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At Least 242,182 Coronavirus Cases in U.S.; 5,859 Deaths; New York Has Highest COVID-19 Infections in U.S.; Concern Over China's Transparency With COVID-19 Numbers; Italy Extends National Lockdown Until April 13. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired April 5, 2020 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Hello and welcome. I'm Anderson Cooper in New York.
SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: And I'm Dr Sanjay Gupta. This is the "CNN GLOBAL TOWN HALL, CORONAVIRUS: FACTS AND FEARS". Tonight, Dr Anthony Fauci of the White House Coronavirus Taskforce is going to be here. He's going to answer your questions about the pandemic. Also, New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo, will join us to talk about his State which is the current epicenter of this fight.
COOPER: This is our fifth global town hall and if you've seen our previous ones, you know the production has evolved to say the least along the guidance - along with the guidance from health professionals. There is no studio audience as we would normally have. Sanjay and I are in different studios as will be all of our guests.
GUPTA: And at the bottom of your screen, you're going to see our social media scroll. We'd like for you tonight to tweet us your questions, using the #CNNTownHall. You can also leave a comment on the CNN Facebook page. A lot of you also have sent in video questions and we're going to try to get those as - as many of those as we can tonight.
COOPER: We also have reports from - across the country and around the globe on how those at home and abroad are fighting this virus. We start with where the country is in its fight against the virus. The death count increases dramatically every day according to Johns Hopkins University. 713 people died today in the US. The total death toll in the US is 5,850. At least 242,182 cases now in the US alone.
SANJAY: You know, and now, members of the National Academy of Science have told the White House that current research supports the possibility that this virus can be spread by simply breathing and talking and obviously that's going to be very concerning to people and today, President Trump confirmed that the White House is expected to announce that people should wear cloth masks over their face if they go out.
COOPER: Despite the country's top scientists saying it is critical that everyone stay at home and follow social distancing guidelines, there is no - still no national order to stay in place. Tennessee became the latest State to issue a stay-at-home order just a day after its governor, Bill Lee, was criticized for not doing so. He'd incorrectly claimed there was a lack of "much real data or evidence of what is most effective in social distancing".
That's not true. Georgia's Governor is now - has now finally announced a state-wide stay-at-home order and remarkably claims he did so after just learning that people can be infected with the virus and not show any symptoms. If that's true, he didn't know that until now, he has certainly not been paying attention. According to CNN, ten states still do not have a state-wide stay-at-home order.
They include Alabama, Arkansas, Iowa, Missouri, North Dakota and Nebraska, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming. Alabama's Governor has refused to order people to stay at home, saying, "We are not California". What she apparently does not know is that the number of confirmed cases in Alabama is now rising faster than it is in California. Overall, about 93% of Americans live under shelter and place order, stay-at-home order or will by tomorrow. This is where we are. It's a different place than just a week ago.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): What we are looking at right now is a new reality in the Coronavirus pandemic. Governors in at least three states are warning that they will soon run out of ventilators.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Up to 240,000 Americans could die from Coronavirus.
COOPER (void-over): In the US, there are now more than 230,000 cases of Coronavirus. More than 5,000 people have died and new pockets of outbreaks have emerged across the country. Convention centers are being turned into overflow facilities - in New York, New Orleans, Chicago, Detroit and Los Angeles. In the US, New York remains the epicenter of the pandemic with more than 90,000 cases.
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): We have been behind it from day 1 since it got here and we've been playing catch-up. You don't win playing catch- up. We have to get ahead of it.
COOPER (voice over): A field hospital has now been set-up in Central Park and the USNS Comfort and Navy Hospital Ship is docked in New York City. The last time this ship was deployed to New York was after the terror attacks of 9/11.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to go through a very tough two weeks.
COOPER (voice over): Most Americans are now under stay-at-home orders, though against the advice of scientists, a handful of States are still holding out on issuing state-wide restrictions, with projections showing there could be as many as 240,000 deaths in the US from this virus, the White House has asked for social distancing guidelines to stay in place to at least April, 30th. CUOMO (voice over): It's within our power to modify those numbers. If you really push hard on mitigation and data comes in that tells you you're doing better than the model, you can modify the model.
COOPER: Sanjay, I want to follow-up with something that we mentioned at the top. I said that ten states don't have stay-at-home orders, one of them, Georgia, which just announced theirs, I want to play for everyone, what Governor Brian Kemp said yesterday about why he waited and what he said about the ability of people who have the virus who don't show symptoms to spread the virus. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. BRIAN KEMP (R), GA: Finding out that this virus is now transmitting before people see signs. So, what we've been telling people from directives from the CDC for weeks now, that if you start feeling bad, stay home. Those individuals could have been infecting people before they ever felt bad. But we didn't know that until the last 24 hours.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: I mean, if he didn't know that until the last 24 hours, he might be the only person. Certainly the only, you know, alleged leader to not know that. I find that incredible.
GUPTA: It's inexcusable, Anderson. I mean, this is really -- I can't believe -- you know, I live in Georgia, as you know, and I can tell you I have grade school students that are, you know, my kids who know this.
The CDC has been talking about this since the beginning of February. You know where the CDC is? In Georgia. The same state where the governor said he didn't know this until the last 24 hours? I mean, I -- you know, Anderson, this is one of the most serious issues I think maybe any of us will sort of deal with perhaps in our lifetime.
