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Trump In Daily Briefing Says, Hard Decisions Will Have To Be Made; Trump Falsely Accuses Media Is Spreading False Rumors; U.S. Tops 1,000 Deaths For Second Day In A Row; Navy Commander Who Sounded Alarm Removed For "Poor Judgment"; China Donates 1,000 Ventilators To Help New York. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired April 4, 2020 - 18:00   ET




DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This will be probably the toughest week between this week and next week, then there'll be a lot of death, unfortunately, but a lot less death than if this wasn't done, but there will be death.


ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: What is your reaction to that grim expectation?

DR. CARLOS DEL RIO, INFECTIOUS DISEASE EXPERT: It is indeed a grim expectation, Ana, we are bracing to go to sort of the peak of the number of cases, the exponential growth peak and although cases are beginning to slow because of social distancing, we're still going to see an increase in the number of deaths.

And quite frankly, many people are going to die over the next several weeks, as a consequence of the coronavirus, and it's going to be very sad. It is going to be tragic.

But again, whatever we do to stop transmission now will lead to less deaths later. And I want to emphasize that without the measures taken today, instead of 100,000 or maybe 200,000 Americans die as a consequence of the coronavirus, we would have 1.8 to 2.2 million people dying.

So again, I wish nobody would die as a consequence of this. But the reality is this is a very serious epidemic and we need to take it seriously.

CABRERA: I mean, we're looking at over 8,000 deaths right now in the U.S. It's hard to fathom that number going up to 100,000 or even beyond, as you've just discussed.

Dr. Rimoin, eight states still don't have the stay at home orders. Dr. Fauci is saying social distancing is the most important tool we have and the places where people are doing it seems to be helping.

And yet, the President is still unwilling to issue a national stay-at- home order or even, you know, ask the governors of all 50 states to do so in their states, do you think he should?

DR. ANNE RIMOIN, DEPARTMENT OF EPIDEMIOLOGY, UCLA: Absolutely. This is a huge problem. We live in a country with open borders where people can move freely, so we are only as safe as the state that has the least rigorous policies in place.

This is not the first time that this analogy has been made. But it's just like being on an airplane that has a smoking section. Everyone is affected by people who are not smoking -- or who are smoking, all the non-smokers are.

So this is a perfect -- this is a perfect analogy here. We must have national strategy if all states are not doing the absolute best for social distancing, and to be clear, social distancing is a blunt instrument to be able to stop the spread of virus and this is what we need right now because we don't have the therapeutics, we don't have the vaccine, and we don't even have the testing in place to be able to understand where we are in this epidemic curve.

So social distancing, and all of the other basic public health measures like hand washing, and now adding on wearing a cloth mask for those people who are not healthcare workers. Everyone doing their part is so critical.

Debbie Birx said it very well during this press conference that everybody has to do their part. It's really true and that means from the state level, from the Federal level and from the individual level.

CABRERA: And, Dana, I know you were listening very closely to this press conference, did we just witness what is maybe the inherent battle happening within President Trump on one hand, he wants to, you know, go with what Dr. Fauci is saying, on the other hand, he wants to side with the economy, he just doesn't know what to do.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It's so well said. That's what I was thinking and that's what I wrote down, my sort of big picture takeaway here. Really mixed messaging, sometimes from the President himself, if you kind of look at the span of that almost two hour press conference, him talking about the need to stay put where we are on social distancing, warning about the death numbers rising and all of the kind of realities. But at the same time saying we have to reopen things.

You know, it was incredibly apparent that he is conflicted, but much more apparent that it is the medical professionals, Dr. Fauci, in particular, who every time he stood at the podium said what he has been saying every time he has a microphone on, which is we have to maintain this situation of stay-at-home, isolation, whatever you want to call it, because it is the only thing that is working.

And the fact that the President was leaning so far in talking about the need for sporting events to start again, you know, he didn't give a date. He didn't say tomorrow, but the fact that he keeps talking about that. It's understandable he wants to give people hope.

But really, if people are watching and thinking, what is my takeaway? What is my message from the President and his team? They're going to be really confused because of what we heard and one other thing and maybe this is a question, I know this is a question for the medical professionals on this panel.

