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Surgeon General: This Week Will Be A "Pearl Harbor" And "9/11" Moment; Almost Half Of U.S. Coronavirus Deaths In New York State; Trump Continues To Push Unproven Drug For Virus; Governors Plead For Medical Supplies Amid Nationwide Shortages; Fauci: This Is Going To Be A Really Bad Week; Fauci On Hydroxychloroquine: I Don't Think We Can Definitively Say It Works"; Trump: We See Light At The End Of The Tunnel"; Trump On Masks: I Would Wear One If I Thought It Was Important. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired April 5, 2020 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have an industry that's a very important industry. And it's really formed beautifully. It was the virus that killed it, because what happened is it's down 40 percent from the day this happened. 40 percent. Otherwise it would be doing phenomenally well. So that's it. Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr President, can we get an idea of time lines? There's people that are waiting for their stimulus checks. How many more days they may have to wait. And then Speaker Pelosi today -- sorry, I think last night -- said in the next bill that they would like to see additional stimulus checks made. Have you guys thrown around an amount of how much will be --
TRUMP: No, but I like the concept of it. I think it's good. We're talking about a different way of doing it. But I like the concept. I'd like the concept of infrastructure. Our country has to be rebuilt.
They spent all this money in the Middle East. $8 trillion. We're up to now $8 trillion in the Middle East. We got to rebuild our country, OK? We have to rebuild our roads and our schools, our bridges. We have to rebuild our country.
So I like an infrastructure bill. I also like money going directly to people. It's not their fault that this happened. And I do think this. Especially the faster we can get it open, our country -- can you believe we're talking about our country, getting our country open -- the faster we get it open, the bigger the boom, the bigger the rocket ship going up. I think it has a chance to go really quickly, relatively quickly. I'd like to see very quickly, but we'll see.
But part of the stimulus, and part of what we're doing, that will help it. And the nice part is we're paying practically zero interest rates. You know, we're paying very little. It's one of the reasons I like the infrastructure bill. Because we're borrowing -- we have a strong dollar. And the advantage to a strong dollar is everybody wants to invest in this country. They all want to buy our dollar. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The direct payments, sir. Just in terms of time line. Are we talking still two weeks?
Are we talking ten days? (INAUDIBLE). Thank you, sir.
TRUMP; I think so, yes, from what I'm hearing. But -- yes, a couple of weeks. That's what I'm hearing, yes. Please.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, sir. I wanted to follow up on the hydroxy question. Thanks for the numbers. Has there been any attention with the medical staff on that?
Are they in agreement with what (INAUDIBLE) --
TRUMP: Yes. We -- we discussed it with the staff. We discussed with FDA. Well, FDA approved it, so, you know, which is another point. I mean, it's been approved by FDA, which is very important. If it wasn't approved by FDA, then I couldn't do this. But FDA has approved it -- the hydroxy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And also, if this turns out not to work, are hospitals and doctors going to be exculpatory from the federal government under the Right To Try?
TRUMP: No. We'll see if it works. No. It's not going to -- it's not going to hurt people. It can help them, but it's not going to hurt them. That's the beauty of it, you see. It can help them, but it's not going to hurt them. What do you have to lose? OK. Question. Yes, in the back please.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. You know -- obviously we know anyone can spread the disease, right? Unwittingly.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So why even, you know, have a few businesses open? Why not just shut everything down? There are grocery stores that are open, fast food places. Why even take a little chance? Just shut them all down for(ph) temporarily?
TRUMP: Well, we're going to have to -- yes, we'll answer that question later. All I can say is that, right now, things are looking really good, and opening up with a bang will be a great thing. And there's nobody is going to be happier than me. Please, go ahead.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just a follow up on your comments about the ventilators.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The IHMV model suggests that 32,000 ventilators will be required by the peak in mid-April. GM is not expected to have ventilators right before --
TRUMP: 32,000 will be what?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Required across the country. GM --
TRUMP: In addition to the ones that we've already sent?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just in --
TRUMP: Don't forget we have almost 10,000 -- a little more than 9,000 -- right now. And those are ready to rock, should we need them. We had to keep it. You understand that flexibility. So that if we need them in New York, which we might not, if we need them -- but they are ready to move.
We have -- we're already -- it's a military operation. We are ready to move. They will be moved immediately into whatever section of the country we need. Would you like to answer that, by the way?
REAR ADMIRAL JOHN POLOWCZYK, SUPPLY CHAIN LOGISTICS TASK FORCE: Yes, sir. So -- correct. We are -- FEMA is working on a plan to -- to be able to move ventilators. So for example, DOD gave another 500 ventilators. They're on the move. They're being staged at Fort Dix to be able to -- to rapidly deploy them to locations.
To include, you know, you heard the - the President mention states giving to states, things like that. So there's -- there's the ventilators that aren't in use that -- that conceivably we could rapidly move as well.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE : Right. But you mentioned that there were thousands that are currently being made.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE : So I just wondered if there was any update with GM and Ford, just because these --
TRUMP: Well, but they're not going to be long. They've started -- GM, Ford. We have many -- we have 11 companies approximately, 11 companies building them. And we're going to have a stockpile for future. Hopefully we never have to use them. They should have -- the hospitals, the states -- should have bought a stockpile. They didn't do that. So we've made up for it.
But if we have extras, other countries need them. I mean, you see -- U.K. needs them badly. France needs them badly. Italy needs them badly. They need them. So it's complicated. It's a big piece of equipment. It's expensive. And we'll be able to help other countries after we take care of our needs. Yes please. Go ahead.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, thank you, sir. Infrastructure spending, as you remarked --
TRUMP: I actually chose you but that's OK let him go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm sorry.
TRUMP: That's all right, go ahead.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On infrastructure, you've remarked about how empty the roads are, is there any way to speed up infrastructure -- I mean, the Beltway in Washington, it takes forever to do any road repairs because of the traffic.
TRUMP: Yes, I know, because they don't do construction techniques that work and that are better. I mean, I see a highway which is what I do, I do construction -- what I did. I see a highway, that's good but it's got a bad top and it's got a big base -- a concrete base underneath.
And I'll see them coming and I don't want to say where but I could tell you -- I could give you plenty of examples and they rip the hell out of it. They take out the base, they take out everything. Now they pour a new base that isn't as good, isn't as deep, isn't as thick. The concrete base was fantastic. The footing, it takes for ever.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What (INAUDIBLE)
TRUMP: Wait a minute, it takes for ever and instead of scraping out the asphalt or whatever may be the top, scraping it off and putting the new asphalt down, putting the new median in, they could have done it. And then they open the highway and it starts to crack.
