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AT THIS HOUR

Trump Disputes Data on Virus Death Rate, Citing Own "Hunch"; New Questions About Safety of Traveling During Outbreak; Martin Luther King III Discusses the Nathaniel Woods Case; Rep. Donna Shalala (D-FL) Discusses Warren Dropping Out of Presidential Race, A Possible Warren Endorsement & Coronavirus. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired March 5, 2020 - 11:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[11:30:00]

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Last night, in response to the higher WHO, World Health Organization, estimate, he said his hunch was that it was much lower.

Again, as you pointed out, Kate, it is likely that that death rate will go down based on that calculation as the number of cases is known to be larger.

However, in a crisis like this, the government deals with the data that it has. And the president was questioning the data that actual international health authorities were using. And before that, he has been questioning the data that the CDC has been using.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. John, thank you so much for coming on. Really appreciate it.

Joining me now is Dr. Sanjay Gupta here with much more.

Sanjay, first on that, what should people know about the death rate associated with the virus? What the World Health Organization is reporting.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: There's a lot of people looking at the death rates and they want to try and predict where this is going to go. And they're looking at previous outbreaks and similar viruses. And trying to put this all together. But the data is the data. We all hope that the death rate goes down.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely.

GUPTA: I want to point out even 3.4 percent of what is being reported around the world, it is different in different countries, but that's the global numbers.

Flu, which we keep drawing the comparison to understandably, is .1 percent. Even if this drops to 1 percent, that's ten times more than the flu. So some of this is a little bit like I think the numbers are getting blurry for a lot of people. I think --

(CROSSTALK) BOLDUAN: That's a great point.

GUPTA: We're concerned about this because the flu itself can kill tens of thousands of people a year in the United States. This right now the death rate is higher.

That's not to panic people. That's just to remind people this is why we're getting prepared. This is why we're talking about it so much.

BOLDUAN: Why we're talking about it.

GUPTA: Yes. And that -- with that talking and all the work that is going on, we can be prepared for this.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely right.

One question, I know we were talking at the break, you're getting a lot of questions about --, that's what we're trying to do here, just answer really useful basic questions for folks, the question of travel. How can people be safe in airports, where to go, where to avoid, should you travel at all? What are you picking up?

GUPTA: Yes. Look, I traveled three times this week, OK. I was traveling yesterday. Didn't see anybody with masks or anything like that. I talked to the pilots, flight attendants, tried to gather --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Sanjay is traveling.

GUPTA: I'm traveling.

BOLDUAN: Sanjay is getting on a plane.

GUPTA: By the way, when I go to the men's room now, I see more men seriously washing their hands and

(CROSSTALK)

GUPTA: So there's good habits coming out of this that I hope will last.

There's no travel restrictions or recommendations with domestic travel right now in the United States.

Airplanes -- and this is one thing I think is important. You know, they do recirculate and filter the air two to four times an hour. Every like hour, several times. So you are getting maybe cleaner air, more filtered air than most office buildings.

The biggest concern is that if you're sitting next to somebody who is sick, if you're touching a surface that is contaminated, that's always been a concern.

Flu season, what would you normally do? Most people don't think about it. We're used to the flu. The same basic precautions apply here. I think with international travel, there are travel advisories and

those may change. If you're going to a country where this is circulating, you could run into a situation where you'll be screened and quarantined. Pay attention to that.

Domestically, there's no travel recommendations in terms of not traveling at this point.

BOLDUAN: I think the separating from fact from fiction, vigilance as an antidote to fear and panic, I think is a very important thing.

GUPTA: Knowledge is power here.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely.

GUPTA: I'm not trying to be hopeful, just factual.

BOLDUAN: Great to see you, Sanjay. Thank you so much.

GUPTA: You got it. Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Programming note. Please join Sanjay and Anderson Cooper for a CNN global town hall where a lot of the questions are going to be answered. It's called "CORONAVIRUS, FACTS AND FEARS." It's tonight at 10:00 Eastern right here on CNN.

Also this. It is a sobering fact, 15 million children in the United States live in poverty. Millions more come from families that cannot cover basics, like school supplies. In this week's "IMPACT YOUR WORLD," the nonprofit Kids in Need is working to fix that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is all about this questioning.

I teach a third, fourth and fifth grade gifted classroom. Most of us think we all have pencils and scissors or crayons in our homes but a lot of students don't. Our parents want to give kids what they need but they don't have the funds to do it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[11:34:35]

BOLDUAN: To learn more, you can visit CNN.com/impact.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: Right now, the governor of Alabama is facing a question of life and death, and with hours to decide. It is over the scheduled execution tonight of a man named Nathaniel Woods.