The fact that the President of the United States who is not a physician kept saying over and over again, more even then he has in the past that people who are on ventilators who are very sick with COVID-19 should start taking chloroquine, this drug that he has been talking about so incessantly was remarkable.


BASH: I mean, I was texting with a doctor whom I know who said, no, that is not a good thing because we don't know side effects, people's heart stop. Never mind that it could take away from people who need the drug for lupus and rheumatoid arthritis and things like that.

That was stunning to me to hear the President of the United States basically try to write prescriptions.

CABRERA: Right and that that stood out to me too, because he said what do you have to lose? Take it. Take it. Let me ask our doctors.

You know, first of all, doctors, we know that there are no proven treatments that are you know, effective for sure in treating coronavirus. And here we have heard a lot about hydroxychloroquine. We know there was a small, small study in China that had some encouraging results.

But, you know, are there risks to anybody taking this drug, Dr. Del Rio?

DEL RIO: -- would be the risk and I think -- I want to emphasize that that's why we do clinical research and that's why there are plenty of clinical trials happening and we need to study this rigorously under clinical research conditions.

You don't make recommendations based on anecdotes, you make clinical recommendations based on results of clinical trials.

So we -- I'm not going to say that hydroxychloroquine doesn't work, but we need to study it. We don't -- we don't do prescriptions based on anecdotes. That's not a very good way to practice Medicine.

CABRERA: Do you know Dr. Del Rio what about this particular type of drug, a drug that treats malaria, could be, you know, promising when it comes to coronavirus?

DEL RIO: Well, there's some evidence in vitro that this drug may have some activity not only against this coronavirus, but also against the MERS coronavirus.

But there are some clinical trials in SARS, for example in which it showed no efficacy and the data from the trial in France that shows some efficacy. It's a pretty flawed study. There's a lot of problems in it. It's a very small study. So I think that making conclusions based on inadequate data, it's

wrong. You wouldn't fly a plane like that. You wouldn't make a decision to go to war based on that. You really need better data to make decisions.

And that doesn't mean that we don't have very sick individuals, but they are -- the last time I checked in, there were 300 clinical trials happening right now.

So my recommendation to physicians, my recommendations to families, to patients is if you're sick with coronavirus, look for a clinical trial near you that you can potentially enroll in because the reality is through clinical research, we're going to find the answers and we're going to know what works and what doesn't work.

CABRERA: Dr. Rimoin, do you have any concerns about the President giving perhaps false hope when it comes to hydroxychloroquine?

RIMOIN: Again, absolutely, we need to make decisions based on scientific evidence. We need evidence-based decisions to make policy and that is why research is so critical at this moment, why we need to be doing everything we can to understand how this virus works, how the treatments that are being put out there work.

And any use of -- any indiscriminate use of a drug without evidence has the potential to do quite a bit of harm. We've seen this before. We'll see it in this scenario as well.

I think it's very, very important to follow the data and follow the science. That is what needs to happen here that will inform national policy and inform how we move forward to be able to get onto the other side of this epidemic.

CABRERA: Meantime, we know doctors, nurses, other healthcare professionals are in the trenches right now and they don't have all the supplies they need.

Daniel Dale, I want to play another moment from the press conference. Let's listen.


TRUMP: Nobody has ever seen anything like this in terms of ventilators, in terms of protective equipment and uniforms and outfits, but it makes it more difficult for distributors to prioritize the real need and it could intentionally and, you know, they have -- everybody has proper intentions, but they want to make sure they are a hundred percent.

And sometimes, when they know they don't need it, they want it anyway. That gives them that extra feeling of satisfaction, but we just can't do that. It's not even possible to think of that and that's why -- and we're back up. Remember, we're back up.


CABRERA: Daniel, give us a fact check here.

DANIEL DALE, CNN REPORTER: Well, we just don't have evidence that states are requesting far more equipment, ventilators et cetera than they need and Trump didn't name these states.

From a fact check perspective, honestly, it's hard to know where to start from this briefing. There's just so much -- Trump repeated his false claim that people are being tested for the coronavirus when they get on and get off planes. That is not happening at all.


DALE: When he was challenged on it, he kind of muttered a response. It's just not happening. Again, you covered on hydroxychloroquine, he said that it has passed the safety test, because it has been approved for other uses.

