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Nearly 160,000 COVID-19 Deaths In The U.S., 4.8 Plus Millions Cases; Another 1.2 Million Americans File For First Time Unemployment Benefits; New I.H.M.E. Model Projects Nearly 300,000 People Could Die From Coronavirus In The U.S. By December; Frontline Doctors On COVID- 19; Michelle Obama Says She's Suffering From "Low-Grade Depression"; Michael Phelps Talks Mental Health. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired August 6, 2020 - 20:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Don't miss it. And thanks for joining us. CNN's Global Town Hall, CORONAVIRUS: FACTS AND FEARS starts now.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Welcome, I'm Anderson Cooper in New York.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT I'm Dr. Sanjay Gupta. This is our 20th CNN Global Town Hall, CORONAVIRUS FACTS AND FEARS. It's being seen around the world on CNN International, CNN Espanol and streamed on

COOPER: We want to pause on that number for a second, 20 Town Halls in nearly as many weeks. Our first Town Hall was back in March 5th. The number of these special programs is a reflection of how persistent this virus has been.

GUPTA: Also just how much we're still continuing to learn about this virus about who is most susceptible and what the best methods are to keep people safe until a vaccine becomes available to everyone.

COOPER: Perhaps the biggest difference between that first Town Hall and this one is that across the entire United States, we reported one death that day from coronavirus, just one. Twelve total to that point in time. But just one for the day.

Tonight, more than a thousand deaths reported within the past day, the exact number at least 1,077.

GUPTA: You know, if you look at the seven-day moving average of cases, well, you will see that we are recording more than a thousand deaths a day since late July. It's less than half of what we saw on April, but it's about twice the amount that we saw at the end of June.

COOPER: We should also note that we asked for a doctor from the White House Coronavirus Taskforce to join us tonight. That request was denied, which of course is unfortunate but as we've said before, we do these Town Halls with or without the Taskforce. We remain committed to bring you the latest information about this pandemic. GUPTA: And we're going to be taking your questions tonight as well.

Tweet them please to us with the #CNNTownHall. You can leave a comment on the CNN Facebook page.

A lot of you have sent these questions in video form. You can see some of them pop up there on the screen. We're going to get to as many of them as we can tonight.

Also tonight, beyond your questions for us, we do have a question for you. And it's right there on the bottom of your screen. It is a big question. With schools reopening top of mind for parents, teachers and students across the country, do you think schools should reopen? If you have kids, would you send them back, and why?

Leave a comment on our Facebook page or tweet your answer to us with the #CNNTownHall. We want to feature some of your answers in just a little bit later on the show.

COOPER: We also have reports from across the country. We start with where we are right now.


COOPER (voice over): There are now more than 4.8 million positive cases of the coronavirus in the U.S. More than 159,000 people have died.

And while only three states are showing an increase in new cases, the death toll is rising in 15 states.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: When you look at the number of infections and the number of deaths, it really is quite concerning.

The numbers don't lie.


COOPER (voice over): Arkansas and West Virginia are seeing a record number of hospitalizations. Florida surpassed half a million positive cases, only the second state to do so after California. Health officials warn the virus is more widespread now than it was during the early days of the pandemic.

Testing remains a huge problem, and many Americans say it takes days for them to get results, which means they could be spreading the virus even as they wait.


FAUCI: It is unacceptable. Period. The ultimate goal is that you would have a test that you could do and get a result in 10 minutes.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: There are now 26 vaccines in human trials around the world.

The U.S. government is investing heavily in some of these trials. The Health and Human Services Department made a deal this week to buy a hundred million doses of a potential vaccine from Johnson & Johnson, making it the sixth company to receive Federal money.

But even with this progress, a vaccine is not expected to be available to the wider public until 2021.

The death toll in the U.S. could reach close to 300,000 before that happens. A new model from the University of Washington shows that without widespread mask wearing, around 137,000 people could die between now and December.


DR. TOM FRIEDEN, FORMER C.D.C. DIRECTOR: The virus is winning and the American people are losing.


COOPER: And it's really up to us whether people want to wear masks and social distancing that will determine what that death toll becomes.

The director of the organization responsible for that model will be joining us later in the program and Sanjay, after 20 Town Halls, let's talk about what we know and what we still don't know about this virus.

GUPTA: Yes. Anderson, well, we know that the virus has largely been constant in all of this and maybe the only thing that has been constant across the country. You know, we remain on this wild rollercoaster ride.

It seems that the emerging story now is that areas of the country get hit hard, hospitals get overwhelmed, people become understandably worried, and then behaviors start to slowly change. It seems to be a painful lesson that keeps getting taught over and over again, but sadly, not always remembered.

Human behavior here, Anderson, has proven more critical than the virus's behavior at getting this under control.

We also know, as you mentioned, schools are wanting to reopen, but in the majority of places a reality is setting in, that this is going to be hard, if not impossible.


GUPTA: Sixty two or so of the largest school districts have decided to go virtual, at least for a while, especially worrisome are places around the country that have a high positivity rate. You've heard this term, a high positivity rate of five percent or higher according to the W.H.O.