The reason is because it hasn't been set and they spend 10, 15, 20 times more money than they have to. I never believe when I watch these people doing highways and doing roadways and doing work how they take the most expensive solution and the bottom line the job itself is far worse.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But that's what I'm getting is taking advantage of the fact that so many people are staying at home --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- not on the roads is there a way to do it more cheaply and efficiently?
TRUMP: Well, yes, but hopefully they're not going to be staying at home for long. Hopefully this will be out and we're not going to have that kind of time. If we have that kind of time, we made a big mistake. Please, go ahead.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, Mr President. How many rapid tests has the Federal Government already deployed across the country and which regions received those tests?
TRUMP: Who has that information?
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I can speak about that.
TRUMP: Well, go ahead, Mike.
PENCE: The 15-minute test has really been a breakthrough. I reflected on the progress that they made in Detroit with first responders back on duty with the Abbott laboratories test. Abbott laboratories started last Tuesday producing about 50,000 tests a day. And I'm informed that there are about 18,000 of these machines already all across the country.
I mean, they're actually the same machines that you use to get a strep test quickly when you go to the doctor. Bu now Abbott is surging these new 15-minute coronavirus tests out to health care professionals and health care facilities around the country. In addition, as the President said, FEMA has purchased 1200 of these devices.
We're distributing them to all 50 states and the Indian health care system and then we'll be distributing the tests. Dr Birx, is there anything to add further on that?
DR DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE RESPONSE COORDINATOR, WHITE HOUSE: That's perfect, sir.
PENCE: OK. Further.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) do you assume these tests?
PENCE: Let me ask Admiral Polowczyk about the 1200 devices.
POLOWCZYK: I didn't hear the question.
PENCE: Have they received the 1200 or what's the timetable?
POLOWCZYK: I believe they're on the shelf at Abbott, a good majority of them.
TRUMP: Tuesday they go out.
POLOWCZYK: Right, yes, sir. So, I don't have the exact numbers. I think there is some manufacturing in here but --
TRUMP: They go out on Tuesday.
POLOWCZYK: -- a large balance of them are on the shelf.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr President --
TRUMP: Some have gone out by the way but the big bulk of them go out on Tuesday. Yes, please.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sir, in some of these previous briefings you referred to the Federal Government as the backup. Today there's definitely a different approach here I think --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- with the distribution. You know, the sense of it in listening to your presentation today is that you are embracing taking a leader role for distribution. Is there a change?
TRUMP: No, there's not a change, but we're supposed to be the backup. But like in Illinois, the governor couldn't do his job so we had to help him. We're sending 600 ventilators. We're building a hospital in McCormick Place. So, we have some people that we're not able to do.
We have other people that needed a help. We had -- in New York, we had to give a lot of help, but we worked well with Governor Cuomo and with Mayor de Blasio. But no, we are meant to be the backup, but we've taken on a much bigger role than that and that's OK.
I have no objection to it. Now in some cases it's worked so well where they're actually now seeing they think they're over -- over the big problem and they're actually calling us and they're saying you can take your equipment back now. But we're really deployed as a backup but I feel we're much more than that that. They've done a much better job.
I will say this. I don't think that the people that have represented this country, the Federal Government, whether it's the admiral and the generals and all of the people that we call to the fore, I just -- they -- they're heroes for what they've done, what they've been able to do in a short period of time.
They took a system that was broken, just like we did the military. Our military was broken, our military was depleted and it was broken, and we've rebuilt our military. We've rebuilt this whole system too.
And I - in a way, Kelly, I appreciate your question because, you know, you're hearing all of the things that we're -- the -- the millions of masks, the -- the hundreds of thousands of gowns, and they're surgical. You know, they're -- they're protective gowns at the highest level. We're getting it to the various states.
And most of the governors are very happy. Now, a lot of times, you know, it's politics. Maybe I'd do the same thing, I don't know, but they'll try and act not so happy. I will tell you, when I speak to them or when the vice president speaks to them, they're singing the praises of all of these people. So, I always take umbrage when -- when somebody says something about what we've done.
Now, to do this -- to do this should've taken -- to do what we've been able to do and to build it to a level -- should've taken a year, could -- should've taken two years. They did it in a matter of weeks.
And we're helping states. No, it's them -- as an example, New York had the right to buy 16,000 ventilators, they could have bought them, they didn't. I understand why they didn't, it was a very expensive purchase, you know, a very expensive -- and that's a lot, 16,000. And they chose to do something else with their money, I understand that. The problem is, when something like this comes along which you don't
expect -- look, 1917 is a long time ago, perhaps 100 million people died. That's a long time ago, so people don't think it's going to happen. I would've -- frankly, I mean, did anybody in this room think a thing like this could've happened here? But it happened, and we built up a force.
This is a military operation, as it turned out, it really is, with -- with FEMA, with the Army Corp of Engineers. I mean, Army Corp of -- and you were very gracious on that point. The Army Corp of Engineers are building 2,500 units of -- of beds and everything else.
Now, and then Governor Cuomo called, and he wanted it to go COVID, meaning for the problem. And we said, "Well, it wasn't supposed to be that way, but we want to get it done." And we move military personnel, so now military personnel are operating it.
And I'll tell you what's -- what's good, it hasn't been very full. That's a good thing, not a bad thing. It hasn't been -- now, maybe over the next week something will happen. But it hasn't been -- but we have -- because it's better than the other alternative, where we run out.
But they built, actually, 2,900 beds, and we have -- also, we built four medical centers in New York. We built four hospitals, four medical centers and a lot more than that. It's such an honor to have done it, but the people that did it are amazing, and they have to be appreciated by the states. Not me, they don't have to appreciate me at all. I don't care about me. They have to appreciate the generals, the admirals, the doctors, the nurses.
I mean, we're bringing, now, 3,000 people in that are medical professionals that are coming from all over the country to help New York City, help New York state and help many other places. I just think it's incredible what they've done, and I don't think they have been appreciated. Me, you can forget about, me, you can --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE)
TRUMP: Yeah, I -- I actually admit it, they have to be appreciated. You in the back, please.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, when you said that you're seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, and yesterday you said --
TRUMP: I -- I do, I do.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah.
