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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Trump Retreats, Acknowledges Governors Will Have the Authority to Open Their States When Ready; Gov. J. B. Pritzker (D) Illinois Discusses About President Trump's Retreat Making Decision to Reopen States and Put it on The Governors' Hands; Trump Promises States Will Get Whatever They Need From Federal Gov, Including Tests. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired April 14, 2020 - 19:00 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: ... and always health, always health, health and life, living is number one. But the rejuvenated economy and I think it's going to go quickly. We'll be utilizing our robust testing capacity for the governors. We'll be giving them what they need, if they don't have it themselves.
We hope by now they'll be able to have it themselves. We're hoping they would have had it themselves early on, but they weren't. But such great advances have been made. So we'll be dealing with them on that and they can rely on us very strongly. They're going to be relying on us, I think, for some help, and we're there, whether it's building hospital beds, which I don't think they're going to need.
You look at Javits Center, a great, great job that the Army Corps of Engineers did. FEMA got involved. We actually ended up sending our medical people. That was not a COVID-19 center and they asked, could you do that.
And then even after we did that, it was not used very much. Meaning, they didn't have to use it nearly to the extent that they thought when they conceived it. It wasn't that they made a mistake. Nobody made a mistake. We built it. I'd rather have too much than too little. Err on the side of caution.
And it's really incredible what they did, including the two ships, the two great ships. And I just want to thank a lot of really great people, a lot of great politicians. And again, we're going to be announcing the political list tomorrow. And on there, we're going to have a lot of senators and we're going to be having a meeting with the governors, probably on Thursday, a meeting by teleconference and a lot of things will be discussed and some of the details will be discussed.
But we want them to do an incredible job of running their states. I think they'll do an incredible job too. After having gotten to know so many of them, I think each one of them will do an incredible job. And again, the federal government is there. We have ventilators if they need them. We have beds if they need them. We have hospitals if they need them.
We have a testing capacity that's now second to none where, again, other countries are calling us. Countries that you thought were doing well are calling us for help on testing, so we're there to help. And with that, if you have a few questions, we'll take them and if not, that would be OK, too.
Yes. Go ahead, please.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, two questions. First, on your announcement about the WHO, I understand your grievances with them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But can you address why it is the correct time to do this now in the middle of a pandemic?
TRUMP: Well, we're going to be dealing with countries and we're going to be dealing with leaders of different parts of the world. We spend 500 million a year, we have for many years. Far more than anybody else, including China. And I mean, look, I read off a long list of problems that we have and we've had problems with them for years.
We're looking at a term of 60 to 90 days. We're doing a very thorough investigation right now as we speak. But this should have been done by previous administrations a long time ago. And when you look at the mistakes that were made all of the mistakes that were made, it's just something we have to look at and it is very China-centric.
I told that to President Xi. I said the World Health Organization is very China-centric. Meaning, whatever it is, China was always right. Can't do that. Can't do that. Not right. And we spend, and again, it's not a question of money, but we're spending $500 million. And China is spending 38 million, 34 million, 40 million, 42 million in a case.
It's, again, not money, but it's not right, so we'll see. This is an evaluation period. But in the meantime, we're putting a hold on all funds going to World Health. We will be able to take that money and channel it to the areas that most need and that's another way of doing it, but we have not been treated properly.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, you mentioned that you're going to be speaking with all of the governors tomorrow.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Make recommendations ...
TRUMP: On, probably, Thursday.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... Thursday. What if they don't listen to you or take your advice or obey you, will you consider taking away their federal funding?
TRUMP: I don't want to say that. They'll listen. They'll be fine. I think we're going to have a good relationship. They need the federal government, not only for funding, and I'm not saying take it away, but they need it for advice. They'll need, maybe, equipment that we have. We have a tremendous stockpile that we're in the process of completing. We're in a very good position.
Again, the cupboard was bare when I got here. Nobody ever thought of thing in all fairness to previous administrations. Nobody ever thought anything like this was going to happen, but it did happen. No, the governors will be very, very respectful of the presidency.
Again, this isn't me. This is the presidency. The presidency has such a great importance in terms of what we're doing.
And you can talk about Constitution. You can talk about federalism. You can talk about whatever you want. But the best way, I'm talking now from a managerial standpoint is to let individual governors run individual states and come to us if they have difficulty and we will help them. Yes, John.
JOHN(?): You talked about having testing, and tracing equipment and the facility for that in place to open up the government. Dr. Fauci said this morning that that critical testing and tracing ability does not currently exist.
TRUMP: Well, I don't know. Hey, John, I don't know what he said.
JOHN(?): My question is, will it exist by May 1st?
TRUMP: The individual governors have testing. The individual governors - we have many forms of testing and NUF testing is being developed. Our country has to get open and it will get open. And it'll get open safely and hopefully quickly. Some areas quicker than other areas, but there's tremendous testing and the governors will use whatever testing is necessary.
And if they're not satisfied with their testing, they shouldn't open, but they'll use whatever testing is necessary. Go ahead, please.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, Mr. President. Back to the WHO, will you support the organization, again, if Ted Ross is immediately replaced or do you want to see him step down as possible (inaudible) ...
TRUMP: Well, we're doing an investigation. I don't know the gentlemen, but I know there have been problems and it's been very unfair to the United States, just like the World Trade Organization has been very, very unfair. Now, they're coming into line when they consider China a developing nation and because China is a developing nation, they take massive advantage of the United States. Why didn't other president stopped this?
I've been talking about it from the day I got in and we're looking at that very, very strongly, World Trade, W. So I have problem with World Health and World Trade both of them. I'm not sure which is worse, you want to know the truth. But we'll figure it out, OK. Go ahead, please. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible), Mr. President, you were just
criticizing the WHO for praising China is transparent. But you're saying many of the same things about China just a couple of months ago. So I mean how do you square your decision to (inaudible) ...
TRUMP: Well, I did a trade deal with China, where China is supposed to be spending $250 billion in our country. We're going to be watching very much to see. Now, we've got a little bit waylaid by the virus. But look, I'd love to have a good relationship with China. But if you look and we made a phenomenal deal.
China has paid because of me. China has paid us 10s of billions of dollars over the course of a very short period of time, billions of it. Some of that money has been spent to farmers where they were targeted by China. We cannot let that happen. We can't let that happen. So we ended up signing a very good trade deal.
