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The Coronavirus Pandemic In The U.S. On An Easter Sunday; British Prime Minister Thanks Hospital For Saving His Life; Devastating Week For New Yorkers As The Death Toll From The Coronavirus Rises. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired April 12, 2020 - 15:00   ET

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


[15:00:00]

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Obviously, if we had, right from the very beginning shut everything down, it may have been a little bit different. But there was a lot of pushback about shutting things down back then.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Despite that, Dr. Fauci says there are some reasons for cautious optimism. New York has been a hotspot for this outbreak, but the number of hospitalizations and ICU intubations there are starting to plateau.

Let's begin our coverage at the White House. CNN's Jeremy Diamond is there for us. So Jeremy, what is the administration saying about all this?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, you'll remember on Friday, President Trump said that it could be the biggest decision of his presidency deciding when to begin to reopen this country, and over this weekend, that is what the President has been focused on, mulling when and whether the country can begin to reopen soon.

One of the dates that the administration is looking at is May 1st. That's the date that some of the President's advisers, both inside and outside the White House are pushing him to consider as far as when he can reopen the country.

Remember, the President initially wanted to reopen the country by today, Easter Sunday. But of course, the President a couple of weeks ago decided to extend those social distancing guidelines for another month.

And so now, as he is considering this, we are hearing from Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government's top Infectious Diseases expert. He said that there could be some reopening in this country that could begin next month. But he stressed that this shouldn't all happen with one bang in a way that the President has sometimes described it.

Instead, he said that there should be a phased reopening, something that is not simply a light switch that you can switch on and off. We also know that there are discussions inside the White House about whether they can reopen the country by geographic area, by age group, and also they're trying to ramp up that antibody testing.

That is the testing that will show whether or not you have had the disease in the past and whether or not you potentially have the kind of immunity necessary to be able to go out into the world and once again begin to move forward with the economy.

So that is where the White House's focus is now, but we also heard from Dr. Anthony Fauci on those three crucial weeks that "The New York Times" was reporting on yesterday in late February and early March. That was the period of time when public health experts inside the government had concluded that they needed to move towards aggressive social distancing, these mitigation measures rather than the containment than we had seen from the White House.

Of course, it took the President three weeks from that decision by those health experts to actually announce those social distancing guidelines. Dr. Fauci making clear that that was because there was pushback inside the administration.

We have reported, of course, that some of the President's economic and political advisers did not want him to move towards that aggressive mitigation in late February and early March. But Dr. Fauci, making clear that had those mitigation measures been put in place earlier on, it's logical to conclude that more lives could have been saved -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Jeremy Diamond at the White House. Thank you so much. Right now, two stunning pictures from the Vatican on this Easter Sunday, where this morning the Pope held mass delivering a message to the world from an empty St. Peter's Basilica.

And then in Milan, opera singer, Andrea Bocelli gave a free online show of him seeing Ave Maria, without an audience at the Duomo Cathedral.

But while most are having to find new ways to celebrate Easter this year, away from places of worship, CNN has learned that at least one church in Kansas has found a loophole to get around the state's mass gathering ban. CNN's Gary Tuchman joining us now from Kansas.

So Gary, I understand that you have been talking to some of the church goers and what have they been saying in a rainy city that you are in?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Rainy and very cold here on Easter Sunday, Fred, but I want to tell you first as we've contacted dozens of churches throughout the State of Kansas over the last couple of days, almost all of them said they were not going to have inside services on this Easter Sunday.

But this one right here is one of the exceptions, the Risen Savior Lutheran Church in Basehor, Kansas, which is just outside of Kansas City. They had a 10 o'clock service and lots of cars were streaming in. We saw men, women, children, and at least one baby went inside and this comes after the Democratic Governor signed an executive order banning any religious gatherings of over 10 people, and that was upheld by the Kansas Supreme Court last night.

