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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
CNN Global Town Hall Coronavirus: Facts and Fears. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired April 9, 2020 - 08:00 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.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Anderson. I am Dr. Sanjay Gupta. And this is the CNN Global Town Hall Coronavirus: Facts and Fears.
Tonight, C.D.C. Director, Dr. Robert Redfield will be joining us to answer your questions about coronavirus.
COOPER: Also, about what needs to happen before the country can reopen, multiple sources tell CNN the White House is looking at a date as early as May 1st, though it may be later.
Just this evening, President Trump told our Jim Acosta during the daily coronavirus news conference that there will not be mass coronavirus testing for all Americans as the country goes back to work. Quoting the President, "We're talking about 325 million people and that's not going to happen, as you can imagine." I'll talk to Dr. Redfield about that.
GUPTA: Also joining us tonight, NBA Hall of Famer, Magic Johnson on why the pandemic appears to be affecting African Americans in this country proportionally.
Also, Pastor Rick Warren on faith and his message of hope heading into the Easter weekend.
COOPER: At the bottom of your screen, you'll see our social media scroll. Tweet us your questions with #CNNTownHall. You can also leave a comment on the CNN Facebook page.
A lot of you have sent in video questions, we'll get to as many of those as we can. We also have reports from across the country and around the world on how those at home and abroad are fighting the virus.
GUPTA: We want to start though with this country and where we are in this fight against the virus.
The death count increases dramatically every day. According to Johns Hopkins University, 1661 people died today. Total dead 16,478. Hard to believe. At least 461,437 people now infected in the United States alone.
COOPER: Health officials say this week will be the deadliest of the pandemic yet and what we do in the coming days and weeks may define how we live for the foreseeable future.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: The United States just had its deadliest day yet from coronavirus.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: There's been a shift in a key models' predictions for the death toll.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: The state's governor says there are signs that social distancing is working. The C.D.C. is urging Americans to keep it up or risk losing any progress that we are making.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER (voice-over): There are now more than 450,000 cases of the coronavirus in the U.S. More than 16,000 people have died because of the virus.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. JEROME ADAMS, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: This is going to be our Pearl Harbor moment, our 9/11 moment, only it's not going to be localized it's going to be happening all over the country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER (voice-over): More than 97 percent of the country continues some form of social distancing efforts with new evidence that it is working.
The data and model show the death toll in the U.S. might not be as high as the White House initially feared.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
DR. ROBERT REDFIELD, CDC DIRECTOR: The numbers are going to be much, much, much, much lower than would have been predicted by the models.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
COOPER (voice-over): Still, the White House Taskforce warns of new hotspots around the country. Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia and Houston may be next.
And despite some positive trends, New York had its highest number of deaths so far this week. Officials warn now is not the time to ease up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. ANDREW COUMO (D-NY): What we do affects the number of cases, our behavior affects the number of cases. We are generating the cases.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER (voice-over): There are encouraging signs here and around the world. After 76 days of lockdown, Wuhan has reopened. Several European countries may follow later this month.
But for the U.S., there is no clear timetable on when it may be safe to go back to some sense of normalcy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: We are doing a very good job on mitigation on the physical separation. We've got to continue in many respects to redouble our efforts at the mitigation of physical separation in order to keep those numbers down.
COOPER: That is the message from health officials this week. Self- distancing is working, but we need to keep working particularly as I said earlier, during what many health officials believe will be the deadliest week of the pandemic.
Sanjay, we talked every week about this time about what we've learned and still need to find out about the virus. What do you think we've learned this week?
GUPTA: Well, you know, one of the most common questions we're getting as you might imagine, Anderson, is when are things possibly going to return to some sense of normalcy? People are stir crazy, they're homebound.
By the way how are you doing, Anderson? Are you are you doing okay with the stay-at-home orders?
COOPER: Yes, I mean, you know, I'm able to work, which is a great blessing. And I feel very lucky to do that and privilege to do that. So, it at least gives me something to kind of focus on each day. Otherwise, I would, yes, be going kind of stir crazy.
GUPTA: You know, it's interesting as people look at the numbers, we're going to talk a lot about this tonight. The reason I ask is because, keep in mind, between the time someone is exposed with this virus to the time they develop symptoms, on average, about five days between symptoms, and if they have to go to the hospital, a small percentage will, it's about another 10 days after that.
And then another week, sadly, if someone dies. Point is this, when you look at these numbers, Anderson, they're sort of giving us a snapshot of how things were two to three weeks ago. How we behave now is going to determine what things look like two to three weeks from now.
[20:05:09] GUPTA: So you know as we've always said, Anderson, every single Town
Hall, we all have to behave like we have the virus and how we behave now, how I behave now directly affects you and how you behave directly affects me. That hasn't changed, and I hope we don't take our foot off the pedal with regard to what seems to be working so well so far.
COOPER: Yes, we are still all in this together. Let's get our reporters around the globe, starting with Erica Hill reporting from the epicenter of the pandemic, New York.
So in addition to York City, where there are other hotspots are emerging?
ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So this week, the Taskforce -- Dr. Birx actually noted that there were concerns about Houston, Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Philadelphia as potential hotspots.
The mayor of Baltimore just a short time ago on CNN saying they are ready, they've been preparing. They don't feel they're a hotspot yet and they're hoping and praying that doesn't happen.