TRUMP: I see --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So--
TRUMP: -- light at the end of the tunnel. If I -- UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah.
TRUMP: -- didn't --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
TRUMP: -- I would not be -- I would not be very thrilled with what we've done. No, I see light at the end of the tunnel. I think indications are -- some of the numbers coming out today -- I think -- you know, we had a very good meeting today. We're seeing things that we don't even report, because we think it's too early to report. No, I think, you know, we're seeing things happen that are very good.
And we also know, all of us, including the medical professionals, that we have to open our country up. We have to get going, we have to open our country up. No country was designed for this, where you close it.
We're in the midst of the greatest economic boom in history for any country. Our country had the greatest economic boom in history. We had the most people working that we've ever had, almost 160 million people. And then from 160 million, they want nobody to leave their house. You know, you could use the term "cold turkey", right, that's called "cold turkey". Countries are not designed -- this country is not designed for that.
We have to get our country back, and I think it's going to come back, and I hope it's going to come back very quickly.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, sir --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Since yesterday --
TRUMP: Yeah, please, go ahead.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sir, the first lady has been tweeting and encouraging people to wear face masks.
TRUMP: That's good.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Has she -- has she been talking to you about this --
TRUMP: No, she feels that way.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- urging you to wear one, and --
TRUMP: She feels that -- I -- I would wear one. I mean, I just generally am not in a -- like, I should -- would you like me to wear one right now in answering your question? That would be a little awkward, I guess. But no, I mean, I -- again, I would wear one if it was -- if I thought
it was important. She thinks -- she likes the idea of wearing it, you know, she does. A lot of people do. Again, it's a recommendation, and I understand that recommendation, and I'm okay with it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What about your family in New York? Are they going to be wearing them? Are you encouraging them to wear them?
TRUMP: I wouldn't be surprised.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can we hear from Dr. Fauci, Mr. President?
TRUMP: Sure. What would you like to know?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If we're going into this most difficult of times, how can the American people sort of emotionally prepare for that, and while the president is talking and is eager to see the country reopen, how do we balance the mitigating factors that still need to take place before we get to that point?
TRUMP: Sure. Doctor. And by the way, he -- he'd like to see the company open too. I mean, you know.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everyone would, sir.
TRUMP: He's called an American who loves our country.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NIAID: Okay. So part of the answer to your question, I think, relates to two other questions I heard, and I think it came from the back, about how could you on the one hand have said yesterday that this is really going to be a bad week, at the same time we're talking about the light at the end of the tunnel? It seems to be inherently contradictory, but it isn't.
And it has to do with what we explained before about the lag in when you look at the indications that Dr. Burkes and the president was talking about where you see a flattening-out of cases. And you don't see the realization of what that means until two weeks later.
So right now we're seeing, as we all said correctly, that this is probably going to be a really bad week. That is a reflection of what happened two and a half weeks ago.
So if we start seeing now a flattening or a stabilization of cases, what you're hearing about, potential light at the end of the tunnel, doesn't take away the fact that tomorrow or the next day it's going to look really bad.
So we've got to make sure we realize we're always talking about and a two and a half week lag. So I wanted to make sure, because I think a couple of people asked that question. It's really not incompatible with what we're saying.
Now, with regard to what do we tell the American people, what -- Kelly, what we have been telling them all along that the -- the only tool, but the best tool we have, is mitigation. We know it worked in other countries and we're seeing how it's working here.
So if we really want to make sure that we don't have these kinds of rebounds that we're worried about, it's mitigation, mitigation, mitigation. That's the answer.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would new studies and new states come on the chart?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's the message for people in those places that have not been the focus?
FAUCI: It's the same thing, it's mitigation, mitigation, mitigation. And in fact, this -- the famous vice president chart, is that this is the minimal of what we should be doing, you know, everyone should be doing that. And everything on here, one way or the other, points to physical separation, whether it's no crowds, whether it's six feet, whether it's staying away from theaters and -- and restaurants or what-have-you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And churches and places of worship?
FAUCI: Exactly. Exactly.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Doctor, are you worried about at all about people becoming complacent, though? Are you worried -- I mean, a couple of days of this, I think people are about ready to go nuts, staying in their house, and I'm just curious, are you worried at all that after, you know, seven days from now, people are going to say, "Look, I gave it my best shot, but I've got to get out"? I mean --
FAUCI: You know, I wouldn't say I'm worried about it, because I don't think it's going to happen. I mean, from what I have seen, and I mentioned it the other day, my own experience, is that people really understand the responsibility that they have for themselves, for their family and the for country.
So this is about all of us. This isn't just about us. Because if everybody does their part, you are going to not have those kind of rebounds that we're worried about.
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Dr. Fauci, how many additional asymptomatic cases do you think there are currently in the United States? There's 330,000 more confirmed cases. How many asymptomatic given what we've learned in recent --
FAUCI: We don't know, and even among us, good friends that we are, we -- we -- we differ about that. I mean, it's somewhere between 25 and 50 percent.
DIAMOND: More than --
FAUCI: Yes. Yes. In other words, about the people -
DIAMOND: (INAUDIBLE) FAUCI: -- yes, about the people that are out there, yes. And trust me, that is a estimate. I don't have any scientific data to say that.
You know when we'll get the scientific data, when we get those antibody tests out there, and we really know what the penetrance is, then we can answer the questions in a scientifically sound way. Right now, we're just guessing.
DIAMOND: And would you --
TRUMP: And we've made great progress with the antibody testing. Fantastic progress.
DIAMOND: And would you also weigh-in on this issue of hydroxychloroquine? What do you think about this, and what is the -- what is the medical evidence?
TRUMP: Can I have a chance to answer that question?
DIAMOND: I want to hear from the doctor.
TRUMP: Maybe 15 -- 15 times. You don't have to ask the question.
FAUCI: Thank you.
DIAMOND: He's -- he's your medical expert. Correct?
TRUMP: He's answered that question 15 times.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dr Fauci, why are you not wearing a face mask?
FAUCI: What do you -- why am I not wearing a mask now? OK. There are a couple of reasons. One of them is that part of the -- in fact, the major reason to wear a face mask is to protect you from infecting you. I had my test yesterday, and it's negative.
TRUMP: Good. That's a very -- very good answer. All right. I think that really could be it. That was a -- I love that answer. Especially on the face mask. I thought it was very good. Go ahead.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, on the equipment issue. Records show that federal agencies did not begin --
TRUMP: Stop it. Who are you with? By the way, who are you with?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did not begin -- with the Associated Press sir. The Associated Press. The agencies didn't begin (INAUDIBLE) respirators,
TRUMP: That's another -- that's another (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: and (INAUDIBLE) mask until mid-March.
