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THE SITUATION ROOM
U.S. Coronavirus Death Toll Surpasses 34,000; Small Business Loan Program Out of Money and Impasse over New Funds; Trump Renews Criticism of China and World Health Organization; New Model: Some States Need to Wait until at least June, Early July to Start Reopening; Trump Attacks Govs A Day After They "Call The Shots", Calls To "Liberate" Dem States With Stay-At-Home Protests; Trump Touts Guidelines To Reopen Economy In 3 Phases; Report: Experimental Drug May Help Treat COVID-19 Symptoms; Many Feeling Pain Despite $2 Trillion Stimulus Plan. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired April 17, 2020 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.
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 standing by for the White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing which we'll be monitoring. And less than 24 hours after President Trump told the nation's governors, they would call the shots on reopening. The president is now calling to, quote, "liberate" places like Michigan, Minnesota and Virginia. All of which have Democratic governors. All that as the U.S. coronavirus death toll is now more than 34,000 with more than 680,000 confirmed cases. Worldwide, we're more than 2.2 million confirmed cases and more than 150,000 confirmed deaths.
Let's begin this hour over at the White House. Our chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta is joining us. Jim, there doesn't appear to be any social distancing or other safety measures at these protests against the stay-at-home orders we're seeing at various places around the country, but the president is actually encouraging them.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf, President Trump appears to be stoking unrest in states around the U.S. where conservative demonstrators are protesting against social distancing measures. The president is tweeting to supporters to liberate places like Minnesota, Michigan and Virginia one day after he told the governors they were calling the shots on reopening the country.
ACOSTA (voice-over): One day after the president told governors around the U.S. they were taking the lead in opening up their states.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's going to be up to the governors.
We are not opening all at once. But one careful step at a time.
ACOSTA: Mr. Trump is stirring up his supporters with organized tea- party-like protests to lash out against social distancing measures.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: New protests over stay-at-home orders across the Midwest --
ACOSTA: Just minutes after a Fox News report on the demonstrations, the president began tweeting.
And "Liberate Virginia"
States with Democratic governors. Echoing a show of sympathy for the protesters less then 24 hours earlier.
TRUMP: It's been a tough process for people, you know, I told you this, there's death and there's problem in staying at home too. It's not just isn't it wonderful to stay at home. They're suffering.
ACOSTA: Virginia's Governor Ralph Northam says he's not taking the president's bait.
GOV. RALPH NORTHAM (D-VA): I do not have time to involve myself in Twitter wars. I will continue to make sure that I do everything that I can to keep Virginians safe and to save lives.
ACOSTA: The president's tweets also point to his own shortcomings in responding to the coronavirus. Mr. Trump is now insisting the states have to step up their testing. But last month he claimed that Americans who needed a test could get one, promises his administration failed to keep.
TRUMP: Anybody that needs a test, gets a test.
ACOSTA: The president was also tweeting at New York's Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo. Telling him, he should spend more time doing and less time complaining.
Moments later, Cuomo responded.
GOV. ANDEW CUOMO (D-NY): First of all, if he's sitting home watching TV, maybe he should get up and go to work, right? Second, the -- let's keep emotion and politics out of this, and personal ego, if we can, because this is about the people, and it's about our job. I don't know, what am I supposed to do, send a bouquet of flowers?
ACOSTA: Cuomo is voicing the same frustration expressed by lawmakers across the country. There's simply not enough testing to send Americans back to work. CUOMO: He said 11 times. I don't want to get involved in testing. It's too complicated. It's too hard. I know it's too complicated and it's too hard. That's why we need you to help.
ACOSTA: With the the Gallup poll finding only 43 percent of Americans approve of the president's handling of the coronavirus, down six points from last month. Mr. Trump is also passing the buck on the money drying up on the government's Paycheck Protection Program. Tweeting at congressional Democrats who have left Washington, "end your endless vacation." But hold on, Republican lawmakers have gone home too.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): The truth is, we didn't have proper testing available in March despite his repeatedly claiming that we did. And even now, we do not have adequate tests, masks, PPE, and necessary equipment, which creates unnecessary death and suffering.
ACOSTA: The president is also pointing the finger at the World Health Organization and China, despite his past praise of the WHO. Not to mention all of the times he touted his close relationship with Chinese Leader Xi Jinping.
TRUMP: We're at very constant communication, President Xi and myself, very, very constant.
