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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Mexico Reports 52 New Swine Flu Cases; Chrysler Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy; Has L.A. Serial Killer Been Caught?
Aired April 30, 2009 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, breaking news: another state, Virginia, now reporting its first confirmed cases of swine flu. A man and a woman from the central part of the state apparently brought it back from Mexico. They are recovering at home.
Also tonight, researchers may have discovered genetic clues to why their cases -- in fact, most infections outside Mexico have been mild. We'll have more on that shortly.
More too, on preparation for the worst, states now receiving and stockpiling antiviral drugs from the Strategic National Stockpile. More schools shutting down. And in Mexico another sign of the new normal: thermal images being set up at an airport, screening passengers for abnormally high body temperatures.
We have a lot to cover in this hour including a flu blunder from Vice President Biden and a look at the range of possibilities of what comes next; the best and worst-case scenarios.
First though, let's get you up to speed on the latest.
COOPER: Scrubbing down classrooms in Fort Worth, cleaning subway turnstiles in San Francisco, wearing masks at the University of Delaware.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's pretty scary, if people dying and stuff from it. You know. And I feel like it was in Mexico two days ago. It's already in New York and then here today.
COOPER: Taking steps to stop the swine flu, but the virus continues to spread. This map shows how many states reported confirmed and suspected cases when the outbreak first hit the U.S. that was then. This is now.
The swine flu, also known as H1N1, has led to one death in the U.S., shut down nearly 300 schools and triggered a public health emergency.
But there was also some welcome news as the genetic sequence of the virus was published. Scientists say this one lacks a key amino acid common in other deadly viruses that would allow it to rapidly reproduce. Still federal officials fear the health crisis will only get worse.
RICHARD BESSER, CDC ACTING DIRECTOR: There's no one action that's going to stop this. There's no silver bullet.
COOPER: While President Obama has urged calm, Vice President Joe Biden speaking to the "Today" show sounded the alarm with some extreme advice to avoiding the flu.
JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I would tell members of my family -- and I have -- I wouldn't go anywhere in confined places now.
And if you're out in the middle of a field and someone sneezes, that's one thing. If you're in a closed aircraft or closed container...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.
BIDEN: ... or closed car or closed classroom, it's a different thing.
COOPER: The White House tried to clarify the vice president's answer.
ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: What the Vice President meant to say was the same thing that, again, many members have said in the last few days, and that is if you feel sick, if you are exhibiting symptoms, flu-like symptoms, coughing, sneezing, runny nose, that you should take precautions, that you should limit your travel.
COOPER: The White House also revealed that a person traveling with President Obama on his trip to Mexico experienced flu-like symptoms and the delegate wasn't the only one to get sick.
GIBBS: Three members of the individual's family tested positive for Type A influenza. And tests are currently under way to determine if they contracted the 2009 H1N1 influenza strain.
COOPER: The World Health Organization says a pandemic is imminent, although, so far most of the cases outside Mexico have been mild. Still, for those being tested for the virus, the fear is real.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My throat is killing me. My head is throbbing. I don't know what to do.
COOPER: Well, fear is one thing, but facts are important. So let's "Dig Deeper" now with 360 M.D. Dr. Sanjay Gupta just back from Mexico, now at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. And at CNN Center in Atlanta also recently back from Mexico, Dr. Carlos Del Rio, professor of global health at Emory University. He's also been consulting with public health authorities in Mexico.
Sanjay, first the scientific discovery that we learned about today that may be good news about the ability of this virus to replicate. What have we learned? DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we did learn some specifics about how it's behaving. You know, we've had some question marks, as you know, Anderson, about how it behaves in Mexico versus how it behaves in the United States.
You know, when you really look at the genetic structure, you get some more idea. And I think more importantly, make some predictions about where it's going from here.
COOPER: And Dr. Del Rio, what -- that it doesn't replicate as strongly as some other killer viruses out there?
DR. CARLOS DEL RIO, PROFESSOR OF GLOBAL HEALTH, EMORY UNIVERSITY: The virus lacks an essential amino acid important in the replication of the virus itself.
So yes, it probably doesn't replicate as efficiently and therefore probably does not transmit from human to human as efficiently as some other influenza virus. And that may explain why the virus is not spreading as wide and as fast as we would think it would.
If you really think Mexico City, a city of 20 million people, they have about 2,000 cases in the city, which is one-tenth of one percent. It's actually not a very high number when you really think the subway in Mexico City transports over five million people every day.
COOPER: But why are people dying in Mexico and thankfully the cases here, by and large, are more mild? Dr. Del Rio, do we know yet?
DEL RIO: No, we don't know, and that's probably one of the most critical questions to try to answer right now. It could be a variety of things, all the things from a secondary infection, bacterial infection, an ongoing infection with another influenza virus.
It may be that there is regular influenza virus circulating plus this virus, so you get a double hit. It may be an additional viral infection. It may be pollution. Mexico City, is a very -- the air pollution is high. It may be smoking. It may be the altitude. It may be malnutrition. It may be access to care.
There's a lot of theories that need to be looked at very carefully.