TRUMP: Are you ready? Are you ready? Because I know exactly -- you know, same question you ask all the time. You ready? They have done an unbelievable job in delivering --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the first time I've asked this.
TRUMP: For the Associated Press, which is, you know, not so great. Not like it used to be. The people that you're looking at -- FEMA, the military -- what they've done is a miracle.
What they've done is a miracle in getting all of this stuff. What they've done for states is incredible. And you should be thanking them for what they have done, not always asking wise guy questions. Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: All right. So that's it. You've been watching a news conference with the President of the United States and members of his coronavirus task force.
We want to welcome, once again, our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. This is a special edition of The Situation Room.
The President -- there wasn't a whole lot of news. It was almost an hour and a half that we heard from the President, but he kept making the point about this unproven drug that might be successful in dealing with the coronavirus. We're talking about the hydroxychloroquine.
And he says, "What do you have to lose?" to the American people. What do you have to lose if your doctor says, "Go ahead and try it if you're sick, and you got the coronavirus"? He says, "We don't have time to wait for full tests. All of the scientists and the doctors are saying there's been no significant clinical trial of using this drug, which is used for lupus and malaria, even if it's used with azithromycin, which is an anti-bacterial drug.
The problem when the President says, "What do you have to lose?" is there -- there are significant potential side effects to using this drug, including when we're looking at the warnings that have been issued.
Seizures, nausea, vomiting, deafness, vision changes, low blood pressure, and if you do have underlying conditions and you use this drug -- which may or may not be useful, the clinical trials are not conclusive in this matter yet -- it could be very very damaging.
John King -- the President was there almost an hour and a half. And he was making the point that he sees light at the end of the tunnel, even as the Surgeon General of the United States is saying that the next week or two could be one of the worst, if not the worst. That the American people will see another 9/11, another Pearl Harbor.
JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: To your point, Wolf, about his promotion of hydroxychloroquine, he wouldn't let Anthony Fauci answer a question at the end of the briefing. He would not let him answer a question about whether he agreed with President's assessment.
BLITZER: That was totally outrageous. The President's top infectious disease adviser is asked a specific question about this, and the President basically shuts him up.
KING: He just shut him down because it's a perfectly fair question. Do the medical professionals agree with the President hyping a drug that is unproven? Constantly and repeatedly. Just the fact the President was doing that, Wolf.
We are heading into what is going to be a very ugly week. Nobody disagrees with that. This is going to be a very ugly week. Hundreds, if not more, Americans are going to die. And so I think that was where it was just a strange -- strange briefing. There was no big news.
The president was promoting -- and let's hope they're right -- the President trying to make the case that the supply chain -- the federal supply chain -- is now up to speed, catching up with what the states need.
Again, cut off an Associated press reporter when he tried to ask a very fair question. "Maybe you're up to speed now. Why did you wait so long? Why did it take so long? Why did you underestimate the needs earlier on this in this crisis?" The President shut that question down. If he doesn't like the question, he shuts it down.
But how striking was it? This morning on the talk shows, the Surgeon General and Dr. Fauci saying, "We are struggling" -- Dr. Fauci said -- "to get ahead of the virus." "9/11 and Pearl Harbor. This is our defining moment," said the Surgeon General.
And the President kept saying, "There's light at the end of the tunnel. There's light at the end of the tunnel. This will be over soon." And the vice president said, "We will be through this maybe a lot sooner than we originally thought." Let's hope they are right.
But that is a giant risk. There are a few data points, they are right. There are a few data points from New York and elsewhere that the case load is starting to flatten, but they are making a -- taking a huge political risk there on those few data points to say, "There's light at the end of the tunnel," when the Surgeon General says, "The week ahead is going to remind us of something like Pearl Harbor."
BLITZER: Yes. I mean, he was very, very firm on that. And when Dr. Fauci was speaking, he didn't speak about some unproven drug that might be a game-changer.
He kept saying the same thing he's been saying all along. The only way to deal with this right now is mitigation, mitigation, mitigation, meaning physical separation, six feet apart. Don't leave your homes. Be very careful. And suggesting -- we did hear from the president saying he has nothing
against wearing these face coverings, face masks. His wife earlier in the day said she is -- totally supports it. He says he might be willing to do so, although he clearly is uncomfortable doing it.
I want to go to Dana Bash who was watching all of this very closely with us as well. Dana, we -- this was not supposed to happen. Today was not on the president's schedule -
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right.
BLITZER: -- to have this briefing late in the -- very late, early this evening. They announced it about an hour before it actually took place. We were expecting some news.
The only thing I heard that was even close to news was the president saying he didn't speak with Boris Johnson, the prime minister of the U.K., who is now in the hospital after 10 days of being confirmed-- you know, testing positive for the coronavirus, and the president wished him the best.
That was the only real news. I heard the president repeating stuff he's been saying now for days.
BASH: Look, he is obviously very comfortable and very eager to be the president on television. The president talking for, you know, a very long time about things that may or may not actually have efficacy, like that - the drug, which I'll talk about in one second, but likes to -- to play the role of the guy in command.
And it has been a -- a gradual shift, but it has been a shift that -- where he has been for now a couple weeks, where he has decided, using his words, a couple of weeks ago, that he is a wartime president, and he wants to be that guy.
The problem is when he doesn't have news to give, and instead he is pushing things that are absolutely not proven -- it's not just a role, it is veering into the dangerous, Wolf.
The notion again, and this happened yesterday, it was on air last night talking about this very thing, but he continued today to push hydroxychloroquine, in a way that is baffling to medical professionals, really baffling to those who I talked to.
And even those who make the drug, who are saying, yes, in some small studies that not are conclusive, there has been some indication that it could help. But it -- but the word is could.
And when you have the president saying it can help, but it can't hurt, without being a doctor, without being a medical professional, it's -- it's really, really irresponsible. And again, it is dangerous.
Perhaps the most honest thing he said was, "What do I know, I'm not a doctor." Well, that should tell you everything you need to know. He's not a doctor, and he shouldn't be saying this.
Now, why is he saying this? Obviously, he's trying to give people hope, which in some ways is understandable, except if it's false hope.
