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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Vice President Pence Says CDC Will Put Out New School Reopening Guidance After President Trump Says It's Too Tough; U.S. Coronavirus Cases Top Three Million, More Than 132,000 Deaths; Birx: States With Surges Should Roll Back Reopening; Study: Half Of COVID-19 Cases May Be Caused By "Silent Spreaders". Aired 8-9p ET
Aired July 8, 2020 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: And if they experience virus symptoms, they should just go get tested.
Thank you so much for joining us. "AC360" starts now.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. Today, the President of the United States did something rare. He expressed a notion that we can all agree on that kids belong in the classroom.
But then he made it quite clear that beyond what it means to himself and his re-election, he doesn't actually care about those kids at all. He doesn't care about their health and safety nor the health of their teachers or parents. He doesn't care about the Federal guidelines put out by the CDC for keeping them safe.
Guidelines based in scientific fact not fantasy, but facts about how to stop this virus from spreading in schools.
The President bragged today about getting the CDC to change their guidelines to weaken them. And lo and behold, the CDC which used to be a world respected organization, they're going to come up with new guidelines, less difficult ones.
Now, just think about that. The CDC puts together guidelines based on science protect kids and teachers, things like staying six feet apart, wearing masks, having airflow in rooms, washing hands. And because the President thinks they're too specific, too difficult, the CDC is just going to weaken them.
And it's not me just saying that, the Vice President actually said it out loud today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The President said today we just don't want the guidance to be too tough, and that's the reason why next week, CDC is going to be issuing a new set of tools.
(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: We don't want -- we don't want guidance to be too tough, the
Vice President said. Let's just have guidance based on magical thinking or pamphlet written by the President's advisers, Diamond and Silk. Why not?
Today, the President threatened retribution for schools that don't open. I'm quoting now from his tweet, "In Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and many other countries, schools are open with no problems. The Dems think it would be bad for them politically if U.S. schools open before the November election, but it's important for the children and families. May cut off funding if not open."
Germany, Denmark, Norway and Sweden. I just want to quickly show you what life looks like in those four countries the President named. They are the lines all bunched together at the bottom of the graph. Germany reported 279 new cases yesterday, according to Johns Hopkins University data; Denmark 10, Norway 11, Sweden 283. That's a total of 583 new cases yesterday in a population of about a hundred million.
As for the United States, we had more than 60,000. Sixty thousand new cases. Today, we surpassed three million since the outbreak began, 132,000 lives lost. Cases rising in 35 states, holding steady in 12 falling in just three. That is the reality today and tomorrow looks worse, not better.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I would not be surprised if we go up to 100,000 a day if this does not turn around, but I think it's important to tell you and the American public that I'm very concerned because it could get very bad.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: We are still knee deep in this, he says. Consequence, he goes on to say, if states reopen too soon and disregarding CDC guidelines for when and how to do it safely. Disregarding CDC guidelines just like the President is now doing with schools and getting the CDC to rewrite the guidelines.
Here's his tweet. "I disagree with @CDCgov on their very tough and expensive guidelines for opening schools. While they want them open, they are asking schools to do very impractical things. I will be meeting with them."
It turns out he didn't even have to meet with them. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PENCE: The CDC will be issuing new guidance next week as part of a five-part series of recommendations that will give all new tools to our schools. But what Dr. Redfield made clear yesterday, I'm sure he'll make clear again today. We're here to help.
(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: New guidance next week, five-part series of recommendations.
Here to help.
I want to show you the CDC website and those tough and expensive guidelines that are currently there. Page after page of science-based advice, "Considerations for Safely Opening Schools" in the words of one section header. Another headline says, "Guiding Principles to Keep in Mind," or in another section, "Promoting Behaviors that Reduce Spread."
There's advice on keeping students six feet apart, improving ventilation, installing barriers, protecting staff. It's comprehensive, and it isn't exactly outdated information. The material came out back on the 19th of May.
You may remember after weeks and weeks of promises and claims that oh, they were just being edited, watered down. Then one night with no fanfare at all, they just popped up on the CDC website.
Now, this was a little more than two weeks after the Taskforce stopped giving daily briefings and then it became evident, the President essentially washed his hands with the whole crisis, but was still pushing states to reopen their economies, which many did before those guidelines showed up in the CDC site.
By that point, they're already open. The horse was out of the barn, or more specifically, the virus was.
