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THE SITUATION ROOM

U.S. Coronavirus Death Toll Surpasses 27,000; Industry Leaders Tell Trump: More Testing Before Reopening; Los Angeles County Sees Record Deaths For Second Straight Day; NY Gov: Distancing Won't Completely End Until "We Have A Vaccine"; CDC: 9,200-Plus Health Care Workers Have Been Infected; L.A. Mayor May Ban Concerts, Sporting Events Until 2021; Global Backlash After Trump Cuts WHO Funding Amid Crisis. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired April 15, 2020 - 17:00   ET

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


[17:00:00]

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: She was at Northwell Health Southside Hospital in hard hit Suffolk County, New York. Her baby was transferred to a children's hospital. While she recovered doctors did not know if she was going to survive or not.

But today, Yanira went home. The entire hospital lined the hallway to give her a very poignant send off, congratulating her on her amazing recovery. The hospital says Yanira has named her little boy, Walter.

Congratulations to the mother and her baby and their family. We're so happy to report a story like this and congratulations and thank you to all the health care providers at the hospital.

The White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing starts in just a few minutes. Our coverage on CNN continues right now.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM and we're following breaking news. We're awaiting the White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing, which we understand will begin very soon we'll be monitoring that, as the U.S. death fill from the pandemic tops 27,000 with more than 600,000 confirmed cases. Globally, there are now more than 2 million known cases and more than 130,000 deaths.

Meanwhile, CNN has learned that in the first phone conversation between President Trump and members of his New Business Council, industry leaders told him there would need to be guarantees of ramped up testing before people can return to work.

Also tonight, the "LA Times" is reporting that Mayor Eric Garcetti indicated in an internal e-mail that Los Angeles may not necessarily allow large gatherings including concerts and sporting events until 2021. This comes as Los Angeles County saw a record number of deaths for a second straight day. I'll speak with the L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and the New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio in just a few moments. But first, let's go to CNN's Nick Watt, he's joining us from L.A. right now. Nick, the U.S. death toll continues to climb.

NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It does Wolf. And we are now also getting a glimpse of what life might look like after the lockdown and it's pretty far from the old normal that we were used to before any of this began. You mentioned this e-mail found a source by the "LA Times" allegedly written by the mayor's office after meeting with the fire department. And in it, there is a statement that large gatherings including sporting events and concerts may not be approved here in L.A. for at least another year for us to really get back to normal. We are going to need a vaccine.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): It's over when we have a vaccine, you want to use New York Status Laboratory. We are ready, willing and able.

WATT (voice-over): But a vaccine could take anywhere from eight to 18 months. Meantime to reopen at all, we need lots of testing. And there's a potential impasse.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: The governors are supposed to do testing. It's up to the governors.

CUOMO: We cannot do it without federal support.

WATT (voice-over): We'll reopen a bit, but this summer will still be different to all other summers. Take our national pastime.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we move too quick, we put 50,000 people in Yankee Stadium. And that's part of why you see a resurgence of the disease. That would be the worst of all worlds.

WATT (voice-over): California now exploring disposable restaurant menus and servers, wearing face masks.

ROBERT REDFIELD, CDC DIRECTOR: I do think we're going to have some social distancing. That's going to be in a critical part of our strategy as we go forward.

WATT (voice-over): Starting soon, New Yorkers must carry a mask everywhere they go and wear it.

CUOMO: Any situation in public where you cannot maintain social distancing.

WATT (voice-over): New Jersey names and shames stay home scofflaws.

GURBIR GREWAL, NEW JERSEY ATTORNEY GENERAL: From loitering in public places to stupid things like holding front lawn and Pink Floyd cover band concerts. What's encouraging is that there is more compliance now then at the beginning of the emergency

WATT (voice-over): Reopening will be rolling regional. New York and New Jersey might have passed the peak. Meanwhile, Massachusetts has climbed to the third highest case count in the country.