Now, think of positivity rates like this if you are fishing with a net, you put the net down and catch a lot of fish, that means you have a high positivity and as you might guess, that means there's a lot more fish down there that you are missing. Catch only one fish in that net low positivity, and there's not that many more fish down there.

So Anderson, positivity rates, where I am, are close to 11 percent. Where you are, the positivity rates are now below one percent, so you're in a much better position to possibly reopen schools in the next few months.

But I've got to tell you, Anderson, I think the roller coaster ride is likely to continue.

COOPER: Yes, I mean, I find hope in one of the things you said which is that the virus has been reliable in its behavior. Human behavior is what the variable is. To me the hopeful part of that is that it is within our power to slow the spread of this.

I mean, there's just no doubt about it, wearing masks, social distancing, we know what works. The only thing that we can do is this question, getting enough people to do it.

GUPTA: No question. And we've have real world evidence, countries around the world, even in places in the United States where it's worked.

I mean, no magic bullet here, just basic public health behavior.

COOPER: Yes, let's check in with Athena Jones for the latest on two really important items, the area in the country of new concern that Dr. Deborah Birx has identified in the latest on school openings and concerning scenes like this one from a school that opened in Georgia this week. Let's start with these new potential hotspots.

Athena, what are we learning about these new areas of concern?

ATHENA JONES, CNN U.S. NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, Dr. Deborah Birx is concerned about these nine cities in California's Central Valley because these are areas that have that rising positivity rate that Sanjay was just talking about, and we've heard this from Dr. Birx and from Dr. Fauci as well.

Even the smallest uptick, you know, half a percentage point in the positivity rate can be an indication that there's a surge in cases in that area, which of course can lead to rising hospitalizations and deaths. Deaths is what we're very worried about.

And what's interesting here, I want to show you this map. We're seeing cases, new infection case, new infection rates leveling off or falling in states, but the death toll continues to rise, averaging over a thousand for the past seven days.

Take a look at this map. You can see the darker colors in the south -- Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi -- those darker states are places where the death toll is rising in a concerning way, and we talk about deaths as a lagging indicator. But if you look at this, this really shows you that and when we talk

about a thousand deaths a day or more, that's how you get to that startling or staggering number of 300,000 by December 1st if people don't start wearing masks and changing what they're doing -- Anderson.

GUPTA: Athena, you know, Dr. Fauci said last week that reopening schools was essentially going to be an experiment. That's how he described it. Can we see how that experiment is going so far?

JONES: Well, it's not going well, Sanjay. This is an experiment in trying to return to normal when COVID has made that impossible. And so we're seeing students and employees testing positive, leading to quarantines in places like Georgia.

I want to show you a picture that went viral shared on social media. It's on the hallway in a town in Georgia where you see a jam packed hallway, not a lot of social distancing and that's the issue.

How much can students social distance in hallways? In classrooms? On buses? Are they wearing masks? That is why you have something like over 60 people quarantined in one Georgia county because of people testing positive and over a hundred students and staff quarantined in Corinth, Mississippi, where several students and employees tested positive, so it's a real gamble here.

COOPER: Yes, that as well. Athena, thanks very much. Today, we learned another 1.2 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits for the first time, one of the difficulties of the current environment how best to follow safe practices and still make a living, Randi Kaye joins us from Fort Pierce, Florida State. That's one of the hotspots for the virus in this country.

So Randi, I know you're at a brewery. I understand the owners had to make a number of difficult and very costly decisions.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Anderson. I am at Pierced Ciderworks, which is actually a cidery, a new name in my vocabulary, but it's a cidery and it's been opened about two and a half years here in Fort Pierce, and then came the pandemic.

So they had to shut down. The state closed all the bars and breweries and cideries, including this one, and then they were allowed to reopen to about 50 percent. But then, they had to shut them down again, because the young people were going out and a lot of them were testing positive and the state thought that that's where they were hanging out at the bars and the breweries so they shut them down again.

But the owner of this cidery, Jon Nolli says that you know what, he had to get creative. He had to try and survive so he got himself to food licenses, and he also bought this food truck over here, we could show you and the state said you know what? Yes, you're serving some food and you have two food licenses. But you know what, that is just absolutely not enough.

So he said finally last week, he needs to survive, he needs to support his family, and he decided to just reopen. So if you take a look around me, you can see here, he is fully open here in the garden of the cidery. He's got live music going at night. He's got crowds here. He opened last week. He says he's getting a lot of support.

And this is really emblematic, Anderson, of what's going on around the country where small businesses are having to get creative doing all they can to survive.

We see so many of them closing whether it's travel agencies or florists or restaurants or bars. And here is just one person as an example of what's happening around the country.

GUPTA: You know, it strikes me, Randi, I mean, outside definitely better than inside, but is the owner concerned about getting fined or being shut down permanently? How does it get handled?

KAYE: Well, the state was here last week, Sanjay and that was the last time he's heard from the state. He says that he's not really concerned. He thinks the worst thing that could happen is they're going to take his liquor license. And he said, you know, what, if I can't serve liquor, then why do I need that license, right?

But he does say he is doing everything right. I mean, if you look around, yes, it is fairly crowded, and maybe some of the experts and the scientists might not like what they see. But he says that people are social distancing, and he's doing it right. He says that it's okay for them to hang out in this way, even though some people might disagree.