Officials from Philadelphia are actually pushing back a little bit on that classification. The mayor is saying they're grateful for the attention, especially if it means more PPE, more equipment, perhaps staff to help their overloaded medical staff and the Health Commissioner for Philadelphia, saying he doesn't say that they're out of the woods, but that he likes what he has seen over the last couple of days. And he thinks that they are actually in a better place. And he's a little bit more optimistic these days.
GUPTA: Erica, you know, people heard about this outbreak within the Cook County Jail in Chicago. Have you -- what have you heard about that?
HILL: The numbers are staggering, and I think it's the numbers that really grab everyone's attention. So, 400 positive cases, 251 of those are detainees. We know that at least one detainee has died. Twenty-two are hospitalized, and there's been a lot of concerns about jails and prisons around the country.
The Cook County Board President saying that jails, in their words are like petri dishes.
COOPER: Also, there are a lot of questions about schools tonight. Moments ago, Florida's governor said that he might start reopening schools on a county by county basis.
On the flip side in California, some local authorities are predicting some events may not resume until this fall.
HILL: You're right. In Santa Clara County, they said good luck seeing sports before Thanksgiving, if you're lucky, just trying to temper everybody's expectations.
When it comes to Florida, the governor there said a short time ago, he may consider opening them county by county because in his words, the virus doesn't really threaten children and no one under 25 has died. Of course, that is not true.
We know from the figures, that unfortunately, people under 25 have died, and of course, it's not just children who will be in schools, but adults of all ages who will be there as staff and teachers.
We should point out, everything is different around the country, but as you hear this in Florida, in Missouri this afternoon, the governor, they're saying schools are close to the end of the academic year, and we know that in Connecticut, they're close through at least May 20th, and it could go beyond.
COOPER: Erica Hill, thanks very much. As the country talks about reopening the economy, China has already begun reopening its country including city that was the source of the virus, Wuhan.
For more on that, let's go to David Culver in Shanghai. So last night, you showed us the app that the Chinese government uses to track people in the country. It's incredibly detailed and personal, and invasive. Can you explain how you signed up for the app? I mean, how is it used?
DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, let me walk you through that, Anderson, because I've been getting a lot of questions. This is the QR code, a barcode equivalent that I have.
It's really specific to me and everyone who is registered for one has something just like that, and so you have to -- you use it to get into places like hotels, restaurants, shopping malls. That's your golden key essentially.
Let me show you going back to when we arrived here in Shanghai and I don't think I fully realized that at the time, but that's what I was signing up for along with every single person who got off the train. You're going through a line where of course they monitor your temperature.
You're met by folks in hazmat suits, they ask you for, if you're Chinese, your national ID card, if you're a foreigner like me, I handed over my U.S. passport. It's then linked to not only your passport number, but also your cell phone number so that then they can continue to track you.
And I can show you how it's used if you are headed into, for example, a space like a hotel. As soon as you walk in, they've now set up tables that naturally have the temperature screening, they have the hand sanitizer, and then they ask to see your app.
You open it up in real time, because people have been screenshotting them, so they figured out a workaround to avoid that. So you have to actually push the button and show it timestamped. And then they check it, verify it, and they'll let you in. Incredibly invasive. I don't know if it can happen in other parts of the world, though it is their way of tracing and tracking.
COOPER: So I mean, have they done a test on you? And therefore, like you, you know, did they do a nasal swab test with you and you passed that and therefore, every time they check your temperature, they assume you haven't gotten infected? And how do they know you're not infected?
CULVER: That's a good question. Incredibly, I have not been tested even though I was actually in Wuhan just ahead of the lockdown and did 14 days of quarantine and have subsequently been here in Shanghai.
I've not been tested. That's not part of this. The idea here is that they can determine whether or not you've been around somebody who is a confirmed case, and that's using some of the geo location's tracking on the cell phone and they can specify if you're on a train, for example, and you're on one end of a carriage or you're in a separate car from a confirmed case.
Depending on how far you are or how close you are to that confirmed case, they can then change your barcode, your QR to a yellow or red, and you can then go into self-isolation or government quarantine.
COOPER: I mean, that's incredible that they can -- I mean, that's a level of surveillance, which obviously does not exist here.
GUPTA: And probably I think, could not exist, I think, David probably would agree with that. He's lived in both places, China and here.
But you know, it's interesting because a lot of people do look to China, David, to sort of get an idea of maybe how things are going to transpire here.
And so to that, what are the latest numbers the Chinese government has released on the virus? I've seen sometimes that's trending upward, but the government feels confident enough, I read for Shanghai schools to reopen now?
CULVER: That was a significant announcement that was made just this week. Yes, Shanghai schools. I mean, you're talking about a city here of 24 plus million people, so it's the largest city.
It was set at the end of April -- April 27th -- that they have decided to start this phased reopening of schools. They're going to do it in batches, Sanjay. So they will essentially let those who are seniors go back first. And then enter in May, they'll start to allow universities to apply to reopen, and some of the other students to then resume classes.
But as far as the numbers are concerned, we're looking at more than 81,000 cases total. All of this, of course, according to the National Health Commission, or the Chinese government, it's met with heavy skepticism because they list the total of deaths at 3,300.
And as we start to see the numbers really skyrocket in Europe and the U.S., that is met with increasing skepticism. I think folks just simply can't believe that it's adding up to that, but they also stress the recovery number of some 77,000.
