learned and what do we still not know? GUPTA: We know that everybody wishes we were looking at the backside

of this pandemic curve, that's for sure, but we also know that we're not there yet.

We know a lot of people are losing patience, Anderson, and understandably. And that's what's, I think, driving more than 40 states to reopen prematurely, despite the fact that none -- not a single one of these states, met the criteria that the coronavirus task force themselves laid out.

We know also, Anderson, there are uncomfortable conversations happening that no matter how else you frame it, when public health is pitted against the economy, that means ultimately you are putting a price tag on a human life. Those conversations are happening.

But we also know there are hints of hope. There are states like New York, where we can say that things are no longer progressively getting worse. Maybe we can even say that they are in fact getting better.

There is a vaccine in phase two clinical trials now. It took months to get there, instead of years. We know that there are countries around the world that have been able to reduce infections to nearly zero, so we know there's a path forward and there's proof that it can be done that some sense of normalcy can be restored.


But even I think Anderson, I was really struck, even if we're reluctant to say it out loud and I think most people still know and believe in their hearts and minds we will one day be able to start getting out more and more and do it safely. But for now we still have to stay home as much as possible.

COOPER: I want to go to Athena Jones here in New York, the epicenter of the pandemic, for the latest on the spread of the virus and the partial reopening that we've been seeing. Athena 44 states are either partially reopened or expected to be by this Sunday. Where are cases declining and where are they rising?

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, cases are rising, Anderson about 24 states and Puerto Rico if you see this helpful map you can put up, the states in red or pink are places where the number of cases are rising. The darker the color the worse the situation.

So you see Minnesota and Puerto Rico, cases are up 50% between last week and the previous week and so that's a bad situation there. The states where the cases are falling, it's only 16 states, those are the green states. The darker green means the better situation.

So cases are dropping significantly in Montana, that's where we saw some schools opening today. They are also falling in places like New York and Colorado. So a mixed bag, but it's very interesting to look at these states and know that 44 of them are planning on reopening on some level, even if the cases are still rising. Anderson.

COOPER: Yes. GUPTA: Athena you know, it was announced today that personal valet to

President Trump tested positive for the virus. I'm wondering what more you're learning about that and how they're planning on protecting the President.

JONES: Right, this was a member of the U.S. Navy who was a personal valet of the President, a very close personal aide who tested positive, this man had been showing symptoms. We know that the President was upset when he learned of this because, of course, this raises concerns about whether he was exposed. The President was subsequently tested, he turned out negative, so did Vice President Pence.

Unfortunately, this doesn't necessarily mean they're in the clear because of the incubation period of this virus. So, what happens now? What we know, the President himself told reporters that he is now going to be tested daily and we also know that White House staffers and members of the secret service, anyone who might come into close contact with the President or Vice President, they were being tested as well today.

So, this certainly, though, drives this point home or brings it close to home, I should say, for the President. It's important to mention this is a White House that hasn't enforced strict social distancing guidelines, not a lot of folks wear masks during the day while they're at the White House.

And it really points out that, you know, facts are stubborn things, it's not about whether you believe in them, you know, not believing in the seriousness or dangerousness of the virus is like not believing that water is wet or the earth revolves around the sun, not believing in it doesn't give you immunity from being affected by it.

COOPER: There's going to be a jobs report for the month of April tomorrow. What's the expectation on the numbers?

JONES: Well, it's not going to be good. This pandemic has really ravaged the U.S. labor market. One in five U.S. workers filing for first-time unemployment claims just since mid-March, so these are depression-era levels.

Today we learned that last week 3.2 million people filed for first- time jobless claims. So it's just bad numbers and we're going to expect more bad news tomorrow. It's one of the reasons you're seeing so many states trying to get their economy started again. Anderson.

COOPER: Athena Jones, appreciate it. Thanks, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen joins us for the latest on the race to develop vaccines and therapeutics. So Elizabeth, the FDA has cleared the Moderna vaccine for phase two of its trial. What does that mean, what's the next step?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: That means, Anderson, that things are moving along and there are other trials that are about where Moderna is. Let's go over what the phases mean. The first phase is just usually a few dozen study subjects and they're

looking for safety, they're trying to make sure that this vaccine won't hurt anybody. The phase two is a few hundred study subjects, they look at safety, what dosage should we use, does it elicit an immune response.

Phase three is the one that people really pay attention to as far as efficacy goes. Only with a few thousand study subjects do you know if this really works or not. The thinking is that these trials, the phase three will happen this summer.

Again, many of these vaccine developers are about at the same place. Could we have a vaccine by January which is what everyone is hoping for? Maybe, it's possible, but many experts think it is going to be much later in the year than that.

And this is a sobering thing to say, but we do have to maintain in our minds, Anderson, that this vaccine might not work. None of them might work, it is possible. Fingers are crossed, but it might not work and we're certainly going to have to try many to get a few that do work.