As the doctors will tell you, that's just not how it works. The fact that it's been safety approved for use against say malaria does not mean it has been safety approved for use here.

And I think it was remarkable from a sort of facts and truth perspective that Trump floated two stories about hydroxychloroquine and then said something like, maybe that's correct, maybe it's false. Check it out.

On the other story, he said, I don't know. Check it out. This is not how Presidents usually behave and frankly, shouldn't behave.

You know, you should expect that when information is coming from the President, it has been vetted, it has been approved. From this President, that's not the case and I'd highlight one more thing.

Trump was challenged about his claim from a previous briefing that some states are just not in jeopardy from the coronavirus. It was pointed out to him that some of the states on his list that don't have stay-at-home orders have more than 1,500 cases.

He said, well, they're doing a great job. They have big lands, so he insinuated they are probably okay. Fauci, Birx and other doctors have emphasized that every state is at risk. Every state has more than 150 cases, and no state is immune from this just because it's more rural and more spread out.

CABRERA: And in fact, there's only one state that hasn't had a death from coronavirus and that is Wyoming and so every single state in the U.S. as you point out has cases, most of them have had fatalities because of coronavirus.

Dr. Del Rio, I want to play something else the President said. Let's listen.


TRUMP: They want to sit next to each other at restaurants. They don't want to be sitting, you know, six feet away and in some restaurant -- a man called up and he said, he said yes, I'm worried because I have a small restaurant with not too many seats. I think he said 120 and he said if I practice what this is, I'm down to 30 seats. I can't make it.

I said don't worry about it. That's for a short period of time. You'll be back to your number of seats. We can't do that. Otherwise, you're making everything -- that means your stadium is half the size of what it was a month ago.

No, they're going to be close together, but they're going to be breathing air that's not infected that's not going to kill people.


CABRERA: Dr. Del Rio -- medically, scientifically, what do you think the President is basing that on?

DEL RIO: Well, I frankly don't know. But I'm going to say that we are all concerned about the economy. It almost seems like this is the kind of economy between the medical adviser and the economist.

The reality is as a physician, I am concerned about the economy. As a medical profession. I am concerned about the economy. But I do think that this is taking hard medicine. This is a little bit like, I tell people this is like taking chemotherapy for cancer.

Chemotherapy is tough. It's hard, but the only way to get rid of the cancer is by taking that very hard medicine. There's absolutely no way to play it halfway. You have to do the right thing in order to get -- and the sooner you do the hard medicine, the sooner you get over it.

So the reality is, like we should have implemented a lot of this measures, you know, not now, but a month ago. But be that as it may, that is now, we have the month of April as a month to really do it right.

And if we do it right during the month of April, if we truly implement an actual shutdown and we all stay home, and we all practice social distancing. If we truly have no exceptions, then I will say the problem is that many states have social distancing, but each one has different exceptions.

Some has exceptions for religious events, some for this and some for that. The reality is, we are in a national strategy and we need to use that month to do a critical thing, which is to scale up testing, to get to the level of testing we need to be and then we can start thinking about opening the economy by having the data.

Because data is going to be critical to open the economy. So the reality is we have this month to do it right. Let's do it right.

CABRERA: Dr. Rimoin, as Dr. Del Rio was speaking, I saw the numbers on the right side of the screen, update and now we're at more than 8,200 deaths, nearly 8,300 deaths in the U.S., that's more than 1,000 new deaths just today. And of course, we're seeing the total cases rise exponentially it seems. We again heard a lot about getting back to work about the needs of

sports leagues. Did you hear a President today who seems to understand the gravity of this public health crisis?

RIMOIN: Well, I think that we're still looking for a very strong national strategy and I'm not hearing it. I would like to hear a national strategy to keep everyone home so that we can, as Dr. Del Rio said, be able to take this strong medicine get through the hardest part and make it to the other side.

Blunt instruments are the only thing that will work at this point. We don't have the therapeutics. We don't have the vaccines. We don't have the wide scale testing. We have none of these things.

All we can count on is making I'm sure that this virus doesn't have opportunity to spread and the only way we can do that is if we have national guidance that goes to the states and that the states all implement this.