GOV. CHARLIE BAKER (R-MA): Even on these goofy phone calls I have with my dad, I try to say more. Because you just don't know anymore what the future is going to hold.

WATT (voice-over): The FDA today issued emergency authorization for two more antibody tests that could identify those safe to work. But --

ANTHONY FAUCI, COORDINATOR, WH CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE: The things that we don't know is that in general with viruses that we deal with all the time, when you develop an antibody after infection, it almost in variably means you're protected. We don't absolutely know that for sure yet.

[17:05:06]

WATT (voice-over): The CDC now estimates nearly 10,000 health care workers have been infected with this virus. And the food and retail union now running this PSA says 30 members have been killed by COVID- 19.

MARC PERRONE, PRESIDENT, UNITED FOOD & COMMERCIAL WORKERS INTERNATIONAL UNION: Do I think that they should receive hazard pay or appreciation or whatever kind of pay, you want to call it? The answer is yes, God did. Because they're taking more risk every single day.

WATT (voice-over): They want grocery clerics designated as extended first responders. That's our new normal will be for a while.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WATT: Wolf, you mentioned that here in L.A. County, we are now on our second consecutive day of a record death toll, but the system is holding the pre planning is paying off this entire hospital behind me was set aside for COVID patients. They're calling it the L.A. surge hospital and there is still capacity. Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, very interesting indeed. All right, Nick Watt, reporting from Los Angeles. Thanks very much.

Joining us now the mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio.

Mayor, thank you so much for joining us on such a critically busy day. We're hearing a lot about this so called New Normal, what it will look like as cities across the country, including New York, of course consider reopening it. You've said reopening too quickly and seeing a resurgence of the virus, in your words would be the worst of all scenarios. What will the new normal be in New York City as a result of this pandemic? Let's say over the next year or so.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK CITY: Yes, Wolf. I think it's all about taking steps cautiously. Being sure that we're making progress, not letting our foot off the gas on the social distancing, and the shelter in place until we know that we have progress.

Look, what we're seeing in New York City in recent days, some improvement Wolf, but we're still losing a lot of people. We're still seeing a lot of people going into the hospital, folks fighting for their lives. Even when you see some improvement, it does not mean we're out of the woods. So I think the smart thing here is to take this in steps.

And remember that the thing that we if we're getting any improvement at all, it's because people believe in the social distancing. They're practicing it. They're putting on those face coverings when they go outside. They're actually staying home to the maximum extent possible. That's the only way to start to get to normal.

I want to get schools open by September. I've said schools should not be open for this school year. But I still think we have a shot of getting them for September. But we have to be really disciplined just to get to September to know we can get back to something like normal.

BLITZER: Yes, I want to get to that in a moment. But you probably heard that the mayor of Los Angeles Eric Garcetti, I will be speaking to him shortly here in THE SITUATION ROOM. He has reportedly indicated that his city may not necessarily allow large gatherings like concerts, sporting events to resume until 2021. Are you considering a similar timeline for New York City?

DE BLASIO: We're taking it one step at a time. But I think everyone should recognize that those big events should be one of the last things that we bring back online. So I got to see in my city, real steady progress, even to start to think about relaxing some of those social distancing standards even a little bit. But, you know, I want to get people back to work. Of course, I want to get kids back to school, but I think it's going to take months to go through that whole sequence.

And the last thing we should do is gather, you know, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000 people in one place it's like the exact opposite of social distancing. We shouldn't do that until we're really sure that we're out of this crisis. So I think it could take quite a while.

And, you know, what Wolf, people want to get the basics back, they want to get back to work they want to get the schools back, we can live I'm a big baseball fan, a big sports fan, but that's the thing I could live without, to make sure people are healthy and safe and we get the basics back. And we're going to have a recovery Wolf, we're not going to have recovery in this country. If we step too quickly, and then have a boomerang with a disease reasserts itself.

BLITZER: The California Governor Gavin Newsom is warning our residents there, that even going to a restaurant dining out for a long time could look very different as a result of this pandemic. He suggests servers may have to wear mask, gloves as they work in restaurants, far fewer tables in those restaurants so people can spread out disposable menus in a lot of restaurants in New York City. Is that what you envisage there as well?