Woods was convicted in 2004 in the killing of three police officers in Birmingham, Alabama. The officers were serving a warrant on Woods for dealing drugs when another man in the home at the time, named Kerry Spencer, opened fire, killing the three officers and wounding another.

[11:40:13]

Prosecutors in the case, in the trial, argued all along that Spencer and Spencer alone pulled the trigger. But that they -- they also argued Woods conspired in the killings. Both men were sentenced to death.

But Woods has always maintained his innocence. And now there has been a groundswell of support for his case in these final hours, calling on the governor to halt the execution so his case can get another look.

One person speaking out in Woods' defense, the other man convicted, Kerry Spencer, speaking to CNN's Martin Savidge from Death Row. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You are saying you are totally responsible for the murders of those police officers.

KERRY SPENCER, CONVICTED OF MURDER & CO-DEFENDANT OF NATHANIEL WOODS (voice-over): Yes, I am.

SAVIDGE: And that --

SPENCER: I'm the one that shot everybody that day.

SAVIDGE: And that Nathaniel Woods is completely innocent, you say?

SPENCER: Absolutely. He didn't know I was going to shoot anybody. I put this on my life, on my children's life. I swear to God. I didn't know I was going to (EXPLETIVE DELETED), so how would Nate know? This was spur-of-the-moment decision. We had no time to think about what the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) was going to happen that day.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Another person speaking out for Woods is Martin Luther King III, the son of the late civil rights leader. And Mr. King joins me now.

Thank you so much for coming in.

MARTIN LUTHER KING III, SON OF MARTIN LUTHER KING JR: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Why did you feel compelled to get involved in this way, and speak out for Mr. Woods?

KING: I start off with the point I am against the death penalty, as you may know. My father was killed by an assassin. My grandmother was also killed. So I would be a likely candidate that would be for the death penalty, but I've always been against the death penal.

Secondly, and most importantly, an innocent man is almost on the brink of being killed today because the government, the governor may refuse to step in. And I think that is very tragic when it is very clear, just based on what you have shown us, that this man is innocent. And apparently, the legal system and the legal representative did not represent him properly.

BOLDUAN: The governor has not said anything publicly. You wrote her a letter, you requested a meeting. That didn't happen.

The state's attorney general, though, is definitely speaking out. His statement does not mince words. In it, in part, he says, "The only injustice in the case of Nathaniel Woods is that which was inflicted on those four policemen that terrible day in 2004."

The attorney general he calls this a just punishment. In your view, what is the attorney general missing here?

KING: I don't really know. I can't speak to what he is missing.

I can say that many in the community feels like this is once again another lynching. The man is innocent, it appears, based on all kinds of evidence, including evidence not presented at the first trial. It would seem there's -- it is never too late to save a human life, specifically if it is an innocent life.

This is totally unjust. It is unfair. It says something is wrong with our legal system. And something is wrong with our nation that we would allow an innocent person or potentially innocent person to be killed. It is unconscionable.

BOLDUAN: As I understand from your letter to the governor, your request is to allow for more time to accurately review the facts and handling or mishandling of his case. After his conviction, the Supreme Court turned down his appeal last year. Other appeals were also unsuccessful.

And I wonder, with all of that, those facts in front of you, if the execution would be halted and the case reviewed, what would you say then if he again received the same sentence?

KING: I would say the system did not work in this particular case. I don't understand how you kill an innocent person. I don't understand how we, as a nation, are not enraged.

We certainly are enraged about the fact that officers lost their lives. That is so tragic and unjust and unfair.

But also an innocent person who did not engage in this situation at all should not be killed.

BOLDUAN: What do you think the chances are that the governor will step in at this point, Mr. King?

KING: I can't speak to that. I don't know what he's being told other than what the attorneys from the government side or the state side are saying.

The hope is that -- again, I was trying to appeal to the governor in a humane sense. My view is, if there's one shred of doubt that someone is innocent, we should not kill them.

I mean, look at states like Illinois. They found out they had killed somebody when DNA evidence proved that person was not the person. And they stopped all executions. I think California and other states have done similar things.

[11:45:10]

We, in Alabama -- I'm not in Alabama. I live in Georgia now. I was born in Alabama. Alabama should do better than this for justice to occur in our nation and in that state. And certainly, most importantly, for this young man, Nathaniel Woods.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: It is not just you, Mr. King. It is his case, in this moment, with execution hours away, has gotten attention from around the country and beyond. Thousands and thousands of people signing on for a reconsideration of this case, a halt to this execution with hours left.