And if the state's implement it and every city implements it, and every citizen of this United States does what they are supposed to do by staying home and minimizing opportunity for spread, that is the only way we will stem the tide of the spread of this virus.


RIMOIN: I have not seen this kind of national strategy. I'm certain we are all waiting for this, and it is the only thing that's going to work. We should be learning from other experiences.

We learned this lesson with Ebola. We've learned this lesson from other disasters, from other pandemics. We have to work together. We have to pull together by staying apart and that is from every level from the highest positions in government down to the individual right now.

CABRERA: Dana, how does the President, you know, toe the line between trying to be reassuring and optimistic and sort of a calming presence for Americans versus being dangerous?

BASH: Look, this -- that's a question you can ask every single time he comes to the podium because he does both. And in many cases, the dangerous part of the comments that he makes are the most vivid and that frankly matters much more when you're talking about the pandemic that we have now.

And we talked a lot already about the fact that he is trying to prescribe medicine that he has no right to or experience in doing, never mind a degree or training and doing from the White House podium.

But you could also hear him talking about, you know, having covered this President and before, the candidate for a long time, you can kind of get a sense of maybe the conversations he is having behind the scenes or the media he is listening to before he comes out.

And today, he was much more focused on the notion of, we can't let the cure be worse than the disease, which we heard a lot about from him about a week ago. It comes straight from, you know, conservative media, from a lot of people on the Republican side in particular, who have been very, very upset with the President, maybe a little bit less so now that that those numbers on the screen are so dire.

But the fact that he is repeating that now, when we haven't heard it for a few days, frankly, is alarming.

The other thing I just want to point out is that just this whole notion of a national strategy or a national lockdown. Even if the President isn't willing to do that in a formal way by Executive Order or whatever method he has as President of the United States, and I'm talking to White House sources who say that right out he is not, he can use the bully pulpit.

He can say, in answer to our colleague, Jeremy Diamond's question about the eight governors who are refusing to tell people to stay at home, you know what governors? You've got to do it. I can't tell you what to do, you know, constitutionally, that's the term he used. But please, be smart. Do it.

He didn't even do that today. He said, it's up to them. They're smart people. I'm going to let them do what they want to do. I mean, that is something that is a classic tool of again, the bully pulpit that this President isn't willing to touch.

Yes, he is doing a lot. Yes, there is a lot, not key but that the Federal government is doing a lot fueled by the medical professionals like Dr. Fauci, but those little, you know, powers that he has with his rhetoric, he is not even using those.

CABRERA: And well, one of the powers that he has used or at least started to use recently is the Defense Production Act. And Daniel, the President talked a lot about this today claiming he has been using it and it works very well he says, where do things stand with the utilization of the DPA and the execution of it?

DALE: Well, he is using it in some ways. When he first started claiming that he was using it, he meant that he was using it to cajole or coerce companies into doing what he wanted.

He has since claimed to invoke it against various companies, but some of them like GM have said that, even though he claimed to invoke it against us, we haven't received the formal notification, and so can't proceed.

And so I found that with all of his rhetoric on this particular subject, the Defense Production Act, it's often been very murky as to what is actually happening.

And I just want to highlight one other fact check item from today's briefing, you know, Trump was asked about another important matter that is getting buried understandably by the pandemic, which was his removal of the Intelligence Community Inspector General.

[18:20:04] DALE: And in justifying that decision, he repeated a bunch of his

false claims, I'd even say lies about the Ukraine saga. He said, the Inspector General did a terrible job because he brought to Congress this phony report from this phony whistleblower who was totally inaccurate.

As we've repeatedly noted, that whistleblower was highly accurate. Trump then suggested that Adam Schiff, the Democratic House Intelligence Committee leader might have been the informant for the whistleblower. That's nonsensical. That's complete fiction.

And so in addition to promoting falsehoods about the pandemic about the coronavirus, he also returned to falsehoods about this whole subject of Ukrainian impeachment.

CABRERA: And that's a really good point, and I'm glad you bring it up, because it's so important that we do bring the facts to our viewers. It's hard to do it in real time.

Daniel, you are such a treasure to be able to do that for us and with us in real time. Thank you for taking through some of those issues.

Dana, did you have one last word you wanted to get in there?