DE BLASIO: Look, we have to be ready for something like that. I think it's too early to tell. But I think Governor Newsom has been on the right track throughout this crisis saying, look, guys, we've got to take it seriously and try and get ahead of this not always be playing catch up. So I think it's right to say that people that kind of experience might be very different. Restaurants may have to be a lot less crowded to begin. We got to take it slow.

But look, Wolf to me, we've got understand, you know, there's this deep desire to quote unquote "restart the economy". I want to restart the economy too, but we can't do it in kind of a delusional way.

[17:10:11]

And this is a conversation I've had with President Trump directly. I've had with the leaders of the Congress, I spoke with Speaker Pelosi, I said, look, if we're going to restart our economy, our cities have to be back in shape. We cannot restart an economy of the great economic engines of this country.

Our urban areas are struggling just to keep basic services together just to keep our hospitals able to support people. If we're on a wartime footing, how are we going to restart the economy?

So one of the things I'm talking to President Trump and all our leaders about is we have got to get help from Washington to deal with the fact that cities have lost so much of the revenue that we use to pay for first responders and hospitals and schools and sanitation, that money is out the window, I've lost between five and $10 billion just in the last month or so. And I'm not going to be able to pay the bills and keep my city going so that we can help lead that recovery.

Washington's guys step up, we need this stimulus bill. They're supposed to be a stimulus bill, it could be voted on literally in a matter of days to tide us over. President Trump's got a lead here, he's got to speak up and say, for this country to get back into shape. Our cities or states have to be made whole. Mitch McConnell has got to actually engage this and show leadership and move it.

Right now, if we don't get that kind of support. Wolf, I'm telling you, you won't have a recovery in the nation cities are limping and struggling just to provide the basics.

BLITZER: Yes, I keep hearing that from mayors and governors all across the country. Mayor de Blasio, good luck to everyone in New York City. We really appreciate your joining us on such a busy day.

DE BLASIO: Thank you Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, we're joined now by the Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.

Mayor Garcetti, thank you so much for joining us as well like Mayor de Blasio, I know you're incredibly busy yourself. But let's talk about what's happening in L.A. right now for the second straight day this very disturbing. Los Angeles County is reporting more coronavirus related deaths than ever before. What does that tell you about where the curve the so called curve is in L.A. right now?

MAYOR ERIC GARCETTI (D), LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA: Well, first of all, I want to send my love and strength to our sister city in New York City and to Mayor de Blasio for the incredible things they're going through to put in perspective, Los Angeles County, which has about 10 million people, as many cases as New York City has deaths.

So we here are in the beginning of many dark days that we know we're still is not a peak for us. Though we've seen our curve substantially bend. So that we've had now nine days of single digit increases in terms of cases, but we had the most deaths that we've ever seen that's 40 yesterday.

And so we're continuing to push hard. We're proud that Los Angeles, California, among the very first to adopt safer at home, stay at home measures to adopt facial covering and asks for a general population and for our workers, but we still have a lot of work to do. And of course deal with economic devastation simultaneously for so many people that are out there.

BLITZER: According to an internal e-mail obtained by the "Los Angeles Times", I'm sure you know about this. Your office said this pandemic could stop large gatherings, like concerts and sporting events until 2021. Is that in fact, the case there?

GARCETTI: That is, it wasn't a secret plan that got leaked. It was -- I was asked my opinion by some of my general managers who run our large departments. But as Mayor de Blasio said, as I think Mayor Cantrell has said in New Orleans, it's difficult to imagine us getting together in the thousands anytime soon.

So I think we should be prepared for that this year. I think we all have never wanted science to work so quickly. But until there's either a vaccine, some sort of pharmaceutical intervention, or herd immunity, the science is the science and public health officials have been very clear.