GUPTA: I'm definitely crossing my fingers, I mean, everybody wants one of these to work and there's 108 or so vaccines out there. I think the next question will be if one of these does succeed, how quickly can, you know, they manufacture it and bring it up to scale?

COHEN: Sanjay, you know that, before the pandemic, things were done sequentially. You would do your study, and just make enough for your study, and then you would make the massive amounts.


You wouldn't make massive amounts before, because you don't know if it works, but it's going to go differently this time.

Let's take a look at these numbers. There are eight vaccines that are in clinical trials, eight vaccine candidates, I should say. So, the eight vaccine candidates that are being tried out on human beings. Some in China, some in the U.S., and one in the U.K. There are 100 that are in the lab that hope to be in clinical trials. What's going to happen is that it's going to be selected that a few of these will mass produce their vaccine at the same time as they're doing studies.

This is good and bad news. The good news is that hopefully one of those will work, and we'll have this massive amount, you know, as soon as the studies are done. It does mean that we could spend money, and really quite a bit of money, making vaccines that's like, "Oh, you know what, it didn't work." It wasn't effective, or it hurt people, and so taxpayer money will go towards making huge amounts of vaccines that aren't going to be used.

But what public health officials are thinking is, better off spending the money and having the right one ready right away.

COOPER: The FDA issued an emergency use authorization for remdesivir last week. Do we know how it's being distributed? COHEN: You know, it's interesting. When it was issued last week, the

company that makes it said, "You know, we have enough for 200,000 patients max," and that's in the whole world. So just this week hospitals in the U.S. were being told by the U.S. government, because they're controlling this, "You have these many doses; you have that many doses," and the doctors we've talked to are very unhappy.

They say that they're not getting enough, and they are having to look at their patients and say who gets this drug and who doesn't. Now, mind you, this is the only drug that has shown to work against coronavirus. It doesn't necessarily save lives, but it does shave a few days off of hospitalization, which is important. And the doctors we've been talking to say they are having to make these terrible decisions about who gets the drug and who doesn't.

Now, another part of this is they would like to be able to look at the study that was done on remdesivir, to say, "Oh, it worked better in this type of patient than that, so I know who I should give it to," but that study hasn't been published yet, and they're asking, "Where is that study?"

GUPTA: Elizabeth, quickly, what about hydroxychloroquine? Because, obviously, that was the medication that was getting all the attention just, you know, just a few weeks ago.

COHEN: Right, that's the medication that Trump was -- that President Trump was very excited about. Yet another study, this one is the biggest one showing that it doesn't work.

A study of about 1,400 people by Columbia University, published in the "New England Journal of Medicine," so it was reviewed by fellow scientists. And it's just found that it didn't do anything, and so they said there is no reason to be giving this to hospitalized patients. Might possibly work early on. Might possibly prevent it, but not working for people who are already very sick.

COOPER: Elizabeth Cohen, thanks very much. Now, to Ivan Watson in Hong Kong.

Today, China declared that all counties in the country were at, quote, "Low risk levels of an outbreak." But an official said they still face a high level of uncertainty.

Ivan, what are the numbers coming out of China? And, you know, obviously the question is, can the numbers be believed?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the numbers compared to the U.S. are pretty good. I mean, China says that it has close to 84,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus, and a bit more than 4,600 deaths. No new deaths from the disease in 22 days now. And we're seeing different parts of China, Chinese society starting to open up again.

For example, the city of Wuhan, where the coronavirus was first discovered back in December, and became the first real outbreak of what evolved into this global pandemic -- high school seniors started going back to school there this week.

There are still some hotspots, some border cities along the Chinese border with Russia, where China says there have been a lot of imported cases: they've had to impose partial lockdowns in recent weeks.

Whether or not we can trust the numbers, Anderson, China does not tolerate dissent. There is -- there is no independent investigative journalism there. Independent voices that tried to sound the alarm at the beginning of the epidemic, some of them were persecuted, so we don't have any kind of independent narrative aside from the Chinese official figures.

COOPER: And, Ivan, I mean, President Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, they continue to blame China, say that the virus originated from a lab in Wuhan, or they believe that. Where do things stand tonight on that?

WATSON: I'm going to shamelessly steal from a journalist at "The Economist" who has called this dynamic the "Scold War," where Beijing and Washington are accusing each other of failings.

The Chinese government bristles at these types of accusations, claiming that this is all a smear campaign that the Trump administration is using to try to cover up for its own failures in dealing with the pandemic at home. The Chinese foreign ministry has also gone further, accusing the Republican party of using China- bashing as a political strategy to help it with the upcoming November political -- November presidential election.