And in this case it could be false hope, particularly as you started, Wolf, with the idea that it could have some side effects, some very negative side-effects for people who take this drug and -- and it could hurt them in a way that -- that could be more detrimental than COVID-19 itself.
Never mind the run on the drug that the president of the United States is causing for people who really do need it for what it had been prescribed for before, like rheumatoid arthritis, not to mention malaria, which maybe it's taken less for.
BLITZER: Yes. It's -- lupus, it works with lupus, works with malaria -
BASH: Lupus as well.
BLITZER: -- but there are significant side-effects, as we all know. John Harwood, you were listening very carefully. You're our White House correspondent.
We are starting to see light at the end of the tunnel. The president says things are looking really good, at another point he says when - when the surgeon-general of the United States, Dr. Fauci, saying these next two weeks are going to be brutal. The death toll is going to mount significantly.
JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, what we saw tonight was the limitations of President Trump as a leader in a situation like this. He is not temperamentally equipped to tell people this is going to be hard, you need to stick with it, push delayed gratification.
As he says, and he's told us explicitly, here's a -- he's a cheerleader, he wants to give good news, not bad news. He's somebody who wants affirmation in the moment. So what he says is light at the end of the tunnel, we've got to open this country back up.
He knows people want to hear that. And he talks about these drugs which are not proven.
Now, as John King said earlier, we all hope that they produce good results. But we also know that there are significant side effects in some circumstances with these drugs and that's why he didn't let Anthony Fauci answer that question in the briefing.
Anthony Fauci is the number one infectious disease expert in the United States government. And the president saying, "I'm not a doctor," touted this drug for an extended period of time in the briefing, and would not let the top doctor answer it.
There's another piece of news which I think is worrisome to the American people from our colleagues at Axios, reporting a major fight in the Situation Room yesterday between Peter Navarro, who is an economist, and Anthony Fauci over this very point. Now Peter Navarro is an economist who is on the fringe of the economic profession on trade. That's why the President has him there.
99 percent of economists in the profession think that Peter Navarro's views are far out. He's not a doctor at all. If he is winning arguments against Anthony Fauci in the Situation Room about a treatment for coronavirus, that's something that everybody ought to be concerned about.
BLITZER: It certainly is. I read that piece on Axios. And it's pretty alarming that someone like Peter Navarro, who's not a doctor, is disagreeing with, as you point out, Dr. Fauci, who is a doctor, and an expert on infectious diseases.
They disagree on what the President clearly is hoping -- let's hope he's right -- that this drug, hydroxychloroquine, will in fact turn out to be true. But it's going to take a bunch of clinical trials which only now are beginning.
Daniel Dale is with us as well, our CNN fact checker. What jumped out at you, Daniel?
DANIEL DALE, CNN REPORTER: Wolf, as usual, there were a number of things. I thought you yourself did a good fact check on Trump's claim that we know that hydroxychloroquine won't hurt you because it's been approved for other purposes. That's not true. That's not how medicine works.
Another false claim he made on the subject of this drug was claiming that it was FDA approved. This might sound semantic, but it's not. What the FDA has granted is a limited emergency use authorization for this drug. The FDA has said that people who are 110 pounds or more, and are already hospitalized, who go through their local or state health providers can get -- can get access to this drug specifically from the national stockpile.
That is not the same as approval, which -- approval is what happens when the FDA has gone through and reviewed all the clinical trials, and found that the drug is safe and effective and is proven so. So when Trump says "approved," that is not what's happening.
In addition, Wolf, Trump repeated his suggestion that this crisis was entirely unforeseen, and could not have been foreseen. He said, "Did anybody in this room think a thing like this could happen?"
As we've repeatedly said, there were years of warnings from public health experts, from the U.S. intelligence community and even -- as our KFile team reported -- from people in Trump's own administration -- Alex Azar, a National Security Council official, Tim Morrison -- warning of the risk of a pandemic.
And there was another thing that was, I felt, somewhat off topic, but worth noting. Trump suggested, in boasting of his 2018 Right To Try law, that he was the one who thought of this idea. He said, "I don't know why others didn't think of it. I thought of it."
These laws had been pushed since 2014 by a libertarian think tank in Arizona. They've been adopted at the state level since 2014. So, yes, Trump did sign the law. But the suggestion that he was the one -- the great genius -- who came up with it is not borne out by the facts.
BLITZER: Yes. That's an important point as well. Daniel, stand by. I want to bring in Dr. Patrice Harris. She's the president of the American Medical Association. She's a real doctor. The President of the United States, Dr. Harris -- as you know, he's not a doctor but he seems to want to play one on TV right now. I want you to listen to what another real doctor said about this unproven drug earlier today. Listen to Dr. Fauci.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: The data are really just at best suggestive. There have been cases that show there may be an effect and there are others to show there's no effect.
MARGARET BRENNAN, CBS HOST: OK.
FAUCI: So I think in terms of science, I don't think we can definitively say it works.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. So what did you think, Dr. Harris?
DR. PATRICE HARRIS, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION: Well, science and the data have to rule the day as we battle this pandemic. Dr. Fauci is right. There have been mixed results. Just because a molecule or a drug works in a lab or in a petri dish does not mean that it's going to work on patients.
There could be negative side effects. There could be deaths. This is a new virus. And so we should not be promoting any medication or drug for any disease that has not been proven and approved by the FDA.
BLITZER: If someone came to you, Dr. Harris, and said, you know, he or she has got coronavirus, and would like to try this hydroxychloroquine together with this very common antibacterial agent, azithromycin Z- Pak, what would you say?
HARRIS: I would not prescribe it. That would be considered inappropriate prescribing. It is not approved by the FDA for COVID-19 and so I would not prescribe it and the AMA put forth a statement about a week ago regarding inappropriate prescribing of this medication, inappropriate hoarding of this medication.
As many of your panelists have noted this medication is approved for lupus and other disorders and we need to make sure that those patients who need this medication now get it and we have to let the process play out.
BLITZER: So, when the President says, "What do you have to lose you got coronavirus, you're in the hospital, what do you have to lose? What do you say? HARRIS: You could lose your life. It's unproven and so certainly there
are some limited studies as Dr Fauci said, but at this point we just don't have the data to suggest that we should be using this medication for COVID-19.