COOPER: I'm being told right now that Mexico's minister of health has just increased the number of confirmed cases. How many more? Fifty-two new cases. Total cases in Mexico, 312.
Sanjay, is it getting worse in Mexico? I mean, it seems like its increasing. You've been there the last couple of days.
GUPTA: Yes, I have been there the last couple of days. I'm just hearing this news with you. You know, the numbers are sort of stabilizing over the past few days, and the fatality rate overall was going down. Some of what, you know, when you get numbers like this, Anderson, some of it is that these cases were suspicious, and now they're getting confirmed. So it's a little bit hard to know what to do with those numbers overall.
I can tell you from being at the hospitals, the overall number of admissions to hospitals have stabilized and started to go down, and the fatality rates within those hospitals the same thing, Anderson.
COOPER: Dr. Del Rio, I was on the subway today. And I've got to tell you, it was a packed subway car. And a lot of people are very nervous and kind of annoyed when someone else near me was coughing. A lot of people around that person were very upset with it, you know, kind of grumbling about it more than us New Yorkers generally grumble on the subway at each other.
What do you advise people who are on the subway going to work every day who are, you know, in close quarters?
DEL RIO: Well, again, if you're in a city that does not report cases, for example, here in Atlanta we still have not had a case, I would say drive on the subway, you're probably ok. You're more likely to be mugged than to get influenza by going on the subway.
But if you are in a city maybe like Mexico City and if you get on the subway, I would advise you to wear a face mask like people in Mexico are doing.
And I would also emphasize the issue of hand washing. Hand washing is critical because people will touch their noses and then touch the bars on the subway and then you touch there and then you touch yourself. So washing hands frequently is a critical part of this.
And if somebody is coughing very politely and very firmly ask that person to please cover their mouth and don't sneeze or cough on you.
COOPER: And just to defend New York subways, they're actually pretty safe these days. I don't want to give New York a bad rep. I'm sure Atlanta is doing all right, too, on their subways.
We're going to have more with Dr. Carlos Del Rio and Dr. Sanjay Gupta throughout this hour. We're going to ask -- also they're going to answer some of your questions in just a few minutes.
Coming up, we'll answer those questions. If you want to send in your questions, and get them answered -- we can't guarantee all will be answered. But send them in to Twitter. The address is @Andersoncooper -- one word. Or post them at facebook.com/Andersoncooper360.
As always, you can post them on our live chat at AC360.com or you can also check out Erica Hill's live Web casts during the breaks tonight. And just ahead, the fear of flying. We talked about being on the subways. Joe Biden said stay away from airliners and subways. He said that he told his family members that. But how risky are confined spaces really? Was Joe Biden correct? We'll delve deeper on that, and we're keeping the vice president honest on his comments.
Also tonight, new developments in the Craigslist murder case. Philip Markoff's fiancee visits him in jail. The question is, is she still his fiancee? She goes public whether the wedding is on or off. We'll tell you the answer on that.
And later, Miss California and her remarks about same-sex marriage triggered a national discussion. And now it's getting louder. You'll see why when you see which group she's just been hired as a spokeswoman for and what she's got to say about why. And we'll have all that ahead tonight on 360.
COOPER: Let's quickly recap our breaking news: a new state, Virginia, with confirmed cases of swine flu. Now, both people who caught it apparently down in Mexico are doing OK though. They're at home.
Mexican authorities tonight reporting new confirmed flu cases, 52 more confirmed. That brings the total there to 312 confirmed cases. There are thousands, though, of suspected cases and more than 150 suspected deaths.
Now, we told you about Vice President Biden today talking about the flu and in the process contracting a bad case of foot-in-mouth disease. He said he'd tell his family to stay off airline flights and out of the subway.
The White House later said that's not really what he meant. The airline industry went ballistic, as you might imagine. But was Dr. Biden's advice good or not?
We don't need fear these days, we need facts, so Randi Kaye is "Keeping Them Honest."
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An airplane, passengers packed tight as sardines. The last place you want to be when somebody sneezes, right? At least that's what Vice President Joe Biden suggested.
BIDEN: I wouldn't go anywhere in confined places now. It's not that it's going to Mexico, it's you're in a confined aircraft. When one person sneezes, it goes all the way through the aircraft.
KAYE: All the way through the aircraft? "Keeping Them Honest," we asked this doctor who studies how germs and viruses like the swine flu spread during air travel. DR. MARK GENDREAU, LAHEY CLINIC: The vice president got it wrong on this one. There is no scientific evidence that there is widespread transmission of infectious particles on the aircraft.
KAYE: In fact, Dr. Mark Gendreau says each section of the plane has its own ventilation system which limits the spread of all that nasty stuff. And the air circulates side to side, not front to back. So a sneeze may just reach a couple of rows of passengers.
GENDREAU: We don't see a whole lot of outbreaks, even during influenza season. So it really tells you that the aircraft cabin ventilation is really working.
KAYE: He says the air on board is recycled about 10 or 12 times every hour, about the same as inside a typical office building. It passes through high-efficiency particle filters.