Going one step further, Chinese state media, an anchor recently accused the U.S. of being the world's biggest exporter of the novel coronavirus. Now, keep in mind that just a few weeks ago, a senior Chinese official was spreading conspiracy theories without any evidence to back it up that it was, in fact, the U.S. military that introduced the coronavirus to the city of Wuhan.

COOPER: Ivan Watson, appreciate it, check in with you again. Sanjay, want to take a quick break. When we return, Dr. Deborah Birx from the White House Coronavirus Task Force joins us to answer questions. Later we'll talk to former Vice President Al Gore as well as filmmaker Spike Lee with the world premiere of his short film, "An ode to New York."


COOPER: We're doing the CNN global town hall coronavirus facts and figures with answers to your questions about the pandemic. At the bottom of your screen you'll see your social media scroll shows questions that people are asking.

Joining Sanjay and me to help answer questions is Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator. Dr. Birx, thanks so much for being with us.



COOPER: CNN is reporting that the Trump Administration will not implement the CDC's 17-page draft recommendation for reopening America, according to a senior CDC official. The same official told CNN, quote, a team of people at the CDC spent innumerable hours in response to an ask from Debbie Birx, end quote.

Why are those guidelines not being used? And even the guidelines that you put out for the coronavirus task force for states, according to testimony, most of the states that are reopening have not actually met the criteria that you set out.

BIRX: So, thank you. There's two questions there. One, we are in deep partnership with CDC, both for the White House guidelines that were put out on how to open up America again, but also the details behind the guidelines.

And we're working with the CDC on a whole series of products, from how to improve community mitigation, what to do about contact tracing, how to improve surveillance, and certainly, these more detailed guidelines about childcare and camps.

Those are still being worked on. No one has stopped those guidelines. We're still in editing. I just got my edits back from the CDC late yesterday. I'm working on them as soon as I get off of this discussion.

So, we are in constant work with the CDC and really value their partnership. And as you know, they put up guidelines quite often. They just did a meatpackers guideline. And so, I really want to appreciate how proactive they have been in working with the White House and really ensuring that the best science is put forward, both in our White House guidelines, but also in the guidelines that they post on the CDC website.

COOPER: Is that what guides the edit, science? Because it seems like, from some of the comments coming out about these guidelines, that it's also, you know, political beliefs, religious beliefs. Is it scientific? Is it scientists who are making the edits?

BIRX: Well, I like to believe that I'm a scientist, and I've been working with the CDC on the edits. It was more about simplification to really make sure that both the American people as well as public health officials understand the guidelines.

And then, really working on a whole area on surveillance for asymptomatic individuals. And that was a very new element that we felt very strongly had to be included because of the ever-increasing evidence of asymptomatic spread.

GUPTA: Dr. Birx, as you know, one of the valets at the White House tested positive for the coronavirus. I'm curious, I know that there is, I'm sure, discussions about protection of the president. You think of that as being a Secret Service thing. But have you offered some guidance on how to best protect the

president, the vice president in terms of not contracting the coronavirus? Because I understand, like, masks aren't being worn. I know that they're being tested more often, but the point would be not to get infected. What are you advising them to do?

BIRX: Well, I think for anyone who works in the White House, when you are sometimes with the vice president or president, I think all of us are very nervous every day. None of us want to be the one to ever bring coronavirus into the White House.

Most of us don't do anything but go to work and come home. If we go out at all, even to take a walk, I can assure you we do wear masks in public and we do very exclusively social distance. But every day, you're running around, you're always asking yourself, did I forget to wash my hands? Did I use hand sanitizers? Did I touch someone's phone? Did I touch someone's chair?

And I know that the American people are thinking this themselves every day. And it's difficult to constantly remind yourself to be careful where your hands are, to not touch your face, to make sure you're washing your hands, because our hands touch a lot of things, and I think, the kind of constant awareness that we all have to have in order to protect ourselves from getting infected, but critically, to protect others from getting infected.

GUPTA: But wouldn't you tell people to wear masks around the president, just based on what you said? Even if you're really diligent, you might still inadvertently get infected and pass that infection along.

BIRX: Certainly, there are people who wear masks on the White House complex. I'm very scrupulous, and I know all of the meetings we have are very much focused on social distancing and ensuring that we maintain that separation.

Sometimes, in meetings in the Oval, it's more difficult but we really concentrate on this. And I think we all are very concerned about protecting others, as well as ensuring that we don't become positive ourselves.

COOPER: Dr. Birx, more than half the states in the country have either started to reopen their economies or are planning to do so in the near future. Most of them, as I said before, failed to meet the criteria that you and the Trump administration have recommended.

You put out those three stages. They're not following that. I mean, is there -- are those things just now irrelevant?

BIRX: Well, I don't believe they're irrelevant.


I work with governors every day, to really make sure that they understand each of the phases, but, critically, to make sure that also the American people are going to the website and looking at what they can do to protect themselves.