So what we should tell you at this point is that across the State of Kansas, it is against the law for anybody to be in a church that has more than 10 participants.

However, we talked to the Pastor who is the Pastor here at this particular church. He told us he physically distanced and acknowledged there are 55 people inside during the 10:00 a.m. service. But he said, as you were mentioning just now, Fred, he wasn't breaking the law because of something that is in the Executive Order.

The Executive Order says preachers, readers, choir or musical, performers doesn't count among your 10. So this Pastor is rationalizing that everyone in his church is singing, is performing and therefore they should not count against the 10.

[15:05:09]

TUCHMAN: With that hold in the court of law, we may never know because the Republican Attorney General of the state who was against what the governor did is now saying this should be voluntary complied with, but he's also saying that nobody should be arrested if they violate the law.

We talked to congregants that are coming out. They support the Attorney General, and not so much their governor.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: What made you decide to go to the service today if it's against the law?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, as per the advice from the Attorney General, it says it's not, so we're following the advice from the Attorney General.

QUESTION: Yes, but the Executive Order, which the Supreme Court ruled is in the law right now says it is against the law.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But it is according to the Attorney General who is the highest law enforcement officer in the state, so this is the way they would have to figure that out. We are following his advice. I appreciate it. Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUCHMAN: This church fits 300 people. They had about 55 people at 7:00 a.m., 55 people at 10:00 a.m., and they're going to have another service tonight at 7:00 p.m. The pastor says they expect another 55 people.

WHITFIELD: Wow. So there have been opportunities for any kind of signs of enforcement and you haven't seen that.

TUCHMAN: Exactly right. There have been signs, but we have not seen that at all -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Gary Tuchman, thank you so much.

All right, more than 95 million people in the southern part of the country are under severe storm risk this Easter Sunday. In Monroe, Louisiana a tornado touchdown and left behind a pile of airplanes at the Monroe Regional Airport. Buildings are shredded, power lines ripped down.

In Mississippi, the governor is warning residents to brace for a "dangerous day." For the very latest, let's bring in meteorologist, Tom Sater. So Tom, it looks bad.

TOM SATER, METEOROLOGIST: It does. Fredricka, no one wants a tornado outbreak on Easter Sunday or any day for that matter, especially with a situation where we're staying at home. The lockdowns are in place. Everyone is at home and really needs to make a plan.

Let's run through the radar picture right now because this started yesterday. There was a big storm system that's been spinning off the coast of California. It's the main engine.

But we've had a couple of waves, and overnight last night, a strong storm pushing across the border of Mexico dropped baseball and softball sized hail in Del Rio.

This morning in Texas Hill Country, we had damage to mobile homes in Texas, and now of course in Louisiana.

The National Weather Service in Shreveport and in Jackson, Mississippi have been extremely busy today. This is what we call a PDS -- Particularly Dangerous Situation -- where not just thunderstorms growing to tremendous strength, dropping baseball softball sized hail, maybe 50 to 60 mile per hour winds. But tornadoes that are developing left and right and they could be long track tornadoes.

Now earlier, we had this tornado just east of Monroe. It did damage as you mentioned the airport, at least 20 homes have been damaged. We've had reports of a preliminary rake through the area. It did show some injuries.

And of course on I-20, in the Arcadia area, they shut down parts of I- 20 because of the debris.

Notice Yazoo City was in the warning and now it moves off to areas of the Northwest.

But on a broader scale, I mean, we're going to see more of this. Yesterday's 24 severe wind reports, that's nothing compared to what's coming for the day today, and then overnight, this is a level four out of five, it doesn't get much stronger than that.

Notice the 15 percent here in the red. That means anywhere in this hatched area, the striped area, a strong tornado could drop down within 25 miles of any given point. That's a 15 percent chance and this is going to move through the Atlanta area, of course, parts of eastern Tennessee tonight and overnight in darkness and then we'll find it on the East Coast tomorrow.