ACOSTA: Now there appears to be some recognition among some on the president's political team that these political attacks in the middle of a pandemic are troublesome and have the potential to backfire.
As one Trump adviser told me earlier this week, the country has had candidate Trump during this crisis, not President Trump. And as for the need for more testing around the country, a source close to the Coronavirus Task Force said health officials are expected to offer more details on that front at the upcoming briefing.
Wolf, that is expected to start 6:00 p.m.
BLITZER: Yes. We're standing by for that. All right, Jim Acosta, thank you very much.
We're expecting also to hear from several governors at this hour. We'll be monitoring their news conference. Stay with us for that as well.
Meanwhile, we're learning new details of a call today between the Vice President Mike Pence and Democratic senators who were voicing their anger at the Trump administration.
Let's go to our congressional correspondent Lauren Fox. She's working this part of the story for us. Lauren, so what is the main criticism of these Democrats? LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Well, this was a call essentially for the vice president to brief senators on their plan to reopen states and economies across the country. But senators were pressing the vice president today on how in the world the administration is going to ensure that there were enough states who had testing to actually get some of these states opened up again. And what I'm told from multiple senators I've had conversations with this afternoon is that there was no clear answer.
In fact, things got so heated, and one senator felt like things were boiling over so much that Senator Angus King, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, told the vice president that this was a dereliction of duty for the administration, and, quote, "I have never been so mad about a phone call in my life." That is according to one Democratic source who was on this call.
I'm also told by Senator Brian Schatz that what he heard was more promises that testing would be there without any affirmations about how the administration was going to ensure it was true. He said it was promises that he has heard before, including last week, last month, and the month before that, Wolf.
BLITZER: Lauren, I understand there was also some serious tension over the president's tweets about supposedly liberating states from all the social distancing restrictions.
FOX: That's right. We're told -- my colleague Betsy Klein has learned that Senator Tim Kaine at the end of this call basically pressed the vice president on why is the president tweeting things about liberating states, that that wasn't helpful, that wasn't getting members to be united with the administration and coming up with a plan to reopen. And the vice president, we're told, didn't actually answer the question, he deflected, said that they are working respectfully with governors. Senator Tim Kaine fired back and said that these tweets were not, quote, "respectful." Wolf?
BLITZER: We'll hear what the vice president has to say, presumably, at this upcoming briefing. Lauren Fox reporting for us. Lauren, thank you.
Let's get the latest now on how the pandemic is playing out across the United States. Our national correspondent Erica Hill is in New York for us. Erica, still a very grim situation up there, I understand.
ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, it is at this point. We are obviously still dealing with the virus here in New York state. What's also been fascinating to watch throughout the day, Wolf, is how the conversation is changing around the country, as so many states react to these guidelines from the president and make clear what they need to even get close to phase one.
CUOMO: This is mayhem. We need a coordinated approach between the federal government and the states.
HILL (voice-over): New York Governor Andrew Cuomo repeating his plea for help with testing supplies and funding.
CUOMO: The federal government cannot wipe their hands of this.
HILL: As states react to the president's new guidelines, further evidence there is no one-size-fits-all plan.
DR. CHRIS MURRAY, RESEARCHER, UNIVERSITY WASHINGTON: It looks like a number of states in the south, for example, will have smaller epidemics than we were expecting.
Places like New York seem to be stuck at the peak for longer than we originally expected.
HILL: The number of hospitalizations is decreasing in New York City. But all events there are now canceled for the month of May. Texas schools will remain closed, but not state parks. In Jacksonville, beaches are reopening today with limited hours.
MAYOR LENNY CURRY (R-FL): Folks, this could be the beginning of the pathway back to normally life. But please respect and follow these limitations.
HILL: Mississippi's shelter-in-place order is extended to April 27th.
GOV. TATE REEVES (R-MS): I know we cannot stay in this position for much longer. But we are still in the eye of the storm.
HILL: As New Jersey's governor warns face coverings may be here through the fall.
GOV. PHIL MURPHY (D-NJ): I would bet the answer is yes. That we will be masked when kids go back to school.
HILL: And a handful of protesters push for fewer restrictions in Minnesota and Virginia.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can't keep healthy people locked in their houses and watch the economy just go down.
HILL: In Michigan, the governor doubling down.
GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D-MI): It's better to be six feet apart right now than six feet under. And that is the whole point of this.