But he said, you know what, if you can open Disneyworld here in Florida, why can't you open something like this? So once again, it's really just part of the larger picture of what we're seeing around the country, people getting creative, people defying those government orders to stay closed, and to try and support their family and survive.

COOPER: Yes. It's hard times. Randi, appreciate it.

Europe now experiencing a surge in coronavirus cases after a number of countries had hoped they had tamed their once high numbers. Christiane Amanpour joins us now from London with that story.

Christiane, what are you learning about the uptick in cases?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Well, look, there is an uptick, no doubt about it and that is because of the lockdown being eased. It's because of summer. It is because of young people. It's because people are fed up and they actually want to go out and try to live a little.

Clearly, we've seen in these graphs that we have, these sort of seven- day average looking higher in Europe, about 10,000 cases per day now, compared to for instance, in March; however, it must be noted that, as one expert told me, Paul Krugman, the Nobel laureate, what's called a spike in Europe would be an inconceivably good day in the United States. Just so that you understand what's happening in Europe, even in a

country like Spain, which has quadrupled since June, it's 7.1 new cases per 100,000 compared to 17 in the United States. In Germany, it's 1.1 new cases.

So it's much, much less, but they are concerned. And naturally, as you all know, it was one thing to give clear orders to shut down, lockdown, self-isolate at the height of the pandemic. The orders and the rules have simply been chaotic and mixed in the lockdown easing phase and that's a big issue.

GUPTA: I mean, there's no doubt, Christiane, that as things open up, you're going to see this up and down. You know, there are going to be new cases. People are out and about, but are there precautions that countries are now putting in place to avoid those from turning into to bigger spikes?

AMANPOUR: I mean, there are bits, as I say, you know, it is kind of easy come easy go. As you were just saying, people know what works, wear the mask, keep two meters distance, and you're seeing a little too little of that these days.

However, Germany, which has been good on testing from the beginning, is now offering free testing and quick tests. You know, the results come back very, very quickly. This is at airports. This is at train stations.

France is talking about making mandatory mask wearing in some of the busiest streets in some of the cities that may move to Paris, and you are seeing you know, here even in the U.K., you're meant to wear masks on public transport, in retail situations, going into restaurants.

But the number of people who do and who don't, you know, there's no rhyme nor reason to it. So that's the issue. It's the fact that there just hasn't been a communicated rule of behavior as the lockdowns have been eased.

COOPER: Christiane Amanpour, I appreciate it. Thanks for the reporting.

Up next, two frontline doctors join us to explain what they're seeing up close, what is working and what isn't.

And later, a discussion about mental health with someone who has been very open about his own struggles in this area, 23-time Olympic gold medalist, Michael Phelps.


COOPER: At the top of the program, we mentioned the startling new projection for fatalities from coronavirus. It comes to us from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in the University of Washington. They're projecting just over 295,011 deaths by December. That's almost 300,000 deaths.

Joining us now is Dr. Chris Murray, Director of the Institute. So Dr. Murray, we've talked to you a lot over these last months. How did you get to the prediction nearly 300,000 deaths by December? What kind of mask wearing does that entail?

DR. CHRIS MURRAY, DIRECTOR, INSTITUTE FOR HEALTH METRICS AND EVALUATION, UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON: Well, that prediction which is our, you know, base case or our what we think is going to happen takes into account, you know, the current mask square in the U.S., which is about 55 percent. It varies by state, and we don't include in that prediction, much of an increase in mask wearing other than what we've already seen.

We do provide another scenario, which says what the power of masks could be.

GUPTA: And I think in that modeling, Dr. Murray, it says that consistent masking of about 95 percent starting today could save about 70,000 lives. I think that's the other model you're talking about.

I'm curious, how do you arrive at that number? Because if you're saying it could save that many lives, you must be saying as well that it's preventing exponentially more infections, right?

MURRAY: Well, what we do is we look at all the published studies that have tracked individuals wearing masks versus not, and see what sort of protection individuals get from mask wearing and that's about 40 percent.

You know, there's a range in the studies, but the best estimate is about 40 percent protection. And then when you put that in to how that plays out in the transmission of the virus in the community, you get this really huge effect that accumulates over time, because if every individual is wearing a mask, is putting the brakes on transmission by 40 percent, that starts to add up.

And that's why as we push the forecast out to December, there's a huge benefit of mask wearing, you know, by November, 35,000 deaths or so. But you get an even larger benefit come the month of November.


COOPER: I mean, it's incredible to me that we can sit here and you can say 70,000 people would survive past the month of December, if all of us, 95 percent of us wore masks, if we did something as simple as putting a piece of cloth on our face, for the benefit not only of ourselves, but for our fellow human beings, our fellow citizens, our brothers and our sisters and our neighbors and people we don't even know.

I mean, 70,000 people, just for people who are out there listening and, you know, selfish enough that they're not wearing a mask for whatever reason, it just seems to me, if you hear that you can help save 70,000 people's lives over the next, you know, six months or whatever. That just seems like a no brainer.