So that leaves roughly 1,100 active cases.
COOPER: David Culver. Thanks very much. Appreciate it. It's fascinating to see that.
Sanjay, I should just point out I've coughed a couple of times. I don't have any symptoms. It's just -- I think, it's a little asthma thing late at night or during the evening. I just wanted to say that.
GUPTA: All right, and into your elbow. I couldn't see you.
COOPER: I did the back of my hand, but you know what, I'm doing it --
GUPTA: Okay, yes.
COOPER: All right. I'm going to London right now with Christiane Amanpour with the latest on European countries attempts to return to normalcy, also with the update on the condition of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who was rushed to intensive care Monday after his coronavirus condition worsened.
He is supposedly to be doing better right now, right, Christiane?
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Apparently so. The government says that he is doing well enough anyway to be removed from ICU and go back into a hospital ward.
I mean, obviously, there's been no contact. None of the government officials say they've spoken to him, nor obviously have there been any pictures, so we're just taking their daily word for it, but it seems that he has at least been removed from the ICU.
On the other, hand, very, very sadly, a doctor who had posted a few days ago a letter pleading with the Prime Minister to make sure frontline medical workers get the gear that they need, the PPE gear, he died. The reports are that he has just died. So that's really very sad.
And really as is the story of the entire crisis, isn't it, is the frontline workers who simply do not have what they need to be properly prepared and properly armed soldiers in this war. So that's really a very difficult thing for everybody to, you know, to deal with.
GUPTA: And they are the most exposed because, you know, you see these healthcare workers, they cannot social distance, physically distance in hospitals, and that's where the virus is really circulating.
You know, Christiane, a lot of people paying are attention to Germany. I've been following Germany closely. The Health Minister there said that there's a possibility of a gradual return as they described it after Easter if people follow the current restrictions. Is that what you're hearing? And how is that being received over there?
AMANPOUR: Yes. Well, look, you know, it's not just Germany, it's actually Denmark. It's Norway. It's several other countries who've said that they are seeing that the curve is flattened, that they've reached their peak, and that certain countries have said we've got it under control, like Norway said, we have it under control, and we are going to start opening schools. You just heard David talk about schools in Shanghai. It's obviously
schools because of young kids that are the experimental first to break out of this lockdown.
So they're going to start doing that in Norway on April 20th. And in Germany, they said, perhaps if they could, sometime after Easter, but they're also looking very carefully because they don't want to open up and then suddenly see a spike.
So when I asked the Norwegian Prime Minister, what's your Plan B? They say they're going to monitor it very, very carefully, and you know, really react very fast if there's any sort of deterioration after even a partial opening.
Here in Great Britain, that's not the case at all. Britain was slower than the rest of Europe. The United States has been slower than the whole lot put together, so you can see how this is progressing.
AMANPOUR: But they do, you know, they're watching it very, very carefully. And some say that they do have it under control. But as you've been talking about, Germany was big on testing, wasn't it? It was huge on testing proportionately.
AMANPOUR: And that's -- that really helped them.
COOPER: Yes. Christiane Amanpour, thanks very much, as always.
Sanjay, we're going to take a break. When we return, C.D.C. Director, Dr. Robert Redfield is going to join us to answer your questions.
COOPER: As we reported at the top of the show, the administration is now looking toward reopening the economies and in this, health officials say we have to continue to self-distance if we are to order to further reduce the projected death toll from the coronavirus.
I want to talk about where we are in this pandemic and what needs to happen from a medical standpoint in order to return to some sense of normalcy. Joining us for that to answer your questions, Dr. Robert Redfield, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Dr. Redfield, thanks so much for joining us. Before we get to the viewer questions, Sanjay and I just had a couple questions for you. Curious -- I'm curious, just in terms of, you know, a timeline for reopening the government and lifting social distancing restrictions, obviously, that's up to the President.
But just from a medical standpoint, what are some of the things that need to be in place before, you know, from the science standpoint that would be recommended.
DR. ROBERT REDFIELD, DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: Yes, thank you very much. Obviously, it's really, really important to get -- to get our nation back to work. One of the critical things clearly has been the aggressive social distancing that we've done, and I want to take a second to thank all of the Americans that have really been vigilant in putting that into action.
I think we're seeing the consequences of that when we see that our mortality rate is really a lot lower than would have been predicted, and it really shows that this mitigation works, clearly as we move to reopen.
And I think we're coming to the peak as we sit here today where we're able to see the other side of the curve, and we'll see this outbreak continue to decline over the weeks ahead.
We need a couple of things. One is we need to understand the extent of the transmission of virus and it's going to be very different in different parts of the nation. So it's not going to be one size fits all. It's going to be using the data that we have from surveillance to really understand where it is, the most important places for us to begin to reopen.
We really have to have that public health infrastructure augmented, and we at C.D.C. are working hard to get that so that when we open up the government, we open it up for good. We are able to maintain an aggressive public health response of early case identification, isolation and contact tracing, so that we don't get back into this wide scale community transmission, where then we end up with these significant mitigation steps with which we've been through.
We need to really make sure our health facilities are prepared, and finally, we've got to build within the community, the sense of confidence, that it's the time to get back, it's a time to go back to work, it's time to open up some of the businesses.