(on camera): Dr. Gendreau says filters onboard can help trap the virus particles. The problem is, the FAA doesn't require them. In fact, a 2004 study by the Government Accountability Office, the latest on record, found that 15 percent of larger jets don't use those filters. And 50 percent of the smaller regional jets don't use them either.
(voice-over): Filter or not, our expert says constant air flow keeps you healthy.
The vice president's office tried to smooth things over with a statement. The advice he is giving family members is the same advice the administration is giving to all Americans. If they are sick, they should avoid airplanes and other confined public spaces.
But the airline industry, still furious.
JIM MAY, AIR TRANSPORT ASSOCIATION: Experts from the CDC and elsewhere are all saying the same thing. It is perfectly safe to fly.
KAYE (on camera): Our expert's advice to the vice president and all other travelers, use a hand sanitizer and drink a lot of fluids on board. And when you get in your seat, the Dr. Gendreau says immediately turn on your air filter to a low or medium stream and point it in front of your face. He says that's enough to push any virus droplets away from you.
(voice-over): Apologies, Mr. Vice President, but the risk of germs and viruses at 30,000 feet may be just a myth.
Randi Kaye, CNN, Teterboro, New Jersey.
COOPER: Does Randi Kaye get to fly on a private jet? She was hanging out on a private jet there. What was that about?
ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Is it your jet, Cooper?
COOPER: Yes. We all fly commercial. I was, like, what's up with that?
HILL: I mean, I'm lucky if I actually get coach. I'm normally in the baggage hold.
COOPER: Maybe she's got a special deal on her contract. I need her agent.
For more facts, and not myths, check out the post on the flu and travel at AC360.com.
Again, we're really trying not to spread hype here. We're really just trying to give you the facts and arm yourselves with knowledge instead of fear.
Don't forget we're taking your questions for Drs. Sanjay Gupta and Carlos Del Rio. Twit them to us @Andersoncooper. Post them on facebook.com/Andersoncooper360 or drop into the live chat at AC360.com.
Also tonight, Miss California stirring things up again. First, she made headlines with her answer about same-sex marriage at the Miss USA pageant. Perez Hilton who asked a question then called her dumb and then there was a war of words. Now she's got a new gig. She's spokeswoman. We'll tell you about what her new career involves.
COOPER: Chrysler filed for bankruptcy protection today and also reached a deal to merge with the Italian automaker Fiat. Now, both those moves were designed to keep the automaker in business, a surgical bankruptcy is what President Obama called it. Here's what else he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And no one should be confused about what a bankruptcy process means. This is not a sign of weakness, but rather one more step on a clearly-charted path to Chrysler's revival.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, President Obama said the restructuring would be, quote, "quick and controlled," that may be more optimistic than realistic. What was described is an unprecedented federal plan to help an American carmaker.
Ali Velshi is here with the "Raw Politics" on that and also some good economic news that caught a lot of people by surprise -- Ali.
ALI VELSHI, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, let's start with Chrysler. And you're right, one of the things that is worth telling people about in America, is that bankruptcy doesn't necessarily mean going out of business.
There are actually six types of bankruptcy. This is Chapter 11 and it's described as protection from your creditors. Now, in this case it's organized because everybody knew this was going to happen. The government is actually backing it.
So the idea is, when you go into bankruptcy protection, you get protected from those who you owe money to, you have time to reorganize, renegotiate leases, renegotiate contracts. But here's how these deal is going to happen.
The company that emerges out of this bankruptcy is going to be a combination of Fiat and Chrysler. They are going to be partners in a new company. Fiat will still remain in the same company that it is, but it'll now control this new company.
Fiat will have the Chairman of the Board. It'll have some seats, the U.S. Treasury will have seats on the board. The United Autoworkers will have seats on the board and the Canadian government will have a seat on the board because it's a big contributor to this bailout plan.
Now, the issue here is we don't know how many jobs will be lost. We don't know how many factories will be closed, we don't know how many of Chrysler's 3,000 dealerships will actually be shut down.
When Fiat starts building cars in the United States, it will use those U.S. factories and some of those dealers. But that could be a couple of years down the road.
Fiat, by the way, has smaller and more fuel-efficient cars. It's a different company than the one that was in the United States in the '80s that left a bit of a bad taste in people's mouths.
And then there is the issue of what this means to all of you out there; the issue of how much money that we have put into Chrysler. The U.S. government taxpayer money already $6 billion has gone into Chrysler, and they predict another $4 billion will go in as a result of this restructuring.
Now, Fiat will not be able to take full control of Chrysler until the American taxpayer is paid off. So we don't know how long that will be. There are more unknowns than knowns here, but for now there still exists the Chrysler with its brands, Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep and eventually that will include Fiat.
I'm not sure what happens after that.
COOPER: Ali, one of the first economists to declare U.S. was in a recession now has a prediction about when it's going to end.
VELSHI: Yes, you've talked to him and I've talked to him. Lakshman Achuthan is the managing director of the Economic Cycle Research Institute, ECRI. It's a mouthful, but that is the only organization in the world that is dedicated to actually following recessions when they start, when they end.
He was on our air last March long before many others had said there was a recession. And he said we are in one. As you know, we started in December of 2007. Lakshman Achuthan and ECRI now say this recession will end in 2009. They believe it will end as early as this summer.