We've got many, many miles to walk before we're going to be back in those environments. But I hope we can perhaps watch sporting events, without audiences on TV. Of course, listen to concerts as we've been doing. It is so important for us even -- even as we're physically distance to have that spiritual and social connection, something that we're doing very much here in Los Angeles during this.

BLITZER: So I just want to be precise, big concerts in L.A. or major league baseball or NFL football or basketball. None of that's going to happen until 2021. From your perspective in L.A.?

GARCETTI: It'd be very difficult to see that if there's something that happens, of course, and public health officials say greenlight, but I think people have to think about it this way. It's not a mayor bring bad news about these things. These have been immensely difficult decisions to make psychologically.

But I've always been very clear of mind. We get together and hundreds of people come down with coronavirus here in Los Angeles, we might only have 5, 10 percent of people who have come down with COVID-19 by the fall, that means that 95 percent, 90 percent of us still could get that in It still could spread rapidly. [17:15:01]

So nothing I've heard would indicate that we have been in those large thousands of people gathering anytime soon, and probably not for the rest of this year.

BLITZER: Very interesting -- very depressing, I must say, as well, but very realistic, I suspect. When might Los Angeles begin based on what we know right now and things can change. When might L.A begin to emerge from the stay at home orders, resumes, let the kids go back to school, the new normal, what might that look like?

GARCETTI: So I have some optimism here because we've bent this curve, but we have to stay at home for these next few weeks. We've extended that to May 15th. But I do think as we've all said, there's no light switch that will go on. This is more like a circuit breaker box. And we have to have the ability to turn it all off again, should we see outbreaks, but that said, we need the rules of the road.

We need the testing and tracing. I've called for a national cares corps which like the Peace Corps or teacher corps would have hundreds of thousands, some of them out of work Americans who jobs right now trained to help public health professionals to track and trace cases more quickly than America does today.

That's one of the things that's really holding back us coming back as a nation it either our economy or our schools or society is we simply don't have enough people to quickly track and trace and to intervene. And of course, the blood testing that we will need to know who does have that immunity, all those rules like you were taught --

BLITZER: I think our connection just froze with the mayor. We're going to try to reconnect with him. But clearly the so called New Normal in L.A. is not going to be like the old normal by any means. And he specifically confirmed concerts and sporting events almost certainly are not going to resume in L.A. until next year. 2021.

I think we've reconnected with Mayor Garcetti. Mayor, you still that you're still with us?

GARCETTI: Yes, I am.

BLITZER: All right, let me -- let me ask you about the -- I guess there's some sort of order and lay that folks have to wear a mask if they go on what are called essential errands, what exactly does that mean? And how long do you think that that's going to be in effect?

GARCETTI: So it's for the indefinite future, as long as our state home order is there, it's to protect workers and our critical industries. We say such amazing things about our janitors, about our grocery store clerks and others, but we weren't doing enough to protect them.

So it mandates that customers and workers have to have in those businesses that still remain open, protective face coverings, not medical masks, but the cloth ones. We've had tens of thousands of them made here by our apparel industry in Los Angeles, who stepped up and taken out of work sewers and sewing machines, and put them to work not just for L.A. but for the nation.

But we've seen this in other countries, we've seen this in other places where it works. It saves others from you more than it saves you from them by preventing any of the droplets that come from your mouth, infecting anybody, but for those who are on the front lines, who have to see thousands of customers a day, this was common sense. It was a mandate and all stores have to post on the front of their stores, what they have done to implement these measures for their workers and their customers.

BLITZER: Yes and I'm sure you agree with me that those are on the front lines, the workers, they really are the heroes, not only the medical professionals, the doctors and the nurses, but all those who are providing services. They are the real heroes in all of this as well.

Mayor Garcetti, thank you so much for joining us. Good luck to everybody in L.A.

GARCETTI: Thank you Wolf, good to be with you.

BLITZER: Thank you.