And the governor of a state says he didn't know something that the country has known and has been acting on, thinking about for two months, he says he didn't know this until the last 24 hours. I mean --
COOPER: And that that's what caused him to do something, frankly -- I mean, if he listened to any scientist, any scientist will say this is what everybody should be doing. We know this is what works. It may be the only thing we know works, and yet some of these governors are just not doing it.
GUPTA: Right. And I mean, you know, there's lots of -- I'm sure, different governors are saying different things. But for this governor, Governor Kemp to say, I didn't know this until the last 24 hours, you know, I don't know what to call that. It's certainly, you know, ignorance. He has some of the best public
health scientists in the world that are right down the street. So, I mean, I hope, you know, we act. I hope it makes a difference. But I worry that it's too late. And, you know --
GUPTA: -- people are going to suffer, Anderson.
COOPER: Well, it's also -- like Florida, it's not even in place tomorrow. So, we're already saying -
GUPTA: That's right.
COOPER: -- as if it's in place. It's not.
Sanjay, we have reporters here in New York, around the world. I want to start with Erica Hill at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, an area considered the epicenter of the epicenter of this pandemic in the U.S.
Erica, talk about what's the latest.
ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Well, what we're seeing here in New York City specifically as you were talking about, guidance potentially coming from the White House about wearing a covering over your face outside, that's already happening here in New York City.
Mayor de Blasio earlier today saying he is advising New Yorkers when they go outside, to cover their faces when they're outside if they have to be out there. But he stressed this should be a scarf or a bandana. Leave the masks for the health care workers.
There is also a real focus on Sunday because that's when a lot of the supplies we're learning could run out. That's the fear here in New York City. The mayor also said by Sunday he needs a thousand additional nurses, 300 respiratory therapists and 150 doctors.
And we've talked so much about these auxiliary facilities at the Javits Center, some 2500 beds put in. That was supposed to be for non- COVID patients. The governor announcing that he asked President Trump if that could be used in fact for coronavirus patients. The president has granted that request. And so that will now be used for those patients.
But we can tell you there are 16 patients being treated at the field hospital in Central Park. One is in the ICU tonight.
GUPTA: And, you know, Erica, Elmhurst Hospital obviously has left a big impression on people. People have seen the inside. You've been there on and off for the last week. Is there relief there? I mean, to the extent it's a microcosm, is it improving at all in terms of the numbers?
HILL: You know, it's interesting. We actually saw more people outside today, Sanjay, waiting to get in at a safe distance from one another, I would say further apart than they were last week when we saw them all wearing masks.
This is one of the hardest hit areas, as you know. Part of that reason, we've been told by officials is people here in Queens, people live together. You are in a small apartment. You may have multiple family units living together. So as much as there is social distancing outside, it's harder to do inside.
But there was a special moment tonight. And I know you're going to let us share that. The F.D.N.Y. showed up at shift change here just before 7 o'clock. And they were here to thank the health care workers at Elmhurst Hospital.
And I just want to play a little of that moment of heroes thanking heroes tonight. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That's amazing.
HILL: So, health care workers visibly moved. The firefighters so appreciative and moved. And I have to say witnessing it was really -- it was really quite a moment to see.
COOPER: Yes. Those folks on the front lines of this. Erica Hill, thanks. Now to China, the original epicenter of the outbreak, reports things are starting to get back to normal. And that China might have been dramatically under reporting their death toll.
David Culver is in Shanghai for us. Are you seeing some return there to some sort of normalcy?
DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We are, Anderson. It is little by little. I know a lot of folks, you know, reach out, not only my own family, friends, some of our colleagues even, hoping this is the light at the end of the tunnel.
I got to tell you though, in recent days -- I'm not going to say the light has gone dark again, but it certainly has flickered back and forth.
And what we have seen is while folks are going back out on the streets, and you see traffic building up, and there seems to be more and more comfort to even go out to restaurants, there's also now coming down new restrictions from the government, and they come down rather swiftly.
So, for example, movie theaters had opened back up, indoor tourist attractions -- like the Oriental Pearl Tower behind me -- were open just for a few hours or a few days, then they were shut back down because of this concern about imported cases and asymptomatic cases and people -- as these easing of restrictions come into play here, especially in the next week -- moving back around again, and potentially spreading more of this virus. So there is some worry about that in this potential second wave.
GUPTA: David, first of all, I just got to say again, your reporting has just been phenomenal. You've probably followed some of the news here in the States. There sort of seems to be this renewed skepticism about just how reliable China's numbers were, especially in the beginning, how transparent they were. You're there. Have you learned anything new on that regard?
CULVER: I appreciate you saying that, Sanjay. I rely heavily on my team here. And to that point, I've relied on my team for many weeks now as we've been covering this for 2 1/2 months. And as far as the skepticism is concerned, yeah, it's there. And our early reporting showed that.
I mean, we were hearing story from the front lines, not only people within Wuhan, who were seeing the symptoms among their family members, seeing loved ones pass away, and then be told by doctors, "Well, we didn't have the testing, we couldn't confirm it so we're just going to label it as severe pneumonia," knowing that then those individuals don't go toward the total death toll count.