That's a big deal because not a lot of people were expecting it to end that soon, even though this recession that we're in, Anderson, is now officially the longest U.S. recession that we've been in.
COOPER: So for someone at home listening to this, what are you supposed to do with that information?
VELSHI: Well, that's the important thing. That we come out of a recession, it doesn't mean it's all over. It just means things stop getting a lot worse. They might actually start to improve.
So the questions are, if you are an investor or you're looking for a job, what recovers first? You tend to see retail stores recover early because people have a pent-up need to shop. Also, 80 percent of everything that gets to our stores, Anderson, moves on a truck in this country. So, transportation companies tend to do well. The UPSs, the Fedexs, the Yellow Roadway Corporation.
Is it a good time to invest? You see the stock market up about 30 percent from its March 9th lows. It might be a good time to have an investment strategy. Many people have bailed out of the markets because they were so worried about it.
So the next question you have to ask is, is this the time to start developing an investment strategy? Here's the biggest problem. And Lakshman talked about this. In a recession, we all become more efficient. We become more productive. We learn to do more with less. We've seen many of our colleagues, all of us who watch this, have seen colleagues all over our industries laid off, and we are doing their work for them.
As a result, can we start to recover without hiring those people back? There are six million people on unemployment insurance benefits right now; more than six million people off those benefits, but not working.
So, you know, you add it up, 14 or 15 million people unemployed, what if we recover and we don't actually have jobs for all of them? What does that mean for our society?
So this doesn't mean necessarily good news. It means there's a light at the end of the tunnel, and we've all got to decide how we're going to manage that, Anderson.
COOPER: Now we'll see how long the tunnel is.
COOPER: Ali, I appreciate it.
Still to come, we are taking your questions about swine flu. Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Dr. Carlos Del Rio are with us live to give you facts. And post your questions to the live chat at AC360.com or Twitter@Andersoncooper.com. Or go to facebook.com/Andersoncooper360 or send us a carrier pigeon.
COOPER: Also is this the face of one of the worst serial killers in modern history? Tonight, Los Angeles police say this man may have strangled dozens of women over many, many years. Late details on this developing story ahead.
And a bus driver texting on his cell phone while driving a bus slams into an SUV. It's all caught on tape. Tonight's "Shot" when we continue.
COOPER: Tonight, police in Los Angeles say they have arrested one of the most prolific serial killers in modern history. Now, the suspect worked as a social worker, if you can believe it, allegedly preying on elderly women and apparently did this for decades. Authorities believe this convicted sex offender murdered dozens of people.
With tonight's "Crime and Punishment" report, here's Gary Tuchman.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Elizabeth McKeown was brutally beaten and strangled in Los Angeles in 1976. She was 67 years old when she was killed. All these years later her alleged murder has now been arrested. But police believe there is a lot more evil to 72-year-old John Floyd Thomas Jr.
WILLIAM BRATTON, CHIEF, LOS ANGELES POLICE DEPARTMENT: He's also suspected in as many as 25 other murders and scores of rapes that occurred in the Southland during the 1970s and 1980s.
TUCHMAN: Police say the latest DNA technology has linked Thomas to two murders in Los Angeles. Preliminary evidence makes him a suspect in six other murders in the City of Inglewood.
And police are investigating his alleged role in scores of other murders and rapes in southern California including a half century ago.
CHARLIE BECK, LOS ANGELES POLICE DEPARTMENT DEPUTY CHIEF: We believe that Mr. Thomas may be responsible for cases that go as far back as the mid-50s.
TUCHMAN: In the 1970s, L.A. was terrorized by a string of murders and sexual assaults by a person coined the "West Side Rapist." This TV news story from the mid-70s shows police advising residents how to protect themselves.
L.A. Deputy Police Chief Charlie Beck is a second-generation L.A. cop.
BECK: We strongly believe that Mr. Thomas is the "West Side Rapist" that was hunted by detectives in the '70s, including my father, in the City of Los Angeles. TUCHMAN: The primary killings being investigated occurred in the mid-'70s and mid-'80s. Thomas has been jailed at least three times over the years after being convicted of rape, attempted rape and burglary. His last alleged killing was 1989.
He has been an insurance claims adjuster, is currently single but has been married five times. All his alleged victims appear to be elderly or middle-aged women. If it turns out police have the right man, criminal profiler Pat Brown says...
PAT BROWN, CRIMINAL PROFILER: John Thomas is not psychotic. He is a psychopath that's why he can do these kinds of crimes and just walk away so blase and go back to his regular life and act as though nothing has happened. To him, serial homicide is a hobby.
TUCHMAN: Bob Kistner just retired from the Long Beach police force. His great aunt Maybelle Hudson was murdered in 1976. He just found out today authorities believe Thomas is her killer, too.
BOB KISTNER, NEPHEW OF MURDER VICTIM: I know my aunt, the very good Christian that she was, would be hoping for the salvation of his soul and looking for forgiveness.
I come from the law enforcement side of it. I can't be quite as forgiving, I'm afraid.