SO those are really the four most critical elements that we are working and planning on now with the anticipation of beginning to reopen our nation, one region at a time, and get us all back to work and get prepared for next year, which will be another challenging time, but I want to be able to have it, so we respond to it next year with the fundamentals of public health of early case identification, isolation, contact tracing.
We don't have to go through the serious mitigation steps that we're taking to get us under control today.
COOPER: So that's crucial -- getting testing -- more testing, contact tracing, because right now, the last time I talked to Dr. Fauci, he was saying, a lot of states, they don't really have the contract tracing in place that would be necessary.
REDFIELD: Yes, we're really -- we're in the process of working to augment the capacities. You know that the C.D.C. provides a significant portion of the funding for all of our state, local, territorial and tribal health departments across the entire nation.
And it's really true, I think we have to be direct and honest about it over the last 10, 20, 30 years. We've under invested in public health in this nation. We're in the position now of preparing a significant expansion of local public health capacity so that we can operationalize this.
C.D.C. now has well over 500 people in the 50 states that are there, we're planning to expand that substantially, to have a public health response team that can facilitate when diagnosis are made. That aggressive contact tracing that's going to be so important when we begin to open up to make sure that we open up for good.
COOPER: Right. Got it.
GUPTA: And just to emphasize that point, Dr. Redfield, I have heard that in order to do adequate contact tracing, you would need and this is a quote, "an army of some 300,000 people around the country at the community level to actually do this effectively," 300,000 people. That's a lot. Are we anywhere close to that?
REDFIELD: Yes, essentially, I don't that's the estimates that we have right now. I think if we were trying to do this in the midst of a massive transmission period, it may be more substantial.
I do think it's going to take a substantial enhancement, but I don't think that's quite the magnitude that we think at this moment in time, obviously, we're going to as -- as the going back to work starts in different areas, we're going to be operationalizing this and learning along the way.
But it is going to take a deep commitment to the principles of public health and having the workforce to actually execute that and we're working to get that accomplished as we speak.
COOPER: In Massachusetts, I think they're doing a sample program. I think they've hired about a thousand people to do contact tracing. Right now with the public health departments, my understanding is for contact tracing, they essentially leave it up to the person who is positive whether it's for this virus or something else to contact people they may have encountered for actual contact tracing. That's not good enough, is it?
REDFIELD: No, I think we're going to -- we're going to have, I think a very robust public health supervised contact tracing. Again, remember, it is not just going to depend upon the extent of the infections that we have, as we begin to open up.
I think we're going to see a substantial decline in the number of new infections that we're seeing across this country as we open up. Obviously, those jurisdictions that are late and still increasing, are not going to be the first ones that we open up, so more recently, you can see Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, but you can look at other jurisdictions now that are really way down on the down curve. And we'll be looking at this data to do very strategic, very surgical,
opening up with those public health assets to make sure it's successful.
GUPTA: Dr. Redfield, I think Americans have heard so many different numbers over the past couple of months. I think when you and I spoke in February, there were some models suggesting that a million to two million people could lose their lives to this virus.
We've heard 100,000 to 240,000 more recently from the White House. This University of Washington model announcing 60,000. It's really all over the map so to speak, Dr. Redfield. Is it -- do you believe that the numbers have come down that significantly to 60,000 from where you and I spoke back in February?
REDFIELD: You know, Sanjay, that's what the tribute to the American public is. You know, I've said this before. As you know, we have one of the most powerful weapons against this virus. We're not defenseless, and that weapon was the social distance, it is the social distancing.
This virus has a very significant weakness. It can't swim seven feet. If we can just maximize that social distancing, we can limit this virus's ability.
Many people didn't predict and the modelers for sure didn't predict that a majority of American people would embrace that social distancing. And what I've said, when all of us try to do behavior modification for whether it's what we eat, exercise, and you know, whether cigarette smoking, whatever it is for our own health, we're not very good at that.
But I can tell you, I've been really unbelievably amazed and gratified by the commitment of the American people when their behavior modification wasn't for their own health, their behavior modification was to protect a life of somebody else.
REDFIELD: And we've really seen the American public go in to protect the vulnerable, and that's why these numbers are down and the American public should take credit for that.
COOPER: Yes. Dr. Redfield, the President said today that there would not be mass testing for all Americans, as a country goes back to work. I've talked to a lot of scientists and epidemiologists who say, there has to be widespread testing and also pretty immediate results in order to give people confidence that the person in the cubicle next to them, you know, the cough they have, it's just a regular cough and it's not coronavirus.
So, doesn't there have to be really widespread testing and immediate testing in addition to antibody testing.
REDFIELD: I think there has to be continued expansion in testing, which is continued, but I think it's important, Sanjay, you know, one of the things that was really critical that we really weren't blind even before we had wide scale testing, that the C.D.C. and the public health system of this nation has really developed a variety of surveillance systems for respiratory viruses, particularly flu.
And so, if you look at our influenza, like viral reporting system, and you go back and look at it, you can really learn a lot about what is going on with this coronavirus.
So, if we have continued flu-like illness, then obviously very expensive testing is going to be necessary. If we have very limited flu-like illness, then I would argue it's that case identification, the isolation and the contact tracing, and showing that we can really eliminate these clusters, which is going to get the confidence of the American people.
Clearly, as we also do the serology testing, we'll get an understanding of the full extent of the infection of the population, but I think it will really depend on the extent of respiratory illness that's going on at the time.