Flash forward to today as the President pushed the states to reopen schools. He is now openly trashing those very same guidelines. His Coronavirus Taskforce is folding like a bridge table minus Anthony Fauci who wasn't at the briefing today in person.
They tried to spin it today that everything they're doing is in the best interest of students. Kaitlan Collins asked this question to the Vice President.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Can you explain why the President is threatening to cut funding from schools at a time when educators are saying they need more so they can safely reopen?
PENCE: Kaitlan, first and foremost, it's -- what you heard from the President is just a determination to provide the kind of leadership from the Federal level that says we're going to get our kids back school, because that's where they belong.
And we know based upon what our best health officials tell us that we can do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: He sounds so earnest when he says all of that, but what does that actually mean? Determination that provides leadership? That doesn't mean anything.
It's got the focus group tested buzzwords, the Vice President likes the word determination. It's got the word leadership, put it together, it doesn't mean anything. Determination that provides leadership. It's just noise. It's lies and noise.
Yes, of course, kids belong in schools. Those same public health officials, when they're being honest, they don't believe that reopening schools or reopening stage should take precedence over public safety. Moreover, they recognize it's not an either or choice.
They know that getting back to any semblance of normality can't happen until the virus is under control. Hence, the guidelines, hence the warnings. We've all seen what disregarding them leads to.
Yet, today, the President's top team of scientists minus Dr. Fauci, who -- they couldn't answer simple questions about what the science is on the risk of doing the exact thing the President is pushing to do.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Dr. Birx, what's the infection rate among children? And what's the very latest in terms of -- that you know -- in terms of how the virus presents in children? How children transmit the virus to older adults? Nearly a third of teachers across this country are age 50 and older. And what's the best practice in terms of testing children? I've never heard of a case where a school child is tested for COVID-19.
DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: Those are all good questions, and I think it really comes to the evidence base of what do we have as far as testing and children.
So if you look across all of the tests that we've done, and whether -- when we have the age, the portion that is then the lowest tested portion is the under 10 year olds.
So we're putting into place other ways to get testing results from them and looking at antibody in that discarded samples and try to fairly figure this out, because parents have really done an amazing job of protecting their children.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Again, what does that mean? It all comes down to the evidence base, she said. Yes, parents have done an amazing job protecting their children. We can all agree on that. But what about the rest of what she said? She went on like that for about two and a half minutes without ever answering the question.
What she was really saying -- what she said right there in what we played you was essentially, we don't know. We don't know what the effect on kids is. We don't know about the transmission with kids. We don't know. It's not -- we just don't have the evidence.
But rather than just saying that, because that would then suddenly make it seem like wow, maybe it's not a great idea to force kids back into school and force teachers into rooms.
You know, she either couldn't say it or she wouldn't say it.
As for CDC Director Robert Redfield, I mean this guy -- wow. What he has done to the CDC He wouldn't even acknowledge that he is bending to the President's wishes today. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: Dr. Redfield, you're talking about the guidance that the CDC has put out, it sounds like you think it is in the best interest of students and ways to safely reopen schools so far. So are you going to change that guidance because the President said that he does not like it?
DR. ROBERT REDFIELD, DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: Well, I think I just want to reiterate, we're going to continue to work with local states and jurisdictions. I think the guidance that we've put out gives a series of different strategies for them to consider what is the most appropriate in their unique situation to adopt.
Again, and I want to come back to the goal. When the goal of this is to get schools reopened. I did mention and I want to reiterate, that goal is just not a goal to reopen schools. That's the goal because we believe that's in the best public health interest of the students for the reasons you've heard.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Yes, if I was him, I'd close my eyes, too, when I was saying that stuff because it means nothing. It's a non-answer answer. That is what passes for leadership from this White House, nonsensical talk and lies and buzzwords.
We are in a pandemic of viruses here and it's killing us. And a lot of good people are fighting to stop it in hospitals and labs and a lot of good people are fighting it in their bodies to stay alive.
But lies and buzzwords mean nothing. Kaitlan Collins did some of the questioning today. She joins us now. Kaitlan, what was like being there? I mean, I'm just stunned at these scientists, you know, just saying nonsensical things and doing backflips to keep employed, I guess, because they think that they're so essential to backup what the administration is doing.
