tv Washington Journal Georges Benjamin CSPAN August 10, 2020 6:54pm-7:38pm EDT
convention since 1984, and we are not stopping now. this month's political conventions will be like none other in history, with the coronavirus pandemic still looming, plans for both gatherings are being altered. the democrats will meet to nominate joe biden as their presidential candidate the week of august 17. and president trump will accept his party's nomination the following week. watch c-span at 9:00 p.m. for live coverage of the democratic convention, starting on monday, august 17, and the republican convention starting monday, august 24, live streaming and on-demand at c-span.org, or listen with the free c-span radio app. c-span, your unfiltered view of politics. dr. georges benjamin is back with us via zoom, the director of the american public health association.
can you start by reminding viewers what the american public health association is? guest: we are the national nonprofit of people who practice public health and, quite frankly, many of our people who are out chasing this virus each and every day. soughthat role have you to play in the coronavirus pandemic and what is your group that has your group in doing? guest: we have been doing a lot of education of policymakers, of the public, advocating for resources, and generally trying to push a prohealth agenda based on science. the: we found out yesterday number of reported coronavirus cases in this country past the 5 million mark. that is a doubling of u.s. cases since the end of june, the last million happening in just the last 17 days. your reaction to that milestone. guest: the challenge is that a lot of this is preventable. we are just not paying attention to what we know works.
when you look at other nations in the world, they have been able to get their hands around this terrible, terrible pandemic, and we just have not. host: how do we keep from doubling again by early fall or even sooner? guest: the evidence is real clear. wear a mask. wash your hands. keep your distance. doing lots of testing. and good contact tracing. that is the way you get your hands around this epidemic. every nation in the world has done this effectively, followed that. host: we hit the 5 million milestone. india is second in the world in infections -- do we have more infections in this country because we do more testing in this country? testing identifies people who are infected, but you are infected because you are infected. you are infected because this is
a disease you pass person-to-person, and we have more infections, not necessarily because we do more testing. in fact, we are not doing as much testing per capita as other nations. host: how should we be doing our testing? what changes would you make to the system if you were in charge of it? guest: obviously, if i could snap my fingers and make this work, we would have a robust where -- which would truly allow anyone who wanted a test to get a test. most importantly, the results would come back within 24 hours so you can do contact tracing. then inform people. go to the doctor, stay-at-home stay away from others. , the only way we can do this is by a robust testing system. host: what do you want to see in the next coronavirus response legislation? guest: we need to put a lot more money on the table. we need to put dollars in to save people so they do not start laying off people.
many of the people chasing this virus today at the state and local health department levels laid off -- iet want to see us rapidly start testing. we only do that with more resource and informed, ward needed, national leadership, essential to make that happen. host: in terms of the money, are we talking $3 trillion, $2 trillion, $1 trillion? we have heard all of those tossed around as these negotiations have gone on. guest: the amount of money on the hill right now is closer to $2 trillion to $3 trillion, but the fact of the matter is that we need to get more money out there, we need to get more money out. host: we are talking to dr. georges benjamin, the executive director of the public health association, talking to him a day after u.s. case counts soared past 5 million in this country. if you want to join this
conversation this morning, phone lines are open for you to do so. it is (202) 748-8000 if you live in the eastern or central time zones. (202) 748-8001 if you live in the mountain or pacific time zones. and then a special line set aside for medical professionals, (202) 748-8002. we would love to have you join us as well in this conversation. dr. georges benjamin, as people are calling in this morning, you talk about folks who are out there chasing this virus. can you talk more about what that means? are we talking contact tracing? if so, how much of that is going on in states around the country? guest: well, when you consider a virus like this, you identify people who are infected. you talk with them, and you, of then you find out who they have been in contact with. people on their best medical options.