I think we're going to see a marked decline in respiratory illness, and we're going to get back to the basics of public health, contact -- the case identification, contact tracing and isolation, and that's what's going to drive the American public to see that there's not significant circulation of this virus in their community.
And while they get that confidence, then that they will be able to embrace that confidence in the actions that they choose to take as we get back to work.
GUPTA: Dr. Redfield, we'd like through get to some of the viewer questions as well. Scott Robinson in Medina, New York, sent in this video. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT ROBINSON: I think a lot of people are wondering if it's safer to stay in a hard hit area and follow the strict guidelines or to leave if you can and isolate for a two-week period since you might have become exposed to the virus along the way. Would leaving even be permissible as essential travel?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GUPTA: Could you hear that, Dr. Redfield?
REDFIELD: Sanjay, can you repeat --
GUPTA: Sure, yes.
REDFIELD: Can you repeat a little -- I am having a little earphone problem?
GUPTA: No problem. Basically the question was, should you say as things stand now, is it better to stay in a hard hit area and strictly follow the guidelines or to try and leave if you can, and then isolate for a couple of weeks, knowing that you might pick up the virus while traveling?
REDFIELD: Well, I think it's really important to embrace these guidelines, the 30 days, you know, that we put out to slow the spread of coronavirus.
Clearly when it comes to those areas and I didn't quite hear the whole question, but if it's related to people traveling from an area that we are suggested they should isolate 14 days, for example, in New York- Connecticut area, New Jersey area, we do think it's really important for those individuals to isolate for 14 days.
Unless they're in a critical infrastructure job that they need to do, and we've recently issued guidelines there, how those individuals if they're asymptomatic, if they don't have a temperature, and then they're in a critical infrastructure job, you know, whether it's first responders or whether it's really in the grocery store or in the food industry, these individuals can go back as long as they wear a mask and monitor themselves for illness.
If they do get ill, then they go home for 14 days. I'm not sure I quite heard the whole question. I'm having an earpiece problem, but I tried to do it best I can.
GUPTA: No problem.
COOPER: Let's try this. Ricky from Georgia says what's the racial breakdown of COVID-19 cases and deaths? What percentage of each racial group has been affected? Black, white, Asian, et cetera?
REDFIELD: Yes, I think this is really an important question as we get firmer on all the data and it gets more complete to look at how this virus is affecting not just different geographic areas, but obviously, different demographic, whether it's age, as we know, or if it's individuals that have comorbidities or if it's based on race.
And we have seen in our nation and I think we've talked about this before, Sanjay, you know, the healthcare disparities exist in this country. Clearly, this virus for most individuals who get it, they're going to recover over 98 and a half to 99 percent of people are going to recover.
The group that has the challenge, that has significant comorbidities, gets in hospitalizations, intensive care and even death are those that have significant comorbidities -- medical comorbidities -- and the most important ones are diabetes, hypertension, reactive airway disease like asthma, obesity.
So, if this virus then if there's health disparities already in a population where there may be a greater proportion of diabetics or hypertension, or asthma and reactive airway disease, or obesity, these individuals are at greater risk.
The data that we have now clearly does show that minority populations appear to be having a greater risk for complications. I want to emphasize this virus, in our view does not discriminate who it affects, it can affect all of us.
But where there is a difference in its ability to cause significant mortality and morbidity, and that is going to be in excess in individuals that have health disparities for those preconditions that I mentioned -- diabetes, hypertension, and asthma, reactive airway disease, obesity.
We are digging deep to get into the data with complete datasets. I mean, we don't want to come out with partial data sets that are not complete and so that we would come up with a different interpretation.
But I can tell you, the C.D.C. is working together with the states and territories to have complete data sets so we can get a better handle on exactly what that difference is.
COOPER: Well, to that point, the Federal government hasn't released national data. We've seen statistics from some states and cities. And we've seen -- that's how we've seen the disproportionate impact of African Americans and it's shocking. Louisiana 70 percent of COVID-19 victims are African Americans. They make up only 33 percent of the population.
Can you give a specific date when the C.D.C. is going to release a more complete demographic information? Because from what I understand, none of it has come from the C.D.C. yet.
REDFIELD: Yes, as I said, we're working very hard to get this data complete. You know, we're subject to the data that come in and get reported to us from the different states and territories.
REDFIELD: This is an important issue. We're looking at it critically, to get out really that national data, and I can tell you as soon as we get that data in a manner, which we think is rigorous and complete, we're going to release that to the American public.
GUPTA: Let's see if we can a -- get to another viewer question here. This is from Brenda Brett. And it reads this Dr. Redfield. It says, President Trump is promoting hydroxychloroquine as a preemptive drug against coronavirus.
If there is a huge uptake of that medication will there be enough for those of us who need it for things like lupus and severe arthritis? How worried are you?
REDFIELD: You know, Sanjay, I think you know this, as well as I and I went through the early days of my career taking care of men and women that were trying to live life with HIV.
Clearly, we have the ability as physicians to use approved drugs for non-approved indications. Related to hydroxyurea, you know, my position would be this was a decision between the physician and the patient. Clearly, there's some laboratory data that shows activity. But as you
know that laboratory data doesn't necessarily translate to clinical benefit. There's a number of clinical trials that are ongoing that I think will be rigorous and to answer that question definitively.