COLLINS: And I understand, they feel like they have to walk this fine line of not, you know, contradicting or conflicting something that the President has said. But they are being asked legitimate questions that are informative and helpful for decisions that people are making about reopening schools, and then we don't get straight answers on things as simple as, are you going to change the guidance because the President tweeted that he did not like the guidance? And so you saw in his answer that he does say it's going to continue
to evolve, but schools start to open in a matter of weeks. Some of the teachers are going back in less than a month from now, and so this guidance is still evolving because the President isn't happy with what they've put out.
You know, that's not really helpful for teachers who are going to be adapting to it as it's coming out and as these weeks are going on, and so we just didn't get a ton of answers from this and you know, this is only the second briefing from the Coronavirus Taskforce that we've gotten in about two months.
And so I asked the Press Secretary, what specifically in the CDC guidance is it that the President doesn't think or thinks is too impractical or expensive?
Expensive was the word he used. They only listed one thing, Anderson and that was this guidance that most students should bring their lunch to schools and they said, that wouldn't work because of course, so many kids rely on schools to get their lunch, but they didn't list any other of the issues that it was that the President had with this guidance he was publicly attacking.
COOPER: In the briefing, too, the Press Secretary was asked about the President's confidence of Dr. Fauci. What did she say?
COLLINS: Well, you noticed Dr. Fauci wasn't there on that stage today. That's because he was here at the White House for that meeting, that Taskforce meeting while the rest of the taskforce, the majority of them were over at the Department of Education.
And so of course that raised questions about why is Dr. Fauci not there? The President has been criticizing him. And instead, Kayleigh McEnany would not say yes, the President does have confidence in the N.I.H. Director.
She just said that he has confidence in the conclusion that his medical advisers are bringing to him. But she did say he basically takes the information that they give to him and he pulls that information and makes his decisions off of that, not always, you know exactly what they have recommended is basically the way she answered that.
COOPER: Wait a minute. I don't understand. They had a meeting, the Taskforce had a briefing with all the members of the Taskforce that we saw. They told Dr. Fauci, oh, don't go to that. Go to the White House and just listen on a conference call.
COLLINS: Yes, he was in a teleconference in the Situation Room here at the White House and that's how he participated in that meeting, instead of actually going to the Department of Education, which, you know, Washington isn't that big. It's only about a mile and a half down the street.
And so that's why you did not see him on stage at that briefing afterward, even though he was at the briefing, you know, a few weeks ago that was at H.H.S.
COOPER: And, wow. I mean, you know, what, if you're in a job and everybody schedules a meeting, but they tell you oh, yes. Don't go to that meeting. That's where everyone is going to be and where decisions are made and where cameras are going to be. You go to the utility closet and sit in there and listen on the conference call. That's not a good sign.
You asked about the President and the CDC being on the same page. What was the reasoning for that?
COLLINS: Well, they clearly aren't on the same page and they really haven't been throughout this entire pandemic. The President has often been at odds with them, or, you know, privately fumed about the CDC Director at times.
And so clearly they weren't today with his tweet attacking the guidance that they put out. But the question of that is so much more than just, you know, the White House insisting they are on the same page, but the President has not attended a Taskforce meeting since the month of April.
And so the question is, I asked Kayleigh McEnany today, why isn't he actually going to these meetings if he wants to have input on this guidance that CDC is putting out and they want to talk about it before CDC puts it out? And she just said that the President is briefed on what goes on at those meetings?
COOPER: Okay, wait a minute. The President hasn't been to a Taskforce meetings since April?
COLLINS: That's right. He has not attended a Taskforce meeting since the month of April. And before that, you know, when they were meeting every single day, including the weekends, he would go maybe about once every eight days or so, according to multiple people who were attending those meetings, but he has not attended one since the month of April.
COOPER: Kaitlan Collins, thank you very much. I appreciate it.
Coming up next, the man who runs New York City Schools and what he heard today. Plus, a former top public health official takes on the idea of sending kids back to school under these conditions.
And later, with people still packing the beaches and places, new research on so called silent spreaders and how widespread they may be.
COOPER: We're talking tonight about the President again trying to take a shortcut, it seems back to normality at the very moment when the word normal makes no sense. He is telling states and localities to get kids back in school or else lose Federal assistance. He is pushing to relax Federal guidelines for doing it safely. On Monday, Florida's Education Commissioner ordered all schools to
reopen for in-person learning. Late today that same Commissioner even thanked President Trump for criticizing the CDC and the agency's school reopening guidelines. Again, this is in Florida where 42 hospitals now report they have no available ICU beds due to the outbreak.