Still ahead, the business leaders tell President Trump the key to reopening is more testing for the coronavirus. But if more widespread testing is the key to returning to normal, why are the testing numbers in commercial labs going down? We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:23:05]

BLITZER: We're awaiting the White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing. We'll be monitoring it. Once again, it's in the Rose Garden today not in the White House briefing room standby.

Let's go to the White House right now. Our Chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta is with us.

Jim, I understand you're learning some new information about warnings -- very serious warnings the President is getting what are you learning?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right Wolf, President Trump is beginning to reach out to business leaders about reopening the country and some of those industry officials are warning the president more coronavirus testing is needed quickly and facing growing criticism over his administration's response to the coronavirus.

President Trump is in search of scapegoats. White House officials are scrambling to point the finger at the World Health Organization in China but there's one big problem with that, the President has praised both the WHO and China for its handling of the virus in the past.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ACOSTA (voice-over): One day after President Trump called on business leaders to advise them on reopening the U.S. economy.

TRUMP: We've had requests to participate from the best in the world as we share their enthusiasm to get our country going. So I thank them for wanting to contribute.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Some of those industry officials on a conference call with White House aides insisted that the administration ramp up coronavirus testing before companies start bringing employees back to work. The administration health experts are conceding more testing is needed.

REDFIELD: That's going to be really important to get a few things in place or more obviously testing for early diagnostics.

ACOSTA (voice-over): With a number of dead from the coronavirus soaring, the President is pointing fingers at the World Health Organization halting its funding and accusing the group of being lapdogs for China.

TRUMP: The WHO's reliance on China's disclosures likely caused a 20 fold increase in cases worldwide and it may be much more than that.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Still working to control the pandemic the WHO responded to the President's decision with restraint.

[17:24:59]

TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS, DIRECTOR, WHO: We regret the day decision of the President of the United States to order a hold in funding to the World Health Organization.

ACOSTA (voice-over): For weeks critics have questioned how the WHO and China were responding to the pandemic. Yet back in February, the President was praising both China and the WHO.

TRUMP: China, I can tell you is working very hard. We're working with them. You know, we just sent some of our best people over the World Health Organization and a lot of them are composed of our people. They're fantastic, and they're now in China. And we're helping them out.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Mr. Trump has failed to own up to the fact that he has touted China's transparency on the virus.

TRUMP: I don't talk about you and his transparency.

ACOSTA (voice-over): But that's not true, he has. On January 24th, the President tweeted China has been working very hard to contain the coronavirus. The United States greatly appreciates their efforts and transparency. It will all work out well. In particular on behalf of the American people. I want to thank President Xi.

It's not clear whether administration officials are taking the President's bluster seriously. REDFIELD: You know, I just going to say that who has been and a long standing partner for CDC. We've worked together and to fight health crisis all around the world. We continue to do that.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Top White House official Kellyanne Conway blasted the WHO sang it should have known how to deal with a virus by now.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, WHITE HOUSE OFFICIAL: This is COVID-19 not COVID-1 folks, and so you would think the people charged with the World Health Organization, facts and figures would be on top of that.

ACOSTA (voice-over): But it's Conway who should know according to the CDC, the name COVID-19 stands for Coronavirus 2019 as in the year it was first detected.

With President eager to end social distancing by May 1st, officials at the CDC and FEMA have drafted a plan for reopening the U.S., but the plan obtained by the "Washington Post" contains a warning, models indicate 30 day shelter in place followed by 180 day lifting of all mitigation results in large rebound curve.

With businesses closed across the U.S., the administration is churning out stimulus checks to millions of Americans. But those checks when outcome with Mr. Trump's name on them, though not his signature or something he danced around earlier this month.

TRUMP: I know there's millions of checks, I'm going to sign them now. It's a Trump administration initiative. But do I want to sign them now?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: Now, one indication of how administration officials are scrambling to meet the President's goal to reopen the country on May 1st, some of the industry and labor leaders who are named by the White House as advisors on reopening the country, were not even notified first, sources tell CNN, several of the names were added first before they were contacted Wolf.

You know, in some cases, the White House just didn't even tell people, they were on the list. Wolf.