BASH: Yes, just real quick. Daniel was rightly talking about the things that the President said about the Ukraine scandal that were inaccurate. But let's just take a step back and talk about how craven it is, the notion of the President of the United States in the middle of this crisis, unprecedented crisis in the wee hours of Friday night, firing an Inspector General who did the right thing, by all accounts, as Daniel was just saying.

I mean, that happened. And then, you know, I mean, that's remarkable. That is really remarkable.

CABRERA: It is and in any other administration, and in this one, it just seems like commonplace. Danna Bash, Daniel Dale, Dr. Anne Rimoin and Dr. Carlos Del Rio, our thanks to all of you. I really appreciate you being here with us.

During this afternoon's briefing in the middle of this global health crisis, President Trump took new aim at the media. We're going to play some of those words and why it could be dangerous. We'll have Brian Stelter with us next.



CABRERA: At today's White House coronavirus briefing, President Trump did something familiar. He lashed out at the media. Listen.


TRUMP: It's therefore critical that certain media outlet stop spreading false rumors and creating fear and even panic with the public. It's just incredible.

I could name them, but it's same ones, always the same ones. I guess, they're looking for ratings. I don't know what they're looking for. It is so bad for our country. And so bad, the people understand it.

You look at the levels and approval ratings and they are the lowest they've ever been for media. It's so bad for our country, it is so bad for the world.

They've got to put it together for a little while. Get this over with and then go back to your fake news.


CABRERA: I want to bring in CNN's Chief Media Correspondent, Brian Stelter.

Brian, you know, right now media has such an important, a really crucial role in informing the public about safety guidelines about what's happening right now with the coronavirus. We carry much of the White House briefing live each day here on CNN. Dr. Fauci participates in CNN Town Halls, and yet the President is telling the public not to trust us.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: And that's one of the reasons why this was a disturbing briefing today, not really a briefing, these are very long. Long can be a good thing when the President and his experts provide lots of important and useful information.

But when there is misinformation and diversions and distractions, when he is talking about his rivals for President, when he is talking about Ukraine and other stories, it is disturbing to see him wasting time in the middle of a pandemic.

To your point, Ana, the media is so essential in this moment, because it is the megaphone to get information to the public about this health crisis.

Let's take these masks, for example. Just in the past couple of days, Americans are being told to consider wearing masks when they go out around cities and around communities.

I was out in New York City today reporting and the masks have appeared almost overnight. People are listening very carefully to what public leaders and public officials are saying.

So when the president says BS, or when he says information that's not vetted. It's very dangerous. His comments today about hydrochloroquine, you know where he urging people to consider taking it, saying try it if you'd like. This is so disturbing to hear I'm doing this.

And my wife takes a version of that drug called Plaquenil for her rheumatoid arthritis, and there are so many Americans like who are having to worry about not having access to the drugs they need for their lives because the President is out there touting an unproven idea of a possible cure.

Let's see if this drug is useful with COVID-19. We don't yet know, that's what Dr. Fauci and others say. But the President continues to provide this unvetted and unconfirmed information to the public.

CABRERA: And I want to play some of the past things the President has said about this pandemic. Stay with me, Brian.


TRUMP: I've always known this is a -- this is a real -- this is a pandemic. I've felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic.

We cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself. We're not going to let the cure be worse than the problem.

I hope we can do this by Easter. I think that would be a great thing for our country.


CABRERA: You know, in one breath, the President saying he always knew this was a pandemic, and in another, he is setting that Easter timeline again, when just last week, he extended social distancing guidelines until the end of the month.

STELTER: Yes, this reminds me of what some television critics like James Poniewozik at "The New York Times" have observed about Trump, it's that every day is a brand new story and that he is not thinking about what he said last week or last month. He is just wiping the slate clean and starting new every day.

And that is true when you think about these briefings. There can be one narrative one day and another narrative the next day. And the reason that of course can be a problem is because Americans want reliable, consistent guidance about what to do in this crisis.

When he is once again -- and Dana Bash pointed out this a few minutes ago, I think he is hearing from Fox News and rightwing talk radio about the economic collapse that's happening and this notion we need to get back to work soon.

And so he's repeating that again, all of a sudden these briefings only a few days after announcing a full stoppage for the month of April and look, Ana, this is going to go beyond April. We all know it. I think we all know it in our guts, and yet the messaging continues to be mixed at best and dangerous at worst from this White House.