MURRAY: It's an extraordinary opportunity. It's rare that you see something so simple, so inexpensive, so easy for everybody to participate in, can have such an extraordinary impact in the U.S., but also, all over the world, actually. It's really quite extraordinary.

COOPER: I mean, if you had a stadium with 70,000 people in it, and you brought somebody who doesn't want to wear a mask to the stadium and said to them, look, these people will stay alive if you and many people like you wear masks, will you do it? You know, you think most people have, you know, who would have a heart would say, of course I'll just wear this mask. It's -- you know, it's not that big a deal. These are 70,000 actual people.

I mean, I don't know. I mean, I guess this is all obvious, but obviously not enough people are doing it. I'm shocked only, Sanjay, that 55 percent of people wearing masks.

GUPTA: Yes. And I mean, you know, Dr. Murray obviously makes the modeling argument. But we have real world evidence, too, now as it turns out countries around the world that have benefited from wearing masks. I mean, they don't have anything else that we don't have.

But you know, when I looked at the models, Dr. Murray, we are looking at them more carefully. It assumes that -- my understanding is it also assumes certain states will re-impose mandates and stay-at-home orders as well over the next few months, and there's the map there you can see. So can you explain what that would look like exactly?

And I guess the flip of the question is, if states don't re-impose those mandates, because it's not clear to me that they will, does that also mean the death toll could end up being much worse?

MURRAY: Absolutely. We have you know -- we put out online the three different scenarios, the one we think will happen, which includes states reacting when things get really bad and re-imposing mandates.

The one with mask wearing of up at 95 percent, and then the one if states don't do anything, and the death toll in that scenario is much higher, and it really starts to shoot up in the month of November as winter comes around.

So, yes, we're factoring in by looking at what's the level around the country and also in other countries, where governments re-impose mandates, how bad they wait for it to get, and that's where we've come up with this number of about eight deaths per million people per day, is when we think on average, that states would re-impose mandates and that's what the map is showing.

COOPER: And how much -- sorry, how much are you taking into account with the colder weather, a surge, I mean, just a kind of growth of the virus itself? The spread?

MURRAY: Well, the model -- we factored that in quite considerably. We've looked statistically you know, over the -- you know, since the beginning at the relationship between transmission and first temperature, and then we found that there's a very strong relationship to the historic pattern in each state of pneumonia deaths.

And when you factor that in, we expect to see a bump between now like the lowest point of transmission in terms of the biology of almost 50 percent by February.

So we go into this -- that for the most northern states. The seasonal effect is less in Texas and Florida. But in the states, you know, farther north, it's as much as a 50 percent bump in transmission.

COOPER: Wow. All right, Dr. Murray, I appreciate you know, again, talking to you, and thank you for these projections, because it's really important to just get an actual sense of what the road ahead looks like. That's what everyone wants to know. We appreciate it.

The mask wearing and more specifically, the lack of it recently reached a boiling point with an emergency room doctor in California.


DR. DESMOND CARSON, EMERGENCY ROOM PHYSICIAN: A hundred thirty four thousand people died in this country, but there was no response to try to stem that. The stemming should come, our rights are going to kill us. Our rights cannot wear a mask. All rights -- that bullshit is going to kill us.

South Korea had four. One, two, three, four cases, they shut the whole damn country down. Shut it down. We are out here playing. This is going to get bad when flu season comes, how am I going to differentiate flu from corona? How am I going to do that?

So we're at the point, I believe right now if we don't get serious, ashes, ashes, we all fall down.


COOPER: That was Dr. Desmond Carson, who is on the frontlines fighting this virus, a doctor like so many others who despite the downplaying of it by some politicians, the people who listen to them know how real it is. That's where we want to put our focus on right now on a reality check with people who are seeing it up close.

Dr. Desmond Carson is with us as well as Dr. Andy Wilhelm, who's the Director of an ICU unit at a hospital in Jackson, Mississippi, a state which is we mentioned is seeing a surge of cases. Doctors, both of you, thanks for being with us.

Dr. Carson, do you think this is going to get worse before it gets better? Because I mean, you talked about flu season. And I mean, I've been thinking about the flu season but when you put it from the doctor's perspective of how do you tell a person comes into your ER, how do you tell if what they have is the flu or coronavirus?

And if our tests, you know, don't come back for two weeks, they can infect a whole lot of people before they find -- before you're able to find that out.

CARSON: Thank you for having me. First, I would like to appreciate the statistics and data that was given by our epidemiologists in Washington. Those numbers really paint the picture that is grim. If their suggestion is up to 300,000 deaths by December, that should

tell us that we are not being aggressive enough. Six hundred thousand people died in WWII and we, as Americans would dare let some single stranded virus approach our borders and not fight aggressively.

For the physician who is actually in the ICU, we, as people outside, we just don't know how terrible that scenario is when you have to make a decision who is going to be on a ventilator? What is our ability to man the ER?

We send people. We have to deal with death on a regular basis. So it's horrible that we haven't been more aggressive towards this virus. When the doctor says that we should look at an endpoint at -- excuse me, the epidemiologist -- of eight deaths per a million people. That should be the net -- if that's the number and we don't have POST -- point of service testing, whereby we can test immediately then we have to be as aggressive to say it would be time to put down the mandate and shut the whole country down.