In all three -- in all the first two stages, and, very seriously, I just want to mention this again: it's really about ensuring we protect the most vulnerable among us.

And so we have still asked for all of the -- all of the individuals with comorbidities, or other conditions that would make them more susceptible to more serious disease, to continue to shelter in place; and for those that interact with those individuals with comorbidities to be absolutely scrupulous in their hand washing and in their making sure that they're wearing masks in public, and making sure we're protecting those individuals.

COOPER: But are -- any of the states that are reopening, have they met your criteria?

BIRX: Well, we've told them that they had -- they could meet the criteria county by county or at the whole state level. And I can see counties across the United States, and in every state, that meet the criteria.

And so, when you see what Governor DeSantis did, he had counties that met the criteria, and those are starting to open. He kept Broward, Palm Beach, and Dade closed and not reopening for that very reason. And so that's -- we're constantly advising the governors, but then, of course, it's their states.

COOPER: That's not happening in all states. I mean -- right, but Georgia is, you know, the governor made a statewide order for how to reopen, and they don't qualify to your standards.

BIRX: Well, I think you saw strongly our response, both my response and the president's response, to Georgia. And I think, to the people of Atlanta, we still ask you to follow your case numbers, and really ensure that your cases are starting to go down before you start to relax any of your diligence or social distancing. This is really for all Atlantans to listen to.

GUPTA: I have to say, ambassador, sorry -- I live in Georgia, and, as you may have also heard, the University of Maryland released a study saying 62,000 people came to the state because our restaurants were open, and barber shops, and things like that.

I mean, that's a problem, right? I mean, how do you do this state by state, or even county by county, if people can still move around, when you're dealing with a contagious virus? I mean, that puts people at risk, maybe as they're coming out the backside of the curve.

BIRX: Well, I think it also puts themselves at risk, those who chose to come into an area where we know that there is still circulating virus. And that's why I've asked every state to not only -- and I'm sure they're very diligent about their individuals, and the governors are concerned about every member of their state, but I've also asked them to really make the data available to the public. And so, whether you're in the state or outside the state, you can really see what's going on. And I've been driving people to the Florida site: I really want to

work with every state governor to make this data public-facing, so that everybody can see where the cases are, where the hospitalizations are, where the testing is available, and where the state fits, and where that county fits, in the most granular way, so that people and the citizens of every community can see their own individual data, and be able to interpret the federal guidelines and ensure they're protecting themselves.

COOPER: President Trump said earlier this week that the U.S. has the best testing in the world, that he doesn't think we need, quote, "That much testing." Yesterday, he said, and I quote, "In a way, by doing all this testing we make ourselves look bad."

Does it concern you that the president seems to think that more testing somehow makes -- I don't know who "Ourselves" is -- the administration, whoever he's referring to -- look bad? Do you think more testing makes the administration look bad?

BIRX: I think I've been very encouraged about two parts of the testing.

One, the dramatic increase in the number of tests we're doing per week. We hope this week to get closer, over 8 million. We're going up, where about 2.5% of all Americans having been tested. That is increasing by half a percent every week so that we can get close to other countries and their 3%.

But I think what I've been excited about with the testing is the use that the public health leaders in each of the states are doing. Because we really made an issue on the guidelines: yes, it's important to test those with symptoms, but, really, to get out there and proactively monitor in prisons, in nursing homes, and long-term care facilities, and inner cities, among those we know are in multi- generational households, and really being proactive about testing.

I really want to emphasize over and over again that this asymptomatic spread is key: we have to be able to find it.


And if you look across the Unites States right now most of the outbreaks that we are seeing that are occurring in meat packing plants or prisons or in specific communities or long term care facilities are not only being diagnosed, found, 100% of that facility tested, but then contained.

And this is exactly what we are asking states to move to really ensure that they're testing and containing. So when I hear people talk about test, test, test and contract, trace, contact trace, states are doing that.

You can see the evidence base because we can see in a county the number of cases going up rapidly and then immediately stopping in county after county, we probably have 20 or 30 counties where across those counties they have been able to contain outbreaks. COOPER: You would agree though that there's not enough people to do really extensive contact tracing. I've talked to governors just in the last couple of days who said aspirationally they would like to have, you know, 1800 people.

I think Governor Dewine said in Ohio, but they're not there yet. Is there anything that can be done to actually help states get more people to do contact Tracing? I know the CDC says there are sending some people --

BIRX: I think this is a really --

COOPER: -- but we're talking about large numbers of people here.

BIRX: Yes, I think there's two pieces of that. CDC is moving into state after state to work with them.

COOPER; Right.

BIRX: Some of the states have done amazing things --

COOPER: But that's a small number of people from the CDC.

BIRX: -- with using the National Guard. No, what -- they're there to really help the state train the contact tracers and so states are being quite innovative in finding contact tracers and we really encourage states to do that and work with the CDC on that training.