But what we've been finding here and everybody has been asking this question, Fredricka, with the lockdown in place in some areas, you've got to have a plan now to get to your basement.

If you are quarantining someone and there have been questions about this and you have nowhere else to go. What do you do if you're trying to quarantine one individual of your family?

The National Weather Service, along with the American Meteorological Society are saying, listen, taking shelter from a tornado takes precedent. So you've got to get to an area -- if it is together, together -- that have tornado shelters away from your home. If you live in a mobile home, get on a website and check with your local emergency management because some are closed because of the lockdown.

If that's the case, you can find out if they are open, but you've got to take shelter. We're going to have numerous tornadoes today, large hail and damaging winds and it's going to rake through those 95 million areas to the southeast today.

WHITFIELD: And if you don't have a basement, and sometimes it's that smallest bathroom or closet in the lowest level of your home. All right, Tom Sater, thank you so much.

SATER: If I can have more time, if I can have a minute.

WHITFIELD: Oh, go ahead. Yes, yes, yes.

SATER: Please check your phones. Make sure that you get under settings, notifications and turn on your emergency notifications alert. Make sure your phone's not muted. It's going to be the best way to handle this.

[15:10:08]

WHITFIELD: And start charging them now so that they are fully charged just in case you lose power.

SATER: Yes.

WHITFIELD: All right, we've got lots of tips on all of that. Tom Sater. Thank you so much. Appreciate that.

So much more in the CNN NEWSROOM.

On the mend. The U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson thanks Britain's National Health Service for saving his life after being hospitalized for the coronavirus.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: All right, just days after moving out of intensive care, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is now out of the hospital and recovering at home. Johnson was admitted to the hospital when his coronavirus symptoms

suddenly worsened. For the first time today, the world heard from Johnson in a video statement where he talked about the urgency of respecting social distancing, and he also thanked, too, the nurses who were at his side.

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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: And the reason in the end my body did start to get enough oxygen was because for every second of the night, they were watching and they were thinking and they were caring and making the interventions I needed.

So, that is how I also know that across this country, 24 hours a day, for every second of every hour, there are hundreds of thousands of N.H.S. staff who are acting with the same care and thought and precision as Jenny and Luis.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: CNN's Bianca Nobilo is in London for us. So Boris Johnson, you know, praises people for adhering to social distancing. But it hasn't, you know, been an easy road in that department to get everyone in the U.K. on board, has it?

BIANCA NOBILO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It hasn't. There were concerns from the very beginning and they apparently informed government strategy that experts were concerned about the behavior of British people and whether or not they would actually be willing to go along with an extreme lockdown and intense social distancing rules.

However, according to anecdotal evidence and polls, Britain is now adhering to most of those rules. There have been some blips along the way. Some of the national parks in the country saw record numbers just as the lockdown was being implemented. There have been many calls of police to large parties. Bits of the country are worse than others.

But now on Easter weekend, it's now nearly the end of Sunday. This was a weekend that the government was really concerned about because there was very good weather, it is a bank holiday, and now that the country has been in lockdown for several weeks, there was concern that people might just break the lockdown and go out.

But that doesn't seem to have happened, and it's just as well, Fred, because Britain has reached the milestone of over 10,000 coronavirus related deaths in hospital confirmed, and that is likely to substantially under report the number of actual deaths because that is only deaths in the hospital, not in care homes, which have been so seriously affected as they have been everywhere at home in the community.

So now the focus is really on what the government can do to try and flatten this curve. Britain is not at the peak yet, at least experts don't think so. Members of the government's advisory committee as well have been

speaking to the media today saying that it is possible Britain could be the worst affected country in Europe, that's over Italy.

They cite Germany as a great example of a country that did such comprehensive testing, and maybe that is one of the reasons because it was something that was abandoned so early in the British strategy that the country is in the state it is in -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right, Bianca Nobilo in London. Thanks for that. Appreciate it.