GUPTA: You know, I mean, people seem largely insulated sometimes from what's actually going on in hospitals, which is why I wanted to talk to you, and Dr. Wilhelm there in Mississippi, COVID related hospitalizations are at an all-time high there.

I want to read something that you said earlier in the week. You said quote. "The best analogy you could come up with would be like going to a hotel and there would not be any walls between all the rooms and you can hear all the buzzers, you can hear all the beepers, you can hear the TVs going on. Every once in a while your neighbor who dies gets wheeled past you."

I mean, it's tough to read. It was tough to try and process that. What kind of toll does that take on you, Dr. Wilhelm and what kind of toll does it take on the other patients who are there trying to fight this?

DR. ANDREW WILHELM, DIRECTOR, UNIVERSITY OF MISSISSIPPI MEDICAL CENTER, INTENSIVE CARE UNIT: It is tough. That's really the only word to describe it, especially four and a half months in, I guess since we've had our last patient, it's really taking a toll.

The patients that are not on the ventilator, who are not sedated and who are aware of their surroundings, those are the ones that I feel most sorry for, because they can see what's happening around them and they may still have the news on and seeing the worldwide tragedy evolve and being worried that they're next. It's difficult. It's difficult.

GUPTA: I'm sure a lot of lot of people, they don't get this, I mean, they don't get to be with their families during that time. I mean, you're probably the voice for them. You're the person that they spend time with. How are you doing?

WILHELM: That's right. Yes. I mean, the patients aren't with their families. We're not allowed to have families up into the intensive care unit for the usual visitation hours, and so they're up there alone most of the time. You know, we've done a pretty good job, I feel like, with FaceTime and

using technology to allow patients to communicate with their families as best they can and when they're capable.


Other than that, families are relying on a phone call from one of us healthcare providers every day, providing that we have time that you can do it.

COOPER: Wow. You know, Dr. Carson, we were just watching video from the Doctors Hospital in Jackson Mississippi, and just watching it, you know, seeing the doctors, the nurses, all the technicians in PPE with masks on and face masks on, it just makes me mad when you think about all the folks who have decided that they don't want to wear a mask outside when they go to the Walmart or they go get a smoothie somewhere. Because for whatever reason, they think it's an assault on their personal liberty, even though they're forced to wear seat belts and they don't seem to be complaining any longer about that, they're forced to wear clothing. They can't walk around nude, you know. We all have to do some stuff because we live in a society around other people.

But you doctors and your nurses, I mean you're risking your lives every day. You're bundled up your cleaning facemask and stuff as we're seeing right now. And there's a bunch of yokels just running around walking down the streets, who think they're more important than other people and don't have to wear a mask. It just -- it infuriates me. I can't imagine what it's like for people like you who are actually, you know, on the front lines is when you leave the hospital, and you see people walking around without mask and proud of it.


COOPER: Go ahead Dr. Carson.

CARSON: It's just very disrespectful to the physician we were talking to in Mississippi. There haven't been in that scenario where you see death and life on a day-to-day basis and solid young people have to do is wear a mask and identify and isolate themselves when identified as positive, as a very, very little effort, minimal effort to seek, to minimize the life that can be minimized loss, loss of life. It's just -- its ridiculous. It's disrespectful. It's inhumane, we're human beings, it's inhumane.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: And then you end up taking care of people who have totally preventable infections. People end up dying, totally preventable deaths. I mean, none of this is inevitable. I mean, that's one of the toughest things to sort of process about this. We are Dr. Wilhelm, we are learning more about this virus though, right. I mean, you've been taking care of patients for a long time in the intensive care unit. I imagine that, you know, there's still so much we don't know, but how do -- have we learned things that actually help you improve the care of patients or things that you now know that you didn't know a few months ago? WILHELM: Yes, there have been a lot of things that have happened. From a clinical management standpoint, you know, we, I assembled a team in early March, to start looking at the treatment experience had been coming in from around the world at that point, looking to the science to come up with a treatment algorithm for us, as the world's experienced with a virus evolved. And that continues to evolve. You know, we've all heard about steroids, Dexamethasone, Remdesivir. Some other things that have some improvement and outcomes, but there, none of them are profound, to be honest. We've tried a number of things. We've got multiple clinical trials going on. We've got convalescent plasma, we've got ventilator strategies that are that parallel, the cornerstones of ventilator management, and critical care. We're doing all the things that we know to do.

But sadly at the end of the day, we all feel like the best we have to offer at this point in time is supportive care.


WILHELM: Which is Tylenol is some of these simple drugs like Dexamethasone, Remdesivir. We're using on a lot of folks.


WILHELM: But it's mostly support of multi organ failure with dialysis medications to maintain a blood pressure.

COOPER: Yes. Well, Dr. Wilhelm and Dr. Carson, we appreciate all --

GUPTA: Thank you.

COOPER: -- you are doing and all your colleagues are doing and just, you know, keep at it. And I hope everybody else does their part.

GUPTA: Be safe.