But in the meantime, this is going to be a personal decision that a physician and a patient will make about whether they choose to use hydroxyurea for an off-label indication. I think we just have to see --
GUPTA: Can I just ask Dr. Redfield? I hear that quite a bit. And I'm a physician and people ask me and frankly, I don't know because there isn't data. And I would typically say, no. You know, I want data.
You're a doctor, it's a decision between doctor and patient, would you recommend it to a patient?
REDFIELD: Yes, I'm not going to recommend it and I'm not going to not recommend it. I think, you know, Sanjay, you and I are very similar. We're probably similar to my friend, Dr. Fauci.
I mean, you know, we are very comfortable in responding when we have data that is compelling. And I think this is where the studies are going to give it.
C.D.C. as an organization is, you know, you and I've talked about it before, we're not an opinion organization. We're a science-based data driven organization.
So, I do think this is going to be an independent decision of these healthcare providers and patients and that at this stage and at this moment in time, we're not recommending it. But we're not, not recommending it. We're recommending it for the physician and the patient to have that discussion.
COOPER: Is there a danger? I mean, you worked I know a lot and you know, did a lot of really important work in HIV-AIDS. Isn't there a danger with a drug like AZT, a lot of gay men tried AZT thinking and wanted it rushed into use and fought for that? And it ended up killing a lot of people, didn't it?
I mean, isn't there a danger in rushing something without the science?
REDFIELD: Yes, I think that's a great analogy. It's something that I lived through. It's something that we saw, and I think if people look back in retrospect, a lot of that monotherapy AZT decision was premature.
I mean, that clinical trial had disproportional dropout rates, as you know, between the two arms suggestive that people figured out what arm they were in. It didn't have significant pneumocystis prophylaxis, which was really the primary endpoint.
So this is why, you know, I think, you know, from a scientific point of view, from a data driven point of view, the way to do this is to do the appropriate trials and get the answer. COOPER: Dr. Redfield, we appreciate your time and all your efforts on
people's behalf. Thank you very much.
REDFIELD: Thank you both, Anderson and Sanjay. Thanks. God bless. Bye- bye.
GUPTA: Thank you, sir.
COOPER: Thank you. Up next, we'll talk with a California man who has recovered from the virus and his plasma is now being used to treat some pandemic patients. We'll be right back.
COOPER: Welcome back to our CNN Global Town Hall. Sanjay, we were just talking to the head of the C.D.C. I'm wondering what you made of his comments.
Obviously, he's in a position of, you know, trying to focus on the science when obviously, there's other considerations in the Taskforce.
GUPTA: Yes, I mean, look, that last point that he was being asked about, you know, would you recommend this medication? I think it's such a crucial point. It's one of the questions that we get so much and you know, you heard his answer, I wouldn't recommend it, but I wouldn't not recommend it as well.
Which, you know, it obviously doesn't offer a lot of clarity to people. I think there's a lot of doctors who are, you know -- and healthcare professionals trying to decide right now whether to give that medication.
I think, you know, the answer is we don't know. And as you pointed out, that was an important example you gave, I mean, there can be real, you know, concerns about side effects here.
There has been an organ -- you know, three cardiology associations came out and said, you know, they urged a lot of caution with hydroxychloroquine.
So, I think we just have to keep asking about that people wanting a treatment, but we don't have the evidence yet.
COOPER: Much of the conversation about lifting the restrictions around the country centers around treatments, therapies and ultimately, obviously a vaccine. In that regard. I want to bring in Jason Garcia. He is a fully recovered coronavirus patient.
His plasma is being used to treat COVID-19, some patients currently battling the disease.
Jason, great to have you here. You know, you experienced something as challenging as falling ill with a virus and then to see it turn into something hopefully, potentially saving other people's lives. That's kind of be an extraordinary feeling.
JASON GARCIA, FULLY RECOVERED CORONAVIRUS PATIENT: Yes, it is. I can't -- you know, you described it perfectly. That's just exactly how I felt.
GUPTA: I understand as well, Jason, you were actually the first plasma donor on the West Coast. A lot of people are hearing about this idea of convalescent plasma now. Can you just talk us through the process? How did it work?
GARCIA: Yes, so it's essentially -- you're given blood. They take the blood. It goes through a machine, they separate it out, and they put the blood back in and they just collect the plasma which has the antibodies and special proteins necessary.
You know, since I fought it off and recovered successfully, these antibodies can help other patients who quite haven't had the immune response and aren't responding well to the disease. They'll use my plasma which has essentially antibodies to help assist in the fight.
COOPER: Jason, I know other people who have had this, who want to do this as well. Was it painful at all -- I mean, just for others who are considering volunteering for something like this?
GARCIA: None at all. I mean, if you're comfortable giving blood or donating blood, it's easy. It's that simple. There's an extra IV involved because not only are they drawing blood out, they're putting blood back into your system and you're just hooked up to a machine. It takes about 45 to 50 minutes.
So, it's really -- if you're donating blood or donated blood before, it's as simple as that and you could possibly save a life and help.
GUPTA: I know that -- I mean, you're not a scientist, Jason, I'm sure you've talked to the doctors about this whole process. There's lots of different types of potential treatments out there. Do you have any sense of how hopeful they are and you are about the fact that this might actually work?