Now, I want to see if China lives up to it. I know President Xi. I think he will live up to it. If he doesn't live up to it, that will be OK, too, because we have very, very good alternatives. Go ahead.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. Today's 600,000 cases, 25,000 deaths, I know you want to blame it to WHO, but I spoken to hundreds of people across the country in the last few weeks who say they still can't get tested and that they aren't social distancing because (inaudible) ...
TRUMP: So the governors, yes, excuse me. I know your question, you're ready? The governors are supposed to do testing. It's up to the governors. Go ahead, please.
Quiet. Quiet. Quiet.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... if we can just get back to May 1 ...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... they say that are not ...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... Mr. President, how many ...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... they are following your lead, that they are not social distancing.
TRUMP: The governors are doing the testing. It's now not up and it hasn't been up to the federal government. Go ahead.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible) the question is about social distancing, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, I mean, I have a quick call on the WHO, but (inaudible) ...
TRUMP: I told them when they put this guy here, it's nothing but trouble. He's a showboat. If you keep talking, I'll leave and you can have it out with the rest of these people. If you keep talking, I'm going to leave and you could have it out with them. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a simple question.
TRUMP: Just a loud mouth. Go ahead.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you could kind of clarify, are you basically lifting your slow to spread before the May 1 deadline?
TRUMP: No. No, I'm not at all. No.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And then how many states ...
TRUMP: The governors are going to be running their individual states. Some of them will say, no, I can't open now, and some of them may last longer than we even would think. Others will say, I can. You can go, I don't want to mention states, but there are numerous states that are in great shape right now.
They are viewing the rest of the country like we don't even believe this is happening. We have a lot of those states. They're set to open practically now. I mean, they would be open now. We're going to let them open sooner than the date. We're going to pick a date. We're going to get a date, that's good, but it's going to be very, very soon. Sooner than the end of the month.
But there are many states out there that are looking at this and they're reviewing it and they're saying, we shouldn't be even included in this.
There are some that want to open up almost now.
Now, if we disagree with it, we're not going to let them open. We're not going to let them open. If some governor said, has a lot of problems, a lot of cases, a lot of deaths and they want to open early, we're not going to let it happen. So we're there to watch. We're there to help.
But we're also there to be critics and on testing, very important, we've always wanted the states to do the testing. We're now providing great testing, but the state has to provide the great testing. The state has to provide the ventilators but they didn't do that.
So we ended up going into the ventilator business, essentially, and we've made 10s of thousands of ventilators and we solved the big problem for the states. But we want them to do the testing and we are there to help. Yes, please.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I have two questions. I have a question on the (inaudible) ...
TRUMP: One question.
COLLINS: Well, I have question on the governors, but first can I follow up on (inaudible) ...
TRUMP: One question. Go ahead.
COLLINS: Can I follow up on Jordan's question.
TRUMP: Go ahead.
COLLINS: Do you want to walk back where you did praise China in January for being transparent about the coronavirus?
TRUMP: I'm always respectful of China. I'm respectful of other countries. Why wouldn't I be respectful of China? In the meantime, China has paid us nothing in your last administration, nothing in any previous administration, they paid us 10s of billions of dollars because of what we've done.
And the trade deal we have, they have to give us $250 billion in purchases. Let's see if they do that. And they're also paying us 25 percent or $250 billion in tariffs. So we're taking in, wait a minute, we're taking in billions of dollars from China. They never paid us 10 cents. That's a great thing.
Now, if they don't produce or if we find out bad things, we're not going to be happy. But right now - and we're doing that, that's what we're doing.
Look, we have an investigation underway. We're paying almost $500 million. We have an investigation underway on the World Health Organization. We will find out exactly what went on. And we may be satisfied that it can be remedied and we may be satisfied that it's so bad that it can't be remedied. And if it can't, we're going to go a different route.
COLLINS: That's my question. You're criticizing the WHO for praising China for being transparent, but you also praised China for being transparent (inaudible) ...
TRUMP: I don't talk about China's transparency.
COLLINS: (Inaudible) January, (inaudible) ...
TRUMP: Well, if I'm so good to China, how come I was the only person, the only leader of a country that closed our borders tightly against China? And by the way, when I closed our border, that was long ahead of what anybody, you can ask anybody that was in the room, 21 people. I was the one person that wanted to do it.
Deborah can tell you that better than anybody. I was the one person that wanted to do it. You know why? Because I don't believe everything I hear and if we didn't close our border early, very early, long before the kind of dates you're talking about, we would have had thousands and probably hundreds of thousands more deaths. Please.
COLLINS: I'm talking about how you said (inaudible) transparent ...
TRUMP: Please, that's enough. Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, last week you said that you would have data in the coming days about the coronavirus' disproportionate impact on black Americans.
TRUMP: Yes. That's being worked on very strongly.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When we'll have that?
TRUMP: I would say within two weeks and it's being worked on, but were working on that very strongly.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible) CDC.
TRUMP: OK. CDC is working, but we're getting reports on that. Yes, please. Go ahead. No, on the back. Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible), Mr. President. You're talking about reopening parts of the country by the end of the month and if you do that and as a result, you see a spike in cases in those areas (inaudible) ...
TRUMP: We might have, but we may not. Some countries have and some countries haven't. I'm watching other countries. I'm studying other countries as they open. I mean, I don't want to go into names because for some it would be a little bit embarrassing. But I'm studying other countries as we go along.
So on that we have looked at every country that's opened, some successfully, some OK, no total disaster but some OK. And some have to go back to the hotspot and fix the hotspot. We think we're going to do it very successfully.
Again, we have one country, but we have lots of different pieces. It's a puzzle. We have beautiful pieces, beautiful states with capable governors. They know when it's time to open and we don't want to put pressure on anybody. I'm not going to put any pressure on any governor to open.
I'm not going to say to Gov. Cuomo, you got to open within seven days. I want him to take his time. Do it right and then open New York. I'm not putting any pressure on the governors. Some of them don't need pressure or not pressured. I mean, they're ready to go and that's a good thing.
So we'll open it up in beautiful little pieces as it comes along. Please go ahead behind you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Just a quick question, you spoke about Gov. Cuomo. I'm just wondering if you have any thoughts on some of his remarks from earlier today where he basically said that were New York to be pressured to be opened, it would cause a constitutional crisis and he basically said that you declared yourself King Trump, so I'm wondering if you heard those thoughts (inaudible) ...