BLITZER: I want to bring in Dr Megan Ranney, she's an emergency room physician to join us as well. Dr Ramie, I'll play a little clip of what we just heard from the president about his -- you know, his strong desire to go ahead and see this unproven drug work. We all hope it will work, but right now it's not proven at all. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: What do you have to lose? And a lot of people are saying that when -- and are taking it, if you're a doctor or nurse, a first responder, a medical person going into hospitals, they say taking it before the fact is good. But what do you have to lose?
They say take it. I'm not looking at it one way or the other, but we want to get out of this. If it does work, it would be a shame if we didn't do it early, but we have some very good signs. So that's hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin and again you have to go through your medical people, get the approval, but I've seen things that I sort of like, so what do I know I'm not a doctor. I'm not a doctor, but I have common sense.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: He's certainly not a doctor. But Dr Ranney are a doctor. You're an emergency room physician. What do you think?
DR. MEGAN RANNEY, EMERGENCY PHYSICIAN, LIFESPAN/BROWN UNIVERSITY: So, I'm an emergency room physician. I am also a researcher and scientist myself. President trump repeatedly said that doing proper tests would take years. It will not take years to test this drug. There are so many COVID-19 positive patients in this country right now.
There are so many trials that are already ongoing. I would expect that with the funding that's been provided by NIH and by private companies we're going to have results within a month or two about this medication. And there's a lot to lose. As Dr. Harris said, "This medication has major side effects including paranoia, hallucinations, suicidal thoughts, suppression of your blood counts so that you become more susceptible to infections. It can cause severe cardiac arrhythmias that can even cause death."
Now, these are not common side effects, but they are common enough that they should not just be taken willy-nilly. It is not like water. It is not harmless and it may have major side effects.
Now, for the right patient in the context of a study, absolutely this may be indicated and we don't have full knowledge, but I don't want Americans across the country to think that if they come down with the slightest sniffle that taking hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine is the solution for them. It makes me nervous as Dr Harris said on behalf of the patients that really need it, but also on behalf of the patients who could be severely harmed if they take this and it doesn't help but actually hurts them.
BLITZER: Yes, hold on for a moment, Dr Ranney, I want to get back to you. Jeremy Diamond is with us as well, our White House Correspondent. Jeremy, you asked the president very fair, as you always do, very responsible, serious questions.
What was also outrageous was that when another reporter asked the serious question to Dr. Fauci, the president basically shut him up and wouldn't even let him answer the question about this unproven drug hydroxychloroquine, but I'm going to play the exchange you had with the president, then we'll discuss. Listen to this.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYED)
JEREMY DIAMOND, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Why not just let the science speak for itself? Why are you promoting this drug?
TRUMP: I'm not. I'm not, I'm just saying very simply --
DIAMOND: You come out here --
TRUMP: I'm not at all. But look you know what I'm trying to do, I'm trying to save lives.
DIAMOND: Well, you come out here every day, right, sir, talking about the benefits of hydroxychloroquine --
TRUMP: I -- I want them to try it and it may work, and it may not work. But if it doesn't work, it's nothing lost by doing it, nothing.
DIAMOND: What do you --
TRUMP: Because we know, long-term, what I want. I want to save lives, and I don't want it to be in a lab for the next year and a half as people are dying all over the place.
DIAMOND: But it's already out --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right, Jeremy, let's talk a little bit about that. You just heard real doctors -- not the president, but real doctors saying you've got a lot, potentially, to lose if you take this drug, which hasn't been proven.
DIAMOND: That's right. And when the president, Wolf, says that he's not promoting this drug, that's just false. He's come out here day after day in the White House briefing room or in the Rose Garden and talked about hydroxychloroquine.
He made the same announcement today about hydroxychloroquine that he made yesterday, which was that the Federal Government had purchased something like 29 million doses of this drug. And while the president keeps talking about, "I don't want this to take years" -- look, the FDA has already authorized certain emergency uses of hydroxychloroquine for the government to purchase that drug.
Some doctors are already conducting clinical trials for this drug, something that's not going to take a year. So, they're - they are already working on proving the scientific evidence behind this. But that has not yet happened, and that is why I tried to ask Dr. Fauci at the end there, you know, whether -- or, you know, what his views are on this.
We know in the past he has expressed that there is not yet conclusive scientific evidence of the benefits of this drug. And you saw there, the president would not let Dr. Fauci answer that question, which I think is extremely telling -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Yeah, that was outrageous. As I said, I -- you know, I've covered a lot of White House briefings, a lot of -- you know, these briefings going back to years when I was a White House correspondent.
And the top infectious disease specialist in the U.S. Government was asked a serious question, and the president of the United States basically pushes him aside and won't let him answer, because, Jeremy, I suspect the president knew Dr. Fauci is a straight -- straight shooter and he was going to say this drug hasn't been tested.
DIAMOND: That's right. And we know that Dr. Fauci has publicly expressed the fact there is not yet conclusive scientific evidence to back the use of this drug in cases of coronavirus patients. And so, we can only assume that the -- that Dr. Fauci is making the same case in private with the president. And there is that reporting tonight from Axios indicating that Dr. Fauci got into an argument with Peter Navarro over this very drug.
But, Wolf, I think it's especially telling that the president wouldn't let Dr. Fauci speak, particularly after he himself said, "I am not a doctor, but I'm just using common sense here in talking about this." And yet he won't let Dr. Fauci, who is a doctor and who is the Government's top infectious disease expert, speak to the merits or demerits of this drug.
BLITZER: Yeah, well, you did an excellent job as usual, Jeremy. Let's go back to John King. John, you and I have covered Washington for a while. Have you ever seen the president shut up the top infectious disease doctor in the country the way he did with Dr. Fauci tonight?
KING: Not any other president after inviting that person to your briefing. You'll notice Dr. Fauci was sitting off to the side for most of the briefing. He had less of a role as he had in the past.
But, Wolf, the president was not happy when Dr. Fauci was on television earlier today saying that, "We are still struggling to get ahead of this virus." Dr. Fauci was being honest, by the way, but that's -- as he always is. He is a straight shooter, doesn't mean he's perfect, doesn't mean he won't make mistakes. But he tries to be sober in his analysis. He also tries to be factual and scientific in his analysis.
And to Jeremy's point, look, the president has done this repeatedly. He says he's not a doctor, he says he's not trying to suggest people go one way or the other. Why would you come into a briefing, repeatedly, more than a half-dozen times now, and promote a drug that is not approved for widespread use for COVID-19, and that, as the doctors -- who are way smarter than I am on this subject -- say, has a lot at risks associated with it? It should be done through the trials.