BLITZER: That's pretty awkward, awkward indeed. All right, Jim Acosta at the White House. Thank you.

Coming up industry leaders tell President Trump more testing is needed before businesses can reopen. So why is it so hard to get access to testing?

Plus, we'll have an update on the search for a coronavirus vaccine, which may be the only way to end the social distancing and end the crisis. Much more of our coverage, right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:33:07] BLITZER: Once again, we're awaiting the start of the White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing. You're seeing live pictures coming in once again from the Rose Garden. Today, the President will be walking out, we're going to have coverage as soon as we see the President, the Vice President, the other experts walk out. Standby for that, anxious to hear what they have to say on this critically important day.

When we just heard from the mayors of the two largest cities here in the United States, the mayors of Los Angeles and New York City say almost certainly there won't be concerts or professional sporting events in either of those cities until 2021. No football, no baseball, no basketball until 2021 in L.A. or in New York. Pretty dramatic information indeed.

Very sad for those of us, of course, who are sports fans, as well. Doctors and public officials, meanwhile, as well as industry leaders, who spoke with President Trump today are emphasizing that any return to normal life will require the availability of large scale and accurate, keyword, accurate testing for the coronavirus.

I want to bring in our Senior Investigative Correspondent Drew Griffin. Drew, private lab tests per week actually are down now, so why is that? Shouldn't testing actually be increasing not decreasing?

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: It should be but it could be down for some pretty good reasons. First of all, there was a holiday, some holiday, law might have taken place. We'll have to see if it's a trend. But also, Wolf, we've been testing the sickest of the sick. That's what the tests have been kind of prioritized for.

Now that in some places, those sick people have been plateauing. This may be a good sign, and a good indication that this testing needs to transition into a much broader population. Not just the sickest of the sick, but those of us just sick at home and had been told to stay home. We need to be tested. Those who want to go back to work, they need to be tested.

[17:35:11]

So kind of a transition from just this kind of testing at hospitals and doctors office to a much more broader scale of testing. We talked to the big labs today. They do have room, they tell us, they have capacity, but their orders have indeed been down as broad scale testing across the country has increased.

BLITZER: Drew, what about the antibody tests to check for immunity? How close to a widely available test is that?

GRIFFIN: Getting closer, there are now three tests that have been giving emergency use authorization. Abbott today also released its unapproved or an emergency use authorized test, which they say they're going to have 20 million tests by June, if accurate. If they work, they can tell us how many people may have had this virus, may have some part of their body that has immunity to getting this again, and those people would be free and clear to go back to work. But it's in the very early stages, I will tell you, the National Cancer Institute, trying to evaluate a lot of these tests and give us much more clear answers on whether, in fact, they work or don't work. The cautionary note here, a lot of those early tests deemed really -- there's no other way to say it, Wolf, crappy when they first came out. That's being fixed.

BLITZER: Yes, well that's pretty depressing, too. All right, Drew Griffin, thank you very much.

Joining us now is CNN Medical Analyst, Dr. Jennifer Lee, who served with the V.A. during the Obama administration. Dr. Lee, thank you so much for joining us. Does it sound like we're anywhere near where we need to be right now in terms of widespread testing?

DR. JENNIFER LEE, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: No, Wolf. Sadly, although we have made quite a bit of progress in the last few weeks, we are still not anywhere close to testing everyone who needs to be tested. And I think that there's really three things that we need to do in order to get to the testing that we want to see in order to talk about reopening parts or all of our economy.

First of all, let's stop pretending that 3 million tests is enough. You know, we need millions of the capacity to do millions of tests. If not, per day, then at least per week. There are so many people that are not getting tested. And when you look at the total number of tests we've done, yes, it's more than any other country. But when you look at the testing per capita, there are other countries like Italy and South Korea that have still done more per capita.

And also, some states have done a lot more testing disproportionately like New York, compared to many states that are still way below testing 1 percent of their population less than 1 percent. Second, what is the reason why the testing has decreased recently? I think there are two parts of that. And the second thing is what we need to fix, and that's the supply chain.