and you do that until you basically contain the disease. ,omeone who has been exposed even if they are not systematic, they need to quarantine themselves. and if they are sick, they need to be isolated. that is a process that has been going on for a few hundred years. it works. it is not rocket science. but it has been a real challenge for a nation to adopt. host: we are seeing the pushback in the past weeks and months on facial coverings, facemasks in the country. how much pushback did your folks get when it comes to contact tracing? how willing are people to say, here is the list of people i've been in contact recently with, here is everyone i have talked to face-to-face? guest: we need to make wearing a mask cool again. and we have to do that as the
first principle. and contact tracing is difficult. if you call me up on the phone and i don't know what you are and you say where were you yesterday and who were you with, i'm probably not going to tell you. there is an art to doing that. there really is. the real challenge we have is getting people to understand that art. by the way, the health department has been doing this for years for things like sexual transmitted diseases, tuberculosis, so we actually do know how to do that. but we don't have enough people, and we don't have enough people who are trained to basically bill that confidence to a group of people that can pick up the phone and call you and talk with you and share that information. host: explain that art if you are making that call right now. how do you do that? guest: personally i would say i'm dr. benson, i'm from the you werepartment, and exposed to someone who had covid-19.
what we would like you to do, of course, if you have any of the following symptoms, we think you want to make sure you talk with your doctor and we also want you to work with us to see if we can help identify anyone else you've been around who also may be exposed, so you can help keep them from getting sick and save their life in some situations. people get really sick from this and can die. i know that you might not want to share that information with me, but i assure you this information will be held confidentially, and we will not share with anyone outside the appropriate health authorities. you are not going to be arrested, you are not going to be hunted down, you're not going to a lot of the country. we simply want you to help us help other people. if you don't want to give me their names, ok. here is who you call. you call your friends and the people they've been around and have them call me. host: how much of a response do you get to that?
peoplegenerally get most when you put them in the position of being a helper in this process? guest: i haven't done this for many years personally. , it worked.o that people that i talked with, we used that kindness, it does work. here dr. georges benjamin to answer your questions and comments as the u.s. case count past 5 million in this country. nancy is in altoona pennsylvania. you're on with dr. benjamin. caller: good morning. we were behind in our area for the testing. so they did ramp it up from just orderace with the doctors
that you could go to a medics press without the doctors order. like what has happened is when the testing got a little better, i can't say it's that great. the contact tracing was so far behind that there really wasn't anything much happening. lived with ady who person that definitely had it and was in the hospital and it took two weeks to get the answer. when i called the pennsylvania department of health, they said they don't have enough contact tracing people. we are all talk and not enough action to be strict on putting these things in place. says.d to do what the cdc
and what's happening is we are talking about it but we are not strict on the laws for masks. we do not enforce the contact tracing other we have to hire more people to get that done. but it's all talk and it's not happening and we are rising because we are not doing what we are saying. as far as the masks, when people say things like you should wear a mask unless you have some kind of a health issue that prevents you, right away that's on a door and you see people walking around without any masks and this is just not strict. and we are thinking that it's not something that has to be done to control this and curb the spread. host: dr. benjamin. guest: i agree with her.
we initially thought we needed 100,000 contact tracers. some people think we need we hundred thousand now. the last that i knew was somewhere in 30,000. part of it is money. requires a national effort with the federal government being the biggest cheerleader providing the resources and guidance and we have not had that. so she's absolutely right. testingtracing, rapid is the key for us getting our hands around this and she's right. we are not walking the talk. on this headline from usa today, governor mike dewine's testingsitive spotlight issues, looking back on the governors rapid test that he took on thursday ahead of the president's visit to ohio, that
rapid test giving a positive result but two pcr tests found that the wind tested negative. how do we make testing more to -- reliable? test: it's a rapid notoriously known to have false that yourmeaning positive or not. false positive meaning sometimes it says you are positive for the virus and you are not. it's notoriously inaccurate. the pcr test looks for the whole
virus. and it is much more accurate. if it says you are negative or positive, it depends on the fit -- the specificity of the test. i always encourage people to understand when you take those tests that they can sometimes be wrong and you usually have to have another confirming test. do a couple antigen test's. one in the morning, one in the that's why you've seen the white house has had some tests that have not been accurate when they have done them at the white house. this test is notoriously inaccurate. of statesst experiencing rapid growth in covid-19 cases in the last seven
days. hawaii has seen 1149 new cases. that's an increase of 99% the previous week. thisis jason from hawaii morning. thanks for calling in. you are on with dr. benjamin. caller: that morning. thank you for not politicizing this issue about the coronavirus. i was calling in regards to the lawsuit filed by stanford doctors against california in regardsvin newsom to the overly burdensome regulations surrounding keeping schools closed. essentially the lawsuit says that the risks to children are very low and that children virtually do not transmit the virus to adult patients. or two adults into --
to adults period. i was wondering why c-span hasn't invited any of these doctors on the air. ofs man is professor medicine at stanford university and this has not received any publicity from the mainstream media. thank you. guest: i don't advise c-span's programming except to invite me over more often. one of the things that's challenging about this outbreak is that we continue to learn things each and every day. we've made a lot of assumptions based on what we thought we knew based on the previous sars outbreak. a friend virus, different strain. kids couldthat always get the virus. kids are not immune from getting it. we have always said kids can get
it. the question is how sick do they get and how easily do they spread it. more and more evidence is showing us that kids not only absolutely can get this disease and tend to be pretty efficient 10spreading it at least years of age and older. so i understand that this is a big trade-off. people are trying to trade-off kids social emotional needs, there need to be with their peers, their educational needs. these are very important. the fact that there were many kids who get their meals at school and we have a nation where too many people have food insecurity. we are having this real trade-off. thatee what happened at camp in georgia. they've got now nine cases.