But, again, it's -- it's all -- Wolf, the president wants to come in and he wants everyone to tell him how great he's doing. That's what these briefings are for. First, he wants to tell us how great he's doing, then everybody on the stage tells him how great he's doing.
And let's hope that they actually have turned a corner in the supply chain. There are some indications they have, and let's see. When they say that they're now getting all this PPE, the gowns, the mask -- I've talked to Dr. Randy (ph) about this so many times in the last few weeks -- that they desperately need in the hospitals, let's hope they're right.
And when we talk to the hospitals and the mayors and the governors in the days ahead, that happens -- you see the ventilator surge going on -- let's hope they're right, and after a number of missteps by everybody -- not just the Federal Government, by everybody -- that when the surge hits in the hardest hit places, that they have enough. We'll know that in the several days ahead, unfortunately.
But the president didn't like that the surgeon general was saying this is 9/11. Look at that number on the right of your screen. We are double 9/11 in terms of the deaths, and we are just going forward. And Dr. Birx said again today, even though there are some positive signs -- she thinks the experience of Italy and Spain are helpful to the United States, that maybe they bent the arc and maybe we're just behind them.
She still said the latest projection says 100,000 Americans are likely to die here. And when the president is asked about that, he just bristles at accountability. We've talked about the drug.
We've talked about him cutting off the Associated Press reporter when he asked a perfectly fair question about why it took so long for the government to get the orders in, to get that supply chain up and running.
The president also did something else. He said there was a broken system when it came to coronavirus testing. Well, it's called the novel coronavirus for a reason. It's new.
It was discovered in China earlier this year. There's no way the Obama Administration, which left office more than three years ago, could have had a test for the novel coronavirus. It's new.
BLITZER: That's an important point. You know, Dana Bash, the president at one point, and I'm going to play this clip, "We're seeing light at the end of the tunnel. Things are looking really good." He's very upbeat even though thousands and thousands and thousands of
Americans are going to be dying this week and next week, it's going to be an awful, horrendous situation. Let me just play this clip. This is the president and then listen to Dr. Fauci.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We see light at the end of the tunnel. Things are happening. Things are happening. We're starting to see light at the end of the tunnel.
And hopefully in the not too distant future we'll be very proud of the job we all did. You can never be happy when so many people are dying. But we're going to be very proud of the job we did to keep the death down to an absolute minimum.
FAUCI: We are struggling to get it under control. And that's the issue that's at hand right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: You know, Dana, I did some checking. At around 10:00 a.m. Eastern this morning, 8,500 Americans had been confirmed killed by the coronavirus.
If you look at the right part of your screen, more than 1,000 Americans have died since then from -- 1,100 plus have died over these few hours. Close to 200 have died since I came up on the air.
This is a horrendous, horrendous situation, and by all accounts, the next week, two weeks, it's going to get a whole lot worse.
BASH: Well, this is a president who, since his adulthood, probably even before that, has been able to successfully talk his way into and out of most situations that he is in.
And he got himself into a lot of trouble by trying to do that at the beginning of this crisis, remember saying, "Oh, there were, you know, 15 cases, it's going to be over soon," saying things like that until it became impossible for him to ignore the reality.
Now he is at a place where he is trying to say the reality and acknowledge that things are bad and it's going to be a tough week, while still trying to employ those skills that are just so intuitive to who he is.
The problem is when you are president of the United States and you have, as John Harwood put it, a real leadership test to level with the American people, without looking at this through rose-colored glasses and just being the kind of leader to take people along this very difficult road, he doesn't have it in him, constitutionally, small C, to do it, he just doesn't. And that was abundantly clear today and has been for the past few days.
The other thing I want to underscore is something that John mentioned, and that is that -- the few times that reporters like our colleague Jeremy Diamond, the Associated Press reporter, and maybe one other, tried to ask him really legitimate questions about accountability that are already being asked and will be asked and looked at in after- action reports and history books written for a very long time, about what he and his administration, and more broadly, you know, the government writ large did not do properly that could have gotten the numbers that we're seeing on the screen perhaps lower had they listened and taken it more seriously early on.
Now, there's a lot of blame to go around, but the fact that he -- he -- he bristles and shuts reporters down and makes it personal, and calls them nasty and make it is sound like they're completely out of bounds, is just - is not only unfair, it is -- it's wrong when it comes to what the American people need right now, and it's going to hurt him because history is going to judge him whether he wants to acknowledge it right now or not.
BLITZER: Yes, that's an -- a really important point. And as you earlier pointed out, I asked myself why he was doing this briefing today that hadn't been announced earlier in the day, and you make a point -- he likes doing television. He likes to be on television, he likes to talk.
Even though didn't have any real serious news to report, he expressed his best wishes to Boris Johnson, the prime minister of Britain, but other than that, he just kept repeating his hope that this hydroxychloroquine, this drug, would work.
You know, John Harwood, the -- the president's top infectious disease specialist, Dr. Fauci, he's in a rather awkward position. He works for the President, and he's part of this team.
But he's a straight shooter. I have known him for many, many years. He's a brilliant, brilliant guy. He's a real national treasure for the United States. But, you know, he's asked, "What about the President saying, 'light at the end of the tunnel'?" And he -- he then tried to give it some perspective. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FAUCI: Right now, we're seeing -- as we all said correctly -- that this is probably going to be a really bad week. That is a reflection of what happened two and a half weeks ago. So if we start seeing now a flattening or stabilization of cases, what you're hearing about -- potential light at the end of the tunnel -- doesn't take away from the fact that tomorrow and the next day, it's going to look really bad.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: It's going to look -- it's going to look awful over the next several weeks. What did you think, John?
HARWOOD: Well, I think Dr. Fauci is willing to do what the President is not in terms of striking that tone. And it was a heroic attempt by Dr. Fauci to try to reconcile the differences in their messages. He's done that repeatedly when the President has been on a different page, and he's tried to say, "Well, we don't really disagree that much," and then he will repeat the point he wants to make. I suspect he would have done the same thing on hydroxychloroquine had the President allowed him to speak.
But I do, Wolf, want to just reframe the stakes here of these briefings. Most Americans do not listen to Donald Trump. Donald Trump -- new AP poll out today -- approval rating of 44 percent, disapproval, 56 percent. Most Americans have said they believe the President's not honest throughout his presidency.