CABRERA: Brian Stelter, as always, thank you very much for being here.

And don't forget to tune in to Brian's show tomorrow morning Reliable Sources at 11 am Eastern.

Now, President Trump weighs in on the fight over ventilators. We'll get an update from our White House correspondent Jeremy Diamond next.



CABRERA: For the second day in a row the U.S. is reporting a daily coronavirus death toll of more than a thousand people, at least 1,000 people just today. And yet a short time ago at the White House, President Trump predicted a very grim week ahead.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This will be probably the toughest week between this week and next week, and there will be a lot of death, unfortunately. But a lot less death than if this wasn't done, but there will be death.


CABRERA: Despite such a horrific prospect, a lot of deaths. The President is also very focused on kick-starting the American economy back to life and quickly.


TRUMP: We get it we have a big decision to make at a certain point. OK. We have a big decision to make. We went this extra period of time. But I've said it from the beginning, the cure cannot be worse than the problem itself and we cannot let that happen. We have an incredible country.

We were having the greatest period in our country's history from an economic standpoint in many other ways. We cannot let this continue. So at a certain point, some hard decisions are going to have to be made.


CABRERA: CNN's Jeremy Diamond is live for us at the White House. He attended today's task force briefing for us. And Jeremy, you asked the President about what is becoming a fight over life saving ventilators. Tell us about that.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Ana. Well, we heard the President earlier in the briefing talking about these states that are over inflating their needs for ventilators for other critical medical supplies. The president suggesting even that politics was sometimes at play here.

But there is a broader issue beyond what states are requesting from the federal government. There's a question about production capacity of these ventilators and whether or not the production can be ramped up fast enough. Now, the federal government is working to do that but there's a question about whether this is too little too late. That's what I asked the President about.


DIAMOND: -- manufacturers are doubling, tripling and end quadrupling their production in some cases.

TRUMP: That's true.

DIAMOND: And yet medical experts and some of these manufacturers are predicting that there will still be shortages of 10s of thousands of ventilators. Is it time for you to level with the American public that there likely will be shortages of ventilators in some cases?

TRUMP: It could be. I mean, it could be you have shortages and it could also be that you have some that have way overestimated the number of ventilators they need. We think that we have a good amount ready to move - I mean, literally, like an army. They're ready to move to any hotspot.

But some of the ones that you're talking about, always a nasty question from CNN --

DIAMOND: Why is it a nasty question?

TRUMP: -- but some of the ones - because I think that frankly --

DIAMOND: (Inaudible) --

TRUMP: -- because you know what, you've asked that question about 10 times over the course of about a month. Look, we're mobilized and ready to go. We have a lot of ventilators ready to go. And if we had given them all out, we wouldn't and you would be overstocked in many areas.


DIAMOND: And so, Ana, you hear the President there saying that there could be ventilator shortages in the United States. That's because they're expecting now, and we heard Dr. Birx and the other experts saying this, that they expect the apex of this coronavirus pandemic to be in six to seven days not just in New York but in other hotspots around the country.

And that's why even if there are 10s of thousands of ventilators in the U.S., there are 10s of thousands of more that are going to be needed. And so even as the federal government has been working with ventilator companies, working with some auto manufacturers to ramp up production over the coming weeks and months, that's weeks and months. That's not the six to seven days that people will need in order to save some lives. Ana.

CABRERA: Crucial information. Jeremy Diamond, thank you.

Now, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been pleading for help to get ventilators and other supplies to the hospitals and patients that need it in his state and now he is getting some from an unlikely source. We'll discuss what implications that may have next.



CABRERA: A chorus of cheers and applause erupted onboard the USS Roosevelt when Commanding Officer Captain Brett Crozier walked off the aircraft carrier for the last time. He was relieved of his post for allegedly showing extremely poor judgment and creating a firestorm by going outside the chain of command and widely distributing a memo. This is according to the Acting Secretary of the Navy.

Now, that memo called for decisive action by the Navy in order to save the lives of his crew members from the coronavirus pandemic. The USS Roosevelt was recently hit by a major outbreak of the virus at least 155 crew sailors on board have tested positive accounting for more than 10% of all cases across the U.S. military.