So it's been a devastating week for New Yorkers as the death toll from the coronavirus rises.

Coming up, the latest from the epicenter of the outbreak and a little bit of good news the governor had to offer.

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[15:22:27]

WHITFIELD: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says new hospitalizations are down, but he describes the death toll of the more than 9,000 as terribly high and most of those deaths are in New York City.

CNN's Evan McMorris-Santoro is in New York with more on this. So, Evan, the governor did say, you know, the curve does appear to be flattening, but he also spoke about when he would possibly reopen New York.

EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Fred. Everyone knows how this works. So you know, the plan right now is to do this social distancing, shut everything down in the hopes of getting the curve to flatten, and the governor said today that he is looking at signs that show that may actually now be happening. We may be having the plateau.

Well, it brings with it, you know, a lot of death and a lot of disease that's still happening. But because that conversation is going on now, we're now talking about the possibility of moving towards the next phase of this thing, maybe some kind of reopening. The governor talking today at his press conference about working with the governors of neighboring states to design some sort of, you know, regional system to do some kind of slight reopening.

But, you know, that curve that we've been talking about maybe leveling off, and that means maybe -- maybe -- there can be talk about what comes after it.

WHITFIELD: And then Evan, you know, we know the governor has been in this debate, you know, with the Mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio on when school should reopen? Who has the authority? What's the latest on that?

SANTORO: Well, today in his press conference, the governor said, you know, yesterday we saw kind of a back and forth where Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the schools in New York City were going to remain closed for the rest of the academic year.

And then the governor came on and said, actually, I'm the one who makes that call, and I haven't made that decision yet.

Today, we saw, you know, more of that from the governor. The governor reiterating it is his call to make. But look, in general, the talk about virtual school, a lot of states have dealt with this idea, have answered this question already and decided to keep their schools closed for the rest of the year.

And that leaves a lot of questions about what's actually going on in schools and what's going on with academics in this semester.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

AUSTIN BEUTNER, LOS ANGELES UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT SUPERINTENDENT: To put it in some context, it's the moonshot. I mean, it's akin to landing a man on the moon.

SANTORO (voice over): Actually, school during a pandemic might even be harder than that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LILY ESKELSEN GARCIA, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL EDUCATION ASSOCIATION: This is our Apollo 13 moment. We're mission control. We're Houston, and now our moonshot might not be landing them on the moon. It's getting them home safe.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANTORO (voice over): Anyone who has a student in their house knows how important teachers have been in this crisis.

[15:25:06]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GARCIA: We have never been more relevant. We have never been more foundationally essential to the community, to the economy, to a family.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANTORO (voice over): Their job has evolved.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HALLIE, EICHEN, M.ED, WOODROW WILSON HIGH SCHOOL, HONORS CHEMISTRY TEACHER: Wow, I'm still doing the explosions, but I'm doing the explosions at home.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANTORO (voice over): People like Washington, D.C. public high school chemistry teacher, Hallie Eichen are doing their best.

But school systems are discovering that virtual learning can't replicate classroom instruction.

So, across the country, policymakers are dropping the focus on academic performance.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BETSY DEVOS, U.S. SECRETARY OF EDUCATION: Students may not be able to take federally mandated standardized tests this spring.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANTORO (voice over): Education Secretary Betsy DeVos dropped testing requirements this year. She says it's wrong to expect students to perform at their best right now.

School systems in New York and New Jersey have canceled statewide testing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our chancellor has said that their grades can't be hurt in any way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANTORO (voice over): Coronavirus policies vary across the country. At least 15 states have canceled classroom education for the rest of the year. In Chicago, students' grades cannot be lowered by distance learning. They can only stay the same or be improved.

In Michigan, students who are on track to advance on March 11th. The day schools closed will remain on track and be promoted to the next grade.