And I think that's really going to be important and I think at the same time, we have to be innovative because contact tracers in inner cities, if they're part of the health system, they could be community health workers and really be out there in the community providing advice on co-morbidities as well as doing contact tracing.

And so I think we have to work with each of the states and each of the novel issues to make sure we are providing the best guidance, but also to really try to do some dual use with contact tracers to ensure that they're available to the community to even consult on other issues that we

know put individuals at greater risk to COVID-19.

GUPTA: Dr. Birx, we want to try and get to a couple viewer questions. Annie in California sent in this video.


ANNIE BROWN, X-RAY TECHNOLOGIST: Why is the front of a face mask considered contaminated? Why is it OK to tie my shoes or touch my clothes, but not OK to touch the front of my mask?

What makes the mask, whether homemade or medical grade, more contaminated than anything else on my body?


GUPTA: Dr. Birx? BIRX: What a great question, that is a great question and very insightful because when you draw in a breath, you can draw in droplets and so when you breathe out, you also breathe out droplets. And so we always assume that the front of masks are contaminated because you're bringing in things in through that cloth and the outside would be contaminated with whatever you were breathing in.

And so we always ask people to be careful, just like we ask them when they take off gloves to take off gloves in a very specific way so they

don't contaminate their hands.

COOPER: Dr. Birx, we appreciate not only you being with us tonight, but all your efforts on behalf of everybody--

GUPTA: Thank you.

COOPER: --that's very much appreciated.

BIRX: Thank you and thank you --

COOPER: Thank you.

BIRX: -and thank you for both of your work and keeping the public informed.

GUPTA: Thanks Dr. Birx.

COOPER: We wish you the best and god speed. There's a lot more ahead on this CNN global town hall, we'll talk with Laurie Garrett, author of "the coming plague." Plus former Vice President Al Gore will join us to talk about leadership in times of crisis.

And Spike Lee one of New York's most famous sons will debut his short film a valentine of sorts to New York City.



COOPER: We're now on the hunt for a vaccine. As Elizabeth Cohen mentioned earlier, there is a key development on that front tonight. The drug maker, Moderna, says it's received FDA approval to begin a phase two trial of its potential coronavirus vaccine. Now, the WHO says it's one of eight vaccines in clinical trials worldwide.

One of those who took part in the company's phase one trial in Seattle is Ian Haydon. He joins us now. Ian, I don't know of a lot of people who, at age 29, would knowingly risk their own health to receive an experimental vaccine. Why did you decide to do this and how do you feel?

IAN HAYDON, VACCINE TRIAL PARTICIPANT: Yes, well, actually it turns out there were a lot of people who were willing to sign up for this study to do what I'm doing now. This study recruited 45 healthy people in the Seattle area initially. And actually, thousands of people signed up to be in that group.

My motivation for wanting to participate in this trial is pretty simple. It's just, this is one way I can help out and I'm fortunate to be in good health, so if stepping up and taking part in this clinical trial could speed up the vaccine, that seems like the right thing to do.

GUPTA: I really admire that, Ian, and thank you for that, and thank you for being here. So you've received two doses and you know that there's different doses that are being given as part of this trial. I think you know that you're in the highest dose group of this vaccine.

I'm wondering, after the second dose, did you have any troubles? What sort of challenges have you had?

HAYDON: Yes, I felt pretty good throughout this trial. I did feel a little crummy after the second dose there. But that passed and I'm feeling well now. So by and large, you know, I feel just like I did before I started this whole experience.

COOPER: Sanjay, can you just explain to me, Ian has been injected with a live virus.

GUPTA: Actually, no, this is an interesting sort of viral form. Ian and I -- I'll say, we talked a little bit earlier about this trial. It's very interesting.

I'll just say quickly, it's an mRNA. It's a messenger RNA vaccine. And that basically means, it's a blueprint of a part of the virus. You put that blueprint in the body, and the body in and of itself sort of acts like a vaccine factory. The body is making the vaccine in this case.

So it's -- and it's never been done before. It's been talked about. They started this during previous coronavirus epidemics, but this has never been done before.

COOPER: And what is -- Ian, you've written about something called challenge studies, and essentially saying you would volunteer to actually receive -- to be purposely exposed to COVID-19, to the virus, in order to try to speed up the process of finding a vaccine that works.


HAYDON: Yes, there's a growing conversation around this idea of a challenge study. At the moment no-one is planning to do anything like this, but in -- in other -- in the past, for other conditions, researchers have done these challenge studies where they expose volunteers to a virus, for example, when they want to know whether or not a vaccine really works.

Challenge studies are obviously risky, right. You're exposing people to something that could harm them. They have the advantage, though, of -- of speeding up testing. Normally, when you're testing a vaccine, you have to wait a long time and just observe whether or not vaccinated people get less sick than the people who received a placebo.