COOPER: When our Global Town Hall continues, we'll answer as many of your questions as possible. Also talk with Olympic champion swimmer Michael Phelps, winner 28 Olympic medals, most of them gold about the toll of pandemics taken on the mental health of Americans across the country. And he's been very upfront about his own experiences on mental health. We'll talk to Michael coming up.



COOPER: As if to emphasize the mental strain, the pandemic is causing Americans since the outbreak began last winter. Former First Lady Michelle Obama said she too was dealing with as she put it some form of low-grade depression. She addressed the issue in our most recent podcast.


MICHELLE OBAMA, FORMER FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: These are not -- they are not fulfilling times spiritually, you know. So I know that I am dealing with some form of low-grade depression, not just because of the quarantine, but because of the racial strife and just seeing this administration watching the hypocrisy of the day in and day out is dispiriting.


GUPTA: The former First Lady's comments also come on the day when they study by the Commonwealth Fund finds that adults in the United States are experiencing mental health concerns at a higher rate than those in other high income countries.

COOPER: Well, one remarkable athlete has made no secret about the impact of the pandemic on his mental health the swimmer Michael Phelps, the winner of 28 Olympic medals. He's the executive producer of a new HBO documentary The Weight of Gold.

Michael, thanks so much for being with us and for speaking out, as you have been now for quite some time about mental health issues in this country.

I was reading something you wrote recently, and I think something a lot of people can relate to you said, the pandemic has been a challenge. I never expected all the uncertainty being cooped up in a house and the questions, so many questions, when is it going to end? What will life look like when this is over? Am I doing everything I can to be safe is my family safe? It drives me insane.


You know, there are so many of us who feel like this. As someone who has been very open about your struggles mental health, how are you coping with all this?

MICHAEL PHELPS, OLYMPIC SWIMMER: I would say my biggest thing is I'm trying to keep on a normal routine, working out every day, understanding that it's OK not to be OK. If I need help, ask for help. And then trust me at times, it's still very difficult. But, you know, I feel like for me through this pandemic, and I feel like the relationship with my wife has grown. I mean, tenfold like unbelievable amount. And just the things that we've been able to go through together. It's been life changing.

COOPER: You've also talked about how you'll never be cured and that that mental health is something you're always having to deal with and make a priority of in your life. Check in with yourself and with others. How do you deal with this on just a day to day basis? Not just pandemic? You know, even before the pandemic, I mean, what are good days, like versus bad days? And how do you know when you need to, you know, check in with somebody.

PHELPS: For me, I try to do my best to live as simple as I can. At times, emotions go up, down all over the place, and I do have a difficult time. So, I will talk to my wife, I can talk to a friend. You know, I think during this time, it's been extremely difficult because we don't have social interaction. So a FaceTime with a friend or a phone call with a friend, you know, those things go a long way and really do help. You know, I think one thing that I learned throughout my career is how dangerous it can be to compartmentalize. Stuff those emotions down and not to deal with them. And you know, I think, for me, it's, I've had a difficult time, you know, going through those things from here and there. But I feel like when I do fail those tough conversations that I don't want to have. I feel like there literally is a weight lifted off my back.

GUPTA: You know, Michael strikes me I mean, mental health, even within the medical community can be a very sensitive topic for so many people. You've talked a lot about this in your Weight of Gold documentary in HBO, about how we have to change the perception that problems with mental health are something we hide, we sort of power through in silence. And I think, you know, because I hear from people all the time, especially now that we're struggling, and what do you say to people out there that may be struggling but are afraid to talk about it because of the stigma?

PHELPS: I mean, I think the biggest thing I can say is, you're not alone. You know, I felt after, you know, talking to some of these athletes and seeing, you know, firsthand in 2016 how many other athletes were struggling. That was an eye opener for me, but then I realized that I wasn't alone and we could all do something together and Help out so many others. And, you know, I think just talking about what you're going through, you know, for me, it's literally been a game changer, a life changer. So I think just little things like that literally asked me for help. Yes.

COOPER: I think the isolation you spoke about this during the pandemic for so many people is the thing that that's so, you know, part of what's so upsetting and striking and one of the things I've often thought about you, you know, I've done some pieces on 60 Minutes with you over the years was just I -- you know, yes you have family and you had a team -- your teammates and stuff. But, you know, from the time you were little you were swim, going to pool swimming, you know, back and forth in this lane in your head. I imagine you have been isolated in your head, I mean to be the kind of champion that you are, that the mental, you know, isolation of it has got to be extraordinary. And so, I feel like this is must be something you've dealt with your entire life.

PHELPS: I feel that it's yes and no, like I feel, you know, a lot of my life obviously is spent in the pool. And yes, I am staring at that black line and I'm in my own head for hours a day. I think for me, I was able to maintain it or I don't know, I guess use it to help me pretend potentially throughout my career, but I think now being out of the water and being dry walking on land, I can't do the same things that I once did. So, I'm basically trying to reprogram or relearn things that that work for me.

COOPER: Yes, I mean, you can only stuff that stuff down, you know, for performance reasons and other reasons for so long. At some point, it bubbles up and it bubbles up often in ways one doesn't want it to.