We also heard from folks -- some doctors and nurses -- who were describing the dire shortages of supplies and everything. And what we've seen now since is that there is still a skepticism, and that's renewed when you see the methodology and how these numbers are being released by the Chinese government, particularly this past week when they just now have started adding these asymptomatic cases. And that's something even certain Chinese media had been calling for.
That being said, the Chinese government has come out strong in the past week, really taking to the podium for ten minutes at the foreign ministry, slamming the U.S., slamming Vice-President Pence and Secretary of State Pompeo, essentially saying that what China was going through was known early on, including back in January, and that's indicated by what the CDC had put out.
They also suggest that when the consulate in Wuhan was closed, for example, on January 25th, and then the travel ban was put in in early February, those are indicators that the U.S. knew the severity of this. The question they then pose to the U.S. is why does it take two months for action to then take place and start reacting to, you know, how to handle this.
COOPER: David Culver, appreciate it. Thanks. Ben Wedeman is in Rome for us. On Wednesday, Vice-President Mike Pence said in an interview on CNN that the outbreak in this country is most comparable to the one in Italy. Ben, if what Vice-President Pence says is accurate, what can Americans expect in the weeks ahead?
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well they can expect, Anderson, things to get a lot worse. Because Italy right now seems to be coming out of the most difficult phase in this crisis, but in terms of the death toll which is now more than 13,000, the more painful phase is yet to come.
People oddly are taking relief at the fact that the death toll is now down -- the daily death toll -- is now down to the 700s. What we're seeing is, for instance, the number of new cases being reported in the last 24 hours is about half what it was two weeks ago. But this has come at a huge cost to Italy in terms of simply the number of people dead and the damage to the economy.
And you're really beginning to feel that the initial high morale people had with singing from their balconies and what not is wearing out -- wearing out. People are worried about the economy, worried about the future, worried about the ability of this country to function after the huge blow that it took, and continues to take, from this outbreak.
We're now well into our fourth week of the lockdown here, and the government is talking about perhaps easing measures sometime in mid April. But at this point there's no clear indication when real measures with real relaxation of the measures will take place. And I can tell you, the frustration with this new way of life is becoming intense -- Anderson.
GUPTA: I bet. Yes. Yes. Ben, you know, the apex of the curve -- that's what everyone's talking about -- the apex of the curve is quite high in Italy. That's why there were so many people got sick and died.
But now as the numbers come down, are people over there, are they cautious that the numbers will continue to come down? Do they believe it? Or are they still worried about it going back up?
WEDEMAN: I think people are cautiously optimistic because I can tell you, every evening at 6:00 p.m. when the civil protection agency here puts out its statistics, people are holding their breath to see, is it going to get better or isn't it? And certainly over the last few days, there has been something of a cautious sigh of relief, but not everyone is convinced that the worst is over.
And certainly the numbers may be somewhat deceptive. Some Italian officials are saying that the actual number of reported cases, as opposed to the hundred and - in the teens thousand cases, it's actually around 600,000 cases. But many people either show very few symptoms or no symptoms at all. And of course they're the biggest danger in terms of spreading the virus. Sanjay?
COOPER: Ben Wedeman. Ben, thanks very much. Sanjay, we're going to take a quick break. When we return, Dr. Anthony Fauci of the White House task force joins us to answer your coronavirus questions. We'll be right back.
COOPER: We continue the CNN Global Town Hall - coronavirus facts and fears, with answers to your questions about the pandemic. At the bottom of the screen, you'll see our social media scroll that shows the questions that people are asking.
Joining Sanjay and me with -- with answers, Dr. Anthony Fauci, a member of the White House coronavirus task force. Dr. Fauci, we want to get to viewer questions in just a moment. First, knowing the signs, does it make sense some states are still not issuing stay-at-home orders?
I mean, whether there should be a federally mandated directive for that or not, I guess that's more of a political question. But just scientifically, doesn't everybody have to be on the same page with this stuff?
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE MEMBER: Yes, I think so, Anderson. I don't understand why that's not happening. As you said, you know, the tension between federally mandated versus states' rights to do what they want is something I don't want to get into.
But if you look at what's going on in this country, I just don't understand why we're not doing that. We really should be.
GUPTA: I appreciate you being very clear about that, because I think it is very frustrating, especially for people who live in some of these states, Dr. Fauci.
But let me ask you about a different issue. There's a top health expert issue from -- the National Academy issued a warning to the White House that the coronavirus could spread through even breathing and talking.
I think they were sort of making the case maybe this is more airborne than we realized.
FAUCI: Right. Right.
GUPTA: I remember the other day we talked about the fact that you still go outside for runs. You run at late night, even with your wife. With this new information, would you still do that? Are you worried about this?
FAUCI: Yes. You know, Sanjay, the study came from a scientist at the N.I.H., actually, it was a letter, I believe to the New England Journal of Medicine, in which they showed that when you just literally speak -- you don't have to cough, you don't have to sneeze -- there is an aerosol that goes out just a very short distance, just a couple of feet.
And I think that's one of the things putting a red flag for people, why people who are completely asymptomatic, not coughing, not sneezing, we know now are transmitting the virus, which brings up a number of issues.
First, it underscores why you should continue to try and stay 6 feet away from someone because that would obviate that right away. The other thing, it brings up the question that you brought up on the
show before, is the question of whether people should be wearing some sort of a facial cloth covering, not taking masks away from the people who need them, like health care providers, but that clearly generates that question.