TRUMP: Yes. I've declared myself as king.
I heard he said that, but I didn't see the remarks. But he understands how we helped him. He needed help. We gave him 2,900 hospital beds. He didn't use them. We gave him a ship, he didn't use them. And I'm not saying but I'm saying that's good, because you know what that means he didn't need them.
But we said it was too much, but we wanted to err. We said err on the side of caution, as I said. We said, look, we don't think you need it. But if you do, we're going to have them built and the Army Corps of Engineers did a fantastic job and the U.S. Navy did a fantastic job. We moved the ship that was not meant for COVID and we had it redesigned for COVID. But they still didn't have very many people going in.
Now, we'll get along just fine. He understands. We'll get along just fine. Please.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, how do you assure workers in states that may reopen their fears about going back to work (inaudible) fear of getting sick?
TRUMP: Talk - please, louder.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's your assurance to workers who are asked to go back to work but are fearful of doing so?
TRUMP: Well, that's going to be up to the governors. The governors are going to want to make sure everything is safe. Now, I think that companies can do testing on a maybe weekly basis. You have to do it every day with the same worker, but they can do testing. They can do temperature gauges. They can do a lot of different things.
And we're only talking about for a period of time. Eventually, we want to get back to where we were. We want people actually sitting next to each other in ballgames eventually. We're not going to rip out every other seat in baseball stadiums and football stadiums. We want to go back to where we were. I want people to understand that.
We're not going to be like the way you are. We have 300 reporters in the back that want to say look at look at this, the way this looks, I don't even like the way it looks, although I have a lot fewer reporters that's OK with me. But look at the way this looks. I've never seen anything, John. I've never seen anything quite like it.
But there are a lot of people. We don't want this. I don't want this. I don't want this. Eventually, we're going back where restaurants that had 150 seats are going to have 150 seats, not 50 seats because they can't make it at 50 seats. But more importantly, the atmosphere is even better. We have to get used to it. We have to get used to it.
I don't know that people are going to be shaking hands as readily, some will. I said to some of the hospital people today, "So will people be shaking hands again?" And I must say, I was a little surprised, most of them said, probably, because there is some kind of a thing to it.
I was never a big hand shaker, but when I ran for politics, I said I think I'd better start shaking people's hands. Go ahead, John. JOHN(?): Mr. President, a couple of financial questions if I could.
Larry Kudlow said this morning that the current run rate, the paycheck protection money will run out very soon. The plan to re up it is stalled in Congress. What can you do as president to try to move that forward?
TRUMP: Well, we're trying to get it done. The problem is the Democrats want to put all sorts of things. Last time they put Kennedy Center and I hate it putting Kennedy Center and I've great respect to Kennedy Center. But I hated putting it in the bill because it's just not appropriate, but they wanted it in for whatever reason. They had their own political reason.
And John, I said watch the way that blows up and it blew up, I think it blew up in their face. We want to take care of our workers. We'll worry about other things and other pet projects of Democrats and also Republicans later. But it's been a tremendously successful program.
I think you see it, the banks have stepped up hundreds of thousands of loan applications approved, money is going out. It's been a tremendous program, really, it's been. And obviously it was at a point where we're almost - the money will be expired and we could use a refill for the workers. We want to be able to make sure that small businesses stay open, John, and I think that'll happen. Yes, go ahead please.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, Mr. President. Today, California's Governor set out a list of six criteria for reopening the economy here, did he consult with you on that? And also you said earlier that there were as many as 20 states that could reopen their economies as early as May 1st, (inaudible) ...
TRUMP: Now, I didn't say all of them by May 1st, but there are 20 states. Actually, I was given a number, 29 states are in very, very good shape. I don't want to say whether or not the Governor spoke with me about that. But we've had a very good relationship, Gavin Newsom, and very, very good relationship. Yes, in the back. Go ahead please.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, thank you very much. I have two questions, one is for (inaudible) ...
TRUMP: One question.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... a person who can't be here and so I ...
TRUMP: Who cares, if he can't be here, that's too bad, right?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. Well, one question that I have is from the United Nations' Economist Maximo Torero says that there's a danger that the food supply could be interrupted during this pandemic and I wanted to know what you're going to do about that.
TRUMP: Well, I think our farmers are incredible. They're producing levels of food like just unbelievable. Our transportation, that's one of the reasons I have the transportation people on the line tomorrow for the delivery of the food.
Now, we're doing phenomenally with the food and I will say the stores Kroger and Wal-Mart, which has a lot of the food and many of the stores they seem to be in very good shape. But I haven't heard that at all. We're going to be very strong on food supply.
OK. How about one more question? Go ahead please.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, yes, the death projections that you mentioned earlier are based on full social distancing until the end of May.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So if you ease up on these guidelines now, how many more Americans do you think are going to die?
TRUMP: Well, I'm not easing up. First of all, we'll have guidelines even for the states that open and there'll be guidelines. But we will not have any problem with that. Your questions are very interesting question. But the states that are opening are not states which will have a problem with that, plus, they will have to adhere to guidelines until a certain point into the future when the enemy is vanquished.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But the reason they don't have a problem now is because of social distancing, so if you ease the guidelines ...
TRUMP: No. The reason they don't have is partially and some of that will stay in effect, much of it will say in effect for a period of time. But the reason also is that different kinds of states. They have lots of room. They have fewer people and they have lots of room and that's one of the primary reasons.
I want to thank you all very much. So a lot of positive things are happening. We're going to have some very strong recommendations for the governors. We're going to work with the governors. The governors are going to do a good job and if they don't do a good job, we're going to come down on the very hard. We'll have no other choice. Thank you all very much. Thank you.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: All right. And that was President Trump there and members of the corona task force giving the latest update on the pandemic. The President retreating from his position that he alone has total authority to tell the states what to do. Tonight, he says he is now authorizing each governor to reopen their state when they're ready.
Of course, they already had that power. This news comes as the death toll from coronavirus in the United States now top 25,000 and a moment ago we now know of more than 600,000 known infections in the United States. The number of cases across the globe, again, known infections now at 2 million.