GARCIA: I think everyone's being positive about it. They're hopeful. I mean, I know there's history on convalescent plasma therapy. I think the unknown is we don't know how well patients are going to respond with this virus with convalescent plasma therapy.
But I think that's kind of what they're doing in the initial trials. So hopefully, it is something that can get us by in the meantime until a vaccine gets made.
COOPER: Jason Garcia, we appreciate what you're doing, and I hope a lot of other folks will be able to follow your lead. Thank you so much.
A reminder, at the bottom of your screen, you'll see our social media scroll that shows the questions people are asking. You can tweet us your questions with the #CNNTownHall. You can also leave a comment on the CNN Facebook page.
Back now with Sanjay. I also want to bring in Dr. Celine Gounder, a CNN medical analyst and a Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine of Infectious Diseases at NYU Medical School and in Bellevue Hospital.
Dr. Gounder, of course plasma is used when new diseases or infections develop quickly and they're no treatments or vaccines available. Are you hopeful that it could potentially kind of bridge the gap until there's a vaccine?
DR. CELINE GOUNDER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Well, Anderson, this an approach that has been used really since the turn of the 20th Century to treat anything from measles to most recently we've tried it with Ebola and it's had varying success.
So it seems to work better for diseases like measles and influenza. It did not work so well for Ebola. I think one major limiting issue is this really does depend on people donating blood and that the amount of convalescent serum that you get from any one person is not a huge amount.
And so if you're talking about treating thousands of people across the country, I do have very serious concerns, you know, even if it works, which we have yet to definitively prove that we can scale this up in a meaningful way.
COOPER: Doctor, I just ask you about what we heard from Dr. Redfield, because the other issue and Sanjay, you can weigh in on this as well, is that, you know, is testing -- and obviously the President has said, look, there's not going to be everybody in the country is being tested.
But at the same time, every epidemiologist I've talked to says, testing is -- I think the governor has called it the bridge. Others have called it the lock to open up the economy and contact tracing, really none of which is in place at the level that all the epidemiologists I've talked to you thus far seem to think it needs to be state by state.
Sanjay, what do you think?
GUPTA: No, I agree. I'm anxious to see what Celine thinks about this as well. But I think that's pretty clear that we don't have, you know, the testing has really ramped up, but you've got to apply it uniformly and in places, you know, as we go through this curve.
One of the things that's going to be so crucial in saying, hey, look, we are now capable of reopening the country is to be able to test and then trace as we were talking about earlier, and hopefully treat. We'll see if we have a treatment.
I think it's worth pointing out though and Celine, tell me what you think, with flu in any given year, I mean, I think they will say that, you know, 29 or 39 whatever million people will get the flu, but maybe fewer than 100,000 tests have been performed. So, they extrapolate a lot of data. They look at a lot of other clues
and things like that. Do you think that sort of thing is likely to happen with this novel coronavirus as well?
GOUNDER: Well, Sanjay, that's what we call the influenza-like illness ILI syndromic surveillance, right? So yes, that is precisely what we do and that's partly how we've been picking up the fact that there is probably coronavirus transmission occurring in other parts of the country that just don't have the testing capacity.
GOUNDER: But the problem with that is you still can't differentiate who among those people has the flu? Who has coronavirus?
And I think going back to the testing question, for example, you were asking about convalescent serum, how can you possibly know who to even get that from if they haven't been tested?
So you know, if you're talking about trying to scale that up as a real therapy, you're going to have to do mass testing to figure out who might be a donor and then who agrees to donate?
COOPER: We've got a lot of viewer questions and in Florida, sent in this video. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNE SCOFIELD, F.E.M.A. DISASTER RESPONSE RESERVIST: So, we are self- isolating in our homes to avoid catching or spreading the virus. Many people will remain healthy using this strategy.
When the time comes that we can once again resume normal activity, we will have no immunity to the virus, which will not miraculously disappear? What mitigation strategies will prevent us from becoming the next wave of victims?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GUPTA: Yes, look, that's a really important point. I mean, you know, when we think about this curve and getting through this, there's a good chance according to some of the models, including the University of Washington model, which everyone is focusing on that 95 percent of the country will still not be immune to this virus, and it's still circulating out there.
So this is a -- this is a real concern, and it gets back to the same issue. As we come through the curve, can we address this by testing people and making sure that we can trace their contacts? Isolate the person if they come back positive, trace their contacts? And maybe have a therapeutic.
But until we have a vaccine, I think this point is a very good one. The only other thing that can happen like what happened in 1918 was that lots and lots of people become infected and you know, that's people get sick and overwhelms the healthcare system, all the things that we've been talking about. That is not a good scenario.
So that's why as we come through the curve, we really have to make sure we have these strategies in place.
Susan Scott in Arizona sent in this video, let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUSAN SCOTT, RETIRED HR DIRECTOR: What's the protocol about keeping cloth masks clean and virus free? I've heard all kinds of crazy things from microwaving to leaving them out in the sun. Do they need to be washed after everyday use? And if so, how?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Dr. Gounder?
GOUNDER: Right. So, I think a couple things. One, when you remove the mask, when you come home, remove it from the ties behind your ear, don't pull it off from your face that way because you have to assume that the exterior of the mask could be contaminated with virus, so that's number one.
Number two, cloth masks are great. It's great to just wash them, so just have your washing machine open when you come home, toss it directly in the wash and maybe if you have a couple of them, you know, you don't have to wash every day, to run a load of those when you have other things to wash.