With a challenge study, you might be able to short circuit that a little bit. Like I said, no one is planning to do this just yet, but there is a -- a growing conversation about whether or not, in these extraordinary times it might be time to consider that.

COOPER: And, Sanjay, something like that, there's obviously ethical questions about -- about a challenge study.

GUPTA: Yes. I mean, it's -- it's very interesting. What would normally happen in phase 3 is that you're finding a -- a population, an area of the world where the virus is circulating. You give some people the vaccine, other people you don't give the vaccine, and you see, does it make a difference?

What Ian is talking about is saying, "You know what? How about you purposely expose me to this? I've been vaccinated. I don't know if the vaccine works, but you purposely expose me to this."

And, yes, it's -- there are ethical questions, but it -- as Ian said, it -- I mean, the reason that you might do it and it has been done before is to speed up this process because of the incredible demand, in this case, for the vaccine. So, you know, it's -- it's -- it's not happening yet. I mean, this hasn't been a decision that's been made, but something that people are starting to talk about.

COOPER: And -- and, Ian, I heard that when you were getting one of the treatments, you -- a pharmacist said something to you looking at the -- what she was going to be giving you. What -- what -- what did the pharmacist say?

HAYDON: Yes, that's right. Actually, just before I got the second shot, I asked if I could take a look at the syringe, see what -- what it looked like, and she showed it to me and she said -- you know, she -- she found it actually beautiful. The solution inside the syringe is -- is this sort of translucent blue color.

It really didn't look like what I expected, and she mentioned that, you know, one time when she was preparing one of these vaccinations, she just sort of looked at the syringe and -- and stared at it. She said it brought a tear to her eye just looking at it because she was thinking, you know, the weight of the world is on -- on these vaccines right now and no-one knows if this is going to be the one, but, you know, I think the people involved in the study clearly know that they're involved with something historical here.

GUPTA: And it's now gone to phase two. I mean, that's -- you know, this is -- I mean, this is record speed. People may not realize because it's the first time they're really following, but it takes years, sometimes, to get to this point and we've done it within months.

I mean, I -- Ian, I -- I hear you and I think a lot of people -- other -- other people will hear this and say, "How can I become a part of this trial?", maybe. I don't know. If -- if people now want to volunteer for these later phases, how do they do it? HAYDON: Yes. So the website is where you can find all the official information about these and, you know, I am taking part in a clinical trial that's one of the early ones but there will be many clinical trials for coronavirus vaccines and for other medicine.

So if healthy people are interested in stepping up and participating, they should look into clinical trials that may be happening in their areas and see if they're able to sign up.

COOPER: And where do things go from here, for you?

HAYDON: So I'm involved in a Phase 1 study, so following this, if everything looks safe, we're going to move onto Phase 2 and it sounds like that's starting right now. Um, there's still Phase 3 after that. So it'll be additional testing. That -- that'll take months no matter what. And so, yes, that -- that's the next steps for this.

COOPER: Well, it's extraordinary what you're doing, and I really -- I mean, I -- I appreciate it as a human being and I just think it's really admirable and brave, and thank you very much for doing it and to everybody else who's volunteering to -- to do these studies.

Ian Haydon, thank you.

HAYDON: Yes, thanks.

COOPER: A reminder, at the bottom of your screen, you'll see our social media scroll that shows the questions that people are asking. We're answering some of them there. You can also tweet us your questions with the #cnntownhall. You can also leave a comment on the CNN Facebook page.

Back now with Sanjay, I also want to bring in a veteran of many of our Town Halls, Dr Leana Wen, an emergency room physician and visiting professor at George Washington university. Dr Wen, first of all, how's your newborn?

DR. LEANA WEN, FORMER BALTIMORE HEALTH COMMISSIONER: She's doing fantastic, and I want to say congratulations to you, Anderson.

COOPER: Oh, thanks.

WEN: Today's Town Hall I'm sure is going to be great, but it will never be last week's Town Hall. So, how's Wyatt doing?

COOPER: Yes, he's great. He's doing really well. More than a week old, very exciting.

So, Dr Wen, you recently -- when you recently wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post, which I urge everyone to read, you describe how to stay safe as states reopen. What do you think are some of the best practices?

WEN: So, states are reopening, but the virus hasn't changed, and so there are things you can do to reduce your own risk. [20:45:00]

So, keep on these good public health practices, like washing your hands often. Don't plan any gatherings. This is not the time to start planning dinner parties and playdates: keep social distancing when you can.

And, if you have to go back to work, then ask your employer about guidance to say -- to stay safe. So, for example, is telecommuting still an option? Are there staggered shifts that you can do?

You can also reduce the risk for others, as well. Wear a mask, don't use public transportation if you don't need to: reserve it for those who have to. And you can also keep a daily diary of your contacts in case you end up getting the virus, and then you can help contact tracers.