almost 100,000as kids who got the disease in the last two weeks of july. we know there's over 500 kids who got the really severe multisystem's disease that we've been reporting on. we've had about 86 kids who died in dismay. -- since may. while kids don't get sick and the risk is lower for them, the school systems are having a really tough time and our elected leaders of both parties trying to figure out the trade-offs that are involved in this. this is tough stuff. is wear yournce mask, wash your hands, keep your distance. and i was fascinated by the fact in georgia they closed the
school after they had these cases. the new story is all about them cleaning the school. what they really need to be talking about is wearing a mask and physically distance. that's how you get the disease from other people. you can get it from objects and surfaces, but right now that's not where the focus is. it's got to be on protecting me from you and you from me and the mask does that. host: out to the eastern shore. this is tony. good morning. caller: thank you for taking my call. i would like to make a couple comments. we need to get more money to the state. but it's got to start from the top. this past weekend you see these motorcyclesgs, the in south dakota. kids on the news that her
walking through the falls with no mask. are expecting to curb this virus if they go out here and do what we supposed to do? people on the beaches not wearing masks. these kids think they are untouchable. they think it's a hoax. anywheres is not going and these people are complaining, i'm tired of staying in the house. do what you are supposed to do and then get tested and find out where this virus is going. host: dr. benjamin. guest: i agree. the failure of our nation compared to other nation that have been much more effective has been unified national leadership and supporting the governors. we have terrible risk
communication. we have parts of our country that still think this is a hoax. and that's a problem. all i can do is reemphasize my message. everyone is going to get tired of hearing me say this, but you've got to make mask wearing cool. we've got to deal with reality. what do you do when johnny comes has from school and he traded his batman mask with someone else's spider-man mask. to educate our kids better so that they .nderstand how do we deal with the infrastructure so that we can do remote learning.
we've got to figure out how to do this a lot better. there are too many schools in our country that don't have school nurses. who is going to provide the medical support for those kids in school? we need the resources to make sure every school in america has a school nurse. host: this is jerry in huntington beach, california. i agree with virtually everything that dr. benjamin says, particularly on contact tracing. maybe we could use something like, south korea uses the cell phone tracing. itself,s the disease they are trained in chemical warfare which is what this is. we haven't taken this insidious disease as seriously as we should in this country. , one of theis
garters got covid. from what i understand, he was told to quarantine. and he went home and he lives with a bunch of other people in the house. them got the thing. the only thing they had going for them is they were all young. none of them died but they all got very sick. be to protectd the older people like me. we need to start thinking of ways to really crackdown on thiss and not just nonsense we are hearing from trump about how to fight this. host: can you follow-up specifically on what the caller mentioned, the use of technology in contact tracing.
guest: google and apple have a joint project which is really kind of need. your phone andon if you have covid, you information in the app. if you happen to approach someone else, it notifies them they've been exposed to someone who had covid and then it gives them a number to call. it doesn't share your information with them but it says you've been exposed to something. and then says call this office and it's the health department. virginia has just rolled out this project recently. it's in the way of using an app. way of using an app. it builds it on top of the existing public health contact tracing infrastructure. it enables us to do our work.