Joining us Dr. Leana Wen, who was a Baltimore City Health Commissioner and oversaw medical facilities in 180 local schools, and Richard Carranza, Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education. He runs the largest school system in the United States.
Chancellor Carranza, let me start with you. The CDC guidelines that currently exists, I don't know if you've seen them. The CDC says they're just recommendations not, you know, not mandatory. Do you think they are too onerous or too difficult and the notion that the CDC is now just going to redo them because the President thinks they're too tough? Does that make sense to you from a scientific standpoint?
RICHARD CARRANZA, CHANCELLOR, NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION: Anderson, thanks for the opportunity. Not at all. Look, I'm an educator. I'm not a physician. I don't play a physician on TV. We depend on the guidance that we're getting from the CDC and public health officials to make sure that we're being safe as we go forward.
We are depending on science, not science fiction, in terms of how our students will come back to in-person learning. So, those are not recommendations. They're not just off the cuff things we should think about. We're taking them very seriously.
Every word, every syllable of that guidance is like gold for us because literally the lives of children and adults are depending on that guidance that we receive in terms of coming back to in-person learning.
COOPER: So explain how you're going to do this now in New York?
CARRANZA: So in New York, we have one of the most densely compacted cities in the world and our schools are no different. We have 1,800 schools. Some of them are over a century old. So we are taking all of the social distancing requirements, all of the health and safety requirements, all of the requirements and guidelines around disinfecting and PPE, the use of masks, the use of hand washing, temperature checks. They are all part of our reopening plan for whenever we do come back to in-person learning.
Now, that's critical for us because we know that of the 1.1 million students, we did a student and parent survey, we had over 450,000 respondents, and one of the number one concern that parents had as well as our staff members are having is, is it a safe and is it a medically safe environment for us to come back to in person learning?
So we're planning for all contingencies. COOPER: Dr. Wen, in a "Washington Post" op-ed that you wrote, you said
the single most important requirement for resuming in-person instruction is suppressing the level of COVID-19 infections in the community. So, if the level of infections we're seeing across the U.S. right now continues or increases, can school safely reopen, do you think, Dr. Wen?
DR. LEANA WEN, FORMER HEALTH COMMISSIONER FOR THE CITY OF BALTIMORE: Well, that's the question, Anderson, and right now, the answer is no, especially if you look at these areas that are actively having surges.
So in some of these communities in Arizona, Texas, Florida, we're seeing an infection rate of one in a hundred. So think about a school that has a thousand students. That means that 10 people are walking in on day one, who are actively infectious, not knowing it and spreading it to others and the school would have to close down pretty soon after.
But with multiple clusters of infections on its hands, that's just not tenable. We have more than 40 states with increasing number of cases and the single most important thing that the Trump administration can do if their goal is really to reopen, is to put in the hard work and support the states that are trying to get these infections under control.
These states are going to be faced with some really difficult decisions such as do they close down bars and restaurants and nightclubs over the summer in order to allow for the infection level to be low enough that schools can reopen and the Trump administration should be supporting those goals and not threatening funding.
COOPER: Chancellor, obviously, New York is doing better than it was, thank goodness -- in the fall, will students be going to classrooms?
CARRANZA: Well, in the fall, our contingency plans and I couldn't agree more with Dr. Wen, I mean, we should be talking about Federal funding to allow school districts to be able to open safely not cutting funding. That is just not realistic for us.
But in the fall, we know that the physical distancing requirements and the guidelines will not allow us to have 100 percent of our students in a classroom on any given day.
So for us, we've put out guidance today and we have five models that we're asking our principals to try on for size, if you will, that will require on a couple of days, students are in person. Some of them are based on 50 percent capacity.
Some of them are based on 33 percent capacity and the idea is in a blended learning model, some students will have two days in person learning and then the rest of the week they'll have remote learning, while other students come into remote learning because we just can't accommodate all of 100 percent of our students on any given day.
So it's going to look very different for not only students and families and teachers. We are in a position of choosing the least onerous of a portfolio of onerous choices and we're not being helped by the Federal government without clear direction and funding to be able to put the safety measures in place.
COOPER: Dr. Wen, during the virus taskforce briefing today, the CDC Director, Dr. Redfield said that his agency's guidance were just recommendations, not requirements.