However, there is a substantial -- in that 30 to 40 -- 45 percent share of Americans who do listen to the President. Those are the ones for whom his messages matter. And the question now is can Americans sustain the will to do the things that the public health officials say that we should do through April -- and I suspect they believe after April through May -- to try to mitigate this disease.
And if the effect of what the President is doing -- with the light at the end of the tunnel, with the "We got to open up the country again," with the "We got to have NFL football," "we got to -- we've got this hydroxychloroquine, what do you have to lose?" -- if the effect of that is to weaken the will of the American people to do what is necessary to resolve this crisis, then we're going to see the number of deaths be higher, the amount of economic wreckage be higher, and the length of time we live this nightmare be longer.
BLITZER: That's an important point. Dr. Patrice Harris, the president of the American Medical association, is with us as well. There was a little nugget of news when they said that, at one point, 6 million people in the United States have now been tested, which also means -- what --349 million people in the United States have not yet been tested. But what -- what should we glean from that as we try to understand how horrendous this situation is going to be in the coming days and weeks?
HARRIS: Yes. And I -- and I do want to concur with -- with John. You know, there -- there is a false choice between public health and the economic health of the country. And so I want everyone to remember that. We have been behind on testing since the very beginning.
And so I think we need to take the numbers on the confirmed cases with a grain of salt, because we have not really been able to do the testing. And so I think we should expect those numbers. I think Dr. Fauci said between 25 to 50 percent higher than now. We should expect those numbers to be greater. And that also means that the hot spots today, we are able to predict maybe the number of ICU beds and deaths, but everyone across this country should make sure that they don't become the hot spots of tomorrow.
And that's why it's very important for everyone to continue to -- physical distance, as I say, to stay at home, only go out for groceries or for medical needs. We really have to take this seriously so that we don't have more hot spots is this country. BLITZER: And, Dr. Harris, when the President at the end, in response
to a question after someone noted that his wife was promoting everyone using -- when they go outside among people -- wearing some sort of face covering or mask, the President said, "I would wear one if I thought it was important." Well, the - well, let me play that clip for you and then we'll discuss.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I would wear one. I mean, I just generally am not in a -- like, I should -- would you like me to wear one right now, answering your question? That would be a little awkward, I guess. But -- no, I mean -- again, I would wear one if it was -- if I thought it was important.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: And the CDC the other day issued a recommendation that people should wear some sort of face covering when they go outside. The president said, you know, that was voluntary. He would never wear one at all. This is a serious matter, isn't it?
HARRIS: This is serious, and that is good guidance, and mainly to prevent folks from spreading to others if they happen to be an asymptomatic carrier, and we know that that is a possibility.
I do want to state, though, that we want to make sure that we save the surgical mask and the respirators to be prioritized for those on the front lines who are risking their lives every day, but certainly concur with the CDC recommendation around a face covering for the public, in addition to, not as a substitute for, but in addition to staying at home.
BLITZER: I'm going to go back to Jeremy Diamond, who is there in the White House briefing room. The reporters are all pretty much separated, as - you know, the president basically said, "I have no choice, we've got to keep everybody close together on the podium. It's a small podium."
You know, there are bigger rooms at the White House. There's an east room which is a huge room. They could have these briefings there if they really wanted to show physical distancing, social distancing it they want.
But this is something that's very sensitive for you and your fellow White House correspondents, because you're all on top of each other, even if you're sitting a little bit apart.
DIAMOND: That is true, Wolf, and the president was also asked what I thought was a good question, which was about continuity of government and the fact that you see the president and the vice president right next to each other and they are spending a lot of their days together in some of these task force meetings, for example, in the Oval Office, and particularly after we have seen the British prime minister, Boris Johnson, hospitalized. That is a legitimate question to be asking. It doesn't seem like it's
something that the president has begun to think about yet, but we do know that there are stepped-up measures at the White House in terms of testing.
We saw that Dr. Fauci said he was tested yesterday, and we have been told that any individuals who are going to come into contact with the president will be tested using this rapid 15-minute test. In addition, of course, to thermometer checks, which all of us who come on to the White House grounds have gotten.
BLITZER: So whenever you walk in to the White House, they check your temperature, is that right?
DIAMOND: That's right. That's right. We've gotten that and we get it also just before sitting down in the briefing room.
And, Wolf, I also think we want to go to the question that I asked Dr. Fauci, which is, again, after the president was talking about hydroxychloroquine, touting its benefits despite the lack of conclusive scientific evidence. I did try and ask Dr. Fauci about that. Watch this moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DIAMOND: And would you also weigh in on the issue of hydroxychloroquine? What do you think about this, and what is the -- what is the medical evidence?
TRUMP: Do you know how many times we've answered that question?
DIAMOND: (INAUDIBLE) for the doctor.
TRUMP: (INAUDIBLE) 15 times. You don't have to ask the question again.
DIAMOND: He's your medical expert, correct?
TRUMP: He has answered that question 15 times.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DIAMOND: And so you can see there, the president would not allow Dr. Fauci to answer that question, despite saying earlier in the briefing that he himself is not a doctor, when there is an actual doctor at the podium, the leading expert in the United States in infectious diseases, at least a the government level, the president would not allow him to speak on this matter, which I think speaks volumes, Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, it certainly does. Important analysis from all of you, you know, Jeremy, thanks very much. Daniel Dale, John King, Dana Bash, Dr. Patrice Harris, and Dr Megan Ranney, very significant, important discussion on this news conference.
Because of the nature of this pandemic, just how contagious is it, really, and just how fast it moves? Technical challenges aplenty. We really haven't been able to show you what this crisis looks like on the front lines until now. Here's a preview of the CNN special report, "Inside the E.R.: The Incredible Fight Against the Coronavirus."
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: While interviewing doctors in other parts of the hospital, nearly constant overhead announcements --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Code 99. Code 99.
MARQUEZ: -- that another patient has coded.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Room 815.
MARQUEZ: Those announcements for patients already admitted, not those in the E.R.
Can I just stop you for a second? This -- this -
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Code 99. Nursing station 62.
MARQUEZ: This is the fifth or sixth code 99.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Code 99 is typically a rare event. We're having, I would say, 10 codes every -- every 12 hours at least.
MARQUEZ: Well, we've been here for about 30, 40 minutes and that's the fifth or sixth one.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And a lot of that, what that represents is calling for a team to put an individual, a patient on a breathing machine.
BLITZER: Wow. You're going to see much more of Miguel Marquez's CNN special report. That's coming up next right here on CNN.