TUCHMAN: The 72-year-old suspect has not been available for comment and it's not clear if he has an attorney yet. If the allegations against him are true, a mass murderer has been a free man in the midst of southern Californians for many years.
Gary Tuchman, CNN, New York.
COOPER: It so hard to believe someone would get away with it for so long. And that's the question. How did this suspect elude police this long, and how can prosecutors prove he is the serial killer if, in fact, he is?
Joining me now is James Alan Fox, professor of Criminal Justice at Northeastern University.
James, this guy worked as a social worker and a hospital counselor. It boggles the mind how someone who's working a job to help people at the same time could be a suspect or accused of raping and killing elderly women.
JAMES ALAN FOX, PROFESSOR OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE: You know, infamous serial killer Theodore Bundy worked on a suicide hotline. There's a very close similarity between taking life and saving life.
These are individuals who enjoy playing God. They enjoy that power. And helping people and hurting people are opposite sides of the same coin. So it's this power and control and holding life in their hands. In these homicides we see someone who is squeezing the last breath of life from someone's body. It's a power that's very important to them.
COOPER: And accused of raping and then strangling women, I mean that is an incredibly -- the strangulation is an incredibly intimate way of killing somebody.
FOX: Well, that's what serial killers do. They hardly ever use guns because guns would rob them of their greatest pleasure, which is exalting in their victims' suffering. They enjoy the whole experience of murder. They enjoy squeezing her last breath of life from her body. That makes them feel powerful, in control and superior.
COOPER: They actually enjoy it.
FOX: They enjoy it. It's really...
COOPER: It's not just like some compulsion that they feel...
FOX: No, not at all.
COOPER: ... they have to do and then move on from.
FOX: As one person said on the tape, it is a hobby. That perhaps trivializes it some, but these are men who have jobs and they have families, and they kill part time whenever they literally have some free time to kill. They kill because it makes them feel good.
COOPER: And it doesn't -- does it weigh on them?
FOX: No. I mean, if it weighed on them, they'd stop.
One thing about serial killers is this selection process. Only those who are able to kill with moral impunity, without remorse and are skillful enough to evade the cops are able to assemble enough body count to become a serial killer. But if a guy is sloppy in terms of the crime scene or if he's overburdened by guilt and remorse, he'll never get to the point where we'll call him a serial killer.
COOPER: I find this -- just unbelievable. The rapes and killings stopped in 1989. We know that.
Why would somebody do this -- and police think he may have killed up to 30 women -- and then stop doing it for some 20 years. Do you age out of it?
FOX: Yes. Well, criminals do age out of their crimes. Dennis Rader, remember the BTK killer? He stopped even though he was still at large. They age out of killing.
They get involved in something else in their life, in Thomas' case, a new job, in Dennis Rader's case, a new job. So there's something else going on in their life that perhaps is fulfilling whatever needs that they have and murder is no longer necessary. COOPER: Thirty years in unsolved cases. Are you surprised he got away with it for this long if, in fact, he is the man who did this?
FOX: No. If he wasn't able to get away with it, if he didn't have that certain cunning, that criminal savoir faire, if you will, we would have caught him decades ago. But there is a small group of serial offenders who have that street smarts to avoid the cops and to stay at large for decades so they can assemble a body count of dozens.
Appreciate your expertise. It's a fascinating discussion, disturbing as well. James Alan Fox. Thanks.
FOX: Thank you, Anderson.
COOPER: You can join the live chat happening now at ac360.com. Let us know what you think about this. Also, Erica Hill's live Web cast during the breaks.
While you're on the live chat, send us your swine flu questions. Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Dr. Carlos Del Rio are here to answer them. You can also send questions on twitter@Andersoncooper -- that's the address -- or post them on facebook.com/Andersoncooper360.
Also tonight, Miss California, she didn't win the Miss USA pageant but she has a new job: campaigning against same-sex marriage. Details on that ahead.
COOPER: The breaking news on the swine flu: for the first time, Virginia is reporting confirmed cases, a man and a woman who had traveled to Mexico have tested positive for the virus. Both said to be recovering.
Plus, Mexico's reporting tonight 52 new cases confirmed. That brings their total of confirmed cases to 312. As you may know, there are thousands of suspected cases in Mexico. And over 150 suspected deaths due to the virus there.
The masks, the school closings, the fear; we're seeing more and more of it. And officials here at home and beyond the border are urging everyone to stay calm and to use common sense. That is certainly good advice.
We don't know how long this thing is going to last or how severe it may get. So we asked Tom Foreman to look at the worst-case scenarios and also the best-case scenarios. Take a look.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): What's the worst that could happen? In 1918 a global flu pandemic infected 500 million people, a third of the human population, and up to 50 million died; victims of a flu that mutated partly from pigs. The best hope?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The swine flu shot.
FOREMAN: Fast forward to 1976, when another swine flu prompted a panic but then fizzled, leaving a single fatality. So which one is this swine flu like? Health officials can't say for sure.
JANET NAPOLITANO, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: We are preparing for the worst, hoping for the best.
RICHARD BESSER, CDC DIRECTOR: There's no one action that's going to stop this.
ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: People should be vigilant.