In Florida, the governor is taking it all one step further.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): Parents, may at their discretion choose to keep their child in the same grade for the 2021 school year.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANTORO (voice over): One of the largest school systems in the country is the Los Angeles Unified School District. Administrators are still deciding what to do about grades.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BEUTNER: The part that we're trying to have educators emphasize is engaging with the students. They're engaging, they're learning. We'll get to the grades later.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANTORO (voice over): Many colleges have switched to pass fail grading, so have a lot of private high schools.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BEUTNER: In this wireless world, where not all connected, so the first thing we've got to do is connect everybody.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANTORO (voice over): The biggest challenge, a pandemic school is universal.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GARCIA: We've been begging school boards, state legislators that fund our schools, the Federal government, look, a tablet, a laptop, WiFi -- it's not a luxury.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANTORO: There are nearly 51 million public school students in the United States. According to the U.S. Senate, 12 million of them don't have broadband internet at home. And even those that do are stressed out and sometimes aren't logging on.

Many teachers say attendance has been a problem during virtual school.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JANIN SPOOR, CANOGA PARK HIGH SCHOOL THEATER TEACHER: We do everything we can. We send e-mails and make phone calls.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANTORO (voice over): In the age of coronavirus, school is about a lot more than a report card.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BEUTNER: We're part of the structure of student and family's life. Schools are at the center of every community. What happens every day in a school is read, write and arithmetic and support for that child.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SANTORO: So you know, Fred, we were pointing that out last week, but then, you know, yesterday, New York City where I'm standing became the epicenter of this conversation about what to do about school and the future of school.

And, you know, the mayor in his comments about trying to make a decision to keep the schools closed for the rest of the year, said part of it was because he needed to get things rolling in getting everybody here online, creating the kind of programming needed to be able to complete some grading and do some graded tests and do some academic performance focus.

But this is the real issue that's been going on during this period of time is that schools have been very important, educators have been very important. But when it comes to this school year as an academic year, it's really unclear what will be the result of it all.

WHITFIELD: Yes. Oh, and I can attest, it is so much more challenging for the students, for the parents and for the teachers as well. I mean, it's not easy.

All right. Hopefully we will all get through it, right? Evan McMorris- Santoro, thank you so much.

All right, well, New Yorkers are mourning the loss of friends and family. Dr. Anthony Fauci admits more lives could have been saved if social distancing measures were put into place sooner. More on that when we come back.

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[15:33:25]

WHITFIELD: A blunt assessment from our nation's top infectious disease expert today, Dr. Anthony Fauci admitting that some lives would have been saved if mitigation efforts to control the coronavirus had been put into place earlier.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FAUCI: You could logically say that if you had a process that was ongoing and you started mitigation earlier, you could have saved lives.

Obviously, no one is going to deny that, but what goes into those kinds of decisions is complicated, but you're right.

I mean, obviously, if we had right from the very beginning, shut everything down, it may have been a little bit different, but there was a lot of pushback about shutting things down back then.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: His statements follow a sobering article in "The New York Times" which lays out in stark detail how in the weeks before the virus hit the U.S., voices calling for action in the White House went unheard, "Throughout January, as Mr. Trump repeatedly played down the seriousness of the virus and focused on other issues, an array of figures inside his government from top White House advisers to experts deep in the Cabinet departments and Intelligence Agencies identified the threat, sounded alarms and made clear the need for aggressive action."

"The President, though, was slow to absorb the scale of the risk and to act accordingly, focusing instead on controlling the message, protecting gains in the economy, and batting away warnings from senior officials." That from "The New York Times." Instead, this is what Americans heard from the President as that

threat grew.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: By April, you know in theory when it gets a little warmer, it miraculously goes away.

The coronavirus, which is you know, very well under control in our country.

We're going down, not up. We're going very substantially down and not up. When you have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero. That's a pretty good job we've done.

For anybody that needs a test, it's a test -- they are there. They have the test and the tests are beautiful.

We're doing a great job with it and it will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away.