OUTFRONT now, the Democratic Governor of Illinois, J. B. Pritzker. Governor, a lot of that press conference was about you and your fellow governors. The President now says he's going to speak with you and your colleagues across the country and that he's going to let you decide when you're ready to reopen your state.
Obviously, yesterday, he said he had the total authority to do that, that he would be making the decision. So what's your reaction, did he cave on this?
GOV. J. B. PRITZKER (D) ILLINOIS: Well, it's a good thing that the President finally recognized that it's the Constitution that authorizes the governors to have the power to reopen their states and so I appreciate that. I think Gov. Cuomo had it right when he said that the President is not a king, he's President of the United States of America. And so we're looking forward to evaluating what it is that we're going to do going forward.
But the most important thing that we're going to do is focused on the safety and health of the people of our states. And in my case, I've made it very clear, we need testing, tracing, contact tracing and we need a treatment. Put that together with readily available PPE and then you can start to talk about how you will reopen an economy.
BURNETT: OK. So the President also said a few moments ago in that briefing, Governor, and I know you've got a lot going on, so I don't know how much of every word that you heard. But he said, when the testing question came up, that the governors are supposed to do the testing, it's not up to the federal government. Basically, any issues, any problems are your fault. Your response?
PRITZKER: Well, that wasn't his tune earlier. In fact, let me go all the way back to when he said it was a hoax and all of us were trying to deal with it as individual governors. Illinois was the second state in the United States, I think, the same day actually is California to put our stay-at-home order in place. It's having the effect of leveling out the cases here, but we're the ones who had the spin up testing.
I asked over and over again for testing from the federal government, they kept saying they were going to deliver millions of tests across the country. They haven't done that. We've done that ourselves. We have some of the best medical institutions in the entire country. They've done that work in our state labs, too.
So we're producing thousands of tests. We're producing our own VTM to make sure that we've got all of the supplies that we need. We've gotten very little help from the federal government. It's fine. I've given up on any promises that have been made. I hope something will get delivered from the federal government, but I don't expect it anymore.
BURNETT: So you're saying you've given up on them on this. He also said there at the end of this press conference that there'll be severe consequences for governors if they don't get this right, basically, referring to the reopening. Do you see any teeth in that threat?
PRITZKER: Well, the severe consequences the health and safety of the people of my state. That's the severe consequence. I mean, the President at this point is near irrelevant when it comes to this question of testing anyway. [19:25:03]
And they've done very little for us as a state, so we're doing the work.
Look, we're also spinning up contact tracing. The State of Massachusetts did a great job putting a collaborative together. We're actually looking at copying that and doing that in the State of Illinois for contact tracing. And then we've ordered millions and millions of dollars worth of PPE and items of PPE that were getting delivered from all over the world.
We've had to compete with everybody including with Donald Trump for that PPE, but we're getting it. We're doing what we need to do, despite him.
BURNETT: So he also just said a couple of other things that I want to make sure I give you a chance to respond to. One is he said, "We have to get our sports back." That he wants sports to start. His frustration, he said was having to watch 14-year-old sports games.
Obviously, the Governor of California today laid out a scenario where there may not be sports games there until the fall. You obviously have major league sports teams. So what are you closer to, the Gavin Newsom world where gatherings of hundreds of people aren't in the cards and you're going to be looking out to the fall or the President who wants the sports back and wants them back stat?
PRITZKER: Look, I come from a sports city, Chicago. I come from a state where sports are extraordinarily important to people. We want them back too and we want to work hard to make sure they do come back in a safe way. But we're not going to allow sports to reopen, major league sports, unless we have all of these preconditions set, because I'm not going to have 10s of thousands of people getting into an arena together and giving each other COVID-19.
BURNETT: I mean, at this point, it sounds crazy to imagine any such thing. But the President also said that he wants to have the press briefing with people side by side, no social distance that he wants that to start again, that he's looking forward to that, that he wants to restaurants have 150 people in them. Is that something that you can see happening? I mean, do we literally go in timeframe that isn't many months from where we are now to everybody just jammed all in together in your state?
PRITZKER: Look, I think the President shares the dream that we all have that we can move past this and move past expeditiously. The challenges that the preconditions just aren't there yet and I know we all want this to end soon, we really do. But I'm not going to risk having another spike come and having more people hospitalized, having our hospital and health systems overwhelmed and more people dying.
So we're going to do this very gradually, very carefully. I want people to get back to work just as much as the President does. But we've got to be not expeditious about it, but very careful and rely most importantly on the science. BURNETT: All right. Gov. Pritzker, I appreciate your time and it's
good to talk to you again, sir. Thank you.
PRITZKER: Thanks, Erin.
BURNETT: And I want to go now to our panel here who was obviously listening to the governor and the President's press conference as well, John King, Jim Acosta, Daniel Dale and Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
Let me start with you, John King. Obviously, there was increasing frustration with reporters there in some moments. But the President really was taking on the WHO as one point and trying not to look like he was caving to the governors even though he was clearly doing just that.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Every one of these, Erin, almost every day you see the President trying to rewrite history, trying to move you away from things he has said or done in the past. On the governors just yesterday he said, I have total control. I call the shots. I have the authority. Only the President. There was no wiggle room on what the President said yesterday.
Today, it was, I will authorize the governors to do as they see fit in their states. In other words, I don't have that authority. The governors are going to do as they see fit in their state. The whole debate in the last 24 hours was a waste of our time. The governor was just very polite there and say let's move on, but let's just move on.
But then on the issue of the WHO, on the issue of China, the President stood in the Rose Garden, again, we had this conversation a couple weeks ago. I am not going to defend the World Health Organization. CNN called the coronavirus a pandemic before the World Health Organization.
KING: It was flat footed. It did overly trust China. The President is right about that. However, look at the President's own words. He said we were working with the World Health Organization back in the early days and things were fantastic. He repeatedly defended China.
On the day in late January, he said this would never be a pandemic. He said that was because President Xi was on top of it. And he trusted the President of China and then he wouldn't answer a direct question when asked about that by CNN's Kaitlan Collins and another reporter in the briefing room. He tried to hide for it saying, well, he was being respectful of China.
He said the World Health Organization is responsible for deaths around the world because it cozied up to China. He did the same thing.