So, you know, we might have enough test kits in hospital. But I'll tell you, the experience I've had is that one week, you might be out of the swabs you need to do the tests. And the next week, you hear that the lab is out of the reagent, they need to process the tests, or they might be short on the viral culture media that's needed to get the test done.

And so, the federal government needs to step in, and either compel or partner with private manufacturers to get wide scale, manufacturing all these components so that we can get testing to the level it needs to be.

Thirdly, we need to look at criteria. The criteria have been too strict, and it's time to open them up. We had to prioritize when testing was very tight, but we need to look forward. Who do we need to test?

We need to be testing everybody that has symptoms. And as we think about workers coming back to work, some people will need to be tested multiple times, maybe multiple times per week in order to work, and we don't have the capacity right now to do that.

BLITZER: What worries me, Dr. Lee, and I'm anxious for your thoughts, false positives, false negatives, how accurate are these tests?

LEE: That is something that we have to be cautious of too. I think, you know, a lot of times, what I've seen is that there can be some false negatives. And clinically, we're looking at the rates of that. Sometimes it's not as much the test and the processing of it per se, but how the sample, the specimen was collected. As you know, there's - we use that swab to go way back in the nose to get the sample.

And, you know, if that wasn't a great sample, then you might not get enough of that virus on that swab to get an accurate test. And so we do have to watch that carefully. That is the issue that arose with the recent -- the antibody tests. We need to make absolutely sure that they're accurate.

[17:40:02]

For the most part, we do feel confident about that, but it's something that we're tracking.

BLITZER: Certainly important indeed. All right, Dr. Lee, thank you very much as usual, appreciate it very much.

Coming up, we'll have an update on the quests for a corona virus vaccine. How soon could one be available to health workers and the general public. And once again, we're waiting for the start of the Coronavirus Task Force briefing. It's in the Rose Garden once again today. We'll have coverage, stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:45:06]

BLITZER: All right, we're awaiting the White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing, which we will be monitoring. You're looking at live pictures coming in from the Rose Garden right there. A study this week predicts social distancing here in the United States may have to stay in effect until the year 2022. Unless an effective vaccine becomes available.

Let's bring in our Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen. So what's the latest on developing an actual vaccine? How long until people can be vaccinated, Elizabeth?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: So, Wolf, it takes time you have to figure out what the vaccine is. You have to give it to people, make sure it's safe first, then make sure it's effective. Dr. Fauci and others saying that's a 12 month to 18 month effort at the very least. But last night a leading vaccine expert at the National Institutes of Health telling CNN she thinks it can happen more quickly.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KIZZMEKIA CORBETT, LEAD SCIENTIST FOR CORONAVIRUS VACCINE RESEARCH, NIH: We're talking -- targeting fall for the emergency use. So that would be, you know, for health care workers and people who might be in constant contact and in risk of being exposed over and over. And then for the general population, our target goal is for next spring.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COHEN: Now, Dr. Corbett says that they can do it quickly, partly because the NIH was ready to, as she put it, aim and shoot. They knew that a pandemic would be coming at some point, and they set up the infrastructure to make the vaccine happen quickly. But I will tell you, Wolf, that we've reached out to vaccine experts who are skeptical that it could really be ready to give to people by the fall.

BLITZER: Elizabeth, once a vaccine is developed -- and I know not just here in the United States labs, but labs around the world. They're working on a vaccine as well, in China, in Europe, elsewhere. How fast can they produce enough doses for everyone and how do they decide who gets it first?

COHEN: To your point, Wolf, since various, you know, there are several different companies trying to come up with a vaccine. The hope is that there would be enough production by several companies in order to get it out to the world. But you're right, it might be hard to ramp up quite, you know, to serve the entire world. Who would get it first? Would wealthy countries get it first? How would that be decided?