FOREMAN: So here's what researchers know. One, this virus is not spreading all that quickly suggesting the genetic adaptation that allowed it to move from pigs to humans may be a work in progress. John Barry wrote a book about that 1918 outbreak.
JOHN BARRY, AUTHOR, "THE GREAT INFLUENZA": Well, it's an animal virus that's in a new environment. Like any organism in a new environment, it's got to adapt or die.
FOREMAN: Two, it lacks an important amino acid that would allow it to multiply more rapidly in our bodies, so victims have more time to fight back.
(on camera): And three, it has a long way to go to rival the regular flu which hits up to 20 percent of us each winter. Flu- related illnesses kill 36,000 Americans annually.
(voice-over) It all suggests the 1918 nightmare will stay in the past, maybe. Ralph Tripp studies infectious disease.
RALPH TRIPP, UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA: But you have to be aware that these viruses mutate. And they change. And lots of features can lead to changes from a benign virus such as 1976 to one that could be a little bit hotter.
FOREMAN: Because those tiny changes can be for better or for much worse.
Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.
COOPER: Well, we have more breaking news. A major development out of Washington: National Public Radio's Nina Totenberg is reporting and citing reliable sources that Supreme Court Justice David Souter has signaled that he is retiring. No comment from Justice Souter, no outward sign this was coming. Yesterday was the last day of oral arguments for the term.
Justice Souter was appointed by the first president Bush but turned into something of a disappointment for Republicans, moving to the left over the years.
Joining us by phone is senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, who's written extensively on the Supreme Court, and senior White House correspondent, Ed Henry.
Jeff, are you surprised? And what kind of an impact is this going to have?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST (via telephone): Well, this is not a particularly surprising development. Souter has been open with his friends for several years that he is ready to retire and return home to New Hampshire. He really is well known for not liking living in Washington, and he is ready to go, even though at 69, by Supreme Court standards, he is not at all very old.
COOPER: And, obviously, this will give President Obama his first appointment. Will he pick a woman?
TOOBIN: I don't know, obviously. This is going to be a great subject for us to study for the next few weeks if, in fact, Souter is quitting, and Nina Totenberg is certainly the dean of Supreme Court reporters. And I trust her reporting here.
I think the balance on the court will probably not shift a great deal. Souter has become part of the liberal wing. Obama will appoint someone who will vote much the same way. But new people always change the court. And a new liberal justice, perhaps a woman, perhaps an African-American, perhaps the first Hispanic on the court, really could change the court in subtle but real ways.
COOPER: There's only one woman right now on the court, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, correct?
TOOBIN: Correct, Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the first -- is the only woman and only the second woman to serve on the court along with Sandra Day O'Connor who retired in 2005.
COOPER: And in terms of the ideological balance of the court, you said, you know, whoever -- Souter is on the liberal wing, how many -- how does it break down? There's sort of four more liberals?
TOOBIN: The court is so evenly split right now. There are four very conservative justices: Chief Justice Roberts, Justice Alito, Justice Thomas and Justice Scalia. There are four liberal justices: Justice Souter, Justice Ginsburg, Justice Breyer and Justice Stevens.
And Anthony Kennedy is in the center, controlling the outcome of many, many cases. Kennedy has enormous importance right now. The fact that Souter usually sides with the liberals suggests that his replacement by a Democratic president wouldn't make that much of a difference in most cases. But in the subtle chemistry of the Supreme Court, having new justices always changes everything. So, yes, most votes will remain the same, but in unpredictable ways, President Obama putting his stamp on the court could begin a major realignment on the court.
COOPER: Let's check in with our White House correspondent, Ed Henry, on the phone. Ed, are we hearing anything from the White House about this? This breaking news, do we know anything?
ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Just got off the phone with one official very close to the White House who said this is not a complete surprise to the White House about these indications because they've been hearing these rumors from people in legal circles in Washington for weeks now that this was a possibility. Then I spoke and just got off the phone with a senior White House official who I pressed on the matter and just said, "Look, I'm not talking," would not confirm it, would not deny it in terms of whether the White House has gotten an official signal from Justice Souter.
Reading the tea leaves there, it may be that the White House doesn't want to step on Justice Souter. They want to let him make whatever announcement he's going to make. They don't want it to be coming from them.
That's why you hear this coming, as Jeff said, from Nina Totenberg who covers the court. People close to Justice Souter maybe letting it get out. But the key is that a senior White House official I just got off the phone with would not deny it -- wouldn't confirm it, but wouldn't deny it, left the door wide open.
COOPER: Ed, what do we know about what the process would be for President Obama? Has he publicly said much about this?
HENRY: He has not said very much. The bottom line is that they would have to -- you heard the president last night in that news conference say, "Look. I was expecting to handle a few challenges, not a whole mountain of them." All of a sudden he'd have to add this to the two wars, to the financial crisis and auto bailouts and the like.
This would be a crash course for this White House to get up to speed on who they might want to deal with the confirmation process. And let's think about the other big development earlier this week with Arlen Specter switching parties to the Democrats. He would obviously be leaning towards President Obama anyway on issues like abortion, Arlen Specter.