BURNETT: I mean, Daniel Dale, that is pretty incredible. I'm looking back at some of these tweets that John's referencing, what the President said February 24th, "Coronavirus is very much under control in the U.S.A. We are in contact with everyone and all relevant countries. CDC & World Health have been working hard and very smart. Stock markets starting to look very good to me."
Just as a note for those watching, the stock market is down 12 percent, 12 percent since the day he said it was looking good to him.
But, Daniel, this is what he was saying repeatedly. Way to go, China. Way to go,WHO. That's the fact.
DANIEL DALE, CNN REPORTER: It is. That's right. And what we've seen repeatedly with this president is, as John said, he continually attempts to erase parts of his own history that were on camera, that we all saw. He pretends it didn't happen.
And again, Erin, we saw another list of false and misleading claims from this president. He had an exchange with our Kaitlan Collins, where she pressed him on his own praise of China's transparency, and he sidestepped for a while and eventually said, I don't talk about China's transparency.
Well, he did, he sure did on January 24th. He said China has been working hard to contain the coronavirus. The United States greatly appreciates their efforts and transparency. So, that happened. He can't wipe that away.
Again, he also said he's authorizing governors to open their economies. He doesn't have this gift to give. It's not his power.
He made repeated false claims which he said numerous times before about China and trade, falsely saying that China is paying the tariffs that Americans are paying and then falsely saying that there has never been tariff revenue from China under the previous administration or other administrations. In fact, it was $12 billion per year every year from 2007 to 2016.
And, finally, Erin, I'd say, the president claimed that he did not want to fund the Kennedy Center to help the Kennedy Center in this relief bill. But in March, he said he was a fan of that. He said the Kennedy Center does a beautiful job, incredible job. He said I approve that. So, again, rewriting history.
BURNETT: It was funny. Of all things to pick, I know it may sound small to some, but just he had been so blatant saying the opposite thing about the Kennedy Center.
Jim Acosta, he also commented on saying he wants everybody to be in that briefing again, right? No social distance. He wasn't saying he wants that tomorrow. But he sort of was, again, putting out the impression that he wants to go back to a normal that there is no governor or reputable scientist saying we're going back to any time soon.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Erin. And that's why yesterday, he was total authority. Today, he was total retreat. He backed away from what was a claim that just wasn't ever going to
hold up. That he had this authority over the states in terms of when they could reopen, you know, their respective areas to, you know, normalcy. And we're just not there at this point. And the president may want that power and authority, but he doesn't have it.
I mean, just to add to that comment, I mean, Erin, the other thing is the president was saying during this press conference a few moments ago when he was asked about testing and whether or not there is an appropriate testing system in this country, he went on to say he wants the states to take the lead on testing. So, in one breath, he is saying he has total authority, today he's saying he will be watching over these states and holding these governors accountable, but at the same time he's pushing this testing responsibility off to them.
I just want to say, I do think this double talk on China is extraordinary. We in the press have been accused by some on the right of being propagandists for China because the president from time to time has praised China. We point that out.
But in that tweet that Daniel just mentioned a few moments ago, the president on January 24th says I want to thank President Xi on behalf of the American people. It's the president who has time and again defended China, praised China throughout this entire crisis, and, yes, of course we're going to read some of these tweets back to him to get his comment on it when he himself is the one in the briefing room or in the Rose Garden today blaming the WHO's, you know, flat footedness in all this, as John King was pointing out a few moments ago, on their somehow devotion to China.
So a lot of this doesn't add up. It just -- this is a president who has run out of explanations for his own failings and we saw this time and again today, moving from one scapegoat to the next. He's trying to find a scapegoat and not really looking in the mirror, Erin.
BURNETT: I mean, yes, one of his tweets about Xi, he's strong, sharp and powerfully focused on leading the counterattack on the coronavirus. I mean, he couldn't be more clear than that. He put it in black his own tweets.
Sanjay, Jim brings up the issue of testing. The governor of Illinois says the federal government is near irrelevant on this issue of testing, right? That they didn't get what they need. But the president is now trying to say this is all on the states, I guess trying not to own the issue, even as he said the testing in the United States is second to none.
Second to none?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, look, I think part of this is how you look at the numbers, you know, if this is a per capita sort of thing. I think would have a hard time making that case.
The per capita testing, some people say what difference does it make?
We've done, you know, two-point-whatever million tests, it doesn't matter the per capita. That's all about sample size.
And when you have a significant sample size, then you can start to talk about the significance of the testing from a public health standpoint. If we were to ask the question right now, how widespread is this infection in the United States, we really have a hard time answering that question still.
Testing's got a lot better, but, you know, the other thing, it's not just the number of tests, it's how practically available are they to give an individual? Anybody right now who says I'm worried, I want to get tested, whatever, how challenging is that process still?
Getting better, but it's still not by any means perfect. We need it to be really good in order to think about, you know, coming off the backside of that curve.
BURNETT: And he's now saying also, Sanjay, that it's possible, he said, that we could -- I guess accepting the possibility that things open up too early, you may have to, quote, close them up and start all over again. But that was in the context of what he was saying, that he thought there would be a bunch of states where at least we don't know of any further infections -- you know, mass outbreak, right? Because we have not done a lot of testing. Some states we have not seen it as of yet. Maybe you don't know because you're not looking.
But he said they're open up even earlier than his projection for the end of the month. I mean, what is your reaction to that? Some states could open even earlier.
GUPTA: There were states a couple weeks ago, two, three weeks ago, Erin, that thought they had dodged this, right? They thought this was primarily going to be in a few hot spots around the country and they were going to be OK. Thinking that even at that time, three weeks ago, that they could not impose restrictions or loosen restrictions, now some of those states have thousands infected.
Michigan, you know, Detroit, that area. Obviously, the hospitals have been overwhelmed over there. That has not happened everywhere in the country but it has happened in certain places, and you don't know where that's going to happen.
That's why you test. And, you know, so places that say, hey, look, we don't have a lot of cases now it's because of lack of testing, they have to beware and look at some of these other places around the country that were saying the same thing not that long ago.
BURNETT: I mean, because, you know, John King, you have very didn't views different views coming out, right? You got the governor of California saying perhaps no major league sports or sporting events until September, right, saying you could have June, July, August without that.