Some of the doctors say it will wash through, it will flow through. Very accurate. I think you're going to find in a number of weeks --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: All right, joining me right now are two of the contributors to that article, CNN political and national security analyst, David Sanger and CNN national security analyst, Mark Mazzetti. Good to see you both.

All right, Mark, you first. You know, what were those alarms sounded by officials?

MARK MAZZETTI, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, you have alarms that are coming up in a number of different channels according to the story we published yesterday.

You have the medical experts, the scientists who very early on are assessing how big of a problem this is going to be, and they are messaging each other. And they eventually get to a point in late February, where they all agree they've got to get to President Trump to put much more aggressive measures in place, including the social distancing that we're doing now.

But because of a number of factors, that doesn't happen, in part because a warning from another doctor had an effect on the stock market, President Trump got angry, and they lost three critical weeks before those measures were put in place. That's one area.

The other area is in the Intelligence world, in the national security world. The National Security Council was beginning to warn about the problem early on. The National Security adviser Robert O'Brien was warning -- his deputy was warning, but those voices actually carried less weight during that period of time than some of the voices, like the economic team saying these measures would have a basically in effect, tank the economy.

WHITFIELD: And then, David, also part of the problem you all right was China. You know, the President was more focused on trying not to upset China during trade talks.

So he was distracted or just his priorities were elsewhere.

DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I think in January, he was distracted. The impeachment was underway. They had just done the attack on the head of the Quds Force in Iran, Soleimani and they were concerned that a conflict could break out with Iran. So the President was distracted at that time.

But by the end of January begins this figure cascade of warnings that Mark referred to and the view on trying to move from one of -- let's not disturb the trade agreement, it was just the first phase to the concern that the Chinese were not telling them, being honest with them about what was going on in Wuhan.

And that's when the President brought -- made the decision to bar the Chinese and people who have been in Wuhan from coming into the United States.

But it was a very leaky blockade. As we've reported, 400,000 people came in from China during that time period. American citizens, cruise of Chinese ships, and then of course, there was another infection route from China through Europe that wasn't being cut off at all by the President's actions.

WHITFIELD: And then Mark, you know, through this article, you also cite there are many examples, you know, that contradict the President who has said that he didn't know about the warnings or memos or conversations, phone calls, et cetera dating as far back as January.

Health and Human Services Director Azar had a phone call with the President in January you write, which happened to be the second interaction about that very threat.

MAZZETTI: Yes, there's a there's a few places where the President is told directly about this in January. One of them is, as you say, several calls with -- between Azar and the President, where Azar is warning about this epidemic, this turning into a pandemic, and that is coming to the United States and he is basically dismissed as being overly alarmist.

A second is a memo written by Peter Navarro, who is one of the President's trade advisers and our China hawk. He is also warning that China is not revealing the extent of the problem. That the scale of the disease in the United States is going to be horrific.

His voice was dismissed as well, in part because he was seen as someone who is, as a China hawk, he is always looking to paint China in the most negative light. He has sort of cried wolf too many times, and so his voice was also blotted out.

And so, these are two areas in January, where if they had been heeded, then things might have been somewhat different.

[15:40:08]

WHITFIELD: And so David, you know, this tick tock, you know, it says a lot about, you know, what led up to today, but then what does it indicate about any urgency or even lack thereof now?

SANGER: Well, I think there are a lot of big issues that it tees up now. The first is the President has said the biggest decision of his presidency is going to be the one that when to reopen the country?

Well, it's not clear it's entirely his decision, as he said he couldn't order states to shut things down, so it's not entirely clear to me how he could order them to open things up.

The second big question is, how do you come to the conclusion that it's really safe to put the workforce fully back in if you don't have a full surveillance system back up?

And you know, the President said the other day, we're not going to test the entire country, it is not going to happen. And you probably don't need to test the entire country. But the South Koreans have tested a third of their country.