As someone who has crafted public health policies that make any sense to you? I mean, obviously, look, they can't, you know, force everybody to do something, but shouldn't there be sort of firmer language at the very least?
WEN: Absolutely. Look when I was the Health Commissioner for Baltimore, I looked to the CDC all the time for unambiguous, very clear and specific directive guidance.
It has not taken away the autonomy of local officials to provide that guidance. Actually, that's what empowers local officials. I agree with the Chancellor. I mean, I poured over CDC guidelines because I wanted to do what was right for the people that I served.
And in this case for the students, teachers, the staff and for their families and we need that kind of clear guidance. And it's just so backwards, Anderson, to be hearing comments about how we need to be revising these guidelines because they are preventing reopening.
WEN: That's just as backwards as saying that testing is causing infections. I mean, it doesn't make sense. Actually, you should be looking at that and saying, if we can't meet these guidelines, it means that we are not safe to reopen. So let's work on these safety precautions to protect our students and staff and their families.
COOPER: Yes, Dr. Lena Wen, and Chancellor Carranza, thank you so much. Appreciate all you do. Appreciate it.
Up next, as the President pushes for schools to reopen, cases are surging across the Sunbelt. We have the latest numbers and two top public health experts to make sense of it all when we come back.
COOPER: President Trump's determination to reopen schools is running to creating new cases and hospitalizations in a region of the country that helped elect him four year -- four years ago, the southern parts of the United States. CNN's Erica Hill has the latest in the spread of the virus.
ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As cases surge across the Sunbelt, the White House Task Force is advising hotspots to buckle down. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: Is really asking the American people in those counties and in those states to not only use the face coverings, not going to bars, not going to indoor dining, but really not gathering in homes either and decreasing those gatherings back down to our phase one recommendation, which was 10 or less.
HILL (voice-over): In less than a month the United States has added a million new cases. Now, adding more than 51,000 every day. For more hotspots also seeing new spikes.
GOV. JOHN BEL EDWARDS (D-LA): We have lost all the gains made in June and announcing some numbers that rival our peak back in April.
HILL (voice-over): As cases climb in Louisiana, New Orleans limiting patrons in bars and restaurants mandating masks at all times, unless you're eating or drinking.
In Los Angeles, the infection rate also rising. Houston's Mayor canceling the Texas GOP convention scheduled for next week.
SYLVESTER TURNER (D), MAYOR OF HOUSTON: If you still refuse to recognize the public health danger to everyone involved, then I am still the mayor.
HILL (voice-over): The city added more than 1, 000 new cases on Tuesday, a daily high.
PETER HOTEZ, DEAN, NATIONAL SCHOOL OF TROPICAL MEDICINE, BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: And the cases don't really tell the true tragedy of this that the patients are piling now into hospitals into ICUs.
HILL (voice-over): Forty-two hospital ICUs in Florida are now full, more than 50 have just 10 percent of their beds available.
In my Miami-Dade County where the positivity rate just hit 28 percent, the number of patients on ventilators is up more than 100 percent. Arizona has just 145 ICU beds remaining.
LEANA WEN, EMERGENCY ROOM PHYSICIAN, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: The best that we can hope for now is to put out these multiple fires around the country and get to a point of a slow burn, where there is a steady rate of infections and unfortunately, deaths.
ANDREW PASTEWSKI, ICU MEDICAL DIRECTOR, JACKSON SOUTH MEDICAL CENTER: These aren't 80 year olds that should die. These aren't 80 year olds who are going to die next week. These 80 year olds are contracted virus because a group of people just didn't want to wear a mask and they had to go out and have fun. I had a mom and grandmother drive themselves into my hospital. And only one drove home.
COOPER: Erica joins us now. What are officials saying about those increasing infections in Los Angeles County, Erica? HILL: So in Los Angeles County, what they said today is what they're seeing in terms of the rise in cases and infections and hospitalizations. Really crediting that rise in hospitalizations to community spread.
There's also been a slight uptick in deaths and the health director today said, listen, I want to warn you, we are going to see more deaths among our loved ones, among our neighbors because as we know, Anderson is the deaths as an indicator that lag here two, three, four even five weeks, sometimes that number will lag behind the rise in cases and hospitalizations.
COOPER: Yes. Erica Hill. Erica, thanks.