HILL: In San Antonio, seemingly endless lines for food. And across the country, outrage and concern for some of the most vulnerable Americans.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When they lockdown, we have no connection with our mom.
HILL: New Jersey ordering an investigation after more than a dozen bodies were found in this facility, now linked to 36 COVID-19 deaths. Those on the frontlines also sounding an alarm. GREG KELLEY, PRESIDENT, SEIU HEALTHCARE IL, IN, MO, KS: Underpaid, understaffed nursing homes has been a problem in our country for a long time. And this crisis has only made it worse.
HILL: And for the families now mourning, questions only add to the pain.
LEE REPASCH, MOTHER DIED AT NJ NURSING HOME: She was vibrant. She was a firecracker. My parents didn't have a lot growing up. Everything they had, they gave to us and gave to their grandchildren.
HILL: It is so important, as we know, Wolf, not to forget the faces, the victims in this tragedy. We're also hearing so much from governors, as I pointed out, throughout the day. We heard from Governor Cooper in North Carolina who echoed what we're hearing from Governor Cuomo, saying, and I'm quoting here, that part of the issue is obviously with the supply. And he says when governors are faced with a global supply chain breakdown for supplies and equipment, he said the federal government must step in and do more.
BLITZER: Hearing that from a lot of governors right now. All right, Erica Hill in New York, thank you.
Joining us now, the governor of Rhode Island, Gina Raimondo. Governor, thank you so much for joining us. As you know, the president has been busy tweeting all day today, among other things he's saying, liberate Michigan, liberate Virginia, liberate Minnesota, save your great Second Amendment, it is under siege. What do you think he's talking about?
GOV. GINA RAIMONDO (D-RI): You know, I'm not sure what he's talking about, and I'm not sure what value he thinks that serves. Look, there's no question that people are tired of being cooped up. People are frustrated. And the stay-at-home orders that I and other governors have had to impose out of a public health necessity have absolutely, you know, caused economic hardship for many, many, many Americans. And that is real.
Having said that, there is no governor out there, myself included, who isn't thinking constantly, every day, all day, about how do we get people back to work as quickly as possible. But frankly, we have to do it safely. And if we just -- if we're reckless about it and send everybody back at the flip of a switch, we'll be right back in the soup. And that is not safe, it's not right, it's not what I plan to do, and it's not the right thing for the American people. So yes, we have to get back to work, but we have to be smart about it, doing it in a targeted way, and make sure we have enough testing and PPE and regulations in place to make it so that people are safe when they go back to work.
BLITZER: What about in your state of Rhode Island. How does it look? When are people going to start going back to work? When are schools going to reopen? When are some of the social distancing going to go away? RAIMONDO: So, Wolf, I have a stay-at-home order in place until May 8th. And I hope very much that shortly thereafter, I might be in a position to start relaxing some of the, you know, most stringent requirements. But I'll tell you this. It all depends on the data.
So yesterday, the White House put out guidelines saying that a responsible time to begin reopening the economy is after 14 days of, you know, declining infections. And Rhode Island right now is still on the incline. More people today than yesterday than the day before. The same for our hospitalizations. So, as I said before, my goal is to get as many people back to work as fast as possible, and we're working towards that. And I'm not going to do anything that risks the life and health and safety of the million Rhode Islanders who I serve.
BLITZER: Yes. You shouldn't. Obviously, that's your number one priority. The Vice President Mike Pence had a call - a phone call today with Democratic senators. The independent Senator Angus King who caucuses with the Democrats, he's from Maine, he said this, and I'm quoting him now, he said, "I have never been so mad about a phone call in my life." He says, the failure to develop a national testing plan, in his words, is a "dereliction of duty."
Can you share with us, can you get to the level of testing that you need in Rhode Island right now without federal help?
RAIMONDO: So, let me say two things. Rhode Island is very fortunate. CVS is headquartered in Rhode Island. They've been an unbelievable partner to me. So, through that public/private partnership, we're now doing among the most testing per capita of any state in the country.
Having said that, two weeks ago, the federal government supplied us with 15 Abbott testing machines. Great news. Every state got them.
We still have not received the tests we need to operate those machines. And Abbott is not selling directly to states. They are only going through the CDC. So, that's a perfect example.
You know, the president himself said yesterday, we need ubiquitous, readily available testing to have a safe reopening of the economy. He's right, I give him credit for that and I give him credit actually for letting the governors call the shots on the frontlines. But the federal government needs to do more to provide us with the testing equipment that we need, frankly, for the next 12 months in order to safely navigate our way through this crisis.