And then, finally, and most importantly, stay home if you are able, because there are plenty of people who are not able to. Social distancing is a privilege. And so, by staying home you're protecting not only yourself and your loved ones, but everybody else around you, too.

COOPER: I want to get to viewer questions, doctor. This is a question that Nancy sent in, it reads, "Is it safe to get my hair done? My stylist works in her home, so it's her and I there. Both of us will wear a cotton mask. Any other tips you can give me for safety? She also sprays surfaces with Lysol before each client." Would that be safe?

WEN: It is better -- you know, it's better that it's at her home with one other person, rather than in a salon, where there are many people around. But, frankly, it's not safe, because there are other customers who are going to be there, and it is not possible to keep social distancing when you're cutting someone's hair.

So, I guess if you -- well, if you have to get your hair done, you could make things safer. Wearing a mask is one step, but it's really not safe, and I would encourage everyone to cut your hair at home during this time right now.

COOPER: Sanjay, this is a question that Marlene sent in. It reads, "My daughter-in-law has COVID toes, but no other symptoms. What causes this, and is there a risk of amputation?" Can you explain what that is? Because I hadn't heard about it until about a week ago, I think.

GUPTA: Yes, I -- you know, we're all starting to learn about this stuff together, and it's relatively recent.

It's similar to something known as "Chillblains," a new word for a lot of people, but that's sort of the lesions that sometimes people get on their toes in colder weather.

Here's the good news, is, no, your loved one is not going to need an amputation. This appears to be something that's probably related to COVID. It could be the inflammation in the blood vessels, it could be little clots that are going down to the toes and causing some decreased blood flow, and these lesions on the toes. Sometimes it's happening in people after they've recovered, after they're no longer testing positive for the virus.

But it's mostly associated with milder disease.

COOPER: Dr. Wen, John, who is a self-described avid swimmer, sent in this video question. Let's take a look.


JOHN TREPP: I like to swim, and it's good exercise, which I need, but the pools are all closed. My question is can I get coronavirus from swimming in a freshwater lake, and how likely is that?


COOPER: Dr. Wen?

WEN: John, you are not going to get coronavirus from swimming in a lake or a river or a pool, but if there are other people around you, and they can breathe on you or cough on you, and there are surfaces that you could be touching, then you could get coronavirus that way.

COOPER: And, Dr. Wen, does it change anything if someone is swimming in a pool with chlorinated water? I mean, it -- either way, it's not the water that's the issue, it's being around other people.

WEN: Exactly. And I get really worried when I see these images of people congregating at beaches, and I could imagine that happening in a pool, if there is a public pool and lots of people are touching the same pool tables, and benches, and other surfaces, too.

COOPER: Sanjay, Natasha, in Hawaii, sent in this video. Let's watch.


NATASHA ALJADER: Are there any benefits to wearing gloves while you're grocery shopping, and if so, how would somebody go about using them properly? I understand, you know, using gloves correctly and changing them constantly, but it doesn't really seem feasible right now.

Do you have any other recommendations also, besides, you know, washing your hands when you come home and wearing a mask when you're out at the store, that can maybe help keep people safe and healthy?


COOPER: Sanjay?

GUPTA: Yes, well, about the gloves, I mean, you know, just keep in mind, again, as Leana was just talking about, the way that you get this virus, potentially, is you touch something and then you touch, you know, your eyes, your nose, or your mouth.

So, if you have gloves on or it's your hands, it's the same problem. You've got to avoid touching your face. Gloves can be helpful to the extent maybe they remind you not to touch your face, but, you know, if you look at the CDC's guidelines for -- you know, they don't recommend that you need to wear gloves when you're going out in public, they recommend you have to wash your hands and be mindful of all the surfaces you touch.

So, no, I would -- you know, you don't necessarily need to wear gloves. People can if they want to, but it's really the face-touching that's the big key.

COOPER: And we love to have Sanjay's videos that he shoots for us. Tonight's video of Sanjay is a grocery store. Let's take a look.


GUPTA (on camera): Even in the middle of a pandemic, people still have to grocery shop. Grocery stores are considered essential businesses. Now, the conventional wisdom is limit the number of trips to the grocery store.


That can be hard if you can't buy everything at once, or you don't have enough room in your house to store everything. So I want to show you today how to do this as safely as possible.

The key is to plan ahead. I've got my list. You want to get in and out of there as quickly as possible. That means moving efficiently through the store and thinking about every surface you might touch. You don't want to dilly-dally. Think of yourself sort of like a SWAT team member. Get in, get out. Leave as little trace of yourself as possible. Let's go do this.

Now, keep in mind, when you go to the grocery store, it's about your own safety, but it's really about the safety of the frontline workers. I'm going to get in and out pretty quickly, but the frontline workers, they're here all day, so they're more at risk.