so i think that's important. there are more and more people out there using apps. some other apps that other nations are using. not someone who is real familiar with all of them. i know they are out there. i'm an older guy. i'm 67. my kids really understand this. they are much younger and they really understand all these technology tools. technology can use the better. benjamin therges american public health association. apha.org is where you can find them. for taking myyou call and thank you for your time. think that confuses many of the public out here is because it's like anything else,
you like to know the origins of things. health hear enough of experts, politicians, anybody talking about exactly if we could have a little more information on where, how and why this thing started. that, come from a lab, water. i know that would help me and my friends communicating. i talked to a lot of people. so unknown. be with all our technology why can't we pinpoint that it was made in a lab or it did come from an animal. it seems like nobody can tell us. guest: we actually know a lot about this virus. people whore are study coronavirus's. it's a family of viruses. it actually can cause, not this particular one, but it can cause
the common cold. family of theme sars virus we saw several years ago. also in the family of that includes the middle eastern respiratory system, which is viruses you get from camels. there are millions of different kinds of infectious diseases out there and they periodically mutate. they change. and they attack us when they change. this is not uncommon. ebola got here, zika virus. even influenza which changes every year ultimately came from an animal. so we actually know a lot about it. that, it's generally
thought that it evolved from bats because bats have a lot of coronavirus's. in this case we believe the first introduction into humans was in china. obviousw there's no clear evidence that it was made in a lab. and by the way, we know that nature is very efficient at creating these kinds of diseases. and it does it all the time. like to be able to pinpoint and say someone did this and that happened. frankly, common things occur commonly and nature
commonly changes viruses. pointose viruses at some do injure human beings. that's the best i can tell you. the task today is for us to treatments get your for it, get a vaccine for. there's a lot of ways we can prevent each other from getting it and we are just not using those tools that we have effectively. host: this is james. good morning. hello dr. benjamin. i have a question. am i heard? host: yes there. -- sir. caller: my question is this. is this a behavioral driven disease? there are various rates of infection in this country apparently very high and in
other countries they seem to be much more controlled. driven bytally behavior? what is your opinion of why there are such divergent responses to this apparently mutating condition? why this is occurring so far differently in various countries that are reporting their findings? initial experience in most countries is the same. the difference is in how we responded to it both in our nation and our country. hit, we did not rapidly ramp up a new category of people who could do contact tracing. we got behind the eight ball on testing which we never really caught up.
we are a big country. effort take a lot more for us to do what we need to get done. they have huge disease spikes. even though we sheltered at home, we didn't do it long enough. we reopened our society too early in many places. we are seeing the result of that. new york was much more effective at bringing this outbreak down than texas or florida as an example. the behavioral aspects are on the prevention side. we know that wearing a mask, washing your hands and keeping your distance works. the mask is a lot more effective than any of us even thought. was onein this thing i of those folks who said i'm not quite sure whether you need to
wear a mask. first year.onvert from a common sense perspective, when you are talking to someone all that stuff comes out your mouth. if i wear a mask, it doesn't come out my mouth and spray on you. it dramatically reduces my exposure to you and your exposure to me. so the mask works as a functional tool. from a behavioral perspective if we did those three things, mask wearing, hand hygiene and keeping our distance, we would have better control of this disease then we have today. host: how long does it take to train somebody to be able to do contact tracing and how many of those folks are in the pipeline and what states are using that most effectively? don't have a good idea of what states are using it most effectively.