COOPER: Sanjay, I know, I love your tutorials. So you've done the hand washing. You did the grocery -- when you bring back the groceries. We asked you to film a quick tutorial about how to make your own mask. Let's take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GUPTA: I am going to show you how to make a mask here. Take a bandana like this, and you fold it. Make sure you fold it properly. And as I'm showing you this, remember that you don't want to take a hospital worker's mask and so I'm showing you this.
Remember that you should wear the mask if you go in public, but only if you feel like you can't social distance. You don't need to wear this if you're just going for a walk for example by yourself.
And also remember that you're doing this to try and prevent yourself from putting the virus into the air. Everyone has to behave like they have the virus. This isn't necessarily to protect you, it's to protect others from you.
So, fold the bandana. Here's a pro tip. Don't use small hair bands like this. Find big hair bands. Put one on either end over here. Do this. I mean, this is going to be a key move right here.
Put it like this within the fold on one end and really tuck it inside the other. Get in there like this. This is not going to be a fashion statement. But there you go. And there's my bandana. It does the job. Keeps me from spreading the virus.
You take it off. Reach back here like this. Pretend that the bandana is contaminated, can put that in the laundry. You have a mask like this, this is one that my daughter made me. You're going to have to learn how to tie behind your head, like surgeons do or get someone to do this for you.
But preferably you do everything yourself, and then again when you're taking it off, don't touch the front of the mask. Take it off, put it in the laundry.
I get a lot of questions about gaiters. There's a gaiter. People have these. They can be effective, but here's the problem. A lot of people are continuously adjusting. So be careful if you use one of these.
Most of all, stay home as much as possible. Go out only if you have to and wear a mask if you're going to be in a place where you can't socially distance. Stay safe everybody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: And Sanjay, we all know the mask making ability is in your home, it really belonged to your daughter and Sanjay, for those who don't know, Sanjay sent me a video -- a picture today of the mask that his daughter made for me.
I am so excited to receive this mask. Is it -- I love it. It's like very like the kid's pajamas from the 70s of the cowboys. It's the coolest -- I'm sure I had those pajamas as a kid.
GUPTA: I have to tell you, Anderson, Soleil, my daughter she thought a lot about this particular mask for you.
COOPER: It's awesome.
GUPTA: She loves you. She watches you all the time. She wanted to make you this mask. There's a whole story behind it which I'll share with you the story when I send you the mask. But yes --
COOPER: But I mean, she made bandanas on the side. I mean, it's -- I will wear this mask everywhere.
GUPTA: Good for you. You know what? I mean, you will help protect people around you as well. So, we'll all feel good about that.
COOPER: And I'll look stylish at the same time. This next question comes from -- Sanjay, from one of your podcast listeners, nine-year- old Declan Watson in Houston, Texas, sent in a video. Let's watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DECLAN WATSON, NINE-YEARS-OLD: How do we respond to people that are disrespecting the quarantine and inviting us over to parties or meetups? Thank you. (END VIDEO CLIP)
GUPTA: Well, one of the most sophisticated nine-year-old I think I've ever seen. Thank you for the question. And it's something that I talk about with my family all the time.
I think as Dr. Redfield was even saying, if you don't think about abiding by these stay-at-home policies for yourself, think about it for the people you love.
If you go out and you're in a mass gathering or something, and then you come home, and you potentially bring the virus home, you could infect the people you love.
I mean, hopefully that's inspiration enough, regardless of your age. It's what I tell my kids, and hopefully that's something you can tell your friends as well.
COOPER: Dr. Gounder, thank you so much. I really appreciate as always your expertise and to all those who send in questions. We have a lot more ahead in our Global Town Hall.
Sanjay are going to speak to Magic Johnson about his experiences living and thriving with HIV, and also, the disproportionate percentage of African Americans dying from COVID-19.
We will also talk to a doctor from the World Health Organization who will join us answering your questions and we'll talk with Pastor Rick Warren about faith and the virus as Easter weekend approaches. Stay with us.
COOPER: Welcome again to CNN Global Town Hall: Coronavirus facts and fears. Moments ago, we heard the Director of the CDC Dr. Robert Redfield saying that the U.S. is coming to the peak of the pandemic.
In just the last hour, 35 more deaths in the U.S. Currently, there are now 16,513 deaths. Total 462,135 cases.
GUPTA: At this hour, we have special guests who are going to join us to answer viewer questions. Pastor Rick Warren is going to answer questions from viewers in need of an inspirational message, especially this Easter weekend. Also, for guidance on how to balance church service with social distancing.
Also, a top leader from the World Health Organization will be joining us to answer your questions about prevention and the transmission of this disease.
But we start this hour with one of the most famous athletes The United States has ever produced. A man who also knows firsthand about living with a virus that can kill and can speak to the way this virus is hitting the African American community in disproportionate numbers.
COOPER: I am pleased. Joining us now is former Los Angeles Laker, Magic Johnson. Magic, thank you so much for being with us.
MAGIC JOHNSON, FORMER LOS ANGELES LAKER: Thank you for having me, both of you and thank you for helping so many people educating them. It's very good.
COOPER: You are you are a hero to me personally, your bravery back in 1991 announcing to the world that you're HIV positive and opened a lot of people's eyes. It saved a lot of people's lives who got tested because you had or took greater precautions because of you.