GUPTA: So, I mean, if it is - if it even goes a couple feet, but if it stays airborne for - for any time at all, would you -- would you change your -- your behavior based on this information? Like running outside, for example?
FAUCI: No, no, Sanjay, I wouldn't, because I believe the 6-foot distance would really obviate that concern.
FAUCI: Because if you look at the video of what that came out of that person's mouth when they spoke, it was sort of like this. But it stayed there for a bit, a couple of feet, then went down.
GUPTA: Let me -- let me -- let me just ask a little more about these masks, though. Because, you know, we are hearing that, you know, we're being told that maybe masks should be recommended in public.
I think the president basically said today that if people wanted to wear them they can, and he said that in many ways a scarf is better. It's thicker. Where do you stand on that? Do you think there is going to be any official guidelines on that?
FAUCI: You know, Sanjay, that is being discussed really very actively. We were discussing it actively today in the task force, and I can assure you it's going to be on the agenda tomorrow.
You know, and it really gets down to the point we're not changing any of the things where we say regarding masks for health care workers.
But, you know, we say 6 feet away from each other. But when you go out for food, you go out to the pharmacy, there's going to be times when, you know, unwittingly you're going to be closer than that.
And given the fact that we know that asymptomatic people are clearly transmitting infection, it just makes common sense that it's not a bad idea to do that. It's not going to be 100 percent. And it's more, not to protect you from getting infected, but to protect a person from getting infected from you.
So if everybody in an altruistic way said, "I'm assuming I'm infected, and I don't want to infect anybody else, so when I go out in a situation where I can't guarantee I'm 6 feet away from someone, why don't I just put some sort of covering there?"
And that's the thing that some people are already spontaneously doing, anyway. But whether or not it's going to be official recommendation I think is going to come soon one way or the other.
GUPTA: Okay. COOPER: Dr. Fauci, we've got a question from viewers. The first one is from Robin in California. She wants to know, "If we've been under stay-at-home orders in California for two weeks, why is the peak still yet to come?"
FAUCI: Yes, that's a really great question, Anderson. And the fact is there is a delay. Because the way it goes, you have people who get exposed, they get infected, the number of new infections, hospitalizations, critical care, and deaths.
So even when you suppress or stabilize the number of new infections, it's still going to take a while before you see a decrease in hospitalizations, a decrease in intensive care, and a decrease in deaths.
And, in fact, deaths are the last thing that lag. So, you could be doing well and having a good effect on mitigation and still see the deaths go up. A guarantee that's exactly what's going to happen in New York City.
COOPER: I want to follow up with that. You know, Dr. Murray's chart, you know, shows 80,000 some deaths by August. The White House projection was 100,000 to 240,000 in a similar amount of time. That could change if, you know, people really adhere to social distancing, everyone stays at home. The converse, though, is also true.
If all states don't start stay-at-home orders and there's social, rigorous social distancing, those numbers could also increase, correct? Because isn't some -- isn't it your numbers based on the idea that current social distancing remains as it is or all states are doing it?
FAUCI: Right on, Anderson. You're exactly correct. And that's the reason why I, you know, just want to reach out to the viewers and say, you know, mitigation, if you do it well, is going to be at a number that I don't like, and nobody likes. So, you got to put your foot on the accelerator to bring that number down because data will always trump models.
So, what we want to do is -- we don't care. The model says this, but we want to get it down. But as you say correctly, if you back off and you don't mitigate, there's a possibility that number will go up and that's the worst possible thing in the world you want to see. And that's the reason why I'm so adamant about when we say we got to follow those guidelines. You really got to take it seriously.
GUPTA: And probably longer as well, right, Dr. Fauci? Because it's really -- those models are based on the fact these recommendations stay in place until the end of May, not the end of April.
FAUCI: Right. So, what we're going to do, Anderson, as we've said many times, we made it a 30-day extension. That was the proper and prudent thing to do. We'll look at it then because, as I said all the time, the virus is going to determine the timetable and we've got to make sure we have it under control before we start doing anything prematurely.
GUPTA: Dr. Fauci, we have another viewer question. Becky McAndrews in Pennsylvania sent in a video. Take a look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BECKY MCANDREWS: We are hearing that warmer weather will slow down the virus spread. If so, what are the current temperature trends in the southernmost U.S. regions and how is the virus trending in those areas?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GUPTA: Dr. Fauci?
FAUCI: Yes. You know, in general viruses that are respiratory borne tend to peter out a bit as you get into the warmer, moist weather. Because viruses like cold, dry versus warm, moist. But that's not going to guarantee that that's happening because we have parts of our own country, you know, in Florida where the weather is warm. I mean, Florida now is what Washington, D.C. is going to be in a few months.
So, we can't count on that. I think there will be some effect. I think when the country as a country gets into summer, that we're going to get some positive effect. But we really can't rely on that being the mechanism where we're going to get out of that. We just got to assume it's not going to help and still continue to push on the social distancing.
COOPER: Jaime Coleman in Denver sent in this video. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR JAMIE COLEMAN: Hi. My name is Dr. Jamie Coleman. I'm a trauma and critical care surgeon. Front line health care workers just like me are at a high risk for contracting COVID-19. But we have been put at an increased risk due to lack of PPE and even reusing PPE. Numerous patterns and suggestions have been circulating the Internet as to how to make homemade versions of masks and gowns.