PHELPS: Yes, correct. Exactly. GUPTA: Speaking of the pool Michael, I want to take a minute and show everyone a clip of you and Anderson from back in 2008. You may remember that he challenged you to race him --


PHELPS: Of course.

GUPTA: Or he had the handicap of doing it totally. You had the handicap of doing it totally underwater without taking a stroke. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take your mark. Go.


COOPER: Yes, turns out it's not such a handicap for Michael Phelps to not actually take the stroke.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He like to race, Michael Phelps. Couldn't tell you.


GUPTA: Look pretty good. So I guess the question the question really is that was 12 years ago and you're not training anymore. Michael, could -- do you think Anderson can beat you now?

PHELPS: I still think it would be tough. You know, like one thing, like I said before, my wife and I lift three days a week. I'm working out seven days a week, so I could still probably do a pretty good 25.

COOPER: Yes. I was hoping that my incredible paleness would blind you underwater and then you would get disoriented and I would somehow be able to you use that against you but didn't work.

Michael I really, I mean, I said this before, but I just think obviously you're a champion for all your life, you've been a champion, but I just think what you're doing for mental health issues is so important for someone like you to be out there talking about it. And the value of therapy and talking to somebody and getting help. I just, I really appreciate it just as a citizen, so thank you.

GUPTA: Thank you Michael.

PHELPS: Can I had one?

COOPER: Yes. Sorry. I'll just say, you know, when I first started going to therapy and talking to somebody, if somebody is scared or nervous, and you know, cold feet, I was the same way. You know, I didn't want to talk to anybody and, you know, I kind of felt like it showed a weakness of mine. And, you know, I, you know, once I started going through therapy and still am in it, it's crazy to see how much it does and how much it really helps you. Just really helps you understand so much about yourself. And I can say therapy changed my life.

COOPER: Yes. You know, I hope you help a lot of people changing -- change their lives and I think you are so I really appreciate it. It's great to have you on. Thank you Michael.

PHELPS: GO blue Michael.

PHELPS: Thanks, guys. Good to see it. Go blue.

COOPER: If you or someone you know, needs help, or you want to volunteer to help others you can find resources at

We're going to get your questions in a moment. First, the top of the program. We asked you this question do you think schools should reopen? If you have kids, would you send them back and why? A lot of you weighed in on Facebook and Twitter. The majority of you so far have leaned against school opening. You'll see some of the responses the bottom of your screen starting now.

Also, at the bottom of your screen, you'll see questions about COVID that people are asking. Joining Sanjay and me to help answer those questions is Dr. Leana Wen, a veteran in many of our town halls, and emergency room physician. Also I just want to tell you both, you know, at the top of the broadcast, we showed a picture of a very crowded school in Georgia. We've just learned that two students were involved in taking those pictures and putting them out on Twitter, I believe it was. According to New York Times at least one of those students has actually been suspended --

GUPTA: Really?

COOPER: -- for taking the picture and for putting it online, and which I just find extraordinary that I mean, you know, I guess they have a rule against using social media during school hours, but the -- it's not a good look for the school. You know, to clear, clearly it's not a good image that that's way too crowded for anybody's health. And, you know, I'm surprised that the school would actually suspend at least one of the students maybe both, I don't -- we'll try to find out more about that.

I want to get straight to your questions. Dr. Wen, David in Indiana sent in this video, let's take a look.


DAVID STREETER, RETIRED TEACHER: Hello, my question is, should teachers and students change their clothes when they come home school?


COOPER: Dr. Wen would you suggest. I know a lot of doctors obviously do. LEANA WEN, FMR BALTMORE HEALTH COMMISSIONER: Yes. So the vast majority of transmission we know by now is person to person through direct contact with someone. And so the likelihood of getting COVID-19 through your clothes is pretty low. So, I would say that for students and teachers, it's probably not necessary. You can do it out of an abundance of caution, but not necessary unless you are a healthcare worker and you're exposed to pretty high levels of virus while you're at work.

COOPER: Carly in Pennsylvania sent in this video, let's take a look.


CARLY KALINKOS, RECENT GRADUATE: With growing evidence of aerosolized spread, if one person in a home is infected, will simply quarantining in separate rooms be enough to stop transmission? Or is it possible that the virus can spread through a home's central air conditioning?


COOPER: Dr. Wen, what would you say?

WEN: Yes. So this is an interesting one, because while it's theoretically possible, that COVID-19 or the virus that causes COVID- 19, could be transmitted through air conditioning. Of all the many thousands of papers that have been written about this disease. To my knowledge, we haven't had any documented cases of transmission between rooms, because of air conditioning.


Now, I think we've also seen this through anecdotal reports because we've had a lot of cases of the Sunbelt, in California where people do use air conditioning a lot. And again, we haven't seen documented cases of this as of yet. But I think that Carly does raise a really good point about how hard it is for someone to keep themselves isolated from others if they're at home, and especially if they're young children, if people share bathrooms. And so I would say good idea always to try to keep yourself physically separate as much as you can from loved ones. Don't share utensils, wipe down common surfaces and also best practice to keep your windows open to get fresh air as much as possible.

COOPER: Sanjay, Christy in California sent in this video. Let's watch.