I will say, Wolf, that yes, it is an issue to get a vaccine out to the world, but we have months to prepare for this. It's not like the testing tobacco where the CDC and others only really had weeks to kind of get it going. There's enough lead time that hopefully they will get this right.

BLITZER: All right, let's hope. Elizabeth Cohen reporting for us, thank you.

Coming up, coronavirus patients dying at home. Are they reflected in the growing U.S. death toll? We'll be right back.

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[17:52:34]

BLITZER: We see many reports of hospitals here in the United States being overwhelmed with coronavirus patients. CNN's Brian Todd has been looking into the challenges facing people fighting the virus at home right now. Brian, it presents some really unique problems.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It presents some unique and daunting problems, Wolf. You know, many people fighting the virus at home or doing that alone and if they lose that battle, there's a chance that no one will know.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LEONARDO FRAZIER, CORONAVIRUS PATIENT IN OHIO: And I'm like pretty much safe --

TODD (voice-over): Leonardo Frazier shows CNN the simple looking device that made all the difference for him.

FRAZIER: That you scrapped it your risks here.

TODD (voice-over): It's a finger monitor measuring Frazier's oxygen, heart and blood. The 54-year old wore it at home alone while he was battling coronavirus. It was connected to his cell phone and when his condition took a sudden nosedive, it led his doctors in Northeastern Ohio know.

FRAZIER: And told me I needed to be in the E -- I need to come down to the E.R. immediately. And so that's what I did.

TODD (voice-over): Frazier says he felt so incapacitated at home alone, that he doesn't know if he have had the wherewithal to get himself to the hospital.

FRAZIER: And this right here has saved my life, that's why I'm here today.

TODD (voice-over): But Frazier's is a rare case. He happened to be placed in a pilot program at University Hospitals in Ohio. Designed to help save the lives of patients who are fighting coronavirus from home, where experts say a victim's condition can plummet in an instant.

DR. PETER PRONOVOST, UNIVERSITY HOSPITALS, OHIO: And it's unpredictable. And so some patients will go home and they'll stay well, their lungs will get improved. Others may deteriorate. We don't know who will.

TODD (voice-over): And often they deteriorate and die at home with no one knowing. Officials in the hardest hit areas say they're struggling tonight to count those who are isolated with the virus at home. And the numbers of people they believe are dying at home, they say, are staggering.

New York City Councilman Mark Levine, who chairs the city's health committee said before the pandemic 20 to 25 people died at home in New York on an average day. But in recent days, Levine says, "It's been over 200 people a day who are dying at home. We presume that most of that increase is due to coronavirus".

Even with ramped up testing, experts say, the numbers of those who died from coronavirus may be well under counted when all is said and done because of the massive gaps in monitoring of those who died at home.

[17:55:05]

DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, MASSACHUSETTS GENERAL HOSPITAL: I think during this acute period of time where so many people are not accessing medical care, the folks who are dying at home, the numbers that you're talking about, this will definitely, I think be a blind spot during this period of time.

TODD (voice-over): New York State officials are now scrambling to try to fill those gaps of information, devising ways of counting probable coronavirus deaths, including victims who are not previously tested, and those dying at home whose symptoms fit certain parameters of the virus.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK: And it's just horrendous. But the numbers speak for themselves. I've been over this with our health colleagues that this used to be a very, very rare thing in New York City. And suddenly it's jumped up and obviously the only thing that's changed is COVID-19.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: But experts say even with post-mortem testing getting a truly accurate count of the numbers of people who died from coronavirus at home, maybe near impossible. One doctor told us there's another category of people who could be included in the count of victims of this pandemic.

Those who died at home from things like heart attacks, strokes and other illnesses who refuse to go to the hospital out of fear that they might get coronavirus. Wolf?

BLITZER: Brian Todd reporting for us. Brian, thanks very much. There's breaking news next, business leaders warning that more coronavirus testing is needed as President Trump pushes to reopen the country. And now, the mayors of both New York City and Los Angeles confirm to us here at CNN that there may not necessarily be sporting events or concerts until 2021 in their cities.

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