But all of a sudden if you have him and if Al Franken is actually certified as the next Democratic senator from Minnesota and you've got 60 votes to break filibusters, that could be a major development on a high court appointment and make it a lot easier for President Obama to get his pick through the senate.
It's going to be a tough battle, but that might make it a little easier. COOPER: Jeff, what do we think about the confirmation process? How politicized have these things become?
TOOBIN: They are very politicized. You know, the last two Democratic appointees, Ruth Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, were both confirmed with more than 90 votes early in President Clinton's term. I think the days of any justice getting confirmed with 90 votes are over. This is such an intensive political process now.
Any Democratic nominee is likely to get substantial Republican opposition, but as we all know, with the addition of Arlen Specter and presumably the addition of Al Franken soon, the Democrats will soon have 60 senators. And it has never been -- a Supreme Court nominee has never been successfully filibustered.
So I think whoever President Obama nominates will go into the process the overwhelming favorite to be confirmed. There is a tremendous political advantage to having 60 senators of your party in the senate. And barring some sort of scandal, I think Obama is really going to have his pick of whoever he wants.
COOPER: We'll continue to follow this story and bring you any updates as warranted.
Jeff Toobin, appreciate it. Thanks very much. If you haven't Jeff's book "The Nine" by the way, about the Supreme Court, you really should. It's a great read.
And Ed Henry, appreciate the reporting as well late at this hour.
We've got a lot more ahead, answering your questions about the swine flu. Got a lot of questions; a lot of good ones. Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Dr. Carlos Del Rio will be joining us.
Also a lot more news ahead including a new job for Miss California. The woman who didn't win the Miss USA Pageant, she says, because of her answer about same-sex marriage. All the details ahead.
COOPER: Just repeating the breaking news that Supreme Court Justice Souter will be retiring at the end of this season on the Supreme Court. We have been citing Nina Totenberg of National Public Radio, who reports on the Supreme Court.
We can now say that a source close to Justice Souter has confirmed to CNN that he plans to retire from the court after the term recesses in late June. We've just had this confirmation. A court spokesman said the justice would have no comment on these reports.
We are digging deeper on the flu outbreak that world health officials say will soon reach pandemic levels. Tonight, the threat level remains at five out of six meaning infection is widespread and the virus is jumping between people with relative ease. Now, meantime, the pharmaceutical industry said today a vaccine against the new virus could be six months away. Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Carlos Del Rio are taking your questions for us tonight. Let's get to the first one.
Sanjay, we have a question from our Twitter page. Lynn wants to know, "Could you be a carrier and pass it on to others without actually getting ill?"
GUPTA: Well, the answer is yes, although very unlikely. Typically people who are going to pass it on, they're going to be -- they're going to be ill in the sense that they're going to be coughing. They're going to be sneezing. We call it shedding the virus in some way. So possible but unlikely.
COOPER: Dr. Del Rio, another question from our Facebook page. Nancy asked, "When someone gets the flu, how long are they contagious?"
DEL RIO: Probably start being contagious a few hours before you develop symptoms. Probably 12 hours before you develop symptoms and then you're contagious if you have the whole peak probably for about four to seven days after you start with the disease.
COOPER: And the treatment right now is Tamiflu? Is that correct, Dr. Del Rio?
DEL RIO: The treatment is Tamiflu. The virus is sensitive to Tamiflu and also to the other anti-viral, Relenza.
COOPER: All right, Sanjay, we have a question from our blog at ac360.com. Becky writes, "I have heard that H1N1 is lab created and that the mix of swine, avian and human gene wouldn't occur in nature. Is that true?
GUPTA: I don't know. I don't know that it's not lab created although I think it can occur in nature, what she's describing. Her premise is not entirely correct. What has happened here is something that can occur in nature and has -- this type of thing has occurred in nature in the past. That's not to say for sure that it's not lab created but no evidence to suggest that that's true.
COOPER: Dr. Del Rio, how does something combine all these different viruses?
DEL RIO: The influenza virus has the ability in nature to do this. And the pig is an ideal site to do it because the pigs can get infected with the virus from man, the virus from pigs and the virus from birds. And therefore, what this virus is, is sort of two parts pig, one part bird, one part human.
The pig just functions like an ideal site where this virus can recombine and produce a new virus like this one. And one we have never seen before.
COOPER: It's incredible how nature works in this way.
Dr. Del Rio, this question is from Lani on the ac360.com site. She says, "I'm 18 weeks pregnant and I'm scheduled to go on a cruise next weekend. Although it's not stopping in Mexico, should I be concerned about being near so many other people for seven days?"
DEL RIO: Cruises are a lot of fun. Cruises are also a place where people get sick. Typically, cruises have been famous for a epidemics of diarrhea diseases, Norwalk virus that gets transmitted very, very easily. Wash your hands. That will be my recommendation. Really wash your hands frequently and commonly. Take some of those alcohol-based gels with you and use them all the time.
COOPER: Good advice probably for a lot of activities.
Sanjay, another question from our blog. Ron wants to know, can a mosquito carry the swine flu virus?