Meanwhile, New York, the hardest hit state in the country right now with more than 113,000 cases is receiving help from China. Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced today that the Chinese government is facilitating the donation of 1,000 ventilators. This as he's warning New York may still be a week away from hitting the apex of new cases.

CNN National Security Analyst Samantha Vinograd is joining us now for our weekend presidential brief. And Sam, the Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, recently called China a substantial threat to our health. How do you square that with this news today?


SAM VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, Ana, the reality is that American lives are in China's hands. As you noted just last month, Pompeo called the Chinese Communist Party, the CCP, a threat to our health and to our security.

And now, the reality is that we are dependent on China for life saving equipment. Because of our own lack of preparedness when it comes to stockpiling supplies, we are now perversely relying on the country that was responsible for the spread of the virus to help us stem it here on the homeland. And because of that, China, again, the original source of the virus is in a position to cash in on the pandemic.

Economically, they are well-positioned to source key medical supplies like ventilators, face masks and other PPE goods to the United States and other countries. And from a foreign policy perspective, they are likely going to be able to eke out concessions from the United States as well. They know that we know that they have the ability to stem the flow of exports to the United States of these key goods and for that reason we should expect to continue to see things like the war of words by Secretary of State Pompeo tamp down as the administration really seeks to placate China fully knowing that we are depending on them for American Health at this juncture.

CABRERA: The President has been focused on other matters in the last 24 hours. He just fired his Intelligence Community Inspector General who told Congress about the whistleblower complaint that was involved in his impeachment proceedings. What more can you tell us about this? VINOGRAD: Well, Ana, unfortunately Trump is a creature of habit and he

has habitually decimated the intelligence community and remove people from office not because they didn't do their jobs, but because they did. Atkinson fulfill the statutory obligations and relayed the whistleblower complaint to Congress. Trump fired him for that reason.

So his removal does not come as a surprise, but the timing is particularly troublesome. This is an all hands on deck moment for the entire U.S. government, President Trump needs to get his priorities straight. He is letting his personal insecurities related to Atkinson, Trump U.S. National Security. We need more competent officials on board right now, not less.

And concurrently, President Trump didn't even give Atkinson time to appropriately transition. He was placed on administrative leave for 30 days, which means he's not able to transition his workload. He is not able to break his successor. So operationally this will have an impact and I really worried that balls are going to be dropped unless, of course, this was President Trump's perspective as his priority as he seeks to avoid scrutiny and oversight by the Intelligence Community Inspector General.

CABRERA: Samantha Vinograd, as always, good to have you here with us. Thank you.

VINOGRAD: Thanks, Ana.

CABRERA: There are a lot of heroes helping us all get through the coronavirus pandemic; doctors, nurses and so many more. We'll show you some of them when CNN NEWSROOM returns.



CABRERA: Something very uplifting to tell you about now and it is welcome news on this weekend, so full of rising death tolls and critical shortages. I have an update on this man, Dr. Arnold Weg, who likely became infected with coronavirus from a patient he examined several weeks ago.

Last weekend he was in intensive care, in critical condition. We checked in with his family who could not physically be with him as he fought this virus. Today, his son wrote to me to say Dr. Weg is improving. He's still in isolation, but he's ready to get back in the fight against the pandemic that nearly killed him.

Feel better, Dr. Weg, wishing you a very quick and full recovery.

I'm Ana Cabrera. Thank you so much for joining us today. Wolf Blitzer picks up our coverage in just a moment.

But first a special tribute. We've been talking about the health care workers and the first responders who are putting their lives on the line every day to fight the coronavirus. But add to that, that list of everyday heroes, grocery store clerks, delivery drivers, transit workers, pharmacists and so many more just doing their job. To thank them, our CNN Heroes team put this together.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm a New Yorker, it's a essential that I'm out here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a little risk coming outside but I kind of like a superhero saving the world.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is warzone. It's a medical warzone.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D) NEW YORK: This is an extraordinary time where you need to see people at their best.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is in our heart and it is in our soul to sacrifice, to serve, to fight for you.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I travel coast to coast as long as we can haul food for the American people. You will have plenty of food on those shelves.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My heroes are all of the people that I work with who are showing up and helping us fight this pandemic.