They're going to have temperature checks, disposable menus, laying all these things, when you have the president of the United States saying he wants his sports back. He's sick of watching 14-year-old games and, you know, he wants restaurants that have 150 people to have 150 people in them again. He realizes that is not going to happen need immediately.
But the view he's giving of how this will happen and what reopening means is very different than what we're hearing from the governors.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The president on many issues, it's all the more consequential in the middle of something like this, a pandemic where people are nervous, and anxious and scared. And, yes, they do want to know the answers to those questions.
When can my high school kids have a basketball game again? Or when can I go to the NBA? Will hockey resume? Where is baseball? Don't we all miss baseball?
But the point I would make on this, number one, the president's job is to lead us through this. And it is his job to be an optimist sometimes. We should give him grace when he's trying to be an optimist.
However, he also has to be reasonable about setting expectations, whether it's about when you'd able to be on those seats, how quickly the economy is going to take off. The president keeps saying it's going to take off like a rocket. You know this better than me, find an economist who studies this art, who thinks given that there be social distancing, given there's going to be some regions at a time, given there's going to be fewer employees for the most part when people do start to rebuild again, there are very few people who think it will be a rocket.
So, the president's job is to lead us through this and he may be oversetting expectations. That's not just the governors, I've been in touch with several different sports leagues, they want to get back yesterday, but they know they can't. They know they can't. And all the plans on the table now in the short-term, if they try to pull them off and they're still wore riffed about testing, that issue keeps coming up, no matter what we're talking about, even they say it would be without fans in the short-term.
So, the president, it's wishful thinking. I'm with him. I would love to go to a basketball game or baseball game, it is not happening. It is not happening.
BURNETT: And you -- this whole view, Sanjay, comes on the same day that a study out of Harvard says that you can be in -- you know, serious social distancing and have a lot of things not reopened all the way to the year 2022 if that's when you don't have a vaccine.
GUPTA: Yes. I mean, nobody obviously wants to hear that. I looked carefully at study. This was a well-established, well-regarded author of the study.
It was one trajectory they put out there as a possibility. There were different trajectories, and these trajectories in terms of how long will we need to at least intermittently social distance. Maybe there are periods of time where you can loosen up a little bit, and then have to go back into social distancing.
They said it was dependent in part on, as you mentioned, the vaccine, and we heard that a vaccine could be available next year, that would obviously change things.
But also, how much immunity do people have in the country now. The idea that if you've been exposed you may have immunity, that would also change the trajectory.
So, 2022 seems like it would be -- it won't still be doing that long, it doesn't seem like because of these other things, but that is one possibility these authors -- these authors raise.
BURNETT: All right. Thanks very much to all of you.
And tonight, you know, when we talk about this question of, you know, when things start to return to -- well, not the way they are now, the new normal I guess is what you would have to call it, what does that look like? What does it look like when states reopen?
It doesn't look like the way it looked like two months ago. That's going to be the hard reality.
Erica Hill is OUTFRONT.
GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D), CALIFORNIA: We can't get ahead of ourselves and dream of regretting. I don't want to make a political decision that puts people's lives at risk.
ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): California Governor Gavin Newsom making it clear -- what's ahead will be different.
NEWSOM: You may be having dinner with a waiter wearing gloves, maybe a face mask, dinner where the menu is disposable.
HILL: As states prepare to gradually reopen, California setting expectations for this new normal, which could include regular temperature checks, staggered school days, and a continued ban on large gatherings like concerts and sporting events. All aimed at one goal -- stopping this virus.
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: We think we are at the apex on the plateau.
HILL: On the opposite coast, encouraging but cautious updates from New York as Governor Andrew Cuomo tells President Trump he won't be pushed into reopening too soon.
CUOMO: If he ordered me to reopen in a way that would endanger the public health of the people of my state, I wouldn't do it.
HILL: Both governors working with their neighbors for a coordinated science-based response. As researchers warn some form of stay-at-home orders may need to continue into 2022 unless a vaccine becomes available.
Meantime in South Dakota, hundreds of confirmed cases at this pork processing plant which is now closed indefinitely while the state remains open.
MAYOR STEVE ALLENDER, RAPID CITY, SOUTH DAKOTA: We really don't know what the holdup is. We've been identified as a nation hot spot in Sioux Falls, so it's a question of when does it infiltrate the rest of our rural communities.
HILL: In Louisiana, schools will remain closed for the rest of the academic year. Florida's surgeon general telling his states to buckle down.
SCOTT RIVKEES, FLORIDA SURGEON GENERAL: I cannot emphasize enough that we cannot let our guard down at this present time. Until we get a vaccine, which is a while off, this is going to be our new normal. We need to adapt and protect ourselves.
HILL: As Tennessee's governor announces plans for a phased reboot beginning May 1st. And those watching the virus each day urge caution.
DR. JAMES PHILLIPS, PHYSICIAN, ASSOCIATION PROFESSOR, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL: If we are planning to do this appropriately in a way that prevents continued spread of the virus and more deaths, May 1st is a pipe dream.
HILL: Erin, Dr. Anthony Fauci telling "The Associated Press", May 1st was a bit overly optimistic for many areas. And this just reinforces what we're hearing from a number of governors, that it is the data not the date that will drive the decisions, Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Erica, thank you very much.
I want to go to Dr. Jonathan Reiner, he advised the George W. Bush White House for eight years and is currently the director of the cardiac cath lab at G.W. University Hospital.
So, Dr. Reiner, you heard Erica's reporting there, talking --
DR. JONATHAN REINER, CARDIOLOGIST; ADVISED WHITE HOUSE MEDICAL TEAM FOR EIGHT YEARS: Yes.
BURNETT: -- about Governor Newsom of California and, you know, he was laying out expectations for social distancing in the future. You know, I mentioned one of the regular temperature checks maybe when you go to a restaurant. Bans on large gatherings like concerts and sporting events and saying those could continue through June, through July, through August. Do you think he's right?
REINER: Yes, I do think he's right.
Look, I'm a doctor, I live in the world that I have, not the world that I want. And the world that I want is for all of this to go away tomorrow. But that's not what we're going to have.
The virus is going to start to diminish in many places but it's going to linger with us for a long time. So we're going to have to have strategies that allow us to develop some sense of normalcy but with a degree of safety. And I think some of the measures that Governor Newsom make a lot of sense -- disposable menus, very smart. Taking temperature before going into mask gatherings, fantastic. I think wearing masks in public is going to remain a staple.