BLITZER: Governor Murphy of New Jersey, a man you obviously know, thinks students should have to actually wear masks when his schools in New Jersey open up. Would you agree with that as far as Rhode Island is concerned?
RAIMONDO: Obviously, it depends when they open. Certainly, if they were to reopen this -- this school year, and I haven't yet given up on that as a possibility, I would say yes. It's very possible that will still be necessary in the fall. The reality is, we're going to go through waves, and our lives are going to have to change significantly until a vaccine is developed and is widely available. But I think everybody would agree, it's better to let the kids go back to school with new precautions and let folks go back to work with new precautions than continuing obviously with the blunt instrument of these stay-at-home orders, which, you know, are clearly not sustainable, but they were necessary in light of the surge that we were seeing.
BLITZER: In light of the president's very angry, very political tweets today, what's your message to him if he's watching right now?
RAIMONDO: Just focus on the job at hand. You know, continue to communicate with governors. Collaborate with us. You know, shore up the testing system statewide so that states have what we need. We share the president's goal of wanting to reopen the economy, and absolutely, but the fact of the matter is, we need more support to make that happen safely, particularly as it relates to testing. So, for everybody, everybody, Wolf, is anxious and frustrated and scared. It's a time to stay calm, cool, collected, focus on the facts, and lead through this crisis, which we will get to the other side of.
BLITZER: Good advice indeed. Governor Raimondo, thank you so much for joining us, good luck to everybody in Rhode Island. We appreciate you spending a few moments with us, thank you.
RAIMONDO: Thank you.
BLITZER: By the way, the next hour, I'll be speaking with another governor, the governor of Washington state, Jay Inslee. He'll join us live, stick around for that as well.
Still ahead, an influential new model suggests some states won't be able to start reopening until this summer at the earliest. Just ahead, I'll speak with an expert who helped develop this new forecast.
And later, "The New York Times" columnist Tom Friedman, he's standing by live. He'll join us to discuss what the new normal here in the United States should look like. We'll be right back.
BLITZER: A newly released model of the coronavirus pandemic here in the United States lowers the number of expected deaths but it also suggests some states will have to wait until summer to begin reopening. I'm joined now by University of Washington Professor Ali Mokdad, one of the authors of this study. Professor Mokdad, thank you so much for joining us. And I've gone through your new model, shows that four states here in the United States, Vermont, West Virginia, Montana and Hawaii could open as early as May 4th. First of all, explain why that is.
ALI MOKDAD, CHIEF STRATEGY OFFICER, POPULATION HEALTH: Thank you. So, what we have was the new model. We're looking at the capacity that's available right now, in every state. And the level of infection, so we can suggest that they can move into the containing stage, be able to do all the testing they need, all the isolation they need and all the - keeping us while the social distancing in place, such as gathering -- large numbers of gathering.
BLITZER: What does the model show, Professor Mokdad, about the hardest-hit states here in the United States, New York, for example, New Jersey?
MOKDAD: So New York, for example, we show like sometimes around June 1st they can start, and many states, like in the South, Connecticut, Georgia, Florida, are in the June date that they can relax these social measures.
BLITZER: What about some of the other states at the other end of the spectrum? Which states might be social distancing the shortest and the longest?
MOKDAD: So the shortest is the social distancing in the state that implemented early on the social distancing. That would be states like Washington, California, where they have went ahead and implemented it early. The longest would be the state that have not implemented them or have delayed implementation of these social distancing measures. We know social distancing measures is working.
BLITZER: Because I know at the same time, and your study makes this clear, your warning of a potential rebound in infections if the social distancing guidelines are relaxed too soon. What do states need to do to reopen safely?
MOKDAD: So right now, again, we're not out of danger, even though we're saying some states can open early in May. We have to be very careful, because we're susceptible. This virus is still circulating. What they need to do is the capacity to be able to test the workforce as it goes back to work and keep monitoring them.
And to detect early phases, trace the contact of this case and make sure they isolate themselves in order to make sure the virus is not circulating again in these places. We sacrificed a lot, Wolf, and many people paid with their lives. We should not reverse what we have succeeded so far. We need to be patient a little bit more.
BLITZER: Right now, as you know, there are more than 34,000 confirmed deaths from the coronavirus here in the United States. Your study estimates that by August 4th, which is not too far down the road, you're now estimating there would be just slightly more than 60,000 confirmed deaths in the United States. So, tell us how you got to that number of 60,000, which is obviously awful.