some of the ones i thought were doing great jobs turns out they are not. course thatonline johns hopkins has. i think 10 to 15 hours of education to give somebody the knowledge that they need. i think the talking to people give encouraging people to the information is an art form and that takes a while to really learn. you can get the book knowledge in a few hours. there's a lot of people using volunteer workforces. link it toret is to the existing governmental public health infrastructure. that's the way to do this. a school or a job that's involved in testing and trying to integrate contact tracing for their employees,
they have to integrate that with the health department. jay in riverdale, maryland. caller: c-span, this cable bill is very expensive. please don't cut me off. i have a follow-up question. after this tuskegee experiment, i'm worried about vaccines especially since no successful vaccine has been out to fight covid. my comment is leading to my follow-up question. italy was once the epicenter for the virus. the country called in human doctors with the cure. interferon. now they have totally reversed this. they are a model for europe. i don't know why the commercial media here and even c-span, big fan. doesn't even talk about that there is a cure used in italy
and almost 50 other countries. interferon alpha two b. people are dying and there no discussion about it. dr., are you aware of the b?erferon alpha to be -- two guest: i'm aware there have been randomized controlled studies with interferon. interferon is a molecule that does interfere with some viruses. i don't know what its efficacy is. i have heard through some sources i have in cuba that they've had some good outcomes from. i can't verify those. i do know there's a range of studies looking at that as well as a whole range of other therapies that are out there.
have is tryinge to do enough of those studies so you can prove that they work. i won't integrate the study because i'm not aware of the outcome. but i am aware that there are some folks in cuba, some scholars in cuba believe they have some effective treatments and they've certainly been willing to share those with others. host: did you have a quick follow-up? caller: that's fine. i'm talking about statistically italy. of theas the epicenter virus in europe. and now after the cuban doctors. i'm not talking about clinical trials. the doctors from cuba have come to italy and now they are going back to normal with 50 other countries. host: not your point.
-- got your point. guest: i don't know about the study in italy. i have not seen that. -- i have not seen that data. i know that it really effective contact tracing, mask wearing, handwashing and is distancing the centerpiece of their prevention effort. in terms of treatment efforts, i'm not up to speed. host: the viewer mentioned his high cable bill. c-span represents about six cents a month on your cable bill. we think it's a pretty good deal. appreciate the call. joe is in bellevue, illinois. go ahead. caller: it's actually belleville. good morning. i'm fearful this disease is going to really kill us all. up here and play lipservice all morning long.
unless congress or the president is going to impose real penalties for not wearing masks, we are all going to get this disease. like that big rally out in south dakota, all those people are going to infect each other and then returned to their families and infect them and then their families are going to infect us. for talking and convincing is over. host: you want fines? what dale time? -- you want jail time? caller: yes. they are endangering people's lives. people are endangering the lives of their fellow people. about 75% of the individuals in a store yesterday were wearing masks. stores enforce and no shirt, no no masklicy why not a
policy? it's not that big an inconvenience. host: dr. benjamin. toler: i'm in the camp strongly encourage people to wear masks. the challenge is how to get the best compliance. crafteople like me if you , i don't want to break the rule. there are a lot of people that will still be very defiant even if you pass a law to do that. human behavior is always tough to predict. in those nations that have stood behind the health recommendations and said this is the best health guidance that we have. that the mask in the model here. have had a much higher level compliance among the population than those
nations that have been wishy-washy. and we've been wishy-washy. host: this is edward out of keyport new jersey. good morning. caller: being that the public sector has only thought about antibacterial resistance. host: he was talking about antibacterial resistance in future pandemics. this is a virus. not bacteria. and there is a risk of some of the antiviral agents getting resistance over time. not yet. ok.ink right now we are if this disease continues over several years and we have several therapy and we don't use them effectively, you can get antiviral resistance as well. host: i know you were on capitol
hill last month testifying. one of the issues you talked about is the disproportionate impact this disease is having on minorities. can you bring us up-to-date on the latest numbers? guest: we are still seeing high percentages of african-americans, hispanics, -- disproportionate deaths. many of those individuals have public facing jobs. about buse out and drivers, sanitary workers. workers in nursing homes. becaused susceptibility they have more chronic diseases, diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, kidney disease.
and quite frankly the real challenges as one of the callers said earlier about multigenerational households. if you go home and you are infected, you are likely to give it to your family members. if you are in a and youerational family can't effectively quarantine, you're going to infect your family. it and maketo fix sure by the way that we have access to testing which early on was not the and we need to make sure that we can provide adequate care to all the people that get it on an equal basis. host: dr. georges benjamin, executive director of the american public health association. apha.org. > the perjury case against michael flynn will be reheard by the full u.s. court of appeals.