GUPTA: You know, it's interesting. When we were down in Mexico and north of Mexico to La Gloria, there was a lot of sort of hypotheses about this from doctors and public health officials that could a fly or mosquito somehow have been the vector?
What we hear and what we investigated, it's unlikely for that to happen. Mosquitoes and flies sometimes can carry some diseases, as we know, but not the flu virus typically.
If you look back through history, Anderson, a lot of the pandemics were not related to mosquitoes or any other insect sort of carrying the virus from one human to the next.
COOPER: Sanjay, you're just back from Mexico. You've been down there a couple days. How are you feeling?
GUPTA: You know, I feel fine. I'm a little tired, as we all are after these sorts of trips, but I have had no symptoms or anything like that. I actually talked to Dr. Del Rio earlier and told him how I was doing. He sort of checked up on me, but no problems.
COOPER: That's good news. And I hope all on your crew are well, as well.
Dr. Del Rio, appreciate it. Thanks for joining us again tonight. And Sanjay as well. Thanks a lot.
Let's check some of the other stories that we're following. Erica Hill has a "360 News & Business Bulletin" -- Erica.
HILL: Anderson, Megan McAllister, the fiancee of Craigslist murder suspect, Philip Markoff, no longer the fiancee. She has called off the couple's August wedding. Her attorney said today his client realizes she needs to get on with her life.
McAllister visited her ex-fiance now in a Boston jail yesterday. That was her first visit since his arrest. She was not wearing her engagement ring. Meantime, reports have surfaced police found 16 pairs of women's underwear hidden in Markoff's apartment along with dozens of plastic restraints. A mixed day for stocks, which seemed to take Chrysler's filing for bankruptcy in stride: the Dow off 17 points; the NASDAQ rose 5; The S&P 500 ended slightly lower.
The reigning Miss California, USA, Carrie Prejean, now working with a group that opposes same-sex marriage. The 21-year-old was named first runner-up in a recent Miss USA pageant after telling judges she is against same-sex marriage. Prejean is now featured in a new advertisement for the National Organization for Marriage, which held a press event today.
Here's what Miss California, USA, had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARRIE PREJEAN, MISS CALIFORNIA: I encourage people to stand up for what they believe in and not be afraid. I was ready to be Miss USA that night on that stage. And I was faced, as you all know, with a very controversial question, and I had a choice to stand up for what I believe in or to compromise that for the tiara.
I do not want to raise my own children in a world where this traditional view of marriage is considered hateful or discriminatory, especially not by my own government.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HILL: California pageant officials say they are disappointed with Prejean -- Anderson.
COOPER: Erica, I also want to add another item to the "Bulletin," a sad item for many of us here at CNN who spent a lot of time in New Orleans.
One of my favorite bars, the Spotted Cat, is closing tonight. The landlord is not renewing the club's lease on the building. In true New Orleans fashion, club owners and patrons are planning a second line procession to honor it.
I'm not sure, Erica, if you've ever had the pleasure of going to the Spotted Cat. This is video from a couple of months ago. The Jazz Vipers, that's the band there, they play there usually on Fridays and Monday nights. So do Washboard Chaz (ph) from time to time.
It wasn't a tourist hot spot; it was a local institution. Folks who went there took their swing dancing seriously, and it was a place you could always make new friends. There were moments of magic that happened in the Spotted Cat, moments that could only happen in New Orleans.
Businesses come and go, and New Orleans has a lot of great spots, still -- Vaughn's and Stella and Commander's Palace and Don Malisi's (ph). The Spotted Cat was special and shall be missed.
HILL: I love that they're sending the Spotted Cat out in true New Orleans fashion. COOPER: That's right.
Just ahead, a city bus driver -- this is unbelievable video. You've got to see it. A city bus driver caught on tape texting and driving at the same time. This did not end well. It's the "Shot" tonight.
And we'll have the latest on the breaking news, the swine flu outbreak; another state confirming new cases. We'll tell you what it means for all of us.
COOPER: All right. Tonight's "Shot," Erica, is a warning anyone who texts while driving. Take a look.
This is a city bus driver in San Antonio, Texas. Now, a security camera catches him taking his cell phone out of his shirt pocket. Then...
HILL: Eyes on the road. Oh.
COOPER: He starts texting. That split-second distraction was enough to cause a serious accident. His bus slammed into an SUV. Yikes.
COOPER: Which triggered a multi-vehicle pileup. No one was seriously injured, and he realizes he has made a stupid mistake. The driver was fired from his job.
COOPER: And it's just a lesson for us all.
HILL: Indeed it is.
COOPER: Yes. Look at that. Multi-vehicle pileup.
HILL: I have a feeling it may not be over there, though. That video could really come back to haunt him.
COOPER: You think? Like a lawsuit, you think?
COOPER: Well, sure. I guess...
HILL: This is America, Anderson, we sue.
COOPER: Clearly, looking at his cell phone, when driving the city bus.
HILL: Not -- not the wisest move.
COOPER: All right.
You can see all the most recent "Shots" on our Web site, AC360.com.
Hey, that does it for 360.
Thanks for watching.
"LARRY KING" starts right now. I'll see you tomorrow night.