Perspective now from two leading public health experts, Michael Osterholm, Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, the University of Minnesota. And someone you just heard from Erica's report is Dr. Peter Hotez, Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine of Houston's Baylor College of Medicine.
Professor Osterholm, a million new infections just under a month, U.S. has now more than 3 million cases, what do you expect will happen in the coming weeks?
MICHAEL OSTERHOLM, DIRECTOR, CIDRP: Well, the number is only going to continue to rise. Many of these cases are already in the pipeline. You know, just as we sat here a month ago and talked about 20,000 cases and 40,000 seemed like it could never happen and suddenly now we're talking 60,000. As we also talked about 100,000 cases a day are not out of the question. This is just going to continue to, to spread as it is right now.
COOPER: And so how does it start to go down? I mean, is it? I mean, is there something to pin some hope on?
OSTERHOLM: Well, I think the one thing we have to acknowledge is we have to go back and no one wants to use the word lockdown. Even today, they were very cautious about talking about what we needed to do at the task force press briefing.
But the bottom line is we're going to have to really clamp back down again. The countries that have successfully contained to this virus, were able to get it down to a level of one to two cases 100,000 population, then testing and contact tracing will work.
In a situation like this when the entire forest is on fire. All the testing and contact tracing in the world isn't going to shut it down. It's going to have to take a lot of distancing issues. And we're back to square zero in a sense where we weren't marked from any of these locations.
COOPER: Dr. Hotez, I mean, the Vice President said today that there are early indications of positivity rates are flattening. Isn't that misleading? I mean, if they're flattening at all they're doing so in very high numbers right?
HOTEZ: Well, there was a disconnect Anderson between the charts that Deborah Birx showed and the statements that were made. What the charts showed a pretty steep acceleration in the major metropolitan areas of Arizona, Texas, Florida, across the south.
And that really hasn't changed. And the numbers continue to accelerate in our hospitals in our ICUs. And we remain in a terrible public health crisis. And I completely agree with Mike the num -- there is no end to this increase, unless we do the hard work to start bringing this back.
And really, in trying to create a national plan to look state by state by state and bring this down to some level of containment. Other -- because the contact tracing is not going to work and we're not going to be able to open up school safely in areas where you've got this kind of acceleration. We're supposed to open up schools in Houston towards the end of August. I don't see how you do that. Students get sick and teachers start to get sick.
COOPER: Professor Osterholm, do you still believe -- I mean that come, you know, November, December, January, that seasonal flu comes around, there's going to be another sort of wave. I don't know if a wave is the right word but of COVID.
OSTERHOLM: Well, I think COVID is not going to slow down unless we make every effort to make it slow down. Remember, we're in a debate with a virus that doesn't really care what our message is, it's going to do what it's going to do.
And I think that we have to understand that the best we can do is the kind of distancing mitigation strategies, we've talked about to get like other countries. Influenza, we're not sure what it will do this fall. In some cases, there may be interference between the two viruses, and we have less activity, there could be more.
I think the bottom line message is keep thinking about the COVID situation from the standpoint, that right now probably about seven percent of the U.S. population has been infected with this virus to date. It is not going to slow down its transmission until it gets to 50 or 60 percent. I said slow down, I didn't say stop.
And so when you think about the number of people that still have yet to be infected that will get infected, to get to that 50 to 60 percent rate. We are just delaying the beginning of this pandemic. And that's what we have to help the public and our leaders understand. We have to be in it for the long haul. And that means shutting it down now, we'll pay big dividends before hopefully we get a vaccine.
COOPER: Professor Osterholm, some, you know, 239 scientists or so from around the world published a letter asking the WHO to be more clear and explaining how coronavirus can transmit in the air. The organization confirm there is emerging evidence though that was their term of airborne transmission. Can you explain what that means for our lives every day? OSTERHOLM: Yes, well, first of all, when we talk about respiratory transmitted viruses, we're talking about what comes out of our breathing tractor we cough and there are very small particles if I could liken them the size of marbles. There are particles the size of bowling balls, there's everything in between, and what the WHO said, is basically just those big particles that fall out close by you.
And that's where you have to be. And in fact, these particles we call aerosols, the things that float in the air. And next time you're in your home and you see the sunlight appearing in the window and you see all that dust float in there and think, oh, my I have a dusty house, that's an aerosol.