CHRISTY MARTIN, ELEMENTARY SCHOOL TEACHER: What is the difference between n95 and kn95 masks? And are the kn95 masks justice protective?


COOPER: Sanjay?

GUPTA: Great question. We get these questions about mask all the time, you made some really good points Anderson at the top of the show about the utility of mask. That will be good time. I made this little video, I thought be a good time to sort of look back on what we know, what we don't know about masks.


GUPTA (on-camera): It wasn't that long ago, just four months, when we were showing you how to make your own mask because there simply weren't enough, so you can make one using a bandana. A lot has changed since then, there's all kinds of masks, all colors, all styles, you can get a mask and you should get a mask, but when you do, you got to make sure to wear right.

OK, so here's a surgical mask. That's how you put it on. Now, a lot of people wear it on their chin, that obviously doesn't do any good. Some people wear it just over their mouth and not their nose. You got to put all the way up over your nose, and then sometimes a little higher than you think even so it doesn't keep slipping down. This is a cloth mask, my daughter made this, she got a cloth mask those work well. Make sure there are at least two layers. But these masks work. There was this great study out of Lancet, which basically said the likelihood of me transmitting the virus to somebody if I didn't have a mask on was about 17 or 18 percent. If I did have a mask on, it was closer to 3 percent.

So, you know, you're talking about a six-fold difference potentially. It's not perfect, but it can really help. So let me show you something here, Bill Nye the Science Guy, you know him. He did this little experiment trying to show how much air actually gets out these masks, trying to blow out a candle. So I'll try. So I'm blowing pretty hard and, you know, can't blow out the candle. And I guess that's sort of the point. So again, you have these types of masks, which can make a difference. We start wearing them. I want to show you something else real quick.

This is to the question, n95 masks, that's what this looks like. And it's supposed to really get a good seal around the mouth and the nose. If you have it on properly, and I wear this when I'm taking care of COVID patients, you should block about 95 percent of particles. It's not just the mask, but it's also the filter that has an electrostatic charge to really grab the viral particles. So it can work well. The kn95 mask are almost identical, but they're regulated by the Chinese government. And -- but the regulations are pretty similar. You do have to be aware of potential counterfeits. There's a lot of fakes out there. You can go to the CDC website, give your model number of your mask and you can find out if it's in fact real.


COOPER: That's really good to know you can go to that website to find that.

GUPTA: Yes, we're going to put some of that information on social media as well. But Anderson again, you made a point. You know, Dr. Murray made a point it's -- it is remarkable to me 70,000 lives potentially saved within the next few months if we all just wear masks. If you're not doing it for yourself, do it for people around you.

COOPER: Yes, I mean, 70,000 people according to this new the latest projection 70,000 people might not die if we go from 55 percent of this country wearing masks to 95 percent of the country wearing masks. It's a big, that's a huge jump to make, but that's individuals deciding and families deciding, you know what, we're bigger than the inconvenience of this. We're going to do this versa our fellow citizens.

Sanjay, Surendhar in Charlotte, North Carolina, sent in this video. Let's watch.


SURENDHAR VADDI, IT PROJECT MANAGER: Why are some people asymptomatic? Is it because of the strong antibody response? Or some other factors?


COOPER: Sanjay?

GUPTA: But we seem to have a better idea of what puts people at increased risk. You know, we talk a lot about these sorts of vulnerability factors such as age and pre-existing conditions. But I think there's a question that sort of percolating in terms of what might be protective. We reported last week as, you know, Anderson a story about some people having natural T-cells, T-cell reactivity, because they've been exposed to other coronaviruses in the past that may offer them some protection. But it's there's still question there's a randomness sometimes about people who seem to do just fine minimally symptomatic, same aged, same pre-existing medical conditions, somebody else has significant problems. So we're still learning Anderson, there's a humility about all this for everyone.

COOPER: Dr. Wen, this our 20th town hall. At this point, what is the one thing you want people out there to know?


WEN: I would want people to know that we are not powerless against this virus that whatever models that Dr. Murray and others are showing, they are the models of what could happen. But we can change the trajectory. This is not a hurricane that's going to hit us no matter what we do. We actually have the power to do something. We can wear these masks that protect ourselves and each other. We can keep physical distance and being we've been talking about this all along, but we have the ability to save lives.

COOPER: Yes, Dr. Wen, thank you. Thank you to everyone who submitted their questions.

Up next, how you can help others in this pandemic and some more resources. If you're looking for help yourself.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: Welcome back to our CNN Global Town Hall Coronavirus, Facts and Fears. We hope tonight we have helped with answers to your questions about the pandemic.

GUPTA: You know, there is one more thing you should know and that's how you can help. And for more information on that you can go to Also, our impactor roll team has put together an interactive guide of resources at There you're going to find a list of organizations, resources, ideas, where you can donate or find help for yourself or a loved one.

COOPER: Sanjay, as always, thank you so much. Also, big thanks to Michael Phelps, Doctors Leana Wen, Andrew Wilhelm, Desmond Carson, and Chris Murray.

I want to thank all those who wrote in with your questions. If you didn't get your questions answered tonight the conversation continues at


The news continues right now with Chris Cuomo.