New information on the battle against coronavirus

Dr. Jen Ashton breaks down the government’s response to the virus with former Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert.
7:07 | 02/27/20

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Transcript for New information on the battle against coronavirus
New information and so many moving parts after the president's press conference so how concerned should you be and how effective and efficient as the federal government's response when it comes to this kind of scenario. We're gonna break it all down with a help of chief medical correspondent doctor Jan Ashton an a BC news contributor and former Homeland Security advisor for president trump. Tom Foster thank you both for being here Tom what start with you. A you know we we heard from the president today talking about how they are testing and is needed but when we hear those numbers as many as 400 people. With corona virus in Italy are we testing people when they come into this country from Italy. Yeah so I'm testing is here and abroad and to what we call surveillance in the space and a doctor Asch too we'll talk about that in a moment. But just testing at airports is a key factor but not sufficient. What we have to do now and it's not necessarily a criticism today but it's going to become one if we don't quickly get our act together. Is get our testing capacity and capability. Up to snuff in the coming week or weeks. And I think the CDC is promising that they've got a plan for that but I think we'll have to pay attention and kinda check back in about two weeks to see if they've got to together. And as it can only twelve jurisdictions of this might even have the capability to test rate and this is where I want people to hone in Lindsay because when you talk about numbers. You can't understand a given number without understanding the denominator so for example when you hear numbers being reported worldwide okay. We don't know how many people were exposed how many people were infected how many people were tested let's just say China or other countries middle East Europe. How many people were tested. Of those tested how many tested positive and then severity and fatality rate rates when you shift the focus to here in the US. Right now and I'm in touch with practicing clinicians top infectious disease. Clinicians in this country in various cities rate now. They can't test whomever they want. That's both a good thing and might be a problematic thing to Tom's point. You can't do surveillance if your only testing a small number of people you won't fully understand the spread of this virus so right now. The CDC and the State Department had not yet change their testing criteria so they're saying have you been in China in the last fourteen games. Have you had direct contact with someone who's been in China or has been sick with corona virus in the last fourteen days and do you have. Fever cough shortness of brat. Then what happens. Is Europe. Put under suspicion for having the novel corona virus and your tested if you just went into an emergency room you Lindsey Davis and you at a fever. Cough shortness of breath you would be tested and rightly so for influenza. And other respiratory pathogens. If that were out all come back negative rate now. That's where the testing would stop and if you had just gotten off a plane from Italy. That's probably where the testing would stop there I've not been a formal guidelines yet to say. Chris its infant. For a lot of countries now if you've been to any country where there is corona virus. You should be tested and again we don't know how many people are going from different countries on their way in here. That needs to be clarified. Because we to say we only have fifteen cases for sixteen cases 53 cases. Doesn't really mean anything to Leno how many people are being tested so that is something that is Thompson. The need to get that locked down soon around them leaner and what's the incubation period because again if I've just gotten off a plane from Italy and they test me and I don't have a fear right now on and I go and Mike that train. So what you're hearing in large measure in this has been reported clinically in The New England Journal of Medicine. Is fourteen days you're hearing fourteen is fourteen days doctor Robert Redfield the director of the CDC today in his testimony in front of congress members of congress said. There have been reports up to eighteen. Week everyone likes to say they have all the answers here it's very important in medicine and public health and science. To feel comfortable saying. When we don't know something and rate now this is a brand new situation. Only about two months old in this particular strain of corona virus. No one has a crystal ball no one knows what's gonna happen in two weeks or two months or in the middle of the summer. But the testing is key and the transmission dynamics of this virus really important and a lot of that is still to be determined. Tell want to bring you back in I'm curious to know. Did you hear the same message to you feel it it was consistent. Between. Doctor shook it at the CDC and president trump just for example doctor shook it said. This is a good time to prepare the trajectory is very uncertain verses president trump who said we have it so well under control we really have do it done a good job. We are doing great. Yeah I think the president tried to heads a little Mendez do little bit more of political the sense of his team in the actions they've taken to date so. There might have been a little room between them. You know there's can industries things I was looking for the president to do tonight one of them is to not over promise. One of them was to not over reassure. I think there really nice job on those two and to be honest the third one though was four as a leader. I was for him to second future expectations. And on that point I think he'd perhaps hedged a little bit too too far too close to that this is not a problem this is so low risk. Although you know doctor rations right nobody is a crystal ball. Most of the medical experts that I talked to today over the past 23 months and years they're starting to worry that the regression models suggest. And we will have you know spread of this disease to some large magnitude in the United States. Last question for both you and Tom all go to you first how do you walk the fine line I mean that people are obviously. Concerned and Ed may be even scared how do you say hey let's be prepared without causing people to be panicked. Yeah I think you have you do two things you never makes fun of people for being scare afraid that's normal and I think that's okay. But in any crisis you have to maintain trust with the public and the way to do that is to tell the public everything you know. Everything you don't know and to not tell them things that you speculate on and so. There's really any easy way to maintain public trust here it's a it's easier said than done often. Gen same class yeah you know I think Tom would have made a really good physician actually because that is exactly what we try to do. When we're taking care of a patient you know in a situation where someone feels like they have no control it's important to try to give them actionable tips things they can do. To feel like they have some control over their environment over there are there immediate future sometimes we know those things and sometimes we don't but again I've said it from the beginning. Medicine we have to prepare for the worst and hope for the best and so hopefully that's what we're doing here we heard from the president CDC washing your hands still. The best move very important and stay home with piercing. Doctor Gentile boxer thank you to both and you.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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