And the big question now is, how can we open up with testing at this limited level where we've tested barely even one percent of the United States? So the central problem he had then, which was we didn't have the data is still the central problem he has now.

WHITFIELD: And he was asked, you know, what will be the metric? And he said, you know, he pointed to his head. It's really his instinct.

SANGER: He said, it's in my head, but he didn't tell what the metric was.

WHITFIELD: It's right there. Right. All right, David Sanger and Mark Mazzetti. Thank you so much.

It was a fascinating read.

SANGER: Thank you.

MAZZETTI: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right. I want to bring in now Dr. Kent Sepkowitz, he is the Deputy Physician in Chief of Quality and Safety at Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York and a CNN Medical Analyst.

Doctor, good to see you.

DR. KENT SEPKOWITZ, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Nice to see you.

WHITFIELD: All right, so in your view, you know how different could things have been if the President, you know, had taken this more seriously? Listened to those calls, those urgings, memos, all of that? SEPKOWITZ: Drastically different. I think we're still playing catch up

because of the failure to test broadly. But I want to say that it's very important to review what did and didn't happen, but it's equally important to stress how we still aren't ready, we still don't have enough testing.

And I would quibble with the experts before me, I do think we need to test the entire country, or almost the entire country.

WHITFIELD: Well, they were talking about how the President has most recently said, not everyone is going to be tested. It's not possible, when as before, at the very early start, he was like everyone should be tested, whoever wants to be could be, but you know, reality set it about perhaps the shortage of tests.

SEPKOWITZ: Yes. I think that that's a big problem now that should be fixed. We can't open the country, whatever that means to the President until we know who's got the infection and who doesn't, and who has already been cleared of the infection. In other words, the antibody tests that was released by the F.D.A. last week.

So we have to test a huge proportion of the population for each of those before anybody, even if it's in his head, no scientist would say the coast is clear until that information, and for him to say we don't need it strikes me as an indication that he really hasn't learned his lesson that he should listen to the people in his ear who know what they're talking about.

WHITFIELD: What do you want to learn? What do you feel needs to be learned about the existing cases? You know, as the first wave of coronavirus you know, victims, many of them you know, who survived are reinserting themselves into the populace, their families. What can we learn from their cases that you think is going to be vital in order to make forecasts or preparations ahead?

SEPKOWITZ: The reason we're all sitting in our apartments is that we don't know when we go out on the street who is infected and who doesn't. Being able to answer them would allow people to have a much better feeling that going out on the street is likely to have them encounter people who are not infected. It's very simple.

The fact that we don't know that mean fact about people is just shocking. We certainly could know if the decision was made to test broadly. Some people will have to be tested more than once.

We've done three million tests out of 300 plus million people, many of those on the same person because we retest infected people. So we're nowhere as far as I'm concerned on testing for the disease and we're really not aware in terms of testing for the antibody to show people who have been cleared of the disease.

[15:45:15]

WHITFIELD: All right, and many have escaped any possibility of real tracking. All right, Dr. Kent Sepkowitz, thank you so much. Appreciate your expertise. SEPKOWITZ: Thank you, Fred.

WHITFIELD: And we'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:50:08]

WHITFIELD: Librarians across the nation are stepping up to help protect healthcare workers fighting the coronavirus. Here now is CNN's Paul Vercammen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Vi Ha, manager of the LA Central Library's Octavia Lab for do-it-yourself projects was ready to shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic, and then --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VI HA, MANAGER, LA CENTRAL LIBRARY'S OCTAVIA LAB: We got an e-mail right as we were closing from a doctor and saying, can you make PPE?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VERCAMMEN: PPE or personal protective equipment. Vi Ha and her team said yes, partnered with a nonprofit called Lacy which develops clean technologies to make functional face shields.

They started with a shipment of 70.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HA: It has foam for comfort, elastic hooks to stay on, and what's nice about this version is that it folds all the way to the top and also covers from droplets entering them through the eyes from the top.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VERCAMMEN (voice over): PPE are popping at library 3D printers across the country.