What are your thoughts about front line health care workers utilizing these homemade options? Are they better than nothing or could they potentially be harmful?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FAUCI: Well, certainly they're better than nothing. I don't think they could be potentially harmful. The only way they could be potentially harmful is if you assume that they're as good as the classic PPE and they're not. I mean, I really think we should never, ever, ever get to that point where we're going to have to start making it ourselves.
And that's the reason why when we're at the task force meeting, you know, it's very, very clear that everybody is pushing to make sure no health care worker ever runs out of PPE. And I know there's a lot of anxiety out there because I'm on the phone all the time with my colleagues throughout the country. People that I trained with back then, people that I trained who are telling me the same thing, that they're getting anxious because they're getting perilously close to the time when they'll run out.
They haven't run out yet and I hope they never do. And what we're trying to do through FEMA, through interaction between the state, local and federal government to make sure that never happens.
So although as the - as that younger - as the physician just said, that it's better than nothing but we hope we never have to get there.
GUPTA: Actually, let's see get one more question in here, Bill Graman, Wisconsin, sent in another video, please take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL GRAHAM, PGA PROFESSIONAL: So we've seen the graduation of social distancing measures. My question is about the other side and when we start to come out of this, what the phasing-out of social distancing might look like.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FAUCI: Yes, that's a good question.
GUPTA: Will there be an all-clear flag, Dr Fauci?
FAUCI: No, no. Sanjay, there's not going to be an all-clear flag. I mean, we better be careful about declaring victory just because you've turned a corner on a curve. When we turn the corner and it goes down, we have to have in place the ability to do the kind of containment that's pristine. Namely, you can - you test like crazy, you - you identify people, you - you isolate them and you do contact tracing.
You can't do that when you're in the middle of an explosive situation and you're doing mitigation. But when you get that curve down, it's kind of the restart button and that's when you really got to make sure you don't ever let it out of control again. So it isn't declaring victory. It's okay, we run this round but let's keep it down.
COOPER: It's a long battle. Dr Fauci, I appear all you're doing and we know your time is - is valuable. Thanks for being with us.
GUPTA: Thank you.
FAUCI: Good to be with you guys.
COOPER: Up next, we're going to check in with one of the first volunteers to receive an experimental Coronavirus vaccine.
[21:35:20] COOPER: Welcome back to our CNN global town hall. Let's head to Seattle now to check in with the second person to receive an experimental vaccine for COVID-19. Neal Browning gave us an update during one of our early town halls. He joins us again tonight. Neal, it's good to see you. How you been feeling since we last checked in with you?
NEAL BROWNING, CORONAVIRUS VACCINE TRIAL VOLUNTEER: Good to see you too. Thanks for having me. I'm feeling much the same -- completely normal. No side effects or issues so far.
GUPTA: Neal, I've been reading about this trial somewhat, and I want to make sure -- I know they explained it to you -- I want to make sure I got this right.
So there's no live virus in the vaccine you've been given. Instead, this whole vaccine uses a process that basically gives you the blueprint for the virus, and then directs your own cells to make the proteins of the virus. That hopefully triggers your immune system to respond. Is that correct, do you know? Is that how they explained it to you?
BROWNING: Yes, that is how they explained it. It's basically teaching your body to make the spy(ph) proteins that make up the external shell of the COVID-19 virus. To teach your body how to find it, attack it successfully, so that if you are exposed after the vaccination, hopefully your body will be able to attack it very quickly and get it out of your system.
GUPTA: So the hope is that, not only does your body attack these proteins that are made to look like the virus, but that your body creates antibodies, antibodies that will last in your bloodstream for at least a year if not more. That would be critical for a possible vaccine to be successful, right?
BROWNING: Exactly. Otherwise you would need to go in for boosters -- if the antibodies only lasted a few months, you'd have to go in every few months to get new boosters. So the idea behind a good vaccination is the longevity of it.
I know tetanus lasts about ten years. And if you have the chicken pox, most people don't even get it any more. So the longer you can keep the antibodies in the bloodstream, the better off you are.
GUPTA: Neal, I think everybody in -- probably in the world wants to get some idea of the time line of this whole thing. I mean, do you have a sense of what the next phase or phases might look like for you or for others? Or just -- just how long the process might take?
BROWNING: So, I had my second blood draw, which is being sent off today for analysis of the fact that my body did react properly, is creating the antibodies. I will get a booster on the 14th of April, and that'll follow another four weeks of monitoring.
After that, the idea is they should start collating all of the data, see what the 45 of us are able to determine from what our bodies' reactions are, and hopefully they will move to phase two at that point, which will involve a much larger and broader audience.
COOPER: You know, there's a lot of folks on the front lines, medical doctors and nurses, who are taking risks. I mean, you're taking a risk doing something like this. There's a lot of unknown.
To those out there who might think this is as serious, or to the states that are still operating, you know, without stay-at-home orders, what message do you have for them about this virus?
BROWNING: So, honestly, this needs to be taken very seriously. Washington was where the first recorded case was. We could look like New York City if we had not had orders from the governor to suspend schools, suspend public events, start rapidly downscaling the number of people allowed in groups in public until eventually we got our shelter-in-place orders.
You can believe that this might be an overreaction, but the problem is if you don't overreact, in hindsight you may see that you should have taken better precautions. But that's not going to help any of those people who died.