When I talk sitting here in the studio right now, I'm filling the studio with these aerosols, you can't see them, but they're there. They have virus. And so what this group is saying to the WHO, you have to understand that aerosols themselves can transmit this virus, they can float in the air for some time. And it's not just those that you cough out or sneeze out, that are going to continue to spread this disease and other data, I think are compelling to support their message.
COOPER: Dr. Hotez, I mean, essentially, that means, you know, whoever has used this studio that I'm in right now, if they used it, you know, an hour ago and I -- and they've laughed and I walk into this, it could -- there could still be aerosol particles in the air?
HOTEZ: That's right, unless you have a mask on and that's why we encourage people to wear masks, this virus replicates in high amounts in our upper airway. And that's one of the distinguishing features of this virus. So as you're speaking, it's releasing huge numbers of virus particles. And that's why the mask so can work so well.
Look, I mean, we can make a big difference in this country, if we're willing to do the hard work now, it's still not too late. If we implement a very aggressive strategy over the summer, when things are relatively quiet, we can make a big impact and start to open up school safely, start to open up colleges and universities safely, maybe even have the National Football League, college football and the NBA, if we do the hard work this summer.
The problem is there's no leadership that's willing to take that on and to create strategies for every state to tell the states this is what you need to do for you particular state. And some states they're already there. They don't have to do that much. Other states like Texas and Florida, and Arizona have a lot of work to do, but it is doable if there's the political will and the leadership. And that's what's so tragic, we could have an extraordinary fall this -- in the United States in 2020. If people were willing to let that happen.
COOPER: Yes. Professor Osterholm just lastly, I -- you know, when, when you and I have spoken over the course of this spring, you often said we're in the second inning of a nine (ph) inning game. Are we still in the -- what inning are we in now? OSTERHOLM: Well, we're definitely in the third or fourth. What got me from second to third or fourth was, we weren't sure if this was going to act like an influenza pandemic, where there are truly really waves just like you'd see in the ocean, where you have a block of first cases that occur.
And then for reasons that have nothing to do with human mitigation or anything we try to do, they just tend to fall off and go through a period of very low activity for several months and then you see a big second wave. We now realize this is not like an influenza virus. This is the coronavirus all by itself. The first time we're aware that this has happened and this is just one heavy burn.
As I describe it, it's like one raging forest fire looking for human wood right now. And I don't think it's going to slow down, those who says seasonality to play a role. You can remember Anderson the discussion we had about that and I didn't think back in April and May that this would be seasonally adjusted. It surely isn't right now. So I think that's the key is -- it's going to keep going.
COOPER: Yes. Michael Olsterholm, appreciate always. Dr. Hotez as well, thank you so much.
The new study says so-called silent spreaders could be responsible for half of the COVID-19 cases. We'll talk with one of the co-authors, when we continue.
COOPER: New study out of Yale says it half the coronavirus cases, half could be caused by so called silent spreaders, people were asymptomatic or those who are pre symptomatic. The study suggests that the onset of the virus may be the most contagious in that pre symptomatic stage, which researchers say is uncommon for respiratory infection.
And joined by one of the co-authors of the fascinating study, Alison Galvani, Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Modeling and Analysis at Yale University.
Professor, thanks so much for being with us. Can you just walk us through what your research found? Because I think for a lot of us, it's pretty frightening to think that a majority people might have the virus and be transmitting it without even knowing it.
ALISON GALVANI, DIRECTOR, YALE CENTER FOR INFECTIOUS DISEASE MODELING AND ANALYSIS: Oh, thank you for inviting me Anderson. So an unusual aspect of COVID-19 is that the peak of infectiousness occurs during the pre symptomatic phases you just summarized. So by translating clinical data on viral load and symptoms to population level epidemiological impact, we found that the majority of transmission is attributable to people who are not exhibiting symptoms, either because they're still in the pre symptomatic stage or the infection is asymptomatic. So not only are people infectious when they're not symptomatic, that's actually when they're the most infectious.
COOPER: Wow. So from a public health standpoint, I mean, what do you do about that? If somebody doesn't even know they have it, you know, it's -- I mean, that's, that's not good news.
GALVANI: Exactly. So this makes control of COVID-19 particularly challenging. In some ways more challenging than disease, even as frightening as Ebola. So for example, with Ebola people do not become really infectious until they're extremely sick. So measures based on early symptoms, such as temperature checks are quite effective in the control of Ebola by contrast with COVID-19 people are most infectious before any symptoms appear.