At the University of Utah, library staff tapped campus brainpower to make an estimated 1,200 face shields for hospitals.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

T. J. FERRILL, MARRIOTT LIBRARY, UNIVERSITY OF UTAH: The fact is, there's a bit of an emergency going on and a lot of situations and it's really awesome to be able to participate in a solution.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VERCAMMEN (voice over): As many libraries are sharing online how to make PPE to defend doctors and nurses, the librarians are showcasing skills that extend far beyond the reference desk in this pandemic. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HA: One, that we are adaptable. Two, we believe truly, truly in the public good that's why we get into this work. And number three, it's like we're here to help.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VERCAMMEN (voice over): The local library joining the quest to put COVID-19 on the shelf.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: That is amazing. Paul Vercammen, thanks for bringing that to us.

When we come back, live from the couch, it's Saturday night. The show goes on as comedians embrace that work from home lifestyle.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:16:49]

WHITFIELD: Actor Tom Hanks returned to host a special version of "Saturday Night Live" just weeks after recovering from coronavirus.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TOM HANKS, AMERICAN ACTOR: It is a strange time to try and be funny. But trying to be funny is "SNL's" whole thing, so we thought, what the heck? Let's give it a shot.

But why me as host? Well, for one, I have been the celebrity canary in the coal mine for the coronavirus, and ever since being diagnosed I have been more like America's dad than ever before since no one wants to be around me very long and I make people uncomfortable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Actor Alec Baldwin also appearing on the remote episode calling in to give a somewhat official update on the pandemic as President Trump.

CNN's Chief Media Correspondent, Brian Stelter joining me now to discuss. I caught it. I kind of liked it. What did you think, Brian?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I really did, too. I know it takes some getting used to without, you know, comedy, without people laughing, without a studio audience. It can be kind of strange, but I think it's actually pretty important that these shows, all of these late night shows are trying to come back in these work from home editions.

You know, it actually wasn't live. The show was taped, even though it's called "Saturday Night Live." But it was special because it was this attempt to bring people together. And Fred, we cannot underestimate how alone and isolated people feel

in this time. Television can't fix a lot of that, but television can help a little bit. I think these entertainers can help a little bit and that includes Alec Baldwin playing President Trump. Here's Baldwin as Trump phoning in.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: Where are you getting most of your advice for this?

ALEC BALDWIN, AMERICAN ACTOR,IMPERSONATING DONALD TRUMP: We have to listen to the experts on this one, me, Hannity, Jared Kushner and Mike Lindell from My Pillow.

All the experts agree we need to wear masks.

QUESTION: Right. Right. So are you wearing a mask?

BALDWIN: That's a nasty question. Okay. No, I am not. The last time I wore a mask, I hot boxed myself and passed out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STELTER: Baldwin calling in like a phoner on Fox News, you know, as President Trump, you know, Baldwin has also been on "The Tonight Show" with Jimmy Fallon from home. Pretty much all of these late night shows are now being produced remotely from home.

WHITFIELD: Yes.

STELTER: And now "SNL" is the latest one. There are even some primetime dramas that are figuring out ways to produce episodes remotely because, Fred, I think entertainment studios are looking around like the rest of us thinking this might be going on for a long time.

It seems like it's going to going on for a long time. What are the best ways to produce entertainment and comedy in this environment? And thankfully, they're able to find a way.

WHITFIELD: Right. And I think, I mean, socially, it sends a strong message, too. I mean, everyone is having to be adaptive, everyone, every production.

STELTER: Right.

WHITFIELD: And it might, you know, offer kind of a sense of calm to a lot of people that you know what, we really are all in this together. I mean, we're all having to make adjustments and that includes your favorite late night shows as well. Brian Stelter, thanks so much.

All right, the next hour of the NEWSROOM starts right now.

[16:00:10]