So these are smart gestures. It's a nod to reality. The virus is going to linger for a while. It will come in waves. We'll learn a lot now but we're resilient people. We will get through this.
BURNETT: So, you know, I know, Doctor, there's been some universities, Ivy League schools, for example have been talking about the possibility -- what they're going to do in the fall.
But it's on the table to postpone fall semesters.
BURNETT: This is an issue that's front and center for millions of Americans.
Do you think that -- they have to make these decisions in the next month or two. Do you think it's possible we could be looking at a fall where a lot of people are not in school who are supposed to be?
REINER: I think we're going to have to re-imagine how we do it. Maybe the semester starts via tele-learning, remote learning. Maybe it's flexible. We're going to have to see. We're going to have to work through this.
We have to play the long game here. We have to understand that eventually, we will have a vaccine for this.
I know 2022 sounds like forever. But it's essentially 18 months. A lot of people have been talking about working through this for 18 months.
So, let's be smart. Let's learn. Let's innovate. We'll get through this. It will be different, but it doesn't have to be awful.
BURNETT: So, today, you know, a lot of this -- how long it takes relies on not just a vaccine, we know the runway on there, there's various conversations, it's longer than a possible treatment or cure if one were to come forward. Obviously, we all know that the president has continued to tout a malaria drug to treat coronavirus, hydroxychloroquine and its variants.
A major French study you've been following came out today and the result was that hydroxychloroquine did not help patients with coronavirus when they compared people who went in the ICU who took it and who didn't, they said a statistically insignificant difference in terms of death and recovery. But nonetheless, President Trump met today with people who recovered from the virus, including a Michigan state representative who took that drug and said this with the president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You got better quickly.
REP. KAREN WHITSETT (D-MI): After the medication.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's incredible because there are many stories like yours. It's not just -- I have not heard a bad story if you want to know the truth.
Normally, you hear some good up with s with -- good ones, some bad ones, and you still give it a shot. I haven't heard a bad story.
So, it's pretty amazing actually. But that's the OK, the word is out. People get it. These people don't get it, the media. But the people get it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So I just referenced the study in France. He said he hasn't heard a bad story of somebody taking this. A study out of Brazil was halted yesterday because several people died who were given the hydroxychloroquine.
What do you say to the president?
REINER: Yes, I think the president's obsession with this drug is hard to understand and frankly irresponsible. There is little data now, strong data that supports the efficacy for this drug. You know, the standard in this country for approval of a drug for an indication has always been succinctly described as substantial evidence of both efficacy and safety. There is none of that for this drug.
The study that you mentioned from the Amazon in Brazil had two doses of this drug, high dose and a low dose. And the study was terminated because the high dose was killing people.
The FAA today put out an advisory prohibiting pilots from taking hydroxychloroquine within 48 hours of a flight, concerned about sudden cardiac death for the pilot which would lead to a bad day for the passengers.
So this is a drug with real toxicity. It needs to be studied. And we are studying it in a lot of centers in the country, and we'll have data soon. We need the data. BURNETT: So there are still questions about where this virus
originated. I know we talked about this. I want to bring it up in the context of Josh Rogin from the "Washington Post." He got two state department cables warning about the safety of that research facility, that bio lab in Wuhan that was studying coronavirus from bats.
One of the cables from January 19th says, quote: The new lab has a serious shortage of appropriately trained technicians and investigators needed to safely operate this high containment laboratory.
Now, there's no evidence that the virus was engineered. Scientists largely agree it came from animals, but nonetheless, this opens the possibility that it could have come from someone mishandling it in this lab or does it?
REINER: Yes. No, this is really a fascinating story in "The Post" today. Essentially what it states is that coronavirus from bats were being studied in a level 4 bio containment lab in Wuhan. And although experts who have looked at the genomic sequence do not feel this is a bioengineered virus, it might be a virus that was being studied in a lab and it's not inconceivable that this is a virus that escaped containment in the lab.
We need to understand this because, first of all, this is a mistake, if that's true, that this can never happen again. We need to know.
BURNETT: We sure need to know with labs like that around the world. Thank you so very much, Dr. Reiner, as always.
REINER: My pleasure.
BURNETT: Tonight, the long road to recovery.
My next guest contracted the virus while working on the front lines as a nurse trying to fight it. He spent 11 days in the hospital, seven of them on a ventilator.
Out now -- OUTFRONT now, Jesse Vanderhoof and his wife Emily.
And I thank both of you so much for talking and look, I'm so glad you're together. And I know that every moment of every day, you must be grateful for that.
I mean, Jesse, you've been out of the hospital now for about ten days, but I know that there's been a lot of hard moments. It's going to be a slow recovery for you. How are you feeling so far?
JESSE VANDERHOOF, RECOVERING FROM CORONAVIRUS: Well, I don't totally feel like I got ran over by a Mack truck anymore, but I still feel the effects of COVID.
I mean, I think when anyone spends the amount of time that they do in like a bed, you lose so much weight and you lose so much muscle that you're just going to feel horrible for a while, and then add on top of that the effects of COVID. It -- it's a challenging experience.
BURNETT: And, Emily, for you, too. I mean, I know just celebrated -- celebrated is the wrong word. He spent his 40th birthday in the hospital, and now, he's home, but you have this fight ahead of you as a team, and, of course, you trying to help him.
I know that obviously Jesse has had things like delirium, challenges that he's faced since he's come home. What are the challenges that you're facing right now?
EMILY VANDERHOOF, HUSBAND RECOVERING FROM CORONAVIRUS: You know, it's not as simple as just go pick somebody up from the hospital and drive home and it's all fine. He came home with a walker, could hardly walk.
You know, we made a makeshift bed downstairs because he couldn't walk upstairs. I slept on the floor next to him when he was on the couch making sure he could walk in the middle of the night.
And, you know, delirium, I didn't know anything about delirium, I really didn't. Oh, it's delirium, and I did not understand the effects of delirium that they think they are thinking totally clear and they're not and trying to work through that. I think now we're almost through that, but it's been a -- it's been a rough few days of -- of just him battling going through delirium to kind of clear his head.
BURNETT: And how has that been for you, Jesse?