MOKDAD: So, it's less than what we have estimated before for a couple of reasons. So, one of the reasons, we're now including in our model social distancing measures. These are data that has been provided to us by Google, SafeGraph and (INAUDIBLE). So, we have seen in southern states, even when the state has not implemented social distancing, people have stayed at home and practiced social distancing. So, we're seeing less deaths, which is very good news coming from that. But still, we are seeing right now that many states are adding deaths that are presumptive COVID-19 deaths. They haven't been tested, but they have the symptoms, so they're adding them. And we're seeing, in a state like New York, instead of going down, the curve is flattening and New York is staying the cases at the high level, then it's coming down. So, the decline is a little bit delayed in some states.
BLITZER: Professor Ali Mokdad, thank you so much for what you and your colleagues are doing. We are clearly grateful to all of you. Appreciate it very much.
MOKDAD: My pleasure. Take care.
BLITZER: Thank you. And coming up, I'll speak with "The New York Times" columnist Tom Friedman about President Trump's response to the crisis and about what the new normal - the potential new normal here in the United States should look like.
Also ahead, I'll speak with Washington State Governor Jay Inslee. He's standing by live. He's calling the president's latest tweets, in his word, "unhinged."
BLITZER: All right, less than one day after telling governors they will call the shots and when to begin returning to normal. Today, the President seems to be encouraging protests in various states against restrictions with Democratic -- those states with Democratic governors.
We're joined now by "The New York Times" Columnist and best-selling author Tom Friedman. Tom, thanks very much for joining us. The President is egging on people who have been protesting their state restrictions, sometimes in large, crowded groups. Is he potentially putting these people's lives in danger?
THOMAS FRIEDMAN, COLUMNIST, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Well, Wolf, what the President did today is just another reminder that in electing Donald J. Trump as President, the American people did the most reckless thing they've ever done in our history. I think the Governor of Washington State got it exactly right. It's unhinged. The job of the President right now is to be the nation's Chief Scientific Officer, tell us where we are, what's working where.
And secondly, to be the nation's chief procurement officer. Get people the testing equipment they need if they are going to end sheltering in place restrictions over the next few weeks. Those are his only two jobs right now, fomenting revolutions in blue states with Democratic governors is only -- unhinged is the only word for it. You know, I don't know what mental illness he has, Wolf, but it's just really important that we in the press don't catch it. It's really important that we continue to do our job.
BLITZER: Well, somebody tweets as he did today, liberate Minnesota, your home state, by the way, liberate Michigan, liberate Virginia, save your great Second Amendment. It is under siege. I assume he see some sort of political benefit, even in a time when thousands of Americans are dying.
FRIEDMAN: Yes, I mean, the whole point about this moment is that we are all in it together. Remember, I think even said that once and we all need to rise up above politics. Before I came on the show, Wolf, I was reading about Germany, where they've gotten because of really, really aggressive action, early on sheltering in place and because of really effective testing and tracing.
Germany's got their infection rate now down below one, which means, you know, one person who's got the disease, you know, doesn't lead to 59,000 people getting it rapidly by spreading it to three and four people. So Germany is reopening their schools. It shows you when you do things right, what can happen and the thing about this virus is that it exposes every weakness in a society.
It's -- it exposes which governments, you know, don't have their act together. It exposes which businesses don't have good capital structures. And it exposes which leaders are effective in which aren't effective. And we are so failing that test by what we're doing.
BLITZER: I know you've been urging the President to put out a specific plan to fight the coronavirus. He put out a plan yesterday after going back and forth on whether or not governors would lead the charge. What do you make of his guidelines that he released yesterday?
FRIEDMAN: Well, you know, the guidelines really only work, Wolf, if you have the technical equipment and the kind of squads to go around your city, your community, your state, and test people and find people who are basically asymptomatic or carry the disease and don't know it, and therefore spreading the disease without even know they have it. If you can do that, if you can find those people, trace them and then quarantine them, then you can really begin to open up over time.
Wolf, you have to understand all these states that are opening up, they're basically making a bet, and this is the bet they're making. They're basically saying, well, let's quarantine and sequester the most vulnerable people, the elderly, the most immune compromised. We're going to let basically everybody else out and we're going to bet and our bet is this, that the number of people who will get sick, those people will get sick because the coronavirus will still be out there. The number of people will get sick and require hospitalization will be less than the number of hospital beds, emergency units and ventilators we have. That's the bet they're making and they should be very honest about it with their people.