So most people who are transmitting the virus are doing so inadvertently, without even realizing that they're sick. For example, younger people are at lower risk of serious COVID outcomes, but they're disproportionately responsible for silent transmission.
COOPER: So that's also something that came out of this that young people are disproportionately responsible for transmitting the virus?
GALVANI: Yes, they have more contacts, and they're more likely to be asymptomatic. And that means that they are disproportionately transmitting as well.
COOPER: Wow. So I mean, is there any -- so then what do you recommend? I mean, just from a public health standpoint, I guess it just makes it all the more important that people wearing masks and social distancing and doing these things which we know helps stop the spread of the virus. And it's more important than ever based on your research to do that, because you can't wait until you feel sick to start wearing a mask so you don't infect others.
GALVANI: Exactly. Results underscore the importance of contact tracing and testing, that is fast enough and extensive enough to identify pre symptomatic cases prior to the onset of symptoms. Right now the gap between that goal and the reality in America today continues to expand as the outbreak accelerates and currently, the epidemic is far outpacing the availability of tests.
GALVANI: Until we have adequate contact tracing and testing capacity, staying at home is still the best thing you can do to keep yourself and others safe. Masks help, keeping a distance helps. But if folks are frequently adjusting or removing their mass, they may actually be transferring virus from their hands to their face.
COOPER: Do -- then when you think about schools reopening if, you know, if it's young people transmitting the virus disproportionately and not showing symptoms. I mean, that again just raises a whole bunch of red flags about the ability to reopen school safely.
GALVANI: Absolutely. Given that people are disproportionately responsible for silent transmission, reopening schools would be adding fuel to the fire. Even if all symptomatic cases were kept at home, like when kids started to feel sick. Our study shows that a vast outbreak would likely nonetheless unfold from silent transmission alone.
COOPER: Alison Galvani, I really appreciate your research. I mean, it's -- I got to say it's hard to hear and this is a -- this has been a tough hour of with a lot of bad news, but it's important to know the facts and I really appreciate it. Thank you.
GALVANI: Thank you.
COOPER: Alison Galvani from Yale University.
Coming up, we remember some of the victims of the pandemic.
COOPER: Let's check in with Chris, see what he's working on for "CUOMO PRIME TIME". Chris?
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Coop, you see these numbers out of California?
CUOMO: Hospitalizations are up 44 percent in the last two weeks, intensive care cases are up 34 percent in the last two weeks, 14 days. California seven day positive rate is at about 8 percent. And the 14 day rate stands at seven. Remember you want it to be below about half of that. Why, is the answer. We're going to take that on with a couple of different experts tonight.
We're also going to take you to the frontlines in Arizona. Because forget about the banter of hey, let's expose that Trump isn't telling us the truth. We know he's not telling us the truth. We'll show you the truth in real time where it's happening.
COOPER: All right, Chris, look forward to that about five minutes from now. Thanks very much.
Still to come, remember the lives lost the virus including a couple married for more than 50 years.
COOPER: Try to take time every night to remember the lives that have been lost to this virus.
I want you to meet Lynika Strozier, she was a researcher at the Field Museum in Chicago. She worked in the Pritzker DNA lab. As a kid Lynika was determined to have a career in science. She had a severe learning disability which interfered with her reading and math, but she didn't let that stop her. She worked hard, went on two masters degrees in biology and in science education.
Lynika, who's known in museum for dedication to her work and her smile. She was role model for aspiring African-American women scientists. She wanted to become a biology instructor. And just before the -- her death she landed her dream job. Lynika Strozier was 35 years old.
Betty and Curtis Tarpley, they knew each other since they were kids and went to the same high school in Illinois and then later as adults, they met up again, and they fell in love, and they got married. They were together for 53 years before they both came down with a virus. Betty was the first to be admitted to the hospital and two days later, Curtis was also sent to the ICU. Curtis seemed to respond well to treatment, but Betty's condition continued to get worse. Doctors told her family she didn't have much time left and she told her son she was ready to go.
After hearing that news, Curtis quickly started to deteriorate. Their son Tim, said he believes his dad was only fighting the virus because he thought they would pull through it together. Nurses were able to bring Curtis and Betty together one last time and they died within an hour of each other. An ICU nurse put Betty's hand on Curtis's arm. They held on to each other until the very end.
That's it for us. The news continues, I want to hand it over to Chris for "CUOMO PRIME TIME". Chris.