One thing that's nice about this particular store is, Richard, here, is wiping down all the surfaces. Thank you. I carry my own hand sanitizer with me just in case.

I really wasn't quite sure what to expect, but I can tell you, it's pretty quiet here in the grocery store. They've reduced capacity, and they keep special hours for people who are medically vulnerable at 7 to 8 in the morning, Monday through Thursday.

My kids really wanted to come with me today. They wanted to get out of the house, but shopping nowadays is pretty much a solitary activity. And keep in mind, don't touch anything that you're not going to buy. Be very focused. Get some eggs, and we're moving on. I have kids.

So this is how they do it in the grocery store. Please wait here. That keeps you six feet away from people. By the way, don't forget to buy some flowers for Mother's Day. I just want to point out, they have plexiglass now, again, to protect the frontline workers, and obviously, the touchless technology.


COOPER: First of all, you blew your secret that you're giving flowers for Mother's Day.

GUPTA: She was expecting that, and she's going to be very surprised to have seen me in a grocery store. I don't think I was very good at that, but hopefully --

COOPER: I liked the easy listening music. I was kind of rocking out to that.

GUPTA: That's grocery music, apparently.

COOPER: So, Sanjay had the flowers in the grocery cart. Our next question is actually about that. Dr. Wen, there's a question that Nicole sent in which reads, "With Mother's Day coming up, can the virus live on fresh flowers? If so, for how long?"

WEN: I mean, theoretically, the virus can live on any surface but the chance of it living on produce, on flowers, is fairly low. And so, if you want, in abundance of caution, you can always rinse the flowers, or certainly, if it comes in a vase, wipe down the vase that it comes in, because it lives on hard porous surfaces much more. And happy Mother's Day to everyone out there.

COOPER: Dr. Wen, this is a question that Carrie in Pennsylvania sent in which reads, "If a family member had COVID-19 and was isolated to one room, is simply leaving the room vacant for a week sufficient to clear it of the virus? I know disinfecting is best, but it is impossible to find disinfecting products right now, particularly ones to sanitize carpets and upholstery, i.e. aerosol cans of Lysol. Help."

WEN: Yes, so you can leave the room alone for a week and the virus should be cleared at that point. If you want to clean it, good old soap and water should do the trick. You can also use diluted bleach. Because you mentioned upholstery, carpet, other things in the room, you might need to look at the manufacturer's instructions, but soap and water and dilute bleach should be just fine.

COOPER: And Sanjay, Jeannette in Indiana sent in this video. Let's watch.


JEANNETTE HYSER, FINANCIAL ADVISER: Hello, and thank you for taking my question. I live in Indiana, very near the Tyson meat processing plant in Logansport. If a COVID-19 worker, they are processing meat, can that meat become tainted and pass COVID on to me? Same question, please, for the other meat processing plants. Thank you.


COOPER: Sanjay? GUPTA: Yes, this is a question we get a lot. This is a respiratory

virus. So really the way that you are going to become infected, if you do, is someone's putting the virus out in the air around you and you get exposed that way, or you touch a surface, as we were talking about. You don't eat this virus and get it that way. There's other viruses, other pathogens, foodborne illnesses, but this is not one of them.

COOPER: I want to thank Dr. Wen, as always, and happy Mother's Day to you, Dr. Wen. I want to thank everybody who submitted their questions.

Our Town Hall continues. Author journalist Laurie Garret, who predicted the battle against a pandemic like coronavirus, and she predicts this coronavirus may take years to battle. Joining us is -- she's joining us ahead.

Also, former vice president Al Gore, to discuss leadership in a time of crisis, and filmmaker Spike Lee will join us to share his ode to New York City, a new short film you'll see here for the first time.



COOPER: And welcome again to our tenth consecutive weekly CNN global town hall coronavirus facts and fears. The spread is still rising in parts of the country and yet at least 44 states will partially reopen by this weekend.

According to one health expert we've spoken to none of those states meet the White House criteria to do so. This hour two special guests former vice president Al Gore on the response to the pandemic and filmmaker Spike Lee with premiere of his ode to New York, you'll see it here first.

But Sanjay and I want to start with someone who has spent decades of her award-winning journalistic career studying the path of pandemics. Laurie Garrett, author of the book, "The coming plague." Laurie thanks so much for being with us. If you could just, kind of, big picture your assessment where we are with this virus right now.

LAURIE GARRETT, AUTHOR, "THE COMING PLAGUE": Well, the real problem at the moment is that we have very fragmented responses all over the world. Every country is doing its own thing. Within countries every state or province is doing its own thing, every county is doing its own thing.

We don't have a unified approach, and we don't have a unified sense of what is our strategic goal. So some countries are simply racing to come up with a vaccine hoping to buy themselves time and solve their own local problems.