COOPER: Yeah. Neal Browning, I really appreciate all you're doing.
GUPTA: Thanks for joining us.
COOPER: Yeah, it's really -- I appreciate it. Thank you very much.
BROWNING: Thank you for having me.
COOPER: A reminder at the bottom of your screen, you'll see the social media scroll. Shows questions people are asking. You can tweet us your question with #cnntownhall. We'll be talking to Sanjay and others to answer them throughout the next -- well, hour and 20 minutes. You can also leave a comment on the CNN Facebook page.
Back now with Sanjay. We want to bring in Dr. Leana Wen, a veteran of our town halls, an emergency room physician, and Baltimore's former health commissioner. Dr Wen, obviously the entire world right now focus on when there will be a vaccine. Is the trial Neal is involved with promising, do you think? And -- it's certainly not the only one that's happening, right?
DR. LEANA WEN, EMERGENCY ROOM PHYSICIAN, VISITING PROFESSOR, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: That's right. It is promising. And I also think it's promising that there are dozens of other potential vaccine candidates.
But we still have to keep in mind that, even with all that promise, we're still looking at at least a year, maybe a year and a half or more before that vaccine can actually reach the hands of people so that we can start taking them.
And in the meantime, it is those social distancing measures -- the stay-at-home orders you've been talking about, Anderson -- that's the single most important thing we can do to prevent ourselves from getting COVID-19 and spreading it to other people. [21:40:00]
COOPER: Sanjay, realistic, you think that timeline, a year, year and a half?
GUPTA: Yeah, I mean, look, I think Dr. Fauci and others have been very consistent on that. Two things to keep in mind. Sometimes to create a vaccine, Anderson, it can take 10 years. There have been vaccines that have taken that long, so this is still a fast timeline. You brought up with Neil this idea that there is some risk involved.
One of the things that they've got to be really careful about is that this vaccine doesn't cause something known as sensitization, which basically means that the next time Neil or somebody who's been vaccinated sees the coronavirus, their body actually overreacts to it. They have a huge sort of response which can sometimes be deadlier than the infection itself. So it's that sensitization thing they want to make sure doesn't occur right now. It just takes a while to prove that, Anderson.
COOPER: I want to get to viewer questions, Sanjay. Karen Rathman in San Francisco sent in this video. Let's take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAREN RATHMAN, RETIRED: After 14 days two families stayed apart and self-quarantined by family at home for the entire 14 days. No member of either family shows signs of having the coronavirus. Is it safe for the two families to be together now in one home rather than continuing to be separated?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Sanjay, what do you think?
GUPTA: That's like one of those A.A.T. questions. You have 14 days, two families.
COOPER: Traveling 14 miles at 12 miles an hour.
GUPTA: Yeah, you know, so here's how I would answer that. I'm curious if Leana would agree with me. Fourteen days comes up because that's sort of the time between when you've been exposed and when you might develop symptoms. It's not a perfect number because, Anderson, as you and I know, we interviewed somebody who had the virus in their system longer than that.
But 14 days is a good number. If they haven't had any symptoms yet, they should be pretty much in the clear. And I think it's okay to be back together. Maybe that will make quarantining a little bit easier for them. But every time you move around, every time you're sort of traveling and things like that, it's an added risk.
COOPER: What about people who are asymptomatic?
GUPTA: Yeah, I think even with asymptomatic, this idea that if you were -- if you were going -- the virus, if it was there between the time of exposure to the time of symptoms, you would have had it in about 14 days. You shouldn't have symptoms or --
COOPER: Got it.
GUPTA: -- spread after that. So it's not perfect, but if they really wanted to be together, I think it would be okay. Just be careful with travel or anything else unusual.
COOPER: All right. Dr. Wen, here's a question James sent in which reads, "We've heard about the time to wash our hands with soap. How long should the contact time be for hand sanitizer? A few drops evaporates in a few seconds. A little more 30 seconds. Again, how long to rub hand sanitizer to kill the virus?"
WEN: That's a great question. So the duration and the location of the hand sanitizer should be the same as if you're using soap and water. So at least 20 seconds. And remember to also -- the biggest mistake I see people Make is they just do hand sanitizer over their palms.
But they should be thinking about it if they were washing their hands. They should be doing the back of their hands, their thumbs. They should be watching Sanjay's great hand washing video and do the same thing for hand sanitizer, too. And remember too that if you do have soap and water available, that's still better.
COOPER: The old in-between the fingers that Sanjay does. Nobody washes their hands like Sanjay.
GUPTA: Anderson, you said last time - you said every time you wash your hands you think of me.
COOPER: I do.
GUPTA: That's a very interesting thing to say.
COOPER: I know, but I do. This a question that Cheryl sent in to CNN.com, which reads, "Can COVID-19 be contracted by ingesting it on produce from the supermarket?" Sanjay?
GUPTA: So it's interesting. This is not a foodborne illness. You know, I want to make that clear because a lot of people think if you eat this virus because your food has been contaminated, could you get it. You can't. This is a respiratory virus. So it's more a question of the packaging. You just have to think about is there any risk of contamination in other ways. But you're not going to get like a G.I. type thing from eating the virus.