Mr. King, thank you for coming on.

KING: Thank you for the opportunity.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, we're going to go -- we're going to return to breaking news at the top of the hour. Elizabeth Warren ending her presidential campaign. We have reaction. We'll get the reaction from a Democratic member of Congress from Florida, one of the next states to vote.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:50:25]

BOLDUAN: The breaking news this hour in the 2020 race, Elizabeth Warren dropping out of the presidential race. That leaves Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders in a two-way race to the top now.

On a conference call with staff that just wrapped up, Warren did not make any announcement about a potential endorsement, but that is clearly the big question right now.

Joining me now, Democratic Congresswoman Donna Shalala, of Florida.

Thanks for coming in, Congresswoman.

REP. DONNA SHALALA (D-FL): You're welcome.

First of all, your reaction to this announcement from Elizabeth Warren?

SHALALA: She's a patriot, along with Mike Bloomberg, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar. They're putting country above party, above their own egos, unlike the Republicans during their primary, who stayed in and allowed Donald Trump to get the nomination. So I'm very proud of her and of all the other candidates that really

cared deeply about the future of the country.

BOLDUAN: So Elizabeth Warren dropping out leaves essentially a two-way race. It's Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders now. And the Florida primary is two weeks out.

Fellow Florida Democrat, Val Demings, she endorsed Joe Biden this morning. I know that you have said you would not endorse before the Florida primary, but just looking at the last 24 hours, a lot has changed. So where are you?

SHALALA: What hasn't changed is my promise to my own constituents that I wouldn't endorse until after I heard from them. So I think I will stay out of the primary.

Though I've made it very clear my very strong negative feelings about Bernie Sanders, about his attitude and his words on Cuba, about the Nicaraguans, about the Venezuelans. He's just unacceptable to people in south Florida and people across our state.

BOLDUAN: Congresswoman, I was going to ask you that because you have not made any secret about your feelings about Bernie Sanders at all. When you say he's not acceptable, what's the other option, then, other than Joe Biden?

SHALALA: There's no other option for Democrats. But remember, so many other people have already voted in Florida. They voted absentee. They may have voted for some of the other candidates who have now dropped out.

Look, I could endorse tomorrow. That would be the easy thing to do. But I made a promise, and frankly, I -- the people in my district are so smart, they don't need to hear from me. They need to make up their own minds.

I'm going to respect the voters in my district, let them vote on the 17th. I'll make an announcement right after that.

BOLDUAN: And I 100 percent respect that. Other members, I know, feel the same way.

Demings, though, in explaining why she's endorsing now, is she said because momentum matters so much going into the Florida. If Bernie Sanders is so unacceptable, it's kind of like an endorsement by any other name, is what I'm hearing from you, Congresswoman. I just wonder why not?

SHALALA: No, you're really not. You're hearing a respect for my voters in the district to let them make the decision, and a lack of ego on my part as if I could influence them in any way. They know my attitude about Bernie Sanders. And let the people vote.

BOLDUAN: I respect that 100 percent.

You were also -- a quick turn, of course -- the secretary of Health and Human Services under President Clinton. As a former HHS secretary, I'm wondering what your chief concern or question is right now over coronavirus as the administration just briefed you all again this morning.

SHALALA: My chief concern is that we not politicize this. Fear is a virus as well. And it's very important that we stick to the facts. The administration is making superhuman efforts to get their arms around this. Of course, they're going to trip. Of course, they're late. They know that. We all know that.

But we have never properly funded the public health infrastructure in this country, any administration. This administration actually tried to cut some of the important agencies. But we have to pull together in this country to get the facts out.

BOLDUAN: Are you --

SHALALA: This disease is particularly targeted for the seniors in our community, and, therefore, anything we can do to protect them. I am concerned that the tests aren't getting out fast enough, but so is the administration.

I'm concerned that people are confused about what they ought to do. They ought to wash their hands and listen to the public health people in their community. If they have some symptoms, they go to their doctors, there will be a way to test them for the coronavirus.

[11:55:12]

But if they want to do one thing, tomorrow or today, they ought to go get a flu shot. Why is that? Because you do not want to be in an emergency room or in a hospital once the coronavirus hits in your community. We ought to keep as many people out as we possibly can.

BOLDUAN: Once an HHS secretary, always an HHS secretary. Get your flu shot.

Congresswoman, thank you for coming in.

SHALALA: You're welcome.

BOLDUAN: Still ahead, much more on the political fallout now that Elizabeth Warren is exiting the 2020 race. How does this impact Joe Biden? How does this impact Bernie Sanders?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)