J. VANDERHOOF: It was much more worse initially.
E. VANDERHOOF: Yes.
J. VANDERHOOF: Like so at first -- I don't know totally if the delirium challenge is a side effect of the COVID-19 or if it's a side effect of the medications they had me on while I was on a vent in the ICU. Either way, a lot of it is just like your -- my brain wanted to keep on looping over and over and over, and I kept on asking without realizing that I had asked these questions lots of times.
Like I didn't understand why as a nurse in Ketchum, Idaho, why I was part of this national movement. I woke up on my birthday with 50 texts of people saying something about this COVID, and I'm just like what is going on? Like I don't understand at all what is happening, and like that was part of like the initial COVID or med --
BURNETT: So, Jesse, did you even realize what was happening to you? I mean, you were obviously in a medically induced coma for part of it so you weren't aware. How much of it at any point were you even aware that it was happening even when they started, when they put you in the ICU?
J. VANDERHOOF: I really don't remember. I mean, now that I've been out and I've had some time for my thoughts to clear a little bit, I can vaguely remember talking about COVID-19 prior with the docs that I worked with in the hospital or other nurses that I work with. And at this point, it's starting to get clear, but for a while there, like especially like right after they took me -- right after I was starting to gain kind of consciousness and especially after I would talk and they took the intubation tube out, like it was really, really confusing to me.
I didn't understand why I was part of any of it. Like I just went to work one day and came home, and she ended up taking me to the hospital at some point.
E. VANDERHOOF: Yes.
J. VANDERHOOF: So I --
E. VANDERHOOF: Like he doesn't remember going to the emergency room that morning when I dropped him off. I don't think he knew --
J. VANDERHOOF: Don't remember the swab tent at all really.
E. VANDERHOOF: Yes, it's --
BURNETT: Emily, it happened really fast, right? Mean, when you sent -- it was an incredibly quick deterioration, am I right?
E. VANDERHOOF: Yes. He was sick over the weekend, and Monday he was definitely sick.
But, you know, it wasn't the symptoms of respiratory. It wasn't shortness of breath. Like he was able to breathe and he was taking his vitals all throughout the day, kind of knew what to watch for, and by that morning, he just said I can't take this anymore, and he doesn't remember that, the drive to the hospital or, you know, I watched him walk into the entrance of the hospital, and I said just call me in a few hours, you know, like I'm come get you and update me.
And the next thing I know, maybe 8:30 or 9:00 a.m., and the nurse called who we nurse and she said he's been intubated, and we're going to life flight. He had a seizure. I'm like what? He was going to come home, you know.
J. VANDERHOOF: Yes.
E. VANDERHOOF: Just -- it happened so fast.
BURNETT: Jesse, I smoke to an ICU doctor the other day it, and I know people are trying towns, and obviously I know that in some level you have to -- you're so grateful and it's miraculous you've recovered. I mean, obviously people who are intubated, most of them don't.
And one doctor said to me and I want to quote him, he said even a young healthy person, like you obviously, who goes on a ventilator for days, they are not going to come out of that the same as they were before. He went on to say it will take a long time to get over the physical trauma, but the psychological trauma, too.
It is that sound like your experience so far? Is that what you're prepared for? E. VANDERHOOF: Exactly.
J. VANDERHOOF: That is -- hits very close to home. Like prior to this, Emily and I lived fairly active lives. I've worked as a ski patroller for a long time. We ski as much as possible in the winters. I mountain bike as much as possible and fish as much as possible in the summers.
I've done a lot of things. We hike a lot. You know here in Stanley, Idaho, there's just amazing outdoor opportunities here, and I went from like that experience to just laying on my back with my eyes open and having every aspect of living being taken care of by someone else.
I mean, like you want to talk about humbling and challenging for a man, like that is as tough as it gets right there.
BURNETT: Jesse, do you have any regrets, or would you do it all again in terms of being a nurse and helping others and obviously knowing that that could put you at risk for this?
J. VANDERHOOF: In no way at all do I feel bad about being a nurse and trying to help anyone. You know, like if I've learned anything in this experience with medical problems, it's that I want to help people more than I ever have before.
BURNETT: All right. Well, thank you both so much.
E. VANDERHOOF: Yes. Thank you.
BURNETT: That leads us to a trend among doctors and nurses who are trying to comfort their patients. Here's Jeanne Moos.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): How would you like to wake up to this at your bedside? Personal protective gear may protect the wearer but not the psyche of the patient.
MARY BETH HEFFERNAN, ARTIST, PROFESSOR, OCCIDENTAL COLLEGE: It looked really menacing.
MOOS: How to even tell your caregivers apart.
(on camera): Just wearing a simple mask on streets you realize how weird it is, that your smile no longer translates. Does this look like a smile to you?
(voice-over): So why not add a little humanity so the patient's eyes go from this to this.
Respiratory therapist Robert Rodriguez added a laminated badge, and just like that became --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today's hero of the day.
MOOS: He was memorialized in an illustration. Other medical personnel picked up on the idea or spontaneously had it themselves.
Meet chief of medicine Joe Varon at Houston's United Memorial.
DR. JOSEPH VARON, CHIEF OF MEDICINE, UNITED MEMORIAL MEDICAL CENTER: Make your patients smile. Make your patients smile. They are going through hell right now.
MOOS: At least patients know who they are going through hell with even if it's just a modest Polaroid.
Notice Derrick DeBolt (ph) vaulted to Internet fame. The part-time actor's handsome photo had people wondering, yo, but is he single though? And joking, Derrick, all of a sudden, I'm weak, help me.
But this didn't start with coronavirus. Five years ago, a California artist was so moved by seeing Ebola patients that she went to Africa and organized photographing medical staff. Mary Beth Heffernan combined heart and art and the patients --
HEFFERNAN: they loved seeing who was inside the suits.
MOOS: Now, some joke about pretending who is inside the suit. Anyone out there want to buy my idea for a romcom about a doctor who tapes a picture of George Clooney on his personal protective equipment and a COVID patient who falls in love with it.
GEORGE CLOONEY, ACTOR: (INAUDIBLE) the chest, right arm.
MOOS: This pediatric emergency physician took it a step further inhabiting George Clooney to get the smile and to give reassurance.
CLOONEY: You're going to be fine.
MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
BURNETT: And thanks so much to you for joining us.
Anderson continues our coverage now.