COOPER: But so Sanjay, if people feel compelled to sanitize their groceries, just like we did with the hand washing, we actually filmed a tutorial. So let's take a look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GUPTA: Okay. People do need to grocery shop, obviously. Try and limit the number of times you go to the grocery store. That will just allow you to keep better social distance. And keep in mind this is not a foodborne illness. You're not going to get it from eating the food. It's very unlikely you'll get it from packages, but we know the virus can live on surfaces, for example steel and plastic, for up to three days.
I've used glitter here from my kids to show you what the virus might be like. We know they can live on cardboard, for example, up to 24 hours. So what I've done here is I've created a dirty area and a clean area. This was a suggestion from Dr. Van Wingenup in up in Michigan. Here's my dirty area. I'm just going to clean all the virus off here. I don't need to do too much.
It's a pretty sensitive virus. You don't need to use any kind of specific wipe either, any household cleaner will do. And then once I'm sure I got this clean, I put this into the clean area. And again, for cardboard, it's typically going to be closer to 24 hours. Just get all those surfaces pretty well - once you're confident about that, I get all the glitter off in this case, then I put this in the clean area.
Now, one thing I do want to show you, if you are wearing gloves and you don't need to wear gloves, the biggest key is how you take them off. You want to make sure you don't contaminate yourself. So grab the inside of the glove here and pull it over itself and then I grab with my finger over here, from the inside, and pull that over as well and I drop that into the dirty area also. Finally, I clean my hands one more time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: And so - but - just two things, just to be clear - you don't need to wear gloves, you're saying?
COOPER: And - and also, any wipe will do? I mean, like a Kleenex or a dishtowel? Or - or you need some soap on it or - -
GUPTA: Yes, I - you know, I don't think you need to have a particular type of wipe but some sort of cleaner, you know, something like that. It's - it's a pretty sensitive virus so - -
COOPER: So it doesn't have to be a - you know, a whatchacallit - like a Purell kind of thing?
GUPTA: No, it doesn't have to be a Purell kind - you - you know, even a spray type cleaner, something like that, that you might use on cloth and - or whatever, you know?
GUPTA: It's - it's a virus that - that responds, you know, will - will be affected by that pretty easily. So you know, that's just an example of what you can do. I - that's - that's what we've started doing in our house and leave packaging outside if you get takeout food and still keep social distance but - yes, it works pretty well.
COOPER: Okay but still the majority of transmission is person - to person?
GUPTA: Right, and - and - and, you know, respiratory droplets that are in the air. You can touch surfaces and then touch your eyes, nose or mouth - -
GUPTA: - - which is why, you know - like, I - I think it's a very low likelihood that for it to happen off of - of groceries and stuff like that but you know, I think, you know, being cautious especially at this time's a good idea.
COOPER: Sure. Dr Wen, Oscar in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, sent in this video. Let's take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OSCAR VAN LOVEREN, PILOT: Hello, and thank you for all that you do to keep us informed. Due to being bombarded with the virus every day, the number of healthcare professionals that are affected is understandably large. It also seems that they have a disproportionate number of undesirable outcomes. 51 doctors have died in Northern Italy alone. Is there possibly a correlation between the amount of virus that one is exposed to and the severity of symptoms one develops? Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Dr Weng, I - I just want to point out the substance of Oscar's question is accurate. The exact number is that at least 69 doctors in Italy have died of Coronavirus, 41 of which were in the - the northern Lombardy region. What your - what your thought on his question, Dr Weng?
WEN: Yes, it's a really good question. We know that the likelihood of someone getting COVID-19 depends on the type of contact they have. So if they live with someone, they're much more likely to get COVID-19 if that person is infected than through casual contact with someone they met for a couple of seconds.
It also stands to reason, we known for other viruses, that the viral load, the amount of virus, does determine the severity of your illness and so that could happen in the case of healthcare workers who are exposed to just a lot more COVID-19 as a result of their work, that they get more severely ill and I think that really underscores the need for that PPE that we've been talking about, the personal protective equipment, because healthcare workers are on the frontlines treating patients who are really ill with COVID-19 and they really need those masks and gowns and everything more than anyone else.
COOPER: Sanjay, Wayne Whitcomb in North Hampton, New Hampshire, sent in this video. Let's watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) WAYNE WHITCOMB, ENGINEER: I wonder if the surface of our cell phones could be contributing to the spread of the virus as we touch our phones frequently but probably don't think to disinfect our phones as often as we wash our hands. I haven't seen any discussion or guidance given on this topic and wonder if you think it's a real concern, how should we properly disinfect our phones as part of our routine precautions? Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: I love that. I'm obsessed with this dirt on phones, so ahead, Sanjay.
GUPTA: Yes, we've actually tested your phone beforehand and it - it was - it was quite filthy, yes, but --
COOPER: Yes, I know.
GUPTA: I mean, he makes a really good point and look, it - it's probably the most common surface we touch, is our phone, you don't think about it, we think about our counters and all that sort of stuff. So yes, you know, cleaning the phone and - and wiping the phone, just like I showed with some of those cans is a good idea.
I've been doing that pretty regularly and - Anderson, let me show you this - this is a hack from the hospitals that - that doctors sent me, that they are now doing. They - they'll put their phone in a zip-lock bag like that and basically, you know, use it throughout the day like that and then be able to take the bag off and then when they take their phone home at night -- you know, try and keep it a little bit cleaner.