BLITZER: In a new column in "The New York Times", Tom, you lay out where you believe the government needs to focus as investments for the after coronavirus era as you write. So what should be the top priorities?
FRIEDMAN: Well for me the top priority is to always remember that this coronavirus is just the warm up act for climate change. You know, and basically the important thing to understand about climate change how it's different from a virus is a climate change, Wolf, doesn't peak, OK? When the polar ice caps melt, when the Greenland ice cap melts, when the Antarctic melts, they no longer reflect the sun, the sun's rays go into the water, the ocean rises, you get warmer oceans, you get 28 feet of sea level rise, you get more hurricanes, you get more destructive weather, that doesn't peak that's with us forever.
And there's no herd immunity to climate change. There's just an endless pounding on the herd. So what we want to be doing in the wake of this virus is find ways that we can invest and grow through green technologies that make us both more productive and more resilient, both productive and more resilient. Those are the tools we need to be looked for going forward so we can pay off by the way, over time, these huge debts that we're now incurring.
BLITZER: In the trillions and trillions of dollars. Tom Friedman, as usual, thank you so much for joining us. We'll stay in close touch with you, appreciate it very much.
FRIEDMAN: Great to be with you, Wolf.
BLITZER: And coming up, we'll get a reality check on the quest for treatments for COVID-19. Also ahead, I'll speak live with the Washington State Governor Jay Inslee, he was calling President Trump's latest tweets and his word, unhinged, and warning they could lead to violence.
BLITZER: A new report about a possible treatment for coronavirus is generating plenty of interest and boosting the stock price of one particular drug company. But there's still a long way to go and much more study is needed.
Our Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is joining us right now. Elizabeth, how helpful is this drug for treating people with coronavirus?
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the answer is is that we just don't know. Doctors were heard on this video. These are doctors at the University of Chicago and they were -- they're studying Remdesivir, this drug, and they were heard saying that it was working really well, which you didn't hear what I'm going to tell you right now is that, one, the study they're involved in was paid for by Gilead, which is the company that's making the drug.
And secondly, the other thing that you didn't hear is that they -- is that there are plenty of patients who are surviving just fine without Remdesivir. So let's listen to another doctor. She was not on the video, but she is also treating patients with Remdesivir.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DR. LEILA HOJAT, INFECTIOUS DISEASE PHYSICIAN, UNIVERSITY HOSPITALS CLEVELAND MEDICAL CENTER: We've had a lot of our patients improving and going home. And I think that we're all really pleased to see that. It's hard to know at this point if that's related to the study drug or not, but we're expecting results as you said a little bit later this month.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COHEN: Now, I was speaking to a doctor at Harvard who works at Mass General Hospital and she said, look, Elizabeth, have I had patients who have done well on Remdesivir? Absolutely. But if I had patients who've done well without it, absolutely. So when you have those kinds of comments, you know that we just don't know if it's the drug that's helping or if these patients would have gotten better on their own because, Wolf, most COVID patients do get better on their own.
BLITZER: Very interesting. There's also a new study out, Elizabeth, were what, 2 percent to 4 percent of their sample already had antibodies. Does that suggest that a lot of people out there have actually been exposed but simply don't know it?
COHEN: Yes, absolutely. So, Wolf, this is so interesting. Santa Clara County in Northern California, they've really been ahead of the game and what's called antibody testing. You take someone's blood and you can see if they've had COVID infection in the past, not right now. But if they had it in the past, recovered and developed antibodies.
And what they found is that there were 50 times more people or even more than that, 50 times or more people who had COVID in their area than were reported by public health authorities. And so what that tells you is that something's getting lost here. We don't know the full number of people who've actually had this disease.
BLITZER: Very interesting indeed. Lots of studies going on. Let's see what they achieve. Elizabeth Cohen, thank you very much for that.
The important programming note for our viewers, be sure to tune in tomorrow night 10:00 p.m. Eastern for a very important special program looking at the devastating impact of coronavirus on communities of color. Don Lemon and Van Jones, they will host the color of COVID and they're joined by special guests including Charles Barkley, America Ferrara, Sean "Diddy" Combs and many, many more. That's tomorrow night, 10:00 p.m. Eastern only here on CNN.