So that's an example of something that is being done in hospitals, but that people can do as well because your phone does end up being a repository of all kinds of different pathogens.
COOPER: It's the same thing we do in hurricanes with the phones, putting them in Ziploc bags to make sure they don't get wet. Dr. Wen, Wayne sent in another video. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WAYNE: If you're outside and it's breezy or windy, do the six feet guidelines still apply or does it need to be farther because of the wind? And second, if you're jogging or biking and breathing heavy athletically, and you pass someone else jogging or biking, is the transmission risk the same as if you pass someone sneezing or coughing? Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: I've had those exact questions while outside running. What do you think, Dr. Wen? WEN: So six feet is a general guideline. And it is possible that -- and likely when it's windy that the droplets can be transmitted over six feet. And also if somebody is breathing heavily or coughing, sneezing, et cetera, it could be transmitted more than that too.
So I would say use your common sense and try to give as wide of a berth as possible when you're passing someone or when it's windy outside. But remember too that it's also the indoor transmission that matters a lot. I would actually be more concerned when I'm grocery shopping or in some other enclosed space to give at least six feet distance in those cases, too.
GUPTA: And I can add as well if you're sick you should stay home. Right? I mean, if you're coughing and sneezing you should stay home so hopefully people who are not experiencing symptoms don't have to worry about that as much.
COOPER: Sanjay, Wendy Blum in West Orange, New Jersey, sent in this video. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WENDY BLUM, PRESCHOOL DIRECTOR: My husband and I have both tested positive for COVID-19. I'm managing my symptoms at home, but my husband was admitted to the hospital last Wednesday with pneumonia and difficulty breathing. He's improving slowly and he's not considered critical, but he's still very weak.
I'm hearing that many people are relapsing if not careful. How can I be sure that he will not be discharged and sent home before he's really well enough in order to allow for sicker people to be admitted to the hospital?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Wendy, thank you for your question and I hope your husband gets better soon. Sanjay, what do you think?
GUPTA: This is a really important question and a tough situation. I can understand the concern there. I mean look, there's no question we're in an unusual time and unprecedented. I mean we want to make space for patients in the hospital who really need to be there. But it is true that sometimes people can have this sort of up and downs in terms of their clinical course.
I think, you know, the key is that even if he does come home, the chances are he's probably going to continue to recover and statistically that's very likely to happen. If he has any signs he's getting worse -- so symptoms getting worse, fever going up, chest discomfort, any kind of shortness of breath, there's a list of symptoms that should take him back to the hospital.
Again, I'm not suggesting this is easy. It's challenging because now you're worried because he's at home. But there are things you can sort of watch out for to feel like you can take a bit of control over that situation. COOPER: Dr. Wen, Andrew Sutton in Canada sent us a video. I want to play that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDREW SUTTON, STUDENT: If a person within an apartment building gets COVID-19, can the virus spread from that unit to other units through the plumbing or vents like SARS did?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Dr. Wen?
WEN: So there's no evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted over long distances, through HVAC, heating systems and so forth. However, as mentioned regarding SARS it is possible that if there are defective systems, defective plumbing systems as an example, that there could be transmission that way.
And so buildings should make sure they check their exhaust systems, their pipe systems. And I think for all of us -- for all the people who live in apartment buildings, there are additional steps you could take as well, including don't get into crowded elevators. Actually try to make sure you're not in an elevator with someone.
These surfaces that are commonly touched like handrails and buttons and door handles, make sure to wash your hands very well after touching those surfaces. And also you can increase your own ventilation, especially as the weather is getting warmer, by opening the window.
COOPER: Sanjay, Barbara Clifford in Chicago sent a video. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARBARA CLIFFORD, FLIGHT ATTENDANT, SOUTHWEST AIRLINES: Hi. I'm a flight attendant and we are still considered essential workers during the coronavirus outbreak. I live with my adult daughter who is 31 years old and I'm wondering, once I come home from work, what precautions should I be doing so I don't infect the house or risk her catching anything? Are there any guidelines for all of us essential workers to be following once we make our way back home or into our homes?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GUPTA: Before I give this answer, I just want to remind people. You know, this is going to come to an end at some point. I mean, this is not how life is going to be forever. But for you specifically, Barbara, you know, when you come home, being able to -- to quarantine yourself in your home, if that makes sense. I realize that the home is sort of quarantining, but even within the house, if you can find a space that is yours, separate out, you know, cutlery, utensils, things you're using. Have a separate bathroom, again, if possible. Those things will help at least for -- for the time being.
COOPER: And certainly showering as soon as you get home.
GUPTA: Yes. That's right. And washing your clothes, things like that. Absolutely.
COOPER: Yes. Dr. Wen, thank you so much, as always. Really appreciate it.
GUPTA: Thanks Leana.
COOPER: And I want to thank anybody who sent in questions and videos. More -- we'll have more questions being answered in the next hour. More of our global town hall just ahead. An expert from the World Health Organization will answer more of your questions. Plus we're going to hear from New York's Governor Andrew Cuomo -- he'll be joining us. Also Chris Cuomo will be joining us. All ahead. Stay tuned.
COOPER: Welcome again to our CNN global town hall -- coronavirus facts and fears. This is our fifth town hall. In just the last hour, cases in the -- cases have risen, and the number of dead in the United States has also increased. There are now 243,453 positive cases in America, and 5,926 people have died.