Coming up, why some Americans are growing increasingly desperate despite the $2 trillion economic stimulus package. Also, I'll speak live with the Washington State Governor Jay Inslee. He says the President's tweets about liberating states are, quote, unhinged rantings.
[17:50:53] BLITZER: Today marks three weeks since President Trump signed into law the $2 trillion economic stimulus package to help businesses and individuals cope with the coronavirus economic crisis. CNN's Brian Todd is joining us right now. Brian, lots of people out there are still hurting
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. They are hurting and they are hemorrhaging. They're hemorrhaging their savings accounts and other resources to try to make ends meet. And many people are going to probably have to wait much longer to get their stimulus payments.
TODD (voice-over): In San Jose, Laura and Andrea Shelp are trying to be patient. They've gotten their stimulus checks sent by the government to help people during the coronavirus pandemic, but they both been furloughed from their jobs, have applied for unemployment benefits and haven't gotten a penny of that yet.
LAURA SHELP, FURLOUGHED FROM JOB AT SURGERY CENTER: We've gone through all of our savings. You know, we've really had to dig in. We've had a lot of mounting bills, we had to contact all of our creditors and tell them that we weren't able to meet our obligations right now because there's absolutely no money.
TODD (voice-over): In addition to unemployment benefits not reaching people like the shelves, there are roughly 16 million Americans still waiting for their stimulus payments. Logistical and clerical obstacles are causing delays and getting those payments out and the pain is palpable.
DAVID WILCOX, FORMER DIRECTOR OF RESEARCH AND STATISTICS, FEDERAL RESERVE BOARD: Tens of millions of American households are no doubt gathered around their kitchen tables, wondering how on earth they're going to make the next rent payment, how they're going to purchase the necessary food.
TODD (voice-over): The reasons for the delays according to experts, the sheer volume of Americans who are eligible, some 150 million. For people who didn't file electronic tax returns and don't have direct deposit arrangements with the IRS, it's taking longer to get them their payments via snail mail.
WILCOX: That process of printing and stuffing those checks is going to take many, many weeks and the estimate I seen is that it will take about four to five months.
TODD (voice-over): Also some people told CNN, their payments were sent to old bank accounts that have since been closed and millions of low income people who are not required to file tax returns are harder to locate. While they wait desperate for money, some are turning to pawn shops. This Tucson Arizona pawn shop has seen a 90 percent increase in people looking for quick cash through loans. The owner says some people come in crying.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I never seen it. And I hope I never have to see it again.
TODD (voice-over): And scenes like this, cars lined up for miles in Texas, in Florida at food distribution sites. To compound the suffering, the government's separate program to help small businesses stay afloat during the pandemic has run out of money. And Congress hasn't been in session to work on getting more in the pipeline.
Brian and Kristen Ward had to lay off 26 people at their restaurant in Manhattan, Kansas. They were told they weren't eligible for the small business payment because the restaurant hadn't been operating for a full year yet.
KRISTEN WARD, UNEMPLOYED IN MANHATTAN, KANSAS: It all happened so fast. It still doesn't seem real yet. So it is kind of numbing that we're jobless, we have no income, we don't know how to support our family right now.
TODD (voice-over): The Wards did eventually get loans from state officials and total strangers, but only after they'd appeared on CNN.
TODD: And experts say there's another large category of Americans with the government has not been able to send payments to, one economist calls them the unbanked. People who have no formal bank accounts anywhere who rely on check cashing places, pawn shops and payday lending operations to process their paychecks and take care of their most basic financial needs. There are millions of those people across the country, Wolf, and experts say some of them are so hard to locate that they may never get stimulus payments, Wolf.
BLITZER: So Brian, the economists you spoke to, who are they blaming?
TODD: Well, they say that it's really not the fault of the civil servants and the government. He says one of the economist David Wilcox told us that the civil servants who are doing this work trying to get these payments to people are working around the clock, they're doing heroic work. This is such a gargantuan logistical challenge to try to find these people and process their payments. It is exceedingly difficult. They are working around the clock to figure out ways to do this as they go.
BLITZER: These people who were living paycheck to paycheck, they need the money. They needed to put food on the table. All right, Brian, thank you very much. Brian Todd reporting.
Coming up, President Trump attacking some governors amid the pandemic and encouraging protests against state home orders. I'll speak to the Washington State Governor Jay Inslee, who says the President's tweets are, quote, unhinged.
BLITZER: Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM."